It may not be a virus, but obesity can spread from person to person. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics suggested that obesity can spread through communities like a social contagion. The study found that moving to an area with a high rate of obesity can increase your risk of becoming obese yourself, because you may adopt the unhealthy habits and behaviors of the people around you subconsciously.
In this study, researchers at the University of Southern Californialooked at whether exposure to communities with high rates of obesity increases the risk of obesity in individual residents. They recruited families of U.S. Army personnel at 38 military bases across America. A total of 1,314 parents and 1,111 children participated, whose rates of obesity reflected the national rates. One in three adults in a typical U.S. county is obese, and some of the bases were in counties with high rates of obesity, ranging from 21 to 38 percent.
The researchers found that residents assigned to bases in counties with high rates of obesity were more likely to become overweight or obese. For every single percentage-point increase in the obesity rate of locals, the odds that a teenager would be overweight or obese increased by four to six percent. The chances that a parent would become obese increased by five percent.
Furthermore, the longer the families lived there, the more likely they were to see their weight increase. Even after considering environmental factors that could influence obesity rate, the link was still apparent. It is possible that living in an area where there was a lack of gyms and an easier access to fast food restaurants both play a key role. (Related: Be careful or you might catch obesity, suggests new study.)
“Social contagion in obesity means that if more people around you are obese, then that may increase your own chances of becoming obese,” explained Dr. Ashlesha Datar, one of the authors of the study.
Community efforts to prevent obesity
To fight the obesity epidemic, community efforts must focus on encouraging healthy eating and active lifestyle in various settings. Community leaders can create programs and policies that contribute to the creation of healthy community food environments. For example, they can provide incentives for supermarkets or farmers markets to establish their business in underserved areas; or restaurants to put nutrition and calorie labels on their menu. They may also encourage residents to be physically active by providing places where they can be active, such as creating walking trails.
Schools and workplaces can also take part in promoting healthy eating and active living. School authorities can encourage children to drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages by providing them access to free drinking water. Schools should also ensure that the available food and drink options are healthy. School authorities should help children meet their dietary recommendations for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and non-fat or low-fat dairy products. Additionally, they can increase the amount of time spent in physical education classes to make sure students are physically active.
In the workplace community, authorities can create a healthy work environment by offering a worksite wellness program to their employees. They can encourage physical activity by offering management support, as well as giving access to opportunities, policies, and social supports. Moreover, workplace cafeterias should also make healthier food choices more accessible to their employees.
Obesity is the root of a lot of health problems, so preventing and even reversing it can reduce many cases of fatal medical conditions.
The classic picture of obesity is typically a balding, middle-aged man with a huge beer belly protruding from an ill-fitting shirt hanging unattractively across his waist. However, a different vision of obesity is becoming all too common as the beaches fill up this summer with overweight children whose swimsuits can barely contain them. While their parents certainly shoulder some of the blame, there are a lot of factors that contribute to this problem – and predatory junk food ads are one part of it that can and should be controlled.
In fact, the Obesity Health Alliance is calling for all ads for foods high in sugar, fat and salt to be banned before 9:00 pm. This U.K. coalition is made up of more than 40 organizations that are trying to tackle weight problems. They’d like to see the ads restricted not only on live TV but also TV on demand, online, in social media, apps and games, at the movies, on billboards and on the radio.
Current restrictions in Britain only apply to programs or sites that are geared toward children, and this means that kids watching shows like game shows and talent competitions with their family are still being exposed to such ads.
Most people are opposed to junk food ads targeting children
A survey carried out by YouGov found that people widely agree with such sentiments. Sixty-nine percent of people believe that junk food marketing plays a role in childhood obesity. When it comes to junk food ad bans until 9p.m., 72 percent of people support one during popular family shows on TV, 70 percent support one online, and 68 percent would like to see one on digital advertising outside of homes, such as digital posters at bus stops or cinemas.
The University of Liverpool’s Dr. Emma Boyland said that research has shown that exposure to junk food advertising has a negative effect on kids’ diets. Making matters worse, overweight kids are more vulnerable to the suggestions of ads, which results in them consuming more calories than kids of a healthy weight when they see these ads for junk food.
A survey of nearly 2,500 children carried out by Cancer Research U.K. found that those who watch TV or use the internet for more than 30 minutes a day have a greater likelihood of asking for, buying, or consuming junk food.
