Help Ease Inflammation With Hollyhock

2 months, 22 days ago

Table of Contents

What Is Hollyhock?
Health Benefits of Hollyhock
Hollyhock Uses
How to Grow Hollyhocks
Spring Salad Recipe With Hollyhock Flowers
Harvesting and Storing Hollyhock Seeds
Hollyhock: A Beautiful and Useful Addition to Your Garden
Frequently Asked Questions About Hollyhock

Hollyhock, or Alcea rosea, is an herb known for its vibrant and attention-grabbing flowers, with colors ranging from light pink to dark purple. Aside from its beautiful blooms, hollyhock is also well-known for its medicinal purposes. If you have hollyhock plants growing in your garden or backyard, you’re in luck, because you can use them to help ease a few common conditions naturally and safely. Continue reading to learn more about this plant and how it can help improve your health.

What Is Hollyhock?

The term “hollyhock” is generally used as a collective term for the genus Alcea, which consists of approximately 60 flowering varieties.1 This article will focus on Alcea rosea, which is the most common species of all the Alcea plants.2

Hollyhock was originally from China, where it was eaten as a potherb. It is typically abundant in Europe and Asia, but also thrives in the U.S. and other regions due to its hardy nature. One of the possible reasons this plant is called hollyhock is because the first plants sent to Southern Europe came from the Holy Land.

In earlier times, hollyhock was especially popular among the Spanish, who thought it to be the perfect reflection of God’s love because the plant was extremely enduring.3 Over the years, however, its popularity as a garden plant has waned due to its susceptibility to multiple diseases and pests, especially a fungus gardeners call “rust.”

Rust, or Puccinia malvacearum, usually grows on hollyhock leaves and can cause them to become severely disfigured. While hollyhock rust may cause you to have second thoughts about planting your own hollyhock herbs, there are ways to prevent it from infecting your beloved plants.4

What Are the Health Benefits of Hollyhock?

Hollyhock may be a beautiful addition to anyone’s garden or yard, but its benefits transcend the exquisiteness of its flowers. Aside from its gardening uses, hollyhock is incredibly useful when it comes to your health. Some of the benefits it has are:

• May help ease digestive problems — Throughout history, hollyhock has been lauded for its positive effect on the digestive system. An 1859 medical book notes that hollyhock blossoms were mixed with poplar bark, bayberry, goldenseal and other herbs to promote digestion and “warm the stomach and bowels.”5

• Soothes cold symptoms — Hollyhock was brewed as tea to calm respiratory ailments. Arabians and Costa Ricans were noted to drink sweetened hollyhock tea to ease coughs and sore throat.6

• May relieve inflammation — Brazilians and Chileans use hollyhock leaves as a poultice to alleviate inflammation and tumors. Hollyhock seeds may also be crushed and applied topically to treat abscesses.7

How Is Hollyhock Used?

Aside from being an ornamental plant, you can use hollyhock as a:

• Natural cotton or fabric dye — Hollyhocks have been used to dye cotton for over 200 years. In fact, the oldest documentation of dyeing using hollyhock flowers dates back to the 19th century. Germans first started using hollyhock to add color to wine, but later began using it on fabric as well. Hollyhock flowers in lighter shades produce a yellow to a golden brown hue, while the darker variants produce shades that can be as light as lilac or as dark as deep mauve.8

• Recipe ingredient — Young hollyhock leaves, flowers and the inner portion of hollyhock stems may be eaten raw or added to salads.9

• Tea — Hollyhock flowers and buds may be brewed into a tea for a refreshing beverage.10

Here’s How You Can Grow Hollyhocks

Growing your own hollyhock plants is relatively easy, as long as you make sure they get enough sunlight and moisture. These plants can reach a whopping 9 feet tall, which makes them suitable for growing near walls or fences. They are also especially appealing to both butterflies and hummingbirds. To grow your own hollyhocks, follow this step-by-step guide:11,12

Directions

1. Find a suitable location that is exposed to either full sun or partial shade.

2. Prepare the soil by working compost or aged animal manure into it. This will improve the soil’s ability to hold nutrients and moisture.

3. Sow hollyhock seeds one to two weeks after the last frost. Plant them no more than 1/4 inch deep and maintain spacing of 2 feet between plants.

4. The seeds will germinate within 10 to 14 days. Water the plants regularly.

Note that hollyhocks are very vulnerable to certain pests and fungal diseases, including beetles, sawflies, powdery mildew and rust, with rust being the most damaging. Below are two tips on how to significantly lower your plants’ susceptibility to rust:13

• Employ soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Avoid using overhead watering to limit the moisture on the aerial portion of your hollyhocks.

• Maintain proper space between your plants to promote better air circulation. As mentioned, give them at least 2 feet of breathing space.

Try This Spring Salad Recipe With Hollyhock Flowers

Hollyhock flowers are edible, which makes them ideal additions to salads and side dishes. Hollyhocks are just one of 42 flowers you can eat. Below is a spring salad recipe featuring hollyhocks:14

Spring Salad With Edible Flowers

Ingredients

• 5 ounces baby spring greens

• 1 small sweet onion

• Hollyhock and other edible flowers like geraniums and marigolds

• 1/4 cup dressing of your choice

Procedure

1. Peel and slice onion into paper-thin slices.

2. Put the dressing at the bottom of a large salad bowl.

3. Add the greens and onions to the bowl.

4. Scatter the edible flowers on the top of the greens.

5. Toss the salad just prior to serving.

Here’s How You Can Correctly Harvest and Store Hollyhock Seeds

Hollyhocks are usually categorized as either a perennial or a biennial, with plants only living up to three years. Most hollyhock plants are biennial, but this largely depends on plant care. If you’d like to keep hollyhocks growing in your garden, it might be a good idea to save your hollyhock seeds. Here’s how you can collect the seeds and prepare them for storage:15

How to Store Hollyhock

1. Wait for the flowers to wilt into large brown pods.

2. Snap them off the plant and drop them into a paper bag. Let them sit in the paper bag for a few days to dry out further.

3. After a few days, remove the pods from the bag and break them apart onto paper towels.

4. Break apart the clumps of seeds inside the pods. Remove the chaff from the individual seeds to limit moisture.

5. Arrange the seeds on top of the paper towel and leave them to dry for a few days.

6. Once dry, place the seeds inside an airtight glass container. Store in a cool place, such as your refrigerator or a freezer.

Hollyhock: A Beautiful and Useful Addition to Your Garden

If you grew up with hollyhocks, you probably remember these colorful flowers with fondness. While their vibrant colors may have lifted your mood on gloomy days, you now know they are edible and can boost your health. You might try them to alleviate inflammation and support healthy digestion. Hollyhocks might not be as popular as they once were, but it’s never too late for them to make a comeback.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Hollyhock

Q: Are hollyhocks perennials?

A: The categorization of hollyhocks is more complicated than other plants. Some sources claim hollyhocks are biennial because they bloom in their second year, but another source says hollyhocks are short-lived perennials. The correct categorization, however, is that they are biennial, but their ability to return in future years depends largely on how the plants are cared for, as well as when and where they are planted.16

Q: Are hollyhocks poisonous?

A: Hollyhocks are not poisonous to humans or animals, so you shouldn’t be alarmed if your dog accidentally tears your hollyhocks apart and eats some of the flowers.17

Q: Do hollyhocks bloom all summer?

A: While hollyhock flowers last only a few days before wilting, this plant’s blooming season may last from three weeks to three months during the summer.18

Q: Can you grow hollyhocks in a pot?

A: Hollyhocks may be grown in pots or containers, as long as they get enough sunlight and nutrients. Be sure to use a large pot because hollyhocks need a lot of room to grow.19

Read more: articles.mercola.com

Why Snopes Gets an ‘F’

5 months, 10 days ago

In the barrage of information you come across daily online, how do you know what’s true and what’s nothing more than hearsay, gossip or all-out lies? Some people use Snopes as their go-to source for online fact-checking, believing it to give the unbiased and credible final word on all those widely-circulated stories.

If you’re relying on Snopes as your arbiter of truth, however, you’re in for a surprise: Snopes engages in massive censorship of natural health and general promotion of industry talking points. What started as a tool to investigate urban legends, hoaxes and folklore has manifested into a self-proclaimed “definitive fact-checking resource” that’s taking on topics like whether or not vaccines can cause autism.

Yet, in their purported fact-checking of a Full Measure report1 by award-winning investigative reporter and former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson,2 Snopes simply spewed propaganda, not real facts, in an attempt to discredit the report and the potential vaccines-autism link. In the end, though, they actually ended up confirming the main point of Attkisson’s report. For this, Attkisson wrote, “Snopes gets an ‘F’ for predictable propaganda in [the] vaccine-autism debate.”

Snopes Attempts to Discredit Investigative Report on Vaccines-Autism Link

Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a pediatric neurologist, is a pro-vaccine expert witness the U.S. government used to debunk and turn down autism claims in vaccine court. “Zimmerman was the government’s top expert witness and had testified that vaccines didn’t cause autism.

The debate was declared over,” Attkisson reported. “But now Dr. Zimmerman has provided remarkable new information,” she said in the Full Measure report, adding:3

“He claims that during the vaccine hearings all those years ago, he privately told government lawyers that vaccines can, and did cause autism in some children. That turnabout from the government’s own chief medical expert stood to change everything about the vaccine-autism debate. If the public were to find out …

And he has come forward and explained how he told the United States government vaccines can cause autism in a certain subset of children and [the] United States government, the Department of Justice [DOJ], suppressed his true opinions.”

Zimmerman declined to be interviewed for the report, but referred Attkisson to his sworn affidavit, dated September 7, 2018, in which he stated that, in 2007, he told DOJ lawyers he had “discovered exceptions in which vaccinations could cause autism.

“I explained that in a subset of children … vaccine-induced fever and immune stimulation … did cause regressive [brain disease] with features of autism spectrum disorder,” Zimmerman wrote.

This reportedly “panicked” the DOJ, which subsequently fired him, saying his services would no longer be needed, but essentially attempting to silence him. According to Zimmerman, the DOJ then went on to misrepresent his opinion in future cases, making no mention of the exceptions he’d informed them of.

“Meantime, CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] — which promotes vaccines and monitors vaccine safety — never disclosed that the government’s own one-time medical expert concluded vaccines can cause autism — and to this day public health officials deny that’s the case,” according to the Full Measure report.4

Attkisson’s report also reveals how Congressmen who wanted to investigate the autism-vaccine link were bullied, harassed and threatened. Dan Burton (R-IN), Dr. Dave Weldon (R-FL) and Bill Posey (R-FL) are among 11 current and former members of Congress and staff who told Attkisson they were warned by PhRMA lobbyists to drop the vaccine safety issue.

Snopes Gets an ‘F’ for Fact-Checking

In an article that attempts to fact-check Attkisson’s investigation, Snopes calls out many of the claims as false while clearly attempting to “debunk” vaccine-autism claims. However, in a rebuttal, Attkisson explains that Snopes earned a failing grade for its reporting.

“[T]he Snopes article debunks claims that were never made and uses one-sided references as its sources — other propagandists — without disclosing their vaccine industry ties.”5

For starters, Snopes labeled Zimmerman as a supporter of vaccination, as though this was something that Attkisson hid. In contrast, this point was central to Attkisson’s story and a large part of what makes his statements regarding vaccines and autism so noteworthy. Some of the additional egregious tactics Snopes used to try to discredit Attkisson’s report included the following:6

Snopes claimed Attkisson’s reading of Zimmerman’s sworn affidavit was flawed when she “simply quoted from the affidavit”

Snopes states that Zimmerman’s view is “not held by many scientists,” but did not survey several reputable scientists who hold the view

Snopes fails to address what its headline promises: the question of whether the government censored its own expert witness’ opinion

It’s important to note that Snopes also wrote their article without contacting Attkisson, who went on to state that they also listed claims she never made, then declared them to be false, and even were incorrect in one of their own claims, specifically that the existence of a potential link between vaccines, mitochondrial disorder and autism was not news at the time of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services omnibus autism proceedings in 2007.

“In fact, this suspected link was not previously known before the so-called ‘omnibus’ groups of vaccine-autism cases litigated a decade ago, and it is not widely known among doctors or the general public today; at least as of recently. That’s why it has proven to be so newsworthy,” Attkisson wrote, adding:7

“Snopes demonstrates reckless disregard for the truth when disparaging my reporting by falsely stating that it contains ‘misleading claims’ …

Refuting claims never made in my report and putting out one-sided vaccine propaganda makes one wonder whether Snopes author Alex Kasprak even read or watched the report he attempts to criticize, or just blindly printed the propaganda provided to him by vaccine industry interests.”

Snopes Author Uses Industry Sources for ‘Facts’

November 16, 2016, Snopes looked into claims made by Food Babe that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) might have shut down its residue testing of glyphosate due to complaints from Monsanto. “False,” Snopes declared.8 Ironically, the page declared that no corporate influence played a role and “the broad scientific consensus is that [glyphosate] is not a risk.”

Yet, a Twitter exchange clearly showed that the fact-checker for Snopes, Kasprak — the same author who wrote the critical review of Attkisson’s investigation — got his information about glyphosate’s safety from Kevin Folta, Ph.D.9

Folta, a University of Florida professor and a vocal advocate of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), who vehemently denied ever receiving any money from Monsanto, was caught lying about his financial ties to the company in 2015. The most flagrant piece of evidence against Folta shows that not only did he solicit funds from Monsanto, but he did so with intent to hide the financial connection between them.

Ironically, getting back to Attkisson’s case, the Snopes report ended up confirming exactly the point she was trying to make, stating, “Zimmerman, a scientist with serious credentials who was once a government expert on vaccines, believes that narrow circumstances might exist in which the combination of preexisting mitochondrial dysfunction and vaccination could trigger ASD [autism spectrum disorders].”10

“Snopes fabricates claims that were never made, debunks the fabricated claims,” Attkisson wrote, “and then ultimately agrees that the report I produced was accurate.”11

Snopes Founders Embroiled in Controversy

It’s dangerous to rely on any one source or group of individuals as authorities on truth, as it sets up the path for inevitable censorship. Even under the best circumstances, everyone is subject to their own biases, but in the case of Snopes, it was founded on fabrications from the start.

Snopes was created in 1995 by Barbara and David Mikkelson, who posed as “The San Fernardo Valley Folklore Society” in the beginning in order to gain credibility. Such a society does not exist as a legal entity, according to an investigation by the Daily Mail.12

The company soon expanded, but ultimately its founders divorced — amid claims that David Mikkelson embezzled company money for prostitutes and Barbara Mikkelson took millions from their joint bank account to buy property in Las Vegas.

According to Daily Mail, Mikkelson’s new wife, Elyssa Young — a former escort, self-proclaimed “courtesan” and porn actress who ran for Congress in Hawaii as a Libertarian in 2004 — was then employed as a Snopes administrator, even though the company claims to have no political leanings.

In response to the allegations, Forbes published an article weighing whether it was just another case of fake news, but ultimately was astonished by the lack of transparency given by the company’s founder when asked for comment, who stated that he was unable to respond due to a confidentiality clause in his divorce settlement. According to Forbes:13

“This creates a deeply unsettling environment in which when one tries to fact-check the fact-checker, the answer is the equivalent of ‘its secret’ …

At the end of the day, it is clear that before we rush to place fact-checking organizations like Snopes in charge of arbitrating what is “truth” … we need to have a lot more understanding of how they function internally and much greater transparency into their work.”

Hardcore Censorship of Alternative Health and Media in Progress

Whether it be the recent flu shot stunt at the Golden Globes or the industry-driven “facts” published by Snopes, it’s clear that industry propaganda and censorship of health and media information that strays from the mainstream is a growing problem.

In a 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy, 73 percent said they believe the proliferation of “fake news” on the internet is a major problem, and only half feel confident that readers can get to the facts by sorting through bias.14 And the fact is, fake news is a real problem. But it’s important to do your own research before believing even “fact-checked” sources like Snopes.

NewsGuard is another outlet to be wary of. The entity is setting itself up as the self-appointed global arbiter of what information is “trustworthy” — based on nine “credibility and transparency” factors — not only for information viewed on private electronic devices, but also for information accessible in public libraries and schools.

Once you’ve installed the NewsGuard browser plugin on your computer or cellphone, the NewsGuard icon rating will appear on all Google and Bing searches and on articles featured in your social media news feeds.

These icons are meant to influence readers, instructing them to disregard content with cautionary colors and cautions, but I believe the true intent will be to bury this content entirely from search results and social media feeds.

