Lifestyle, Uncategorized

How to Cope with Loneliness During the Holiday Season

Health and Wellness Associates

How to Cope with Loneliness During the Holiday Season

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Tips to make your holidays brighter when you feel alone

Christmas evokes images of green and red for many. But for those suffering from loneliness, the holiday blues are also a very real thing.

Loneliness is common during the holidays. When we feel there is an expectation is to experience extreme joy or happiness, feelings of sadness and loneliness can strike even harder.

Whether you’re feeling alone or you want to be there for those around you, understanding what causes loneliness, as well as how to minimize it, can make your holidays much more joyful.

Understanding loneliness

Feeling lonely doesn’t mean you don’t have friends, family or loved ones who care. In fact, it’s very possible to feel lonely while having a loving support system in tow.

Some studies have called loneliness a disease, and others have called it a “hidden killer” of the elderly. While there are many studies on loneliness, there is no exact definition.

Loneliness is a subjective feeling. It can refer to a state of solitude, as well as the perception of feeling alone. While loneliness is a universal human emotion, it amplifies is different ways. Lonely people often dread the holidays, because of the perception that everyone around them is experiencing human connection in a way that they are not.

Examples of groups that tend to experience this more than others include those who are recently single, divorced or widowed, those who live far from family, and those who stay emotionally distant from others. Studies have shown that adults under age 30 tend to experience significantly higher levels of loneliness than other age groups, though those ages 80 and older can experience high levels as well.

How to beat loneliness during the holidays

One thing that is agreed upon is that there are ways to overcome loneliness. However, because these ways tend to involve emotional risk, many are slow to adopt them. Whether you’re feeling alone or you are in solitude, here are some tips to use this holiday season:

Tips to overcome loneliness when you feel alone

  • Practice self-care. While you may be thinking about giving gifts to others this season, don’t hesitate to give yourself the gift of a spa treatment, invest in a hobby, or other activities that will get you to socialize and enjoy the season. Taking your focus off feeling alone can help curb the feeling.
  • Choose the right people to surround yourself with. When you’re lonely, it may be tempting to call up your friend who loves to co-commiserate. But because loneliness is contagious, you won’t be doing yourself any favors. Choose to surround yourself with positive people.
  • Pursue gratitude. Whether you prefer journaling, meditation or prayer, taking the time to write or say what you’re thankful for can shift your attention away from what you don’t have, and spotlight what you do have. Always remember that thankfulness is a choice.

Tips to overcome loneliness when you are alone

  • Be vulnerable. If you’re waiting for your neighbor to be the first to say hello, take the risk and say hi first. Call a friend you haven’t spoken with in a while, or learn more about that person you always take a fitness class next to. Remembering that we’re all seeking human connection can take the pressure off the situation.
  • Give back. Helping others who have less than we do often reminds us of all we have to be thankful for. Bonus: you may meet some volunteers who have similar interests to you, and are open to helping others.
  • Release your expectations. In the age of social media, it’s easy to think the holidays are supposed to look as perfect as a Christmas card. Rethinking your expectations can stop you from playing the comparison game, at which point you may realize you have plenty to be thankful for.

 

Stepping out of your comfort zone is never convenient or easy, but it may be just the thing you need this holiday season.

Health and Wellness Associates

Dr Mark Williams

healthwellnessassociates@gmail.com

 

 

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

AHA: New Report Emphasizes Safety of Statins

AHA: New Report

Emphasizes Safety of Statins

(American Heart Association) — The benefits of the cholesterol-lowering medicines called statins far outweigh any risk of side effects, according to a new analysis of decades of scientific research.

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In fact, side effects of statins are rare, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published Dec. 10 in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

Lynne Braun, a heart disease and stroke prevention expert who co-authored the statement, said she hopes the results put to rest any misconceptions patients or health care providers have about what she calls a lifesaving medication.

“This is a category of medications where it is clear, very clear, what the benefits are,” said Braun, a nurse practitioner and a professor of nursing and medicine at Rush University in Chicago.

Statins are used primarily to reduce low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol, a waxy, fat-like substance that builds up in arteries. Research shows statins may lower heart attack risk by at least 25 percent and may also help patients with heart disease avoid cardiac procedures such as coronary stents.

The statement comes 16 years after a clinical advisory issued by the AHA, the American College of Cardiology and the U.S. National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute reported similar findings. The authors of the new report reviewed dozens of studies dating back at least 20 years. Most were clinical trials, which are considered the most scientifically sound type of study.

The scientific statement addresses muscle pain, muscle weakness and type 2 diabetes, the most commonly reported side effects of statins, among others.

Muscle pain and weakness were rare complaints in statin clinical trials. When muscle symptoms do occur, they often are linked to the drug’s dosage, the study authors said.

Statins may slightly increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, a condition that can lead to heart disease or stroke. But most people on the drugs already had a high risk for diabetes. Overall, people with diabetes who are on statins see an insignificant increase in blood sugar levels, the study authors said.

The authors suggested health care providers keep a close eye on certain patients who need or take statins, especially older adults who take multiple medications for chronic illnesses.

For example, some studies suggest that people who’ve had a brain hemorrhage and are on a statin are at risk of a second brain attack or hemorrhage. People living with HIV may suffer muscle weakness and muscle pain, in part because of statins’ chemical interplay with HIV drugs. Studies show people of East Asian heritage may be more susceptible to statin-related side effects, especially muscle pain and muscle weakness.

Dr. Roger S. Blumenthal, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Baltimore, said the AHA’s report is a comprehensive review of the pros and cons of taking statins.

“The main takeaway is that statin therapy is much safer — even more effective — than most of the general public has been led to believe,” said Blumenthal, who was not involved in writing the report.

Braun encourages patients who are concerned about taking statins to talk to their health care providers about finding the best medication for them. Patients shouldn’t stop taking statins without consulting their doctor because that could be dangerous, she said.

Health and Wellness Associates

Preventative and Restorative Healthcare

Dr P Carrothers

healthwellnessassociates@gmail.com

 

Diets and Weight Loss, Foods, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Peanut Butter Oat Bites : Flourless and No Bake

Peanut Butter Oat Bites

Flourless and No Bake

 

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Want a nutritious snack that can also pass as dessert? These gluten-free peanut butter oat bites contain the delicious combination of dark chocolate and peanut butter, making for a satisfying snack, and the rolled oats add a bit of soluble fiber. What I love most about these bites is the secret ingredient of matcha green tea powder, which packs in more antioxidants.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons coconut creamer (or coconut milk)

Preparation

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients: rolled oats, chia seeds, matcha powder, and cinnamon. Stir the mixture to combine well.
  2. Add in the peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir again until mixture is thoroughly combined. Place oat mixture into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  3. Take the oat mixture out of the refrigerator and roll them into balls, using a heaping tablespoon. This will make about 12 balls. Place back in the refrigerator for another 10 minutes to harden before dipping into chocolate.
  1. In a small sauce pot, add the chocolate chips, vanilla, and coconut creamer or milk. Turn heat to low and slowly melt the chocolate, stirring often. Cook on low until mixture is completely smooth. Be careful not to burn the mixture—keep an eye on it and don’t walk away!
  2. Take the oat bites out of the refrigerator and carefully dip each one into the melted chocolate on one side. Lie them flat on a baking sheet lined with foil after they have been dipped in chocolate. Place in the freezer to harden.
  3. Keep them in the refrigerator and enjoy when wanted. You can also keep them stored in the freezer if you want to enjoy them at a later time.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

These balls are scrumptious with peanut butter, but any nut butter would be equally as delicious. If you have a nut allergy, consider using sunflower seed butter instead. You can also feel free to use chunky instead of creamy peanut butter for an additional crunch.

Although dark chocolate slightly increases the nutritional value of these bites, you can melt your personal favorite chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate is a good choice since it is not too sweet, given you already have ample sweetness from the maple syrup in the mixture.

To make these naturally sweetened, swap out the maple syrup and use mashed up dates.

To sweeten with dates, pour hot water over the dates in a small bowl and let sit for at least 15 minutes so they can soften. Drain excess water and mash up the dates with a fork until a smooth paste is formed. Add this paste into the oat mixture. You can also try using mashed ripe banana as an alternative natural sweetener. Alternatively, to cut down on sugar, use half the amount of maple syrup and add in unsweetened applesauce.

The matcha powder flavor is almost undetectable but if you would like a stronger presence, simply add in another half teaspoon or so. If you have trouble finding matcha powder, omit altogether.

Cooking and Serving Tips

This recipe is very simple and requires no baking. It is especially great in the summer time.

To minimize the number of dishes used, mix all the ingredients for the oat mixture in one bowl. You can also save time by using chocolate chips—they are convenient to melt instead of having to chop up chocolate.

The oat bites do not need to be refrigerated for any food safety reasons, but the chocolate will melt otherwise.

Plus, it keeps the balls intact. Store them in the freezer, as you may not always finish the whole batch within a few days. This way, you can take one or two out as needed and they are as delicious frozen as they are thawed out. Enjoy these as a snack mid-day or for a light dessert in the evening.

Health and Wellness Associates

Preventative and Restorative Medicine

healthwellnessassociates@gmail.com

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

10 Proven Ways to Overcome Jealousy

Health and Wellness Associates

 

10 Proven Ways to Overcome Jealousy.

 

Jealousy has struck all of us at some point in our lives. In fact, we might have been under the spell of jealousy even before our very first memories. Jealous behaviors can be observed in human beings as early as infancy, but it’s one of those things that we likely won’t outgrow. Jealousy can intensify with age because the only thing worse than jealousy is romantic jealousy.

Think you’re too old or too “experienced” in relationships to be swept away by romantic jealousy? That’s unlikely. It can happen to anyone at any age. Jealousy usually has an interesting way of afflicting even the most (self-proclaimed) super-confident, “non-jealous” types.

The funny thing about romantic jealousy is that a) It’s never funny to the afflicted person, and b) People act like admitting to being jealous is like confessing to a crime. This could occur for various reasons, but it’s likely that the jealous person is already humiliated enough to discover that they can’t hide their jealousy (resulting in someone noticing it and pointing it out), therefore admitting to being jealous is only intensifying those uneasy feelings.

Like most things in life, romantic jealousy is okay in moderation. But what if you’re romantic jealousy goes overboard or even becomes obsessive in nature? This can not only affect your relationship, but also rob you of your happiness (and your sanity).

Below are 10 ways that are more than just band-aid solutions for overcoming romantic jealousy. Jealous feelings flare up for a reason and it’s important to look at yourself a little deeper and think about why you’re having these feelings. Romantic jealousy might begin a process of self-discovery and allow you to make some positive changes to not only better your relationship, but increase your overall happiness and wellbeing.

1. Don’t compare yourself

This tip is number one for a reason because if there is one thing that jealous people have in common it’s comparing themselves to others. The point of comparison is typically the individual that we believe our romantic partner is interested in or “likes” better than us.[1] The danger with engaging in this downward-spiral habit: It feeds into negative things like low self-esteem, bitterness, cynicism, envy…you name it.

What to do: We all give in and compare ourselves to others once in a while, but it’s important to combat this by acknowledging our positive traits and qualities. If you find yourself looking to another person and comparing your life to theirs, this could mean that you need to take some time to celebrate your own accomplishments and recognize your own uniqueness.

2. Focus on your relationship

jealousyRomantic jealousy not only takes up a lot of your mental space, but also physical space between you and your partner. When your conversations with your partner are characterized by arguments related to jealousy, you’re taking up time and energy that you can be spending and enjoying together.

 

What to do: One of the mysteries behind romantic jealousy is that the core fear of the jealous person is losing their partner, but the very acts that accompany jealousy can make that possibility come true. In other words, your biggest fear is losing your partner, but by letting jealousy interfere with your relationship, you might be pushing your partner away from you. Give your relationship priority over your jealousy.

 

3. How do you see yourself?

Self-esteem issues are an important root cause of romantic jealousy. Working on increasing self-esteem can be a lifelong process for some, but you can start by thinking about how your jealousy is influenced by your beliefs about yourself. If you feel you are not “enough” for your partner (i.e., smart enough, good looking enough, funny enough, rich enough, etc.) then you are prone to suffering from romantic jealousy.

What to do: One of the most effective ways to work on increasing your self-esteem is by participating in one (or more) activities or hobbies that you enjoy that provides you with a sense of meaning and accomplishment. This is not as complicated as it sounds. This hobby or activity can be anything you enjoy (e.g., cooking, singing, drawing, swimming, dancing). The point is that you’re doing something that makes you feel good about yourself, something that reminds you that there is more to you than the list of “enough’s”. You have many positive qualities and abilities that make you a special person. Practice acknowledging and celebrating this fact.

 

4. Forgive and forget

Romantic jealousy is often ridden with not just jealousy about things going on in the present, but things in your partners past as well. These “things” can be anything from baggage from a past relationship to an ex that is still somehow in your partner’s life. Forgetting the past is not an easy task, but it is critical if you want to enjoy a positive and lasting relationship with your partner.

What to do: There is a prerequisite, though, in your quest to forget your partners past: You must accept your partner for who they are. Neither you nor your partner can change what happened in the past. If you are accepting to be in a relationship with your partner, you should also agree to accept and respect the “life baggage” that they carry.

 

5. It might be you, not them

Oftentimes, people who are jealous fail to accept their own role in the problem and feel that it’s their partner who is triggering the jealous feelings and actions. In your pursuit to overcome romantic jealousy, consider that these feelings might actually have nothing to do with your partner.[5]

What to do: In many cases, jealousy is a personal, internal state of insecurity and self-doubt. You could be trying to ease the burden on yourself by blaming your partner for “making” you jealous. Taking responsibility is key in order to begin addressing the problem.

 

6. Talk to your partner

Discussions between couples about romantic jealousy often appear more like an interrogation than an actual dialogue. Your partner will likely become defensive, tune you out, label you “jealous,” and dismiss anything you have to say.

What to do: If after you have thoroughly thought about your role and responsibility for your jealous behaviors you continue to feel like your partner is partly to blame, then it’s time to talk about it. This conversation should occur at a “neutral” time (i.e., not during or shortly after an argument or disagreement) and should consist of the following:

  • Express your feelings to your partner. This is not the time to pretend that you’re not jealous. Your partner already knows you are, so leave the pride aside.
  • Be specific about what bothers you. Don’t make general or arbitrary statements that leave your partner guessing or confused.
  • Try to arrive at a solution together. Talking about a problem without participating in offering a solution comes off like you’re just complaining. Tell your partner how you would like to resolve your concerns and let your partner come up with solutions too.

7. Who you surround yourself with

A couple went for marriage counseling for issues unrelated to jealousy. After a few months of counseling, the wife suddenly began to bring up issues related to romantic jealousy. It was later revealed that the couple had recently rekindled an old friendship with another couple. The wife in the other relationship was extremely jealous towards her husband and would vent all of her jealous suspicions to her friend.

What to do: We all know the importance of surrounding ourselves with positive people, but we really understand this when we notice someone else’s issues or negative qualities rubbing off on us. If you are struggling with romantic jealousy, having a group of friends who either egg you on or speak negatively about relationships in general will only bring you down. Strive to surround yourself with other people that you would like to emulate.

8. Stop stalking…

People struggling with romantic jealousy often spend hours trying to dig up information on their partner. They search emails, social media sites, personal belongings, cell phones, or even try to secretly follow their partner. Finding no evidence to substantiate their jealousy theories does not discourage them. It only seems to make them search longer and harder. Stalking feeds into the obsession aspect of romantic jealousy. It is time consuming and distressing for the jealous partner. When the other partner finds out about the stalking behaviors, they might feel angered at the mistrust and the violation of privacy.

What to do: Think about how you are investing your time, the way it makes you feel when you are stalking your partner, and what else you can be doing with your time instead. This can help put things in perspective. If you ask someone who has overcome romantic jealousy, they will likely tell you that they took a “let the chips fall where they may” approach to their relationship: If their partner is doing something wrong, sooner or later the truth will be revealed. They refuse, though, to let negative behaviors rob their happiness and well being.

9. …so you can stop and smell the roses

stalkingImagine yourself enjoying your relationship without putting in all the energy that jealousy takes from you. Once you free yourself from some of the negative thoughts and behaviors that accompany romantic jealousy, you will be amazed to rediscover all of things you’ve been missing. You will also find that you are enjoying your partner and your relationship so much more.

 

What to do: Visualize what your ideal relationship with your partner would look like. Write your ideas down if needed. Once you set the intention to work on yourself you will be more likely to actively put effort towards your goals.

 

10. Confidence is key

When we want to make personal changes, sometimes there is an inevitable focus on the negative: Your issues, your problems, and your negative traits. Change can also successfully take place by focusing on and building upon something positive that will counter or outweigh the negative behavior that you want to change. Confidence is the direct opposite of jealousy. When you build self-confidence, feelings like jealousy, doubt, and insecurity don’t have room to grow. Those feelings will always be present to a certain extent because we’re human, but your confidence and belief in yourself will prevail.

What to do: Developing and increasing your self-confidence works in much the same way as the other tips on this article. You must acknowledge and accept your own uniqueness and dedicate your time to activities that make you feel good about yourself and give you a sense of purpose. If your self-confidence is based on what others think or say about you or what you think your partner expects from you, then your beliefs about yourself will likely be unstable and ever changing. When your self-confidence is based on what you feel and know about yourself, then you alone are in charge of your own happiness.

Health and Wellness Associates

Preventative and Restorative Medicine

healthwellnessassociates@gmail.com

Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Exercise to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Exercise to Lower Your Blood Pressure

 hbp

In the U.S., an estimated 1 in 3 has high blood pressure (hypertension); another 1 in 3 has prehypertension.1 A blood pressure reading of 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) is considered healthy.

High blood pressure is typically considered anything over 140/90 mmHg, although updated guidelines2 from the American Heart Association now have 130/80 mmHg as the cutoff for a diagnosis of hypertension. Elevated systolic pressure (the top or high number) is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia.3

While drugs are typically the first-line treatment for hypertension, they’re associated with a number of problematic side effects. For example, research4 published in 2017 found hydrochlorothiazide — one of the most popular drugs used worldwide to treat high blood pressure — raises the risk of skin cancer sevenfold.

Diuretics, also commonly prescribed for high blood pressure, have the side effect of leaching both sodium and potassium out of your body, and maintaining a healthy sodium-to-potassium ratio is really important for the normalization of your blood pressure.5

Potassium is also needed for proper muscle movement, including the contractions of your heart, and if your level gets depleted it can trigger muscle cramps and heart problems. So, what can you do beside popping a daily pill? The good news is exercise can go a long way toward normalizing your blood pressure.6,7,8

Increasing Insulin Sensitivity Is the First Line of Treatment for High Blood Pressure

Over 80 percent of the U.S. population are insulin resistant and this metabolic dysfunction causes a boatload of problems, such as an increased risk of obesity and diabetes. There are many well-reported links between obesity and high blood pressure.9 Most, but certainly not all, those with hypertension are overweight, and in those circumstances losing weight is associated with lowering of their blood pressure.