It also revealed that each additional hour a child spends watching commercial TV is linked to a 22 percent greater chance of asking for foods they saw advertised, a 21 percent greater chance of buying food they saw advertised, a 23 percent greater chance of drinking sugary beverages, an 18 percent greater chance of eating pastries, and a 16 percent greater chance of eating chips and sweets. Similar trends were associated with additional time spent online.
Kids might not have the power to buy food themselves, but they do have what ad execs term “pester power” – every parent knows just how relentless kids can be when they want something. The food companies tap into this, and it’s part of the reason childhood obesity is getting out of control.
As long as food companies are allowed to target kids with brightly-colored ads that make eating food that will slowly but surely kill them somehow seem fun and exciting, the childhood obesity epidemic is unlikely to let up any time soon. One in five school-aged kids in the U.S. are already obese, and while many factors can contribute to the problem, we shouldn’t let the pursuit of the almighty dollar be one of them.
“A government study has found that 1 in 3 U.S. adults eat fast food on any given day. That’s about 85 million people.
After reading the information contained in this article, you will probably find yourself questioning if America is going to be able to survive for much longer, because our young people are a complete and total mess. Yes, all generations of Americans have had their problems, but this generation appears to be particularly screwed up. Obesity rates are at all-time highs, a third of all American teens have not read a single book within the past year, and the average high school senior spends six hours a day on the Internet. On top of all that, we are seeing unprecedented levels of suicide, drug overdoses and liver disease (due to heavy drinking) among our young people.
Like other empires throughout world history, will we be undone by our own excesses?
Let’s start by talking about obesity. At this point, so many of our young people are overweight that military recruiters are having a very difficult time finding enough “suitable candidates for military service”…
The study, featuring roughly 18,000 randomly selected participants across each of the service branches, showed that almost 66 percent of service members are considered to be either overweight or obese, based on the military’s use of body mass index as a measuring standard.
While the number of overweight service members is a cause for concern, it correlates with the obesity epidemic plaguing the United States, where, as of 2015, one in three young adults are considered too fat to enlist, creating a difficult environment for recruiters to find suitable candidates for military service.
Right now, obesity among U.S. adults is at an all-time high, and one of the big reasons for this is because about a third of us are stuffing our faces with fast food on a daily basis.
A new study of American teenagers and their reading habits finds that a third haven’t read a book — in hardcopy or on a device like a Kindle — in the past year.
Researchers from San Diego State University took a look at data from four decades of a “nationally-based lifestyle survey studying teens,” StudyFinds.com reports. In total, more than a million teens provided information.
Paul Craig Roberts: The White Heterosexual Male Has Been…
American feminists have finally broken the spirit of the American white heterosexual male. I have been watching for…
“The meteoric rise of internet-based activities cannot be understated: between social media, texting, gaming, and surfing the web, the average high school senior spent six hours a day online in 2016 — double the time from a decade earlier. Eighth graders (4 hours a day) and tenth graders (5 hours a day) didn’t lag far behind,” the report finds.
Six hours a day?
That is almost a full-time job.
This is one of the reasons why the Internet is the focus of my work. Yes, I have written a few books, but if we are going to reach the next generation with the truth we have got to reach them where they are.
And where they are is on the Internet.
In addition to everything that you have read so far, let me also share with you some numbers from a recent CDC study.
Among men ages 24 to 35, overdose rates rose by more than 25% each year between 2014 and 2016; nearly 50 out of every 100,000 people in this population died of overdose-related causes by 2016. Women ages 45 to 54 had the most overdoses overall, but those ages 15 to 24 saw the highest rate of increase: about a 19% jump per year between 2014 and 2016.
And the CDC also found that liver disease (due to heavy drinking) is rapidly rising among young adults…
Liver disease replaced HIV as the sixth-leading killer of adults ages 25 to 44 in 2016. Among men and women ages 25 to 34, deaths from liver disease and cirrhosis increased by about 11% and 8% per year, respectively, between 2006 and 2016. Older adults, however, still die of liver disease at much higher rates than young adults.
Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 24, increasing by 7% in this group each year between 2014 and 2016. It’s also the third-leading cause of death among people ages 25 to 44, killing almost 17 of every 100,000 people in this population in 2016.
Whether you like it or not, young people are the future of our country.
