|(Natural News) According to the “Inclusive Communications Task Force” at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, it’s no longer acceptable to say “America” or “Americans” because these words are “racist” and “non-inclusive.” Along with phrases like “food coma” and “long time no see,” the words “America” and “Americans” apparently trigger the left, and thus…|
Insider: “It’s time to decide, do we run the technology, or does the technology run us?” “I really don’t buy the idea that big tech is politically neutral.” “Are we going to just let the […]
By Brandon Smith | 24 July 2019 ALT-MARKET — In the months leading up to the 2016 election I had been predicting a Trump win based on a particular theory which I believe still holds true today […]
|(Natural News) The Alt-Left continues to chip away at America’s founding and American traditions, as evidenced by the San Francisco Board of Education’s decision to paint over a mural depicting the life of our first president and founding father, George Washington. But, according to USA Today, the board’s decision is getting major pushback from a…|
Alzheimer’s disease, a severe and lethal form of dementia, affects over 5 million Americans per year,1 approximately 200,000 of which are under the age of 65. By 2050, prevalence is expected to jump to 16 million, and in the next 20 years it is projected that Alzheimer’s will affect 1 in 4 Americans, rivaling the current prevalence of obesity and diabetes. Telltale symptoms of Alzheimer’s include a decline in memory along with a decline in at least one of the following cognitive abilities:
- Speaking coherently or understanding spoken or written language
- Recognizing or identifying objects
- Ability to perform motor activities
- Abstract thinking and ability to make sound judgments
- Planning and carrying out complex tasks
As of 2014, the annual death toll from Alzheimer’s is thought to be well over half a million,2 making it a greater killer than breast and prostate cancer combined. Between 1999 and 2014 alone, the death rate increased by 55 percent.3 Conventional medicine still has no solid answer to this devastating disease, and while drugs are often recommended, most have been found ineffective.
Alzheimer’s drugs offer little hope
Memantine, sold under the brand name Namenda, for example, has been found to be more or less useless for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. The drug is approved for moderate to severe cases, but doctors often prescribe it off-label for mild cases. A 2011 analysis4 of three clinical trials showed patients with mild Alzheimer’s who took Namenda had no improvement in mental function or their ability to perform everyday tasks when compared to placebo.
Even among moderate to severe Alzheimer’s patients, for which the drug is approved, the researchers found only “meager” improvements. On the other hand, the drug is associated with troubling side effects. Along with dizziness and headache, confusion is listed as one of the most common side effects and this is certainly the last thing a person with Alzheimer’s needs.
Cholinesterase inhibitor drugs such as Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl — which are typically prescribed in combination with memantine — may also do more harm than good. This class of drugs is known to slow your heart rate, significantly increasing your chances of getting a permanent pacemaker, as well as increasing your risk of hip fracture.
Alzheimer’s disease is largely predicated on lifestyle choices
The good news is that Alzheimer’s is largely preventable through healthy lifestyle strategies. There are genetic factors5,6 that can raise your risk, especially the risk of early onset, but this isn’t the case for most people. Genetics also are not a direct and inevitable cause, even when you have genetic predispositions.
The key is to understand what those preventable strategies are. Diet, of course, is a foundational component, and there’s reason to believe the low-fat myth may be a contributor to the Alzheimer’s trend, as your brain needs healthy fats to function properly. The other side of that equation is lowering net carbohydrates, as insulin resistance appears to play an important role7,8,9 — a topic covered in greater depth in “High-Carb Diet May Increase Your Risk of Dementia.”
Indeed, even mild elevation of blood sugar is associated with an elevated risk for dementia.10 Diabetes and heart disease11 are also known to elevate your risk, and both are rooted in insulin resistance. According to Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and author of “Grain Brain” and “Brain Maker,” anything that promotes insulin resistance, like a processed food diet, will ultimately also raise your risk of Alzheimer’s.
While the exact mechanisms are still unclear (and may be manifold), insulin resistance appears to promote cognitive decline by adversely impacting the blood vessels in your brain, promoting the formation of plaques and hindering memory formation, as insulin is involved in your brain’s formation of synaptic connections.
On the other hand, when your body burns fat as its primary fuel, ketones are created, which burn efficiently, are a superior fuel for your brain, and generate fewer reactive oxygen species and less free radical damage. A ketone called beta hydroxybutyrate is also a major epigenetic player, stimulating beneficial changes in DNA expression, thereby reducing inflammation and increasing detoxification and antioxidant production.
