|(Natural News) Plastic pollution seems to be a commonality among many developed and developing nations. After all, many normal everyday objects are made out of plastic. When you go to the grocery store, you can take the grocery items you paid for in a plastic bag. When you eat out at restaurants, you drink your…|
David is another one who has also gone over to BitChute as an alternative video channel.
“The so-called ‘mainstream’ media is failing to cover the restoration of the United States and its economy that has coincided with Donald J. Trump’s 2016 US presidential election win. At core, this failing is political – the mainstream media is an organ beholden to the Clinton Foundation, the Clintons, the Soros family, the Rothschilds and other criminal elements so bizarre that the label “conspiracy” is often used as a group tag for what is, instead, an incredibly real and complex global political superstructure.
“The Oscars experienced 20 percent or more loss of viewership this year compared to the prior year, as Americans tune out a stale establishment narrative and instead dig for information DIY-style online – which has explained Trump’s soaring Instagram and Twitter popularity (57.5 million followers across both platforms), as well as the rise of the viral QANON phenomenon.
“Many of Q’s cryptic postings and data drops seem to coincide with similarly worded Trump tweets only minutes and hours after the postings are made from the “Q” moniker. It is strange, to say the least, and has attracted a growing following since the posts began in November of last year.
“…Trump’s hint at the imminent creation of a US Space Force to fight non-Earth based military threats was met with confusion and mockery by the ‘mainstream’ media. These people just don’t get it. They are Fake News, truly. As savvy watchers pointed out, the US Air Force’s charter already covers space engagement, so the “Space Force” Trump discussed during his USMC speech in California was clearly addressing something… else.”
The so-called ‘mainstream’ media is failing to cover the restoration of the United States and its economy that has coincided with Donald J. Trump’s 2016 US presidential election win.
At core, this failing is political – the mainstream media is an organ beholden to the Clinton Foundation, the Clintons, the Soros family, the Rothschilds and other criminal elements so bizarre that the label “conspiracy” is often used as a group tag for what is, instead, an incredibly real and complex global political superstructure.
John Podesta ultimately worked at the behest of the Rothschild banking clan, and as Podesta’s star fades rapidly, so too must the Rothschilds’ – these are truly horrible people. There’s a reason why the public was made to distrust ‘Russian hackers’ for the past 15 months; the elite have no other excuse for why their dirty laundry, in the form of Podesta’s perverse and politically corrupt emails, were read and picked apart by millions of savvy Internet researchers on Wikileaks just days before the US presidential election. (Want to see the worst of the emails? We walk through some of the Podesta email code language in a brief video here. Decide for yourself if any of us – former national media, former law enforcement & emergency services – are falling for a “debunked” “conspiracy theory.” -Ed.)
Sadly, no one has debunked the perversion that surrounds John Podesta and many of his globalist associates who were largely swept out of power with the surprise election of Trump.
The Oscars experienced 20 percent or more loss of viewership this year compared to the prior year, as Americans tune out a stale establishment narrative and instead dig for information DIY-style online – which has explained Trump’s soaring Instagram and Twitter popularity (57.5 million followers across both platforms), as well as the rise of the viral QANON phenomenon.
QANON, believed by many in the truth community to be an administration insider or deep state ‘white hat’ of some kind, has gained a massive global reputation in the shadowy (yet high traffic) online subculture of 4chan, and later 8chan, where Q has been posting his info.
Many of Q’s cryptic postings and data drops seem to coincide with similarly worded Trump tweets only minutes and hours after the postings are made from the “Q” moniker. It is strange, to say the least, and has attracted a growing following since the posts began in November of last year.
Meanwhile, Trump’s hint at the imminent creation of a US Space Force to fight non-Earth based military threats was met with confusion and mockery by the ‘mainstream’ media. These people just don’t get it. They are Fake News, truly.
As savvy watchers pointed out, the US Air Force’s charter already covers space engagement, so the “Space Force” Trump discussed during his USMC speech in California was clearly addressing something… else.
Pizzagate is real.
US space technology (and what we know) has been suppressed, big league.
As Trump stated during his speech, “Space Force! We’re spending a lot, and we have a lot of private money coming in… we’re gonna lead the way in space, we’re way, way behind – and we’re catching up fast. So fast that nobody even believes it.”
