90+ Signs You’re Mentally and Emotionally Exhausted (According to Experts in an Up Journey Article)

90+ Signs You’re Mentally and Emotionally Exhausted (According to Experts in an Up Journey Article)

90+ Signs You’re Mentally and Emotionally Exhausted (According to Experts)

Possible ways to cope with mental exhaustion include some obvious and some not-so-obvious steps one can take: take a break, exercise regularly, take care of basics, and be grateful.  Read the entire article in Up Journey and find out what Dr. Connor adds to the discussion.

To further discuss, make an appointment with Dr. Connor.

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Superfoods for Super Sperm (Part 10 of my Superfoods series)

Superfoods for Super Sperm (Part 10 of my Superfoods series)

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Your diet can impact many aspects of well-being and it can be an important aspect in understanding male infertility. You may know that the things you eat affect your physical health and even your mental health, but do you understand how food can influence your sexual health?

Adding superfoods to your diet may be a good way to increase the health of your sperm and boost your fertility. While there’s no scientific definition of what makes up a “superfood,” this label is often given to foods and drinks that contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that boost health. While superfoods generally can’t cure conditions like fertility, they can be an important part of optimizing your sexual health to be the best it can be.

Why Is Sperm Health Important?

In order to naturally conceive a child, you need to have enough healthy sperm. Sperm are cells made by the testicles in the male reproductive system. They combine with egg cells made by the ovaries in the female reproductive system to result in an embryo. Multiple types of hormones, including testosterone, help control the production of sperm.

There are a few components to sperm health, including:

  • How many sperm cells your body makes, usually measured by how many sperm cells are found within a certain quantity of semen
  • The ability of sperm cells to move rapidly
  • The sperm cells’ shape and size

If your body doesn’t make enough sperm, or if your sperm cells are abnormal, you may have a hard time getting your partner pregnant. When a couple is unable to conceive after at least one year of regular sex, they are said to be infertile. Infertility has multiple causes that can affect men and women, and there are several possible medications, surgical procedures, and lifestyle changes that can help treat this condition.

Boosting Sperm Health Through Superfoods

Men who eat certain superfoods may produce healthier sperm cells and be less likely to experience medical conditions that impact fertility. The more health-boosting superfoods you can add to your diet, the more you can optimize your sexual health.

Oysters

Oysters are a fantastic source of zinc. One serving of this seafood provides 673% of the recommended daily intake of this mineral. You can also find zinc in superfoods like pumpkin seeds, yogurt, chickpeas, and oatmeal.

Zinc is a very important nutrient for fertility in men. Tissue in the prostate gland as well as the fluid portion of semen contains high amounts of zinc. When zinc levels drop too low, your body may make less sperm, or the sperm may be shaped abnormally, die more quickly, or not work properly in order to fertilize an egg cell. Zinc also helps the body make hormones like testosterone. Some cases of male fertility problems have been linked to low levels of zinc within sperm cells.

Oily Fish

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Oily or fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids — molecules that can help fight inflammation and cell damage. Eating more foods that contain this nutrient can help the cell membrane (outer layer) of sperm cells function properly and may boost sperm health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for your health in other ways, too, making them a popular choice among people looking to eat more superfoods. For example, these molecules can help boost heart and eye health, reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and may protect against conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally, oily fish contain coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), also called ubiquinone. This molecule is an antioxidant, helping neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS) — chemicals that can cause damage within cells and tissues. CoQ10 can help prevent ROS from building up in the semen, which helps sperm live longer and stay healthier. CoQ10 may also help the body make additional antioxidants that protect sperm health.

Cod Fish

Cod is a type of whitefish. It’s not an oily or fatty fish that has a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. However, it does contain a lot of carnitine, an amino acid-like molecule that helps cells process fat to be used as fuel.

Sperm cells need a lot of energy in order to be able to swim around more effectively. Carnitine helps supply sperm with the fuel they need for proper movement. It also supports the growth and development of new sperm cells.

Carnitine is also present within animal products such as beef, but too much red meat can be detrimental to your sexual health. Supplements containing carnitine are also available.

