Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

4 Ways To Boost Your Well-Being And Happiness 

These are the four psychological pillars of well-being-being.

Awareness, connection, insight and purpose are the four pillars of psychological well-being, a study concludes.

In the face of rising mental health problems, made worse by the pandemic, these pillars can help everyone improve their emotional well-being.

The researchers focus on areas that can be improved with training or other effortful practice:

  • Awareness: being attentive to ones’ environment and one’s own body.
  • Connections: experiencing kindness and compassion.
  • Insight: increasing curiosity and self-knowledge
  • Purpose: understanding one’s motivations and values.

 

Dr Cortland Dahl, the study’s first author, said:

“There are qualities of a healthy mind that many people don’t know are even trainable.

We don’t think of them as skills.

Many of us have thought we are hardwired to be like this or that, but the reality is these qualities are much more trainable and malleable than we think.

It’s a very empowering view of the human mind — we can learn to be in the driver’s seat of our own mind.”

Increasing awareness, for example, helps increase positive emotions and reduce stress.

Awareness also helps to reduce mentally damaging habits like distraction.

A common way to improve awareness is through meditation.

 

Meditation, though, describes a huge range of different practices, Dr Dahl said:

“Different types of meditation do different things for your brain, just as different sports trigger different changes in your body.

You can train your mind in different pillars that go beyond mindfulness or even gratitude practices.”

happiness

Cultivating insight, meanwhile, explained Professor Richard Davidson, study co-author, is…

“…about getting curious about your own preconceived thoughts and opinions.

Your brain is not set.

You can question your own assumptions and biases, and this has tremendous potential to heal the division and ‘othering’ that we see in today’s society.”

 

Even if our circumstances are difficult to change, our minds can be trained, said Dr Dahl:

“This work is parallel with what we’re learning about human biology.

We’re just at the beginning of understanding that our biology is also malleable.

We are not born a certain fixed way.

Our brains and nervous systems and biology can be shaped.

That’s such a hopeful view to have — there are many ways we can influence our minds, brains and bodies for the better.”

 

A few resources to get you started

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Dahl et al., 2020).

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. 

September 5, 2022

source : PsyBlog


Leave a comment

This Sleep Pattern Increases Heart Disease Risk 54% 

People who ignore this risk factor increase their odds of developing heart disease or stroke.

Less than seven, or more than eight hours of sleep can cause arterial stiffness leading to heart disease or stroke.

If you like to stay up late and have a drink or check your emails or watch TV and sleep until mid-morning, remember the quantity of sleep is important for your heart health.

The incidence of arterial stiffness is much lower in people who sleep seven or eight hours a night compared to those who sleep for shorter or longer hours, a study has found.

Consequently, people who sleep more than eight hours or less than seven hours are at higher risk of heart disease or stroke.

A research team measured 1,752 adults’ sleep patterns in Greece and based on duration of sleep they were divided into four groups.

The first was ‘normal’ group meaning their sleep was seven or eight hours per night, the second was the ‘short’ group meaning they slept six to seven hours nightly, the third one ‘very short’ meaning they had less than six hours sleep, and the last group ‘long’ as they had more than eight hours sleep nightly.

The results showed that participants who had more than eight hours a night were at a 39 percent higher risk of plaque build up inside the arteries and for those who slept less than six hours the odds increased to 54 percent.

This shows that duration of sleep is as important as exercise and diet for cardiovascular health.

sleep

Dr Evangelos Oikonomou, the study’s lead author, said:

“The message, based on our findings, is ‘sleep well, but not too well.’

Getting too little sleep appears bad for your health but too much seems to be harmful as well.

Unlike other heart disease risk factors such as age or genetics, sleep habits can be adjusted, and even after taking into consideration the impact of established risk factors for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases — for example age, gender, obesity, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure and even a history of coronary artery disease — both short and long sleeping duration may act as additional risk factors.”

Plaque build-up causes the arterial walls to thicken and narrow so the blood flow in the brain and the body will decrease leading to cardiovascular disease or stroke.

Dr Oikonomou, said:

“We don’t fully understand the relationship between sleep and cardiovascular health.

It could be that sympathetic nervous system withdrawal or a slowing [of this system] that occurs during sleep may act as a recovery phase for [usual] vascular and cardiac strain.

Moreover, short sleep duration may be associated with increased cardiovascular risk factors — for example, unhealthy diet, stress, being overweight or greater alcohol consumption — whereas longer sleep duration may be associated with a less active lifestyle pattern and lower physical activity.”

How much sleep we need is related to different factors such as age.

The guidelines for adults are mostly seven to nine hours sleep a night, however, one in three American adults gets less than six hours sleep.

Studies have shown that people who sleep poorly are at greater risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, mental health problem, and early death.

Experts say a regular six to eight hours a night is spot-on.

Dr Oikonomou, said:

“It seems that this amount of sleep may act as an additive cardioprotective factor among people living in modern western societies, and there can be other health benefits to getting sufficient and quality sleep.”

The study was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session Together with World Congress of Cardiology, March 2020.

Mina Dean September 1, 2022

source: PsyBlog


Leave a comment

Nine benefits of antioxidants: From disease prevention to healthy aging

We explore the well-known — and the lesser-known — benefits of antioxidants

What are the benefits of antioxidants? From blueberries to pumpkin, and beyond, there are many antioxidant-rich foods. Although the word antioxidant may be a bit of a mystery, what antioxidants do in the body is straightforward. An antioxidant is a compound that inhibits oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce chain reactions and free radicals, and therefore has the potential of doing damage to the body’s cells.

You may already be familiar with some of the most important antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids like beta-carotene. Most of the antioxidant rich foods in which you find them – especially in high quantities – are fruits, vegetables and other naturally occurring plant foods. Berries, carrots, coffee, red grapes, green tea, turmeric, onions, peppers, avocados, radishes, kale and lemon are all great foods to consume in order to get your daily dose.

But what does your daily dose do? Even the knowledge that antioxidants are good for you and how they function in the body to benefit you isn’t enough to say precisely what sensations and improvements they are responsible for. So here are nine benefits of getting your daily serving of antioxidants.

1. THEY REDUCE OXIDATIVE STRESS

Oxidative stress is a form of physiological stress caused by an imbalance between the production and accumulation of oxygen-reactive species in the cells and tissue. This can result in a gap in a system’s ability to detoxify reactive products. While this may seem abstract, research shows that oxidative stress can be responsible for the onset of diseases like cancer, diabetes, metabolic disorders, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. By consuming antioxidants you can prevent that state of oxidative stress, which can set you up for success in many areas of your health.

2. THEY SUPPORT DISEASE PREVENTION

Most of the disease-prevention capabilities associated with antioxidants are also related to oxidative stress. A report in Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences shows that by reducing oxidative stress, antioxidants can support normal cellular function and offer additional protection against diseases. Antioxidants have been linked to lower rates of cancer, tumors, diabetes, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders in many cases. Although research is ongoing, the outlook on their impact is positive.

3. THEY SUPPORT EYE HEALTH

Introducing more antioxidant rich foods into your diet can have a particularly effective impact on your risk for certain major eye concerns, specifically, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. In fact, a 2013 study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging(opens in new tab) found that it may also slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Beta-carotene and vitamin E are also quite well known for these properties.

antioxidents

4. THEY AID IN BRAIN FUNCTION

Did you know that due to the amount of oxygen the brain uses in daily functioning through naturally high metabolic activity, it is more susceptible than most of the body’s other systems to free radical attack? One of the major ways you can protect your brain against this attack is by consuming antioxidants. Specifically, antioxidants have the potential to delay various forms of cognitive decline, like memory loss. This is all related to oxidative stress, too, which can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss and decline in cognitive function.

5. THEY CAN CONTRIBUTE TO MENTAL HEALTH IMPROVEMENTS

Brain health and mental health are different from one another, but antioxidants can lend both a helping hand. Research in Current Neuropharmacology shows that oxidative stress is often related to anxiety and depression. Although eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes a rich array of antioxidants isn’t a replacement for proper mental health medication or care, it is among the lifestyle changes that can be of help to plenty of individuals.

6. THEY CAN REDUCE INFLAMMATION

Inflammation often gets a bad rap, but it’s not always negative or concerning. In fact, inflammation serves an important purpose in the body, within reason. Inflammation is the process of your white blood cells protecting you against infections from outside the body, such as bacteria. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always comfortable, or necessary.

Inflammation can manifest in a variety of symptoms, including headaches, joint and muscle pain. The way that antioxidants prevent inflammation is relatively simple; as they protect the cells from damage, they can prevent those unwanted inflammatory responses from occurring at all.

7. THEY SUPPORT HEALTHY AGING PROCESSES

Amid claims that a diet rich in antioxidants can slow, prevent or even reverse the aging process, it’s time to set the record straight. There’s nothing that can scientifically disrupt the aging process. However, there is evidence to suggest that antioxidants can support a healthy aging process. From the mental elements of improving memory and preventing Alzheimer’s, to general disease prevention (and even playing a vital role in the bone remodeling process), antioxidants can work to keep the body protected and agile throughout the aging process.

8. THEY CAN KEEP THE SKIN HEALTHY

Antioxidants can contribute to healthy aging on the inside, and they can also do the same on the outside. By helping to fight free radical damage, antioxidants can offer extra protection for the skin. Not only can the prevention of inflammation help to ward off things like redness, puffiness, and premature aging, but antioxidants can also protect against UV sun damage (which causes premature aging and wrinkles).

One of the most common and effective antioxidants for skin care is vitamin C. Vitamin C can help reverse and prevent discoloration, as well as aid in collagen production. And one of the best ways to use vitamin C for the skin is to apply it topically. This is why so many skin and face products contain vitamin C. In skin care products, you’ll often see it listed as L-ascorbic acid and/or ester-C.

9. THEY PARTICIPATE IN A HEALTHY GUT MICROBIOME

Your gut health has the potential to impact your body from head to toe. Everything from your mental health to your skin can be affected by the state of your gut microbiome and it really is a microbiome — complete with healthy bacteria that keeps everything in balance.

Research in the journal Antioxidants shows that antioxidants can reduce intestinal oxidative stress levels by modulating the composition of beneficial microbial species within the gut. This can help to provide a strong and balanced foundation for your gut health. Antioxidants are just one part of a healthy, balanced diet and they can give you a boost from the inside out – as if you needed another reason to eat your fruits and veggies!

Jamie Kahn        August 26, 2022

source: www.livescience.com


1 Comment

Almost half of cancer deaths globally are attributable to preventable risk factors, new study suggests

Globally, nearly half of deaths due to cancer can be attributable to preventable risk factors, including the three leading risks of: smoking, drinking too much alcohol or having a high body mass index, a new paper suggests.

The research, published Thursday in the journal The Lancet, finds that 44.4% of all cancer deaths and 42% of healthy years lost could be attributable to preventable risk factors in 2019.

“To our knowledge, this study represents the largest effort to date to determine the global burden of cancer attributable to risk factors, and it contributes to a growing body of evidence aimed at estimating the risk-attributable burden for specific cancers nationally, internationally, and globally,” Dr. Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and his colleagues wrote in the study.

The paper, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, analyzed the relationship between risk factors and cancer, the second leading cause of death worldwide, using data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s Global Burden of Disease project.

The project collects and analyzes global data on deaths and disability. Murray and his colleagues zeroed in on cancer deaths and disability from 2010 to 2019 across 204 countries, examining 23 cancer types and 34 risk factors.

The leading cancers in terms of risk-attributable deaths globally in 2019 was tracheal, bronchus and lung cancer for both men and women, the researchers found.

The data also showed that risk-attributable cancer deaths are on the rise, increasing worldwide by 20.4% from 2010 to 2019. Globally, in 2019, the leading five regions in terms of risk-attributable death rates were central Europe, east Asia, North America, southern Latin America and western Europe.

“These findings highlight that a substantial proportion of cancer burden globally has potential for prevention through interventions aimed at reducing exposure to known cancer risk factors but also that a large proportion of cancer burden might not be avoidable through control of the risk factors currently estimated,” the researchers wrote. “Thus, cancer risk reduction efforts must be coupled with comprehensive cancer control strategies that include efforts to support early diagnosis and effective treatment.”

cancer

The new study “clearly delineates” the importance of primary cancer prevention and “the increasing cancer numbers related to obesity clearly demands our attention,” Dr. William Dahut, chief scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, who was not involved in the new study, wrote in an email to CNN.

“Modifying behavior could lead to millions more lives saved greatly overshadowing the impact of any drug ever approved,” he wrote, adding, “The continued impact of tobacco despite approximately 65 years of a linkage to cancer remains very problematic.”

Although tobacco use in the United States is less than in other countries, tobacco-related cancer deaths continue to be a major problem and disproportionately impact certain states, Dahut wrote.

A separate study, published earlier this month in the International Journal of Cancer, found that the estimated proportion of cancer deaths in 2019 attributable to cigarette smoking in adults ages 25 to 79 ranged from 16.5% in Utah to 37.8% in Kentucky. The estimated total lost earnings due to cigarette smoking-attributable cancer deaths ranged from $32.2 million in Wyoming to $1.6 billion in California.

“In addition, it is no secret that alcohol use as well as the dramatic increase in the median BMI will lead to significant numbers of preventable cancer deaths,” Dahut added. “Finally, cancer screening is particularly important in those at increased risk as we move to a world where screening is precision based and adaptable.”

In an editorial that was published alongside the new study in The Lancet, Dr. Diana Sarfati and Jason Gurney of Te Aho o Te Kahu Cancer Control Agency in New Zealand wrote that preventable risk factors associated with cancer tend to be patterned according to poverty.

“Poverty influences the environments in which people live, and those environments shape the lifestyle decisions that people are able to make. Action to prevent cancer requires concerted effort within and outside the health sector. This action includes specific policies focused on reducing exposure to cancer-causing risk factors, such as tobacco and alcohol use, and access to vaccinations that prevent cancer-causing infections, including hepatitis B and HPV,” Sarfati and Gurney wrote.

“The primary prevention of cancer through eradication or mitigation of modifiable risk factors is our best hope of reducing the future burden of cancer,” they wrote. “Reducing this burden will improve health and wellbeing, and alleviate the compounding effects on humans and the fiscal resourcing pressure within cancer services and the wider health sector.”

Jacqueline Howard     Aug. 19, 2022 

source: www.ctvnews.ca


3 Comments

Hitting the road? Turn off the GPS, it’s bad for your brain

A memory expert in Montreal has found an association between “habitual” use of GPS and spatial memory deterioration.

Thinking of trying to squeeze in one last road trip before summer’s end?