Poor sleep linked to increased risk of Alzheimer’s
Sleep is another important component. Stress and poor sleep often go hand in hand and, like stress, lack of restorative sleep can wreak havoc on your brain function. It can actually lead to loss of brain volume,12,13,14 and studies have repeatedly shown poor sleep can contribute to and accelerate onset of Alzheimer’s disease.15
Part of the reason for this is related to the fact that your brain removes toxic waste only during deep sleep.16,17,18,19 Sleep is also necessary for maintaining metabolic homeostasis in your brain.20,21,22 In other words, without sufficient sleep, your neurons begin to degenerate.
Unfortunately, research shows you cannot prevent this damage by trying to catch up on sleep during the weekends. In fact, some of the latest research shows even a single night of poor sleep increases amyloid-beta levels in healthy adults, and the more frequently they experience sleep disruptions, the higher their amyloid-beta levels rise.
Hence, it really is important to maintain a regular sleep schedule where you get enough sleep on a nightly basis. As a general rule, adults need right around eight hours of sleep each night. The study in question was published in the journal Brain.23 As reported by Science News:24
“Healthy adults built up Alzheimer’s-associated proteins in their cerebral spinal fluid when prevented from getting slow-wave sleep, the deepest stage of sleep … Just one night of deep-sleep disruption was enough to increase the amount of amyloid-beta, a protein that clumps into brain cell?killing plaques in people with Alzheimer’s.
People in the study who slept poorly for a week also had more of a protein called tau in their spinal fluid than they did when well rested. Tau snarls itself into tangles inside brain cells of people with the disease …
Without proper deep sleep, brain cells continue to churn out … more A-beta and tau than a well-rested brain. Some research has suggested that toxic proteins get flushed out of the brain during sleep. Messing with slow-wave sleep doesn’t seem to interfere with this wash cycle …”
Deep sleep is essential for waste removal
The link between sleep quality and Alzheimer’s risk was also validated in a recent Neurology study,25,26 which found that people who slept poorly had higher levels of plaque and tangle indicators in their spinal fluid than those who slept well. Animal research27 has also shown that mice that sleep well are able to more effectively clear amyloid-beta from their brain, suggesting the cleansing that occurs during deep sleep indeed does help prevent buildup of these harmful proteins.
The discovery of this brain-cleansing activity is a fairly recent one. It wasn’t until 2012 that researchers published findings28,29 showing your brain has a very unique method of removing toxic waste, similar to the body’s lymphatic system. Because of this similarity, this waste removal system was dubbed the glymphatic system.30,31,32,33 The “g” in glymphatic is a nod to “glial cells,” the brain cells that manage this system.
Now, your lymphatic system does not include your brain, as your brain is a closed system, protected by the blood-brain barrier, which controls what can go through and what cannot. For this reason, it was thought the brain had no way of cleansing itself. As it turns out, the glymphatic system gets into your brain by “piggybacking” on the blood vessels in your brain.
By pumping cerebral spinal fluid through your brain tissue, the glymphatic system flushes the waste from your brain back into your body’s circulatory system. From there, the waste eventually reaches your liver, where it’s ultimately eliminated. The clincher is that this system ramps up its activity during sleep.
During sleep, your glymphatic system becomes 10 times more active than during wakefulness. Simultaneously, your brain cells shrink by about 60 percent, allowing for greater efficiency of waste removal. During the day, the constant brain activity causes your brain cells to swell in size until they take up just over 85 percent of your brain’s volume,34 thereby disallowing effective waste removal.
More recently, researchers discovered35 that the blood-brain barrier naturally tends to become more permeable with age, allowing more toxins to enter. In conjunction with reduced efficiency of the glymphatic system, damage in both your brain and blood-brain barrier can start to accumulate at an increased pace. This deterioration is thought to play a significant role in the development of Alzheimer’s.
The hidden role of sunlight and artificial electromagnetic fields
Your exposure to native and non-native electromagnetic fields (EMFs) also play a role here — both in terms of how these exposures affect your sleep and your brain function. Sunlight is a natural or native form of EMF, whereas magnetic, artificial light, electrical and microwave radiation are forms of non-native or artificial EMF exposures. The latter includes not only your microwave oven but also cellphones, routers and portable phones.
