Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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How To Deal With Negative Thoughts And Anxiety

People in the study were asked to journal about their most stressful experiences.

Accepting negative emotions is the best way to deal with them in the long-run, new research finds.

People who are more accepting of their darker moods have better psychological health.

Dr Iris Mauss, one author of the study, said:

“We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health.”

Psychologists are still not sure exactly why acceptance is so powerful, said Dr Mauss:

“Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you’re not giving them as much attention.
And perhaps, if you’re constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up.”

The results come from research on over 1,300 people.

Those who most strongly resisted negative emotions, or judged them excessively, were more stressed.

Over six months, the people who did best were those who let their dark moods run their course, with little judgement or criticism.

They had fewer symptoms of mood disorders like depression.

Dr Brett Ford, the study’s first author, said:

“It turns out that how we approaach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being.
People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully.”

The researchers ruled out being richer as a factor, Dr Mauss said:

“It’s easier to have an accepting attitude if you lead a pampered life, which is why we ruled out socio-economic status and major life stressors that could bias the results.”

People were asked to journal about their most stressful experiences, in one of three studies the researchers conducted.

In general, those who did not feel bad about feeling bad had the highest levels of well-being and psychological health.

Next, the researchers want to look at where the habitual acceptance of negative emotions comes from.

Dr Mauss said:

“By asking parents about their attitudes about their children’s emotions, we may be able to predict how their children feel about their emotions, and how that might affect their children’s mental health.”

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Ford et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog    AUGUST 19, 2017 
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How Many Fruits and Vegetables to Eat to Boost Your Mood?

New study finds eating more fruits and vegetables improves happiness.

A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health has found that eating more fruits and vegetables can boost your happiness as much as going from being unemployed to employed. This research is one of the first and largest studies illustrating the power of nutrition, fruits and vegetables in particular, to improve mood and psychological well-being.

Only one in four Americans eat the recommended amount of daily fruits and vegetables. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults eat between 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day, depending on your age and level of activity. But to boost your mood, you will probably need more than the daily recommended amount.

The study examined the food diaries and psychological well-being of a randomly selected group of 12,000 people. Researchers found that going from eating no vegetables and fruit to at least 8 portions of vegetables and fruit boosts happiness the same amount as the change from being unemployed to employed. The improvement in life satisfaction occurred within two years, which is a lot faster than other proven effects of fruits and vegetables, like protecting against cancer and lowering heart disease risks.

What is a portion of vegetable or fruit? Serving sizes vary based on the type of vegetable or fruit. One serving of raw spinach or lettuce is two cups, whereas cooked greens is one cup. One serving of bell peppers is about one cup chopped, raw or cooked, or two small bell peppers. One serving of broccoli is 1 cup, or about 10 florets. For fruit, one serving can be two handfuls of blueberries, a small banana, or 16 grapes.

food-mood-connection

Not all fruits and vegetables give you the same amount or type of nutrients. Colorful vegetables like dark leafy greens, red and yellow peppers, and sweet potatoes tend to have more vitamins, phytonutrients, and antioxidants compared to white potatoes or corn. Berries have been found to be particularly good for boosting mood. It’s important to eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits to get the most diverse and balanced nutrients.

How you prepare and cook fruits and vegetables – from raw to steaming to stir-frying to roasting— impacts nutrients and depends on the type of fruit or vegetable. Steaming and quick blanching tend to preserve nutrients better in vegetables like broccoli and carrots, with the exception of bell peppers, which release more nutrients when roasted. how best to prepare your vegetables to release and preserve the most nutrients.

For sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi fans, fermented vegetables have an additional advantage to boosting mood with their probiotic and prebiotic nutrients. Emerging animal research studies suggest eating probiotic foods changes intestinal microbiota in the gut, which can positively influence mood via the gut-brain connection and reduce anxiety and depression.

Eating more fruits and vegetables not only improves just your physical health but also has an important psychological payoff as well.

Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D.     Aug 08, 2016     Urban Survival      Your guide to managing life in the city
Marlynn Wei, M.D., J.D., is a board-certified Harvard and Yale-trained psychiatrist and therapist in New York City.


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Top 10 Foods for a Better Mood

Eat these “brain-healthy” foods to keep a positive mood and healthy mind.

Sep 15, 2015   Marlynn Wei, MD, PLLC

When was the last time your therapist or doctor asked you what you’re eating?