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts contain a lot of a nutrient called selenium. When your body doesn’t have enough selenium, you may be more likely to have problems with infertility. Like CoQ10, selenium is an antioxidant that gets rid of damaging ROS chemicals that can kill sperm.

Eating more Brazil nuts may help boost your sperm health. Just a one-ounce serving (about 6 to 8 nuts) provides nearly 1000% of your recommended daily intake of selenium! This nutrient can also be found in fish and seafood like tuna, halibut, sardines, and shrimp.

couple of clinical trials have tested how nuts can impact male fertility. These studies found that men who eat more nuts produce more sperm and have sperm cells that move around better, are shaped more normally, and live longer.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a whole grain that provides a large helping of fiber — a type of carbohydrate that provides many beneficial effects for the body. Eating a lot of fiber may reduce levels of estrogen, a hormone that could prevent the body from producing enough sperm. Oats and other grains can lead to healthier sperm and increase the chances that an egg will implant in the uterus after being fertilized by sperm.

Yogurt

Your digestive system contains about 100 trillion microorganisms, including bacteria that help you stay healthy and digest your food. Eating high-fat foods can feed the “bad” bacteria, leading to chronic inflammation, a higher risk of several health conditions, and problems producing healthy sperm.

On the other hand, you may be able to increase the number of “good” bacteria in your gut by eating foods that contain probiotics (live microorganisms), such as yogurt. These foods can help improve your digestive health, which in turn has wide-ranging impacts throughout the body. You can also find probiotics in foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir.

Organic Fruits and Vegetables

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When you eat produce, it may be worthwhile to reach for organic options. Fruits and vegetables are often grown using pesticides and insecticides, and these chemicals can lessen the health of sperm cells.

Foods that are certified organic have to meet certain standards as they are grown and harvested. In particular, organic fruits and vegetables come from plants that have been grown without the use of certain synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Avoiding these chemicals may lead to higher-quality sperm. Look for the label “USDA Organic” while grocery shopping.

Fruits and vegetables also contain a lot of prebiotics — substances like fiber that can help feed the “good” bacteria in your intestines. Produce like leafy greens, onions, artichokes, and bananas may have particularly high levels of prebiotics.

Furthermore, produce generally contains a lot of antioxidants such as vitamin C, tocopherol, and lycopene that help prevent the early death of sperm cells. Overall, fruits and vegetables work on multiple fronts to help boost sexual health and sperm quality, especially if they are organic.

Diet Plans to Improve Sperm Health

Adding more individual superfoods to your diet may help improve your fertility. However, studies have also found that men who more closely stick to an overall pattern of healthy eating produce more sperm.

Men who follow the Mediterranean diet are more likely to have higher sperm counts and to produce sperm that can move more quickly. The Mediterranean diet is also well-known to provide other health benefits, including lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. This diet emphasizes:

  • Using olive oil instead of other fats like butter
  • Eating more nuts, seeds, and beans
  • Consuming large amounts of fruits and vegetables
  • Choosing whole grains or whole wheat products over refined grains
  • Eating plenty of fish, moderate amounts of chicken, and very little red meat
  • Drinking moderate amounts of red wine

Another diet plan that has been studied in relation to sperm health is the Prudent diet. Following this diet can boost sperm counts and help the body produce higher-quality sperm. The Prudent diet is a modified version of the Mediterranean diet in which you eat more fish, chicken, vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains.

Foods and Drinks To Avoid for Better Sperm Health

Studies show that some foods can lead to poor semen quality. In particular, a western diet can be detrimental to sexual health. Men who struggle with infertility are more likely to eat diets that are high in fat or calories.

In particular, you may want to limit or avoid:

  • Red meat like beef or lamb
  • Processed meat such as sausage, hot dogs, bacon, and deli meat
  • Foods that contain a lot saturated fats or trans fats, including processed foods, fried foods, cheese, and sugary foods and drinks
  • Caffeine, found in coffee, black tea, and soda

Alcohol can lead to hormone imbalances, including reduced testosterone levels, that lead to lower sperm levels. Men who drink heavily may be especially more likely to experience fertility problems. Infertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) also tend to be less successful when men drink in the week leading up to giving a sperm sample.Some people believe that soybeans and soy products such as tofu can negatively impact male fertility. This is because soy contains molecules called phytoestrogens that are similar to the estrogen hormone made by the body. High levels of estrogen can lead to lower sperm counts. However, studies have found that men who eat moderate amounts of soy aren’t more likely to have unhealthy sperm, low testosterone levels, or other infertility problems. In fact, at least one study has found that eating some soy can actually lead to higher-quality sperm, so there is no reason for men to avoid soy-based foods.