So, if you have high blood pressure your first strategy is to regain your metabolic flexibility and be able to burn fat as a primary fuel once again. This will not only decrease your insulin resistance and help optimize your weight, but also radically decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.10

Exercise Is Another Potent Therapy for High Blood Pressure

Inactivity and blood pressure are also closely related — so closely that exercise is actually considered a first line of treatment by several health authorities, including the World Health Organization, the International Society of Hypertension and the U.S. Joint National Committee on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, just to name a few.11

Research shows inactive individuals have a 30 to 50 percent greater risk for high blood pressure than their active counterparts.12 As noted in a literature review13 on exercise and hypertension, published in Australian Family Physician:

“An evidence based literature analysis by the American College of Sports Medicine indicates that an isolated exercise session (acute effect) lowers BP [blood pressure] an average of 5 to 7 mmHg … [T]he average BP reduction with regular endurance exercise for hypertensives not normalized by drug therapy in the literature review is 7.4/5.8mmHg …

Depending upon the degree the patient’s BP has been normalized by drug therapy, regular aerobic exercise significantly reduces BP the equivalent of 1 class of antihypertensive medication (chronic effect) … Overall, resistance training has a favorable chronic effect on resting BP, but the magnitude of the BP reductions are less than those reported for an aerobic based exercise program …

For most hypertensive patients, exercise is quite safe. Caution is required for those over 50 years of age, and those with established cardiovascular disease (CVD) (or at high CVD risk) and in these patients, the advice of a clinical exercise physiologist is recommended.”

Try These Exercises to Lower Your Blood Pressure

The key to affect your blood pressure is to do physical activity that raises your heart rate, making your heart beat faster and increase blood flow. This is also known as cardiovascular or aerobic exercise.

As you might guess, just about any physical movement can achieve this, depending on your current state of fitness. Even yard work can be a cardiovascular exercise. Raking and mulching, for example, takes some effort and will get your heart pumping. Other aerobic exercises include:

Brisk walking and/or running — Research14 published in 2013 found moderate-intensity brisk walking produced similar reductions in blood pressure as vigorous-intensity running.
Swimming and/or water aerobics — In one study,15 adults aged 50 and over who swam three to four times a week for 12 weeks improved their vascular function and reduced their systolic blood pressure by an average of nine points.
Bicycling — A 2016 study16 showed that people in their 40s through 60s who bicycled to and from work were less likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or prediabetes. After 10 years of follow-up, bicycle commuters had an 11 percent lower risk for hypertension than nonbikers.
Weightlifting and/or body weight exercises — A small 2012 study,17 which included middle-aged men diagnosed with high blood pressure who had previously exercised less than two hours a week and were not using antihypertensive medication, showed that after weight training for 45 to 60 minutes (three sets of 12 repetitions for each of seven exercises), systolic blood pressure was reduced by an average of 22 mmHg and diastolic pressure by an average of 8 mmHg.
Skiing
Skating
Rowing
Dancing
Sports such as tennis, soccer and ultimate Frisbee

Isometric Handgrip Training Lowers Blood Pressure in Older Adults

Isometric handgrip exercises have also been shown to have a positive impact on blood pressure in older adults.

Interestingly, a 2013 systematic review18 concluded improving your handgrip strength was even more effective for lowering systolic blood pressure than conventional endurance and strength training programs.

Other studies19,20 have also confirmed the benefit of both handgrip and leg extension exercises on blood pressure. As noted in one of them:21

“Isometric resistance training lowers [systolic blood pressure], [diastolic blood pressure], and mean arterial pressure. The magnitude of effect is larger than that previously reported in dynamic aerobic or resistance training. Our data suggest that this form of training has the potential to produce significant and clinically meaningful blood pressure reductions and could serve as an adjunctive exercise modality.”

Boosting Your Nitric Oxide Level Helps Lower Blood Pressure

Another excellent exercise is the Nitric Oxide Dump. This and other high-intensity exercises help normalize your blood pressure by triggering production of nitric oxide in your body. It involves just four movements — squats, alternating arm raises, nonjumping jacks and shoulder presses — which are done in repetitions of 10, with four sets each. In total, it takes just three to four minutes. Ideally, you’d do these exercises three times a day, a few hours apart.

Nitric oxide is a soluble gas stored in your endothelium (the lining of your blood vessels) and acts as an important signaling molecule throughout your body. Along with promoting healthy endothelial function, nitric oxide also supports heart health by helping your veins and arteries dilate, which promotes healthy blood flow.

Nitric oxide also plays a protective role in your mitochondrial health, the energy storehouse of your cells, responsible for the utilization of energy for all metabolic functions. Even your skeletal muscle, which is made up of only about 1 percent to 2 percent mitochondria, depend on these energy powerhouses to fuel your daily movements.

When you exercise and your muscles ache, it’s because you’ve run out of oxygen, which your body compensates for by releasing nitric oxide. But here’s the secret that’s not widely known: When you exercise, it takes only about 90 seconds for your blood vessels to run out of stored nitric oxide and begin the process of making more.

This is why working major muscle groups for as little as 90 seconds can be so effective.22 You can also take advantage of the nitric oxide-boosting power of vegetable nitrates, which serve as precursors for nitric oxide. Arugula is the highest source but fermented beet powder can have up to 500 percent greater concentration of nitrates.

How Much Exercise Do You Need to Help Normalize Your Blood Pressure?

As a general recommendation, aim for moderate-intensity activity 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.23 The higher the intensity of your exercise, the lower the frequency needs to be, so if you’re doing more vigorous aerobic activity, you can get away with doing just three days a week. In addition to that, it’s recommended to perform some sort of muscle strengthening exercise two days a week.

If you have high blood pressure, chances are you’re not exercising enough at present. If that’s the case, start slow and build your way up. For example, start taking a walk a few times a week, and increase the frequency as you start feeling more able. Over time, also step up the intensity, and be sure to add some form of strength training — especially if you’re insulin resistant — as well as isometric handgrip exercises, which can easily be done while watching TV or otherwise relaxing.

I also recommend training yourself to breathe through your nose when exercising, as mouth breathing during exercise can raise your heart rate and blood pressure, sometimes resulting in fatigue and dizziness.

Source: American Heart Association

Other Lifestyle Strategies for Lowering Your Blood Pressure

Aside from exercise, here are several additional suggestions that can help lower your blood pressure naturally.

Optimize your vitamin D level — Vitamin D deficiency is associated with both arterial stiffness and hypertension.24 For optimal health, maintain a vitamin D level between 60 and 80 nanograms per milliliter year-round.
Mind your sodium to potassium ratio — According to Dr. Lawrence Appel, lead researcher on the DASH diet and director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research at Johns Hopkins, your diet as a whole is the key to controlling hypertension — not salt reduction alone.

He believes a major part of the equation is this balance of minerals — i.e., most people need less sodium and more potassium, calcium and magnesium. According to Appel,25 “Higher levels of potassium blunt the effects of sodium. If you can’t reduce or won’t reduce sodium, adding potassium may help. But doing both is better.”

Indeed, maintaining a proper potassium to sodium ratio in your diet is very important, and hypertension is but one of many side effects of an imbalance. A processed food diet virtually guarantees you’ll have a lopsided ratio of too much sodium to potassium. Making the switch from processed foods to whole foods will automatically improve your ratios.