- Tune in at 6pm MT / 8pm Eastern tonight [3-14-18] for a live FULCRUM News show from Denver. Watch and participate at Facebook.com/FulcrumNews, we’ll be discussing these and other major news stories.
- Find the latest FULCRUM video reports and discuss freely over on our Bitchute channel. Please support our research efforts by getting the FULCRUM subscription today.
By Dr. Mercola
According to the World Health Organization, depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide,1,2 affecting an estimated 322 million people globally, including more than 16 million Americans, 6 million of which are seniors.3 Statistics also reveal we’re not being particularly effective when it comes to prevention and treatment. Worldwide, rates of depression increased by 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.4
If you or someone you love is struggling with depression or some other mental health problem, remember that your diet is a foundational aspect that must not be overlooked. As noted in a 2015 study5 published in the medical journal Lancet:
“Although the determinants of mental health are complex, the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a crucial factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders, suggests that diet is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology.”
The Compelling Link Between Food and Mood
Recent research6,7,8 looking at the effects of the antihypertensive DASH diet on mental health concluded this kind of dietary pattern, which is low in sugar and high in fresh fruits and vegetables, can help reduce the risk of depression in seniors. Overall, people who followed the DASH diet were 11 percent less likely to develop depression over the following six years, whereas those following a standard Western diet, high in red meat and low in fruits and vegetables, had the highest rates of depression.
It’s worth noting that while many conventional experts recommend the DASH diet, it is not necessarily ideal for optimal health, as it also promotes whole grains and low-fat foods, including low-fat dairy. Healthy fats, including saturated animal and plant fats and animal-based omega-3, are quite crucial for optimal brain health. I believe the reason the DASH diet produces many beneficial results is because it is low in sugar and high in unprocessed foods — not because it’s low in fat.
Other studies have shown that unprocessed foods, especially fermented foods, help optimize your gut microbiome, thereby supporting optimal mental health,9,10 whereas sugar, wheat (gluten) and processed foods have been linked to a greater risk for depression, anxiety and even suicide. The primary information highway between your gut and your brain is your vagus nerve, which connects the two organs.11
Your gut also communicates to your brain via the endocrine system in the stress pathway (the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal axis), and by producing mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. These communication links help explain why your gut health has such a significant impact on your mental health.
The Strong Link Between Sugar and Depression
A number of food ingredients can cause or aggravate depression, but one of the most significant is sugar, particularly refined sugar and processed fructose.12 For example, in one study, men consuming more than 67 grams of sugar per day were 23 percent more likely to develop anxiety or depression over the course of five years compared to those whose sugar consumption was less than 40 grams per day (which is still far higher than the 25 grams per day recommended for optimal health).13
This held true even after accounting for other contributing factors, such as socioeconomic status, exercise, alcohol use, smoking, other eating habits, body weight and general physical health. Lead author Anika Knüppel,14 a research student in the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, commented on the findings, saying:15
“Sweet food has been found to induce positive feelings in the short-term. People experiencing low mood may eat sugary foods in the hope of alleviating negative feelings. Our study suggests a high intake of sugary foods is more likely to have the opposite effect on mental health in the long-term.”
Research16 published in 2002, which correlated per capita consumption of sugar with prevalence of major depression in six countries, also found “a highly significant correlation between sugar consumption and the annual rate of depression.” A Spanish study17 published in 2011 linked depression specifically to consumption of baked goods.
Those who ate the most baked goods had a 38 percent higher risk of depression than those who ate the least. This makes sense when you consider baked goods contain both processed grains and added sugars.
How Sugar Wreaks Havoc on Your Mood and Mental Health
Sugar has been shown to trigger depression and other mental health problems through a number of different mechanisms, including the following:
Feeding pathogens in your gut, allowing them to overtake more beneficial bacteria.
Suppressing 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, and animal models suggest this may actually be a causative factor.
Triggering 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.
Contributing to insulin and leptin resistance, which also plays a significant role in your mental health.
Damaging your mitochondria, which can have bodywide effects. Your mitochondria generate the vast majority of the energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP) in your body.
When sugar is your primary fuel, excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) and secondary free radicals are created, which damage cellular mitochondrial membranes and DNA. As your mitochondria are damaged, the energy currency in your body declines and your brain will struggle to work properly.
Healthy dietary fats, on the other hand, create far fewer ROS and free radicals. Fats are also critical for the health of cellular membranes and many other biological functions, including and especially the functioning of your brain.
