Sleep Is At The Heart Of Almost All Mental Health Issues (M)

Whether it is anxiety, schizophrenia, Tourette’s or depression, all have circadian rhythm disruption in common.

Whether it is anxiety, schizophrenia, Tourette's or depression, all have circadian rhythm disruption in common.

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Vaping Is Linked To Brain Fog And Memory Loss

Vaping is linked to brain fog and memory loss by research involving almost 1 million people.

Vaping is linked to brain fog and memory loss by research involving almost 1 million people.

Vaping is linked to brain fog: problems with memory, concentration and making decisions, research finds.

While e-cigarettes have been touted as ‘healthier than real cigarettes’, they can produce a brain fog as well as a literal one.

Vapers are at three or four times the risk of experiencing a brain fog than those who have never used them, the study revealed.

Dr Dongmei Li, study co-author, said:

“Our studies add to growing evidence that vaping should not be considered a safe alternative to tobacco smoking.”

Brain fog and memory loss

The results come from two major national surveys including almost one million people.

The surveys asked people about their vaping habits and any problems with attention, memory and concentration.

Both studies found that more vaping was linked to greater problems with mental function.

Smoking regular cigarettes plus vaping together was linked to the greatest problems.

The study also found that vaping is more strongly linked to brain fog if started before age 14.

More than one-quarter of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2019.

The number of young people vaping is of particular concern, Dr Li said:

“With the recent rise in teen vaping, this is very concerning and suggests that we need to intervene even earlier.

Prevention programs that start in middle or high school might actually be too late.”

Adolescence is a critical period for brain development, the study’s authors write:

“During adolescence, the brain is still developing and vulnerable to neurotoxicants like nicotine.

Previous studies on cognitive effects of nicotine have found that early exposure to nicotine could impact the brain development in youth and lead to cognitive deficits in later life.”

Although e-cigarettes deliver fewer dangerous compounds, they provide as much or more nicotine.

The study’s authors write:

“During the past few years, e-cigarette use has increased substantially and e-cigarettes have become the most widely used tobacco product among youth.

In 2019, about 27.5% of high school students and 10.5% of middle school students reported use of e-cigarettes in the US, which suggests that around 4.1 million high school students and 1.2 million middle school students have used e-cigarettes in 2019.”

The researchers plan to track people over time to test if vaping leads to brain fog and memory loss or the other way around.

The design of these studies does not make it clear.

The studies were published in the journals Tobacco Induced Diseases and PLOSONE (Xie et al., 2020; Xie et al., 2020).

The Best Diet For Good Mental Health

The ten best foods to feel more positive about life and have a lower risk of depression.

The ten best foods to feel more positive about life and have a lower risk of depression.

Eating more raw fruits and vegetables is linked to better mental health, research finds.

Those who eat more raw fruit and vegetables tend to feel more positive about life and have a lower risk of depression.

The maximum benefit to mental health came from just over 6 servings of raw fruits and vegetables per day, the study found.

Cooked and canned vegetables do not provide the same boost to mental health.

Apples and raw bananas were particularly effective for mental health.

Other studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is good for mental health.

One study has found that the Mediterranean diet could reduce the risk of depression by up to one third.

Here are ten typical ingredients of the Mediterranean diet:

  • Green leafy vegetables,
  • other vegetables,
  • nuts,
  • berries,
  • beans,
  • whole grains,
  • fish,
  • poultry,
  • olive oil,
  • and wine.

Switching to a healthy diet including fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil could reduce depression symptoms in just three weeks, one study has found.

Even relatively small changes to diet have been shown to have a positive effect on mental health.

For the current study, though, over 400 people in the US and New Zealand were surveyed about what they ate and their mental health.

The results suggest that the ten best foods for mental health are:

  1. carrots,
  2. bananas,
  3. apples,
  4. dark leafy greens such as spinach,
  5. grapefruit,
  6. lettuce,
  7. citrus fruits,
  8. fresh berries,
  9. cucumber,
  10. and kiwifruit.

Dr Connor, study co-author, explained:

“Controlling for the covariates, raw fruit and vegetable consumption predicted lower levels of mental illness symptomology, such as depression, and improved levels of psychological wellbeing including positive mood, life satisfaction and flourishing.

These mental health benefits were significantly reduced for cooked, canned, and processed fruits and vegetables.

This research is increasingly vital as lifestyle approaches such as dietary change may provide an accessible, safe, and adjuvant approach to improving mental health.”

Best diet changes with age

There is some evidence that the best diet for mental health changes with age.

The mood of young people — aged between 18 and 30 — benefits from neurotransmitter precursors provided by foods like meat.

However, mature adults are in a better mood if they eat foods that boost their antioxidant levels, such as fruit.

Foods to avoid

Whatever age you are, though, one food to avoid for good mental health is sugar.

Research finds that a high sugar intake is linked to anxiety and depression.

Similarly, fast foods, cake and highly processed meats are also linked to worse mental health.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (Brookie et al., 2018).

The Everyday Activities That Boost Mental Health

The activities can ward off mental health problems.

The activities can ward off mental health problems.

Simple, everyday activities like walking and climbing the stairs help to ward off mental health problems, research concludes.

People who are vulnerable to psychiatric problems seem to benefit even more from little exercises like these.