It is very likely Google, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms will use these ratings to lower the visibility of content — making nonconformist views disappear entirely. It’s a concerning prospect, especially since NewsGuard received much of its startup funds from Publicis Groupe, a global communications group whose history of clients includes the drug and tobacco industries.

Now more than ever, it’s important to be aware of what companies may be filtering your news media and how their own agenda may color what you see. In your search for the truth, always follow your own guiding light — not one maintained by Snopes or any other internet watchdog or censorship authority that tries to lead you down their own biased path.

Read more: articles.mercola.com

Top 12 Tips to Strengthen Gratitude

5 months, 18 days ago

30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your
Health

This article is included in Dr. Mercola’s All-Time Top 30 Health Tips series. Every day during the month of January, a new tip will be added that will help you take control of your health. Want to see the full list? Click here.

Keeping a written record of the things you’re thankful for is good for your health. That’s the conclusion reached by an ever-growing number of published studies showing a wide range of physical benefits. According to Laurie Santos, a psychologist who teaches a science of well-being and happiness course at Yale, focusing on gratitude has become a growing trend in recent years,1 and for good reason.

There’s an awful lot of stress and unhappiness in the world, and gratitude is an effective remedy that costs nothing. According to the Harris Poll Happiness Index, just 1 in 3 Americans reports being “very happy.”2 Other research suggests nearly 1 in 4 experiences no life enjoyment at all.3

If your joy quotient could use a boost, commit to cultivating gratitude this year. A simple and proven way of doing this is to keep a gratitude journal, in which you document the things you’re grateful for each day.

One 2015 study4 found participants who kept a gratitude diary and reflected on what they were grateful for four times a week for three weeks improved their depression, stress and happiness scores. In a more recent study,5 high school students asked to keep gratitude journals over the course of a month also exhibited healthier eating patterns.

Definition of Gratitude

According to Robert Emmons, one of the leading scientific experts on gratitude6 featured in the video above, gratitude has two key components.7 First of all, it’s an “affirmation of goodness.”

When you feel gratitude, you affirm that you live in a benevolent world. Second, it’s a recognition that the source of benevolence comes from outside of yourself; that other people (or higher powers, if you so like) have provided you with “gifts.” In Emmons’ view, gratitude is “a relationship-strengthening emotion, because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.” If you’ve decided to keep a gratitude journal, keep the following guidelines in mind:

Focus on the benevolence of other people — Doing so will increase your sense of being supported by life and decrease unnecessary anxiety
Focus on what you have received rather than what’s been withheld
Avoid comparing yourself to people you perceive to have more advantages, more things or “better luck,” as doing so will erode your sense of security. If you’re going to slip into comparisons, contemplate what your life would be like if you didn’t have something you currently enjoy

Health Benefits of Gratitude

As noted by Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy,8 an expert in brain and mind health, gratitude has “a health maintenance indication for every major organ system” in your body.9 For example, research shows that gratitude:10,11

Alters your brain in a number of beneficial ways — Examples include triggering release of mood-regulating neurotransmitters12 such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and oxytocin; inhibiting the stress hormone cortisol; and stimulating your hypothalamus (a brain area involved in the regulation of stress) and your ventral tegmental area (part of your brain’s reward circuitry that produces pleasurable feelings)13

Increases happiness and life satisfaction14,15

Lowers stress and emotional distress

Improves emotional resiliency16

Reduces symptoms of depression17 — According to one study,18 “Correlation analysis showed that gratitude, depression, peace of mind and rumination were interrelated … Results … suggested that gratitude may … counteract the symptoms of depression by enhancing a state of peace of mind and reducing ruminative thinking”

Reduces pain

Lowers inflammation by inhibiting inflammatory cytokines

Lowers blood sugar

Improves immune function19

Lowers blood pressure

Improves heart health,20 reducing the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease

Lowers risk for heart disease21,22 — According to the authors, “Efforts to increase gratitude may be a treatment for improving well-being in heart failure patients’ lives and may be of potential clinical value”

Improves general health by encouraging self-care — In one study,23,24 people who kept a gratitude journal reported exercising more and had fewer visits to the doctor

Improves sleep25

Improves interpersonal relationships

Boosts productivity — In one study,26 managers who expressed gratitude saw a 50 percent increase in the employees’ performance

Reduces materialism27

Increases generosity28

Science and Practice of Gratitude

In 2011, the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, in collaboration with Emmons, launched a project called Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude. This project aims to:29

Expand the scientific database of gratitude, particularly in the key areas of human health, personal and relational well-being, and developmental science
Raise awareness and engage the public in a larger cultural conversation about the meaning and significance of gratitude
Promote evidence-based practices of gratitude in educational, medical and organizational settings

The organization has a number of resources you can peruse at your leisure, including The Science of Happiness blog and newsletter,30 and Thnx4, a digital gratitude journal31 where you can record and share the things you’re grateful for year-round. There are also many other gratitude journal apps you can download. Last year, Positive Routines rated 11 of the best apps to track your happiness.32 Remember Emmons words:

“Neuroscientist Rick Hanson has said that the brain takes the shape the mind rests upon. Rest your mind upon worry, sadness, annoyance and irritability and it will begin to take the shape neurally of anxiety, depression and anger. Ask your brain to give thanks and it will get better at finding things to be grateful for, and begin to take the shape of gratitude.

Everything we do creates connections within networks of the brain, and the more you repeat something, the stronger those connections get. The mind can change the brain in lasting ways. In other words, what flows through the mind sculpts the brain.”

Blocks to Gratitude

Depending on circumstances, gratitude can sometimes be a struggle. However, according to Emmons and the GGSC, materialism is frequently the greatest stumbling block, and it really need not be. As noted in one of the GGSC’s newsletters:33

“Seen through the lens of buying and selling, relationships as well as things are viewed as disposable, and gratitude cannot survive this materialistic onslaught … Research has proven that gratitude is essential for happiness, but modern times have regressed gratitude into a mere feeling instead of retaining its historic value, a virtue that leads to action …

[G]ratitude is an action of returning a favor and is not just a sentiment. By the same token, ingratitude is the failure to both acknowledge receiving a favor and refusing to return or repay the favor. Just as gratitude is the queen of the virtues, ingratitude is the king of the vices …

If we fail to choose [gratitude], by default we choose ingratitude. Millions make this choice every day. Why? Provision, whether supernatural or natural, becomes so commonplace that it is easily accepted for granted.

We believe the universe owes us a living. We do not want to be beholden. Losing sight of protection, favors, benefits and blessings renders a person spiritually and morally bankrupt … People who are ungrateful tend to be characterized by an excessive sense of self-importance, arrogance, vanity and an unquenchable need for admiration and approval.

Narcissists reject the ties that bind people into relationships of reciprocity. They expect special favors and feel no need to pay back or pay forward … Without empathy, they cannot appreciate an altruistic gift because they cannot identify with the mental state of the gift-giver.”

If entitlement is the hallmark of narcissism, then humility is the antidote and the answer when you struggle with gratitude. As noted by Emmons, “The humble person says that life is a gift to be grateful for, not a right to be claimed. Humility ushers in a grateful response to life.”34

So, gratitude isn’t a response to receiving “your due,” but rather the recognition that life owes you nothing, yet provided you with everything you have anyway — a place to live, family, friends, work, your eyesight, your breath, indeed your very life. When you start seeing everything as a gift, opposed to things you’ve deserved (for better or worse), your sense of gratitude will begin to swell.

Another way to flex your gratitude muscle when life events leave you uninspired is to identify and express gratitude for seemingly “useless” or insignificant things. It could be a certain smell in the air, the color of a flower, your child’s freckles or the curvature of a stone. Over time, you’ll find that doing this will really home your ability to identify “good” things in your life.

10 Other Practical Strategies to Build and Strengthen Gratitude

Aside from keeping a daily gratitude journal and being grateful for the simple, insignificant things around you, there are many other ways to practice gratitude. I’ve compiled 10 additional suggestions from various experts below. The key is to stay consistent. Find a way to incorporate your chosen method into each week, ideally each day, and stick with it. Place a reminder note on your bathroom mirror if you need to, or schedule it into your calendar along with all of your other important to-do’s.

1. Write thank-you notes35 — When thanking someone, be specific and acknowledge the effort and/or cost involved.

This year, make it a point to write thank-you notes or letters in response to each gift or kind act — or simply as a show of gratitude for someone being in your life. To get you started, consider practicing mindful thank yous for seven days straight.

2. Say grace at each meal — Adopting the ritual of saying grace at each meal is a great way to flex your gratitude muscle on a daily basis,36 and will also foster a deeper connection to your food.

While this can be a perfect opportunity to honor a spiritual connection with the divine, you don’t have to turn it into a religious speech if you don’t want to. You could simply say, “I am grateful for this food, and appreciate all the time and hard work that went into its production, transportation and preparation.”

3. Let go of negativity by changing your perception — Disappointment can be a major source of stress, which is known to have far-reaching effects on your health and longevity. In fact, centenarians overwhelmingly cite stress as the most important thing to avoid if you want to live a long and healthy life. Since stress is virtually unavoidable, the key is to develop and strengthen your ability to manage your stress so that it doesn’t wear you down over time.

Rather than dwelling on negative events, most centenarians figured out how to let things go, and you can do that too. It takes practice, though. It’s a skill that must be honed daily, or however often you’re triggered.

A foundational principle to let go of negativity is the realization that the way you feel has little to do with the event itself, and everything to do with your perception of it. Wisdom of the ancients dictate that events are neither good nor bad in and of themselves. It is your belief about the event that upsets you, not the fact that it happened.

As noted by Ryan Holiday, author of “The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living,”37 “The Stoics are saying, ‘This happened to me,’ is not the same as, ‘This happened to me and that’s bad.’ They’re saying if you stop at the first part, you will be much more resilient and much more able to make some good out of anything that happens.” And, once you can see the good, you’re more apt to feel gratitude.

4. Be mindful of your nonverbal actions — Smiling and hugging are both ways of expressing gratitude, encouragement, excitement, empathy and support. These physical actions also help strengthen your inner experience of positive emotions of all kinds.

5. Give praise — Research38 shows using “other-praising” phrases are far more effective than “self-beneficial” phrases. For example, praising a partner saying, “thank you for going out of your way to do this,” is more powerful than a compliment framed in terms of how you benefited, such as “it makes me happy when you do that.”

The former resulted in the partner feeling happier and more loving toward the person giving the praise. Also, be mindful of your delivery — say it like you mean it. Establishing eye contact is another tactic that helps you show your sincerity. 

6. Prayer and/or mindfulness meditation — Expressing thanks during prayer or meditation is another way to cultivate gratitude. Practicing “mindfulness” means that you’re actively paying attention to the moment you’re in right now. A mantra is sometimes used to help maintain focus, but you can also focus on something that you’re grateful for, such as a pleasant smell, a cool breeze or a lovely memory.

7. Create a nightly gratitude ritual — One suggestion is to create a gratitude jar,39 into which the entire family can add notes of gratitude on a daily basis. Any jar or container will do. Simply write a quick note on a small slip of paper and put it into the jar.

Some make an annual (or biannual or even monthly) event out of going through the whole jar, reading each slip out loud. If you have young children, a lovely ritual suggested by Dr. Alison Chen in a Huffington Post article40 is to create a bedtime routine that involves stating what you’re grateful for out loud.

8. Spend money on activities instead of things — According to recent research,41 spending money on experiences not only generates more gratitude than material consumption, it also motivates greater generosity. As noted by co-author Amit Kumar, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Chicago, “People feel fortunate, and because it’s a diffuse, untargeted type of gratitude, they’re motivated to give back to people in general.”42

9. Embrace the idea of having “enough” — According to many who have embraced a more minimalist lifestyle, the key to happiness is learning to appreciate and be grateful for having “enough.”

Financial hardship and work stress are two significant contributors to depression and anxiety. The answer is to buy less and appreciate more. Instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses, practice being grateful for the things you already have, and release yourself from the iron grip of advertising, which tells you there’s lack in your life.

Many who have adopted the minimalist lifestyle claim they’ve been able to reduce the amount of time they have to work to pay their bills, freeing up time for volunteer work, creative pursuits and taking care of their personal health, thereby dramatically raising their happiness and life satisfaction. The key here is deciding what “enough” is. Consumption itself is not the problem; unchecked and unnecessary shopping is.

Many times, accumulation of material goods is a symptom that you may be trying to fill a void in your life, yet that void can never be filled by material things. More often than not, the void is silently asking for more love, personal connection, or experiences that bring purpose and passionate engagement. So, make an effort to identify your real, authentic emotional and spiritual needs, and then focus on fulfilling them in ways that does not involve shopping. 

10. Try tapping — The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a helpful tool for a number of emotional challenges, including lack of gratitude. EFT is a form of psychological acupressure based on the energy meridians used in acupuncture that can quickly restore inner balance and healing, and helps rid your mind of negative thoughts and emotions. In the video below, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to tap for gratitude.

 

Tip #16Clean Up Your Cleaning Products

Tip #18Burn Fat With Intermittent Fasting

Read more: articles.mercola.com

Top Tips to Avoid Pharmaceutical Injury

5 months, 23 days ago

30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your
Health

This article is included in Dr. Mercola’s All-Time Top 30 Health Tips series. Every day during the month of January, a new tip will be added that will help you take control of your health. Want to see the full list? Click here.

Vaccines have quickly become Big Pharma’s most lucrative profit center. Currently valued at more than $34 billion a year, the vaccine industry is projected to exceed $49 billion by 2022.1 There are several reasons for this rapid growth. Not only are vaccines priced much higher than pills, but governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are also engaged in the marketing of vaccines.

These unethical partnerships, which use both taxpayer and NGO money, advance misleading research intended to frighten the public. Worse, they discredit vaccine critics who raise legitimate safety and efficacy questions and even discredit the families and victims of vaccine injuries themselves.

To cash in on vaccine profits, Big Pharma, governments and NGOs have cast all vaccines as “life-saving.” One of the clearest examples is the attempt to present the HPV vaccine as an “anticancer” vaccine, even though there’s not a single shred of evidence that it actually has an impact on cervical cancer rates. Meanwhile, mounting evidence of serious harm and death caused by the HPV vaccine is being ignored or cast aside as “coincidental.”

To Avoid Vaccine Injury, Educate Yourself About the Risks

The official stance repeated by most mainstream media is that vaccines have been thoroughly researched, that “hundreds” of studies have proven their safety, and that no link between vaccines and health problems, such as autism, have ever been found.

It sounds definitive enough, and is often repeated as established fact. Yet it’s far from the whole truth. Importantly, the vaccine industry has long shied away from evaluating vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations to determine potential differences in general health outcomes.

The few independent scientists who have attempted such an investigation have little comfort to give to those who believe vaccines are essential for health, and mandatory use of vaccines by all children is the only way to protect society from disease.

Vaccine May Actually Be Doing More Harm Than Good

One such study,2 published in 2017, examined health outcomes among infants 3 to 5 months old following the introduction of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) and oral polio vaccine in Guinea-Bissau, which took place in the early 1980s. This population offered the rare opportunity to compare vaccinated and unvaccinated children due to the way the vaccines were rolled out in the West African country.

Shockingly, researchers discovered “DTP was associated with fivefold higher mortality than being unvaccinated.” According to the authors, “All currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis.”

In short, the researchers concluded that DTP vaccine weakened the children’s immune systems, rendering them vulnerable to a whole host of other often deadly diseases and serious health problems.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that children receive 69 doses of 16 vaccines by the time they’re 18 years old, with 50 doses of 14 vaccines given before the age of 6.3

This, despite the fact that no thorough investigation has ever been conducted to determine how all of these vaccines actually affect a child’s health. What’s worse, no one is tracking the health outcomes of children who adhere to the federally recommended childhood vaccine schedule and state mandatory vaccination programs.

Lawyers with the U.S. Justice Department also defend vaccines in the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP), commonly referred to as “vaccine court,” which means the U.S. government has a stake in maintaining the illusion that vaccines are a necessary lifesaving measure that causes minimal harm.

High Vaccination Rate Does Not Translate Into Better Infant Health

What we do know is that:

• The U.S. has the highest vaccination rate in the world, with 94 to 96 percent of children entering kindergarten having received multiple doses of vaccines4

• The U.S. also has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates of any developed nation5,6

• 1 in 6 American children has a developmental disability, which includes ADD, ADHD, autism, hearing loss, learning disabilities, mental disabilities, seizures and stammering — many of which are also listed or known side effects of vaccines

• 54 percent of children have a diagnosed chronic illness, including anxiety, asthma, behavioral problems, bone and muscle disorders, chronic ear infections, depression, diabetes, food and/or environmental allergies and epilepsy.

