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Posts Tagged ‘chronic disease’

addicted to unhappiness copy

Notice how easy it is to hang on to anger, shame, guilt, worry, and other negative emotions? Are these emotions so horribly delectable you just can’t let go?

You’re not alone. However, you could be worsening your health by giving in. Scientists have discovered negative emotions have an addictive quality that trigger the reward centers in the brain. In other words, you feel like you’re rewarding yourself when you succumb to negative emotions.

Worry activates areas of the brain that trick you into feeling soothed. Pride and its shadow twins of shame and guilt are the most powerful triggers of the brain’s reward centers. On some twisted level, these yucky emotions feel good.

As with many addictions, negative emotions are fine in moderation (and even beneficial , but toxic when indulged in regularly  They raise stress and inflammation, our two biggest foes when battling autoimmune disease and chronic illness.

Four scientific tips to boost happiness

Happiness is effortless for some people. Good for them. The rest of us have to work at positivity the same way we do at diet and exercise.

If you’re a pro at managing your autoimmune disease through diet and lifestyle, don’t overlook how influential feelings and attitude are on your health.

Here are some tips from a neuroscientist to wean yourself off an unhappiness addiction:

1. Activate the reward center of the brain with gratitude instead of negativity. Shame, guilt, and worry trigger the same brain chemicals gratitude does. Except gratitude doesn’t make you sick; it improves health.

Don’t have anything to be grateful for (c’mon…)? Doesn’t matter. It’s the searching for gratitude that elicits positive benefits.

2. Label negative feelings. Labeling your negative feeling in a few words activates different areas of the brain that lighten the negativity load. Practicing mindfulness is healthier than suppressing emotions.

3. Make a decision when overcome with worry and anxiety. When you’re besieged by worry, create an intention, set a goal, take action — just do something. This boosts the reward center of the brain and takes it off that exhausting hamster wheel. Don’t trap yourself with making the best decision or the one you should make. Instead, shoot for a “good enough” decision that you make for you.

4. Socialize and touch. Appropriately, of course. As far as the brain is concerned, social exclusion is an injury while healthy socialization is an elixir. Even little touches — handshakes, pat on the back, tap on the arm, a hug — amplify the health benefits of socialization. Got no one to touch? Get a massage. And don’t rely solely on texting or the Internet for your socialization. Research shows they don’t impart the same benefits “in-real-life” human company does.

Basically, working towards positivity exercises your brain and helps pull it out of destructive, self-perpetuating loops that raise stress hormones and drive inflammation. Brain exercises aren’t just about crossword puzzles and Sudoku — you also need to exercise the brain’s positivity centers. Ask my office for more information on brain health.

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protect body with glutathione

Modern life inflicts constant assaults on our bodies in the way of industrialized foods, environmental toxins, chronic stress, lack of sleep, and even electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) from cell phones and computers. Our best defense to protect health is to shore up glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant.

Although the body naturally makes and recycles glutathione, modern life can overwhelm this system, depleting us of this vital compound. When glutathione is low the body is more vulnerable to disease and damage, and your risk for disease rises.

Glutathione as a supplement is not well absorbed by the digestive tract. Fortunately, many nutritional compounds act as building blocks to glutathione, and can help raise and maintain its levels inside and outside of cells. You can also obtain glutathione intravenously.

Below are some of many nutritional compounds that have been shown to boost glutathione levels.

  • N-acetyl-cysteine is a very bioavailable building block to glutathione.
     
  • Alpha lipoic acid helps recycle glutathione already in the cells.
     
  • Milk thistle boosts glutathione.
     
  • Methylation nutrients–methyl folate (5-MTHF), methyl B6 (P5P) and methyl B12 (methylcobalmin)–are methyl forms of B vitamins can help boost glutathione production and recycling.
     
  • Selenium helps the body produce and recycle glutathione.
     
  • Vitamin C help increase glutathione levels.

Diet and lifestyle factors can also affect your glutathione levels. Sulfur-rich foods such as garlic, onions, broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, and watercress can help boost glutathione. If you can tolerate dairy, whey protein has been shown to increase glutathione (choose bioactive, non-denatured, non-pasteurized, and non-industrially produced whey). Exercise also boosts glutathione; get aerobic exercise daily (such as walking) and strength train two to three times a week.

Preserve glutathione to prevent disease

One of the most important ways to maintain your glutathione levels is to reduce stress on your body. Glutathione’s job is to protect the cells, whether it’s from an autoimmune disease, sleep deprivation, or the toxic ingredients in scented detergents and fabric softeners. Healthy glutathione levels reduce your risk of developing chronic and autoimmune disease as well as food and chemical sensitivities. It is also an excellent anti-aging compound.

Following are some strategies to prevent depletion of glutathione.

  • Find out what your food intolerances are and remove those foods from your diet. Many people are not aware that they are intolerant to common foods, such as bread or cheese. An elimination diet or a lab test can help you determine which foods are stressing your immune system and taxing glutathione reserves.
     
  • Eat an all-natural, whole foods diet. Processed foods and fast foods contain chemical additives, genetically altered foods, antibiotics, hormones, excess sugar, and other ingredients that are stressful to the body and deplete glutathione.
     
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is very stressful. If you have issues sleeping, it is often secondary to something else. Contact my office for help.
     
  • Manage your autoimmune disease. An autoimmune or chronic disease, such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes keeps the immune system on overdrive and damages tissue, depleting glutathione. Ask my office how we can help you manage your autoimmunity.
     
  • Reduce your exposure to toxins and pollutants. Many common environmental chemicals are toxic to the body. They are found in shampoos, body products, household cleaners, lawn care products, and so on. We have enough to deal with in terms of pollutants in air and water, minimize your exposure to them in the home.
     
  • EMFs are a source of “electrical pollution.” Cell phones, computers, WiFi, and other electronics are stressful to the body and exposure should be minimized.

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