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Our guts and Happiness

16 Feb

Taken from:


It’s no secret that a healthy gut is correlated with increased energy levels, a strong immune system, maintaining a healthy weight, and so much more. But one thing researchers are starting to understand now more than ever is that our gut health has an enormous impact on happiness. “In general, I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable saying that virtually 80 percent of your mental state, well-being, and happiness is controlled by how happy your gut is,” says microbiologist Kiran Krishnan.

Knowing gut health has such an enormous impact on happiness, what can we do to make our gut as healthy as possible? Let’s dive in.

The science behind gut health and your happiness.

First things first: Why does our gut health have so much control over our happiness? “We know a healthy gut microbiome controls our ability to deal with stress, and that starts in your gut,” says Krishnan. “If you have messed-up digestion, you’ll have a diminished ability to deal with stressful situations. And without the ability to release stress and get to a happy mind space, you end up building a higher and higher threshold for stress.”

Plus, your gut health affects your “feel-good” chemicals. According to Krishnan, dopamine production starts in the gut. “The reward centers depend on dopamine, which is released when you eat good food—hence, why we all enjoy a good meal and get a heightened sense of elation from it. If you have severe dopamine issues, you go looking for it in the wrong places, so you drink, overeat, and turn down your sensors.”

Further, serotonin, the other “feel-good chemical,” begins with our gut health. “Serotonin is coined as the ‘happy hormone,’ and 95 percent of it is produced in the gut.”

The top foods for a healthy gut.

While there’s no question that certain foods are more helpful for a healthy gut than others (looking at you, fiber), Krishnan says the most important thing you can do when it comes to food and your gut health is aim for diversity. “A diverse set of fiber-rich foods is key,” he says. “Ultimately, a healthy gut is a very diverse microbiome. I would suggest that instead of eating one sweet potato a day for fiber, eat a small portion of a sweet potato but also add in a carrot, celery, and a mango. All these sources of fiber will give you that diversity.”

He adds that in our Western culture, finding diversity among our food choices is difficult. “For the largest part of human evolution, our ancestors ate 600 types of foods on an annual basis. For context, the average Westerner eats 15 different types of foods.”

How exercise and gut health are intertwined.

One of the biggest issues with having an unhealthy gut is that it leads to leaky gut syndrome, which in turn leads to toxins entering the circulatory system and eventually the brain. This causes lower levels of happiness, mood disorders, and disease. And exercise is a great way to prevent and ease symptoms of leaky gut syndrome. “All you need is 30 minutes of mild intensity exercise,” says Krishnan. “Do it before breakfast, or your largest meal of the day. That seems to reduce the leaky gut effect of eating a meal.”

He also adds that the release of endorphins is great for gut health. “Those endorphins supply the reward centers of the brain and make you feel good about yourself. And when you get your lymphatic system moving, it drains the toxins from your body,” he explains.

Want to learn more about how to get your healthiest gut ever? Here are the best foods to eat daily for gut health.

We’re in a Loneliness Crisis…

16 Feb

Take from:


#truth We do live in very particular times with an increase of technology.


When it comes to health risks, it doesn’t get much worse than loneliness and social isolation. Research shows that loneliness is strongly correlated with risk of heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and lower longevity overall.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a health risk that’s going anywhere anytime soon. The rise of technology and social media has given people a false feeling of connectedness through likes and comments and has led to unexpected phenomena like teens having sex later because they’re not actually spending time with peers (even when it feels like they are) and overall decreased social interaction.

“As a research psychologist, I have studied the impact of technology for 30 years among 50,000 children, teens, and adults in the U.S. and 24 other countries,” writes Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills in an article in the Wall Street Journal. “In that time, three major game-changers have entered our world: portable computers, social communication, and smartphones. The total effect has been to allow us to connect more with the people in our virtual world—but communicate less with those who are in our real world.”

Happiness is other people.

Countless studies have been done on happiness over the years, and they point to helpful findings on how to get happier: Get more exercisegive back, eat in a way that nourishes your gutstart journaling. But the conclusion of 50 years of happiness research, according to Christine Carter, Ph.D., is that there’s no greater happiness than strong connections with people.

