Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Boost Bacteria to Bolster Your Brain

How can boosting bacteria in your body improve your brain health? Called the “second brain” by leading scientists, a healthy balance of flora in the gut helps to determine whether you’ll have a great memory and a strong resistance to brain disease.

And what happens in the gut plays a significant role in your brain health.  Restoring beneficial bacteria and some healthy yeasts in your intestines (yes, some yeasts are beneficial, just not the ones that cause yeast infections) can go a long way toward protecting your mental faculties and preventing brain diseases altogether.

Frequently when I tell people about this connection between intestinal and brain health—what is known as the gut-brain axis, they tell me that they are covered because they eat yogurt on a regular basis.  While yogurt may (or may not) help boost intestinal flora depending on whether it contains any live cultures at all, we need to give our guts a lot more than yogurt to help us establish a strong and healthy brain for life.

Let’s explore some of the exciting research into the link between beneficial microbes in our gut and our overall brain health.

Some probiotics actually function as antioxidants within the body, which can not only reduce the effects of free radical damage and aging, it is especially good news in the prevention and treatment of brain diseases.

That’s because the brain is vulnerable to free radical damage. Additionally, research at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) found that consuming certain strains of probiotics could actually produce many brain health benefits, including improved sensory and emotional processing.

Since the brain plays a significant role in whether we suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, probiotics may also be helpful in addressing these serious health concerns. In animal studies conducted by the Department of Medicine at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and published in the medical journal Gastroenterology, the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum eliminated anxiety and normalized behavior.  It appeared to work by reducing the excitability of the nerves in the gut that connect through the vagus nerve to the central nervous system, and in doing so, eliminated anxiety.

Hungarian researchers found that intestinal inflammation is one of the key factors involved in depression and that treating the inflammation with probiotics (along with B complex vitamins, vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids) reduced depressive symptoms.

Additional French research demonstrates the power of boosting specific strains of probiotics to boost mood and psychological health.  They found that healthy study participants experienced reduced psychological stress, depression, anxiety, and anger and hostility, as well as improved problem-solving skills when taking the Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum for 30 days.

While you can still enjoy yogurt if you are already doing so, please keep in mind that the above strains are not typically found in yogurt.  I’m not aware of any yogurt that contains the best brain-boosting strains.

Take a probiotic supplement containing proven strains of brain-boosting probiotics such as  Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium longum, and Lactobacillus helveticus on a daily basis.  Store your probiotics in the refrigerator, and take them on an empty stomach. First thing in the morning with a large glass of water tends to work well for most people.

Additionally, kimchi—the national dish of Korea which is typically a fermented mixture of cabbage, chilis, and garlic—frequently contains a much more diverse group of beneficial microbes than yogurt, making it an excellent choice as a brain boosting food. Some types contain fish sauce so if you’re vegan be sure to choose a fish sauce-free option. It is delicious on sandwiches, over brown rice, or as a side-dish to many foods.  Be sure to choose kimchi that hasn’t been pasteurized to ensure the cultures are still intact.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook           October 5, 2017
source: www.care2.com
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The Best Way To Stop Depression From Recurring

Depression frequently recurs but therapy and drugs are not the only answers.

Seeking out social relationships may help people to recover from depression.

Building a social support system helps people stay depression-free.

In addition, people who find activities they enjoy recover better from depression.

By contrast, people who are aggressive loners are at a heightened risk of depression recurrence, research finds. Those who do not seek out social relationships find it harder to recover from depression.

Aggression can also make it difficult to for these type of people to heal.

Dr Jackie Gollan, the study’s first author, said:

“Depression is a recurrent disease for a lot of people just like cancer.
People who receive cognitive behavioral psychotherapy for depression tend to feel less depressed when they complete it.
However, other factors in their lives beyond their mood need to be identified if we are to help them stay well.
We need to consider who people are and how they interact with others to understand how patients remain nondepressed.”

Somewhere between 50% and 80% of people successfully treated with therapy experience a relapse within two years.

Dr Gollan explained how moderate dependency on others may help people recover:

“Low dependency increases risk for relapse while moderate dependency encourages recovered patients to seek out social relationships that may function, over time, to reduce relapse risk.”

The research followed 78 people whose depression was successfully treated with therapy and followed them over two years.

44% of people relapsed, but people with no social support system were most at risk.

Dr Gollan explained that more aggressive people were also more likely to relapse…

“…perhaps because they don’t make good friends and turn off people.
In their professional careers they have channeled aggression in productive, socially acceptable ways to their advantage and use people to their advantage.
They also are pathologically independent and independence may be a risk factor if you have depression.”

