Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Trauma Is Probably The Reason You’re So Tired Right Now

Feeling more drained than usual lately? It’s not just you. Here’s what’s going on and what to do about it.

Exhaustion can occur after a period of intense stress or trauma.

You might expect, after a year of living with restrictions and extreme uncertainty, that at this point in the coronavirus pandemic ― with vaccines available in the U.S. and cities and businesses reopening ― people would be full of energy and enthusiasm, ready to get out and do things.

But instead, many people are finding themselves particularly exhausted and fatigued. Simple activities and socializations are followed by a real need to rest and recoup. Reinstatements of mask mandates following an uptick in COVID-19 cases are causing a resurgence of anxiety.

Trauma specialists aren’t surprised that people are feeling the weight right now. It isn’t until after the trauma starts to subside that people even begin to experience and become aware of the physiological aftershock.

A year-plus of chronic stress and trauma can take a massive toll on our health ― it damages the immune system, disrupts our circadian rhythms and makes us seriously fatigued. Our bodies have been through a lot. It’s no wonder we’re so tired.

How trauma causes fatigue

We’ve all experienced some kind of trauma as a result of the pandemic. Many people experienced direct trauma — they got sick themselves, or a loved one was diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19. We constantly faced the threat of becoming seriously ill, and for those most at risk, dying.

We have also been repeatedly exposed to death and illness via the media, and it’s known that exposure to distressing news is associated with traumatic stress and other mental health symptoms. And due to pandemic-related restrictions, people haven’t had access to the support systems and coping skills they would normally turn to, said Sarah Lowe, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health.

When our stress systems are chronically activated — as they have been throughout the pandemic — our bodies start to experience some wear and tear. Traumatic experiences run down the immune system, affect our circadian rhythms and impair our digestive health, Lowe said. When we’re actively going through a traumatic experience, our bodies produce a surplus of energy to combat mental and physical stressors. The body goes into survivor mode, and without time to recover, this can deplete our energy reserves.

computer

Often, it isn’t until after the traumatic event passes, and our bodies transition out of survival mode, that the physiological effects hit us and start to wreak havoc. Through her research on disasters like Hurricane Katrina, Tonya Hansel, an associate professor with the Tulane University School of Social Work who specializes in disaster mental health and trauma, has found that people generally don’t have the time or space to address their mental health needs during disasters, because they are too busy figuring out how to get through it.

“It isn’t until the stressor starts to be removed that we can really see what that toll has taken,” Hansel said.

On top of all this, while we are at a turning point in the pandemic, there is still some level of uncertainty. Unvaccinated people remain at risk from the highly contagious delta variant of the virus, and scary headlines may have vaccinated people fearful about how well they’re protected (which, according to data, is very well overall). And change of any sort, even good change, can be distressing.

“Even though these are positive changes and people are getting out into the world, it still is a change, in that I think it can be stress on the body,” Lowe said.

There are a few self-care methods that can help address trauma-induced fatigue.

How to deal with trauma-induced fatigue

The biggest step is to practice good sleep hygiene. Give your body the rest it needs. Lowe’s three tips for this: Avoid caffeine at night, don’t exercise before bed, and shut off your devices an hour before bedtime.

During the day, carve out some time for restoration. Meditate, do some yoga, go for a walk or spend time with some loved ones. Don’t feel like you need to pack your schedule with activities now that society has reopened.

“Try to take it slow and have compassion for oneself that these positive experiences might be taxing, and make space for rest and recovery,” Lowe said.

Set smaller goals and find new coping methods. The last thing you want to do is put more stress on your body because you aren’t getting back to normal as fast as you’d like, Hansel said.

“Start small and make small changes that bring joy in your life,” she advised.

There is no clear timeline for how long it will take each of us to recover. Some people may notice improvements relatively soon, but a lot of people will likely continue to struggle in some way, shape or form for the next several months.

If you’re feeling really exhausted, and that fatigue is affecting your job, relationships, or school or home life, consider seeking help from a counselor or mental health professional, Lowe said.

Above all, be patient with yourself. “It’s not fair if we hold our bodies accountable to just change overnight,” Hansel said. “Just as this was a slow process building up to that stress, fatigue is also going to be a slow process in bringing that stress down.”

By Julia Ries   07/20/2021 

source: HuffPost Life


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Why Socializing Is More Exhausting Now—and How You Can Get Your Mojo Back

The fatigue is real.

There seems to be a lot more napping involved in post-COVID socializing. At first, I thought it was just me needing to rest up before a cookout, or dozing off in the midst of a movie night with friends.

But I’m not alone in feeling fatigued from a socializing schedule I would have handled just fine pre-pandemic. For most people, getting back to the new normal is a lot more tiring than they expected. “In my own life and amongst my friends and colleagues, I have heard people report that they feel exhausted, or that they have to dig deep to socialize,” says Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D., author of How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety.

You can chalk that up to the massive sea change we’ve all experienced over the past year. “I think it’s part of the rebooting of our society,” says Ken Yeager, Ph.D., clinical director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “I don’t think we have ever really experienced this before—and thinking through all these processes and what socializing looks like now, is creating stress.”

cheers

Why socializing is a lot more tiring post-COVID

It’s not your imagination—you need to work a lot harder to socialize now than you did in 2019. And there are several reasons for it

1

We’re rusty at it

After more than a year of Zoom calls and small backyard get-togethers, we’re out of practice at how to handle social events—and it takes more energy to deal with the novelty of it all. “We’ve fallen off our normal pace and intensity,” Hendriksen says. “When that momentum grinds to a halt, breaking that inertia requires extra energy and motivation.”

And while we’ve been still getting together with our nearest and dearest, we haven’t had to make small talk with strangers in a while. “You’re moving around more, seeing more people and that requires interaction,” Yeager says. “That’s an expenditure of energy that hasn’t really been happening for a year.”

2

There’s more anxiety about getting together

Everything about getting together has been stressful for more than a year—with social distancing, masking, and trying to figure out how to safely eat or drink around people outside our household.

That stress isn’t necessarily going to disappear overnight—especially as we still have concerns about variants and outbreaks. “Do I have to wear a mask; do I not wear a mask?” Yeager says. “We’ve never had to worry about these things before.”

3

More of us have mental health issues

The pandemic has unleashed a wave of anxiety and depression, and that has impacted every aspect of our lives.

According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of people reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression skyrocketed during the pandemic. “Nearly half of the American population reported anxiety, depression, or both,” Yeager says.

4

It’s hitting both introverts and extroverts

You might think that this fatigue would be more closely linked to introverts, who have always had to muster up the energy to head out when they’re perfectly happy to chill at home. But fatigue can come for the extroverts, too, as they try to make up for lost time. “Extroverts might wear themselves out going all out, and still experience fatigue,” Yeager says.

How to get back into the social groove

Fortunately, the socializing slump you might be feeling right now will eventually disappear, as we get more used to being around people. But there are a few strategies to get you over the hill—and back to your friends and family.

1

Give yourself more down time

You may have had a go-go-go mentality pre-pandemic, but now’s the time to (slowly) ramp up to that schedule. (So yes, set aside time for that pre-party power nap!)

“Build in some down time so you can rest and recuperate,” Yeager says. “Find time and space in your schedule to recharge batteries and relax, getting outside and getting some fresh air into your lungs.”

2

Set boundaries

To help reduce the stress of social interactions, set boundaries that’ll help you feel comfortable.

“Articulate what you’re willing to do and not willing to do,” Hendriksen says. “Our family is not all vaccinated yet, so we’re not doing indoor dining. If someone invites us to go to an indoor restaurant, we would suggest eating outdoors or ask, ‘Would you like to come over for takeout in the backyard?’ You can set boundaries and still be friendly and compassionate.”

You might even want to set time boundaries—like suggesting meeting up for coffee for an hour, rather than a more open-ended invite.

3

Start small and build on it

Your first post-quarantine outing probably shouldn’t be a big, indoor wedding or a crowded restaurant. Look for ways to start small (a small get-together in someone’s house), and work your way up to bigger or more complex get-togethers.

“Take it slow and simple,” Yeager says. “People may be experiencing anxiety going back into events. Instead of jumping into a week’s vacation with friends or a full-stadium sporting event, practice a little bit and ease yourself into it with smaller interactions.”

4

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

If you’re feeling anxious about getting together, you could be putting too much pressure on yourself to make a reunion even more memorable.

“You don’t have to be your best self to be yourself,” Hendriksen says. “Don’t try to overcompensate by telling extra-zany stories, being extra-entertaining, or otherwise trying to carry the conversation. Take pressure off yourself and turn the attention spotlight onto the people you’re with.”

If you’re hosting, you might find yourself being rusty at hospitality. (Both Hendriksen and I have had people at our houses for more than a half-hour before offering them a drink!)

“As long as you have good intentions and repair the situation upon noticing, it’s fine,” Hendriksen says. “Try a line like ‘I’ve gone feral, so if I forget, help yourself.'”

5

Don’t forget your healthy habits

If you aren’t eating or sleeping well, that’ll make mustering the energy to socialize even harder.

“Your sleep patterns may be disrupted if you’re going back into work,” Yeager says. And look for healthy snacks with plenty of protein to help you avoid a sugar crash that’ll sap your energy.

6

Fake it until you make it

After a year-plus at home, it’s going to take a lot of energy to put ourselves back out there—and we might sometimes have to just force ourselves to make it happen, even when we’re tired.

“Push yourself to do the things that you have enjoyed in the past, with people you know you like and want to spend time with,” Hendriksen says. “Experiencing anxiety about our social life doesn’t mean something is wrong or dangerous. More often than not, you’ll be glad you went.”

By Lisa Milbrand

source: www.realsimple.com


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Sleep Helps Protect Against Dementia, According To Recent Study

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia risk mostly depends on factors like genetics. But new research shows rest can be a good prevention strategy.

New research suggests getting sufficient sleep may help curb dementia risk later in life. 

The bulk of the risk factors for dementia are utterly out of our control, like age and genetics. But growing scientific evidence says there are measures people can take to mitigate their risk of developing the condition, which impacts an estimated 50 million people around the world.

A large new study published this week in the journal Nature Communications points to one relatively straightforward prevention tactic: Get enough high-quality sleep when you’re in your 50s and 60s.

The study, which followed nearly 8,000 participants in the United Kingdom for 25 years, found that people who regularly slept for six hours or less in middle age had about a 30% higher risk of developing dementia than those who clocked seven or more hours per night.

How sleep may help decrease risk of dementia

The new study is by no means the first to draw a link between sleep quantity and quality and dementia, but it is one of the largest to do so, according to Stephanie Stahl, a sleep disorder specialist with Indiana University Health.

“We know that getting insufficient sleep or getting poor quality sleep increases the risk of dementia,” Stahl, who was not involved in the new research, told HuffPost. “This is a larger scale study, so it definitely adds value to the evidence.”

Researchers are still unraveling how exactly the sleep-and-dementia connection might come together, but they have several theories in mind.

“During sleep, our brain is allowed to clear toxins and that includes beta- amyloid,” Stahl said. Beta-amyloid is a brain protein that can clump together and is often (though not always) a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Also, our sleep is really important for us to consolidate our memories,” Stahl added. In addition, “sleep disruption leads to inflammation and that can lead to clogging of the arteries, and that includes those arteries in the brain.”

The small changes that will help you get more sleep

The researchers behind the new study point out that more investigation is needed before they (or any scientists) are able to recommend really specific and powerful “windows of opportunity” for intervention when it comes to sleep and dementia. So it’s not as though experts can say, “Sleep for X hours a night, for X number of years, and your risk will decrease by X amount.”

But sleep doctors like Stahl say there really is no downside to pursuing more high quality rest — even if further research were to show there is not a direct connection between lack of sleep and dementia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults aged 18 to 60 get seven or more hours of sleep per night; adults age 61 to 64 should clock seven to nine hours; and those 65 and up should aim for seven or eight hours.

“Getting seven hours versus six hours of sleep may not sound like a big difference, but if you’re one hour short every day, by the end of the week you’re seven hours — or one full day — short.””

“As far as improving quality of sleep, there’s a whole host of things that can be done. Avoidance of alcohol is really important. Alcohol tends to cause sleep disruption and leads to reduced total sleep time,” Stahl said. “You also want to avoid caffeine for at least eight hours before bedtime.” She noted that both caffeine and alcohol can reduce the amount of restorative slow-wave sleep people have throughout the night.

Another relatively simple — though not necessarily easy — change is to avoid electronics at night. Phone and laptop screens emit blue light, which can mess with sleep. If you can’t ignore your phone completely before bed, try adjusting its light in the settings or using your phone to listen to meditations or sleep-inducing sounds.

You should also try to get regular exercise, Stahl said. Research shows that consistent exercise in the morning or afternoon can significantly improve sleep quality. Exercise can also reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia by about 30%.

As is often the case with preventing illness, healthy changes can impact the body and mind in many different but connected ways.

It’s never too late to get more rest

While the new study may be compelling to clinicians and researchers looking to help their patients prevent dementia, it may also be a source of some alarm to people in their 50s, 60s and beyond who may not have been able to prioritize sleep before.

But experts like Stahl emphasized that it is never too late to make changes, and that sleep is cumulative.

“At any point, working toward getting adequate sleep is one of the most important takeaways,” Stahl said.

Surveys suggest that less than half of Americans get the recommended amount of sleep every night.

“I always tell people that getting seven hours versus six hours of sleep may not sound like a big difference, but if you’re one hour short every day, by the end of the week you’re seven hours — or one full day — short,” Stahl said. “Over the course of the year, you’re now 52 days short of the sleep you should be getting.”

 

By    Catherine Pearson     04/22/2021 

source: www.huffpost.com

 

 
 

Why Do We Have To Sleep?                        by It’s Okay To Be Smart

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mufsteNrTI&ab_channel=It%27sOkayToBeSmart

 
 

The Reason People Now Sleep Worse Than Ever

Why people spend less time asleep than they used to and have more trouble getting to sleep.
 
People are sleeping worse then ever, a new US survey has revealed.
 
Up to five million more North Americans could be experiencing sleep problems than they were five years ago.
 
People also spend less time asleep than they used to.
 
These are the results of a study that looked at how sleep health is changing in the US.
 
Professor Zlatan Krizan, study co-author, said:

“Indeed, how long we sleep is important, but how well we sleep and how we feel about our sleep is important in its own right.
Sleep health is a multidimensional phenomenon, so examining all the aspects of sleep is crucial for future research.”
 
The study surveyed almost 165,000 people between 2013 and 2017.
 
Across the five years of the study, there was an increase in 1.43 percent in the number of people reporting difficulties falling asleep and an increase of 2.7 percent in those with problems remaining asleep.
 
The survey cannot reveal the reason for the increase, but Dr Garrett Hisler, the study’s first author, thinks it is partly down to technology:

“We know from our previous research there is a correlation between smartphone use and insufficient sleep among teens.
If we’re on our phone before bed or we’re receiving alerts in the middle of the night that can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.”
 
As a result, many are now advocating a form of ‘digital detox‘, involving reduced exposure to devices, especially before bedtime.
 

Spaced out

Poor sleep can increase the risk of many mental and physical illness, such as depression, anxiety and cardiovascular disease.
 
Professor Krizan said:

“We know that how well people sleep is generally very reflective of people’s health and may be an indicator of other conditions.
If we want a full picture of the population’s health, it’s important to measure and track these changes in sleep trends over time.”

Sleep deprivation disrupts communication between brain cells, a previous study has shown.
 
These disruptions can lead to temporary lapses in memory and even hallucinations.
 
This helps to explain why sleep deprivation leaves people feeling so spaced out.
 
The study was carried out on patients who had electrodes implanted in their brains prior to surgery for epilepsy.
 
The results showed that as they became more sleepy, the communication between their brain cells slowed down.
 
This caused a decrease in their reactions to cognitive tests.
 

How to improve sleep

Having a regular sleep schedule, bedtime routine and prioritising sleep, all help people sleep better, scientists have found.
 
The advice is based on recommendations by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
 
Stimulus control therapy can also be beneficial.
 
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD
 
source: PsyBlog
 


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How Your Gut Bacteria Controls Your Mood

Your intestines has about 39 trillion microorganisms in it. And yes I said trillion. We call this collection of organisms the microbiome and it consists of mostly bacteria, but also viruses and fungi. Collectively it weighs about 3 pounds which is about the same weight as your brain.

We feed these organisms and they produce chemicals that we need. They send messages to the brain through the vagus nerve.

Several factors determine whether or not your have good vs. bad bacteria:

  • Diet
  • Medications
  • Age
  • Sleep
  • Activity level

Download a guide on gut health here: https://MarksPsychiatry.com/gut-health

source: Dr. Tracey Marks

gut-brain

 Gut Bacteria Is Key Factor in Childhood Obesity

Summary:

Scientists suggest that gut bacteria and its interactions with immune cells and metabolic organs, including fat tissue, play a key role in childhood obesity.

New information published by scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Health suggests that gut bacteria and its interactions with immune cells and metabolic organs, including fat tissue, play a key role in childhood obesity.

“The medical community used to think that obesity was a result of consuming too many calories. However, a series of studies over the past decade has confirmed that the microbes living in our gut are not only associated with obesity but also are one of the causes,” said Hariom Yadav, Ph.D., lead author of the review and assistant professor of molecular medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist.

In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity is increasing at 2.3% rate each year among school-aged children, which is unacceptably high and indicates worrisome prospects for the next generation’s health, the article states.

Yadav’s manuscript, published in the current issue of the journal Obesity Reviews, reviewed existing studies (animal and human) on how the interaction between gut microbiome and immune cells can be passed from mother to baby as early as gestation and can contribute to childhood obesity.

The review also described how a mother’s health, diet, exercise level, antibiotic use, birth method (natural or cesarean), and feeding method (formula or breast milk) can affect the risk of obesity in her children.

“This compilation of current research should be very useful for doctors, nutritionists and dietitians to discuss with their patients because so many of these factors can be changed if people have enough good information,” Yadav said. “We also wanted to identify gaps in the science for future research.”

In addition, having a better understanding of the role of the gut microbiome and obesity in both mothers and their children hopefully will help scientists design more successful preventive and therapeutic strategies to check the rise of obesity in children, he said.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Halle J. Kincaid, Ravinder Nagpal, Hariom Yadav. Microbiome‐immune‐metabolic axis in the epidemic of childhood obesity: Evidence and opportunities. Obesity Reviews, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/obr.12963

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center         ScienceDaily, 30 October 2019 source:  www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191030132704.htm

Brain-Food

The Best Diet For Good Mental Health

People eating the right diet experience better mental health and a stronger sense of wellbeing.

Diet can have a very real effect on mental health, according to the latest review of the research.

People eating the right diet experience better mental health and a stronger sense of wellbeing.

For example, there is good evidence that the Mediterranean diet can improve depression and anxiety.

Here are ten typical ingredients of the Mediterranean diet:

  • Green leafy vegetables,
  • other vegetables,
  • nuts,
  • berries,
  • beans,
  • whole grains,
  • fish,
  • poultry,
  • olive oil,
  • and wine.

The Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory as it includes more vitamins, fibre and unsaturated fats.

Vitamin B12 has also been shown to help with depression, poor memory and fatigue.

For those with epilepsy, a ketogenic diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates, can be helpful.

However, in other areas the effects of diet on mental health are less strong.

For example, the evidence that vitamin D supplements are beneficial for mental health is relatively weak.

Professor Suzanne Dickson, study co-author, said:

“We have found that there is increasing evidence of a link between a poor diet and the worsening of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression.
However, many common beliefs about the health effects of certain foods are not supported by solid evidence.”

The conclusions come from a review of the research in nutritional psychiatry.

For some conditions, the evidence was comparatively thin, said Professor Dickson:

“With individual conditions, we often found very mixed evidence.
With ADHD for example, we can see an increase in the quantity of refined sugar in the diet seems to increase ADHD and hyperactivity, whereas eating more fresh fruit and vegetables seems to protect against these conditions.
But there are comparatively few studies, and many of them don’t last long enough to show long-term effects.”

Nutrition during pregnancy is very important and can significantly affect brain function, the researchers found.

However, the effect of many diets on mental health is small, said Professor Dickson:

“In healthy adults dietary effects on mental health are fairly small, and that makes detecting these effects difficult: it may be that dietary supplementation only works if there are deficiencies due to a poor diet.
We also need to consider genetics: subtle differences in metabolism may mean that some people respond better to changes in diet that others.
There are also practical difficulties which need to be overcome in testing diets.
A food is not a drug, so it needs to be tested differently to a drug.
We can give someone a dummy pill to see if there is an improvement due to the placebo effect, but you can’t easily give people dummy food.
Nutritional psychiatry is a new field.
The message of this paper is that the effects of diet on mental health are real, but that we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions on the base of provisional evidence.
We need more studies on the long-term effects of everyday diets.”

About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004.

The study was published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology (Adan et al., 2019).

source: PsyBlog


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Unvaccinated People Are ‘Variant Factories,’ Infectious Diseases Expert Says

Unvaccinated people do more than merely risk their own health. They’re also a risk to everyone if they become infected with coronavirus, infectious disease specialists say.

That’s because the only source of new coronavirus variants is the body of an infected person.

“Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN Friday.

 “The more unvaccinated people there are, the more opportunities for the virus to multiply,” Schaffner said.

“When it does, it mutates, and it could throw off a variant mutation that is even more serious down the road.”

All viruses mutate, and while the coronavirus is not particularly mutation-prone, it does change and evolve.

Most of the changes mean nothing to the virus, and some can weaken it. But sometimes, a virus develops a random mutation that gives it an advantage – better transmissibility, for instance, or more efficient replication, or an ability to infect a great diversity of hosts.

Viruses with an advantage will outcompete other viruses, and will eventually make up the majority of virus particles infecting someone. If that infected person passes the virus to someone else, they’ll be passing along the mutant version.

If a mutant version is successful enough, it becomes a variant.

But it has to replicate to do that. An unvaccinated person provides that opportunity.

“As mutations come up in viruses, the ones that persist are the ones that make it easier for the virus to spread in the population,” Andrew Pekosz, a microbiologist and immunologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CNN.

“Every time the viruses changes, that gives the virus a different platform to add more mutations. Now we have viruses that spread more efficiently.”

Viruses that don’t spread cannot mutate.

coronavirus

Variants have arisen all over the world – the B.1.1.7 or Alpha variant was first seen in England. The B.1.351 or Beta variant was first spotted in South Africa. The Delta variant, also called B.1.617.2, was seen first in India. And the US has thrown up several of its own variants, including the B.1.427 or Epsilon lineage first seen in California, and the B.1.526 or Eta variant first seen in New York.

Already, one new variant has swept much of the world. Last summer, a version of the virus carrying a mutation called D614G went from Europe to the U.S. and then the rest of the world. The change made the virus more successful – it replicated better – so that version took over from the original strain that emerged from China. It appeared before people starting naming the variants, but it became the default version of the virus.

Most of the newer variants added changes to D614G. The Alpha variant, or B.1.1.7, became the dominant variant in the US by late spring thanks to its extra transmissibility. Now the Delta variant is even more transmissible, and it’s set to become the dominant variant in many countries, including the U.S.

The current vaccines protect well against all the variants so far, but that could change at any moment. That’s why doctors and public health officials want more people to get vaccinated.

“The more we allow the virus to spread, the more opportunity the virus has to change,” the World Health Organization advised last month.

Vaccines are not widely available in many countries. But in the U.S., there is plenty of supply, with slowing demand. Just 18 states have fully vaccinated more than half their residents, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Currently, approximately 1,000 counties in the United States have vaccination coverage of less than 30%. These communities, primarily in the Southeast and Midwest, are our most vulnerable. In some of these areas, we are already seeing increasing rates of disease,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told a White House briefing Thursday.

“Every time we see the virus circulating in the population, particularly a population that has pockets of immune people, vaccinated people, and pockets of unvaccinated people, you have a situation where the virus can probe,” Pekosz said.

If a virus tries to infect someone with immunity, it may fail, or it may succeed and cause a mild or asymptomatic infection. In that case, it will replicate in response to the pressure from a primed immune system.

Like a bank robber whose picture is on wanted posters everywhere, the virus that succeeds will be the virus that makes a random change that makes it look less visible to the immune system.

Those populations of unvaccinated people give the virus the change not only to spread, but to change.

“All it takes is one mutation in one person,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician and immunologist at Boston College.

Maggie Fox          CNN      Saturday, July 3, 2021 

source: CTV News


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 ‘A Life of Choice’: Routine, Ritual or Habit?

Grabbing a mask on the way out the door and a thorough hand-wash upon returning home, or perhaps more commonly staying home and meeting virtually for work and fun are just a few of the new habits picked up during the pandemic, and experts say some might stick around even after restrictions lift.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to change their habits, something that is usually very difficult for people to do.

“If you want to adopt a new habit, it’s like climbing up a mountain, and I imagine so many people would respond to the pandemic as a habit imposed on them,” Sam Maglio, professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Toronto, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on June 16.

Having rules and regulations in place has made it a lot easier for people to adopt the new rules, such as mask-wearing and physical distancing.

“When we talk about habits sticking, people often look to individual factors such as willpower, motivation, and decision. But “friction” in our environment also makes a difference – friction involves factors that make behaviours we want to do easier and behaviours we do not want to do harder,” clinical psychologist and board director with Anxiety Canada Melanie Badali told CTVNews.ca in an email.

WHY HABITS STICK

Determining if these habits will persist post-pandemic gets a bit hazy for Maglio, because while we can see each other’s behaviour, we never really know the “why” behind it.

“It is kind of a black box, you don’t really know why or what need is being satisfied by that behaviour. So, I would imagine that the answer, the peek inside that black box, might be very different for the different habits that people are expecting to stick around after the pandemic.”

And some habits that people want to maintain, such as remote work, virtual cocktails and at-home workouts, come with benefits. They can eliminate lengthy commutes, for example, or save money by making DIY cocktails and skipping the gym membership.

“A consistent theme through all of that, is people are doing it because they are, at least they think they are, getting some sort of benefit from this new pattern of behaviour that the pandemic forced them to adopt,” said Maglio.

It’s evidence people can find the silver lining in a situation, even one as challenging as the pandemic has been.

“One of the silver linings that comes out of this might be an 18-month hard reset on kind of just going along with the day-to-day and approach to how we’ve always done stuff,” said Maglio.

mask girl

ROUTINE, RITUAL OR HABIT?

And some of the habits picked up along the way, such as wearing a mask, and washing hands upon returning home have become ritualized.

“Rituals can make your life better by giving a sense of consistency,” he said.

A daily ritual such as making the bed each morning can set the tone for the entire day, he added.

Already, putting masks on has become such a part of our daily lives that when those restrictions begin to lift, some might feel naked without them.

“That ‘where’s my mask?’ might be the phantom phone ring of 2021, where it’s something that you think is there, but you don’t need to be there,” said Maglio.

