Diet & Lifestyle Archives - Live Love Fruit https://livelovefruit.com/category/health/diet-lifestyle/ Eat Vibrantly. Live Vibrantly Sat, 20 Mar 2021 23:25:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1 https://livelovefruit.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/cropped-logo-favicon-refresh-170x170.png Diet & Lifestyle Archives - Live Love Fruit https://livelovefruit.com/category/health/diet-lifestyle/ 32 32 153805294 10 Natural Ways to Balance Your Hormones https://livelovefruit.com/10-natural-ways-to-balance-your-hormones/ https://livelovefruit.com/10-natural-ways-to-balance-your-hormones/#comments Sat, 20 Mar 2021 23:25:10 +0000 https://livelovefruit.com/?p=38572 Your hormones are the reason why your arms are the same length, why your entire body changed at puberty and…

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Female Reproductive System next to adrenal glands representing organs in the body responsible for hormone production

Your hormones are the reason why your arms are the same length, why your entire body changed at puberty and why you can turn fuel into food. 

Hormones are extremely important chemical messengers that influence the way we think, breathe, eat, and sleep. They also change the way we look, feel and function. 

When they fall out of balance, many functions in our body suffer as a result. We may feel more lethargic and moody, put on extra weight, or our hair might start falling out.

Whatever the reason, there are natural ways to balance your hormones that don’t require prescription medications. Sometimes all it takes are a few lifestyle changes.

But first, let’s talk a little about the endocrine system.

What Is the Endocrine System?

Your hormones are tiny chemical messengers that are secreted directly into the blood by the glands that produce and store them. These glands make up what is known as the endocrine system

Your endocrine system and hormones work together to maintain a constant environment (i.e,, homeostasis) within the body.

In response to specific stimuli, hormones are released from these glands and into the bloodstream. From here, they target specific tissues or cells by binding to receptors that are located either on the cell surface or inside the cell.

As the hormones attach to their receptors, a cascade of biochemical reactions is set off in the target cell which modifies its function or activity.

The glands that make up the endocrine system include the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, adrenal glands, gonads, (i.e., testes and ovaries), thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, and pancreas (1)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

The pituitary gland, otherwise known as the “master gland,” controls the activity of most other hormone-secreting glands. It is responsible for sending information from your brain to other glands in your body.

The pituitary gland is made up of two different tissue types:

  • The anterior pituitary gland that synthesizes and releases classic hormones
  • The posterior pituitary gland that secretes neurohormones that are made in the hypothalamus

The anterior pituitary gland secretes five hormones: leutinizing hormone (LH), follice-stimulating hormone (FSH), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), growth hormone (GH) and prolactin. LH and FSH stimulate the production of sex hormones, TSH stimulates the production of thyroid hormones, GH helps aid proper growth and development and prolactin stimulates milk production after childbirth.

The posterior pituitary gland doesn’t produce hormones on its own; instead, it stores two hormones – vasopressin and oxytocin – that are produced by neurons in the hypothalamus and then released into the bloodstream.

There are two major groups of hormones that circulate in the bloodstream: peptides (proteins) and steroid hormones. Amino acid-based hormones can be divided into three categories: proteins, peptides, and amines.

Here is a breakdown of these hormones:

  • Protein Hormones: hormones that consist of long chains of amino acids (polypeptides) and include GH and FSH. Because of their chemical structure, protein hormones cannot enter cells. Instead, they interact with receptors on the cell surface.

  • Peptide Hormones: hormones that consist of short-chain amino acids and include vasopressin and oxytocin.

  • Amine Hormones: hormones that are synthesized from the amino acids tryptophan (like melatonin) or tyrosine (like thyroid hormones and dopamine).

  • Steroid Hormones: hormones that are derived from cholesterol like testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol.

In order to achieve homeostasis within the body, hormone production and secretion must be tightly controlled. As a result, the body regulates all of its functions via several different hormones that control each other instead of one singular hormone (2)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

So as you can imagine, when just one of these hormones is even slightly imbalanced, many health problems can unfold. Some so extreme that your sleep, metabolism, hunger, growth, and sexual development can all be impacted.

What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?

Hormonal imbalance can be caused by a variety of different factors. Some of these factors may be environmental, genetic or

Our hormones are primarily controlled by two separate areas of the brain: the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. These areas of the brain receive feedback about how much sleep we get, what our diet is like, environmental toxin exposure, stress levels and so much more.

This system is extremely sensitive, and as our body fights to protect itself from these various factors, our hormones can become easily dysregulated.

Some major contributors to hormonal imbalance include:

  • Stress (physical and emotional) and not enough rest
  • Being overweight or obese
  • High levels of chronic inflammation
  • Genetics
  • Steroids or other medications
  • Thyroid dysfunction (hypothyroid or hyperthyroid)
  • Gut issues or food allergies
  • Toxicity – the endocrine system is particularly sensitive to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (hence the name), which many of us come into contact with in our day-to-day life

When your hormones become unbalanced, there will be many different signs and symptoms your body will signal to you as a cry for help.

Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance

When your hormones are out of balance, some of the symptoms will be subtle, and some will be obvious.

Here are a few key signs that something is off with your hormone health:

  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Low libido
  • Irregular periods
  • Hair loss/hair thinning
  • Low mood, anxiety, or depression
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Hot flashes/night sweats
  • Infertility
  • Insomnia
  • Digestive issues

Certain conditions may also be associated with the above symptoms which may indicate deeper underlying problems. These conditions might include things like:

  • Estrogen Dominance: irregular periods, weight gain, fibroids, changes in sleep patterns
  • Hypothyroidism: tiredness, weight gain, constipation, muscle aches and weakness, depression, sensitivity to cold
  • Hyperthyroidism: nervousness, anxiety, irritability, tiredness, weakness, difficulty sleeping, sensitivity to heat
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): infertility, acne, excess body hair, weight gain
  • Diabetes: nerve damage (neuropathy), fatigue, dry mouth, skin issues, blurry vision
  • Adrenal Fatigue: fatigue (especially upon waking), poor stress response and mood regulation, anxiety, depression, muscle aches and pains
  • Low Estrogen: painful sex, low sex drive, mood swings, menstrual irregularity
  • Low Testosterone: erectile dysfunction, hair loss, low sex drive, loss of muscle mass, weight gain, mood issues
  • Metabolic Syndrome: large waist, fatigue, inability to focus, browning of folds of skin around the neck
  • Endometriosis: abnormally painful periods, abnormal or heavy menstrual flow, infertility, painful sex
  • Menopause or Perimenopause: hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, vaginal dryness

Thankfully, you can optimize the health of your hormones and find relief from your symptoms by following a few key steps.

10 Natural Ways to Balance Your Hormones

Given the importance of our hormones and how much they impact our body and lives, utilizing the steps below – if you haven’t already – would be wise.

Let’s start with the first and most crucial – stress management.

1. Keep Stress Minimal

Stress is one of the biggest factors that impact hormonal health. Dealing with chronic stress will cause spikes and dips in several hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, vasopressin, thyroid hormones, prolactin, and growth hormones.

These hormones respond to stress in the following ways (1)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source:

  • Cortisol: activates the pituitary-adrenal axis. Cortisol is the main stress hormone released in response to an innate need for survival.

  • Catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine): activates the pituitary-adrenal axis. This leads to increased cardiac output, skeletal muscle blood flow, sodium retention, reduced intestinal motility, cutaneous vasoconstriction, increased glucose, bronchiolar dilatation, and behavioral activation.

  • Vasopressin: acute stress triggers the release of vasopressin from the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus along with corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH).

  • Gonadotropins (FSH and LH): when stressed, there is a suppression of circulating gonadotropins and gonadal steroid hormones. This can disrupt the normal menstrual cycle and may lead to complete impairment of reproductive function.

  • Thyroid Hormones: during stressful conditions, thyroid function gets down-regulated. Stress inhibits thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) secretion, as well as slows the release of T3 and T4.

  • Prolactin: levels can either increase or decrease during stress. Acts to maintain homeostasis within the immune system.

  • Growth Hormones: levels are increased during acute physical stress (like exercise). May enhance metabolism. With psychological stress, however, there is a growth hormone secretory defect.

Some of these stressful responses, if chronic, can lead to endocrine disorders like Graves’ disease, diabetes, adrenal fatigue, obesity, sexual dysfunction, and more (2)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

Completely avoiding stress isn’t realistic, but managing it is important to prevent it from becoming a chronic state of being.

Some scientifically-proven ways of managing stress include exercising every day, meditating, getting enough sleep, connecting with the community, and practicing breathwork.

You can also nourish and support the body’s ability to respond to stress by supplementing with adrenal tonics, like the one created by Cymbiotika.

2. Avoid Chemical Products

Certain types of chemicals called endocrine-disrupting chemicals are chemicals or mixtures of chemicals that interfere with the way the body’s hormones work.

They’re present in a variety of products that most people use every day. Things like BPA found in plastics, and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in Teflon coatings make up for a majority of infertility issues.

Other common endocrine-disrupting chemicals include herbicides and pesticides, parabens, and triclosan. These ingredients are often found in cleaning products like window cleaners and dishwashing liquids, personal care items like toothpaste and deodorant, and kitchen staples like plastic straws and cans of beans.

Instead, opt for products that don’t contain a long list of nasty ingredients. I like Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap (can be used for multiple cleaning purposes), Eco’s dishwashing liquid, Redmond Toothpaste, and Crystal Mineral Deodorant Sticks.

3. Get Enough Sleep

How much sleep you get, and what time you go to sleep are crucial factors in determining how your hormones function.

It’s kind of like a double-edged sword, however, in that hormonal changes can wreak havoc on sleep, and not enough sleep can wreak havoc on hormones.

In order to understand sleep and hormones, we need to look at our circadian rhythms. This 24-hour internal clock controls how our body’s functions change throughout the day.

Your cognition, metabolism, sleep-wake cycle, and many other functions all follow a circadian rhythm.

When your sleeping patterns are inconsistent, your circadian rhythm can be thrown off. As a result, your body won’t be able to regulate stress hormones as effectively, and your appetite and blood glucose levels can be thrown off.

As a result, you can increase your risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression and anxiety, cardiovascular disease, and more.

So what can you do to improve your sleep?

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking around roughly the same hours (even on weekends) will allow your body to get in a proper sleep-wake cycle.

Some other things you can do to improve your sleep include:

  • Turn off or dim the lights at least 1-2 hours before going to bed.
  • Stop drinking anything with caffeine in it at least 4-6 hours before bed.
  • Stop eating at least 2-3 hours before bed.
  • Avoid cell phone and laptop use right before bed. If you must use them right before bed, invest in some blue-light-blocking glasses.
  • Engage in regular exercise to tire yourself out by evening.

Following the above tips can drastically help improve your sleep schedule.

4. Eat the Right Foods

Eating the right foods can make a world of a difference when it comes to naturally balancing your hormones.

Stocking your fridge with plant-based options like fruit, veggies, nuts and seeds and beans and legumes will provide you with nutrient-dense options to fuel your body without the fear of added hormones.

Dairy and meat are laden with all sorts of hormones (both natural and synthetic), that end up in our bodies and confuse our own hormones.

Refined sugar and refined carbohydrates (like white grain products, pastries, cookies, and the like) can also spike blood sugar levels and mess with your insulin. When refined sugar intake is too high, it causes your body to continually release insulin to help control blood glucose levels (3)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source. This can lead to insulin resistance, and eventually, type 2 diabetes.

Another food to look out for is soy, which can be sneakily labeled in foods as something you might not otherwise recognize it as. Soy contains phytoestrogens, which mimic estrogen in your body and can cause all sorts of problems.

Plant foods are naturally hormone-balancing and are a great place to start if you’re having trouble with your hormones. If you’re craving traditional sugary sweets, try making healthier versions of the things you love that won’t send your blood sugar on a spike, like these tahini brownies!

It is also worth mentioning that the better you take care of your gut, the better your hormones will respond. New research has shown that if your gut is compromised (whether that be from leaky gut syndrome, food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)), you may be more susceptible to hormonal problems like diabetes and obesity (4)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

Keeping your gut bacteria strong by eating the proper foods and supplementing with a high-quality probiotic like SEED (one of my favorite robust probiotics) can help alleviate this problem.

5. Supplement with Herbs

Supplementing with hormone-supportive herbs is another great option for those who want to balance their hormones naturally.

Herbs have been used to treat hormonal imbalances by natural medical practitioners for centuries with beneficial results.

Some key adaptogenic herbs to consider include:

  • Ashwagandha: reduces stress and anxiety. Supports the nervous and endocrine systems and promotes a natural sleep cycle (5)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

  • Chaste Tree Berry/Vitex: used to treat menstrual cycle problems and pain, premenstrual syndrome, and menopause. May help normalize estrogen and progesterone (6)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

  • Holy Basil: reduces physical and mental stress, stress-related anxiety, and depression (7)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source. Also helps protect the body from chemical stress and pollutants, which are contributing factors to hormonal imbalance.

  • Maca: plant sterols in maca stimulate the endocrine system helping to maintain hormonal balance. According to some studies, these sterols are used by the body with the help of the pituitary to improve adrenal function, ovarian and testicular function, as well as the functioning of the thyroid, pancreas, and pineal gland (8).

  • Rhodiola: supports the adrenal glands and encourages a healthy response to stress. Staves off physical and mental fatigue (9)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

Medicinal mushrooms have also been found to possess adaptogenic qualities that keep the body in a steady state of homeostasis. Whether too high or too low, medicinal mushrooms can help stabilize hormone levels within the body (10)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

6. Get Active

The amount of physical activity we get every day makes a huge impact on the hormonal responses of the body.

When we exercise, our muscles contract and this movement activates our fat cells and adipose tissues by hormonal signaling. Activation of the nervous system and heart also triggers the release of various hormones from our brain (11)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

Some hormones serve us better than others, though. If your exercise routine is causing you to consistently pump out high levels of cortisol, then you may gain more weight than lose it. Human growth hormone (HGH), however, helps keep us strong and healthy, so optimizing release of that hormone is key.

How do you do that? Gentle exercises like walking help boost your overall mood, while short intense exercises like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) help boost HGH and testosterone to keep you lean. You don’t want to overdo it, though. Just 15-20 minutes of HIIT a few days a week is enough to keep these fat-burning hormones high.

7. Manage Chronic Inflammation

When inflammation becomes chronic, many systems of the body are often thrown off.

I’m not talking about acute inflammation (the kind we get from a cut, burn or scrape) – I’m talking about chronic inflammation. This is a low-level inflammation that takes place in the body when there is injury, toxins, or stress; its purpose is to initiate healing and protect the body. 

Whether it’s caused by food sensitivity, chronic stress, environmental toxin exposure, or excessive alcohol consumption – it wreaks havoc on the body.

Different areas of the brain that regulate hormones also contain receptors that respond to the inflammatory mediators that are released when the body is in an inflamed state.

As a result, our brain signals the adrenal glands to pump out more hormones, like cortisol, which imbalances other hormones in the body, like insulin, leading to chronic inflammation (12)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

So keeping your inflammation levels in check is important!

You can help manage your chronic inflammation by making some of the delicious recipes in my recipe eBook, ‘Freedom from Inflammation‘. It is packed with over 50+ recipes to help you reverse any chronic states of inflammation in the body.

freedom from inflammation recipe ebook

8. Eat Mostly Organic Foods

Hormones can be disrupted in many ways through pesticide and herbicide exposure in the foods we eat.

For example, pesticides and herbicides:

  • add synthetic hormones to your body (like xenoestrogens) (13)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source
  • impact liver function, making it harder for your body to process and eliminate excess hormones (14)
  • can increase infertility (15)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source
  • can make the growth of fibroids worse (16)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source
  • can impair ovulation
  • can damage thyroid function (17)

This doesn’t mean to say that you need to eat everything organic. In fact, avoiding the “Dirty Dozen” is a big enough change to slash your pesticide exposure in half.

While buying organic may be more expensive in the short-term, it is a long-term investment in your health that will save you on medical bills down the line.

To cut down on organic costs, go check out a local farmers market, or sign up for a local CSA delivery.

9. Be Mindful of Medications and Birth Control

Certain medications come with side effects that impact the way your hormones function. As a result, you may experience things like fatigue, appetite changes, altered sleeping patterns, low libido, and more.

Medications like antiepileptic drugs, corticosteroids, stimulants, glucocorticoids, dopamine agonists, statins, and rexinoids can all throw off hormone balance.

Being mindful of the medications you use and speaking to your doctor about the side effects would be wise. You can also speak with a natural medical practitioner like a naturopath to discuss alternative options.

Birth control is also something you should either reconsider or stop altogether if you’re finding your hormones are out of balance. Long-term health risks of taking birth control pills include weight gain, back pain, increased blood pressure, increased risk of uterine bleeding, blood clotting, heart attack and stroke, mood changes, breast tenderness, and more (18)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

There are many forms of natural birth control, like tracking when you’re ovulating, that are highly effective. You can check those out here.

10. Balance Your Omega Fatty Acids

Eating healthy fats, especially focusing on omega-3 fatty acids, can have a positive effect on your hormones.

Omega-3 fatty acids are constituents of the membranes of all cells in the body, and are precursors of locally produced hormones, like eicosanoids, which can help treat and prevent various diseases, especially in women.

The anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 also helps balance out the negative inflammatory effect of omega-6 fatty acids, which are consumed in much higher amounts than omega-3 in today’s Standard American Diet. When the balance of omega-3’s to omega-6’s is off, inflammation levels rise, which throws off hormones (as described above) (19)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

Some great sources of omega-3 fatty acids include chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds and spirulina.

The Bottom Line

Hormonal imbalances affect many people worldwide, yet many are unaware they even have an imbalance to start.

Symptoms of hormonal imbalance include feeling anxious, trouble gaining or losing weight, hair loss, fatigue, irritability, low sex drive, inability to focus and more.

If left unchecked, hormone irregularities can manifest as common disorders like diabetes, thyroid disease, estrogen dominance, low testosterone and infertility.

Not getting enough sleep, dealing with chronic levels of inflammation, experiencing high levels of stress and envrionmental toxicity are all contributing factors to hormonal imbalance.

Learning how to balance your hormones naturally by eating an anti-inflammatory diet, getting enough sleep, exercising and stress management can all help bring your body back into a state of balance.

female reproductive system with text - unbalanced hormones can cause fatigue, hair loss, brain fog and low mood. Here's what you can do about it.

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12 Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals and How to Avoid Them https://livelovefruit.com/12-endocrine-disrupting-chemicals/ https://livelovefruit.com/12-endocrine-disrupting-chemicals/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2020 23:35:24 +0000 https://livelovefruit.com/?p=37109 Your body is run by a network of hormones and glands that regulate everything you do. This system, the endocrine…

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Your body is run by a network of hormones and glands that regulate everything you do. This system, the endocrine system, helps control mood, growth, and development, the way our organs work, metabolism, and reproduction.

The bad news, however, is that this system is incredibly sensitive to outside influences. Synthetic chemicals in products like plastic, fragrance, household chemicals, or even the pesticides on food can influence the way your hormones function.

The unfortunate reality is that we’re exposed to these chemicals daily, and unless we’re aware of the products causing the harm, then our endocrine system is under constant attack.

What is the Endocrine System?

The endocrine system is a system of different glands in the body that produce and secrete hormones that the body uses to control the following functions (1)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source:

  • Respiration
  • Metabolism
  • Reproduction
  • Sensory perception
  • Movement
  • Sexual development
  • Growth

Hormones produced by these glands are sent to the bloodstream to be further processed by different tissues in the body to tell them what to do.

Some of the main hormone-producing organs in the body include:

  • Hypothalamus: tries to keep the body in a constant state of homeostasis. It controls body temperature, thirst, appetite, weight, emotions, sleep cycles, sex drive, blood pressure, and heart rate.

  • Pineal gland: regulates the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that is best known for its role in regulating circadian rhythms.

  • Pituitary gland: considered the “master control gland”, controlling the function of most other endocrine glands that trigger growth.

  • Thyroid gland: produces hormones associated with metabolism, energy generation, and mood.

  • Parathyroid gland: helps control calcium metabolism, which determines how strong and dense the bones are.

  • Adrenal gland: produces hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress, and other essential functions.

  • Pancreas: produces insulin that helps control carbohydrate metabolism, thus regulating blood sugar levels.

  • Ovaries: in women, the ovaries secrete female sex hormones: estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone.

  • Testes: in men, the testes secrete the male sex hormones, testosterone, and produce sperm.

Hormone production is very tightly regulated and can be easily disturbed by endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

What Are Endocrine Disruptors?

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are chemicals or mixtures of chemicals that interfere with the way the body’s hormones work.

These endocrine disruptors are linked with developmental, reproductive, brain, immune, and other problems.

These chemicals can influence the way our body functions by (2):

  • increasing the production of certain hormones and decreasing the production of others
  • imitating hormones
  • interfering with hormone signaling
  • turning one hormone into another
  • telling cells to die prematurely
  • competing with essential nutrients
  • binding to essential hormones
  • accumulating in organs that produce hormones

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can interfere with any and all hormone functions in the body, which is why they have been linked to adverse human health effects like (3):

  • Endometriosis
  • Abnormalities in sex organs
  • Early puberty
  • Altered nervous system function and immune function
  • Certain cancers
  • Respiratory problems
  • Metabolic issues
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Growth
  • Neurological and learning disabilities

These chemicals are particularly concerning during fetal development and childhood since there are periods during these early stages that regulate the formation and maturation of organs.

Early-life exposures to these chemicals have been linked to developmental abnormalities and may increase the risk of a variety of diseases as individuals mature into adulthood (4)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

12 Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

The unfortunate reality is that hormone-altering chemicals are everywhere in our environment. They’re in the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe.

Scientists over at the Environmental Working Group curated a list of 12 of the most common endocrine-disrupting chemicals you should avoid at all costs. Here is how they affect your body:

1. Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A or BPA is one chemical you’ve likely heard over the years as one to avoid.

BPA is the building block of polycarbonate plastic often used to make food and beverage storage containers. It is also used in epoxy resins and thermal cash register receipts (5)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source

Studies have shown that this chemical leaches from these and other products in contact with food and drink. As a result, these chemicals enter the body where they start instigating various health issues.

This chemical imitates the sex hormone estrogen, tricking the body into thinking it’s the real thing. It has been linked to breast and prostate cancer, reproductive problems like PCOS, early puberty, obesity, and even cardiovascular disease (6)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

According to certain government tests, over 93% of Americans have BPA in their bodies.

2. Dioxin

Dioxins are mainly by-products of industrial processes when chlorine or bromine are burned in the presence of carbon and oxygen. 

These chemicals can disrupt the delicate balance of male and female sex hormone signaling. They are particularly harmful during prenatal and early-life development where they can permanently affect sperm quality and lower sperm count later in life (7)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

These chemicals are long-lived, meaning they build up in the body and food chain over time. Long-term exposure has been linked to impairment of the immune system and the developing nervous system. They’re also highly toxic and can cause cancer.

3. Atrazine

Atrazine is a herbicide that is used on a majority of the corn crops in the United States. As a result, atrazine-laced runoff from farm fields pollutes streams, rivers, and groundwater, which many depend on for drinking water

Atrazine is considered a pervasive contaminant as it resists degradation from heat and sunlight. This means that it persists in the environment for a very long time

Atrazine is well known for its feminization of male frogs (8). Even low levels of the herbicide can turn male frogs into females that produce completely viable eggs. 

Research suggests that atrazine acts by suppressing a hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH), which increases the production of estrogen and prolactin in females and changes testosterone levels in males (8)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source

This herbicide has also been linked to breast tumours (9)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, delayed puberty (10)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, and prostate inflammation in animals (11).

4. Phthalates

Phthalates are used in the production of plastics to make them more flexible. They’re also found in some food packaging, cosmetics, children’s toys, and medical devices. 

These chemicals trigger what’s known as “death-inducing signaling” in testicular cells, which means that it makes them die earlier than they should (12)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source

In addition, studies have linked phthalates to major reproductive damage including birth defects, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm and hormonal changes (13)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source. They have also been linked to obesity (14)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, diabetes (15)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, and thyroid irregularities (16)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source

Some companies use phthalates in their products to make them stick to your body for longer. Things like fragrance (perfumes), hair gels and nail polishes all contain phthalates.

Manufacturers use phthalates because they cling to the skin and nails to give perfumes, hair gels, and nail polishes more staying power. They’re also used in vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, and plastic clothes like raincoats.

5. Perchlorate

Perchlorate is a manufactured chemical that is most commonly used in rocket fuel. It can be found in munitions, fireworks, explosives, airbag initiators for vehicles, matches, signal flares, fertilizers, chlorine cleaners, and pool chlorination chemicals.

Perchlorate dissolves easily, so it often contaminates the food we eat and the water we drink.

Perchlorate inhibits iodine uptake in the body, an essential mineral required for proper thyroid function. This chemical, therefore, reduces thyroid hormone production (17)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source

The thyroid regulates metabolism, growth and development in the body, so if your thyroid hormones are being modified by this chemical, then you’ll experience serious metabolic dysfunction.

6. Fire retardants

Flame retardants have been around for quite some time. They’re used in mattresses, upholstered furniture, foam cushions, baby car seats, insulation, and electronics. 

While much of the extremely toxic flame retardants have been discontinued in the US, they have been replaced by poor alternatives that continue to affect the health of many. 

These chemicals are incredibly persistent and continue to bio-accumulate in humans and wildlife around the globe. 

Animal studies have shown that certain fire retardants can mimic thyroid hormones and disrupt their activity (18). They have also been linked to cancer (19), and attention and IQ deficits in children (20)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

7. Lead

It has been well established that lead is toxic, especially to children. But it is still widely used in some products that people expose themselves to every day. 

Things like paint in older homes and apartments, household dust, water pipes, imported canned food and candies, cheap toys, some cosmetics, and vehicle batteries may all contain some concentration of lead.  

Lead harms almost every organ system in the body. It has been linked to permanent brain damage (21)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, lowered IQ (22)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, hearing loss (23)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, miscarriage (24)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, premature birth (25)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, increased blood pressure (26)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, kidney damage (27)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source and nervous system problems (28)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source

Research also indicates that lead can disrupt the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, the system that regulates our stress response (29)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source. Not being able to properly regulate your stress response can become problematic, especially since this system is implicated in high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety, and depression.

8. Arsenic

Arsenic is a nasty chemical, which when exposed to in high enough amounts, can prove fatal. 

In smaller amounts, arsenic can cause skin, bladder, and lung cancer (30)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

The bad news? Most of our water and food is contaminated with it.

Researchers have recently found that arsenic also disrupts our endocrine system by interfering with the function of the glucocorticoid receptor, a steroid hormone receptor that regulates a wide range of biological processes (31). Disrupting this system has been linked to weight gain/loss, protein wasting, immunosuppression, insulin resistance, osteoporosis, growth retardation, and high blood pressure.

9. Mercury

Mercury, a highly toxic heavy metal, ends up in the air and oceans primarily through the burning of coal, oil, and wood. 

This endocrine disruptor mimics estrogen’s effects so much so that it can feminize males and suppress fertility in females. 

The most at-risk group of those who suffer from the toxic effects of mercury poisoning are pregnant women since the metal can concentrate in the fetal brain and interfere with brain development (32)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

Mercury has also been found to bind directly to particular hormones that regulate women’s menstrual cycle and ovulation (33)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

10. Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)

Perfluorinated chemicals or PFCs are stain, water and grease repellent chemicals found in products like waterproof gear, fast food containers and popcorn bag linings. They’re the same chemicals used for non-stick cookware.

The bad news? These chemicals stick to you too.

PFCs are so persistent that it is estimated that over 99% of Americans have these chemicals present in their bodies.

Studies have found associations between PFCs and reduced female fertility and sperm quality (34)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, reduced birth weight (35)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (36)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, increased total and non-HDL (bad) cholesterol levels (37)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source, and changes in thyroid hormone levels (38)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

What’s particularly concerning here is that certain PFCs like PFOAs don’t break down in the environment – ever. So it will show up in the bodies of humans for generations to come.

11. Organophosphate pesticides

Organophosphate pesticides are a type of pesticide that works by damaging an enzyme in the body called acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme is necessary for controlling nerve signals in the body. Without it, our nervous system can run amock.

While these pesticides were originally designed to target the nervous system of unwanted pests on certain agricultural crops, their deleterious effects also happen to trigger unwanted side effects in humans, too.

Studies have found links between these pesticides and the way they affect the human body like interfering with the way testosterone communicates with cells, lowering testosterone (39)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source and altering thyroid hormone levels (40)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

Organophosphate pesticides have also been found to negatively affect brain development and behavior, particularly when exposed prenatally (41)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

12. Glycol Ethers

Glycol ethers are often used as solvents and as an ingredient in cleaning compounds, liquid soaps, brake fluid, and cosmetics. They’re commonly used in glass cleaners, carpet cleaners, floor cleaners, and oven cleaners.

They’re terrible for our hormones, too. Studies have found that glycol ether exposure is linked to low motile sperm count in men (42)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source and can trigger asthma and allergies in those exposed to the chemical from paint in rooms in and around the house (43)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

How to Avoid Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

The number of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in our environment increases exponentially every day. This is why it is becoming increasingly important to learn ways of avoiding them when and where we can.

To make things easier, I’ll outline the Dirty Dozen endocrine disruptors above and how you can reduce your exposure to them below:

  1. Bisphenol A (BPA): instead of purchasing canned food, go for fresh or frozen. Most cans that store food is lined with BPA. Unless noted on the can that it is “BPA-Free”, don’t trust it – or research the company before buying.

    Try to avoid receipts if you can, since thermal paper is often coated with BPA.

    When purchasing plastic, avoid those marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #7.

    Also, never put plastic containers into the microwave to heat up food. The plastics from the container, especially chemicals like BPA, will leach into your food and upon consumption, enter your body.

  2. Dioxin: dioxins are found rampantly in most animal foods. One of the best ways of avoiding them are by adopting a diet that focuses mainly on plant-based foods. Products like meat, fish, milk, eggs, and butter are most likely to be contaminated.

    Since some pesticides and herbicides contain the chemical, it is advised to eat organic when you can. If you can’t afford all organic, avoid items with the highest number of pesticide residues, or purchase them organic. For other produce items that aren’t sprayed as often or as much, it’s okay to purchase them in conventional form. That way, you’ll avoid a huge percentage of nasty chemicals, while still being easy on your wallet.

    Another thing you can do is when cleaning, avoid chlorine bleach. It forms dioxin after contact with organic compounds.

  3. Atrazine: one of the simplest ways of avoiding atrazine is by investing in a high-quality water filter like the Berkey. Buying organic produce is also wise, as the herbicide is rampant in conventional agriculture.

  4. Phthalates: try to limit your exposure to plastics, especially those labeled with numbers 3 or 7 on them. Instead of plastic, you can use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers for food and drink.

    Avoid cheap children’s toys imported from countries where phthalates are not already banned for use in kids’ products.

    Some personal care products also contain phthalates, so read the labels and avoid products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient. Fragrance can be made up of a long list of over 3,000 chemicals, many of which contain phthalates.

  5. Perchlorate: you can reduce perchlorate in your drinking water by installing a reverse osmosis filter. It is nearly impossible to avoid perchlorate in food entirely, so it is advised to ensure you get enough iodine in your diet. Seaweed products like kelp, dulse, and nori are a great source of iodine.

  6. Fire retardants: most products in our home contain fire retardants, so it is impossible to avoid them entirely.

    One thing you can do, however, is invest in a high-quality air filter like the Intellipure. The Intellipure cleans the air 40 times more efficiently than standard HEPA air filters and the patented DFS (Disinfecting Filtration System) technology removes 99.99% of harmful viruses, fungi, molds, and bacteria, leaving nothing but fresh, pure, healthy air.

    Other options are using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which can cut down on toxic dust, avoid reupholstering foam furniture, and being careful when replacing old carpet.

  7. Lead: avoiding lead can be as simple as keeping your home clean and well maintained. If you live in an older house and you notice the paint is crumbling, make sure to dispose of it carefully.

    Investing in a good water filter, like the Berkey, would also be wise to avoid lead contamination from old water pipes (especially important if you live in an older house).

    Studies have also found that those who eat healthier absorb less lead from their diets overall.

  8. Arsenic: to avoid arsenic from entering your body, make sure your water isn’t contaminated. If it is, filter accordingly.

    Rice also happens to be one food that is particularly high in arsenic. To avoid it, you should rinse and soak your rice before cooking in more water. You can also opt for rice from companies like Lundberg who routinely test their rice and maintain “As Low As Reasonably Achievable” levels of arsenic in their products.

  9. Mercury: most of the mercury that enters our bodies comes from seafood. If you must consume seafood, make sure you choose wild-caught Alaskan salmon, Atlantic mackerel, or Pacific sardines over other high-mercury or low-nutrient farmed fish options.

  10. Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs): avoid non-stick pans like Teflon and other cookware as well as water or stain-resistant coatings on clothing, furniture, and carpets.

    And since most microwaved popcorn bags are lined with PFCs, opt for homemade popcorn on the stove or air-popped instead.

  11. Organophosphate pesticides: one of the only ways to avoid these chemicals is by choosing organic over conventional produce and grocery items. Try growing your own, or checking out a local farmer’s market for cheaper options.

  12. Glycol Ethers: avoid these chemicals by making your own non-toxic cleaners, and avoid products with ingredients like 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol.

You can also include more hormone-balancing foods in your diet to help support a healthy endocrine system like ashwaghanda, maca and avocado.

The Bottom Line

Hormone-disrupting chemicals are found in everything from the food we eat, to the water we drink and the air we breathe. The good news is, however, is that if we take certain precautions, we can stop them from entering our bodies to help protect our endocrine system.

Doing things like avoiding plastics, eating organic and drinking filtered water are just a few of the many ways you can keep these endocrine-disrupting chemicals from harming you and your loved ones.

overweight woman next to thyroid vector with text - the 'dirty dozen' hormone disruptors you absolutely must avoid

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6 Serious Reasons to Stop Using Your Smartphone at Night https://livelovefruit.com/stop-using-smartphone-at-night/ https://livelovefruit.com/stop-using-smartphone-at-night/#respond Fri, 17 Apr 2020 19:27:29 +0000 https://livelovefruit.com/?p=12519 Many of us are guilty of checking our smartphones right before bed. Whether we’re scrolling through Instagram or Tumblr, often…

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woman holding mobile phone while lying on bed at night

Many of us are guilty of checking our smartphones right before bed. Whether we’re scrolling through Instagram or Tumblr, often looking at one post just isn’t enough. Hours will go by until we finally discover its 1 am.

Artificial light is one of the biggest causes of sleep deprivation, however, taking that a step further, the light in our smartphones, tablets, and computers is even worse. This light is called “blue light” and it completely messes with our sleep cycle by forcing our bodies to stay awake and be convinced that it’s actually morning.

Blue light is particularly effective in telling our brains that morning has come. But when its time to go to sleep, you want your brain to have the opposite cue. The solution? Stop using your smartphone at night.

It is curious that the rise in insomnia has also coincided with a rise in technology and smartphone usage. Normally, at night, there is more low-wave red light that signals your body to prep for bed. When the blue light from electronics interferes with this, it completely throws our bodies off guard.

Why You Should Stop Using Your Smartphone at Night

Here are 6 serious reasons why you need to stop using your smartphone at night:

1. It Can Damage Your Eyes

There is some evidence that blue light can damage our vision by harming the retina over time (1) and causing macular degeneration (the loss of central vision, or the inability to see what is right in front of you).

Artificial blue light is one of the shortest, highest-energy wavelengths in the visible light spectrum. Because they are shorter, the wavelengths flicker more easily, which creates a glare that can reduce visual contrast and affect sharpness and clarity (2). This is often the case for why people experience digital eyestrain and suffer from symptoms like blurry vision, difficulty focusing, dry and irritated eyes, headaches, neck and back pain, after a day’s work at the computer.

Since quitting using my phone at night, my mystery morning eye strain that would often last into the afternoon went away. It felt like I hadn’t slept at all, but really, it was just the effects that the blue light had on my eyes.

2. Sleep Loss

Blue light disrupts melatonin production, which directly translates to sleep loss. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates the body’s sleeping cycle. If your sleep cycle isn’t properly regulated, you won’t be getting the amount of sleep you truly need. Sleep loss results in a variety of different health problems, such as those mentioned here.

3. Higher Risk of Cancer

Melatonin is one of the most important antioxidants that our body produces naturally. Since melatonin is suppressed by blue light emitted from smartphones and tablets, then your body is essentially being depleted from this powerful antioxidant. Disrupting melatonin production for one night wouldn’t be a serious issue, however, some people are on their phone chronically from night to night for hours at a time.

Lack of sleep can raise your risk of breast, colorectal and prostate cancer, to be specific (3). Lack of melatonin means a higher risk of cellular damage, higher inflammation rates and disruption of normal immune function (all 3 major roles that melatonin is involved in preventing).

4. Depression

People whose melatonin levels are suppressed, and whose body clocks are modified by light exposure are also more prone to depression. Lack of sleep interferes with our neurotransmitters, and can ultimately lead to a decline in synaptic signaling between neurons, which normally regulate our mood (4).

5. Weight Gain

By disrupting our melatonin production and sleep cycles, smartphone light emissions at night can also mess with the hormones that control hunger, increasing the risk of obesity. According to Dr. Siegel, lack of sleep can ruin your insulin levels, which directly affects your body’s metabolism (5). If your metabolism is messed up, then your weight will be, too.

Getting less than seven hours of sleep at night can also prevent our glial cells from cleaning up the toxins that our brain cells produce. In over 95% of people, these toxins remain in the body and not surprisingly, contribute to weight gain.

6. Disrupts The Brain

Not getting enough sleep caused by smartphone light can also make it harder to learn, and may leave you distracted and impair your memory the next day (6). When comparing the brain of sleep-deprived individuals with those who have received plenty of sleep, scientists have found reduced metabolism and blood flow in multiple brain regions. This results in impaired cognitive function and behavior.

How To Fix The Problem?

If you want to improve your sleep and reduce the effects that blue light has on your eyes, there are a couple of things that you can do.

1. Invest in A High-Quality Pair of Blue Light Blocking Glasses

If being on computers and smartphones is apart of your job, then you very likely can’t just give up your dependency on these devices.

Thankfully, a solution exists. Blue light blocking glasses!

I’ve been using blue light blocking glasses for a couple of years now, and the difference it has made on eye strain is phenomenal. Plus, I can use them at night and not be worried that my melatonin production and sleep quality will be reduced as a result.

If you don’t want to leave the comforts of your own home, you can purchase your own blue light blocking glasses from SmartBuyGlasses. I love their website because they have 3D Try-on Software, so you can try on the glasses you like before ordering to see how they look on your face.

2. Shut Off Electronics 1-2 Hours Before Bed

Unfortunately, being glued to your screen before bedtime can be incredibly addicting and comforting in a sense. Almost ritualistic to be honest.

I remember when I used to check all the pages that I followed in the wee hours of the night. Quitting had to be done cold turkey. Once you realize the negative benefits being on the phone before bed has on your health, you shouldn’t have any problem quitting.

Try shutting off your electronics 30 minutes before bedtime, and then gradually increase this amount of time until you no longer depend on your phone or computer 1-2 hours before bed.

3. Turn Off The Lights

Try turning off your lights or dimming your lights a few hours before bed. This will tell your brain that it’s getting dark out, and that melatonin should be released (and thus, help you sleep).

You can try stringing up some red LED Christmas lights where you still need light around the house. Red light is much easier on our eyes at night and will allow you to relax and settle down than feel on high-alert (which is how most traditional lighting makes us feel).

The Bottom Line

Artificial blue light is one of the major reasons so many people struggle with sleeping issues today. It interferes with the brain’s natural ability to signal ‘bedtime’ and release melatonin to help us get to sleep.

If you find yourself on your phone or computer into the wee hours of the night, consider using some blue light blocking glasses. Alternatively, developing healthier habits like dimming lights and weaning yourself off electronics 1-2 hours before bed could make all the difference in helping you fall asleep more quickly and efficiently.

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Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Soil Makes You Happy https://livelovefruit.com/antidepressant-microbes-in-soil/ https://livelovefruit.com/antidepressant-microbes-in-soil/#respond Thu, 16 Apr 2020 20:35:49 +0000 https://livelovefruit.com/?p=36315 You know the outdoors has considerable benefits for your mental and physical health. Previously, researchers associated spending time in the…

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Woman standing with muddy hands from gardening

You know the outdoors has considerable benefits for your mental and physical health.

Previously, researchers associated spending time in the open air with substantial mood improvements. However, they remained uncertain about precisely how these mechanisms worked. 

Now, new research suggests antidepressant microbes in soil can have a beneficial effect on the way the body manages serotonin. It promises an exciting natural method for treating depression.

Read on to learn how soil makes you happy, and how you can reap these benefits even if you don’t have a diagnosis. 

Why Are Imbalanced Brain Chemicals Like Serotonin Hard to Remedy? 

If you have clinical depression, you may have reduced serotonin transmission or altered levels of the substance (1). This brain chemical regulates your appetite and sleeping patterns. It also plays a role in inhibiting pain, and researchers associate low levels of a byproduct of this substance with increased suicide risk. 

Other neurotransmitters also play vital roles in brain function. These include the following: 

  • Norepinephrine: While this chemical typically triggers anxiety, researchers also associate it with certain types of depression.

     
  • Dopamine: This chemical is critical to movement, which can explain why some individuals with depression struggle with daily tasks. It also influences motivation. Many scientists associate imbalances of this chemical with substance abuse because it activates the brain’s pleasure center. 

  • Glutamate: Glutamate is thought to excite the mind and play a role in disorders like bipolar and schizophrenia. Researchers believe lithium works in patients with these conditions by smoothing out the highs and lows over time. 

  • Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA): This brain chemical serves an inhibitory function. Alcohol increases levels of this substance, which causes the signature slurred speech and slows reaction times. 

With all these substances in play, depression is a complex disorder to treat. Antidepressant medications often seek to balance out the levels of these chemicals to help the individual achieve peak mental health. However, because it is challenging to determine which of these neurotransmitters causes the underlying problem, treatment often involves significant trial and error. 

Nutritional factors also play a crucial role in protecting your brain health. For example, deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids often correlate to chronic diseases like depression and Alzheimer’s (2)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source. Much of the global population doesn’t get enough of these substances, which you can find in foods like nuts. You can also get your intake from flax or chia seeds. 

Magnesium is another nutrient that is vital to alleviating depression naturally. Researchers recently gave 126 adults with depression 248 milligrams of magnesium every day for six months. Over 89% of the study participants showed clinically significant improvements in anxiety and depressive symptoms (3)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source. Many participants bettered their mood in as few as two weeks with this protocol. 

External influences also impact the levels of brain chemicals like serotonin. For example, prolonged, chronic stress increases the amount of the hormone cortisol but decreases serotonin and dopamine (4). Sometimes, one challenging situation — such a loved one’s death — is all it takes to cause this response. The body’s amounts don’t return to normal, perhaps because other factors — like new financial pressures — arise in the wake. 

The final complicating factor is that having a chronic illness itself qualifies as an ongoing stressor. Depressed individuals, like those with other disorders, may run into repeated issues with employment. The financial strain then causes continual problems.

Antidepressant Microbes in Soil 

What can you do if you feel blue and you want to improve your mood quickly?

More critically, if you are one of the many without the means to seek the necessary professional help, is there a holistic remedy that might ease your suffering?

Fortunately, new research holds a promise that yes, you can boost your mood. Mother Nature may provide aid if you immerse yourself in her healing wonders. 

One mechanism through which your physical body determines your behavior involves your brain stem. Your brainstem contains unique nerves called serotonergic systems, designed to transport the neurotransmitter serotonin (5)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source. Researchers recently discovered that a common bacteria found in soil called Mycobacterium vaccae, or M. vaccae, activated these neurons in a specific region of the stem. 

When the antidepressant microbes in soil activate these neurons, it directly stimulates an increase in serotonin metabolism in a region of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

This area of your mind controls your fear response and aids explicitly in the extinction of conditioned fear (6). This increase could substantially impact behavior, particularly in depressed patients. 

How? Think about the last time you suffered a fright and your anxiety flew through the roof. Remember, not all stress is negative. When you see a bear, for example, adrenaline and cortisol get your legs moving and transport you out of range before the bruin spies you. However, your brain chemicals fall out of balance when this tension continues for too long. 

Right now, everyone is wondering when they can re-emerge from their homes free from fear and participate in favorite activities. If you lack sufficient financial resources, you may worry your job will fall into jeopardy.

If you’ve already endured unemployment, you may wonder how long it will take before you can find another suitable position that pays the equivalent salary and benefits of your previous post. Many jobs nowadays don’t include coverage as part of the package, at least to start. 

The longer this drags on, the more your brain chemical supply will start to dwindle. Remember, increased stress hormone production equates to lower levels of serotonin and dopamine. That downward spiral starts to swirl like a sucking black hole of despair. Before you know it, you find yourself curled up on a ball on your couch, unwilling to participate in the very activities that could bring you relief. 

Could you ease your pain — and your brain — by digging in your garden? This research suggests that yes, you can. 

How Soil Makes You Happy — Suggested Activities 

For the magic of M. vaccae to work its magic, you need to expose yourself to it. If you hear the word bacteria, don’t automatically flee in terror. Some of these microbes, like many in your intestines, perform beneficial immune functions, as well as improve your mood (7).

Here are five ways to enjoy all the microbes that soil has to offer:

1. Garden

Gardening, of course, is one of the easiest ways to enjoy the antidepressant microbes in soil. Even if you only have a small patio, you can still garden with much success. Make sure you’re using high-quality organic soil, and start some seedlings indoors so that when it’s time for planting, the plants are well established. If you don’t have the money to buy sprouting containers, you can use old egg crates to start sprouts from seeds from the produce you eat.

There’s also the attachment to your garden. If you’ve ever gardened before, you know how much effort it takes. And because of this, we naturally feel responsible for the survival of our crops. If you forget to water, your plants die – that’s a lot of responsibility! Caring for something other than yourself can be gratifying and purposeful. In addition, all that hard work you put into your garden will eventually gift you with some of the tastiest fruit and vegetables you could possibly imagine.

If you want your garden to grow with much success, think about doing some companion planting. This will ensure that the plants you grow next to each other benefit each other in some way, helping them grow faster and stronger.

2. Compost 

If you want to get your hands dirty and save money, why not learn to make a compost bin with your organic food scraps? You will need to head out regularly to add new material and churn the old, but it’s well worth it for the nutrient-rich soil you’ll reap at the end.

You can either start a heap in your back yard and regularly toss it with browns like dead leaves or straw, or you can invest in a composter like the Joraform Composter, which is insulated for winter use.

3. Enhance Your Deck or Patio

If you have any extra time to spruce up your deck or patio, consider adding some plants to boost your mood. All you need is some soil, planters, and some plants. If you can manage to get your hands on some relatively large planters, you can grow things like beets, carrots, potatoes, kale, tomatoes and much more.

Alternatively, if you live somewhere where it doesn’t get too cool in the winter, you can plant some more hardy year-round plants as decoration.

4. Collect Flora and Fauna 

Do you have little ones who could use some outdoor activity as well as a homeschool lesson in biology? When you go for a walk, take a pair of binoculars and identify the various species of birds you see. Challenge yourself to identify them by their songs. You can also use the PictureThis app if you have an iPhone to identify your region’s native plants.

You can collect various items like moss, tiny plants, rocks, and forest soil to create your own terrarium and watch it naturally grow in the new home you created for it.

5. Sunbathe 

If you have a backyard and can spread out on the lawn, I highly encourage you to do it! Not only will you get the grounding effects from being on the land, but you’ll be close enough to the ground to inhale any antidepressant microbes from the soil beneath you. 

Other Ways to Boost Your Mood Naturally

While immersing yourself in nature and breathing in beneficial microbes acts as a natural antidepressant, there are other modalities you can take advantage of to help boost your mood.

Here are some other holistic therapies you might want to try: 

  • Improve your diet: As much as you might feel tempted to binge on low-quality carbs like chips and pretzels right now, try to stick to wholesome, plant-based foods made from unprocessed ingredients. Check out the recipe eBook ‘Freedom from Inflammation’ to include more anti-inflammatory meals into your diet. They’ll naturally improve your immunity and leave you feeling full and satisfied.

  • Get some exercise: When you feel depressed, moving around can be the last thing you want to do. However, one way to psychologically motivate yourself is to promise you’ll only force yourself through the motions for 10 minutes. Chances are, once you start a workout, you will find the motivation to finish once those feel-good endorphins begin taking effect (8)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

  • Adopt a calming routine: When you become overwhelmed, your brain chemicals do all sorts of party tricks that leave you feeling worse. If you struggle with addiction, this tension can act as a trigger to make you engage in harmful habits. You can interrupt vicious, racing thoughts with a calming routine. Try practicing yoga for approximately 10-15 minutes, then listen to an uplifting guided meditation video on YouTube. You can follow this with a relaxing bath or — yes — a nap. Whichever healthy routines stop the cycle will work. 

The Bottom Line

Antidepressant microbes in soil offer one answer for how getting outdoors makes you feel more positive overall. One of the best ways of taking advantage of this is by gardening, composting and increasing the number of plants you have indoors.

The next time you’re feeling stressed spurs a low mood, head outside and breathe in those happy bugs! 

womans hand full of mud after gardening with text - antidepressant microbes in soil: how soil makes you happy

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How to Naturally Reduce Chronic Inflammation to Restore Your Health https://livelovefruit.com/how-to-naturally-reduce-chronic-inflammation/ https://livelovefruit.com/how-to-naturally-reduce-chronic-inflammation/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2020 21:23:57 +0000 https://livelovefruit.com/?p=35448 For many years I suffered from chronic inflammation in my body. I had chronic fatigue, was bloated all the time,…

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human body wrapped in barbed wire to demonstrate the pain of chronic inflammation

For many years I suffered from chronic inflammation in my body.

I had chronic fatigue, was bloated all the time, had little to no energy, and my health got worse and worse.

I was down, but not out…

This was when I started connecting the dots between what I was eating, the lifestyle choices I was making and their relation to chronic inflammation.

Learning how to reduce chronic inflammation didn’t come easy to me. I was addicted to the foods I was consuming (I had some weird obsession with Triscuits of all things), and I probably wasn’t ready for the emotional onslaught that came with no longer having certain foods as a buffer for suppressed feelings and emotions.

But sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up and changed to get us to the place we’re meant to be. And for me, that was helping guide others who were in the same place I once was, to a place of no more pain, sickness and ill health.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve upgraded my life (and my immune system) to end the story of being a prisoner inside of my own body.

Want to be free of the grappling chains of chronic inflammation in your own life?

First, let’s take a look at what inflammation really is, and how our bodies respond to the two different types: acute and chronic.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is part of the body’s defense mechanism. It occurs when the immune system recognizes and removes harmful bacteria, pathogens, and other irritants, and initiates the healing process (1)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

Believe it or not, some inflammation is actually beneficial to the body. This is called acute inflammation.

Acute inflammation is the good type of inflammation. For example, if you catch a cold, your nose starts to run and your fever runs high – this is inflammation that assists healing! Or, when you scratch your arm, inflammation is apparent by the skin turning red and hot.

This type of inflammation is natural, healthy, and helps your body heal.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is the type of inflammation you don’t want. This type of inflammation occurs when the immune system is chronically set to “on”. It can last for prolonged periods of several months to years at a time.

You can think of chronic inflammation as a forest fire that never goes out. Eventually, diseases start to develop as a result of a tired, worn out immune system.

If the immune system is on high-alert for an extended period of time, it can cause serious damage to your heart, brain, and other organs. This eventually leads to chronic disease (2)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

It is well known that conditions like cancer, diabetes, allergies, metabolic
syndrome, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
, inflammatory bowel disease, and
asthma all stem from the same common denominator: chronic
inflammation (3).

But how do you know you actually have high, unnatural levels of inflammation in the body?

Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation is sneaky in that we often aren’t directly aware that we’re dealing with it until we’ve left it too late.

Addressing these early symptoms could be the key in avoiding more advanced stages of imbalance, like arthritis, or even worse, cancer.

Here are 10 subtle signs you may be suffering from too much inflammation in your body:

1. You’re Tired All the Time

Feeling tired or simply run down all the time may indicate that you’re suffering from too much inflammation in the body. One review published in 2018 proposed that this may be due to “an imbalance in energy availability and energy expenditure” (3)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

They go on to explain how low-grade inflammation triggers a metabolic switch from “energy-efficient oxidative phosphorylation to fast-acting, but less efficient, aerobic glycolytic energy production; increases reactive oxygen species; and reduces insulin sensitivity. These effects result in reduced glucose availability and, thereby, reduced cellular energy.”

2. You Have Aches and Pains

One possible sneaky cause of chronic aches and pains could be persistent, low-grade inflammation. As it persists, your body’s inflammatory response can eventually start damaging healthy cells, tissues, and organs.

As a result, our bodies ramp up the pain response. This can later manifest as conditions like arthritis or chronic back pain (4).

3. You Experience Excess Mucus Production

If you find yourself always needing to clear your throat or blow your nose, you might be suffering from too much inflammation.

Our mucous membranes produce thick phlegm when inflamed. They do so to help protect our epithelial cells, which line the respiratory system (5)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

As a result, you might notice more coughing and sneezing than normal, having to swallow large globs of mucus consistently over the day or suffer from a never-ending runny nose.

4. You Have Skin Problems

If you notice that your skin breaks out on the regular, or you’re dealing with chronic skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, your body could be over-inflamed.

Studies suggest that mast cells are believed to be involved in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis (eczema) (6)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source and psoriasis (7)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

Mast cells play an essential role in the inflammatory response in the body. They’re also apart of our immune system. When the immune system becomes hypersensitive, these cells trigger certain skin conditions that are often rash-like in appearance.

5. You Have Poor Digestion

Do you suffer from gas, diarrhea, bloating or constipation? If you do, you might be struggling with a form of leaky gut syndrome, which directly inflames the body.

Leaky gut occurs when thin cracks or holes develop in the lining of the intestinal tract. This allows undigested food particles, bacterial toxins, and other pathogens to leak into the bloodstream, triggering an immune response and causing persistent inflammation throughout the body (8)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

Common factors that cause the intestinal barrier to become “loose” include gluten sensitivity, excessive consumption of inflammatory foods, using antibiotics and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), infections like candida, SIBO or parasites, chronic stress, or lack of healthy gut bacteria.

6. You’re Struggling with Brain Fog

Brain fog is a condition where you start to experience memory problems, a lack of mental clarity and an inability to focus. It is also closely intertwined with high levels of inflammation in the body.

In a study published in Neuroimage, inflammation was shown to have a negative impact on the brain’s ability to reach and maintain an alert state (9)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

The results showed that brain activity related to staying alert was directly affected by inflammation. Other attention processes seemed unaffected by the inflammation.

If you’ve noticed changes in the way you think and feel, high levels of inflammation in the body may just be to blame.

7. Headaches Are a Constant

Headaches, particularly migraines, often have a deep-rooted connection to higher levels of inflammation in the body.

This effect may be due to high levels of c-reactive proteins (CRP) circulating in the blood. CRPs are markers of inflammation in the body, so the higher your CRP level, the more inflammation you have (which may indicate infection or other conditions).

It should also be noted that our gut and brain are tightly interconnected, and so when our gut is inflamed from poor food choices or other factors, related issues may also be reflected in the brain.

8. Your Face and Under-Eyes Are Puffy

Facial swelling is a tell-tale sign of internal inflammation.

When your cells are in distress, they release chemicals that trigger a response from the immune system. The immune system then sends specialized cells, like mast cells and other white blood cells to trap any foreign invaders or heal tissue.

One symptom of this reaction is swelling. And it is often most apparent on our face, as it is the part of our body we pay attention to most.

9. Your Lymph Nodes Are Swollen

Swollen lymph nodes can also be a hint that something is off in the body.

The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. It consists of an extensive network of vessels that house lymphatic fluid.

The lymph nodes themselves are made up of sinuses filled with immunological cells, such as lymphocytes and macrophages, that both identify and eliminate viruses, bacteria, cell debris, cancer cells, and other foreign substances that invade our body (10)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

You’ll often notice your lymph nodes become swollen if you get the flu or have a cold. This means that they are fighting off the infection (so it’s a good thing!).

But if your lymph nodes are chronically swollen, it could be a sign of persistent low-grade inflammation or chronic illness.

10. You Have Excess Belly Fat

Several sources point to the connection between inflammation and obesity and diabetes.

There are several lines of evidence that suggest more body fat equals higher levels of inflammation in the body. How is this possible?

Fat cells are capable of creating chemical signals that lead to elevated levels of inflammation. Studies have found that weight increases are associated with chronic inflammation, and that the relationship is linear.

This means that as a person’s weight increases, so do the levels of C-reactive proteins (inflammatory markers) in their blood (11)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

So, the more belly fat you have, the more of these chemicals you create. Dr. Peter Libby, cardiovascular medicine expert largely agrees with this phenomenon and calls belly fat a “hotbed” of inflammation.

The good news? Shedding just a few pounds can often be enough to ease pain and prevent future inflammation.

How to Naturally Reduce Chronic Inflammation

The good news is, is that if you’re experiencing these symptoms of chronic inflammation, you can reduce them by following my guidelines below.

I go into even more methods of naturally reducing chronic inflammation in my FREE eBook21 Ways to Reduce Chronic Inflammation‘.

In this book, I include a simple step-by-step guide to improve your health and eliminate the pain of inflammation.

The information I present in this book are things I do personally to negate as much of the negative effects of inflammation as possible.⁣

Remember: your body is a temple and a gift given to you by the earth.⁣

Do not wait until the last minute with death knocking at your door to do something about your health and your precious life.⁣

This knowledge, if you apply it, can and will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run and potentially years of suffering from ill health and the myriad of diseases that are on the rise.⁣

You can grab your free copy by clicking the button below!

With that being said, if I were to round up the top 3 causes of inflammation, and how to reduce it, I would start with diet, stress and toxin exposure.

1. Diet

Usually, my first step for getting rid of inflammation in the body is changing up your diet. The sooner you remove the foods your body views as foreign, the sooner you’ll notice your symptoms slowly disappear with time.⁣

Now, I know what you’re thinking. How do you change up your diet without feeling fully deprived and starving all the time?

The truth is, by swapping out old food choices with healthier ones, you can easily reduce the triggers that set off a negative immune response.

Inflammatory choices that should be avoided include:⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
🚫 refined white sugar⁣⁣⁣⁣
🚫 processed foods⁣⁣⁣
🚫 vegetable oils and other harmful fats⁣⁣⁣
🚫 dairy⁣⁣⁣
🚫 wheat products⁣⁣⁣
🚫 non-organic, non-fermented soy⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
These should be replaced with healthier options like:⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
✅ natural unrefined sweeteners⁣⁣⁣⁣
✅ healthy fats⁣⁣⁣
✅ fresh fruit and vegetables⁣⁣⁣
✅ plant-based milks⁣⁣⁣ (like coconut, almond, and oat milk)
✅ pseudo-grains⁣⁣⁣
✅ lean protein like legumes and seeds⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
These foods heal, nourish and keep the levels of inflammatory markers circulating in our blood at a minimum.

This is also the number one reason why I created my recipe eBook ‘Freedom from Inflammation’: to help free you from chronic inflammation and restore your health.⁣

These recipes are all meant to turn down the dial on the number one health problem over 90% of the population deals with: chronic inflammation.⁣

Learning to manage it with the foods we eat is essential for helping cleanse, restore, detox and heal the body.⁣

freedom from inflammation recipe ebook

This eBook is a great place to start if you’re finding yourself dealing with symptoms of chronic inflammation I mention above: fatigue, weight gain, digestive complaints, body pain, headaches, mood disorders, insomnia, frequent infections and more.⁣

Trust me, I also once used to suffer from high levels of chronic inflammation in my body, so I KNOW how down it can make you feel.⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
But through this process, I have learned SO much, particularly how I got out of the inflammatory rut I dug myself in.⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
And now I want to share it with all of you!⁣⁣⁣

The recipes are simple, nutritious and delicious.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

freedom from inflammation recipe ebook

⁣⁣⁣They’re free from animal products, soy, wheat, refined sugar, and other foods that would otherwise trigger inflammatory cascades in the body.

So if you want to build delicious meals while avoiding common pain triggers, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of this book!

2. Stress

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences.

When your body is experiencing stress, your adrenal glands (located on top of your kidneys) release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline, and cortisol.

When you’re constantly feeling stressed, or stressors are always present, cortisol and adrenaline remain chronically elevated.

This is highly disruptive on the body and puts you at an increased risk of many health problems like anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, weight gain, sleep problems, heart disease, and brain fog.

When stress becomes chronic, it can lead to constant tissue breakdown and
impairment of the immune system. This makes the body less able to regulate the inflammatory response, thereby increasing susceptibility to disease (12)✓ Trusted ResourcePubMed CentralHighly respected database from the National Institutes of HealthRead source.

Although there are situations outside our control, the good thing is that we can use a few simple tools to help manage the impacts of those stressors on our lives.

You could practice deep relaxation techniques like yoga, breathing, meditation or massage. You could take time for hobbies, like reading a book, making art or listen to your favorite music.

Engaging in regular exercise is another option, even if it’s just for 15-30 minutes each day.

Other options include supplementing with nervous system-calming herbs like lemon balm and ashwagandha.

Reducing your dependency on caffeine (like soda, coffee, and/or black tea) is also recommended if you want to reduce the stress response on the body. Opt for alternatives like roasted chicory root or roasted dandelion root tea (both taste similar to coffee but without the caffeine).

3. Toxin Exposure

A toxin is something that can be harmful to your body and one of these impacts can be increased inflammation.

We come into contact with toxins by breathing them in (air pollution), eating them (pesticides and herbicides), or having them touch our skin.

Your body eliminates toxins through your detox organs like the liver, kidneys, digestive system, skin, and lungs. Unfortunately, if these organs aren’t healthy enough to do their job properly, they will have trouble eliminating toxic waste.

Reducing toxin exposure gives our detox organs a much-needed break. As a result, it gives the body a chance to start clearing out toxins that have accumulated at the cellular level to help avoid long-term damage. It also eases stress on the immune system, which might constantly be on guard to protect our delicate organs and cells from the threat of toxic particles.

While some toxins are environmental, we can reduce our exposure and our contribution to the overall emissions of toxins by making some simple lifestyle shifts.

The first step would be getting rid of products in your home that contain synthetic fragrance and other harsh chemical ingredients. This includes things like air fresheners, dryer sheets, scented candles, laundry detergent, dish soap, perfume, and more.

Remember, there are always natural alternatives to these products. Instead of air fresheners, diffuse essential oils. Instead of dryer sheets, invest in some anti-static fragrance-free cloth dryer sheets. Instead of laundry detergent, use soap nuts. There are great alternatives everywhere. I mention more of them in my article on how to detox your home.

Switching to non-toxic cleaning products is another suggestion I have for anyone dealing with chronic inflammation. Plain vinegar and water is a great alternative for a cleaner. The combination of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (in their own bottles, sprayed one after the other) is a wonderful and proven alternative to bleach.

Another thing you can do is choose glass storage containers over plastic, especially when reheating food.

Also, steering clear of conventional produce, especially those on the “Dirty Dozen” list is essential when wanting to reduce the toxic load in the body. Always eat organic when possible, and choose filtered water or spring water over tap water.

The Bottom Line

Chronic inflammation increases your risk of several serious diseases. And while many individuals choose to opt for anti-inflammatory pain meds to conceal their pain issues, this is only covering up a much larger issue at hand.

By recognizing the symptoms of chronic inflammation, you can take the necessary steps to help heal it through modifying your diet, stress levels and exposure to household chemicals.

Learning how to naturally reduce chronic inflammation is the perfect prescription for a more vibrant, healthier lifestyle. Applying the steps might take some getting used to, but in the end, you’ll feel more empowered and in charge of your health.

You got this!

human body wrapped in barbed wire to demonstrate the pain of chronic inflammation with text - 10 extremely subtle signs your have too much inflammation in your body

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Is Dancing Good for The Brain? Science Says Yes https://livelovefruit.com/is-dancing-good-for-the-brain-science-says-yes/ https://livelovefruit.com/is-dancing-good-for-the-brain-science-says-yes/#comments Tue, 04 Feb 2020 01:20:39 +0000 https://livelovefruit.com/?p=35243 As the American population grows older on average, scientists scramble to discover ways to prevent the damaging impact of aging…

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MRI image of a brain

As the American population grows older on average, scientists scramble to discover ways to prevent the damaging impact of aging on the brain.

Getting older results in many changes to your neurons, and not all of them are positive. Dementia can suck the joy out of your golden years entirely. Even mild cognitive decline can lead to significant concerns that things will get worse. 

What if there was something you could do to reverse the signs of aging in your mind?

Researchers recently discovered a solution, and it’s completely free. All you need to do is get your body moving to the beat.

While any cardiovascular exercise has neuron-boosting benefits, evidence indicates dancing is an excellent way to reverse the impact of time. 

What Happens to the Brain as We Age?

As the years creep by, the brain changes structurally in many ways. You experience everything from memory and cognitive decline to microscopic changes in your cells and very chemistry.

How does this look and feel? 

When you experience cognitive decline, you might find it challenging to perform mental tasks you previously accomplished with ease.

For example, it may have been easy to run to the grocery store and remember to grab five or six items a few years ago. Now, the same chore takes you a repeat trip. You might waste minutes staring at the labels, struggling to recall what you forgot. 

Working memory, or your ability to retain snippets of information, like phone numbers and passwords, declines every year.

Some researchers believe the process begins as early as age 30 in some individuals [1]. Your ability to focus also suffers a hit. You may start finding it problematic to follow a conversation in a crowded restaurant or tune out the wail of a colicky toddler. This ability, called selective attention, allows you to mute out distractions, something that declines with age. 

You could also experience declines in declarative memory. Declarative memory refers to events in your autobiography and the facts you learned in school. It differs from procedural memory, which involves how to do something, like drive a car or ride a bicycle.

While the latter remains mostly intact as you age, your declarative memory starts to decline. 

1. Structural Changes

The volume of your brain begins to shrink when you’re in your 30s or 40s, and it accelerates at age 60. Some areas, like the hippocampus, dissipate more quickly than others.

In general, sections that develop last in childhood and adolescence show aging’s effects the fastest. 

Your cerebral cortex, which is the region of your brain responsible for speech and decision-making, also begins breaking down over time. MRI imaging reveals that by middle age, a global thinning of the cortex becomes apparent [2].

The most significant decline occurs in the primary motor cortex, which implies that many of the coordination deficits people associate with aging originate in the mind. 

2. Neuronal Changes

Your brain cells undergo significant changes as you get older. Neuronal cells experience increased oxidative stress and protein accumulation over the years [3].

You need a healthy antioxidant system to preserve the structural integrity of this vital organ. As your neurons build-up aggregated proteins, these substances damage the mitochondria.

Over time, the number of antioxidants in your brain decreases, leading to cognitive decline. 

3. Other Changes

Your lifestyle can also impact the effects of aging on the brain. Long-term substance abuse is one major factor that changes the physical structure of your brain.

Alcoholism, for example, alters the brain circuitry that governs impulse control and judgment, driving people to seek nonsensical rewards [4].

This phenomenon explains why addicts can intellectually understand that particular behaviors entail the risk of severe consequences, like job loss or arrest, to get their substance of choice. 

Other factors, such as seemingly unrelated health conditions, also impact neurological decline.

For instance, recent research indicates people with Type 2 diabetes experience more rapid cognitive decline than peers with better blood sugar control [5]. Performance on cognitive tests decreased as blood glucose levels increased. 

Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce these risks to your brain.

You can prevent Type 2 diabetes by eating a healthy diet and staying active. You can also minimize your alcohol intake.

As far as exercise goes, regular cardiovascular activity may ease brain damage already incurred through alcoholism [6]. One of the best forms of cardiovascular fitness? Dancing! 

How Dancing Helps Prevent the Signs of Aging in the Brain 

Dance is the ideal form of exercise to protect your aging brain. This exercise spurs physiological changes to the structure of this vital organ. It also aids your focus, concentration and mental power. 

1. Physiological Effects of Dancing

One way regular dancing benefits your brain health is by bathing your neurons in oxygen-rich blood every time you elevate your heart rate. Your brain cells need oxygen to function, which is why you might feel like you think more clearly after a brisk walk. 

The best news? It’s never too late to up your physical activity levels. In a 3-month study of women aged 60 or older, walking for 30 to 50 minutes three or four times weekly improved their blood flow to the brain by 15% [7]. 

Exercise, including dance, also helps you to sleep more soundly, and catching sufficient Zs is critical to neurological functioning. Hitting the hay gives your body time to replenish neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that impact everything from your mood to your concentration [8]. Consider how you feel off when your alarm doesn’t sound, or you’ve tossed and turned all night. Finding your found can be tough the next day. 

Multiple studies indicate that the prefrontal and medial temporal complex in people who engage in regular workouts have higher volumes than those who remain sedentary [9]. Since your brain volume tends to decrease over time, it stands to reason that maintaining a healthy amount correlates with sharper cognitive functions. 

Dancing creates additional benefits for your hippocampus, which controls your memory, learning, and balance. Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to measure the volume of this brain region in 14 participants who engaged in an 18-month dance intervention. They found the dancers had increases in the left dentate gyrus and the right subiculum, which indicates this particular form of exercise reigns supreme in preventing age-related physical and mental decline [10].

To maximize your benefits, most experts recommend working out for at least 150 minutes per week, which equates to 30 minutes each day of the workweek. However, don’t feel daunted if this seems impossible — even getting your blood flowing for 10 minutes offers benefits. The best part? You can dance anywhere you have music — even if it’s only playing in your mind.

2. Physiological Effects of Cardiovascular Exercise

One way regular physical activity benefits your brain health is by bathing your neurons in oxygen-rich blood every time you elevate your heart rate. Your brain cells need oxygen to function, which is why you might feel like you think more clearly after a brisk walk. 

The best news? It’s never too late to up your physical activity levels. In a 3-month study of women aged 60 or older, walking for 30 to 50 minutes three or four times weekly improved their blood flow to the brain by 15% [11]. 

Exercise also helps you to sleep more soundly, and catching sufficient Zzzs is critical to neurological functioning. Hitting the hay gives your body time to replenish neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that impact everything from your mood to your concentration [12]. Consider how you feel off when your alarm doesn’t sound, or you’ve tossed and turned all night. Finding your found can be tough the next day. 

Multiple studies indicate that the prefrontal and medial temporal complex in people who engage in regular workouts have higher volumes than those who remain sedentary [13]. Since your brain volume tends to decrease over time, it stands to reason that maintaining a healthy amount correlates with sharper cognitive functions. 

To maximize your benefits, most experts recommend working out for at least 150 minutes per week, which equates to 30 minutes each day of the workweek. However, don’t feel daunted if this seems impossible — even getting your blood flowing for 10 minutes offers benefits. 

3. Dance Aids in Focus and Concentration 

While any aerobic activity will provide a physiological brain boost, the unique stresses inherent in dance may boost the neurological benefits. Think about when you walk on a treadmill. How carefully do you concentrate on what you’re doing? Unless you’re recovering from an injury to your legs, probably not much. You likely watch TV or listen to podcasts as you dutifully plod through the miles. 

You can’t say the same for dance. When you’re moving around, you have to focus on a variety of things happening at once. With a partner, you need to tune in to their cues. If you’re taking a class, you need to follow the instructor’s steps, and you may attempt to memorize the routine. 

You’re engaging your body and mind at the same time. Since your ability to focus declines selectively when you age, dancing offers an ideal way to work on your ability to think on your feet. 

Studies using PET imaging have identified the regions of the brain that contribute to dance learning and performance. Your motor cortex is one of the first sections to show structural changes, and dance ignites this center. It also engages your somatosensory cortex and the basal ganglia, both of which work to coordinate movement [14]. 

4. Social Benefits of Dancing 

One study performed in 2003 examined the effects of 11 different types of exercise on the risk of dementia in the elderly. They found that only one activity — dance — decreased the risk of developing the disorder. Researchers believe that both the mental effort and social interaction involved in this leisure activity create beneficial effects. 

Millions of American seniors suffer from crippling loneliness. A difference exists between living alone and feeling the emotion, however. Some people live solo but enjoy varied social lives. Others feel isolated even when other people surround them.

While loneliness may seem like a psychological problem, it carries significant physical health risks. For example, the biology behind the emotion may prompt immune cells to produce inflammation, which can result in diseases as diverse as heart disease and Alzheimer’s [15]. 

Dancing makes you feel included by its very nature. If you attend a fitness class at a gym, a quality instructor will make everybody feel welcome. You often form friendships with others in your group, and it becomes more natural to invite them for tea afterward. 

Getting Started in Dance Fitness 

Now that you know the considerable benefits of dance fitness for your brain, how can you get started on the journey? You might protest, “I have two left feet. You’ll never catch me cutting a rug.” Nonsense! Dance is accessible to everyone, even those who rely on assistive devices like wheelchairs or crutches. If you can wiggle to the beat, guess what? You’re doing it right. 

Nevertheless, you might feel a bit silly the first time you dance around your living room. What should you try if you’re looking for someone to show you the ropes? 

  • Hit up a Zumba class: A Zumba class borrows movements from international dances, especially those with a Latin or African-American heritage. You’ll sashay and samba your way into fitness. Each song has a choreographed dance you can master in class and later practice independently. Maybe you’ll want to try out some new moves in a club. Challenge your brain to memorize each routine and quiz yourself for additional neurological benefits. 

  • Beat it out with Pound: If you’re a little more rock-and-roll than hip hop or country, you’ll adore Pound. You’ll use lightly weighted sticks to air drum your way to toned arms — and a sharper mind. If you have the rhythm in you and live to play games like Band Hero, this is your workout. 

  • Get theatrical with LaBlast: Have you always dreamed of dancing on Broadway? Even if you traded in your tap shoes at age 10, you can recreate the magic with this fun form of fitness. You’ll enjoy everything from disco to ballroom swing. This class flows logically, so if you can count, you can follow along. 

  • Tone your entire body with Barre: Do you miss the days of pink tutus and ballet slippers? Who says you have to give up barre classes once you’re 18 or older? You can find studios in nearly every town, and classes for people of all ages. If you’re more interested in fitness than technique, you can find courses that emphasize the cardiovascular and toning components. 

  • Get romantic with ballroom swing: Maybe you lost your partner, or perhaps you miss the romance of dancing cheek-to-cheek. Sign up for a ballroom swing class — even if you’re solo. Many studios will pair you with various partners. Of course, if you have a significant other, invite them along for the action! 

Once you get the knack, don’t overlook the value of putting on your favorite tunes and dancing around your living room. If you have a computer or a smart TV, you can stream free dance workout videos in the privacy of your home. If you’re at all intimidated about dancing publicly, these offer an alternative way to reap the rewards. 

Don’t let disability hold you back from the health and brain benefits of dance. Today, an entire theater exists to showcase the talent of people with adaptive needs [16]. Maybe you have no desire to perform on a stage, but you can still refuse to let mental roadblocks keep you from having a good time. 

The Bottom Line

It doesn’t matter how old you are — dancing benefits your brain. Studies prove this simple exercise can enhance your focus and coordination. It’s also an excellent way to have fun. The next time you need a cognitive boost, pump up the volume and boogie! 

mri of brain with text - dancing can reverse the signs of aging in the brain

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How Do You Know If You Have Whiplash? Signs to Look out For https://livelovefruit.com/how-do-you-know-if-you-have-whiplash/ https://livelovefruit.com/how-do-you-know-if-you-have-whiplash/#comments Sat, 25 Jan 2020 17:06:08 +0000 https://livelovefruit.com/?p=34635 Living with any type of pain is never easy, nor is living with pain something that one would ever desire.…

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man holding neck after whiplash injury

Living with any type of pain is never easy, nor is living with pain something that one would ever desire. At some point in life, we are all affected by pain. And though it doesn’t always seem like things will get better, there is always hope for a better tomorrow in spite of the pain.

Car accidents, horse accidents, accidents on the job and other traumatic experiences aren’t always things we can control. Many times, they’re inevitable and we all run the risk of possibly experiencing such a tragic event at some point.

If you’ve ever gotten in a car accident, then I’m sure you’ve heard of the term whiplash.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a condition where the tissues beyond the neck muscles are bruised and oftentimes become inflamed due to the damage done in whatever type of accident has occurred.

When a blow targets the neck and causes it to go forward and back, back and then to the front or even side to side at a forceful speed, it many times leads one to then experience what’s called whiplash.

The symptoms generally don’t show up until a day or so afterward, but when they do they are typically undeniable. Seeing your local doctor will bring you a definite diagnosis, even if you believe you know you are experiencing whiplash.

X-rays and other types of medical scanning tools are unable to pick up on the damage done to the tissues in the neck, so it generally is diagnosed based on what you describe to your doctor.

How Do You Know if You Have Whiplash?

When dealing with whiplash, it’s important to know what to expect and what symptoms to look to possibly dealing with. They tend to sometimes vary in each case, but for the most part, the symptoms are all pretty much the same.

The intensity of the blow and level of force can determine just how much damage has been done, which also determines just how long the neck remains in that predicament.

So how do you know if you have whiplash? Here are some symptoms to expect:

  • Headache
  • Sore shoulders
  • Sore arms in some cases
  • Stiff neck
  • Neck pain
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty remembering

These symptoms can last anywhere up to a couple of days, and some say they deal with the symptoms for weeks or months at a time. As stated before, each situation and case varies.

Living with Whiplash

Though whiplash is temporary, it’s important to understand how your life may change until the healing is complete. The extra level of pain in the neck, shoulders, and arms at times may bring complications to day to day activities.

Sleeping, working, and even exercising may become more difficult to engage in, but not at all impossible. There are things that can be done to help you better work through your days even when dealing with the pain and issues associated with whiplash. 

1. Sleeping

Sleeping with whiplash can be complicated at times. The pressure that one takes on throughout the night can be the cause of more pain in the morning after sleeping with the pain. The neck must be free from any extra pressure in order for the stiffness to not increase by morning. 

There are specially designed pillows specifically for the neck that many choose to use to help keep it in position. In some cases when it’s hard to manage on your own, you may even want to invest in a neck brace. 

A temporary neck brace will help to keep the neck in place and stable, not bringing any extra pressure or jerking movements to it. Keep in mind that moving around with a neck brace and even without it will be tough because you can’t move your neck as freely as you did before whiplash. 

The key is to keep the neck in a steady position throughout the night, and in the morning the pain shouldn’t worsen. Do what you can to keep the neck relaxed. 

2. Working

Whether working at a desk or standing for long periods of the day, it’s important to know that whiplash may affect the way you operate. If working at a desk throughout the day, be sure to keep your neck as straight as possible but still relax as much as you can, being sure to not bring any excess stiffness to the neck. Take breaks often and don’t sit still for too long seeing that it can cause the neck to become stiffer throughout the day. 

3. Exercise

During exercise with whiplash, you want to be sure you aren’t placing strain on the neck. It’s easy to strain your neck when doing abdominal exercises, chest exercises, arm, and even back exercises.

Learn the proper body mechanics regarding exercise first and then be sure to heed the breathing techniques and tucking of the chin however far you can move your head, therefore keeping the neck from being pulled on during the workout. Jerking movements must not be made and any sudden movement to the neck during exercise can worsen the side effects.

Considering the fact that shoulders and arms are many times affected also, it’s important to check with your doctor or chiropractor. Getting their opinion as to how you should exercise or if you should wait would be the best option for you.

Will Stretching My Neck Help With The Pressure?

Because the spine is also affected when the neck suffers trauma, it’s vital to not only pay attention to any extra pressure being placed on the neck but being mindful of the spine also.

Stretching many times helps the process of healing, and can assist in taking away much of the stiffness and unnecessary excess pain that forms and stays put when no movement is being done. 

Sometimes, many are afraid to move the neck out of fear that it will hurt too badly or make things worse, but it’s in not moving it enough during the time of healing that will cause more pain.

There are some stretches you can perform on a daily that will help the neck with stiffness and pain. If you’re short on time don’t worry, these stretches are very time efficient.  

Three Stretches That Can Be Done Under Ten Minutes

  1. Chin tuck – During this exercise, you can stay seated to reduce any extra pressure on the body. While keeping your head up straight and facing forward, you’ll want to slowly begin to tuck your chin down to your chest. Go as far as you can go and hold for a minimum of 5 seconds, repeating stretch 10 times.

  2. Side bending – In this exercise, you’ll want to stay seated with good posture. Start with your head up straight facing forward and slowly begin to tuck your ear down to one side, the goal is to get as close to the shoulder as possible, but be patient as you heal. Hold to one side for a minimum of 20 seconds, using your hand to pull on the head a little will deepen the stretch. Repeat on the other side and do this exercise 3 to 5 times on each side. 

  3. Rotation (side to side) – While seated with a good posture hold your head up straight and face forward. Start with one side and turn your head all the way to the right or left, going slowly and aiming to look over the shoulder off to the side. Hold this stretch for at least 20 seconds, and repeat on the other side. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

If you experience any new level of pain while performing these exercises, you’ll want to stop and wait. Don’t push it too far and risk causing more damage to the muscles, joints, and ligaments within the neck and surrounding areas.

Will Using Essential Oils Bring Any Relief?

Essential oils are typically derived from plants, seeds, and flowers. They are natural remedies not approved by the FDA but used by many nonetheless.

Many are beginning to embrace the use of herbal remedies and essential oils. It wouldn’t hurt to try and see if it works for you!

There are essential oils for most health issues faced today. They work well for some and for others not so much. If you choose to invest in essential oils and use them as a form of dietary supplement, be sure to pay attention to potential side effects and it won’t hurt to let your doctor know your plans. 

They are generally rubbed into the body or used in diffusers. 

To help with sleep at night it may be worth looking into essential oils, to help ease the pain and relax you. 

Lavender, for example, is an essential oil known to calm and relax, while also helping to ease pain and inflammation. Many use it specifically for sleep. 

Essential oils can be used to help with the pain but working alone they won’t bring you the best results. 

Essential oils are a form of alternative medicine but should not be used alone seeing that they don’t replace traditional medications. 

See a Chiropractor

Perhaps the best thing you can do is see a chiropractor. They are experienced in treating neck pain and whiplash. A local chiropractor has many secrets to treating whiplash, and the soonest you can get in, the better.

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6 Ways To Beat The Winter Blues And Stay Happy This Winter https://livelovefruit.com/6-ways-to-beat-the-winter-blues/ https://livelovefruit.com/6-ways-to-beat-the-winter-blues/#respond Tue, 26 Nov 2019 20:43:14 +0000 https://livelovefruit.com/?p=34671 Maintaining your health and wellness throughout the winter months can be tough. With the weather cooling down and extra stressors…

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Maintaining your health and wellness throughout the winter months can be tough. With the weather cooling down and extra stressors with end-of-year responsibilities, happy—and time-consuming—holidays to prepare for, it can be easy to feel stressed out and a bit down. 

Many people struggle with these things during the holidays. To help you tackle your winter blues and make your holidays brighter, here are some ways you can improve your happiness this winter.

1. Commit To A Regular Exercise Schedule

One of the best things you can do to help beat the winter blues is to commit to exercise. There is a great deal of research that has gone into the benefits of exercise when it comes to seasonal affective disorder. This research has found that exercising just 30 minutes a day, three days a week can help improve your mood and increase your stamina. 

Exercise is also a great way to relieve stress. Have a big project that needs to be wrapped before co-workers leave for Christmas vacation? Take some time to exercise and let that stress ease. Stressed about hosting the in-laws for holiday festivities? By exercising regularly, you give yourself a set time to be alone and just enjoy how your body moves and works. 

Along with helping to relieve stress, by exercising this winter, you can keep your dopamine levels up. Cardio workouts in particular release endorphins, dopamine, and other “upper” emotions that help you enjoy a better mood overall. 

2. Make Careful And Deliberate Food Choices

The winter season is often a time of indulgence when it comes to food. While research has proven that the boogeyman of tons of holiday weight gain is just a myth, it doesn’t mean that changing your eating habits over the winter doesn’t have an impact. 

For instance, if you tend to follow a plant-based diet most of the year, you may be tempted to indulge in other foods over the holidays. However, this break from your routine can leave you feeling low on energy and bloated, as your digestive system isn’t used to breaking down the various foods and drinks that fall outside of your diet. And when you feel like your stomach is carrying a bowling ball of food, it is pretty easy to feel down. 

Instead, when you are confronted with the bounty of food options this winter, be mindful as you enjoy. By being deliberate with your food choices, you can keep from feeling bloated and uncomfortable, which is sure to help you feel better this winter. So, if you indulge yourself a bit, try to keep your portions small and don’t venture too far from your usual dietary habits.

3. Take Some Time For Your Skin

Winter has a way of sucking the moisture out of everything—the air, your home, and your skin. With less moisture in the air, your skin can more easily dry out. When someone has dry skin, they often look more tired as their skin is dull, and they may feel itchy and uncomfortable.

There are a few things you can do to give your skin a hand. Using lotion not long after you get out of the shower can help lock in the moisture. Keeping a small container of hand lotion with you can help prevent cracked skin, which some people struggle with during the winter. Using lip balm can also help alleviate dry and chapped lips.

Along with carrying topical aids, you can also use essential oils or bath bombs infused with helpful oils like coconut oil. Not only can these things re-hydrate your skin this winter, but you can also take some time for self-care, which can help your mood this winter.

4. Find Ways To Help Others

A great way to break out of the winter blues funk is by volunteering. By focusing on the needs of others, you can often work through or completely release your own feelings of being down this holiday season. If you aren’t sure where to start, you can use a national volunteer database to search for local organizations that need volunteers. Other ways you can look for ways to give back are:

  • Volunteer at a local nursing home
  • Create premie blankets and hats for your local hospital (check for guidelines)
  • Throw a fundraising holiday party for your favorite charity
  • Do a 12 Days Of Christmas for a family in need 

These are just a few of the things you can do to bring holiday cheer to others. Take some time to look at what your community may need and see how you can fill that gap this winter.

5. Bundle Up And Get Outside

Feeling like you are trapped in your house when you aren’t at work or some other indoor location is enough to depress anyone. Rather than stay cooped up in your house, make an effort to bundle up and get outside at least a couple of times a week. 

You could just do something as simple as taking a walk, or think big and go skiing. The important thing is to get time outside. Being in the sun, even with the snow on the ground, can be revitalizing and help chase the winter blues away. 

Also, there are a lot of beautiful sights that you miss in the winter by being indoors. From a child’s first snowman to a light-bedecked house, there are plenty of things worth seeing once you leave your house this winter.

6. Add More Light To Your Life

Speaking of getting sunlight, there is a biochemical component to the winter blues. As there is less natural sunlight during the winter, it is easier to become depressed. You also receive less vitamin D unless you make a point to get out into the winter light.

To help you break through a winter slump, you can add a vitamin D supplement to your diet, as well as a sun lamp, which is also called a light therapy box or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lamp. With one of these lamps mimicking outdoor sunlight, they are believed to help with your melatonin and serotonin levels. 

You don’t have to incorporate everything at once to enjoy the benefits. I do recommend you start by building up your exercise routine, as the rest can more easily fall into place. And as you engage in these various things to help you beat seasonal affective disorder, you can have the best winter ever.

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How to Naturally Cleanse the Lymphatic System to Fight Chronic Disease https://livelovefruit.com/how-to-naturally-cleanse-the-lymphatic-system/ https://livelovefruit.com/how-to-naturally-cleanse-the-lymphatic-system/#comments Wed, 20 Nov 2019 00:25:14 +0000 http://livelovefruit.wpengine.com/?p=1063 If you’re constantly getting sick, feel tired all the time, or have trouble losing weight, you may want to think…

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3D representation of lymphatic system in the body

If you’re constantly getting sick, feel tired all the time, or have trouble losing weight, you may want to think about cleansing your lymphatic system.

Learning how to naturally cleanse the lymphatic system isn’t as hard as it might sound. There are many practical things you can do today to help give your lymphatic system the help it needs.

If you’re interested in preventing disease and cleansing your body of toxins, pollutants, additives, and chemicals, then you’ve come to the right place.

What is the Lymphatic System?

The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. 

The lymphatic system functions primarily to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.

The lymphatic system is also involved in fluid recovery and lipid absorption.

Unlike our circulatory system, our lymphatic system does not have a “pump”. With the circulatory system, blood is pumped throughout the body by means of a constantly beating heart.

The lymphatic system, on the other hand, has no heart to pump it. It depends on daily movement on our behalf to help shuttle lymph fluid around the body.

The tonsils, adenoids, spleen, and thymus are all part of the lymphatic system. They’re all connected by a web of lymphatic vessels which, in a sense, is like a second circulatory system of the body.

The lymph nodes themselves are made up of sinuses filled with immunological cells, such as lymphocytes and macrophages, that both identify and eliminate viruses, bacteria, cell debris, cancer cells, and other foreign substances that invade our body.

Each part or segment of the body drains into a specific pack of lymph nodes. Neighboring areas which drain into different lymph nodes are separated by so-called watersheds. The image below from Science of Massage illustrates the lymphatic system with the location of the main watersheds.

diagram of how lymphatic fluid drains in the body

Each watershed drains to a particular region of lymph nodes.

After the lymph fluid passes through these nodes it enters larger lymphatic trunks within the body.

After traveling through the lymphatic trunks, the lymph fluid empties into the subclavian vein at the base of the neck (1).

What Causes Blockages in the Lymphatic System?

When determining what causes blockages in the lymphatic system, you need to think about certain stressors or deficiencies that interfere with this system.

The lymphatic system is delicate, so if you’re exposing yourself to any of the stressors or deficiencies mentioned below, you might want to brainstorm ways of eliminating or remedying them.

Stress

Stress can put quite a toll on the lymphatic system.

According to the Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiologychronic exposure to large surges of cortisol, the stress hormone, can physically cause the lymphoid tissue to atrophy.

It is well known that extended periods of stress can wreak havoc on the immune system. Since our lymphatic system is essentially our immune system, you can see why stress and this system are closely linked.

Stress has also been found to remodel the lymphatic system to help cancer spread. Yikes!

Australian scientists discovered that in mice, stress remodels drainage vessels around a tumor, forming “highways” for metastatic cancer cells (2).

The researchers discovered that stress hormones remodeled the architecture of the lymphatic vessels around the tumors – more vessels grew and were wider, allowing more liquid to flow. This remodeled network also let cancer cells spread to lymph nodes more easily.

But when the stressed-out mice were given beta-blockers to reduce stress, lymphatic remodeling was reduced and so was the spread of metastatic cancer cells.

While we all experience stressful events in our life, finding ways to help reduce the level of stress when times get tough can help protect your body against disease.

Here are some recommendations to help reduce stress in your life:

  • Exercise: lowers your body’s stress hormones like cortisol in the long-run. Even just walking for 15-30 minutes a day is enough to lower these stress hormones.

  • Sleep: not getting enough sleep will dramatically increase your body’s stress hormones. Check out my article on the top 10 fundamental ways to help improve your sleep for some great tips on getting a good night’s rest every night.

  • Supplements: some natural herbs and supplements are known to reduce anxiety and stress. Ashwagandha, lemon balm, and valerian are a few key herbs that any chronically-stressed out individual should consider taking.

  • Reduce Caffeine Intake: caffeine is known to raise cortisol levels. Try to reduce your intake to one cup in the morning, and if you’re having trouble quitting, consider weaning yourself off with some yerba maté.

  • Write it Down: one way to get things off your mind and stress less is to write things down in a journal or piece of paper. You can also write down what you’re grateful for to help re-wire your thoughts.

Iodine Deficiency

If you’re iodine deficient, your lymphatic system might be congested.

Iodine protects us from a toxic environment and supports the lymph at the cellular level.

Making sure you’re getting enough iodine in your diet is important, especially if you don’t eat table salt that often has iodine added to it.

Iodine is found abundantly in seaweed products like kelp, nori, wakame, and dulse.

Pesticides & Food Additives

Preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, and food additives like refined sugar, chemicals, and colorings all put a strain on the lymphatic system.

Consuming non-organic, highly-processed sugary and fatty foods simply creates an even larger workload for your lymphatic system.

This will eventually prevent it from properly filtering toxins and bacteria, which can eventually lead to chronic disease.

If you don’t have the funds to eat all organic, only purchase organic foods from the “Dirty Dozen” list.

Reduce your consumption of processed foods and replace them with fresh, whole fruit and vegetables.

Smoking & Second-Hand Smoke

This relates back to the toxin concept.

Smoking increases your body’s receptivity to developing fungal or viral infections, parasites, ulcers, cancer, bronchitis, high blood pressure, and many more issues.

Why?

Smoking depresses the body’s immune response, and since our immune system is essentially our lymphatic system, then smoking directly impacts the way our lymphatic system functions.

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are toxic to the body.

They contain harmful chemicals and dyes and these compounds suppress the immune system.

Asking your doctor if you can safely wean yourself off any prescription drugs could help pave the way for a healthier lymphatic system.

Animal Products

Animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy contribute to a sluggish lymphatic system.

Animal products have a very low pH, meaning they are more acidic than say a fruit or vegetable.

Our lymphatic system doesn’t function as well in a body that harbors more acidic by-products. These acids clog up the lymphatic vessels and interfere with the ability of the lymph to properly drain.

The flow of our lymphatic system is smoother when given foods that assist in helping clear the “drains”. These foods include pretty much any fruit and vegetable, as well as nuts and seeds.

In addition, meat, dairy, and eggs contain hormones (either synthetic or natural). These hormones interrupt the processing of our own hormones, whereby our lymphatic system is largely involved.

How to Naturally Cleanse the Lymphatic System

Here are eight different things you can do to get your lymphatic system back on track to reveal a healthier, vibrant you!

1. Focus on Foods

Eating a proper diet rich in fruit and vegetables is essential to ensuring your lymphatic system is clean and flowing free.

  • Leafy Greens
    Green leafy vegetables and herbs are an excellent way to enrich your system with chlorophyll. This molecule helps to purify your blood, which in turn cleanses your lymph.

  • Citrus Fruit
    Citrus fruit have wonderful astringent properties that help increase lymph flow and remove any blockages. Melons are great for helping alkalinize the body, while berries are packed with antioxidants that keep our immune system strong. A body that is better equipped to fight against disease takes a lot of stress off the lymphatic system.

  • Healthy Fats
    Eating healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and seeds is also important to ensure we get enough essential fatty acids that help protect and nourish our lymphatic system.

2. Hydrate Yourself

When was the last time you drank a glass of water? If the answer was hours ago, you might want to go fill up a cup.

Proper hydration allows lymphatic fluid to flow more freely throughout the vessels. Without enough water in our body, that fluid stays stuck and stagnant.

Because our lymphatic system requires a constant supply of fluid, drinking at least 3-4 liters of purified or filtered water daily will help to keep it functioning at its best!

3. Lymphatic Massage

Massaging is a great way to encourage natural drainage of the lymph from the tissue spaces in your body.

Studies have shown that lymphatic massage can increase the volume of lymph flow by as much as 20 times, vastly increasing the system’s ability to remove toxins and infectious materials as well (3).

4. Exercise

Exercising, or “playing” as I like to call it (doing things you love while you are in motion) is critical to keeping your lymph system open and flowing!

When your muscles move, they also help move and pump the lymph within its vessels.

Walking, yoga, running, swimming, stretching and strength training are wonderful ways to keep the lymph flowing.

Dancing (with lots of up and down movement) or rebounding is particularly helpful because the vertical motion of the exercise opens and closes the one-way valves that comprise the lymphatic system (and can increase lymph flow by up to 15-30 times!).

5. Start Rebounding

Rebounding on a mini-trampoline is another great way to flush the lymphatic system.

Lymphatic fluid is completely dependent on physical exercise to move, and it is particularly fond of the gravitational force of up-and-down exercises.

What would be the best up-and-down exercise? Jumping on a trampoline!

While many of us can’t afford or find the space for a giant trampoline, there are smaller trampolines that can be used inside the house.

These mini-trampolines, or rebounders, causes the lymphatic system’s one-way valves to open and close, increasing lymph flow.

6. Dry Brushing

Dry brushing helps increase circulation and helps improve your skin tone if you suffer from cellulite.

Brushing your skin while it’s dry helps to boost slower-than-average lymph.

All you need is a dry brush, and a dry body to get started!

Starting on your arms, or legs, brush toward your heart with long strokes. Do this for 5 minutes all over your body before going into the shower.

7. Deep Breathing

Breathing deep is very important. Why?

Proper movement of air through the lungs helps move and pump fluid through the lymphatic system while providing it with fresh oxygen.

Becoming conscious of your breathing throughout the day and getting out of the habit of shallow breathing is a great way to start.

You can do this laying on the floor with your legs relaxed over the edge of a couch or bed. Hold one hand over your chest, and one on your belly. Take a deep breath in, and let it all out. On the inhale, focus on breathing from only your belly, so that your hand on your belly moves upward, while the hand on your chest stays still (your chest shouldn’t be moving). Continue doing this for 5-10 deep breaths.

8. Consider Taking A Lymphatic Supplement

The lymphatic system can also be supported and flushed with herbs and supplements that target the lymphatic system directly.

One supplement I’ve been using recently is called Lymphatic Support by Microbe Formulas.

This Lymphatic Support supplement is comprised of a variety of natural ingredients, coupled with bio-active carbon molecules, to create the lymphatic motion needed to support drainage.

This supplement includes slippery elm bark, which functions as a mild diuretic, Astragalus root, which supports the liver and lymphatic system, Graviola, and Chuchuhuasi, which provides adrenal support.

Additionally, they’ve also added turkey rhubarb, sheep sorrel, and burdock root, whose anthraquinones, tannins, and plant sterols have antioxidant properties, and other immune system-supporting properties. Burdock root, specifically, has been shown to be particularly effective in supporting the body’s efforts to remove biofilm.

This blend of natural ingredients plus the bio-active carbon allows for effective detoxification coupled with binding and die-off symptom mitigation. This means your detox efforts are optimized while your progression toward overall wellness is maximized.

3D representation of lymphatic system in neck and shoulders with text - how to naturally cleanse the lymphatic system to fight chronic disease

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8 Health Benefits of Water Fasting, Backed by Science https://livelovefruit.com/health-benefits-of-water-fasting/ https://livelovefruit.com/health-benefits-of-water-fasting/#comments Thu, 14 Nov 2019 16:56:36 +0000 https://livelovefruit.com/?p=12877 Do you remember the last time you were sick with the flu or became suddenly ill? Do you also remember…

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virus next to blood cells illustrated

Do you remember the last time you were sick with the flu or became suddenly ill? Do you also remember how you instinctively abstained from food?

This is the same behavior that a non-human animal might act when they become injured or sick. In other words, they’ll instinctively refuse food until they start feeling better.

This is one of the many health benefits of water fasting. The body’s innate knowing that in order to get better, it must focus all its energy on healing instead of digesting and assimilating food.

What is Water Fasting?

Water fasting is the act of drinking only water for a certain number of days. You cannot eat or drink anything other than pure, filtered water.

Most people water fast for 24-72 hours (2-3 days). Any water fasts longer than this time period should be medically supervised.

Intermittent fasting is another form of fasting (one that I do regularly), where you only eat during an 8-hour window. So I’ll eat breakfast at 11 am, and then finish my supper by around 7 pm. This gives my body a 16-hour break from digesting food.

Water fasting has been used by individuals to help them lose weight, for detox purposes, for its health benefits or to prepare for certain medical procedures.

Fasting has also been performed for many reasons other than just health. It has been done to achieve spiritual enlightenment and is practiced by many cultures all around the world.

Fasting for 72 Hours Can Reset Your Entire Immune System

A study published in Cell Stem Cell investigated the effects of fasting on cell-based regeneration and reversing immunosuppression.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Southern California, found that fasting for just 72 hours (three days), can regenerate the entire immune system, even in elderly people.

In both mice and a Phase 1 human clinical trial involving patients receiving chemotherapy, long periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts.

The researchers stated that fasting helps the body’s stem cells to start producing new white blood cells, whose role is to fight off infection in the body.

They added that the three-day water fast could be especially effective for those suffering from immunocompromised systems, such as chemotherapy patients.

They found that chemotherapy patients who fasted were better protected from the toxic impacts of the treatment.

Flipping a “Regenerative Switch”

Prolonged fasting breaks down a significant amount of white blood cells, which induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells.

Dr. Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California, stated that fasting gives the immune system “the ‘OK” for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system (1).”

He later added that the body gets rid of the parts of the system that might be old or damaged (the inefficient parts) during fasting, creating “literally, a new immune system.”

Dr. Longo mentioned that in order to create energy while fasting, the body must recycle unneeded immune cells (especially damaged ones).

Over the course of his study’s trials, participants were asked to regularly fast between 2-4 days over a 6-month period.

Although clinical trials still need to be completed, he is convinced that his research is “very promising,” and would benefit the population at large.

Health Benefits of Water Fasting

While many would agree that immune system regeneration is quite the health benefit to behold, there are other health benefits of water fasting that simply cannot be ignored.

In addition to immune system regeneration, here are 7 additional ways your body can benefit from a short-term water fast:

1. It Weakens Cancer

Scientists found that prolonged fasting reduces the enzyme PKA (2). PKA is linked to aging and a hormone (IGF-1), which increases cancer risk and tumor growth. Dr. Longo noted that PKA needs to shut down first in order for stem cells to start regenerating and rebuild the immune system – and fasting does just that.

Another study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine found that five out of eight cancer types responded positively to fasting (3). It improved survival rates by slowing the growth and spread of tumors.

The study found that fasting cycles without chemotherapy slowed the growth of melanoma, glioma, human neuroblastoma and breast cancer in mice. In several cases, fasting for up to 72 hours was as effective as chemotherapy.

Fasting slows down cellular activity in normal cells. In cancerous cells, however, fasting triggers the growth of new proteins, which encourages the tumor to grow and divide.

This survival mechanism played out by cancer cells essentially causes it to self-destruct. This happens as a result of the creation of damaging free radical molecules that break down the cancerous cell’s DNA.

“The cell is, in fact, committing cellular suicide. What we’re seeing is that the cancer cell tries to compensate for the lack of all these things missing in the blood after fasting. It may be trying to replace them, but it can’t,” said Dr. Longo.

2. It Protects The Brain

Fasting can also protect you against different diseases of the brain, according to US scientists.

Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore found evidence which showed that periods of stopping all food intake for 1-2 days a week could protect the brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other ailments (4).

Other studies have reported that fasting could protect brain health and increase the generation of nerve cells to help enhance cognitive function (5).

Fasting, or limiting food intake to 500 calories for 1-2 days a week doesn’t only improve brain health, but it also increases longevity, too.

3. It Reduces The Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes

Occasional water-only fasts lower your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, according to some studies.

A study conducted in Utah found that Mormons who fasted for 24 hours once a month for religious purposes, had much better arterial health than non-fasters (6). “X-ray scans revealed narrowing of the arteries in around 75 percent of those who didn’t fast. In contrast, clogged arteries affected 63 percent of those who said they often skipped meals.”

The study also found a reduction in levels of blood sugar and dangerous blood fats called triglycerides.

It should also be mentioned that fasting triggers a surge in the human growth hormone (7), which speeds up metabolism and burns up fat, ultimately lowering your risk of diabetes.

4. It Fights Inflammation

Many people suffer from chronic inflammation. Whether it’s from the foods we eat or the environment we live in, inflammation is rampant. 

So, getting rid of it would be beneficial, right?

Research has shown that water fasting can help reduce the levels of inflammation in the body. By doing so, fasting can actually reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases later in life. 

One study found that healthy adults who intermittent fasted for one month significantly decreased levels of inflammatory markers (8).  

Another, more recent study, found that fasting reduces inflammation and improves chronic inflammatory diseases without affecting the immune system’s response to acute infections (9). 

5. It Delays Aging and Extends Longevity

Another benefit of fasting is that it can reduce signs of aging and even extend your lifespan. 

New research found that fasting triggers a molecule that can delay the aging of our arteries (10). “The most important part of aging is vascular aging. When people become older, the vessels that supply different organs are the most sensitive and more subject to aging damage, so studying vascular aging is very important,” Dr. Zou explains. 

The molecule, beta-hydroxybutyrate, promotes the division and multiplication of the cells that line the inside of blood vessels. Cellular division is a marker of cellular youth. 

Other studies on rats fasted every other day revealed a delayed rate of aging. They also lived 83% longer than rats who didn’t fast (11). 

6. It Promotes Autophagy

Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out old, damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells. If your body fails at autophagy, the level of cellular waste and toxins build up, resulting in diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease (12). 

In one study, mice that fasted for 24 hours showed high numbers of autophagosomes, the sign that autophagy is working (13). 

Because the metabolism of a mouse is much faster than that of a human, you’d have to increase the time it takes in a human to reach this state. Many experts agree that the autophagy process initiates in humans after 18-20 hours of fasting, with the most benefits occurring at the 48-72 hour mark (14). 

Other studies have found that fasting just once or twice a week for 24 hours helps your body aid the process of autophagy and reduce the risk of toxin build-up (15). 

7. It Lowers the Risk of Several Chronic Diseases

Fasting is a great way to reduce the risk of chronic disease. 

Apart from helping lower the risk of developing cancer, diabetes and heart disease (16, 17, 18), fasting has also been found to protect our mitochondria and reduce the levels of free radicals in the body. 

Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage our cells and organs. They are known to play a role in many chronic diseases (19). 

In one review, it is duly noted that supervised, modified fasting for periods of 7-21 days is successful in treating rheumatic diseases, chronic pain syndromes, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome (20). 

How Do You Water Fast? 

Water fasting might seem like an easy task, but getting over hunger pangs can be difficult. 

If you’re used to skipping breakfast and lunch and only eating dinner, then you’ll probably have an easier time at it. 

If you’re new to water fasting, here are some simple tips to make the transition smooth:

  • Don’t immediately jump into a 24-72 hour water fast. If you normally wake up extremely hungry, try extending that by a couple of hours. Eat your breakfast 1-2 hours later than you normally would.
  • Continue increasing your fasting duration each day until you can make it to supper without eating anything. This will generally mean you’ve completed a 24 hour fast if you stopped eating at 6 pm the day before. 
  • Drink up to 3-4 liters of filtered water while fasting. Every time you feel hungry, reach for the water. Do not drink tap water
  • When breaking your fast, do not binge. This is a common occurrence among those who break their water fast and it is incredibly damaging to the body. Break your fast with water-dense fruit like watermelon, papaya, or grapes. 
  • Stop fasting if you start to feel sick. 

There are also different types of fasting that you can do like intermittent fasting, where you eat in an 8-hour window and fast for the remaining 16 hours.

You can also do a juice cleanse or juice fast, where all you drink is freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juice for one day, all the way up to 30 days or more.

Dangers of Water Fasting

Always talk to your doctor before you take up water fasting. They will let you know if it is safe for you to carry out depending on your health history. 

If you have hypoglycemia or diabetes, fasting is generally advised against. If you’re on any medication, fasting should also be avoided. 

Never water fast when pregnant, or if you have just given birth. 

Water fasting is also known to trigger eating disorders in individuals when their main goal of water fasting is to lose weight. If you’ve had an eating disorder in the past, you should really delve into why you want to water fast. Is it because you want to improve your health, or because you want to lose weight? 

Have you ever tried water fasting? Let me know in the comments below!

red blood cells with white blood cells in artery or vein with text - water fasting regenerates the entire immune system in under 72 hours + 7 other health benefits

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