Heart attack symptoms - Dr. Axe

Dramatically clutching the chest and slowly sinking to the floor is often how heart attacks are presented in television and movies. And while heart attack symptoms can arise suddenly and be quite intense, more often the symptoms start more slowly and are milder, according to the American Heart Association. (1)

Heart attack symptoms can present with a general discomfort, pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the central part of the chest lasting for several minutes. Additionally, symptoms may occur in other areas of the body, too, including one or both arms, in the back or neck, stomach or even the jaw.

Someone having a heart attack may also feel nauseous, be lightheaded or they may break out in a cold sweat. Heart attack symptoms in men often differ from heart attack symptoms in women. The American Heart Association says that shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting and back or jaw pain are symptoms that are more common in women than in men.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please call 911 immediately. The quicker you are seen by emergency responders, the sooner treatment can begin.

Recovering from a heart attack takes time, and there are a number of ways to help speed healing. Of course, it is preferable to never experience a heart attack and incorporating heart-healthy practices into your daily routine may help stave off coronary heart disease and a heart attack.

What Is a Heart Attack?

According to the American Heart Association, coronary heart disease, including heart attacks, is responsible for causing 1 out of every 7 deaths in the United States. (2)

Even more troubling is the fact that every year an estimated 635,000 people experience a heart attack for the first time, and nearly 300,000 people experience a repeat attack. Each heart attack injures the heart muscle, and the amount of damage depends a lot on the length of time it takes to receive emergency medical treatment.

So, what is a heart attack? It is an event where the flow of oxygen-rich blood is limited or cut off before it reaches the heart. Coronary arteries narrowed because of plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) are often the culprit. When plaque particulates come loose and break off, blood forms around them causing a clot. This clot can then block the blood flow completely, leading to ischemia. (3)

When your heart is damaged because of ischemia, the event can be called a heart attack (also known as a myocardial infarction). While some people will experience a variety of warning signs, if the root cause of the heart attack is atherosclerosis, typically a heart attack can occur suddenly, without any noticeable warning signs.

It is important to note the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack. A heart attack arises when there is a problem in the circulation of oxygen-rich blood, while cardiac arrest is caused by an electrical, or mechanical problem in the heart such as an abnormal or irregular heartbeat or an arrhythmia. (3)

Cardiac arrest causes the heart to stop suddenly, and a heart attack can cause it. Death can occur within just moments after the heart stops beating. Both heart attacks and cardiac arrest can be treated, but time is of the essence. CPR and the use of a defibrillator to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm may reverse cardiac arrest. Call 911 immediately if you believe you or someone you know is experiencing either cardiac event.

10 Signs & Symptoms

The type and severity of heart attack symptoms vary from person to person, and by gender. The following symptoms are common, but it is important to understand that the more of the symptoms you have concurrently, the greater the possibility is that you are having a heart attack. (4)

  1. Pressure, tightness, pain, aching or squeezing sensation in the chest that may radiate to the neck, jaw or back
  2. Nausea
  3. Indigestion
  4. Heartburn
  5. Abdominal pain
  6. Shortness of Breath
  7. Cold sweats
  8. Fatigue
  9. Lightheadedness
  10. Sudden dizziness

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States. Heart attack symptoms in women may be more subtle, and many women report they believed their symptoms were due to aging, acid reflux or even the flu. (5)

According to the Cleveland Clinic, pre-heart attack symptoms in females may include:(6)

  1. Unusual fatigue
  2. Sweating and shortness of breath
  3. Pain that radiates from the chest to the jaw, back or neck.

For women, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between women’s heart attack symptoms vs. anxiety or panic attack symptoms. These two conditions can present very similarly with symptoms including vertigo, dizziness, heart palpitations, numbness in the extremities, trembling and even fainting.

If you have a history of heart disease or heart attacks, and you also have an anxiety or panic disorder, any time you experience any heart attack symptoms, you should seek emergency medical attention. (7)

Symptoms of heart attack in men under 40 include many of the common symptoms mentioned above. The real challenge for this demographic is that seemingly healthy young men can experience a sudden cardiac event, or SCE. We often see this in young athletes when the subtle symptoms are brushed off as overexertion. (8)

Early Warning Signs

According to the Mayo Clinic, some people may experience early warning signs in the weeks, days or hours in advance of a heart attack, and they note particularly that recurrent chest pain, or angina, that is triggered by exertion and relieved by rest may be the earliest warning sign. Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you experience chest pains.

Heart attack symptoms - Dr. Axe

Causes & Risk Factors

The most common heart attack cause is a narrowed or blocked coronary artery, known as coronary artery disease. During a heart attack, the plaque that causes the narrowing of the artery ruptures and clouds the blood with cholesterol and other elements of the plaque. (4)

This event, can in turn, cause a blood clot to form and this clot can then completely impede the flow of blood through the artery.

In addition, a more rare condition called a coronary artery spasm can occur in a normal or healthy blood vessel or those that are blocked by atherosclerosis. This spasm can be life-threatening and is sometimes related to the use of illegal drugs like cocaine. A severe spasm can cause a heart attack. (3)

Even more rare is a spontaneous coronary artery dissection, or SCAD. This rare event occurs when there is spontaneous tearing in the coronary artery wall. In men, SCAD is generally related to extreme exertion. In healthy women, some evidence points to a hormonal link with SCAD occurring in postpartum women or around the menstrual cycle. (9)

Risk Factors (4)

  • Men 45 years of age and older
  • Women 55 years of age and older
  • Smoking or long-term exposure to secondhand smoke
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High triglyceride levels
  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Illegal drug use
  • History of preeclampsia
  • Autoimmune diseases including lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

Conventional Treatment

When presenting with heart attack symptoms, the following diagnostic tests will likely be ordered: (10)

  • ECG
  • Blood tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Angiogram
  • Stress test
  • CT
  • MRI

In an emergency, the following medications may be used:

  • Aspirin
  • Thrombolytics
  • Antiplatelet agents
  • Blood-thinning medications
  • Pain relievers
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Beta blockers
  • ACE inhibitors

In certain cases, surgical intervention including a coronary angioplasty (with or without stenting) or coronary artery bypass surgery may be required.

7 Natural Ways to Boost Heart Attack Recovery

1. Participate in Cardiac Rehab.

After a heart attack, your cardiologist will likely suggest you participate in a cardiac rehab program. Many hospitals provide this outpatient program to help heart attack survivors recover.

These programs consist of a combination of disciplines that focus not only on your recovery, but on lowering your risk for future cardiac events. Sessions often consist of emotional and mental support, physical exercise and creating a personalized heart-healthy lifestyle. (11)

2. Manage Underlying Conditions.

Many underlying conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes increase your risk for heart attacks. Treating these conditions effectively may help improve your recovery time.

3. Stop Smoking.

If you smoke, stop smoking now and avoid secondhand smoke.

4. Lose Weight.

If you are overweight, eat a nutrient-dense, healthy diet to take off any extra pounds. Getting to a healthy weight and maintaining it is linked to better heart health.

5. Exercise.

Heart attack survivors are often hesitant to exercise out of fear of experiencing another heart attack. However, once your cardiologist determines that it is safe for you to exercise, follow their recommendations. Remember, be gentle with yourself; your body has survived a traumatic event and it will take some time before you are performing at pre-heart attack levels. (12)

6. Treat Depression.

Depression is very common after a heart attack, and the symptoms can last six months, or even longer. Anxiety, anger, irritation, resentment and poor self-esteem can all be a part of the equation too. Talk therapy or a support group, sunshine and inhaling Roman chamomile essential oil may help. Again, be gentle with yourself during recovery; it is a process that requires healing of the mind, body and spirit. (13)

7. CoQ10, 100 milligrams twice a day.

After a cardiac event, you may be prescribed statins to help prevent another heart attack. Taking a CoQ10 supplement may help to lower side effects of the medication while helping to regulate blood pressure. (14)

In a promising two-year clinical trial of patients with moderate to severe heart failure, patients were given either a placebo or CoQ10 supplement. At two years, those receiving CoQ10 had significantly fewer adverse cardiovascular events, lower death rate and a lower number of hospital stays. Researchers do urge 100 milligrams twice a day instead of a single 200-milligram dose once a day because of better absorption rates. (15)

Heart attack symptoms: avoid these foods - Dr. Axe

Prevention:  7 Natural Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

According to the American Heart Association, around 20 percent of patients 45 and older who have a heart attack will have another within five years. Practicing the following heart-healthy lifestyle tips can improve heart health and keep your heart healthy. (17, 18)

1. Eat a diet rich with heart healthy foods.

  • The Cleveland Clinic, one of the world’s most respected cardiology centers, recommends reaching and maintaining a healthy weight for heart health. The Cleveland Clinic’s Heart Healthy Diet includes: (19)
    • Seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that span the rainbow to enjoy a diverse intake of nutrients. Enjoy berries, citrus, peppers and leafy greens. As a note, a serving is one medium piece of fruit, or 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw vegetables.
    • Aim for 25 grams or more of fiber. The Cleveland Clinic recommends a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber daily. From the soluble fiber category, oats, lentils, split peas, flaxseed, citrus and apples are all heart-healthy choices. From the insoluble category, eat nuts and whole grain cereals or breads.
    • Eat two to three vegetable-based protein meals weekly. Replace  animal-based protein protein meals with lentils, legumes, quinoa, nuts and seeds. Enjoy a dinner of hummus and falafel, the combination of which is filling and satisfying.
    • Limit conventional red meat to one meal per week.
    • Eat free-range poultry, without skin, two times per week.
    • Eat wild-caught fish, rich with omega-3 fatty acids, twice a week. For a quick and nutritious meal, try my recipe for cilantro-salmon burgers.
    • Drink in moderation.
    • Practice portion control.

2. Enjoy Dark Chocolate.

The Cleveland Clinic also recommends eating one ounce of dark chocolate a few times a week for heart health. Cocoa’s strong bitter taste comes from the flavanols that can improve vascular health by lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and the heart and making blood platelets less likely to clot. (20)

However, it is important to note that the more that chocolate is processed, the more health benefits are lost. Choose low-processed dark chocolate, and avoid Dutch processed cocoa and highly processed chocolates with nuts and nougat.

3. Be Physically Active.

Walking just 30 minutes a day can lower your risk for heat attack and stroke. The goal is to complete at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, at least five days a week. If you’ve had a heart attack, wait to be cleared by your cardiologist before beginning any exercise. (5)

4. Practice Yoga Regularly.

Not only is yoga great for flexibility, strength, managing stress, depression and anxiety, it is also linked to better heart health. And, long-term sustained yoga practice may play a role in improving overall health. In fact, a systemic review of clinical trials found that yoga may improve cardiac health by lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, losing weight, lowering triglycerides and improving heart rate. (21)

5. Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement, 1,000 milligrams daily.

Fish oil is associated with overall heart health and is linked to increasing energy, lowering high triglyceride levels and weight loss.

And, according to a clinical trial published in the journal Circulation, a high dose Omega-3 fatty acids from a supplement taken for six months improves certain cardiac health markers in patients with a heart attack history. (22)

6. Acupuncture.

A variety of clinical trials have found that taking certain heart medications along with having routine acupuncture sessions is associated with a reduced rate of heart attacks in those with coronary heart disease. In fact, a review of 16 clinical trials indicates that acupuncture plus prescribed drugs is more effective than drugs alone.   (23)

7. Manage Stress & Treat Anxiety.

Stress, depression and anxiety all have real consequences on our physical and emotional health. In addition to a healthy diet, regular exercise and high-quality sleep, other activities such as cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation and art therapy may help.

Also, ashwagandha, one of the top natural remedies for anxiety, is shown to combat stress, anxiety and depression. Take 300 milligrams of a high-quality ashwagandha supplement daily. (24) Be sure to check with your health care provider first.


Heart attacks can be fatal. Call 911 immediately if you experience chest pains in addition to other common heart attack symptoms.