If so, before you hit the open road, you might want to think about how heavily you rely on a tool that many drivers now go to automatically: GPS (Global Positioning System). It might save you from getting lost, but a memory expert in Montreal has found an association between “habitual” use of GPS and spatial memory deterioration.

“We did spatial memory tests and found that degradation was correlated to GPS frequency,” said Véronique Bohbot, a scientist at the Douglas Research Centre and a professor of psychiatry at McGill University. “There was a difference between people who use GPS every day for every trip and the people who didn’t use GPS at all or just occasionally, say, once a month.”

It’s a commonly held concern that we’re becoming so dependent on certain technologies that we wouldn’t know how to do a number of things without them. The problem with GPS might be far worse, however, because spatial memory isn’t simply a single skill that can be isolated from other brain functions. The hippocampus, which is the part of the brain involved in spatial memory, is also involved in other types of memory, learning and, as well, emotional behaviour.

“And what we’ve found is that when people have good spatial memory they have more activity and more grey matter in the hippocampus,” said Bohbot, who has been studying the hippocampus since 1988. “We also found that people who have better spatial memory have better cognition and less risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

She adds that all of this fits in with the larger body of research, which has established that a small or shrunken hippocampus is a leading predictor of a future diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

So what’s going on? Obviously, a lot more research is going to be needed, especially since this is only a correlation — we don’t know if GPS is the cause. Increasingly, though, brain researchers are focused on the fact that humans have their own extremely sophisticated GPS-like abilities. Every time we move around, our own geolocation system kicks into gear and starts working on drawing mental maps.

This mental map system is especially active when we’re lost or forced to figure out new routes, like when we’re travelling somewhere new. That helps with neuroplasticity, which is good for our brain health. So take that road trip if you can.

When our internal GPS isn’t active, though, such as in situations that we know a route so well that we can take it without even thinking about where to turn (or, perhaps, being told when to turn by a friendly voice) another part of the brain, the caudate nucleus, takes over.

The caudate nucleus plays an important role. We need to be able to do some things automatically. If we couldn’t, we’d really never get anything done. Unfortunately, while we’re in automaton mode, the caudate nucleus actually inhibits the hippocampus. These are all normal functions, but if the hippocampus is inhibited too much it might have long-term repercussions, a.k.a. shrinkage.

gps

So the big question is: Should we take our GPS off the dashboard and leave it at home?

Well, if you can, sure. Most people won’t want to, though.

“I don’t think it’s realistic to ask people to completely stop using their GPS,” said Bohbot. “But at least we can make suggestions for healthier ways to use the tools that help us navigate.”

A poll conducted by CAA in 2020 found that 47 per cent of Canadians program a destination into their GPS every time they get in the car. Bohbot suggests trying to get out of the habit of using it every single time.

“If you’re going to use it on your way somewhere, turn it off or close it on the way back,” Bohbot advises. “If you know it’s going to be off, then it’s going to force you to pay attention to the route so you’ll remember where to turn on your way back.”

Another thing you can do is take a moment before you get in the car to look at the actual map display of the route on the GPS. If you can memorize the path, you can try turning off the GPS.

If you forget where to make a turn and get lost, that’s OK. In fact, Bohbot said there’s some evidence that making a wrong turn and losing your way stimulates the hippocampus. Getting lost might be good for brain health.

And, if you’re still not sold on any of this and can’t imagine going back to life before Siri, the best thing you can do is to use as many new routes as possible and always pay close attention to your surroundings.

All of these tips are really designed to make us more mindful of our environment and more active users of our navigational tools, which is good for brain health.

This is the good news part of this story. There’s a lot we can do to help our brains get into better shape, and many of them are actually kind of fun and make us feel good, such as travelling and discovering new things.

So put this story down and go explore something new. Summer is fleeting, after all.

By Christine Sismondo
Special to the Star      Sun., Aug. 7, 2022

source: www.thestar.com


Leave a comment

Stretching, range of motion and aerobic exercise all slow cognitive decline, study says

Cheer up couch potatoes! Regular stretching and balance and range of motion exercises are as good as aerobic exercise in slowing the progression of mild cognitive decline, a new study has found.

“My worry in the beginning of the study was ‘What if only aerobic makes a difference? Good luck getting the majority of Americans to do aerobic exercise on a regular basis!’ It’s not sustainable,” said study author Laura Baker, a professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, via email.

“But we found that cognitive function did not decline over 12 months for either intervention group — the people who did aerobic exercise or the people who did stretching, balance and range of motion,” Baker said.

Rudy Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, welcomed the findings that a modest amount of exercise – 120 to 150 minutes per week for 12 months – may slow cognitive decline in sedentary older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

Tanzi, who was not involved in the study, has examined the role of exercise in mice genetically bred to have Alzheimer’s disease and found exercise induces the birth of new neurons in the section of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s while also boosting beneficial growth factors that improve neural activity.