Some of our new habits or rituals may make returning to normal life a bit awkward as we readjust to eased restrictions. For Maglio, because his mask hid his smile, he began laughing out loud while checking out at the grocery store, and he’s not sure that it’s a voluntary response anymore.

“It’s become automatic to make a sound, because for a while, the visual cue hasn’t been there,” he said.

The automatic behaviour is what he believes will carry on after restrictions are lifted, whether they are good behaviours or bad.

“Having an automaticity, for better or worse, is likely to stick around for a while until we learn that some stuff that we picked up isn’t needed or is destructive, and maybe the silver lining is that some stuff is helpful,” he added.

But for some people, wearing a mask and following physical distancing guidelines and other pandemic related restrictions has been more difficult. Badali says that this behaviour is to be expected.

“For some people, putting on a mask before they leave their home may be a routine (they have to think about putting on their mask) rather than a habit (they automatically grab their mask after their keys and put it on),” she said.

Some routines, she added, can turn into habits, especially if there’s a reward involved, such as a midnight snack. So some habits might come on faster than others, and some may be hard to break.

“In general, the habit memory system learns slowly over time and is resistant to change. Habits are like “autopilot mode” – we have to consciously switch out of it but it will remain the default setting for a while as your brain learns a new habit. The good news is that habits are more conducive to change when people are experiencing disruption in routines,” said Badali.

It will be important to pay attention to context as restrictions ease and lift across the country as it may no longer benefit to continue a habit.

“Habit loops may cease to be rewarded or reinforced when public health recommendations change,” she said.

We may also find ourselves quickly and easily returning to old, pre-pandemic habits, because as the saying goes: Old habits die hard.

“In areas where we return to pre-pandemic-like environments, we may find that we shift easily to old habits because habit memories are there to be activated. As the world opens up, we may fall back into old routines and habits mindlessly. There is an opportunity for us to be mindful about routines and habits in a way that enables us to choose what still fits for us and what we want to change,” said Badali.

WHEN FEAR INFORMS HABIT

Some people may be more anxious than others about losing the mask and getting up close with strangers on the bus or subway. For those who look upon those days with a sense of dread, Badali recommends using cognitive behavioural therapy techniques to help with the fear and anxiety.

“It is possible that mask-wearing, hand sanitizer use and other behaviours, could transition from beneficial behaviours that are worth doing to unhelpful behaviours that don’t really offer much benefit in terms of actual safety and, in fact, start to become problems because they fuel our anxiety,” she said. “The solution becomes the problem. In cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for anxiety, we often look for “safety behaviours” that are used in an attempt to prevent harm and to feel more comfortable in anxiety-provoking situations.”

For Badali, it’s important to keep up to date with the science and pandemic guidelines.

“My advice would be, live a life of choice. Follow the science rather than letting emotions boss you around. Don’t get stuck. Take small steps if you need to do so.”

Brooke Taylor   CTVNews.ca Writer     @newsmanbrooke      TORONTO    Wednesday, June 23, 2021

source: CTV News


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Building Your Resilience

Having a Strong Life Purpose Eases Loneliness of Covid-19 Isolation, Study Finds

Those Who Felt Their Life Was Guided by Meaningful Values or Goals Were More Willing to Engage in Covid-19 Protective Behaviors

Summary:
Why can some people weather the stress of social isolation better than others, and what implications does this have for their health?
New research found that people who felt a strong sense of purpose in life were less lonely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why can some people weather the stress of social isolation better than others, and what implications does this have for their health? New research from the Communication Neuroscience Lab at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania found that people who felt a strong sense of purpose in life were less lonely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Did they achieve less loneliness by flouting public health guidance? No. Although lonelier people were less likely to want to follow public health guidance, people with a stronger sense of purpose also expressed more willingness to engage in social distancing, hand washing, and other COVID-19 protective behaviors.

Purpose in life, or a sense that your life is guided by personally meaningful values and goals – which could involve family ties, religion, activism, parenthood, career or artistic ambitions, or many other things — has been associated in prior research with a wide range of positive health outcomes, both physical and psychological.

“In the face of adversity, people with a stronger sense of purpose in life tend to be more resilient because they have a clear sense of goals that motivate actions that are aligned with personal values,” says Yoona Kang, Ph.D., lead author and a Research Director of the Communication Neuroscience Lab. “People with strong purpose may also experience less conflict when making health decisions. We felt that the COVID-19 pandemic was an important context to test whether purpose in life relates to individuals’ willingness to engage in behaviors to protect themselves and others.”

Based on their prior research, Kang and her collaborators expected that people with higher sense of purpose would be more likely to engage in COVID-19 prevention behaviors than individuals with a lower sense of purpose. In order to test their theory, the researchers surveyed more than 500 adult participants to capture their levels of purpose in life, their current and pre-pandemic levels of loneliness, and the degrees to which they intended to engage in behaviors known to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

They found that higher levels of loneliness made people be less focused on protecting themselves from COVID-19, and more skeptical that behaviors to prevent COVID-19 would be effective. However, having a stronger sense of purpose was associated with lower levels of loneliness and a greater desire to take action to protect themselves from COVID-19. Those with a higher sense of purpose also expressed a stronger belief that COVID-19 prevention behaviors would work. Even when people who had a strong sense of purpose did report being lonely, they still felt strongly about taking precautions to prevent COVID-19.

“When faced with extreme loneliness and social isolation, like during the COVID-19 pandemic, wanting to connect with other people, despite the health risks, is a natural response,” Kang says. “And yet, amidst this drastic shift in social life, we found that people with a higher sense of purpose were more likely to engage in prevention behaviors. This is striking because it shows that purpose in life can empower people to make life-saving health decisions that protect their own health and those around them.”

Additionally, the researchers found that older people expressed less loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic than younger people. Kang sees this as a sign of the resilience of older adults, and she hopes to further study how to enhance purpose in life and resilience in aging populations.

“Having a stronger sense of purpose was associated with really important, positive outcomes across the lifespan,” says Emily Falk, senior author, Director of the Communication Neuroscience Lab, and Professor of Communication, Psychology, and Marketing. “Our upcoming work will test interventions to increase their sense of purpose, in hopes of bringing these benefits to more people.”

The study, published this month in The Gerontologist, is entitled “Purpose in Life, Loneliness, and Protective Health Behaviors during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” In addition to Kang and Falk, authors include Danielle Cosme, Ph.D.; Rui Pei, Ph.D.; Prateekshit Pandey; and José Carreras-Tartak.

Story Source:
Materials provided by University of Pennsylvania. Original written by Ashton Yount. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Yoona Kang, Danielle Cosme, Rui Pei, Prateekshit Pandey, José Carreras-Tartak, Emily B Falk. Purpose in life, loneliness, and protective health behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Gerontologist, 2021; DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnab081

June 16, 2021          Source: University of Pennsylvania          Science Daily

resilient

Building Your Resilience

We All Face Trauma, Adversity and Other Stresses. Here’s a Roadmap for Adapting to Life-Changing Situations, and Emerging Even Stronger than Before.

The Road to Resilience

Imagine you’re going to take a raft trip down a river. Along with slow water and shallows, your map shows that you will encounter unavoidable rapids and turns. How would you make sure you can safely cross the rough waters and handle any unexpected problems that come from the challenge?

Perhaps you would enlist the support of more experienced rafters as you plan your route or rely on the companionship of trusted friends along the way. Maybe you would pack an extra life jacket or consider using a stronger raft. With the right tools and supports in place, one thing is sure: You will not only make it through the challenges of your river adventure. You will also emerge a more confident and courageous rafter.

What is resilience?

Life may not come with a map, but everyone will experience twists and turns, from everyday challenges to traumatic events with more lasting impact, like the death of a loved one, a life-altering accident, or a serious illness. Each change affects people differently, bringing a unique flood of thoughts, strong emotions and uncertainty. Yet people generally adapt well over time to life-changing situations and stressful situations—in part thanks to resilience.

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.

While these adverse events, much like rough river waters, are certainly painful and difficult, they don’t have to determine the outcome of your life. There are many aspects of your life you can control, modify, and grow with. That’s the role of resilience. Becoming more resilient not only helps you get through difficult circumstances, it also empowers you to grow and even improve your life along the way.

What resilience isn’t

Being resilient doesn’t mean that a person won’t experience difficulty or distress. People who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives commonly experience emotional pain and stress. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress.

While certain factors might make some individuals more resilient than others, resilience isn’t necessarily a personality trait that only some people possess. On the contrary, resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that anyone can learn and develop. The ability to learn resilience is one reason research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. One example is the response of many Americans to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and individuals’ efforts to rebuild their lives after tragedy.

Like building a muscle, increasing your resilience takes time and intentionality. Focusing on four core components—connection, wellness, healthy thinking, and meaning—can empower you to withstand and learn from difficult and traumatic experiences. To increase your capacity for resilience to weather—and grow from—the difficulties, use these strategies.

Build your connections

Prioritize relationships. Connecting with empathetic and understanding people can remind you that you’re not alone in the midst of difficulties. Focus on finding trustworthy and compassionate individuals who validate your feelings, which will support the skill of resilience.

The pain of traumatic events can lead some people to isolate themselves, but it’s important to accept help and support from those who care about you. Whether you go on a weekly date night with your spouse or plan a lunch out with a friend, try to prioritize genuinely connecting with people who care about you.

Join a group. Along with one-on-one relationships, some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based communities, or other local organizations provides social support and can help you reclaim hope. Research groups in your area that could offer you support and a sense of purpose or joy when you need it.

Foster wellness

Take care of your body. Self-care may be a popular buzzword, but it’s also a legitimate practice for mental health and building resilience. That’s because stress is just as much physical as it is emotional. Promoting positive lifestyle factors like proper nutrition, ample sleep, hydration, and regular exercise can strengthen your body to adapt to stress and reduce the toll of emotions like anxiety or depression.

Practice mindfulness. Mindful journaling, yoga, and other spiritual practices like prayer or meditation can also help people build connections and restore hope, which can prime them to deal with situations that require resilience. When you journal, meditate, or pray, ruminate on positive aspects of your life and recall the things you’re grateful for, even during personal trials.

Avoid negative outlets. It may be tempting to mask your pain with alcohol, drugs, or other substances, but that’s like putting a bandage on a deep wound. Focus instead on giving your body resources to manage stress, rather than seeking to eliminate the feeling of stress altogether.

Find purpose

Help others. Whether you volunteer with a local homeless shelter or simply support a friend in their own time of need, you can garner a sense of purpose, foster self-worth, connect with other people, and tangibly help others, all of which can empower you to grow in resilience.

Be proactive. It’s helpful to acknowledge and accept your emotions during hard times, but it’s also important to help you foster self-discovery by asking yourself, “What can I do about a problem in my life?” If the problems seem too big to tackle, break them down into manageable pieces.

For example, if you got laid off at work, you may not be able to convince your boss it was a mistake to let you go. But you can spend an hour each day developing your top strengths or working on your resume. Taking initiative will remind you that you can muster motivation and purpose even during stressful periods of your life, increasing the likelihood that you’ll rise up during painful times again.

Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals and do something regularly—even if it seems like a small accomplishment—that enables you to move toward the things you want to accomplish. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?” For example, if you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one and you want to move forward, you could join a grief support group in your area.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often find that they have grown in some respect as a result of a struggle. For example, after a tragedy or hardship, people have reported better relationships and a greater sense of strength, even while feeling vulnerable. That can increase their sense of self-worth and heighten their appreciation for life.

Embrace healthy thoughts

Keep things in perspective. How you think can play a significant part in how you feel—and how resilient you are when faced with obstacles. Try to identify areas of irrational thinking, such as a tendency to catastrophize difficulties or assume the world is out to get you, and adopt a more balanced and realistic thinking pattern. For instance, if you feel overwhelmed by a challenge, remind yourself that what happened to you isn’t an indicator of how your future will go, and that you’re not helpless. You may not be able to change a highly stressful event, but you can change how you interpret and respond to it.

Accept change. Accept that change is a part of life. Certain goals or ideals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations in your life. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.

Maintain a hopeful outlook. It’s hard to be positive when life isn’t going your way. An optimistic outlook empowers you to expect that good things will happen to you. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear. Along the way, note any subtle ways in which you start to feel better as you deal with difficult situations.

Learn from your past. By looking back at who or what was helpful in previous times of distress, you may discover how you can respond effectively to new difficult situations. Remind yourself of where you’ve been able to find strength and ask yourself what you’ve learned from those experiences.

Seeking help

Getting help when you need it is crucial in building your resilience.

For many people, using their own resources and the kinds of strategies listed above may be enough for building their resilience. But at times, an individual might get stuck or have difficulty making progress on the road to resilience.

A licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist can assist people in developing an appropriate strategy for moving forward. It is important to get professional help if you feel like you are unable to function as well as you would like or perform basic activities of daily living as a result of a traumatic or other stressful life experience. Keep in mind that different people tend to be comfortable with different styles of interaction. To get the most out of your therapeutic relationship, you should feel at ease with a mental health professional or in a support group.

The important thing is to remember you’re not alone on the journey. While you may not be able to control all of your circumstances, you can grow by focusing on the aspects of life’s challenges you can manage with the support of loved ones and trusted professionals.