In seemingly healthy young men and women, heart attack symptoms must be taken seriously. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the rates of heart attacks in younger women are on the rise, including silent heart attacks where no symptoms arise. (25)

If you have a family history of coronary heart disease, smoking, have diabetes or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about regular screening.

Key Points About Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Coronary heart disease, including heart attacks, is responsible for 1 out of every 7 deaths in the United States.
  • A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood is limited or cut off before it reaches the heart.
  • Heart attack causes include atherosclerosis, coronary artery spasm or the rare condition called spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD).
  • Heart attack symptoms vary widely from person to person and women may experience more subtle symptoms than men.
  • Recovering from a heart attack takes time, and there are lifestyle changes that can help in recovery.

7 Natural Ways to Boost Heart Attack Recovery

1. Participate in cardiac rehab as suggested by your cardiologist to help lower your risk for future heart attacks, manage anxiety and depression and add physical exercise to your routine.

2. Manage underlying conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

3. Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

4. Lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.

5. Exercise, when cleared by your medical team, at least 30 minutes, five times a week.

6. Treat depression and anxiety with natural treatments such as talk therapy, support groups, sunshine and inhaling an essential oil like Roman chamomile.

7. Take CoQ10, 100 milligrams twice a day, to improve cardiac health and lower the side effects of prescribed medications.

Prevention:  7 Natural Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

1. Eat a heart-healthy diet.

2. Enjoy 1 ounce of dark chocolate several times a week.

3. Be physically active by walking 30 minutes or more, at least five days a week.

4. Practice yoga regularly.

5. Take 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fish oil supplement daily.

6. Acupuncture done in conjunction with heart medications may make them more effective than the drugs alone.

7. Manage stress & treat anxiety with natural treatments and remedies like ashwagandha, medication and art therapy.

Read Next: Myocarditis: Causes 45% of Heart Transplants in the U.S. Each Year

The post Know When It’s a Heart Attack: 10 Heart Attack Symptoms (+ 7 Tips to Help Recovery) appeared first on Dr. Axe.

Source: dr axe

Bug zappers - Dr. Axe

Bug zappers may seem like a tempting solution if you find yourself Googling home remedies for mosquito bites during peak skeeter season. But there are a number of compelling reasons to avoid going the bug electrocution route.

Now, to be clear, avoiding Zika virus and ailments like West Nile Virus should be on your radar. I’m just here to tell you that I would not turn to bug zappers for adequate protection. There are better (and way less gross) ways. (More on that later).

The History of Bug Zappers

The idea of electrofying insects first became a thing in 1911 when Popular Mechanics magazine introduced the concept. Still, most thought it was too expensive to undertake at the time. Fast forward to 1932, when the first patented electric fly zapper was recorded by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Just two years later, a University of California professor of parasitology introduced the bug zapper that would be the basis for all future zappers. (1)

Bug zappers are also known as:

  • Electrical discharge insect control systems
  • Electric insect killers
  • Insect electrocutor traps

The Problem with Bug Zappers

While it seems appealing to invite pests into your yard and then fry them, science tells us that may not be such a great idea. Here are some of the major flaws associated with bug zappers that you should know about.

They don’t work. Bug zappers kill tons of beneficial insects while missing most of the biting insects that pest us, explains a University of Florida pest control expert (2, 3)

“[Bug zappers] are a total waste of money. Bug zappers will not control mosquitoes or other biting insects such as horseflies, dogflies or deerflies,” says Jonathan Day, PhD, associate professor of entomology  in University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“They simply do not work as advertised. In fact, bug zappers actually make things worse by attracting more mosquitoes into your yard, and they end up killing thousands of beneficial insects that don’t bother people.”


Bug zappers - Dr. Axe


Be wary of zappers that market carbon dioxide as an attractant, too. Mosquitoes are drawn to carbon dioxide but studies show they prefer the natural form that is emitted from humans versus artificial sources.

Another reason to avoid zappers? Bug viruses and bacteria travel long distances upon electrocution. A nicer way of saying this is microscopic bug guts is sprayed onto people sitting around the bug zapper … and into nearby food. (4, 5)

The best ways to avoid mosquitoes in your favorite outdoor areas are to:

  • Screen in the area, if possible
  • Use a fan; it disperses CO2 and creates wind resistance to keep mosquitoes away
  • Avoid drinking alcohol if you’re in a mosquito-prone area (6)

The post Stop Using Bug Zappers Immediately appeared first on Dr. Axe.

Source: dr axe

By Dr. Mercola

Best tasting straight from the bush, raspberries are perfect for your home garden and a tasty addition to a salad or as a snack. Growing your own will ensure you enjoy berries not sprayed with pesticides and insecticides. Although red raspberries are the most common, you have a choice of several varieties. They come in different colors, which ripen at different times of the year, allowing you to spread out your harvest.

Once harvested, consider adding to smoothies, homemade yogurt and garden salads and whipped into homemade salad dressings. To get the most from your raspberry harvest each summer, choose a plant variety for your climate zone, choose the best spot in your garden, prevent pests and disease and learn simple techniques to care and prune your plants.

Plant Variety

These bite-sized berries come in several different colors. While red is the most common, both red and yellow are the hardiest and very sweet. Interestingly, purple raspberries are a hybrid of black and red raspberries. Black raspberries are delicious, and different from blackberries, but also are the least hardy and more susceptible to disease. When black raspberries are picked, the stem remains on the plant, unlike blackberries whose stem breaks off from the plant during picking.

Using a climate zone map,1 determine if you live in zones 3 to 9, as this is where raspberries generally grow best. The temperature zones estimate the lowest temperatures. In zone 3 temperatures can drop to as low as -35 degrees Fahrenheit (F) while in zone 9 temperatures don't generally drop below 20 F. This wide range of temperatures means you have a higher likelihood of finding a variety suitable for your climate.

Most varieties of raspberries will ripen throughout the summer and fall months, giving you a long growing and harvesting season. However, some produce more fruit during the summer and others produce more during the fall. You may want to select several varieties to ripen at different times in order to enjoy a longer harvesting season.2

  • Summer red raspberries ripen in early to midsummer.
  • Everbearing red raspberries produce from midsummer into fall.
  • Black raspberries can be found growing wild east of the Rockies and have only a short season beginning in early July and lasting approximately three weeks.3
  • Golden raspberries are harvested throughout the fall months.4
  • Purple raspberries are as productive as red raspberries and produce heavy crops that ripen in early summer.

Ideal Growing Conditions

Prior to planting, identify the variety best suited for your region. Most varieties love cool summers and mild winters, but several have adapted to hot, sunny climates. If you are growing your raspberries in a warmer climate, be sure they get afternoon shade. In cooler climates, they will grow best in full sun.

The bushes should be planted in well-draining soil, as standing water can rot the roots in a matter of days.5 If your yard does not have good drainage, consider installing raised beds and drainage pipes, or planting in containers. Growing in a container takes no more work than planting in the ground as the raspberries can be placed on a sunny patio and moved to the shade in the afternoon.

In theory, any bushy plant in the backyard can grow in a container, but the more compact plants will do better in a container as they don't require support to stand upright.

Use a container at least 24 inches in diameter to allow the plants to flourish. This also helps with cold hardiness. The pot should be filled with a soil-based compost and the plants well-watered when they are added to the pot. As with plants in the ground, never allow the soil to completely dry out.6

The plants do best in soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.2. Raise the pH level by amending it with lime, based on the results of a soil analysis. Your local university extension office is often able to provide this service. Raspberry plants can live up to 15 years or more, so early preparation of the bed will help ensure long plant life. Although the root system of the plant may not be deep, dig to a depth of at least 12 inches to loosen soil and remove rocks, ensuring good drainage, a critical element of the success of your plants.

Add too much water and the root system will rot, but too little water and your plants won't produce fruit.7 Especially while fruiting, the plants require from 1 to 2 inches of water every week. If the soil is always slightly moist to the touch, but not soggy, the plant is likely getting enough water. Overhead watering may help spread disease. Instead, use a drip system or soaker hoses to provide your raspberry bushes with enough moisture for a good harvest.

Care and Pruning Increase Potential Yield

Viruses seriously weaken raspberry plants, so it is best to start with plants from certified virus free stock,8 as well as removing all wild raspberry plants from the area. As demonstrated in the featured video, you can purchase a dormant cane or a live potted plant to start your raspberry bush. Depending on the variety you choose, the plants can reach from 36 to 60 inches tall with a 24- to 36-inch spread.9

Dormant canes can be set out four to six weeks before the last frost in your area, while plants grown in containers should be planted after the danger of frost has passed. The plants should be set in the ground 1 inch deeper than they grew in the nursery containers. Before planting in the ground, dig out all weeds and amend the soil with mature compost or other high quality organic matter.10 

Work this into the soil, ideally at least two weeks before you plant your raspberry bushes. This is also a good time to use a light application of lime or wood ash to raise the soil pH, if testing indicated it was needed. Place each plant 2 feet apart in the row, and each row at least 8 feet apart, to allow the plants to grow while still giving you room to walk in-between without being scratched by thorns.

The plants will send out shoots. Any coming up 12 inches from the base of the cane into the path between rows should be trimmed away as this significantly reduces the width of the walking area. Once planted, it's time to give them 1 to 2 inches of water. Ensure the root ball is not exposed as this will quickly dehydrate the plant. A thick layer of natural mulch will help improve drainage, retain moisture and reduce weeds.

The pruning technique you use will depend on the variety you plant.11 All summer-bearing varieties should have weak canes removed at the ground level in early spring. Leave 10 to 12 of the healthiest canes and tip prune any suffering cold damage. Fall-bearing varieties can be pruned to produce one or two crops.

To get two crops, prune the plants as if they are summer-bearing; after the fall harvest, prune them to the ground. If you want one crop, there's no need to prune in the summer, but cut all canes to the ground in the spring.

When the cane finishes producing fruit, it will naturally die. Remove the old canes by clipping them at the ground and pulling them from the top to encourage good air circulation in the plants and sun penetration to the leaves. This small step also helps reduce potential for disease.

Prevent Disease

You can prevent many problems with your raspberry plants by ensuring a sunny location with fertile, well-draining soil.12 Raspberries are sensitive to root rot, so avoid growing near tomatoes, potatoes or other plants susceptible to verticillium wilt. If an individual raspberry cane appears affected by disease, it may be the result of cane borer larvae. Simply cut back the cane to 6 inches below the damage to prevent further injury.

Raspberries are also susceptible to fungal disease resulting in the leaves turning a rust color.13 As the disease progresses, yellow pustules appear on the underside of the leaves, later turning black, containing spores that can overwinter. Finding a fungal infection early means you can remove the leaves, which may stem the spread. However, if the plant appears to be fully diseased, it's necessary to remove the entire plant and closely watch the ones next to it.

Another common condition attacking raspberry plants is spur blight,14 having the greatest impact on purple and red raspberries. This is another fungal infection that attacks the leaves and canes and reduces your harvest. Leaves are often the first to show symptoms as the outer edges turn yellow and the leaves slowly die. Lower leaves are the first to be infected and when they fall the stem remains on the bush. During a severe attack, younger leaves toward the top are also killed.

Keeping the area weeded and the rows cut back to facilitate adequate drying and sun exposure will go a long way toward preventing disease. Fungal infections favor wet conditions and can be controlled by aiding good circulation through the canes by keeping the canes spaced well apart and allowing good sun exposure.

Harvest Your Delicious Berries and Leaves

Raspberries are ripe for the picking when they show good color and come off the stem easily. It's best to harvest daily as the sun can scald ripe berries and prolonged rains can rot them.15 Place your berries in shallow containers, stacking no more than three berries deep and refrigerate immediately.

Wash and clean with cool water only just before preparing to eat or getting them ready to freeze. You can enjoy your raspberries through the winter months by freezing them on a shallow pan covered with wax paper. Once individually frozen for about an hour, transfer them to freezer-safe containers and use throughout the winter.