“So often, the benefits of interventions observed in Alzheimer’s mouse models do not translate to human patients. It is nice to see that in this new study, the benefits of exercise perhaps do translate from mice to human,” said Tanzi, who directs the genetics and aging research unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Tai-Chi-in-Park

WHAT IS MILD COGNITIVE DECLINE?

The study, presented Tuesday at the 2022 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in San Diego, followed 296 participants who were completely sedentary at the beginning of the experiment. All had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment – the earliest stage of the slow slide into dementia.

“Individuals who have mild cognitive impairment are not cognitively normal, but they don’t have dementia,” Baker said. “They’re fully capable of taking care of themselves, but what they have to go through to do so is exhausting.

“‘I can’t remember where I’m supposed to be. Let me check my calendar. Oh, I forgot to write on this calender. Let’s check another calendar. Oh, I can’t find that calendar. I’ve lost my phone. Where is the key? I can’t find the key.’

“They’re able to regroup in the early stages and accomplish things,” Baker said, “but the toll is immense.”

Participants in the study underwent cognitive testing and then were randomized into two groups. One group did moderate-intensity aerobic training on treadmills or stationary bikes, striving for a goal of 70% to 85% of heart rate reserve: “That’s about 120 heartbeats per minute for about 30 to 40 minutes for a standard 70-year-old,” Baker said.

The other group did stretching, balance and range of motion exercises designed to allow them to move their body in ways that would help them navigate in real life.

“Folks in the balance-range of motion group said they were thrilled – they could go to soccer games with grandchildren without being concerned about tripping, or they could drive and turn their neck to see the back, which they had not been able to do before,” Baker said.

IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORT

Both groups exercised twice a week with a personal trainer and then two other times weekly on their own for the first 12 months. Combined, the groups completed more than 31,000 exercise sessions during that time, Baker said.

At the end of the 12 months, cognitive function had not declined in either group. That’s impressive, Baker said, because a control group of equally matched people with mild cognitive impairment – who did not exercise – did decline.

Studies have shown that social support is also key to improving brain health. So is it possible the results of the study were due to an increase of social support and not the exercise?

“Well, we don’t know for sure,” Baker said. “But there is enough science showing the benefits of exercise on brain health alone. So this is not something to sweep under the carpet.

“And our recommendation would never be for people with mild cognitive impairment to do this alone,” she added. “They are going to need support. So exercise alone is not a prescription. Exercise with support is a prescription, and that is going to be our recommendation.”

Sandee LaMotte     Published Aug. 2, 2022 

source: CTV


Leave a comment

3 Reasons to Avoid Farmed Salmon

Not so long ago, Atlantic salmon was an abundant wild species. Born in the rivers of northeastern United States and Canada, after a couple years in freshwater they embarked on an epic migration, navigating 2,000 miles across the Atlantic to feed and mature off western Greenland. Millions of salmon travelled up to 60 miles a day, fending off predators and feeding on zooplankton and small fish. When the time came, instinct and the earth’s magnetic fields led these magnificent fish back to spawn in the precise rivers of their birth.

Today, wild salmon are an endangered species, gone from most rivers in the U.S. There are many culprits, from polluted waterways and habitat destruction to overfishing and climate change. In the last 20 years, however, a new threat has emerged: floating feedlots on the ocean known as open-net salmon farms. The $20-billion-a-year farmed salmon industry is the world’s fastest growing food producer, and it has made farmed Atlantic salmon the most popular fish on dinner tables North America. But at what cost?

This new fish is an industrialized imposter that risks our health and damages our planet. Farmed salmon are bred to grow fast in cages so crammed that they are rife with parasites and disease. The fish eat pellets of fishmeal, vegetables, and animal byproducts; they are doused regularly with pesticides and antibiotics.

We spent more than two years investigating the global salmon farming business and the multinational companies that control it for our book, Salmon Wars. We interviewed scientists, physicians, fishers, activists, and those in the business of aquaculture. We read academic studies, court papers and previously undisclosed investigative files. We identified and tried to answer three critical questions swirling around farmed salmon.

First and most important, is eating farmed salmon healthy?

Doctors recommend salmon for protein, nutrients, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association suggests consuming at least two servings of fish a week. But they rarely spell out the kind of salmon you should eat or warn of the dangers.

Many experts and scientific studies cast doubt on the blanket claim that salmon should be part of a healthy diet when the fish comes from open-net farms. Some farmed salmon may be safer than other types, but consumers rarely have enough information to make that choice. Labels are unlikely to disclose that the salmon was farmed, let alone identify the chemicals used to raise it. The U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t even have definition for organic salmon.

“It is confusing, and I suspect there is willful confusion out there,” Dr. Leonardo Trasande, a professor of environmental medicine at New York University, told us. “We know that every fish is a trade-off between omega-3 content and toxic content like PCBs. From the perspective of salmon in general, the balance favors consumption of that fish. Now the challenge here is that I can’t tell which salmon is farmed the right way or the wrong way.”

