Tag: mental health

The Modern Hijacking of Dopamine: Supernormal vs. Ancestral Stimuli

Scientists recently discovered a major difference between humans and apes. It’s not the body hair, or the prehensile feet, or the propensity to fling poop with less-than-perfect accuracy. It’s actually the TH gene, one that directs the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Humans express the TH gene in the striatum, a part of the brain involved in movement, and in the neocortex, which conducts higher-order thinking. Chimps and other apes do not.

Why is this so important?

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21 Books to Begin 2018

The book is an ancient technology whose importance has only increased in modern times. With a book, you gain access to another person’s mind or life experiences. That’s hard to beat. People who aren’t reading are really selling themselves short and missing out on an enjoyable pastime as well as a leg up on the competition.

Here are some fantastic books to dig into this coming year. Most of them are new and deal with health, fitness, and nutrition. Others are about history, productivity, or self-improvement. Some are just fun reads. They’re some of my recent (or long-time) favorites and all great options for people looking to read more this coming year.

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Why Aren’t We Talking About the Cognitive Health Crisis?

If you look at the latest stats, you might assume there’s no cognitive health crisis. The overall number of dementia cases are going up, but that’s because the aging population is growing. Older folks are living longer than ever before, so there are more people around who can develop dementia. Dementia and Alzheimer’s rates are dropping in the Western world. Politicians, those archetypical paragons of cognitive aptitude, are hanging around in office longer than ever. Technology, science, and other fields that require large amounts of cognitive ability are progressing.

But broad trends and large numbers are just statistics. However reassuring they are to public policy analysts, they mean nothing to the individual suffering from cognitive decline. They’re too abstract. Your grandpa no longer knowing who you are? That’s real. You, personally, don’t want to lose your cognitive abilities as you age. You, personally, don’t want to see the people you love get Alzheimer’s. Individual cases matter to those individuals and their loved ones. And it’s still happening more than it should.

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50+ Primal Thoughts, Tips and Recipes for Your Thanksgiving

The team and I are hustling today, getting everything in place before the holiday weekend, and all of us are already thinking about the festivities (not to mention feasts) to come. So, you’ll forgive me if I indulge the holiday spirit and even wax a bit sentimental—just a little. (Thanksgiving IS my favorite, I’ll admit….) And, on a more practical note, let me share some “best of MDA” tips and recipes for making the holiday weekend healthier and happier.

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Adaptogen Effects: American and Asian Ginseng

I’ve been using adaptogens for quite some time, but in the last year I’ve been experimenting a little more with them. You may have caught my mention of a few adaptogenic varieties in one version of my daily big ass salad (not for a flavor hit). I’ve also briefly highlighted ashwagandha and holy basil, and I’ve always been a big believer (and user) of Rhodiola rosea for normalizing stress response.
All well and good. But what’s the backstory on adaptogens? What is there to gain? And what about the other options? 

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ACEs and Primal Health

It’s fair to say that I gravitate towards tangible, actionable subject matter when it comes to improving my own and others’ health. Things like nutrition, fitness, sleep, hormonal responses, and supplement science may seem like a lot to chew on for the layperson, but these are my personal passions as well as my long-time profession.
And while these are certainly the big, actionable players in the game of health, I fully acknowledge there may be more lurking behind the scenes than we realize. A body that refuses to heal no matter how Primal you eat. Stubborn health conditions that simply refuse to fully go away, despite all the changes you make in your life. A propensity for disease that defies everything you’ve learned about ancestral nutrition and wellness. An intriguing new angle in the health sphere suggests the hurdle for some people may be embedded deeper than outer changes can access. 

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Dear Mark: Too Much Serotonin and Broccoli Sprouts

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions from readers. The first is more of a comment, but it brought up a few questions for me to address. Is “more serotonin” always a good thing? Is there such a thing as too much serotonin? And second, what’s the deal with broccoli sprouts? Are they good for us? Has the grungy hippy hawking sprouts next to your meat guy at the farmers market been right all along?

Let’s go:

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7 Alternative Therapies for Depression

As I discussed last month, depression is the yin to anxiety’s yang. Between these two troublemakers, they’ve got dark clouds hanging over both the past and the future, making the present moment complicated at best (and for some people unbearable). Taken as a human composite, it’s an unfortunate trade-off for being cognitively complex. As individuals, however, we naturally just want a solution.
The problem is, there’s just so many confounding factors surrounding depression that it’s hard to know where to start. Your mind is an infinitely complex latticework of moving parts; one which continues to baffle and divide the scientific community. How does a practitioner prescribe suitable treatments for a problem they don’t fully comprehend? And, yet, medical science often (and perhaps inevitably) works with incomplete information. 

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10 Actions for an Anti-Stress Protocol

It almost goes without saying: Stress is at an all-time high. Not the kind of major traumatic stress we see elsewhere, sure. At least in the Western world, there aren’t any horrific sectarian conflicts scouring the landscape and generations to come. Our infrastructure is built to withstand most natural disasters. Our world is safe and predictable and sterile. But we’re stressed out just the same, afflicted with the kind of pernicious, low-level, unending stress that drives people into substance abuse, that promotes depression and suicide and broken relationships. The type that never quits. The kind you just want to drown out with Netflix and Facebook and anything at all to take your mind off the churning within.

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Anxiety: Are Nutritional Deficiencies a Common Cause?

As big-brained hominids, humans have the unique ability to think about the future. The very fact that we can perceive and plan for the time ahead has allowed us to conquer the earth, but it comes with a downside: anxiety. If extreme rumination on past events characterizes depression, worrying about imagined future scenarios describes anxiety.

This inherent capacity and human tendency to think ahead must be reined in and controlled. One way we can do that is make sure we’re getting enough of the nutrients that studies indicate may play an etiological role in anxiety.

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