Dr Gollan said finding enjoyment was the key to recovery:

“We need to focus on how the activities feel.
We don’t know why, but it is becoming clear that people are less at risk for relapse when they do things they enjoy rather than working on overcoming their negative thinking patterns.
The treatment should be tailor-made to the depressed patient.”

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy in Toronto in 1999 (Gollan & Jacobson, 1999).

SEPTEMBER 28, 2017     source: PsyBlog


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This Social Media Behaviour Triples Depression Risk

Depression and anxiety risk much higher in some people using social media.

Using over seven different social media platforms is linked to a tripling in depression risk, psychological research finds.

The study asked about the 11 most popular social media platforms: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.

Those who used between 7 and 11 of these, had 3.1 times the depression risk.

They also had 3.3 times the risk of having high levels of anxiety symptoms.

Professor Brian A. Primack, who led the study, said:

“This association is strong enough that clinicians could consider asking their patients with depression and anxiety about multiple platform use and counseling them that this use may be related to their symptoms.
While we can’t tell from this study whether depressed and anxious people seek out multiple platforms or whether something about using multiple platforms can lead to depression and anxiety, in either case the results are potentially valuable.”

There are a number of ways in which using multiple platforms might lead to depression and anxiety, the authors argue:

  • Multitasking is known to lead to poor mental health and weakened thinking skills.
  • Using more platforms might lead to more opportunities for embarrassing mistakes.

Professor Primack said:

“It may be that people who suffer from symptoms of depression or anxiety, or both, tend to subsequently use a broader range of social media outlets.
For example, they may be searching out multiple avenues for a setting that feels comfortable and accepting.
However, it could also be that trying to maintain a presence on multiple platforms may actually lead to depression and anxiety.
More research will be needed to tease that apart.”

The results come from a 2014 survey of 1,787 US adults aged between 19 and 32.

source: PsyBlog


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. This is mostly due to the hormonal changes that women often experience.

  • 40% of people who are rejected in a romantic relationship slip into clinical depression.

  • Dogs can see sadness in humans and often attempt to make their owners happy by initiating cuddling.

  • Having sex only 3 times a week, has proven to make you look 5-7 years younger.

~ Happy Friday!~


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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 to Train Your Brain To Stop Overthinking

Overthinking may be something you want to train your brain to stop doing, especially if it causes problems for you. For example, does your overthinking lead to a negative mood or increase your level of anxiety? Does it stop you from doing things that you need to get done? Are you procrastinating making a decision because you want to weigh all of the possible outcomes?

Overthinking can have negative consequences for those who are chronic worriers. Focusing on future uncertainties makes us anxious when we feel a lack of control. Overthinking can also keep us from enjoying the present moment. Let’s explore ways to train your brain to stop overthinking and start appreciating what is here for us in the now.

Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara showed images of kaleidoscope colors to study participants and then tested their ability to remember if they had seen an image before. Participants who took their best guess at the memory test did better than those who spent time trying to remember colors and patterns. The overthinkers focused their brain power on recalling the visual information that they were presented with did less well than those who did not focus their attention on remembering details.

The researchers say that this study shows ‘why paying attention can be a distraction and affect performance outcomes.’ The area of the brain in our prefrontal cortex that is active when we pay attention is the dorsolateral area. Participants with less prefrontal cortex stimulation during the test remembered the images better. In other words, paying more attention to details actually hurt their ability to remember what they had seen.

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO STOP OVERTHINKING AND SEE THE BIG PICTURE

The research shows that a more broad overview approach may be better for recalling complex images. To train your brain to process information this way, try to imagine taking in all of the details at once, as if your brain is taking a photo and seeing all of the pieces of information at once.

You can practice underthinking by finding a picture book, opening to a random page and looking at an image for 5 seconds. Close the book and try to recall everything that you saw. The short amount of time prevents your brain from overthinking, but you will be surprised at how much you can recall. Try this repeatedly until you feel more confident in your brain’s ability to process information quickly.

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH UNCERTAINTY

There are things you can know, and things you may never know. Overthinkers have trained their brains to focus on the uncertainties because they are trying to solve them. For an overthinker, their brain is like that of a two year old constantly seeking answers. Although some questions can be answered, overthinkers may tend to dwell on those that can’t.

Or at least they think they can’t be answered, for example ‘What could they possibly have meant when they said that’ could be easily answered by asking the person to clarify their meaning. ‘I wonder what they think of me’ could be answered by asking the person whose opinion you are overthinking. Either seek the answer to the question that you are overthinking, or tell your brain that you’ll have to be okay with not knowing the answer.

