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Winter can be a magical time. Hot cocoa, snowy nights, sitting by the fireplace, Christmas lights- truly the season to be merry! But it can also have its downsides. Cold weather, lack of sun and shorter days, all of which can have an impact on our mental health. Your mental health plays an important role in your overall health. When you feel depressed, it can also make your physical health decline. 

Many of us get depressed or down this time of year. The dreaded winter blues. And there is a reason for that.

It’s called SAD. 
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year, usually in the fall or winter time. It is very common and should also be taken very seriously, as any form of depression should.

Seasonal affective disorder, often also referred to as the winter blues, is estimated to affect around 10 million Americans each year, while also being four times more common in women than in men. And most commonly occurring to those between the ages of 18 and 30. It is also much more common in those living farther north, where there are shorter daylight hours in the winter. Those living in Alaska may be more likely to develop SAD than people living in Florida. 

If you are experiencing SAD, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Less energy
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Fatigue
  • Increase appetite
  • Wanting to be alone
  • Feeling more tired- craving more sleep than usual
  • Weight gain

The main culprit of both the winter blues and SAD is the lower levels of natural sunlight we are exposed to in the fall and winter months. Less natural light can cause a dip in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, disruptions in circadian rhythms (your body’s internal clock), which help control sleep-wake cycles, as well as alterations in melatonin, a hormone associated with both mood and sleep.

It is crucial not to ignore any symptoms of SAD as well as any depression. Ignoring the symptoms will just worsen how you feel and bring you deeper into your depression. It is important to speak to your doctor if you experience any symptoms to see what treatment options may be best for you.

You may not need medication. There are natural ways to help combat seasonal depression. Finding one that works best for you will help you on the path to recovery and will help you plan for when depression strikes.

Some more natural ways to help your seasonal depression:

  • Light therapy: This is one of the most standard treatments for sufferers of SAD as light therapy actually replicates natural light with light boxes, which use white fluorescent bulbs to mimic sunlight. Light therapy can be particularly helpful in regulating the release of melatonin, which increases when the sun goes down.
  • Natural Sunlight:  We all feel better when the sun is shining. But in the winter, there are less sunny days, so it is important to get outside and take advantage of the sunshine as much as you can on the darker days. Take a walk and see the beauty winter has to offer, play with your kids in the snow or even try an outdoor winter activity like ice skating at your local ice rink. Exposing yourself to natural light can assist in boosting serotonin production in your body and improve your overall mood.
  • Exercise: It is well known that there is a strong exercise-mental health connection, especially  for those with depression and anxiety, so it makes sense that exercise is known as nature’s antidepressant. Exercise can increase serotonin and endorphins, which both affect mood. Even just 30 minutes each day can you a huge boost in your mood.
  • Vitamin D Supplementation (aka the sunshine vitamin). Vitamin D deficiency affects almost 50% of the population worldwide. An estimated 1 billion people worldwide suffer from  a vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of vitamin D is widely associated with depression. It is also sad that a  decrease in vitamin D production caused by reduced sunlight during the winter months may be a factor in seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

There are also lifestyle changes you can make to help you, just like any form of depression. Taking care of yourself is key to your mental health. Lifestyle changes will help guide you on your path to a more positive mindset.

  • Set a sleep pattern for yourself- try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day to help normalize your circadian rhythms.
  • Try to structure your eating patterns by eating three meals a day, around the same time every day if you can (this may vary on your routine and job type). Keep a balanced diet and try to avoid consuming too many carbs, such as starchy or sweet foods. Eat a balanced diet of proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.  Also try to incorporate foods that can help with depression. Specifically foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as: fatty fish (anchovy, mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna) flaxseed, canola and soybean oils, nuts, especially walnuts and dark green, leafy vegetables.
  • Make and KEEP- plans with friends and families to help you stay connected to your loved ones. Even if you make plans when you were in a better mood- then when the time comes to spend time with them- you don’t feel like it, try and make yourself. Engagement is important. 
  • Take time for yourself and engage in activities you enjoy. Even if it is just a relaxing soak in the tub, or curling up with a good book.
  • Stay positive- whenever you feel negative thoughts- think of something to counteract it. If you start feeling down on yourself, start a list of things you love about yourself. Don’t get down on yourself.

Don’t let winter dictate your happiness. Remember, feeling sad this time of year is normal. And you are not alone. Enjoy your winter, sadness free!




