Click on the links below from our friends at Food Matters for valuable information on NATURAL, EFFECTIVE, DRUG-FREE stress relief.
Click on the links below from our friends at Food Matters for valuable information on NATURAL, EFFECTIVE, DRUG-FREE stress relief.
Everyone is under stress during the course of the day as they pursue their life endeavors. Some individuals allow the daily stresses to beat them down while others seem to thrive in the midst of their stress. The way you think, move and eat will play a significant role in your ability to thrive under stress.
Mental and emotional stress has the ability to elevate an individuals life or to destroy it. The result depends upon the preparation, adaptation and recovery process the individual is able to go through with the particular stressor. In order to truly be thriving under stress during your life you need to focus on
Is Stress Really a Negative Thing?
Hans Selye developed the term stress and defined it as a non-specific response of the body to any demand for change. Stress can be very positive for the body and that is called Eu-Stress. An example of eustress would be high-intensity exercise where the body is aggressively challenged but later adapts and becomes stronger and more resilient through that stress (1).
Distress refers to either an enormous stress or chronic stress that the body is unable to effectively adapt too. Distress overwhelms the body and leads to unsuccessful adaptation and accelerated aging processes (2).
So our quality of life, our aging process and our overall life experience come down to how well we are adapting to stress. About 80% of our daily stressors can be used as eustressors that enhance our functionality. Here are the key steps and advanced strategies to adapt to stress more effectively and take your distress and turn it into eustress.
Stress can make us stronger and more resiliant to the stressors of life or it can wear us down and make us weaker and more sensitive to life stressors. So how to we train our mind, body and spirit in order to adapt to get stronger in life?
We can use specific strategies to think, eat, hydrate and move for strength and resiliance. This begins by taking on the mindset of self-responsibility and self-empowerment.
Most people are living their lives, hoping and believing that life will get easier. Many people go through the week in anticipation ofthe end of the work day,the weekend, the next vacation or they work their whole lives counting down the years until they can retire. In these circumstances, there is no pressure to perform or get better. Everything is based around time and outside circumstances.
The adapt strong mindset says, life will never get easier, but I can get better and stronger. Better at handling stress, better at being patient, listening and caring for my body and better in my relationships, more disciplined, etc. The emphasis is on us stepping up, which puts a healthy pressure on us and allows us to rise up and truly improve our lives.
Adapting well to stress begins with your mindset. Most people are focusing too much on their stress and worry about all the uncertainties in their life. To thrive under stress you must have confidence that you can overcome the hurdle. We call this thinking strong, as you will improve your mental, emotional and physical strength merely by thinking differently.
Developing prayers and affirmative statements that instill hope can infuse you with new found energythat helps you think more creatively and innovatively about the unique challenge. Overtime, this will help you deal with stressors and challenges more effectively, which will give you confidence in most every area of life.
Visualization is a simple and enjoyable process we can do at almost any time throughout the day. Visualization on previous successes and anchoring these emotional moments into your physiology may be the best way to prepare you to overcome the mental hurdles and challenges in life.
We have all had success at certain times in our life and if we can recall a great success we had that gave you an exhilorating emotional charge than we can anchor back into these empowering emotions. Simply take time to visualize in your minds eye and re-experience the success and the emotional charge and then anchor it into your physical body through a certain posturism or physical activity.
An example of a physical gesture or posturism would be to clench your fist or draw your shoulders back as you experience the emotional charge. This provides a physical cue that your body will become to link with the emotional state you put yourself in through the visualization.
Repeat this visualization and activity again and again until you can recall the emotional charge immediately when you do the physical activity that is anchored to it. This will help you get into state where you feel powerful and present in your body and mind and ready to handle life at your highest level.
You will not be in this state at all times, use it for key circumstances and over time you will get better and better at getting into it quickly and effectively. Continually changing your state to get into this emotionally charged physiology will give you incredible mental/emotional leverage that you can use anytime you feel over burdened or stressed about a life circumstance.
The food we eat either gives us energy and strength or makes us weak. Sugar and processed foods overstimulate our body, increase inflammation and weaken us. Foods rich in phytonutrients, trace minerals and healthy fats help to strengthen our body.
