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Stressed Out? New Study Suggests You Need A 20-Minute “Nature Pill”

stressed outBy Amanda Froelich

The idea of retreating to nature when life gets too hectic is nothing new. For instance, this study suggests that negative ions in natural environments benefit those suffering from depression and anxiety and contribute to feelings of mental-wellbeing. But, for the first time ever researchers have deduced a specific dose of an urban nature experience to counteract the effects of stress. The researchers concluded that a 20-minute “nature pill” is sufficient to significantly reduce stress hormone levels.

“We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” says Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of the research. “Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.”

Credit: Pixabay

The study was published in Frontiers in PsychologyThe researchers hope the finding encourages health practitioners to consider prescribing a “nature pill” before conventional treatments.

As GoodNewsNetwork reports, nature pills could be a low-cost solution to reduce the health effects associated with high stress levels which stem from growing urbanization and indoor lifestyles. Hunter and her colleagues wanted to provide evidence-based guidelines for prescribing a nature pill, so they designed an experiment that gives a realistic estimate of an effective dose.

Over an 8-week period, participants of the study were asked to take a nature pill with a duration of 10 minutes or more, at least 3 times a week. Before and after the nature pill, levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, were measured from saliva samples.

“Participants were free to choose the time of day, duration, and the place of their nature experience, which was defined as anywhere outside that in the opinion of the participant, made them feel like they’ve interacted with nature,” explained Hunter. “There were a few constraints to minimize factors known to influence stress: take the nature pill in daylight, no aerobic exercise, and avoid the use of social media, internet, phone calls, conversations and reading.

Building personal flexibility into the experiment allowed us to identify the optimal duration of a nature pill, no matter when or where it is taken, and under the normal circumstances of modern life, with its unpredictability and hectic scheduling,” she continued. “We also accommodated day-to-day differences in a participant’s stress status by collecting four snapshots of cortisol change due to a nature pill,” says Hunter. “It also allowed us to identify and account for the impact of the ongoing, natural drop in cortisol level as the day goes on, making the estimate of effective duration more reliable.”

Credit: Pixabay

After analyzing the data, the researchers concluded that a 20-minute nature experience is enough to significantly reduce cortisol levels. They also found that if you spend more time in nature (between 20 and 30 minutes), cortisol levels dropped at the greatest rate. Past 30 minutes, additional de-stressing benefits continue to add up, albeit at a slower rate.

“Healthcare practitioners can use our results as an evidence-based rule of thumb on what to put in a nature-pill prescription,” said Hunter. “It provides the first estimates of how nature experiences impact stress levels in the context of normal daily life. It breaks new ground by addressing some of the complexities of measuring an effective nature dose.”

Hunter and her colleagues hope that this study inspires further research in this area.

“Our experimental approach can be used as a tool to assess how age, gender, seasonality, physical ability and culture influences the effectiveness of nature experiences on well-being. This will allow customized nature pill prescriptions, as well as a deeper insight on how to design cities and wellbeing programs for the public,” Hunter concluded.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

This article was sourced from The Mind Unleashed.

Why you need magnesium if you’re constantly stressed or anxious

magnesiumSevere cases of stress and anxiety can be difficult to deal with and may even require medication. Unfortunately, prescription medicines are not only expensive, but they also cause a wide variety of side effects. Magnesium, an important dietary mineral, has been called the “original chill pill” because of its ability to lift mood and improve anxiety. Because of its effects, it is now being considered as a natural aid for stress management.

Magnesium performs many roles in the body. In fact, it takes part in over 600 different metabolic functions. Despite this, it is the second most common nutritional deficiency in the world, occurring even in developed countries.

A deficiency in magnesium has been linked to an increased incidence of depression and anxiety. As proof of this, researchers sometimes induces depression in mice by depriving them of magnesium. The mineral is crucial to preventing and treating depression, thanks to several specific functions:

It increases the levels of GABA

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that the nervous system uses to communicate with its components, as well as other parts of the body. Neurotransmitters are related to specific functions and bodily phenomena. As it happens, GABA is crucial to relaxation.

Magnesium binds with GABA molecules and stimulates GABA receptors in the brain. As an inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA is able to put the brain’s functions on hold, enabling the mind and body to relax and rest.

Low levels of GABA are associated with a variety of symptoms, including confusion, sleeplessness, and stress-related disorders. These include generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and even irritable bowel syndrome.

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It lowers stress hormone levels

Stress leads to the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Excessive levels of this natural chemical have been linked to depression, anxiety, brain fog, memory loss, and other mental disorders. Research indicates that stress triggers the release of cortisol, which begins a cascade of responses that consume magnesium. After some time, magnesium deficiency can occur because of repeated stress responses.

A lack of magnesium causes cramps or tight muscles, which then triggers the fight-or-flight response. When this happens, more cortisol is released and the cycle continues. Boosting one’s magnesium intake helps the muscles relax, thereby ending the exhausting cycle.

It has anti-inflammatory effects

Chronic inflammation in the brain is one of the causes of anxiety, depression, and memory loss. As an anti-inflammatory nutrient, magnesium inhibits the expression of cytokines that trigger inflammation and destroy brain tissue and disrupt brain function in the process.

It stabilizes blood sugar levels

Glucose is the brain’s main fuel. When there is not enough glucose in the blood, the adrenal glands release epinephrine and cortisol, which trigger a stress response. Low levels of glucose, also known as hypoglycemia, is characterized by symptoms similar to those of a panic attack – nervousness, tremors, perspiration, palpitations, and dizziness. Hypoglycemia may also lead to anxiety. Hypoglycemia-related anxiety may be treated not just with diet, but also with the supplementation of magnesium.

Foods rich in magnesium

Consuming the following foods is among the best way to boost one’s magnesium intake:

  • Dark chocolate – This is one of the most nutritious treats you can find. Apart from being rich in antioxidants, copper, manganese, and dietary fiber, dark chocolate also contains plenty of magnesium – enough to fill 16 percent of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for the nutrient.
  • Avocados – This delicious and versatile fruit contains good fats, potassium, B-vitamins, and vitamin K. It also provides 15 percent of one’s RDI for magnesium.
  • Nuts – There are many reasons to love nuts. Most of them are excellent sources of heart-friendly fatty acids, as well as dietary fiber that supports probiotic populations in the human gut. Almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts, in particular, are high in magnesium, with just an ounce (28 g) of cashews providing approximately 20 percent of the RDI for the nutrient.
  • Tofu – This soy product is well-loved by vegetarians because of its high plant protein content, making it a great substitute for meat. It also delivers up to 13 percent of the RDI for magnesium, as well as a bunch of other nutrients.
  • Seeds – These are the very definitions of superfoods – they pack diverse and large quantities of nutrients in very small packages. For instance, an ounce of pumpkin seeds provides about 37 percent of the RDI for magnesium.

Understand your brain better by reading stories at

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Originally posted:

5 Easy And Natural Ways To Beat Stress During The Holidays

stressThe joyous time of the holiday season brings with it several factors that can cause stress to become out of control.  But there a few simple and all natural ways that work wonders for combating that extra pressure this season!

5 Ways To Beat Holiday Stress

‘Tis the season to be jolly, right? But we’ve all been there; the stress can be intense! Many times it’s as simple as forgetting a Christmas gift and realizing you only have $4 in your bank account.  Maybe it’s the extra pressure of spending money and wrapping gifts, decorating your home perfectly, attending all the church events in a timely and punctual manner while making sure you didn’t forget one thing for the perfect Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve done that! One year shortly after my husband and I first got married, I realized I had no poultry seasoning for the small turkey we’d just bought.  Everything was closed in the teeny rural town where we lived at the time and I had to make due with salt and pepper.  To this day, every year, I buy poultry seasoning when I make my holiday dinner shopping trip.  We now have 10 (possibly more) unopened jars of the stuff hanging out in our spice cabinet because I’m afraid it’ll happen to me again!

But this happens to the best of us.  Sometimes it is just too much and we need to de-stress.  So here are a few simple and all natural ways to help you combat the stress the holidays can place on us.

Drink Some Tea

Another perfect way to relax is curled up with a piping hot cup of tea, next to a candle or diffuser. Teas have been known to be medicinal and have many wonderful herbs that will calm the mind and soothe away your holiday stress.  My mother and I frequent a shop in Ft. Collins, Colorado and admittedly, I spend a lot of money there every time I visit her. But the aromas of the Spice and Tea Exchange are unexplainable.  My mind is immediately soothed just walking in the store and being hit with the aroma of teas and spices from around the world. If you know of a similar business in your area, consider going in and asking about teas that will help with relaxation. Oftentimes, chamomile teas offer a calming effect on the mind and coupled with a scented candle, it’ll be hard for the holiday stress to not melt away. Peppermint teas and lemon teas also offer soothing and stress relieving flavors and aromas. Or, you could go for the Sleepy Time tea by Celestial Seasonings that even our small rural grocery store stocks.

In addition to herbal teas, taking a stress-reducing supplement like Xivvium For Stress a few weeks prior to the stressful event can help keep high-tension get-togethers running smoothly. What I like about this supplement is it is a broad-spectrum that combines herbs, vitamins, and nutrients such as 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and Valerian Root to promote stress relief – all the right stuff to help you when you need it the most!

Diffuse Essential Oils

One of the most calming things we can do is ignite our sense of smell.  Using essential oil aromatherapy, this form of stress-relief can trigger the different senses in the brain through smell. Certain oils produce scents that can trigger positive feelings and thoughts in the brain.  Sometimes these scents are more universal, for example, lavender is calming to virtually everyone, while others strike the person a little more personally. Essential oils can also be heated in an oil warmer, used in a bath, or made into candles to diffuse the scent. If you don’t have a diffuser, you can make one at home:

As we breathe in the scents of the oils, our brain is prompted to think positive thoughts, and the scents can stimulate a calming effect. Using essential oils while deeply breathing in through the nose (and smelling the wonderful aroma of the oils) and exhaling fully through the mouth can be one of the most effective ways to destress all naturally, immediately, on your own in the privacy of your own home. In addition to lavender, try diffusing chamomile, ylang-ylang, rose, vetiver, and bergamot to relieve stress.

Meditation or Prayer

The simple act of calming the mind’s constant chatter can help the human body unwind.  Depending on your personal spiritual belief system, you may prefer the term prayer, however, both will have a similar destressing effect on the brain. Prayer and meditation can help you avoid getting too frustrated with the “little things” in daily life and help you look at the “bigger picture.” Spirituality (or religion, if you prefer) can also offer much-needed comfort and strength when dealing with stressful situations.  Relaxing the mind can help us realize what’s important and which things we should let go. Deep breathing while praying or meditating will also help provide oxygen to the brain and keep our body calm as we release the tensions of the day from our body. Breathing deeply will help your body’s functions and breathing slow down. Your heart rate and blood pressure will lower, your muscles will relax and release the tension, and even your brain will become less active.

Light a Candle

This is a personal favorite of mine.  I like diffusing essential oils, and I enjoy my nightly meditation. But there is just nothing like lighting a candle and having the lovely warm glow light up your day. And science has agreed that candles do have a calming effect on the mind. The gentle, mesmerizing quality of their light makes them a perfect aid for any relaxation routine. The low light that comes from a candle is captured by your sight and sent straight to your brain for processing. Because of our associations with candlelight, the body begins to relax both emotionally and physically. You can also take the science of relaxing with candles one step further though; by lighting scented candles proven to transform your mood.  Like essential oils, adding in a calming scent to the soothing glow of candlelight will not only have the waxes melting, but stress melting away as well.

Be Generous

This doesn’t mean that you have to go on a spending spree and be generous with your bowstring tight budget. But, one of the best ways to stay calm, content, and cheerful this time of year is to act generously with your loved ones, co-workers, and friends and the way you compliment them or help them. Tell your co-worker you love her dress, or make sure to compliment the food your neighbor made for you out of genuine affection. You can also generously offer to do loved ones dreaded errand. If a friend is stressed, offer to give her your soothing candle to try or invite her over for a chat and a cup of your favorite relaxing tea. Helping others will always help you and it will be mentally beneficial for everyone involved. And isn’t that really what the holiday season is about anyway?


The joyous time of the holiday season brings with it several factors that can cause stress to become out of control.  But there a few simple and all natural ways that work wonders for combating that extra pressure this season!

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published November 9th, 2018

Why you should learn therapeutic rocking to relieve stress, insomnia, or PTSD

If you suffer from stress, anxiety, insomnia, pain, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), therapeutic rocking can help ease your symptoms.

This natural treatment is beneficial not only for the person being rocked but also for the person doing the rocking. Done properly, therapeutic rocking can be practiced daily to help relieve stress and anxiety.

Dr. Leslie Korn, a clinician specializing in integrative mental health, nutrition, and traumatic stress, considered the benefits of therapeutic rocking when she worked with children who had autism. The children – who were brought to her clinic in Mexico – required “a combination of nature adventure therapy and bodywork.”

Dr. Korn noted that to self-soothe, children in pain tend to rock themselves.

She followed up her work with the children in Mexico with a clinical internship on a psychogeriatric ward at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, a public health hospital in Boston. Dr. Korn was tasked with helping the hospital staff determine an alternative way of treating older and bed-ridden female patients with paranoid schizophrenia.