Resources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22629085/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

Depression is a terrible daily reality for many people—over 13% of the entire American population takes antidepressants, at last count. This figure is 65% higher than 15 years ago, and it continues to grow annually.[1]

Despite the skyrocketing prevalence of prescription antidepressants, there still isn’t much evidence that they actually work. In fact, the deeper one digs into the “chemical imbalance theory” of depression—the theory that depression is caused by low levels of serotonin in the brain—the more it looks like a fabrication invented by pharmaceutical companies to create a profit stream.

Let’s take a look at the whole story, and you can decide for yourself.

By the 1960’s, it was becoming fashionable to view mental disorders like any other medical condition, namely as a physiological imbalance that could be corrected using pharmacological means. It is, after all, a convenient way to think about psychiatric medicine, and one which lacks the complexity and ambiguity of psychoanalysis and other more holistic approaches to mental healthcare.

The problem is that this urge for convenience was never backed up by hard data in the first place. Even in 1965, after examining the evidence for “the catecholamine hypothesis of affective disorders,” The American Journal of Psychiatry reported that “the findings are inconclusive.”[2]

These lukewarm results didn’t stop the pharmaceutical industry from rushing in to meet psychiatrists’ desire for convenience, though. Before long, the chemical imbalance theory of depression became dogma.

This is particularly disturbing given that the antidepressants of the 1960s and 1970s were notoriously dangerous and side-effect-ridden. Clearly, the desire for an easy-to-understand mechanism underlying depression was so great that it overshadowed the concern for both rationality and safety.

When Prozac was brought to market in the late 1980s, the chemical myth of depression was further crystallized. Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Prozac, heavily promoted its product’s ability to correct chemical imbalances in the brain.

Psychology Today reports that “there was, of course, no demonstrable evidence that depressed patients had any imbalance,” and that Eli Lilly’s campaign was a giant marketing gimmick.[3]

Ronald W. Pies, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at the State University of New York and Tufts University School of Medicine, goes so far as to state that “in truth, the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion was always a kind of urban legend—never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists.[4]

Why, then, has this discredited chemical imbalance hypothesis been perpetuated?

The answer is simple: depression is still a massive (and growing) problem, and those suffering from it are often desperate for a solution. Psychiatrists want nothing more than to provide fast and effective relief for their patients, and so they continue pushing the latest and greatest antidepressants, hoping that the next one down the pipe will be better than the last.

But there is a better way to treat depression. It may not be simpler, but if adopted wholeheartedly, it’s far more effective.

The real way to relieve depression

Here’s the story that pharmaceutical companies are not talking about: antidepressants have repeatedly been shown to be no more effective than placebo, they’re linked to a variety of side effects and health conditions, and they actually increase the chances of becoming depressed again in the future.[5]

On the other hand, a growing body of evidence is revealing that there are plenty of tools and practices that do effectively combat depression, without any of the side effects and risks of prescription antidepressants. Here’s a list that should give a sense of the spectrum of options available to you.

Talking therapy. Studies have shown that good old-fashioned therapy is just as effective at relieving depression compared to antidepressants, and that it actually prevents relapses.[6]

Exercise. Research shows that exercise dramatically aids those suffering from depression, and that just one hour of rigorous activity per week can decrease the likelihood of depression by 44%.

Nutrient optimization. Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and magnesium are all very important for maintaining optimal mood and brain function; be sure to include them in your supplement regiment if you’re inclined toward depression.[7]

Natural antidepressants. We’ve written a lot in past articles about plants and natural substances that work wonders for depression. Here’s a few prominent ones: turmeric, ashwagandha, thyme, lavender, cinnamon, rosemary, and saffron.

Cold water therapy. This practice might be a bit harder to stomach, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Studies have shown that just 2-3 minutes per day in 68 degree Fahrenheit water (come on, that isn’t even that cold) improved mood and relieved the symptoms of depression better than leading pharmaceutical antidepressants.[8]

The most important thing to remember when undertaking any depression treatment protocol is that you’re in control, and that you don’t just have an uncontrollable brain defect (researchers worry that the chemical imbalance theory of depression makes patients feel like their illness is beyond their control).

Your lifestyle choices can and do have a profound effect on your mental health—and by choosing some of the tools and practices above, you can overcome depression in no time.

 


References

[1] https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.pn.2017.pp9b2

[2] https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ajp.122.5.509

[3] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-illness-metaphor/201709/the-myth-the-chemical-imbalance

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/04/antidepressants-make-things-worse-long-term/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2748674/

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3998225/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17993252

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a

There’s lots of talk about vitamin and mineral deficiencies these days.