Below are a list of foods that will help strengthen most bodies. This is a general list, and it can have many variabilities for each individual based around their own unique food sensitivities. In most cases, people notice immediate improvements in energy, mental clarity and happiness upon removing sugar and processed foods and using this food chart to meal plan. However, in some cases, we need to use a more advanced elimination diet in order to get the desired results.
As important as good food is for overall health, it is even more important to drink lots of clean water. Eating and digesting food is an energy demanding process on the body and there is metabolic waste that is produced as a result.
This means that when we eat food, we have to use energy within our digestive system in order to metabolize the food and there are waste products that are produced as a result. The digestive system demands a lot of our energy in order to effectively digest our food. When we are eating large meals and then expecting to move and think sharply, we will be competing with the need for digestive energy and we will compromise both our overall performance and our digestive abilities.
Hydration along with trace minerals and anti-oxidants helps provide clean energy for the body without the production of metabolic waste. We should focus on hydration during periods of the day when we need high performance. Drink 8-16oz of water with a pinch of good salts and either fresh squeezed lemon or essential oils every 1-2 hours to keep your energy high during times where you need to perform well.
It is best to eat our larger meals at a period of time that is focused on rest and relaxation. Food provides key nutrients to help our body recover and adapt to stress. It takes roughly 3-4 hours to digest a larger meal, so I recommend consuming more of our larger meals in the evening after we have performed and worked during the day. If you work in the evening, but have the morning off or a siesta each day around lunchtime, than you can eat your larger meal during that time.
Movement is essential for all life and health. Good movement patterns are key for overall health. For individuals struggling with adrenal fatigue, we want to move the body at a low intensity. This would include walking, stretching, light yoga, light cycling, etc. These low-intensity movements are anti-inflammatory and help the body to heal and recover from stress.
Another element of moving strong, is focusing on deep breathing. The average human being breaths between 12 18 breaths a minute. That equates to 18,000 to 26,000 breaths every 24 hours.
It has been suggested that at rest we should consume 6 breaths in a minute to supply our needs. The extra activity involved in our short, shallow breathing habits is robbing us of precious energy, producing toxic waste products and promoting disease in our bodies.
Once you feel like your adrenal glands are under control, it is time to stress your body more in order to adapt and grow stronger. This would include sprint training and resistance training. It is vitally important to prioritize rest and recovery as you begin to train higher. This is especially true as you get into your 30s and beyond. Your results are more dependent upon your recovery process than your training regimine.
High-intensity fitness enhances the bodies ability to thrive under stress. When you train at 100% of your maximal intensity level for short periods of time it stimulates the body to work more efficiently at those very high rates. High intensity training increases ones reserve capacity or the ability to effectively raise heart rate and breathing rates very quickly and efficiently (3).
Individuals with lower reserve capacity are more at risk for anxiety attacks, passing out and hyperventilating. Improving reserve capacity enhances an individuals ability to adapt to stressful events with greater ease and composure (4).
Sprints and other high-intensity work has been shown to improve oxygen uptake better than endurance training. The body adapts to intense training by adding new capillaries, developing stronger heart and lung tissue, adding more energy producing mitochondria and increasing the bodies tolerance to high levels of lactic acid accumulation (5).
One of the major physical stressors we are all under on a consistent basis is gravity. When our spine is in slouched or awkward positions, gravity can create spinal misalignments called subluxations.
Subluxations are a physical stress on the body and therefore increase the stress response. If subluxations are not corrected within several days, theycontinue to produce this increased stress response, which weakens our physiology ability to adapt stronger (6, 7).
Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to reduce subluxations and improve the bodies ability to adapt and heal effectively(8, 9, 10). Research performed byTaylor, Haavik & Murphy demonstrated that chiropractic adjustments have the ability to enhance sensorimotor integration, which isthe bodies ability to sense whereit is inspaceand effectively coordinate complexmovement patterns (11,12, 13, 14).
This improves the bodies ability to adapt to stress and perform at a higher level. Improvedspatial intelligence translates into better physical and mental balance, coordination, and mobility.Chiropractic adjustments to reduce subluxation help you to think and move with better speed, skill, and finesse.
Herbal adaptogens are especially good at helping the body to modulate stress levels. They do this by modulating the production of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Some of the best adaptogenic herbs are holy basil, rhodiola, ashwaghanda, ginseng and astragalus.
One of the key components that adaptogenic herbs offer is their ability to lower and stabilize cortisol levels (15, 16). High cortisol drains the precursers to major hormones such as testosterone, progesterone and estrogen. With less than adequate raw materials, the body becomes sex hormone deficient. This process rapidly accelerates the aging process and makes an individuals life miserable.
Healthy individuals have stable cortisol levels that naturally spike in the morning and then level off and stay consistently low during the day before tapering at night. This allows us to wake up with energy in the morning and maintain that energy until nightfall when we should naturally be gearing down and getting ready for sleep.
Stable cortisol levels result in improved mental clarity and memory. The individual feels as though they are less agitated and anxious and therefore able to perform better and have higher quality of life. Adaptogens can be used in herbal tinctures, teas and supplements.
Unless kept in check, stress can wreak absolute havoc on your life, undercutting your health and depressing your very will to live. Around the world, "burnout" is becoming an increasingly pervasive problem, affecting people from all walks of life. Being successful per se will not insulate you from burnout. On the contrary, it may actually raise your risk.
"The Day I Snapped" is a mental health documentary featuring five professionals who walked into the proverbial wall one day, "suddenly" unable to cope any longer. However, as noted in the film, while the crisis may appear sudden, that moment when a person "snaps" is really the culmination of an untenable situation that has been going on for a long time.
The five individuals in the film suffered burnout due to work-related stress, which is the most typical scenario. But what is it about the modern workplace that pressures people beyond their limits? Key factors highlighted in the film include:
1. People are expected to work at a much faster pace than previously, while frequently having to put in longer hours and/or being closely monitored and evaluated based on a variety of performance metrics. In some workplaces, the pace is so high, they cannot even take a proper lunch break. As noted by one of the individuals in the film, it is the "having no choice in what you do" on any given day that "makes the stress unbearable"
2. Job duties are changing (and expanding) more frequently than before, and when combined with poor direction or guidance from management, it can cause a great deal of uncertainty and performance anxiety
3. Many jobs for which people are trained are being eliminated, thereby preventing many from fulfilling their skill-potential. This in turn can breed unhappiness and feelings of worthlessness
4. Deteriorating social support at home and at work
In the U.K., work is the third leading cause of stress, trailing right behind bereavement and financial woes. In the U.S., work ranks second on the list of sources of significant stress.1
According to the film, nearly 7 million working days are lost each year in the U.K. to stress-related illnesses2 such as skin conditions, insomnia, heart disease, memory impairment, digestive problems, autoimmune disorders and depression, just to name a few. In reality, just about any ailment or disease can be triggered or worsened by stress. Symptoms of burnout include but are not limited to:3
Frequently, people on the road toward burnout will turn to alcohol or other addictive substances in an effort to prop themselves up to avoid the inevitable. Sadly, one of the most serious side effects of burnout is suicide. If you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free number: (800) 273-TALK (8255). Alternatively, call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.
If you recognize the warning signs of burnout in yourself or someone you care about, remember this: Preventing burnout is a lot easier than recovering from it. Recovery usually takes time — six months or more is not uncommon. The five professionals in the film all eventually recovered, through a variety of different means, which highlights the need to be flexible enough to identify your unique needs.
Just as the circumstances that brought you to a crisis point will be unique, so will your recovery. That said, some basic guidelines can be given (see below). A key point that may initially be difficult to accept is that you need to change how you live. The way you've been living so far does not work, and merely taking a few weeks off, only to return right back to it, is rarely going to suffice.
For the featured professionals in the film, all of whom suffered "executive burnout" or burnout brought on by chronic work stress, part of the answer was a change in profession. For three of them, this involved going into business for themselves and doing more physically demanding work, as opposed to working in an office.