She offered to rock the patients instead of giving them a dose of benzodiazepines every afternoon. Dr. Korn then rocked the patients as they lay on their sides to help soothe their agitation and to help the patients relax. She noted that the rocking lulled some of the patients to sleep.

During Dr. Korn’s clinical fellowship at a Harvard teaching hospital, she tried therapeutic rocking on patients deemed suicidal and “borderline” suicidal, although the latter were actually trauma survivors. The nurses at the hospital recognized the benefits of this unique therapy.

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Dr. Korn advised that unless they are also dually certified and licensed in bodywork and psychotherapy like her, mental health clinicians should teach the technique to their clients instead.

The benefits of therapeutic rocking

A universal behavior, rocking helps synchronize the brain. The act also accelerates and improves sleep quality. Rocking at all stages of life “engages the template of touch and the inner infant.” While we don’t grow out of the need for this kind of soothing behavior, we simply don’t receive or give it as adults.

Below are some of the many benefits of therapeutic rocking:

  • It can help children and adults manage their anxiety, panic, and pain.
  • It can help couples, partners, friends, and bodyworkers relieve stress or anxiety. (Bodyworkers refer to healthcare professionals who reintroduce touch when healing individuals and they include chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists.)
  • It can help rape survivors who have trouble falling asleep.
  • It can help veterans calm down in the evening.
  • It can improve sleep quality.
  • It can increase sleep spindles, which are linked to the ability to sleep through environmental noise.

The benefits of therapeutic rocking operate on the same principle that is applied to babies who are rocked. The repetitive motion helps babies to relax and eventually fall asleep. (Related: Body Stress Release – A gentle therapy to relieve tension and pain.)

The basics of therapeutic rocking

Here are the basics of therapeutic rocking:

  1. Have the person receiving the treatment lie on their right side, if they are comfortable doing so. Take note that the right side activates the rest cycle of the right brain hemisphere. The right side will help induce sleep more quickly.
  2. Place a pillow under the person’s neck. The person being rocked can hug a pillow at their stomach if they feel comfortable doing this instead.
  3. The person giving the treatment should sit behind the “receiver.” The “giver” will then take their left palm, and with fingers pointed upward or toward the sky, place it directly over the sacrum. The left palm should cover the sacrum, so the outer edge of the little finger is just above the intergluteal cleft before the buttocks. The hand does not have to make contact with the buttocks. Meanwhile, the thumb will be near around the sacroiliac line.
  4. The giver’s right hand should be placed right on the neck on the cervical vertebrae. The hand will cup naturally cup around the neck. The quality of touch required for this therapy is very light. There’s no pressure needed from the giver.
  5. The giver can now very gently begin rocking the sacrum by pushing with the left palm. Minimal movement is required for the rocking therapy to work. The giver can adjust their movement based on the comfort level of their partner.
  6. The rocking can be done for about 10 minutes. The person doing the rocking can give gentle suggestions for breathing. The giver can also close their eyes and continue rocking the other person for at least 20 minutes until their partner falls asleep or feels relaxed enough.

If you or someone you know feels anxious or stressed, try to follow the basics of therapeutic rocking to help them relax.

Read more articles about therapeutic rocking and how it can ease stress or PTSD at

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Originally published:

It is important to prioritize some “down time” – tips for incorporating short respites into your day

It’s not bad to prioritize school or work, but don’t forget to take some time off so you can relax and recharge. Overworking yourself will do more harm than good, and you can even get sick if you don’t get enough rest.

According to a Daily Mail survey, these are 10 common reasons why people are unable to relax:

  • Anxiety
  • “Switching off”/relaxing only increases their anxiety
  • They can’t “switch off”
  • They don’t know how to relax
  • They have a partner
  • They have children to look after
  • They’re busy with their jobs
  • They’re constantly worrying
  • They’re worried about the people relying on them
  • They simply don’t have the time to relax

Tips to help you de-stress and relax

Dr. Megan Arroll, a chartered psychologist, explained that everyone needs to set aside some time to relax. She explained that by winding down and taking a break from our busy schedules, we give both our minds and bodies enough time to recharge. (Related: Tips and habits for banishing anxiety for life.)

Try some of these tips from Dr. Arroll and Dr. Jen Nash so you can destress during a busy day at work:

  1. Be one with your body – Try to analyze your body from your head to your toe. Once you’re in a comfortable position, like sitting down, pay attention to everything going on in your body. Observe how your weight is touching the couch or how your feet are resting on the floor. Continue this exercise then take several breaths before you end the session.
  2. Enjoy a healthy snack – Hunger can sometimes multiply stress. Snack on a piece of fruit or some raw vegetables. You can also eat an avocado or a handful of nuts which are full of good fats that can help you feel full longer.
  3. Go for a walk – Take a 10-minute break and go for a walk. Walk outside, such as around the block, if you’re at the office, or just wander around your house. Try not to focus on your stress, but let your mind breathe in the quiet while you’re walking.
  4. Just breathe – Breathing deeply, like a baby does, can help you relax. Taking deep breaths can help trigger the parasympathetic nervous system that helps minimize stress. Repeat this breathing exercise at least five times every day. You can do it anywhere like when you’re on a walk or before you go to sleep.
  5. Picture yourself in a relaxed state – Visualize that you’re already calm. Visualization can help you relax and de-stress.
  6. Spend time with your family and friends – If you’re spending too much time around stressors at home or at work, take a break and hang out with your friends so you can unwind.
  7. Try some cannabis oil supplements – Participants in the U.K. survey reported that they used cannabis oil supplements to go into a relaxed state when they were feeling stressed.
  8. Watch funny videos or movies – Watch a silly movie with a friend or spend 10 minutes laughing at funny animal videos online. Sometimes all we need is some laughter to help us relax.
  9. Work with your hands – It’s easier to relax when your mind is focused on a simple task. Try hobbies like knitting which can help you go into a relaxed and almost meditative state.
  10. Write your worries down – Making a tangible list of your worries can help you feel better. Once you’re done writing, imagine every item on the list floating away from your mind so you can stop stressing over them.

Originally posted:

Author: Zoe Sky

stressStress can maim, even kill. People who work under tremendous pressure get sick more often. They’re human time bombs waiting to explode.

On the other hand, people who don’t let stress overwhelm them are resilient and upbeat. Their immune system is stronger, so they can fight disease better. They perform better at work and in school. They have energy to enjoy life on their own or with their loved ones.

Thankfully, Mother Nature can help. Here are  nature’s top stress-busters. (h/t to

  1. Magnesium — Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine warns that a tight, irritable, cramp and stiff feeling are signs of magnesium deficiency. So it’s important to have an ample amount of magnesium in the body. Magnesium resides mainly in bones, muscles and brain. It’s the cell’s powerhouse, enabling it to produce over 300 biochemical chemicals in the body, relax nerves and muscles, maintain a healthy immune system, keep the heart beating steadily, and the bones strong. Magnesium is found in avocados, Brazil nuts, brown rice, cashews, dark leafy greens, oily fish, and raw cacao.
  2. L-Theanine — This  amino acid has the effect of a lemon balm.  It soothes your nerves. A study by Netherlands’ Unilever Food and Health Research Institute shows that L-theanine “has a significant effect on the general state of  mental alertness or arousal.” The study also showed that 50mg of L-theanine leads to a rise in alpha brain activity.  Meanwhile, clinical trials at the Cleveland Clinic show that L-theanine increased alpha wavelength and promoted attentiveness, relaxation, and creativity. L-theanine is found in the tea plant Camellia sinensis. This is why sipping a hot cup of green or black tea calms your nerves and makes you less jumpy. You learn to focus on the work at hand.
  3. Vitamin B12 —  The National Institute of Health reports that vitamin B12 promotes the formation of red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body, manage normal neurological functions, and maintain DNA synthesis which are the keys in fighting disease. It heightens  alertness, sharpens memory and concentration, and relieves stress. You’ll find B12 in seafood like clams, trout, salmon and tuna. B12 is also present in  other animal products: grass-fed beef, organic milk and yogurt, and organic eggs and poultry. Other sources of B12 are coconut milk, cereals and nutritional yeast.
  4. Probiotics —  Depression and anxiety —  companions of stress — lead to poor mental health and destroy resilience.  An unhealthy gut flora worsens things by leading to anxiety and depression. That’s why a healthy gut is essential to mental health and increased resilience amidst stress. One way to achieve this is by having an ample supply of Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacteria. Researchers at Ireland’s University College Cork found that Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacteria in the brain ease stress-related problems like anxiety and depression.
  5. Potassium — This mineral lowers blood pressure and promotes maximum muscle function.  Researchers from Australia’s Deakin University concluded that a low-sodium, high-potassium diet lifts the spirits and fights depression and tension.  Leafy greens, especially beet greens and spinach are rich in potassium. Other sources are bananas, avocados and sweet potatoes.
  6. Ashwagandha —  This herb is popular for relieving stress, fighting inflammation, and promoting energy and stamina. A control trial at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine supports the benefits of ashwagandha. Researchers administered different breathing techniques and 300 mg of ashwagandha to a Neuropathic Care (NC) group. A second group got psychological intervention.  The trial took eight to 12 weeks. The ashwagandha group experienced less fatigue, more vitality, concentration, better mental health and quality of life.
  7. Valerian root — This ancient herb is a good weapon against sleeplessness. University of Maryland Medical Center scientists state that  the valerian raises the percentage of the chemical gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.  GABA controls nerve cells, calming the mind and reducing anxiety.

