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Scientific Links Between Processed Foods And Depression

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Scientific Links Between Processed Foods And Depression
Photo Credit: Pexels

Dr. Joseph MercolaGuest Writer

Research shows that the food you eat can have a profound effect on your mental health. So, regardless of your mental health problems, the importance of addressing your diet simply cannot be overstated.

In a very real sense, you have two brains — one in your head, and one in your gut. Both are created from the same tissue during fetal development, and they’re connected via your vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem to your abdomen.

It is now well established that the vagus nerve is the primary route your gut bacteria use to transmit information to your brain, which helps explain why mental health appears to be so intricately connected to your gut microbiome 1 — the bacteria and other microbes living in your gut.

For example, researchers recently found that fermented foods helped curb social anxiety disorder in young adults.2,3 Another study4 found that mice engaged in obsessive-compulsive repetitive behaviours were pacified when given a strain of the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis.

Gut bacteria also produce mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin is found in your intestines, not your brain.

At the end of the day, if you’re trying to address your mental state, optimizing your gut health should be toward the very top of your list.

The Strong Link Between Sugar and Depression

A number of food ingredients can cause or aggravate depression, but the number one culprit is refined sugar and processed fructose, which feed pathogens in your gut, allowing them to overtake more beneficial bacteria.

Sugar also suppresses the activity of a key growth hormone in your brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia.

Diets high in sugar also triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation, which over the long term disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system and wreaks havoc on your brain.

Last but not least, refined sugar and processed fructose and grains are key contributors to insulin and leptin resistance, which also plays a significant role in your mental health.

One recent study5,6 found that high-glycemic foods (including those high in refined grains and added sugar) were associated with higher odds of depression.

Added sugar in particular was strongly associated with depression, reconfirming what William Dufty said in his classic best-selling book, Sugar Blues, first published in 1975. Sometimes it takes a while for science to catch up — in this case 40 years!

Other Processed Food Ingredients That Promote Depression

Other processed food ingredients that can contribute to depression and/or other mental health problems include:

  • Genetically engineered (GE) ingredients can significantly alter your gut flora, thereby promoting pathogens while decimating the beneficial microbes necessary for optimal mental and physical health.
  • Glyphosate the most widely used herbicide on food crops in the world with nearly 1 BILLION pounds applied every year — has been shown to cause nutritional deficiencies, especially minerals, which are critical for brain function and mood control. It also causes systemic toxicity, and was recently declared a Class 2A probable human carcinogen. Roundup, in which glyphosate is the active ingredient, has also been shown to increase the antibiotic-resistance of E. coli and Salmonella.
  • Artificial food additives, especially the artificial sweetener aspartame, can wreak havoc with your brain function. Both depression and panic attacks are known potential side effects of aspartame consumption. Other additives, such as artificial colorings, are also known to impact mood.
  • Gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley, may negatively impact mood and brain health. In fact, a number of studies indicate that wheat can have a detrimental effect on mood, promoting depression and even more serious mental health problems such as schizophrenia. Most non-organic wheat is also treated with glyphosate in a pre-harvest processed called desiccation, which adds to its problematic effects (see glyphosate above).
To Heal Depression, Heal Your Gut

As noted by The Epoch Times:7

“In the last 20 years or so, scientists have developed a new respect for bacteria, and the paradigm is turning from a strategy of war, to one of co-existence. Science now considers a robust, diverse bacterial colony to be essential to good health.”

Indeed, the bacteria residing on and in your body outnumber your cells 10 to 1, and viruses in turn outnumber bacteria 10 to 1. In many respects, you are your microbiome.

As Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told The New York Times:8

“We are, at least from the standpoint of DNA, more microbial than human. That’s a phenomenal insight and one that we have to take seriously when we think about human development.’’

Rapidly mounting research reveals that many of these little microbes have very specific functions, and as a whole play a profound role in your biological processes and overall health — including your brain health.

“According to Dr. Raphael Kellman, a New York City-based physician who specializes in treating the microbiome…the microbiome not only influences our mood, but it also has a lot to do with how the brain functions and develops over time,” The Epoch Times9 notes.

‘By improving the microbiome we can actually see positive changes in mood, cognitive function, and executive function,’ Kellman said…

‘The microbiome communicates with the brain through a number of mechanisms… These pathways include direct neurotransmitters that the microbiome produces.

It communicates with the brain via the vagus nerve, and also via the endocrine system in the stress pathway — the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal axis.’

Current treatment for neurological disorders focus on direct changes to brain chemistry, tweaking levels of neurotransmitter chemicals in hopes of tuning in the right balance. But the future of mental health treatment may focus much more on the gut than the brain, and more on food than drugs.”

The fact that improving your microbiome can affect your cognitive function means it’s also important to nourish your gut to stand a better chance against neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Interestingly, researchers have also found that recurring depression is associated with shrinkage of the hippocampus, the area of your brain associated with memory formation,10 and depression itself appears to be a risk factor for dementia.