If you feel you might be headed toward the proverbial wall, please consider addressing the situation before you break down completely. Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter offers the following advice for those struggling with work stress.4 I've also added some of my own suggestions.
• Take inventory. Write down all of the situations that trigger stress in your life: situations that make you feel worried, anxious, frustrated or helpless. Keep adding to this list as you go along. Next to each item on the list, write down what you can do to reduce the stress it's generating, and implement those solutions whenever possible
• Just say no. Saying no is one of the best ways to protect your energy reserves. Avoid taking on new responsibilities or commitments while you're in recovery. If something must be done, see if you can delegate the task to someone else. Avoid the trap of thinking no one else will be able to do it as well as you. Sometimes "good enough" really is enough
• Schedule breaks and take time to socialize. Make sure you take breaks between projects, to give your mind and body time to recover. Also, be sure to schedule breaks on a daily basis, and do not take work home with you. Cultivating a social life is an important aspect of a well-balanced life, so avoid the temptation to make work your sole focus
• Manage your electronic devices wisely. Smartphones, iPads and computers can be an enormous time drain if you don't manage their use well. The constant barrage of message notifications can be a major source of stress in and of itself. Turn down the stress by turning off all notifications on your devices; batch process your emails, at most four times a day, and restrict social media to a specific time or place rather than trying to "keep up" on an hour-by-hour basis
• Stop multitasking. Paradoxically, giving up multitasking is one of the key strategies of highly productive people. Focusing on one thing at a time will also make you calmer and less stressed out.
To learn more about why multitasking doesn't work, and how to increase your productivity by doing one thing at a time, please see my previous interview with Dr. Theo Compernolle, author of "Brain Chains: Discover Your Brain, to Unleash Its Full Potential in a Hyperconnected, Multitasking World."
I recently interviewed Dr. Joseph Maroon on the topic of burnout. He is a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and author of "Square One: A Simple Guide to a Balanced Life," a book that grew out of his own struggles with burnout.
I've included a condensed version here for your convenience. To listen to the full interview, please see "How to Recover From Burnout By Rebalancing Your Life." The recovery plan detailed in "Square One" is based on William H. Danforth's work, which emphasizes that you have not one but four lives to live, a:
Maintaining balance between each of these four life segments is key. Each of these needs to be actively pursued and nourished on a daily basis.
"We all know that you can't avoid stress in this world — divorce, our jobs; 40 percent of people have difficulty with job relationships," Maroon says. "What happens [is], you get an elevated cortisol level in your blood. What does [excess] cortisol do to the brain? It kills brain cells. What does it do to your memory? It reduces memory, our tissues and everything else.
That's what excess chronic unremitting stress [causes], which is what I personally went through. It's incredible depression. Most doctors think depression is [treatable] with antidepressants. I have no doubt that physical activity is the most effective antidepressant we can use …
[It] gets all the neurotransmitters back into order — your dopamine, your serotonin and your acetylcholine. The point is we can't escape adversity. We can't escape stress. But what happened to me is I didn't recognize how bad off I was in a unidimensional life."
Based on these four life segments, you can see that to prevent or recover from burnout, you need:
In a nutshell, recovering from burnout (or avoiding it in the first place) boils down to finding and maintaining a balance between your work life, physical activities, relationships and spirituality or mindfulness. As noted by Maroon:
"You need exercise. You need a degree of meditation and spirituality … If you look at people who live to be centenarians … They all have in common a healthy diet and work. They work hard, which is their physical activity … They control stress with, usually, a very strong family unit, spirituality, religion or church. All those things are mindfulness. All reduce stress, the excess cortisol, and try to keep our bodies in balance."
To this, I would add a fifth life category that needs balance, and that is sleep. Sleep deprivation dramatically impairs your body's ability to handle stress, and has absolutely no redeeming consequences. Working rather than sleeping will not allow you to get ahead or accomplish more. It's only going to make matters worse. Treating your sleep as "sacred time" that cannot be infringed upon can go a long way toward managing your overall stress and maintaining balance in your life.