This list again mirrors many of the acknowledged side effects of vaccines, and the rise in prevalence of these diseases parallel the rise in required vaccines, yet vaccine promoters insist that these illnesses are in no way associated with vaccinations

Common Vaccine Side Effects

Both the U.S. Congress and the Supreme Court have also admitted that government licensed and recommended childhood vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe,”7 and possible side effects that are actually listed on vaccine inserts include:

Autoimmune diseases

Food allergies

Asthma

Eczema

Type 1 diabetes

Rheumatoid arthritis

Tics

Tourette syndrome

ADD/ADHD

Autism

Speech delay

Neurodevelopment disorders

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Seizure disorder

Narcolepsy

Vaccines also have the highest number of recalls of any drug, which speaks to their “unavoidably unsafe” nature. Victims have also received compensation from the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) for the following (and other) injuries:

Guillain-Barre syndrome

Transverse myelitis

Encephalopathy

Seizure disorder hypoxic seizure

Death

Brachial neuritis

Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis

Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP)

Premature ovarian failure

Bell’s palsy

Type 1 diabetes

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura

Rheumatic arthritis

Multiple sclerosis

Fibromyalgia

Anaphylaxis

Ocular myasthenia gravis

Infantile spasms

The Vaccines-Autism Link Revived

According to the latest survey,8,9 1 in 40 American children between the ages of 3 and 17 is now on the autism spectrum. This shocking update was published in the journal Pediatrics in December 2018. In 2014, the rate was 1 in 59; in 2010, it was 1 in 68; in 2000, it was 1 in 150.10 To say we’re looking at exponential growth would be an understatement. But do vaccines have anything to do with this trend?

According to a Full Measure report11 by award-winning investigative reporter and former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a pediatric neurologist, was the pro-vaccine expert witness the government used to debunk and turn down autism claims in vaccine court.

“Zimmerman was the government’s top expert witness and had testified that vaccines didn’t cause autism. The debate was declared over,” Attkisson reports. “But now Dr. Zimmerman has provided remarkable new information.

He claims that during the vaccine hearings all those years ago, he privately told government lawyers that vaccines can, and did cause autism in some children. That turnabout from the government’s own chief medical expert stood to change everything about the vaccine-autism debate. If the public were to find out …

And he has come forward and explained how he told the United States government vaccines can cause autism in a certain subset of children and [the] United States government, the Department of Justice [DOJ], suppressed his true opinions.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chairman of The World Mercury Project, was the one who convinced Zimmerman to speak out about the cover-up. In a sworn affidavit, dated September 7, 2018, Zimmerman states that, in 2007, he told DOJ lawyers he had “discovered exceptions in which vaccinations could cause autism.”

“I explained that in a subset of children … vaccine-induced fever and immune stimulation … did cause regressive [brain disease] with features of autism spectrum disorder,” Zimmerman writes.

A week after this 2007 meeting, the DOJ fired him, saying his services would no longer be needed. According to Zimmerman, the DOJ then went on to misrepresent his opinion in future cases, making no mention of the exceptions he’d informed them of. Kennedy has now filed a fraud complaint with the DOJ Inspector General.

William Thompson, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, has also confessed to covering up links found between vaccines and autism, in this case the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

According to Thompson, this scientific fraud was committed for the express purpose of covering up potential safety problems so the agency would be able to maintain that the MMR vaccine had been proven safe to give to all children. By eliminating the incriminating data, the link vanished, and this research has been cited as proof ever since that vaccines don’t cause autism.

Attkisson’s report also reveals how Congressmen who wanted to investigate the autism-vaccine link were bullied, harassed and threatened. Dan Burton (R-IN), Dr. Dave Weldon (R-FL) and Bill Posey (R-FL) are among 11 current and former members of Congress and staff who told Attkisson they were warned to drop the vaccine safety issue by PhRMA lobbyists.

Vaccines Can Have Serious Consequences for Adults Too

While children are more susceptible to vaccine damage than adults, grownups can and have been seriously injured and killed by routine vaccinations as well. It’s important to realize that no vaccine is 100 percent safe for everyone. As reported by CNN, an oncologist with London’s Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust recently died following a routine yellow fever vaccination:12

“Martin Gore, 67, died Thursday morning after receiving the vaccine, which is recommended to travelers visiting sub-Saharan Africa, most of South America, and parts of Central American and the Caribbean …

Gore’s death casts light on the heightened risk associated with the yellow fever vaccine and the over-60 demographic. Typical side effects of the vaccine include headaches, muscle pain, mild fever and soreness at the injection site …

However, the vaccinations can, in rare circumstances, cause more severe side effects, including allergic reactions and problems affecting the brain or organs …

The WHO reported that all cases of viscerotropic disease — a rare but dangerous side effect of yellow fever vaccinations where an illness similar to wild-type yellow fever proliferates in multiple organs — have occurred in primary vaccines, starting two to five days after vaccination.”

Might Vaccine Reaction Rate Be as High as 1 in 10?

In the video above, Del Bigtree,13 an Emmy Award-winning producer of “The Doctors” talk show for six years, and one of the producers of the documentary, “Vaxxed,” discusses vaccine safety, or rather the lack thereof.

In it, he recounts how, in 2010, the CDC hired a company to automate the federal vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS) in such a way that any potential vaccine reactions reported to doctors participating in the Harvard Pilgrim HMO would automatically be uploaded into the VAERS database.

Remarkably, preliminary data showed that out of 376,452 individuals given 45 different vaccines, 35,570 possible vaccine reactions were identified. This means nearly 1 in 10 people suffered a reaction after vaccination concerning enough to be reported, yet the official CDC mantra is that the risk for serious vaccine injury or death is 1 in 1 million.

Unfortunately, while the creation of VAERS in 1986 was an opportunity to get a firmer grasp of the number of potential vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths occurring after vaccinations given in the U.S., the CDC didn’t follow through, and the project fell by the wayside.

Medical Errors Are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the US

While I’ve focused a lot of attention on vaccines and the necessity for educating yourself about their risks in this article, vaccines are by far not the only hazard presented by the medical industry. In fact, medical errors in general are the third leading cause of death, killing an estimated 250,000 Americans each year,14,15 an increase of about 25,000 people annually from data published in 2000.16

Side effects from drugs, taken as prescribed, account for the vast majority of iatrogenic deaths, but unnecessary surgeries, medication errors in hospitals, hospital-acquired infections and other medical errors occurring in hospitals also claim their fair share of lives.

Research17 published in 2013 estimated that preventable hospital errors kill 210,000 Americans each year — a figure that comes very close to the latest statistics. However, when deaths related to diagnostic errors, errors of omission, and failure to follow guidelines were included, the number skyrocketed to 440,000 preventable hospital deaths each year.

10 Tips to Avoid Medical Harm

How can you avoid becoming one of these statistics? Aside from educating yourself on the risks and benefits of vaccines, here are several additional suggestions:

Ask your doctor whether a recommended test and/or treatment is really necessary, and do your own homework — According to a report by the Institute of Medicine, an estimated 30 percent of all medical procedures, tests and medications may be unnecessary,18 any one of which can put you at risk for a potentially serious or lethal side effect.

An investigation19 by the Mayo Clinic published in 2013 also revealed between 40 and 78 percent of the medical testing, treatments and procedures you receive are of no benefit to you — or are actually harmful — as determined by clinical studies. To learn which tests and interventions may do more harm than good, browse through the Choosing Wisely website.20

Avoid hospitals unless absolutely necessary — According to 2011 statistics, 1 in 25 patients in the U.S. end up contracting some form of infection while in the hospital,21 and 205 Americans die from hospital-acquired infections each and every day.22

Do your due diligence before undergoing endoscopy — If you’re having a colonoscopy or any other procedure using a flexible endoscope done, you can significantly reduce your risk of contracting an infection by asking the hospital or facility how the scope is cleaned, and which cleaning agent is used.

Some esophagoscopes and bronchoscopes have sterile sheaths with disposable air-water and biopsy channels, but many others do not, and must be cleaned between each use. If the hospital or clinic uses glutaraldehyde, or the brand name Cidex, cancel your appointment and go elsewhere.

About 80 percent of clinics use glutaraldehyde because it’s a less expensive alternative; however, it does not do a good job of sterilizing the equipment. If they use peracetic acid, your likelihood of contracting an infection from a previous patient is slim.

To learn more about this, see my interview with David Lewis, Ph.D., in “How Improper Sterilization of Endoscopes Could Put Your Health at Risk.”

Enlist a health care advocate — Once hospitalized, you’re at risk for medical errors, so one of the best safeguards is to have someone there have someone there with you. It’s important to have a personal advocate present to ask questions and take notes.

For every medication given in the hospital, ask questions such as: “What is this medication? What is it for? What’s the dose?” Most people, doctors and nurses included, are more apt to go through that extra step of due diligence to make sure they’re getting it right if they know they’ll be questioned about it.

To learn more, listen to my interview with Dr. Andrew Saul in “What Hospitals Won’t Tell You — Vital Strategies That Could Save Your Life,” or pick up a copy of his book, “Hospitals and Health: Your Orthomolecular Guide to a Shorter Hospital Stay.”

In it, he discusses the dangers of hospital stays, the type of patient that tends to get killed most frequently, and how you can protect your health and life in the event you have to be hospitalized. For example, reminding nurses and doctors to wash their hands and change gloves before touching you can go a long way toward avoiding contamination with potentially lethal microbes.

Do your own prep for surgery — If you or someone you know is scheduled for surgery, print out the WHO surgical safety checklist and implementation manual,23 which is part of the campaign “Safe Surgery Saves Lives.” The checklist can be downloaded free of charge here. Print it out and bring it with you, as this can help you protect yourself, your family member or friend from preventable errors in care.

Know the most effective protocol for sepsis — Sepsis is a progressive disease process initiated by an aggressive, dysfunctional immune response to an infection in the bloodstream, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as blood poisoning. Each year, an estimated 1 million Americans get sepsis24,25 and up to half of them die as a result.26,27,28

Symptoms of sepsis are often overlooked, even by health professionals, and without prompt treatment, the condition can be deadly.

Unfortunately, conventional treatments often fail, and most hospitals have yet to embrace the use of intravenous (IV) vitamin C, hydrocortisone and thiamine,29 a treatment developed by Dr. Paul Marik, which has been shown to reduce sepsis mortality from 40 to a mere 8.5 percent.30,31 Common signs and symptoms of sepsis to watch out for include:32

A high fever
Inability to keep fluids down
Rapid heartbeat; rapid, shallow breathing and/or shortness of breath
Lethargy and/or confusion
Slurred speech, often resembling intoxication

Should a few or all of these be present, seek immediate medical attention to rule out sepsis. Also inform the medical staff that you suspect sepsis, as time is of the essence when it comes to treatment, and urge them to use Marik’s protocol (currently the standard of care for sepsis at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where Marik works). You can learn more about this protocol by following the hyperlink provided above.

Optimize your vitamin D instead of getting the flu vaccine — Research33,34 shows vitamin D optimization is a more effective flu prevention strategy than flu vaccination, reducing respiratory infections such as influenza by 50 percent in those with vitamin D blood levels below 10 ng/mL. People with higher vitamin D levels at baseline may reduce their risk by about 10 percent, which the researchers stated was about equal to the effect of flu vaccines.

Aside from vitamin D, loading up on vitamins B1 and C may go a long way toward keeping you healthy through the flu season and beyond. Influenza has also been successfully treated with high-dose vitamin C.35 Taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of a cold or flu can also be helpful.

Avoid antibiotics — Drugs are vastly overprescribed and misused, and this is particularly true for antibiotics. Avoid using them unless absolutely necessary, and remember they don’t work for viral infections. Unnecessary use of antibiotics is one of the driving causes of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Turn a deaf ear to drug ads — While drug makers are required to inform consumers about potential side effects in their ads, they’ve perfected drug ad narration to make them less frightful.36

Avoid drugs, unless absolutely necessary — As mentioned, drugs — taken as prescribed — account for a majority of the 250,000 people who die from medical mistakes in the U.S. each year. A great many, if not most, diseases can be effectively addressed using simple lifestyle changes.

Key factors include diet, exercise and nonexercise movement, sleep and stress reduction. To investigate your options, you can search my database of tens of thousands of articles simply by entering your condition in the search engine.

Among the most lethal drugs right now are the opioids, which need to be used with extreme care and only in the short term. For treatment options, see “Treating Pain Without Drugs,” and “Study Reveals Previously Unknown Mechanism Behind Acupuncture’s Ability to Reduce Pain,” which also provides a long list of other drug-free pain relief strategies.

Tip #21Make Magnesium a Priority

Read more: articles.mercola.com

Why Is This Man Running for President? (Ep. 362)

6 months, 1 day ago

Andrew Yang supports a universal basic income (a “Freedom Dividend”), the use of “social credits,” and a White House psychologist. (Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Collision)

In the American Dream sweepstakes, Andrew Yang was a pretty big winner. But for every winner, he came to realize, there are thousands upon thousands of losers — a “war on normal people,” he calls it. Here’s what he plans to do about it.

Listen and subscribe to our podcast at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or elsewhere. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.

*      *      *

Hey there. Hope your new year is off to a good start. Hope you haven’t broken all your resolutions yet. A couple quick announcements. First: next week, we’ll be resuming our “Hidden Side of Sports” series with a look at the mental side of sports. But also: in a couple months, we’ll be participating in the famous M.I.T. Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which means we’ll have access to some of the sharpest sports analysts, coaches and owners, and athletes in the world. So: we want your questions for them. Send us the sports questions you’ve always wanted answered, on any aspect of sport whatsoever — the weirder the question, the better. Our e-mail is radio@freakonomics.com. Thanks.

*      *      *

Andrew Yang is not famous. Not yet, at least — maybe he will be someday. But let me tell you his story. He’s 44 years old; he was born in Schenectady, N.Y., a city long dominated by General Electric, the sort of company that had long dominated the American economy. But which, as you likely know, doesn’t anymore. Yang’s parents had both immigrated from Taiwan, and met in grad school. His mother became a systems administrator and his father did research at I.B.M.; he got his name on 69 patents. Their son Andrew studied economics and political science at Brown, got a law degree at Columbia, and ultimately became a successful entrepreneur, with a focus on widespread job creation. In the American Dream sweepstakes, Andrew Yang was a pretty big winner. But along the way, he came to see that for every winner, there were thousands upon thousands of losers.

The economist Joseph Schumpeter famously described capitalism as an act of “creative destruction” — with new ideas and technologies replacing the old, with nimble startup firms replacing outmoded legacy firms, all in service of a blanket rise in prosperity. The notion of creative destruction has for many decades been part of the economic orthodoxy. And it’s undeniable that global prosperity has risen, and not just a little bit. But Yang — like many others — has stopped believing in the economic orthodoxy of creative destruction. As he sees it, there’s just too much destruction; and the blanket rise in prosperity isn’t covering enough people. We’re living through what Yang calls “a war on normal people” — a war that Yang fears is getting uglier all the time. And that’s why he has taken to saying this:

Andrew YANG: I’m Andrew Yang, and I’m running for president as a Democrat in 2020.

Stephen DUBNER: I can think of a million things that you personally, Andrew Yang — with your resources and abilities and so on — could have done other than running for president of the United States. And yet that’s the one you’ve chosen. So why?

YANG: So imagine if you were the guy getting medals and awards for creating jobs around the country and realizing that the jobs are about to disappear in an historic way. And all of the solutions involve really a much more intelligent, activated government than you currently have. And I went around and talked to various people being like, “Hey guys, anyone going to solve the biggest problem in the history of the world?” And I could not identify anyone who was going to run and take it on.

DUBNER: So you put your hand up and said, “I guess I will?”

YANG: Yeah. I’m a parent like you are. I’ve got kids who are going to grow up in this country, and to me just believing that we’re going to leave them this shit-show that I think is coming and not doing something about it struck me as really pathetic.

*      *      *

The conversation you’re about to read is in many ways a continuation of conversations we’ve had in multiple episodes over the years. Episodes like “Is the American Dream Really Dead?” and “Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income?” Episodes like “Yes, the American Economy Is in a Funk — But Not for the Reasons You Think” and “Did China Eat America’s Jobs?” You may want to give those episodes a listen for a deeper look at the economics involved. But first: who exactly is Andrew Yang? Years ago, he worked as:

YANG: A knife salesman.

