9 Foods that Affect Your Mental Health

The brain works 24/7 to control thoughts, movements, breathing, heartbeat and senses; as a result, it requires constant supply of fuel, which come from the food you eat on a daily basis. However, your brain can only function well if you eat the right kind of food. This post will explore the foods that are likely to affect your brain negatively and positively.

Foods Likely to Affect Your Brain Positively

1. Blueberries

Blueberries contain compounds that protect the brain against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These compounds also improve the function of the part of the brain that controls learning and motor skills.

2. Nuts

Nuts contain vitamin E. High levels of vitamin E reduce the rate of cognitive decline in adults. Suitable nuts include cashews, almonds, filberts, flax seeds, sesame, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.

3. Salmon

Salmon fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and other mental disorders. This is possible because omega-3s stimulate the production of brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.

4. Whole Grains

Whole grains are the prime source of energy. They provide a steady source of fuel to the brain, enabling it to perform its functions effectively. Healthy whole grains include oats, barley, beans, soy, wheat and bulgur.

5. Leafy Vegetables

Leafy vegetables contain high amounts of folic acid and vitamin B. A deficiency in these nutrients can lead to depression, fatigue and insomnia. Best examples of leafy vegetables include romaine, turnip, broccoli, mustard greens and spinach.

Foods Likely to Affect Your Brain Negatively

6. Tuna

Many people love tuna because of its taste. However, tuna contains high amounts of mercury, which can take a toll on the brain function. A research conducted by the University of South Florida found that high levels of mercury in the blood contribute to a five percent cognitive decline.

7. White Rice

White rice has a high glycemic index that increases the risk of depression. A study conducted in 2015 found out that women who have eaten food high glycemic-index foods were more likely to report new-onset depression than those who ate foods rich in lactose and fiber.

8. Fruit Juice/Sugary Drinks

Fruit juice contains a lot of sugar. Consistent intake of sugar can reduce cognitive flexibility and memory. This is possible because sugar promotes the growth of clostridiales, a gut bacteria that increases gut inflammation and downstream the brain is affected.

9. Cheese

Cheese contains a lot of saturated fats that contribute to memory decline and inflammation in the brain. The saturated fats also damage the hypothalamus, the part of the brain which has many important functions including directing the release of hormones from the pituitary gland vital for regulating weight and metabolism.

Are Acupressure Mats Worth Using?

For over seven years, a buzz has been growing around the so-called “acupressure mats.” Also known as a “bed of nails” or an “acupressure needle stimulation pad,” these mats are the latest trend for at home relaxation, pain relief, and enjoyment.

Featuring thousands of tiny spiking crowns melted onto a non-organic cotton and foam mat, the acupressure mat can seem somewhat troublesome, especially when considering that it is recommended for users to lay on the mat for a minimum of 10 minutes daily to rid the body of toxins, to release endorphins and oxytocin, to stimulate energy, and to break through stress. It is further claimed that use of this mat will result in long-term alleviation of anxiety, headaches, constipation, insomnia, fatigue, tension, back pain, muscle aches, and discomfort.

So how exactly does it work? Well, first it is essential to understand that the idea is far from new. In Ancient India, a healing tradition was practiced that required laying on a legitimate bed of nails. The nails would press firmly into pressure points thus relieving tension and muscle aches. Now, thousands of years later, this tradition has evolved from actual nails to thousands of non-toxic plastic spikes that are harmless to the skin.

To use the mat, one can stand, sit or lie down for approximately 10 to 20 minutes on the floor or bed; however, it is best to start slow and find a position that works best for the individual. If there are specific areas that cause pain or tension, it is recommended to try different positions on the mat.

Claims of the mat’s benefits go far and wide, although many feel wary of trusting celebrity endorsements at this point. However, Dr. Scott Weiss, a licensed physical therapist, believes that regular use of the mats lead to better sleep and improved circulation, as well as reduced stress, anxiety and migraines.

In 2011, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine completed a small study that found people were able to “subjectively relax” meaning their self-rated relaxation gradually increased over time in all conditions. While the study did seem to show that the mats aided in relaxation, it is hard to take anything conclusive from this study alone.