Among the most important fats for brain function and mental health are the long-chained animal-based omega-3 fats DHA and EPA. Not only are they anti-inflammatory, but DHA is actually a component in every cell of your body, and 90 percent of the omega-3 fat found in brain tissue is DHA.
Eating Real Food Is Key
A paper23 published in Nutritional Neuroscience last year looked at evidence from laboratory, population research and clinical trials to create “a set of practical dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression, based on the best available current evidence.” According to this paper, the published evidence reveals five key dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression:
- Following a “traditional” dietary pattern such as the Mediterranean, Norwegian or Japanese diet
- Increasing consumption of antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrain cereals, nuts and seeds (note that autoimmune diseases are rampant and whole grains and legumes are loaded with lectins and best avoided. See my interview with Dr. Steven Gundry for more details)
- Eating plenty of omega-3-rich foods
- Replacing unhealthy processed foods with real, wholesome nutritious foods
- Avoiding processed foods, fast food, commercial baked goods and sweets
Processed Foods Are Problematic in More Ways Than One
Three brain- and mood-wrecking culprits you’ll automatically avoid when avoiding processed foods are added sugars, artificial sweeteners24 and processed vegetable oils — harmful fats known to clog your arteries and cause mitochondrial dysfunction. Gluten also appears to be particularly problematic for many. If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, you’d be well-advised to experiment with a gluten-free diet.
Certain types of lectins, especially wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), are also known for their psychiatric side effects. WGA can cross your blood brain barrier25 through a process called “adsorptive endocytosis,” pulling other substances with it. WGA may attach to your myelin sheath26 and is capable of inhibiting nerve growth factor,27 which is important for the growth, maintenance and survival of certain target neurons.
Processed foods are also a significant source of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients and toxic herbicides like Roundup. In addition to being toxic and potentially carcinogenic, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been shown to preferentially decimate beneficial gut microbes. Many grains need to dry in the field before being harvested, and to speed that process, the fields are doused with glyphosate a couple of weeks before harvest.
As a result of this practice, called desiccation, grain-based products tend to contain rather substantial amounts of glyphosate. This reason alone is enough to warrant a grain-free diet, but if you do choose to eat whole grain products, make sure it’s organic to avoid glyphosate contamination.
Your beverage choices may also need an overhaul, as most people drink very little pure water, relying on sugary beverages like sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks and flavored water for their hydration needs. None of those alternatives will do your mental health any favors.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet Protects and Supports Good Mental Health
As mentioned above, one of the mechanisms by which good nutrition bolsters mental health is by cutting down inflammation in your body, and a high-sugar diet is exceptionally inflammatory. A number of studies have linked depression with chronic inflammation.28,29
For example, a study30 published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2016 concluded that depressed patients had 46 percent higher levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein in their blood. Interestingly, they also had 16 percent lower levels of low fractional exhaled nitric oxide, which adds further support for doing exercises that boost nitric oxide cycling, such as the Nitric Oxide Dump exercise. As explained in the study:
“Nitric oxide (NO), in addition to being an inflammatory mediator, is also a neurotransmitter at the neuron synapses. It modulates norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine and glutamate and thus is speculated to play a role in the pathogenesis of depression. Nitric oxide is also currently seen as a marker of airway inflammation and can be measured during exhalation.
Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) may represent both constitutive and inducible NO. Small studies suggest that subjects with depressed mood have low levels of FeNO … Subjects with depression also have low levels of plasma and platelet NO. The low systemic levels of NO have been postulated to be responsible for the increased risk of cardiovascular events observed in subjects with depression, as NO produces vasodilatation …
In summary, this large population-based study found that depression is associated with high levels of CRP and low levels of FeNO. These findings corroborate the premise that inflammation could play a role in the pathophysiology of major depression and that major depression may be seen as a psychoneuroimmunological disorder.”
Four Powerful Dietary Interventions
In addition to transitioning from a diet of processed fare to real food, consider:
• Implementing a cyclical ketogenic diet, high in healthy fats, low in net carbs with moderate amounts of protein. This kind of diet will optimize your mitochondrial function, which has significant implications for mental health. In fact, one noticeable effect of nutritional ketosis is mental clarity and a sense of calm. The reason for this welcome side effect has to do with the fact that when your body is able to burn fat for fuel, ketones are created, which is the preferred fuel for your brain.