Lifestyle Changes for Sperm Health

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In addition to following a diet that provides your body with a wide range of nutrients, you can make other lifestyle changes that can boost your sexual health.

Some studies have found that physical activity can help boost sperm counts and sperm health. Likewise, men who spend more time watching television and those who lead sedentary lifestyles are more likely to produce less sperm.

Smoking cigarettes can also reduce sperm health, so quitting tobacco products may help improve infertility problems. Additionally, marijuana and other recreational drugs can prevent the body from making healthy sperm and can impact sexual health.

Changing your daily routine by eating more superfoods or creating other health-building habits can increase your sperm health. However, if you continue to struggle with infertility, your doctor can help you learn more about potential causes and recommend treatments that may increase your chances of conceiving.

If you are planning a family and would like to consult with Dr. Connor, please make an appointment.

Is Stress Really the Silent Killer?

Is Stress Really the Silent Killer?

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Stress — that feeling of extra pressure or strain when something bad or unexpected occurs — can be uncomfortable. However, it can also change or harm your body and have lasting effects on your health. This has led some to call stress the silent killer. Taking steps to minimize stress may reduce your risk of future medical conditions and improve your well-being. Preventing and dealing with stress more effectively is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle.

Types of Stress

Feeling stressed before a big work presentation isn’t likely to have a major impact on your health. This type of worry, called acute stress, only lasts a short while. In some cases, it can even be a good thing. It may help you perform better under pressure or react to a potentially dangerous situation. On the other hand, chronic stress sticks around. It may stem from big life changes such as leaving a job, getting married, going through a breakup, having a child, or being diagnosed with a new health condition. It may also develop from ongoing challenges such as financial worries or problems at home or work. You can’t avoid acute stress. It’s a normal part of life. However, you can work to reduce your levels of chronic stress to protect your health.

How Stress Affects Your Body and Mind

Stress is more than just a feeling — it’s a physical change that affects other processes in your body. When you find yourself experiencing a stressful event, your brain responds. It churns out two key hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline is responsible for kicking your body into fight-or-flight mode, while cortisol controls your body’s stress reactions. These molecules travel around the body, causing changes that help you react to whatever is triggering the stress:

  • Your airways open up wider, helping you take in more oxygen
  • Your body sends more blood and oxygen to the tissues that need it most, such as the brain and muscles, and less to other areas like the digestive system
  • Your body starts pumping more sugar around your body, which your muscles use for energy
  • Your muscles tense up
  • Your heart starts pumping faster
  • Your immune system is activated

These processes are meant to be short term. They can help you get yourself out of a dangerous situation. When responding to acute stress, you’re more clear-headed, you feel less pain, and you have more physical strength. However, adrenaline and cortisol can cause problems if they stick around. For example, increased blood sugar levels boost your energy in the short term, but increase your risk of diabetes in the long run.

Health Conditions Caused by Stress

Chronic stress raises your risk of several conditions, including:

Preventing chronic stress may help you avoid some of these problems down the road. If you have already been diagnosed with one of these conditions, controlling stress may reduce your symptoms.

Warning Signs of Too Much Stress

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There are several symptoms of stress, including:

  • Aches and pains, including headaches, back pain, neck pain, or jaw stiffness
  • Low energy levels
  • Acne
  • Rashes or other skin changes
  • Nausea or indigestion
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Blurry vision
  • Feeling sick more often because of a weakened immune system
  • A lower sex drive
  • Menstrual period changes such as a shorter or longer cycle or increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Insomnia or sleeping problems
  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Worry or nervousness
  • Restlessness or jitteriness
  • Problems thinking, focusing, remembering, or feeling motivated
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often than usual or in unsafe ways

It may be time to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing signs of stress. This is especially true if you feel like stress is overwhelming you or getting in the way of your ability to complete your responsibilities at work or home. It’s also important to tell your doctor if your stress is giving you panic attacks. During a panic attack, your heart may feel like it’s beating too hard or too fast, you may struggle to take a deep breath, or you could experience chest pains, stomach pain, shaking, or dizziness.