While many yogis and dancers genuinely believe that the mats are helping their bodies, acupuncturists want to make it understood that these mats are not the same as acupuncture. In fact, Justine Lynch, a licensed acupuncturist in NYC, said, “The difference between seeing an acupuncturist and using a pressure mat would be like the difference between eating a meal and looking at a picture of a meal.” Further that statement, Lynch states that the most crucial part of acupuncture is working with an actual human who can personalize treatment, whereas that can not be replicated with a mat.

While the verdict of the mats effectiveness is still out, many believe that the mats are capable of relieving minor pains and aches, such as muscle tension and discomfort. And since they are far cheaper than other options, they could be worth a shot. However, these mats are not necessary, and should not be used in place of health treatment plans.

If you are unsure of whether you should try remedies such as the acupuncture mat rather than traditional pain treatments, speak with your doctor before making a decision.

8 Adaptogens That Can Help With Managing Stress

Stress is a common and often chronic condition many people are facing these days. If you or someone you know is likely to experience stress on a regular basis- you may want to consider the use of adaptogenic herbs to help treat it. The use of adaptogenic herbs in the natural health world is booming right now though it is important to note that the bulk of evidence you will find on its effectiveness is by word of mouth as opposed to scientific fact. However, more research is being done and there are many healthcare practitioners backing the benefits of their use. If you are interested in giving them a try, here is a list of adaptogenic herbs that could potentially help you with managing stress.

1. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is also known as “Indian ginseng”. It is known for helping with a variety of issues from sleep disorders to anxiety, to backaches.

2. Holy Basil

Holy Basil is also used to treat a variety of discomforts. Such discomforts include the common cold, headaches, and migraines. It is also used to treat malaria and even heart disease.

3. Asian Ginseng

This herb improves memory, concentration, and depression. There are many types of ginseng- most of which are touted as natural energy boosters.

4. Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is known for treating depression and contribute to more mental clarity. It is a root, known also as the “golden root”, and is said to help improve concentration and ease stress.

5. Licorice Root

Licorice Root can help with all sorts of digestive issues such as ulcers, heartburn, and inflammation. It is also used to treat bodily infections and regulate hormone levels.

6. Siberian Ginseng

Some people use Siberian ginseng to improve athletic performance. It provides a boost to the immune system and combats flu symptoms.

7. Astragalus

This herb is often used in combination with other herbs such as ginseng and licorice to increase its effectiveness. It’s good for strengthening the immune system, easing the symptoms of allergies, and managing diabetes.

8. Schisandra

Schisandra is said to protect against disease, stress, strengthens the immune system and provides one with more energy.

If you are considering the use of adaptogenic herbs to help reduce stress and improve your health, consult your healthcare provider first.

Nutritional Psychiatry Is the Future of Mental Health Care

It’s common knowledge that a diet of nutrient-rich food is essential for keeping one’s body healthy. Perhaps it’s not much of a surprise, then, that research also suggests a strong link between nutrition and mental health as well. But these findings offer more than just another reason to pass up that extra bag of chips. A robust collection of emerging evidence is driving the growth of nutritional psychiatry, i.e. using food and supplements as part of an integrated approach to remedying depression and other forms of mental illness.

Conventional treatment for depression often involves the use of antidepressants, the effects of which are varied and somewhat unpredictable. It’s true that antidepressants have been found more effective at improving mental states than a placebo in adults, but the improvement often comes at the cost of unpleasant side effects and chemical dependency. In addition, a review of 29 clinical pediatric trials by Dr. David Healy, professor of psychiatry at Bangor University, UK, found that antidepressant use in children under 18 produced more harm than benefits.

In contrast, the connection between mental illness and nutritional deficiency has been firmly acknowledged for ages by health experts, and more recently by psychiatrists looking to augment their approach to treatment. Recent data has linked a variety of mental health problems to an inflammatory response that spreads from the gut to the brain, and begins when the body is deprived of essential nutrients.

