Archive | HEALTH AND WELLNESS

3 Natural Ways To Treat The Symptoms Of Seasonal Affective Disorder

As winter rages on, many Americans from northern climates may be in the throes of SAD, or seasonal affective disorder — a form of clinical depression that typically worsens as the seasons change. If you’re like most people with the condition, your symptoms are at their worst during the months with the shortest days — December, January, and February.

Interestingly enough, experts say those affected by SAD first experience symptoms between the ages of 18 and 30. This means that millennials may be more likely to experience ongoing symptoms that any other age group. However, millennials are growing up and starting to take wellness seriously. One indicator of this is the fact that 56% of millennials have visited a spa within the last year, according to the International Spa Association. With a greater focus on mental health awareness and treatment options, younger generations can find natural treatments that boost mood and relaxation.

Here are just a few natural treatment options to explore if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms associated with seasonal affective disorder.

Light Therapy

Light therapy is proven to be one of the most effective forms of natural treatment for seasonal affective disorder. Since natural sunlight comes in very limited quantities during the winter months, supplementing the amount you’re exposed to using a light box can help you see significant improvements in mood. Many experts say that light therapy is the best treatment available.

Although the effects of light therapy don’t last too long, getting just 15 to 30 minutes of light therapy each morning can boost your mood for the rest of the day. Light boxes are available without a prescription, but if possible, it’s recommended to consult a health professional before use due to the fact that the treatment involves UV exposure.

Clean Eating

Eating healthy foods can be difficult when your body craves sweets and other junk food, but it’s important to do what you can to try to make healthy replacements whenever possible. Figure out which healthy foods you enjoy, and then incorporate them into as many meals as you can. And don’t be mistaken — contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about nutrition facts. During your next trip to the grocery store, take some time to look at ingredients. A bit of research into our food industry will provide insight regarding many ingredients that are incredibly common in today’s processed foods, yet come with some unsavory health effects that can even affect mood. A good rule of thumb is that the fewer ingredients something has, the cleaner and less processed it is. Again, making small replacements here and there can really help you develop a cleaner diet.

Better Sleep

If you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep as a result of seasonal affective disorder, you may have already tried some natural remedies, like having a cup of tea at bedtime or turning off the television early. But if these methods aren’t doing the trick, using the elements of sound may help you ease into restful sleep. Even something as simple as a beating watch next to your pillow can help soothe your senses and lull you to sleep. The beat of a watch is the sound of it “ticking,” usually about 1/5 of a second — the escape wheel striking the pallets produces the sound. Of course, you can also invest in a sound machine for a wider variety of sounds, or take to YouTube for the virtually infinite white noise options.

Don’t Forget…

These options may help to provide temporary relief from the symptoms associated with seasonal affective disorder. However, they certainly do not replace the informed advice of a medical professional. While you might not be joining the approximately 110 million ER visits that occur annually, you have resources. There are plenty of medical professionals whose sole job is to help patients who are suffering from depression or other mental health issues. And of course, if you or someone you love is in immediate danger due to poor mental health, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day to provide confidential support through both cellular and online chat.

No matter how you look at it, the facts speak volumes: over 80% of depressed individuals do not seek out professional help. And regardless of the type or cause of your depression, understanding natural treatment options and knowing when to reach out to a professional is the key to improving your quality of life.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods To Try This Winter

While it can be easy to spend the summer grazing on healthy fruits and veggies, winter does not lend itself quite as nicely to a fresh foods diet. As the weather turns chilly, people often turn to high-carbohydrate and starchy foods. And without the necessary balance of nutrients, the body can be prone to more inflammation. For the 50 million people who have arthritis especially, this can be painful and can lead to further health conditions.

“There are times when inflammation actually helps us,” Dawna Stone writes in Mind Body Green. “For example, it can be the body’s natural response to eliminate or repair an injury or the body’s response to harmful bacteria. But when things get out of balance and inflammation becomes chronic, it can increase the risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis and cause symptoms like fatigue and joint pain.”

Fortunately, winter is not totally void of inflammation-fighting foods. The following are some seasonal ingredients that you can cook with to boost your health this season.

  1. Brussels Sprouts
    These bunches of green goodness are packed with both fiber and vitamin C. They are also rich in glucosinolate and folate, so they can fight inflammation while keeping you healthier overall. Roast them in the oven to eat as a side or toss them in a salad.
  2. Kale
    This superfood has earned its name, offering high doses of vitamins A, C, B6, and K. By munching on these leaves, you are also helping your body’s ability to eliminate free radicals. Try kale raw or cooked in any of your favorite winter dishes.
  3. Butternut Squash
    When it comes to eating the rainbow, butternut squash is one of the best ways to get the color orange. Full of fiber, as well as vitamins A and C, this sweet seasonal veggie can add antioxidants and fiber to your diet.
  4. Turnips
    While these root veggies may not frequent your dishes, turnips are a tasty way to maintain a low cholesterol diet. They also offer a boost of Vitamin C, which can help protect your immune system this season. Don’t just stop at the root though; turnip greens are tasty as well.
  5. Citrus
    Stock up on oranges this time of year. These juicy fruits are in season during the Winter, giving you all the more reason to get your full supply of vitamin C.

By combining anti-inflammatory foods with other care methods, you can control your join pain and other aspects of your health this winter. For example, about 89% of consumers cite massage as an effective pain-management technique. Remember that much of your own well being is in your hands, so try various methods out until you feel your best.

Study: 50% of Children will be Obese by the Age 35

Childhood obesity has been a major issue in the United States for many years, and now it’s about to become more apparent than ever. Currently, the national childhood obesity rate is 18.5%. However, the LA Times says that by the time today’s children turn 35, 57% of them will be obese.

A study by Harvard researchers says most of the children that are bound to become obese are not currently obese. The study claims that health experts dropped the ball in terms of childhood obesity.

“Our findings highlight the importance of promoting a healthy weight throughout childhood and adulthood,” the researchers said in the study. “A narrow focus solely on preventing childhood obesity will not avert potential future health damage that may be induced by the ongoing obesity epidemic.”

The team of researchers had one specific question they were focusing on in this study. Zachary Ward, the leader of the team, commented on the question.

“We wanted to predict for children now at a certain weight and certain age, what’s the probability that they will have obesity at the age of 35?” Ward said.

The researchers say they picked the age 35 because that’s when many health issues related to weight, including obesity and diabetes, begin.

Along with the study from Harvard, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 20% of children ages six to 19 are already obese.

The study from Harvard that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that children who are currently not obese are the only ones that have a better chance of not becoming obese in the future. On the other side, heavier children have more of a chance of being an obese adult. The study says that an obese two-year-old has a 79% chance of being obese as an adult. An obese 19-year-old has a 94% chance of being obese by the time they reach 35 years of age.

WDTV reports that helping children maintain a healthy weight starts with their parents or guardians.

Ditching Gluten? Study Finds That Fructan May Be To Blame For Stomach Woes

Stomach bothering you? You might find yourself searching the web for some specific cause.

Today, nutritional information is only a click away, so digestive woes often lead people to search for an allergy or intolerance. And in recent years, gluten intolerance has become somewhat of a buzzword for health-conscious individuals.

While many people are giving up this grain protein in suspicion of an intolerance, a recent study brings up another possible culprit:

Fructan.

This is according to a recent study by researchers at Monash University in Australia and the University of Oslo in Norway. Published in Gastroenterology, the study focused on people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The 59 people involved in the study were on gluten free-diets by choice, and they were instructed to eat a diet including gluten, fructan, or a placebo for seven days. They then rated their gastrointestinal discomfort, including stomach pain and bloating, on a scale.

According to Healthline, test subjects who are fructan were higher on this scale than those who ate gluten or the placebo. These research opens possibilities for those who may not need to be eating gluten-free. Dr. Amy Burkhart said in a statement to Healthline that a fructan intolerance test and one for non-celiac gluten sensitivity have not yet been developed. She said that physicians typically start by testing for celiac disease, which affects about 1% of the population.

“Celiac disease must be ruled out before the pathway to determine fructan versus gluten is undertaken, as it will require removal of gluten to determine,” she said. “If gluten is removed from the diet, celiac testing is invalid. If symptoms have resolved with a gluten-free diet, most people will refuse to reintroduce gluten once it is removed… The treatments, diet, and follow-up care are different so differentiation is important.”

Dr. Burkhart also told Healthline that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may soon be classified as non-celiac wheat sensitivity, as researchers learn more about how the components of wheat impact the human body.

“There are other components of wheat that appear to be culprits in gluten sensitivity such as the fructans and amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATI) proteins [found in wheat],” she said. “Others are also being investigated.”

Old Study Sheds New Light on Sugar Industry’s Controversial Past

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), recently uncovered a controversial 1968 study funded by the International Sugar Research Foundation (ISRF) and have compiled a new paper based on their findings.

The 1968 study, titled Project 259, studied the effects of sugar on rats. According to the historical documents the researchers uncovered, preliminary findings revealed that ingesting large amounts of sugar may be associated with heart disease. Shortly after these findings were uncovered, the ISRF pulled funding from the study.

“All we know is that the plug got pulled and nothing got published,” Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at UCSF and a co-author of the new paper, told CNN.

Glantz continued, explaining that very little is known about what the researchers themselves were allowed to do with the data they compiled in that fateful 1968 study.

The study, which seemingly provides hard evidence of the negative effects of ingesting too much sugar, was never published. Countless studies have proven that sugar, as well as other factors, have an effect on oral health. Age, for example, affects oral health in that 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. There’s no reason to hide this information. So why hide the effects of sugar on other health issues?

According to an analysis published by the same UCSF researchers in JAMA International Medicine last year, it’s been suggested that the ISRF later sponsored a study that concluded fat to be “the dietary culprit” in heart disease and related health issues.

The ISRF, now called the Sugar Association, contested the analysis brought forth by UCSF researchers.

“[It’s] not actually a study, but a perspective: a collection of speculations and assumptions about events that happened nearly five decades ago, conducted by a group of researchers and funded by individuals and organizations that are known critics of the sugar industry,” a representative told CNN.

This isn’t the first time a large industry or corporation has attempted to cover up potentially harmful findings, either. Glantz has compared the ISRF’s actions to those of big tobacco, calling them “manipulation science.”

Another such instance of manipulation came in 2015, when The New York Times reported that Coca-Cola had paid scientists to muddle the link between high sugar content and obesity. In addition, The Associated Press discovered that candy makers had funded skewed research in 2016.

These studies can make or break a big industry, which helps, in part, explain why big players might not want the results getting out. But at the same time, research that reveals the health effects of certain foods is critical to shaping federal dietary guidelines.

“Industry-funded research often shows results that are in line with the sponsors’ interests,” Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, told The Verge.

When it comes to medical research, facts such as “99.7% of adults believe a healthy smile is socially important,” and “one in five Americans doesn’t have an ideal bite,” are rarely disputed because the public trusts in the validity of the scientific findings there. It appears the food industry may be another story altogether.

“This wasn’t about science. This was about marketing,” Nestle concluded.