Food is important, not just for our physical health but also for our mind. It can be an excellent source of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. Growing research supports the theory that what we eat everyday can improve our mood and help with treating depression and anxiety. Nutritional psychiatry (or “food psychiatry”) is a new but growing field that is becoming mainstream.

Our Westernized, so-called “cafeteria” diet is calorie-loaded, nutrient-poor, and highly processed, resulting in extra calories without real nutrition. Animal studies have found that this type of food leads to higher anxiety and depression. Foods high in sugar, fat, and sodium are very addictive and especially comforting. In fact, evolution has probably set us up this way. Researchers have even found that high-fat, high-sugar foods or “comfort foods” temporarily make you happier but create a cycle of self-medication.

In contrast, a Mediterranean diet high in fish, olive oil, nuts, and whole grains has been linked to lower rates of depression. One study found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet for four years reduced their risk of depression by 40 to 60 percent. Another study  found that a diet rich in berries and green leafy vegetables, called the MIND diet (Mediterranean—Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), a hybrid of a Mediterranean diet and a diet for people with high blood pressure, was linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are the top 10 “brain-healthy” foods to help you promote a positive mood:

1. Leafy greens and broccoli. Leafy greens like kale and bok choy contain folate, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K. Folate has been used as a supplement to improve depression. Leafy greens also contain compounds that help the liver process toxins better.

If you’d rather drink your leafy greens, try my partner Doug’s Green Power Smoothie recipe. For 2 servings, blend together until smooth and uniform: 2 cups of Tuscan kale, 1 cup baby spinach, 2 small frozen bananas, 0.5 cup blueberries, 2 cups of soy/almond/hemp milk, 0.5 teaspoon honey, 1.5 tablespoons chunky almond butter.

2. Mussels and oysters. Oysters and shellfish contain plenty of Vitamin B12, which is important for neurotransmitters in the brain and nerves. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you may be low in vitamin B12 because it is found primarily in meat, dairy, and eggs. It’s important to find alternative sources of vitamin B12.

salmon

3. Fish and Fish Oil. Studies have found that high fish consumption reduces depression. This may in part be due to the fact that fish is often a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, an effective supplement to treatment for depression (link is external). If you’re using omega-3 fatty acid supplements, most studies recommend 1 to 3 grams daily for mood, and there should be more eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) than docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) listed on the label.

In order to avoid mercury exposure found in fish, pregnant women should be careful regarding how much and what types of fish they eat. The FDA recommends that pregnant women avoid: 1. tilefish, 2. shark, 3. swordfish, and 4. king mackerel. Pregnant women can, however, eat up to 12 ounces of other types of fish per week.

4. Walnuts, Almonds, and Hazelnuts. Nuts are a good source of Vitamin E. You can have them raw or unsalted. One study found that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 grams of mixed nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts daily significantly reduced depression (link is external).

5. Berries. Blueberries in particular have been found to protect the brain. In one study, eating two servings of blueberries a week was linked to a reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 35 percent.

6. Lentils, chickpeas, beans. Legumes contain high levels of folate and zinc, both of which have been used as effective supplements for depression (link is external). Getting enough zinc is particularly important for vegetarians and vegans since the absorption of zinc can be reduced by 50 percent from phytates, which are found in plants. Beans are a good source of protein and keep your blood sugar levels stable, but beans like black eyed peas also contain high levels of folate.

7. Dark Chocolate and raw cacao nibs or powder. Dark chocolate and cacao (unroasted cacao beans) contain cocoa polyphenols,  a type of antioxidant found in plants that was found to improve calmness and contentedness in a study  where people received a dark chocolate drink mix. Raw cacao powder and nibs do not contain added sugar and can be used in smoothies. Cacao and cocoa powder can contain toxic heavy metals, depending on the brand. These won’t be listed on the label, so check out independent lab testing such as Consumer Labs before buying.

My personal favorite dessert substitute is this raw cacao smoothie made by blending one frozen banana, 2 tablespoons of raw cacao, 3 cups of water (or almond milk, soymilk, or hemp milk), 1 teaspoon of Dulse  flakes, and 6 to 8 dried dates (optional). You can also add in a half cup of blueberries or kale or spinach.

8. Pumpkin seeds. A quarter cup contains almost half the daily recommended dose for magnesium, an essential mineral to protect you from depression and anxiety. Pumpkin seeds also contain zinc, plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, and tryptophan, which helps promotes sleep.

9. Fermented Foods and Probiotics. Researchers are shedding light on the important link between the bacteria in the gut (your so-called “second brain”) and your mood. Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut contain probiotics and can reduce social anxiety. Fermented foods and probiotics can also help with depression and anxiety. Mice who were on probiotics behaved as if they had taken Prozac. Probiotic powder supplements have also been shown to reduce negative thoughts during sad moods.

10. Turmeric. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound found to improve the effectiveness of antidepressants in reducing depression. You can drink it in a tea or add it to your everyday dishes like chili or pasta sauce.

Try eating more of these foods to promote a better mood.


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5 Ways Your Diet Affects Your Mood

While your mood sometimes dictates what foods you eat — hello ice cream – what you choose to eat can conversely affect your moods. While it may seem harmless enough, what you choose to eat for lunch could impact how you feel all afternoon. We all know about the “hangries” — being so hungry that you become cranky and angry — but once you’re fed, your meal can actually enhance or detract from your mental state. Here are 5 ways in which the foods you eat (or don’t eat) rule your moods.

Sugar levels. Most obviously, fluctuations in your blood sugar levels can have an incredible impact on mood. Low blood sugar can cause crankiness. On the other hand, a sharp spike in blood sugar can provide a sense of feel-good before sharply crashing into the pit of despair. A good idea to keep your moods stable is to maintain balanced blood sugar levels with a diet low in added sugars, combined with enough protein, fat, and fiber.

Neurotransmitters. There is a reason that chocolate is renown the world over for boosting happiness, besides the textural pleasure. It is loaded with the neurotransmitter serotonin — aka the happy chemical. Many other foods contain neurotransmitters, like dopamine and tryptophan, in varying amounts — such as spinach, turkey, seeds, and avocados. While these aren’t in very substantial quantities, eating a varied diet of good mood foods certainly can help. What’s more, certain foods, especially comfort foods, encourage the release of endorphins, another powerful group of infamous mood boosters.

Allergens and sensitivities. Unknown or unheeded food sensitivities can make you feel less than awesome. Symptoms like bloating, acne, and lethargy can shatter even the best of moods. If you have been feeling generally down in the dumps, take a look at the allergens in your diet — gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, etc. — and consider ditching any that you consuming regularly for a two week trial period and reassess how you feel.

love-your-gut

Deficiencies. Having too little of a certain vitamin or mineral in your system can easily throw off your moods. B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and magnesium, among others, are important components for a balanced mind. If you are deficient, things may not be functioning the way they are meant to, which could mean a lowered mood. A good multivitamin is a great place to start, and you can tailor your diet from there. Of course, consult your doctor before embarking on any new supplementation regimens.

Psychobiotics and the gut. The brain-gut connection is indisputable. Not only do the little critters living in your digestive system have a profound affect on your weight and immune system, but they impact your mental outlook as well. They are known as psychobiotics – a subset of probiotics — simply described as bacteria found in certain foods that can help deliver mood-boosting chemicals to the brain. Studies have hinted that regular consumption of these types of probiotics can have a mood-lifting impact on your brain, which is a great reason to stock up on yummy yogurt and sauerkraut!

While exercise is also an important factor, eating a diverse diet of healthy, wholesome foods can have an incredible impact on how you feel each and every day. Be the best you can be by following a healthy, fun, well-rounded lifestyle filled with good, healthy foods.

Jordyn Cormier     January 25, 2015


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3 Unexpected Foods that Can Help you Beat the Blues

By Carolanne Wright     Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

By Carolanne Wright     Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Who hasn’t, at one point or another, battled with depression? That unmistakable energy-zapping, soul-crushing and utterly unpleasant state. In these uncertain times of economic failure, joblessness and threats to home and food security, it’s no wonder rates of depression are on the rise. But before relying on risky pharmaceutical antidepressants, consider food-based solutions instead.

Nature’s antidepressant

A nutrient dense diet can go a long way in fending off, if not downright curing, fits of depression. Be that as it may, certain edibles are better at targeting the blues than others. The following three examples have shown exceptional promise in helping to defeat depressive mental states.

