Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Fun Fact Friday

  • If someone truly loves you, they tend to hug you for at least 5 seconds or more.

  • Changing how you walk affects your mood.

  • Studies show that the walking through a doorway causes memory lapses, which is why we walk into another room, only to forget why we did.

  • Emotions are contagious. Unpleasant or negative emotions are more contagious than neutral or positive emotions.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity on Earth after oil.
  • 1% of people are addicted to exercise.

  • Long distance relationships are as satisfying as normal relationships in terms of communication, intimacy, and commitment, studies show.

  • It takes your brain approximately 90 seconds to decide whether or not you like someone.

  • Laughter helps increase memory and learning. Incorporating humor into education leads to higher test scores.

 

Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Coffee improves short term memory, creativity and alertness.

  • Bees are directly responsible for the production of 70% of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts that we consume on a daily basis.

  • Faking a smile will actually boost your mood.

 

  • Chocolate, sex and laughter are all key to a healthy brain.

  • North American school buses are yellow because humans see yellow faster than any other color, which is important for avoiding accidents.

  • Eating strawberries can improve vision and also help to reduce cancer risk.

 

Happy Friday  🙂
 
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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Fun Fact Friday

  • More than one-third of married couples in Canada sleep in separate bedrooms. 
  • Having a low opinion of yourself is not modesty. It’s self-destruction. 
  • People who eat fish at least once a week have thicker, stronger and more resilient brains.
  • 71% of breakups happen because of mood swings.
  • Every year, about 86,000 people are injured by tripping over their pets. 

 

ingredient_label
Ranch dressing (and many other foods) contain titanium dioxide to keep it white
– Titanium dioxide is also used in most sunscreens and might be a carcinogen.
  • When soft music is playing in the background, people are able to focus better.
  • Kissing can increase your lifespan.
  • Studies have proven that driving in city traffic is just as stressful as participating in extreme sports like skydiving.
  • Ranch dressing contains titanium dioxide to keep it white – Titanium dioxide is also used in most sunscreens and might be a carcinogen.
Happy Friday!

 source: https://twitter.com/faccccct


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How Probiotics Can Be Good for Your Brain

Did you know that there are roughly 40 trillion bacteria living in and on you?

Most of these bacteria reside in your gut and don’t cause any health problems.

In fact, scientists have begun to realize that these bacteria are essential for your physical health.

Now compelling new research has found these bacteria may also be beneficial for your brain and mental health.

This article explains how your brain is affected by gut bacteria and the role probiotics may play.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria. When consumed in sufficient quantities, they provide a specific health benefit.

The word “probiotic” is derived from the Latin words “pro,” meaning to promote, and “biotic,” meaning life.

Importantly, in order for a certain species of bacteria to be termed “probiotic,” it must have a lot of scientific evidence behind it showing a specific health benefit.

Unfortunately, the word probiotic has become overused by food and pharmaceutical companies who were calling some bacteria probiotics even if they had no scientifically proven health benefit.

This led the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to ban the word “probiotic” on all foods in the European Union.

However, there is a lot of new scientific evidence showing that some bacterial species have true benefits for health.

They may benefit those with conditions including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), eczema, dermatitis, unhealthy cholesterol levels and liver disease.

Most probiotics belong to one of two types of bacteria: Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria. There are many different species and strains within these groups, and they may have different effects on the body.

Bottom Line: Probiotics are live microorganisms that have a proven health benefit for the body.

How Are Your Intestines and Brain Connected?

The intestines and brain are connected physically and biochemically.

The physical connection between the intestines and brain is through the central nervous system, which controls all of the activities of the body.

The vagus nerve is a large nerve that sends signals between the intestines and brain.

The brain is also connected to the intestines through your gut microbes. Molecules that they produce can act as signals that the brain can detect.

In the past, scientists have estimated that a person has approximately 100 trillion bacterial cells in their body and only 10 trillion human cells, meaning your own cells are outnumbered by 10 to 1.

However, recent estimates suggest that you have roughly 30 trillion human cells and 40 trillion bacteria. This is still pretty impressive and means that, by number of cells, you are more bacteria than human.