An increasing number of health experts are coming to the same conclusion: it’s extremely difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need from food alone.  

One deficiency that doesn’t often make headlines, though, is iodine deficiency.

Nevertheless, it is one of the most common and widespread nutritional deficiencies in the United States. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 74% of adults don’t consume enough iodine, and that iodine deficiency rates have increased fourfold in the past 40 years.[1]

And its harmful health effects should be enough to turn the heads of even the biggest supplementation skeptics: breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid dysfunction, anxiety, emotional instability, decreased strength and flexibility, decreased visual acuity, higher incidence of miscarriage or premature birth, dry skin, dry mouth, and stomach issues—including stomach cancer.

An increasing number of studies suggest a strong connection between iodine deficiency and the rising epidemics of obesity, cognitive impairment, heart disease, fibromyalgia, cancer, and even psychiatric disorders.[2]

Why this one little mineral is so important

Iodine plays an essential role in the functioning of the thyroid gland, the metabolism-regulating powerhouse in the front portion of your neck, just below the voice box. Through a combination of iodine and an amino acid called tyrosine, the thyroid produces two different hormones, which regulate a staggering number of metabolic processes in the body.

The importance of healthy thyroid function simply can’t be overstated.

When the thyroid doesn’t receive enough dietary iodine, it begins to malfunction—causing iodine deficiency disorders that lead to weight gain, low energy, depression, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and cancer.

Strangely, iodine deficiency can lead to both hypothyroidism (where an inadequate level of thyroid hormone slows metabolism) and hyperthyroidism (where an excess of thyroid hormone leads to cardiac arrhythmias, osteoporosis, and muscle wasting).[3]

Certain breast tissues and stomach muscle tissues also require iodine for optimal functioning, and thus increasingly strong connections are being drawn between iodine deficiency and breast cancer, fibrocystic breast disease, and stomach diseases (including stomach cancer).

Unsurprisingly, there’s a well-documented link between thyroid disease and breast cancer.[4] Thyroid dysfunction leads to unregulated levels of cortisol and deficient immune functioning, both of which are common in women with breast cancer or FBD.

Besides which, unregulated cortisol levels lead to endocrine system disruption, anxiety, systemic inflammation, and an overall poor quality of life.

So why aren’t we getting enough iodine?

The sea and the soil are the planet’s two richest sources of iodine.

Most vital nutrients and minerals have been depleted from farming soil in the U.S., which means that the vast majority of produce is iodine-deficient.

That leaves the sea as the go-to source of iodine. Those who live far inland have historically suffered the worst iodine deficiency. It was the recognition of this problem that led to the introduction of iodized salt in the 1920s.

Industrial salt production served as a satisfactory source of iodine for some time, but soon evidence in favor of low-sodium diets began to accumulate. Today, it is commonly accepted that cutting salt intake offers effective protection against high blood pressure and heart disease.

But as salt intake has decreased, so has iodine intake.

To make matters worse, less than half of the iodized salt samples analyzed during a recent study contained sufficient levels of iodine.[5] In order to receive an optimal amount of iodine, you’d have to consume a rather unhealthy quantity of table salt.

So here’s how to turn the tide…  

As mentioned above, iodized salt just isn’t a sustainable way to get your optimal daily intake of iodine. Not only is a high-sodium diet ill-advised in general, but iodized table salt also carries a whole host of other issues.

Table salt is a chemically cleaned version of salt known as sodium chloride. It is treated by the body like a foreign agent, and thus takes a huge amount of energy and water to metabolize. This systemic strain throws off fluid balance and taxes the body’s metabolism and immune functioning. Industrially produced salt also often contains toxic additives like fluoride and aluminum—both of which have been linked with brain dysfunction.

Here’s the point: stick to natural sea salts, and get your iodine from other sources.

Many dairy products like milk, cheese, eggs, and ice cream contain moderate levels of iodine. As we pointed out in another article, these products come with their own risks.

Just always remember to stick with organic, free-range, and grass-fed daily products (and buy raw whenever possible).

There are other iodine-containing foods that you can include in your diet (such as saltwater fish and shellfish), but a good source for it is seaweed.

Nowhere is iodine more highly concentrated than in various types of seaweed—including dulce, kelp, and nori.