Here, it’s important to take your vitamin D levels into account, as both depression and Alzheimer’s disease are associated with vitamin D deficiency.

The Birth Of A More Holistic Model For Mental Health

Depression and anxiety are typically treated with antidepressants, despite the fact studies have shown them to only be on par with placebos in terms of effectiveness. They’re also associated with a slew of side effects, including the progression into more severe and/or chronic mental health problems. Recent research may in part explain why antidepressants can worsen the situation rather than making it better.

The ‘chemical imbalance’ theory states that depression and anxiety disorders are due to low serotonin levels. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work by making more serotonin available for use in your brain, which is thought to improve your mood. Alas, recent research reveals that people with social anxiety do not have low serotonin; they have higher than normal levels. So further boosting serotonin with an SSRI will only make the anxiety worse…

The new focus on gut health is a welcome departure from the synthetic drug model. As discussed in The New York Times,11 researchers are listing and investigating psychoactive compounds found in feces, and are experimenting with fecal transplants in animals to assess its effect on neurodevelopment:

“Anxiety, depression, and several pediatric disorders, including autism and hyperactivity, have been linked with gastrointestinal abnormalities. Microbial transplants were not invasive brain surgery, and that was the point: Changing a patient’s bacteria might be difficult but it still seemed more straightforward than altering his genes. When Lyte began his work on the link between microbes and the brain three decades ago, it was dismissed as a curiosity.

By contrast, last September, the National Institute of Mental Health awarded four grants worth up to $1 million each to spur new research on the gut microbiome’s role in mental disorders, affirming the legitimacy of a field that had long struggled to attract serious scientific credibility… It seems plausible, if not yet proved, that we might one day use microbes to diagnose neurodevelopmental disorders, treat mental illnesses and perhaps even fix them in the brain.”

Abnormal Gut Flora Fosters Abnormal Brain Development

Researchers have also begun experimenting with fecal transplants in autistic children,12 and while such investigations are still in its infancy, there’s plenty of cause for optimism. There does in fact appear to be a close connection between abnormal gut flora in infancy and abnormal brain development — a condition Dr. Campbell-McBride calls Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). GAPS is the result of poorly developed or imbalanced gut flora and may manifest as a conglomerate of symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD) without hyperactivity, dyslexia, dyspraxia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, just to name a few possibilities.

Dr. Campbell believes autistic children are born with perfectly normal brains and sensory organs, but once their digestive system becomes a major source of toxicity instead of being a source of nourishment, they start to develop autistic symptoms. This theory fits in well with more recent research13 published by the American Society for Microbiology, which identified a bacteria (Sutterella) that is unique to the intestines of children with autism. According to the authors:

“Many children with autism have gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances that can complicate clinical management and contribute to behavioural problems. Understanding the molecular and microbial underpinnings of these GI issues is of paramount importance for elucidating pathogenesis, rendering diagnosis, and administering informed treatment.

Here we describe an association between high levels of intestinal, ucoepithelial-associated Sutterella species, and GI disturbances in children with autism. These findings elevate this little-recognized bacterium to the forefront by demonstrating that Sutterella is a major component of the microbiota in over half of children with autism and gastrointestinal dysfunction (AUT-GI) and is absent in children with only gastrointestinal dysfunction (Control-GI) evaluated in this study.”

Nourishing Your Gut Flora May Boost Your Mood and Protect Your Mental Health

All things considered, it seems quite clear that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important to support a positive mood and stable mental health. To do so, I recommend the following strategies:

  • Avoid sugar and processed, refined foods in your diet. Remember eating real food is one of the most powerful and simple strategies you can implement to take control of your health. If you need help doing this, read through my nutrition plan for a simple, whole-food based diet. There is simply no question that eliminating refined sugars is the most powerful intervention the average person can make to improve their gut flora.
  • Eat traditionally fermented, unpasteurized foods. Fermented foods are the best route to optimal digestive health, as long as you eat the traditionally made, unpasteurized versions. Ideally, you want to eat a variety of fermented foods to maximize the variety of bacteria you’re consuming. Healthy choices include fermented vegetables, lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner), fermented milk like kefir, kimchee, and natto (fermented soy).
  • Take a high-quality probiotic supplement. If you don’t eat fermented foods on a regular basis, do consider taking a broad-spectrum probiotic. Research has shown that certain probiotics may help alleviate anxiety by modulating the vagal pathways within the gut-brain, affecting GABA levels, and lowering the stress-induced hormone corticosterone.

In summary, foods have an immense impact on both your body and your brain, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan is the best way to support your mental and physical health. Whether you need a quick pick-me-up or you’ve been struggling with poor mood for a while, the best remedy is likely not found in your medicine cabinet but right in your pantry or refrigerator.

Article Sources
  1. The Atlantic June 24, 2015
  2. Psychiatry Research April 28, 2015 [Epub ahead of print]
  3. Psych Central June 12, 2015
  4. New York Times June 23, 2015
  5. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition June 24, 2015 DOI: 10.3945
  6. Time June 29, 2015
  7. Epoch Times July 1, 2015
  8. New York Times June 23, 2015
  9. WebMD June 30, 2015
  10. Epoch Times July 1, 2015
  11. New York Times June 23, 2015
  12. New York Times June 23, 2015
  13. MBio January 10, 2012, vol. 3 no. 1 e00261-11
Recommended Articles by Dr. Joseph Mercola
About the Author

Born and raised in the inner city of Chicago, IL, Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician trained in both traditional and natural medicine. Board-certified in family medicine, Dr. Mercola served as the chairman of the family medicine department at St. Alexius Medical Center for five years, and in 2012 was granted fellowship status by the American College of Nutrition (ACN).

While in practice in the late 80s, Dr. Mercola realized the drugs he was prescribing to chronically ill patients were not working. By the early 90s, he began exploring the world of natural medicine, and soon changed the way he practiced medicine.

In 1997 Dr. Mercola founded Mercola.com, which is now routinely among the top 10 health sites on the internet. His passion is to transform the traditional medical paradigm in the United States. “The existing medical establishment is responsible for killing and permanently injuring millions of Americans… You want practical health solutions without the hype, and that’s what I offer.”

Visit Mercola.com for more information, or read Dr. Mercola’s full bio and resumé here.

Please SHARE this article with your family and friends.

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8 Foods That Boost Your Immune System

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8 Foods That Boost Your Immune System
Photo Credit: Pexels

Dr. Edward F. GroupGuest Writer

If you’re looking for an immune system boost, the right vitamins and minerals can help. Although diet gets little attention in conventional media when it comes to supporting the immune system, it is one of the most powerful methods for keeping colds and other illnesses at bay. Nutrition isn’t the only means of immune system support but it is one of the oldest and most reliable natural approaches.

The 8 Best Foods for Your Immune System

The majority of your immune cells reside in your intestines, so doesn’t it make sense to consume healthy foods for keeping your immune system top notch? Here are 8 foods you can eat right now to boost your immune system.

1. Bell Peppers

Reach for all the bell peppers you want because they can actually have twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits. In addition, bell peppers are a great source of beta-carotene, which not only helps maintain healthy skin and eyes but studies suggest they could also provide an immune system boost. [1] [2]

2. Citrus

Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C. Believed to increase the production of white blood cells, C is essential for fighting off infections. Since your body doesn’t produce or store this vitamin, load up on citrus to help keep your immune system up and running. Supplementation with the vitamin may be helpful, but it’s always best to receive the vitamin from its natural source.

3. Ginger

Ginger is thought to work much like vitamin C in that it can even stop a cold before it starts. That said, it’s also a great food to reach for after you’re sick. Ginger can have a little heat due to the gingerol, a cousin of sorts to capsaicin—the stuff that makes chilli peppers hot. It’s the “kick” of the gingerol that can even act as a strong soothing agent. [3]

4. Turmeric

You can find this spice in many curries; it’s bright yellow in color, and a little bitter in taste, but it can definitely be pretty amazing for your health. While it’s already been used for its soothing capabilities for arthritis (among other things), a recent study suggests high concentrations of curcumin—what gives turmeric its color—could also reduce fever. [4] [5]

5. Spinach

With vitamin C, beta-carotene, and plenty of antioxidants, spinach is a perfect vegetable for your immune system. If you want to get the most out of it though, cook it as little as possible or even keep it raw. But don’t stop at spinach; a study suggests that other leafy green vegetables are good choices as well. [6]

6. Broccoli

Like spinach, broccoli is another great vegetable choice packed with antioxidants and vitamins. With vitamins A, C, and E, broccoli could easily be one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. Just like with spinach, cook it as little as possible to retain its nutrients.

7. Yogurt

If you like yogurt, make sure you’re getting the full health benefit by eating the kind with live cultures. Recent research suggests these cultures may strengthen your immune system. [7] Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, which can also help boost the immune system. [8]

8. Almonds

When your immune system needs a boost, vitamin E sometimes loses the spotlight to vitamin C, but both are crucial for a healthy immune system. Vitamin E is fat-soluble, which means fat is needed in order for it to be absorbed properly. You can get almost all of your daily allowance of this vitamin by reaching for a half-cup of almonds. How easy is that?

– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References
  1. Hughes, D. A. Effects of carotenoids on human immune function. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 58 (3).
  2. Chew, B. P. & Park, J. S. Carotenoid Action on the Immune Response. The Journal of Nutrition. 134 (1).
  3. Grzanna, R. et al. Ginger—An Herbal Medicinal Product with Broad Anti-Inflammatory Actions. Journal of Medicinal Food. 8 (2).
  4. Jagetia G. C, & Aggarwal B. B. “Spicing up” of the immune system by curcumin.Journal of Clinical Immunology. 27 (1).
  5. Sultana, G. N. et al. Analgesic principle from Curcuma amada. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 163.
  6. Li, Y. et al. Exogenous Stimuli Maintain Intraepithelial Lymphocytes via Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Activation. Cell. 147 (3).
  7. Meydani, S. N. & Ha W. Immunologic effects of yogurt. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 71 (4).
  8. Aranow, C. Vitamin D and the Immune System. Vitamin D and the Immune System.
Recommended Articles by Dr. Edward Group
About the Author

Dr. Edward F. Group III (DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM) founded Global Healing Center in 1998 with the goal of providing the highest quality natural health information and products. He is world-renowned for his research on the root cause of disease. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center earned recognition as one of the largest natural and organic health resources in the world. Dr. Group is a veteran of the United States Army and has attended both Harvard and MIT business schools. He is a best-selling author and a frequent guest on radio and television programs, documentary films, and in major publications.

Dr. Group centres his philosophy around the understanding that the root cause of disease stems from the accumulation of toxins in the body and is exacerbated by daily exposure to a toxic living environment. He believes it is his personal mission to teach and promote philosophies that produce good health, a clean environment, and positive thinking. This, he believes, can restore happiness and love to the world.

For more, please visit Global Healing Center.

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Here’s What You Should Know About Pumpkins

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Here’s What You Should Know About Pumpkins
Photo Credit: Pexels

Dr. MercolaGuest Writer

From the time you were a small child, you may have been conditioned to expect new and exciting things as autumn arrives. Every fall, children go back to school, see their friends and begin to anticipate the holiday season. One of the fruits closely associated with fall is pumpkin.

From pumpkin pie to pumpkin spice lattes or jack-o-lanterns it’s likely you associate fall with some type of pumpkin. Kathryn Lively, professor of sociology at Dartmouth College, spoke with a reporter from The Huffington Post about the expectations children have and how this conditions a response pattern that often travels into adulthood.1

Fall is a structural landmark, in the way significant dates help create structure in the perception of the passage of time.2 For example, just as January 1 is a landmark associated with developing personal growth and development goals, fall may be a time when your anticipation begins to grow, and you’re motivated to learn new skills or change behaviours.

Licensed psychologist and professor at Chapman University Amy Jane Griffiths, Ph.D., says, “We all crave the comfort and security that comes with traditions and predictability.”3 Many of us have traditions and events associated with fall weather, while others may dread the leaves changing or signs that winter is coming.

What Color Are Your Pumpkins?

Many have an interest in the science behind your anticipation of fall weather, fall foods and the hope of curling up with a blanket and a good movie. But it may still be difficult to explain the vast number of people who buy pumpkins each fall. In the U.S., Illinois is the No. 1 producer of this round orange squash, growing twice as many each year than in the other five top producing states.4

While you might think of it as a vegetable, the pumpkin is a fruit that’s known as much for its place in the kitchen as on your front porch. Mary Liz Wright, a University of Illinois Extension specialist, does not advise using your typical jack-o-lantern pumpkin in your fall recipes.5

This is because there are two distinct species of pumpkin. The first has been bred for size, structure and color to enhance your fall decor. The second is bred for consistency, flavour and texture of the meat. Pumpkins that are bred for flavour are tan or buckskin color on the outside with bright orange flesh on the inside.

They’re also more reminiscent of butternut squash in shape, rather than the more rounded outline of decorative pumpkins. Nathan Johanning, also a University of Illinois Extension specialist, spoke about the 2020 fall crop and the agritourism trade pumpkins support, sharing that one farm in Illinois had 5,000 tourists pass through in one weekend.

If you’re planning on saving the flesh from your pumpkins, Wright advises you cook and freeze it, since it is not advisable to can pumpkin or even pressure can it. The center of the dense flesh may not get hot enough to prevent botulism growth, which you can avoid by cooking it first and then freezing it.

Nutritious and Delicious Pumpkins

There are many health benefits to eating pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, as you’ll see in this short video. Although you can buy them year-round at the store, consider adding pumpkins to your garden since nearly every part of the plant can be eaten. You’ll be assured of a toxin-free fruit from which you can harvest the seeds as well as carve and cook your pumpkins in the fall.

Dried pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, are high in healthy fats and rich in omega-3 fats, zinc, calcium, iron and an array of phytochemicals.6 After being dried and shelled, the seeds have just 180 calories in one-fourth cup and are also packed with manganese, phosphorus, copper and magnesium.7

People have used pumpkin seed extract and oil in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. This is a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that may respond to the nutrients found in pumpkin seeds. Because most of the studies have involved extracts or oils from pumpkin seeds, it’s not possible to extrapolate the information to eating the pumpkin seeds themselves.8

The meat of the pumpkin contains only 49 calories in 1 cup of cooked mashed flesh. It is rich in riboflavin and vitamins A, C and E.9 The rich orange color indicates the high level of beta-carotenes and antioxidants that your body uses to neutralize free radicals.

The high levels of vitamin A and C have a positive impact on your immune system, and it is a major source of lutein and zeaxanthin linked to healthy eyesight.10 The high levels of potassium, vitamin C and fibre are all associated with cardiovascular benefits.

For instance, one literature analysis found an inverse association between potassium and the risk of stroke.11 Another study demonstrated people with higher levels of potassium intake had lower risk of high blood pressure.12 The levels of beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C all contribute to healthy skin, collagen production13 and protection against the damage of ultraviolet rays.14

Pumpkin Seeds May Reduce Your Risk of Kidney Stones

In addition to the health benefits listed above, pumpkin seeds have a special superpower: They protect your kidneys by reducing the risk of calcium-oxalate crystal formation, better known as kidney stones. There are four types of kidney stones that can form, including calcium, struvite, uric acid and cystine stones.15 Of these, calcium oxalate is the most common.

Nearly 80% of calcium stones that form are calcium oxalate. By manipulating urine chemistry through dietary intake, you can help prevent calcium stone formation. The highest urine chemistry risk factors for calcium oxalate crystals are hypercalciuria and hyperoxaluria.16

Dietary risk factors that increase your potential for calcium oxalate stones include chronic dehydration and a diet that is rich in protein, oxalates, sodium and sugar.17 People with certain digestive disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease, can also have a higher risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones. Oxalate can be found in these foods:18,19

BeansBeetsBeer
ChocolateCoffeeCranberries
PeanutsRhubarbSoda
Sweet potatoesTea (black)Dark green vegetables, such as spinach

One study evaluated the ability of pumpkin seed supplementation to change the chemistry of the participants’ urine and reduce the risk of calcium oxalate crystal formation.20 Researchers engaged 20 boys from the Ubol Province in Thailand where there is a high incidence of kidney stones.21

During the experiment the boy’s urine was measured before any intervention as a control period. During two periods of the intervention they received an oxalate supplement and a pumpkin seed or orthophosphate supplement. The participants’ urine chemistry was tested before and after each intervention.

The results of the study showed that while the boys were receiving the pumpkin seed supplement, the urine chemistry had the lowest potential risk for calcium oxalate crystal formation. The researchers found the high levels of phosphorus in the pumpkin seed may be a “potential agent in lowering the risk of bladder-stone disease.”22

Pumpkin Spice Blend Elicits an Emotional Response

The scents associated with pumpkin pie are not strictly from pumpkin but, rather, a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, which are the traditional spices used in the pie. This combination of scents can trigger a strong emotional response in your brain, which causes you to recall experiences associated with the smell.23

The emotional response that doors generate have an impact on your decision to like or dislike something. Your sense of smell and memory are closely linked since scents travel from the limbic system through the amygdala and hippocampus, which are regions of the brain related to emotion and memory.24

The scent of pumpkin spices is popular during the fall months, especially in homemade products and the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Catherine Franssen, Ph.D., director of psychology at Longwood University, is a fan of the flavour and understands why this particular combination of spices elicits an emotional response. She commented to CNN:25

“Since these are popular spice combinations, it’s very likely we would have encountered some or all of them combined in a favourite baked good in a comforting situation, like a family gathering, early in life. It’s not just the pumpkin spice combo but that we’ve already wired a subset of those spices as ‘good’ very early in life.”

Starbucks seemed to stumble onto their popular Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003 when it was first released.26 Each fall the Pumpkin Spice Latte drink makes a return to stores, along with other “pumpkin-flavoured” drinks — which may or may not actually have pumpkin in them — and baked goods. This year it’s the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew.27

In a press release, Peter Dukes, product manager who led the development of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, commented, “Nobody knew back then what it would grow to be. It’s taken on a life of its own.”28

However, as enticing as the scent may be, the product is loaded with sugar and packs a whopping 52 grams of carbohydrates into a 16-ounce mug.29 Instead, consider making the healthy and tasty alternative at home demonstrated in the video below.

Neuroscience, Sugar Addiction and Marketing

The emotional response generated by scent is something marketers take advantage of. Pleasant scents affect your mood, which is a way of engaging your hand-to-wallet response.

In experiments comparing odourless placebo sprays against fragrances, researchers found while you will have a response to the placebo when you anticipate the fragrance, the actual scent has a dramatic effect on improving your mood.30

Although your preference is highly personalized, a general assumption is made that most people will find pumpkin spice in the fall and cinnamon during Christmas associated with good memories. As the scent of pumpkin spice triggers a happy memory, it can also trigger a desire to buy a cup. Franssen comments on the neuroscience involved in scent and advertising:31

“When an door or flavour — and 80% of flavour is actually smell — is combined with sucrose or sugar consumption in a hungry person, the person learns at a subconscious, physiological level to associate that flavour with all the wonderful parts of food digestion.

[For that reason] the pumpkin spice latte is actually, scientifically, kind of addictive. Not quite the same neural mechanisms as drugs of abuse, but certainly the more you consume, the more you reinforce the behavior and want to consume more.”

The popular trend of promoting all things pumpkin in the fall even generated a hoax in 2014 when a Facebook meme reported Charmin toilet tissue would soon be released in a new pumpkin spice scent. Not soon after Charmin Company tweeted: “While we love it, we can promise you this. You will not be seeing #PumpkinSpice Charmin anytime soon. #StopTheMadness”32

References
  1. Huffington Post, October 11th, 2016
  2. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2013;104(2)
  3. Bustle, September 14, 2020
  4. USDA: Pumpkins October 26, 2020
  5. The Southern Illinoisan November 8, 2020
  6. Nutrition Data, Seeds, Pumpkin and Squash Seed Kernels
  7. World’s Healthiest Foods, Pumpkin Seeds
  8. World’s Healthiest Foods, Pumpkin Seeds
  9. Nutrition Data, Pumpkin, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
  10. Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi, 2011;45(1):64
  11. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2016;5(10)
  12. International Journal of Cardiology, 2017;230:127
  13. Nutrients, 2017;9(8)
  14. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012;96(5)
  15. Mayo Clinic, Kidney Stones
  16. CMAJ, 2006;174(10)
  17. National Kidney Foundation, Calcium Oxalate Stones, Who is at risk
  18. Michigan Medicine, Foods High in Oxalate
  19. National Kidney Foundation, Six Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones
  20. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1987;45(1)
  21. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1967;20(12)
  22. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1987;45(1)
  23. Social Issues Research Centre, The Smell Report
  24. The Harvard Gazette, February 27, 2020
  25. CNN, September 14, 2017 Para 6
  26. AdWeek, Give Me My Pumpkin Spice Latte
  27. Starbucks
  28. Starbucks Newsroom, September 5, 2017
  29. Starbucks, Pumpkin Spice Latte
  30. Social Issues Research Centre, The Smell Report
  31.  CNN, September 14, 2017 Section: Actually Scientifically Kind of Addictive
  32. Twitter

Originally published at mercola.com and reproduced here with permission.

Recommended Articles by Dr. Joseph Mercola
About the Author

Born and raised in the inner city of Chicago, IL, Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician trained in both traditional and natural medicine. Board-certified in family medicine, Dr. Mercola served as the chairman of the family medicine department at St. Alexius Medical Center for five years, and in 2012 was granted fellowship status by the American College of Nutrition (ACN).

While in practice in the late 80s, Dr. Mercola realized the drugs he was prescribing to chronically ill patients were not working. By the early 90s, he began exploring the world of natural medicine, and soon changed the way he practiced medicine.

In 1997 Dr. Mercola founded Mercola.com, which is now routinely among the top 10 health sites on the internet. His passion is to transform the traditional medical paradigm in the United States. “The existing medical establishment is responsible for killing and permanently injuring millions of Americans… You want practical health solutions without the hype, and that’s what I offer.”

Visit Mercola.com for more information, or read Dr. Mercola’s full bio and resumé here.

Please SHARE this article with your family and friends.

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The Powerful Effect Of Heart-Centered Healing On The Human Body – 7 Simple Actions You Can Take

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The Powerful Effect Of Heart-Centered Healing On The Human Body – 7 Simple Actions You Can Take
Photo Credit: Pexels

Michael Forrester, Guest Writer

Every cause of disease first begins with an imbalance in the body’s energy systems, specifically, the interaction between how the heart communicates with the brain and the body. Fix that and there is no disease, ever. The heart can produce an electrical field 100 times greater than the brain and a magnetic field 5000 times greater. Which one are you using to heal?

Emotions are vibrations which influence consistently our reality. We not only think and work our way through a day, meeting, assignment, but also feel and believe our way through it. The outcome depends on both.

Simply put, the number one cause of health is your energetic and emotional state. How you connect emotionally to your overall wellness and wellbeing is more important than any supplement, food, exercise or health treatment. There is only one cause of disease and that has to do with the energy and frequency imbalances that exist within your body. Rectify that, and disease cannot exist… it would be impossible.

All the emotions are varieties of two: fear and love: Fear/stress is contagious and causes contraction: inhibits creativity, brain activity, inhibits the immune system, selective perception and over extensive periods of time leads to breakdown. Love (positive beliefs and emotions) has high impact and causes expansion: creativity, physical and mental endurance, more productivity in shorter time because we take decisions quicker because we are receptive and highly perceptive. This question of Math, HeartMath, as per the contribution in this field of the HeartMath Institute: when one has accurate information, takes better decisions.

The quality of the field one creates with his heart influences his experience and reality.

The research behind the evolution of HeartMath came from the idea that the body’s emotional response to events do not always occur from “top-down” processing (i.e., the brain sends signals to the heart and other organs, and the body responds accordingly). Rather, it has now proven that often times our emotional state triggers our heart to send out its own signals to the brain and other organs, and the body then responds accordingly. For instance, while two-way communication between the cognitive and emotional systems is hard-wired into the brain, the actual number of neural connections going from the emotional centres to the cognitive centres is greater than the number going the other way. Have you ever: Made a “rash” decision? Done something dangerous on impulse? Taken a risk because you believed in it? This research helps explain the influence emotions have on our ability to think and act.

