Four Ways To Be Happier (and Healthier!)

 

A fascinating read. I already knew gratitude and hugs were good for us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, but this article has some great information about the neuroscience behind why certain things have the effect on us that they do. Even worry can have a (temporary) positive effect, but unlike gratitude and hugs, it comes with a price….  

 

New neuroscience reveals 4 rituals that will make you happy

You get all kinds of happiness advice on the internet from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t trust them.

Actually, don’t trust me either. Trust neuroscientists. They study that gray blob in your head all day and have learned a lot about what truly will make you happy.

UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb has some insights that can create an upward spiral of happiness in your life. Here’s what you and I can learn from the people who really have answers:

1) The Most Important Question To Ask When You Feel Down

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like your brain wants you to be happy. You may feel guilty or shameful. Why?

Believe it or not, guilt and shame activate the brain’s reward center.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Despite their differences, pride, shame, and guilt all activate similar neural circuits, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, and the nucleus accumbens. Interestingly, pride is the most powerful of these emotions at triggering activity in these regions — except in the nucleus accumbens, where guilt and shame win out. This explains why it can be so appealing to heap guilt and shame on ourselves — they’re activating the brain’s reward center.

And you worry a lot too. Why? In the short term, worrying makes your brain feel a little better — at least you’re doing something about your problems.

Via The Upward Spiral:

In fact, worrying can help calm the limbic system by increasing activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and decreasing activity in the amygdala. That might seem counterintuitive, but it just goes to show that if you’re feeling anxiety, doing something about it — even worrying — is better than doing nothing.

But guilt, shame and worry are horrible long-term solutions. So what do neuroscientists say you should do? Ask yourself this question:

What am I grateful for?

Yeah, gratitude is awesome… but does it really affect your brain at the biological level? Yup.

You know what the antidepressant Wellbutrin does? Boosts the neurotransmitter dopamine. So does gratitude.

Via The Upward Spiral:

The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable…

Know what Prozac does? Boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin. So does gratitude.

Via The Upward Spiral:

One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.

I know, sometimes life lands a really mean punch in the gut and it feels like there’s nothing to be grateful for. Guess what?

Doesn’t matter. You don’t have to find anything. It’s the searching that counts.

Via The Upward Spiral:

It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.

And gratitude doesn’t just make your brain happy — it can also create a positive feedback loop in your relationships. So express that gratitude to the people you care about.

(For more on how gratitude can make you happier and more successful, click here.)

But what happens when bad feelings completely overtake you? When you’re really in the dumps and don’t even know how to deal with it? There’s an easy answer…

2) Label Negative Feelings

You feel awful. Okay, give that awfulness a name. Sad? Anxious? Angry?

Boom. It’s that simple. Sound stupid? Your noggin disagrees.

Via The Upward Spiral:

…in one fMRI study, appropriately titled “Putting Feelings into Words” participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant’s amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.

Suppressing emotions doesn’t work and can backfire on you.

Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

Gross found that people who tried to suppress a negative emotional experience failed to do so. While they thought they looked fine outwardly, inwardly their limbic system was just as aroused as without suppression, and in some cases, even more aroused. Kevin Ochsner, at Columbia, repeated these findings using an fMRI. Trying not to feel something doesn’t work, and in some cases even backfires.

But labeling, on the other hand, makes a big difference.

Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

To reduce arousal, you need to use just a few words to describe an emotion, and ideally use symbolic language, which means using indirect metaphors, metrics, and simplifications of your experience. This requires you to activate your prefrontal cortex, which reduces the arousal in the limbic system. Here’s the bottom line: describe an emotion in just a word or two, and it helps reduce the emotion.

Ancient methods were way ahead of us on this one. Meditation has employed this for centuries. Labeling is a fundamental tool of mindfulness.

In fact, labeling affects the brain so powerfully it works with other people too. Labeling emotions is one of the primary tools used by FBI hostage negotiators.

(To learn more of the secrets of FBI hostage negotiators, click here.)

Okay, hopefully you’re not reading this and labeling your current emotional state as “Bored.” Maybe you’re not feeling awful but you probably have things going on in your life that are causing you some stress. Here’s a simple way to beat them…

For the other 2 “rituals,” check out the link below. Well worth the read, in my opinion.

Soruce: https://www.theladders.com/p/21219/neuroscience-4-rituals-happy

Related Self-help Health posts: Smiles = Good Medicine, Get Healthier With Gratitude, Gratitude & The DNA Connection, and Acts Of Kindness = Win-win-win Health Benefits

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to give Self-help Health a follow so you don’t miss out on future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please not that any information provided here is as a guideline only, and not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

 

JP Sears Takes On The American Heart Association, Plus The Health Benefits Of Almonds

 

Okay, today we’ll interject some humor into the mix with one of the latest videos in JP Sears’ Ultra Spiritual series. This time he uses his tongue-in-cheek delivery style to focus on coconut oil, heart health and the terrible job the American Heart Association is doing in providing us with unbiased, accurate information. He always manages to stimulate, inform and get his point across, while making me laugh at the same time.

Hey, they say laughter is the best medicine, so you might end up a little healthier just from watching this. 🙂

 

Related Self-help Health post:  Coconut Oil:Yummiest Health Aid Ever

And speaking of foods that help prevent or off-set heart disease, look no further than tasty, versatile almonds. I remember years ago reading where Edgar Cayce, aka “The Sleeping Prophet,” recommended eating 2 to 3 almonds a day as a cancer preventative, but this article from the Food Revolution Network focuses on the heart and cardiovascular benefits of eating a handful daily. Eating almonds on a regular basis could also help with type 2 diabetes, eye issues, weight loss and more…….