Perhaps this is why women residing in Japan—where seaweed is an integral part of one’s daily diet—have an incidence of breast cancer that is one third that of American women.[6]

If you’re not overly fond of seaweed, though, don’t worry. There’s plenty of seaweed supplements from which to choose (kelp capsules are very popular and effective).

Iodine supplements made from sea vegetables contain valuable minerals and are especially important at a time when vitamin and mineral content in most foods is declining.

You should take at least 250-400 mcg of iodine per day, though levels up to and beyond 1,100 mcg per day have been established as safe for most people.

And here’s one more tip: combining iodine intake with selenium, which is a cofactor in thyroid enzymes, can amplify iodine’s benefits.

Give it a try and see how you feel. Within a short while, you just might find that you have more energy, greater strength and flexibility, and a better overall quality of life.

High Quality Iodine Supplement - Detoxadine

 


References

[1] Gunton JE, Hams G, Fiegert M, McElduff A. Iodine deficiency in ambulatory participants at a Sydney teaching hospital: is Australia truly iodine replete? Med J Aust. 1999 Nov 1;171(9):467-70.

[2] http://www.lef.org/magazine/2011/10/The-Silent-Epidemic-of-Iodine-Deficiency/Page-01

[3] Laurberg P, Nohr SB, Pedersen KM, et al. Thyroid disorders in mild iodine deficiency. Thyroid. 2000 Nov;10(11):951-63.

[4] Smyth PP. The thyroid, iodine and breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res. 2003;5(5):235-8.

[5] Dasgupta PK, Liu Y, Dyke JV. Iodine nutrition: iodine content of iodized salt in the United States. Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Feb 15;42(4):1315-23.

[6] Smyth PP. The thyroid, iodine and breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res. 2003;5(5):235-8.

turmeric-depression

In case you haven’t already noticed, turmeric offers an astounding array of health benefits that’s just short of miraculous. We’ve outlined in past articles how turmeric is revolutionizing the way we treat cancer, how it’s outcompeting hordes of pharmaceuticals, and how its restoring industry-wide trust in “natural remedies,” which were viewed with derision and skepticism throughout most of modern medicine’s history.

Science is now beginning to demonstrate that turmeric is also an incredible remedy for depression, a neurological imbalance that affects up to 20% of the world’s population at any given time[1] (and that’s a low number based only on the cases that are actually diagnosed).

If you’ve ever suffered from depression, you know just how debilitating the condition can be. Disrupted lifestyle schedules and relationships, lethargy, extreme fatigue, lack of motivation, and deep sadness are all common attributes of the disease. Studies have even shown that depression causes physical brain damage, wreaks havoc on many of the body’s vital systems, and increases the likelihood of other diseases and conditions.

And here’s the worst part: conventional treatments for depression just aren’t working. In fact, Big Pharma’s own studies reveal that drug-assisted depression recovery rates are almost never higher than with a placebo.[2] When antidepressants do convey some measurable benefit, they do so incidentally, and not because of the mechanism for which the drug was designed (we’ll talk more about this phenomenon later in the article).

Turmeric, on the other hand, actually works. One notable study pitted turmeric against Prozac and found that turmeric exceeded the success rate of Prozac without causing any side effects.[3] This is the kind of finding that changes everything.

In case you need some more evidence, though, let’s take a look at the main reasons why turmeric just might be the ultimate depression treatment tool.

Just like antidepressants, but better

We’ll start with an apples-to-apples comparison. Pharmaceutical antidepressants are designed to alter levels of brain neurotransmitters (usually serotonin and dopamine, and sometimes norepinephrine). The correlation between neurotransmitter imbalance and depression is not a misguided notion. However, the assumption that balance can be restored just by messing with isolated chemicals in the brain is woefully simplistic.

The brain is a vastly complex, little-understood system—and healing it requires equally dynamic approaches and tools.

Here’s where turmeric comes in. This incredible little root also works by balancing neurotransmitter levels—but it does so in a much more sophisticated way. Rather than simply tweaking brain chemicals in one way (i.e. increasing or decreasing their levels), turmeric modulates the levels of all neurotransmitters relative to one another—increasing and decreasing as is necessary in each case—until perfect balance is achieved.

This mechanism is the Holy Grail of antidepressant drug development…which perhaps is why several companies have already attempted to patent turmeric! And this is only the first of many mechanisms through which turmeric heals the brain and combats depression.

What antidepressants wish they could be

As more and more evidence continues to reveal that the antidepressant industry is one big moneymaking charade, medical researchers are finally starting to dig deeper.