Yes, our country is a huge mess today, but what is it going to look like when they become the “leaders of tomorrow”?
In order for a nation to be great, it needs to be made up of great people, and at this moment it is very difficult to be optimistic about the future of our nation…
Summary: Researchers say dietary fats, not sugars or proteins, are the only cause of weight gain.
Source: University of Aberdeen.
Scientists from the University of Aberdeen and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have undertaken the largest study of its kind looking at what components of diet – fat, carbohydrates or protein – caused mice to gain weight.
Since food consists of fat, protein and carbs, it has proven difficult to pinpoint exactly what aspect of the typical diet leads to weight gain.
Part of the problem is that it is very difficult to do studies on humans where what they eat is controlled for long enough periods to work out what are the most important factors, however studies on animals that are similar to us can help point in the right direction.
The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism and includes 30 different diets that vary in their fat, carbohydrate (sugar) and protein contents.
The mice were fed these diets for three months, which is equivalent to nine years in humans. In total over 100,000 measurements were made of body weight changes and their body fat was measured using a micro MRI machine.
Professor John Speakman, who led the study, said: “The result of this enormous study was unequivocal – the only thing that made the mice get fat was eating more fat in their diets.
The mice were fed these diets for three months, which is equivalent to nine years in humans. In total over 100,000 measurements were made of body weight changes and their body fat was measured using a micro MRI machine. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
“Carbohydrates including up to 30% of calories coming from sugar had no effect. Combining sugar with fat had no more impact than fat alone. There was no evidence that low protein (down to 5%) stimulated greater intake, suggesting there is no protein target. These effects of dietary fat seemed to be because uniquely fat in the diet stimulated the reward centres in the brain, stimulating greater intake.
“A clear limitation of this study is that it is based on mice rather than humans. However, mice have lots of similarities to humans in their physiology and metabolism, and we are never going to do studies where the diets of humans are controlled in the same way for such long periods. So the evidence it provides is a good clue to what the effects of different diets are likely to be in humans.”
A restaurant in China is offering patrons free food, but there’s a catch. They have to be able to fit through the smallest opening of the gate.
This will probably upset and offend those who meltdown over the most inane issues, so if you’re easily offended, perhaps stop reading now. But the owner of an eatery in East China obviously doesn’t care who is offended. Zhao Long is asking patrons to try to squeeze through different sizes of gaps between bars and offering discounts for those who get through the narrowest spaces.
His restaurant in Jinan City offers customers free food and free beer, as long as they can fit through a 15cm (almost 6 inches) gap. Now, 15cm wide isn’t all that wide, and some say it’s too “skinny.” However, most people would have a go at it if they thought it meant free food and beer for everyone, and it does.
Zhao means well, reported the LAD Bible. He wants to present a new way of making people mindful of the amount they eat and drink. He said: “So many people have told me that they’ve failed losing weight – just because they can’t quit drinking beer. Maybe this could serve as a reminder to them to keep an eye on their diet.”
Here’s the nitty-gritty of how his system works. If you get through the smallest gap, you get free food and your entire table gets free beer. The next step up is an 18 cm (just over 7 inches) gap. If you get through that you win 5 beers – which is nothing to thumb one’s nose at, unless you dislike beer. The third increment is 25 cm (9.84 inches) and you get a free beer, which is still a good deal if you get through there. After that, it goes up to 30 cm. At 30cm (11.8 inches, almost a foot) you get no discount but are told: “your figure is just average – you shouldn’t ask for more.”
Zhao also says that at least one person gets through the smallest gap each day earning them the largest reward. He was also rather quick to add that all of them are female. He also said many still get through the second smallest gap, which still gets them 5 free beers.
Worldwide, depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability, and anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S.