Health benefits of almonds

By GreenMedInfo Research Group • Originally published on GreenMedInfo.com

Almonds are familiar to many people as a healthy food, but how exactly do they affect our health? Rich in many compounds that can be lacking in a Standard American Diet (appropriately abbreviated S.A.D.), almonds can be a tasty solution to many of the chronic health conditions and diseases seen today.

Almonds are one of those nutrient-dense foods that can be hard to stop munching on once you’re crunching on the first one or two. Whether you’re sipping on a glass of creamy homemade almond milk, taking your first bite of strawberry-topped almond meal pancakes, or enjoying stir fry sprinkled with slivered almonds, you’re not just satisfying your appetite, you’re deliciously optimizing your health.

Seeds carry all of the nutrients and genetic information required to grow and develop, so too does the almond bring vital health knowledge in the form of antioxidants, heart healthy fats, protein, and inorganic compounds like minerals, which are crucial to life as we know it.

How can something so small have effects so large when it comes to addressing serious health concerns? While we may never know the full biochemical explanations behind each way the almond fulfills its triumphant quest for homeostatic health, we can continue to sing its praises and enjoy a handful a day without remorse.

According to the CDC, over 600,000 people succumb to heart disease every year, which accounts for roughly 25% of the total annual deaths. So why don’t doctors prescribe a daily handful of almonds instead of a pharmaceutical for cholesterol issues?

High cholesterol has been seen as a primary cause of heart disease and is often treated with a class of drugs called statins. While statins shut down the enzyme pathway that synthesizes cholesterol, they also wipe out the highway to producing CoQ10 (an essential enzyme for producing energy in the body), and sometimes that damage is irreversible.

But naturally, there is a much safer solution that can be grown at home, purchased at the local grocery store, or health food store. One of the clinical studies on almonds and improvements in HDL cholesterol used only 10g of almonds per day, which is roughly 12-15 almonds, and this study was in patients who had pre-existing coronary artery disease.

Not only did HDL cholesterol improve, but there were reductions in triglycerides, total cholesterol including LDL cholesterol and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein), and the atherogenic index, which is strongly correlated with chronic inflammation and the development of vascular diseases [Jamshed, 2015].

Another health crisis emerging onto the global stage is type 2 diabetes, which is justly titled a pandemic [Hu, 2015]. The number of people worldwide projected to have type 2 diabetes by 2035 is almost 600 million, what a staggering statistic, and that’s not even considering the health care costs associated with diabetes.

While an imbalanced diet can be a causative factor in type 2 diabetes, nutritional improvements can reverse some of the harmful changes. Diabetes is a disease of improper glucose (sugar) metabolism, and is generally preceded by a cluster of conditions called metabolic syndrome. While the pharmaceutical model may target a disease from one pathway or direction, the almond has innumerable approaches to countering imbalance and restoring homeostasis.

Consuming just 60g (about 2 ounces) of almonds daily for four-weeks showed reductions in insulin resistance, fasting insulin and glucose. Other health outcomes that demonstrated improvements were cholesterol ratios, body fat percentage, and nutritional status (magnesium, fiber, fatty acid profile, etc.) [Sing-Chung, 2011].

The doctrine of signatures, dating back to the first century AD, is upheld in the carrot and almond’s uncanny resemblance to the human eye. While carrots may be the best-known food that benefits the eyes, almond’s have their own pedestal to stand on. Not just an adjective for eye color, almonds are incredibly important for proper functioning of our eyes. Our eyes are exposed to numerous chemicals and toxins that evade our five sense detection. The vasculature of our eyes contains some of the smallest blood vessels in our body, and when damage occurs, repair can be difficult, if not impossible.

Rich in vitamin E, almonds can help prevent abnormal changes to the lens, which can accelerate the development of cataracts. A study conducted in Finland concluded that, “a low plasma vitamin E level (lower quartile) was associated with a 3.7-fold excess risk (95% confidence interval 1.2-11.8) of the progression of early cortical lens opacities compared with the highest quartile (p = 0.028)” [Rouhiainen P, 1996].

We know the old adage, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away,” but imagine what an apple covered in almond butter would do to the pharmaceutical industry.

In a 2015 study, eating  cup of almonds (43g) with breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a standalone snack reduced blood sugar, and the snacking group of participants actually showed the largest decrease.

“DISCUSSION: Snacking reportedly increases the risk for weight gain, but such a broad generalization may mask differential responses to selected foods. This study compared the acute post-ingestive and the short-term effects of incorporating almonds in a meal or consuming them alone as snacks. It also allowed the assessment of possible physiological adaptations to almond consumption that could accentuate or diminish behavioral responses after 4 weeks of daily ingestion [Chen, 2015].”

It’s best to find imported Italian or Spanish almonds and sprout them for several hours or overnight (read more here). Depending on which health outcome you’re searching for, a mere 10-60g of almonds (the range used in the aforementioned studies) incorporated into your diet can ameliorate type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, eye issues, and many other health conditions.

Food should taste good, but more importantly, it should relay valuable biologic information that with each bite can positively affect our state of being. So keep almonds in your desk, purse, backpack, cupboard, and close to your heart, because they’ll be protecting yours.


From the editor: An important note about raw almonds:

In the last decade, it has become difficult to find healthy, raw, organic almonds. Almonds grown in the U.S. make up 80% of the world’s almond supply. But in 2007, the USDA made it a requirement that all almonds commercially sold in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico must be pasteurized. If they’re not steamed, they must be fumigated with a chemical called propylene oxide or PPO.

