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Reasons to be cheerful…

Depression, it’s become another modern day epidemic.

According to the WHO, the World Health Organisation:

  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease
  • More women are affected by depression than men
  • At its worst, depression can lead to suicide

That’s a sad reality.

heard a statistic that shocked me this morning.

In 2016, there were 44,965 suicides in the United States of America, and that figure is likely low, due to under-reporting. Can you visualise in your mind’s eye what 45 thousand people looks like, if they all stood in a big field in one place? Yikes. Suicide rates per 100,000 of population are slightly lower in the UK, but we still saw over 5,800 suicides in the same time period.

It makes me wonder what is going wrong in our modern society that so many people take their own lives, living in such rich, abundant societies. In wealthy nations such as the US and the UK, we supposedly ‘have it all’ in wealth, healthcare, standard of living, yet so many people are so unhappy that their paths lead to suicide. I think about this too much, and it leads me to tears, as a father and as a citizen, it’s such a sad fact of our modern lives.

It makes me think ‘clearly wealth and possessions don’t automatically mean happiness’. I mean, in the US and the UK we have so much that folks in poorer countries do not…

  • Social and political freedoms
  • We have the best modern healthcare
  • Never-before-seen-in-human-history low infant mortality
  • Ubiquitous public sanitation
  • Clean drinking water for all
  • Electricity and heating for every home
  • State healthcare
  • Welfare systems
  • Flushing toilets

Billions of humans live in other countries without these luxuries, we should all be counting our blessings every day!

There seems to be little correlation between wealth and suicide at a national level.

But I meet people every day who are miserable, unhappy, complaining of anxiety and depression. They have warm comfortable homes, modern cars, every comfort and luxury. Their biggest worry is where to take their annual holiday, which episode of some TV series to watch, or which take-away pizza toppings to order. Clearly, depression is not caused by the difficulty of our life circumstances, or at least it’s not that alone.

Which begs the question, and yes I know I am massively over-simplifying things here (come on, it’s a short blog post, not a PhD thesis), if people in rich countries who have freedom and every luxury can be depressed, while people in poor countries with few possessions or luxuries can be happy, then what is causing much of the depression in our society?

Of course, such a huge discussion is beyond the scope of this blog post, and there are many varied causes behind depression. Trauma, abuse, psychological harm, biochemical imbalances, a myriad of social and psychological factors, and while I am unqualified and unskilled in this area, I am sure no two cases are ever the same, and everyone is different.

But I do have some personal experience, having been through depression myself at one time in my life; and I have some knowledge through studies and experiences of how lifestyle and dietary factors can exacerbate some cases of depression, or help alleviate them.

I’m not saying any quack nonsense about “Just cheer up and eat some broccoli and you’ll be fine!” I think we all know it’s a bit more complicated than that…and as I wrote above, there are doubtless no two cases of depression that are the same, with no two same causes and no two same cures.

But there are some things you can do to help ensure that biologically, your brain is working optimally.

  • You can get more sleep. Sleep deprivation is a well known contributing causal factor in many brain disorders, including anxiety and depression. Sitting up til 3am watching TV, checking Facebook on your phone at four in the morning, shift work and chronic long-term sleep deprivation are all no-no’s, and these are factors you can control. Get to bed soon after 10pm, make sure your bedroom is cool, properly dark, well ventilated (clean behind wardrobes to remove mould and excess dust), and leave the electronic devices downstairs – bed is for sleep, love making and reading a book, nothing else.
  • Get more sunshine. It’s a fact that around 70% or so of the UK population are somewhat deficient in vitamin D. The best way to get optimal vitamin D is to expose your skin to the sun, so with most folks working indoors these days, and given our grey weather much of the year, vitamin D can be a real challenge! Whenever you can, get outside and get some skin on show. Eat plenty of oily fish, eggs and liver. Consider having your vitamin D tested and maybe taking a supplement for the winter half of the year.
  • Improve your diet. While it remains scientifically unproven at this point in time, I feel sure that in the future studies will show that diet has more of an impact on mental health than we currently credit it for. Don’t wait, improve your diet now:
    • Zinc plays many relevant roles in brain health, including helping with libido, stress coping, dopamine production, depression and more. Eat plenty of fresh oily fish, shellfish, free-range eggs and nuts to keep zinc high in your diet.
    • Magnesium has been shown to have links to anxiety, learning ability, confusion, irritability and insomnia. Keep magnesium high by eating lots of fresh leafy greens, fish, nuts and seeds.
    • Don’t starve, and avoid the fad diets. Studies suggest that severe calorie restriction can exacerbate anxiety and stress.
    • Your brain is made of mostly fat and water, so ensure you nourish it well by keeping both high in your diet – good fats from oily fish, organ meats, free-range eggs, avocado, grass-fed butter, olive oil and nuts are all good, plus stay well hydrated which helps combat fatigue in many ways.
  • Exercise is a proven way to combat stress, anxiety and depression. Establish a daily habit of taking some exercise, keep it varied and fun, try to find a participation sport you enjoy. Regular movement and exercise has also been proven to help reduce and slow dementia in the elderly.
  • Practice mindfulness and meditation, work over time to develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’ and always try to see all the good in your life – focus on the good, not the challenges.

Maybe you noticed, that all these tips are already encapsulated in the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet, a healthy lifestyle that’s good for both your mind and your body.

I can’t promise you that a jog round the block and a plate full of broccoli will cure anything, including depression, but Mother Nature’s Diet is all about teaching preventive medicine, and living this way can ensure your brain is functioning as well as possible biologically, to help you cope with everything life throws at you, the good and the bad.

Let’s help spread the word to as many people as possible.

To your good health!

Karl

 

Life hacks: the devil is in the detail…

Life hacks.

For the longest time, that phrase has annoyed me. It’s not the actual words, I mean, to be fair ‘life hacks’ sounds kinda cool, it’s the notion of ‘hacking life’ that bothers me.

  • We rush too much these days.
  • We skimp on meaningful relationships.
  • We rely too much on technology.

So the idea of ‘hacking’ life more, seems anathema to so many things I hold dear – the slow food movement, personal responsibility for our own health and well-being, spending time out in nature, relaxing, taking a digital detox, nurturing our personal relationships, offline, face-to-face.

I have written a couple of popular blog posts about this before.

But as I think on it, in many respects maybe the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet are just that – life hacks.

I mean – it’s 12 simple one-liners, taking my 28-year journey of learning, all my reading and studies and the seminars I have attended, all my life experience and the many experts I have interviewed, worked with or learned from, and distilling it all into 12 simple one-line statements for you to follow.

If you have the time, and you want to learn some of what is behind those 12 simple statements, then you can read the short version here, or buy the book here and learn lots more. But if you are pushed for time, if life is demanding, or stressful, then just print off this sheet and do what it says, just follow the 12 Core Principles as you will gain health benefits – weight loss, more energy, resist the signs of ageing and more.

The devil is in the detail

Personally, I am a details kinda guy, I like to read the books, dig into the studies, do the research, I like to find it all out and become immersed in it…

But only for the stuff that interests me.

  • Cancer prevention – bring it on, I am totally into that, I want to read and learn everything.
  • Fitness and strength – yeah baby, gimme those books and studies, I love that shit.
  • Anti-ageing strategies – hell yeah, I’m all over that, I want complete immersion, I am a sponge for learning more.

But…

  • Running my business to be most tax efficient – zzzzzzz can you hear me snoring already?
  • Getting my car serviced – oh dear, is it that time again?
  • My wife wants me to help her pick a new carpet for the landing sand stairs – oh I’m sorry dear I am too busy, I must re-arrange my sock drawer…

You see, the things that interest me, like cancer prevention, weight loss, strength and fitness, anti-ageing, nutrition and diet, I love these things, I have an almost infinite capacity for learning more about these topics. I am the ‘target market’ for that stuff. I want to buy the books, attend the seminars, buy the study courses, meet like-minded people, sign me up baby I’m all over that shit!

But the things that bore me to death, like renewing my home insurance, talking to my accountant about tax, getting the car serviced, booking an annual check-up with my dentist, buying a new carpet or arranging a service for the gas boiler, I don’t want to spend any time on these things at all. I hate these things!

In fact, I would gladly pay someone to help handle these things for me, to free up more of my time to study the cancer prevention, anti-ageing and fitness training.

So I guess this is what life hacking is all about.

  • I don’t want to hack the long walk on the hills.
  • I don’t want to hack cooking that slow-roasted joint of pork.
  • I don’t want to hack time sat in a cancer prevention seminar.
  • But boy oh boy I wanna hack filling out my tax return…

And in fact I DO hack filling out my tax return – I pay my accountant to do it for me.

What about you?

What do you like to savour, go slow, enjoy and immerse yourself in every minute? And what do you want to just hack, to get it done as quickly as possible?

What about your health and fitness?

Do you want to life hack this healthy living thing?

If you want to lose a few pounds, shape up, feel better and have more energy, but the idea of learning about it all bores you half to death, then just do this:

  • Step 1: print this sheet here, print about 5 copies
  • Step 2: stick one on your fridge, one in your wardrobe door where you dress, one near your bathroom or bedroom mirror (the place where you see yourself naked), one in your place of work, and one on the kitchen cupboard that contains the ‘bad things’ (you know, your weakness, those biscuits or chocolate bars or whatever it is)
  • Step 3: Then JFDI – just follow the 12 Core Principles. Don’t ask, don’t question, just trust me for 90 days of your life. You WILL get positive results if you do what it says.

That’s it, simples. Health = hacked.

Or if you are a bit of a secret nutrition nerd like me, and you wanna do some learning, then go buy the book, here, and read it, and I know you’ll learn some stuff and feel inspired.

Want to go even deeper? Come join the MND Life! community and meet like-minded people who also love healthy living and want to be the best versions of themselves that they can be.

Now, maybe I don’t dislike the phrase ‘life hack’ as much as I used to. Perhaps we all want to hack the things we hate wasting our time on, and maybe we want to do the opposite of hack, some kind of ‘slow down, unpack and unpick’, the things we love.

If I can help you to either hack your health, or slow down, unpack and unpick it, now or in the future, then I welcome hearing from you.

To your good health!

Karl

 

Mother Nature’s Diet – finally available in paperback!

Fad diets are a waste of your time.

But healthy living doesn’t have to be like that…

You can lose weight and feel great without the starving, the suffering and the expensive supplements.

Mother Nature’s Diet, now (finally, hoorah!) published in paperback and available on Amazon, will show you the way.

A better way.

Well researched and complete with a 28-Day Meal Plan, and detailed home workout plans, the book includes all you need to push into a new, enjoyable healthy lifestyle.

No more fad diets.

Simple, achievable, common-sense based healthy living.

You’ll love this book because it’s packed with real-world experience, practical tips, and straight forward advice to help you get results.

Grab your copy now, here:

Here in paperback – UK.
Here for Kindle – UK.
Here in paperback – USA.
Here for Kindle – USA.

“It’s the missing link between academic books and commercial ones.” – Mr G, London

“It’s a good read and I’m 5lb down already and I haven’t even finished the book yet!” – Ms G, South East.

“Fantastic guide to living a healthy life. If you are looking to make lifelong sustained change and become the best version of you then look no further.” – 5* Amazon Review

To your very good health!

Karl