“Friendships, relationships with family members, closeness to neighbors, etc.—is so closely related to well-being and personal happiness the two can practically be equated,” she says. “People with many friendships are less likely to experience sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, and problems with eating and sleeping.”

Saying goodbye to the loneliness that is social media.

There’s no question that social media can act as a catalyst for connection. When we connect with an old friend online, that’s great for our happiness—but only if the interaction eventually happens offline in the form of a coffee date or even a phone call. If not, it will only make you feel lonelier in the end.

“While people often turn to social media for instant gratification or validation, connections formed online are typically superficial, and social media can have negative effects on mental health,” says psychologist Nathalie C. Theodore. “Scrolling through social media might make us feel isolated or lonely because we need the kind of support and intimacy that comes from connecting with people in real life. Spending quality time with friends and loved ones satisfies our human need for connection, boosts endorphins, and contributes to an overall sense of happiness and well-being.”


What to do if you’re feeling lonely.

If the news that happiness is other people comes as no surprise to you but you still experience feelings of loneliness, know that you’re not the only one. Quite the opposite: 43 percent of people report feeling lonely—and there’s a lot you can do about it.

“If you are feeling lonely, then take a step to boost your relationships. That could mean reaching out to old friends or acquaintances with whom you have lost touch, such as a text saying ‘How are you? Let’s catch up. Can we meet Tuesday for coffee?'” suggests Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., Author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love. “Or it might mean reaching out to a colleague or neighbor. You might choose to invite them to an event (such as a local art exhibition or speaker). And if you want to meet new people, try finding a group of like-minded people. For example, if you love to cook, take a group cooking class. Or if you are passionate about the symphony, look for volunteer opportunities with your local orchestra.”


5 Depression Management Tricks That Make you Happy Again

16 Feb

Taken from:


Depression is a mysterious illness. Brain scientists and psychologists say that it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain, which is true. The issue isn’t with the diagnosis, but with the treatment.

The problem – and it’s a prevalent one – is the over-prescribing of brain-altering drugs as “the cure.” However, prescription drugs do no such thing. While one may feel some symptomatic relief, drugs merely mask the underlying condition.

This is not to say that prescription medication has no value.  But no drug has been, and likely never will be, marketed as a short-term solution. Therein lies the rub.


Once you’re on the drug, you’re on the drug. To wean off of anti-depressants safely requires tapering, or lowering of the dosage for an extended period.

This tapering process often produces some nasty side effects (see serotonin syndrome and brain zaps). Some of these side effects are so severe in certain people that the physician has to up the dosage again.

Is there a better way? We’ll turn to what worked for some Quora members and let you decide!

Please bear in mind that everyone’s brain chemistry is different. What works for someone else may not work for you. This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.



That’s right. Shake a leg. Boogie. Do the twist. You get the idea. Here’s what one young man had to say about how dancing helped him:


If ever in the life you danced like a drunk, you will come to know that dance is the best mental exercise.” And this young man may be onto something.

Here’s what the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard University says:

“How many of those who are ballroom dancing, doing the foxtrot, break dancing, or line dancing, realize that they are doing something positive for their bodies – and their brains? (Dancing) has such beneficial effects on the brain that it is now being used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease…”


Exercise benefits the brain in many ways. First, exercise stimulates the heart which in turn releases more blood. Blood flow is an important element of cognitive health. Second, exercise releases endorphins which are potent anti-stress hormones. Third, exercise (especially of the aerobic variety) enhances neurogenesis – or the growth of new brain cells.


All of these effects are tremendously beneficial for your overall well-being.

Once again, the young man is right on the ball:

“Workout (is) the best way to release anger. The more angry you are, (the greater) will be your workout. And once you are done with you workout your anger will be gone and you will be more relaxed. If you talk about depression, it will motivate (you) to (go) workout.”


Travel can be a bit difficult due to time constraints. One way around this limitation is to rethink what it is to “travel.” We needn’t take a flight to somewhere, book an expensive hotel, or arrange transport. Simply getting away from it all is good enough.