In the U.S., more than 16 million people struggle with depression, and 1 in 4 women in their 40s and 50s are on antidepressant drugs. Up to 14 percent of pregnant women are also on antidepressants, despite the risk of birth defects
There are compelling links between a high-sugar, processed food diet and poor mental health outcomes, and studies investigating the connection between obesity and mental health add further support to the diet-depression link
Studies have shown women with abdominal obesity are at increased risk of anxiety and depression
On the whole, a diet that nourishes your gut microbiome, reduces insulin resistance and optimizes mitochondrial function — such as a cyclical ketogenic diet — is going to have a beneficial impact on both your physical and mental health
By Dr. Mercola
Depression and anxiety are two leading mental health problems that have seen a dramatic rise in incidence in recent years. Worldwide, depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability,1,2 with rates rising 18 percent in the decade between 2005 and 2015.3
In the U.S., more than 16 million people struggle with the condition, and 1 in 4 women in their 40s and 50s are on antidepressant drugs.4 This, despite the fact that antidepressants have been proven to work no better than placebo.5,6,7,8 Eight9 to 14 percent10 of pregnant women are also on antidepressants, even though studies have linked their use during pregnancy to birth defects.11
Meanwhile, data from the National Institute of Mental Health suggests the prevalence of anxiety disorders — which include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety and panic disorder — may be as high as 40 million in the U.S. — about 18 percent of the population over the age of 18 — making it the most common mental illness in the nation,12,13 and 800 percent more prevalent than all forms of cancer.14
As described by Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, panic attacks — which are on the more severe end of the anxiety spectrum — can occur “out of nowhere” without warning.15 Love had his first panic attack during a game against the Atlanta Hawks, and has since spoken out about this particular mental health challenge to break the stigma and encourage others to seek treatment.
Abdominal Obesity Linked to Depression
Just what might account for this remarkable rise in anxiety and depression? I’ve previously written about the compelling links between a high-sugar, processed food diet and poor mental health outcomes, and studies investigating the connection between obesity and mental health add further support to the diet-depression link. As noted in Prevent Disease:16
“Abdominal fat distribution (as measured by waist-hip ratio) appears to be a key mediator in the relationship between obesity and depression … Several studies have found that a disproportionate number of patients with mental illness are obese compared to the general population. A study17 comprising randomly selected outpatients receiving psychiatric care in Maryland found that their body mass index was almost twice that of the comparison group.”
Another more recent study18 looking at body fat distribution and depression found very similar results. Postmenopausal women who had abdominal obesity were significantly more likely to struggle with depression than not (37.6 percent versus 27.5 percent respectively), leading the researchers to conclude that “visceral fat accumulation was an independent and positive factor significantly associated with the presence of depressive symptoms.”
How Your Waist Size Influences Your Anxiety Risk
A third paper,19,20 published earlier this month, found a woman’s waist-to-height ratio was associated with anxiety. This was the first time this body measurement has been linked to anxiety specifically. As a general rule, a woman is considered obese if her waist measurement is more than half of her height measurement.
Data from 5,580 Latin American women between the ages of 40 and 59 were evaluated. Overall, those with waist-to-height ratios in the middle and upper thirds were at significantly higher risk for anxiety than those with less abdominal obesity. Those with the greatest abdominal obesity were also the most likely to actually exhibit outward signs of anxiety. As reported in the featured article:21
“Anxiety is a concern because it is linked to heart disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, respiratory disorders and drug abuse, among other documented medical problems. Research has shown an increase in the frequency of anxiety in women during midlife, likely as a result of decreased levels of estrogen, which has a neuroprotective role.
‘Hormone changes may be involved in the development of both anxiety and abdominal obesity because of their roles in the brain as well as in fat distribution. This study provides valuable insights for health care providers treating middle-aged women, because it implies that waist-to-height ratio could be a good marker for evaluating patients for anxiety,’ says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, [North American Menopause Society] executive director.”
Insulin Resistance Is a Major Factor in Mental Health
Insulin resistance is a driving factor not only in obesity but also in most chronic diseases, and based on the evidence, it’s clear it plays a significant role in your mental health as well. After all, your physical and psychological health are closely linked. For example, your vagus nerve connects your gut to your brain, which is why gut dysfunction can wreak such havoc on your psychological states.
On the whole, any diet that nourishes your gut microbiome, reduces insulin resistance and optimizes mitochondrial function — such as a cyclical ketogenic diet — is going to have a beneficial impact on both your physical and mental health. A key dietary culprit that does none of those beneficial things is sugar, and research has repeatedly found that high-sugar diets encourage depression and anxiety. Among them:
Research22 published in 2002, which correlated per capita consumption of sugar with prevalence of major depression in six countries, found “a highly significant correlation between sugar consumption and the annual rate of depression.”