Stress may be an inevitable part of life, but that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to its claws. Read more articles on how you can naturally fight stress at

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Originally posted:


Stressed-out cacao trees produce more nutritionally potent chocolate – new research

chocolateA bite of your favorite chocolate bar can take off the stress for most people – studies have already looked into it – but research has shown that putting cocoa trees under stress can lead to better-tasting chocolate. In particular, drought and other weather conditions have more impact on cocoa production than how the tree themselves are grown. The report, published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, detailed the impacts that different cultivation methods have in the chemical composition – as well as the flavor – of cocoa beans.

Chocolate is the most famous derivative of the Theobroma cacao L. tree, commonly referred to as either cocoa or cacao. Studies have revealed that regular consumption of cocoa protects against inflammation and oxidative stress. In the central nervous system, cacao was shown to improve blood flow to the brain, which can protect against neuronal injury. When used topically, it protects the skin from damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light.

However, cocoa, when consumed in chocolate, can have adverse effects on a person – including weight gain and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Scientists have been quick to point that there is still benefit in consuming moderate amounts of cocoa or dark chocolate.

There are two different ways of growing cocoa. The first method, called agroforestry, involves raising cocoa trees in mixed groves. This allows the plants to receive cool air, as well as vital shade, allowing for a low-stress environment. The other method involves planting trees in singular, “monocultural,” groves, to produce more yield. This exposes trees to elevated levels of stress. To counter this effect, trees produce antioxidants to react against the stress and minimize the damage. However, the increased amount of antioxidants also affects the quality of the beans.

To understand the process behind it, researchers sampled beans from five different cocoa tree farms in Bolivia. The samples were collected from both monocultural groves and agroforest settings and were gathered at the beginning and the end of the dry season. Before its analysis, the beans were fermented and dried.

The researchers found only minor differences in the chemical composition between beans that were cultivated in an agroforest and a monocultural grove – with beans from the latter having more phenols and antioxidant compounds.

What they found to be significant, however, was the effect that weather has on the beans’ chemical composition. During the dry season, the rise in temperature causes soil moisture around the trees to drop. This lead to an increase in antioxidant levels in the beans, as well as reduction of its fat content.

The authors of the study said that these factors, which elevate the stress levels of the cocoa tree, can add to the variability of the flavors of cocoa beans.

The results of this study challenge assumptions made by climate change proponents about the possible extinction of cacao trees. According to them, the trees will die out as temperatures increase, causing warmer and drier conditions that will make cultivation of the trees impossible.

To counter the effects of these so-called “conditions,” the study has proposed using a new technology called CRISPR, which uses genetic modification to “develop cacao plants that don’t wilt or rot at their current elevations, doing away with the need to relocate farms or find another approach.”

This also puts the study at a slippery slope, as genetic modification – aside from being controversial – has some potential risks for both people and the environment. The dangers associated include the increased cases of autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal problems, and chronic diseases, as well as its impact in the ecosystems where it is grown, with it being able to withstand increased amounts of pesticide than those growing around it. (Related: GMOs are dangerous to our health, according to latest independent research.)

Did you know that cocoa has the highest amount of phenolic antioxidants than almost any other type of food? Learn more facts about cocoa and how it benefits you by heading to today.

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Originally published:

Do You Fill Your Days With Noise?

There is no doubt that we live in a fast-paced loud world. Radio, television, computer and cell phone generated videos, music services streamed right to our smartphones, crowds, kids playing, dogs barking, horns honking – do you ever just sit in silence?

If the answer is “no”, you may need to rethink your routine.

Noise is on a basic level – distraction.

The question becomes, what are we all distracting ourselves from?

Why do we feel the need to fill our days with all of this programming and entertainment? Can we no longer just simply “be”?

The act of deliberately sitting in silence and allowing yourself to simply be allows your mind and body to relax and more importantly actually tune in and hear your own inner thoughts. When this becomes a super relaxed state it can delve into meditation.

Meditation and even simply sitting in silence allows you to connect with your higher self. It allows the body, mind, and spirit to refocus. We all need this on a daily basis as it boosts not only your mood but your health and the overall state of being.

Use today as your test day. Just make note of how much noise you are really around, including random chatter. Tomorrow, now that you are aware, take some time to yourself and just allow yourself to sit, breathe and be if only for a few moments. Then compare the two days – at the end of each day checking in with yourself asking “How do I feel?”

Technology is wonderful, friends, family, life in general, but it also can wear down your internal battery. Taking time to yourself is not only important, it’s vital and many of us get so wrapped up in daily living that we sometimes overlook the most important person in our lives – ourselves.

Originally posted:
Author: Sarah Barendse

Try These Probiotics To Boost Your Mood And Relieve Stress

By Adonia Dennis

Looking For A Mood Boost And Stress Reliever? Opt For These Probiotics

Probiotics are a particular series of supplements that have been gaining quite a lot of interest and popularity amongst the general population in the recent years. These supplements provide living microorganisms that offer a lot of benefits for the human body.

Probiotics are now used to treat diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues, assist with regulating the body’s immune response, treat inflammatory conditions and, most recently, evidence has also become available that certain probiotics may also be beneficial for the mental wellbeing of the user.

Top Probiotics To Use For Improving Your Mood

Stress affects how we think, how we feel and even how we behave. While stress is a mental health issue, its effects do not only affect our psychological wellbeing, but also affects our physical health.

Mayo Clinic reports that stress can cause constant headaches, tense muscles, chest pain, fatigue, an upset stomach and even problems with your sleep habits. Experiencing a change in our libido and your interest in sexual activity is also not uncommon if you suffer from a lot of stress. Depression is also a relatively common mental health illness, affecting around 6.7% of American adults, that affects a person’s way of thinking and, of course, their mood.

Several research studies have linked the microbiome of the gastrointestinal tract with the brain. This connection is often referred to as the gut-brain connection or axis. When the diversity of species found in the gastrointestinal tract increases, with particular species in mind, researchers often find that psychological symptoms in a patient improve significantly – with depression and anxiety being some of the most common psychological conditions now being treated by enlarging the number of particular species in the gastrointestinal tract, which then affects the brain.

1. Lactobacillus Acidophilus

Lactobacillus acidophilus is one of the most popular probiotics, often added to dairy products to enhance their efficiency. These microorganisms have numerous benefits to offer the human body, with the effects of the microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract being the most commonly recognized.

Probiotics America reports that recent scientific studies have also proven that Lactobacillus acidophilus has a positive impact on mental health as well, thanks to the fact that it acts upon the gut-brain axis present in the body. They report this particular species of microorganisms have been shown to reduce anxiety and present itself as a natural treatment for depression.

For example, a study whose findings were published in the Nutrition aimed to determine the effects of probiotic intake on depression symptoms. Participants were assigned to different groups where they either took supplements including Lactobacillus acidophilus or a placebo. Findings showed that patients who took this probiotic strain had significantly decreased symptoms compared with the placebo group.

Also, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity featured results of the research which discovered participants who took probiotic supplements for 4 weeks experienced a reduction in negative thoughts associated with sad mood. Participants received Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium strains.

2. Lactobacillus Rhamnosus

The Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacterium species was recently classified as a species of its own after it was thought to be part of another species for many years. This species of bacterium in the gastrointestinal tract is often utilized in the treatment of diarrhea and obesity, as well as to assist with urinary tract infections, peanut allergies, and even dermatitis.

study by the University College Cork in Ireland also provided evidence that ingestion of the Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacterium species has an effect on the neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, which, in turn, has numerous benefits for the psychological wellbeing of the user. Symptoms of depression and anxiety seem to be amongst the top list of affected areas when this particular bacterium species is utilized. Improvements in these diseases may lead to significant improvements in mood.

Interestingly, a study from the Behavioral Pharmacology discovered that Lactobacillus rhamnosus is equally effective as fluoxetine (a drug used to treat depression and OCD) in blocking the induction of OCD-like behavior without side effects. Also, a group of scientists from Canada carried out an interesting research which included this probiotic strain. The primary goal of the study was to evaluate the potential of single bacteria strain to modulate the impact of stress.

Results, featured in the BMC Medicine, showed treatment with Lactobacillus rhamnosus successfully attenuated stress-related activation of dendritic cells (important for the immune system). In fact, this particular probiotic modulated stress without causing an imbalance of bacteria in the gut. Scientists concluded their study explaining their findings confirm the importance of probiotics in the treatment of stress-related disorders.

3. Bifidobacterium Longum

Bifidobacterium longum is one of the first microorganisms to inhabit the gastrointestinal tract of the human body during infancy. Taken as a probiotic supplement, this particular bacterium species can help to protect against infection and pathogenic bacterium species. It can also alleviate inflammation; assist with the treatment of allergies and lower levels of bad cholesterol.

Bifidobacterium longum is also beneficial for individuals suffering from metabolic syndrome and other issues affecting the wellbeing of their gastrointestinal tracts. Furthermore, several mental health benefits have been noticed amongst individuals that have utilized Bifidobacterium longum for mental health. These bacterium species may assist with reducing the symptoms of anxiety, enhancing mental performance, and even to assist with enhancing mood.

The Translational Psychiatry featured an important research which showed that Bifidobacterium longum is strongly associated with reduced stress levels and it plays a major role in improving memory. Another study about this probiotic, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, discovered that probiotic formulation which also included Bifidobacterium longum reduced anxiety-like behaviors and alleviated psychological distress in participants as measured by parameters such as problem-solving, hostility, depression.

Furthermore, researchers at the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institutefound that twice as many adults with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) reported improvements in co-existing depression when they took Bifidobacterium longumthan their counterparts who took a placebo.

4. Lactobacillus Plantarum

This is one of the most important bacterium species in the human body. Lactobacillus Plantarum forms a layer on the inside of the gastrointestinal tract; thus acting as a defense mechanism for the body. This protects the body from potentially harmful bacteria and also prevents the growth of pathogenic bacterium species.

Dr. Jockers report that Lactobacillus plantarum is also beneficial for brain development, reduces inflammation in the brain and can also be useful for certain mental health problems, such as depression and bipolar disorder.

A paper published in the FEMS Microbiology Letterss hows that although the primary mechanisms associated with beneficial effects of Lactobacillus plantarum are known, there is no doubt this probiotic strain improves overall human health and wellbeing.

Additionally, a group of researchers at the Hokkaido Information University in Japan carried out a study to inspect the impact of yogurt containing Lactobacillus plantarum on stress markers. Findings, published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, revealed ingestion of this particular strain improves the immune activity of the user and decreases stress. It’s needless to mention that stress plays a major role in mood disorders.

Probably the best piece of evidence about benefits of Lactobacillus Plantarum on mood comes from Taiwanese scientists whose study appeared in the journal Brain Research. They discovered this probiotic strain has the tremendous potential to change emotional behaviors or, more precisely, to reduce depression-like and anxiety-like behaviors as well as to modulate prefrontal cortical serotonergic and dopaminergic systems.

5. Bifidobacterium Bifidum

This is another group of good microorganisms that reside in the human gastrointestinal tract. They assist with the breakdown of fiber and acts upon the immune system. Bifidobacterium Bifidum also helps to protect the body against potentially harmful pathogens and has a connection with the brain as well, similar to the other species we have discussed here.

A review paper, published on BioMed Central, evaluated the results of several clinical studies. One particular 6-month study on Bifidobacterium bifidum provided evidence of a 40.7% average improvement in the symptoms they experienced due to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. The majority of the participants also provided a positive rating when asked how they felt after the use of these microorganisms.

What makes Bifidobacterium bifidum so beneficial is the fact it reduces both stress and its physiological consequences. Chronic stress leads to far more severe problems and it is a well-known fact depression and anxiety are indicated by some physical symptoms as well. How does this probiotic help? A study whose findings were published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that percentage of participants who reported cold/flu during the 6-week intervention was significantly lower than in placebo group for the average level of stress. Scientists concluded that daily intake of these bacteria provides benefit related to cold/flu outcomes during acute stress.

This is particularly important if you bear in mind that stress weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to viruses including cold and flu. Additionally, a study from the Beneficial Microbes found that Bacterium bifidum strain decreases stress-associated diarrhea and self-reported stress levels in participants.


Stress, depression and anxiety disorders often cause mood changes and reduce a person’s motivation. Fatigue and many other symptoms may also accompany these problems and can be quite unpleasant to a person that suffers from the conditions. Recent studies have suggestions that psychobiotics, certain types of probiotics that affect the gut-brain connection, can assist with treating depression and improving mood amongst affected individuals. We’ve outlined some of the most potent ingredients to look for when buying probiotics to help improve your mood.

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