APA gratefully acknowledges the following contributors to this publication:
David Palmiter, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Marywood University, Scranton, Penn.Mary Alvord, PhD, Director, Alvord, Baker & Associates, Rockville, Md.Rosalind Dorlen, PsyD, Member: Allied Professional Staff, Department of Psychiatry Overlook Medical Center, Summit, NJ; Senior Faculty, Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis of New Jersey and Field Supervisor at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers University.Lillian Comas-Diaz, PhD, Director, Transcultural Mental Health Institute, Washington, D.C.Suniya S. Luthar, PhD, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City, N.Y.Salvatore R. Maddi, PhD, The Hardiness Institute, Inc., University of California at Irvine, Newport Beach, Calif.H. Katherine (Kit) O’Neill, PhD, North Dakota State University and Knowlton, O’Neill and Associates, Fargo, N.D.Karen W. Saakvitne, PhD, Traumatic Stress Institute/Center for Adult & Adolescent Psychotherapy, South Windsor, Conn.Richard Glenn Tedeschi, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

source: American Psychological Association.


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What The Western Diet Does To The Immune System

Diets rich in two nutrients harm immune cells in the gut, putting people at high risk of intestinal infections.

A diet rich in fat and sugar damages particular immune cells named Paneth cells that produce antimicrobial molecules keeping inflammation and microbes under control.

Highly specialised Paneth cells are located in the small intestine where nutrients from food are absorbed and sent to the bloodstream.

Western diets are high in processed foods and fat and sugar, which cause Paneth cells to not work properly.

Paneth cell dysfunction cause abnormalities in the gut immune system which in turn leads to infections (disease-causing microbes) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a study has found.

Dr Ta-Chiang Liu, the study’s first author, said:

“Inflammatory bowel disease has historically been a problem primarily in Western countries such as the U.S., but it’s becoming more common globally as more and more people adopt Western lifestyles.

Our research showed that long-term consumption of a Western-style diet high in fat and sugar impairs the function of immune cells in the gut in ways that could promote inflammatory bowel disease or increase the risk of intestinal infections.”

IBD patients often have defective Paneth cells, which are responsible for setting off inflammation in the small intestine.

For instance, Paneth cells can no longer function in patients with Crohn’s disease, which is a type of IBD and marked by fatigue, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and anaemia.

The research team examined Paneth cells of 400 adults and found that the higher the body mass index (BMI) the worse these cells looked.

Frequent consumption of foods high in sugar and fat causes weight gain and has many health consequences.

These two macronutrients generally make up more than 40 percent of the calories of a typical Western diet.

The scientists fed mice a high sugar, high fat diet and in two months they became obese and had abnormal Paneth cells.

Dr Liu said:

“Eating too much of a healthy diet didn’t affect the Paneth cells.

It was the high-fat, high-sugar diet that was the problem.”

When a healthy diet replaced the Western diet, within four weeks, the Paneth cells were restored to normal.

Dr Liu said:

“This was a short-term experiment, just eight weeks.

In people, obesity doesn’t occur overnight or even in eight weeks.

It’s possible that if you have Western diet for so long, you cross a point of no return and your Paneth cells don’t recover even if you change your diet.

We’d need to do more research before we can say whether this process is reversible in people.”

In addition, deoxycholic acid (a secondary bile acid produce by bacteria in the gut) is involved in carbohydrate and fat metabolism.

Bile acid plays a key role regarding Paneth cell abnormality since it increases the activity of the farnesoid X receptor (involved in sugar and fat metabolism) and type 1 interferon (part of the immune system active in the antiviral responses) thus hindersing Paneth cell from working properly.

The study was published in the Cell Host & Microbe (Liu et al., 2021).

June 11, 2021        source:  Psyblog

fruits-veggies

Is a Plant-Centered Diet Better for Your Heart?

More evidence suggests the long-standing belief that eating low amounts of saturated fats to ward off heart disease may not be entirely correct.

A new study that followed more than 4,800 people over 32 years shows that a plant-centered diet was more likely to be associated with a lower risk of future coronary heart disease and stroke, compared with focusing on fewer saturated fats alone.

“It’s true that low-saturated fat actually lowers LDL [or bad] cholesterol, but it cannot predict cardiovascular disease,” says lead study author Yuni Choi, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. “Our research strongly supports the fact that plant-based diet patterns are good for cardiovascular health.”

To assess diet patterns of study participants, the researchers conducted three detailed diet history interviews over the follow-up period and then calculated scores for each using the A Priori Diet Quality Score (APDQS). Higher APDQS scores were associated with higher intake of nutritionally rich plant foods and less high-fat meats. While those who consumed less saturated fats and plant-centered diets had lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, or lower levels of “bad” cholesterol, only the latter diet was also associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke over the long term.

Choi said targeting just single nutrients such as total or saturated fat doesn’t consider those fats found in healthy plant-based foods with cardioprotective properties, such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, and dark chocolate. Based on study results, she recommends those conscious of heart health fill their plates with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes and even a little coffee and tea, which were associated with a low risk of cardiovascular disease.

“More than 80% should be plant-sourced foods and then nonfried fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy in moderation,” she says.

“I think in focusing just on nutrients, we oversimplify the heart [health] diet hypothesis and miss the very important plant component,” says research team leader David Jacobs, PhD, professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. “If you tend to eat a plant-centered diet you will tend to eat less saturated fats because that’s just the way the plant kingdom works.”

Following a plant-centered diet is consistent with the American Heart Association’s (AHA) existing recommendations to minimize saturated fats and emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, says Linda Van Horn, PhD, professor, and chief of the Department of Preventive Medicine’s Nutrition Division at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and a member of the AHA’s Nutrition Committee.

“There is no question that current intakes of plant-based carbohydrate, protein and fat are below what is recommended and moving in that direction would be a nutritious improvement,” she says, noting, however, that this doesn’t necessarily mean everyone needs to be on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Given that plant-centered diets have been associated with lowering the risk of other diseases, the researchers are now looking to better understand how APDQS scores impact chronic conditions such obesity, diabetes, and kidney disease. They’ll also be researching how diet affects gut bacteria as they expect eating plant-based foods provides more fiber and promotes healthy microbiomes.

“I think that diet patterns provide a really solid base for the public and policy makers to think about what a healthy diet really is,” Jacobs says.

SOURCES

Nutrition 2021: “Which Predicts Incident Cardiovascular Disease Better: A Plant-Centered Diet or a Low-Saturated Fat Diet? The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study.”

Yuni Choi, PhD, postdoctoral researcher, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota.

Linda Van Horn, PhD, professor, chief of the Department of Preventive Medicine’s Nutrition Division, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago.

David Jacobs, PhD, professor of epidemiology and community health, University of Minnesota.7

By Rosalind Stefanac           June 10, 2021         source:   Medscape Medical News    WebMD


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8 Secrets of a Healthy Mind

We would – of course – like any encounter with mental illness to be as brief as possible

and, most importantly, to be isolated and singular. But the reality is that for many

of us, the illness will threaten to return for visits throughout our lives. It will be

a condition to which we will be permanently susceptible. So the challenge isn’t to learn

to survive only a one-off crisis; it’s to set in place a framework that can help us

to manage our fragility over the long-term. Some of the following moves, practical and

psychological, suggest themselves:

Acknowledgement

Being ready for a return of the illness will help us to calibrate our expectations and

render us appropriately patient and unfrightened in the face of relapses. We fell ill over

many years – our whole childhood might have been the incubating laboratory – and it will

therefore take us an age until we are impervious. We should expect to recover no more speedily

than someone who has damaged a limb and probably a good deal more arduously, given how complicated

a mind is next to a femur or a tendon.