The majority of these bacteria are in your gut, so they’re in direct contact with the cells that line your intestines and with everything that enters your body. That includes food, medicines and microbes.

Alongside your gut bacteria, there are many other microbes, such as yeasts and fungi. Collectively, these microbes are known as the gut microbiota or gut microbiome.

Each of these bacteria can produce different compounds, such as short-chain fatty acids, neurotransmitters and amino acids. Many of these substances have effects on the brain.

In addition to producing brain-altering substances, gut bacteria can also influence the brain and central nervous system by controlling inflammation and hormone production.

Bottom Line: There are thousands of different species of bacteria in the human body, mostly in the intestines. In general, these bacteria are good for your health and may even influence brain health.

An Altered Microbiota May Contribute to a Number of Diseases

The term “gut dysbiosis” refers to when the intestines and gut bacteria are in a diseased state. This may be due to the presence of disease-causing bacteria, which may also lead to chronic inflammation.

An altered microbiota has been observed in people with obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other diseases.

Some studies have shown that certain probiotics can restore the microbiota to a healthy state and reduce symptoms of these diseases.

Interestingly, some studies have shown that people with certain mental disorders also have an altered microbiota. However, it is unclear if this is a cause of such diseases or the result of an altered diet and lifestyle.

Since the gut and brain are connected, and gut bacteria produce substances that can influence the brain, probiotics may be able to benefit the brain and mental health.

A number of recent studies have investigated this, but most have been in animals. However, a few have shown interesting results in humans.

Bottom Line: A number of diseases, including mental disorders, are associated with higher disease-causing bacteria in the intestines. Some probiotics may be able to restore healthy bacteria to reduce symptoms.

Taking Probiotic Supplements May Reduce Symptoms of Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Stress and anxiety are increasingly common and depression is one of the leading causes of disease worldwide.

A number of these disorders, especially stress and anxiety, are associated with high blood levels of cortisol, the human stress hormone.

Only one study has examined how probiotics affect patients with clinically diagnosed depression.

In the study, consuming a mixture of three Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains for eight weeks significantly reduced depressive symptoms. The probiotic also reduced inflammation in the patients.

A handful of other studies have examined how probiotics affect depressive symptoms in healthy subjects. In healthy people, certain probiotics may reduce:

  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Psychological distress
  • Academic stress

Bottom Line: Certain probiotics may reduce anxiety, stress and depressive symptoms in healthy people. More research is needed about potential benefits for people with clinically diagnosed psychological disorders.

 

probiotic foods

 

Taking Probiotic Supplements May Reduce Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is directly related to the function of the colon, but the disease is sometimes considered a psychological disorder.

Anxiety and depression are common in IBS sufferers. Interestingly, people who have IBS also tend to have an altered microbiota.

Many studies have shown that certain probiotics can reduce symptoms of IBS, including pain and bloating.

Bottom Line: IBS is commonly associated with elevated levels of anxiety and depression. Probiotics appear to help reduce IBS symptoms.

Certain Probiotics May Enhance Mood

In healthy people without a psychological disorder, some probiotics may help improve mood.

One study treated participants daily for four weeks with a probiotic mix containing eight different Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains.

The researchers found that taking the supplements reduced participants’ negative thoughts associated with a sad mood.

Another study showed that consuming a milk drink containing a probiotic called Lactobacillus casei for three weeks improved mood in people who had the lowest mood before the treatment.

Interestingly, this study also found that people scored slightly lower on a memory test after taking the probiotic. Further research is needed to validate these results.

Bottom Line: A few studies have shown that taking certain probiotics for a few weeks may slightly improve mood.

Certain Probiotics May Have Benefits After Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury usually involves admission to an intensive care unit. During this time, food is usually administered enterally, meaning through a tube.

In some cases, breathing also has to be assisted with a tube, which can increase the risk of infection. Infections in people with traumatic brain injuries can lead to further complications.

A few studies have found that adding certain probiotics into enteral nutrition can reduce the number of infections in the patients with traumatic brain injury and the length of time they spend in the intensive care unit.