Pasteurized almonds and almond butter may still confer significant health benefits – but if you prefer truly raw almonds, what’s the best option?

You may find almonds that claim to be “raw,” but companies can make this claim, even if it isn’t true, because no labeling requirement exists. In reality, “raw” may simply mean pasteurized with steam, as opposed to the “roasted” flavor in roasted almond butter. If the almonds you find are grown in the U.S., most likely they are pasteurized. If you want truly raw almonds, you may have to choose almonds that are imported from Spain or Italy because they are not subject to these same requirements.

As pointed out in a GreenMedInfo article, there is one “secret” exception to the U.S. mandate about almond pasteurization. The only way to purchase raw, unpasteurized almonds grown in the U.S. is to buy directly from the farmer who grows them. The author mentions Bremner Farms as an option for raw, organic, unpasteurized almonds and other nuts. You can find other options online as well – including potentially through a farmer’s market.

Source: https://foodrevolution.org/blog/almond-health-benefits/

AND another way to promote cardiovascular health is by taking a certain type of probiotic called Lactobacillus plantarum. You can read more about the research behind it here:

http://doctormurray.com/probiotics-can-affect-more-than-just-digestion/

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to give Self-help Health a follow so you don’t miss out on future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please not that any information provided here is as a guideline only, and not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

Using Solfeggio Frequency 528 Hz For Repairing Your DNA, Opening Your Heart, And More

 

Several years ago I did a post featuring information on the background and history of solfeggio tones/frequencies and how they can be used to positively affect our health in multiple ways. Today’s post is an article from Underground Health Reporter about one of the most popular tones, the 528 Hz “love frequency”, and how it can actually help repair DNA. What could be better (or easier) than chilling out listening to some soothing music and repairing your DNA at the same time?! More self-help tools like this, please and thank you! 🙂

 

WIKI Solfeggio 9frecuencias 300x300 Solfeggio Frequencies Set Body Into Full Harmony

Specific Music for Health Shown to Repair Your DNA

 Did you know that simply listening to a single musical note that vibrates at 528 Hz has been shown to repair your DNA?

All music that we’re familiar with consists of notes from the 12-Tone Equal Temperament Scale. Each individual note has vibrational limits.music for health

However, there is an ancient 6-tone scale of electro-magnetic frequencies called the original Solfeggio Scale. This scale, which was lost for centuries and was just recently rediscovered accidentally by Dr. Joseph Puleo, is said to hold unlimited potential in healing and personal transformation.

One of the notes on the Solfeggio Scale, particularly the one that vibrates at 528 Hz, has been used by biochemists to repair human DNA. The frequency of 528 Hz appears to influence the water molecules that surround the DNA helix, thereby bringing about healing effects on DNA.

DNA Healing Effects of Frequency 528 Hz

Perhaps the leading proponent of the miraculous healing power of the 528 Hz Solfeggio note is Dr. Leonard Horowitz, world famous author of 15 health science books, and Harvard graduated public health expert. According to Dr. Horowitz, all healing occurs from sonic waves or vibrations, specific frequencies of sound, resonating throughout the universe.

He claims that human cells use DNA, like radios use antennae, to receive the note vibrations and attune the body’s rhythm to that of the cosmos. He refers to the 528 Hz Solfeggio note as “the frequency of love” which, in addition to providing health benefits, opens the portals to spiritual transformation.

This is echoed by Dr. Candice Pert, PhD, who states that energy and vibration go all the way to the molecular level. She further states that we have 70 different receptors on the molecules — and when vibration and frequency reaches that far, they begin to vibrate.

This vibration, which happens at the cellular level, opens the chromosomes and exposes the DNA to the frequencies.

Experiments involving in vitro DNA exposed to different recordings of musical styles have been performed by Glen Rein of the Quantum Biology Research Lab in New York.

Four styles of music for health, including Gregorian chants that use the Solfeggio scale, were converted to scalar audio waves and played via a CD player to test tubes containing in vitro DNA.

The effects of the music were determined by measuring the DNA test tube samples’ absorption of UV light after an hour of exposure to the music. The absorption of UV light is regarded as a significant effect on DNA because when the DNA helix unwinds, it allows such absorption.

The results of Glen Rein’s experiments showed that the Gregorian chants caused a significant increase in the absorption of UV light versus rock music, which had little or no effect.

It was concluded that the audible sound waves of the Solfeggio scale can cause resonance in DNA and can, indeed, have profound healing effects.

To experience the effect of the 528 Hz note of the Solfeggio scale, just type “528 Hz” in YouTube and you’ll find several *videos that feature this healing frequency.

Source: http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/music-for-health-dna-repair/

Related Self-help Health post: Sound Healing: Harmonize Your Life & Body With Solfeggio Tones

*FYI, one of my favorite tracks using the 528 Hz frequency is this great The Miracle Tone and Love Frequency “background music” from ZenLifeRelax; it’s said to heal DNA and activate, open, balance and heal your heart chakra. The recording is 8 HOURS long, so you could easily set this to play while you sleep or do your daily routine. When I first came across it on YouTube a number of months ago I let it run all day and loved having it going. I especially notice how nice my personal environment feels when I have something like this playing and go out for a while and then come back in. Almost feels like entering a sacred place/space.

If you want more of my picks for solfeggio tones and other health-enhancing music, visit the What’s New page of my website where you can download a pdf I’ve put together listing a variety of recordings to check out. 

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to give Self-help Health a follow so you don’t miss out on future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please not that any information provided here is as a guideline only, and not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

Acts Of Kindness = Win-win-win Health Benefits!