Your raspberry plants produce not only fresh fruit but also leaves for herbal raspberry leaf tea. Raspberry tea has been used to treat menstrual symptoms and ease childbirth.16 The leaves are rich in potassium, iron, manganese and B vitamins. Harvesting the leaves for tea should be done in midmorning, before the plant blooms and just after dew evaporates. This is when the essential oils and flavor in the leaves are at their peak.

Anytime you're harvesting either berries or leaves, be sure to wear long sleeves and gloves for protection against the thorns. Leaves can be harvested anytime during the year. Choose young and vibrant green leaves for your tea. Wash them, pat them dry and lay them out on a screen to air-dry.17 Store dried leaves in a glass jar in a cool dry area out of the sun. When you're ready to make tea, crush the leaves and use 1 teaspoon for every 8 ounces of boiling water. Steep for five minutes.

Valuable Health Benefits of Raspberries

Raspberries are high in vitamin C, quercetin and gallic acid.18 The high antioxidant value is thought to contribute to their ability to fight heart disease, circulatory disease, age-related decline and cancer. Raspberry oil has a sun protective factor and may protect against wrinkles. Consider making a facial mask blending 1 cup of plain yogurt with 2 cups of fresh raspberries until smooth. Apply to your face for 15 minutes before washing off with tepid water. The antioxidant power of vitamin C may help reduce age spots and discolorations.

Also high in ellagic acid, a chemoprotective agent with anti-inflammatory properties, raspberries may efficiently help stop damage to cell membranes. In combination with other flavonoid molecules found in raspberries, this unique blend of antioxidants also has some antimicrobial properties.19

The high nutrient value of the berries are proficient in helping reinforce your immune system to fight against disease. When grown in fertile soil, they are an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C helping to protect against oxygen-related damage. The combination of flavonoids and antioxidants in raspberries have demonstrated some memory improvement in animal studies and may protect against cognitive decline.20 The fiber and water content in the berries may also help prevent constipation.

Source: mercola rss

By Dr. Mercola

Turnips are antioxidant-rich and nutrient-dense. Besides being an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber, turnips also contain a type of phytonutrient known as indoles, which may help you fight cancer — particularly colon cancer. For these and many other reasons, you may enjoy growing turnips. Below, I share everything you need to know to cultivate this hearty, healthy root vegetable.

The Basics About Turnips

Turnips (Brassica rapa) are members of the cruciferous family of vegetables, making them close cousins of kohlrabi and rutabagas. They are biennials grown as annuals and may go to seed in their first year if planted in early spring. Mature turnips reach a height of about 12 to 18 inches and a width of about 6 to 8 inches.

Turnips are native in the wild in western Europe, the Mediterranean and temperate regions of Asia1 and now are grown widely in temperate climates worldwide.2 The Greeks and Romans used turnips and Pliny the Elder considered them to be one of the most important vegetables of his time.3 Once cultivated mainly as livestock forage, turnips have been part of human diets in Europe and the U.S. for hundreds of years.4 The Spruce says turnips:5

  • Feature bulbs that are either white or yellow, whereas the portion of the bulb exposed to sunlight above ground level changes color to either green or purple
  • Produce mustard-like leafy green tops that are slightly hairy and have toothed edges
  • Possess small, yellow flowers whose petals form the shape of a cross; this is true of all cruciferous vegetables, hence the name

Growing Turnips in Five Easy Steps

Turnips do well when planted early in the spring for a summer crop. If you want to store them for use during the winter, it’s best to plant them late in the summer and harvest them before the first frost. For fall crops, plant your seeds about 70 days before the first frost date in your area. Mulching your turnips will help prevent them from freezing, and the cold weather helps sweeten their flavor. Below are recommendations from gardening experts on the considerations you must entertain to ensure a healthy crop of turnips:6,7,8

  • Seeds: As a root vegetable, turnips are best planted from seed at a depth of about one-fourth to one-half inch. Use your finger or a trowel to create a small trench and scatter about three to 20 seeds per foot. Space rows 12 to 24 inches apart. For a continuous harvest, plant additional seeds every 10 days throughout the growing season.
  • Soil: Turnips prefer a slightly acidic soil pH in the range of 6.0 to 6.5. Rich, well-draining soil will ensure your bulbs grow quickly and do not rot. Because turnips mature quickly, you won’t need to fertilize your plants. The soil must be at least 40 degrees F for germination, which generally takes between seven and 14 days.
  • Sun: If you are interested in eating both the turnip and turnip greens, you should choose a planting location that gets full sun. Turnips will tolerate partial shade, too.
  • Thinning: Once your turnips are 3 to 4 inches tall, you can thin them to 2 to 4 inches apart to give the roots plenty of room to grow. If desired, you can eat the thinned-out plants as greens.
  • Water: Water your turnip seeds immediately after planting to encourage germination. Provide at least an inch of water per week to promote strong root development and quick growth.

Terrific Turnip Types to Try

Though you may be most familiar with the white and purple turnips about the size of tennis balls that are commonly found in local markets, The Spruce suggests there are other varieties of interest, including ones that produce small, tender radish-sized roots. Below are some recommended varieties (with days to maturity):9

Alltop (35 days): Fast-growing variety bred for its greens; regrows quickly after harvest

Scarlet Queen (45 days): Bright red outside, white inside; slow to become pithy

Golden Ball Small (60 days): Sweet, mellow-tasting yellow bulbs with a faint almond-like flavor

Shogoin (45 days): While grown for its leafy mild greens, its bulb is also tasty

Purple Top White Globe (55 days): Easy to grow and the most popular variety; best tasting bulb when 2 to 3 inches in size

Tokyo Cross (35 days): Uniform, quick-growing with pure-white flesh; slow to turn pithy

Turnip Pests and Problems to Consider

If you routinely grow other members of the Brassica family, such as broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower, you may have had experience with one or more of the conditions known to affect turnips. According to The Spruce, turnips are subject to the following diseases and insects:10  

  • Diseases: Turnips, like all Brassicas, are prone to anthracnose, clubroot, leaf spot, rhizoctonia rot, root knot, scab, turnip mosaic virus and white rust. You can prevent these diseases simply by rotating your crops — don’t plant any Brassica in the same place for more than two years running. To avoid clubroot, wait six years before growing Brassicas in the same location.
  • Insects: While turnips are susceptible to aphids and flea beetles, which damage their greens, you can use row covers to keep them off your plants. Root maggots and wireworms are known to cause damage to turnip bulbs.

Harvesting Turnips: You Can Store Them for Winter Use

Once you get the seeds in the ground and water them regularly, you can look forward to harvesting your turnips about 45 to 50 days later. When you plant in the fall, you can leave turnips in the ground to harvest in the winter if you’d like. In most cases, you’ll want to remove them before the first frost. In milder areas you may be able to keep them in the ground during winter by covering them with a thick mulch.11 Here’s everything you need to know about harvesting turnips:12,13

  • Bulbs: The best way to determine if your turnips are ready for harvesting is to pull one or two out of the ground to check its bulb size. Bulbs taste best when they are small and tender, so harvest them when they reach about 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Don’t let them grow too long past their maturity date because older turnips, although still edible, can become tough or pithy.
  • Greens: Turnip greens can be harvested as soon as they are about 4 inches tall. As long as you don't damage the top of the bulb, the greens will continually regenerate throughout the growing season.

Summer turnips are said to be more tender than fall crops. Hardy fall varieties may last throughout the winter when stored in a cool dry place or your refrigerator. Remove the greens first — by twisting them off and leaving a 1/2-inch stem — since they won’t last long. Another reason to detach the greens is because they will continue to draw energy and nutrients from the bulbs.

If you are fortunate to have a root cellar, turnip bulbs can easily take their place alongside beets, carrots and rutabagas for wintertime storage. When storing turnips, be sure to leave the soil on the roots because it helps protect the bulbs during storage.

Ways to Use and Enjoy Tasty Turnips

Turnips are doubly appreciated because both their roots and greens are edible and nutritious. While the bitter taste of turnip greens is a turnoff to some — they have a flavor similar to mustard greens — you can blanch, braise or sauté them to reduce their bitter flavor.14 Before cooking or serving turnips, make sure you clean them thoroughly by scrubbing the skin with a vegetable brush under running water.

Turnip roots add heartiness and beneficial nutrients to your meals. They have a mild flavor and a potato-like texture when cooked. Be sure to not overcook them since their characteristic crunch is part of what makes turnips so enjoyable. If you are not familiar with turnips and wonder how you might use them, consider the following suggestions:

  • Add turnips (even older, woody ones) to casseroles, side dishes, soups and stews
  • The crunch of shredded, raw turnips adds depth to coleslaw and salads; cut them into sticks and use them with your favorite healthy dip
  • Try turnip sprouts: I strongly recommend growing your own sprouts because it's easy and can radically improve your overall nutrition
  • Braise or sauté turnip greens with bone broth or a healthy fat, respectively, and add spices and other ingredients of your choice
  • Incorporate turnips into your fermented vegetable recipe

If you are not sure how to cook with turnips, check out my Savory Roasted Turnip With Coconut Oil recipe, which makes enjoying turnips on an occasional basis so easy. You’ll appreciate the potato-like consistency of roasted turnips and the flavor provided by coconut oil and sea salt. Beyond that, it’s no surprise turnips show up in my Roasted Root Vegetables recipe, where they are sublime when served up with other healthy root vegetables like beets, onions and parsnips.

Nutrition Facts for Turnips

Turnips are a low-calorie vegetable — a 3.5-ounce, or 100-gram (g), serving contains just 28 calories. The root portion is also loaded with immune-boosting vitamin C, with 21 milligrams (mg) per 100 g — 35 percent of your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for this essential vitamin. Besides supporting your immune system, vitamin C protects your body against free-radical damage and helps your body form and maintain connective tissue such as blood vessels, bones and skin.

Turnip Nutrition Facts15,16

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 g), raw

  Amt. Per
% Daily
Calories 28  
Calories from Fat 1  
Total Fat 0 g 0%
Saturated Fat 0 g 0 g
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 67 mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 6 g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2 g 7%
Sugar 4 g  
Protein 1 g  
Vitamin A0% Vitamin C 35%
Calcium3% Iron 2%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs

Health Benefits of Turnips: Why Your Body Will Be Glad You Ate Them

Below are a few of the health benefits of turnips:

Turnips are rich in antioxidants and beneficial nutrients such as vitamin C, and vitamins A and K — found in the leafy green tops — as well as calcium, copper, iron, manganese and potassium

A 1-cup serving of raw turnip greens provides 173 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin K17

Turnip greens also contain a range of B vitamins (folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and thiamin), as well as antioxidant phytonutrients like hydroxycinnamic acid, kaempferol and quercetin, which help lower your risk of oxidative stress

As an excellent source of fiber, turnips promote healthy digestion and elimination; a 100-calorie serving of turnips provides about 25 percent of your daily fiber requirement

Turnips contain a type of phytonutrient known as indoles, which are known cancer fighters; one specific indole called brassinin has been shown to inhibit the growth of human colon cancer cells18

Research19,20 involving cruciferous vegetables suggest the sulforaphane compound that gives vegetables like turnips their bitter taste plays a role in their cancer-fighting abilities

Glucosinolates — the sulfur-containing compounds found in turnip sprouts — appear to have antibacterial, anticancer, antifungal and antiparasitic properties; a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry21 suggests Day Eight of germination as the optimal time to consume turnip sprouts given the peak levels of glucosinolates available at that time

Regardless of how you plan to eat them, for the health benefits alone, you won’t regret adding turnips to your vegetable garden this year. They grow quickly, require minimal care and are prolific. Why not give turnips a try?

Source: mercola rss

Antidepressant withdrawal symptoms - Dr. Axe

In April of 2018, the New York Times released an article entitled, “Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit.” (1) They interviewed a number of people with severe antidepressant withdrawal symptoms and found that there is a growing number of consumers and physicians alike who are alarmed at the dependency formed by antidepressants — and how incredibly hard it is to stop taking these powerful psychotropic drugs.

