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5 Great Ways To Prevent Depression Naturally

5 Great Ways To Prevent Depression Naturally

In a large-scale survey called The National College Health Survey, year after year, roughly 45% of college students report being depressed to the point that it’s difficult to function and 80% say they’re overwhelmed.

Depression does not discriminate between the young and the old. In the 1960s the average age for the onset of depression was 29. Today the average age for the onset of depression is 14.

Depression is a problem that needs to be solved. Luckily there’s more and more research to suggest that it can be, and without the use of psychiatric medication.

Below I’ve listed the top five ways to prevent depression naturally according to scientific research.

1. Sleep

Losing out on sleep can lead to a downward spiral of depression. According to the National Sleep Foundation:

The relationship between sleep and depressive illness is complex–depression may cause sleep problems and sleep problems may cause or contribute to depressive disorders.”

When you lose out on sleep, you become more depressed and when you become more depressed, your sleep can be disrupted. It’s a vicious cycle that can culminate gradually over weeks and months.

The correct amount of sleep a person requires varies depending on lifestyle and age, but a general rule of thumb is to aim for 7 to 8 hours every night. If you don’t manage to get this amount of sleep, make sure to sleep longer the next day. Always pay your sleep debts.

2. Exercise

Over the last few decades there has been an explosion of research in the area of physical exercise and well-being.  Psychologists are realising how important it is to think about the body when trying to prevent depression.

Michael Babyak and his colleagues at Duke Medical School conducted a study on the effectiveness of exercise as an intervention for depression.

He took a group of 156 patients with major depression. Many had insomnia, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts. He randomly divided them into three groups and administered the following treatments:

  1. First group: 30 minutes of low intensity exercise three times per week.
  2. Second group: standard psychiatric medication.
  3. Third group: both exercise and medication.

The results of this experiment were shocking in two ways. After four months of treatment, 60% of the patients showed improvement. However, there were no significant differences in the recovery rates between the groups. Exercise worked just as well as medication.

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If that wasn’t enough, another six months after the study Babyak did a follow-up to see the relapse rates. Out of the 60% of recovered patients, this is what they found:

  1. 38% of the medication only group relapsed.
  2. 31% of the medication and exercise group relapsed.
  3. Only 9% of the exercise only group relapsed back into depression.

Not only did exercise work as well as medication, it worked for longer. There are thousands of studies showing the effects of exercise to be extremely beneficial for our physical and psychological health. It could be the most important, yet undervalued, treatment to prevent depression.

3. Meditation

Meditation has been around for thousands of years, but for most of that time it was practiced mainly by monks in spiritual settings. Over the last few decades, however, scientists have started to discover that meditation is one of the most powerful natural interventions for anxiety and depression.

Thanks to modern technology such as the EEG and MRI scanners, scientists were able to take an in-depth analysis of the brains of people who have been meditating for decades. In one such study, they took the right hand men of the Dalai Lama and examined the ratio of their prefrontal cortex activity.

People who have more activation on the left side of their prefrontal cortex tend to be happier, while those with more activation on their right side tend to be more broody and depressed. If you look at a bell curve, most people fall somewhere in the middle. When they looked at the meditators, they were off the chart.

The monks had an extremely high ratio between their left and right prefrontal cortex. They had extreme susceptibility to positive emotions and extreme resilience in the face of negative emotions.

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We don’t need to study for eight hours a day to get the benefits of meditation like the monks. Studies have shown that 15 minutes a day can produce incredible results with just eight weeks of practice. Meditation works.

4. Find your passion

People adapt very quickly to life’s pleasures and pains. If we win a lot of money, we feel a high and then we get used to having lots of money. If we get fired, we feel low and then eventually bounce back.

There are some things, however, that we don’t adapt to: passion. I would wager that the best actors in the world would continue to act even if they became the richest people on Earth. I would also wager that the richest CEOs in the world use only money as a measurement of their success, not as a means to live extravagantly.

You must find your passion. It is a happiness well that never dries out. It could be writing, creating, helping people, self-improvement, sport, or anything that engages you and provides the right amount of challenge and stimulation.

To live with passion, you must first find your passion.

5. Regulate your blood sugar

Can regulating your blood sugar really help to prevent depression?

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It might surprise you to know that there have been numerous murderers and thieves exonerated for their crimes because they were suffering from hyperglycaemia, otherwise known as low blood sugar. The body and mind are deeply connected. If one goes wrong, so does the other.

A sugar crash comes after a sugar high. So the best way to avoid low blood sugar is to avoid high blood sugar. Doing this is easy, all you need to do is spread you carbohydrates throughout the day (don’t have loads in one sitting), eat plenty of fiber (at least 12g for every 1,000 calories you consume) and try to get some protein and fat in your diet so that it isn’t predominantly carbs.

If you follow these 5 steps, not only will you be able to prevent depression naturally, you’ll also be even happier than people who aren’t depressed.

Featured photo credit: My body is a cage / My mind holds the key/ Johanna H via flickr.com

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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