In 2011, Spanish researchers linked depression specifically to consumption of baked goods. Those who ate the most baked goods had a 38 percent higher risk of depression than those who ate the least.23
A 2016 study24 found a strong link between diets high in processed foods, sweetened beverages and refined grains and depression in post-menopausal women. The higher a woman’s dietary glycemic index, the higher her risk of depression. Meanwhile, diets high in whole fruit, fiber, vegetables and lactose were associated with lowered odds of depression.
A 2017 study found that men who consumed more than 67 grams of sugar per day were 23 percent more likely to develop anxiety or depression over the course of five years compared to those who ate less than 40 grams of sugar per day.25
The Importance of Healthy Dietary Fats for Brain Health
Most notably, high-sugar, processed food diets promote insulin resistance, which in turn encourages fat accumulation and Type 2 diabetes. According to work by the late Dr. Joseph Kraft, author of “Diabetes Epidemic and You: Should Everyone Be Tested?” 80 percent — 8 out of 10 — Americans are in fact insulin resistant.26,27 It’s no wonder then that conditions rooted in insulin resistance — including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression and anxiety — are all skyrocketing.
Sugar is also incredibly inflammatory, and chronic inflammation has also been identified as a major factor in depression. Some believe it’s causative.28,29,30 The inflammatory cascade triggered by excessive amounts of sugar also damage your mitochondria. Your mitochondria generate the vast majority of the energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP) in your body.
When your body uses sugar as its primary fuel, excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) and secondary free radicals are created, which damage cellular mitochondrial membranes and DNA. Needless to say, as your mitochondria become dysfunctional, the cellular energy your body can produce goes down, which means your entire body will struggle to work properly, including your brain. Since your brain is a heavy energy feeder, even a small dip will result in impaired function that can translate into depressed mood.
Healthy dietary fats, on the other hand, create far fewer ROS and free radicals when burned for fuel. Fats are also critical for the health of cellular membranes and many other biological functions, especially the functioning of your brain. This is one of several reasons why a cyclical ketogenic diet is so beneficial for your mental health. In fact, mental clarity is often one of the first “side effects” people notice when going ketogenic.
Nutrition to the Rescue
While anxiety and depression can be triggered by any number of factors, there’s ample evidence to support the idea that your diet can have a tremendous impact, as it lays the groundwork for your physical and mental functioning. For this reason, it would be foolish to ignore it.
Again, one of the root contributors to depression is insulin resistance, which brings inflammation in its wake. The good news is that insulin resistance is an easily corrected health problem, and I detail the dietary protocol for this in my book “Fat for Fuel.” Here are a few key points to remember:
• Dramatically reduce your sugar intake by replacing processed foods with real whole foods. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower odds of depression and anxiety,31 an effect ascribed to antioxidants that help combat inflammation.
Certain nutrients are also known to cause symptoms of depression when lacking, so it’s important to eat a varied whole food diet. As a general rule, if you’re insulin resistant, limit your added sugar intake to 15 grams per day until your insulin resistance has resolved. At that point, you can go up to 25 grams.
• Replace sugar and grain carbs with healthy fats. Examples include avocados, grass fed meats, pastured butter, organic pastured eggs, coconut oil, MCT oil, raw cacao butter and raw nuts. To learn more, see the beginner’s section of my nutritional plan.
Most people need anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of their daily calories in the form of healthy fats. Just be sure to avoid vegetable oils, such as soy, canola and corn oil, which are toxic to the human body. Dr. Cate Shanahan’s book “Deep Nutrition” provides an in-depth review of dietary fats and how processed vegetable oils harm your health.
• Limit protein to 0.5 grams per pound of lean body mass (or for the Europeans: 1 gram per kilo of lean body mass). In addition to stimulating mTOR, protein also affects your insulin and leptin. Dietary fats do not affect either. As a result, a low-carb, high-protein diet may still be troublesome if you’re struggling with obesity, insulin resistance or diabetes. To learn more about the importance of protein restriction, see “Precision Matters When It Comes to Protein.”
• Consider intermittent fasting and/or multiday water-only fasts, which will jump-start your body’s ability to burn fat for fuel and dramatically improve your insulin sensitivity. Water fasting can be particularly powerful if you’re obese. However, it’s significantly easier to transition into water fasting if you start with intermittent fasting.
Once you’ve worked your way up to the point where you’ve been intermittently fasting for 20 hours a day for a month, then doing a four or five-day water fast will not be particularly difficult.
