My patients all know how strongly I advocate eating whole foods that they prepare for themselves, avoiding the poisonous industrial crap the "food" industry fills the middles of stores with. I believe in eating a good autoimmune-oriented, individualized diet that will reduce inflammation in your body and brain, provide vital nutrients, and avoid many substances that gum up or poison your system in various ways. Good mental health starts with a healthy diet and and healthy body. (A terrific place to start learning about such diets is Loren Cordain's classic book, The Paleo Answer. ) That said, sometimes it is difficult to avoid toxins in our modern world, including the ubiquitous pesticides and herbicides that are spread all over our farms. I recently found a great article
on the prevalence of such toxic chemicals -- even on organic produce! It turns out that if a chemical is derived from "natural sources", it is deemed usable on organic farms without nixing the label "organic". A problem: you betcha!
We know we need healthy vegetables and fruits to get all the nutrients our systems require but we don't want to poison ourselves in the bargain. Every year the Environmental Working Group compiles a list of the most ("Dirty Dozen") and least ("Clean Fifteen") contaminated produce items. These are foods that we definitely want some of in our diets (DD, e.g., strawberries, apples, cherries, tomatoes). How do we ensure they are clean as possible of poisons? This great article compares several ways of washing produce and shows that using a bit of baking soda in water and briefly soaking them and washing them off removes the most of offensive chemicals. Good to know, good to do.
These poisons have been shown to disrupt hormones, cause neurodegenerative diseases, and to proportionately affect children the most, causing IQ drops, learning disabilities, behavioral problems like ADHD; most are potent neurotoxins.
Check this article out and start using the simple procedure to protect you and your loved ones. Just need to do it a few times til it becomes reflexive habit.
Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, ... doubling your risk of cancer.... Inadequate sleep -- even moderate reduction for just one week -- disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic ... increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, setting you on a path toward cardiovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure. ... (and) contributes to all major psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, and suicidality." -- WHY WE SLEEP, by Matthew Walker, Ph.D.
So begins Dr. Walker's excellent resource book on sleep. It has kept me up at nights.
I find his writing very accessible and packed with interesting information, some old and some new. He addresses a wide range of questions about sleep: the effects of caffeine, jet lag, melatonin, how much to sleep, changes in sleep across our lifespans, how sleep keeps your brain healthy, the nasty effects of sleep deprivation on brain and body, stages of sleep, dreams, various sleep disorders, stimulation that prevents good sleep (screen viewing, noise, alcohol, etc), the problems with some medical sleep "aids" vs therapy, and what Google and NASA do to promote good sleep that works.
Dr. Walker, Director of UC Berkeley's Center for Human Sleep Science, provides many tips for getting better sleep, enough sleep, sleep that detoxifies the brain. He fills this volume with small captivating tidbits on the effects of both good and poor sleep that make you take notice: e.g., sleep profoundly affects your response to a standard flu vaccine -- good sleep prior to receiving a vaccine means you mount the powerful antibody response of a strong immune system; sleep restriction before vaccine means a paltry response -- the vaccine essentially does not provide protection. Even then getting 2-3 weeks of good recovery sleep doesn't mean a good immune response!
Do you know the optimal room temp for best sleep? What affects this response? Why it matters? Want to stave off neurodegenerative diseases? Does sleep fragment more as we age? Why? Can we shift this? All of these are questions addressed in this volume, citing many reference scientific studies and a wide range of authors.
I recommend this book as a great place to start learning about how to live a better life when awake through living a better life asleep.
About The Author
I am a lifelong learner who has undergrad math, physics, and psychology degrees, a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Duke University, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from U of M. I have spent my life learning about nutrition, sleep, inflammation, exercise physiology, neurofeedback, psychological assessment, and many psychotherapies including Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy.