Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Auto-Brewery Syndrome, 2

Gastrointestinal dysbiosis is a term that refers to a condition in which there is an imbalance of the beneficial microorganisms (e.g., bacteria) versus the harmful microorganisms within one’s intestines. This can occur when individuals are prescribed antibiotics, because they are not very discriminating when it comes to killing bacteria. Sometimes antibiotics can be life-saving. Taking them when it is not absolutely necessary, can contribute to this imbalance. Couple that with a typically high intake of simple carbohydrates (especially sugary desserts) and the presence of yeasts such as Candida Albicans floating around in the intestines—and you have the recipe for Auto-Brewery Syndrome. This condition is characterized by the fermentation of ingested carbohydrates in the gastrointestinal tract of the body with the help of specific types of bacteria and/or fungi (yeasts). More tomorrow.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Auto Brewery Syndrome (ABS)

 Okay. You are a brain-function specialist. Periodically, my husband acts like he is intoxicated but adamantly protests that he has never drunk one drop of alcohol. I have combed the house and checked the trash—no evidence of bottles or cans—although my mother thinks he is lying. Any suggestions?

Yes. Actually, I do have a suggestion. You might want to take him to his physician—sooner than later—and have him checked for yeast infections in his Gastrointestinal Tract. There is a condition dubbed Auto-Brewery Syndrome or ABS. It is also known by other names including: “Drunkenness disease” and “Gut Fermentation Syndrome.” His microbiome (bacteria) may be involved as well as a whole host of types of yeast. If he has taken antibiotics recently, that may play into this as well. Studies have shown that even one dose of antibiotics can pretty much wipe out many of the beneficial bacteria in a person’s microbiome. More tomorrow.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Depressive Disorder, 5

If you find yourself becoming anxious, worried, and continually sad—or angry, as sometimes seen in males—(especially when there has been no specific loss that could trigger this such as the death of a family member or close friend, getting fired from your job or unable to find employment), avoid keeping this to yourself and risking a spiral down into serious clinical depression. 

There are things that you can choose to do, activities that can help you feel better. Go for a walk or a swim or a bike ride or do some other type of exercise that works for you. Choose to think of something for which to be grateful every time you think of something sad and depressing or scary. Limit the time you spend watching sad and stressful events on television. If you play a musical instrument, get it out and play it for a few minutes a day. Drink plenty of water, get enough rest, eat regular meals of quality foods . . . Mental health is often a combination of factors. Talk with your healthcare professional. Contact the County Mental Health Department in the area where you live and ask for a referral or an appointment. Life is too short to spend it living in sadness . . .

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Depressive Disorder, 4

Rates of depression appear to be increasing world-wide. Perhaps not surprising when pandemics are also world-side. There are some interesting tidbits, too. WHO has reported that from 2005-2015, depression rates increased globally by 20%. Studies suggest that people born after 1945 were ten times more likely to experience depression than people born before 1945. An aging population and increasing stress in industrial countries could also be contributing. 

Based on a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the higher a nation’s GNP the higher the rate of depression. Depressive Disorder is a debilitating mental health problem and there are things you can do about it. 
More tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Depressive Disorder, 3

What makes the difference in the highest versus lowest rates of depression by country? 

Some say it has to do with culture, because a country’s culture can have a huge impact not only on an individual’s depression level but on the availability of treatment service and their cost. There is some sense that the countries with the lowest rates of depression have recently begun adding mental health resources for their residents and at an affordable cost. 

Others suggest that, in addition, those countries have worked at destigmatizing a diagnosis of depression (or of anxiety disorder), making it more acceptable to talk about it openly and encouraging its citizens to take advantage of the available resources. 
More tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Depressive Disorder, 2

According to the World Health organization (WHO), the ten countries that post the lowest incidence of Depression are as follows:
          • 1.   Solomon Islands
          • 2.   Papua New Guinea
          • 3.   Timor – Leste
          • 4.   Vanuatu
          • 5.   Micronesia
          • 6.   The Republic of Kiribati
          • 7.   The Kingdom of Tonga
          • 8.   Samoa
          • 9.   Laos Peoples Democratic Republic
          • 10. Nepal
  • Other countries are scattered in rank between the ten highest and ten lowest in terms of depression rates. More tomorrow.

Monday, June 22, 2020

As you may already know, Depressive Disorder is one of the most common mental health conditions in today’s world and one of the leading causes of disability around Planet Earth. This is an increasing problem—even more so during this pandemic. 

According to the world Health organization (WHO), the top ten countries that have the highest rates of depression are as follows:

  •      1.   China
  •      2.   India
  •      3.   United States
  •      4.   Brazil
  •      5.   Bangladesh
  •      6.   Russia
  •      7.   Indonesia
  •      8.   Nigeria
  •      9.   Pakistan
  •     10  . Iran

 The US is third highest in the world. Not a statistic I'd say that makes its citizens want to jump for joy! More tomorrow.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Happy Emancipation Day

If my math is correct, today marks 155 years since the formal liberation of all who had been held as slaves in the Unites States of America. Originating in Texas, it is now celebrated annually on the 19th of June throughout the United States, with varying official recognition. Specifically, it commemorates Union army general Gordon Granger announcing federal orders in Galveston, Texas, on this day in 1865, proclaiming that all people held as slaves in Texas (and more broadly in the Confederate South) were free. Earlier, in September of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln had declared that “on the first day of January … all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State . . . shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” I guess without social media, it took 2.5 years for this edict to reach some parts of the country . . .  Did it take too long to come? Definitely. “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

I understand anger. It is the emotion that surfaces when boundaries have been invaded or crossed. As Aristotle put it: Anybody can become angry—that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.” I choose to have it within my power to manage mine. 

Has this melting-pot nation “arrived at equality?” Not hardly. However, in the last few weeks I have become more hopeful that a nation that practiced “systemic racism” —the love of money is the root of all evil—is turning a corner. There are many more inequalities than racism. Nevertheless, this is a start. When my little French grandmother, whom I adored, moved to the USA, she voted in every election until the day she died. She often said, “Elected representatives make laws and run this country. If you want real and lasting change, vote for those who have a goal—and a record—of promoting equality. If you do not vote, you have voted for the status quo.” Happy Emancipation Day!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain, Emotional Quotient, 4

 Studies have shown that the heart is more than just a collection of muscle cells as once believed. It contains neurons—40,000 or more. They look and function much as do brain neurons; use many of the same neurotransmitters; and eat similar food (neurotrophins). According to The HeartMath Solution and The Heart’s Code, what brain neurons are to IQ, heart neurons may be to EQ. A direct unmediated channel is believed to connect brain and heart neurons. Intelligence and intuition are thought to be heightened by input from heart neurons. Who knew? Because the heart is a subconscious organ, however, it often takes time for information to filter up from the heart to the brain and come to your conscious awareness. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain, Emotional Quotient, 3

How can high EQ skills help age-proof your brain? They can help you reduce or avoid conflict. Low EQ skills increase conflict and conflict is expensive, especially to the aging process. It tends to trigger the stress response of fight-or-flight and increases your risk for illness due to suppression of immune system functions. And that is just the tip of the iceberg as the saying goes. High levels of EQ may help you:

  • Reduce and even mitigate the effects of undesirable stressors
  • Minimize conflict and enhance your relationships
  • Improve your life personally and professionally
  • Realize a sense of personal empowerment
  • Role-model a more effective way to live
More tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain, Emotional Quotient, 2

Unfortunately, the study of Emotional Quotient has been largely ignored in educational institutions in favor of academic abilities. Also, unfortunately, society itself has failed to teach essential strategies for handling anger, resolving conflicts positively, maintaining impulse control, exhibiting empathy, and other key skills of EQ. You were very fortunate if your parents possessed and role-modeled high levels of EQ. That doesn’t mean you chose to develop the skills but at least you were exposed to them and had the chance to experience how the skills worked. Many children don’t have that opportunity because their parents and care providers and teachers didn’t develop EQ skills—for whatever reason. You can only teach what you know. More tomorrow.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Emotional Quotient

Emotional Quotient or EQ can be defined as the capacity for recognizing our own emotions and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions—and the behaviors often exhibited around them—effectively in yourself and in your relationships. The dimensions of a high EQ are skill-based as opposed to the inherited potential for IQ. EQ skills are learned and the good news is that they can be developed and honed at any stage of life. The earlier the better, of course, since estimates are that 50 percent of the problems most people face are of their own making, based on the way they think. Raise your EQ and watch many of your problems slip below the horizon of your life. Such a deal! More tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Proverbs from Africa

The other day I came across proverbs and wise sayings reported to be from several different countries. Some are funny, some sad. All are thought-provoking in their own way. It’s interesting, also, the way a similar idea surfaces in different cultures, often using a slightly different metaphor. I have thoroughly enjoyed every trip to Africa, especially getting to experience Victoria Falls—something that was on my bucket list since I was a little girl. And Botswana after becoming hooked  on Alexander McCall's series: "The #1 Ladies Detective Agency." 

  • If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never spent the night with a mosquito
  • A family is like a forest: when you are outside it is dense; when you are inside you see that each tree has its place
  • A happy man marries the one he loves; a happier man loves the one he marries

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Happiness, 7

Understand that your brain is designed to react more intensely to negative events—perhaps as a safety mechanism. By actively focusing and appreciating the positive aspects of your life, no matter how tiny and seemingly insignificant, you can gradually transform perceived misery into gratefulness and happiness. Practice mindfulness. Establishing peace of mind helps you to be happy. PET Scans have shown that the left frontal area of the brain correlates with feelings of joy, happiness, and excitement. Make your own map to joy. Know your happiness. Write the word happiness in the middle of a large piece of paper. Write what and who makes you happy and why, branching out from the center. List people, places, creative activities, food, spirituality, music, beauty, holding a baby or an animal, reading poetry, attending a funny film, or exercise. How do these things connect? Keep coming back to your map and add to it with insights, a collage, or drawings. Naming your happiness can be as much a spiritual practice as an insight into your lived values, like taking an environmental inventory of your life.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Happiness, 6

Studies have shown that people who spend a lot of time using social media are often less happy than they could be. It is so easy to compare oneself to what other “say” they have. There is reason to believe that much of that is magnified for social media and doesn’t reflect reality. Therefore, you are comparing yourself to a fantasy. Stop the comparison game. It will only result in anxiety and/or resentment. Instead of focusing on other people, focus on your own life. You can only compare your own progress in life. Doing so will help you to become more aware of the importance of your own accomplishments in life. Do something you love every day. Don’t just wish to be happier, do everything that lies in your power to affect this change. Remove from your life what makes you feel miserable. Learn to deal with difficulties in your life that you cannot get rid of. Listen to happy music for 10-15 minutes and choose to be happier because of it. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Happiness, 5

 Gratitude has been found to increase one's happiness. Cultivating gratitude can help you to break free from the rat race of ever pursuing more. By being grateful for what you have, you will gradually start to be more content with your life. You will notice that gratefulness can slowly help you to be happier in your life. Every day be thankful for something or someone. Thank someone for something they did for you. Text someone and tell them you appreciate that they are in your life. Train yourself to be thankful for little things . . . the more the better. Gratitude is the antidote for fear, anxiety, and worry. Fear and gratitude cannot simultaneously exist in the brain. Your life is basically a sum of all the little choices you make. The better your choices, the better opportunity to be happy and to lead a happy life. More tomorrow.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Happiness, 4

A growing body of research suggests that happiness can improve your physical health. Feelings of positively and contentment seem to benefit cardiovascular health, the immune system, inflammation levels, and blood pressure, among other things. Happiness has even been linked to a longer lifespan—providing more years to continue striving for fulfillment. Researchers found that different types of happiness have surprising different effects on the human genome. People who have high levels of what is called eudaimonic well-being—the kind of happiness that comes from having a deep sense of purpose—showed very favorable gene-expression profiles in their immune cells. They had low levels of inflammatory gene expression and strong expression of antiviral and antibody genes. People who have relatively high levels of what’s called hedonic well-being (as in hedonist)—the kind of happiness that comes from self-gratification—show just the opposite. Their genes had adverse profiles involving high inflammation and low antiviral and antibody expression. More tomorrow.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Happiness, 3

Opposites tend to attract in relationships. Often you will see a very upbeat person partnered with a whinner, who is always seeing the glass half empty (although it is impossible to have a glass half empty in real life—it the glass is empty, it is empty!) In short, you are responsible for your own happiness. The realization that you are responsible for your own happiness can greatly empower you. It can help you to stop making your happiness dependent on external influences – such as money, tangible assets, people, and how your career progresses. Remember, within 2-3 years you become a reflection of the people you hang out with. Select a very small group of “happy” people and spend time with them. More than simply a positive mood, happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life—that is, living a life with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction. More to come.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Happiness, 2

Studies have shown that individuals do not only have a happiness “set-point” around which they oscillate, but that they are also capable of resetting this set-point. One particular study even highlighted that the long-term happiness levels of both lottery winners and accident victims were not at all influenced by these events. The scientists noted that the happiness levels of participants from both groups quickly returned to their regular state, despite the initial spikes in happiness or sadness. Studies have demonstrated that listening to positive music may be an effective way to improve happiness, particularly when it is combined with an intention to become happier. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020


I’ve always considered myself a fairly happy person but this COVID-19 hype and isolation is beginning to get to me. I miss my friends. I miss going to the mall and out to eat. I’m even missing people I don’t particularly like very much.

You are not alone. As this COVID-19 drags on, many are finding it difficult to stay upbeat. It is important to do so, however. Since the 1990s, a whole branch of psychology—positive psychology—has been dedicated to pinning down what happiness is and propagating it. Basically, happiness is a choice. Happiness is a choice. It’s as simple as that. People who are rich often are not happy; many who are poor often are happy. It is a state of mind. You can feel sorry for yourself and for the situations life has thrown at you. But you are also capable of not allowing these events to influence your positive outlook on life. If you choose to be happy, nothing will ever be able to reduce your level of long-term happiness. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Dementia Starts Early, 2

Studies are showing that subtle symptoms of dementia may be starting at least a dozen years before any clinical diagnosis of even mild impairment can be made. Subtle symptoms can include, for example: a person’s gait begins to slow down dramatically. Other research has shown that, compared with healthy controls, patients suffering from mild cognitive impairment have a higher blink rate and lower heart rate variability. Circadian rhythm disruptions also seem to occur in the very early stages of cognitive decline. But alone, by themselves, these small changes are unreliable markers of neurodegenerative disease. Several companies are doing studies with smart phones to see if data could be collected that could help with earlier detection. Time will tell. Prevention is the name of the game, however. The healthier a person’s lifestyle and the regular inclusion of challenging mental exercise on a daily basis, the better.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Dementia Starts Early

Is there anything new on the horizon to help diagnose dementia in time to maybe do something to slow its progression?

That is an excellent question and one that others are asking, as well. Estimates are that in America one in ten individuals over the age of 65 are living with dementia. At the projected rate of increase, soon close to six million Americans will be living with this debilitating disease. Touted as the sixth leading cause of death in the US, there are still no drug treatments available to improve cognitive function in people who already have dementia. There are studies to support the idea that subtle changes can precede dementia. If these could be picked up earlier and more reliably, some progress might be able to be made. More tomorrow.