“The other way to get rid of (depression) is to travel alone. Plan a trip to any hill station ( a town in the low mountains of the Indian subcontinent) … When you come back from the trip you will find your mind healthy.”

You probably don’t live in India as this young man does, but you get the idea. There’s a beautiful and peaceful place not too far from you. Will you go?




A former competitive runner and epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives some valuable advice:

– “Vitamin therapy in which large doses of vitamin B is ingested regularly under the supervision of a doctor.”

– “Fairly vigorous exercise has been shown to release the same neurotransmitters as antidepressant medications.”

– “Reducing sugar intake and eating less processed foods including gluten.”

– “Meditation and deep breathing exercises.”

Finally, another piece of valuable advice:

“Claims of depression cures are often used to see products that may be useless or only work for those who believe (because) a television personality or celebrity doctor says so.”


Once again, please understand that depression is a neurochemical imbalance that requires patience, diligence, and possibly medical intervention to overcome.

It’s a tough illness to deal with at times, and many people do so in their own way.

But perhaps happiness can be found in some … well … other places!

The warm-hearted answer from the same young man mentioned prior deserves some page space! Here are, once again, some of his suggestions:

“Find a room alone and a mirror. Stand in the of the mirror, (stick) your tongue out and start jumping. Your mood will be light soon.”

“The other way (is) to hangout with (friends).”

“These are the ways that will help you with the depression.”

Gotta love the enthusiasm!

And if you cracked a smile reading his answer, we’re heading in the right direction.

Researchers Reveal 5 Habits of People Who Hurt their Mental Health

16 Feb

Taken from:


Researchers Reveal 5 Habits of People Who Hurt Their Mental Health

mental health

“Modern life is not good for mental health.” – Jean Twenge, sociologist

The above quote is a short but potent statement that asserts what many of us likely think on a daily basis but never say. We live in a world where we have almost everything at the push of a button or flick of the wrist, yet mental health issues have been on the rise. Compared to our ancestors, we have it pretty good. We have air conditioning when it’s hot and heat when it’s cold, delivery services that can pick up our dinner and bring it to our doorstep, and machines that wash our clothes for us. We really don’t have to work very hard for things anymore, but we have less leisure time and more stress. This paradox of having it all yet being unhappy can seem confusing, but when you look a little deeper, it all makes sense.

We have created a world that we really don’t thrive in, and as a result, our moods and physical health suffer. Because of technology, our lives have become easier, but easy doesn’t always equal better. Humans need fresh air, sunshine, food from nature, exercise, and human connection to thrive. Modern life doesn’t provide these things very easily, hence the mental health crisis.

We’ll go into more detail below about what habits and lifestyles can lead to poor mental health.



We have more health care, but less health than ever. You hear about people having heart problems, diabetes, and other health ailments at younger ages now, and our modern life is likely to blame. Years ago, before we had all this machinery and convenience, we would actually have to work to get food, water, and shelter. We lived closer to nature, which by default required us to move around to acquire what we needed. Now, we live in big cities where we don’t have to do anything but get in the car and drive to a grocery store for food, and work long hours sitting at desks to pay for shelter.

Lack of movement, aside from causing poor physical health, has also been shown to increase anxiety and depression. Exercise releases endorphins that help to boost your mood, which can combat the most prevalent mental health problems we see today: anxiety and depression.


Humans are easily influenced by the habits of those around us, and sadly, many people buy things they really don’t need, whether out of habit or to try to fill a void in their life. However, studies have shown repeatedly that more “stuff” can’t ever buy happiness. In fact, accumulating too many things we don’t need can cause anxiety and stress. Research shows that buying experiences, not things, can increase happiness, because people connect more to things they do rather than things they can use. 



You guessed it: lack of sleep and anxiety/depression have a direct link between each other. We absolutely need quality sleep in order to function, but modern life doesn’t emphasize sleep very much. Technology, stress, lack of exercise, poor diet, and many other factors can contribute to inadequate sleep, which can exacerbate mental health issues. Not to mention, all of the caffeine we drink throughout the day to keep us alert can lead to poor sleep at night, too.