These stories echo the truth known by many of us who have studied natural health for years: Antidepressants (and many other psychoactive drugs) are far too dangerous — read my piece on antidepressant side effects — and not nearly effective enough to justify their vast prescriptions in this modern world.

If you take an antidepressant (or know someone who does), this information is vital to your decisions advocating for your mental and physical health. Read more to discover the most common antidepressant withdrawal symptoms and ways you can minimize these effects if you choose to wean from your prescription.

What Are Antidepressants?

Antidepressants are one class of brain-altering medications intended to reduce the signs of depression. Unfortunately, they were formulated based on a false premise known as the chemical imbalance myth, which assumes that simple chemical imbalances cause mood disorders. (2)

As time goes on, it becomes more apparent that antidepressants aren’t actually as effective as the public may assume them to be. Experienced physicians and researchers have become concerned that the benefits of these drugs are outweighed by their major side effects, including antidepressant withdrawal symptoms. (3, 4, 5)

In fact, one review of many clinical trials determined that the “true drug effect” of antidepressants is only about 10–20 percent, meaning that 80–90 percent of patients in these trials either responded to a placebo effect or did not respond at all. (6)

Antidepressants fall into a few categories, the most popular being SSRIs or “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.” These, along with SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), are the more modern drugs most doctors choose rather than more “outdated” tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).

Some drugs used for depression don’t fit into these categories and are often used as secondary treatments when “preferable” options don’t work or to increase the impact of the main prescribed antidepressant. They may also be used “off-label,” which happens when your doctor can legally prescribe a drug for depression that hasn’t been FDA-approved for the condition.

The main antidepressants include: (7, 8, 9)

  • SSRIs
    • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
    • Citalopram (Celexa)
    • Sertraline (Zoloft)
    • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva, Brisdelle)
    • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
    • Vortioxetine (Trintellix)
  • SNRIs
    • Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
    • Duloxetine (Cymbalta, Irenka)
    • Reboxetine (Edronax)
  • Cyclics (tricyclic or tetracyclic, also referred to as TCAs)
    • Amitriptyline (Elavil)
    • Amoxapine (Asendin)
    • Desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane)
    • Doxepin (Silenor, Zonalon, Prudoxin)
    • Imipramine (Tofranil)
    • Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
    • Protriptyline (Vivactil)
    • Trimipramine (Surmontil)
    • Maprotiline (Ludiomil)
  • MAOIs
    • Rasagiline (Azilect)
    • Selegiline (Eldepryl, Zelapar, Emsam)
    • Isocarboxazid (Marplan)
    • Phenelzine (Nardil)
    • Tranylcypromine (Parnate)
  • Bupropion (Zyban, Aplenzin, Wellbutrin XL)
  • Trazadone (Desyrel)
  • Brexpiprazole (Rixulti) (antipsychotic used as an adjunctive therapy for major depressive disorder)

Many people consider antidepressants to be designed for short-term use only — supported by the American Psychological Association’s very own practice guideline published back in 1993. (10)

However, when these drugs were first developed and studied, the length of use wasn’t a concern — and no research was made available explaining what happens when you go off an antidepressant. Studies on these have rarely gone beyond a two-year observational period. (11) Plus… it’s not very profitable for the pharmaceutical companies selling these products to figure out how short-term they can make their products.

So, what does happen when you stop taking an antidepressant?

Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms

The accepted medical term for the phenomenon of withdrawal symptoms of antibiotics is “discontinuation syndrome.” (12)

A 2017 survey of patients coming off antidepressants found that only a little over half of the respondents were able to completely discontinue antidepressant use. Nearly three quarters of the people who answered wanted to stop taking these medications due to the long-term side effects of the drugs, and 54 percent of them rated their withdrawal symptoms as “severe.” (13)

It’s important to note that these symptoms, particularly when discontinuing SSRIs, tend to come on in the first one to four days off the drugs and last a little less than a month for many people. However, as stated in the New York Times, some patients find that it takes many months, sometimes even two years, to taper off the medications entirely. (1)

Others, like in the 2017 survey I just mentioned, give up and decide to stay on their medications, despite the consequences, because antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are simply too difficult to manage. (13)

As Carey and Gebeloff share: (1)

The medical profession has no good answer for people struggling to stop taking the drugs — no scientifically backed guidelines, no means to determine who’s at highest risk, no way to tailor appropriate strategies to individuals.

“Some people are essentially being parked on these drugs for convenience’s sake because it’s difficult to tackle the issue of taking them off,” said Dr. Anthony Kendrick, a professor of primary care at the University of Southampton in Britain.

Medical literature is undecided on a comprehensive list of these symptoms; however, I’ve outlined below the most frequently reported in research and anecdotal reports. (14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22)

1. Fatigue and Sleep Disturbances

Chronic fatigue is repeatedly a common withdrawal symptom of antidepressant discontinuation, even when medication is very slowly tapered off. Another sleep-related symptom of antidepressant withdrawal is having vivid dreams, nightmares or other types of sleep disturbances, which likely contribute to daytime fatigue and drowsiness. Some reports define insomnia specifically as an antidepressant withdrawal symptom.

2. Brain Zaps and Paresthesia

Sometimes used interchangeably, brain zaps and/or paresthesia are concerning neurological antidepressant withdrawal symptoms.

Paresthesia is described as “ a burning or prickling sensation that is usually felt in the hands, arms, legs, or feet, but can also occur in other parts of the body. The sensation, which happens without warning, is usually painless and described as tingling or numbness, skin crawling, or itching.” Withdrawal from various SSRIs is reportedly associated with paresthesia.

On the other hand, the phenomenon of brain zaps is a different but related type of sensation. They are connected most closely with SSRIs and one MAOI, phenelzine, and are also known as “brain shocks,” “brain shivers,” “electric brain thingies,” “brain flips,” “head shocks” or “cranial zings.” (23, 24)

Brain zaps are described as the feeling of electricity in the brain that results in a loss of some awareness and physical movements. Two case reports explain patients who thought they had experienced stroke and whose symptoms went away after discontinuing the antidepressants. (25)

These “zaps” have not been thoroughly explained or defined in medical literature yet; however, one doctor describes his theory of where they come from as “some kind of random discharge of nerve impulses in the brain.” (24) There is no treatment known to eliminate brain zaps, although most conventional medical practitioners recommend starting back on the medication that caused this withdrawal symptom. (23)

Some scientists have compared the symptom to Lhermitte’s sign, a neurological symptom common to multiple sclerosis, which has also been associated with using ecstasy. (26, 23)

Two doctors, Dr. Tom Stockman of East London (a psychiatrist) and Deacon Shoenberger, PhD, have published personal accounts of their own experience withdrawing from antidepressants — and both experienced brain zaps and paresthesia. Both accounts are fascinating, as they have each seen patients and recommended antidepressants as treatment. Stockmann says to the New York Times, “I knew some people experienced withdrawal reactions, but I had no idea how hard it would be.” (27, 1)

3. Cognitive Impairment

Closely tied with movement disorders, mood issues and anxiety, there are several forms of cognitive impairment linked to antidepressant withdrawal. These include hallucinations, delusions, delirium, impaired memory, poor stress tolerance, impaired concentration/memory, disorientation and cataplexy.

The last on that list is an uncontrollable paralysis and/or weakness of the muscles brought on by emotional highs, often including laughter, but is thought of as a neurological issue, as it originates in the brain.

4. Suicidal Thoughts

Increased chance of suicidal thoughts is a well-known side effect of antidepressants. (28) Did you know suicidal thoughts often increase in frequency for people withdrawing from antidepressants? This is another challenging symptom, as recurring suicidal thoughts can also be a sign of a relapse back into depression.

5. Irritability and Mood Problems

It’s not abnormal to experience increased irritability and mood problems as you detox from antidepressants. Some of the literature describes these as “mood fluctuations,” “agitations” and “restlessness.”

One online patient survey study discussed the differences between an “immediate withdrawal phase,” which lasts up to six weeks, and a “postwithdrawal phase,” which begins after drug withdrawal and may persist for years. The authors define these postwithdrawal symptoms as “symptoms that persist after actual withdrawal has been completed and may last for years and occur after 6 weeks of drug withdrawal, rarely disappear spontaneously, and are sufficiently severe and disabling to have patients returned to previous drug treatment.” (29)

In this survey, many patients reported developing depressive disorders, including manic depression and mood swings, after the drug had been cleared of their system. This is particularly difficult to treat, as it’s hard to recognize the difference between relapses and depression as a postwithdrawal symptom.

6. Headaches

Many people coming off antidepressants experience headaches. These may range from mild to very severe.

7. Sexual Dysfunction

According to one symptom survey, a case report shared about a man who “experienced hypersensitivity of the genitals and premature ejaculation” when coming off citalopram. (21)

8. Gastrointestinal Issues

In addition to nausea and vomiting, cessation of antidepressants can lead to other gastrointestinal issues, including stomach pain and loose stools/diarrhea.

9. Movement Disorders

Tardive dyskinesia is a movement disorder most frequently associated with antipsychotic drugs, as it is a very common side effect of these medications. However, variations of this may also occur during antidepressant withdrawal. Different sources describe similar occurrences to this as akathisia, movement disorders, unstable gait and dystonic reactions.

These may not go away within just a few weeks — there is some evidence that movement disorders may be a postwithdrawal symptom that persists for a long time. (29)

10. Mania and/or Anxiety

While anxiety and/or mania may happy when withdrawing from a number of antidepressants, they are more severe when observed in patients ceasing MAOIs. These may also be postwithdrawal symptoms and last longer than the drug’s actual half-life. (29)

Other antidepressant withdrawal symptoms include:

11. Anorexia Nervosa
12. Runny Nose
13. Excessive Sweating (Diaphoresis)
14. Speech Changes
15. Nausea and Vomiting
16. Dizziness/Vertigo
17. Problems with Sensory Input (like Tinnitus)
18. Aggressive or Impulsive Behavior
19. Bedwetting (Nocturnal Enuresis)
20. Drop in Blood Pressure
21. Muscle Pain or Weakness (Myalgia)

Natural Ways to Help Improve Antidepressant Withdrawal

The best ways to come off antidepressants safely include: (13, 14)

  • Self-education
  • Contact with friends and support system, particularly those with experience withdrawing from antidepressants
  • Staying in contact with your prescribing doctor
  • Slowly tapering off dosages

There are certain antidepressants associated with worse or longer withdrawal symptoms, particularly drugs with shorter half-lives like fluvoxamine, paroxetine and clomipramine, so it’s also important to consider that when choosing to start one of these prescriptions in the first place, should your doctor recommend it.

Final Thoughts

Coming off antidepressants can be an extremely challenging experience. This process should never be done cold turkey, and should always be supervised by a qualified professional.

One surveyed patient astounded at the lack of information they were given, a realization that echoes through many accounts of this process: (30)

I was never fully informed of all side effects, short or long-term. I have kept the information I receive when prescribed … I am now only finding out the permanent damage from medication that the prescriber knew about but didn’t tell me. If I had been more fully informed I would not have taken the medication for a long time or at all.

Common antidepressant withdrawal symptoms include:

  1. Fatigue and sleep disturbances
  2. Brain zaps and paresthesia
  3. Cognitive impairment
  4. Suicidal thoughts
  5. Irritability and mood problems
  6. Headaches
  7. Sexual dysfunction
  8. Gastrointestinal issues
  9. Movement disorders
  10. Mania and/or anxiety
  11. Anorexia nervosa
  12. Runny nose
  13. Excessive sweating (diaphoresis)
  14. Speech changes
  15. Nausea and vomiting
  16. Dizziness/vertigo
  17. Problems with sensory input (like tinnitus)
  18. Aggressive or impulsive behavior
  19. Bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis)
  20. Drop in blood pressure
  21. Muscle pain or weakness (myalgia)

Being informed, in contact with your prescriber and part of a healthy support system are great ways to deal with antidepressant withdrawal symptoms in a safe, natural way.