How to Prevent and Manage Stress

To some extent, stress is part of being human. However, feeling stressed on a regular basis is not normal or healthy. Fortunately, researchers have identified several strategies that can help reduce your stress levels and avoid stress-related health problems. To be in your best health, make time for activities that help you relax and recharge.

Take a Deep Breath

Deep breathing exercises can cause physical changes within your body. They shut off your sympathetic nervous system (the part of your nervous system that controls your fight-or-flight response) and activate your parasympathetic nervous system (the part of your nervous system that makes you relax after you experience stress). Not only can deep breathing lower stress levels, but it can also help treat anxiety and migraines, reduce blood pressure, improve lung function, and help improve well-being for people with chronic conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and cancer. One of the simplest forms of deep breathing, known as diaphragmatic breathing, can help fight stress. To practice this, the American Lung Association recommends the following steps:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position or lie down and place your hands on your stomach. Relax your body, including your shoulders, arms, and neck.
  2. Take in a deep breath of air, making sure that your belly rises.
  3. Slowly breathe out, feeling your belly fall back into its original position.
  4. Make your exhales at least twice as long as your inhales. For example, breathe in while counting to four and breathe out while counting to eight.
  5. Repeat for 10 minutes.

There are many other types of deep breathing exercises. Try searching for deep breathing videos or apps that guide you through the process. Some types of deep breathing are also forms of meditation or yoga.

Meditate

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Meditation can undo the effects of stress at the molecular level. It reverses some of the changes caused by stress within your cells, minimizing damage and helping prevent premature aging.

Meditation may also reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, it can lower pain levels, improve sleep, and boost overall mental well-being.

There are many types of meditation practices to explore. When it comes to fighting stress, you may want to practice mindfulness meditation by:

  • Using a smartphone app that focuses on mindfulness
  • Watching a YouTube video that guides you through a mindfulness exercise
  • Listening to a mindful meditation podcast
  • Looking for a mindfulness center or meditation center in your city
  • Taking a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) class at a local medical center, yoga center, or athletic club, in which you take an eight-week class that teaches you mindfulness exercises
  • Enrolling in an MBSR class online
  • Finding a therapist who specializes in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to learn meditation exercises and closely examine how your thoughts and habits affect your mental health

You can also try simple mindfulness meditation practices on your own. The Mayo Clinic suggests performing a body scan meditation. Start by sitting or lying down on your back. Focus on your toes and notice any discomfort, itching, heat, tingling, pressure, or other sensations. Don’t judge the sensations or any thoughts that run through your mind; just notice that they’re there. Next, move your focus to your feet and pay attention to any other sensations. Slowly focus on each part of your body in turn, working your way to the top of your head.

If you regularly practice body scan meditations, you may find that your mind is increasingly able to stay focused in the present moment and that physical or mental signs of stress don’t bother you as much.

Analyze Your Coping Mechanisms

Many people turn to unhealthy habits as a way to escape their stress. Try to notice if you’re doing the same — do you feel like you need a drink after a trying day at work? Have you been reaching for cigarettes more often? Are you tempted to binge on unhealthy snacks when you’re feeling the pressure?

These habits can be symptoms of stress, but they can also worsen your mental state. Try to be honest with yourself about whether you’re relying on coping mechanisms that could negatively impact your health. Try to not only avoid these activities but also replace them with some of the healthier habits listed here.

It’s often easier to break bad habits with outside support. You may want to look into programs to help you reduce or stop your drinkingquit smoking, or eat mindfully. Working with a mental health professional can also be a very effective way to develop healthier habits and address the root causes of your stress.

Stretch Your Muscles

When you feel stressed, your muscles tend to tense up. Stretching exercises can ease this physical stress symptom. Research has also found that stretching can lower levels of stress hormones and turn on relaxation processes in your brain.

Yoga and tai chi are both types of physical activity that combine breathing exercises, meditation, and stretching. Regularly practicing one of these activities may help you avoid the effects of stress and avoid anxiety and depression.