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO OBSERVE YOUR NEGATIVE SELF-THINKING

Meta-thinking is thinking about how you think, which requires some self-observation. If you’re reading this article and have concerns about your overthinking, you are already aware of your own unproductive thinking patterns. People who experience distress about overthinking usually have negative thoughts about themselves because of their thoughts.

Allowing negative thoughts to exist while rejecting them as being part of what we identify as ‘self’ is part of a technique that can help overthinkers. Researchers in the journal Behavior Therapy found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) helped people to feel more self-compassion rather than negative emotions about their overthinking. People who went through MBCT therapy experienced less stress associated with their thoughts.

FIND ONE THING YOU CAN CONTROL

If overthinking is happening because you need to gain control over a situation, then find one concrete action step that you can do to gain back some sense of control. For example, writing down the problem is simple and it allows your brain to stop trying to remember the issue. Then identify one more thing you can do that will be a step in the right direction, for example, making a phone call to get more information.



REFERENCES:
HTTP://THEMINDUNLEASHED.COM/2014/09/8-WAYS-STOP-THINKING-FIND-PEACE.HTML
UC SANTA BARBARA
HTTP://WWW.NEWS.UCSB.EDU/2013/013593/OVERTHINKING-CAN-BE-DETRIMENTAL-HUMAN-PERFORMANCE
MINDFULNESS
HTTPS://WWW.INFONA.PL/RESOURCE/BWMETA1.ELEMENT.ELSEVIER-8BD302D8-2A24-3686-9CFC-C75269D9138D


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Does Too Much Sugar Lead to Depression?

Previous studies have shown that sugar can be just as addictive as cocaine, but recent research suggests the sweet stuff may not be doing any favours for our mental health, either.

According to a recent report by the University College London, published in the Scientific Reports journal, men who consumed a high intake of sweet food and drinks were more likely to develop common mental health disorders like anxiety and depression after five years.

“Our research confirms an adverse effect of sugar intake from sweet food/beverage on long-term psychological health and suggests that lower intake of sugar may be associated with better psychological health,” researchers wrote.

Looking into the research

To find patterns between eating sugar and developing mental health disorders, civil participants in the U.K. were monitored between 1985 to 1988, and then were asked to filled out questionnaires ever few years until 2013. The experts studied more than 8,000 people, but a majority of them (around 5,000) were men.

Researchers noted men who consumed more than 67 grams of sugar a day had a 23 per cent increased chance of experiencing a mental health disorder — compared to those who ate less than 39.5 grams per day, the Guardian reports.

But the study has also received some criticism, including the fact that consumption was self-reported, and sugar intake from alcohol was not included.

“The dietary analysis makes it impossible to justify the bold claims made by the researchers about sugar and depression in men,” dietitian Catherine Collins, a spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, told AFP. “Reducing intake of free sugars is good for your teeth, and may be good for your weight, too. But as protection against depression? It’s not proven.”

 

A new study claims high sugar intake
can lead to depression and anxiety among men.

But previous research also points to similar results — sugar was not good for your mental health. One 2004 report published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information found a high intake of refined sugar and dairy increased the risk of depression and was even worse for people who had schizophrenia, Psychology Today reports.

The site adds The Standard American Diet, which is full of fat and sugar, didn’t increase the likelihood of developing anxiety but made anxiety symptoms in individuals worse.

Digging deeper into sugar

Abby Langer, a Toronto-based registered dietitian, says we should take studies like these with a grain of salt.

“[There are] always limitations with a questionnaire,” she tells Global News. “Depression is subjective and the reporting could be subjective.”

She adds the study also didn’t look at the consumption of straight sugar. She says if participants were mostly eating sugary foods, it could have also been the saturated fat, for example, affecting their mental health. “[Research has shown] people who are mentally ill tend to eat more sugar, there is a link for sure, but this study doesn’t prove that sugar is the cause.”

Langer argues instead of focusing so much on sugar, a highly processed diet high in sugar and refined carbs can result in low energy levels. “A diet high in protein, veggies and fruit can help your energy levels,” she says.

Cutting back on sugar this summer

And while criticisms of this particular study doesn’t mean you should load up on sugar, Langer says summer can be a tricky time to limit consumption.

“It is very important to avoid sweetened beverages,” she says. “I know you may want Gatorade, but if you aren’t running a marathon, you don’t need it.”

Iced hot drinks (think iced coffees) and the increased consumption of alcohol during warmer months, can also add up in the long-run. And instead of reaching for ice cream or another trendy summer dessert, opt for seasonal fruit instead.

“Just have frozen desserts less often,” she continues. “Limit the treats to once or twice a week.”

 

 By Arti Patel     July 28, 2017      National Online Journalist, Smart Living      Global News
source: globalnews.ca