 

Wow, we all know we feel good when we do something nice for someone else, but I didn’t know the health benefits were so tangible, no only for the giver, but also for the receiver AND any by-standers. Plus, who knew the effect could be more profound health-wise than exercising 4 times a week?!

 

Your acts of kindness are iridescent wings of divine love.
Which linger and continue to uplift others long after your sharing. 

~ Rumi

The Act of Kindness and it’s Positive Health Benefits

 Did you know…that whether you are the giver, the receiver or the observer of an act of kindness — you reap tremendous benefits to your health?

Yes, this is a phenomenon that has been discovered not too long ago. Numerous scientific studies have shown that the act of kindness has a positive effect on the immune system and on the increased production of serotonin in the brain.

Serotonin is a naturally occurring neuro-chemical that has a calming, mood regulating, and anti-anxiety effect … and it’s regarded as a “feel good” substance because it serves as a pathway for pleasure in the brain.

The mechanism of action in most anti-depressant drugs is that they stimulate the production of serotonin chemically, which helps alleviate depression.

One of the most fascinating research findings to come out in recent years is that whenever a simple act of kindness is extended by a human being towards another, it results in a significant improvement in the functioning of the immune system and increased production of serotonin in both the recipient of the kindness as well as in the person extending the kindness.

What’s even more amazing is that persons observing the act of kindness also experience a similar strengthening of the immune system and increased production of serotonin! Kindness is a win-win-win scenario which produces beneficial effects in the giver, the recipient and the observer.

People naturally feel good when they give, help or serve others because they experience something called “helper’s high,” which authors Allan Luks and Peggy Payne (The Healing Power of Doing Good) describe as a feeling of exhilaration and burst of energy similar to the endorphin-based euphoria experienced after intense exercise … followed by a period of calmness and serenity.

The benefits of kindness are not limited to immune system strengthening and serotonin production. Research has shown that those who routinely engage in acts of kindness, such as volunteers, experience alleviation of stress, chronic pain, and even insomnia.

An article in Psychology Today titled “What We Get When We Give” (by Christine Carter, PhD., 2/18/10) states: “People who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying — and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status, and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.”

A study conducted at Harvard University, called this phenomenon the “Mother Teresa Effect.” Researchers showed a film to 132 Harvard students about Mother Teresa’s work among the poor people of Calcutta. They then measured the level of Immunoglobin A present in their saliva. [Note: Immunoglobin A is an antibody that plays a critical role in immunity.]

The test revealed markedly increased levels of Immunoglobin A in all the test subjects — this, after simply witnessing somebody else involved in charity work.

Considering the abundance of proof that acts of kindness increase one’s sense of self-worth … enhance feelings of joyfulness … boost one’s sense of physical and emotional well-being … increase sense of happiness, optimism and self-worth … decrease feelings of depression … and diminish the effect of diseases and disorders … one of the best things we can do is find opportunities to extend kindness, and teach children to do the same.

Here are a few suggestions to extend the act of kindness to other:

  • Smile at strangers … especially those who are having a bad day
  • Volunteer your time to do charity work or help wherever there’s need
  • Watch movies that display kindness
  • Write a note to let someone know they are loved
  • Give compliments often
  • Give up your place in line to another person
  • Donate blood
  • Write a thank-you note, especially to someone who’s not expecting thanks

In his book, The Healing Power of Doing Good, Allan Luks states that volunteering, entertaining, regular club attendance, or faith group attendance is “the equivalent of getting a college degree or more than doubling your income.”

Source: http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/act-of-kindness/

(Image: Timeline Photos)

PERSONAL NOTE: Speaking of giving, Raw Food World is not only offering their biggest discount (17.5%!!!) of the year between now and the end of June, but also giving away free Vitamin D-3 patches and a chance to win an all expenses paid retreat getaway! You can find out more on my What’s New page.

Related Self-help Health posts:

Gratitude And The DNA Connection

Get Healthier With Gratitude

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to give Self-help Health a follow so you don’t miss out on future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please not that any information provided here is as a guideline only, and not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

Mycobacterium vaccae: Bacteria That’s GOOD For Your Brain!!

 

Reading this article will give you yet one more reason for spending plenty of time outdoors, whether walking through the woods, working in the garden, or making mud pies with the neighborhood kids. 🙂

 

Get Outdoors and Try to Get “Infected”
With These Brain-Healthy Bacteria

We know that eating a variety of organic fruits and vegetables promotes good health…

We also know spending time in nature, whether it’s walking through green spaces or spending time in the garden, can increase feelings of well-being and reduce cortisol, the stress hormone.

Now researchers have discovered another reason why spending time outside makes us feel so much better: Soil contains a beneficial strain of bacteria that can improve cognition and lower some risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Read on to learn more about this friendly microbe and how it can keep your brain strong…

The helpful bacterium is known as Mycobacterium vaccae (or M. vaccae). It’s abundant in soil. When we’re outdoors we breathe it in the open air…

As you may know, science is homing in on the connection between our microbiome – the beneficial microbes in our gut — and brain function. Some researchers even go so far as to call the gut the second brain. (For more information on gut and brain health, see Issue #205.)

A 2013 study published in the journal Behavioral Processes provided more evidence for this theory when researchers Dorothy Matthews and Susan Jenks fed a group of mice live M. vaccae bacteria and then had them run a maze. A control group ran the maze without the benefit of the microbe.

The results were stunning. Mice that ate the bacteria before and during the trials “completed the maze twice as fast as controls and with reduced anxiety-related behaviors.”