Getting bright sun exposure during the day, especially early in the morning, is one important factor that influences your ability to sleep well at night. If you have trouble sleeping, be sure to spend at least 15 to 30 minutes (or more) outdoors, especially early in the morning, and avoid unopposed blue light sources, especially at night, such as LED and fluorescent lighting and LED electronic screens like tablets, computers and TVs.
You can somewhat mitigate the negative impact of artificial lights and electronic screens in the evening by wearing blue-blocking glasses. I put on my red-colored glasses as soon as the sun sets, as it not only blocks blue but also green and yellow, which can also impair sleep. Also, be sure to sleep in complete darkness. If you can see your hand in front of your face, your bedroom is too bright.
Recent research36 reveals even dim light exposure during sleep can affect your cognition the next day, specifically your cognition and working memory. Artificial EMFs, including microwave radiation from your cellphone, Wi-Fi routers, smart meters and more, and electromagnetic interference from the electric grid (dirty electricity), not only disrupt your sleep, but also contribute to Alzheimer’s more directly by acting as mitochondrial poisons.
How microwave radiation poisons mitochondria and damages your brain
Due to the pioneering work37,38,39,40 of Dr. Martin Pall, we now know that voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs) are over 7 million times more sensitive to microwave radiation from cell phones, portable phones, Wi-Fi, smart meters and baby monitors, than the charged particles inside and outside our cells. This means the safety standards for this exposure are off by a factor of 7 million.
When these EMFs hit your VGCCs, nearly 1 million calcium ions per second are released into the cell, which then causes the following devastating chain of events: First, the cell releases excessive nitric oxide, which combines with superoxide to form peroxynitrite. The peroxynitrites then form hydroxyl free radicals — the most destructive free radicals known to man, which causes massive mitochondrial dysfunction.
The tissues with the greatest density of VGCCs include your brain and the electrical conduction system of your heart. When the VGCCs in your brain are activated, it causes a major disruption in neurotransmitter and hormonal balance that can radically increase the risk for anxiety, depression, autism, ADHD and Alzheimer’s.
Failure to take steps to minimize exposure not only will damage your DNA and increase your risk of most chronic illness, but also seriously impair your body’s ability to remove toxins, and significantly impair your immune response to address the large variety of infectious assaults.
Based on what I’ve found so far, I’m convinced artificial EMF exposures are a significant health threat and a hidden factor underlying many chronic diseases, especially neurological problems such as depression and dementia.
Personally, I never keep my cellphone on my body unless it is in airplane mode, and keep the phone away from my body with a selfie stick while speaking on it. I also strongly recommend shutting off your Wi-Fi at night. You clearly don’t need it while sleeping. All it does is raise your risk for health problems, including Alzheimer’s.
Guidelines for maintaining healthy brain function with age
I do not believe failing memory and eventual dementia are par for the course for aging. Nor do I believe Alzheimer’s is an inevitability for a majority of our elderly population. Among the main culprits are a low-fat, high-sugar diet, excessive EMF exposure combined with lack of sun exposure and poor sleep. But there are many other contributing factors as well. Below is a summary of prevention strategies covered above and in previous articles:
Eat real food, ideally organic — Avoid processed foods of all kinds, as they contain a number of ingredients harmful to your brain, including refined sugar, processed fructose, grains (particularly gluten), vegetable oils, genetically engineered ingredients and pesticides like glyphosate. In one animal study, a junk food diet high in sugar resulted in impaired memory after just one week.41
Ideally, keep your added sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you already have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders. As a general rule, you’ll want to keep your fasting insulin levels below 3.
Opting for organic produce will help you avoid synthetic pesticides and herbicides. Most will also benefit from a gluten-free diet, as gluten makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream, where they sensitize your immune system and promote inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s. Research also shows your blood-brain barrier is negatively affected by gluten.
Replace refined carbohydrates with healthy fats — Contrary to popular belief, the ideal fuel for your brain is not glucose but ketones. Ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat into energy.
The medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil and MCT oil are a great source of ketone bodies. Other healthy fats include avocados, butter, clarified butter (ghee), organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, grass fed meats and raw nuts such as pecans and macadamia.
Avoid all trans fats or hydrogenated fats. This includes margarine, vegetable oils and various butter-like spreads. Also make sure you’re getting enough animal-based omega-3 fats by eating fatty fish such as wild Alaskan salmon (which is not allowed to be farmed or genetically engineered), anchovies, sardines and herring, or by taking a supplement like krill oil.