Fish

A diet low in omega-3 fatty acids has been linked with mood disorders like depression. If you would like to keep a bright outlook, fatty fish such as salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel are excellent choices. Everyday Health notes that “Japanese researchers found that a diet high in fish protects people from depression and suicide, while in Finland a team of researchers surveyed 1,767 residents and concluded that eating fish more than twice a week has a protective effect against suicide and depression.” If you are avoiding fish (or adhere to a vegetarian diet), plant-based sources of omega-3s include sacha inchi, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed and chia.

Turmeric

Good news for all you curry fans out there — it turns out turmeric is superior to Prozac in treating depression. A groundbreaking study in Phytotherapy Research has shown that the bioactive component in turmeric, known as curcumin, “is both safe and effective in treating serious states of depression,” according to GreenMed Info. As an added perk, curcumin actually provides “side-benefits” — protective and healing attributes that go far beyond the management of depression. You can learn more here.

If using turmeric powder to enhance mental function and health, a small pinch of non-irradiated black pepper will improve bioavailability and absorption. Researchers have found that up to 8 grams of turmeric can be consumed per day without adverse effect.

turmeric

Green Tea

Not only is green tea good for keeping the body healthy and fit, but it also encourages positive mental states. The secret lies with L-theanine — a naturally occurring amino acid in green tea that supports clarity while decreasing anxiety and depression. “They say Japanese Buddhist monks could meditate for hours, both alert and relaxed. One reason may have been an amino acid in their green tea called L-theanine,” said Mark Blumenthal, of the American Botanical Council, in the Health article, “19 Natural Remedies for Anxiety.”

One key distinction of the above foods is that they are all anti-inflammatory. Evidently when chronic, low-grade inflammation is present, our risk of depression increases substantially. Ultimately, getting to the root of inflammation is best for naturally eradicating depression. However, until the cause of inflammation is addressed thoroughly, fatty fish, turmeric and green tea can help take the edge off and balance moods.

Updated August 2014

Article Sources:
http://science.naturalnews.com/Curcumin
http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/foods-that-fight-depression.aspx
http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/groundbreaking-study-finds-turmeric-extract-superior-prozac-depression
http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/11/200


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7 Food Ingredients That Are Destroying Your Mood

BY LINDSEY SMITH – AUGUST 9, 2013 

Food not only affects your waistline, but it can also affect how you think, act and feel emotionally. Many foods or food additives we consume can wreak major havoc on our nervous system, resulting in moodiness, fatigue, anxiety and even depression. The tiniest hidden traces of these mood-wrecking foods can leave you feeling down. Know what foods to look for to ensure your mood isn’t compromised.

White flour
The fact that white flour is bad for your health isn’t necessarily groundbreaking nutrition information. However, this powdery white substance also sneaks its way into foods like soups and salad dressing by acting as a thickening agent. Because of its empty calories and high blood glucose content, even a small amount can cause mood swings and hunger pains. 

Rule of thumb: If it’s white, don’t take a single bite. Instead, choose 100% whole grains or gluten-free options.

FD & C Red No. 40
This food dye is one of the most commonly used dyes. Its sole purpose is to make food colorful and enhance the flavor, and it’s hidden in everything from frosting and chips to sports drinks and fruit snacks. However, don’t let the bright color or tastes fool you: this additive is linked to hypersensitivity and ADHD among children and adults. 

Rule of thumb: Don’t be misled, stay away from RED. Ensure even your favorite organic snacks are free and clear of this harmful dye.

Hydrogenated oils
Hydrogenated oils are processed oils that are used by manufacturers to extend the shelf life of products. Hydrogenated oils are also responsible for creating trans fat in foods. Trans fat is shown to increase cholesterol levels and increase weight since your body has to work extra hard to digest it. It can also cause brain fog and severe moodiness.  

Rule of thumb: The shorter the expiration date, the better for your weight. (And your happiness!) Opt for products that expire within a week or two. And always choose healthy oils like organic coconut oil or organic extra virgin olive oil.


Aspartame
Aspartame is an ingredient used to sweeten “sugar-free” products on the market. While you might think you’re doing yourself a favor by skipping the sugar, you might want to think twice. Aspartame is a chemical that has been shown to cause headaches, digestive issues and even seizures. 

Rule of thumb: If it says sugar free, it most likely means hazardous chemical concoction. Instead, sweeten foods with 100% raw cane sugar, coconut sugar or raw honey.

FD & C Yellow No. 5
Our bodies aren’t meant to process chemicals, and that certainly applies to this one. Yellow no. 5 is a food dye most commonly found in cookies, soft drinks and even gum. If a product contains high quantities of yellow food dye, it can give food or drinks a yellowish glow. This food dye has been linked to asthma, allergic reactions and mood disorders. 