What they’re finding is that the conventionally held model for how to treat depression may be completely wrong. What puzzled researchers for some time was this: prescription antidepressants do seem to work for a certain percentage of people, but only after a somewhat long period of time. If they were working only by increasing or decreasing neurotransmitter levels, they should work right away. And why do they only work for some people?

It turns out that the real underlying factor at work is the increase of neurotrophic factors in the brain, especially brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that controls the growth of neurons. Antidepressants, when taken over time, can slowly help increase BDNF levels, but only in individuals with a specific genetic profile.

But using antidepressants to increase BDNF levels is a dramatically inefficient and unwise choice. Based on the limited research available, the increase they provide is marginal in the even the best case scenarios—and their use can cause a staggering number of side effects, including depression itself.

On the contrary, turmeric increases BDNF levels in the hippocampus (the center of emotion, mood, memory, and the autonomic nervous system) more effectively than antidepressants—and it does so with zero side effects. This mechanism has now been conclusively demonstrated by peer-reviewed studies.[4]

And that still doesn’t even scratch the surface of the multi-faceted support that turmeric offers for mental and emotional health.

Turmeric tackles depression in ways Big Pharma isn’t even attempting

The final mechanism that we’ll cover is perhaps the most important of all, because it has the furthest reaching implications and because it isn’t even on Big Pharma’s radar.

It’s the multi-pronged mechanism for which turmeric is already famous: its unparalleled anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.

Many studies have demonstrated that brain inflammation (caused by chronic inflammation in the body) and oxidative stress (caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS)) cause brain and DNA damage, both of which can lead to depression.[5]

Turmeric thus address one of the root causes of depression by working on every level to eliminate brain inflammation[6] and protect against oxidative damage. It even supercharges the brain’s own ability to support itself by increasing the endogenous protection of glutathione and other powerful antioxidants.[7]  

Pharmaceutical companies understand the connection between inflammation and depression, but none of their medications put this knowledge into practice.

Ready to be supported by turmeric?

Whether you’re suffering from depression or just searching to optimize your health in some other way, turmeric is always a wise choice. After all, research has shown it be an effective treatment for over 100 different conditions.

Cooking with whole turmeric root (or consuming it raw in smoothies) is a good way to start, but you’ll need to work with a liposomal, full-spectrum extract if you really want to glean its full benefit.

We sincerely believe that this one is the most powerful and unique on the market.

You don’t have to labor under the burden of depression or other debilitating condition. Give turmeric a try today, and you’ll see why this ancient root is captivating the hearts and minds of the medical community.

 


References

[1] http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-benefits/can-turmeric-help-in-depression

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/depression-medication-why_b_550098.html

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23832433

[4] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432812006997

[5] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584610001776

[6] http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/curcumin

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15501961

Image source

depression-brain-damage-meditation - ih_150213_brain_meditation_800x600

It’s estimated that 1 out of every 10 Americans suffers from depression, and the condition affects approximately 350 million people worldwide. Perhaps most alarmingly, researchers are finding that depression diagnoses are increasing by 20% every year—and that doesn’t even count those who never see a doctor about their troubles.[1]

You’ve surely noticed that all is not well in the world. These statistics suggest that our bodies are also well aware of the world’s imbalances.

The way in which depression erodes hope for a better future is detrimental to people’s lives, especially at a time like now, when our society is so sorely in need of the inspiration required to achieve real progress.

And the effects of depression are not just emotional and psychological—the physical body suffers too. For starters, depression is strongly correlated with obesity, heart disease, stroke, and sleep disorders.[2] Inflammation—often called the root of all disease—is also closely linked with the condition (more on that later).

But recent studies have confirmed one of the most worrying effects of all: brain damage.

Depression alters the brain’s structure

Depression has long been associated with mere changes in brain chemistry, but scientists now know that the condition perturbs the brain much more deeply.

An international team of researchers found that those who had experienced recurrent bouts of depression had a smaller hippocampus—and the more bouts of depression, the smaller the hippocampus.[3]

This finding aligned with those of previous studies, which had demonstrated that depressed patients tend to have smaller hippocampuses. These earlier researchers preferred to assume, however, that this altered brain structure was a predisposing factor for depression (rather than assuming that the damage was caused by the depression). But because shrinkage becomes worse as the number of depressive episodes increase, it has become clear to researchers that the reduction in the size of the hippocampus is a form of brain damage that follows as a result of recurrent depression.

Here’s why this alteration in brain structure is worthy of concern: the hippocampus is critical for memory and emotion. An under-functioning hippocampus can lead to compromised memory, loss of emotional capacity, decreased sense of self, increased anxiety, and extreme introversion.

In short, depression is a vicious cycle—the more damaged by depression the hippocampus becomes, the more likely the person is to lapse back into depressive states.

But there is hope…

Luckily, relief from depression is within reach. Hippocampal damage has been shown to be reversible, but you have to be willing to take action.

Pharmaceutical antidepressants obviously aren’t the answer, judging by the fact that more people than ever are taking them, and no one seems to be getting better.

Here’s why: drug-centric depression therapy is based on the erroneous assumption that depression is caused by imbalances in brain chemicals. More and more researchers are finding that, while brain chemical imbalance is correlated with depression, it’s very likely not the cause.

Therefore, pills that seek to correct chemical imbalances will inevitably be unable to address the real underlying causes of depression. This is not to say that they aren’t a valid, helpful option in certain situations, but only that you should be wary of believing in them as a magic bullet. And because of the myriad side effects that accompany their usage, I’d encourage you to look into natural alternatives first.

The truth of the matter is that most people who successfully overcome depression (with or without drugs) do so through prominent lifestyle practices.

Eating a detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, probiotic-rich diet works wonders, and has even been called “the key to the successful treatment of depression” by some health experts.”[4] This is because, as it turns out, systemic inflammation is likely a direct cause of depression (nutrient deficiency, environmental toxins, microbiome imbalance all lead to inflammation within the body).

Regular exercise is immensely helpful, as well, especially when combined with a healthy diet. Studies found that participants who didn’t engage in any physical activity all had a 99% greater chance of developing depression, and that regular exercise as a depression treatment surpassed the efficacy of pharmaceutical drugs.[5]  

And then there’s one other depression-fighting lifestyle practice, the power of which scientists are just beginning to understand…

Meditation: the most underrated brain builder

Despite a mountain of emerging evidence demonstrating its incredible health benefits, meditation is still an underutilized tool, particularly by those suffering from depression and searching for fast relief.

New research has shown, though, that meditation alters brain structure as powerfully as depression—and it does so in amazingly beneficial ways. It increases grey matter volume, enhances connectivity between many different brain regions,[6] and even increases the size and cortical thickness of the hippocampus.[7]

That’s right: regular meditation practice directly and physiologically combats the most egregious effects of depression.

And, of course, meditation also targets the underlying emotional and psychological triggers that allow depression to flourish. It outperforms nearly all medical protocols as a treatment for stress and anxiety, and it allows for greater mental clarity, energy, and vitality.

If you don’t yet have a meditation practice, check out this article on how to get started. Once you find your rhythm, you’ll understand why meditation, healthy diet, and exercise is a trifecta against which depression doesn’t stand a chance.

 


References

[1] http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic

[2] Ibid.

[3] http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp201569a.html

[4] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/07/30/depression-makes-brain-smaller.aspx

[5] Ibid.

[6] http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/

[7] http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1809754

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detoxifying-foods

Despite its growing popularity, detoxing is still commonly associated with relatively fringe health circles.

It usually entails the use of “cleanses,” “fasts,” or other extended practices intended to catalyze a massive release of toxins all at once. These practices also usually require a good deal of time, energy, knowledge, and discipline to do safely and effectively. Unfortunately, these requirements make detoxing inaccessible for most people.

Make no mistake, though: detoxifying practices are immensely important for maintaining vibrant health. We live in a veritable sea of toxins, courtesy of our industrial society’s pollutive onward march. You can read about some of the most important toxin sources to avoid here, here, and here.

The moral of the story is this: even if you think you’re living healthily, you still need to help your body detoxify, because just existing in the world ensures that you’re bombarded by toxins on a daily basis.

The accumulation of toxins in your body will disrupt hormones, enzymes, and even metabolic processes, damage your cells through oxidation, and flood you with free radicals. These conditions lead to chronic inflammation, decreased disease resistance, sapped energy levels, and an extended list of long-term health problems.

Days could be spent cataloguing all the correlations between the increased presence of environmental toxins and the increased incidence of a specific disease and disorder. Just to cite one example: glyphosate—the prevalent toxin in Monsanto’s RoundUp pesticide—has been correlated for the development of autism, obesity, gastrointestinal issues, depression, cancer, allergies, Alzheimer’s, infertility, heart disease, and more.[1] And that’s just one toxin with which our body has to cope.

If all that data still doesn’t make intensive cleansing and fasting feel worth the effort, don’t worry…there’s an easier way.

Turn your body into a detoxifying machine

While it’s ideal to set aside time for a conscious and directed detox, you can get most of the job done simply with proper lifestyle design.

The simplest possible practice is to learn about the most dangerous and most insidious environmental toxins, so that you can avoid them. The fewer toxins make it into your body in the first place, the easier your detoxification will be.

Perhaps even more important, though, is the inclusion of detoxifying foods in your diet. Your body is a miraculously designed, self-preserving machine, but it can get bogged down under the weight of our toxic world. Detoxifying foods ensure that it always runs at full capacity, and therefore that it’s able to handle whatever comes its way.

With the help of these foods, the body is able to take care of toxins immediately, so that they’re not allowed to accumulate and cause systemic issues.

So which foods are most detoxifying?

The number of dietary choices available these days can be overwhelming. So, instead of listing a bunch of seemingly unrelated foods, let’s jump into the general principles that can be used as orientation points when planning a detoxifying diet.

First of all, it’s important to remember a clean, simple, and consistently healthy diet is superior to an unhealthy diet with a few detox “superfoods” sprinkled throughout it. When in doubt, just always strive to eat lots of living vegetables and healthy fats and proteins, and to minimize your intake of sugars, grains, and other carbs.

When it comes to prioritizing specific detoxifying foods, it’s helpful to categorize them according to how they aid detoxification within the body. Two of the most easily identified categories are antioxidants and chelators.

Antioxidants protect your body from the oxidizing effects of toxins, which can lead to a proliferation of disease-causing free radicals. We’ve written before about some of the world’s greatest food sources of antioxidants: turmeric, kale and other crucifers, healthy fats like coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, and avocado oil, probiotic sources like kombucha, pomegranate, coriander seed oil, and even CBD, one of the non-psychoactive alkaloids in cannabis.

Chelators help the process of actually removing toxins from the body (antioxidants simply neutralize their harmful effects, rather than removing them). They do so by binding to toxins and heavy metals, which makes it much easier for your body to excrete them safely. Two of the best chelators around are marine algaes called spirulina and chlorella, which are the top sources of chlorophyll (the green pigment in plants).

Lastly, there are some multi-talented foods and compounds that fit into both categories. Raw cacao is one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet, and because of its vasodilatory effect, it also helps flush toxins by opening up blood flow throughout the body.

And vitamin C is another miracle worker. It works as an antioxidant in its own right, and also helps the body synthesize glutathione, the most powerful endogenous antioxidant. While it’s not technically a chelator, it optimizes so many of the body’s natural detoxification systems that it deserves to be in this “jack-of-all-trades” category.[2] While it’s fairly easy to get vitamin C from foods, you can supercharge your detoxification and defense systems by supplementing with higher doses—just make sure to take plant-extracted vitamin C rather than synthetic (it’s very difficult for your body to process most synthetic vitamins, and you end up excreting most of them in your urine).

Keeping your system balanced

By eating a clean diet that consistently includes both antioxidants and chelators, you’ll be tapping into the innate intelligence of healing foods. This intelligence allows you to optimize your body’s own cleaning potential, so that you can avoid the “detox, re-tox” cycle that many of us get stuck in.

Unless you live in an extraordinarily unpolluted area that is equally insulated from toxic consumer products, you might still have to undertake a detox regimen from time to time, in order to keep your system in tip-top shape. But awareness of the toxin sources to avoid, coupled with a little dietary discipline, will go a long way in helping you live a healthy and radiant life unhindered by toxins.

 


References

[1] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/09/monsanto-roundup-herbicide.aspx

[2] http://besynchro.com/blogs/blog/9393529-why-detoxing-matters-the-best-simple-detox-strategies

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negative-emotions

Modern medical science is obsessed with physical causes and effects.

It maintains that any given ailment, condition, or disease can be paired with a corresponding physical cause.

This paradigm is alluring because, well…it makes things simpler. As long as we have germs and pathogens to identify as the enemy, all we have to do is focus on combatting them, and the battle will be won.

But this desire for simplicity may be keeping us from the vibrant, radiant health that we deserve. Because, for better or worse, disease is much more complicated than modern medicine makes it out to be.

In order to understand diseases (and thus heal them), we must learn to accept the subjective, non-physical factors that play a role in causing them.