M. vaccae acts like an “old friend”

The “old friends” or “hygiene” hypothesis of stress-related diseases states that, because we spend less time in nature and overuse antibacterial soaps and other germ-killing aids, our bodies no longer reap the benefits of microbes like M. vaccae, which have helped humans survive and thrive for thousands of years.

The hypothesis gets its name from the strategy of ‘reintroducing’ humans to their old friends [beneficial bacteria] to promote optimal health and wellness.

Without them our bodies fall prey to the negative effects of stress and chronic inflammation, and this adversely affects our bodies’ own ability to prevent diseases.

Chronic inflammation also contributes to depression, which is not only a danger in its own right, but is also a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (see Issue #117).

In a 2016 study published in the journal Trends in Immunology, researchers “immunized” mice with M. vaccae and found that their exposure to the microbe (or infection, if you will) prevented stress-induced colitis and reduced fear, anxiety, symptoms of inflammation and poor stress management.

The Connection Between M. Vaccae,
Serotonin and Alzheimer’s Disease

The reason for the animals’ decreased anxiety in the above studies is that ingestion of M. vaccae stimulates the release of serotonin in the brain. Higher levels of this neurotransmitter elevate mood and decrease anxiety.

Serotonin is the “feel good” neurotransmitter that’s also essential to synaptic functioning. Your neurons need serotonin to communicate with each other. This molecule also plays a crucial role in memory and learning.

Serotonin production naturally slows as we age. Research suggests that this decrease could be linked to depression, decreased cognition, memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Studies of autopsied brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease have shown serious serotonin deficiencies. Being low on serotonin doesn’t necessarily cause cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, but it is an indicator that overall brain health and functioning has been compromised.

Big Pharma has been trying to create drugs that boost serotonin, but so far they haven’t been effective. So your best bet to prevent low levels of serotonin is to actively stimulate its production with M. vaccae – and by other means.

How to Increase Your Intake of M. vaccae

Spending time in green places, city parks and uninhabited woods alike, increases your exposure to M. vaccae. Get outside and breathe the fresh air as often as you can.

Eating fruits and vegetables directly from the tree, shrub or vine also helps you to ingest beneficial quantities of this microbe. As long as they’re grown without pesticides and herbicides, you’ll be pretty safe to eat them without washing. (I’d be wary of vegetables grown in or near the ground, especially in manure-rich soil. Those I’d wash.)

Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that gardening or otherwise closely interacting with the earth gives you even more M. vaccae.

Long-time gardeners swear that spending time among their plants is therapeutic. Now we have a new reason to think so.

Spend some time playing in the dirt with your kids or grandkids. Try planting a small flower garden that you all can tend together. Grow one or two vegetable plants and eat the produce right off the plant. Or visit a local farm and sample their wares.

As long as you’re outside, eating organic fruits and veggies and getting dirty once in a while, you’ll be doing your brain a favor.

 Source: Brain Health Breakthroughs Newsletter by Lee Euler

Related Self-help Health posts:

Walking: Just Do It (In Nature!)

Natural Ways To Treat Alzheimer’s

Trees: They’re Not Just For Hugging

FYI, there’s a free on-line series starting on the 12th that ties in nicely with the idea of spending more time digging in the dirt. It’s the 3rd Annual Home Grown Summit. which will feature 38+ presenters sharing their best “secrets” about growing food, living sustainably, creating community, and more….

Picture

You can go to my “What’s New” page to find out more about the summit, plus see the list of e-books and reports the Grow Network offers for free.

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to give Self-help Health a follow so you don’t miss out on future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please not that any information provided here is as a guideline only, and not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

 

If You Eat Ice Cream, Be Sure To Read This!

 

Okay, so I knew a lot of what they put in commercial ice cream these days wasn’t good for us, but it’s even worse than I thought, especially with “main stream” brands. And it turns out even many “healthy” varieties are usually anything but. When I’m not making my own version of ice cream using frozen banana chunks and full fat coconut milk (with some vanilla powder, a dash of cinnamon, and maybe some walnuts, Action Whey, cacao or fruit thrown in), I usually rely on Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss Ice Cream. Heavenly, healthy, and as satisfying as “the real thing,” AND it happens to be on Food Babe’s recommended list. Yea!

If you want to have your ice cream and be healthy, too, then you’ll want to read this in-depth exposé from Vani to make sure you’re making the right choices……

 

Is There Really A Healthy Ice Cream Brand?

I love ice cream! When I want a treat, ice cream is one of my favorites! But take a walk through the typical ice cream aisle and you’ll find a minefield of risky (and sometimes dangerous) additives mixed with factory farmed milk. I’m a firm believer that everyone should still enjoy treats from time to time, but don’t consider it a treat to poison myself with heart-wrecking trans fats, carcinogenic poisons like glyphosate, and additives linked to gut inflammation. I’ve learned that you can enjoy treats (even ice cream!) that won’t destroy your health and pack on the pounds, but you just need to know what to look for.

There are now some brands that seem healthier like Halo Top and Arctic Zero, and many people have been asking me if they are TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. I’ll get to them in a moment, but first let’s check out what you’ll find in the major ice cream brands.

If you see any of these additives in ice cream, do yourself a favor and put it back on the shelf…

Gut wrecking emulsifiers: Most ice creams are full of emulsifiers that have been shown to disrupt the good bacteria in your gut and can lead to disease and obesity. Companies use these because it’s cheaper than filling their product with 100% whole food ingredients. Of course the main ingredients in ice cream (cream and sugar) are also linked to obesity, but when you eat the real thing you feel more satisfied and are less likely to down an entire pint.