• Intermittent fasting will also help optimize your brain function and prevent neurological problems by activating your body’s fat-burning mode, preventing insulin resistance and reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, the latter of which has been identified as a causative factor in depression.31,32
While you may achieve some of the benefits from intermittent fasting simply by respecting the time boundaries, regardless of the foods you consume, it is far better if you consume high-quality unprocessed food.
Since you’ll be eating less, it’s vitally important that you get proper nutrition. Healthy fats are essential because intermittent fasting pushes your body to switch over to fat-burning mode. Particularly if you begin to feel tired and sluggish, it may be a sign that you need to increase the amount of healthy fat in your diet.
• Water fasting. Once you’re starting to burn fat for fuel, gradually increase the length of your daily intermittent fasting to 20 hours per day. After a month of 20-hour daily fasting, you’re likely in good metabolic shape and able to burn fat as fuel. At that point, you can try a four or five-day water-only fast.
I now do a quarterly five-day fast, as I believe this is one of the most powerful metabolic health interventions out there. A five-day fast will effectively clean out senescent cells that have stopped duplicating due to aging or oxidative damage, which would otherwise clog up your optimal biologic function by causing and increasing inflammation.
• Exercise and get regular movement throughout your day. Exercise is one of the most effective antidepressant strategies out there, beating most medical interventions for depression.
Electromagnetic Field Exposures Could Be Wreaking Havoc With Your Mental Health
Another foundational strategy to prevent or treat depression and anxiety is to limit exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Studies have linked excessive EMF exposure to an increased risk of both depression and suicide.33 Addiction to or “high engagement” with mobile devices can also trigger depression and anxiety, according to recent research from the University of Illinois.34
Research35 by Martin Pall, Ph.D., reveals a previously unknown mechanism of biological harm from microwaves emitted by cellphones and other wireless technologies, which helps explain why these technologies can have such a potent impact on your mental health. Embedded in your cell membranes are voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs), which are activated by microwaves. When activated, a cascade of biochemical effects occurs that result in the creation of extremely destructive hydroxyl free radicals.
Hydroxyl free radicals decimate mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, their membranes and proteins. The end result is mitochondrial dysfunction, which we now know is at the heart of most chronic disease. The tissues with the highest density of VGCCs are your brain, the pacemaker in your heart and male testes. Hence, health problems such as Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, autism, cardiac arrhythmias and infertility can be directly linked to excessive microwave exposure.
So, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, be sure to limit your exposure to wireless technologies, in addition to addressing your diet and exercise. Simple measures include turning your Wi-Fi off at night, not carrying your cellphone on your body and not keeping portable phones, cellphones and other electric devices in your bedroom. The electric wiring inside your bedroom walls is probably the most important source to address.
Your best bet here is to turn off the power to your bedroom at night. This will work if there are no adjacent rooms. If there are, you may need to shut those rooms off also. The only way to know would be to measure the electric fields. For additional lifestyle guidelines that can help prevent and/or treat depression, see the nondrug solutions section at the end of this previous article on depression.
Native Americans have been using goldenseal for a long time, and have revered it for its wide array of health benefits. This valuable herb is believed to work against numerous ailments, from upset stomach to jaundice, and may even have cancer-protective properties. But because it’s so sought after, the population of this wild-growing plant is now dwindling. Discover important facts about goldenseal and find out why this age-old herb is considered one of the most versatile traditional cures of all time.
What Is Goldenseal?
A low-sprawling woodland plant that belongs to the Ranunculaceae, or buttercup, family, goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is native to eastern North America, from Ontario, Canada, to south Georgia in the U.S.; and from Oklahoma to South Carolina.
It once grew thick in the Ohio River valley, but today is considered endangered, critically imperiled, rare, uncommon or threatened in Canada and 27 U.S. states, including Tennessee, where it is considered commercially exploited due to over-collection for the herbal industry.1,2,3
The plant grows up to 1 foot tall, and can be identified through its 1-foot-wide palm-shaped leaves, an erect and hairy stem and small, greenish-white flowers that bloom in spring and turn into a cluster of red, inedible berries. The flowers bloom into stamens (arm-like spokes), and do not have petals.
As a threatened species, goldenseal was added to Appendix 11 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species list in 1997, which means that it now must be artificially propagated for commercial use, with its roots, rhizomes, rootstocks and bulk powder highly regulated for trade.4
Goldenseal plant is also known as eye root, hydraste, eyebalm, Indian turmeric, orange root and yellow root, to name a few. Its most well-known moniker, however, is based on its thick yellow rhizome, or the root. Goldenseal root is said to be the source of this plant’s medicinal powers. This is the part that’s dried and turned into goldenseal powder or capsules, as well as tinctures and creams.5
The roots are also dried to use in teas.6 However, this is also the reason why these plants are disappearing. Unlike other herbs and spices whose leaves and flowers can be safely harvested while keeping the plant intact, goldenseal’s root, once harvested, destroys the plant. And because goldenseal seeds take five to seven years before they can mature, replacing the plant at the same rate it is harvested is difficult.7
Goldenseal Has Been Used for a Long Time
Native Americans greatly valued goldenseal herb, using not only the root, but the leaves and flowers as well. They also used goldenseal root as a potent yellow dye for clothing. Nevertheless, what stands out more are the numerous health benefits of this simple little plant. These native tribes have actually used goldenseal, both medicinally and culturally, for hundreds of years.
For example, the Cherokee mixed goldenseal root with bear fat to use as a topical insect repellent, while the Iroquois drank it to treat fevers and pneumonia. Overall, many Native Americans east of the Mississippi River considered goldenseal a medicinal agent for fighting coughs and tuberculosis, for easing digestive issues and as a potion for eye and skin infections and earaches. Some even used it to treat gonorrhea.8,9,10
Goldenseal’s Health Benefits Are Far-Reaching
But what exactly makes goldenseal so useful for your health? The secret is in the three active alkaloids that it contains, namely hydrastine, palmatine, canadine and berberine.
Berberine, in particular, has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and immune-boosting properties.11,12 It works against various bacteria, fungi and protozoa, and may even help treat gastrointestinal issues. Berberine was even said to have antidiabetic properties13 and may help control blood sugar and lipid metabolism just as efficiently as the diabetes drug metformin.14
Today, although scientific research is still ongoing, 15 goldenseal root is used as a complementary medicine to treat AIDS, while commercial products in supplement form tout it for cold symptoms, hay fever, rhinitis and nasal congestion.16,17 Some people take goldenseal for various respiratory and digestive issues.18 It is also used as an eyewash.19
• Improved gut and gastrointestinal tract (GI) health.23 If you suffer from irregular bowel movements, ulcer, constipation, cramping and bloating, goldenseal may help your system get back on track.It also promotes better digestion and increased bile secretion.
• Relief from sinus conditions. Powdered goldenseal root may help reduce infection and inflammation in the sinus cavities.
• Protection for the liver. An animal study published in the journal Pharmacognosy Research has found that goldenseal may have hepatoprotective effects24 that can help protect the liver and prevent liver failure.
• Reduce the risk of cancer. When used with other herbs like red clover, goldenseal may help minimize the risk of certain cancers. One study published in Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology journal25 even demonstrated the effects of berberine for melanoma.
Due to its potent antibiotic effects, some people have found goldenseal effective against urinary tract infections (UTI).26 The berberine in this herb also helps keep infectious bacteria like E. coli27 from attaching to your cell walls.
Goldenseal blends well with some herbs, even helping boost their health-protective properties. One popular herbal combination that’s said to provide immense benefits is goldenseal and Echinacea. When taken in tandem, these two herbs are said to help strengthen your immune system and help keep colds and flu at bay.28
Goldenseal thrives best in moist forest soils or damp meadows, and often grows wild. However, because this herb is becoming scarce in its natural habitat and is in danger of becoming extinct, then you may want to consider growing your own goldenseal plant. The North Carolina State University provides helpful guidelines in growing goldenseal:29
“Goldenseal can be propagated from rhizome pieces, root cuttings, 1-year-old seedlings or seed. It takes five to seven years to grow harvestable roots from seed and three to five years to grow harvestable roots from rhizome pieces. Root cuttings or seedlings usually take four to six years.
Site selection is the most important factor for producing healthy goldenseal. Goldenseal grows best in a rich, moist, loamy soil with good air and water drainage. Planting on a slight slope will improve drainage. Do not plant in a bottom or in a heavy, poorly drained soil. Goldenseal needs to be grown in the shade, which can be provided artificially or by a natural forest canopy.”