It comes as no surprise that when mobile technology began to increase, we saw an increase in mental health problems, too. One study found that people who spend extended periods of time on social media are more likely to develop depression.

Before smartphones, people would talk face-to-face more often and have deeper conversations, because they didn’t have so many distractions right in front of them. Now, we have more distractions than ever, and are less present and mindful in the real world. Because of our constantly plugged-in world, we are less connected with ourselves and the people around us. This disconnect between ourselves and reality has led to an epidemic of anxiety and depression, unfortunately.


We absolutely need nature in order to survive, but yet, we seem to have built a world that shelters us from it. This doesn’t make much sense, does it? A lack of sunlight means less Vitamin D in your body, an essential nutrient that helps regulate your mood and immune system, among other things. Plus, studies have shown that people who walk through parks rather than city streets are calmer and less frustrated. Go figure.

Final thoughts

Our modern life may not paint a picture of perfect health, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow along with “the norm.” Make sure you allow yourself fresh air, sunshine, healthy foods, plenty of sleep, exercise, and a stress-free environment as much as possible. Doing these things plus limiting technology use and buying things in excess will afford you a better outlook on life, and therefore, better mental health!

Researchers Reveal: People Who Stay Away from Depression Do These 5 Things

16 Feb

Take from:


There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”– Laurell K. Hamilton

If you’ve ever had depression, it’s difficult to describe just how deep those wounds go within your soul, and how it feels to have to fight through every day. Living with depression can feel like drowning in your own head, with nothing around to hold onto. Unfortunately, studies show that those who have had depression at any point in the past have about a 50% chance of relapsing; after a second episode of depression, the relapse rate goes up to 70%, and after the third, up to 90%. This isn’t meant to further depress anyone, but to simply provide insight and show how damaging depression can be if left untreated.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid relapsing into depression as long as you have the willingness to implement the practices in your own life.


Researchers Reveal: People Who Stay Away From Depression Do These 5 Things


“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”– Laurell K. Hamilton

If you’ve ever had depression, it’s difficult to describe just how deep those wounds go within your soul, and how it feels to have to fight through every day. Living with depression can feel like drowning in your own head, with nothing around to hold onto. Unfortunately, studies show that those who have had depression at any point in the past have about a 50% chance of relapsing; after a second episode of depression, the relapse rate goes up to 70%, and after the third, up to 90%. This isn’t meant to further depress anyone, but to simply provide insight and show how damaging depression can be if left untreated.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid relapsing into depression as long as you have the willingness to implement the practices in your own life.


They say that an idle mind invites demons to play, because it gives you a lot of time to ruminate, which can lead to a depressed state of mind. Avoiding a relapse into depression can be as simple as having a routine and sticking to it. However, make sure you don’t just keep yourself busy for the sake of being busy – have activities in your schedule that you actually enjoy.

For example, maybe you could take yoga classes a few times a week after you get off work, or get a gym membership if you enjoy that type of exercise.

Speaking of which…




By simply googling “depression and exercise,” you can find a plethora of studies citing the benefits of exercise for depressive symptoms. Exercise doesn’t just help you keep excess weight off and build muscle; it can literally rewire your brain and improve your mood. Most people think of exercise as a chore or as something unpleasant, but it doesn’t have to be.

You can exercise in thousands of different ways, so there’s bound to be something out there that works for you! If you don’t like gyms, you can try to find a club in your area that gets together for organized sports, or take up hiking or biking if you like solo activities. There’s something out there for everyone; you just have to get up and try out different things to discover how YOU like to move your body!


No one is perfect, and there are days when you won’t feel so good about yourself. However, you have to remember that you are your own worst critic, and in reality, you’re probably doing an amazing job in life. We can only see things through the lens of our own thoughts, so when you get down on yourself, try to adjust your lens a little bit. Keep in mind that this life isn’t easy, and there’s not a single person out there who has it mastered completely.

Be kind toward yourself, and remember to make yourself a priority every once in a while. Take the time you need to unwind, recharge, and feed your soul – you deserve it.