Some of the worst emulsifiers in ice cream…

Artificial Colors: Whenever you see a color like Red 40, Red 3, Yellow 5, or Blue 1, these are derived from petroleum and linked to several health issues including allergies, cancer, and hyperactivity in children.

Mono and Diglycerides (or Partially Hydrogenated Oils): These contain trans fat which is strongly correlated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The CDC has linked trans fat to at least 20,000 heart attacks per year and the Institute of Medicine says there is no safe level to eat. This additive is often found in low-fat ice creams where they are trying to make up for what they took out, but you’ll find it in many others too!

Sugar Alcohols and Zero-Calorie Sweeteners: “No Sugar Added” and “Carb Smart” ice creams are packed sugar alcohols like maltitol syrup and sorbitol. These are associated with destroying gut heath, and a healthy gut is the key to good health and a slim waistline. Artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame potassium have been shown to contribute to weight gain by encouraging sugar cravings. When you eat something sweet – even when it has no calories – your brain is tricked into wanting more calories because your body is not getting enough energy (i.e. calories) to be satisfied. So you keep craving sweets, eating sweets, and gaining weight. They also come with serious health risks!

Artificial flavors: These synthetic flavors are made from proprietary chemicals to make fake food taste real. This is not a single ingredient – each flavor may contain of up to 100 ingredients, including synthetic chemicals, solvents and preservatives such as BHA, propylene glycol, MSG, parabens, and more.

These ice cream brands look healthier… BUT…

Natural Flavors: The only difference between natural and artificial flavors mentioned above, is that natural flavors are derived from things found in nature (such as beaver glands). Just like artificial flavors, they are created in a lab by a team of scientists and can contain up to 100 hidden ingredients. The bottom line: You have no idea what you are eating – and it might be propylene glycol, BHA, and parabens.

Soybean Oil: This unhealthy oil increases the risk of obesity, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. When it comes to organic Soymilk ice creams, an abundance of soy itself is not healthy in the diet as it can disrupt hormones and lead to disease. Soy also has an abundance of phytic acid that leaches calcium and other vital minerals from your body.

Cottonseed Oil: I was shocked to find cottonseed oil in LaLoo’s Capraccino Almond Fudge Ice Cream. This oil generally comes from GMO cotton crops that require an intense application of agricultural chemicals and have been called the “World’s Dirtiest Crop”. Residues from these pesticides can remain in cottonseed oil and cottonseeds are subjected to intensive chemical refining with toxic hexane, bleach, and deodorizers. I consider it one of the worst ingredients in food.

“Sugar” Instead of “Cane Sugar”: The majority of sugar in this country comes from GMO sugar beets and not from cane. These sugar beets are Roundup-Ready, which means they are sprayed with the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) and don’t die. Whenever an ingredient list just says “sugar” instead of “cane sugar” that indicates it’s from GMO sugar beets. When my team contacted LaLoo’s Goat Milk Ice Cream they said their ingredients are “clean” and that they’re currently working on getting verified by the Non-GMO Project. But, unless you see that label on there, consider it unverified!

Conventional (not organic) Dairy: Some brands like Breyer’s, Tillamook and Häagen-Dazs have some flavors with cleaner ingredient lists with fewer additives, but they don’t use organic cream or milk. I outline all of the reasons to only choose organic dairy products in this post.

Häagen-Dazs has a non-GMO claim on their ice cream, but that doesn’t apply to the cream, milk, or eggs, in that the animals were likely raised on GMO feed. Their non-GMO claim is 3rd party verified by SGS and their standards don’t apply to animal feed – and a rep from Häagen-Dazs confirmed this with us. Ben and Jerry’s is another brand that uses non-GMO ingredients, but admits the cows are still fed GMO grains (but are trying to transition and hopefully will).

Why to avoid dairy from GMO-fed cows:

  • Almost all non-organic dairy cows in this country are fed a diet of GMO grains on a factory farm. I call this “Monsanto Milk” because it is produced with a lot of GMOs which put more money in Monsanto’s pocket (and I don’t want to donate any money to them!).
  • Testing has found other pesticides, antibiotics and drugs (sources: 1, 2) in conventional milk (including ones that are banned), and this is what you could be eating when you eat non-organic ice cream.

Organically raised cows are only permitted to eat organic non-GMO food and organic grass. Ultimately, you want to look for certified organic ice cream to avoid dairy raised with herbicide-laden GMOs, hormones, antibiotics and all the drugs that are prohibited on organic farms.

Let’s discuss HALO TOP Ice Cream…

I’ve gotten a lot of emails about Halo Top because they market themselves as a healthier alternative to regular ice cream that’s low-calorie, high-protein, and low-sugar… and they are REALLY POPULAR right now. This brand has a real “Health Halo” around it (haha), but I’m not buying it. They’ve done such a great job marketing it as healthy ice cream that some people are even treating it like a diet food and the founder says he eats it every morning… which sounds just crazy, but who wouldn’t like to have ice cream for breakfast, LOL. Here’s why that really isn’t a good idea (sorry guys!)…

  1. Halo Top does not use organic cream or milk, which means it is likely made with Monsanto Milk (from cows fed GMOs). Their ice creams also contain non-organic eggs, which likewise, probably comes from chickens fed a diet filled with GMOs and possibly other drugs.

Email from Halo Top (May 2017): “We do use only non-GMO ingredients in Halo Top, and the cows from which we get our dairy ingredients are never treated with growth hormones (like rBST). We’re not yet at a point, though, where we can guarantee the makeup of the grain for the cows’ feed across the supply chain. Working on it though!”

