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This Flu Season Might Be One of the Worst Ones Yet: How to Mount a Lasting Defense

Flu season is upon us, and according to data published recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu case numbers and hospitalizations are already at a record high. Adding extra support to your immune system arsenal is crucial, especially during the colder months.

In the United States, flu season generally starts around October, peaks between December and February, and lasts through May. But as of late October, the CDC estimates that there have already been nearly 900,000 reported illnesses, 6,900 hospitalizations, and 360 deaths from the flu. This is a stark difference from last season, when only 700 deaths were registered for the entire 2020-2021 period.

In addition to the high numbers, we’re seeing already, epidemiologists believe that Australia’s flu season – which is currently at its tail end – can give us some indication as to how bad the coming flu season might be in the Northern Hemisphere.

Australia and New Zealand, which are in the Southern Hemisphere, experience their winter – and therefore their flu season – before ours, and this year both countries had their worst flu epidemics in five years. As we’re beginning to see in the US, the season started, and peaked, earlier than usual, giving the virus more time to spread. And according to government surveillance reports, cases were three times higher than the average.

Of course, predictions are just predictions, so there are no guarantees that our flu season will be as bad. But other factors, including the fact that Covid-19 is still in the picture, widespread vaccine reluctancy, unknown vaccine efficacy, and that folks are not wearing face masks or washing their hands as intently as they were doing it at the height of the pandemic, could indeed mean that more people are going to get sick with respiratory viruses, such as the flu, this year.

Woman with Flu Symptoms
How to Stay Healthy This Cold and Flu Season

Viral infections like the influenza virus, Covid-19, and the common cold are illnesses caused by a variety of viruses that affect the upper or lower respiratory tract. Upper respiratory tract infections, like the flu and the common cold, affect the sinuses and the throat, and lower respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, affect the airway and the lungs. Other infections, like Covid-19, begin in the upper respiratory tract, and, in serious cases, might make their way down to the lower respiratory tract.

While the severity of these infections varies widely, the majority of viral respiratory illnesses get transmitted in the same way: by coming in direct contact with an ill person or an infected surface. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to lower your risk of catching a virus or getting seriously ill if you do get infected.

Develop Healthy Habits

Washing Hands

Get plenty of sleep

Sleep and the circadian system exert a strong regulatory influence on immune functions. During sleep, your body releases cytokines, which are essential for the regulation of the immune system. Cytokines are required in increased amounts when you are attacked by a pathogen or are under stress. The level of cytokines increase during sleep, and therefore lack of sleep hinders the body’s ability to fight infections.

Reduce stress when possible

Stress increases the levels of cortisol that circulate in the body. Elevated levels of cortisol can lead to decreased immune function. Evidence shows that the stress hormone decreases the body’s total number of lymphocytes, the number of white blood cells that help fight off infection. The fewer lymphocytes the body has, the more at risk it is for viruses and bugs.

Stress can also impact the immune system indirectly. Some people use unhealthy behaviors to cope with stress such as smoking, excessive drinking, and overeating. These behaviors can also compromise the effectiveness of the immune system.

Wash your hands

You’ve probably heard this a million times before, but it’s worth repeating. Washing your hands with soap and water (or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if there isn’t soap and water available) is a simple and effective infection control measure that can reduce your risk of viral respiratory illnesses by up to 44%. Key times when you should be washing your hands include:

  • Before and after eating
  • Before and after being in contact with someone who’s ill
  • After using public transportation
  • When your hands are visibly soiled
  • After getting home
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose

Developing health habits is not enough…

Bolster Your Immune System with an Immune Support Supplement

High Immunity Level

Developing healthy habits is important to support your immune system and help it defend against those stressors while lowering your risk of further issues.
However, even if you do your best to adopt healthy habits, at times your immune system could still face challenges.

This is where a powerful immune support supplement comes in.

A strong immune system is what stands between you and your fight against disease and infection. Amidst the past and recent challenges to our health, taking extra measures to ensure you stay healthy includes fortifying your system with critical immune boosting vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts that have been clinically proven to promote the body’s natural innate and adaptive immune mechanisms and provide powerful antioxidant support for a healthy response to immune stressors.

Benefits of an Immune Support Supplement

There have now been many studies demonstrating that the supplementation of specific vitamins, minerals and plant extracts can quickly and significantly improve immunity. For a more in-depth analysis read our Immunity White Paper at ImmunityWhitePaper.com    The right immune supplements at the correct doses can;

  • Promote a healthy immune response
  • Support a healthy inflammatory response.
  • Provide antioxidants
  • Stimulate immune cells
  • Help ward off illness

Which Immune Support Supplements Yield the Best Results?

This well-researched immune-modulating super nutrient combination is a must!

  • Vitamins: A, C, D3, and Biotin (B7) – Known for boosting overall wellness and their strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties as well as stimulating immune cells
  • Minerals: Zinc and Chromium Picolinate – Known for regulating immune response and fighting free-radicals
  • Herbal Extracts: Elderberry, Andrographis, Eleuthero (Sibering Ginseng) – Protect against oxidative stress and activate immune cells

Vitamin A is another essential vitamin that aides in immune support. It helps regulate the response of the immune system and supports the body’s ability to fight infections. It also regulates the antibody response of the immune system.

Vitamin D – is essential for immune function and has an overall protective effective. It is known for promoting a healthy immune response. Low levels of Vitamin D can lead to compromised immune function and an increased risk of upper respiratory infections. The role that vitamin D plays in keeping the immune system healthy is very complex because the immune system has to be perfectly balanced. If there is too much stimulation, autoimmune diseases can occur. If there is not enough immune system activity, frequent infections can occur. Evidence shows that daily and weekly vitamin D supplementation can help keep the immune system balanced and working properly especially during cold and flu season.

Vitamin C is critical to our immunity. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against damage from free radicals and oxidative stress, plus it can help promote the production of white blood cells and protect against upper respiratory infections. Vitamin C is also necessary for cellular death, which helps keep your immune system healthy by clearing out old cells and replacing them with new ones.

Biotin (Vitamin B7) has been deemed by medical experts as indispensable in human health. Biotin affects immune cell expression and improves blood glucose management in the body. Sugar has detrimental effects on the immune system. Biotin also supports energy.

Zinc acts as the gatekeeper of immune function. It specifically protects tissue barriers in the body and protects against foreign pathogens. It increases the strength of the immune system and promotes a healthy inflammatory response and healthy respiratory function.

Chromium (Picolinate) promotes a healthy metabolic system and helps regulate blood glucose. Although glucose is vital for the proper function of immune cells, a high amount of glucose can lead to impaired function of the immune system.

Elderberry (Sambucus) is a plant packed with antioxidants and vitamins that boost your immune system and enhance the immune response. It may also help reduce inflammation, lower stress, and protect your heart.

Andographis is known for its anti-inflammatory effects. This herb contains andrographolide, a terpenoid compound found to have antiviral effects against respiratory-disease-causing viruses. It also exhibits immunomodulatory effects by effectively enhancing cytotoxic T cells, natural killer (NK) cells, phagocytosis, and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC).

Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) has been shown to modify immune responses and is mainly used for its immune-stimulant properties.

Important note: Combining Andrographis and Eleuthero work synergistically meaning they enhance each other’s immune boosting potency and effectiveness substantially.

The Takeaway –

We are in the midst of a record high flu season. Many people experienced major life changes and picked up unhealthy hard to break habits during the prior pandemic lockdown including unhealthy diet, reduced exercise and poor sleep – all stressors that can weaken the immune system. Even if you do your best to adopt healthy habits, at times your immune system could still face challenges and adding a powerful immune supplement to your immune system arsenal can make all the difference!

Consider Akeso’s 24/7 Immune Defense Supplement, a 9 in 1 Combination of Nature’s Top Defenders

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Immune Supplement

 

10 Helpful Back to School Tips for ADHD Students & Parents

Back to school can be a stressful time for all students, but especially for those with ADHD.

The shift from summer vacation to a new school year is abrupt and filled with uncertainty. With new teachers, classrooms, and routines, there are a lot of unknowns. And for children with ADHD, that uncertainty can breed anxiety.

But back-to-school time doesn’t need to be something to dread. With the right planning and prep, you can ease back-to-school fears and smooth out the transition –  for ADHD students and parents.

So read on for 10 back-to-school tips for ADHD that’ll help set the school year up for success:

1 – Set Goals

Setting goals sets the tone for the new school year and helps your child reflect on what’s important to them. Talk about their strengths and areas of improvement. Then help them create goals based on their responses.

It could be turning homework in on time, getting a good behavior report, or making new friends. Whatever they choose, be sure the goal is clear and achievable.

When it comes to goals, a little motivation goes a long way. So once goals are set, brainstorm rewards to celebrate when a goal is met. It could be extra screen time, a playdate, or even a special outing.

2 – Get Clear on Routines

Transitioning from the freedom of summer to the structure of school days can be quite the shock. Having clear routines can make all the difference for your children and for you!

Setting up routines ahead of time prevents morning mayhem and helps start the day off right. Have a family meeting and map out your morning, after-school, and evening routines.

Get your children involved, so they feel invested in the routines. Be sure to post a visual schedule of routines, so your child knows what to expect.

When planning routines, aim to do as much as possible the night before, so mornings run smoother. Some evening to-dos may include picking out clothes and packing lunches and backpacks.

Once routines are set, try a practice run before the big day. This’ll help work out any kinks so you can make adjustments as needed.

back to school tips

3 – Create a “Launch Pad”

Getting out the door on time can be challenging for kids with ADHD. Between backpacks, lunch bags, homework, and books, there’s a lot to remember! But there’s a secret weapon that can cure the morning chaos and start the day off right: having a “launch pad.”

A launch pad is a designated space, typically by your front entrance, that has all “out the door” items. It can be as simple as a small table or a shelf on a bookcase (you can find plenty of inspiration on Pinterest). Find what works best for you.

Whatever launch pad you choose, give each child their own bin, basket, or crate to house all their morning essentials. Have your child prep their launch pad the night before. That way, in the morning, they can just grab and go!

4 – Keep a Calendar

Organization is often a struggle for kiddos with ADHD. So to help them stay on top of things, post a family calendar.

Having a monthly calendar helps keep track of all upcoming school events, sports practices, after-school activities, and project due dates. Post the calendar somewhere everyone can see it (like the fridge) and refer to it daily.

Kids with ADHD thrive with predictability. Ask your child questions about what’s coming up on the calendar, so they know what’s going on. Knowing what to expect eases anxiety and gives children with ADHD a sense of control.

5 – Set up a Study Space

Children with ADHD are bombarded with distractions at school. So do what you can to create a peaceful learning space at home.

adhd tips

 

Choose a study area where there are minimal distractions. It could be the kitchen table, a desk in a common area, or even parked on the couch with a lap desk or clipboard. Experiment and find what works best for your child.

If you have several children, spread them out to prevent distractions. Or, if they’re using a shared space, consider using desk dividers to help them stay focused. Since children with ADHD have attention issues, be sure you’re in earshot so you can help keep them on track.

Many children with ADHD are run ragged by the end of the school day. So when you get home, consider giving them some time to chill and reset. A little goes a long way; even 10-15 minutes will do.

Also, be sure to give breaks often when working on schoolwork. For school-aged kids, aim to take a break every 15-20 minutes. For teens, every 30 minutes is a good place to start.

Having supplies tidy and organized can also make homework time more efficient. So consider creating a homework caddy to keep supplies handy.

6 – Meet with Your Child’s Teacher

If possible, set up a meeting with your child’s teacher before the first day of school. Discuss your child’s history, their ADHD, and what strategies worked well last year. This is also a great time to review any 504 accommodations or IEP goals so you can get a plan in place.

Get a communication plan so you stay in the know about behavior, upcoming assignments, and school events. Find out how you can support your child’s teacher to help make this year a success.

Plan to check in after the first week to see how things are going and keep the lines of communication open.

meet with teacher

7 – Celebrate Wins (Big & Small)

Children with ADHD (and all children, for that matter) thrive on positive reinforcement. So be sure you’re dishing out plenty of encouragement when things go well.

Celebrate all wins, both big and small. It could be a good behavior report, turning their homework in on time, passing a test, or simply getting to bed on time. Do your best to catch your child being good as often as possible, and offer plenty of praise.

8 – Get Back on a Sleep Schedule

Summertime throws off sleep schedules. Kids stay up later and sleep in longer, which can make back-to-school time a rude awakening (pun intended). If your children have been sleeping at odd hours, it takes time for their bodies to adjust.

So try gradually getting your kids to bed earlier in the weeks leading up to school. Studies show that getting quality sleep can help reduce ADHD symptoms.[1] So practicing good sleep hygiene is crucial all year long.

9 – Get Exercise

When planning after-school activities, consider getting some exercise in the mix. This could mean joining a sports club, going for a bike ride, or taking a study break to jump on the trampoline.

Research shows exercise helps with depression, anxiety, aggressive behaviors, and social problems in children with ADHD.[2] In one study, children took part in an exercise program for 11 weeks. Both parents and teachers reported fewer ADHD symptoms in children who participated.[3]

Physical movement can also help kids with ADHD burn off any anxious energy about returning to school. So be sure to set aside time for them to get their body moving!

 

10  – Plan Healthy Meals

Before school starts, plan out a weekly meal plan of nutritious meals and snacks. An ADHD-friendly diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein.

meal planning for adhd kids

 

Protein is the key – as it prevents blood sugar spikes that can aggravate ADHD symptoms. So plan for some protein at every meal and snack. Limit sugar, simple carbs, and artificial additives as much as possible, as they may trigger symptoms.

Breakfast is especially important, as it provides fuel for the day. Some nutritious, protein-filled breakfast ideas include:

  • Scrambled eggs with toast
  • Yogurt parfait with fruit and nuts
  • Oatmeal with peanut butter and banana

 

For extra help, consider adding in some targeted nutritional support. Certain nutrients support healthy cognitive function and help improve focus, mental clarity, and alertness.

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27614815/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6867774/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6787573/

10 Brain Healthy Foods (+2 Drinks) for Energy & Productivity

When it comes to keeping your brain healthy and sharp, the foods that you eat matter.  Research shows that foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavanols, polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids can help protect your brain. They can help to improve memory, concentration and overall brain health.

Here are 10 delicious brain food snacks (and two drinks) to feed the most important organ in your body

1. Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

Smoked salmon deviled eggs

Why it works: Whether it is for lunch, dinner, or a snack, these smoked salmon deviled eggs are a delicious option for when you need a quick brain boost. Salmon is packed with omega-3, a powerful fatty acid known for its brain-friendly properties. Studies show that a higher omega-3 intake can protect the brain against age-related cognitive decline, boost your mood, and support memory.

How to make it: Fill a large saucepan with water and add 8 large eggs. Bring to a vigorous boil and cover. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain off the water and transfer eggs to a bowl filled with iced water; this will stop the cooking process and make the eggs easier to peel.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and use a teaspoon to carefully remove the yolks. Transfer the yolks to a clean bowl and mash well with a fork. Stir in ⅓ cup greek yogurt, 4 ounces smoked salmon chopped in bite-sized pieces, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, dried garlic, salt, pepper, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Spoon a portion of the mixture into each egg-white half and sprinkle with paprika and chives.

2. Trail Mix

If you don’t have a nut allergy, adding them to your diet may provide you with some incredible health benefits. Although they’re high in calories, nuts are packed with healthy fats that are favorable for your noggin’ and could also protect you against certain chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

nuts

Trail Mix

How to make it: Mix together 1 ½ cups raw nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans, cashews), 1 cup raw seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), ⅔ cups unsweetened coconut flakes, ¾ cup unsweetened dried fruit (golden raisins, cranberries), ½ chopped dark chocolate.

Fun add-ins:
Air-popped popcorn
Pretzels

Spices:
Salt
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Nutritional yeast
Turmeric

3. Yogurt-Covered Blueberries

Cover blueberries in yogurt

Among all the foods that are good for your brain, blueberries take the gold. Research suggests that consuming blueberries could help slow down brain aging by up to 2.5 years and support areas of your brain essential for memory and intelligence. The plain Greek yogurt in this recipe will help you feel fuller and more energized for longer, so it’s a great snack to keep in hand when that 4:00 pm energy crash hits.

How to make it: Wash and pat dry blueberries and line a baking sheet with wax paper. Using a toothpick, dip each blueberry into yogurt and twirl to make sure it’s completely covered. Remove the dipped blueberry with your (clean) fingers or a fork and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat on all blueberries. Freeze until yogurt has set and feels dry to the touch, about 1-2 hours.

4. Turmeric Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are packed with potent antioxidants that protect your brain and body from free radical damage. They are also rich in zinc, an essential mineral that is critical for memory and thinking. The curcumin in turmeric has been shown to boost cognition and attention, and it’s been used for years as a complementary treatment for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions.

How to make it: Scrape out and remove seeds from pumpkin. Wash them in a colander under running water, making sure you remove all strands and pumpkin bits. Pat seeds dry and spread in a baking sheet lined with oven paper. Toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil (can substitute for coconut or avocado oil), 1 teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon paprika, salt, and pepper. Roast 10 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant.

5. Overnight Oats

Start the day right with an energizing combination of brain-healthy fats and proteins (Greek yogurt), complex carbohydrates (oatmeal), and essential vitamins and minerals (fruit toppings). As the name suggests, this no-cook breakfast works best when you let it steep in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. If you are in a hurry, you can let sit for just a couple of hours or cook on a stovetop or microwave.

brain food

Overnight oats

How to make it: Mix 1 part rolled oats, ½ part plain Greek yogurt, ½ plant-based milk, and honey in a bowl.

Add in your favorite add-ins:

Nut butter
Cocoa powder
Pumpkin puree
Baked apple
Sugar-free jam/jelly

Pour mixture into mason jars and chill overnight in the fridge.

In the morning before you eat, mix in toppings for added flavor and texture:

Chia seeds
Chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts)
Granola
Chia seeds
Fresh fruits
Banana slices
Chopped berries
Kiwi

6. Avocado Toast

Avocado is incredibly nutritious. It is loaded with heart and brain-healthy monounsaturated fats, and it is high in fiber, so it helps you feel full and energized for longer. Add an egg on top, and you are looking at a nutritional powerhouse that can help you get through any kind of morning.

Brain Food – Avocado Toast

How to make it: Slice one large avocado in half and scoop out into a bowl while you toast 2 slices of whole-grain bread. Smash it with a fork until you reach the desired consistency (feel free to play around with the consistency here; some people like their avocado toast completely mashed and others like it nice and lumpy — it’s up to you!). Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, the juice of half a lime, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread mashed avocado generously into each toast and enjoy.

Optional (and yummy) toppings:

Smoked salmon
Capers
Chives
Thinly sliced shallots
A poached, boiled egg, or fried egg
Sesame seeds
Radishes

7. Crispy Kale Chips

Kale chips

Evidence shows that lutein, a powerful nutrient found in kale (and avocados and eggs), could help reverse some of the signs of cognitive aging.

How to make it: Wash a large bunch of kale, remove middle stem, and rip into bite-sized pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper (to taste) and bake in a preheated oven at 325F for 20 minutes or cook in an airfryer.

8. Tuna Burgers

tuna health food

Tuna burgers

Tuna is also rich in brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids and it’s a good source of protein, vitamin B12, and selenium. To pick the best canned tuna at the supermarket, opt for water-packed tuna over oil-packed and, whenever possible, choose brands that follow responsible fishing practices (look for FAD-free and MSC-certified seals in the cans).

How to make it: Toss 3 cans tuna, 1 small finely chopped red onion, ¼ cup chopped parsley, and 1 tablespoon dried garlic together in a bowl. Fold in 1 large egg, 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt, and (optional) hot sauce to taste. Add ½ cup panko breadcrumbs and use your hands to mix evenly. Shape into patties and cook until browned in a skillet lightly coated with olive oil, 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve warm.

9. 5 Minute Hummus

The protein in chickpeas makes hummus a perfect on-the-go snack that’s both filling and nutritious. Despite their size, chickpeas pack a powerful nutritional punch and are loaded with complex carbohydrates that fuel your brain and keep you focused and alert.

hummus

5 minute hummus

How to make it: To a food processor or blender, add: one 15 oz. can cooked chickpeas, ½ cup tahini, the juice and zest of 1 lemon, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon ice water, paprika, salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. Blend 3-5 minutes or until creamy, stopping to scrape the sides as needed. Drizzle more olive oil and paprika before serving.

10. Chia Seed Pudding

Eating chia is perhaps the easiest and most effective way to get decent amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also packed with proteins, antioxidants, and essential vitamins and minerals.

Chia seed pudding

How to make it: Whisk together ¼ cup chia seeds, 1 cup plant-based milk (almond, soy, oatmeal, rice, cashew), 2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and a pinch of sea salt. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight and add favorite toppings.

11. Matcha Green Tea Lemonade

Matcha green tea lemonade

Studies show that people that drink tea may have healthier brains than non-tea drinkers. If you don’t have a matcha bamboo whisk to make this refreshing drink, try using a regular whisk or a fork. You can also use regular green tea instead of matcha powder by substituting the 2 cups of water with 2 cups of unsweetened green tea.

How to make it: Prepare matcha tea: using a bamboo matcha whisk, combine 2 tablespoons hot water and 2 tablespoons sifted matcha powder in a small bowl until a thick paste forms. Add 2 cups cold water, the juice of 1 large lemon, and 1 tablespoon honey to a large pitcher and stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in matcha. Pour over ice and garnish with fresh mint leaves (optional).

12. Golden Milk

Sometimes known as turmeric latte, golden milk is a traditional turmeric-based Indian beverage said to aid with digestion, promote sleep, boost mental clarity, and reduce inflammation. It is a healthy, nutritious addition to any diet and a delicious way to reap all the benefits of this mighty spice.

healthy drink

Golden milk

How to make it: In a small saucepan, combine: 1 ½ cups coconut milk or other non-dairy milk, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick), ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and serve hot.

Optional: froth with a handheld frother for a creamier, foamy finish. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon to taste.

The bottom line:

The brain is a very important organ and the control center of our body.  The foods we eat play a huge role in the structure and health of our brains. Including a variety of these nutritious foods in your daily diet will improve brain health, memory and alertness. These foods may also help to reduce the risk of age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

 

4 Major Reasons Behind The Surge of Mental Illness

Mental health is one of the most underserved sectors of public health. Yet, about 1 billion people worldwide live with a mental disorder. In fact, more than 50% of Americans will, at some point in their lives, be diagnosed with a mental disorder.

Mental health issues touch nearly all of us in some way, directly or indirectly. Mental illnesses refer to mental health conditions that affect thinking, mood, and behavior. Such disorders include anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

Mental and physical health are equally vital components of overall health, and they are very much interlinked. For example, if an individual has depression, they are at greater risk of several kinds of physical health issues, particularly long-term diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or stroke. On the other hand, chronic illnesses could raise the likelihood of developing mental disorders.

Unfortunately, the number of those living with mental illness is rising. And with the rise of the illness comes an increase in antidepressant prescriptions. Between October and December 2020, more than 20 million antidepressants were given, a 6% rise over the same three months in 2019. Today, mental health drugs are one of the three leading drug classes in the U.S. In addition, self-medicating illegally with opioids and stimulants has also been on the rise.

The drastic increase in mental illnesses doesn’t just spring up from thin air. Life today is supposedly easier than it was 50 years ago, so why are people suffering from mental disorders more than ever before?

The strain on Americans’ mental health is linked to several factors. In this article, we will be diving into the reasons behind the surge in mental illness and antidepressant prescription sales.

1. The COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 cases were not the only ones to rise during the pandemic. The prevalence of mental health issues surged greatly, both nationally and globally. According to a review, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an overall increase in cases of mental disorders. In 2020, there was a significant increase in depressive and anxiety disorders globally, with 53.2 million and 76.2 million additional instances of anxiety and major depressive disorders (MDD), respectively.

The countless stressors imposed by the coronavirus pandemic have impaired the mental health and well-being of individuals. Public psychological consequences were directly and indirectly linked to the virus itself. Among the several factors that negatively impact the general public’s mental health include the fear of contagion, perception of danger, worries about relatives and family members, protective measures, financial issues, lockdowns, and extensive media coverage. These factors can lead to feelings of anger, anxiety, grief, loneliness, and boredom.

The continuous strain and uncertainty of COVID-19 have raised the demand for psychological services in the United States. In addition, the prescription of medication rose significantly. For example, during the third week of March and mid-June 2020, it was reported that there was a 50% increase in antidepressant medication use. This increase is likely due to the pandemic’s effect on mental health.

2. Social Media

The surge in mental illness could be related to increased social media usage. Online interaction has become dominant over face-to-face communication, leading to increased feelings of loneliness and isolation. Among social media and other platforms, physical appearance is highly stressed. Trends float around on Instagram and TikTok, telling people how to dress and look.

Changing one’s appearance in a photo has never been easier. All you need is an app, and before you know it, you have gone down a couple of sizes, have flawless skin, and have the whitest of teeth. When posted online, the edited pictures could lead viewers to compare and develop unrealistic expectations of physical appearance, which could contribute to the development and exacerbation of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. In addition, cyber-bullying is more common than one might think, and falling victim to it is linked to suicidal behaviors and depression.

social media impact

The negative powers of social media raise the risk of mental health problems, particularly in adolescents and young adults. Mood disorders and suicide-related consequences have significantly risen in these age groups, disproportionately affecting women and those who are wealthier.

3. Lifestyle

A wide range and growing number of medical and mental problems have been found to be caused and influenced by an individual’s lifestyle. Lifestyle factors usually include the consumption of healthy/unhealthy food, amount of food consumed, level of physical activity, use of tobacco smoking, level of alcohol consumption, etc.

The food you consume plays a great role in your mental and physical health. Your brain is like an expensive car. It functions best when you provide it with premium fuel. However, anything less than premium could eventually lead to car issues. In terms of the body and brain, high-quality foods with many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are premium fuel. On the other hand, diets high in fat and refined sugars are less than premium and can harm your brain, impair its functions, and even worsen symptoms of certain mental illnesses.

Studies comparing traditional diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, to a Western diet have found that people who consume a traditional diet had a 25% to 35% decreased risk of depression. This disparity can be attributed to the fact that traditional diets are abundant in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and seafood, and contain only moderate amounts of lean meats and dairy. In addition, they are free of processed and refined foods, as well as sweets, which are staples in the “Western” diet. However, the high adoption of the Western diet and other negative lifestyle factors could be linked to the high prevalence of mental illness.

4. Big Pharma Advertisements

A few key aspects of mental health continue to grab public attention. Pharmaceutical advertisements might not directly affect the spike in mental illness but are directly linked to the surge in antidepressant prescription sales.

By far, citizens in the U.S. are the biggest consumers of prescription drugs. Research has found that the U.S. spends more than any other nation on prescription drugs, spending about $1,229 in 2019. Other countries like Canada, Switzerland, and France have only spent $879, $894, and $671, respectively. It is estimated that around 66% of the U.S. population depends on Big Pharma.

pharmaceutical companies

A part of the reason why those in the U.S. take the greatest amount of prescription medication might be linked to the marketing of drugs. Research has found that drug ads can increase sales of medicines, including antidepressant medications. Advertisements even drive new consumers into the market.

Final Thought

Mental illnesses are on the rise. This increase is linked to several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, social media, and lifestyle. In addition, the exposure to pharmaceutical advertisements might be contributing to the spike in antidepressant medication sales.

Stigmas and misconceptions continue to surround mental illness, discouraging those seeking treatment. However, whether you or someone you know has a mental illness, there are always ways to get help. Studies have shown that the majority of those with mental health disorders get better and may recover fully.

 

 

Eating Just Half Cup Of Blueberries A Day May Cut Dementia Risk

Blueberry season is upon us, and as if we needed another reason to love these sweet, bright-blue wonders, a new study published in Nutrients found that eating ½ to 1 cup of blueberries daily can cut dementia risk in at-risk middle-aged adults with insulin resistance.

Native to North America, blueberries, as we know them today, have only been in cultivation for about 100 years, although evidence suggests that they’ve been around for several millennia. In fact, wild blueberries are believed to be one of the first fruit-bearing plants discovered by early Native Americans after the last ice age. According to the American Indian Health and Diet Project, ancient American Indian tribes harvested large quantities of blueberries to be eaten fresh or dried. They were highly valued due to their convenience, versatility, and long shelf life.

Dubbed the “king of superfoods,” blueberries boast one of the most impressive nutritional profiles of all fruits. A single cup of blueberries, which holds roughly 65 to 75 normal-sized berries, contains only 84 calories, one gram of protein, four grams of fiber, and zero grams of fat. The same portion packs nearly a quarter of the daily recommended allowance (RDA) of vitamin C and a third of the RDA for vitamin K, which are both essential nutrients that play a role in a number of bodily functions. Plus, blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits and vegetables, which are known to counterbalance the effect of oxidative stress and disease-causing free radicals.

Blueberries and Memory Decline

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Several studies suggest that oxidative stress may be involved in changes in the brain that contribute to age-related degenerative neurological conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and more. But scientists have found that berries, particularly blueberries, contain high amounts of antioxidants called flavonoids, which can accumulate in specific brain regions and mitigate inflammation and oxidative stress.

While previous research looking at blueberries’ effect on brain function mostly focused on benefits for older individuals, the authors of the new study wanted to know whether these tiny but mighty fruits could help prevent cognitive decline in overweight and insulin-resistant middle-aged folks. Late-life dementia, which is defined as dementia that starts after age 65, typically develops over a period of several years, beginning at mid-life, and diabetes and obesity happen to be two of the biggest risk factors for dementia, aside from aging. 

To measure blueberries’ effect on brain and cognition, researchers followed 33 prediabetic adults ages 50 to 65 experiencing mild memory decline for a 12-week period. Half of the volunteers were given a daily packet of blueberry powder equivalent to half a cup of fresh blueberries, and the other half received a placebo. At the beginning and end of the study, all participants were asked to take a series of tests assessing their learning and memory functions, mental flexibility, and self-control.

The results of the study showed that participants in the blueberry group displayed improved working memory and cognitive performance, compared to those in the placebo group. Another major finding was that supplementing with blueberries reduced fasting insulin levels, boosted fat loss, and improved metabolic functions.

To Wrap Things Up

The authors of the analysis acknowledge that the study’s sample size was an important limitation. A sample size that is too small increases the margin of error and may undermine reliability, so the researchers note that it is indispensable to reproduce these findings within a larger population. However, there is already plenty of evidence* that blueberries are incredibly healthy and nutritious for people of all ages.

You can increase your blueberry consumption by adding them fresh or frozen to smoothies, salads, breakfast cereals, and desserts, or enjoy them on their own as a sweet, on-the-go snack. Try to aim for a minimum of ½ cup of blueberries per day, although eating more is totally fine.

blueberry smoothy

 

* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18066143
* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23319811
* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820045/

 

What We Know About the New COVID-19 Variant BA.2

Since the onset of the pandemic well over two years ago, several variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been identified. Variants of COVID-19 – and all RNA viruses, for that matter – occur when there is a mutation in the virus’s genetic makeup. They are a common and an expected part of a virus’s natural cycle. For example, the influenza (flu) virus mutates roughly every year.

Last summer, the COVID-19 Delta variant spread through the world at a mind-boggling speed. A few months later, when cases were finally starting to subside, the Omicron variant was identified and quickly became the predominant and most contagious COVID-19 variant globally. And now, epidemiologists are keeping a close eye on a new, highly transmissible subvariant of Omicron, known as BA.2, which seems to be spreading even faster than the original strain.

subvariants of covid

What is the Omicron BA.2 Subvariant?

A virus’s variant can have several different genetic variations, known as subvariants. Last year, when the Omicron variant furiously swept through the globe at lightning speed, the subvariant known as BA.1 was by far the most prevalent, so people just called it ‘Omicron.’ In fact, scientists were already aware of BA.2 at the time, but up until spring of this year, the BA.1 subvariant was a thousand times more common than BA.2.

Over the past few weeks, though, BA.2 has been causing an alarming spike in cases across the United States, Europe, and Asia, and it’s close to becoming the dominant subvariant worldwide. Nicknamed ‘stealth’ Omicron, BA.2 has a unique genetic mutation that makes it show up differently in lab tests in contrast to other Omicron subvariants.

omicron

Should I Be Concerned About BA.2?

It’s too early to tell whether this new subvariant will cause another record-breaking surge. But what we know so far is that BA.2 seems to be even more contagious than BA.1, which has been the most transmissible variant since the beginning of the pandemic. Experts suspect that BA.2’s exploding growth may be due to its unique genetic composition: it has 8 new mutations that weren’t present in BA.1. And it seems as though these mutations may make the virus even better at propagating itself.

That being said, cases in the United States have been steadily rising for the past few weeks for the first time since late January, and some forecasts predict that cases could rise by over 50% by the last weeks of April.

Do Vaccines Protect Against the BA.2 Subvariant?

While vaccination plus a booster shot may provide protection from getting seriously sick with Omicron and its subvariants, it’s still possible to get infected with BA.2 even if you are fully vaccinated, since the vaccine itself is designed to offer protection against severe Covid illness, but is not 100% effective at preventing infection. Fortunately, the BA.2 subvariant doesn’t seem to be more severe than the previous version of Omicron.

Building a strong and resilient immune system is your best defense against illness and disease and for peace of mind!

 

 

What Does ADHD Look Like at Every Age and Why Does It Change?

ADHD is a complex condition that presents ongoing school, work, and social challenges. It’s marked by three cardinal symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Yet, ADHD symptoms are rarely one-size-fits-all. Symptoms often change with age and may present differently among genders. This article breaks down what ADHD looks like in children, teens, and adults, and why symptoms may shift over time.

ADHD Symptoms in Children

ADHD is on the rise. That’s no secret. According to data from the 2011 National Survey of Children’s Health, 11% of children had an ADHD diagnosis. That was up from 7.8% in 2003 – a whopping 43% increase!

And that was over ten years ago. In 2016 the estimated number of children ever diagnosed with ADHD, according to a national 2016 parent survey, is 6.1 million (9.4%). This number includes:

  • 388,000 children aged 2–5 years
  • 2.4 million children aged 6–11 years
  • 3.3 million children aged 12–17 years
  • Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls (12.9% compared to 5.6%).

Current numbers are likely much higher. The average age for diagnosis in moderate cases of ADHD is age six. But, symptoms may show up much sooner, even as early as age three.1

In children, hyperactivity and impulsivity are typically the first symptoms to stand out. Once kids enter school and academic demands increase, inattention issues may emerge.

Signs of ADHD in Children:

  • Trouble focusing
  • Easily distracted
  • Fidgeting, squirming, or trouble sitting still
  • Moves about constantly (or acts as driven by a motor)
  • Difficulty playing or engaging in activities quietly
  • Talks out in class
  • Interrupts frequently
  • Difficulty waiting for one’s turn
  • ADHD Symptoms in Teens

adhd signs

 

As children with ADHD mature, their symptoms often shift. For some, childhood symptoms may fade in intensity or become less problematic. For others, the responsibilities that come with growing older may trigger new symptoms to emerge. So what does this look like? Well, for one hyperactivity tends to diminish in the teenage years, or it may present more as an ongoing restlessness. But, symptoms of inattention and impulsivity often linger. This can create significant challenges at home and school, as well as in social life.

Signs of ADHD in teens may include:

  • Difficulty focusing on schoolwork
  • Trouble finishing tasks
  • Missed assignments
  • Careless mistakes on schoolwork
  • Time management issues
  • Forgetting things
  • Losing personal items
  • Trouble with organizational skills
  • Poor self-control
  • Increased emotional sensitivity
  • Relationship issues
  • Increased parental conflict

How common is ADHD in teens? In 2011 the lifetime prevalence of ADHD for adolescents aged 13 to 18 was 8.7%.1 But again, that number has likely gone up since then.

ADHD Symptoms in Adults

Now that we have a clearer idea of how ADHD manifests in children and teens, what about adults? It’s estimated that around 4.4% of American adults have ADHD.1 But keep in mind, there is a lot of undiagnosed ADHD in adults. Nowadays ADHD is on everyone’s radar, that wasn’t always the case. If a person grew up when there was a lack of ADHD awareness, diagnosis could easily fall through the cracks. Plus, for teens and adults to receive a diagnosis, symptoms must appear before age twelve2.

Adults with undiagnosed ADHD may have a history of poor school and work performance. They may struggle to pay attention during meetings, conversations, and lectures. But they may also have difficulty keeping up with school demands and work deadlines. People with undiagnosed ADHD may also have a rocky relationship history. Over time this can be destructive to their emotional well-being and self-esteem. Inattention, impulsivity, and restlessness may remain in adults years. It’s just that now those symptoms are met with the new challenges that adulthood brings. Work stress, financial concerns, and family demands can weigh heavy on adults even without ADHD. These pressures may bring symptoms to the surface.

Signs of ADHD in adults may include:

  • Difficulty sustaining attention
  • Getting easily sidetracked from tasks
  • Difficulty managing and meeting deadlines
  • Misplacing important items often
  • Avoiding tasks that demand sustained mental effort
  • Forgetful in daily activities
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Frequent injuries or accidents
  • Substance abuse misuse
  • ADHD Symptoms in Women: Are They Really That Different?

Age isn’t the only factor that can change ADHD symptoms – gender can too.  ADHD in boys is far more common than in girls. In fact, males are four times more likely to get an ADHD diagnosis than females. But why? Some say it’s because females only have signs of inattention. Yet, that’s not entirely true. Females do present with symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. They’re just often more subdued than males, making them easier to gloss over. Plus, ADHD symptoms in females can worsen during hormonal changes. Women may notice symptoms increase during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause. So what does ADHD look like in women and girls? Here are some common signs4:

ADHD symptoms in women and girls

  • Being easily distracted or disorganized
  • Lacking in effort or motivation
  • Trouble with emotional regulation
  • Increased risk of social problems (especially bullying)
  • Difficulty with interpersonal relationships
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Academic underachievement and increased school dropout
  • Elevated risk of substance abuse
  • Earlier onset of sexual activity/more sexual partners
  • Increased risk of STIs and unplanned pregnancy

girls' self-esteem

Living With ADHD: Treatment Options

ADHD presents many challenges to school, work, and home life, no matter your age. And each person’s symptoms fall on a spectrum. After all, everyone gets distracted and has trouble focusing at times. However, severe ADHD symptoms can make it difficult to function in day-to-day life. That’s when it’s time to speak with a doctor or psychologist to look into a potential diagnosis. ADHD is typically treated with medication, the most popular being central nervous system stimulants. These drugs stimulate brain activity by increasing the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Stimulant drugs can be powerful tools to help people with ADHD manage symptoms. But unfortunately, they come with a long list of side effects, including sleep problems, loss of appetite, irritability, headaches, and upset stomach. Luckily, there are several natural nutritional options for ADHD. Research shows cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can improve symptoms in teens with ADHD5. CBT helps build awareness of the thoughts that trigger behaviors and can even teach problem-solving and relaxation techniques. In addition, there are a variety of natural supplements that can address ADHD symptoms at the nutritional level without harmful side effects. You can read about them by downloading this ADHD White Paper:  Clinically Proven Alternatives for Treating Inattention, Hyperactivity, and Impulsivity.

Implementing certain lifestyle habits can be powerful medicine as well. Daily exercise, getting quality sleep, cleaning up your diet, and taking targeted dietary supplements can have big benefits.

The Takeaway
So now, when someone asks you, “What does ADHD look like?” you can tell them the honest truth: It depends. Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the common threads of ADHD. However, ADHD is not a cookie-cutter condition. Symptoms vary depending on both age and gender. Some people’s symptoms may lessen over time. For others, the transition between childhood, adolescence, and adulthood may shift symptoms due to rising school demands, social pressure, and work stress. ADHD can be challenging – there’s no doubt about that. Yet, you can manage your symptoms and enhance your overall quality of life with the proper treatment and support.

 

ADHD Mood Swings: Why They Happen + How to Ease Them

Navigating emotional highs and lows is part of life. After all, we all deal with anger, frustration, and impatience from time to time. However, for people with ADHD, emotions are amplified.

The hallmark symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Yet many people with ADHD also struggle with their moods. They may feel happy and excited one moment, then angry and irritable the next.

This article explains why ADHD mood swings happen and offers strategies to cope with emotional highs and lows.

ADHD and Mood Swings: Why It Happens

People with ADHD are more likely to experience mood swings for several reasons:

Tendency Towards Depression & Anxiety

People with ADHD are more likely to deal with depression and anxiety. One study found that children ages 4-6 with ADHD were at increased risk of depression and suicide attempts when they reach their adolescent years.

But research shows adults with ADHD are more prone to mood disorders as well. In fact, adults with ADHD are four times more likely to have an anxiety disorder.

Difficulty Focusing

 

add

 

People with ADHD often have difficulty focusing and completing tasks. This can lead to frustration, irritability, or shutting down altogether. Feeling distracted and struggling to pay attention non-stop can fuel a steady stream of anxiety.

Feeling “Different”

Being unable to perform tasks the way that non-ADHD peers do, can lead to frustration and anger. Over time this can damage self-esteem. This is especially true for children in the school environment.

Heightened Sense of Emotions

People with ADHD feel things deeply. Problems at school, work, or home that may seem minor to others may feel overwhelming to someone with ADHD.

They may become easily irritated or frustrated when interrupted during interesting tasks. But they may also be quick to anger due to impulsivity. This can create embarrassment and regret later once the emotional overreaction has passed.

ADHD Medication

ADHD medications can help cognitive symptoms, but not emotional ones. They can even aggravate mood swings in late afternoons or evenings as their effects wear off.

When stimulant medications leave the body too quickly, it can cause a medication rebound. Symptoms can return with a vengeance. This may lead to sadness, irritability, or increased hyperactivity. The mood swings typically last around an hour.

10 Ways to Manage ADHD Mood Swings

While ADHD can heighten emotional highs and lows, you do have the power to learn the tools to ride the waves. Here are ten coping techniques that can help manage ADHD mood swings:

1. Let Yourself Vent

Feelings are meant to be felt. So don’t stuff them. Instead, set aside time each week (or even each day) to let off steam. This’ll look different for everyone, so play around until you find activities that give you an emotional release. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Do a vigorous fitness class
  • Journal
  • Punch a pillow or punching bag
  • Blast loud music
  • Sing
  • Dance
  • Talk to a friend or family member
  • Or whatever else helps you let go…

Venting can bring emotions center stage. After all, that’s the point! But make sure you also dedicate time towards grounding, calming activities.

2. Take a Break

When you’re feeling frustrated, sometimes the best thing you can do is take a breather. So when emotions get intense, give yourself permission to take a break.

Try switching activities for a few minutes. Going for a short walk or taking a few slow deep breaths may be just what you need to help settle yourself.

3. Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

People with ADHD often deal with frequent setbacks at school, in social situations, and on the job. Over time this can lead to low self-esteem and negative self-talk.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) trains you to restructure your thoughts toward a more compassionate internal dialogue. CBT can even help you learn problem-solving skills and relaxation techniques to manage ADHD mood swings.

Research shows teens with ADHD show more symptom improvement with CBT than with medication alone. In one study, CBT eased symptoms of depression and anxiety in college students with ADHD. Best of all, the benefits held for 5-7 months after treatment ended!

Need help finding a therapist in your area who practices CBT? Click here.

4. Exercise Often

What helps burn off stress and gives you an endorphin boost to boot? Yep – exercise! Research shows that exercise reduces anxiety and depression while improving cognitive function and self-esteem.

Just don’t overdo it. Overexercising can elevate the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked with depression.

So how much exercise is enough? The CDC recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week and two days of muscle-strengthening activities. Find some activities you enjoy, and stick with them!

5. Clean Up Your Diet

Many people claim that artificial colorings and food additives are to blame for ADHD. While there’s no conclusive evidence to prove that, science does suggest that food dyes can exacerbate ADHD symptoms.

Processed foods are devoid of the nutrients needed for a healthy brain. But they’re also packed with sugar. This can take your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride – along with your mood.

Eating a fiber-rich diet filled with whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein will help keep your blood sugar and mood stable.

6. Get Solid Sleep

If you want to keep your mood steady, make sleep a priority. Studies show that not getting enough sleep increases both depression and anxiety.

The trouble is, between 25-50% of people with ADHD struggle with sleep. This may be partly due to stimulant medications, which are known to disturb sleep.

But don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to improve your sleep. For starters, set a consistent sleep schedule and stick to it. Also, try limiting screen time one hour before bed. Electronic devices emit blue light, disrupting your body’s circadian rhythm.

For more tips on how to get a good night’s sleep, check out this article.

7. Use Your Hyperfocus to Your Advantage

One confusing symptom of ADHD that may seem contradictory is hyperfocus. Hyperfocus is the ability to zero in on an interesting task for lengthy periods. Some people with ADHD can become so immersed in projects that they are oblivious to their surroundings. Time stands still.

 

hyper focused

 

So, when you find your mood shifting in a negative direction, use your hyperfocus to your advantage. Try refocusing your attention on a passion project. This can help you snap out of unhelpful thought loops causing distress.

8. Prep For The “Blues”

While there is an upside to hyperfocus, there’s a downside too. It’s called the hyperfocus hangover, also known as “depression after success.” This is when an emotional crash follows an exciting event or success.

For some people with ADHD, once the excitement is over, it can feel like a huge letdown. So be prepared – have a project or activity waiting in the wings for when the crash comes. Keeping your attention pointed towards things that light you up will make those emotional funks less likely.

9. Use Humor

There’s a reason for the expression “laughter is the best medicine” – because it’s true! Laughter has proven psychological benefits such as improved stress, depression, and anxiety. Learning to joke with yourself about your ADHD symptoms can help break negative thought loops and help you lighten up.

That’s not to say you should laugh off all your mistakes. You do need to take responsibility for your actions. But if you can playfully poke fun at yourself, there’s a good chance others will be more forgiving and sympathetic.

10. Try Supplements

Certain nutrients may help manage ADHD mood swings. Here are a few:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Research shows that children and teens with ADHD tend to have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a key nutrient for brain health.

In one study of children and young adults with ADHD, omega-3 supplementation improved hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, and short-term memory.

Magnesium

People with ADHD tend to be deficient in magnesium. This is unfortunate, as magnesium is essential for the brain and low magnesium levels are linked with depression.

Magnesium helps you chill out by triggering your parasympathetic nervous system (aka “rest and digest” mode). Its relaxing effects are shown to improve sleep quality and ease anxiety.

Magnesium may be especially helpful when stimulant medications wear off and symptoms amp up.

Vitamin D

Research shows people with ADHD often have low levels of Vitamin D, which is linked with depression and anxiety. That’s why getting enough vitamin D is critical for managing the mood swings that ADHD can stir up.

For example, in one study, children who received vitamin D supplementation showed significant improvement in impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity.

You can get a free dose of vitamin D from regular sunshine. Yet, over 40% of Americans don’t get enough Vitamin D. Supplementation can help fill in the gaps.

Zinc

Zinc is a trace mineral with an enormous impact on our central nervous system. It is involved in the synthesis and production of serotonin (the “happiness hormone”, which influences mood and sleeping patterns) dopamine (a chemical that regulates pleasure, pain, and energy levels), and norepinephrine (better known as the “stress hormone”). This mineral also keeps under control various substances that affect our behavior, learning process, attention, and concentration. Out of these, the most important are melatonin and fatty acids.

Grape Seed Extract

Children diagnosed with ADHD demonstrate higher levels of oxidative stress than children without ADHD. Higher levels of oxidative stress increase tissue damage, and the type of free radicals that is present in people with ADHD make them more vulnerable to heart disease. As a result, potent antioxidants like grape seed extract that provide protection against excessive oxidative stress and heart disease risk factors, therefore, may be beneficial for those with ADHD. Grapeseed is easily absorbed and utilized by the body and it provides potent protection against free radicals and damage to cells and DNA.

Lemon Balm Extract

Lemon balm, or Melissa officinalis, has been used as an anti-anxiety, sleep-inducing, and memory-enhancing nutrient for over 2,000 years. Clinical trials have provided scientific evidence for the impact of lemon balm, demonstrating its ability to improve mood, reduce stress, and help improve sleep quality. One study that investigated the impact of lemon balm extract on 20 stressed volunteers over a 15 day period found that anxiety was reduced in 70% of the study participants and insomnia was reduced in 85% of them. Given that ADHD patients often experience stress and suffer from a high rate of insomnia, lemon balm extract is likely a helpful supplement for these patients.

Saffron

There is evidence to suggest that saffron (Crocus sativus) can be beneficial to those with ADHD. Initial studies have demonstrated that saffron is effective as methylphenidate in improving ADHD symptoms over a 6-week period.  Another recent study echoed these findings.

Coping Strategies

People with ADHD face many challenges such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Yet, they’re also more likely to struggle with mood swings. Luckily, many coping strategies and lifestyle habits can help you weather those emotional storms:

  • Let yourself vent
  • Take a break
  • Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Move your body
  • Clean up your diet
  • Get quality sleep
  • Take advantage of your hyperfocus
  • Prep for the “blues”
  • Laugh often
  • Try an omega-3, magnesium, vitamin D, or a combination supplement with ingredients for promoting attention and focus

 

Implementing these coping techniques will build self-awareness and help you or your loved one better navigate ADHD mood swings in the future.

Obesity and COVID-19: 5 Reasons it’s a Risky Combo

Before coronavirus entered the scene, our country faced another epidemic: obesity. The obesity rate in the US and worldwide has skyrocketed in recent years. This is bad news, as obesity is linked with an increased risk of chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Well, it turns out COVID-19 targets people carrying extra weight as well. This article reveals the data linking obesity and COVID-19 severity, why excess pounds puts you at greater risk, and what you can do about it.

Obesity and COVID-19: What’s the Connection?

While several health conditions increase your risk of severe COVID-19, obesity tops the list. A study of nearly 17,000 patients found that 77% of Americans hospitalized for COVID-19 were overweight or obese.

And there is a direct relationship between BMI (body mass index) and COVID-19 severity. The more extra weight you carry, the greater your risk.

Even overweight people are at increased risk. Not sure what your BMI is or what category you fall into? Check out this handy BMI calculator and the ranges below.

  • Overweight = BMI between 25-30
  • Obese = BMI between 30-40
  • Severely obese = BMI over 40

 

Research shows obese people with COVID-19 are 113% more likely to land in the hospital than people with healthy weight. Obesity also makes you 74% more likely to end up in the ICU and 48% more likely to die.

A recent preprint study may explain why. This new study reveals that COVID-19 infects fat tissues and immune cells that live in fat. So the more fat you’re carrying, the more places COVID-19 has to set up shop.

How Bad IS the Obesity Crisis in America?

The CDC reports that in 2017-18, a whopping 42.4% of Americans were obese. What’s more,  another 30.7% of Americans were overweight. That means over two-thirds of US adults are either overweight or obese.

And that was before the coronavirus pandemic! The stress and sedentary lifestyle associated with lockdowns have only exacerbated this problem.

A recent survey from the APA found that 42% of US adults gained more weight than intended during the pandemic. The average weight gain was around 29 pounds.

And unfortunately, each extra pound you gain puts you more at risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19.

 

WHY are Obese People More at Risk of COVID-19?

It’s difficult to nail down one reason why obesity is such a risk factor for COVID-19. But there are several possibilities:

1. Weakened Immunity

Research shows obesity is linked with increased respiratory infections, including pneumonia, H1N1, and yes…COVID-19.

2. Chronic Inflammation

People who are obese have more adipose tissue (aka fat cells). Adipose tissues secrete inflammatory cytokines. This creates a chronic state of low-grade inflammation. The more fat cells have, the greater the inflammation.

3. Increased Blood Clots

Obesity is associated with an increased risk of blood clots. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is linked with an increase of blood clots as well. This makes obesity and COVID-19 a potentially deadly combo.

4. Impaired Lung Function

Research shows obesity decreases lung capacity. When you have excess abdominal fat it presses on the diaphragm. This can restrict airflow make it more difficult to breathe. Obese people also tend to have lower levels of the hormone adiponectin, which helps protect the lungs.

5. Increased Risk of Other Comorbidities

People who are obese are more likely to have other COVID-19 comorbidities, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

 

How to Use Lifestyle to Manage Obesity (& Boost Immunity)

We are living in strange times. While a lot may feel out of your control, you DO have the power to change your lifestyle. Here are five lifestyle tips that support weight loss and strengthen your immune system:

Eat More Whole Foods (& Less Processed Ones)

Processed foods are handy, but they disrupt your microbiome, throw off your blood sugar, and lead to weight gain. Plus, they’re devoid of the nutrients needed to keep your immune system strong.

So crowd out the processed junk by eating plenty of nutrient-dense whole foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.

Whole foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals, but they’re also packed with fiber. Fiber makes you feel full longer, so you’re less likely to overeat. Research shows people who eat high-fiber diets lose more weight.

high fiber diet

Limit Sugar Intake

Eating too many added sugars can lead to chronic inflammation, wreaking havoc on your immune system. High-sugar diets are linked with obesity, insulin resistance, and higher “bad” LDL cholesterol.

So how much sugar is too much? Here’s what the American Heart Association recommends:

  • Men – no more than 36 grams (9 tsp) of added sugar a day
  • Women – no more than 25 grams (6 tsp) of added sugar a day

Exercise

What improves heart health, boosts your mood, strengthens your immune system, and helps you manage your weight? You guessed it – exercise! Research shows exercise has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, even in as little as 20 minutes!

The coronavirus pandemic has only highlighted the importance of exercise. The CDC reports that people who do little or no physical activity are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 than those who stay active. So get moving!

How much exercise is enough? The CDC recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and two days of muscle-strengthening activity each week.

But anything is better than nothing! So start slow, find some things you enjoy, and stick with them. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Walk your dog
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Do some yoga
  • Play tennis
  • Take a hike
  • Lift some weights
  • Play with your kids
  • Clean your home
  • Do some gardening

stay active

Get Plenty of Sleep

Believe it or not, poor sleep is linked with an increased risk of obesity. Lack of sleep disrupts the appetite hormones ghrelin and leptin, increases inflammation, and reduces insulin sensitivity.

 

Plus, quality sleep is a must for keeping your immune system strong. Studies show that people who sleep for less than 6-7 hours a night are more prone to infections like the common cold.

Manage Your Stress

Nowadays, managing stress isn’t just helpful; it’s critical. Chronic stress creates inflammation. Add some COVID-19 inflammation on top of that, and you’ve got a cytokine storm that’s a recipe for disaster.

Plus, stress makes weight loss challenging. Chronic stress elevates the hormone cortisol, slowing your metabolism. High cortisol levels also increase your appetite and cause cravings for sweet, fatty, and salty foods.

So inject some stress relief into your daily life whenever you can. Here are some ideas:

  • Meditate
  • Get out in nature
  • Listen to some music
  • Read a book
  • Call a friend
  • Play with a pet
  • Take a bath
  • Be creative – sing, dance, paint, draw
  • Or anything else you find relaxing!

Takeaways

Clearly, obesity and COVID-19 are a risky combo. People who are obese and get COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized, be put on a ventilator, and die.

Now more than ever, it’s important to do everything in your power to stay healthy – for yourself and your family. If you’re overweight or obese, that means making lifestyle changes that support weight loss such as:

As an added bonus, all five of these lifestyle habits boost your immune system, making you more resilient when bad bugs strike.

Changing your lifestyle can be uncomfortable, even when it’s positive. So start small, but start somewhere. The more you commit to healthier habits, the better you’ll feel and the stronger your body will be.

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Long COVID: What You Need to Know

Most COVID-infected people look forward to the day they can get back to their symptom-free life. However, for some people, that day seems to keep running further away. With over 426,624,859 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (February 2022), enough evidence has shown that some people face long-term health effects from the virus.

By now, it’s clear that each person experiences COVID, and its recovery, differently. Most people who catch the coronavirus disease recover completely within a few weeks. However, that is not always the case. Some individuals continue to experience COVID-19 symptoms even after their initial recovery. They refer to themselves as “long haulers.” The condition itself is called long COVID-19 or post-COVID-19 syndrome.

 

Long COVID-19 refers to lingering health problems lasting for a certain period after initial diagnosis. These symptoms can remain for months, increasing the risk of developing long-term health issues. The severity of the initial infection does not seem to be related to the duration of recovery. That means even those with mild versions of the disease could face these long-term problems.

According to a study published in November 2021, more than 40% of COVID-19 survivors worldwide had long-term effects. In addition, based on the number of infections recorded globally by mid-October, more than 100 million people experienced lingering health concerns due to the COVID-19 virus.

In this article, we will look into what long COVID is. Then, we will dive deeper into its causes, who it affects, its symptoms, duration, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. In addition, we will discuss the vaccines’ effect on long COVID.

What Is Long COVID

Most people that catch COVID recover relatively quickly. However, some people have persistent symptoms that last for weeks or months after the infection has gone. This problem goes by several names. Common terms for this condition include long COVID, post-COVID-19 syndrome, or long-term COVID. In addition, the National Institutes of Health refer to it as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC).

The World Health Organization (WHO) refers to long COVID as the illness that happens to people with a history of either probable or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. It is usually within three months from the onset of the coronavirus with symptoms and effects that last for at least two months. These symptoms can’t be explained by any alternative diagnosis.

Most peoples’ COVID-19 symptoms resolve within four weeks. Others might experience lingering health problems. However, the vast majority will no longer test positive but will still suffer the virus’s long-lasting consequences.

Depending on how long symptoms stay, they can be called one of two things, either Ongoing symptomatic COVID or Post-COVID Syndrome. Ongoing symptomatic COVID refers to symptoms that remain for more than four weeks. Post-COVID Syndrome refers to persistent symptoms that continue for more than 12 weeks, and no other condition could explain them.

Causes of Long COVID

The exact cause of having long-term symptoms of COVID-19 is not yet known. The chances of having long COVID don’t seem to be linked with the severity of the initial infection. However, it is clear that certain risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and other conditions, might lead to more serious symptoms. Even those with initially mild symptoms could have long-term problems.

Different processes are likely going on in different people, leading to the varying symptoms of long COVID. A probable cause could be related to SARS-CoV-2 attacking the body in various ways. The virus gets into cells and damages them. Damage can occur in the lungs, nervous system, heart, liver, etc. The damage could be responsible for the health issues that linger after COVID-19 illness.

In addition, COVID-19 increases the risk of blood cells clumping up and clotting. Large clots cause heart attacks and strokes, but with COVID-19, most heart damage comes from very small clots that block capillaries in the heart muscle. Other organs, like the lungs, liver, legs, kidneys, are affected by blood clots. COVID-19 could also weaken blood vessels and cause them to leak. This can lead to long-lasting problems in the kidneys and liver. However, much more research is still needed to identify the cause of long COVID.

Who Gets Long COVID?

Long COVID doesn’t just affect a single population. This condition affects people of all ages, those with good health, and those who already have health issues. Those previously hospitalized with COVID-19 can have long COVID, but so can those with mild symptoms. Around 10% of people with COVID-19 will experience long-term symptoms. Research has found that this 10% is particularly true for those between 18 and 49. However, the odds increase to 22% for those 70 or older.

 

long covid symptoms

 

In the UK, the Office of National Statistics estimated that 1.3 million individuals were experiencing self-reported long COVID. This amounts to over 1 in 50 or 2.1% of the population. In addition, 42% of people were experiencing long COVID symptoms more than a year after their initial infection of the virus. This study also found that the condition is most common in women, those between the ages of 35 and 69, individuals with underlying conditions or disabilities, those that work in social and health care or teaching and education, and those living in poorer areas.

A study published in Cell identified four biological factors linked with a greater risk of developing long COVID. These factors included Type 2 diabetes (at the time of the diagnosis), unusual levels of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the blood (which correlates to the severity of the infection), presence of specific autoantibodies, and signs of the Epstein-Barr virus.

Another study published in Nature Communications found an association between antibody signature and long COVID. Researchers found that after the infection of COVID-19, two types of antibodies started to circulate in the blood: immunoglobulin M (IgM) and Immunoglobulin G (IgG). At first, the IgM levels increase rapidly to help fight the infection. IgG, on the other hand, increases later and provides long-term immunity. When comparing antibody levels in blood samples, it was found that those who developed long COVID tended to have lower levels of IgM at the outset of infection and lower levels of IgG3 six and 12 months after infection compared to those who did not develop the illness.

In addition, these researchers found that antibody levels, along with certain factors like asthma or age, could be used to determine the risk of developing long COVID. These findings could help improve care for long Covid patients.

Children are less likely to develop long COVID; however, it is still possible. More data regarding the prevalence of long COVID in children are still needed. A study found that 14% or up to one in seven children and young people infected with COVID-19 may still have symptoms linked to the virus 15 weeks later.

Symptoms of Long COVID

There is a broad spectrum of long COVID symptoms, some being more common than others. Some symptoms are minor, but others might put a patient in need of continuous care and, if severe, readmission to the hospital. The symptoms are many and can change over time.

According to the ONS, by far, the most common symptom people with self-reported long COVID experience is fatigue, affecting about 51% of people. Other common symptoms include loss of smell (37%), shortness of breath (36%), and problems concentrating (28%). Other common signs and symptoms include (but are not limited to) joint pain, cough, chest pain, brain fog, difficulty sleeping, muscle pain, headache, heart palpitations, loss of smell or taste, depression, anxiety, delirium (in older people), fever, dizziness, rashes, stomach aches, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, tinnitus, sore throat, pins and needles, and more. In fact, long COVID has over 200 symptoms.

Some people experience severe issues such as breathing difficulties, heart complications, stroke, chronic kidney impairment, and Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition that results in temporary paralysis. In addition, it has been reported that some adults and children experience a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome after their COVID-19 infection, in which some organs and tissues can become significantly inflamed. For example, children who develop this serious complication could be left with severe heart damage.

 

long covid symptoms in kids

 

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is an autonomic nervous system symptom that could develop after the COVID-19 infection and persist. This condition affects the circulation of the blood, leaving patients with other neurologic symptoms such as continuing headache, fatigue, insomnia, to name a few.

There are many more symptoms that someone with long COVID could be suffering from. In addition, there is still a lot to unfold regarding how COVID-19 will affect people’s health over time. More studies are needed to identify the relationship between the condition and the symptoms.

How Long Will Long COVID Last?

If you suffer from long COVID, this question probably continues to circulate in your mind: how long will long COVID last? Well, the answer isn’t quite clear yet. The duration of long COVID varies from person to person. In addition, the severity of the initial illness isn’t necessarily related to the length of recovery.

More research is needed, and time needs to pass to identify how long post-COVID-19 syndrome lasts. However, there is reassuring evidence that the symptoms tend to improve over time in most cases. If ongoing or new symptoms occur and you are concerned, you can seek medical advice and support.

The Challenge of Diagnosing Long COVID

The diagnosis of long COVID could be tricky. With no standard definition, a wide variety of symptoms, and no specific guidelines to manage them, long COVID is difficult to distinguish from other conditions.

There are no standard tests that doctors use. They could start by ruling out other probable causes of symptoms, like testing for diabetes, iron deficiency, and other conditions, before providing a long COVID diagnosis. However, researchers are trying to find new ways to test for long COVID.

Prevention and Treatment of Long COVID

The best method to avoid long COVID is by preventing coronavirus infection in the first place. This could be done by practicing coronavirus precautions and getting vaccinated.

It’s very easy to say that the treatment for long COVID is to just ‘give it time’ if you don’t have long COVID. Unfortunately, no single medication or treatment is used to treat long COVID. However, you can refer to doctors and therapists to help address the symptoms. Many large medical centers in various areas worldwide have opened clinics for long COVID assessment and care. In addition, support groups are available. Don’t write off symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or insomnia as ‘all in your head.’ Refer to doctors as they can help.

There are some extra management tips to help with symptoms of long COVID. These tips depend on your symptoms. Physical therapy, breathing exercises, staying active, and other tools could help. Keep in mind, however, that it is a gradual recovery.

Long COVID and Vaccines

Growing evidence has indicated that vaccines could reduce the risk of developing long COVID. In an evidence briefing published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in which 15 long COVID studies were reviewed, it was found that those who were infected with COVID after having two doses of Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca, or one dose of the Janssen vaccine, were half as likely to have lasting (≥28 days) COVID symptoms when compared to those unvaccinated, or only had one dose. In addition, a reduction in longer-term long COVID symptoms (up to six months) was found.

Evidence shows that those vaccinated after their infection with COVID could have reduced long COVID effects. Three out of four studies in the UKHSA review looked at long COVID before and after vaccination. It was found that the vaccinated people had improvements in their symptoms (either directly or over several weeks) than those not vaccinated. Yet, there were a few individuals that had worsened symptoms. More studies are needed to know the effects of vaccination on long COVID.

Final Thoughts

Coronavirus affects people differently. While most peoples’ symptoms resolve relatively quickly, others might experience long-term effects from their initial COVID-19 infection. The exact cause for why someone might develop long COVID is not entirely known yet. Long COVID doesn’t just affect a single population, and it has a wide variety of symptoms.

How long post-COVID-19 syndrome lasts varies from person to person, so a specific recovery duration is unidentified. It is challenging to diagnose long COVID since there is no specific test. In addition, its symptoms could overlap with other conditions. Medical professionals do several tests to rule out the possibility of these other conditions.

The best way to prevent long COVID is by avoiding a COVID-19 infection in the first place. If someone has long COVID, treating it using a single medication or treatment is unlikely. Instead, you can contact your doctors and therapists and visit a long COVID clinic to address the symptoms. You can also try some home tools to aid in easing symptoms. Finally, vaccination is important as it can also help.

5 Impressive Benefits of Methylfolate

There are many different forms of folate floating around. Between folate, folic acid, and methylfolate, it’s easy to get confused. And while many people think they’re all the same, not all forms of folate are created equal.

Some forms are more easily absorbed while others can actually be harmful in excess! This article will break down what folate is, why it’s important, the different forms of folate, and dig into the benefits of methylfolate in particular.

What is Folate?

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is a vital nutrient needed for healthy red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis, and cell division. Folate is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it’s not stored in the body and must be replenished daily. Since your body can’t produce folate, you must get it from food.

Food Sources of Folate

To get more folate on your plate, you’ll want to turn up the volume on these folate-rich foods:

  • Dark leafy greens (especially spinach, romaine, & turnip greens)
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Beef Liver
  • Beans
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Citrus fruits (oranges in particular)
  • Avocado
  • Rice

Ideally, everyone would get enough vitamin B9 by noshing on the whole foods listed above. However, many people suffer from digestive issues or have genetic mutations that impair the conversion of folate into its active form.

Plus, modern farming practices, soil depletion, and an abundance of highly processed food make it challenging to get enough folate.

Symptoms of Folate Deficiency

Since folate is vital to healthy red blood cell production, a deficiency can lead to anemia. Think you might be low on folate? Here are some symptoms of folate-deficiency anemia to watch out for:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen tongue or mouth sores
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Gray hair

Low vitamin B9 is also linked with an increased risk of several chronic health conditions, including depression, heart disease, birth defects, and cancer. This is why many people opt for a folate supplement.

Folate vs. Folic Acid: What’s the Difference?

Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 found in foods we covered earlier. Folic acid is the synthetic form used in some supplements and added to many processed foods.

For folic acid to be usable, it must be converted into its active form L-methylfolate. To do this, your body relies on the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). The trouble is up to 40% of the population carry variants of the MTHFR gene that impair their ability to convert folic acid into its active form.

If you have the MTHFR mutation or struggle with chronic digestive issues, taking folic acid can cause a buildup of unmetabolized folic acid, which can impair immune function.

What is Methylfolate?

Methylfolate, also known as L-methylfolate, is the active and natural form of vitamin B9. Because it’s already activated, methylfolate is more bioavailable than other forms of folate.

Is Methylfolate Better Than Folic Acid?

Compared to folic acid, methylfolate is a safer, more effective option. For starters, methylfolate is the only form of folate that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Plus, studies have found that high folic acid intake can mask or even aggravate symptoms of B12 deficiency.

Also, since methylfolate is already in its activated form, there are no dangers of unmetabolized folic acid. Methylfolate is also the only form of folate effective for carriers of the MTHFR variant.

Benefits of Methylfolate

1 – May Ease Depression

Numerous studies have found a link between depression and folate deficiency. In fact, it’s estimated that one-third of depressed people are low in folate! Research also shows methylfolate can be a helpful add-on to improve the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.

Methylfolate supports healthy mood and brain function by helping your body produce the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. That’s why taking a methylfolate supplement can act as a natural mood booster, especially for those with the MTHFR mutation who struggle with folate conversion.

MTHFR and mood

2 – Supports Brain Health

Research shows people with a folate deficiency are more likely to experience cognitive decline and dementia. Some suspect this is due to the link between low folate levels and chronic inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of numerous chronic illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease.

But there’s good news! Research finds that getting plenty of folate can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Taking methylfolate is an easy way to support optimal brain health for years to come.

3 – Promotes Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. Thankfully, research shows getting plenty of folate reduces your risk of heart disease. So how does it do that?

 

Folate helps metabolize the amino acid homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine can lead to the formation of blood clots and even stroke! Research shows getting plenty of folate lowers homocysteine levels, reducing your risk of heart disease.

promotes heart health

 

4 – Supports a Healthy Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body requires more folate than usual. That’s because folate is needed for DNA replication and numerous enzymatic reactions – all uber important for fetal growth and development.

Research shows getting enough folate can reduce the risk of neural tube defects and other congenital abnormalities. It also decreases the chances of anemia, preterm birth, and pregnancy complications. That’s why most health care providers recommend eating a folate-rich diet and taking supplements like methylfolate during pregnancy.

5 – Reduces Cancer Risk

Research shows folate may play a role in reducing the risk of certain cancers. For example, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people who get enough folate are less likely to develop bladder,  breast, cervical, esophageal, lung, pancreatic, and stomach cancers.

However, there’s a catch. Excessive folic acid intake can actually help cancer cells grow and spread. Who wants to take that gamble? That’s why when it comes to supplementation, you want to be choosy. Methylfolate is the safest way to snag all the benefits of folate without the dangers of unmetabolized folic acid.

TAKE AWAY
Methyl folate is a very popular nutritional supplement that can improve your quality of life on many levels.    It has become the most recommended option for folate supplementation and is a better option to folic acid,  mainly due to the fact that low immune function has been found to be caused by unmetabolized folic acid in the bloodstream.   Benefits of Methyl folate range from improved brain function and mood support to promoting heart health and reduced cancer risk.

 

 

4 Effects of The Pandemic on Children

In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, a constant burden is present on humanity’s shoulders. The fear of infection, necessary social isolation, and altered home-living practices have disrupted the lives of adults and children alike. Families across the country are still adapting to the evolving changes in daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite COVID-19 itself not heavily impacting children’s physical health, its pandemic has shown to have several adverse effects on pediatric health. In a situation that involves constant change, such as a pandemic, children are likely to develop unpleasant symptoms. The altered routine, limited social interaction, imbalanced nutritional intake, restricted physical activity, and frequent pandemic-related news and stress result in children becoming a vulnerable group during the pandemic.

 

 

Medical professionals have reported an escalation of physical symptoms, such as headaches, tummy aches, and panic attacks, experienced by healthy children that have not been infected by the coronavirus. Mental health issues have also increased in children during the pandemic.

This article will dive into the four effects the COVID-19 pandemic has on children’s health.

1. Increase in Headaches and Migraines

Migraines are not just for adults. Children are subject to migraines along with tension and chronic headaches. Migraines are prevalent in about 10% of children ages between 5-15 and up to 28% of adolescents. Also, headaches are one of the most common somatic complaints in children.

Migraine can be considered a disorder of psychobiological adaptation where internal and external environmental factors interplay with a genetic predisposition. Internal and external environmental influences include hormonal, psycho-emotional, psycho-social, climatic, dietary, or other factors.

In children, signs of the severe, occasional headache include not wanting to eat, feeling nauseous, vomiting, looking pale, acting grouchy, etc. Most children’s migraines end within two hours or with the help of medication.

Psychological stressors, such as the pandemic and all things related to it, are potential triggers involved in recurring migraine episodes and headaches in children. In one study, pediatric patients with headaches were asked to fill out a questionnaire. This questionnaire helped identify any changes in headache characteristics and lifestyle factors that occurred after the beginning of the pandemic.

According to the results, chronic or daily headache disorders increased from 30%  pre-pandemic to 49% since the pandemic started. Constant daily headaches also rose from 20% to 32%. In addition, about half of the patients, 46%, reported their headaches to be worse after the start of the pandemic. On the opposite hand, it was also found that episodic headaches declined from 70% to 51%.

According to Cleveland Clinic, the COVID-19 pandemic contributes to the increase of stress headaches children are experiencing. This increase is particularly prevalent with the back-to-school stress children face as they are experiencing more learning challenges and a lack of stability in the academic and social environments.

2. Increase in Obesity

COVID-19 isn’t the only pandemic humans are facing. Obesity is a whole pandemic all on its own and is a major health concern in the United States. Around one in six children are obese. Childhood obesity is a greatly dangerous medical condition that sets children on the path to health problems that were once known to be adult only problems, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Obesity in children can also lead to depression and poor self-esteem.

The COVID-19 pandemic causes significant changes in children’s lives, including alterations in play, socialization, nutrition, sleep, and screen time. With the schools closed, many children lost their access to nutritious food, social networks, and mandatory physical activity. They became restricted to their homes with increased stress and screen time, irregular mealtimes, disruptions in family income, lack of physical activity opportunities, and less access to nutritious foods.

These consequences of the pandemic have led to unhealthy weight gain in children and an increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity. According to the CDC, the body mass index (BMI) of 432,302 persons aged 2–19 years has approximately doubled after the start of the pandemic. Those who experienced the greatest increase in BMI were persons with pre-pandemic overweight or obesity.

According to a study with 2111 young participants, the number of meals and their frequency increased by 50% during the pandemic. That is why, to prevent excessive weight gain, healthy eating behaviors and exercise habits should be encouraged.

3. Increase in Mental Health Problems

With change and uncertainty comes troubled mental health, especially in children. Social isolation, constant exposure to COVID-19 information, parental stress, changes in routine, lack of physical activity, increased screen time, and perceived risks are severely unpleasant to children, if not traumatizing. Such factors might trigger symptoms of mental health issues in children.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety, depression, and mood disorders were the most common mental health issues reported by children. The dramatic changes in their lives along with differences in parental behaviors have shown to be perceived as threats by children and a cause for anxiety. Anxiety can often manifest itself as physical symptoms.

Parental stress is one of the factors responsible for negatively affecting children’s emotional and mental health during the pandemic. In addition, the financial hardships and stress that many parents and families have faced during this time have led to a greater risk of child abuse and neglect.

In a study conducted in Italy and Spain with 1143 parents as participants, it was found that 85.7% of their children experienced changes in their emotional state and behavior during quarantine. Common symptoms included nervousness, restlessness, irritability, boredom, loneliness, worry, and uneasiness.

4.Risks on Child Development

Child development refers to the physical, language, psychological, and emotional changes in a person from birth to the beginning of adulthood. Though data is still scarce, the pandemic could be causing potential risks to the development of children.

The developmental risks due to the pandemic could be caused by confinement, increased parental stress, risk of illness, among other factors. The situation could become an adverse childhood experience that generates stress. This could lead to possible losses of brain development and developmental delays.

Final Thoughts

A child doesn’t have to contract COVID-19 to be affected by it. The pandemic itself could have many adverse effects on children’s health and well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has been shown to increase the risk of headaches and migraines, childhood obesity, mental health issues, and child development issues in children.