As early as 2004, scientists found levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, a probable carcinogen known as PCBs, seven times higher in farmed Atlantic salmon than in wild salmon. More recent studies found high levels of other chemicals and antibiotics in farmed salmon. Researchers at Arizona State University discovered increases in drug-resistant antibiotics in farmed seafood over the past 30 years, leading to concerns about increased risk of antibiotic resistance in humans. Toxins often wind up in salmon flesh and accumulate in people who eat the fish.

Some studies warn that a single meal per month of farmed Atlantic salmon can expose consumers to contaminant levels exceeding standards from the World Health Organization. The risk is greatest for infants, children, and pregnant women because of the potential harm from contaminants to developing brains.

Seafood Watch, an independent guide to fish consumption affiliated with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, recommends avoiding most farmed Atlantic salmon because of excessive chemical use and disease. Nutritionists generally recommend eating wild salmon over farmed salmon.

salmon

Second, is farmed salmon sustainable?

Salmon farmers often advertise their fish as sustainable and naturally raised. These assertions are deceptive.

Salmon are carnivores. Fish meal and fish oil from anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring, and other small forage fish comprise 25 to 30 percent of most salmon feed. Fully a quarter of the fish harvested from the world’s oceans winds up in feed for aquaculture and pets. To meet growing global demand for salmon, huge trawlers pillage the fisheries off the coast of West Africa and Peru, robbing subsistence fishers of their livelihood and increasing food insecurity.

“You take the food from the plates of people in West Africa to feed the people of Europe and the United States and other countries,” Dr. Ibrahima Cisse of Greenpeace told us.

Salmon farmers argue that they fill the need for protein as the global population grows. Depleting fisheries in low-income countries to provide an unsustainable fish for richer countries sets a dangerous precedent.

Efforts to develop alternative protein sources are under way in university laboratories and start-ups. So far, there is no end in sight for the industry’s exploitation of small fish.

Recent court cases have challenged the industry’s sustainability claims. Norway’s Mowi ASA, the world’s largest salmon farmer, settled a deceptive advertising case in federal court in New York City a year ago. The company paid $1.3 million and agreed its U.S. subsidiaries would stop using the phrases “sustainably sourced” and “naturally raised” to describe its smoked salmon.

Finally, are farmed salmon raised naturally in ways that do not harm the environment?

You be the judge.

The fish spend two to three years in open-net farms that contain up to a million salmon jammed into 10 or 12 cages, which extend 30 feet below the surface and are anchored to the seabed. The crowded cages are petri dishes for tiny parasites called sea lice and many viruses that kill farmed fish and endanger wild salmon when currents carry them outside the farms.

Massive doses of pesticides, including banned neurotoxins, and antibiotics are deployed against the parasites and pathogens. Some of the residue winds up in the salmon, and some falls to the seabed below the cages. Untreated waste from excess feed, decomposing fish, excrement, and chemical residue forms a toxic stew that kills or drives away marine life for hundreds of yards. One photo we found showed a yardstick stuck to the 32-inch mark in slime beneath a salmon farm.

Salmon in open-net farms die from parasites, disease, and warming waters at a staggering rate. Estimates are that 15 to 20 percent of farmed salmon die each year before they are harvested; that is tens of millions of fish. By comparison, the mortality rate for factory chickens is 5 percent and 3.3 percent for feedlot cattle. Young wild salmon beginning their migration are especially vulnerable to the plumes of sea lice from the farms. Escaped farmed salmon compete with wild ones for food and weaken the gene pool through interbreeding.

Up to 85 percent of the salmon we eat is imported from farms along the coasts of Norway, Chile, Scotland, and Canada. Yet the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for food safety, pays scant attention to farmed salmon at a time when food-borne pathogens are on the increase. For instance, an investigation by the General Accounting Office, an arm of Congress, found that the FDA inspected 86 samples out of 379 thousand tons of salmon in 2017.

Fortunately, there are alternatives. New technology, called recirculation aquaculture systems, grows the fish in closed-containment facilities on land. The fish swim in tanks filled with filtered, recirculated water and the salmon never touch the ocean, eliminating the use of chemicals and damage to the environment.

Several recent surveys show that consumers will pay a premium for products that are sustainable and don’t harm the environment. Land-raised salmon may eventually upend the global market. For now, transparency, better regulation, and accurate labels on farmed salmon are essential to ensure good choices for our health and the health of our planet. Until that happens, farmed Atlantic salmon from open-net pens is off our menu and should be off yours.

BY DOUGLAS FRANTZ AND CATHERINE COLLINS        JULY 21, 2022

Source: Time


Leave a comment

8 Everyday Activities That Increase Your Mental Health

Which of these uncomplicated activities to you do most days?

Do these most days and it will help protect your mental health.

1. Dwell on the positive

Positive memories could be used as a way to help boost mental well-being, research finds.

People in the study were asked to focus on positive social memories.

Participants focused on their own positive feelings from that memory as well as on the positive feelings of the other person.

The results showed that people felt socially safer and more positive and relaxed after the exercise.

At the same time feelings of guilt and fear were reduced.

2. Drink some tea

Tea is both calming and can make you feel more alert.

It improves cognitive performance in the short-term and may help fight Alzheimer’s in the long-term.

Finally, it is linked to better mental health.

I’ll raise a cup to that!

3. Be calm about minor irritations

Dealing with the minor stresses and strains of everyday life in a positive way is key to long-term health, a study finds.

The research found that people who remained calm or cheerful in the face of irritations had a lower risk of inflammation.

4. Don’t watch the news

Viewing violent news events on social media can cause symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A recent study has found that almost one-quarter of individuals had PTSD-like symptoms from following events like 9/11 and suicide bombings on social media.

The more people viewed the events, researchers found, the greater the subsequent trauma they experienced.

brain_aging

5. Get your micronutrients

Despite consuming more calories than ever, many people do not get their recommended intake of brain-essential nutrients, a study reports.

The study explains the best way of getting the required nutrients:

“A traditional whole-food diet, consisting of higher intakes of foods such as vegetables, fruits, seafood, whole grains, lean meat, nuts, and legumes, with avoidance of processed foods, is more likely to provide the nutrients that afford resiliency against the pathogenesis of mental disorders.”

6. Look out the window

People who live with a water view have better mental health, research finds.

Don’t live near water? Any sort of green space or even a grassy rooftop will do just as well.

7. A little activity

Compared with inactivity, even ‘mild’ levels of physical activity are linked to 50 percent better mental health, a study finds.

The more exercise people performed, the more protected they were against mental disorders, the research also found.

But both low and high levels of exercise were also linked to more than 50 percent reductions in the risk of suffering mental illness compared with being inactive.

8. Brush your teeth

Brushing your teeth regularly could reduce the risk of dementia by more than one-quarter, research finds.

People with fewer than 20 teeth are 26 percent more likely to develop cognitive problems that could lead to Alzheimer’s.

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. 

source: Psyblog   July 20, 2022


2 Comments

Moderate Drinking Linked To Brain Changes And Cognitive Decline

Summary:

Consumption of seven or more units of alcohol per week is associated with higher iron levels in the brain, according to a study of almost 21,000 people. Iron accumulation in the brain has been linked with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and is a potential mechanism for alcohol-related cognitive decline.

FULL STORY

Consumption of seven or more units of alcohol per week is associated with higher iron levels in the brain, according to a study of almost 21,000 people publishing July 14 in the open access journal PLOS Medicine. Iron accumulation in the brain has been linked with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and is a potential mechanism for alcohol-related cognitive decline.

There is growing evidence that even moderate alcohol consumption can adversely impact brain health. Anya Topiwala of the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and colleagues explored relationships between alcohol consumption and brain iron levels. Their 20,965 participants from the UK Biobank reported their own alcohol consumption, and their brains were scanned using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Almost 7,000 also had their livers imaged using MRI to assess levels of systemic iron. All individuals completed a series of simple tests to assess cognitive and motor function.

Participants’ mean age was 55 years old and 48.6% were female. Although 2.7% classed themselves as non-drinkers, average intake was around 18 units per week, which translates to about 7½ cans of beer or 6 large glasses of wine. The team found that alcohol consumption above seven units per week was associated with markers of higher iron in the basal ganglia, a group of brain regions associated with control of motor movements, procedural learning, eye movement, cognition, emotion and more. Iron accumulation in some brain regions was associated with worse cognitive function.

This is the largest study to date of moderate alcohol consumption and iron accumulation. Although drinking was self-reported and could be underestimated, this was considered the only feasible method to establish such a large cohort’s intake. A limitation of the work is that MRI-derived measures are indirect representations of brain iron, and could conflate other brain changes observed with alcohol consumption with changes in iron levels.

Given the prevalence of moderate drinking, even small associations can have substantial impact across whole populations, and there could be benefits in interventions to reduce consumption in the general population.

alcohol

Topiwala adds, “In the largest study to date, we found drinking greater than 7 units of alcohol weekly associated with iron accumulation in the brain. Higher brain iron in turn linked to poorer cognitive performance. Iron accumulation could underlie alcohol-related cognitive decline.”

Journal Reference:

Anya Topiwala, Chaoyue Wang, Klaus P. Ebmeier, Stephen Burgess, Steven Bell, Daniel F. Levey, Hang Zhou, Celeste McCracken, Adriana Roca-Fernández, Steffen E. Petersen, Betty Raman, Masud Husain, Joel Gelernter, Karla L. Miller, Stephen M. Smith, Thomas E. Nichols. Associations between moderate alcohol consumption, brain iron, and cognition in UK Biobank participants: Observational and mendelian randomization analyses. PLOS Medicine, 2022; 19 (7): e1004039 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1004039

Story Source: Materials provided by PLOS. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

July 14, 2022

source: www.sciencedaily.com


Leave a comment

What Is Compassion Fatigue? Here Are The Signs You’re Experiencing It.