To cut right to the chase: negative emotions can make you sick, and until we accept this fact, our ability to deal effectively with disease will be hampered.

The mind-body connection

Medical science is reaching a point of confronting its own limitations.

Nevertheless, humility hasn’t quite set in yet. Instead, doctors and researchers forge ahead with increasingly powerful antibiotics (to keep up with mutating superbugs), designer pharmaceuticals (to combat made-up psychiatric disorders), and invasive procedures (to make up for the lack of healthy lifestyle habits and preventative health measures).

Don’t get me wrong: modern medicine is great at what it does. It just needs to acknowledge that it’s expertise to limited to the physical domain.

And perhaps more importantly, it needs to recognize that disease isn’t just a physical problem.

The mind-body connection is quickly transitioning from wu-wu pseudoscience to verifiable fact. Here’s some examples of well-established connections between emotional states and physical ailments…

High levels of anxiety have been shown to cause ulcers, as well as other stomach and digestion issues.

Anger raises cortisol levels, which is linked with inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

Depression can increase the risk of cancer,[1] and cancer patients who are depressed have a higher risk of dying.[2]   

Negative emotions like stress, sadness, resentment, and fear can suppress immune function, thus making the body more prone to disease.

And that’s just the beginning. The science of quantifying the mind-body connection is still in its infancy, but there’s already a thriving community of alternative practitioners who have begun to map the terrain of this intriguing discipline.

Tapping into the subtler side of emotional health

According to alternative researchers, emotions can be measured as packets of energy that pass through the body like electrical currents. Just like other forms of energy (like light and sound), each emotion has its own unique frequency.[3]

The lower the frequency, the “heavier” it is, and the more damage it can inflict upon the body when misdirected.

So, it should come as no surprise that emotions like fear, anger, and shame have the lowest frequencies, while love, acceptance, and contentment have the highest frequencies.

Each emotional frequency—like an other electric current in the body—triggers the release of specific chemicals called neuro-peptides. Because these neuro-peptides can be definitely linked to specific symptoms and physical states, it’s fairly easy to correlate certain emotions with particular detrimental effects. Here’s some examples…

Happiness, joy, and laughter trigger the release of endorphins, which elevate mood, relax muscles, relieve pain, decrease inflammation, and boost immune functioning.

As intimated above, fear, shame, and anxiety trigger the release of cortisol and adrenaline—highly addictive chemicals that cause inflammation, muscle contractions, immune suppression, and other fight-or-flight symptoms that tax the body and accelerate aging.

Furthermore, every part of the body tends to be linked to a particular emotional correspondence. For the most part, these connections are pretty common sensical…

Ear problems are linked to a fear of the world, and a resulting desire to “tune out.”

Problems with the neck, spine, and shoulders can point to insecurity, life imbalance, or personal inflexibility.

Problems with the arms and hands often signify loneliness, rejection, or an inability to “reach out.”

This all sounds fairly reasonable, doesn’t it?

Even if all this information feels a bit overwhelming, just remember this: negative emotions can destroy your health, so it’s worth paying attention to them.

How to begin a process of emotional healing

Step one: believe that your emotions really are affecting your health!

Until you shift your thinking in this way, it will be very difficult to address your emotional issues in any meaningful way.

Forcing yourself into practices that you don’t believe in is an ineffectual approach at best. And chances are, you’ll find yourself stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you project a bunch of negative emotions (in this case, doubt and pessimism) into your healing process, how can you expect to receive positive results?

When you can regard your emotional health with reverence, optimism, and enthusiasm, you’re ready to begin your healing process.

Because let’s face it: we all have some healing to do.

If you’d prefer to wade slowly into the world of emotional health (called psycho-neuro-immunology by researchers), start with some basic practices.

Try picking up a simple meditation or breathing practice. Pay attention to what areas of your body are giving you the most trouble, and use your common sense to intuit what negative emotion might be lurking behind the physical symptom. Find activities that can safely and effectively release the emotions that are ailing you (like exercise, reflexology, massage, and bodywork).

Listen to your body, and learn to express your emotions freely and clearly.

Be patient with yourself. Learning to pay attention to the subtle, non-physical aspects of your health is an ongoing process. But you’ll be glad you gave it a try once you begin to feel lighter, happier, healthier, and more in control of your overall well-being.

 


References
[1] http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=3812&channel_id=11&relation_id=30085

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19309220

[3] http://www.enlightenedfeelings.com/body.html

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