Eat away your stress
by Jayamala Gupte
The way forward in pharmacy is an integrated health approach examining the ‘uptake, intake and output’ of a stressed, tired worker such as a mum who needs energy boosting or an office worker who needs stress reduction, according to Geraldine Georgeou, consultant dietitian nutritionist.
Speaking at last week’s PSA Clinical & Pharmacy Expo, Ms Georgeou said symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, depression and stress tend to overlap, but still require careful analysis by pharmacy staff to check if the trigger is lifestyle, emotional or medical. If medical then a prompt referral to the pharmacist or a request to the customer to see their doctor immediately was advisable.
‘As many as 17% of Australians will suffer from depression. Pharmacy assistants should consider that symptoms such as chronic tiredness, dizziness, slowed responses, poor concentration, appetite loss, low motivation may have a medical reason such as untreated anxiety disorders or depression.
‘Other symptoms to watch out for include anxiety, sweating, trembling, palpitations, chest pain/discomfort, faint, weight loss, insomnia, fear of losing control, derealisation and loss of interest.’
Ms Georgeou said vegetarians were the group of people she found most challenging nutritionally as their ‘diet is predominantly carbohydrate, which continuously sends their sugar up and down and it keeps surging. This causes energy issues and weight fluctuations’.
Such customers can be assisted to get their vitamins and minerals by eating a varied diet. Alternatively when individuals aren’t meeting their nutritional needs through diet, supplements can assist with deficiencies.
She said vitamin B group is essential for energy production and making red blood cells. Vit B12 helps maintain myelin surrounding nerve endings, required for mental stability, red blood cell formation and breakdown of some fatty acids and amino acids to produce energy. Deficiency can cause tiredness, fatigue and depression.
Thiamine plays a role in the transfer of energy to the tissue, in carbohydrate metabolism and in the metabolism links between carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.
Folate forms red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. ‘For mums folate helps the development of the foetal nervous system as well as DNA synthesis and cell growth. Deficiency causes weight loss, tiredness, fatigue and weakness,’ Ms Georgeou said.
Customer should be aware that there are two types of iron: haem iron found in beef, lamb, chicken, offal and egg yolks and is more readily absorbed and non-haem iron found in plant foods such as dried beans and lentils. ‘The body absorbs between 2-8% of the iron from plant sources.’
Also try and assist with improving mood, stress and energy levels and fatigue by suggesting they include the top 10 super foods in their diet.
The 10 super foods are:
broccoli for vitamins B, C, E , beta-carotene, folate, iron and calcium;
blueberries for top anti-oxidant activity, to improve the strength of capillaries, stabilise collagen, improve blood circulation and protect the heart;
chia seeds consist of good fats, have a high level of omega-3 and other vitamins and minerals;
almonds reduce cholesterol absorption;
eggs are a nutrition powerhouse providing 11 different vitamins and minerals, high quality protein, healthy fats and important antioxidant. Two eggs can provide one third of the day’s requirement and 20-25% or your daily protein, iron and folate intake. The recent move to include eggs in the Heart Foundation’s Tick Program was based on scientific evidence showing eggs are a highly nutritious food that can be included in the diet of healthy Australians;
salmon is a rich source of omega-3 essential for the brain and nerve tissues;
yoghurt is a good source of calcium and helps with satiety;
garlic has anti-bacterial activity and acts as an ACE inhibitor that fights high blood pressure as it contains an enzyme that constricts blood vessels and so suppresses angiotension;
ginger is rich in phytochemicals that can relieve stomach upsets and assists with pain and inflammations of osteoarthritis; and
teas, both green and black, are rich in anti-oxidants known as flavonoids which are known to reduce oxidative damage to important biomolecules including DNA and lipids.
Ms Georgeou also said that customers should be educated that not all omega-3 oils are the same.
‘Customers should be aware that the levels of omega-3 oils found in large, cheap packs may not have the same as the levels found in high quality, more expensive concentrated capsules.
‘Also there is some confusion with Krill oil. Krill is not an omega-3. It is a concentrated anti-oxidant while beneficial does not contain the long-chain fatty acids found in omega-3s.’
She also advised that not all vitamins are created equally. For instance, a good quality multi-vitamin should aim to contain 500mcg of Vitamin B to be beneficial.