High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help prevent cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thereby slowing down its progression and lowering your risk of developing the disorder in the first place.
Eat plenty of folate-rich vegetables — Avoid supplements like folic acid, which is the inferior synthetic version of folate. Juicing your vegetables is an excellent option to ensure you’re getting enough of them in your diet.
Optimize your gut flora — To do this, avoid processed foods, antibiotics and antibacterial products, fluoridated and chlorinated water, and be sure to eat traditionally fermented and cultured foods, along with a high-quality probiotic if needed. Dr. Steven Gundry does an excellent job of expanding on this in his new book “The Plant Paradox.”
Glyphosate, which is one of the most widely used agricultural chemicals today, causes extreme disruption of your gut microbes’ function and lifecycle; preferentially affecting beneficial bacteria while promoting the growth of pathogens in your intestines. It also inhibits enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of organic substances, which appears to be an overlooked component of glyphosate’s toxicity to mammals.
By limiting the ability of these enzymes to detoxify foreign chemical compounds, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of chemicals and environmental toxins. Glyphosate contamination is most prevalent in genetically engineered grains, which are now pervasive in most processed foods sold in the U.S.
Optimize your magnesium levels — Preliminary research strongly suggests a decrease in Alzheimer symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Unfortunately, most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood-brain levels, but a new one, magnesium threonate, appears to and holds some promise for the future for treating this condition, and may be superior to other forms.
Intermittently fast — Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to jump-start your body into remembering how to burn fat and repair the insulin/leptin resistance that is a primary contributing factor for Alzheimer’s.
If you enjoy black coffee, keep the habit — While I would not encourage you to drink coffee if you’re not already a coffee drinker, if you enjoy it, there’s good news. Caffeine triggers the release of BDNF that activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, thereby improving your brain health.
In one study, people with mild cognitive impairment whose blood levels of caffeine were higher (due to coffee consumption) were less likely to progress to full-blown dementia compared to those who did not drink coffee.42 In another study, older women whose coffee consumption was above average had a lower risk of dementia.43
Just make sure your coffee is organic, as coffee tends to be heavily sprayed with pesticides. For more details on making your coffee habit as healthy as possible, please see my previous article, “Black Coffee in the Morning May Provide Valuable Health Benefits.”
Beneficial Lifestyle Strategies
Move regularly and consistently throughout the day — It’s been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized,44 thus slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1 alpha. Research has shown people with Alzheimer’s have less PGC-1 alpha in their brains and cells that contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s.
The following lecture by physical therapist Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Ph.D., details the impact of exercise on dementia prevention and treatment.
Get plenty of restorative sleep — Sleep is necessary for maintaining metabolic homeostasis in your brain. Wakefulness is associated with mitochondrial stress; without sufficient sleep, neuron degeneration sets in. While sleep problems are common in Alzheimer’s patients, poor sleep may also be contributing to the disease by driving the buildup of amyloid plaques in your brain.
While you sleep, your brain flushes out waste materials, and if you don’t sleep well, this natural detoxification and clean-out process will be severely hampered.
Address your stress — My favorite tool for stress management is the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).
Get sensible sun exposure — Research shows people living in northern latitudes have higher rates of death from dementia and Alzheimer’s than those living in sunnier areas, suggesting vitamin D and/or sun exposure are important factors.45 Sufficient vitamin D is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s.
Researchers also believe optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health. If you are unable to get sufficient amounts of sun exposure, make sure to take daily supplemental vitamin D3 to make your blood level at least 40 to 60 ng/ml. This is typically about 8,000 units of vitamin D for most adults.
That said, it’s important to recognize that sun exposure is important for reasons unrelated to vitamin D. Your brain responds to the near-infrared light in sunlight in a process called photobiomodulation.
Research shows near-infrared stimulation of the brain boosts cognition and reduces symptoms of Alzheimer’s, including more advanced stages of the disease. Delivering near-infrared light to the compromised mitochondria synthesizes gene transcription factors that trigger cellular repair, and your brain is one of the most mitochondrial-dense organs in your body.
Dramatically reduce your exposure to non-native EMFs (cellphones, Wi-Fi routers, modems and more) — The primary pathology behind cellphone damage is not related specifically to brain tumors, or even to cancer. The real danger lies in damage from the reactive nitrogen species peroxynitrites.46 Increased peroxynitrites from cellphone exposure will damage your mitochondria, and your brain is the most mitochondrial-dense organ in your body.
Increased peroxynitrite generation has also been associated with increased levels of systemic inflammation by triggering cytokine storms, autonomic hormonal dysfunction and mitochondrial dysfunction.
Peroxynitrite is an unstable structural ion produced in your body after nitric oxide is exposed to superoxide, and this complex chemical process begins with exposure to low-frequency microwave radiation from your cellphone, Wi-Fi and cellphone towers.47,48
Avoid and eliminate mercury from your body — Dental amalgam fillings are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity; however, you should be healthy before having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.
Avoid and eliminate aluminum from your body — Common sources of aluminum include antiperspirants, nonstick cookware and vaccine adjuvants. For tips on how to detox aluminum, please see my article, “First Case Study to Show Direct Link between Alzheimer’s and Aluminum Toxicity.” There is some suggestion that certain mineral waters high in silicic acid may help your body eliminate aluminum.
Avoid flu vaccinations — Most flu vaccines contain both mercury and aluminum.
Avoid statins and anticholinergic drugs — Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers.
Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10 and neurotransmitter precursors, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.
Challenge your mind daily — Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Astaxanthin readily crosses your blood-brain barrier; one study49 found it may help prevent neurodegeneration associated with oxidative stress and make for a potent natural “brain food.”
You can get some astaxanthin by taking krill oil, which is a fantastic omega-3 fat supplement. Boost your astaxanthin even more by adding a pure astaxanthin supplement to your nutritional regimen. For optimal absorption, make sure to take krill oil and/or astaxanthin with a fat-containing meal, since both are fat-soluble.
Gingko biloba — A1997 study50 showed Ginkgo improves cognitive performance and social functioning for those suffering from dementia. Another 2006 study51 found Gingko as effective as the dementia drug Aricept (donepezil) for treating mild to moderate Alzheimer’s type dementia. A 2010 meta-analysis52 also found Gingko biloba to be effective for a variety of types of dementia.
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) — ALA has been shown to help stabilize cognitive functions among Alzheimer’s patients and may slow the progression of the disease.53,54
Vitamin B12 — A small Finnish study55 found people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s. For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12 the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was reduced by 2 percent.
Sublingual methylcobalamin may be your best bet here. Large doses of B vitamins can halve the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people with memory problems. It may slow their progression toward dementia. Another two-year clinical trial56 assessing the effect of B vitamins on mild cognitive impairment found that high doses of B vitamins successfully limited brain shrinkage.
- What are sesame seeds?
- Sesame seeds may have health benefits
- The various culinary uses of sesame seeds
- How to grow and store sesame seeds in your own home
- Before using sesame seeds, reduce their lectin content first
- Cooking with sesame: Easy sesame seed chicken recipe
- Recommended uses for sesame seed oil
- Remember to use sesame seeds and oil in moderation
Sesame seeds are popular for culinary preparations, but they can have a host of benefits as well. Discover interesting facts about these seeds, as well as their many uses.
Sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) are some of the oldest plants cultivated, with a history dating back thousands of years in various cultures.1 Hindus viewed sesame seeds as a symbol of immortality, while Egyptians and Persians used them as flour. Today, they’re used for cooking or as a condiment, with China, India and Japan being the most prominent users of sesame as an oil.2
Sesame seeds are mainly harvested for their oil, but both the seeds and oil may be useful in various therapeutic applications. Research has found that sesame may help:
- Manage pain better — A study showed that patients affected with knee osteoarthritis who took sesame seeds for two months experienced fewer symptoms.3
- Boost wound recovery — The oil in sesame seeds may help speed up skin healing upon topical application.4
- Increase antioxidant levels — Intake of sesame seeds may help boost the amount of enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidants running through your system, which may help combat oxidative stress caused by diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, according to the Journal of Medicinal Food.5
- Manage hypertension — Research published in Nutrition Journal noted that black sesame (a variety of sesame seed) exhibited antihypertensive effects.6
Sesame seeds are crucial for industrial purposes as well. It’s used for preparing perfumes, cologne and cosmetic products. It’s even added to paints and lubricants, as well as a key ingredient to biodiesel.7
Sesame seeds are mostly associated with Asian cuisine, such as Japanese and Chinese. Popular foods and dishes with which they’re used include:
- Chicken — Sesame seeds can serve as tasty coatings for chicken cuts if you’re looking to create meals with an Asian flair.8
- Tahini — Essentially a sesame seed paste, this dish is a core ingredient in making hummus, but can also stand on its own as a dip or as a flavoring for other dishes.9
- Gomasio — Made of sesame seeds and a very small amount of salt, it is usually used as a condiment to give dishes a nutty flavor.10
- Salads — You can sprinkle sesame seeds on top of salads to add more flavor.11
While popular in cooking, take note that sesame seeds contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acid, which may disrupt your omega 3-to-6 ratio. A quarter cup alone has 7.69 grams, while its omega-3 content is only a measly 0.14 grams.12 If you wish to use sesame seeds, only do so in very moderate amounts.
Growing sesame seeds is generally an easy and low-maintenance affair, but requires patience on your part before you can fully reap the rewards. An article from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at the University of Florida notes that sesame seeds can take as much as five months before they sprout.13
Gardening Know How recommends planting sesame seeds indoors “four to six weeks before the last expected frost.”14 However, you may plant sesame seeds directly into the ground after a frost if you live in the Southern states. Place the seeds in rows in the ground during late spring and make sure to space them 2 to 3 feet apart, because they can grow 3 to 6 feet tall.15
After planting the seeds, keep the soil moist to ensure successful germination. Exposure to the sun must be at its maximum as well.16 Harvest the seeds when the top of the stalks dry out, and lay them flat on the ground for drying. However, be careful when collecting the seedpods as they can easily crack.17,18
While sesame seeds may potentially benefit your health, one caveat about them is their lectin content, such as phytic acid.19 Lectins are carbohydrate-bonding proteins that hamper nutrient absorption, ultimately affecting your health by damaging your intestines if your digestive enzymes are not optimized.20
To help reduce the lectins in sesame seeds and other seeds for safe consumption, they must be sprouted or soaked overnight. Again, remember to use them in moderation because of their high omega-6 content. Excess omega-6 fatty acid consumption has been linked to “low-grade inflammation, oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis.”21
Sesame is known for its prominent nutty flavor that lends itself wonderfully to soups, salads and meats. If you haven’t cooked with sesame seeds before, try this chicken recipe adapted from Gimme Delicious Food that’s bursting with delectability. It’s an easy dish to prepare, and is guaranteed to be a regular in your menu in the years to come:22
Healthier 20-Minute Sesame Chicken
- In a large bowl, combine the chicken, cornstarch and the pinch of salt and pepper.
- Heat a large pan to high heat for at least two minutes. Add the coconut oil and chicken to the pan. Stir-fry the chicken for five to six minutes or until it is golden brown.
- In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, honey, sriracha, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds and coconut oil. Add the mixture of the chicken and allow the sauce to simmer for three to four minutes or until thick and sticky.
- Remove the chicken from the pan, then sprinkle with chopped spring onions.
Sesame oil is a liquid derived from black or white sesame seeds through cold-pressing and filtering.23 While the oil may be beneficial, it should be consumed in moderation because it is high in omega-6 fats.
So, this may leave you wondering: If you should limit sesame oil in your foods, are there any other ways to get its benefits? The answer is yes — research suggests sesame oil may be useful in topical applications, for example as a:
- Sunscreen — Sesame oil can be applied on the skin as a natural sunblock. One study notes that it can help repel 30% of harmful UV rays.24 However, it is easily removed once you get in the water, so you may need to reapply again afterward.
- Scalp conditioner — Massaging the oil into your scalp may help keep it healthy, as well as keep your hair strong and shiny. One study found that sesame oil, as well as pumpkin seed oil, may be effective remedies for alopecia areata.25
Sesame seeds may offer potential health benefits, but make sure to consume just the right amounts to maintain your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Use them in moderation when cooking to give your dishes an Asian flavor without the potential negative effects. As for sesame oil, using it topically may be a better approach.
Stress is a response in the body that enables us to run, take down prey or run from predators, also known as the flight-or-fight response. Unfortunately, many of the same life-saving reactions your body uses to protect you from danger may also be triggered as a response to cope with the rising prices of gasoline, a fear of public speaking or dealing with difficult bosses.
In other words, the body sometimes has a difficult time turning stress off. The good news is there are several strategies you might consider to relieve the response and reduce the negative health effects if you are dealing with a lot of psychological or physical stress. However, while TV commercials and other advertising may insinuate that we should all be living in a perfect world, in truth, a world without stress may kill you.