Intermittent and partial fasting — Intermittent fasting is one of the most effective ways I’ve found to normalize your insulin/leptin sensitivity, which is a root cause of hypertension. My new book, Keto Fasting which goes into great detail about partial fasting comes out next spring.
Walk barefoot — Going barefoot will help you ground to the earth. Experiments show that walking barefoot outside (also referred to as Earthing or grounding) improves blood viscosity and blood flow, which help regulate blood pressure. So, do yourself a favor and ditch your shoes now and then.

Grounding also calms your sympathetic nervous system, which supports your heart rate variability. This in turn promotes homeostatis, or balance, in your autonomic nervous system. In essence, anytime you improve heart rate variability, you’re improving your entire body and all of its functions.

Address your stress — The connection between stress and hypertension is well documented, yet still does not receive the emphasis it deserves. In fact, it has been shown that people with heart dis­ease can lower their risk of subsequent cardiac events by over 70 percent simply by learning to manage their stress.

Suppressed negative emotions such as fear, anger and sadness can severely limit your ability to cope with the unavoidable every day stresses of life. It’s not the stressful events themselves that are harmful, but your lack of ability to cope.

The good news is strategies exist to quickly and effectively transform your suppressed, negative emotions and relieve stress. My preferred method is the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), an easy to learn, easy to use technique for releasing negative emotions. EFT combines visualization with calm, relaxed breathing, while employing gentle tapping to “reprogram” deeply seated emotional patterns.

Essential oils — A number of essential oils can also be helpful, including lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, bergamot, rose, frankincense, rosemary, lemon balm and clary sage. In one study,26scientists found exposure to essential oil for one hour effectively reduced stress as measured by a reduction in the participants’ heart rate and blood pressure.

The effect was only temporary, however. In another, similar study,27 inhalation of a blend of lavender, ylang-ylang, neroli and marjoram essential oils was associated with a reduction in blood pressure and cortisol secretion, which is often elevated during stress.

 

Foods, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

4 Foods That Make You Smarter, Really

Health and WEllness Associates

EHS – Telehealth

 

4 Foods That Make You Smarter, Really

 

Do you ever wish you could improve your memory or concentration? Does your brain sometimes feel sluggish when you’re trying to learn something new? You might shrug it off as a lack of smarts, but poor mental performance could also be linked to the foods you eat. You can choose to eat foods that will make you smarter, help you process information faster and help you retain what you learn.

 

4foodstosmart

Can food really make you smarter?

Some people are naturally more gifted in certain areas than others. Eating amazing food will not suddenly make you a mathematical genius or a musical prodigy. However, your brain does have potential for learning, and making some specific dietary choices can help you realize that potential by improving your ability to focus, remember, and make connections.

What foods should you eat?

Your mind and body benefit from healthier foods in general, but there are some specific foods that are especially nourishing for your brain. Try to add these foods to your diet to boost your brain power:

  • Walnuts: Walnuts are the king of nuts when it comes to brain health. They have the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut. Your brain uses omega-3 fatty acids. When you don’t get enough of this nutrient to feed your brain, cognitive function starts to decline, especially memory.
  • Fish: Like walnuts, fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, but that is not its only benefit. Researchers discovered that eating fish once a week increased grey matter in the brain. Eating fish can actually prevent age-related deterioration of brain function — fish makes you smarter, and you stay smarter for longer when you make it part of your diet.
  • Blueberries: Berries are one of the best foods for brain health. Blueberries and other berries (like blackberries and raspberries) improve the neural pathways in your brain, prevent neural cell death, reduce inflammation, and improve cognitive and behavioral function in the brain.
  • Leafy greens. Green foods are among the most nutrient dense on the planet. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, especially folic acid, which helps to prevent against cognitive decline. Greens will help you be more aware of your surroundings and keep your vocabulary sharp.

Think about it — a salad with kale, spinach, walnuts, salmon and blueberries could be the best thing to give your brain on a daily basis!

What foods should you avoid?

Just like some foods give your brain a boost, others push it into a fog. The biggest brain-buster is sugar. Diets high in sugar and high-fructose corn syrup drastically reduce your mental readiness. Researchers discovered that elevated sugar in the diet leads to greater insulin production and resistance in the brain. Exposure to elevated insulin reduces the brain’s response, leading to memory loss and slower motor function. Increased insulin resistance also affects how well your cells store energy for later use — your brain will not be able to fire on all cylinders without the right available nutrients.

Your diet affects how well you’ll do on a test, how quickly you respond to drivers on the road at rush hour, or how quickly you solve a problem. So, the next time you’re trying to decide what to make for lunch, remember to feed your brain.

 

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Red Flag for Early Learning Disabilities

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Red Flag for Early Learning Disabilities

 

redflag

 

Learning a new subject may involve many mistakes. But when they are too frequent and long-lasting, they may be symptoms of a learning disorder, the National Institutes of Health says.

A learning disability isn’t a measure of how smart a child is. It’s caused by a difference in the brain that’s present from birth, or shortly after. This affects how the brain handles information, and may cause problems with reading, writing and math.

 

Some of the early warning signs of a preschooler having a learning disability.

Trouble interacting with others, plays alone

Easily frustrated

Hard to manage, temper tantrums

Has difficulty following directions or focusing for long periods of time.

 

The agency says your child should be evaluated for a learning disability if the child has:

 

Difficulty reading or writing.

Issues with learning basic math concepts.

Difficulty remembering.

Trouble following directions.

Problems staying organized.

 

Do not count on a teacher to determine things by this behavior.  They have their own experiences with this, but can not tell the difference with a learning disability or an early mental health disorder.

 

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Diets and Weight Loss, Foods, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Calorie Counts on Menus May Be Trimming Americans’ Waistlines

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Calorie Counts on Menus May Be Trimming Americans’ Waistlines

fastfood

With roughly 40 percent of Americans now obese, new research finds that one strategy may be helping Americans stay slim: calorie counts on restaurant menus.

Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, chain restaurants with 20 or more franchises must now list a meal’s calorie count on their menus and order boards.

And some cities and states — including New York City, Philadelphia and Seattle, and all of California, Massachusetts and Oregon — have gone a step further, imposing broad calorie label mandates in full-service restaurants.

Now, a snapshot of the ordering habits in two full-service, sit-down restaurants suggests the legislative moves are having an impact.

“We conducted an experiment with over 5,500 diners in real-world restaurants and found that calorie labels led customers to order 3 percent fewer calories,” said study author John Cawley. The drop amounted to about 45 fewer calories consumed per meal.

“This was due to reductions in calories ordered as appetizers and entrees,” he added, with little change seen in the calorie count of either drinks or desserts.

That second finding struck Cawley, a professor in the departments of policy analysis and management, and economics at Cornell University, as surprising.

“Before we started, I expected that people would reduce calories in desserts, but they didn’t,” he said.

Why?

“In interpreting that, it’s important to remember that people will change their behavior when the information is new or surprising,” he explained. “People may have already known that desserts are high-calorie and not cut back, but been surprised by the number of calories in appetizers and entrees, and so reduced calories there.”

Cawley calculated that over a three-year period, the calorie cut would lead to weight loss in the range of one pound.

“Not large,” he acknowledged, “but it’s also a cheap policy, and philosophically it’s attractive to allow people to make informed decisions.”

What’s more, “the vast majority of people support having calorie labels on menus, and those who were exposed to them expressed even higher support,” he added.

The findings were published recently as a report issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private nonprofit research organization.

Both restaurants in the study were located on a university campus.

Dining parties were randomly given a menu with or without calorie-count labels. About 43 percent of the study participants were men. The average age was 34, and about two-thirds were white.

Appetizers contained between 200 to 910 calories, entrees contained 580 to 1,840 calories, and desserts contained 420 to 1,150 calories. Drinks ranged from 100 to 370 calories.

Beyond the 3 percent calorie drop linked to the labeling, the researchers also found that consumer support for labeling went up by almost 10 percent among patrons who were given labeled menus.

And restaurant revenue did not seem to be affected by the type of menu offered, despite long-voiced industry concerns that calorie counts might undermine a food establishment’s bottom line.

Lona Sandon is an associate professor in the department of clinical nutrition with the school of health professions at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. She said the study makes it “apparent that some people at least pay attention” to labels.

But the move is just “one piece in the big puzzle of addressing the public health problem of obesity,” she said.

“I do not see a drastic change in overweight and obesity rates anytime soon as a result of the menu labeling,” Sandon added.

“On the positive side, it is making people more aware. It may also be making restaurant owners and chefs more aware, which could lead to them putting more healthier options on the menu,” she said. “Between the labeling and changes in recipes, we could get more impact.”

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Vaccine Scandal – A Must Read!

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China’s vaccine scandal explodes as one million doses now found to be maiming Chinese children… total cover-up by the media

 

North American gets 30% of their vaccines from China

Baby-Asian-Vaccine-Polio-Doctor-Illness-Mmr.jpg

 

The Chinese government has admitted that hundreds of thousands more doses of children’s vaccines are faulty, bringing the total number of vaccines known to be defective there to nearly one million.

The State Council of China announced that another batch of vaccines for diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) that were produced by the firm Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology, were considered “substandard.” Most of the doses were sold to authorities in the Shandong province in northeastern China, and some have already been given to children.

The latest batch of 247,200 vaccines joins the 253,338 defective DPT vaccines from the same company that were discovered last November, along with more than 400,000 produced by a different company.

According to the South China Morning Post, 76 percent of those children who were given injections from the first substandard batch have already been treated by doctors, and there are now plans in place to treat those who received injections from the second batch.

Although the Chinese government has done its best to prevent people from talking about the crisis, Chinese social media is still full of conversation about the topic. There have also been reports that the company used expired ingredients and altered testing records.

Last month, thousands of enraged parents expressed their anger and disappointment that their country has let them down when it comes to their handling of vaccines. The Chinese president promised swift action and a prompt investigation, yet the problem continues.

Critics have accused the government of being more concerned about saving face than making things right with the children who were subjected to the faulty vaccines. In the Nikkei Asian Review, Yanzhong Huang writes:

“Officials have reportedly restricted news coverage and censors have swiftly scrubbed away widely shared essays and posts criticizing the government or spreading bad news. Even news reports from state-owned publications, such as an investigation into Wuhan Institute’s substandard vaccines by the newspaper Economic Observer, have been taken down.”

He called for Beijing to improve vaccine safety and for the public and the press to get involved in exposing violators. He said that whistleblowers should be viewed as heroes rather than troublemakers.

Arrests, recalls issued in vaccine scandal

Some Changsheng Biotechnology personnel have already been arrested in connection with the problem. Chairwoman Gao Junfang, who is also known as the “Vaccine Queen” and considered one of China’s wealthiest women, is among the 18 people who have been arrested so far. The mayor of the drug manufacturer’s home city, Changchun, has also been arrested, along with the deputy governor of the Jilin province where the company is located and the national drug regulator’s deputy director.

Where is the media outrage?

It’s not just the Chinese government that is trying to keep the scandal quiet; many American mainstream news outlets are also ignoring the situation or keeping their coverage to a minimum, which isn’t surprising given their general reluctance to report on anything that could cast the vaccine industry in a negative light.

There isn’t any word on injuries caused by the vaccines, but vaccines have been impounded and production has been suspended. There has also been a recall of vaccine products from foreign markets, but details are scarce.

Chinese parents had already lost a great degree of confidence in the government after a scandal a few years ago in which children were disabled and even killed by vaccines that were ruined after they had been transported and stored improperly. This latest incident won’t do much to restore their faith.

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The Nightmare Pill!

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1 in 6 Women Take This Nightmare Pill While Many Studies Suggest It’s Useless

 

Use of Antidepressants Continue to Rise

wingsandclaws

 

Major depression is one of the most common disorders in the U.S., with 16 million adults reporting at least one major depressive episode in the past year. When you look at all forms of depression, that number goes even higher. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 24 million Americans experience some form of depression, which can interfere with personal and work relationships, reduce work or academic performance and affect physical health.

 

Depression reduces your ability to care for yourself properly and make adequate decisions about your health, including nutrition and sleep. Imbalances in nutrition, weight fluctuations and poor sleep habits may lead to compromised immune function.

 

If ignored, depression can become chronic and can lead to self-harming behaviors such as drug or alcohol abuse6 and even be terminal if the person commits suicide. Up to 70 percent of people who commit suicide are clinically depressed, and 90 percent of people who struggle with suicidal thoughts experience a combination of depression and substance abuse.

 

Antidepressant Use Continues to Rise

According to the latest statistics use of antidepressants in the U.S. rose by 65 percent between 1999 and 2014. As of 2017:

 

  • Nearly 1 in 8 Americans (13 percent) over the age of 12 reported being on antidepressant medication

 

  • 1 in 6 women (16.5 percent) reported antidepressant use compared to 1 in 11 men (9 percent)

 

  • About one-quarter of those who had taken an antidepressant in the past month reported being on them for 10 years or more

 

  • Caucasians were more than three times more likely to use antidepressants than Blacks, Hispanics or Asians (16.5 percent compared to 5.6 percent, 5 percent and 3.3 percent respectively)

 

In Scotland, researchers also warn that antidepressant use among children under the age of 12 has risen dramatically.13 Between 2009 and 2016, use in this age group quadrupled. Use among children under 18 doubled in the same time frame.

 

Research Reveals Antidepressants Are Rarely the Right Answer

Unfortunately, the most widely used remedy for depression is also among the least effective. In addition to a long list of potential side effects (which include worsening depression and suicide), 40 percent of people with major depressive disorder treated with antidepressants do not achieve full remission.16

 

Perhaps more importantly, studies have repeatedly shown antidepressants work no better than placebo for mild to moderate depression, so you’re taking grave risks for a very small chance of benefit. As noted in a 2014 paper on antidepressants and the placebo effect:

 

“Antidepressants are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance, specifically, a lack of serotonin in the brain … But analyses of the published data and the unpublished data that were hidden by drug companies reveals that most (if not all) of the benefits are due to the placebo effect …

 

Analyzing the data we had found, we were not surprised to find a substantial placebo effect on depression. What surprised us was how small the drug effect was. Seventy-five percent of the improvement in the drug group also occurred when people were give dummy pills with no active ingredient in them.

 

The serotonin theory is as close as any theory in the history of science to having been proved wrong. Instead of curing depression, popular antidepressants may induce a biological vulnerability making people more likely to become depressed in the future.”

 

Placebo Effect Accounts for 82 Percent of Drug Response

The author of that 2014 study, Irving Kirsch, is a psychotherapist who has performed a number of analyses on antidepressants. In 2002, his team filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), asking for the trial data provided by drug companies as part of the drug approval process.

 

The FDA requires drug companies to provide data on all clinical trials they’ve sponsored, including unpublished trials. As it turned out, nearly half of all clinical trials on antidepressants remained unpublished. When both published and unpublished trials were included, 57 percent showed the drug had no clinical benefit over placebo. What’s more, the placebo response actually accounted for 82 PERCENT of the beneficial response to antidepressants!

 

These results were reproduced in a 2010 study using another, even larger set of FDA trial data. According to Kirsch, “Once again, 82 percent of the drug response was duplicated by placebo.” A major benefit of evaluating FDA trial data was that all of the trials used the same primary measure of depression, which made the drug-to-placebo effects very easy to identify and compare.

 

The primary measure of depression used in these studies was the Hamilton depression scale, a 17-item scale with a possible score of 0 to 53 points. The higher your score, the more severe your depression. Importantly, the mean difference between antidepressants and placebo was less than two points (1.8) on this scale, which is considered clinically insignificant.

 

To illustrate just how insignificant of a difference this is, you can score a 6-point difference simply by changing sleep patterns without any reported change in other depressive symptoms.

 

EMFs — A Not Well-Known Cause of Anxiety and Depression

About one year ago Dr. Martin Pall published a review in the Journal of Neuroanatomy showing how microwave radiation from cell phones, Wi-Fi routers and computers and tablets not in airplane mode is clearly associated with many neuropsychiatric disorders. I recently did an interview with him that will air on September 3. In the meantime, you can view my interview on EMFs that I discussed on my recent trip to visit with Dave Asprey, founder and CEO of Bulletproof.

 

These microwave EMFs increase intracellular calcium through voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs) and the tissue with the highest density of VGCCs is the brain. Once these VGCCs are stimulated they also cause the release of neurotransmitters and neuroendocrine hormones leading to not only anxiety and depression, but neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and brain cancer.

 

So, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, be sure to limit your exposure to wireless technology. Simple measures include turning your Wi-Fi off at night, not carrying your cellphone on your body and not keeping portable phones, cellphones and other electric devices in your bedroom.

 

Studies have also confirmed the therapeutic effects of spending time in nature.  Ecotherapy has been shown to lower stress, improve mood and significantly reduce symptoms of depression. Outdoor activities could be just about anything, from walking a nature trail to gardening, or simply taking your exercise outdoors.

 

Breath work such as the Buteyko breathing technique also has enormous psychological benefits and can quickly reduce anxiety by increasing the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in your body. These three techniques are a perfect complement to each other, and cost nothing. Simply turn off your electronics, head outside and practice proper breathing.

 

America Struggles With Notable Decline in Mental Health 

While prescriptions for psychiatric drugs keep increasing (when you include other drugs beside antidepressants, such as anti-anxiety drugs, nearly 17 percent of American adults are medicated, several parameters show mental health in the U.S. is declining.

 

Suicide rates are at a 30-year high, mental disorders are now the second most common cause of disability, having risen sharply since 1980, and prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths have become a public health emergency. While opioid pain killers are among the most lethal, psychiatric drugs also take their toll. In 2013, anti-anxiety benzodiazepine drugs accounted for nearly one-third of prescription overdose deaths.

 

All of these statistics suggest that far from being helpful, antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs are making the situation worse. Sure, these drugs may be helpful for a small minority of people with very severe mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, but clearly, the vast majority of people using these drugs do not suffer from severe psychiatric illness.

 

Most are struggling with sadness, grief, anxiety, “the blues” and depression, which are in many ways part of your body’s communication system, revealing nutritional or sunlight deficiencies and/or spiritual disconnect, for example. The underlying reasons for these kinds of troubles are manifold, but you can be sure that, whatever the cause, an antidepressant will not correct it.

 

Women also need to be mindful of the fact that use of antidepressants during pregnancy can significantly increase your chances of having a child with autism. One study found antidepressant use during the second or third trimester was associated with an 87 percent increased risk of autism. The use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors was associated with double the risk of autism in the child, while the use of two or more antidepressants increased the risk more than fourfold.

 

Which Treatments Actually Work?

If you’re at all interested in following science-based recommendations, you’d place antidepressants at the very bottom of your list of treatment candidates. Far more effective treatments for depression include:

 

  • Exercise — A number of studies have shown exercise outperforms drug treatment. Exercise helps create new GABA-producing neurons that help induce a natural state of calm, and boosts serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which helps buffer the effects of stress.

 

Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity, but even gentle forms of exercise can be effective. Yoga, for example, has received particular attention in a number of studies. A study published this spring found 90-minute yoga sessions three times a week reduced symptom of major depression by at least 50 percent.30

 

  • Nutritional intervention — Keeping inflammation in check is an important part of any effective treatment plan. If you’re gluten sensitive, you will need to remove all gluten from your diet. A food sensitivity test can help ascertain this. Reducing lectins may also be a good idea. As a general guideline, eating a whole food diet as described in my optimal nutrition plan can go a long way toward lowering your inflammation level. Certain nutritional deficiencies are also notorious contributors to depression, especially:

 

◦ Omega-3 fats. I recommend getting an omega-3 index test to make sure you’re getting enough. Ideally, you want your omega-3 index to be 8 percent or higher.

 

◦ B vitamins (including B1, B2, B3, B6, B8 and B12). Low dietary folate can raise your risk by as much as 300 percent. One of the most recent studies showing the importance of vitamin deficiencies in depression involved suicidal teens. Most turned out to be deficient in cerebral folate and all of them showed improvement after treatment with folinic acid.

 

  • Vitamin D — Studies have shown vitamin D deficiency can predispose you to depression and that depression can respond favorably to optimizing your vitamin D stores, ideally by getting sensible sun exposure.In one such study, people with a vitamin D level below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) had an 85 percent increased risk of depression compared to those with a level greater than 30 ng/mL.

 

A double-blind randomized trial38 published in 2008 concluded that supplementing with high doses of vitamin D “seems to ameliorate [depression] symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship. “Recent research39 also claims that low vitamin D levels appear to be associated with suicide attempts. For optimal health, make sure your vitamin D level is between 40 and 60 ng/mL year-round. Ideally, get a vitamin D test at least twice a year to monitor your level.

 

  • Probiotics — Keeping your gut microbiome healthy also has a significant effect on your moods, emotions and brain. You can read more in my previous article, “Mental Health May Depend on the Health of Your Gut Flora.”

 

  • Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) — EFT is a form of psychological acupressure that has been shown to be quite effective for depression and anxiety.40,41,42,43 For serious or complex issues, seek out a qualified health care professional that is trained in EFT44 to guide you through the process. That said, for most of you with depression symptoms, this is a technique you can learn to do effectively on your own.

 

One of my new favorites.  My mom passed away unexpectedly in July and I am very grateful she did not have cancer or struggles with any abuses from the conventional health system that many of our readers do. However, losing my mother was a major challenge in grief management for me.

 

I realize grief is not depression but the book “Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender”45 by Dr. David Hawkins, was one of the best books I have read this year and helped teach me the useful tool of how to free yourself of painful emotions. I have read many of Hawkins’ previous books but this was his last one as he also recently passed.

 

Other Helpful Treatment Strategies

Here are several other strategies that can help improve your mental health:46

 

Clean up your sleep hygiene

 

Make sure you’re getting enough high-quality sleep, as sleep is essential for optimal mood and mental health. A fitness tracker that tracks your sleep can be a useful tool. The inability to fall asleep and stay asleep can be due to elevated cortisol levels, so if you have trouble sleeping, you may want to get your saliva cortisol level tested with an Adrenal Stress Index test.

 

If you’re already taking hormones, you can try applying a small dab of progesterone cream on your neck or face when you awaken during the night and can’t call back to sleep. Another alternative is to take adaptogens, herbal products that help lower cortisol and adjust your body to stress. There are also other excellent herbs and amino acids that help you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Meditation can also help.

Optimize your gut health

 

A number of studies have confirmed gastrointestinal inflammation can play a critical role in the development of depression. Optimizing your gut microbiome will also help regulate a number of neurotransmitters and mood-related hormones, including GABA and corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety and depression-related behavior.

 

To nourish your gut microbiome, be sure to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and traditionally fermented foods. Healthy choices include fermented vegetables, lassi, kefir and natto. If you do not eat fermented foods on a regular basis, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement is recommended.

 

Also remember to severely limit sugars, especially fructose, as well as grains, to rebalance your gut flora. As a standard recommendation, I suggest limiting your daily fructose consumption from all sources to 25 grams per day or less.

Visualization

 

Visualization and guided imagery have been used for decades by elite athletes prior to an event, successful business people and cancer patients — all to achieve better results through convincing your mind you have already achieved successful results. Similar success has been found in people with depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

 

CBT has been used successfully to treat depression. This therapy assumes mood is related to the pattern of thought. CBT attempts to change mood and reverse depression by directing your thought patterns.

Make sure your cholesterol levels aren’t too low for optimal mental health

 

You may also want to check your cholesterol to make sure it’s not too low. Low cholesterol is linked to dramatically increased rates of suicide, as well as aggression toward others. This increased expression of violence toward self and others may be due to the fact that low membrane cholesterol decreases the number of serotonin receptors in the brain, which are approximately 30 percent cholesterol by weight.

 

Lower serum cholesterol concentrations therefore may contribute to decreasing brain serotonin, which not only contributes to suicidal-associated depression, but prevents the suppression of aggressive behavior and violence toward self and others.

Helpful supplements

 

A number of herbs and supplements can be used in lieu of drugs to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. These include:

 

  • St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). This medicinal plant has a long historical use for depression, and is thought to work similarly to antidepressants, raising brain chemicals associated with mood such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.

 

  • S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe). SAMe is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in all cells. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression.

 

  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). 5-HTP is another natural alternative to traditional antidepressants. When your body sets about manufacturing serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP. Taking 5-HTP as a supplement may raise serotonin levels. Evidence suggests 5-HTP outperforms a placebo when it comes to alleviating depression, which is more than can be said about antidepressants.

 

  • XingPiJieYu. This Chinese herb, available from doctors of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), has been found to reduce the effects of “chronic and unpredictable stress,” thereby lowering your risk of depression.

Guidelines for Safe Drug Withdrawal

If you’re currently on an antidepressant and want to get off it, ideally, you’ll want to have the cooperation of your prescribing physician. It would also be wise to do some homework on how to best proceed. Dr. Joseph Glenmullen from Harvard has written a helpful book on how to withdraw called “The Antidepressant Solution: A Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Antidepressant Withdrawal, Dependence, and Addiction.”

 

You can also turn to an organization with a referral list of doctors who practice more biologically or naturally, such as the American College for Advancement in Medicine at http://www.ACAM.org. A holistic psychiatrist will have a number of treatment options in their tool box that conventional doctors do not, and will typically be familiar with nutritional supplementation.

 

Once you have the cooperation of your prescribing physician, start lowering the dosage of the medication you’re taking. There are protocols for gradually reducing the dose that your doctor should be well aware of. At the same time, it may be wise to add in a multivitamin and/or other nutritional supplements or herbs. Again, your best bet would be to work with a holistic psychiatrist who is well-versed in the use of nutritional support.

 

If you have a friend or family member who struggles with depression, perhaps one of the most helpful things you can do is to help guide them toward healthier eating and lifestyle habits, as making changes can be particularly difficult when you’re feeling blue — or worse, suicidal. Encourage them to unplug and meet you outside for walks. We should not underestimate the power of human connection, and the power of connection with nature. Both, I believe, are essential for mental health and emotional stability.

 

If you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or call 911, or simply go to your nearest hospital emergency department. You cannot make long-term plans for lifestyle changes when you are in the middle of a crisis.

 

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