The effects of the probiotics on these outcomes may be due to their benefits for the immune system.

Bottom Line: Administering probiotics after traumatic brain injury may reduce patients’ rate of infections and length of stay in intensive care.

Other Beneficial Effects of Probiotics on the Brain

A handful of other studies have shown that probiotics may have interesting benefits for the brain.

One intriguing study looked at images of women’s brains after they consumed a mix of Bifidobacteria, Streptococcus, Lactobacillus and Lactococcus strains.

Consuming the probiotic affected regions of the brain that control emotion and sensation.

Other studies have shown that providing specific probiotics may reduce certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia, but much more research is needed.

Bottom Line: Some probiotics may influence the function of the brain and symptoms of multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia. However, this research is still very new, so the results aren’t clear.

Should You Be Taking a Probiotic for Your Brain?

At the moment, there is not enough evidence to definitively say that probiotics benefit the brain. Therefore, they cannot yet be considered a treatment for any brain-related disorders.

If you’re looking to treat such disorders, consult a doctor.

That said, there is good evidence that probiotics can benefit other aspects of health, including heart health, digestive disorders, eczema and dermatitis.

Thus far, scientific evidence does show a clear connection between the gut and the brain. It’s an exciting area of research that is expanding rapidly.

A healthy gut microbiota can usually be obtained by a healthy diet and lifestyle. A number of foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi usually contain beneficial bacteria.

If necessary, taking probiotic supplements can help you increase the beneficial bacterial species in your intestines. In general, consuming probiotics is safe and causes few side effects.

If you’re buying a probiotic, choose one that has scientific evidence behind it. Lactobacillus GG (LGG) and VSL#3 have both been widely studied and shown a number of health benefits.

Bottom Line: Probiotics have been shown to benefit other aspects of health, but not enough research has been done to definitively demonstrate whether probiotics have positive effects on the brain.

Take Home Message

Although the research is promising, it is too soon to recommend any probiotic specifically to boost brain health.

Still, current evidence gives some food for thought about how probiotics may be used to enhance brain health in the future.

By Dr. Ruairi Robertson


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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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A Totally Innocent And Simple Way to Feel Happier

Activity may raise feel-good neurotransmitters and boost mood.

Being kind to others boosts mood and wellbeing more than being kind to yourself, new research finds.

It may be partly because being kind to others helps nurture social relationships.

People tend to feel greater pride in themselves after doing a good deed for others than when they do a good deed for themselves.

The results come from a study of almost 500 people.

Some performed acts of kindness for others, like picking up litter or buying a friend a cup of coffee.

Others performed acts of kindness for themselves like taking a day off work or doing more exercise.

The study’s authors explain why doing things for others increases wellbeing:

“…as people do nice things for others, they may feel greater joy, contentment, and love, which in turn promote greater overall well-being and improve social relationships and so on.
Indeed, substantial evidence indicates that experiencing frequent positive emotions leads people to be more trusting of others, to form more inclusive social groups, and to include others in their sense of self.”

happiness

In contrast doing nice things for oneself…

“…does not appear to lead individuals to feel greater positive emotions and fewer negative emotions, perhaps because the hedonic benefits are short-lived and/or are neutralized by hedonic costs (like guilt).
In addition, self-focused behaviors in the current study were often solitary and may have offered fewer opportunities to improve relationships.
Indeed, including others in one’s experiences appears to be an important component for such experiences to improve well-being.”

The authors conclude:

“When it comes to the pursuit of happiness, popular culture encourages a focus on oneself.
By contrast, substantial evidence suggests that what consistently makes people happy is focusing prosocially on others.
The results of this study contribute to a growing literature supporting the benefits of prosocial behavior and challenge the popular perception that focusing on oneself is an optimal strategy to boost one’s mood.
People striving for happiness may be tempted to treat themselves.
Our results, however, suggest that they may be more successful if they opt to treat someone else instead.”

The study was published in the journal Emotion (Nelson et al., 2016).

source: PsyBlog


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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.