Get Moving

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Stress and physical activity can affect each other: you’re more likely to avoid exercise when you’re stressed, but you’re also more likely to feel stressed when you’re not moving around enough.

Other types of workouts besides stretching, yoga, and tai chi can combat stress. Exercise encourages your brain to make neurotransmitters that boost your mood and train your body to fight stress-related health problems.

You’re more likely to stick with an exercise program if you start slow and do something you enjoy. Anything that gets you moving can help boost your health!

Take Your Vitamins

Vitamins and minerals help your mind and body function at their best. In particular, your brain uses many types of B vitamins to produce neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) such as serotonin and dopamine that help control your mood and thinking abilities. These neurotransmitters also play a role in conditions like anxiety and depression.

Several studies have found that vitamin B supplements can help reduce stress symptoms and boost mood. Those who don’t get enough nutrients from their diet may be the most likely to benefit from taking more vitamin B.

Omega-3 fatty acids may also help treat depression and reduce stress-related inflammation. You can get more of this nutrient by taking fish oil supplements or by eating more seafood, nuts, and seeds.

Many people with high stress levels also have low magnesium levels. Magnesium could help control cortisol levels and play a role in whether you turn to unhealthy behaviors to manage stress.

Eating a balanced diet containing many different types of whole foods helps you ensure that you are taking in all of the nutrients you need to support your mental health.

Set Aside Self-Care Time

It’s always important to take the time to relax.

Finding time to relax can feel hardest when we’re stressed, but this is when it’s most important to make the time. Try keeping your mornings just for you — do some deep breathing or meditation, step outside for a few minutes, or drink a cup of coffee while reading a book you like. Alternatively, you may find it easier to wind down in the evening with a warm bath or calming music. Take breaks throughout your day to go on a walk or spend time talking to loved ones.

Talk to a Professional

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therapist or counselor can help you deal with ongoing stress, whether you’re experiencing a little more anxiety than usual or you’re completely overwhelmed. They can also teach you tools that help you avoid or deal with stress in the future.

Therapy comes in several forms. You may choose to meet with a mental health professional individually or as part of a group. A therapist may teach you deep breathing exercises, analyze your beliefs or behaviors, understand where your emotions are coming from, problem-solve a specific issue, or help you with something else based on your needs.

Living a Life With Minimal Stress

Although it may not be easy, it’s possible to make lifestyle changes that help you feel less stressed. Even small steps may go a long way when you commit to building healthy habits that fight stress.

If your stress levels feel too high to manage on your own, bring it up with your doctor. You may want to seek additional suggestions, ask about medication that fights anxiety or depression, or get a referral to a mental health provider who can better help you.

How Pysicians Can Pick the Best Financial Adviser

How Pysicians Can Pick the Best Financial Adviser

“Doctors should look for someone who truly understands a physician’s life, loans and constraints,” says Brynna Connor, M.D., owner of a family practice in Austin, Texas, and health care ambassador at NorthWestPharmacy.com. “We have specific needs that many other professions don’t, and our financial advisers should be well versed in how to best serve those needs.” Read the entire article from MedicalEconomics.com here.

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15 Surprising Reasons You Can’t Get A Good Night’s Sleep

15 Surprising Reasons You Can’t Get A Good Night’s Sleep

In an article in Glam, Dr. Brynna Connor is one family medicine specialist who knows a thing or two about sleep issues. “Drug-induced insomnia is just what it sounds like –– insomnia, or difficulty sleeping, caused by taking certain medications,” she told SingleCare. So, is there a way to solve this problem? Read the article to find out.

If you would like to discuss sleep issues further with Dr. Connor, please make an appointment.

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Occasional Tender Spot on the Palm of Your Hand?

Occasional Tender Spot on the Palm of Your Hand?

In scarysymptoms.com, Dr. Brynna Connor, a board-certified family medicine physician and healthcare ambassador at NorthWestPharmacy.com, is quoted in and medically reviews an article discussing why someone might be experiencing a tender spot in the palm of their hand. What could be the causes, and do you need to worry about it? Read the article to find out! Or to be on the safe side, make an appointment with Dr. Connor to have her check it out.

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