In fact, researchers at HeartMath have determined that the physiology and nerve centres of the heart are so complex and active, that they constitute a “brain” all on their own, termed a “mini-brain.” We now know that the heart contains cells that produce and release norepinephrine and dopamine, neurotransmitters once thought to be produced only by the brain and ganglia outside the heart. Even more remarkable is the discovery that the heart produces oxytocin – the “love hormone – in concentrations that are as high as those in the brain.

7 Simple actions to create positive feelings:
  1. Think about the colleagues who helped you today. Thank them in your heart. Think about your current assignments. Know that they will work out well and work from this space
  2. What is it that you would like to have professionally? A new project? With whom? Think about it in detail, be specific and imagine you are already working on it
  3. Entertain the feeling of celebration that arises in your heart. From this space take the appropriate actions to make it happen
  4. Find ways to help your colleagues, or make them feel that you care. Do one (in)visible act of kindness per day or more if you want to
  5. Before starting your work day give thanks and envision it the way you want it to be
  6. When finishing your work day give thanks and clear it of negative emotions (which come out of fear that we know now is illusion). Do not take them at home or preserve for the next day
  7. Smile

The time of crisis is literally here: there is the fast pace of our world, the assault of too much to do with too little time and resources. Being in the present moment is just a concept for most of us and has little translation to daily life practice. Fear is wide spread and is polluting us on a very cellular level: hypertension, autoimmune diseases, cancer, infertility, chronic back problems, anxiety, and depression; the list could continue forever. The difference is how we interpret crisis because we can be at complete peace in the midst of chaos.

Can we live the life we want? Can we be authentic in our speech? Can we identify and release our underlying limiting beliefs so that we begin a new commitment towards genuine compassion, abundance, love and connection. Your commitment will show in your body and intentions.

Some Further Reading, If You’re Curious…
Article Sources

This article originally appeared on preventdisease.com, reproduced with permission.

Recommended Articles by Michael Forrester
About the Author

Michael Forrester is a spiritual counsellor and is a practising motivational speaker for corporations in Japan, Canada and the United States.

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How To Create A Healthy Non-Toxic Bedroom

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How To Create A Healthy Non-Toxic Bedroom
Photo Credit: Pexels

Elisha McFarlandGuest Writer

Many of us understand the importance of consuming organic foods and making detoxification a regular part of our health routine. Creating a healthy home environment is also part of the detoxification/clean living process. After learning about the health hazards of dryer sheets and toxic cleaning products, you may have already eliminated these products from your home. But what about your bedroom? After all we do spend one third of our lives sleeping, yet often times this is the room that is neglected.

Creating a clean (non-toxic) bedroom can be a financial challenge, so starting small is the easiest solution. Every change you can make will have a positive impact on your health. How you begin is a personal decision based on your budget and health issues. Some people begin with replacing their mattress, others an air cleaner or bedding.

Creating A Healthy Bedroom
1. Replace Your Bedding with Organic Materials

Replace or remove all artificial fabrics from your bedding. Start with pillows and pillow cases, gradually working your way through the sheets, mattress and bed frame (if it’s made from artificial products such as particle board or MDF, see suggestion #5 below). Many people make the mistake of assuming that cotton is a safer choice than synthetics, but the fact is that cotton uses 25% of the world’s insecticides and over 14% of its pesticides.  As you can afford it, replace your bedding with organic materials.

2. Replace or Remove Artificial Clothes in Your Closet

The reality is that synthetic materials such as acrylic, nylon, and polyester are made from thermoplastics. These fabrics out gas plastic molecules whenever they are heated. [1] If you wear wrinkle free clothes you’re breathing in plastic and formaldehyde. Remember that you also absorb these chemicals directly through your skin.

The base for most synthetic fabrics is a liquid made from coal, oil, or natural gas. [3] The liquid is forced through the fine holes of a nozzle, called a spinneret. As the liquid emerges from the holes, it is cooled so that it solidifies to form tiny threads. These threads are woven together to make fabric.  To make these clothes more durable Perfluorochemicals (PFCs), including Teflon is added to fabric to offer wrinkle and stain resistant qualities.  Look for clothing made of natural or organic materials. To learn more about synthetic clothes click here.

3. Remove Faux-Fabric Furniture

If you have any furniture in your bedroom, such as a chair that is artificial leather, it shouldn’t be in your bedroom or any room in your house for that matter. You may be surprised to learn that Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is often used in synthetic leather. PVC is widely regarded as the most dangerous of all plastics. It is made more flexible with the use of toxic plasticizers—typically phthalates, which are known endocrine disruptors. Throw pillows and seating cushions that are stain and water resistant have been sprayed with chemicals that are toxic. If the fabric is a cotton/polyester blend it was most likely treated with formaldehyde, and softened with ammonia. [2] Replace these when you can with organic or natural material.

