Category Archives: Natural Medicine

Fresh Start? Yes!

Helpful excerpts from Dana Claudet on Fresh Starts. If you’ve been feeling stuck, blue, or bored – a fresh start may be exactly what you need.
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A fresh start can fill us with optimism and excitement.
It’s not always convenient to make a fresh start. After all, there’s already so much going on and so many things we’re committed to.
Here are a few signs that a fresh start may be overdue:
1. You’re always late.
Lateness is often a big sign of chaos or disconnection from the day. It’s a sign you’re not as committed as you could be.
2. You feel perpetually uninspired.
When you can’t find pleasure in simple things– or even big and splashy things, this reflects that your deepest self may be deprived.
3. You’re waiting for a breakthrough because you’re tired of the way things are.
Monotony doesn’t end through magical acts of intervention by the universe, like a big lottery win or meeting your twin flame soul mate. Most of the time, you have to actively choose to break out of the rut you’re in!
4. Clutter overwhelms you.
All around your spaces, your car, your room, is peripheral mess. Try organizing it, getting rid of it, paying attention to it: it moves energy.
5. You feel drained by your days rather than energized by them.
If your routine takes the life out of you rather than bringing you fulfillment, you may need a fresh start.
6. You’re tempted to make excuses and blame people for how you feel.
When the boredom, drained energy and chaos carries on for too long, I notice that’s typically when responsibility flies out the window and its everyone else’s fault. But, can you be clear how you are responsible for creating something that feels really exhausting, repetitive or dull? It will help.
7. You have a lot of mood swings.
This is when the roller coaster ride of chaos seems to really be setting in and it’s become a habit to feel cluttered, overwhelmed and drained. The misperception is “I never have time to do what I really want”- which isn’t true.
8. You perpetually talk about making a big change, but don’t do it.
The breaking point usually comes when it feels far better to take a risk and dare to break old habits/make a fresh start– than to stay miserable.

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You probably want to know how to startmaking that fresh start.
For some, a fresh start is daring to take a big vacation from daily grind, and for others it’s making a plan to change careers, committing to a new way of eating or living, really focusing on your creative art, or finally leaving an unfulfilling relationship,

There’s no instruction manual for the fresh start you specifically need, but lots of life coaches focus on getting to a deeper part of yourself.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Analyze your happiness:
What have been the 10 peak experiences in your life so far? (Include times in childhood). Who were you with? What were your thoughts? What were your emotions? Analyze your happiness.

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2. Analyze yourself in relationship to others:
Who are your favorite people? How do they make you feel? What do you value about them? Who are you when you’re with them?
3. Analyze your days:
What the part of your day where you feel most focused, alert, engaged? How would you enhance your awareness and deepen your experience in that part of your day?

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4. Analyze and deepen your creativity: When do you feel most creative, imaginative, full of ideas, or like your brain is energized? What are your I textual or artistic creative outlets? How can you enhance their place in your daily life?
Here are a few Basics to generate energies for a fresh start:
Clean your house/office/studio
You’d be surprised how much a detailed, clean space can do for your mind! REad Marie Kondo’s “The Magic of Tidying Up”
Water.Water is the element of fresh starts. You might want to take more baths or swim if you can. Ice baths have been proven to creat euphoria for up to 5 hours after soaking in water with 2 bags of ice!
Go Adventure
It’s one of the best ways to get rid of bad habits and habitual thought patterns. Vacation.
Create
Create art, write songs or poetry, take photos, paint, garden, write your biography, design food, sculpture, or sing. There are tons of guides and tutorials online to support you. Your creative energy is the best–and endless–source of living a great life.
What ways do you create a fresh start for yourself? Share…we all need to hear the encouragement.

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Laughter & Light

Let’s face it, life is full of stuff for our nervous systems to chew on. Not always fun.

Today, lets take a break from all of the things our heads are subject to figuring out—I need a good laugh and some light hearted thinking. You too? Let’s start with looking at pictures of people laughing. This will get our dopamine and serotonin chambers ignited. Sound good?

Then we’ll read something short and warming to complete the cognitive good vibe. Sound good? Take a savoring look at each photo for the full effect:

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From a lovely insight by Tom Robbins:

“The message I wish to import to the children goes something like this:

The world is a wonderfully weird place, consensual reality is significantly flawed, no institution can be trusted, certainty is a mirage, security a delusion, and the tyrant of the dull mind forever threatens– but our lives are not as limited as we think they are, all things are possible, laughter is holier than piety, freedom is sweeter than fame, and in the end its love and love alone that really matters.”

Are Anti-Depressant Ruining Your Relationship?

Do you take an anti-depressant, or know anyone who does? Anti-depressants increase Serotonin levels, and block Dopamine levels. Did you know that is the opposite chemistry of what is neuro-biologically created in the brain of someone who is in love?

I was at a conference a while back titled “The Brain in Love: The Neurobiology of Attraction & Love, presented by Janice Funk PhD. Because it was a science-based presentation, there were many descriptions of experiments, names of hormones, and slides of the brain, followed by some surprising insights that come out of those experiments regarding sex drive and psychotropics.

One insight has me up early this Saturday morning to write about: its the scientific insight that SSRI’s/anti-depressants, are potentially dampening the interest in pair bonding. The chemical responses in our bodies (lower serotonin, higher dopamine) that drive us to bond and have sex–are reversed with SSRI’s. When people can’t feel this natural drive–to connect, bond, have sex–what happens? They grow disinterested in their relationship. Whats next? Divorce? Could Anti-depressants could be silently sabotaging marriages and families?

Its an interesting question for a marriage therapist, like myself.

Prozac is one such SSRI. How many clients do I have on these medications? A lot. I’ve been dubious about the real nature and long term effects of psychotropics, and this is just the sort of scientific correlation that concerns me. Did you know Prozac does not break down in fresh water supplies, and that many people are eating fish/serotonin from those waters?

Interesting questions for more research:

Would reducing your anti-depressant increase sexual attraction in your relationship?
Does the emotional lift from an anti depressant out-weigh the chemical insights about bonding to others?
What’s a world without the drive to bond? Can chronic low serotonin eventually lead to anti-social behavior? Staying home, avoiding people, hunkering down?
From my view, I think psychotropic medications should be considered in the

Right5 mentality:

Is it the right medication?
At the right time?
Is it the right dose?
For the right amount of time?
For the right reasons?
If psychotropics were used like antibiotics, which are rigorously put through the Right5 mentality before use, then maybe fewer people would be on psychotropics, with lower doses, for less time, for researched and accurate reasons. Something to think over.

Remember your brain is a delicate, wondrous, unique mechanism. If you decide to reduce anti-depressants, go very slowly, under a doctor’s recommendation. Meanwhile remember that antidepressants alone won’t usually increase your mood. You’ll still want to harness the daily power of these FIVE:

exercise

healthy foods

meditation

socializing

Here’s a long quote by Helen fisher, PhD, and if you’re interested in the topic of love and attachment, Helen fisher is a very engaging scientist with a great blog. She is a Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University (she has a great TED talk on Love too):

“Some 100 million prescriptions for antidepressants are written annually in the United States. Because these drugs are becoming generic, they will soon be widely used worldwide as well. Many are SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These drugs raise levels of serotonin in brain–a good idea when you are horribly depressed: These drugs blunt the emotions, curb obsessive thinking and help you sleep.

“BUT serotonin enhancers also suppress the dopamine system in the brain. And dopamine circuits become super active when you feel intense romantic love. We all know these drugs cripple your sex drive (in 73% of users). So, connecting the dots, I hypothesize that when you take these drugs, you can jeopardize your ability to fall in love and/or stay in love.

“…This apparently stimulated a medical doctor in Texas to write the Times the following letter: “After two bouts of depression in ten years, my therapist recommended I stay on serotonin-enhancing antidepressants indefinitely. As appreciative as I was to have regained my health, I found that my usual enthusiasm for life was replaced with blandness. My romantic feelings for my wife declined drastically. With the approval of my therapist, I gradually discontinued my medication. My enthusiasm returned and our romance is now as strong as ever. I am prepared to deal with another bout of depression if need be, but in my case the long-term side effects of antidepressants render them off limits.” -HF

Some people are chronically depressed. They may need to take one of these drugs for life. I am not trying to downplay this group’s need for basic emotional balance. But, many “typical” folks are taking these drugs for reasons of temporary malaise, brought on by life changes, loss, angst, being stuck—and then continuing to use them after the depression has lifted. These are the people that should reconsider life coaching, therapy, natural herbal remedies, etc –toward lifting their mood and outlook!

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See my fuller article on natural remedies for mood enhancement, anxiety, and ADD. I am not a doctor, and cannot prescribe, but am reporting from some great research:

Here a few of the drugs that effect Serotonin: Prozac, fluoxetine, Zoloft, sertraline and Paxil, paroxetine.

And Here are 3 naturally occurring alternatives that you can get at a Food Co-op, Natural foods market, or Herb store to naturally increase serotonin. In Helen Fisher’s words, “These drugs blunt the emotions, curb obsessive thinking and help you sleep.”

L-Tryptophan

L-tryptophan, one of the least prevalent amino acids in food, but readily useable by the body, relaxing and mood stabilizing

5-Hydroxytryptophan

5-HTP, known by the brand names Cincofarm, Levothym or Oxyfan across countries in Europe, 5-HTP is purified–exclusively–from the seeds of the African plant, Griffonia simplicifolia and is used for anxiety and depression.

St. John’s Wort

Widely used as a replacement for anti-depressants.

Why Meditate?

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I’ve just returned from Dr. John Preston’s Brain Conference on Positive Emotions. He shared research on brain health–linking it to foods, medicinals, and what else? meditation. He suggests 10-15 minutes a day.

Why meditate?

Stimulating the front lobes suppresses activity in the amygdala. The amygdala is impulsive, reactive, prone to false alarms, and loves to ruminate. Worry, impulsive behavior, bad moods, and anxiety are your amydala running the show.

Whenever you calm yourself down, interrupt negativity, or stop yourself from impulsive behavior, you’re frontal lobes are activated and excreting BNFD (a protective hormone). A feeling of calm and well-being can replace negative states of mind. Whats the best way to get lots and lots of this feeling? Meditate.

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Practicing detaching from your thoughts,  can be protective to your brain’s health. Protective. Strange, huh?

Our amygdalas get coated with early experiences in our families, creating high sensitivity and pattern recognition to stimulus. Small things can make us freak out with emotional reactivity. Its responsible for a lot of negative self talk and relationship drama.

Our frontal cortexes need training to exert “top down control.” Meditation is the most effective, powerful tool for increasing your capacity to regain~and maintain equanimity.

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There are several ways to meditate, if you think about it. Walking meditation, eating meditation, laying in bed meditation, riding the bus meditation, sitting on the lawn meditation.

Don’t get stuck thinking you have to sit a special way or wear yoga pants. Phooey. As long as you follow these two ideas, you’re meditating and receiving the benefit:
1. breath slowly and deeply
2. detach from your thoughts, watch them, but don’t follow them, just for 10 minutes, let them go by. Repeat #1.

Anywhere you go, you can fit in a little meditation. Next time your up in the hills on a hike and see a beautiful view, sit down and empty your mind. Now you’ve exercised your body and protected your brain.

At the brain health conference, 200 of us closed our eyes, practiced detaching and breathing several times during the day. It was kinda powerful. Try adding little meditations through your day?  Getting present this way activates your frontal lobes ~and your well-being.

Animals do it all the time!

Fresh Start?

You know you need a fresh start.

Here’s some excerpts from Dana Claudet on Fresh Starts. If you’ve been feeling stuck, blue, or bored – a fresh start may be exactly what you need.

A fresh start can fill us with optimism and excitement.
It’s not always convenient to make a fresh start. After all, there’s already so much going on and so many things we’re committed to.
Here are a few signs that a fresh start may be overdue:
1. You’re always late.
Lateness is often a big sign of chaos or disconnection from the day. It’s a sign you’re not as committed as you could be.
2. You feel perpetually uninspired.
When you can’t find pleasure in simple things– or even big and splashy things, this reflects that your deepest self may be deprived.
3. You’re waiting for a breakthrough because you’re tired of the way things are.
Monotony doesn’t end through magical acts of intervention by the universe, like a big lottery win or meeting your twin flame soul mate. Most of the time, you have to actively choose to break out of the rut you’re in!
4. Clutter overwhelms you.
All around your spaces, your car, your room, is peripheral mess. Try organizing it, getting rid of it, paying attention to it: it moves energy.
5. You feel drained by your days rather than energized by them.
If your routine takes the life out of you rather than bringing you fulfillment, you may need a fresh start.
6. You’re tempted to make excuses and blame people for how you feel.
When the boredom, drained energy and chaos carries on for too long, I notice that’s typically when responsibility flies out the window and its everyone else’s fault. But, can you be clear how you are responsible for creating something that feels really exhausting, repetitive or dull? It will help.
7. You have a lot of mood swings.
This is when the roller coaster ride of chaos seems to really be setting in and it’s become a habit to feel cluttered, overwhelmed and drained. The misperception is “I never have time to do what I really want”- which isn’t true.
8. You perpetually talk about making a big change, but don’t do it.
The breaking point usually comes when it feels far better to take a risk and dare to break old habits/make a fresh start– than to stay miserable.

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joshua tree, CA

You probably want to know how to start making that fresh start?

There’s no instruction manual for the fresh start you specifically need, but lots of life coaches focus on getting to a deeper part of yourself. Grab a journal or notebook and begin by jotting down responses to these questions:

1. Analyze your happiness:
What have been the 10 peak experiences in your life so far? (Include times in childhood). Who were you with? What were your thoughts? What were your emotions? Analyze your happiness.
2. Analyze yourself in relationship to others:
Who are your favorite people? How do they make you feel? What do you value about them? Who are you when you’re with them?
3. Analyze your days:
What the part of your day where you feel most focused, alert, engaged? How would you enhance your awareness and deepen your experience in that part of your day?
4. Analyze and deepen your creativity: When do you feel most creative, imaginative, full of ideas, or like your brain is energized? What are your I textual or artistic creative outlets? How can you enhance their place in your daily life?

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Here are a few Basics to generate energies for a fresh start:
-Clean your house/office/studio
You’d be surprised how much a detailed, clean space can do for your mind! Read up on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.
-Water is the element of fresh starts. You might want to take more baths or swim if you can. Ice baths have been proven to create euphoria for up to 5 hours after soaking in water with 2 bags of ice!
-Go Adventure
It’s one of the best ways to get rid of bad habits and habitual thought patterns. Hike in the woods. Take a long, long walk. Vacation.
-Create
Create art, write songs or poetry, take photos, paint, garden, write your biography, design food, sculpture, or sing. There are tons of guides and tutorials online to support you. Your creative energy is the best–and endless–source of living a great life.
What ways do you create a fresh start for yourself? Share…we all need to hear the encouragement.

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Journaling~ prompts for dialoguing with yourself

“Above is a photo of all the journals I’ve been writing in since about 1981.  I have more from high school and earlier, in a box, in my dad’s attic. Why keep a journal? To catch your ideas, process your feelings, and know yourself.

“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” —Jack London.

Austin Kloen, author of “Steal Like an Artist” has a helpful video on journaling to capture your creative ideas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pktz3rPM2QI. I’ll share my personal favorite tips in a minute.

Its important to journal, because you’re talking to yourself, you’re focusing on your thoughts, and your inner life. Lots of daily life is passively watching stuff outside ourselves. Journaling is a chance to stay connected to your inner self. If you’re in transition, physically or emotionally, keeping a journal handy–keeps you processing with yourself.

When I was 14, I would journal about 14-yo issues such as my wonky emotions regarding boys, and all about my best friends and our insane gossip and worry about everyone. When I was 18, I started trying to write poems,  wanting to sound like  Jeff Jewell and the Beat poets–not many original thoughts or images, but lotsa heart. When I went to college, I used journaling to process heady, philosophical thoughts, and liked to pretend I was an intellectual. In my mid-20’s, I used journals for annotating every book I read. There were a couple of travel journals in there (England/Scotland), full of memorable little drawings.  A journal can be a friend who goes everywhere with you, a little buddy to pour your heart out to.

By my 30’s I was back to annotating books, capturing favorite quotes, and writing lists of creative ideas. Ah lists. This is now my drug of choice. Lately, I have been making these lists inside my own handmade books.   Making inspirational lists is so hopeful,  and tickles my A.D.D. bone so hard, that’s its unlikely I’ll ever stop.

Here are my favorite journaling ideas/prompts by Mr. Kloen, along with a few of my own. I would argue that these enhance your inner dialogue with yourself and help optimize you and your relationship with YOU:

-write down 9-10 things you’d like to learn to do

-write something to cross out. That’s right, get used to generating ideas, not necessarily ones you’ll fulfill, but that keep you generating ideas. Take the top idea, and formulate 2-3 steps towards it.

-doodle until you get an idea (I like to think a word is a doodle). Or, doodle a feeling, until you want to write about it.

-write what was the best moment, day or month of this past year and why. Notice how this exercise focuses you on what you care about.

-sit in your studio or office, look around, write about the most interesting thing you see

-write about the sublime and the mundane…what are you taking care of? Diet? Pets? Plants? What needs to be let go of?

-hang onto mementos, cards. Use a little envelope glued to the inside of the back flap to keep these…what are the feelings they generate? Do those feelings tell you about whats important in your life?

Become a journalista, for processing and reflecting on the most important relationship you have: the one with inner self.

Natural Remedies for tip-top Mental Health

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The Path~ LH

This is an informative post with info from Howard Rosenthal, blogger for Psychotherapy.Net:

“This is the first generation of psychotherapy clients who are often better informed about natural mental health remedies than their their therapists.” Go ahead, read on, and be one of those clients. In an age when self-advocacy as a patient is so crucial, here is some key ingredients to maintaining your own mental health:

St. John’s Wort (SJW), an herbal remedy, has become the darling of the alternative mental health treatment movement. Incidentally, that’s wort, not wart, so you need not see a dermatologist. Wort is Old English for plant. Your more educated clients may refer to it as “hypericum” the scientific name, but thanks to this blog, you’ll know they are referring to good old St. John’s Wort. In some statistical studies St. John’s Wort ran neck and neck with prescription counterparts for depression and anxiety. Detractors often point out that St. John’s Wort can cause sun sensitivity, but so can antibiotics and pain relief medications.

SAMe (Typically enunciated SAMMY) was discovered in Italy many years ago. This nutraceutical has been used for depression, fibromyalgia and arthritis in other countries with a high degree of success. The key selling point is that SAMe often works faster than prescription medicines and negative side effects are extremely rare.

5 HTP or 5-Hydroxytryptophan. This super star is reputed to be superior to psychiatric medicinals in terms of raising serotonin levels in the brain. Some folks also insist it can help you shed a few pounds and swear it works wonders as a sleep aid. Rumors abound that athletes involved in extreme endurance sports have used it for years to counteract the depression brought on by very high levels of aerobic exercise.

Increase your exposure to sunlight or full spectrum lighting. Psychiatrist Dr. Norman Rosenthal (no relation to this author) first described Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which afflicts 7 million women and a rather large number of men. SAD is a type of depression which manifests itself when the days get darker and shorter limiting one’s sun exposure. Alternative mental health practitioners worry that the recommendation to wear sunscreen at all times and to avoid the sun has made individuals more prone to SAD. For those who cannot spend time in the sun, full spectrum lights and phototherapy devices are available. Word of warning: Your friendly neighborhood dermatologist who is determined to prevent cancer and related skin damage is not a fan of this theory!

Vitamin D, or should I say hormone D. Cutting edge theory asserts that vitamin D is not a vitamin, but a hormone. Appropriate levels of this nutrient, um I mean hormone, help fight mood disorders and seemingly drastically boost the immune system. The problem: It is possible that traditional government recommendations were way too low. Some clients now ingest 10 to 125 times the amount of vitamin D suggested by Uncle Sam just a few years ago. Interestingly enough, even mainstream physicians who initially scuffed at this idea are now routinely insisting that patients get their vitamin D levels checked. Skeptics warn that we don’t know the long term effects of taking such high doses. Zealots, insist that a day on the beach is the equivalent of taking a handful of vitamin D pills. Stay tuned, this one should get interesting.

Fish Oil to raise Omega 3 EPA/DHA levels. In at least one research study, the experiment was stopped because bi-polar subjects receiving fish oil were progressing much better than those who did not, and quite frankly it didn’t seem fair to the group who was not ingesting the supplement.
Many therapists have heard the rumor that kids living in fishing towns have lower levels of ADHD and adults residing in these areas suffer from fewer bouts of depression and anxiety. Fish oil, in addition to its ability to stabilize one’s mood, also theoretically promotes cardiovascular health and is often championed as beneficial for eyes, skin and joints. As of late, a couple of anecdotal reports indicate massive dosages might even help in cases of seemingly incurable brain trauma (e.g., after an auto or mining accident). The prescription to “eat more fish” is likely not the ideal since our waters are polluted. Moreover, studies in this area use fish oil capsules (not a generous helping of salmon) to enhance scientific rigor and the ability to regulate the dosage.

If you, or your clients, do purchase fish oil, it is best to stick to brands packaged in dark glass or plastic bottles and keep the supplement refrigerated to avoid rancidity. Finally, be acutely aware that the number of milligrams on the front of the bottle — generally a huge selling point (say 1200 mg) — has nothing to do with the actual milligrams of the beneficial omega-3 content (which might be 324 mg or some such number). Always scope out the label that graces the back of the bottle to determine the actual omega 3EPA/DHA content.

Niacin vitamin B3 therapy. All-right, here’s a question that I’m betting not a single reader can answer correctly: How did Bill Wilson (aka Bill W) co-founder of AA cure his longstanding anxiety? If you said, “duh, he used AA,” then you are absolutely, positively wrong! (Nice try though.) Question number 2: What did Bill Wilson say he wanted to be remembered for on his death bed? If you said, “AA” congratulations, you are zero for two!

Bill Wilson loved AA and believed in it with all his heart and soul. He used it to help his own drinking problem. Nonetheless, AA did nothing to help his debilitating anxiety and depression. What did help? Seriously large dosages of vitamin B3, also known as niacin. Bill Wilson spent nearly the last third of his life trying to get AA groups to promote niacin as a treatment for alcoholism, depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia. It never happened and worse yet the saga has been virtually absent from all the major sources on addiction treatment.

Probiotics. These are supplements that promote healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract. Many practitioners are convinced probiotics can be helpful in an array of mental health and digestion disorders; especially autism spectrum disorder. Probiotics have virtually no negative side effects, but some brands require refrigeration or freezing temperatures to survive. Like automobiles, television sets, and vacuum cleaners, every brand claims to be the best, so it’s difficult to make a purchase decision.

Eliminate wheat. Wheat gluten and mental illness(most notably schizophrenia) have a longstanding relationship. Although mainstream medicine insists wheat is healthy (if not a required food group), newer research posits that ingesting wheat based products has a detrimental effect on one’s blood sugar, emotional state, and might even be implicated in Alzheimer’s. The problem may not be so much the wheat itself, but the fact that today’s wheat has been hopelessly genetically altered. Or to put it a different way, this isn’t your father’s whole wheat bagel! The bun that graced a 1970s fast food burger bears no resemblance to the bun you wolfed down for lunch. Proponents of the new don’t eat wheat theory, feel strongly that whole grain, 7 grain, gluten free whatever (!!!) products may be just as bad if not worse for you than the run of the mill white bread type foodstuffs.

(Take a look at David Perlmutter, M.D.’s book Grain Brain if you think I am exaggerating.)

Strategies to boost cholesterol. Say what? Al-right, I’ll admit it. I save the most controversial alternative strategy for last. Although most doctors are prescribing statin drugs to lower your so-called bad LDL cholesterol, a number of avant garde thinkers point out that higher may be better. If your cholesterol is below the 160 mark, your physician will give you a big hug and a smooch. But some research shows that if you have low cholesterol your chances of suffering from a major depression or committing suicide goes through the roof. So eat your grass-fed butter, your coconut & olive oils. Everyday. The brain, as they point out, is basically cholesterol. Proponents of the cutting edge, increase your cholesterol theory if you want better mental health, have gone as far as suggesting that a minimum requirement for cholesterol should be added to the food charts in the near future. There is also the issue of longevity. Older adults in good health seem to have elevated cholesterol.

It would be an understatement to say that the aforementioned information seems totally the opposite of what we have been told for years.”

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