A Record Number Of People Were Displaced In 2017 For 5th Year In A Row

By Shannon Van Sant | 19 June 2018

NPR — A record number of people have been forcibly displaced by war, violence and persecution, according to a new report from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced in 2017, setting a new record for the fifth straight year. 138,700 unaccompanied and separated children sought refuge and asylum in 2017, according to the agency.

The U.N. says an average of 44,000 people were displaced every day, or one person every two seconds. The agency calculates that one in every 110 people in the world is a refugee,either internally displaced or seeking asylum.

The annual UNHCR Global Trends report was released ahead of World Refugee Day on Wednesday. Commissioner Filippo Grandi said a global deal on the management of migration and refugees is essential. “Fourteen countries are already pioneering a new blueprint for responding to refugee situations and in a matter of months a new Global Compact on Refugees will be ready for adoption by the United Nations General Assembly,” Grandi said in a statement[…]

The post A Record Number Of People Were Displaced In 2017 For 5th Year In A Row appeared first on The New Nationalist.

Here’s How Alcohol Can Increase Your Risk for Alzheimer’s

By Dr. Mercola

Drinking alcohol has been found to have both a protective and damaging effect on the brain, depending on which study you read and how much alcohol is consumed. The jury is still out on whether light or moderate consumption may be good for your brain, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that heavy drinking is not. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago even revealed how alcohol may increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, by disrupting the way amyloid beta is cleared.

Amyloid beta is a protein implicated in Alzheimer’s disease that can clump together in the brain, building up into groups of clumps or a sticky plaque that may disrupt cell-to-cell signaling.1 The study, published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation,2 reveals that binge drinking or heavy alcohol consumption may make it more likely that the brain will accumulate these damaging proteins, contributing to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alcohol May Disrupt Your Brain’s Ability to Clear Harmful Amyloid Beta

The study focused on rat microglial cells, which are immune system cells in the brain and spinal cord that actively work to clear amyloid beta in a process known as phagocytosis. Researchers exposed the microglial cells to alcohol (in a level comparable to that found in people who drink heavily or binge drink), inflammatory cytokines or a combination of alcohol and cytokines for 24 hours.

The expression of over 300 genes was altered following exposure to alcohol, while exposure to cytokines resulted in changes in more than 3,000 genes and the combined alcohol and cytokines exposure caused changes in over 3,500 genes. Many of the altered genes were involved in phagocytosis and inflammation.3 Notably, microglial phagocytosis was also affected by alcohol, decreasing by about 15 percent after one hour of exposure.

Although the tests were performed in isolated rat cells, which means real-life alcohol consumption in humans may lead to a different result, they suggest that alcohol may hinder the microglia’s ability to clear amyloid beta, thereby increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s. Speaking with Newsweek, the study’s lead author, Douglas Feinstein, professor of anesthesiology in the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, suggested people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s may want to be especially careful with alcohol consumption:4

“There is a large literature supporting the idea that low amounts of alcohol can be beneficial; not only peripherally but in the brain. However, it might be prudent that if someone is at risk to develop AD [Alzheimer’s disease], they should consider to reduce their alcohol intake; and certainly avoid binge or heavy drinking.”

Alcohol Linked to Dementia, Including Alcoholic Dementia

Drinking heavily is known to harm your brain and can lead to alcohol-related brain damage known as alcoholic dementia. The white matter in your brain is considered the “wiring” of your brain’s communication system and is known to decline in quality with age and heavy alcohol consumption. While not a true dementia like Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms, such as problems with decision-making, slower reasoning and changes in behavior, can be similar.

However, unlike Alzheimer’s, if you stop drinking alcohol it’s possible to recover, fully or partially, from alcoholic dementia. That being said, heavy drinking or engaging in binge drinking is also linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, according to two reviews conducted by Alzheimer’s Disease International and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).5

The Alzheimer’s Society explained, “People who drink heavily over a long period of time are more likely to have a reduced volume of the brain’s white matter, which helps to transmit signals between different brain regions.

This can lead to issues with the way the brain functions. Long-term heavy alcohol consumption can also result in a lack of vitamin thiamine B1 and Korsakoff’s Syndrome, a memory disorder affecting short-term memory.”6 It’s also been suggested that alcohol may add to the cognitive burden seen in dementia via neuroinflammation.7

NAD and Niacin (Vitamin B3) Are Important if You Have Alcoholism, May Help With Alzheimer’s

People with chronic alcoholism are at risk for niacin deficiency, both due to a reduction in dietary intake of niacin and interfering with the conversion of tryptophan to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) (the dietary precursor of which is niacin).8 It’s also thought that people with lower NAD levels naturally may be at increased risk of addiction, including to alcohol. NAD is also known to be depleted in Alzheimer’s disease. Small doses of NAD (not time released) can be incredibly helpful when provided while weaning off alcohol.

The treatment helps to curb cravings for alcohol, detox the body, flushes alcohol (or other drugs) out of the system and relieves withdrawal symptoms. As a potent antioxidant, NAD helps to create energy in cells’ mitochondria as well as increases the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain.9 What’s more, it’s being considered as an important therapeutic strategy to help maintain optimal function in the brain and possibly even treat Alzheimer’s disease. According to a review in Current Opinion in Psychiatry:10

“Perturbations in the physiological homoeostatic state of the brain during the ageing process can lead to impaired cellular function, and ultimately leads to loss of brain integrity and accelerates cognitive and memory decline.