According to Psychology Today,1 stress is the perceived disconnection between what is happening and your resources to deal with the situation. This means stress could be a real or imagined threat since the operative word is perceived.
Psychologists say too much is toxic but a little is needed for mental and physical resiliency.2 For instance, without societal stress to do well in school, students may not study or show up for class. However, major stressors may be debilitating, such as caring for someone with a chronic or debilitating disease or losing your job.
Researchers have also found mild physical stress may help improve development. A team from Johns Hopkins University3 followed 137 pregnant women and followed up with their 2-year-old children. They found a mild amount of anxiety and stress during pregnancy was associated with more advanced physical development in their children.
The researchers found prenatal maternal stress did not impact the child’s temperament, attention or their ability to control behavior.4 As with most biological processes, there is a balance, as too much has a negative impact and too little may not offer enough challenge to bodily systems.
Chromatin key to stress response and longevity
Recent research from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research found that chromatin stress triggers a cellular response that may lead to a longer life. In order for an organism to survive they must be able to adapt to changing conditions. The cellular response dedicated to this affects how the genome is structured.5
Inside cells that contain a nucleus, DNA is packaged with histone proteins to create a structure known as nucleosomes, which are further condensed into chromatin.6 The overall packaging determines the expression of your genetic code. This expression is impacted by environmental stress.7
Everything involved in reading your DNA must deal with the chromatin structure, according to scientists from the Baylor College of Medicine.8 Corresponding author Weiwei Dang9 explained that when a particular gene is expressed, enzymes will interact with the chromatin to negotiate access in order to translate the information into specific proteins.
With chromatin stress, the disruption may also lead to unwanted changes in genetic expression. During this study, the team worked with yeast to determine how histone genes would affect longevity.10 The team deleted histone H3-H4 minor locus HHT1-HHF1,11 unexpectedly finding that with this reduced number of genes, the yeast replicated longer.
The response to chromatin disruption in the yeast changed the activation to genes that eventually promoted longevity of the yeast cells. This stress occurred in other organisms as well, including a laboratory worm and fruit fly as well as mouse embryonic stem cells, all promoting longevity.12
Mitochondria produce energy and sustain life
Your mitochondria have enormous potential to influence your health. They are essentially tiny powerhouses found in most of the cells in your body. They form an interconnected network allowing the distribution of energy.13
Mitochondria work by transferring electrons from fat and sugars into oxygen during the process of generating adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is the “energy currency” used by your body’s cells.14
Mitochondria are unique in that they have their own genetic code different from nuclear DNA,15 known as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). They also have cellular, molecular and behavioral responses to stress that require more energy.16
Mitochondria intersect psychological and biological stress
During stress, mitochondrial function changes to guard against disease as you age. One stress response pathway in the cells is called the unfolded protein response (UPR) with several divisions that handle a number of functions at the cellular level.17
Changes in DNA expression are affected by the structure of chromatin.18 One study19 demonstrated that enzymes that modify histones have a significant role in the UPR response. By using genetic screening, the team found the LIN-65 gene was important to the induction of mitochondrial UPR to extend lifespan, but it occurred even in the absence of LIN-65, which could mean there were other pathways.
As well as being important to increasing longevity, the mitochondrial stress response may also be “an intersection point between psychosocial experiences and biological stress responses.”20 In a review of 23 animal studies it was noted that the evidence indicates acute and chronic stress influence mitochondrial biology.
Maladaptive changes in the mitochondria, called mitochondrial allostatic load,21 are potentially able to convert psychosocial experiences into physiological changes.22 This understanding has far-reaching consequences.
Chromatin remodeling may affect physiological change
For instance, in one study23 researchers found initial evidence that different types of interactions with infants and young children generates differences triggering chromatin remodeling. This gives us one possible explanation for why molecular changes in early development result in lifelong emotional responses.
Researchers hypothesize this may provide insights into how experiences move from external stimuli to internal biological changes through chromatin remodeling, and then emotional changes as an adult.24 In other words, mitochondrial stress changes chromatin early in life and may have a significant impact on later development.
An animal study25 from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia showed how alterations in mitochondria could lead to physiological changes in response to mild stress.
This also affected how the mammals responded to changes in their environment and may have profound implications on the idea that neuropsychiatric diseases are hereditary. Researchers find the implication in this study may suggest new therapies for neuropsychiatric diseases and make people more resilient to environmental changes.26
Exercise stress produces beneficial mitochondrial change
Since mitochondria supply energy for growth and development, this means they are responsible for the lifespan of most cells. A buildup of the remnants of proteins and oxidative damage, among other things (known as “debris”) drives biological aging, chronic inflammation and cell deterioration.27
In one study28 from Mayo Clinic, 72 men and women were split into younger and older groups and then further split into three exercise programs: high intensity, strength training and a combination. The researchers’ goal was to evaluate exercise stress on gene transcription and mitochondrial respiration.
At the end of the experiment, biopsies were taken from participants’ thigh muscles and the molecular makeup was compared against those from members of the control group. The control group had not been exercising. Researchers discovered29 that strength training may build muscle but high intensity interval training (HIIT) has the most value on a cellular level.
HIIT exercise appeared to minimize damage to mitochondria from the accumulation of debris as we age.30 Those who were in the HIIT group experienced greater insulin sensitivity but less growth of muscle strength.
The younger participants taking part in the interval training experienced up to a 49% increase in mitochondrial capacity, but it was the older participants who experienced a more dramatic response of a 69% increase.31
Physical stress also affects brain tissue
Another research group undertook an animal study32 to determine if some of the same mitochondrial benefits experienced in skeletal muscle happened in brain tissue. They believe the results of their study suggest exercise training, even in older mice, could improve neurological mitochondrial function.
The results of these studies support a past paper33 in which the authors proposed that while advancements have increased life expectancy, knowledge of what’s happening on the molecular and cellular level may extend maximal lifespan.
In reviewing the literature, they found a common thread emerging in experiments using plants and animals: The regulation of life and aging is in the mitochondrial system. Additionally, decay may be counteracted with physical activity and regular aerobic exercise may increase or prolong life at the mitochondrial level.34
Dietary factors promote mitochondrial longevity
Past research35 involving lab animals has demonstrated that limiting calorie intake has a positive impact on realizing a longer lifespan. Manipulating mitochondrial networks through fasting or genetic manipulation has demonstrated the ability to increase lifespan.
A study36 by a Harvard research team investigated the basic biology involved and how dietary restriction promotes healthy aging. The researchers used nematode worms. These worms have a normal lifespan of just two weeks, and allowed the team to study lifespans in real time.37
Restricting the worm’s diet, or genetically altering their mitochondria, kept the mitochondrial network in a more youthful state and increased the worms’ lifespans. The researchers believe their results demonstrate how the flexibility of mitochondrial networks is used in a fasting state to lengthen a person’s life.38
Scientists who conducted a different study39 evaluated the damage done by dietary overload on mitochondrial function, which may lead to premature tissue aging. They designed weekly schedules of fasting and demonstrated it was effective in limiting mitochondrial damage.
The test subjects’ tissues were able to maintain efficient mitochondrial respiration in skeletal muscle and showed an improvement in blood glucose profiles. The team concluded40 fasting might represent an effective strategy to limit mitochondrial impairment and improve metabolic flexibility, which is not found in those who typically consume a western diet.
Strategies to mediate overwhelming stress response
Although a slight amount of stress helps your mitochondria stay healthy and lengthen your life, overwhelming stress has the opposite effect. Excess stress plays a role in negatively affecting your immune system, gut health, emotions and sleep.41
Stress is one of the biggest challenges facing many U.S. adults,42,43 negatively impacting mental and physical health.44 The American Psychological Association’s 2015 Stress in America survey45 revealed a sizable number of adults do not feel they are doing enough to manage their stress.
Stress levels are also rising as 25% in 2015 said they felt over the past month “fairly often” or “very often” problems were piling up so high they couldn’t overcome them, compared to 16% in 2014. On average, those who reported having emotional support experienced lower stress levels than those who reported no emotional support.46
While a little stress helps your body to accommodate to change and increases your longevity, overwhelming stress may affect your mental and physical health. In the following articles you’ll find strategies to help alleviate your stress levels. Some strategies you may try under acute stress no matter where you are, and others you may use to help alleviate and control stress long-term.
- Documentary Examines How Stress Kills
- A Simple Way to Reduce Stress
- Meditation Actually Alleviates Stress
- 8 Stress-Busting Tips from Experts
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