DUBNER: A knife salesman?

YANG: Oh yeah, Cutco, I still know the sales patter.

DUBNER: Let’s hear it.

YANG: What’s really dangerous is not a sharp knife. It’s a dull knife, because then you start putting elbow grease into, and that’s when accidents happen.

DUBNER: So here’s how I would thumbnail your story: immigrant kid, smart, got a good education, tried a few things in the labor force, including high-end lawyer, then some entrepreneurship, got involved with a company that was sold. So you cashed out, then took the nonprofit route to try to inspire other people to become entrepreneurs in places where there wasn’t a lot of drive for that already. And then during that process you got exposed to the way the economy was failing in large parts of America. But then instead of just saying, “Wow, that’s tough. But I got mine and I’m going to go back to my coast and lead my comfortable life, and for the people who are not leading this life — I wish them well, but I’m out of here,” you disrupted your life in order to do something about it.

YANG: As an entrepreneur, I feel driven to try and solve problems, and this seems like the greatest problem that we face. And you think, “Hey, if I bust my ass for several years, I have a chance to potentially accelerate the eradication of poverty and helping my country manage through the most difficult transition in decades. And I think if I put my heart and soul into it, I have some chance of making that happen.” And then if you don’t do that, you must be an asshole.

When he was 24, Yang landed a job in New York at Davis Polk, one of the most prestigious law firms in the world.

YANG: I was making $125,000 plus a bonus of maybe another $25,000 or so. And I have Asian parents, so they were quite pleased with this state of affairs. And I thought, “Wow, this is really lousy job.” When I was growing up as a kid playing Dungeons and Dragons, I didn’t dream about being the scribe. I dreamt about going in the woods and killing something, which did not help my parents feel any better about my decision to quit the firm.

So yes, he quit what many people might see as a dream job. He got involved in an internet startup that combined celebrity and charity.

YANG: So we called it stargiving.com. And we got Hootie and the Blowfish and MTV and Magic Johnson to donate meet-and-greets with themselves to their nonprofits.

The launch of StarGiving coincided with the bursting of the dot-com bubble; the firm lasted just five months.

YANG: I mean, I was a very sad 26-year-old who still owed $100,000 in law school loans and had parents still telling people I was a lawyer even though I was not. And I joined another startup, and I was very worried that it was also going to go under. So I started throwing parties on the side as a side hustle. And then I also started teaching the GMAT on the side for a friend’s company. So I had three jobs during that time.

The job that stuck was the GMAT teaching — GMAT being the standardized test you take to get into business school. The company was called Manhattan Prep and Yang ended up becoming its C.E.O.

YANG: That’s right. So I personally taught the analyst classes at McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley. And so imagine doing that for six, seven years and then seeing the country go to shit during the financial crisis. And then think, Well, I know why that is — because the smart kids have been becoming Wall Street bankers and management consultants while the rest of the country was getting hollowed out.

In 2009, Yang’s company was bought by the testing firm Kaplan, which was owned by the Washington Post Company.

YANG: We were acquired for low tens of millions. So I walked away with some number in the millions.

He soon left the Washington Post Company to start a non-profit called Venture for America, modeled on Teach for America.

YANG: Venture for America takes a recent college graduate, trains them with various business skills, and then sends them to work at a startup or an early-stage growth company in Detroit, New Orleans, Cleveland, Baltimore, a city that could use the talent. Then you work at that startup for two years, helping it grow. And at the end of two years if you want to start your own business, we have an accelerator and a seed fund to help you do so. It’s going to create 100,000 jobs around the country. We’ve helped create over 3,000 jobs to date, and dozens of our alums have started companies, some of which have now raised millions of dollars and generated millions in revenue.

DUBNER: So you said you hoped to create 100,000 jobs, and then you just said you’ve created 3,000 jobs, so that sounds like you’re a little short.

YANG: Well, create 100,000 by a certain date.

DUBNER: What’s the date?

YANG: So we had 2025 as our target date.

DUBNER: Okay.

YANG: So we would need algorithmic growth.

DUBNER: I gather what you learned about how the world worked outside of the coastal corridors and outside the Ivy League, and so on, was an awakening. Yes?

YANG: Yeah, it was for sure.

DUBNER: What was different in Detroit, in Pittsburgh, and elsewhere that you went, from what you imagined?

YANG: Well, so some of the structural force, and I’ll describe this — a company, it had a couple of very bright founders out of Brown University, and they got started in Providence. And the company starts to do well, hits its strides, doing a couple of million in revenue, and then an investor in Silicon Valley says, “Hey, you guys should come out here, and we’ll invest $10, $20 million in you. But you should really come here.” So then the guys say, “Well I guess we have to take that.” So that company goes from 100 employees in Providence, R.I., to zero employees.

DUBNER: And I can feel the mayor of Providence and the governor of Rhode Island thinking right now, “No, no, no, please don’t go.”

YANG: They were there. I mean the mayor — they were saying, “Please don’t go.” And the guys were like, “Well, you’ve got to do what’s right for your business.” And they went out to Silicon Valley and now the company has 100 employees in San Francisco. It becomes this really unfortunate dynamic that if you are an entrepreneur who’s succeeding in a place like Detroit or Providence or St. Louis, the goal is to get sucked up to the big leagues and wind up in San Francisco or Boston or New York.

DUBNER: But the other part is that what we used to think of as the backbone jobs of this country, the nature of that is changing really, really fast, due to technology and particularly automation. How much of that were you starting to see up close, and how surprising was that to you?

YANG: Yeah, so my thesis was that if you started a tech company in a place like Detroit that it would create additional jobs in that community that were not necessarily skilled jobs. But what I learned was that these companies, in order to be successful, did not need to hire huge numbers of people. That right now, the way businesses grow is that businesses grow lean and mean. They’re not going to hire the thousands of employees that industrial companies used to employ in a place like Detroit or Cleveland or St. Louis.

And it became clear to me that as much as I was excited about and proud of the work I was doing, it felt like I was pouring water into a bathtub that had a giant hole ripped in the bottom. Because we’re blasting away hundreds of thousands of retail jobs, call-center jobs, food-service jobs, eventually truck-driving jobs. And so my army of entrepreneurs, doing incredible work, starting companies that might employ 20, 30, 40 people, was not going to be a difference-maker in the context where that community was going to lose 20, 30, 40,000 retail jobs, call-center jobs, transportation jobs, etc. And I was horrified. I was flying back and forth being like, “What the hell are we doing? We are blasting communities to dust and then pretending like we’re not and pretending like it’s their fault, and pretending that somehow it’s unreasonable to be upset about your way of life getting destroyed.”

I had a wakeup call, a reckoning as you said. But then when Donald Trump became president in 2016 I was convinced that the reason why he won the presidency is that we automated away four million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri. And we’re about to triple down on that by blasting away millions of retail jobs, call-center jobs, fast-food jobs, truck-driving jobs.

David AUTOR: I think if we had realized how traumatic the pace of change would have been, we would have at a minimum had much better policies in place to assist workers in communities that suffered these very severe and immediate consequences.

That’s the M.I.T. labor economist David Autor from our 2017 episode “Did China Eat America’s Jobs?

AUTOR: And we might have tried to moderate the pace at which it occurred. And we also had a huge trade deficit and that meant we simply did a lot less manufacturing. So that meant that workers had to make a tougher transition out of manufacturing, into something altogether new. And I think that upped the challenge.

I think the other thing that we have to recognize, and that economists have tended not to emphasize, is that jobs aren’t purely income. They are part of identity. They structure people’s lives. They give them a purpose and a social community and a sense of relevance in the world. And I think that is a lot of the frustration that we see in manufacturing-intensive areas. And I think that that’s costly even beyond the direct financial costs.

It’s been tempting, especially from a political view, to blame all this job loss on global trade, immigrant labor, and offshoring. But Autor and most other economists agree that the much larger driver of job loss is technology and automation in particular.

YANG: So we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs.

Back to Andrew Yang.

YANG: This is like the auto-manufacturing plants, a lot of the even consumer-goods, like furniture manufacturing in North Carolina, a lot of that stuff has gotten automated away. Now, I studied economics. And according to my economics textbook, those displaced workers would get retrained, re-skilled, move for new opportunities, find higher productivity work, the economy would grow. So everyone wins. The market, invisible hand has done its thing.

So then I said, “Okay, what actually happened to these four million manufacturing workers?” And it turns out that almost half of them left the workforce and never worked again. And then half of those that left the workforce then filed for disability, where there are now more Americans on disability than work in construction, over 20 percent of working-age adults in some parts of the country.

DUBNER: So the former manufacturing workers, a lot of them are on disability a lot of them are also especially if they’re younger men, they’re spending 25–40 hours a week playing video games.

YANG: Yeah so it did not say in my textbook, half of them will leave the workforce never to be heard from again. Half of them will file for disability and then another significant percentage will start drinking themselves to death, start committing suicide at record level, get addicted to opiates to a point where now eight Americans die of opiates every hour.

So when you say, “Am I for automation and artificial intelligence and all these fantastic things?” of course I am. I mean, we might be able to do things like cure cancer or help manage climate change more effectively. But we also have to be real that it is going to displace millions of Americans. People are not infinitely adaptable or resilient or eager to become software engineers, or whatever ridiculous solution is being proposed. And it’s already tearing our country apart by the numbers, where our life expectancy has declined for the last two years because of a surge in suicides and drug overdoses around the country.

None of this was in my textbook. But if you look at it, that’s exactly what’s happening. The fantasists — and they are so lazy and it makes me so angry, because people who are otherwise educated literally wave their hands and are like, “Industrial Revolution, 120 years ago. Been through it before,” and, man, if someone came into your office and pitched you an investment in a company based on a fact pattern from 120 years ago, you’d freakin’ throw them out of your office so fast.

The Industrial Revolution is a textbook example of creative destruction. Old technologies giving way to new; the rising tide lifting all boats. But history doesn’t actually happen that smoothly …

YANG: If you look at the Industrial Revolution, there was massive social change. Labor unions were originated in 1886 to start protesting for rights. There were massive riots that led to dozens of deaths and caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage that led to Labor Day becoming a holiday. Universal high school got implemented in 1911 in response to all of these changes. And it was a tumultuous time. I mean there was a whiff of revolution the whole time. And according to Bain, this labor-force displacement, this time, the fourth Industrial Revolution, is going to be three to four times faster and more vicious than that Industrial Revolution was.

So even for those lazy-ass people who are just like, “We’ve been through this before, Industrial Revolution,” be like, “Well, the Industrial Revolution was hellacious and it’s going to be three to four times worse according to Bain, who presumably you respect because they’re good at figuring this stuff out.” I mean if you look at government-funded retraining programs, the efficacy level, according to independent studies, is between 0 and 15 percent. And only 10 percent of workers would even qualify for these programs anyway. So we’re talking about a solution that will apply to between 1 and 2 percent of displaced workers. And that’s the kind of lazy crap that people are putting out there as a solution.

DUBNER: So if a revolution happens, how does it start, and what’s it look like?

YANG: So to me the rubber hits the road with the truck drivers. I mean there are 3.5 million truck drivers in this country, only 13 percent of them are unionized. The odds of there being a collective negotiation are very low. Eighty-seven percent of them are part of small firms of let’s call it 20 to 30 truckers, and 10 percent of them own their own trucks.

So think about that. If you borrow tens of thousands of dollars to be your own boss and be an entrepreneur and then your truck cannot compete against a robot truck that never stops — the odds then of these truckers showing up at a state capitol saying, “Fuck this, let’s get 30 guys together with our trucks and our guns” and show up and protest the automation of their jobs. So we’re disintegrating by the numbers. You can see it in our political and social dysfunction. Expecting that disintegration process to be gentle would be ignoring history.

DUBNER: Well even though revolutions do happen and armed violent revolutions obviously have happened, most bold predictions turn out to be wildly wrong. And usually there’s a lot less deviance from the past than predictors predict. So what makes you think you’re not wrong on this one?

YANG: I don’t know thousands of truck drivers, but I do know some. And they do not strike me as the sort who will just shrug and say, “Okay, I guess that was a good run. I’m going to go home now and figure out what job is there for someone who’s a 50-year-old former truck driver.”

But you also are going to see call-center workers, fast-food workers, retail workers — I mean there are 8.8 million people working in retail in this country. The average retail worker is a 39-year-old woman with a high-school degree who makes $11 to $12 an hour. When 30 percent of malls close in the next four years, what is their next opportunity going to be? So we have to start being honest about what’s happening where the market does not care about unemployed cashiers or truck drivers or fast-food workers.

And the biggest issue to me is that we’re measuring economic value in a very narrow, archaic way. We invented G.D.P. almost 100 years ago during the Great Depression. The government’s looking around saying, “Things are going really badly, we need a number for this.” And then Simon Kuznets comes up with G.D.P. and says a few things: He says we should not use this as a measurement for national well-being because it’s really bad for that. We should include parenthood and motherhood in the calculation because it adds so much value. And we should not include national defense spending in the calculation because—

DUBNER: If I remember my history, all three of those were ignored then, yes?

YANG: Yes, yes, yes. We’re like, “That’s great, Simon.” And now it’s our end-all, be-all. My wife is at home with our two boys right now, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. And what is her work valued at?

DUBNER: I’m guessing $0.

YANG: Yeah, about $0. And I know that she’s working harder than I am and the work she is doing is more important.

DUBNER: So your wife doesn’t really factor into G.D.P. In fact, she’s probably kind of a drain on it really, right? Because she could be out there where there’s opportunity cost of her not working.

YANG: She might be able to be a management consultant somewhere and that would be a much more valuable use of her—

DUBNER: So management consultants and the finance industry, financial services, banking, real estate. You argue that many of the most remunerative occupations in America are rent-seeking activities. Rent-seeking as economists use it to describe, basically, extracting value from transactions without really adding value. And you argue that many of the most beneficial-for-society jobs — teaching, nurturing, caring, creating, etc. — are the least remunerative jobs. How can you rail against that disparity while also wanting to bask in the benefits of the capitalism that set up those incentives?

YANG: Capitalism is a wonderful, magical, powerful thing. But it optimizes for capital efficiency and capital gains above all else, really. And that worked well for a long time, because in order for capital efficiency, workers needed to benefit, the consumer economy needed to benefit, the middle class needed to benefit. It’s like Henry Ford and his, “How can my workers buy my car?” But we’re now at a point where Ford does not need those humans to build that car and they can have markets all over the place and don’t really care what’s going on in their own backyard.

There are just these big changes afoot, and the question is how we’re going to manage them as a country. And that’s what I’m trying to answer. That’s why I’m running for president.

*      *      *

Until recently, Andrew Yang was running Venture for America, a non-profit that tries to persuade young, would-be Wall Streeters to launch startups in places like Cleveland, Baltimore, Detroit, and St. Louis. In 2014, he published a book about this effort; it was called Smart People Should Build Things. While the book pointed out the need for a dramatic overhaul of the American economy, it was for the most part an optimistic book. Last year, Yang published another book, called The War on Normal People, and it is not remotely optimistic. He argues that the American economy has failed most Americans, and that the American political class has failed them again by refusing to focus on the underlying fault lines in the economy.

This collapse in Andrew Yang’s optimism is what led him to run for President. He’s already been to Iowa and New Hampshire several times but, let’s be honest: he’s a very long shot in what’s expected to be a very crowded field. Let’s use Twitter followers as a proxy for the viability of some other possible Democratic candidates. Joe Biden has 3 million followers; Cory Booker, 4 million; Elizabeth Warren, 4.7 million; Bernie Sanders, 9 million. Mike Bloomberg has 2 million Twitter followers and over 40 billion dollars. Andrew Yang, meanwhile, has raised about $600,000, and has roughly 27,000 Twitter followers. But he also has ideas that he thinks will compensate. There’s one idea in particular that he’s banking on.

YANG: My first big policy is the freedom dividend, a policy where every American adult between the ages of 18 and 64 gets $1,000 a month, free and clear, no questions asked.

DUBNER: So the freedom dividend is your phrase for what most of us know as a universal basic income, yes?

YANG: It’s a rebrand of “universal basic income” because it tests much better with Americans with the word “freedom” in it.

DUBNER: Right, as nomenclature. The idea is the same.

YANG: So “universal basic income” tests great with about half the country. And then the other half of the country do not like it.

DUBNER: Because…

YANG: Because there’s—

DUBNER: It’s got welfare connotations?