Rule of thumb: If it contains yellow, say hell NO! Always take caution before eating foods or candies that are extremely colorful, as they’re more likely to contain food dyes.

Monosodium glutamate
Monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, is commonly used in packaged foods to enhance flavor and extend shelf life. Many products like chips, soups and frozen meals contain MSG. Consuming even small amounts of this ingredient can lead to light-headedness, nausea, feelings of anxiety and weakness. 

Rule of thumb: If it contains MSG, it’s no good to me! (or my body!) But be careful; the FDA doesn’t require MSG to be listed as an ingredient. Always choose products that are organic or labeled “MSG Free.”

Sugar
Sugar is hidden in almost every processed and packaged food, including chips, sauces, fruit juices, cereals and energy bars. Sugar is often disguised by one of its many names: dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, lactose and sucrose. Eating foods that are high in sugar can contribute to health issues such as diabetes, thyroid issues, depression and weight gain. 

Rule of thumb: When sugar is a main ingredient, opt for a sweet fruit as a supplement. If you really have a fix for something sweet, opt for a healthier version of your favorite treat.


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Music as medicine has huge potential, study suggests

McGill University researchers sought patterns in 400 published researcher papers
CBC News Posted: Apr 1, 2013 

Music boosts the body’s immune system and is more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before a surgery, a research review from two psychologists at Montreal’s McGill University suggests.

“I think the promise of music as medicine is that it’s natural and it’s cheap and it doesn’t have the unwanted side effects that many pharmaceutical products do,” said Daniel Levitin, who co-authored the review recently published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Science.

Levitin and post-doctoral researcher Mona Lisa Chanda reviewed 400 published scientific papers, trying to find patterns among the results.

They found that music had documented effects on brain chemistry and associated mental and physical health benefits in four areas:

  • Management of mood
  • Stress reduction
  • Boosting immunity
  • As an aid to social bonding

The review found 15 studies showing that people’s levels of a stress hormone called cortisol dropped after they listened to relaxing music, indicating a reduction in stress. One paper even compared patients at a hospital before surgery who were randomly assigned to either listen to music or take an anti-anxiety drug such as Valium.

“People who received the music had lower anxiety levels than people who had the drugs and without side effects,” Levitin said.

Drumming reverses effects of aging
Another group of studies found that older adults can boost their immune function, reversing age-related declines, by making music as participants in drumming circles, Levitin said.

‘I think the promise of music as medicine is that it’s natural and it’s cheap and it doesn’t have the unwanted side effects that many pharmaceutical products do,’ said McGill University researcher Daniel Levitin.

The positive effects of music seem to be linked to the fact that music causes neurons in the brain stem, a primitive part of the brain, to be activated in sync with the beat, Levitin added. That has a cascade of chemical effects on the nervous system, typically evoking relaxation if the beat is slow and improving focus and alertness if the beat is faster.


So far, much of the evidence that the health impacts of music are caused by neurochemical changes is indirect, but taken together it does provide “preliminary support” for that claim, the authors wrote.

Nevertheless, Levitin said the idea that music has positive health effects is no longer controversial.

“I think this has gradually become accepted in the medical community,” he said.

Calming dental patients
Dentist Janet Tamo is among those who have already been putting the medical use of music into practice for some time.

Fifteen studies showing that people’s levels of a stress hormone called cortisol dropped after they listened to relaxing music, indicating a reduction in stress. (Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters)

“We have been using music in the office for years to calm people down,” she said. “It actually calms people better than a sedative. It distracts them from what we are doing.”

Her patient Harris Casper confirms that.

“I think it gives me something to put my mind to aside from having people screw around in my mouth,” Casper said during a recent visit. “It is definitely relaxing.”

He added that being immersed in the music of U.S. R&B artist Usher has another positive side effect — it drowns out the sound of the drill.

Patient control important
Studies showed that slower music tends to be more relaxing than faster music, but familiar music is more relaxing, regardless of the type and tempo.

That brings up an important point about the use of music in a medical setting, Levitin said.

“Rather than the doctor saying, ‘Oh, you’ve got depression — take two Joni Mitchells and call me in the morning,’ I think what we need to have is recognition that people need to have control over what they are listening to.”

The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada.

source: CBC