Read Next: 6 Natural Alternatives to Psychiatric Drugs and 13 Natural Remedies for Depression

The post Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms to Watch Out For appeared first on Dr. Axe.

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2018 Fittest cities - Dr. Axe

Do you live in Arlington, Va.? If so, it’s likely you’re living a pretty darn healthy lifestyle, according to the 11th annual American Fitness Index, which has named the Washington, D.C. suburb America’s fittest city.

In the past, the rankings, conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation, rated 50 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas. This year, however, the list expanded to the country’s 100 largest cities, using 33 health behaviors, chronic diseases and community infrastructure indicators for its rankings.

That means regions that were previously accounted for together, like Arlington and Washington, D.C,. were judged on their own merits this time around. While Arlington took the top spot by just half a point, Minneapolis followed closely behind. Washington, D.C. was third, and Madison, Wis., and Portland, Ore., rounded out the top five. At the bottom of the barrel? Toledo, Ohio; Detroit; Louisville, Ky., Indianapolis; and Oklahoma City.

It’s important to note that this index ranks community fitness, not individuals having strong personal fitness. That means the higher-ranking cities have more strengths and resources to support healthy living and fewer challenges that hinder it than the lower-ranking ones.

The Top 50 Fittest Cities

This year’s winner, Arlington, boasts the lowest smoking rate and highest reports of very good or excellent health when compared to the other 99 cities. It also ranked in the top 10 cities for 11 other indicators, including residents that live within a 10-minute walk to a park and number of farmers markets, dog parks and tennis courts. The small city also boasts 49 miles of paved multi-use trails, an indication that when walkability and bikeability are improved, residents take note and use them.

Fittest cities - Dr. Axe

The 50 largest cities falling into the less fit, 51-to-100 spots include:

  • Garland, TX
  • New York, NY
  • Hialeah, FL
  • Irving, TX
  • Richmond, VA
  • Fort Worth, TX
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Glendale, AZ
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Houston, TX
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Riverside, CA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Nashville, TN
  • Bakersfield, CA
  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Jersey City, NJ
  • Lexington, KY
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Henderson, NV
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Chesapeake, VA
  • Chandler, AZ
  • Corpus Christi, TX
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Columbus, OH
  • El Paso, TX
  • Mesa, AZ
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Arlington, TX
  • Fort Wayne, IN
  • Stockton, CA
  • Newark, NJ
  • Lubbock, TX
  • Memphis, TN
  • Laredo, TX
  • Winston-Salem, NC
  • Tulsa, OK
  • North Las Vegas, NV
  • Gilbert, AZ
  • Fresno, CA
  • Wichita, KS
  • Toledo, OH
  • Detroit, MI
  • Louisville, KY
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Oklahoma City, OK

Overall, there were positive trends throughout the country in the last year, including:

  •  77.5 percent of adults in all 100 cities were previously active in the previous month
  • 65.4 percent of residents in all cities got at least 7 hours of sleep each night

But there’s still improvements to be had:

  • Only 30 percent of adults reported eating at least two servings of fruit each day; only 18 percent ate three or more vegetable servings a day
  • 35 percent of residents in all cities reported their mental health wasn’t good in the last 30 days

Rankings are based on factors such as farmers markets per capita, park units per capita, level of state requirement for physical education classes, death rate for diabetes, the percentage of residents who are obese and percentage of residents currently smoking.

5 Ways to Get Fit No Matter Where You Live

Did your area rank low on the index? While access to certain amenities, like parks and a variety of gyms, might not be as prevalent, you can still get fit and feel great no matter where you live.

1. Build fitness into your day. I love using exercise hacks to add more physical activity into my routine.

2. Work out on a budget. Getting in shape doesn’t have to mean shelling out big bucks. Aside from outdoor workouts like walking, running or hiking, explore community fitness centers, quality exercise videos and even YouTube workouts.

3. Make every minute count. Forget spending hours exercising. High intensity interval training, or HIIT, workouts are designed for to give it all you’ve got for a few short bouts followed by a brief recovery period. These workouts help you burn fat even after you’ve finished exercising, revving your metabolism going in high gear. Try this free 12-minute Burstfit video. You can squeeze it in during a busy day.

4. Incorporate small changes. You don’t need to overhaul your entire lifestyle in a day. Choose one aspect of your life that you’d like to work on each week, like packing more lunches from home or drinking more water, and give yourself time to adjust to the changes. Eventually, all those new habits will lead to an overall happier, healthier you.

5. Meet friends for workouts. Instead of catching up over dinner and drinks, why not meet up for a yoga class or go on a hike? Not only will you probably save money, but you’ll enjoy quality time and a workout.

Final Thoughts on Fittest Cities

  • The American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation teamed up to rank the fitness levels of the top 100 largest cities in America in its American Fitness Index.
  • To create the index that measures community health, analysts look at 33 health behaviors, chronic diseases and community infrastructure data in the 100 largest cities in the U.S.
  • Higher-ranking cities invest more resources into healthy living, including things like walking paths and bike lanes.
  • This year, Arlington, Va., took the No. 1 spot on the list.

Read Next: 49 Secrets to Get Healthy & Lose Weight

The post The 2018 Top 50 Fittest Cities in the U.S. appeared first on Dr. Axe.

Source: dr axe

It’s still spring, but let’s be honest — a lot of us like to mark the unofficial start to summer […]

The post Get Memorial Day Ready with DIY Outdoor Wipes! appeared first on Plant Therapy Blog.

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Gardenia - Dr. Axe

Most of us know gardenias as the big, white flowers that grow in our gardens or the source of a strong, floral smell that is used to make things like lotions and candles. But did you know that gardenia flowers, roots and leaves also have a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Gardenia plants are members of the Rubiaceae plant family and are native to parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands, including China and Japan. Today the ethanol extract of gardenia fruit and flowers is still utilized in many ways in herbal medicine and aromatherapy. There are more than 250 different types of gardenia plants, one of which is called Gardenia jasminoides Ellis, the type primarily used to make essential oil.

As you’ll learn much more about, gardenias have been shown to have numerous actions, including serving as a natural antibacterial, analgesic, antifungal, diuretic, antiseptic, detoxicant and antispasmodic. Uses of the oil, supplements and other products include diffusing the oil to fight stress, applying it to your skin to treat wounds and drinking gardenia tea to enhance digestion.

What Is Gardenia?

Depending on the exact species that is used, the products go by many names, including Gardenia jasminoides, Cape Jasmine, Cape Jessamine, Danh Danh, Gardênia, Gardenia augusta, Gardenia florida and Gardenia radicans.

What types of gardenia flowers do people usually grow in their gardens? Examples of common garden varieties include August beauty, Aimee Yashikoa, Kleim’s Hardy, Radians and First love. (1)

The most widely available type of extract that is used for medicinal purposes is gardenia essential oil, which that has numerous uses like fighting infections and tumors. Due to its strong and “seductive” floral smell and ability to promote relaxation, it is also used to make lotions, perfumes, body wash and many other topical applications.

What does the word gardenias mean? It’s believed that historically white gardenia flowers symbolized purity, love, devotion, trust and refinement — which is why they are often still included in wedding bouquets and used as decorations on special occasions. (2) The generic name is said to have been named in honor of Alexander Garden (1730–1791), who was a botanist, zoologist and physician who lived in South Carolina and helped develop the classification of gardenia genus/species.

Gardenia Benefits and Uses

Some of the many uses of gardenia plants and essential oil include treating:

  • Fighting free radical damage and formation of tumors, thanks to its antiangiogenic activities (3)
  • Infections, including urinary tract and bladder infections
  • Insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, obesity, and other risk factors tied to diabetes and heart disease
  • Acid reflux, vomiting, gas IBS and other digestive issues
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Fatigue and brain fog
  • Abscesses
  • Muscle spasms
  • Fever
  • Menstrual pains
  • Headaches
  • Low libido
  • Poor milk production in nursing women
  • Slow healing wounds
  • Liver damage, liver disease and jaundice
  • Blood in the urine or bloody stools

What active compounds are responsible for the beneficial effects of gardenia extract?

Studies have found that gardenia contains at least 20 active compounds, including a number of powerful antioxidants. Some of compounds that have been isolated from the edible flowers of wild Gardenia jasminoides J.Ellis include benzyl and phenyl acetates, linalool, terpineol, ursolic acid, rutin, stigmasterol, crociniridoids (including coumaroylshanzhiside, butylgardenoside and methoxygenipin) and phenylpropanoid glucosides (such as gardenoside B and geniposide). (4 ,5)

What are the uses of gardenia? Below are some of the many medicinal benefits that the flowers, extract and essential oil have:

1. Helps Fight Inflammatory Diseases and Obesity

Gardenia essential oil contains many antioxidants that fight free radical damage, plus two compounds called geniposide and genipin that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory actions. It’s been found that it may also help reduce high cholesterol, insulin resistance/glucose intolerance and liver damage, potentially offering some protection against diabetes, heart disease and liver disease. (6)

Certain studies have also found evidence that gardenia jasminoide may be effective in reducing obesity, especially when combined with exercise and a healthy diet. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry states, “Geniposide, one of the main ingredients of Gardenia jasminoides, is known to be effective in inhibiting body weight gain as well as improving abnormal lipid levels, high insulin levels, impaired glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance.” (7)

2. May Help Reduce Depression and Anxiety

The smell of gardenia flowers is known to promote relaxation and help people who are feeling wound up de-stress. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, gardenia is included in aromatherapy and herbal formulas that are used to treat mood disorders, including depression, anxiety and restlessness. One study out of Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that the extract (Gardenia jasminoides Ellis) demonstrated rapid antidepressant effects via instant enhancement of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression in the limbic system (the “emotional center” of the brain). The antidepressant response started roughly two hours after administration. (8)

3. Helps Soothe the Digestive Tract

Ingredients isolated from Gardenia jasminoides, including ursolic acid and genipin, have been shown to have antigastritic activities, antioxidant activities and acid-neutralizing capacities that protect against a number of gastrointestinal issues. For example, research conducted at Duksung Women’s University’s Plant Resources Research Institute in Seoul, Korea, and published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, found that genipin and ursolic acid may be useful in the treatment and/or protection of gastritis, acid reflux, ulcers, lesions and infections caused by H. pylori action. (9)

Genipin has also been shown to help with digestion of fats by enhancing production of certain enzymes. It also seems to support other digestive processes even in a gastrointestinal environment that has an “unstable” pH balance, according to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and conducted at Nanjing Agricultural University’s College of Food Science and Technology and Laboratory of Electron Microscopy in China. (10)


Gardenia - Dr. Axe


4. Fights Infections and Protects Wounds

Gardenia contains many natural antibacterial, antioxidant and antiviral compounds. (11) To fight colds, respiratory/sinus infections and congestion, try inhaling gardenia essential oil, rubbing it over your chest, or using some in a diffuser or face steamer.

A small amount of the essential oil can be blended with a carrier oil and applied to the skin to fight infection and promote healing. Simply mix the oil with coconut oil and apply it over wounds, scratches, scrapes, bruises or cuts (always dilute essential oils first).

5. May Help Reduce Fatigue and Pain (Headaches, Cramps, Etc.)

Gardenia extract, oil and tea are used to fight pains, aches and discomfort associated with headaches, PMS, arthritis, injuries including sprains and muscle cramps. It also has certain stimulating qualities that may be even help lift your mood and enhance cognition. It’s been found that it can improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and help deliver more oxygen and nutrients to parts of the body that need healing. For this reason, traditionally it was given to people fighting chronic pains, fatigue and various illnesses.

An animal study out of Weifang People’s Hospital’s Department of Spine Surgery II and Department of Neurology in China seems to verify the pain-reducing effects. When researchers administered ozone and gardenoside, a compound in gardenia fruits, “the results demonstrated that treatment with a combination of ozone and gardenoside increased mechanical withdrawal threshold and thermal withdrawal latency, thus confirming their pain‑relieving effects.” (12)

6. Can Help Improve Cognition and Protect Memory

A study published in the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines found that gardenia extract helped with memory improvement, especially among older memory-deficit populations, including those with Alzheimer’s disease. In the study, two major components found within gardenia extracts, geniposide and gardenoside, seemed to help suppress the expression of immune-related genes in the brain, meaning they have anti-inflammatory effects that address the underlying mechanisms of memory deficits. (13)

Use in TCM and Ayurveda

In Chinese, gardenia fruit is called Zhi Zi or Sheng Shan Zi. According to TCM, it has strong, bitter and cold properties that helps protect the heart, lungs and stomach. (14) It is said to act on the Triple Warmer (san jiao) meridians. It’s uses include purging excess heat, dispelling damp heat and cooling the blood. Gardenia is used in TCM to help lower blood pressure, stop bleeding, treat insomnia, treat urinary tract infection, relieve swelling and bruises due to trauma, and alleviate pain associated with sprains and abscesses.

TCM practitioners recommend taking dosage of about three to 12 grams per day. Dried gardenia powder, tea or extract can all be used internally. It may also be applied directly to the skin.

Gardenia is referred to by several different names in Ayurvedic medicine, including Dakamali and Nahi hingu. It is used to help treat conditions, including fever, indigestion, wounds, skin diseases and abdominal pain. It is said to have a pungent, bitter taste that is dry in nature. These properties are believed to help with digestion and reduce heat and dampness.

It is recommended most for Kapha and Vata types, who benefit from its protection against indigestion and infections. A common use in Ayurveda is using the resin, either applied to the skin or taken in powder form. Doses of 200–500 milligrams of power per day are recommended for conditions like intestinal worms, bloating and constipation, coughs, and inflammation of the gums. (15)

Gardenia vs. Jasmine

How does gardenia compare to other medicinal plants, such as jasmine?

  • Jasmine essential oil is another mood-booster and stress-reliever. Like gardenia, jasmine (Jasminum officinale) has been used for hundreds of years in parts of Asia as a natural remedy for depression, anxiety, emotional stress, low libido and insomnia.
  • Both are said to have “seductive” qualities due to their scents helping increase sensuality and arousal. In fact, jasmine oil is has been nicknamed “queen of the night” due to its ability to improve libido and energy.
  • Jasmine oil is believed to have antiviral, antibiotic and antifungal properties, much like gardenia. Studies have found that use of jasmine can lead to improvement in moods and a decrease in both physical and emotional signs of low energy. It may also help fight harmful bacteria and viruses and help prevent sickness, irritation, fungus and viral infections.
  • Jasmine oil can either be inhaled through the nose or applied directly to the skin. It doesn’t need to be combined with a carrier oil and instead is recommended to be used undiluted for the best results. Try using jasmine and gardenia together with massage oil or in body lotions, body scrubs, homemade soaps and perfumes, and homemade candles.

Gardenia Dosage and Supplements

  • Gardenia Essential Oil: The essential oil is made by extracting active ingredients found in the plant’s volatile acids.  Petals from the flowers are usually the source of extract/oil, although the leaves and roots can also be used. How is gardenia essential oil used? It can be diffused in your home, applied topically to the skin when diluted when a carrier oil, or added to baths, lotions, body sprays and perfumes. The oil has a delicate, sweet and flora aroma. To use the oil on your skin and hair, I recommend combining it with coconut, jojoba or almond oil to enhance absorption and add moisture. To use it to de-stress, try adding several drops to your bath or diffusing it throughout your room before bed time. For the best results, and for your safety, I recommend purchasing 100 percent pure organic gardenia essential oil.
  • Gardenia Supplements/Capsules: Gardenia is considered safe in doses of three to 12 grams taken by mouth daily. Gardenia supplements are available online, although these have not been as widely researched as the oil. It’s common to find extract in combination products that also include other herbs/medicinal flowers. The supplements should not be confused with garcinia cambogia supplements, which are used to enhance weight loss and reduce appetite. These are not sourced from the same plant and have different effects.
  • Gardenia Tea: Gardenia tea, which has a light/sometimes sweet taste and natural diuretic effect, can be made using dried flowers. You can also add other herbs to the tea to enhance the benefits, like rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme. Here’s how to make gardenia tea: Pick flowers when they are in bloom, dry them by setting them out in a dry area on a tray and turning them twice a day until dry, then put them in a pot and pour over very hot water. Let the tea sit for at least several minutes until it cools, then add other herbs and enjoy. (16)


Gardenia tea - Dr. Axe


What is gardenia fruit? Some products claim to use gardenia fruit in their capsules or formulas, but the plants do not actually grow edible fruits like you might picture. Gardenia jasminoides is another name for the fruit, which is a part of certain gardenia species that grow in the warm months of the year. The fruit looks like an orange-colored berry that contain a sticky pulp. It is usually dried and ground to make a concentrated powder. Gardenia resin, on the other hand, is obtained from the plant’s stems/branches.

Gardenia Recipes and How to Grow Gardenias

Gardenia plants, including the popular species Gardenia jasminoides, are dark green evergreen shrubs that grow in warm climates throughout the year. Most produce very fragrant white flowers, although the flowers can turn yellow, beige or orange depending on the time of year. The plants bloom in warm climates all year long — or summer and late spring in cooler climates. They tend to grow up to three to six feet high and become rather wide if they have room to expand. (17)

You can grow a large variety of gardenia plants/bushes at home and then use the fresh flowers in various ways. Here are tips for growing your own: (18)

  • Do gardenias need sun or shade? They like to grow in full sun or light shade. They also tend to bloom the best when grown in moist, acidic soil. It’s recommended that you use organic soil or organic mulch to get the best results when growing gardenias.
  • When it comes very hot and sunny, the plants do best when they have at least some shade, otherwise they can overheat. Why are the leaves turning yellow? This is a sign they are becoming “sun scorched.”
  • Because the flowers are bright white with dark green leaves and very pretty, you can pick them off and use them as decoration or leave a row of bushes in the ground to create hedges.


Potential side effects associated with use of gardenia capsules or essential oil may include loss of appetite, diarrhea or loose stools, skin irritation and inflammation, and possible complication in pregnant/nursing women and with children.

Although the oil has been used for many years to support milk production in nursing mothers, there haven’t been many studies proving it is always safe for pregnant or nursing women. Because there is not enough known about the potential effects of gardenia during pregnancy or breast-feeding, use caution and consider consulting your doctor first.

Final Thoughts

  • Gardenia plants grow large white flowers that have a strong, soothing smell. Gardenias are members of the Rubiaceae plant family and are native to parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands.
  • The flowers, leave and roots are used to make medicinal extract, supplements and essential oil.
  • Benefits and uses include protecting against chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, fighting depression and anxiety, reducing inflammation/oxidative stress, treating pain, reducing fatigue, fighting infections and soothing the digestive tract.

Read Next: Are Black Garlic Benefits Even More than Raw Garlic?

The post Top 6 Benefits of Gardenia Flowers & Gardenia Essential Oil appeared first on Dr. Axe.

Source: dr axe

By Dr. Mercola

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS),1 a major U.S. medical insurer, suggests more than 4 percent of commercially insured Americans, or roughly 9 million people, suffer from clinical depression. Moreover, they report depression rates have jumped by 33 percent in the past five years, steadily increasing across all age and gender groups — with the rates of incidence for adolescents and millennials being of notable concern.

The implications of this data are far-reaching, especially given the reality that most people struggling with depression are also dealing with one or more other chronic health conditions, BCBS says. If you suffer from depression, you may also be affected by anxiety, diabetes, heart disease or another chronic illness. As the rates of depression continue to rise, you may be wondering what can be done to treat it. The good news is a number of natural treatments exist that will do more good for you than pharmaceutical drugs ever could.

Health Insurer BCBS Reports Depression Rates up 33 Percent in 5 Years

Based on insurance claims filed by 41 million of its privately insured members, BCBS reports diagnoses of clinical depression — also known as major depression — have risen by 33 percent during the past five years.2 Given the reality most sufferers of depression also battle other health conditions, such as anxiety, chronic illness or substance abuse, BCBS says major depression ranks behind high blood pressure as "the second most impactful condition on the overall health of commercially insured Americans." 3

According to the report,4 women of any age are more likely than men to be clinically depressed. Since 2013, depression diagnoses have increased across every demographic, with the most dramatic increase noticeable among younger Americans. In the past five years, depression diagnosis rates have spiked:

  • 65 percent among adolescent girls
  • 47 percent among adolescent boys
  • 47 percent among millennials

Depressed men and women may lose, on average, up to 9.6 years of healthy life, the report says. "Some of the literature is already starting to predict that by 2030 depression will be the No.1 cause for loss of longevity or life," says Dr. Trent Haywood, chief medical officer for the BCBS Association.5

Does Where You Live Affect Depression Rates?

Although screening standards and environmental and socioeconomic differences vary across states and likely have some bearing on the BCBS data, where you live may be a factor for depression. (Keep in mind all of these numbers apply only to the group of privately insured Americans included in the BCBS claim sample. Rates of depression may be higher or lower in the general population.) With respect to geography, BCBS noted:6,7

  • Higher rates of major depression were observed in New England and the Pacific Northwest, as well as some pockets across the Midwest and South
  • Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Utah each have depression rates on the high side, around 6 percent
  • Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona have the lowest rates of depression at around 2 to 3 percent
  • From 2013 to 2016, 49 of the 50 states saw increasing rates of depression diagnoses, with only Hawaii showing a slight decline

Move Over Depression — Levels of Loneliness Also Increasing

BCBS is not alone in raising concerns about the increasing rates of mental illness in the U.S. As mentioned in the video above, based on an online survey with 20,000 adult respondents, health insurer Cigna suggests most Americans are lonely.8,9 Surprisingly, the highest rates of loneliness were not found among the elderly as you may expect but, rather, in Generation Z (ages 18 to 22) and millennials (ages 20 to 35).

By the way, loneliness is now considered to be a public health threat. It is thought to be as harmful to your health as obesity and nearly as bad as smoking. Below are some highlights from the Cigna survey:10

  • Nearly 50 percent of respondents said they sometimes or always feel alone or left out
  • Just 53 percent have meaningful in-person social interactions on a daily basis
  • 27 percent rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them
  • 2 in 5 sometimes or always feel their relationships aren't meaningful and feel they are isolated from others
  • Social media use alone was not a predictor of loneliness because the loneliness scores were about the same for very heavy users (43.5) and nonusers (41.7)

About the potential health consequences of loneliness, David Cordani, president and CEO of Cigna, said, "There's a blurred line between mental and physical health. Oftentimes, medical symptoms present themselves and they're correlated with … issues like loneliness."11

Anxiety Rates on the Rise; Women More Affected Than Men

Beyond loneliness, anxiety is also taking a toll. A poll12 of 1,004 adults conducted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) notes 39 percent of Americans report being more anxious this year than last year. Other outcomes from the survey included:

  • This year's national anxiety score was 51, representing a 5-point jump from last year
  • Anxiety scores were up across age groups, with millennials reflecting more anxiety than baby boomers or Generation Z
  • Anxiety among baby boomers increased 7 points from 2017 to 2018 — the greatest increase recorded across all survey groups
  • While more Americans are anxious this year than last year in all five of the categories surveyed — finances, health, politics, relationships and safety — the most significant increase year to year was related to anxiety about paying bills
  • Women are more anxious than men: 57 percent of women ages 18 to 49 years reported being more anxious year to year as compared to 38 percent of men of the same age

With respect to the survey outcomes, APA president Dr. Anita Everett said:13 "This poll shows U.S. adults are increasingly anxious — particularly about health, safety and finances. Increased stress and anxiety can significantly impact many aspects of people's lives, including their mental health, and it can affect families. It highlights the need to help reduce the effects of stress with regular exercise, relaxation, healthy eating and time with friends and family."

Notably, the poll also investigated attitudes and perceptions about mental health and treatment, which reflected:14

  • 86 percent of Americans surveyed believe a person's mental health impacts his or her physical health
  • 75 percent feel untreated mental illness has a significant impact on the U.S. economy
  • 50 percent said there is less social stigma related to mental illness than there was 10 years ago
  • 35 percent of the respondents would not vote for a candidate for public office who had been diagnosed with a mental illness, regardless if the person had received treatment
  • Just 12 percent thought mental health should be a top consideration for federal policymakers

Tending Your Behavioral Health Is as Important as Caring for Your Physical Well-Being

Given the prevalence of depression, loneliness, anxiety and other mental health conditions, it's clear keeping up with your behavioral health is as important as taking care of your physical health. For years I have talked about the strong link between your mental and physical health, which is more commonly known as your mind-body connection. If you are not sure such a connection exists, consider the fact the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says depression has been linked to a higher risk of:15

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Type 2 diabetes

According to the BCBS survey,16 of the more than 9 million people diagnosed with major depression in 2016, 85 percent were diagnosed with both major depression and at least one other health condition. Nearly one-third of the people presented with four or more additional health concerns. Upon further exploration of the relationship between clinical depression and other conditions, BCBS said:17

"[P]eople diagnosed with major depression are twice as likely to also suffer from one or more other chronic diseases, three times as likely to suffer from pain-related disorders and injuries, and seven times as likely to suffer from alcohol or substance-use disorders than people who do not have major depression."

NIMH states, "One factor with some of these illnesses is that many people with depression … may have a harder time caring for their health, for example, seeking care, taking prescribed medication, eating well and exercising."18 Furthermore, NIMH says with respect to depression, scientists "have found changes in the way several different systems in the body function, all of which can have an impact on physical health."19 Some of the physical signs noticeable in people with depression include:20

  • Heart rate and blood circulation changes
  • Increased inflammation
  • Metabolic changes
  • Stress hormone abnormalities

"They're intertwined," said Haywood. "You might start with a condition and then go on to have depression, or you might start with depression and go on to have a chronic condition. It's bidirectional."21

Antidepressant Medications May Do More Harm Than Good

After conducting a meta-analysis of 17 studies22 related to antidepressant drug-related deaths, researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, assert taking such medications increases your risk of death. After removing the people suffering from cardiovascular disease from their findings, the team noted the risk of death jumped by 33 percent for those taking antidepressants as compared to those who do not take them.

Beyond this, the researchers noted antidepressant users had a 14 percent higher risk of cardiovascular events, such as strokes and heart attacks. "We are very concerned by these results," said lead study author Paul Andrews, Ph.D., assistant professor of evolutionary psychology at McMaster. "They suggest people shouldn't be taking antidepressant drugs without understanding precisely how they interact with the body." 23

Though many physicians think antidepressants are useful to reduce depressive symptoms, study co-author Marta Maslej, a Ph.D. candidate in the McMaster department of psychology, neuroscience and behavior, says not enough is known about the impact these drugs have outside your brain. "[W]hat we do know [about their effects on the rest of the body] points to an increased risk of death," noted Maslej.24

On a positive note, the McMaster team found antidepressants to have no harmful effects on people suffering from heart disease, mainly because selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants have blood-thinning effects that are beneficial for cardiovascular conditions. About the results, the Daily Mail said:25

"The scientists think this is because antidepressants are also a blood thinner, which actually protects the health of people with heart disease because it stops blood clotting. But among people without heart disease, this is dangerous because it increases the risk of a major hemorrhage or internal bleeding."

Natural Treatments to Help Address Anxiety and Depression

Given the increasing rates of anxiety and depression, as well as the potentially negative effects associated with psychiatric drugs, I urge you to consider natural treatments ahead of pharmaceuticals. Below are some alternatives you may want to consider:

Breathing exercises

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, and I highly recommend the approach.

Electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure

Exposure to microwave radiation from baby monitors, cellphones, cellphone towers, portable phones, smart meters and Wi-Fi routers may be influencing your mental health more than you know. At a minimum, turn off these gadgets or keep them at a distance when you are sleeping.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

In the video above, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to use tapping to address depression.


Daily movement of some kind is necessary for optimal health and regular exercise is vital to your mental and physical well-being. Set a goal to walk at least 10,000 steps a day and consider cardio, stretching and weight training, too.

Gut health

Gastrointestinal abnormalities have been linked to a variety of psychological problems, including anxiety and depression, so be sure to eat a fiber-rich diet. Also consider eating fermented foods or taking a probiotic supplement.

Nutritional imbalances

A few of the nutritional imbalances known to contribute to mental health problems involve lack of animal-based omega-3 fats, B vitamins, magnesium and vitamin D.

Mindfulness training and/or a spiritual practice

Meditation (including mindfulness meditation), prayer and other spiritual practices are not only calming and soothing, but they also help enliven the connection among your mind, body and emotions.


Also known as magic mushrooms, psilocybin, though not yet legal in the U.S., may be a game changer in the treatment for severe anxiety and depression. Use it only under the guidance of a licensed medical professional.


You may realize sleep has a direct effect on your cognition, memory and mood and you probably know most adults need seven to nine hours of high-quality sleep each night. If you have trouble getting the sleep you need, check out my article 33 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep.

Sugar and processed foods

Your diet plays a key role in your mental health and eating sugar-laden and processed foods does very little to feed your brain or balance your mood. A few small changes with respect to your food choices could make a huge difference in your mental health.


All sorts of helpful therapies exist that can help ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression. A few you may want to consider are acupuncture, cranial sacral massage, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), nature sounds, talk therapy and yoga, to name a few. Any therapeutic activity that promotes relaxation and mind-body awareness is worth considering.

Toxic exposures

Toxic exposures can influence your health in huge ways. For example, a common symptom of toxic mold exposure is anxiety, so pay attention if your symptoms improve when you spend time away from your home or office. If you've been putting it off, now is the time to replace toxic products with natural alternatives for household cleaning and personal care.

Your mental health is as important as your physical health and it requires your attention. Take steps today to begin caring for yourself mentally and emotionally. Even if you have not received an official diagnosis, you are very likely affected by occasional bouts of anxiety and depression. As a preventative measure, you can benefit from taking up an item or two from the table above. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Source: mercola rss

By Dr. Mercola

While dietary iron is essential for optimal health1 — being a key part of proteins and enzymes and playing an important role in energy production and the regulation of cell growth and differentiation, among other things — too much iron in your body can have serious ramifications.2 One of the most important roles of iron is to provide hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells) a mechanism through which it can bind to oxygen and carry it throughout your tissues.

Without proper oxygenation, your cells cannot function properly and eventually die. Common symptoms of insufficient iron include fatigue, decreased immunity or iron-deficiency anemia, which can be serious if left untreated. However, your body has a very limited capacity to excrete iron, which means it can build up in your tissues and organs. This is problematic, as iron is a potent oxidizer, capable of damaging tissues, including your vascular system and brain, thereby raising your risk for both heart disease and dementia.

Excess Iron ‘Rusts’ Your Brain

You’re probably familiar with the fact that Alzheimer’s disease is associated with a buildup of amyloid beta plaque in the brain. According to recent research3,4 from the Netherlands, buildup of iron, causing a rusting effect in the brain, also plays an important role and is common in most Alzheimer’s patients. As noted by the authors:

“In the presence of the pathological hallmarks of [Alzheimer’s disease], iron is accumulated within and around the amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, mostly as ferrihydrite inside ferritin, hemosiderin and magnetite.

The co-localization of iron with amyloid-beta has been proposed to constitute a major source of toxicity. Indeed, in vitro, amyloid-beta has been shown to convert ferric iron to ferrous iron, which can act as a catalyst for the Fenton reaction to generate toxic free radicals, which in turn result in oxidative stress.”

Addressing excess iron may therefore be an effective treatment option. A primary focus of conventional treatment so far has been to clear amyloid proteins, but while the approach seems logical, such attempts have met with limited success. Now, researchers suggest clearing out excess iron may be a more effective way to reduce damage and slow or prevent the disease process.

Previous Research Supports Rusty Brain Link

This is not the first time scientists have noted a link between excess iron and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In 2012, animal research5 suggested a link between abnormal iron metabolism and amyloid beta accumulation. When iron levels in the blood were reduced using an iron chelator, levels of beta-amyloid and phosphorylated tau protein — which disrupt the ability of neurons to conduct electrical signals — both reverted back to normal.

Interestingly, and unfortunately, this still did not reduce the generation of reactive oxygen species. Nor did it actually lower the level of iron in the brain itself. According to the authors:

“These results demonstrate that deferiprone [an iron chelating drug] confers important protection against hypercholesterolemia-induced AD pathology but the mechanism(s) may involve reduction in plasma iron and cholesterol levels rather than chelation of brain iron. We propose that adding an antioxidant therapy to deferiprone may be necessary to fully protect against cholesterol-enriched diet-induced AD-like pathology.”

In 2013, UCLA researchers found that Alzheimer’s patients tend to have iron accumulation in the hippocampus, and that the iron is responsible for the damage seen in that area. The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.6 According to the researchers, the damage that eventually results in clinical signs of Alzheimer’s really begin with iron’s destruction of myelin — the fatty coating around your brain’s nerve fibers.

This disrupts communication between neurons and promotes the buildup of beta amyloid plaque, which in turn destroys even more myelin. As explained by UCLA:7

“Myelin is produced by cells called oligodendrocytes. These cells, along with myelin, have the highest levels of iron of any cells in the brain … and circumstantial evidence has long supported the possibility that brain iron levels might be a risk factor for age-related diseases like Alzheimer's. Although iron is essential for cell function, too much of it can promote oxidative damage, to which the brain is especially vulnerable.”

A 2015 study8 showed that patients with higher iron levels deteriorated earlier and faster than those with low iron. Here, elevated cerebrospinal fluid iron levels were shown to be strongly correlated with the presence of the Alzheimer’s risk allele, APOE-e4. According to the authors, “These findings reveal that elevated brain iron adversely impacts on AD progression, and introduce brain iron elevation as a possible mechanism for APOE-e4 being the major genetic risk factor for AD.”

Research9 published last year in the journal JAMA Neurology also identified brain iron load “as a pathogenic mechanism” in Alzheimer’s, and again linked high iron with the presence of the high-risk genetic mutation APOE-e4. As noted by the authors, “The ε4 allele of APOE confers the greatest genetic risk for Alzheimer disease, and recent data implicate brain-iron load as a pathogenic mechanism because ε4 carriage elevates the level of cerebrospinal fluid ferritin.”

How Do You End Up With Excessive Iron?

While iron-deficiency or anemia is commonly checked for, many doctors are still misinformed about the dangers of iron overload, which is actually a far more common problem. In fact, most men and postmenopausal women are at risk for iron overload since blood loss is the primary way to lower excess iron. The following can also cause or exacerbate high iron:

  • Cooking in iron pots or pans. Cooking acidic foods in these types of pots or pans will cause even higher levels of iron absorption.
  • Eating processed food products like cereals and white breads fortified with iron. The iron used in these products is inorganic iron, which has more in common with rust than the bioavailable iron found in meat.
  • Drinking well water high in iron. The key here is to make sure you have some type of iron precipitator and/or a reverse osmosis water filter.
  • Taking multiple vitamins and mineral supplements, as both of these frequently have iron in them.

There’s also an inherited disease, hemochromatosis, which causes your body to accumulate excessive and dangerously damaging levels of iron. About 1 in 3.5 or an estimated 100 million people in the U.S. have the single gene for hemochromatosis.10 Approximately 1 million people have the double gene variant, considered the genotype most predictive of liver disease complications.

Iron Testing and Maintaining an Ideal Level

The serum ferritin test measures your stored iron. I strongly suggest most adults seriously consider getting a serum ferritin test on an annual basis to confirm you’re neither too high nor too low. Keep in mind that (as with many other lab tests) the “normal” ranges for serum ferritin are far from ideal.11 In some labs, a level of 200 to 300 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) falls within the normal range for women and men respectively, which is far too high for optimal health.

An ideal level for adult men and non-menstruating women is between 40 and 60 ng/mL. You do not want to be below 20 ng/mL or above 80 ng/mL. Maintaining a healthy iron level is also very important during pregnancy. Having a level of 60 or 70 ng/mL is associated with greater odds of poor pregnancy outcomes.12 That said, iron deficiency during pregnancy is equally problematic. The most commonly used threshold for iron deficiency in clinical studies is 12 to 15 ng/mL.13

Another valuable test is the serum liver enzyme gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) test. While typically used to assess liver damage, it’s also a screening marker for excess free iron and is a great indicator of your sudden cardiac death risk.

For women, a healthy GGT level is around 9 units per liter (U/L) whereas the high ends of “normal” are generally 40 to 45 U/L. According to Gerry Koenig, former chairman of the Iron Disorders Institute and the Hemochromatosis Foundation,14 women with a GGT above 30 U/L have a higher risk of cancer and autoimmune disease. For men, 16 U/L is ideal, while the normal lab range can go as high as 65 to 70 U/L.15

Last but not least, a percentage transferrin saturation test will also reveal elevated ferritin. Ideally, this value should be between 30 and 40 percent. Above 40 percent, you have iron overload that is likely damaging your mitochondria and really needs to be addressed.

Do’s and Don’ts to Lower Your Iron Level

If your iron level is high, the easiest and most effective solution is to donate your blood. If you’re an adult male, you’ll want to donate blood two to three times a year once your levels are back to normal. If you are unable to donate blood, ask your doctor to write a prescription for therapeutic phlebotomy.

Also avoid combining foods high in vitamin C with foods high in iron, as the vitamin C increases iron absorption. Alcohol will also increase the absorption of iron in your diet, and is therefore best avoided. On the other hand, calcium will bind to iron, thereby limiting absorption, so eating iron-rich foods with calcium-rich foods can be helpful if your levels tend to be high.

While researchers are looking at iron-chelating strategies, I don’t recommend this. For example, using phytate or phytic acid (also known as IP6) to prevent iron absorption and chelate iron out of your body can easily result in other mineral deficiencies, such as zinc deficiency. A far safer alternative is curcumin. It actually acts as a potent chelator of iron and can be a useful supplement if your iron is elevated.

As I have beta thalassemia that elevates serum ferritin, I have had to be assiduous about using therapeutic phlebotomies to keep my ferritin in a healthy range. For nearly two years now, though, I have not had any phlebotomies; I’ve merely relied on an optimized detoxification program and my ferritin is typically between 35 and 40 ng/mL.

I hope to write a book on this program but it will not be out until 2020 or possibly 2021, as I am working with some of the finest experts on the planet and the goal is to create the best program ever designed.

Alzheimer's Prevention Strategies

According to Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and author of “Grain Brain” and “Brain Maker,” anything that promotes insulin resistance will ultimately also raise your risk of Alzheimer’s. To this I would add that any strategy that enhances your mitochondrial function will lower your risk. In 2014, Bredesen published a paper that demonstrates the power of lifestyle choices for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s.

By leveraging 36 healthy lifestyle parameters, he was able to reverse Alzheimer’s in 9 out of 10 patients. This included the use of exercise, ketogenic diet, optimizing vitamin D and other hormones, increasing sleep, meditation, detoxification and eliminating gluten and processed food. You can download Bredesen’s full-text case paper online, which details the full program.16 Following are some of the lifestyle strategies I believe to be the most helpful and important: 

Eat real food, ideally organic

Avoid processed foods of all kinds, as they contain a number of ingredients harmful to your brain, including refined sugar, processed fructose, grains (particularly gluten), vegetable oils, genetically engineered ingredients and pesticides. Ideally, keep your added sugar to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you already have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders.

Opting for organic produce will help you avoid synthetic pesticides and herbicides. Most will also benefit from a gluten-free diet, as gluten makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream where they sensitize your immune system and promote inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s.

Replace refined carbs with healthy fats

Diet is paramount, and the beauty of following my optimized nutrition plan is that it helps prevent and treat virtually all chronic degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's. It’s important to realize that your brain actually does not need carbs and sugars; healthy fats such as saturated animal fats and animal-based omega-3 are far more critical for optimal brain function.

A cyclical ketogenic diet has the double advantage of both improving your insulin sensitivity and lowering your Alzheimer’s risk. As noted by Perlmutter, lifestyle strategies such as a ketogenic diet can even offset the risk associated with genetic predisposition.

When your body burns fat as its primary fuel, ketones are created, which not only burn very efficiently and are a superior fuel for your brain, but also generate fewer reactive oxygen species and less free radical damage.

A ketone called beta hydroxybutyrate is also a major epigenetic player, stimulating beneficial changes in DNA expression, thereby reducing inflammation and increasing detoxification and antioxidant production. I explain the ins and outs of implementing this kind of diet, and its many health benefits, in my book, “Fat for Fuel.”

In it, I also explain why cycling through stages of feast and famine, opposed to continuously remaining in nutritional ketosis, is so important.

Pay close attention to the kinds of fats you eat — avoid all trans fats or hydrogenated fats that have been modified in such a way to extend their longevity on the grocery store shelf. This includes margarine, vegetable oils and various butter-like spreads.

Healthy fats to add to your diet include avocados, butter, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, grass fed meats and raw nuts such as pecans and macadamia. MCT oil is also a great source of ketone bodies.

Keep your fasting insulin levels below 3

Lowering your insulin will also help lower leptin levels, which is another factor for Alzheimer’s. If your insulin is high, you’re likely consuming too much sugar and need to cut back.

Optimize your omega-3 level

High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help prevent cell damage caused by Alzheimer's disease, thereby slowing its progression and lowering your risk of developing the disorder. Ideally, get an omega-3 index test done once a year to make sure you’re in a healthy range. Your omega-3 index should be above 8 percent and your omega 6-to-3 ratio between 0.5 and 3.0.

Eat plenty of nitrate-rich foods

Beets and other nitrate-rich foods such as arugula provide powerful benefits for your brain and may be a powerful ally in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.17,18,19 Your body transforms plant-based nitrates into nitric oxide,20 which enhances oxygenation, has beneficial impacts on your circulatory and immune systems, and serves as a signaling or messenger molecule in every cell of your body.

The betanin in beets also helps prevent oxidation, particularly oxidation caused when the beta-amyloid is bound to copper. As noted by coauthor Darrell Cole Cerrato,21 "We can't say that betanin stops the misfolding [of amyloid beta] completely, but we can say that it reduces oxidation. Less oxidation could prevent misfolding to a certain degree, perhaps even to the point that it slows the aggregation of beta-amyloid peptides …”

Previous research22 has also shown raw beet juice helps improve neuroplasticity, primarily by increasing blood flow and tissue oxygenation. Nitric oxide, in its capacity as a signaling molecule, allows your brain cells to communicate with each other better. Importantly, the beets boosted oxygenation of the somatomotor cortex, a brain area that is often affected in the early stages of dementia.

Optimize your gut flora

To do this, avoid processed foods, antibiotics and antibacterial products, fluoridated and chlorinated water, and be sure to eat traditionally fermented and cultured foods, along with a high-quality probiotic if needed. Dr. Steven Gundry does an excellent job of expanding on this in his book “The Plant Paradox.”

Intermittently fast

Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to jump-start your body into remembering how to burn fat and repair the insulin/leptin resistance that is a primary contributing factor for Alzheimer’s. Once you have worked your way up to where you’ve been doing 20-hour daily intermittent fasting for a month, are metabolically flexible and can burn fat as your primary fuel, you can progress to the far more powerful five-day water fasts.

Move regularly and consistently throughout the day

It's been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized,23 thus, slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer's. Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1 alpha. Research has shown that people with Alzheimer's have less PGC-1 alpha in their brains and cells that contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer's.

Optimize your magnesium levels

Preliminary research strongly suggests a decrease in Alzheimer symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Keep in mind that the only magnesium supplement that appears to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier is magnesium threonate. 

Optimize your vitamin D, ideally through sensible sun exposure

Sufficient vitamin D is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation associated with Alzheimer's and, indeed, research shows people living in northern latitudes have higher rates of death from dementia and Alzheimer's than those living in sunnier areas, suggesting vitamin D and/or sun exposure are important factors.24

If you are unable to get sufficient amounts of sun exposure, take daily supplemental vitamin D3 to reach and maintain a blood level of 60 to 80 ng/ml. That said, it’s important to recognize that sun exposure is important for reasons unrelated to vitamin D.

Your brain responds to the near-infrared light in sunlight in a process called photobiomodulation. Research shows near-infrared stimulation of the brain boosts cognition and reduces symptoms of Alzheimer’s, including more advanced stages of the disease.

Delivering near-infrared light to the compromised mitochondria synthesizes gene transcription factors that trigger cellular repair, and your brain is one of the most mitochondrial-dense organs in your body.

Vitamin B12

According to a 2010 study published in the journal Neurology,25,26 people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer's in their later years. For each unit increase in holotranscobalamin — the marker of vitamin B12 — the risk of developing Alzheimer's was reduced by 2 percent. Very high doses of B vitamins have also been found to reduce memory loss by preventing brain shrinkage.27


Recent research shows curcumin supplementation helped improve memory and focus in seniors already suffering mild memory lapses, and reduced amyloid and tau deposits associated with Alzheimer’s.28 Overall, the curcumin group improved their memory by 28 percent over the year-and-a-half-long treatment period.

PET scans also confirmed the treatment group had significantly less amyloid and tau buildup in areas of the brain that control memory, compared to controls.

Curcumin has also been shown to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF),29 and reduced levels of BDNF have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Yet another way curcumin may benefit your brain and lower your risk of dementia is by affecting pathways that help reverse insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia and other symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome and obesity.30

Avoid and eliminate mercury from your body

Dental amalgam fillings are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.

Avoid and eliminate aluminum from your body

Common sources of aluminum include antiperspirants, nonstick cookware and vaccine adjuvants. For tips on how to detox aluminum, please see my article, “First Case Study to Show Direct Link between Alzheimer’s and Aluminum Toxicity.” There is some suggestion that certain mineral waters high in silicic acid may help your body eliminate aluminum.

Avoid flu vaccinations

Most flu vaccines contain both mercury and aluminum.

Avoid statins and anticholinergic drugs

Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence and certain narcotic pain relievers.

Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10, vitamin K2 and neurotransmitter precursors, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.

Limit your exposure to dangerous EMFs (cellphones, Wi-Fi routers and modems)

Radiation from cellphones and other wireless technologies trigger excessive production of peroxynitrites,31 a highly damaging reactive nitrogen species. Increased peroxynitrites from cellphone exposure will damage your mitochondria,32,33 and your brain is the most mitochondrial-dense organ in your body.

Increased peroxynitrite generation has also been associated with increased levels of systemic inflammation by triggering cytokine storms and autonomic hormonal dysfunction.

Optimize your sleep

Sleep is necessary for maintaining metabolic homeostasis in your brain. Without sufficient sleep, neuron degeneration sets in, and catching up on sleep during weekends will not prevent this damage.34,35,36 Sleep deprivation causes disruption of certain synaptic connections that can impair your brain's ability for learning, memory formation and other cognitive functions. Poor sleep also accelerates the onset of Alzheimer's disease.37

Most adults need seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Deep sleep is the most important, as this is when your brain’s glymphatic system performs its cleanout functions, eliminating toxic waste from your brain, including amyloid beta.

Challenge your mind daily

Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Source: mercola rss