The onslaught of bad news — from the abortion rights ruling to mass shootings to COVID — can lead to a unique type of burnout.

With COVID, mass shootings, monkeypox, the fall of abortion rights, racially fueled hate crimes and the exploding mental health crisis ― just to name a few ― it can really feel like we’re stuck in a black hole of bad news.

There is only so much trauma a person can take before it starts to chip away at their mental and physical health. When you’re exposed to constant stressors, as we’ve all been over the past few years, it’s natural to experience compassion fatigue, a type of empathy burnout that can occur after being excessively exposed to negative events.

Compassion fatigue looks a bit different from person to person but often leaves people feeling exhausted, detached, emotionally disconnected and helpless. For example, maybe you find yourself feeling less affected by horrific shootings, or perhaps you feel indifferent to protests on reproductive justice or unable to help people living in Ukraine. Compassion fatigue is real, and it’s no surprise that so many people are experiencing it after enduring an extreme amount of pain, rage, disbelief and worry on multiple fronts.

Compassion fatigue also doesn’t happen overnight. It takes weeks, sometimes months or years, to take hold. By the time most people recognize they’re struggling, it’s fully surfaced.

“Usually we’re gradually shifting into this state of becoming less and less capable of coping with the stress of new events, and therefore, when we get big news — like what happened with the most recent ruling on abortion — we might not really have the emotional reserve to cope with such big news,” Sheehan D. Fisher, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, told HuffPost.

Here are a few signs you might be dealing with compassion fatigue:

A shift in your mood

Some people may start to notice a difference in their moods and feel more agitated or irritable on a daily basis. Those with compassion fatigue tend to develop a more pessimistic view of the world and begin to lack hope about the future.

There’s “just feeling generally unhappy or apathetic or having difficulty in maintaining compassion or empathy in a way that is typical for you,” explained Jessica Stern, a clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at New York University’s Langone Health.

Compassion fatigue may also cause changes in cognitive function, affecting people’s ability to think clearly, make decisions and use good judgment, research shows.

Feeling fatigued or burned out

When you are repeatedly exposed to trauma and are chronically in a fight-or-flight state, it’s typical to experience intense exhaustion and fatigue, Stern said. In the beginning, compassion fatigue can feel like a roller coaster, with dips of intense stress and depletion.

But over time, depletion will take over and set in. “With time, you’re going to find that the ‘on moments’ are going to become diluted more and more and more, where you’re just going to feel the low end of that, which is exhaustion and fatigue,” Stern said.

This is more common in people who feel like they lack agency over what’s occurring in their life. “The more that they feel that they don’t have a way to fix the problem and that there’s just a problem that’s unresolvable, it’s more likely for them to start to feel fatigued by it because they don’t feel like there’s a way to make change that they have control of,” Fisher said.

Compassion fatigue can happen after weeks of exposure to tragedy or negative news.

compassion-fatigue-lr-knost

Becoming disengaged from things that once mattered

Compassion fatigue can cause people to avoid situations that may normally cause them to feel stress or even compassion, according to Fisher.

Because they have already met their limit of what they can handle emotionally, it can feel like a burden to put themselves in yet another situation that would bring on more stress. As a result, people may become disconnected from their social networks and lose touch with the activities that previously brought them joy.

Feeling desensitized or complacent

Over time, this disengagement can turn into complacency. People can become desensitized to negative events and lose the ability to feel empathetic or sympathetic. They may develop a more muted response to stressors because they’re so burned out from their ability to engage, Fisher said. Eventually they may completely shut down emotionally.

“What we worry about sometimes is people become so complacent that they walk away from dealing with problems in general,” Fisher said.

Here’s how to cope with compassion fatigue

Stern recommends first identifying where you feel depleted — whether that’s at work, at home, in your social life or with sleeping and eating. Notice what in your life might be contributing to your fatigue. Focus on the small things that you can control, Stern says. Start there and see if that helps, then begin to make bigger changes.

Although it’s important to be aware of what’s happening in the world, overexposure can be more harmful than helpful. In some cases, it can create the reverse result, and people may become inactive or disengaged with the problem, according to Fisher. “Limiting how much we are exposed to to make it functional for the goal is important,” Fisher said.

Self-care is also crucial and can include things like reaching out to your support system, exercising, resting and taking care of your physical health. All of that can help you cope with the stress of life events.

Fisher recommends approaching your recovery as you would a big lifestyle change. “They need to maintain a certain level of well-being and a certain level of self-insight into their emotional health to know how much they can take on, or not, and know when it’s safe to take on more,” Fisher said.

If you are able to make substantial changes and adjust the factors that have been contributing to your compassion fatigue, you will likely be able to recover quicker, Stern added.

It takes time to recover from compassion fatigue — a couple of weeks if not a couple of months, according to Stern. If you try these things and the fatigue persists or worsens, it’s worth talking to a therapist or psychiatrist who can assess whether you’re experience compassion fatigue or perhaps a more serious issue.

By Julia Ries        Jul 1, 2022

source: www.huffpost.com