  1. Halo Top uses natural flavors and won’t tell you what’s in them. While this is true for pretty much everyone who uses natural flavors because they are considered proprietary, a member of the Food Babe Army sent me the response they got from Halo Top:

“Hey Vani I felt like this was something that needed to be shared. Halo ice cream that I feel like has been pitching themselves as a healthier ice cream won’t disclose what their “natural flavoring” is. Thought you’d like to know their cop out response: Hi Alyssa! I inquired into the flavorings for you, and it turns out that apparently the flavorings industry is highly competitive, and the flavoring makers we work with keep their exact formula proprietary to themselves for competitive reasons. Even so, we of course require confirmation that the flavors are indeed all-natural, gluten-free, kosher, etc. I know it’s not exactly the answer you were looking for but I hope it helps a little!”

  1. Halo Top uses the sugar alcohol erythritol as its primary sweetener. As more people are recognizing and avoiding artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, food companies are replacing it with erythritol… but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. This additive can wreak havoc on healthy gut bacteria. This can lead to a whole host of diseases and if you’re trying to lose weight or stay slim, keeping your gut healthy is vital! Erythritol is also a powerful insecticide known to cause diarrhea, stomach upset, headache when consumed in “normal amounts”.
  1. Why add fiber to ice cream? This just makes it all too easy to think of Halo Top as some sort of health supplement, when in reality, ice cream shouldn’t be eaten every day (or for breakfast!) and we should be getting our fiber naturally from fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, and not from processed fiber additives that were manufactured in a lab. The industry calls these “functional fibers” but they do not function in your body the same as fiber in real food.

Is Arctic Zero Healthier?

Arctic Zero is another “healthy” ice cream that really isn’t. They claim their whey comes from a “GMO-free region” but that doesn’t guarantee how the cows are fed:

Email from Arctic Zero (May 2017):We have no control over what the cows are fed, but please know we get all our whey protein from a GMO-free region. Our whey protein is GMO-free certified before added to our product and our final product is tested for GMO and it is GMO-free. Please know that our whey protein is not produced from genetically modified organisms, and does not consists of, or contain genetically modified organisms. Therefore, our whey protein is certified GMO-free”.

Arctic Zero is not 100% organic, the whey isn’t from organic cows, and it also contains processed “functional fiber” additives and not-so-natural flavors, so I don’t consider this a good choice.

When shopping for ice cream, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is it certified organic?
  2. Is it flavored naturally with vanilla bean, lemon, cinnamon, cocoa, etc.? Or, did they take a shortcut with “natural flavors”?
  3. Is it made entirely with whole food ingredients? Or, does it contain additives you don’t have in your kitchen like carrageenan, yellow #5, erythritol, and mono and diglycerides?

If a product doesn’t meet that test, seek out a better brand (there are several!) Here are some of my favorites…

NOTE: Not every flavor by these brands is perfect and you still need to read the ingredient list to make sure you know what you are eating.

  • Three Twins Organic Ice Cream – This is my favorite store-bought organic ice cream and they have a lot of flavors to choose from. A few of them contain natural flavors, but most are flavored naturally with real ingredients like banana, vanilla extract, cinnamon, peppermint extract, etc. – Just check the ingredient list!
  • Alden’s Organic Ice Cream – Know that they do use guar gum, locust bean gum and xantham gum, so not exactly the best choice but they are widely available to most people.
  • Local Organic and Grass Fed Ice Cream – Your local farmers market or natural food stores may carry ice cream made from grass-fed cows on small family farms in your area. Seek these out.
  • Homemade Banana Ice Cream – Just add frozen bite-sized pieces of a very ripe banana to a powerful blender or food processor and puree until it comes to a creamy consistency. This may take a few minutes. It’s that easy and really satisfies an ice cream craving! You can try adding coconut milk, nut butter, cinnamon, cocoa, or vanilla to change it up. Just blend these in after you puree the bananas well.

Source: http://foodbabe.com/2017/05/22/really-healthy-ice-cream-brand/

Tell me what your favorite ice cream brand is in the comment section below, and check out this previous Self-help Health post for 3 variations on coconut milk ice cream from Food Babe.

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

Meridian Tapping For Depression, Anxiety And More

 

For those of you who are not familiar with EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and other forms of meridian tapping, this is a good introduction to an easy to learn type of self-help tool that can be used for any number of issues, including depression and anxiety, which is what this article by Katherine Marko focuses on…….

 

Tapping can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

How To Use Tapping For Depression And Anxiety

 (By Tapping, also known as TFT (thought field therapy) or EFT (emotional freedom technique), is a method that combines ancient Chinese acupressure with modern day psychology. It’s called tapping because you literally tap on points of the body while making certain statements. Advocates of this method further claim that tapping can successfully treat any disorder — even banish depression and anxiety.

What does tapping do? 

Tapping is thought to be extremely powerful and may be used to treat a wide variety of physical and psychological conditions, including pain relief, weight loss, addiction, self-sabotage or financial stress. By tapping end points on meridians — a network of channels that transport energy — energy flow is unblocked and releases the phobia.i

By further focusing on the stressful issue or challenge, you send a calming signal to the amygdala in the brain. This is the part of the brain that sends out the “fight or flight” response. Tapping desensitizes that stress signal. So, in a sense, it alters your brain, energy system and body, and how you react to stress.

How can tapping help with depression and anxiety?

Depression is a common mental disorder that, according to the World Health Organization, affects as many as 350 million people of all ages around the world. It’s characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness and poor concentration. It can last a long time or it can be sporadic, substantially impairing your ability to function at work, school or even in your daily life. When it’s at its worst, depression can lead to suicide.