4. Remove Particle Board and MDF

If you have any furniture that is made of particle board, MDF or melamine, it shouldn’t be in your house, especially your bedroom. MDF is made with shredded wood that has been softened and powdered. The powder is combined with resins and other bonding agents and compacted into solid boards. The chemical that causes the most concern is formaldehyde, which can aggravate asthma and other lung conditions, irritate mucous membranes, and cause contact dermatitis. [5]

Like MDF, particle board contains formaldehyde, a known carcinogen that has been directly linked to nasopharyngeal carcinoma (throat cancer) in people. The chemical can also cause headaches, allergies, nausea and a burning sensation in the throat.

According to TLC, How Stuff Works, within two months, particle board decreases its toxicity by about 25%. By the end of the first year, particle board is only half as potent as it was new. It levels off from there and can take up to ten years to run completely out gas. [5]

Look for solid wood furniture at furniture stores, flea markets and yard sales. Glass and metal end tables and desks generally work well as they don’t outgas and are easily wiped down.

5. Remove Accent / Throw Rugs

Wood or tile floors are easiest to clean and better options for allergy/asthma and MCS sufferers. While small accent or area rugs may look nice in your bedroom, they hold onto dirt, dust mites and other allergens. If you can, omit rugs and carpet. Almost all polyester is manufactured with antimony, a carcinogen that is toxic to the heart, lungs, liver, and skin. [4] Many carpets are also made of olefin (polypropylene). Nylon, which is petroleum based synthetic fibre invented in the 1930’s by Dupont and is common in rugs.

6. Use ‘No VOC’ Paint

If you decide to paint a room use No VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint. VOCs are unstable, carbon-containing compounds that easily vaporize into the air. When they enter the air, they react with other elements to produce ozone, which causes air pollution and a host of health issues including breathing problems, headache, burning, watery eyes and nausea. [6]

7. Shoe Free Zone

Consider making your home a shoe free zone. Have indoor and outdoor shoes to avoid tracking in pollen, dirt and chemicals from outdoors in. You can also purchase a shoe or boot tray to keep by your door. When you come in from outdoors simply place your shoes in the tray to minimize dirt, pollen, dust and chemicals from being tracked into your house.

8. Minimize Electrical Devices

If you have a computer, TV or other electronic devices in your bedroom, you may consider moving them into another room. Electronic devices emit radiation that can disturb a peaceful night of sleep by disrupting sleep patterns. Switch out your digital alarm clock to a battery operated alarm clock.

9. Replace or Cover Your Mattress

This is the most difficult step as it is cost prohibitive for many people. The reality is that conventional mattresses are sprayed with flame retardant and stain resistant chemicals. Many mattresses are made of foam that can outgas for years. There are many sources for organic mattresses at local stores and online. Wherever you shop be aware of green washing. If you can’t afford to replace your mattress, you may consider wrapping it in a foil barrier cloth available at www.afs-foil.com. They also sell a foil tape to seal the edges. I found the tape to have a strong smell, although it does evaporate in 3-4 days.  If you are chemically sensitive, have someone else do this for you.

10. Buy an Air Cleaner

If you can afford a whole house air cleaner, they are a wonderful investment. Do your research; there are a lot to choose from. For many people a portable air cleaner that can be moved from room to room is a wonderful option. Look for one with HEPA filtration, and be sure that whatever you buy does not produce ozone. Some air cleaning companies will even custom blend their charcoal filters for specific need such as allergy/asthma, smoke, MCS etc.

Recommended Air Cleaner, If You’re Interested…
11. Remove Chemically Treated Drapes or Shades

Drapes and shades hide dust, pollen, and other allergens. If you can remove drapes and shades and replace them with organic fabric drapes and shades. If the cost is prohibitive, consider bartering with a friend who can sew curtains or drapes for you. Wood blinds may also be an option for some individuals. If you are building a new home or remodelling you may consider blinds that are in between the glass, no out gassing, and no weekly cleaning!

References
  1. Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd
  2. Gretel H. Schueller,”From Hippie to Hip,” Audubon Magazine, http://archive.audubonmagazine.org/audubonliving/audubonliving0911.html
  3. William McDonough, Michael Braungart, “Transforming the Textile Industry: Victor Innovatex, Eco-Intelligent Polyester and the Next Industrial Revolution,” green@work, May-June 2002.
  4. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-health-risks-of-mdf.htm
  5. http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/particle-board-safety.htm
  6. http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/construction/materials/low-voc-paint.htm
Recommended Articles by Elisha
About the Author

Elisha McFarland N.D., D. A. Hom., CWR., M.H. is the founder of My Health Maven. Elisha turned her debilitating illness from mercury poisoning into a dedicated passion to helping others. The My Health Maven website covers a wide range of topics including non-toxic living, health tests at home, the healing power of foods, home remedies, food ingredients, dental health and environmental illness. Her goal is to share her experience and knowledge, to help others live life more abundantly.

Elisha’s articles are widely published throughout alternative media such as The Organic Consumer’s Association and Food Matters TV. She is also a contributor to GreenMedInfo, Natural Health 365, Natural News, The Hearty Soul and Eat Local Grown.

You can connect with Elisha at:

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