Feeling alert and full of energy from brief exercise provides a sizeable boost to mental health, the researchers found.

The study’s authors write:

“Climbing stairs every day may help us feel awake and full of energy.

This enhances well-being,”

Simple exercises that can be done indoors and during the pandemic are particularly important, said Professor Heike Tost, study co-author:

“Currently, we are experiencing strong restrictions of public life and social contacts, which may adversely affect our well-being.

To feel better, it may help to more often climb stairs.”

The conclusions come from a study of 67 people whose everyday activities were tracked along with their moment-to-moment emotional states.

The results showed that people felt more alert and bursting with energy after simple daily activities, like climbing the stairs or even walking around.

Brain scans were also carried out on a separate group of 83 people to examine the processes involved.

These showed that an area of the brain called the subgenual cingulate cortex is critical to how everyday activities affect people’s emotional state.

Professor Tost said:

“Persons with a smaller volume of gray brain matter in this region and a higher risk of psychiatric disorders felt less full of energy when they were physically inactive.

After everyday activity, however, these persons felt even more filled with energy than persons with a larger brain volume.”

Professor Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, study co-author, concluded:

“The results suggest that physical activity in everyday life is beneficial to well-being, in particular in persons susceptible to psychiatric disorders.”

Dr Urs Braun, study co-author, said:

“It remains to be studied whether everyday activities may change the well-being and the brain volume and how these results may help prevent and treat psychiatric disorders.”

The study was published in the journal Science Advances (Reichert et al., 2020).

How Night-Time Eating Affects Mental Health (M)

The researchers designed a study that simulated night work and tested how different eating schedules affected people’s mood.

The researchers designed a study that simulated night work and tested how different eating schedules affected people's mood.

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The Simplest Way To Improve Your Mental Health

This modern habit is on the rise — and it is no good for your mental and physical health.

This modern habit is on the rise — and it is no good for your mental and physical health.

Too much sitting down is killing people — and it is on the rise, according to the latest data.

Getting up and moving about, though, is linked to less anxiety, more happiness, positive changes in personality and even a boost to cognitive function.

Unfortunately, in just over a decade, US adults have increased their average sitting time each day from 5.5 hours to almost 6.5 hours.

Among adolescents, the figure has gone from seven hours per day in 2007 to eight hours per day in 2016.

Time spent in front of a screen increased substantially during this period.

One-quarter of people said they used their computer outside of work or school for at least three hours per day.

Inactivity is linked to a wide range of diseases including heart problems, obesity, diabetes and certain cancers.

Dr Yin Cao, study co-author, said:

“In almost none of the groups we analyzed are the numbers going in the right direction.

We want to raise awareness about this issue on multiple levels — from individuals and families to schools, employers and elected officials.”

The conclusions come from an analysis of over 51,000 people in the US of all different ages who were surveyed between 2001 and 2016.

It tracked how much time people spent sitting, including in front of TVs and computers.

Professor Graham A. Colditz, study co-author, said:

“How we create public policies or promote social change that supports less sitting is unclear and likely to be complicated.

If a neighborhood in a disadvantaged community is unsafe, for example, parents can’t just send their kids outside to play.

Our environments — the way our cities, our school days and working days are designed — play roles in this behavior that are difficult to change.

But at least now, we have a baseline from which to measure whether specific changes are having an impact.”

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Yang et al., 2019).

The 3 Pillars Of Good Mental Health

These are three factors that you can change.

These are three factors that you can change.

Exercise, quality sleep and eating raw fruits and vegetables are the three pillars of good mental health, a study suggests.

Among the 1,100 young adults who were surveyed for the research, those who slept well, did more exercise and ate better were more likely to be flourishing.

Out of these, quality sleep was most strongly linked to better mental health, followed by exercise and then diet.

The finding that sleep quality rather quantity was so important was surprising, said Ms Shay-Ruby Wickham, the study’s first author:

“This is surprising because sleep recommendations predominantly focus on quantity rather than quality.

While we did see that both too little sleep — less than eight hours — and too much sleep — more than 12 hours — were associated with higher depressive symptoms and lower well-being, sleep quality significantly outranked sleep quantity in predicting mental health and well-being.

This suggests that sleep quality should be promoted alongside sleep quantity as tools for improving mental health and well-being within young adults.”

The study’s results showed that those who slept an average of 8 hours had the highest mental well-being.

Those sleeping almost 10 hours, though, had the lowest chance of developing depressive symptoms.

People in the study were in their early 20s, however, and generally we require less sleep with age.

Having too much sleep is generally considered almost as bad as having too little.

Diet also played an important role in mental health.

Those who ate 5 servings of raw fruit and vegetables per day had the highest mental-wellbeing and those who ate less than 2 servings each day had the worst.

Ms Wickham said:

“Sleep, physical activity, and a healthy diet can be thought of as three pillars of health, which could contribute to promoting optimal well-being among young adults, a population where the prevalence of mental disorders is high and well-being is suboptimal.”

Dr Tamlin Conner, study co-author, warned that the findings were correlational:

“We didn’t manipulate sleep, activity, or diet to test their changes on mental health and well-being.

Other research has done that and has found positive benefits.

Our research suggests that a ‘whole health’ intervention prioritising sleep, exercise, and fruit and vegetable intake together, could be the next logical step in this research.”

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (Wickham et al., 2020).