The site also notes that due to the plant’s endangered status in the state, those who wish to cultivate this herb in their backyard need to acquire a permit from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Plant Industry Division.
Here’s a Goldenseal Tea Recipe You Can Try
One of the easiest ways to get the benefits of goldenseal is to make an herbal tea from the powdered root or the leaves. Here’s one simple recipe from Organic Facts30 that you can try:
• 1 teaspoon goldenseal powdered root or leaves
• 2 to 3 cups boiling water
• Raw honey or lemon, to taste
1. Boil the water in a kettle.
2. Put 1 teaspoon of goldenseal powdered root or leaves in a teacup.
3. Pour the boiling water over the goldenseal and allow to steep for 15-20 minutes.
3. Strain the tea and serve hot. Add lemon or raw organic honey, to taste.
Note: the tea can have a bitter flavor that many may not be able to tolerate, so adding a teaspoon of raw honey may be a good idea.31 You can also add a teaspoon of echinacea to this recipe.
Be Aware of These Potential Goldenseal Side Effects
If taken in small and moderate doses, in proper preparations such as tinctures, capsules or tea, goldenseal is most likely harmless. However, I still recommended that you consult your physician to ensure that this herb is safe for you, especially if you’re dealing with any medical condition.
Some health experts claim that fresh, raw goldenseal plant may be poisonous and cause serious reactions, such as mouth and throat irritation, paralysis, burning or tingling on the skin, respiratory failure and even death.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid using goldenseal, as a potentially hazardous chemical in the herb can cross the placenta or make its way into breastmilk. It’s not safe for young children and babies either. Newborns who have been exposed to goldenseal have also experienced brain damage (kernicterus).32
By Dr. Mercola
Only about 25 percent of Americans volunteer,1 despite the fact that doing good for others stands to benefit everyone involved. Volunteer work is unique in that it often involves social, physical and cognitive dimensions, and research has shown that retired seniors who engage in activities that require moderate effort in two or more of these dimensions slash their risk of dementia by 47 percent.2
“An active and socially integrated lifestyle in late life protects against dementia and AD [Alzheimer’s disease],” the researchers wrote,3 and volunteering is one way to achieve this. Since volunteers are needed in a seemingly endless variety of organizations, from animal shelters and schools to food pantries and youth services, there’s a volunteer opportunity to appeal to virtually everyone. It costs you nothing, save for some time, and while giving back to those around you you’ll reap impressive benefits to your brain.
Volunteering Lowers Your Risk of Cognitive Impairment and Decline
The brain benefits of volunteering are so great that researchers writing in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggested doctors should start writing their senior patients prescriptions for volunteer work. They found that in individuals aged 60 and over, volunteering regularly decreased the risk of cognitive impairment over a 14-year period:4
“Consistent civic engagement in old age is associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment and provides impetus for interventions to protect against the onset of cognitive impairment. Given the increasing number of baby boomers entering old age, the findings support the public health benefits of volunteering and the potential role of geriatricians, who can promote volunteering by incorporating ‘prescriptions to volunteer’ into their patient care.”
Separate research published in The Journal of the Economics of Ageing similarly revealed that taking part in volunteer work “significantly forestalls” the progress of cognitive decline in people aged 60 years and older.5 “Volunteering is a pathway through which you can increase brain activity,” Michelle Carlson, associate professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told AARP.6 Carlson co-wrote a small study of older women who were at high risk of cognitive decline.
They engaged in volunteer work 15 hours a week for six months, assisting elementary school teachers with children’s literacy and academic achievement. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), it was shown the women had increases in brain activity in areas involved in executive functions, along with behavioral improvements to match.7
Volunteering may even lead to increases in volume in brain regions such as the hippocampus, which is involved in memory, as opposed to the declines in volume typically seen with age. One study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia, for instance, revealed that men and women who volunteered for two years had increases in brain volume of up to 1.6 percent and 0.54 percent, respectively, while those in a control group experienced declines in volume.
“These findings showed that purposeful activity embedded within a social health promotion program halted and, in men, reversed declines in brain volume in regions vulnerable to dementia,” the researchers concluded.8 What’s more, the longer the volunteering took place, the greater the brain benefits appeared to be.