So how can tapping help? For starters, tapping is like acupuncture, except it uses no needles. Both tapping and acupuncture heal through stimulating the body’s meridians and energy flow. So, when we consider the benefits of tapping for depression we can also look at the benefits acupuncture has on depression. According to HealthCMI, research from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine found that acupuncture is an effective treatment for depression and generalized anxiety disorder. It also enhanced the effects Paxil, a commonly prescribed anxiety med.

Tapping can reduce symptoms of depression

Similar studies involving tapping and depression also show promising results. A study published in the journal Integrative Medicine, set out to evaluate the effectiveness of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and EFT in the treatment of depression and anxiety. CBT treats depression with a hands-on approach and a goal to change patterns of thinking or behavior.

The study, which took place in Queensland, Australia recruited 10 local participants. Researchers found that both treatment approaches produced significant reductions in depressive symptoms. The CBT group reported significantly less depression after the treatment, but was not maintained with time. The EFT group reported a significant reduction in symptoms with a delayed effect after three and six-month follow-ups.

So, overall, the study provided evidence to suggest that EFT might be an effective treatment strategy worthy of further investigation. In another study research involving post-traumatic stress disorder and veterans, researchers found that anxiety and depression were both reduced significantly, as was psychological symptoms and pain after EFT.

Here’s how to tap away depression or anxiety

Remember tapping can be used for everything, but for the purpose of this article we’ll focus on depression and anxiety. Here are the tapping guidelines according to The Tapping Solution. Before you begin, identify the problem you want to focus on, and create a statement. EFT Universe suggests that the following phrase works well to clear depression, in particular. “Even though I am depressed, I am a happy person because I deeply and completely accept myself.”

1. Karate chop point

With four fingers on one hand, tap the “karate chop point” on your other hand. The karate chop point is on the outer edge of the hand. Now repeat your statement three times out loud, while continuing to tap the karate chop point five to seven times. Say out loud, “Even though I am depressed, I am a happy person because I deeply and completely accept myself.”

2. Eyebrows

With firm but gentle pressure, as if you were drumming on the side of your desk, tap with two fingers on the inside of the inner edges of the eyebrows (closest to the bridge of the nose) five to seven times. Repeat the statement, “I am such a happy person. I am so happy.”

3. Sides of the eyes

Then, with both hands tap on the side of both eyes with two fingers, five to seven times while repeating the same statement: “I am such a happy person. I am so happy.”

4. Cheekbones

Then, with two fingers on each hand, tap on top of the cheekbones, under the eyes. Tap five to seven times while repeating again, “I am such a happy person. I am so happy.”

5. Above the lips

Then, with one hand, tap under the nose in the crease above the lip with two fingers, five to seven times and repeat, “I am such a happy person. I am so happy.”

6. Under the mouth

Tap under the mouth, below your lower lip with two fingers, five to seven times and repeat: “I am such a happy person. I am so happy.”

7. Collar bone

Tap with both hands on either side of the collar bone (under the hard ridge) with four fingers, five to seven times, repeating, “I am such a happy person. I am so happy.”

8. Beneath the armpit

iNow tap under the armpit (bra level for women) with two fingers, five to seven times and repeat: “I am such a happy person. I am so happy.”

9. Top of the head

Finally, tap on top of the head (center of the crown) with four fingers, five to seven times, repeating: “I am such a happy person. I am so happy.” Take a deep breath and relax.

The tapping order begins at the top, works its way down, and ends by returning to the top of the head to complete the loop. Once you’ve completed the sequence, focus on your depression again. How intense is it on a scale of one to 10? If your depression is higher than “two,” you can do another round of tapping. Keep tapping until your symptoms have subsided.

Depression is treatable

When you’re depressed, for example, it can feel like you’ll never get out from under that dark cloud. But, it’s important to understand that even the most severe depression is treatable. So, if depression is keeping you from living the life you want, then don’t hesitate to seek help.

Learning about your treatment options will help you decide what approach is best for you. No two people are affected in the exact same way by depression. So, treatments may vary from therapy to medication to healthy lifestyle changes. According to HelpGuide.org you shouldn’t rely on medications alone. While medication can relieve the symptoms of depression, it is not usually suitable for long-term use.

Consider natural remedies instead of antidepressants

Research published in the BMJ asked the question: “Does long-term use of psychiatric drugs cause more harm than good?” Researcher Peter C. Gotzsche from Nordic Cochrane Centre in Denmark believes that taking antidepressants could increase your risk of dying prematurely. Furthermore, he suggests drugs do little for patients over a placebo and that the medicines should be scrapped altogether.

Prescribed meds are generally a Band-Aid solution for an underlying problem. In fact, according to Gotzsche, psychiatric drugs are responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people — aged 65 and older — each year in the Western world. Yet, the debate rages on; many doctors agree that for those who suffer from severe depression drugs could make a critical difference. But there is no “one size fits all” approach to treating depression, which is why meds won’t work for everyone.

Tapping is an alternative therapy treatment that may help you avoid taking potentially dangerous drugs. Even if you are on prescribed meds, you can certainly try tapping as a means for speeding up recovery.

— Katherine Marko

Source: http://www.thealternativedaily.com/how-to-use-tapping-for-depression-anxiety/

Related Self-help Health posts:

Feeling Stressed? Rub Your Ears

Use Acupressure Points To Alleviate Stress

Spirit Gate: Heart 7 For Anxiety, Insomnia And More

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare