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Posts tagged ‘Sleep’

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

 

Are you getting enough?

In our private Mother Nature’s Diet Members Group this week, we’ve had some interesting discussions around the subject of sleep. One of our Members shared this interesting article from the news, reporting on scientists that have made new discoveries in how our circadian rhythms (which help to regulate sleep and hormone function and more) are linked to the movement of the sun – in humans and other species too.

It’s worth taking a few minutes to read the article, and this further article that is linked, which explains how we are suffering from society-wide sleep deprivation, which is contributing massively to all sorts of ill health, including cancer, and is costing the nation over £30bn per year in lost productivity.

We discuss the value of sleep regularly in our Mother Nature’s Diet Members Group, and ensuring you are getting adequate sleep is covered in Core Principle 10. Sleep is pretty much the best antidote to chronic stress, and in our Members Webinars we discuss the importance of getting enough good quality sleep. Your bedroom should be dark, cool, ventilated, calm and quiet. No electronic devices, no checking Facebook on your smartphone at three in the morning, and no night lights.

It is important to be asleep at night, in the dark, not awake, working or looking at your screen! Research is uncovering mechanisms that show how DNA repairhappens at night, while we sleep in the dark, and this may explain the link between working night shifts and higher mortality.

Gains

It seems pretty certain that sleep is important for many reasons – from stress reduction to combating cancer. There is growing evidence to suggest that depriving yourself of sleep through adult life is likely to leave that adult life, well, shortened.

In addition, another MND Member this week shared this fascinating blog post about a study that took a small group of overweight nonsmokers, and put them on a calorie restricted diet for two weeks, half the group getting adequate sleep, and half the group on reduced sleep. In short, the results showed that both groups lost weight, but most of the weight the sleep-deprived group lost was muscle mass and body water, whereas most of the weight the adequate-sleep group lost, was body fat. So, the lesson learned – if you are trying to lose fat weight, get Read more

Stay sober, have sex and eat chocolate

Some people look at the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet and they tell me it all looks too hard, too limiting, too restrictive. Broadly speaking, I work hard to make Mother Nature’s Diet as simple, accessible and sustainable as I can – I think it’s all based on common sense, I think I have taken lots of science and given you some simple easy steps to follow, and I think it should prove beneficial to almost everyone.

I’m big on common sense, and on keeping things simple, and natural, avoiding overly-complicated solutions, expensive supplements and complex guidelines to follow. Mother Nature’s Diet is all about sustainable lifestyle choices – no fad behaviour, just sensible long-term healthy living.

Making changes

I am constantly suggesting that you drink less alcohol, because alcohol consumption in our society is, in my opinion, too high, and most people do not realise it is a risk factor for cancer and other health problems. New research now shows that even moderate alcohol consumption is a risk factor for adverse brain outcomes and cognitive decline. Folks, we all need to drink less. A glass or two, four, five or more times per week is not ‘moderate’ and we need to cut down.

However, there is good news around chocolate. While we all need to drink less alcohol in order to resist cognitive decline, research really does seem to support the fact that eating a bit of dark chocolate has quite the opposite effect and can be good for cognitive function as we age. This is good news! Drink less alcohol, but feel free to eat some good quality dark chocolate! Hoorah for dark chocolate! Just remember, it’s the high cocoa content that is beneficial, so make sure you buy high quality dark chocolate, not the sugar-filled cheap milk chocolate! While you are at it, shoot for Fairtrade, and organic!

Research also suggests that maintaining muscular strength is another way to defend against cognitive decline. In my blog posts and at my live events, I tell you to lift weight, or do bodyweight exercises (like push-ups, squats and crunches) to maintain muscular strength as you age. I often say this advice is more important for ladies of 50 and over, than it is for men of 40 and under. That is to say, as a stereotypical generalisation, that younger men rarely lack muscular strength, but older women frequently do. Ladies, this is important – use your muscles! Use it or lose it!

You may not like weight training, but there are plenty of ways to use your muscles without hefting barbells in a gym full of sweaty grunting types. You can take up a sport you enjoy, join a yoga class, workout at home in front of a home-workout DVD, or engage in our other favourite home workout – bedroom athletics. Research has linked a regular healthy sex life in women with living longer. That’s got to be good news then!

And all that dark chocolate, sex and weight training…or weight training, sex and dark chocolate, depending on which order you like to put it all in, is bound to help you experience a range of positive, happy emotions. That’s good news too, because research now shows that people who experience a range of positive emotions, seem to suffer less systemic inflammation, which is a key marker for so many chronic health problems, from irritable bowels to heart disease.

So, you see, I think the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet aren’t so bad after all –

  • Drink less booze
  • Eat some dark chocolate
  • Hit the gym and enjoy some weight training
  • Have more sex
  • And enjoy it all

See, that’s not so hard, is it?

This healthy living thing isn’t as bad as you might think. At Mother Nature’s Diet we don’t count calories and we don’t starve, instead we eat plenty of delicious, wholesome good food, including dark chocolate, and we enjoy our regular exercise, including good sex, and we like to get a tan and we get plenty of healthy sleep.

No fad diet mentality here, no deprivation, no misery.
Just sensible, sustainable healthy living.

What’s not to love about that?

* * * * Miracle Hangover Cure * * * *

Here is the MND ***Miracle Hangover Cure*** for you: Don’t get drunk and don’t eat a ton of junk food!

That’s it. Not complicated, is it?

If you want to drink and party and have a good time, then that’s great, just down a large glass of water between each alcoholic drink. This will slow down your booze consumption, and most importantly, it will keep you hydrated.

A hangover is mostly caused by dehydration and not enough sleep so stay hydrated and plan to sleep in late tomorrow, and you should reduce your hangover symptoms dramatically.

Alternatively, like me, don’t drink at all and don’t eat a ton of junk food, and you’ll feel fine to start the New Year!

Have a great night, Happy New Year!!

MotherNaturesDiet is a Lifestyle, not a temporary diet

I have been looking and studying, for years, other ‘diet solutions’ and ‘weight loss programs’ and healthy living sites and blogs, and I have been thinking about MotherNaturesDiet and the 12 Core Principles.

When I set up MND, I used the word ‘diet’ in its correct form, meaning ‘the way we should nourish ourselves and the range of food we should eat permanently’ not in its misused modern form ‘a temporary restriction of calories so you can squeeze your fat butt into those new jeans for your summer holiday.’

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Train hard, eat well, sleep

I trained hard today, in my home gym, lots of body-weight moves, but using my OLD body weight. I have a weight vest which puts 5 stones (70 pounds, 32 kilos) extra on my frame. I like to exercise wearing this vest, as it reminds me that I lost all that fat, and more, over the years.

No wonder I found 20 push-ups hard work back then. 20 push-ups now wearing that vest is hard work! Without the vest, I can bang out sets of 50 no problem, but the vest really makes a big difference, just 20 is hard work.

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Respect for your age

I have been pushing some pretty intense workouts the in recent weeks, training hard with weights, and I notice how when I really work my muscles hard, it now takes me at least 3 days to stop aching and fully recover. I don’t mind pain, I could train after 1 day or 2 no problem, but I will get progressively weaker. In order to train and get progressively stronger, I now need 3 days between really heavy, intense workouts.

It's an age thing!

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Some days…I feel so OLD and tired!!! (well, I don’t feel 21 any more…)

I am trying to understand how much our health is a balance of nutrition, emotional stress, psychological/mental happiness, environmental factors, age and natural hormonal fluctuations, sleep, exercise, hydration and so on.

What do I mean?

Imagine a scenario where a person is eating a great diet, getting plenty of sleep, staying well hydrated, enjoying regular and varied exercise, in an emotionally ‘happy place’ and not working too hard – but living in a place with terrible environmental pollution, dirty air, ceaseless loud horrible noise, dirty water, and so on. That person will likely not be enjoying optimal great health.

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Age and sleep

This week has been extremely busy, and although I am used to working long hours, I admit to feeling a little weary. I get up at about 6 every day, and I either train early or start work right away, and I pretty much keep at it til about 7pm. So 12 to 13 hours of work, only stopping to eat and exercise, then I spend an hour or so between 7 and 8:30 eating and chatting with my kids and putting them to bed, then I work again from 8:30 until about 11 most nights. I get to bed around 11:30, maybe read a book (about nutrition or exercise or disease prevention, of course) for a few minutes, and then sleep around midnight. No two days are the same, but that's a typical average kind of day.

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