Increased oxidative stress has been shown to impair normal cellular bioenergetics and enhance the depletion of the essential nucleotides NAD+ and ATP. NAD+ and its precursors have been shown to improve cellular homoeostasis based on association with dietary requirements, and treatment and management of several inflammatory and metabolic diseases in vivo.

Cellular NAD+ pools have been shown to be reduced in the ageing brain, and treatment with NAD+ precursors has been hypothesized to restore these levels and attenuate disruption in cellular bioenergetics.”

NAC May Help You Cut Back on Alcohol, Prevent Alzheimer’s

If you’re a social drinker who perhaps could benefit from cutting back on your drinking, also consider N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). NAC is a form of the amino acid cysteine and is known to help increase glutathione and reduce the acetaldehyde toxicity11 that causes many hangover symptoms. In addition, NAC is known to reduce alcohol consumption and withdrawal symptoms in rodents and cut down cravings in humans.

In a study of people who averaged one drink a week (or binge drinking 0.3 days a month), NAC increased the likelihood of alcohol abstinence and reduced drinks per week and drinking days per week.12 Meanwhile, if you are planning to have a drink, try taking NAC (at least 200 milligrams) 30 minutes before to help lessen the alcohol’s toxic effects.

NAC is a powerful antioxidant known to directly target free radicals, especially oxygen radicals, which is important since oxidative damage is believed to be involved in Alzheimer’s disease. NAC, in turn, may decrease levels of oxidative damage by protecting mitochondrial function, and in so doing reduce Alzheimer’s risk, especially when combined with lipoic acid (LA). As noted in a review published in Cell Journal:13

“Combination of both LA and NAC maximizes this protective effect suggesting that this may prevent mitochondrial decay associated with aging and age-related disorders such as AD. Antioxidant therapies based on LA and NAC seem promising since they can act on mitochondria, one key source of oxidative stress in aging and neurodegeneration.”

As for whether or not alcohol can be good for your brain, there is some research showing that light-to-moderate drinking may have neuroprotective effects. For instance, consumption of up to three servings of wine daily is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease in elderly people without the apolipoprotein E4 (APoE4) gene, the gene thought to be most strongly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.14

However, as James A. Hendrix, Alzheimer’s Association director of global science initiatives, told Newsweek, “no one should start drinking alcohol as a means of lowering dementia risk.”15

More Tips for Cutting Back on Drinking

If you believe you have an alcohol use disorder (alcoholism), seek professional help. If you drink excessively on occasion and would like to cut back, you can try keeping track of how much you drink and setting limits on how much (or little) to consume. You should also avoid places, activities and even people who may tempt you to drink and seek out new positive hobbies and friendships to replace them.16

Exercise is also essential. When you drink, it chemically alters your brain to release dopamine, a chemical your brain associates with rewarding behaviors. When you exercise, this same reward chemical is released, which means you can get a similar “buzz” from working out that you can get from alcohol. In one study, hamsters that ran the most consumed less alcohol, while less active hamsters had greater cravings for and consumption of alcohol.17

In addition, exercise may help to mitigate some of the risks of alcohol consumption. Longtime drinkers who exercise regularly have less damaged white matter in their brains compared to those who rarely or never exercise.18 As a bonus, exercise may also reduce declines in cognitive performance attributed to aging as well as protect against changes related to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.19

Key Strategies for Alzheimer’s Prevention

Avoiding excess alcohol consumption is important in Alzheimer’s prevention, but it’s far from the only tool at your disposal. Dr. Dale Bredesen’s (director of neurodegenerative disease research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine, and author of “The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline“) ReCODE protocol actually evaluates 150 factors, including biochemistry, genetics and historical imaging, known to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

This identifies your disease subtype or combination of subtypes so an effective treatment protocol can be devised. Prevention is far better than treatment, however, and for this it’s important to focus on a diet that powers your brain and body with healthy fats, not net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber), i.e., a ketogenic diet. the ketogenic diet will help you optimize your health by converting from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat as your primary source of fuel.

You can learn more about this approach to improving your mitochondrial function, which is also at the heart of Alzheimer’s disease, in my book, “Fat for Fuel.” One of the most common side effects of being a sugar-burner is that you end up with insulin and leptin resistance, which it at the root of most chronic disease. Keep in mind that adopting the ketogenic diet along with intermittent fasting may further boost your results, especially if you have the ApoE4 gene.

The Wasabi You’re Eating May Not Be Real Wasabi

Wasabi (Wasabia japonica) is a member of the Brassicaceae family, commonly called the mustard family. It is native to Japan, where it thrives in cool mountain streams with lots of shade and running water. It is prized for its stem which grows to around 2 to 4 inches in diameter and 6 to 12 inches in length, and this is where the actual wasabi condiment comes from.1 Due to its very specific growing conditions, experts consider wasabi to be one of the hardest plants on the planet to cultivate.2

The history of wasabi goes back to prehistoric Japan. There’s archaeological evidence suggesting that during 14,000 B.C. to 400 B.C., the Japanese already utilized wasabi — not for culinary purposes, but for medicinal applications. It is believed that Utogi, a village up north in the Abe River, Shizuoka Prefecture, is the birthplace of wasabi.3

You may have tasted wasabi before, and so may be familiar with its spicy flavor and very strong aroma that you won’t find anywhere else. But chances are that the wasabi you’ve eaten is just an imitation composed of horseradish, mustard powder and food coloring.4