Volunteering May Buffer Daily Stress, Benefit Your Heart
Exactly how volunteering helps brain health remains to be seen, although it’s been suggested that the social element of helping others, along with the stimulation of learning new things, could be factors.9 It’s also quite possible that the brain benefits stem, at least in part, from other bodywide benefits that volunteering offers. Volunteering can lower your risk of depression and anxiety10 and even boost your psychological well-being.11
Volunteering to help others can even lead to a so-called “helper’s high,” which may occur because doing good releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin in your body while lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol. When researchers tested the buffering role of daily volunteer work on stress levels, it was found that salivary cortisol levels were lower on days when participants volunteered compared to days they did not, offering legitimate stress-buffering effects. Researchers wrote in Social Science & Medicine:12
“Our findings are suggestive of a unique, but unobserved, neurobiological mechanism underlying the link between volunteering and better health. Volunteer programs designed to help others in need may be considered as an intervention strategy for individuals living under stressful conditions.”
Research from Carnegie Mellon University further revealed that people who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who did not.13 The type of volunteer work appeared to be irrelevant. Rather, it was the amount of time spent doing it that mattered. Indeed, social interaction, and the stress relief it can provide, is likely one major reason why volunteering has a beneficial effect on blood pressure, as it’s a well-known fact that stress elevates blood pressure.
The study’s lead author, Rodlescia Sneed, also pointed to social interactions as a key reason why volunteering is so beneficial, noting in a press release:14
“As people get older, social transitions like retirement, bereavement and the departure of children from the home often leave older adults with fewer natural opportunities for social interaction … Participating in volunteer activities may provide older adults with social connections that they might not have otherwise. There is strong evidence that having good social connections promotes healthy aging and reduces risk for a number of negative health outcomes.”
Impressive, Whole-Body Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering’s many benefits are not limited to one area of the body like your brain or your heart but rather appear to extend bodywide. Volunteerism is linked to lower all-cause mortality in older adults,15 for instance, and additional benefits such as the following have also been noted:16
- Greater life satisfaction
- Greater self-esteem
- Increased personal control
- Fewer depressive symptoms
- Delaying the onset of functional limitations that predict psychological distress among older adults
Physical activity is another area where volunteering shines, as many types of volunteer work require moderate physical exertion. People who volunteer have been found to be more physically active than those who do not,17 while “the simple act of walking to and from a volunteer site may promote increased activity among otherwise sedentary individuals,” researchers wrote in Psychology and Aging.18
In fact, when older adults in fair health engaged in intensive volunteering in an elementary school for 15 hours or more each week, continuing for the full duration of the school year, they reported a number of physical improvements, including improved stair-climbing speed and increased walking speed.19 Even people with chronic or serious illnesses stand to benefit from volunteering.
According to a report by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a U.S. agency that helps Americans help others through service, people suffering from chronic pain had reductions in pain intensity and disability when they volunteered to help others with chronic pain.20 “Making a connection” and “a sense of purpose” were two themes that emerged during the study, suggesting that these are primary reasons why volunteering proves to be so rewarding to volunteers.
In another study, people who volunteered following a heart attack reported reductions in despair and depression, which are linked to an increased risk of mortality, along with a greater sense of purpose.21 Research has even shown that states with a high volunteer rate have lower rates of mortality and incidences of heart disease.22 According to CNCS:23
“While these studies may differ in terms of their specific findings, they consistently demonstrate that there is a significant relationship between volunteering and good health; when individuals volunteer, they not only help their community but also experience better health in later years, whether in terms of greater longevity, higher functional ability or lower rates of depression.”
Meeting the ‘Volunteering Threshold’
It’s unclear exactly how much volunteer work is necessary to reap its physical and mental rewards. However, some findings indicated that volunteering for about 100 hours a year may offer the greatest health advantages, and CNCS states that “it is not the case that the more an individual volunteers, the greater the health benefits.” Instead, they suggest there is a “volunteer threshold” that must be met — volunteering at least one or two hours a week — and after that no additional health benefits are gained from volunteering more.
That being said, another study found that volunteering 40 hours or less per year, or volunteering for just one organization (as opposed to two or more), led to the lowest risk of mortality,24 while others have suggested that volunteering too much may overwhelm an individual, with negative health consequences.
