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the Australian Government Department of Health coronavirus

Public information site regarding COVID-19

Call the Victorian Public Health Information Line on 1300 651 160

Body Language: What’s Your Body Telling You?

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Headaches? Fatigue? You can tell a lot about your health by the symptoms you experience. This blog post will show you how to read your body language and alter your diet in response.

 

Sometimes interpreting physical symptoms is a no-brainer- an itch that’s caused by a mosquito bite, sore muscles as a result of yesterday’s workout, or blisters thanks to your new pair of shoes. At other times it’s not so straightforward. Why are you not able to sleep? What’s to blame for a headache? And why do you keep developing those annoying mouth ulcers? 


Often these symptoms are your body’s way of telling you that something is not quite right, and it’s tempting to ask Dr Google for answers. In fact, nearly 60% of Australians use the internet to source health information to avoid seeing a GP, according to a recent health survey. But, while nothing can replace the opinion of a qualified health professional, if you do want to decipher your ‘body language’, it’s important to use credible, research-backed information.


To help you out, I have looked further into seven of the most common health symptoms. Find out what they might mean, and how a few small changes to your diet can help you turn things around.


The Symptom

INSOMNIA

One in three Australians experience insomnia from time to time, with falling asleep or staying asleep a big problem. The lingering effects include fatigue, difficulty concentrating and low energy levels.

 

It Could Be Because you’re stressed

As many as 1 in 2 people who have insomnia blame their stress levels. Insomnia can also be a side effect of some medications and other illnesses, including those that cause ongoing pain, but you might also be lacking in Vitamin D. It is estimated that more than 30% of Australians are Vitamin D deficient- a status that’s been linked to increasing the likelihood of poor sleeping patterns.

‘vitamin D’ mushrooms

Mushrooms exposed to sunlight naturally generate Vitamin D. If you leave 100g of mushrooms in the winter sun for an hour before you eat them, they’ll contain your recommended daily ‘D dose’. It’s also worth eating more Vitamin-B rich foods, such as lean red meat, beans, eggs and whole grains. Swinburne University scientists have now made the connection between topping up our Vitamin B levels and achieving lower levels of stress.


The Symptom

SNEEZING & A RUNNY NOSE

If these symptoms are accompanied by watery, itchy eyes- rather than a fever and aches and pains- it’s probably hay fever instead of a cold or the flu. Officially called allergic rhinitis, hay fever affects as many as 1 in 4 Australians

 

 It Could Be Because you’re allergic to something at home

 If you experience hay fever symptoms over winter it may be due to dust mites, mould, animal hair or fur, rather than pollen. While hay fever is typically associated with spring when airborne pollens from grasses and trees are at their peak, the conditions can occur at any time of the year.

 

probiotic-rich yoghurt or a fermented milk drink

Research has shown that the Lactobacillus paracasei strain of probiotics can improve physical symptoms such as itchy eyes for hay fever sufferers- possibly due to changing how cells lining the nasal passages react to allergens like dust and pollen.


The Symptom

REOCCURRING URINARY WOES

Approximately 1 in 2 women- and 1 in 20 men- experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) at least once in their lives. Research also shows up to 55% of women will experience another episode within 12 months of their first infection.

It could be because the bacteria that caused the first UTI is still present- and prevalent


 Most UTIs are caused by E.coli, a type of bacteria that’s common to the digestive system.

 

Dark chocolate and coffee

According to research carried out in the USA, coffee and dark chocolate encouraged the production of substances called ‘aromatics’ during digestion. These help to deprive the E.coli bacteria of an essential nutrient that it needs to thrive and survive. You can also try increasing the number of alkaline foods in your diet- such as spinach, celery and bananas- to lower the acidity of your urine. Urine that is less acidic contains high levels of protein that inhibits the growth of bacteria that cause urinary tract affection.

 

The Symptom

 MOUTH ULCERS

It’s not uncommon to develop an ulcer after you’ve bitten your cheek or burnt it with food, but 1 in 5 of us have recurring bouts of unexplained ulcers.

 It Could Be Because you’re rundown or stressed

 Ulcers can be more common when your immune system isn’t firing on all cylinders. Some women also suffer mouth ulcers regularly during their periods.

 

eggs, fish and dairy foods

 Low levels of Vitamin B12 have been linked to an increased risk of mouth ulcers- and these foods are good sources of this vitamin. In fact, when people suffering from recurrent ulcers took a daily B12 supplement as part of a study, 74% of them were cured 6 months later.

 

The Symptom

DRY SKIN

We all experience dry skin from time to time, but when regular moisturising is not working, it’s time to look elsewhere for a fix.It Could Be Because you’re diet is lacking in essential fatty acids

 

However, if you’re skin is also itchy and red, there’s a chance it could be eczema. If you become concerned, see your doctor.

flaxseed oil and oily fish

 Research proves that flaxseed oil, which is rich in essential fatty acids, decreases how much water is lost via the skin. It also helps reduce roughness and scaling. Canned salmon contains significant amounts of marine-sourced omega 3 fatty acids, known as DHA. German researchers found that participants’ eczema in one study improved by more than 20% after just 2 months of consuming a daily serve of DHA fatty acids.

 

The Symptom

 HEADACHES

Headaches are incredibly common- it’s thought that 15% of us are taking painkillers for a headache at any given time

 

It Could Be Because you’re dehydrated, stressed or have bad posture

Hormonal changes, eye strain and sinus problems can also lead to headaches. But frequent or severe headaches can also be a sign that something serious is happening, so make sure you see your doctor if you’re concerned.

almonds, avocado and edamame

These foods deliver a hit of magnesium, which helps to prevent the brain’s neurons from falling into a specific pattern that has been shown to increase the risk of headaches. As many as 1 in 2 Australians aren’t getting enough magnesium, so these foods should form part of your diet.

The Symptom

 

WORSENING PMS

There are more than 150 premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, and most women experience one or two of them in the lead up to their period. For up to 30% of women, those symptoms are severe and sometimes debilitating.

 

 It Could Be Because you’re iron levels are too low

 While 2 in 5 Australian women aged between 14 and 50 have inadequate iron intakes, research shows that women who eat iron-rich diets are 30-40% less likely to experience PMS.

 

Tofu, kidney beans and cashews

 They’re all good sources of non-haem iron, the variety that researchers say is responsible for the anti-PMS effect, rather than the haem iron that comes from animal sources like meat.

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