Multiple studies have associated a diet supplemented with zinc, magnesium, vitamins B and D3, and probiotics with significant mood improvements, as well as decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms. Alzheimer’s patients have also been shown to benefit from increased nutrient consumption. In addition, symptoms such as low mood, cognitive decline and poor comprehension are observable in individuals lacking Omega-3 fatty acids.

No longer can doctors–or patients–afford to brush aside the mounting evidence that supports nutritional intervention as a valid alternative to conventional treatment. Supplements are generally cheap, and available over the counter almost anywhere (though not all brands are equal). Antidepressants are arguably over-prescribed and under-evidenced, not to mention expensive in ways far more insidious than monetary cost. Nutritional psychiatry, on the other hand, boasts a body of research that should afford it a greater role in conventional mental health treatment.

Why Everyone is Talking about EFT aka “Tapping”

Too often, people find themselves caught in a cyclone of negative thinking. When left untreated, mental illness and associated physical conditions tend to rob life of its enjoyment. But treatment isn’t necessarily effective. It can involve a strict regimen of chemicals, each with a hefty price tag, not to mention a plethora of serious side effects–which then require treatment of their own. In this way, the cycle of negativity twists and constricts, threatening happiness and siphoning life’s potential.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT Tapping), also known simply as “tapping,” presents a new method for freeing the body and mind from spiraling negativity. No one should be condemned to an endless loop of feeling discontented with treatment followed by treatment to remedy discontent. By dispensing cutting-edge psychiatry through the medium of 5,000 year old Chinese acupressure treatment, tapping aims to offer relief from life’s accumulated baggage. Chronic pain, depression, anxiety, addictions, phobias, post traumatic stress disorder and more: all of these may be relieved via tapping, a remedy that balances the mind, no pill required.

For how effective tapping can be, the technique behind it is remarkably simple. Over millennia, the Chinese have perfected acupuncture to relieve many forms of stress. Acupuncture involves targeting the body’s nearly 400 “meridian points” to promote healing. Tapping invokes a similar technique. Instead of needles, however, tapping requires only its namesake: a series of 5-7 “taps” along the body’s 12 major meridian points. This is done while a patient concentrates on a particular emotion, thought, or other form of distress, framing it within an ideal resolution. Unlike acupuncture, tapping is physically painless, and can be self-applied anywhere.

Traditional doctors and psychologists are understandably skeptical when it comes to tapping. However, a growing body of evidence supports the fact that tapping actually does produce real, beneficial effects. For example, a double-blind study at Harvard Medical School found that stimulating meridian points through pressure–in other words, tapping–reduces the severity of stress and fear responses. Also, in a randomized controlled trial by researcher Dr. Dawson Church, PhD, it was shown that cortisol (stress hormone) levels decreased an average of 24% after an hour-long tapping session. Some of Dawson’s 83 subjects even exhibited reduction rates as significant as 50%. Among the strongest evidence in support of tapping is a 2016 meta-analysis of 14 studies published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, through which researchers were able to verify that EFT facilitated a substantial drop in anxiety scores among adults experiencing emotional distress.

Tapping has undoubtedly changed thousands of lives for the better, however researchers caution that it shouldn’t be taken as a miracle cure-all. The technique works best when combined with traditional cognitive therapy, as well as healthy eating, daily exercise, and other positive lifestyle changes.

greg burzynski

Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies

It is April! So you know what that means! Spring is here. Or right around the corner. Which means, its allergy time! I know, I know, most of us aren’t exactly excited about allergy season. But along with the pollen and insects and grass that spring brings, it also offers some natural ways to fight off the sneezing, itching, and runny noses.

According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, 1 in 5 people, or about 50 million Americans, live with allergies. Whether it be seasonal allergies, food allergies, or another kind, the chances are incredibly high that you know someone living with allergies.

Most Americans who struggle with the issues caused by allergies are treated with pharmaceuticals, such as Benadryl, Claritin, or other prescription medications. While these medications can help with allergy symptoms, some find that the prescriptions can further aggravate the symptoms, while others find that the medicines treating the allergy create new symptoms to deal with, such as fatigue.

Fortunately, there are natural remedies that do not bring other side effects. In particular everyday foods we eat, there are natural compounds that help combat allergies. This antioxidant, called quercetin, is abundant in certain fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Eating foods high in this compound helps to reduce mast cell activity, which soothes symptoms such as a runny nose and sneezing. It is best used as a long-term remedy, and many people begin taking it 4-6 weeks before allergy season arrives.

What is interesting about quercetin is that multiple researchers have found evidence of its effectiveness. It is believed that it calms down the hyperactivity of the airways. The compound is so powerful that Iranian researchers have proven that it can help control peanut allergies (the leading cause of life-threatening/fatal allergy attacks). However, many sources agree that quercetin should be used as a long-term remedy as it may take several months before it begins to work.

Here are some great ways to boost your quercetin levels:

Apples

Yes, you read that right! Who says that treating your allergies can’t be tasty? Apples are packed with tons of antioxidants, which fight inflammation and prevent cellular damage. No worries if you can’t find apples at your grocery store all year. Pick up a jar of applesauce and be on your way!

Honey

There have been many studies on the effects of local honey and the human body, and so far so good. One study showed that a single dose of honey before bedtime diminished coughs and discomfort experienced by children. Another study found that local honey works like an allergy shot, helping your body develop a tolerance to local allergens.

Turmeric

What can’t this little spice do? Known for its anti-inflammatory abilities, turmeric is a mast cell stabilizer. Because of the spice’s long history of aiding health, there are hundreds of recipes out there allowing you to be more healthy and eat delicious food.

Nettle Leaf

This natural remedy is far less known compared to others on this list. However, nettle leaf can be very effective at naturally blocking the body’s ability to produce allergy-causing compounds and reactions. The most effective option of this remedy is tiny capsules made from dried nettle leaves. However, there are other ways of ingesting it. For example, it is often mixed with peppermint leaf and sometimes red raspberry leaf to make a refreshing allergy relief tea.

The Incredible Health Benefits of Practicing Tai Chi

Tai Chi Chuan means “Supreme Ultimate Fist,” a name that harkens back to arts roots as a combat system. Over time, Tai Chi evolved into a meditative art designed more for health and fitness. The Yang 24 form, a shortened version of the traditional kata, was developed more for physical fitness than combative application. Today, people practice the breathing exercises, forms, and drills of Tai Chi as part of a low-impact exercise program. A lot is said in general about the health benefits of Tai Chi, so let’s take a look at the specific ones.
Improved Balance
Performance of Tai Chi movements assists with developing better balance. At first assessment, the connection between improved balance and health enhancements fails to be obvious. Closer inspection reveals improved balance can reduce the chances of suffering an errant fall, the impact of which can cause serious injury. Anything that cuts down on the chances of a fall can be called beneficial.

 

A Sense of Calmness

Stress reduction remains a major reason why people undertake the practice of Tai Chi. The slow, peaceful movements are performed in conjunction with deep breathing allowing the practitioner to take part in a form of moving meditation. People deal with all different sources of stress, which can be overwhelming, and without an outlet for the stress, a person’s disposition doesn’t exactly become pleasant. Tai Chi serves as a nice, calming outlet for stress.

Weight Loss

Tai Chi definitely does not fall under the category of high-impact aerobics. Those looking to shed significant weight shouldn’t look to Tai Chi as their primary form of exercise. That being said, Tai Chi does involve movement and physical activity helps with burning calories. The addition of Tai Chi into a standard weight loss program certainly wouldn’t hurt and likely would lend an assist toward achieving one’s goals.

Improved Flexibility

Tai Chi does bring about the potential to improve flexibility since the circular and flowing movements could enhance range of motion. Improved flexibility can be beneficial to those hoping to reduce strains while increasing their body’s ability to perform daily tasks and is important for everyone, not just athletes.

Set Up a Routine

Accessing the benefits of Tai Chi practice requires consistency. Even as little as ten minutes of forms work every other day could begin to yield some results. Learning a simple routine from a qualified instructor might be all someone needs to get a good foundation in the art’s basics.