In addition, older volunteers may stand to gain the greatest health benefits compared to younger volunteers, possibly because in the case of seniors, volunteering may provide important ties to the community along with a sense of purpose.25
Still other research suggests that while volunteering regularly is associated with higher levels of mental well-being, this isn’t apparent until age 40 and beyond.26 Ultimately, if you’re considering volunteering, you should choose a cause that matters to you and invest as much time as you comfortably can. If you start to feel stressed by the obligation to volunteer, it may be a sign you’ve committed too much time.
Volunteering should leave you feeling good about your accomplishments and excited to continue your contribution. Ideally, for the greatest health, mental and emotional gains, especially as they pertain to your brain, seek out volunteer opportunities that provide opportunity for social connection and mental stimulation, and which help you to feel a sense of purpose, such as tutoring.
On the other hand, volunteer work that requires more physical activity, such as gardening, can increase your weekly activity, offering another set of benefits. And while you’re at it, be sure you keep a positive attitude and are volunteering for the right reasons. It’s possible, and has been shown by at least one study, that motives for volunteering matter, and people who volunteer for altruistic reasons enjoy increased longevity, whereas those who do so for more selfish reasons do not.27
Do you ever question why we keep animals such as cats, dogs and goldfish as pets, but choose to eat others such as pigs, cows, and salmon? Where is the disconnect? Why the double standard? How come we value the lives of the animals we have chosen to welcome into our homes as pets and not those of many other living creatures? Why don’t we eat robins or cougars? It is interesting how this thought doesn’t even cross the minds of the majority of the population.
In October of 2014, iVegan launched an ad campaign “Why love one, but eat the other?” that ran on the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). Thousands of people were exposed to these ads daily, with each poster showcasing two animals with the heading, “Why Love One, But Eat The Other?” The posters would then list the similarities between the two animals. There were three ads in total, featuring the pairings of a puppy and calf, kitten and chick, and a puppy and piglet. These ads also listed some (of the many) cruel and inhumane practices that take place on factory farms across the globe. At the very least this ad campaign raised awareness to the cruelty that specific animals are forced to endure and brought attention to the very valid question, why love one, but eat the other?
Video: Ted Talk With Psychologist Melanie Joy Discussing The Idea Of Carnism
You may be wondering, what exactly is carnism? As defined by Melanie Joy the definition of “carnism” is as follows: “Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. Carnism is essentially the opposite of veganism; “carn” means “flesh” or “of the flesh” and “ism” denotes a belief system. Most people view eating animals as a given, rather than a choice; in meat-eating cultures around the world people typically don’t think about why they find the flesh of some animals disgusting and the flesh of other animals appetizing, or why they eat any animals at all. But when eating animals is not a necessity for survival, as is the case in much of the world today, it is a choice – and choices always stem from beliefs.”
Check out the Ted Talk below for more information on this subject.
All Animals Are Sentient Beings
Below is a video of cows who had previously worked on a dairy farm that had shut down; these cows were destined for the slaughterhouse. The amazing people in the video couldn’t bear the thought of these beautiful creatures being slaughtered so they decided to rescue them instead. Check out the heart warming video below.
So What Can We Do?
As Joy mentions in the video, you can drastically cut down your meat consumption. If you are unhappy with how these animals on factory farms are being treated, QUIT SUPPORTING IT. Stop turning a blind eye to what is happening right under your nose. You can make different choices, you always have another option, and this is something that is extremely important to remember.
If the idea of cutting out meat sounds way too difficult for you, consider trying “Meatless Mondays” and make one day a week a vegetarian or vegan day. This will give you a great opportunity to try out some vegetarian/vegan recipes (check out OhSheGlows.com for some amazing recipe ideas), cut down your meat consumption, and open your mind to the fact that the amount of meat we consume on average is not even close to being necessary to sustain us. It is a habit that needs to be broken. It is time for drastic change on this planet, and it will only happen with the help from YOU! It is up to us all to “Be the change we wish to see in the world!”
Spread the word, and share this Ted Talk and article with your friends and family. Even though you may believe they won’t listen, you never know what could happen. This may be the one thing they need to hear to help them change their minds.
To all sentient beings on this Earth.
This post is part of a series of research I have been putting together addressing the YouTube Censorship crackdown or #youtubepurge that has happened in the past few weeks. In this post I want to share with my readers step by step instructions with pictures using my own Vimeo account and blog. The idea here […]
By Anna Von Reitz