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Type 2 diabetes complications can be severe—but with proper treatment, you can avoid them.

When we hear “diabetes,” we tend to think of problems with producing insulin and regulating blood sugar. And that’s definitely a key part of this chronic disease, which affects nearly 1 in 10 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“Diabetes is like termites, in that it causes slow, hidden, but significant damage in the body,” says Osama Hamdy, MD, PhD, director of the Inpatient Diabetes Program at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. “Most patients with type 2 diabetes die from a heart attack,” Hamdy says, “but because the disease doesn’t have many symptoms, people tend to take it lightly.”

And evidence continues to mount that diabetes affects every system in the body and can wreak havoc if it’s not well managed.Learn more below about the side effects of diabetes and how you can protect yourself from complications. The good news: most complications can be avoided by following the treatment plan set out by your doctor.

High blood pressure and cholesterol
Close up of blood pressure gauge

GETTY IMAGESANDREW BROOKES

When you have type 2 diabetes, your body can’t properly use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. In turn, your HDL (or “good”) cholesterol lowers, and your levels of harmful blood fats called triglycerides rise. Insulin resistance also contributes to hardened, narrow arteries, which in turn increases your blood pressure. As a result, about 70 percent of people with either type of diabetes also have hypertension—a risk factor for stroke, heart disease, and trouble with thinking and memory.

Failing to control high blood pressure and high cholesterol, either with diet and exercise alone or by adding medications, accelerates the rate at which all your other complications progress, says Robert Gabbay, MD, PhD, chief medical officer at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

Brain health issues
Man with unplugged tangled electric wires in brain

GETTY IMAGESGARY WATERS

A study published in the journal Neurology suggests that diabetes zaps brainpower. A team of Harvard neurologists and psychiatrists followed men and women with type 2 diabetes, examining blood flow to different regions of their brains and testing their intellectual performance. After 2 years, participants’ cognitive abilities showed signs of falling off, specifically their executive functioning—the ability to plan, organize, remember things, prioritize, pay attention, and get started on tasks. “It appears that people with diabetes have some abnormalities of control of blood flow to the brain,” explains Rockville, Maryland–based endocrinologist Helena Rodbard, MD, who was not involved in the study. “And this appears to be correlated with a more rapid loss of mental function with age.”

Protecting your noggin looks a lot like good diabetes management. According to Rodbard, that means following instructions for diet, exercise, lifestyle, medications, and visits with physicians and other members of your health care team; monitoring your glucose levels frequently; and doing whatever is necessary to prevent low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. You’ll also want to stay active physically and mentally, logging at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, and keep your mind stimulated. “Read, socialize, work, and play games that challenge your intellect,” Rodbard says. “Keep a positive, optimistic attitude—don’t permit yourself to become depressed.”

Gum disease
gum disease

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People with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease, an infection of the gum and bone that can lead to painful chewing problems and tooth loss. “This is due in part to elevated blood sugar that modifies the collagen in all of our tissues,” Rodbard says. “It’s also due to a slight increase in susceptibility to infections of all kinds.” The two conditions have been so strongly linked that simply having gum disease may be a sign of future type 2 diabetes. In a Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health study of 9,000 people, those with higher levels of periodontal disease were nearly twice as likely to become diabetic within the next two decades than people without gum disease, even after adjusting for age, smoking, obesity, and diet. Unfortunately, it’s a negative feedback loop: Not only does diabetes make gum disease worse, but gum disease—specifically inflammation of the gums or development of deep abscesses—can raise blood sugar and make diabetes harder to control, according to Hamdy. To prevent periodontitis, brush and floss daily and consider using a mild antiseptic mouthwash such as Listerine to knock out any lingering plaque. (And listen to what your teeth are trying to tell you.)

Sex difficulties
sex difficulties

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Up to 75 percent of men with diabetes will experience some level of erectile dysfunction in their lifetime, according to the American Diabetes Association. “Erectile dysfunction can be psychological or due to reduced testosterone,” Hamdy says, noting that low testosterone is common among people with diabetes, especially if they’re obese. “However, in patients with a long duration of diabetes, changes in blood vessels and nerve supply to the penis could be the cause.” If you have diabetes, are over age 40, and have been having trouble with your male equipment, see your doctor to get your serum total and your free testosterone levels checked. If both are normal, Hamdy suggests looking at other causes related to blood vessels and nerve supply. Middle-aged and older women with diabetes also tend to have sexual issues, according to a 2012 study of nearly 2,300 women published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, likely because nerve damage can impair lubrication and the ability to achieve orgasm.

Hearing loss
hearing loss

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While we all tend to lose some hearing as we age, hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as in the general population, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Even in people with prediabetes—a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes—the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than average. Diabetes may lead to hearing loss by damaging the small blood vessels in the inner ear, the same way it impairs blood vessels in the eyes and kidneys, the study authors suggest. The best way to protect your hearing is to keep your blood sugar levels in check, Rodbard says. In fact, in a 2012 study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, older women with uncontrolled diabetes had more hearing loss than women the same age who had well-controlled diabetes, though the protective effect did not seem to hold true for men.

Skin infections
skin infections

SCHARVIK/GETTY IMAGES

Having diabetes hikes your risk for all kinds of skin issues, including bacterial infections such as boils and urinary tract infections, fungal infections, and itching. “Fungal infections, especially yeast infections, are so common that they may even be the first sign of diabetes in someone who hasn’t yet been diagnosed,” Hamdy says. In some cases, skin infections can be tied to obesity, because there are “moist places between skin folds that may breed bacteria and fungi, including candida,” Rodbard says, and because the immune system may be weakened. Unfortunately, several of the newer, go-to diabetes medications (of the SGLT-2 class of drugs, including canagliflozin, dapagliflozin, and empagliflozin) clearly increase the risk of fungal infections of the genitalia, Hamdy says, because they enhance glucose excretion in urine, fueling growth of bacteria and fungus. While yeast infections are more common in women, they’re markedly on the rise in men. Controlling blood sugar levels helps with prevention, but once you have an infection, seek out the usual treatments: over-the-counter antifungal vaginal creams and suppositories, to be used as directed.

Obstructive sleep apnea
sleep apnea

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This potentially serious sleep disorder, in which the throat muscles intermittently relax and block the airway during sleep, affects around 50 percent of people with diabetes, Hamdy says, especially those who are obese and have a collar size of more than 17 for men and 16 for women. The most obvious sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is audible snoring. Unfortunately, like gum disease, “sleep apnea may worsen diabetes control,” Hamdy says, possibly because the two conditions share risk factors. Also like gum disease, having OSA can suggest the possibility of future diabetes. A 2014 study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicinefound that severe OSA increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes by 30 percent or more. Treatment for OSA may involve using a device to keep your airway open at night or wearing a mouthpiece that thrusts your jaw forward. In severe cases, surgery can help by altering the structure of the nose, mouth, or throat.

Vision problems
Close-up image of woman eye

GETTY IMAGESWIN-INITIATIVE

More than 4 million people with diabetes have some degree of retinopathy, or damage to the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This happens because high blood glucose levels harm the eye’s delicate blood vessels, a process that can begin as early as 7 years before diagnosis.

The early stages have no symptoms, but the longer you let things go, the darker the picture becomes. One study that looked at people with type 2 diabetes found that when HbA1c levels (a measure of blood glucose over time) rose by one percentage point, the risk of eye problems developing or worsening increased by about one-third. In 20 years, about 80 percent of people with diabetes have retinopathy, and about 10,000 go blind each year, says Betul Hatipoglu, MD, an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

Kidney failure
Human kidneys, illustration

GETTY IMAGESMEHAU KULYK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Over time, high blood glucose thickens and scars the nephrons, tiny structures within the kidneys that filter your blood. About 7 percent of the time, you’ll already have protein leaking into your urine—an early sign of kidney problems—by the time you receive a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

About half of those who don’t take steps to control their diabetes will sustain kidney damage within 10 years, and 40 percent of those will progress to kidney failure, Hatipoglu says—a condition requiring either dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Neuropathy
Ankle pain, conceptual image

GETTY IMAGESSCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

About half of people with type 2 diabetes will develop neuropathy, the most common diabetes complication. At first, you might have no symptoms or feel a mild tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, says Gabbay. But eventually, neuropathy can cause pain, weakness, and digestive troubles as it strikes the nerves that control your gastrointestinal tract.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/health/g20481244/unexpected-side-effects-of-diabetes/

I’m a foodie, and I love to eat. I’m also pretty adventurous, so you can put just about any healthy food in front of me—from alligator to escargot—and I’ll give it a shot.

What I won’t do, however, is pollute my body with junk—and, in particular, with foods that hike inflammation. We now know that inflammation underlies nearly every disease of aging, from diabetes and obesity to cancer and heart disease. And there are a ton of signs and symptoms that you’re suffering from chronic inflammation. That’s why I avoid the following pro-inflammatory foods, and I advise my patients to give them the thumbs-down as well:

Foods that cause inflammation:

1. Sugar

You already know that sugar is bad for your teeth and your waistline—but did you know that it fans the flames of inflammation in the bodyas well? When you eat sugar, it triggers the release of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines that rev up the fire inside you.

2. Artificial sweeteners

A diet high in these sweeteners can lead to inflammation that puts you at risk for glucose intolerance and metabolic disease—steps on the path to diabetes. (Researchers believe that some of the bacteria in your gut react to artificial sweeteners by secreting chemicals that provoke an inflammatory response, making it harder for your body to handle sugar.) What’s more, a new study reports that in addition to hiking your risk for diabetes, these sweeteners can increase your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Try this: Read up on all the types of sweeteners (from monk fruit to stevia) and decide which is best for your body.

3. Glutenous grains

I know that lots of people pooh-pooh the idea that gluten sensitivity is common. But I speak from experience, because I’ve helped thousands of patients get better control over inflammatory diseases—ranging from arthritis to psoriasis to inflammatory bowel disease—by having them cut out foods that contain gluten. (It’s actually smart to reduce or eliminate all grains because of their pro-inflammatory effects, but at a minimum, give gluten the boot.)

Try this: This naturally gluten-free pizza recipe will make you forget all about the typical, gluten-filled kind.

4. Inflammatory seed oils

Photo: TSchon

Oils like canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, and soybean—as well as margarine and vegetable fats—are highly processed and contain an unhealthy ratio of inflammatory omega-6 to anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Instead, I recommend reaching for healthy substitutes like avocado and olive oil.

Try this: This $5 healthy cooking spray is a total game-changer; swap it out for your inflammatory vegetable oils and see how much better you feel!

5. Dairy

In more than 20 years as a clinician, I’ve found that the majority of my patients don’t tolerate dairy foods well. Frequently, they don’t even know this is a problem until they eliminate dairy from their diet. When they do, symptoms like headaches, skin breakouts, bloating, and a stuffy nose clear up—and that tells me that their internal inflammation is dropping as well. If you’re not sure whether dairy bothers you, I recommend eliminating dairy foods, carefully reintroducing them, and then discontinuing them if you experience a bad reaction.

Try this: A nondairy milk that can be made in five seconds flat eliminates any excuse to not just have it on hand.

6. Foods packed in BPA-lined cans or packages

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is already linked to many scary problems ranging from birth defects to obesity. In addition, research now links BPA to increased inflammation in post-menopausal women. Luckily, more and more manufacturers are offering their products in BPA-free packaging; read labels carefully, and reach for BPA-free products whenever you can.

Try this: Here’s where plastic lurks in your kitchen (and how to get it out of there).

7. Commercial condiments (with exceptions)

Most grocery-store mayos, ketchups, and salad dressings are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, harmful emulsifiers, seed oils, and other junk. I make my own condiments, with a few exceptions including additive-free salsa (available in most stores), mustard (most brands are fairly clean), and avocado mayo (available at Costco and many health food stores).

8. Soy “Frankenfoods”

I know you hear all the time that soy is good for you. However, the heavy processing of foods like soy burgers and soy hot dogs can lead to the formation of lysinoalanine and nitrosamines—toxins that can damage your cells, leading to inflammation.

Try this: Make your own veggie burger with actual veggies once, and you’ll never go back.

If inflammation is a problem for you, try kicking inflammatory foodsout of your diet and see what happens. It may take a few weeks (or even a few months), but I’m betting that you’ll feel healthier and look younger all over!

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-top-foods-that-cause-inflammation

When it comes to health and wellness, it is all about small sustainable changes. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, adding a handful of spinach to your morning smoothie, or meal-prepping for the week ahead. These small changes can add up to big results. And now we have one more easy tweak that might lead to a major payoff: meal timing. According to a new study, shifting when you eat might actually matter more than what you eat when it comes to body composition and health benefits.

In the study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Science, one group of participants was asked to delay their breakfast by 90 minutes and consume dinner 90 minutes earlier than usual, thereby extending their nightly “fasting window,” the time between dinner and breakfast, by 180 minutes. Participants were not told to follow any specific dietary guidelines but rather could eat freely as long as it was within the eating window. The control group was not given any restrictions on diet or meal timing. After 10 weeks, the time-restricted feeding participants had lost, on average, more than twice as much body fat as the control group. So without following a strict diet or even focusing on changing what they ate, the time-restricted group lost more body fat simply by changing when they ate.

This may be because participants who modified their meal times were found to eat less food overall than the control group. In fact, 57 percent reported a reduced appetite, decreased eating opportunities, and a cutback in nighttime snacking. Meaning: Restricting when they ate prompted them to unintentionally restrict how much they ate without feeling deprived.

Although this study was small, it provides important insights into how time-restricted feeding and other forms of intermittent fasting may affect dietary intake, body composition, and overall health. Researchers are eager to continue exploring this connection and expand to larger trials to understand the full range of benefits.

The benefits of intermittent fasting go way beyond weight loss.

The type of diet used in this study is a form of intermittent fasting, the practice of extending the time period between meals, typically dinner and breakfast. Intermittent fasting has been gaining a lot of traction recently—in fact, we named it one of the 2018 Wellness Trends to Watch. This isn’t just a new weight loss fad, though, and intermittent fasting goes way beyond weight loss. It has been credited with everything from clearing brain fog and healing the gutto decreasing inflammation and fighting cancer.

Integrative neurologist, Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., calls fasting “one of my favorite multitasking tools to help you fight inflammation, improve digestion, and boost your longevity,” explaining that, “just as you and I need sleep to reset and revitalize, so does our digestive tract and organs.” Basically, when you fast, your body gets a break from digestion and can focus on other important mechanisms, like clearing away damaged cells that may be prone to diseases. This process, called autophagy, is at the heart of how fasting boosts the immune system, fights chronic disease, and extends longevity.

In addition, fasting allows for increased blood flow to the brain, improving cognitive function. In fact, one study found that fasting acts as a decluttering mechanism in the brain. The study found that fasting may “slow down” some of the overactive synaptic activity associated with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other degenerative diseases.

Of course, fasting isn’t for everyone.

Although fasting has a long list of benefits, there are some people who should avoid fasting. Experts warn that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not try fasting. Also, anyone with a history of disordered eating may find this plan triggering and should pass on fasting. In addition, mbg Collective member JJ Virginrecommends that anyone with an adrenal issue, blood sugar imbalance, or diabetes should proceed with caution. As with any new health regimen, always talk to your doctor before starting out.

Also, it is important to remember that fasting is not an excuse to binge on unhealthy food during the “feeding window.” Eating a healthy, balanced diet will keep you satiated through the fasting periods and also support overall health. Whether you choose to intermittent fast or not, you should focus on eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins and fats.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/intermittent-fasting-study-body-fat-loss

We were surprised by these science-backed links to type 2.

If you consider yourself even a little health-savvy, you probably know the basic rules for keeping your type 2 diabetes risk as low as possible: Eat right, be active, and maintain a healthy weight. But guess what? Those aren’t the only things you can do.

Believe it or not, there could be other factors at play that can up your odds for type 2. And some of them are pretty surprising. Here, six to watch for.

Going gluten-free when you don’t have to

Here’s more proof that you shouldn’t ditch the wheat, barley, and rye unless it’s truly medically necessary. People who regularly consume gluten are 13 percent less likely to develop diabetes compared to those who steer clear, found an American Heart Association study of nearly 200,000 adults.

That could be because people who avoid gluten tend to eat fewer fiber-rich whole grains, which play an important role in lowering diabetes risk. “High-fiber diets are associated with improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol,” says certified diabetes educator Deborah Malkoff, MS, RDN.

💡When buying grains, go for whole. Whole grains are better sources of fiber and nutrients than their refined counterparts.


Spending too much time alone

Sure, it can be nice to just curl up on the couch, watch Netflix, and not talk to anyone every once in a while. Just not all the time. Research shows that social isolation is tied to a greater risk for type 2 diabetes. (It ups your chances of dementia, too.) In fact, women aged 40 to 75 who didn’t participate in social activities were 112 percent more likely to have diabetes compared to those with strong social networks, according to new BMC Public Health findings.

Experts don’t fully understand the connection, but it’s known that people who isolate themselves from family and friends are more likely to be depressed—which is a risk factor for diabetes, says Sathya Jyothinagaram, MD, an endocrinologist at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix. So call a friend and make plans to grab coffee or see a movie. You’ll be glad you did.

Cutting out coffee

There are plenty of reasons to feel good about drinking your morning mud. Including this: People who cut their coffee consumption by more than a cup per day over a four-year period were 17 percent more likely to get diabetes compared to those who didn’t make a change, according to a Harvard University study. And those who added an extra cup fared even better—lowering their diabetes risk by 11 percent. (The findings only applied to caffeinated coffee.)

Experts don’t fully understand java’s protective effects, but drinking it seems to promote steadier blood sugar levels. Just don’t nix the benefits by pouring in sugar or another sweetener, Malkoff says. If you can’t stand the taste of black, try using stevia instead.


Using mouthwash

File under weird but true: In a University of Alabama study, people who rinsed twice daily were 55 percent more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within 3 years compared to those who never used the stuff.

More research is needed to understand the association, but mouthwash works by wiping bacteria out of your mouth—both the bad and good kind. Some of those friendly bugs are thought to play a role in blood sugar regulation, and killing them off could make it harder for your levels to stay steady, Jyothinagaram says.

Still, clean teeth and gums can support better overall health. So if an oral rinse is a regular part of your routine, talk with your dentist. She can help you weigh the pros and cons to see if using mouthwash is still the right move for you.


Eating too much salt

Excess sodium consumption can make you more likely to be overweight or develop hypertension—two big diabetes risk factors. But that’s not all. Going crazy with the salt shaker may also have a direct impact on insulin resistance, say Swedish researchers. In fact, for each extra 1,000 mg of sodium subjects consumed, their diabetes risk increased by 43 percent.

Your best bet? Try to keep your sodium intake under 2,300 mg daily, the American Heart Association recommends. If you can get below 1,500 mg, even better.


Taking statins

The meds can be an important tool for getting your cholesterol in check. But taking statins is also tied to slightly increased risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a 2010 analysis of 13 studies that looked at 91,000 participants. More recent findings, published in 2017, found that statin use upped the odds for diabetes by as much as 36 percent.

How the two are related isn’t totally clear. Having high cholesterol in itself is a risk factor for diabetes, so it could be that people who take statins are already predisposed to developing T2D. Still, it’s worth considering your options if your doctor says you need to do something about your cholesterol. “For some, lifestyle choices like eating right, exercising, and quitting smoking may be a better route,” says Jyothinagaram.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/health/a20513641/diabetes-causes/

If you ask anyone on the street what causes depression, and come across someone who knows a thing or two about mental illness, you’re bound to get an answer like “a chemical imbalance” or perhaps even “a serotonin deficiency.”

This idea has been so effectively marketed to us that we almost unanimously accept it as fact. You might be surprised to hear this theory has not been well-documented in the scientific literature. Through blood test, lumbar puncture, and brain scan, the well-meaning world of mental health researchers has failed to document this so-called chemical imbalance of depression.

There is, however, an emerging theory of depression called the cytokine or inflammatory model of depression. The idea here is that if your body is inflamed, then there are inflammatory molecules in your bloodstream. These molecules affect all your organs, including your brain. When our brain “hears” that our body is inflamed, we are programmed to feel down and tired with a sense of malaise, losing our appetite, tending to isolate ourselves socially, and generally wanting to crawl under a rock.

The overlapping symptoms between depression and acute inflammation are no coincidence.

This makes evolutionary sense; thousands of years ago, if you were inflamed, it likely meant that you had an infection, like a parasite or a viral infection. It makes sense that the body’s natural response would be to socially isolate (because you don’t want to infect other members of the group) and rest so your body could focus its energy and resources on killing off the pathogen. Once your immune system finished the job, you would be back to feeling well again.

These symptoms that happen in response to inflammation bear a striking resemblance to the official criteria for major depression. Low energy, low appetite, wanting to withdraw from others, decreased libido, decreased concentration, sleeping more or having difficulty sleeping, low motivation, loss of interest in your regular activities, and a general lack of vitality or ability to feel joy. What it means to be depressed overlaps with what it feels like to be acutely inflamed.

On the Savannah, these symptoms made sense. They helped us rest, recover, and get back to health. But life in 2018 is an entirely different matter. Our primary sources of inflammation are no longer parasites or pathogenic viruses; these days, we’re much more likely to be inflamed by processed, inflammatory foods and an overall imbalance in our gut ecology. Furthermore, our immune systems are dysregulated by various aspects of modern life, including chronic stress, poor nutrition, sleeping out of sync with the sun and moon, and antibiotics and other medical interventions. We’re inflamed, but it’s not a parasite or bacterium. And it’s not so easy to beat this modern inflammation by simply resting for a few days.

Our bodies are inflamed because our immune system is constantly being triggered by food and environmental factors.

Say your body is inflamed by gluten or industrial vegetable oils. When you eat these foods, your body goes into that same inflammatory response you would have gone into from the virus on the Savannah. You feel sick, tired, and sad; you’re not motivated to work; and you want to isolate. It’s the same inflammatory response either way. The catch is that our immune system isn’t designed to handle this type of trigger. Our immune system is a powerful engine, ingeniously designed to fight off infectious causes of inflammation but not these modern sources of inflammation. Human immune software is woefully overdue for an update; it has no idea how to protect us from the inflammatory foods many of us consume meal after meal. In other words, our immune system can conquer the flu, but it can’t beat back refined carbs, processed meats, high-fructose corn syrup, and red dye No. 40. It’s just not designed for that.

Our immune system keeps chugging, but it never actually finishes the job and we keep feeling sick, with the associated low energy, sad mood, and lack of motivation. We never make progress toward beating the inflammation because, by the next meal, we ingest those trigger foods again, and it’s back to square one with inflammation. Herein lies the modern plague: chronic low-grade inflammation caused by modern environmental factors like food that our immune system was not designed to protect us from.

Many of us are chronically inflamed, and this sick feeling can feel identical to depression. So if you’re depressed, consider the possibility that it’s not a genetic chemical imbalance or Prozac-deficiency disorder; it may be the chronic flu of modern living. Of course, there isn’t a simple answer to the question “What causes depression?” Inflammation is not the sole root cause of all cases of depression. But in my experience, it frequently plays a significant role in driving depressive symptoms. My advice to you is to do the simple and safe experiment of reducing your inflammatory burden and see if your depressive symptoms improve.

Focus on three main areas to decrease depression and improve mood.

So how do you decrease inflammation? Focus on three main areas. First, eat real food and then cultivate a diverse ecosystem in your gut. Finally, make sure to rest.

1. Eat real food.

The most important thing you can do to reduce inflammation is change the way you feed your body. Eat a nutrient-dense diet that soothes the immune system, and ditch all the inflammatory foods that provoke it. The nitty-gritty details of this are covered at length in my depression class—Managing Depression: A Mind, Body & Spirit Approachbut the quick take-away is to eat a combination of well-sourced, pasture-raised meat and poultry, as well as wild, cold-water, fatty fish, along with plenty of veggies and starchy tubers, all prepared with liberal amounts of healthy fats. Round that out with nuts, seeds, and fruit, and be sure to eat fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi on a daily basis. Meanwhile, cut out processed foods.

2. Diversify your gut flora.

Since about 80 percent of your immune function is headquartered in your gut, one of the best ways to tell your immune system to “calm the hell down” is to cultivate a healthy, diverse gut flora. This requires some concerted gut healing. Start by eliminating the foods and substances that inflame the gut (this means gluten, industrial vegetable oils, sugar, alcohol, antibiotics, antacids, stimulants, and various other medications). Then, add in the foods and substances that heal the gut (like fermented foods, starchy tubers, bone broth, ghee, collagen, glutamine, and probiotics). Finally, create the conditions for the gut to heal (i.e., rest, acupuncture, rest, yoga, meditation, rest, and did I mention actual, genuine rest?). For some people, it’s also necessary to work with a functional doc or naturopath to address conditions like SIBO and dysbiosis.

3. Rest.

For some of us, the flu of modern life has distracted our immune system so much that we actually do have chronic infections lurking beneath the surface. In these cases, you really do need to simulate the Savannah man crawling into his cave for a while to give your body the adequate rest for your immune system to address the issue. The running on empty, go-go-go lifestyle, where we operate in a state of bone-tired chronic exhaustion—masked by coffee, sugar, and sometimes Adderall—creates the perfect conditions for infections to get a foothold in your body. Give your body deep rest, and hopefully your immune system will do what it’s designed to do to take care of these infections.

Even in the absence of chronic underlying infections, it’s still critical to sync up your sleep with the sun and the moon. Our immune system functions best when we sleep in total darkness and when we’re awake with exposure to sun and fresh air. If you live disconnected from nature, do your best to push your bedtime to approximately three hours after sunset, then simulate darkness at night and bright natural light during the day.

Once you’ve soothed the inflammation in your body, you’ll hopefully be well on your way to feeling like you just got over your chronic flu. Ideally, you’ll be feeling more energetic, more motivated, less depressed, and able to crawl out of your cave.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/what-causes-depression-you-might-be-surprised-by-the-answer

But setting a new routine can help you get your ZZZs.

Skimping on sleep can often lead to feeling groggy the next day, but it can also raise your risk of a more serious, long-term effect on your mental health, according to a new study.

Researchers at Binghamton University found that sleeping less than eight hours a night was associated with intrusive, repetitive thoughts, similar to those seen with anxiety disorder and depression.

When sleep is regularly disrupted, it can lead to a tendency toward getting negative thoughts “stuck” in the mind, says lead researcher Meredith Coles, a professor of psychology at Binghamton University. Further research will have to be done to investigate why the connection exists, she notes, but for people who tend to be anxious or depressed, more regular sleep schedules may be worth considering. (Try these 12 foolproof natural sleep remedies.)

“The challenge with anxiety and sleep problems is that they make each other worse,” says Rita Aouad, MD, who specializes in both psychiatry and sleep medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “If you’re feeling anxious, you tend to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep because your brain is churning over negative thoughts. Then, if your sleep is interrupted often, it can cause the kind of ‘stuck’ quality seen in recent study.”

Interrupted sleep, or getting less than the recommended amount (the absolute minimum is 7 hours for most adults), can reduce the amount of REM sleep you get, Aouad notes.

This is the phase of sleep when you usually dream, but also when your brain is busy with tasks like memory consolidation and clearing “unnecessary thoughts,” she adds.

Fortunately, if you don’t have an underlying medical cause for getting too little sleep, there are some sleep hygiene strategies that can help. Aouad suggests avoiding digital screens—smartphones, e-readers, tablets—for at least an hour before bed, since the blue light they emit can interfere with melatonin, the hormone that helps you doze off. (Here’s what happened when one woman stopped bringing her phone to bed.)

Another good tactic is establishing a regular bedtime and wake time, even on the weekends. This can get your brain and body into the habit of consistent sleep, says Aouad. If you’re still experiencing consistently negative thoughts or anxiety, she suggests seeing your doctor to find a solution that works for you.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/health/a20514931/effect-of-sleep-deprivation/

Ah, sleep. The ever-elusive natural health elixir that can squash a shockingly vast variety of our physical and mental ailments. Regularly getting a good night’s rest can boost your mood, sharpen your memory, and stave off anxiety, depression, and stress. It also helps you control your weight, increases your body’s immunity, and lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and various types of cancers. We can go on if you want: Sleep also pumps up your libidoclears your skin, stimulates your creativity, and makes you less likely to get into car crashes, while not sleeping enough can literally make people not want to be around you and physically shrinks your brain.

But while the benefits are undisputed, the recommendations vary on just how many hours of sleep is the right amount. The oft-repeated standard is about eight hours of sleep, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “at least seven hours” a night (which just one in three adults actually gets, by the way). But the latest in a long line of studies on the subject has now found there actually may be an exact sweet spot for how long you should be snoozing each night to optimize one key factor: heart health. According to the new study, you need precisely six to eight hours of sleep to minimize cardiovascular risk. Any less could be bad for your heart—as could any more.

Researchers looked at how over a million adults’ sleep habits affected their likelihood of developing or dying from stroke or coronary artery disease in the next nine years. People who slept less than six hours a night had an 11 percent greater risk than those who slept six to eight hours, while people who slept more than eight hours had a surprising 33 percent greater risk. That means six to eight hours was the exact range needed to keep the heart as healthy as possible.

Perhaps surprisingly, too much rest was actually even more dangerous than too little. But that’s actually in keeping with other recent research that’s found oversleeping can have pretty awful effects on your long-term cardiovascular health: They found sleeping more than 10 hours a night could increase your risk of dying from heart disease by 49 percent and your risk of dying from a stroke by 56 percent. Clearly, you really can have too much of a good thing.

Now, this doesn’t mean you need to panic every time you miss your alarm in the morning. Occasionally oversleeping is nothing to sweat about. The point of all this research is simply that there probably is a perfect balance you should be aiming for.

“Having the odd short night or lie-in is unlikely to be detrimental to health, but evidence is accumulating that prolonged nightly sleep deprivation or excessive sleeping should be avoided,” Dr. Epameinondas Fountas, the heart study’s author, said in a news release. “The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get into the habit of getting six to eight hours a night—for example by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.”

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/is-too-much-sleep-bad-for-you-this-is-exactly-how-long-you-should-be-sleeping