Mental Management

We need to be rigorous with our patterns of thinking. We cannot afford to let our thoughts

wander into any old section of the mind. There are thoughts that we need to nurture – about

our worth, about our right to be, about the importance of keeping going, about self-forgiveness.

And there are thoughts we should be ruthless in chasing out – about how some people are

doing so much better than us, about how inadequate and pitiful we are, about what a disappointment

we have turned out to be. The latter aren’t even ‘thoughts,’ they have no content

to speak of, they cannot teach us anything new. They are really just instruments of torture

and symptoms of a difficult past.

A Support Network

A decent social life isn’t, for the mentally fragile, a luxury or piece of entertainment.

It is a resource to help us to stay alive. We need people to balance our minds when we

are slipping. We need friends who will be soothing with our fears and not accuse us

of self-indulgence or self-pity for the amount of time our illness has sequestered. It will

help immensely if they have struggles of their own and if we can therefore meet as equal

fellow ailing humans, as opposed to hierarchically separated doctors and patients.

We’ll need ruthlessness in expunging certain other people from our diaries, people who

harbour secret resentments against us, who are latently hostile to self-examination,

who are scared of their own minds and project their fears onto us. A few hours with such

types can throw a shadow over a whole day; their unsympathetic voices become lodged in

our minds and feed our own ample stores of self-doubt. We shouldn’t hesitate to socially

edit our lives in order to endure.

Vulnerability

The impulse, when things are darkening, is to hide ourselves away and reduce communication.

We are too ashamed to do anything else. We should fight the tendency and, precisely when

we cannot bear to admit what we are going through, we should dare to take someone into

our confidence. Silence is the primordial enemy. We have to fight a permanent feeling

that we are too despicable to be looked after. We have to take a gamble on an always implausible

idea: that we deserve kindness.

love

Love

Love is ultimately what will get us through, not romantic love but sympathy, toleranc

and patience. We’ll need to watch our tendencies to turn love down from an innate sense of

unworthiness. We wouldn’t have become ill if it were entirely easy for us to accept

the positive attention of others. We’ll have to thank those who are offering it and

make them feel appreciated in return – and most of all, accept that our illness was from

the outset rooted in a deficit of love and therefore that every encounter with the emotion

will strengthen our recovery and help to keep the darkness at bay.

Pills

We would – ideally – of course prefer not to keep adding foreign chemicals to our minds.

There are side effects and the eerie sense of not knowing exactly where our thoughts

end and alien neurochemistry begins. But the ongoing medicines set up guardrails around

the worst of our mental whirlpools. We may have to be protected on an ongoing basis from

forces inside us that would prefer we didn’t exist.

A Quiet Life

We should see the glory and the grandeur that is present in an apparently modest destiny.

We are good enough as we are. We don’t need huge sums of money or to be spoken of well

by strangers. We should take pride in our early nights and undramatic routines. These

aren’t signs of passivity or tedium. What looks like a normal life on the outside is

a singular achievement given what we are battling within.

Humour

There is no need for gravity. We can face down the illness by laughing heartily at its

evils. We are mad and cracked – but luckily so are many others with whom we can wryly

mock the absurdities of mental life. We shouldn’t, on top of everything else, accord our illness

too much portentous respect.

We should be proud of ourselves for making it this far. It may have looked – at times

– as if we never would. There might have been nights when we sincerely thought of taking

our own lives. Somehow we held on, we reached out for help, we dared to tell someone else

of our problems, we engaged our minds, we tried to piece together our histories and

to plot a more endurable future – and we started reading about what might be up with us.

We are still here, mentally ill no doubt at times, but more than ever committed to recovery,

appreciative of the light, grateful for love, hungry for insight and keen to help anyone

else whose plight we can recognise. We are not fully well, but we are on the mend and

that, for now, is very much good enough.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Su7S3hsnxuQ

The School of Life


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Benefits of Humility: 8 Ways Being Humble Improves Your Life

The benefits of humility include coping with anxiety, higher self-control and better relationships.

The poet Tennyson once said that humility is, “the highest virtue, the mother of them all.”

Yet society celebrates over-confidence, entitlement and a perpetual focus on the self.

People are increasingly competitive, attention-seeking, narcissistic, obsessed with their appearance and entitled.

A new study, though, underlines eight ways in which the benefits of humility can help us improve our lives (Kesebir, 2014).

The author of the study, psychologist Pelin Kesebir, explains that:

“Humility involves a willingness to accept the self’s limits and its place in the grand scheme of things, accompanied by low levels of self-preoccupation.”

Humility — or ‘a quiet ego’ as she calls it — can be surprisingly powerful in a variety of different ways.

1. Humility soothes the soul

Humble people are better able to cope with anxiety about their mortality.

Instead of erecting self-defences against death, humble people tend to find it provides a useful perspective on life and how it should be lived.

When it’s not all about you, interestingly, it makes death easier to contemplate.

2. Excellence in leadership

Humble leaders are not only better liked, as you might imagine, but they are also more effective.

Author of a study published in the Academy of Management Journal, Bradley Owens explained (Owens et al., 2011):

“Leaders of all ranks view admitting mistakes, spotlighting follower strengths and modeling teachability as being at the core of humble leadership.

And they view these three behaviors as being powerful predictors of their own as well as the organization’s growth.”

life

3. Higher self-control

Having high self-control is one key to a successful life.

Oddly, perhaps, studies have found that an obsession with the self can paradoxically lead to lower self-control.

The humble, though, because they place less importance on the self, exhibit higher self-control in many situations.

Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that humble people tend to know their limits.

4. Better work performance

The humble not only make better managers, but they also make better employees.

A study of employees’ supervisors found that being honest and humble was a good predictor of people’s job performance (Megan et al., 2011).

5. Humble people get higher grades

Perhaps being a better employee and better manager has its roots in the formative years.

A study of 55 students has found that those who were more humble did better academically (Rowatt et al., 2006).

Being humble, therefore, may make you better in school.

6. Humility leads to less prejudice

One of the characteristics of being humble is having a low sense of entitlement.

Humble people don’t think they are owed things.

This leads to a less prejudiced view of the world, encouraging  them to be tolerant to others and less defensive about their own beliefs.

7. More helpful

Humble people are, on average, more helpful than people who are conceited or egotistical.

In a study by LaBouff et al. (2011), participants who were more humble, were more likely to offer help, and offered more of their time, to those in need.

Unsurprisingly, humble people have also been found to be more generous.

8. Humility benefits relationships

Humble people may have better relationships because they accept other people for who they are.

A study by Davis et al. (2012) of groups of people found that humility helped to repair relationships and built stronger bonds between people.

May 29, 2021   PsyBlog