Real wasabi, on the other hand, is still hot and doesn’t leave a burning aftertaste. It’s so fresh that you’ll need to serve it right before eating, because it will lose its iconic flavor within 15 minutes.5 You’ll also be surprised to know that real wasabi contains plenty of nutrients essential for optimal health, such as:6

Nutrient

Unit

Value (Per 100 Grams

Energy

kcal

109

Protein

g

4.8

Total fat content

g

0.63

Carbohydrate, by differenc

g

23.54

Fiber, total dietary

g

7.8

Calcium

mg

128

Iron

mg

1.03

Magnesium

mg

69

Phosphorus

mg

80

Potassium

mg

568

Sodium

mg

17

Zinc

mg

1.62

Vitamin C

mg

41.9

Vitamin A

mg

35

Even if It’s Just a Condiment, Wasabi Offers Strong Health Benefits

Wasabi is abundant in a unique antioxidant called isothiocyanates that provides a wide array of health benefits, which also happens to be the reason for wasabi’s unique flavor and aroma. Below are the different health benefits that authentic wasabi can provide you:

May help lower the risk of cancer: Adding wasabi to your diet may help lower your risk for certain types of cancer thanks to its isothiocyanates. In one study, the 6-MITC [6-(methylsulfinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate] and I7557 [6-methylsulfonyl)hexyl isothiocyanate] compounds in wasabi have been shown to inhibit the growth of pancreatic cancer cells.7

In another study, 6-MITC has been shown to suppress the growth of not only breast cancer, but skin cancer as well.8 Research on this powerful plant is still ongoing, but these findings show great promise already. Remember if you want to reap the benefits of these anticancer antioxidants, use authentic wasabi only, not commercially produced varieties.

Helps improve cardiovascular health: Wasabi’s isothiocyanates may help prevent platelet aggregation.9 Essentially, platelet aggregation is the clumping together of red blood cells, which can eventually lead to blood clots. These clots are the main sources of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.10 By adding wasabi to your diet, you may be able to lower your risk of developing these life-threatening conditions.

Helps fight inflammation: The 6-MSITC in wasabi may help manage inflammation by inhibiting the production of several inflammatory markers, namely cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cytokines.11

Fights bacteria throughout your body: Wasabi may be a potent antibacterial agent. In a study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, wasabi has been found to be effective against Helicobacter pylori. The roots were found to be the strongest, but the other parts of the plant have been found to help kill the bacteria as well.12

In another study published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, the stem of the wasabi plant was found to have strong antibacterial properties against E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. For the methodology, an extract was taken from the roots and placed on the bacteria, which the researchers studied and recorded.13

Helps improve digestive health: Wasabi contains fiber, which is known to help control your blood sugar by slowing your stomach’s digestion of carbohydrates. Fiber may help you maintain your weight too, as it makes you feel full longer, thereby reducing your cravings for snacks. It’s also good for your intestine, as it may reduce your risk of diverticulitis, an inflammation of polyps in your intestine, by as much as 40 percent.14

It’s Possible to Grow Wasabi in Your Own Home – But It Can Be Challenging

According to Real Wasabi, an American company that specializes in mountain-grown wasabi, certain conditions are required to grow high-quality wasabi:15

“Wasabi prefers cool, shady conditions and will sometimes thrive if left undisturbed in misty mountain stream beds. It generally requires a climate with an air temperature between 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit) and 20 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit), and prefers high humidity in summer. Since it is quite intolerant of direct sunlight, wasabi is typically grown under shade cloth or beneath a natural forest canopy.”

Due to the very specific environment needed to grow wasabi, the U.S. has very few locations that can grow wasabi naturally. Only the Pacific Northwest states have been able to successfully cultivate it, namely Oregon, Idaho and Washington, due to their abundance in naturally flowing mountain streams.16 The mountainous regions of North Carolina have been proven to be effective as well.17

Wasabi grows very slowly, and can take up to three years to fully mature. In the right conditions, the long stems (petioles) of the plant should emerge from the (rhizomes) stem, growing around 12 to 18 inches long. Once the plant reaches up to 2 feet in height and width, it enters the next phase where the rhizome produces the nutrients and flavor it is renowned for.

It is possible to grow wasabi on your own if you live near a mountain stream with lots of shade, but keep in mind that the plant could be susceptible to disease and other outside factors that you won’t be able to control.18 You can try growing wasabi in the comfort of your own backyard by using the seedling box method. Here are some useful pointers from a Pacific Northwest Extension publication entitled “Growing Wasabi in the Pacific Northwest,” by Carol Miles and Catherine Chadwick:19

“The seedling box method utilizes planting boxes that are approximately 4 inches deep with bottom drainage holes. A 1.5-inch layer of a well-draining germination or rooting medium such as a vermiculite perlite-peat mix will work as a base. Wasabi seeds should be sown approximately 2 inches apart in the planting box and covered with 0.5 inches of the germination mix (Suzuki, 1968).

An unheated greenhouse is the best place to keep the boxes, which must be watered so the seeds stay moist. However, it is important not to saturate the potting mix. The seeds should germinate in 20 days.”