Nondrug Solutions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders
Remember, to suggest that depression is rooted in poor diet and other lifestyle factors does not detract from the fact that it’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed with compassion and nonjudgment. It simply shifts the conversation about what the most appropriate answers and remedies are. Considering the many hazards associated with antidepressants, it would be wise to address the known root causes of depression, which are primarily lifestyle-based.
Drugs, even when they do work, do not actually fix the problem. They only mask it. Antidepressants may also worsen the situation, as many are associated with an increased risk of suicide, violence and worsened mental health in the long term. So, before you resort to medication, please consider addressing your diet (above) and try out several of the lifestyle strategies listed below until you find a combination that works for you.
Limit microwave exposure from wireless technologies
Studies have linked excessive exposure to electromagnetic fields to an increased risk of both depression and suicide.32 Addiction to or “high engagement” with mobile devices can also trigger depression and anxiety.33 Research34 by Martin Pall, Ph.D., helps explain why these technologies can have such a potent impact on your mental health.
Embedded in your cell membranes are voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs), which are activated by microwaves. When that happens, about 1 million calcium ions per second are released, which triggers a biochemical cascade that results in mitochondrial dysfunction.
Your brain, along with the pacemaker in your heart, has the highest density of VGCCs of the organs in your body, which is why Alzheimer’s, autism, anxiety, depression appears to be strongly linked to excessive microwave exposure.
So, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, be sure to limit your exposure to wireless technology. Simple measures include turning your Wi-Fi off at night and, carrying your cellphone on your body, and not keeping portable phones, cellphones and other electric devices in your bedroom.
Get regular exercise
Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity. Exercising creates new GABA-producing neurons that help induce a natural state of calm. It also boosts your levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which help buffer the effects of stress.
Animal research also suggests exercise can benefit your mental health by allowing your body to eliminate kynurenine, a harmful protein associated with depression.35
Spend more time outdoors
Spending time in nature has been shown to lower stress, improve mood and significantly reduce symptoms of depression.36 Outdoor activities could be just about anything, from walking a nature trail to gardening, or simply taking your exercise outdoors.
Listen to nature sounds
Nature sounds have a distinct and powerful effect on your brain, lowering fight-or-flight instincts, activating your rest-and-digest autonomic nervous system,37,38,39 and produce brain activity associated with outward-directed focus, a trait associated with a lower risk for depression and anxiety.
Previous research has also demonstrated that listening to nature sounds help you recover faster after a stressful event. So, seek out parks, or create a natural sanctuary on your balcony, or indoors using plants and an environmental sound machine. YouTube also has a number of very long videos of natural sounds. You could simply turn it on and leave it on while you’re indoors.
Practice proper breathing
The way you breathe is intricately connected to your mental state. I’ve previously published interviews with Patrick McKeown, a leading expert on the Buteyko Breathing Method, where he explains how breathing affects your mind, body and health.
According to Buteyko, the founder of the method, anxiety is triggered by an imbalance between gases in your body, specifically the ratio between carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen. Your breathing affects the ratio of these gases, and by learning proper breathing techniques, you can quite literally breathe your way into a calmer state of mind.
Here’s a Buteyko breathing exercise that can help quell anxiety. This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate CO2, leading to calmer breathing and reduced anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you go into a more relaxed state.
Take a small breath into your nose, a small breath out; hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release to resume breathing.
Breathe normally for 10 seconds.
Repeat the sequence several more times: small breath in through your nose, small breath out; hold your breath for five seconds, then let go and breathe normally for 10 seconds.
Get plenty of restorative sleep
Sleep and depression are so intimately linked that a sleep disorder is actually part of the definition of the symptom complex that gives the label depression. Ideally, get eight hours of sleep each night, and address factors that impede good sleep.
Address negative emotions
I believe it’s helpful to view depression as a sign that your body and life are out of balance, rather than as a disease. It’s a message telling you you’ve veered too far off course, and you need to regain your balance. One of the ways to do this involves addressing negative emotions that may be trapped beneath your level of awareness. My favorite method of emotional cleansing is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a form of psychological acupressure.
Research shows EFT significantly increases positive emotions and decreases negative emotional states.40,41,42 It’s particularly powerful for treating anxiety because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.43
For serious or complex issues, seek out a qualified health care professional that is trained in EFT44 to help guide you through the process. That said, for most of you with depression symptoms, this is a technique you can learn to do effectively on your own. In the video below, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman shows how you can use EFT to relieve symptoms of depression.
Optimize your gut health
Your mental health is closely linked to your gut health. A number of studies have confirmed gastrointestinal inflammation can play a critical role in the development of depression.45 Optimizing your gut flora will also help regulate a number of neurotransmitters and mood-related hormones, including GABA and corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety and depression-related behavior.46
To nourish your gut microbiome, be sure to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and traditionally fermented foods. Healthy choices include fermented vegetables, lassi, kefir and natto. If you do not eat fermented foods on a regular basis, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement is recommended.
Optimize your vitamin D with sensible sun exposure
Studies have shown vitamin D deficiency can predispose you to depression, and that depression can respond favorably to optimizing your vitamin D stores, ideally by getting sensible sun exposure.47,48,49
In one such study, people with a vitamin D level below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) had an 85 percent increased risk of depression compared to those with a level greater than 30 ng/mL.50 For optimal health, you’ll want to make sure your vitamin D level is between 60 and 80 ng/mL year-round, so be sure to get a vitamin D test at least twice a year.
Optimize your omega-3
The animal-based omega-3 fat DHA is perhaps the single most important nutrient for optimal brain function and prevention of depression. While you can obtain DHA from krill or fish oil, it is far better to obtain it from clean, low-mercury fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies and fish roe.
In addition to getting your vitamin D checked, I recommend getting an omega-3 index test to make sure you’re getting enough. Ideally, you want your omega-3 index to be 8 percent or higher.
Make sure your cholesterol levels aren’t too low for optimal mental health
Low cholesterol is linked to dramatically increased rates of suicide, as well as aggression toward others.51 This increased expression of violence toward self and others may be due to the fact that low membrane cholesterol decreases the number of serotonin receptors in the brain, which are approximately 30 percent cholesterol by weight.
Lower serum cholesterol concentrations therefore may contribute to decreasing brain serotonin, which not only contributes to suicidal-associated depression, but prevents the suppression of aggressive behavior and violence toward self and others.
Increase your vitamin B intake
Low dietary folate is a risk factor for severe depression, raising your risk by as much as 300 percent.52,53 If using a supplement, I suggest methylfolate, as this form of folic acid is the most effective. Other B vitamin deficiencies, including B1, B2, B3, B6, B8 and B12 also have the ability to produce symptoms of neuropsychiatric disorders. Vitamin B12 deficiency, in particular, can contribute to depression and affects 1 in 4 people.
A number of herbs and supplements can be used in lieu of drugs to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. These include:
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). This medicinal plant has a long historical use for depression, and is thought to work similarly to antidepressants, raising brain chemicals associated with mood such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.54
S-Adenosyl methionine (SAMe). SAMe is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in all cells. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). 5-HTP is another natural alternative to traditional antidepressants. When your body sets about manufacturing serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP. Taking 5-HTP as a supplement may raise serotonin levels. Evidence suggests 5-HTP outperforms a placebo when it comes to alleviating depression,55 which is more than can be said about antidepressants.
XingPiJieYu. This Chinese herb, available from doctors of traditional Chinese medicine, has been found to reduce the effects of “chronic and unpredictable stress,” thereby lowering your risk of depression.56
Obesity is now the biggest health threat facing Kuwait — and the country’s obsession with American fast food could be to blame.
The very first McDonald’s restaurant appeared in Kuwait on a U.S. military base set up to support the 1991 invasion of Iraq. Since then, the industry has rapidly expanded — there are now hundreds of U.S. fast food restaurants in Kuwait and as a result, the country has become one of the most obese nations on the planet.
“The begining of fast food, I would say it is part of the Americanization of the culture here.” Dr. Mohsen Bagnied, a professor at the American University of Kuwait told VICE News. Now, Kuwait has roughly double the percentage of diabetic adults than the U.S.
The fast food industry isn’t just operating in the Middle East. American Fast food brands populate more than 100 countries around the world, occupying six continents. And the global fast food industry is projected to be worth over $600 billion by 2019. VICE’s Gianna Toboni travels to Kuwait to witness the health effects on a country deep in the throes of an unlikely obsession with U.S. fast food.
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone