Stress

Stress can be a big problem, not just for your brain but for your whole body. Get ideas for managing and conquering stress on the NorthStar blog.

  1. The ‘silver bullet’ for mood your shrink will NEVER prescribe

    It’s the biggest racket in modern medicine.

    When you’re battling energy and fatigue issues… THEY DRUG YOU UP!

    When you’re a little down… THEY DRUG YOU UP!

    When you’ve got a “personality” issue…

    They’ll DEFINITELY will DRUG YOU UP for that one!

    But there’s something ELSE that can SOLVE some of today’s BIGGEST problems.

    Even the ones that are supposedly all “in your head.”

    No meds… and no tearful conversations with a shrink about how mommy didn’t hug you enough or daddy didn’t buy you a bike when you were 12.

    It’s a single set of vitamins.

    That’s right -- the RIGHT NUTRIENTS can make you “right in the head.”

    Don’t believe me?

    I’ve seen it firsthand.

    In fact, it’s the reason I went into medicine in the first place!

    ‘Crazy’… or INSANE deficiency?

    More decades ago than I’d care to admit, my sister suffered a breakdown.

    Docs swore the only options were drugs and – quite possibly – putting her away forever.

    She’d never be a productive member of society again, they said.

    And naturally, they also pulled out the Freudian BS…

    Blame the parents!

    Thankfully, my parents – who truly weren’t at fault – didn’t believe a word of it.

    They began searching for another answer…

    Dad came across the groundbreaking work of Dr. Abram Hoffer, who pioneered vitamin B3 for schizophrenia.

    Just 18 months later, my sister was in law school and went on to become a practicing attorney. (I’ll let you decide if that counts as “productive member of society.”)

    Sadly, Dr. Hoffer’s game-changing research on B3 didn’t change a thing in the mainstream.

    They ignored it, as Big Pharma focused instead on profitable drugs instead of effective nutrients.

    But it sure did open MY eyes… and inspire me to get started in medicine.

    That’s just ONE example. ALL the amazing B vitamins pack hundreds of others!

    B3:

    • As we saw with my sister, this single nutrient can REVERSE one of today’s most devastating “psychological” conditions.
    • It can also help ease nicotine cravings to help you quit smoking… and CURE alcohol addiction. Who needs 12 steps when you can just take ONE?

    B6:

    • This is quietly turning into one of the most common deficiencies in the elderly, and low levels have been linked to cognitive decline. In one study, low B6 increased the speed of cognitive decline by nearly FOUR TIMES!
    • This one nutrient also helps your body to produce hormones like serotonin (essential to mood), melatonin (critical for sleep), and norepinephrine (important as a response to stress)

    B12:

    • This “King of the B Vitamins” is essential to mood and memory, as well as your nerves. Common drugs, especially metformin, will drain your body of it, leaving you fatigued, depression, foggy-headed, and more.

    There is a catch when it comes to B vitamins…

    For more serious issues, you can’t always just pop a B complex and consider yourself covered.

    You may need higher doses in the care of an experienced naturopath, who’ll often deliver them via injection.

  2. 8 Rules for Defeating Anxiety That Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You

    anxiety defeatingAlthough defeating anxiety is one of the most important things you can do, it’s also one of the most intimidating.

    After all, part of anxiety is the feeling that you can’t ever get better.

    How are you supposed to defeat anxiety when the very fact that you have it makes you feel like you can never defeat it?

    First, it’s vital that you lose the stigma about having anxiety.

    Talk to your doctor. Admit you’re struggling with it. There are ways your doctor can help.

    But your doctor isn’t the only one who can help with defeating anxiety.

    You have a powerful ally where you might not expect it: yourself.

    In spite of what the anxiety may have you believing, you really can help manage, control, and defeat it.

    1. Accept the moment. As strange as this one sounds – and it does sound strange, who wants to accept anxiety? Doing so is key to defeating it. Anxiety is made worse when you try to fight it. Judging yourself, thinking you’re a bad person for having these feelings, trying to force yourself to “just get over it”… all of these exacerbate the anxiety rather than alleviate it. Instead of beating yourself up and trying to force your way through it, try to acknowledge it. Sit with it. You know what anxiety is, you know what it feels like, and most importantly, you know it will end. So, don’t judge and don’t fight. Let the moment be what it is. This one takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, it can become one of your most powerful tools for defeating anxiety.

    2. Distract yourself. Some people consider distractions a cheat. They believe that if you’re just distracting yourself, you aren’t really defeating anxiety. But if a distraction calms your nerves and makes you feel less anxious, that counts! A good distraction is any healthy alternative that makes you focus on something else rather than your anxious feelings and negative thoughts. Listen to music. Call a friend. Play with a dog. It really doesn’t matter how you distract yourself, so long as you do. Just don’t get spun up thinking about the things you feel like you can’t do. Revisit #1, accept that you’re not up to it, and find a distraction that you can manage. Which leads us to…

    3. Make a cup of tea. First, the act of filling the kettle, getting out the teabags, finding a mug, all the steps you take to make a cup of tea can be excellent distractions. But then, the tea itself can help defeat anxiety if you choose wisely. Chamomile and green teas both contain compounds that can help relax you and defeat anxiety. Valerian and lemon balm can also be brewed into tea, just be sure to follow the directions. And all four can be taken as supplements, if tea isn’t, well, your cup of tea.

    4. Learn your own triggers. Anxiety is different for everyone, so defeating anxiety has to be different for everyone. It’s not a cookie cutter condition. As soon as you’re able, make notes about what was going on leading up to the anxiety attack. Was it a slow build of stress? Was it one particular person? Or anticipating a specific event? Wait until you’re calm to try to address this one, because it’s easy to get caught in the emotion of the moment and not be able to identify a cause – which can make you feel even worse and more anxious. Once you’re calm, you’ll be able to see more clearly. And then, you may be able to find a pattern.

    5. Eat a healthy diet. Let’s be honest – fruits and vegetables aren’t going to defeat anxiety on their own. However, it’s easier to deal with what’s going on in your mind when your body is up to the challenge. And researchers have known for years that diet can affect mood. So give your body the healthy food and nutrients it needs to help you take care of your mind.

    6. Exercise daily. When it comes to defeating anxiety, daily exercise can help on two different levels. Anxiety can be caused or exacerbated by an abundance of stress hormones that build up in your system. Exercise can help burn them off. By exercising daily, you help prevent them from ever building up to the point that you end up with anxiety. But also, when you are feeling anxious, getting out and getting moving helps purge your system of the hormones that are contributing to your feelings. It takes about 21 minutes for exercise to help ease anxiety once it has kicked in, so get moving as soon as you can.

    7. Breathe deeply. When most people breathe, they only get oxygen into the upper parts of their lungs, which is a shame because deep, belly breathing is necessary for defeating anxiety. It has to do with the fight or flight response that can trigger anxiety. Once that physical response has started, unless you do something with those chemicals, they have nowhere to go. Deep belly breathing can help slow your heart rate, and bring your body back into a calmer, more relaxed mode. Inhale deeply, expanding your diaphragm, not just your chest, for four seconds. Hold for four seconds, then release for four seconds. Repeat several times while you’re anxious and throughout the day to stay calm. And speaking of the fight or flight response…

    8. Take care of your adrenal glands. These are the glands that control the fight or flight response. When they’re activated, you get a rush of adrenaline, secondary bodily functions are slowed, and you get a burst of energy that will allow you to fight or flee for your life. It’s an involuntary physical response from when our very lives depended on being able to escape from predators. Fortunately, in everyday life we rarely need the fight or flight response. Unfortunately, your body doesn’t know the difference between a saber tooth tiger attack from history and the stress of the modern world. Which means your body is always in fight or flight mode, just from the stress of living in the 21st century. This means your adrenal glands are tired. Think about how you feel when you’re constantly on the go. That’s how they’re feeling, so they aren’t functioning any better than you do when you’re exhausted.

    Defeating anxiety isn’t easy. It isn’t simple. There are no sure-fire steps that will make everything better immediately.

    But with practice, these guidelines really can help. And combined with your doctor’s advice, they can make a real difference in your life.

  3. How to Avoid These 9 Dangerous Effects of Stress on the Brain

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    [caption id="attachment_7748" align="alignleft" width="300"]stress on the brain effects stress on the brain effects[/caption] You’re stressed. These days, it’s hard not to be. And you know stress is bad for your heart, your mood, your sleep, probably even your relationships. Well, here’s one more reason to focus on relaxing – to avoid these dangerous effects of stress on your brain. From structural changes to emotional ones, the effects of stress on the brain are as life-changing as any other response to stress, yet people pay less attention to them. Well, we’re going to shine a light on the effects of stress on your brain so that you can recognize what’s going on and, more importantly, how to change it! Continue reading →
  4. Stress and Pain: Is Stress the Cause of Your Pain [take this quiz]

    pain and stressDoes your pain cause your stress? Or does your stress cause your pain? We’ve known for a long time that stress and pain are connected. But how do you know which came first? This quiz may give you an indication of which came first, and if stress is actually causing your pain. Continue reading →
  5. How Does Stress Affect Your Immune System?

    Stress immune system Sure, you know stress can make you feel bad, but did you know that it can actually make you sick? Because of the way stress affects your immune system, it does more than just make you feel bad – it really can make you sick. And the longer you’re stressed, the more your immune system is affected. Which is a problem because, according to a survey done by the American Psychological Association in 2011, “most” Americans report having moderate to high stress levels, and 44% of people feel like their stress levels went up in the five previous years. So, how does stress affect your immune system? Let’s look… Continue reading →
  6. Help lower your blood pressure - Are BUGS the key?

    Want to lower your blood pressure a few points? Or maybe just keep your already healthy BP in check? Look to your belly. Yes, I did say your BELLY. The bacteria in our guts could be the hidden key to help lower your blood pressure, according to a new 9-study-strong review. Continue reading →
  7. Chronic stress is a memory killer

    Trouble remembering where you parked the car? Forgetting appointments or blanking on people’s names? Don’t panic, chances are it isn't early Alzheimer’s. And no, you don’t have a brain tumor. The truth is, you’re probably just experiencing a little bit of chronic stress. And the cure for those brain burps is as simple as it gets: relax! Continue reading →
  8. Shocking sleeping pill side effects force changes

    In case you’re keeping score, the FDA has been caught asleep at the wheel yet again. After ten years of being on the market, they’ve finally admitted that for more than 11 hours after taking Lunesta, the sleeping pill's side effects may severely impair a user’s memory, coordination and ability to perform everyday tasks. You know… tasks like driving a two-ton car down the same highway your child’s school bus takes.
  9. 10 ways to reduce holiday stress

    There's a lot you can do to reduce holiday stress. First off, make sure to eat protein with every meal. It's the great stabilizer for your blood sugar and your mood. Plus, it will help keep your cortisol levels right where they should be. Cortisol is the stress hormone that causes your "fight or flight" response. We all need it from time to time. But low protein intake day after day can make your cortisol levels climb high and stay high. And that's not good. In fact, chronically elevated cortisol can cause blood sugar problems, weight gain, and lowered immunity. So aim to get 10 to 20 grams of protein with each meal. That will go a long way in regulating your cortisol. Breakfast is usually the one meal where you'll fall short on protein. But that's an easy fix. Just eat an egg or two will help with holiday stress. Each egg contains almost seven grams of protein. Just make sure to go for organic, free-range brown eggs. Get them from a local farmer, if you can! You'll know these eggs are the real deal if they have dark (almost orange) yolks and hard shells. And if you're worried about the cholesterol in eggs, look back at last year's Guide to Good Health. You'll never think twice about eating real eggs again! Any type of oily fish (yes, even in the morning!) is also a good protein choice. Oily fish like salmon also contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids. These natural substances help to lower those pesky cortisol levels which tend to creep up during the holidays. The omega-3s in fish can also help reduce holiday stress. Plus, remember this...

    Whole grains burn slower

    During the stress of the holidays, it's more important than ever to choose whole grains. These grains boost the levels of serotonin, the "feel good" chemical in the brain. Plus, whole grains are packed with fiber, which your body will burn more slowly. So opt for whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta at dinner. You won't suffer from the blood sugar crash that will make you cranky and tense. Good whole grains to work into your diet include: 100 percent whole wheat, oats, barley, quinoa, and brown rice. Okay, now we're really on a how to ease holiday stress roll. So why stop? This holiday, try your best to...

    Combine whole grains with nutrient-rich foods

    Make sure your meals contain lots of dark green vegetables. That's because dark greens such as broccoli, kale, and spinach contain lots of vitamin B. And the B vitamins keep your memory sharp, your energy high, and your anxiety low. Nuts also contain lots of B vitamins...as well as plenty of calming protein and magnesium. It's also a good idea to take a complex supplement that contains all eight forms vitamin B. Plus, look for a brand that contains at least 25 mg of B1, B2, and B6. But don't stop there. Around this time of year, you may even consider taking a little extra B-12. It's one of the most important in this family of vitamins. Known as the "energy vitamin," it will help you power through holiday stress on even your most hectic days. Go for the sub-lingual form that you can squirt under your tongue. Your body will absorb this more easily than tablets.

    Eat more citrus fruits

    Next, I want you to eat more citrus this holiday season. Clementines are great this time of year and they contain lots of vitamin C. Research shows that vitamin C is a natural and powerful stress buster. In fact, in a recent German study, researchers found that men and women who were given 1,000 mg of vitamin C showed fewer signs of stress. For the study, researchers divided 120 men and women into two groups. One group received 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily and the other group received a placebo. Next, the researchers subjected the volunteers to a series of stressful situations...public speaking and math problems. Then, the researchers measured the volunteers' blood pressure and cortisol levels. Any guesses which group fared better? You betcha. The volunteers who took vitamin C had much lower blood pressure and much lower cortisol levels. Plus, they reported feeling less stress after they got the vitamin. So in addition to eating citrus this holiday season, make sure to supplement with vitamin C. I'd go for a bit more than what the volunteers in the study took. In fact, strive to get at least 1,000 mg of C twice a day. Take that amount three times a day if you're really feeling like your pot's going to boil over, it will definitely help you reduce holiday stress. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, so any extra your body doesn't need will get flushed. Plus, remember that vitamin C only stays in your body for a few hours at a time. So be consistent with your supplementing throughout the day and skip the time-released preparations as these are a waste of money.
  10. Benefits of vitamin C—happier hospital stays

    Ideally, you'll never have to spend even a single night in a hospital bed. But if you happen to wind up there, even if it's just for one night, make sure to take along your vitamins. One vitamin in particular--required for tissue repair in the body--is a MUST. Plus, a new study shows that this vitamin may also help keep your mood afloat during your hospital stay. Of course, I'm talking about the almighty vitamin C. You see, vitamin C is the essential vitamin REQUIRED for all new growth or repair in the body. In fact, it boosts collagen production. And collagen is the main protein responsible for repair in the body. It repairs your tissues, tendons, bones, muscles, organs and even your brain. Want your post-op scar to heal faster? Make sure you've got plenty of vitamin C...because without it, your body can't repair anything. Secondly, vitamin C is critical to your immune system. It boosts the production of interferon, a protein that helps shut down the growth and spread of bacteria, viruses, or tumors. And it's exactly what you need to have in abundance when you're entering the hospital and fighting infection at every turn. Thirdly, as it turns out, vitamin C makes for a happier hospital stay. That's what surgeons from Montreal's Jewish Medical Hospital just discovered. Can more vitamin C make you happier? Canadian physicians selected 32 hospital patients to take part in this study. (Granted, that's a miniscule number. But for a hospital to dispense anything other than Percocet or Prilosec, it's a pretty big deal and essentially unheard of in 2010!) First off, the doctors divided the patients into two groups. One group would receive 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day for up to 10 days. The other group would receive 1,000 IU of vitamin D (as a placebo) twice a day for up to 10 days. The doctors also measured blood levels of vitamin C before and after treatment. Unfortunately, they found that 60 percent of the patients were vitamin C deficient at the study's outset. Next, the doctors asked their patients to answer questionnaires about their mood before vitamin treatment began and after at least five days of taking the vitamins. Here's what they found:
    • First off, in the group taking vitamin C, their blood levels of vitamin C more than tripled.
    • In addition, the vitamin C group experienced a 34 percent average reduction in mood disturbance.
    • In the vitamin D patients, their blood serum levels of D rose as well.
    • But the vitamin D patients experienced no improvement in mood.
    Clearly, vitamin C gave patients a nice boost in mood during their stay. In their report, the doctors didn't make any guesses why the vitamin C group fared so much better. But I've got an explanation: Vitamin C makes everything better. You see, when you're under stress--physical or mental (such as during a hospital stay)--your body's need for vitamin C increases exponentially. In addition, inflammation following surgery or illness depletes your body's absorption of vitamin C. So by giving your body more of what it needs, you heal faster and you're happier. Add vitamin C to the top of your "To Pack" list There's no doubt vitamin C will help you recover from any hospital visit. Not only will it boost your mood, but it will also help you thwart infection. And we all know that's a huge concern even in the best hospitals. Plus, vitamin C helps flush out any drugs or anesthesia you may have received during your hospital stay. Bottom line? Prevent potential problems and supplement with extra vitamin C before you enter the hospital. And definitely pack a bottle of it during your hospital stay. Just don't count on your nurse to add it to your little cup of pills. In fact, you may have to sneak it in between hospital rounds. (I've done that a few times myself!) If you're recovering from an illness or preparing surgery, take 1,000 mg of C three times a day. That's quite a bit more than the Canadians used in their study. But if you're recovering from an illness or surgery, you'll need it. It's essential as your body repairs itself and returns to optimal health. Plus, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, so any extra your body doesn't need will get flushed. For normal vitamin C maintenance, take 1,000 mg of C twice a day. But don't go for time-released preparations as these are a waste of money. Vitamin C only stays in your body for a few hours at a time.

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