On the whole, leading a balanced life is not rocket science, but it can still be difficult to do. It's much easier, actually, to focus on work to the exclusion of everything else. Finding balance takes a bit of work. It may require finding and setting new boundaries, which may feel unfamiliar and maybe even a bit frightening at first. The alternative, however, is far worse than any discomfort you might experience as you strive for balance.
Arianna Huffington is perhaps one of the most well-known public personas who suffered burnout — and wrote a book about it. In "Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder," Huffington, who is the chairman, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, details her downward spiral, and her journey back to health.
Her self-reflection resulted in a new definition of success, which includes a "third metric" besides the two conventional ones: money and power. This third metric consists of four pillars:
When you integrate giving, wonder, wisdom and well-being together with the first two metrics of money and power, you can really have a complete life, filled with meaning and purpose.
If you suffer from anxiety or depression, cutting out these brain- and mood-wrecking culprits could work wonders for your mental health. Also, make sure you dose up on this vitamin - it's critical for psychological well-being.
The connection between your food and mood has come under increasing scientific scrutiny in the past couple of decades. William Dufty brought early attention to this link with his book, “Sugar Blues.” Written over 30 years ago, it has become a classic. Another classic is “The Omega-3 Connection,” written by Dr. Andrew Stoll, published in 2001. This was one of the first books to bring attention to and support the use of omega-3 fats for depression.
A third early pioneer that brought attention to the nutritional underpinnings of psychiatric disturbances was Dr. Abram Hoffer, co-author of “Niacin: The Real Story.” Niacin, Hoffer found, may in fact be a "secret" treatment for a number of psychological disorders, including schizophrenia, which can be notoriously difficult to address.
It’s really unfortunate that so few people consider how their diet may be influencing their mood, seeing how it can indeed have a pronounced effect on your mental health. For example, research has shown that unprocessed foods, especially fermented foods, help optimize your gut microbiome, thereby supporting optimal mental health.
Dark chocolate, coffee, animal-based omega-3 fats and the anti-inflammatory spice turmeric (curcumin) also tend to boost your mood, whereas sugar, wheat (gluten) and processed foods have been linked to a greater risk for depression and anxiety.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide,1,2 affecting an estimated 322 million people globally, including more than 16 million Americans, 6 million of whom are seniors.3 Statistics also reveal we’re not being particularly effective when it comes to prevention and treatment. Worldwide, rates of depression increased by 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.4
According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, 11 percent of Americans over the age of 12 are on antidepressant drugs. Among women in their 40 and 50s, 1 in 4 is on antidepressants.5 While these drugs are prescribed for conditions other than depression, their widespread use suggests mental health problems are indeed pervasive.
In the U.S., suicide rates have also steadily risen since 20006,7,8 — a trend blamed on the effects of social isolation, economic pressures, opioid addiction and limited access to mental health care. Considering these facts, it would make sense to be proactive about your mental health, and this includes taking a cold, hard look at your diet. Are you eating foods that increase your chances of feeling calm and content, or is your diet a recipe for doom and gloom?
A paper9 published in Nutritional Neuroscience in April this year looked at evidence from laboratory, population research and clinical trials to create “a set of practical dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression, based on the best available current evidence.”
This is sorely needed, as psychiatrists do not currently have any established dietary guidelines to follow in the treatment of depression. Chances are, many patients might never resort to medication were they to receive proper dietary guidance. According to this paper, the published evidence reveals five key dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression:
Indeed, while there are many “superfoods” known to lower inflammation, improve mitochondrial function and lower your risk of insulin resistance — all of which are factors implicated in depression — what you don’t eat may actually be more important than what you do eat. Adding a few superfoods to an otherwise poor diet is unlikely to yield any significant results. So, it’s important to realize that unless you get the foundation right, it’s going to be a continuous uphill battle.
The simplest, most basic foundation here would simply be to eat real food. This means ditching all processed, prepackaged food items and replacing them with whole foods that you cook from scratch — including condiments and snacks. Your beverage choices may also need an overhaul, as most people drink very little pure water, relying on sugary beverages like sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks and flavored water for their hydration needs. None of those alternatives will do your mental health any good.
Three brain- and mood-wrecking culprits you’ll automatically avoid when avoiding processed foods are added sugars, artificial sweeteners10 and processed vegetable oils — harmful fats known to clog your arteries and cause mitochondrial dysfunction. Gluten also appears to be particularly problematic for many. If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, you’d be well-advised to experiment with a gluten-free diet.
Certain types of lectins, especially wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), are also known for their psychiatric side effects. WGA can cross your blood brain barrier11 through a process called "adsorptive endocytosis," pulling other substances with it. WGA may attach to your myelin sheath12 and is capable of inhibiting nerve growth factor,13 which is important for the growth, maintenance and survival of certain target neurons.
HRI Labs has investigated a number of other foods as well, including grains, legumes and beans. Most if not all of these types of crops need to dry in the field before being harvested, and to speed that process, the fields are doused with glyphosate a couple weeks before harvest. As a result of this practice, called desiccation, grain-based products, legumes and beans contain rather substantial amounts of glyphosate.
Wine also contains surprising amounts of glyphosate. As it turns out, weeds in vineyards are managed by spraying glyphosate, which ends up in the grapes as the roots of the grape vines pick it up through the soil.
If you drink wine, I recommend you choose one that is high quality and either organic or biodynamic. There are even ones available that won’t kick you out of ketosis. All of the wines provided by Dry Farm Wines are either organic or biodynamic, and every wine they source comes from small vineyards, mostly from Europe, and none from the U.S. All of their wines:
Eating real, unprocessed food is the key to sustaining good health, but even when it comes to whole food, its quality is largely determined by how it was grown. Certified organic food is recommended to avoid toxic contaminants such as pesticides. But even organic foods may be lacking in important nutrients if grown in nutrient-poor soils. To truly build good topsoil, you have to implement regenerative farming methods, many of which are not automatically required by organic standards.
Next, if you’re serious about your physical and mental health, consider taking things a step or two further by:
• Implementing a cyclical ketogenic diet, high in healthy fats, low in net carbs with moderate amounts of protein. This kind of diet will optimize your mitochondrial function, which has significant implications for mental health. In fact, one noticeable effect of nutritional ketosis is mental clarity and a sense of calm.
The reason for this welcome side effect has to do with the fact that when your body is able to burn fat for fuel, ketones are created, which is the preferred fuel for your brain. Compelling research also suggests a ketogenic diet may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
• Intermittent fasting will also help optimize your brain function and prevent neurological problems by activating your body’s fat-burning mode, preventing insulin resistance and reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, the latter of which has been identified as a causative factor in depression.14,15
While you may achieve some of the benefits from intermittent fasting simply by respecting the time boundaries, regardless of the foods you consume, it is far better if you consume high-quality unprocessed food.
Since you'll be eating less, it's vitally important that you get proper nutrition. Healthy fats are essential because intermittent fasting pushes your body to switch over to fat-burning mode. Particularly if you begin to feel tired and sluggish, it may be a sign that you need to increase the amount of healthy fat in your diet.
• Water fasting. Once you’re starting to burn fat for fuel, gradually increase the length of your daily intermittent fasting to 20 hours per day. After a month of 20-hour daily fasting, you’re likely in good shape to try a four or five-day water-only fast. I now do a monthly five-day fast, as I believe this is the most powerful metabolic health interventions out there.
A five-day fast will effectively clean out senescent cells that have stopped duplicating due to aging or oxidative damage, which would otherwise clog up your optimal biologic function by causing and increasing inflammation.
Once you’re eating healthy in general, there are a number of different superfoods you can focus on that are known for their beneficial impact on mood and psychological well-being. While this list could be quite long, here are five suggestions sure to please most people’s palate. For even more suggestions, check out the articles listed in the references:16,17
• Wild Alaskan salmon and other small, fatty fish such as anchovies and sardines are a great source of animal-based omega-3 fats necessary for mental health and optimal brain function (DHA and EPA are actually structural elements that make up your cells).
These fats also play a role in the regulation of brain chemicals such as dopamine, released in response to pleasurable experiences. Studies have also confirmed Stoll’s early claims that omega-3s reduce the risk of depression. Most recently, researchers concluded omega-3 deficiency may contribute to the development of mood disorders, and that supplementation “may provide a new treatment option.”18
• Foods high in tryptophan. Egg whites (should not be eaten without the yolks) contain the greatest amounts. Spirulina is second. You can see this chart for the rest.
• Spinach and other folate-rich foods. B vitamins in general are important for psychological well-being, and a deficiency in either B6, folate (B9) or B12 are all capable of triggering psychiatric side effects, including depression. Most organic leafy greens are a good source of folate. Aside from spinach, other top sources include broccoli, asparagus and turnip greens.
• Organic dark chocolate. According to a 2009 study19 (conducted at the Nestle Research Center in Switzerland), eating 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of dark chocolate per day for 14 days, divided into three daily servings (morning, afternoon and night), reduced levels of stress-related hormones in all participants — even in those who did not report feeling stressed at the outset of the study.
A systematic review20 published in 2013 also found that dark chocolate may be a helpful mood booster. Milk chocolate will not have the same effect though. To work, opt for dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao or greater, and limit your portions.
• Organic coffee also has its benefits — and its drawbacks. In fact, findings are mixed when it comes to its effect on depression,21 so you’ll have to gauge its effects from personal experience. One meta-analysis22 published in 2015, which looked at a population of nearly 347,000 individuals, concluded caffeine helped protect against depression. Other medical experts warn it might worsen anxiety, which often goes hand-in-hand with depression. A 2014 study23 came to the following conclusion:
“[W]e observed a biphasic profile in caffeine psychostimulant effect: low to moderate doses may correlate with a reduction in depressive risk in healthy subjects and an improvement of many clinical symptoms (attention, arousal, psychomotor performance) in depressed patients, whereas the assumption of high doses may result in thymic dysregulation, favor mixed affective states and worsen circadian profiles and anxiety symptoms.”
Another foundational strategy to prevent or treat depression and anxiety is to limit exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Studies have linked excessive EMF exposure to an increased risk of both depression and suicide.24 Power lines and high-voltage cables appear to be particularly troublesome. Addiction to or “high engagement” with mobile devices can also trigger depression and anxiety, according to recent research from the University of Illinois.25
Research26 by Dr. Martin Pall reveals a previously unknown mechanism of biological harm from microwaves emitted by cellphones and other wireless technologies, which 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 stimulates the release of nitric oxide (NO) inside your cell and mitochondria. The NO then combines with superoxide to form peroxynitrite, which in turn creates hydroxyl free radicals — some of the most destructive free radicals known to man.
Hydroxyl free radicals decimate mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, their membranes and proteins. The end result is mitochondrial dysfunction, which we now know is at the heart of most chronic disease. The tissues with the highest density of VGCCs are your brain, the pacemaker in your heart and male testes. Hence, health problems such as Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, autism, cardiac arrhythmias and infertility can be directly linked to excessive microwave exposure.
So, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, be sure to limit your exposure to wireless technologies. Simple measures include turning your Wi-Fi off at night, not carrying your cellphone on your body and not keeping portable phones, cellphones and other electric devices in your bedroom.
The electric wiring inside your bedroom walls is probably the most important source to address. Your best bet here is to turn off the power to your bedroom at night. This will work if there are no adjacent rooms. If there are, you may need to shut those rooms off also. The only way to know would be to measure the electric fields.
Depression is multifactorial. It may take some sleuthing to identify specific triggers. That said, an all-around healthy lifestyle will take care of the most common underlying problems. Addressing your diet and experimenting with nutritional ketosis, intermittent fasting, longer fasts, or all three will set you on the right track.
Avoiding EMFs, getting sensible sun exposure, exercise and plenty of sleep rounds out the list of the basic components for an anti-depressive lifestyle. For more tips and guidance, use the search feature on my site. I’ve written many in-depth articles on depression, covering a wide range of angles, over the years.