Wasabi plants are prone to sunburn, so protect them by using a black shade cloth. If you can invest in a small misting or micro-irrigation system, that will help keep the soil moist consistently and make your life easier. The plants require running water, and a micro-immigration system mimics Mother Nature’s running streams. Plant the seeds from September through October so they will germinate before winter begins.20

Selecting the Best Wasabi and Properly Storing It

If you can’t grow your own wasabi, you can purchase from companies that specialize in cultivating certified organic and mountain-grown wasabi. When selecting wasabi, choose the ones that have fresh, unshriveled roots. When looking at wasabi leaves, use the same principle as you would in purchasing salad greens — they must not be soggy and they must have a uniform color.21

To store wasabi properly, wrap the roots in damp towels and refrigerate them when not in use. To maintain the freshness, rinse them in cold water every other day and remove any spoiled roots. If done correctly, your wasabi can last up to 30 days.22

Other Ways to Enjoy Wasabi, Aside From Sushi

For maximum flavor and freshness, wasabi is best prepared right before you serve your meals. To do this, peel the root with a knife, then grate it using circular motions with a metal grater. By grating the wasabi, you’re causing the compounds in the plant to become volatile, thus resulting in the iconic wasabi zing.23 Aside from using it for sushi, you can use grated wasabi in the following ways and with these foods:24

Add to noodle soups

A condiment for grilled meats and vegetables

Add to marinades, dips and salad dressings

Toss with roasted vegetables

Try This Healthy Wasabi Recipe: Grilled Salmon With Wasabi-Ginger Mayonnaise

This recipe comes from FineCooking.com, but I’ve tweaked some of the ingredients to come up with what I believe is a healthier meal.

Grilled Salmon With Wasabi-Ginger Mayonnaise

Ingredients:

1 1/2 limes

1/2 cup organic mayonnaise

1 1/2 tablespoon wasabi paste (or more, depending on your preference)

2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 6-ounce skinless wild Alaskan salmon fillets

Coconut oil for the grill

Procedure:

1. Prepare a medium-hot grill fire.

2. Cut the half lime into four wedges and set aside. Finely grate the zest from the whole lime. Cut the zested lime in half and squeeze the juice from one half into a small bowl (save the other half for another use). In a medium bowl, combine 1 teaspoon of the lime juice with the lime zest, mayonnaise, wasabi paste, ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine. Taste and add more wasabi paste if you’d like a zippier flavor.

3. Run your finger along each salmon fillet to feel for tiny bones; use tweezers or needle-nose pliers to pull out any that you find. Season the fillets lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise mixture onto the salmon fillets and refrigerate the rest. With your hands, spread the mayonnaise in a thin layer over all sides of the fillets.

4. When the grill is ready, oil the grill grate using tongs and a paper towel dipped in oil. Grill the salmon until crisp for about four minutes. Turn and continue to grill until the salmon is just cooked through for another three to six minutes. Serve the salmon topped with a dollop of mayonnaise and a lime wedge on the side. Pass the remaining mayonnaise at the table.

There’s no doubt that grilling is a big part of U.S. culture, but there’s growing evidence that this method can cause you to ingest cancer-causing chemicals like heterocyclic amines (HCAs), advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).  Following the steps below will help you lower your chances of ingesting these carcinogens that may form during grilling:

Make sure that you grill the fish under indirect heat so it will not burn right away. I highly recommend using a grilling basket for the fish to flip it easier and prevent it from sticking to the main grill.25

If any char marks remain, remove them before eating. When cleaning, use a nylon-bristle brush or balls of aluminum foil instead of brush wires, which may stick to your grill and injure your mouth and throat the next time you use your grill.

Make sure your salmon was caught in the wild, or comes from a reputable organic provider. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids that provide a wide array of health benefits, such as helping fight inflammation. Eating wild-caught fish will also help you avoid ingesting pollutants commonly found in commercially grown fish.

Make Your Own Wasabi Massage Oil to Help Promote Healthy Skin

Aside from just being a popular condiment, you can use wasabi to create your own massage oil that can help improve blood circulation, soothe stiff muscles and make your skin feel alive. Below is the list of ingredients you’ll need:26,27

Wasabi Massage Oil

Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste

1/4 cup sesame oil

5 drops vitamin E oil

Procedure:

1. Combine the coconut and sesame oil in a small pan and place under a very low flame, until it is warm (it’s very important that you do not let the oils reach their smoking point).

2. Turn off the stove immediately and add in the wasabi paste.

3. Cover and let the mixture cool completely.

4. Add the vitamin E oil.

5. Apply to your desired body part and massage.

Note: Do not put the massage oil on cuts, scrapes or burns as the wasabi can sting.

Despite the Promising Benefits of Wasabi, Too Much of It May Not Be Good You

Wasabi is most likely safe to eat. There are no serious side effects reported, but this area still lacks extensive studies, so caution is advised. Those who are allergic to this plant should avoid it to prevent severe reactions. People with blood disorders should exercise care, as wasabi may exacerbate your condition. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid wasabi, as there’s lack of scientific evidence regarding its safety for this specific group.28

Remember to Use Only Real Wasabi

Again, real wasabi paste is made from the fresh wasabi plant only. The ones that are sold as “wasabi” in supermarkets and restaurants are made of horseradish and artificial flavoring that only mimic real wasabi, so don’t settle for those imitations. Real wasabi is more expensive than imitation wasabi, but I believe that the health benefits it provides are worth the extra cost.

Suicide Is on the Rise — Know the Warning Signs, and How to Help

By Dr. Mercola

The recent suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain,1 which occurred within days of each other, have reignited a much-needed public discussion about suicide, mental illness and its treatment. As noted by Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depression “is not a condition that is related to success or failure. No one is immune.”2

Statistics also reveal suicide rates have risen sharply across the U.S. since the early 2000s, prompting health authorities to call for “a comprehensive approach to addressing depression.”3

However, while a number of headlines scream for new drug treatment,4 I believe we’ll get nowhere fast unless we start to address mental health from a more holistic perspective. It seems quite clear that antidepressants, in addition to not working very well (or in some cases at all), are actually part of the problem thanks to their side effects.

Meanwhile, nutritional deficiencies, a decline in social interaction brought about by increasing reliance on social media and technology, excessive exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), lack of sleep, “lack of life purpose” or spiritual connection and chronic, unresolved stress are just some of the factors that can contribute to depression, none of which can be addressed by new or more drugs. Specific medical conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke are also linked to a higher risk of major depressive disorder.

Spade’s Suicide Took Those Closest to Her by Surprise

According to Spade’s husband and business partner, Andy Spade, Kate had struggled with depression and anxiety for several years, and was taking medication for these issues.5,6 The couple separated 10 months ago but lived within blocks of each other, met on a daily basis and had “never even discussed divorce,” according to Andy, who stressed she did not have an alcohol problem or business-related struggles.

Her father, Frank Brosnahan, also confirmed she’d been “taking pills,” which he’d “advised her not to take.”7 Both her husband and father spoke to her the night before her apparent suicide, saying she sounded happy and that there was no indication that she was thinking about taking her own life.8 Both say her suicide was a complete shock.

The same appears to be true for Bourdain, who spent the last five years enthralling viewers with his passion for food and travel in his award-winning series “Parts Unknown.” His body was discovered by Eric Ripert, a French chef and close friend, in his hotel room. Bourdain was in France, working on an upcoming episode.

Overwhelmingly, the sentiment is that he was a passionate and generous individual, a master of his craft and staunch defender of marginalized populations, especially restaurant workers, in the middle of doing something he loved. In fact, some of the last words Bourdain said to his friend Michael Ruhlman was that “love abounds.” “The last I knew, he was in love. He was happy,” Ruhlman said, who was “stunned” by the news.9 His girlfriend Asia Argento appeared equally shocked.

Suicide Statistics

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. affecting more than 16 million Americans,10 and the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.11,12 Globally, rates of depression increased by 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.13 In the U.S., suicide rates have steadily risen since 2000, primarily in more rural areas14,15,16 — a trend blamed on the effects of social isolation, economic pressures, opioid addiction and limited access to mental health care.

Depression can be a terminal illness if a person continually attempts, and eventually is successful at taking their own life. Tragically, suicide has risen sharply among children and teens. This simply must speak to some deeper societal problems at work, although antidepressants may play a role in some of these cases as well.

Many antidepressants are known to increase the risk of suicide in children, teens and young adults,17 yet despite such warnings, these drugs are still often prescribed for younger people. According to the most recent statistics:18,19,20,21,22

  • Between 1999 and 2016, suicide increased by 28 percent across most American demographics; in 25 states, the suicide rate rose by more than 30 percent
  • Between 2008 and 2015, the number of children hospitalized for either thinking about suicide or attempting suicide doubled
  • Among young girls (aged 10 to 19), the suicide rate rose by 70 percent between 2010 and 2016  
  • In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans committed suicide, making suicide the 10th most common cause of death that year
  • Along with drug overdoses and Alzheimer’s disease, suicide is one of three leading causes of death that are on the rise

Know the 12 Warning Signs of Suicide, and How to Help

While some are better at keeping their depression and any thoughts of suicide well hidden, even from the ones they love, it’s important for everyone to recognize the warning signs, and what they can do to help. According to the CDC, the 12 warning signs that someone may be contemplating or getting close to suicide are:23

  • Feeling like a burden
  • Being isolated
  • Increased anxiety
  • Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Increased substance use
  • Looking for a way to access lethal means
  • Increased anger or rage
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Expressing hopelessness
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Talking or posting about wanting to die
  • Making plans for suicide

If you notice one or more of these signs, take the following five steps to help. For more information about how to prevent suicide, see bethe1to.com.

  1. Ask how they are feeling and if they are considering ending their life, or if they have a plan to do so
  2. Don’t let them be alone and do your best to keep them safe
  3. Make yourself available to them
  4. Reach out to them daily and help them connect to others
  5. Follow up

If you live in the U.S. and are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741-741 for the Crisis Text Line.24 If you are in danger of acting on suicidal thoughts, call 911 for immediate assistance.

Depression Is Not the Sole Cause of Suicide

An important, yet frequently overlooked contributor to depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders is EMF exposure. In 2016, Martin Pall, Ph.D., wrote a magnificent and comprehensive review on this that is available for free online.25 He reviews how regular exposure to low intensity microwaves, like those from your cellphone and Wi-Fi, impact your nervous system. There are even two U.S. government reports that detail this.

It’s also important to realize that depression or other mental illness is not the sole cause of suicide. More than half of those who commit suicide do not have a known mental health condition, according to CDC data. As noted by Julie Beck in her thoughtful article, “When Will People Get Better at Talking About Suicide,”26 published by The Atlantic, “The traumas and losses of people’s lives and the ways they respond to them are infinitely varied and context-dependent. And that makes suicide hard to talk about.”

And yet we must, if we are to save each other from needless tragedy. According to the CDC, contributing factors to suicide in 2015 included the following:27

  • Relationship problems (42 percent)
  • A crisis in the past or upcoming two weeks (29 percent)
  • Substance abuse (28 percent)
  • A physical health problem (22 percent)
  • Work or financial problem (16 percent)
  • Criminal or legal problem (9 percent)
  • Loss of housing (4 percent)

Antidepressants Are Not a Satisfactory Answer

According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, 11 percent of Americans over the age of 12 are on antidepressant drugs. Among women in their 40 and 50s, 1 in 4 is on antidepressants,28 the side effects of which run the gamut from loss of libido to emotional flatness, restlessness, sleep disturbances, brain damage, and suicidal and/or homicidal ideation.

Antidepressants can also harm your immune system, and raise your risk of Type 2 diabetes by two to three times in high-risk groups.29 These side effects are all the more significant by the fact that there is very little evidence to suggest antidepressants benefit people with mild to moderate depression. In fact, researchers have found they work no better than a placebo in 80 percent of cases.30,31

What’s worse, long-term use of antidepressants may also cause you to develop bipolar disorder or other types of psychoses,32,33 which means you’ll need to graduate to a new or additional medication, often an antipsychotic drug that blocks dopamine receptors in your brain.

There are safer, and in many cases better, alternatives. Many of the basics have been covered in a variety of previous articles on depression and its treatment. In the following sections, you’ll find summary compilations of lifestyle strategies and nutritional interventions that have been shown to be beneficial. Also know that while these lists are extensive, they’re not exhaustive.

Key Dietary Considerations and Helpful Nutritional Supplements

Eat a healthy whole food diet and avoid processed foods and junk food

One of the first steps in addressing problems like anxiety and depression is to clean up your diet and address your gut health. Otherwise, you’ll have virtually no chance of getting healthy emotionally and mentally.

Foods have an immense impact on your mood and ability to cope and be happy, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan will support your mental health. Avoiding sugar and grains, which processed foods are loaded with, will also help normalize your insulin and leptin levels, which is another powerful tool in addressing depression.

Go gluten-free

The gluten level in our grains is much higher today than it ever was before, thanks to various breeding techniques, and gluten can produce depression if you’re sensitive to it. In such a case, the key is to remove gluten from your diet entirely.

Optimize your omega-3 level

Animal-based omega-3 fats are really important for optimal brain function and psychological health. If you haven’t read Dr. Andrew L. Stoll’s book, “The Omega-3 Connection,” on this subject, I highly recommend it. He is an enlightened Harvard psychiatrist who has written an outstanding book on the topic of treating depression with omega-3.

Optimize your vitamin D level

Making sure you’re getting enough sunlight exposure to have a healthy vitamin D level is also a crucial factor in treating depression or keeping it at bay. Vitamin D deficiency is actually more the norm than the exception, and has previously been implicated in both psychiatric and neurological disorders. One previous study found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels.

Balance your gut microbiome

Unbalanced gut flora has also been identified as a significant contributing factor to depression, so be sure to optimize your gut health, either by regularly eating traditionally fermented foods or taking a high-quality probiotic.

St. John’s wort

St. John’s wort is commonly used for the treatment of depression. It is available in tablets, capsules and liquid form. Research suggests it exerts its antidepressant action by inhibiting the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

Numerous double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have examined the effectiveness of St. John’s wort for the treatment of mild to moderate major depression, and most have found the herb more effective than a placebo. It can be at least as effective as paroxetine (Paxil) in the treatment of moderate to severe depression in the short term.

S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe)

SAMe is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in all cells. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression.

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

5-HTP is another natural alternative to traditional antidepressants. When your body sets about manufacturing serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP, so taking 5-HTP as a supplement helps raise your serotonin levels. Downstream, it also boosts production of melatonin, so taking it shortly before bedtime can help improve your sleep.

B vitamins, including B1, B2, B6, B8, B9 and B12

B vitamins play a role in the production of certain neurotransmitters that are important for mood regulation and other brain functions. Folic acid (vitamin B9) deficiency has been noted among people with depression, as has pyridoxine (B6) deficiency. Pyridoxine is the cofactor for enzymes that convert L-tryptophan to serotonin.

There’s also evidence that people with depression respond better to treatment if they have higher levels of vitamin B12, while high doses of niacin (vitamin B3) are particularly important for schizophrenic patients. It turns out that pellagra, a disorder caused by niacin deficiency, produces the same psychiatric symptoms, such as irrational anger, feelings of persecution, mania and dementia, found in many schizophrenic patients.

One 2017 study34,35,36 found high doses of vitamins B6, B8 (inositol) and B12 in combination were very effective for improving schizophrenic symptoms — more so than standard drug treatments alone, and particularly when implemented early on.

Low doses were ineffective. Aside from schizophrenia, researchers have found niacin can be successfully used in the treatment of general psychosis, anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. B12 deficiency can also trigger mania, psychosis and paranoid delusions.37,38

One of the reasons for B vitamins’ effect on a wide range of mood disorders and neurological and psychiatric conditions relates to the fact that these vitamins have a direct impact on the methylation cycle, and are required for the production and function of neurotransmitters and the maintenance of myelin, the fatty sheath surrounding your nerve cells.

Without this protective coating, nerve signals become slow and sporadic, which can lead to motor function problems, cognitive losses and changes in mood.

B8 also aids in cell communication, allowing your cells to properly interpret chemical messages and respond accordingly.39 Meanwhile, B6, folate and B12 (in combination with S-adenosylmethionine or SAMe) regulate the synthesis and breakdown of brain chemicals involved in mood control, including serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. Hence, a deficiency in one or more of these B vitamins can also play a role in depression.

Address hormonal imbalances

Perimenopause and other hormonal imbalances are frequently misdiagnosed as depression. Women are now entering perimenopause at younger ages these days; some even before the age of 40, and this phase can last for years. Women who have never had PMS may suddenly experience rather severe symptoms, feeling depressed, moody and irritable.

An antidepressant is not going to solve the problem in this case. Rather, you need to balance your hormones. Basics include a nutritious diet and detoxification to ensure proper liver function. Milk thistle or bupleurum are herbs that can help with this.

Other herbs like dong quai and black cohosh may be helpful against menopausal and PMS symptoms. Bioidentical hormones such as progesterone are another option that may or may not be necessary depending on your situation. Once you hit on the right combination, symptoms will typically recede within two menstrual cycles.

Lifestyle Strategies That Help Combat Anxiety and Depression Without Drugs

Exercise regularly

Exercise, including strength training, is clearly one of the best-kept secrets for depression. In one study, which involved adults diagnosed with mild to moderate depression, researchers looked at exercise alone to treat the condition and found:

  • After 12 weeks, depressive symptoms were cut almost in half in those who participated in 30-minute aerobic exercise sessions, three to five times a week
  • Those who exercised at low-intensity for three and five days a week showed a 30 percent reduction in symptoms
  • Participants who did stretching and flexibility exercises 15 to 20 minutes three days a week averaged a 29 percent decline in depressive symptoms

Address stress and unresolved emotional conflicts

Like so many other families, I have been personally affected by depression. My mother suffered from this problem for a time, and actually made several unsuccessful suicide attempts that really devastated me. This occurred just as I was making the transition into energy medicine, so initially she was treated with medications.

However, the medications and inpatient care were a terrible failure. Ultimately, it was energetic techniques that helped her fully recover from her depression.

Learning how to use an energy psychology tool like the Emotional Freedom Techniques can make an enormous difference if you suffer from depression or any other kind of emotional dysfunction. This energy psychology tool is one of the most powerful methods I know of, and is a crucial element of any successful treatment program. In the video below, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to use this technique for depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps you change how you think about things and has been used successfully to treat depression.40 In fact, several clinical studies have demonstrated that CBT is as effective as antidepressant medication. Within 20 sessions of individual therapy, approximately 75 percent of patients experience a significant decrease in their symptoms.

Unlike more traditional forms of therapy, CBT focuses on “here and now” problems and difficulties, and is a recommended treatment for depression triggered by the stress of moving from one culture and country to another.41 In this case, the therapy assumes mood is related to the pattern of thought. CBT attempts to change mood and reverse depression by directing thought patterns.

Light Therapy

For years, light therapy has been used to treat seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression caused by short winter days and extended darkness. A lack of exposure to sunlight is responsible for the secretion of the hormone melatonin, which can trigger a dispirited mood and a lethargic condition.

Light therapy helps to regulate the body’s internal clock in the same way that sunlight does. Light therapy is an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder, and may reduce symptoms of nonseasonal and major depression as well.

Minimize EMF exposure

Excessive free radicals triggered by low-frequency microwave exposure from wireless technologies have been linked to anxiety and depression, so take precautions to minimize unnecessary exposure. For example, avoid carrying your cellphone on your body, and never sleep with it next to your head or beneath your pillow. Also do not allow your children to sleep with their phones. To learn more, see “The Real Dangers of Electronic Devices and EMFs.”

Massage

One of the best-known benefits of massage therapy is its ability to enhance feelings of well-being. Massage therapy lowers levels of stress hormone cortisol by an average of 30 percent, while increasing serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese treatment in which needles are inserted at specific points in the body. A review of eight controlled trials supported the theory that acupuncture can significantly reduce the severity of depression.

Yoga

Yoga is an ancient system of relaxation, exercise and healing with origins in Indian philosophy, and has been shown to alter your brain chemistry. Some yoga positions are effective in stimulating the release of endorphins and reducing the level of stress hormone cortisol.

Several human studies support the use of yoga for depression, and yoga postures have been specifically shown to increase levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), which may alleviate depression. In one study,42,43 researchers studied the effect of Iyengar yoga classes on participants diagnosed with major depressive disorder who were either not taking medication or had been on the same medication for three months.44

One group was assigned to take a 90-minute yoga class three times a week, plus participate in a 30-minute session at home four times a week. The second group participated in two 90-minute classes and three 30-minute at home sessions.

After three months both groups experienced a reduction in symptoms by at least 50 percent, with no differences in compliance.45 The group who participated seven days a week experienced the greatest reduction in symptoms.

Other research has linked these improvements to changes in GABA, an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in your central nervous system. GABA is responsible for blocking nerve impulses, telling the adjoining nerve cells not to “fire” or send an impulse. Without GABA your nerve cells would fire frequently and easily, triggering anxiety disorders, seizures and conditions such as addiction, headache and cognitive impairments.46

Biofeedback and progressive muscle relaxation

Biofeedback and progressive muscle relaxation may help to reduce stress levels and therefore a primary environmental trigger for depression. In biofeedback, electrical sensors attached to your skin allow you to monitor your biological changes, such as heart rate, and this feedback can help you achieve a deeper state of relaxation. It can also teach you to control your heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension through your mind.

Biofeedback is commonly used in the treatment of stress related conditions such as migraine and tension headaches, fibromyalgia, depression and anxiety. Progressive muscle relaxation may achieve the same level of stress reduction through tensing and relaxing all the major muscle groups from head to toe, thereby helping you to recognize muscle tension.

Visualization

Visualization and guided imagery have been used for decades by elite athletes prior to an event, successful business people and cancer patients — all to achieve better results through convincing your mind you have already achieved successful results.47,48 Similar success has been found in people with depression.49

Spend time in nature and/or listen to nature sounds

Both have been shown to alleviate anxiety and depression. To learn more, see “Nature Heals,” and “Science Reveals Why Nature Sounds and Deep Breathing Are so Relaxing.”

Is Facebook Just A Virtual Platform For Our Ego?

In many ways, Facebook has served us, bringing people from all over the world together. It seems everyone is on Facebook and if they’re not, we’re usually shocked — Really? Wow, how do you even communicate, bro? We all know a few of these elusive people… But, how can I creep your profile and stalk you if you’re not even on Facebook?! Perhaps these people understand some of the darker sides of Facebook.

Without Facebook, there’s a chance I never would have found Collective Evolution online and then moved to Toronto in 2010 to join the team. It has served a powerful purpose for connecting like-minded individuals across the globe and bringing a wave of knowledge and truth to those who are seeking. However, as with basically everything else, this doesn’t come without a cost — as connecting as it can be in a virtual realm, it seems, in reality, many people are feeling more disconnected than ever before. So, why is this?

To the average user, Facebook provides a platform to share our successes, our accomplishments, our fun adventures and our beautiful pictures. But, what about the other side of life; the darker times, the challenges, the real and authentic vulnerability that helps to truly connect us and help us to see that we are not alone? That is where Facebook is lacking.

When we are scrolling through our newsfeed, and we are seeing how great everyone else’s life is — who’s travelling, who’s getting married, who’s having kids, who’s beautiful, who has bought a house etc. It may cause us to feel inadequate in our own lives, why does it seem like everyone else has the perfect life except for me? These are all thoughts I’m sure we have all thought to ourselves at some point or another.

But what we often don’t realize is that the people who we admire are often feeling the same thing as us when they are scrolling through their own newsfeed. It is so important to know that WE ALL FACE CHALLENGES, all of us. This is a natural part of life and ultimately; it’s what is pushing us in the direction to step fully into our purpose and potential.

The Addiction Factor Is Real

In the name of absolute transparency, I am guilty of this. Because a large portion of my job involves Facebook directly I catch myself mindlessly scrolling from time to time. Looking for that next interesting post to give me that quick hit of dopamine, stealing many precious moments away from my day.

When I post something and I hear that little “ding” a part of me is excited to see what it is, did someone “like” my post? Ooh, maybe someone even “loved” it, is there a comment? Says that little voice inside my head. Really, sometimes it leaves me questioning why I am even posting anything to begin with, is it because I authentically have something to share, or that I am bored and seeking some sort of validation or approval?

These thoughts triggered a conversation with a close friend about the idea that Facebook essentially serves as a virtual platform for our egos. In a sense our ego gets to live out this life with a little avatar and share only the most perfect moments, in some cases, the most beautiful and retouched photos, everything that we wish we were, everything that we feel that everyone else wants to see. When we do this however, we are ignoring a huge and important aspect of the shadow side and that is — ourselves.

This side of us is just as important as any other. By embracing this part of ourselves, not only are we able to step through this ‘darkness,’ but by being open and authentic with this facet of ourselves we can in turn, even if unknowingly assist others who may also be struggling.

Related CE Podcast: Ep #17: Who You Truly Are

Drama, Drama, Drama

Okay, so there’s a good chance that we all have a few of those friends who like to use Facebook as a platform to vent, about ex-partners, horrible jobs, hardships, and other drama. Maybe you see these posts and roll your eyes, maybe you can empathize with these words because you have been in a similar scenario, maybe you just love the drama. While there are no rules to this game, and we can use Facebook however you like, a good thing to ask yourself before posting is, how is this serving?

There is a difference between airing your dirty laundry on Facebook and sharing from your heart. The difference is the intention behind it. Do you wish to slander someone else, in order to make yourself feel better? Have you been going through a challenging time and have insight and awareness around the issue that you’d like to share? Are you seeking wisdom from your friends? There are really so many ways to use Facebook.

Anyone who knows me, knows that my life is essentially an open book. I am always willing to share, the good, the bad and the ugly and often I do so on Facebook as well. I do find that when my purpose is to simply share an experience, whether positive or negative, I receive a very heartfelt response. When I share about my challenges, I do so from a place of vulnerability, because I believe that there is tremendous power in being vulnerable.

Often I am overwhelmed with responses of so many people responding with deep appreciation because they too, have been experiencing a similar struggle or issue and, really, it feels damn good to know that we are all going through challenges. When we can allow ourselves to be fully vulnerable and express ourselves from the heart and to use Facebook as a platform to do so we can truly connect, from a place of compassion, empathy and understanding with one another. This takes away from the ego-fuelled attention game that so many of us are unwilling participants in and allows us to see that really, we aren’t so different after all.

Use ‘The Book’ With Intention

Yes, share your successes, and share your accomplishments but, I also challenge you to share the struggle of what brought you there, how did it happen, what roadblocks did you have to push through to get to where you are now? Speak from your heart and speak your truth. Don’t worry so much about what people might think to learn more about the real you, because chances are they will be able to relate in a way you never thought possible, and they may even be inspired, too. Before posting, anything really, ask yourself, what is your intention for posting it? This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t share pictures from your travels, or your new hairdo, but ask yourself why is this important and see what comes up.

We are craving real connection more and more these days and longing for a sense of community. Facebook can serve in this way if this is how we choose to use it. Be mindful of your activity, and most importantly, don’t forget to actually get out and live your life and take a good old break from Facebook from time to time. Go out and do something without any intention of sharing it, do it for you – not to satisfy your ego!

Much Love

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