YANG: Something along those lines. We tested a bunch of names and then when you had the word “freedom” in it, then all of a sudden testing shot up among self-identified conservatives. They hated “universal basic income,” hated “prosperity dividend,” all of a sudden “freedom dividend” is like “ding ding ding!”

DUBNER: What about progressives, liberals, Democrats?

YANG: Progressives, liberals, Democrats liked it no matter what the name was.

DUBNER: What were some of the other names that didn’t work?

YANG: “Citizens’ dividend,” “future dividend,” “prosperity dividend.” We had a lot of dividends.

DUBNER: I think of a dividend as a payout on an investment. What does it mean in this case?

YANG: Well, it’s a payout to ownership and we are the owners and shareholders of this, the most wealthy and advanced society in the history of the world. So this is a dividend for us. And there’s nothing stopping a majority of shareholders, a majority of citizens, from voting themselves a dividend. It’s been law in Alaska and it’s wildly popular in a deeply conservative state, where a Republican governor said, “Hey, who would you rather get the oil money: the government, who’s just going to screw it up, or you, the people of Alaska?” And the people of Alaska now love it, wildly popular, has created thousands of jobs, has improved children’s health and nutrition, has lowered income inequality, and it’s untouchable through many different regimes.

DUBNER: The Alaska dividend comes from oil revenues from the state, whereas the freedom dividend that would go to every person in the U.S. would be funded how?

YANG: So the headline cost of this is $2.4 trillion, which sounds like an awful lot. For reference, the economy is $19 trillion, up $4 trillion in the last 10 years. And the federal budget is $4 trillion. So $2.4 trillion seems like an awfully big slug of money. But if you break it down, the first big thing is to implement a value-added tax, which would harvest the gains from artificial intelligence and big data from the big tech companies that are going to benefit from it the most.

So we have to look at what’s happening big-picture, where who are going to be the winners from A.I. and big data and self-driving cars and trucks? It’s going to be the trillion-dollar tech companies. Amazon, Apple, Google. So the big trap we’re in right now is that as these technologies take off, the public will see very little in the way of new tax gains from it. Because if you look at these big tech companies — Amazon’s trick is to say, “Didn’t make any money this quarter, no taxes necessary.” Google’s trick is to say, “It all went through Ireland, nothing to see here.” Even as these companies and the new technologies soak up more and more value and more and more work, the public is going to go into increasing distress.

So what we need to do is we need to join every other industrialized country in the world and pass a value-added tax which would give the public a slice, a sliver of every Amazon transaction, every Google search. And because our economy is so vast now at $19 trillion, a value-added tax at even half the European level would generate about $800 billion in value.

Now, the second source of money is that right now we spend almost $800 billion on welfare programs. And many people are receiving more than $1,000 in current benefits. So, we’re going to leave all the programs alone. But if you think $1,000 cash would be better than what you’re currently receiving, then you can opt in and your current benefits disappear. So that reduces the cost of the freedom dividend by between $500 and $600 billion.

The great parts are the third and fourth part. So if you put $1,000 a month into the hands of American adults who — right now, 57 percent of Americans can’t pay an unexpected $500 bill — they’re going to spend that $1,000 in their community on car repairs, tutoring for their kids, the occasional night out. It’s going to go directly into the consumer economy. If you grow the consumer economy by 12 percent, we get $500 billion in new tax revenue.

And then the last $500 billion or so we get through a combination of cost savings on incarceration, homelessness services, health care. Because right now we’re spending about $1 trillion on people showing up in emergency rooms and hitting our institutions. So we have to do what good companies do, which is invest in our people.

DUBNER: So what persuades you that that number, $2.4 trillion, could even be close to justified through the menu of savings that you just described? I guess more broadly, why should someone believe that this Democratic-inspired version of higher taxes — or new taxes, with a V.A.T. — and more income redistribution, why should someone believe that any more than Democrats disbelieve the Republicans’ idea of lower taxes and trickle-down economics?

YANG: Oh man. I mean, if you put $1,000 into the hands of a struggling American, it’s going to make a much bigger difference not just to that person but it’s also going to go back into the economy. If you give a wealthy person $1,000 they wouldn’t even notice. You could just slap it into their account and it would be a non-event. Everyone knows that putting money into the hands of people that would actually use it is going to be much more effective at strengthening our economy and society.

DUBNER: One easy argument against a U.B.I. is that if you give everyone a dividend like you’re proposing, $1,000 a month per person, all that new money in the economy will cause the kind of inflation that will render that $1,000 much less powerful. What’s your argument against that?

YANG: Yeah, so I looked into the causes of inflation that are making Americans miserable right now, and they are not in consumer goods like media or clothing or electronics.

DUBNER: Those are all still getting much cheaper.

YANG: Yeah, and a lot of that is being made more efficient by technology and supply chains and everything else. The three things that are making Americans miserable in terms of inflation are housing, education, and health care. And each of those is being driven by something other than purchasing power.

Housing is being driven by the fact in some markets people feel like they need to live in let’s say New York or Seattle or San Francisco to be able to access certain opportunities and then there’s not much flexibility in terms of their ability to commute like a long distance. Education, it’s because college has very sadly gotten two-and-a-half times more expensive even though it has not gotten two-and-a-half times better. And then the third is health care, which is dysfunctional because of a broken set of incentives and the fact that individuals aren’t really paying in a marketplace.

So if you put $1,000 into the hands of Americans, it’s actually going to help them manage those expenses much better. But it’s not going to cause prices to skyrocket, because you can’t have every vendor colluding with every other vendor to raise prices. And there’s still going to be price sensitivity among every consumer and competition between firms.

AUTOR: I think people should have a guaranteed minimum income.

That, again, is the M.I.T. economist David Autor.

AUTOR: Essentially, our system of income distribution is primarily based on the scarcity of labor, right, the most valuable asset you own is your human capital. And if all of a sudden, there was a machine that could do exactly what you did it wouldn’t be clear what skills would you sell to the market.

The idea of a universal basic income has been around for a long time, and you might be surprised by the political diversity of its supporters. In the 18th century, founding father Thomas Paine argued for a universal payout, representing our collective share of America’s natural resources. In the 20th century, the economist Milton Friedman pushed for a different version, called a negative income tax. Then and now, there is a common objection:

Evelyn FORGET: If you give people money for nothing, why won’t they just quit their jobs?

The economist Evelyn Forget studied the effects of a small Canadian experiment that paid out a universal income. Her finding?

FORGET: The finding was that primary earners really don’t reduce the number of hours they work very much when you offer a guaranteed annual income.

YANG: A neuroscientist in Seattle said something to me that really stuck with me. He said, “The enemy of universal basic income is the human mind.” And what he meant by that is that people are programmed for resource scarcity. They think, “Hey, there is not enough to go around. If you get it, I don’t get it. And then if we all get it, it’s somehow going to harm us.” And that’s what we have to overcome. We have to overcome this knee-jerk sense of scarcity that is baked into, in many ways, the way we’re trained to perceive value in money.

So that’s big policy No. 1.

Alright, and what’s big policy No. 2 for would-be President Yang?

YANG: No. 2 is digital social credits.

Which are what?

YANG: Digital social credits are a new way to reward behaviors that we need more of in society. So right now, the monetary market does not recognize things that we know are crucial to humanity, like caregiving and raising children, volunteering in the community, arts and creativity, journalism, environmental sustainability. We’re getting less and less of those things because the market does not care about them. What I’m proposing is we create a new currency that then maps to various activities that we want to see more of.

DUBNER: Give me a for instance of how it would work. Let’s pretend that I am a 58-year-old laid-off carpenter. Maybe you, President Yang, are already giving me a freedom dividend, which I appreciate. So talk to me about what digital social credits would do for me and how it would actually work.

YANG: Right. So you get a message on your phone saying, “Hey, a neighbor has had a shelf break and they could use some help repairing it.” And then you click on your phone and say, “Yeah, I’ll do that.” Then you drive over, repair the shelf, and then the person thanks you, gives you a hug. Takes a picture of it. And then you then get this digital social credit. Let’s say call it 300 points. So you have these 300 points and you’re like, “Okay that’s good.”

And then you get another ping, it’s saying, “Hey, your neighbor needs a ride and they don’t have a vehicle,” and you do. So you give them a ride and then you get some more points and then at the end of the week you say, “You know what, if I go to Cabela’s, I can trade those points for hunting gear or camping gear. I could use it to go to the local ballgame.”

DUBNER: Okay. And then the vendors who are giving their goods or services to you for those social credits, what did they do with the social credits?

YANG: They can take the social credits and go to the government and then the government can exchange it for money.

DUBNER: And what’s funding the money for the social credits from the vendors?

YANG: So,  the U.S. government would be backing it, or foundations or various companies, because if you are a company you respond to this. I mean you’d enjoy the heck out of it and it would drive business to your establishments. But the great thing about this is you could induce hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of social activity at a small fraction of the cost. Because right now if I have 100,000 American Express points, how much does that cost American Express?

DUBNER: A thousand dollars maybe?

YANG: Zero, because I haven’t done anything with it yet. Before I redeem it, it costs them nothing, but I love my points. I look at them. They seem to have value. I could trade them in whenever I want. What you’d see is you’d end up building up a parallel economy around people doing things for each other. This is based on a practice called time banking that’s in effect in hundreds of communities around the country.

DUBNER: Time banking is one of these ideas that’s been around for a while now, and it’s met with some success in some places, but it’s certainly never been scaled up the way that you’re talking about. What makes you think that it’s attractive enough for enough people to want to use it and that it is ultimately scalable?

YANG: Time banking holds that everyone’s time has intrinsic value and that if I do something for you for an hour, I then get a time credit that I can then give to someone else to do something for me for an hour. And everyone can do something — watch your kids or walk your dog or move some trash or whatever the task happens to be.

So the obstacle to more widespread adoption of time banking has been the administration, because you need a person in each community who is tabulating and keeping track of transactions. And now with technology—

DUBNER: This sounds like a job for the blockchain.

YANG: Yes, you could have a public ledger on the blockchain. You could make this happen much, much more easily, much more cost-effectively. And there are people I’m happy to say who were working on technical solutions for this.

People like this:

Anitha BEBERG: My name is Anitha Beberg and I am the C.E.O. of Seva Exchange Corporation, which is an A.I. and blockchain startup that’s reinventing volunteerism using time banking.

The chairman of Seva is Edgar Cahn, who helped launch the modern concept of time banking and wrote a book about it, called No More Throw-Away People.

BEBERG: He came up with this in 1980, when he was actually given a diagnosis after having a heart attack at 46. And he was only given two years to live and maybe two hours a day to do anything. So what he was thinking about was, Hmm, what can I do in this world to still be useful? So he came up with the idea of time banking, where you give an hour of your time within a community and you’ll receive a credit of that hour, redeemable for something you need. So it’s a give-and-take system rather than a one-way volunteering.

Edgar Cahn obviously lived on, and so has time banking. It exists in a few dozen countries, usually at quite small scale; one of the larger exchanges, similar to what Andrew Yang is proposing, is a British organization called Tempo. It found that nearly 60 percent of its participants had rarely or never volunteered before. Beberg’s time-banking group, meanwhile, Seva Exchange Corporation…

BEBERG: Seva actually means volunteer in Sanskrit or service, to serve.

The Seva app is a spinoff of Timebanks.org.

BEBERG: What we’re doing is trying to create the largest volunteer exchange network.

How would it work?

BEBERG: We offer powerful motivators to retain volunteers.

Motivators like gamification.

BEBERG: It’s a lot more exciting to run up a score and earn badges especially if you’re doing good.

Also: skills-matching.

BEBERG: Whatever you’re passionate about or you’re highly skilled at and willing to offer, you get matched to the critical needs of either an organization or a person.

And rewards, via the blockchain.

BEBERG: Our digital social credits is called Seva coins. And they will be redeemable for more time. Or you can donate them. We’re also working with colleges for loan forgiveness and micro-scholarships for students.

Beberg and Seva have gotten some pushback from religious institutions.

BEBERG: They’ve said, “Oh, we volunteer for the sake of volunteering.” And I said, “That’s wonderful. The more people like that, the better, because now they can just donate those to an institution in need or give it back to the church for hours.” So every hour you give, another hour can go to someone else in need.

Those are the micro components of how Seva’s digital social credits would work. But it’s the macro view that makes this idea particularly attractive to a would-be politician like Andrew Yang.

BEBERG: We’re redefining work. So there are some forms of work that money will not easily pay for building strong families, revitalizing neighborhoods, making democracy work, advancing social justice. Time credits were specifically designed to reward, recognize, and honor that work that most people never valued before or felt valued for.

Andrew Yang believes that injecting all that undervalued work into the “real economy,” would solve a couple problems at once: it would give people access to more of the goods and services they need and can’t afford; and it’d boost morale by revaluing skills that the market no longer values.

YANG: Yeah, that’s right.

DUBNER: I don’t mean to be a skeptic or a cynic, but what makes you think that the best overseer of a big scaled-up time banking or digital social currency is the government itself?

YANG: I don’t think so. I mean one thing I’ll say, to quote my friend Andy Stern: the government is terrible at most things but it is excellent at sending large numbers of checks to large numbers of people promptly and reliably. The government would not be administering this at all. The best the government would be doing would be allocating social credits to various communities, who could then have the credits flow through nonprofits and NGOs and organizations that are closer to the ground that could administer it more effectively.

DUBNER: But ultimately, when all those vendors want to take in their DSCs, their digital social currency coins, whatever, and cash them in for real cash, it’s the government they’re coming to, it’s the Treasury they’re coming to, yes?

YANG: Yeah, yeah. So there is a government budget allocation. But the government budget allocation would be essentially proportional to population and then each community would be doing different things with it. Because something that would be effective in Mississippi would not be necessary in Montana or Missouri.

So digital social credits and a universal basic income, these are Andrew Yang’s two most prominent proposals in his Presidential campaign. There are, of course, many others, most of which align with a standard Democratic platform. You can see them all at Yang2020.com. I’d asked him his most outlandish position.

YANG: We should have a psychologist in the White House that’s looking in on the mental health of the executive branch, because it doesn’t make any sense to me to have that much power and responsibility without some sort of mental-health professional monitoring.

DUBNER: Did you have this idea before the current presidency?

YANG: I always thought so. I mean, my brother’s a psychology professor. I think it would also help destigmatize mental-health issues and anxiety and depression around the country, and just say, “Look, we all have struggles.” That includes people at the top of the government.

Another thing I think is really important is that right now we expect people to be sort of martyrs if they enter into government service, and then they turn around and become lobbyists to make a lot of money. We need to take advantage of the fact that the government can pay much, much more, and then just require people to not go back to industry afterwards. Because if you’re a human being and your stint is going to end in two or three years, you don’t want to be too harsh on the companies that could end up paying you and giving you lots of money later.

DUBNER: So you’re arguing for a $4 million salary for the U.S. president.

YANG: Yeah, because it’s true for presidents too. I mean, if you’re going to get paid a quarter of a million by some company after you leave office just to show up and schmooze and give a speech, then human nature is like, “Maybe I shouldn’t be too harsh on this company.” And I’ll say, this raise can go into effect for the president after me. I do not give a shit how much I get paid. But the president after me should get paid enough so that we know that they’re just looking out for us and not going to just speech it up afterwards.

DUBNER: You happen to be the Democratic-entrepreneur-as-would-be-President who happens to be running after the successful campaign of a Republican-entrepreneur-as-President who a lot of people agree, his entrepreneurship and CEO-ship have not contributed to a stable presidency or to a business-like presidency, etc. Does that not strike you as potentially terrible timing?

YANG: Well, the reason why Donald Trump in my mind won — aside from the fact that we’ve blasted away all these manufacturing jobs — is that many Americans are desperate for some kind of change agent. And if you look at it, there has been a thirst for that not just with Donald Trump but with Bernie Sanders’s outsized success, even to some extent with Barack Obama winning in ‘08, where the citizens of the United States have been casting about for some kind of change because they know that our government is failing us.

Donald Trump is a terrible president because he’s a terrible president. He’s not necessarily a terrible president because he was not steeped in our government for decades. And genuine entrepreneurs like myself regard Donald Trump as a bullshit marketing charlatan. So he gives us all a bad name. And the goal is to show what real builders and entrepreneurs would do to solve some problems.

DUBNER: If you were a bookmaker, what are the odds that you’re laying off for Andrew Yang winning the presidency in 2020?

YANG: I think the latest odds I saw were like 200-to-1.

DUBNER: Let’s pretend for just a second that you don’t win the presidency. But that you do impress a lot of people with your energy and ideas and vision. And you are invited to run as V.P. on the Democratic ticket.

YANG: One of the fun things about running for president is you spend time with other candidates on the trail. I have some ideas, but my vision is that there is a set of patriots that are all heading to D.C. to try and save this country. I plan to be in that group. And if it’s as president, fantastic, if it’s as vice president, also fantastic.

I just want to solve problems, man. I don’t really care about the seating chart. And someone said to me, “Hey, what if Joe Biden takes all your ideas?” I would say that’s fan-freaking-tastic. I’m not some freaking crazy person who has been measuring the drapes since I was 16 or any of that jazz. I just want to keep this country together for your kids and mine.

*      *      *

Freakonomics Radio is produced by Stitcher and Dubner Productions. This episode was produced by Harry Huggins. Our staff also includes Alison Craiglow, Greg Rippin, Alvin Melathe, and Zack Lapinski. Our theme song is “Mr. Fortune,” by the Hitchhikers; all the other music was composed by Luis Guerra. You can subscribe to Freakonomics Radio on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Here’s where you can learn more about the people and ideas in this episode:

SOURCES

Anitha Beberg, c.e.o. of Seva Exchange.
Evelyn Forget, economist at the University of Manitoba.
Andrew Yang, entrepreneur and Democratic candidate for president.

RESOURCES

Labor 2030: The Collision of Demographics, Automation and Inequality,” Karen Harris, Austin Kimson and Andrew Schwedel, Bain & Company (February 2018). 
No More Throw-Away People by Edgar Cahn (Essential Books 2004).
Smart People Should Build Things by Andrew Yang (HarperBusiness 2014).
The War on Normal People by Andrew Yang (Hachette Books 2018).

The post Why Is This Man Running for President? (Ep. 362) appeared first on Freakonomics.

Read more: freakonomics.com

A Week In Paris, France, On A $101,000 Salary

6 months, 5 days ago

Welcome toMoney Diaries , where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

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Today: a communications director working in software development who makes $101,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on roses. Editor’s note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.

Occupation: Communications Director Industry: Software Development Age: 39Location: Paris, France Salary: $101,000Paycheck Amount (Month): $5,000 (I also get food vouchers as part of my company benefits — about $200/month.)

Monthly ExpensesMortgage: $1,235 ($1,185 a month on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage at 1.15%, with homeowner’s insurance at $50/month)Utilities: $485 for electricity, gas, and waterInternet: $43.75 (includes international calls, TV, and broadband)Cell Phone: $0 ($96 paid for by my work)Navigo Pass: $94Gym Membership: $200Subscriptions: $31.25 (This includes newsletters and business tools for my side business in communications consulting.)House Emergency Fund: $490Savings: $1,000

Day One

5:30 a.m. — On Mondays I take the train to Paris, which costs $15 if I buy my ticket ahead of time online. It’s three times as much if you buy it at the station, so I avoid that whenever possible. I can’t afford property in Paris, but there’s no work in my field where I live, so I work in Paris and live in a rural region about two hours away. My boyfriend, R., and our infant daughter will follow in the afternoon by car. We’ll spend Monday through Thursday afternoon in Paris, where my boyfriend owns a small two-bedroom apartment. $15

7:50 a.m. — It’s my first day back in the office since maternity leave started four months ago. No one else is here yet. I caffeinate with free office coffee and grab some fruit and nuts.

12:21 p.m. — Morning meetings are over, so I duck outside for lunch. I head to the supermarket to stock up on soup, yogurt, and bars for the next week. Paris is a lunchtime minefield, and if I’m not careful, I know I’ll end up spending more money than I can afford. I used to watch my expenses in this area and stick to a strict food budget, but I don’t anymore. It was unrealistic while I was single and working all the time, and it’s unrealistic now that we’re a family of three. When she was my age, my mother had two children and cooked three square meals a day, all while working. Despite the current constraints of my life, I feel like I should be, too, and feel halfway guilty when I cop out by buying bricks of soup. $21.17

5:17 p.m. — I can’t seem to settle down, so I go out for a quick walk around the block. I duck into a Starbucks for an herbal tea, as I’m trying to go to bed earlier and don’t need caffeine right now. I immediately regret throwing away money on vegetable-tasting water. I leave work early. Well, it feels early. I used to stay until 8 or 9 p.m. several days a week, and that’s just not possible anymore with a kiddo. So I get in two or three hours before everyone in the morning and leave around 5. $5.25

5:41 p.m. — I walk to the express train stop right at the Grands Boulevards next to Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. I top up my Navigo pass with a monthly subscription before taking the express train to R.’s place. It’s $94 for monthly access to the Paris metro, trams, buses, and suburban trains across a 60-mile radius of the city. Not great value if you’re just using it to commute within the city, but a steal if you use the suburban stations like I do. There are so many exquisite things in the store windows. When I first moved to Paris, I redid my budget to bump up the amount I thought I’d be spending on clothes and personal maintenance. Living here had the opposite effect, though. For one, everyone seems to wear the same thing all the time. Also, there’s so much trash and junk covering this city — even the pretty, touristy parts — that I’m put off by the idea of buying more stuff and adding more waste to the pile. Black sweaters, Chapstick lips, and eyeliner it is.

6:40 p.m. — We live at R.’s place three days a week, although “live” is a pretty big word for what we do, which is squeeze into his tiny two-bedroom and watch TV until we fall asleep. Before we moved to the country, he was supposed to renovate his place. This hasn’t happened yet, and I’m not sure how long I can live without a basic kitchen and a shower that doesn’t leak. I run some numbers in my head and figure that it will take at least $7,500 to redo the plumbing for the kitchen and bathroom, put in an oven and fridge, and finish the rest of his move. I don’t have that money just sitting around right now, so it’ll have to wait a few months. It wouldn’t bother me that much, but it’s different with a kid.

7:45 p.m. — R. and our daughter, B., have arrived. I consider stepping out to get noodles from the Chinese restaurant down the street, but R. has just finished an early dinner at his parents’ place a few miles across town. I’m not that hungry, so I eat an apple, make some tea, and answer some emails before it’s time to get B. ready for bed. Goal: no screen time at all while she’s awake. Nighttime is precious. I’m in bed and drifting off to an old episode of House by 9 pm.

Daily Total: $41.42

Day Two

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off at 5:07 a.m. I lie around for five minutes or so before I drag myself out of bed and set off for the 15-minute walk to the express train. I change metros and get off at Strasbourg-Saint Denis to go to the gym. A few bars and sex clubs are still open, and the bakeries are just pulling up their shutters. I realize that the gym has changed its hours since I was last here, pre-birth, and now opens at 7. I grab a seat at Sarah Baker and send a few emails over a double espresso until it opens. $3.30

7:47 a.m. — Finish working out and showering. Time for a quick hop into the steam room before dressing. This gym membership, at $200/month, is my only real indulgence. Unlimited entry to the steam room and sauna alone are worth the price.

8:18 a.m. — At my desk with a free office coffee. I have meetings all morning and afternoon, but I block off an hour from 10 to 11 to squeeze in some writing reports and plans.

9:49 a.m. — Coffee break on the second floor patio. I half want a cigarette, but there’s no way I’d go back to smoking now that I’m nearly 40, have a child, and work to stay in reasonably decent health.

12:23 p.m. — Time for lunch. I heat up a soup and then go out for some bread and a walk. End up getting a cheese roll from the bakery. $1.50

12:39 p.m. — On my way back from the bakery, I see a can of B.’s formula in the window of a pharmacy. I had problems breastfeeding, and as a result, B. started full-time on formula at two months when her weight gain lagged. We use an organic goat milk-based one, which is $37.50 a can here at the pharmacy. I can get it for $17 online by ordering a pack of six cans and using a promo code. I stop in anyway to pick up some ibuprofen for my back and shoulders, which have pretty much been in constant pain since I gave birth. $6.68

1 p.m. — I call a physical therapist when I get back to the office – I have a doctor’s prescription for 15 sessions for my back and shoulders, which will be covered by national health insurance. This therapist comes recommended, but part of his fee isn’t covered by insurance. (Guess that’s why I got an appointment so quickly). I decide I don’t mind paying the extra $50 per session fee out of pocket. My back has been bothering me for years. I can only imagine what it would cost me to get it fixed in the States. $750 isn’t so bad, especially since the payments will be spread out over four months.

1:19 p.m. — R. sends me a text message to let me know to meet him at his parents’ place after I leave work. He doesn’t have a full-time job, and when he’s in Paris, he spends a lot of time hanging out with his retired parents. (He has a net worth 10x mine, mostly in property and stocks, but is cash-poor. His family’s generosity has allowed him to not work full-time or pursue a career over the years.) He and his mother take care of B. during the day. We’re lucky to have this childcare arrangement, I just don’t know how long it’s going to last. I get off one stop before R.’s parents’ place to go by the florist’s shop, where I pick up a small bunch of miniature roses for his mother. $12.50

6:41 p.m. — R., B., and I are in the car on the way home to the apartment. We park a block away and I stop by the Chinese takeout place for fried rice and dumplings to split. We can’t cook in the apartment, so if we eat a full meal at night it’s usually Chinese takeout or sushi. $22.50

Daily Total: $46.48

Day Three

4:43 a.m. — I manage to sleep from about 8:20 p.m. until 4:30 a.m., when I hear B. cooing. I mix up a bottle, feed her, and change her diaper. I probably won’t go back to sleep before I get up and go into town. I hop online and place an order for more formula. It’ll arrive at my house in time for the weekend. $127.43

5:45 a.m. — Out the door as quietly as possible so as not to wake R. and B. I leave $62.50 on the table for R. He’ll probably need to buy diapers for B. and lunch for himself. I don’t mind leaving him money, but it makes both of us feel weird. I don’t like feeling like I’m giving him an allowance, but he has expensive tastes that I can’t afford, and aside from housing, gas, and food, we don’t agree on priorities. Money is a huge sore point between us. We don’t share finances per se, and neither of us has debt, but I pay all of our basics and 90% of other expenses. Plus I contribute to my own retirement. $62.50

7 a.m. — Gym. Treadmill. Listening to RTL through my headphones. I want to start lifting again but I’m not ready. Pregnancy and childbirth were rougher on my body than I was expecting. I hate admitting that I just can’t get up again and bounce back.

9:14 a.m. — At my desk with breakfast eggs and lentil salad from Prêt à Manger ($10), plus free fruit and coffee from the office kitchen, when I get a phone call from R., who wants to know what the money is doing on the table. He “doesn’t need money,” except I know that he does, and the next time we need something or he wants something while we’re out, we’re going to play some stupid game of “Mother May I” that’s going to leave both of us with hurt feelings. He hangs up in a huff. $10

11:15 a.m. — Macarons! One of our favorite partners has stopped by with goodies from Pierre Hermé. Time for an office coffee and a salted caramel macaron. I feel defeated about the R. situation; I can’t win. My salary package finally reached six figures last year, but four years ago I was making a grand total of $34,000. Living in substandard housing for many years and being worried about how I would pay for groceries at the end of the month took a toll on me. It’s why I usually drink office coffee. The idea of going to Starbucks so much that you would want a loyalty card horrifies me. (No judgment, just the residual effect of years of being poor.)

12:30 p.m. — I heat up some soup purchased earlier this week, supplement with a veggie salad and cheese roll takeout from the bakery, grab a pot of yogurt from my stash in the fridge, and head to the lounge to check out the FIFA action happening on the big screen. $6.50

2:20 p.m. — Long distance calls with an American client, who congratulates me on how well I speak English. I’ve learned not to say anything other than “thanks.” Men at my level never get these kinds of questions, like where they’re from or how long they’ve been wherever, whether or not it’s hard to move somewhere completely different, and do they like living in France?

3:35 p.m. — Seven minutes until my next meeting. I order a cool poster of wine — I’m a wine lover and a map geek and want to cover the bare walls of my house with all kinds of maps and graphics. I leave the office at 4:15 p.m. I worked straight through with 20 total minutes of break, so I’m out early to go to pilates at the gym. $24.75

7 p.m. — Pilates is over, I’m showered, and we’re at R.’s parents’ place waiting for traffic to die down so that we can get in the car and drive to mine. I’ll work from home tomorrow. I stopped at Franprix to bring some fruit and chocolate to the in-laws and pick up some diapers for B. She’s gone up a size in the last week, and for some reason the next size up is nearly three times as expensive as the ones she was wearing. I can’t really compare, though, since the packs of diapers have different quantities. This frustrates the comparison-shopping American in me. $26.84

9:21 p.m. — On the road with a sleeping B. in the backseat. We stop to fill up the car and I knock out a few emails before losing the 4G signal about an hour down the highway. $108.51

Daily Total: $366.53

Day Four

5:40 a.m. — Up early and caffeinated with B. fed and diapered. I check emails from my desk downstairs. I remember that I still need to send back a bunch of holiday orders for R. and B. that didn’t fit.

9:15 a.m. — Break for more coffee and a trip to the bakery ($6.25) and post office. I open the huge shutters facing the street and watch the light flood in. This place is so pretty (and cheap), but over the past few months I’ve had the nagging feeling that it was the wrong decision, for lots of reasons. $6.25

9:20 a.m. — Spend more than expected sending back the holiday items and buying stamps. Sending a letter will go up to around $1.25 this year. Crazy. On the way back from the post office, I see our neighbor coming out of the bakery. He’s a mysterious figure who, like me, works in the city. Sharp and well-dressed, in his mid-60s. I have no idea what he actually does or what he’s doing here in this poky little town. His girlfriend is closer to my age, and I’ve been wanting to hang out with her for a few weeks. I make a note to call her. I’m back on calls from 9:30 straight until noon. $45

12:07 p.m. — R. runs downstairs in a panic that we’re going to miss the Friday market. The market comes to town twice a week. Today it’s the fruit and veg wagon, plus the cheese van. R.’s thing is cheese. I’m in the middle of something, so I hand him $40 and tell him to get whatever he likes. He comes back 30 minutes later with two and a half pounds of cheese and $15 worth of muscle car magazines. “Some light reading for the lady,” he smiles triumphantly as he hands them to me. His cheek is incredible, but so is his ability to make me laugh. Market haul includes potatoes, pears, salad, and clementines. And two and a half pounds of cheese. We’ll probably do a raclette tonight. $40

4:40 p.m. — I finish up work, we pile in the car, and drive the 10 miles down the road to the butcher shop. It’s the kind of place that tourists love to come for the authenticity. We buy some beef for stroganoff, some smoked sausage for freezing and quick weekend dinners, and a couple of slices of pâté for snacking. Everything is local. $34.76

5:17 p.m. — On the way back, we veer off toward a neighboring village and pass in front of Cédric’s bar to see if it’s open. It is, so we go inside and share a pint of the local microbrew while showing B. around to the regulars we haven’t seen since she was born. We’re back home by 6:30 p.m. I start messing around with a communications plan for the local organic grocery store, which is in danger of closing. It’s not really clear why, but inexperienced management seems to be a factor. It’s one of the few oases of progressive thinking here, and it would be a shame if it went under. I attended the last co-op meeting and volunteered to help where I could: marketing, communications, sales. I stop to make the stroganoff around 8 p.m., then call it a day around 10 after B. is fed and things are reasonably clean. We drift off to an old episode of House. $5

Daily Total: $131.01

Day Five

6:13 a.m. — Wake up to B. glurgling happily beside me. She’s not hungry or dirty, so I check messages before heading downstairs. There’s a WhatsApp from a number I don’t recognize. Then I remember it’s M., a 20-something investment banker I met last summer shortly after R. left me. We had a few dates before R. came back. M. didn’t mind that I was single mom-to-be in my late 30s, but he was scared off by the fact that I was moving to the country part-time. I told him that R. was coming back and we dropped out of contact soon after. He kind of ghosted me on WhatsApp, which is why I’m surprised to see the message. Decide to wait awhile before replying.

6:30 a.m. — M.’s avatar is once again greyed out and there’s no status. I don’t have the mental energy to wonder what just happened. He’s a sweet guy, and I hope he finds someone.

8:17 a.m. — I ‘m caffeinated and the baby is changed, fed, and entertained. R. goes down the street for bread and pastries. $6.98

10:15 a.m. — Working on grocery store messaging when the doorbell rings. It’s the postal carrier with a package. I ask her to wait a second so that I can get her tube of homemade cookies and her yearly tip. In France, it’s traditional to tip service workers a little something at the end of the year. The concept is completely foreign to me as an American, but I play along. Connections mean a lot in a small place like this, and if you’re cheap, crazy, or strange, word gets around fast. $25

11:14 a.m. — Browsing clothes for B. I order a couple more pants and another jacket in a warm, comfy style I bought for her a few weeks ago. She looks and feels like a cuddly little penguin in them. $59.96

12 p.m. — Pâté sandwiches with goods from the butcher, fruit from the market haul, and tea. Then story time with baby, which turns into nap time.

2:30 p.m. — Get up and realize I’m late for a meeting with R.’s real estate agent. He bought a property to renovate in the same town at the same time as I was buying my house. I want to drop off a gift for her since she went out of her way to introduce us to people here, and since the transaction had a lot of ups and downs. Normally I wouldn’t pick up this particular chore, but R.’s not going to do it because it’s a “waste of money” — his words. But I know how hard she worked to get the deal done and smooth things over when things went belly-up with the owners. I want her to know that someone noticed and appreciated the extra effort that she made. $64.44

4:45 p.m. — Just discovered the air wash function of my washing machine. How did I not know about this?! This is going to save a ton on dry cleaning. I also discover that moths have eaten my new-last-season cashmere sweaters that were in storage this summer. I bought them on Grana, but I’m not sure I want to shell out $100 each to replace them. That’s not expensive for a decent cashmere, but it’s still more than I’m used to paying for a basic sweater. I may go with some merino Uniqlo ones for $29 a pop.

5:30 p.m. — Laundry and Columbo marathon until the late hours of the evening. I make a pot of tea and sandwiches, and a bottle for B.

Daily Total: $156.38

Day Six

1:24 a.m. — Can’t sleep. Browsing Amazon for The Feynman Lectures on Physics. I’m looking for something to do; a longer, bigger thing that is greater than the sum of its parts. Raising a child is part of it, but I feel like my intellect is going unchallenged. The last 10 years of my life have been about money and career. I grew up in an unglamorous place on the frugal end of middle class. No one had any particular expectations of me. I arrived at adulthood with no idea of what I should do, and no idea how to do it. Somehow – and most of the time I don’t know how – I arrived here at this place I never expected to be. Mostly because I was tired of worrying if I was going to be able to afford groceries and a house one day. I came to France with dreams of making a living from my translation and writing, but gave up during yet another year of grinding anxiety about finances. I just didn’t have the personal fortitude to push through. I feel like I failed sometimes, and wish that I had pushed anyway.

1:30 a.m. — The Lectures are over $100 for a box set, plus shipping. It’s an unnecessary expense I don’t feel like I can afford right now. I add them to my wish list. I keep thinking about the whole work-money-life thing. We often judge people who synchronize their lives to the fluctuations of the balance sheet and promotion cycle (I used to), but when you’re on the other side of that looking in and hungry…damn it feels good to even get within striking distance. I’m kind of surprised that I’ve pulled it off.

5:32 a.m. — Up and on the train. I got my ticket early, so it was only $15. I put on my noise-canceling headphones and try to sleep. Today’s a big day: the usual Monday meetings plus lunch out. $15

7:20 a.m. — Arrival in Paris. I take the metro to Grands Boulevards and pop into the Prêt à Manger on Haussmann. Get some eggs, a sandwich, and a small bar of chocolate. Fruit, coffee, and sparkling water will be free at work. $11.01

7:51 a.m. — At my desk and answering emails with office coffee.

8:22 a.m. — Scheduling all the little moving parts of an announcement this week. There’s a lot to coordinate and a lot of areas where information can potentially fall through the cracks. I got into marketing and communications by default. Good communication is a real job and an art, though. If I’m doing my job right, everything should look and feel seamless. That’s the part that takes the most work – making the rough edges invisible in order to create and highlight the main messages.

10:05 a.m. — Coffee break with the guys from finance. They’re talking about their next vacations. Realize that I’m happy enough going home on the weekends and don’t feel the need for anything more exotic than pushing a stroller through the forest at the edge of town.

12:03 p.m. — Meet a new friend at a Parisian corner bistro where we’re getting lunch. We met on a Facebook group for single parents a few months ago after R. left me, and she recently wrote to ask me for advice about buying an apartment. It’s the first time we’ve met in person. I also want to ask her about her family lawyer and her experience in the court system here. So far R. has been good with B., but I haven’t been able to get over the fact that he left while I was pregnant, and the fact that there’s increasing tension in our household — especially his badgering about money and our lifestyle in general. $20.08

1:20 p.m. — I stop at a Starbucks on my way back to the office. After hearing my friend’s story, I’m more resolved to at least contact a lawyer. Lately, there have also been some temper fits that leave me feeling on edge and unsafe. On the one hand, I feel gutted knowing that my daughter will probably not grow up with her two parents living under one roof. On the other, I know that this leads nowhere good in the long run, and that I need to sort things out now rather than wait until they get worse. Also, I don’t want her to grow up believing this is okay. It’s going to take a long time to get unstuck from this particular situation, but I’ve resolved to do it this year. $5.75

3 p.m. — Two pieces of fruit from the kitchen to get me through the rest of the afternoon of meetings. I call it a day around 6 p.m., think about going to the gym but am too tired, and get on the suburban train.

8 p.m. — I call in a sushi order for R. and me. One order is more than I can eat by myself, and he’s already eaten at his parents’ house, so we’ll split one order of sushi, tempura, rice, soup, and salad. It’s not great, but it’s food. I’m in bed by 9. $22.50

Daily Total: $74.34

Day Seven

7 a.m. — At the gym and on the treadmill after a 5:40 wake-up call. My goal is to be showered, dressed, and in the office by 8:20. Hope I’ll have time for the steam room. Even five minutes would be great.

11:07 a.m. — See an envelope lying in my bag and realize it’s the check for the plumber. Why have I not sent that back yet? I remember that there’s some complicated tax form that comes along with it that also needs to be completed. I want R.’s dad to take a look at it before I mess something up. I shoot his dad a quick email.

11:32 a.m. — Takeout lunch of pesto salad, lemonade, and a yogurt pot from M&S. I also pick up some chocolates for my team and a can of double-acting baking powder for some cookies I want to make this coming weekend. I text with R. He’s trying to entertain B. with some rudimentary version of a puppet show. It sounds cute, and I’m sorry to be missing it. $20.01

2:45 p.m. — Office fruit won’t cut it today. I’m famished, so I head out for one of those prepackaged triangle sandwiches with egg salad and bacon. $4.50

5 p.m. — My friend T. texts me to let me know he’ll be a few minutes late picking me up. He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Paris. We went out twice but weren’t right for each other, and he’s now dating another friend. We drive to a bar over on the Left Bank where we catch up over drinks every month or two. It’s one of those typically Parisian places with gold-plated furniture, glass tabletops, saucy service, and classics like Picon bières, rosé in pitchers, and vermouth by the glass.

5:22 p.m. — T. orders us each a glass of champagne. We’re celebrating a career accomplishment of his today. I admire his resilience and work ethic.

7:20 p.m. — R. and B. get home about 30 minutes after I do. R. is hungry and wants Chinese. I go across the street, order, and sit down to wait for another our fried rice and dumplings. Takeout and lunches out are a bigger portion of our budget than I’d like, but we really can’t do any differently right now living in a place without a kitchen four days a week. $22.50

7:25 p.m. — Making lists in my head of stuff I need to get within the next week. I order some baby pictures of B. $73.75

7:31 p.m. — I go ahead and buy my train ticket for next Monday. The online price has inexplicably gone from $15 to more than double. The national rail service is trying out dynamic pricing, except it’s not dynamic, it’s just bad and half-baked. $31.25

7:45 p.m. — Back at home, eating with one hand and cuddling B. with the other. I make a deposit on some baby books at Shakespeare & Co. I’m trying to get B. into a bedtime routine. She has some books in French, but only one or two in English. I’ll go pick up the books during one of my lunch hours next week. $25

11:41 p.m. — My eyes snap open after sleeping for two hours. I can’t sleep. This has been happening a lot lately. As usual for the past few months at night, I’m worried about something. Objectively, life is good. It hasn’t felt this way in a long time, though – last year was horrible and full of fear of instability. But then I look at the result: a beautiful, healthy baby girl, and my health is good. My salary and career are better than they’ve ever been. I’ve bought a house I can afford and have been careful to not squander the seeds of long-term financial security. I’m making new friends and volunteering again. I just wish I could relax.

Daily Total: $177.01

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Glutathione: The ‘Master Antioxidant’ That Your Body Needs

6 months, 8 days ago

Table of Contents

What Is Glutathione?
Foods to Eat – Optimize Glutathione Levels
Top 12 Benefits of Glutathione
Glutathione Deficiency Linked to Health Problems
Glutathione Supplement Side Effects
Healthy Lifestyle to Maintain Healthy Glutathione Levels
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that is naturally produced by the body. It’s one of the most talked about supplements nowadays, as it provides a long list of benefits — from helping prevent oxidative damage to improving skin health and protecting the immune system.1 It’s also found in, and used by, every cell and tissue in the body, making it a vital molecule for a number of physiological processes.2

However, there’s a variety of factors that may deplete your body’s glutathione levels over time, resulting in a number of health issues, including a weakened immune system, cell mutations and higher susceptibility to cancer.3 Read on to find out more about the importance of this natural antioxidant and the ways to maintain normal levels of it in your body.

What Is Glutathione?

Glutathione is a small tripeptide molecule that’s made up of three amino acids: glutamate (aka glutamic acid), cysteine and glycine. It’s often labeled as the “master antioxidant” or “mother of all antioxidants,” as it helps recycle and maximize the function of other antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and alpha-lipoic acid.4,5

There are two forms of glutathione: the reduced glutathione (GSH), which is also called L-glutathione,6 and the oxidized glutathione (GSSG). When the GSH molecules exert their antioxidant effects on the reactive oxygen species, they oxidize and turn into GSSG.7,8

The commercial glutathione products available today contain reduced glutathione, since this is the active form. This is why the term “L-glutathione” is sometimes interchanged with glutathione.9,10

According to a study published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine, the ratio of GSH to GSSG determines the cellular redox status. A ratio of 1-to-10 means that the cells are exposed to oxidant stress.11 The glutathione system is also composed of two groups of enzymes: glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) — both of which mediate its antioxidative effects.12,13,14

Even though glutathione is naturally synthesized in your cells, your body’s levels of it may still decrease, especially as you age; glutathione also does not act alone in your body — it needs coenzymes to perform its various enzymatic roles.15

Your glutathione levels may also be affected by certain diseases, such as cancer, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), Type 2 diabetes, hepatitis and Parkinson’s disease.16 Other external factors that may deplete this essential substance include:17,18

Poor diet
Pollution
Toxins
Medications
Stress
Trauma
UV radiation

Some people turn to oral glutathione supplements in capsule or liquid form to optimize their glutathione levels. One type of glutathione supplement that’s said to be formulated for optimum absorption is the liposomal glutathione.19,20

Keep in mind, though, that oral supplementation is expensive and may not be effective, since glutathione is broken down in the intestines, thereby preventing it from entering the cells intact.21,22,23 Glutathione is also given intravenously, intramuscularly, topically or as an inhalant.24

One of the best ways to increase your glutathione levels is by eating foods that help boost its production in your body, particularly those that contain high amounts of sulfur, like high-quality whey powder.25

Foods to Eat if You Want to Optimize Your Glutathione Levels

Glutathione naturally occurs in some foods, including raw asparagus, almonds, spinach, broccoli, walnuts, garlic, tomatoes, cucumber, watercress and chives. However, it may not be well-absorbed from these dietary sources. Cooking, storage and farming methods may also reduce the amount of glutathione in foods.26,27,28,29

Fortunately, you don’t have to eat glutathione-rich foods just to obtain this antioxidant naturally, since you can also maximize your body’s ability to synthesize it by eating foods that are rich in its precursors, including:30,31

• Whey protein powder — Whey protein provides the amino acids that your body needs to produce glutathione.32 Plus, it contains a unique cysteine residue known as glutamylcysteine, which is highly bioactive in its affinity for converting to glutathione.33

When buying whey protein powder, make sure that you choose a cold-pressed product that’s derived from grass fed cows to guarantee that it’s free from harmful chemicals, hormones and sugar.

• Allium and cruciferous vegetables — Allium vegetables, like garlic, onions, leeks and chives, as well as cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, have high amounts of sulfur-containing amino acids that are essential for glutathione production.34,35

• Grass fed meat and pastured eggs — Grass fed meat and pastured eggs are also excellent sources of sulfur-containing amino acids.36

Selenium also plays a role in the formation of glutathione,37 so consuming foods that are rich in this nutrient may help improve your body’s glutathione levels. Some dietary sources of selenium include wild-caught seafood and organ meat.38 Foods that contain alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) may also promote the production of glutathione in the body. These include organ meats, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.39

Top 12 Benefits of Glutathione to Your Well-Being

Glutathione provides a wide array of health benefits, thanks to its powerful antioxidant properties. Some of these benefits include:

1. Helps fight oxidative stress — Low levels of glutathione have been linked to high oxidative stress, which may lead to a number of serious health issues, like diabetes, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few.40 Studies have shown that maintaining normal glutathione levels may help protect the body against oxidative damage.41

2. Helps control inflammation — According to a 2009 study published in the journal Autoimmunity Reviews, glutathione may help regulate inflammation by stimulating or inhibiting your body’s immunological response.42

3. Helps keep age-related health problems at bay — Research shows that improving glutathione synthesis through higher dietary cysteine intake may help stave off age-related health issues, as it has a favorable effect on muscle and vascular health, bone density and cognitive function.43

4. Helps in the management of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease — Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease are both linked to oxidative stress and low levels of glutathione.44,45 Increasing the amount of this antioxidant in your body may help slow or ameliorate the progression of these neurodegenerative disorders.46,47

5. Helps fight infections — According to a 2013 study published in Biochimica Et Biophysica Acta, glutathione may help fight against microbial, viral and parasitic infections while enhancing the functional activity of immune cells and improving your innate and adaptive immunity.48

6. Aids in the management of autism — Study shows that children with autism have lower levels of glutathione, putting them at a higher risk of neurological damage caused by oxidative stress.49,50

7. Helps reduce the impact of uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes — Uncontrolled hyperglycemia is often accompanied by low glutathione levels, which may lead to higher oxidative stress and tissue damage.

Research shows that increasing your body’s level of this antioxidant may help protect you against oxidative damage despite persistent hyperglycemia.51

8. Helps improve heart health — Studies have shown that increasing your glutathione levels may reduce your risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases, since it protects the heart tissues against oxidative stress.52,53

9. Helps improve skin health — A 2017 study published in the Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology shows that the reduced and oxidized forms of glutathione may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin elasticity.54

10. Helps increase the mobility of people with peripheral artery disease — A study shows that glutathione may help improve leg arterial circulation and prolong pain-free walking distance (PFWD) of patients with peripheral artery disease.55

11. Helps treat psoriasis — Psoriasis vulgaris is a common autoimmune disease that’s linked to higher levels of oxidative stress and systemic inflammation. Research shows that increasing glutathione levels by consuming whey protein may help treat patients with psoriasis.56

12. Helps prevent anemia in patients with chronic renal failure — Research shows that glutathione may help increase the levels of red blood cells in in patients who are suffering from chronic renal failure and undergoing hemodialysis, making it a useful compound for the treatment and management of anemia in patients with kidney disease.57

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, glutathione may also be used for treating cataracts, glaucoma, hepatitis and respiratory disorders such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and cystic fibrosis.58 It may also help reduce cell damage in people with nonalcoholic and alcoholic fatty liver disease.59

Studies Show That Glutathione Deficiency Is Linked to Various Health Problems

Glutathione deficiency makes you more susceptible to oxidative stress, which is why it’s considered a key factor in the pathogenesis of many health problems.60 Numerous studies have confirmed its influence on the development, progression and prognosis of various diseases.

For instance, a study published in the Journal of Inherited Metabolic Diseases shows that glutathione deficiency contributes to the progressive nature of mitochondrial diseases, as it hinders the body’s ability to fight oxidative stress and impairs the activity of the electron transport chain (ETC),61 which is essential for proper cellular function.62

A separate study also linked glutathione deficiency to the progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a lung disease with unknown etiology. The level of glutathione in the lower respiratory tract of IPF patients was compared to that of the healthy, nonsmoking participants. Result shows that the glutathione level of IPF patients is lower than the healthy participants, confirming the role of antioxidant deficiency in the pathogenesis of IPF.63

Decreased glutathione levels may also be observed in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. According to a 2012 study published in the Clinical and Developmental Immunology, people with HIV infection are found to have lower levels of GSH and higher levels of GSSG, which decreases the body’s antioxidant activity, resulting in a loss of immune function in HIV patients.64

Some of the other diseases that may be affected by low glutathione levels include Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease, sickle cell anemia, cancer, stroke, diabetes and heart issues, among others. Additionally, male fertility may be negatively affected by low glutathione levels and was found to be a possible therapy for sperm health and numbers.65

Side Effects That You May Encounter When Taking Glutathione Supplement

Glutathione is considered safe to use when taken orally, intravenously or through inhalation, but it may still cause side effects, including:66

Abdominal cramps
Bloating
Flatulence and loose stools
Allergic reactions, such as rash and itchiness

Researchers are still unsure if glutathione is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, so if you fall under either of these categories, it’s wise to avoid glutathione supplements to guarantee your and your baby’s safety. You should also avoid using glutathione inhalants if you have asthma, since it may exacerbate your symptoms.67

Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle to Maintain Healthy Glutathione Levels

As I have mentioned above, consuming foods that contain the precursors of glutathione is one of the best ways to stimulate the production of this antioxidant in your body. But aside from this, you should also practice healthy lifestyle habits to maximize your body’s ability to fight off free radicals.

Eliminating sugar, grains and processed foods from your diet is a great way to lessen oxidative stress. Make sure that you’re also getting ample amounts of appropriate exercise to increase your body’s ability to produce glutathione. Managing your stress and getting enough sleep also help inhibit the damaging effects of free radicals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Glutathione

Q: What is glutathione used for?

A. Glutathione is used for its powerful antioxidant properties and detoxification effect. These benefits make glutathione useful in the management of several health issues, such as autoimmune disorders, respiratory problems, neurodegenerative disorders and peripheral artery disease, among others. It’s also popular for its ability to improve skin health and delay the process of aging and is used to lower the toxicity of chemotherapy and radiation in cancer treatments.68,69,70

Q: How can you increase your body’s glutathione levels?

A. You can naturally increase your glutathione levels by eating foods that are rich in its precursors, particularly sulfur-containing amino acids. Some good examples are whey protein powder, raw cruciferous and allium vegetables, grass fed meat and pastured eggs.71

Practicing healthy lifestyle habits, such as getting enough sleep, learning how to manage stress and exercising appropriately, may also help maintain high levels of glutathione in your body. Some people also opt to take glutathione intravenously, orally or topically.72

Q: What does glutathione do?

A. Glutathione helps protect your cells against oxidative damage by scavenging a wide array of free radicals, including nitric oxide, superoxide anion, and hydroxyl and carbon radicals. It also helps maximize the performance of other antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and alpha-lipoic acid.73

Q: Are glutathione soaps safe?

A. Yes, glutathione soaps are generally considered safe. If you’re planning to buy this product, make sure that you get it from a reputable brand, since there are cases wherein counterfeit glutathione soaps contain harmful ingredients like bleach, which may cause permanent damage to your skin.74

Q: How is liposomal glutathione made?

A. Liposomal glutathione is made by wrapping the GSH molecule in lipids or fats, which act as a protective cell membrane. This allows the GSH molecule to be transported safely throughout the gut and into the bloodstream.75,76


Read more: articles.mercola.com

The grand Indian plan that could change all things medical

6 months, 9 days ago

India is getting ready for a project that is as small as it gets — and as big. The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) will map trillions upon trillions of microbes — bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea — that are found in Indians. On their skin. In the dark depths of their guts. Swarming on every inch of their body.In a one-of-a-kind project in the country, researchers will take skin and oral swabs and collect blood and faecal samples from 20,600 individuals who belong to 103 endogamous communities (which marry within the group). These will include 32 tribes as well — from Changpa in Ladkah to Warli in Maharashtra and Mankidia in Odisha, and from Ao in Nagaland to Koya in Telangana. After collecting the samples, scientists will sequence the genome of these microorganisms.
67397956

(These microbes are called human microbiota and their genetic material are collectively referred to as the human microbiome.) The Union government-funded, Rs 150 crore project could get underway in the next few months, once the Department of Biotechnology gives it the nod. It wants to map the microbiome composition of India’s different communities — and how genetics, diet and environment impact it differently.The ambitious project aims, at the end of it, to generate the baseline microbiome data of Indians. It will also define the core microbiome of tribal populations that are unaffected by modern lifestyle. It will even help us understand the links between microbial composition and disease risks and also create a repository of microbial samples from healthy individuals to help develop probiotic-like solutions.
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The HMP is a collaborative effort between 11 research institutes and universities across the country, both public and private, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, the Insitute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology in Guwahati and Symbiosis International University in Pune. The study is being led by Pune’s National Centre for Microbial Resource (NCMR), which is part of the National Centre for Cell Science.“It’s a three-year project, but its repercussions will be there for many years to come,” says Yogesh Shouche, principal investigator at NCMR, in his office in Pune. Shouche, who has researched microbes for two decades, says this project is more challenging than similar projects in the West — for instance, in the US, Britain and European Union. “Unlike in India, microbiome projects in the West work with genetically more homogenous populations whose dietary patterns are more or less uniform.” India’s diversity is staggering on many counts.According to a study by the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in Kalyani, near Kolkata, which is also involved in HMP, modern mainland Indians have descended from four ancestral populations — Indo-European, Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman and Austro-Asiatic — and not two as earlier estimated. Indians’ diets also vary. For instance, according to a 2014 Union government survey, nearly 99% of Telangana’s population eat meat, while only a quarter of those in Rajasthan do so. A comparison of urban and rural populations in HMP will also yield insights into changes in microbiota, if any, from consumption of processed foods, which is higher in cities.“It will be interesting to study the links between microbiota and environment and diets,” says Rakesh Sharma, senior principal scientist at the New Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology.Gut InstinctsIt is the microbe that could unlock our understanding of diseases, disorders and differences but there is no definitive figure for the total number of microbes in a human body. We know that dominant among them are bacteria, a majority of which are found in the gut, especially the large intestine or colon.One estimate by researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, pegs the total number of bacteria in a human body at 40 trillion, compared with 37 trillion human cells. The total number of bacterial genes in the gut outnumber human genes by at least 30:1. Gut bacteria, which are the most extensively studied among human microbiota, help in breaking down undigested nutrients, producing vitamins and controlling disease-causing bacteria.India is already quite late to the microbiome research race. The Human MetaGenome Consortium Japan began in 2005 and the US Human Microbiome Project two years later. The US also announced a National Microbiome Initiative in 2016, committing a government investment of $121 million for two years and private investments of $400 million over an unspecified period. Similar initiatives can also be found in Canada and the European Union.
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There are also projects like the American Gut project and, its offshoot, the British Gut project. They have received $2.5 million in individual contributions (as of May 2018) and crowdsourced samples from over 11,000 people (as of mid-2017). Among the observations made by American Gut were that those who had more than 30 plant types a week had more diverse gut microbiomes and fewer antibioticresistance genes than those who had 10 or fewer a week. Moreover, those who had antibiotics in the past one month had less diverse microbiota than those who had not had antibiotics for a year.Antibiotic use is one of the causes, along with staying in a healthcare facility, of Clostridium difficile (C diff ) infections, whose symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea, fever and dehydration which could be life-threatening. Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria, but if they kill more of the good bacteria, it could aid the growth of bacteria like C. diff. The study of gut microbe, for instance, has had interesting results. The first randomised controlled trial in C diff infection, published in 2013, showed the efficacy of faecal microbiota transplant (FMT), in which faecal bacteria from a healthy donor is transferred to a patient, usually through colonoscopy.Bhabatosh Das, assistant professor at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad, believes people living in rural areas make for ideal donors. “Their guts have very diverse bacteria, while in urban areas fast food and antibiotics result in reduced diversity.”

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There are attempts being made to use FMT for obesity too. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the gut microbial composition, has been associated with obesity. According to a study published in Nature magazine in October 2018, FMT from mice, that were fed a normal-fat diet, to mice that were given a highfat diet resulted in beneficial effects usually caused by diet and exercise. Another study, also published in Nature, in April 2018, found that mice that were given chemotherapy and anitbiotic treatment regained their pre-treatment microbial composition after being given FMT.In another study from 2017, 34 pairs of twins were assessed, in which only one of every pair had multiple sclerosis. More of the mice which were given gut microbes from the twin with MS developed a disease similar to MS than those which got microbes from the healthy twin. Poor microbial diversity has also been linked to inflammatory bowel disease and Type 1 diabetes. But there are still questions. “We can’t say whether diabetes is driving gut microbes or vice versa,” says Dr CS Yajnik, a diabetologist in Pune.Mind & MicrobeThe other area where a lot of research is focused is the relationship between microbiome and mental health. In a 2013 study by scientists from the California Institute of Technology and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, they found that when mice with symptoms similar to autism were given the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis, their microbiomes changed and they became more communicative and less anxious.The American Gut project also observed that some types of bacteria may be more common in people suffering from depression than those who are not. It also found in an assessment of the gut microbiomes of 125 people — who claimed to have a mental health disorder, like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder — that their microbiomes had more in common with each than with that with someone of the same age, gender, country and body mass index.

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Moreover, babies born through natural birth tend to pick up microbes from the mother’s vagina and bowel, which could make them less likely to develop asthma, Type 1 diabetes, obesity and allergies. Similarly, breast milk is crucial to the microbial composition in kids’ guts. While the human microbiome is getting a lot of attention these days, with reports of studies uncovering the relationship between the microbiome and a disease or disorder. But there are some who sound a word of caution and believe that the significance of the microbiome may be overstated.“The hypothesis that variation in the gut microbiota can explain or be used to predict obesity status has received considerable attention and is frequently mentioned as an example of the role of the microbiome in human health…(but) we found that although there is an association, it is smaller than can be detected by most microbiome studies,” said a metastudy of 10 papers, published in August 2016 in mBio, a journal published by the American Society of Microbiology.It is quite possible that some of the recent findings about the role of microbes in our health may be disputed by future research. But a project of the scale and scope of the Human Microbiome Project could definitely advance our understanding of the complex world of human microbiota and what we do to each other.

Read more: economictimes.indiatimes.com

How Can Melatonin Supplements Benefit You?

6 months, 15 days ago

Table of Contents

What Is Melatonin?
Uses of Melatonin in Your Body
6 Ways to Optimize Your Melatonin Levels Naturally
Studies Regarding the Use of Melatonin Supplements
Benefits of Melatonin Supplement
Do Not Take Melatonin if You Have These Conditions
Side Effects of Melatonin
Consider Optimizing Your Melatonin Levels Naturally Before Taking a Supplement
Frequently Asked Questions

Sleeping is an essential human function, and at the heart of it is your circadian rhythm, also known as your body clock. It’s a natural, biological timer that helps your body recognize sleepiness and wakefulness over a period of 24 hours.

By sticking to a regular bedtime schedule, such as sleeping and waking up at the same time each day, you can maintain a steady circadian rhythm that will allow you to maximize your productivity while you’re awake, and get the right amount of sleep when nighttime arrives.1

Your circadian rhythm is largely dictated by your pineal gland. This gland is located near the center of your brain, with a shape that looks similar to a pine cone, hence the name. It’s estimated to be one-third of an inch long, and is made up of unique pineal cells and neuroglial cells that help support the gland.

Despite its small size, it plays a crucial role in your health because it produces a single hormone called melatonin, which is vital for controlling your body clock and, ultimately, your sleeping patterns.2

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin, or N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a hormone produced by the pineal gland.3 Your brain usually starts secreting melatonin around 9 p.m., which is the time most people go to bed. By increasing the amount, your body begins to recognize that bedtime is fast approaching, allowing you to sleep at an ideal time.4

To do this properly, you need to be aware of your exposure to light throughout the day and especially at night, because melatonin production depends on how much light your body absorbs.

If you stay awake past dark, light emitted by electrical devices hampers your body’s ability to produce melatonin. Ideally, you want to stop using gadgets an hour before sleeping to help increase melatonin production and maintain a steady circadian rhythm. Nightshift workers usually have it worse and constantly suffer from disrupted body clocks, because of their poor melatonin production.

3 Main Uses of Melatonin in Your Body

What is the role of melatonin anyway? Based on published research, it has been discovered to perform three main functions:

• Controls your circadian rhythm — Melatonin works as a sleeping aid by normalizing your circadian rhythm by convincing your body to prepare itself for bedtime.5 It’s a hormone that only “signals” your body to prepare for sleep, not one that actually makes you fall asleep.

• Functions as an antioxidant — Recent studies have found that melatonin not only affects your body clock, but also functions as an antioxidant that can help support your health. Specifically, it may help different aspects of your brain, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health.6 It may even lower your risk of cancer, in some cases.7

• Boosts your immune system — Melatonin may benefit your immune system in various ways. In one study, researchers suggest that melatonin may help improve the treatment of bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis.8 In another study, melatonin has been suggested as a potential tool against inflammation, autoimmune diseases and Type 1 diabetes.9

6 Ways to Optimize Your Melatonin Levels Naturally to Improve Sleep Quality

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans are suffering from a sleeping or wakefulness disorder.10 As a result, many of them turn to various remedies, such as behavioral and environmental changes, to get a good night’s rest.11

One of the first things you can do is to make sure that your body is producing enough melatonin. Optimizing your melatonin levels naturally is important because it helps keep your body functioning normally without relying on outside factors. So, instead of immediately relying on melatonin supplementation, here are a few lifestyle changes I suggest you try first to boost your melatonin production:

• Avoid using electronic devices an hour before sleeping — Gadgets such as cellphones, TVs and computers emit blue light, and exposure to it tricks your body into thinking it’s still daytime. By avoiding gadgets an hour before bed, your body can produce the melatonin needed to help you sleep at your intended time.

• Make sure to get regular sunlight exposure — Getting regular sun exposure in the morning or at noontime helps your body reduce its melatonin production, so that when nighttime arrives, your pineal gland produces the correct amount to induce sleepiness.

• Try to sleep in complete darkness — If possible, try to remove immediate light sources from your room to help improve your sleep quality. The slightest exposure to light can interfere with your body’s melatonin production and keep you up later than you need. Keep gadgets 3 feet away from your bed or use blackout window shades.

• Remove sources of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom — EMFs emitted by certain devices such as Internet routers can disrupt your pineal gland’s melatonin production. Ideally, you should turn off your wireless router, as well as other wireless devices connected to the Internet before sleeping.

• If you need a nightlight, use a low-wattage yellow, orange or red bulb — Low-wattage bulbs with a yellow, orange or red color do not interfere with melatonin production the same way that white and blue bulbs do.

• Wear blue light-blocking glasses — This special device can help keep your eyes from absorbing blue light that can affect your melatonin levels. It can be a useful tool to have around the house, especially if you’re constantly surrounded by gadgets and artificial light sources.

In addition, the following foods are known to contain small amounts of melatonin. Making them a part of your regular diet while practicing the aforementioned sleeping tips may help improve sleep quality:12

Grass fed meat (lamb, beef and pork)
Wild-caught salmon
Pasture-raised chicken and eggs
Raw, grass fed milk
Pineapple
Banana
Apple
Pomegranate
Mulberry
Tart cherries
Grapes
Onion
Garlic
Cauliflower
Turnip
Cucumber
Carrot
Radish
Beetroot
Tomatoes
Seeds (Flax, sunflower, fennel, mustard, alfalfa, celery and fenugreek)
Nuts (pistachio, almonds and walnuts)

If you’ve already tried everything, including incorporating melatonin foods in your diet, and you’re still having difficulty getting quality sleep, you may consider taking a melatonin supplement. In 2016 alone, 3.1 million adults in the United States turned to melatonin supplementation to help them sleep peacefully.13

Studies Regarding the Use of Melatonin Supplements

Since the discovery of melatonin, various studies have been conducted to discover how using it as a supplement can benefit your health. According to the Journal of Pineal Research, the melatonin secreted by your pineal gland enters every cell in your body and can even cross morphophysiologic barriers.

As a result, not only may it help you improve sleep quality,14 it also has certain anti-inflammatory compounds that may help reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis and hypertension.15

In addition, a study published in Endocrine Journal reports that increasing melatonin intake may help improve your overall health, as this hormone can be an effective antioxidant that can help fight free radicals in your body.16

Another study suggests that melatonin may help obese people manage their weight. The researchers indicate that certain lifestyle factors suppress melatonin production, which results in sleep disruption that can lead to weight gain. By increasing melatonin production, adequate sleep can be reintroduced as part of a healthy lifestyle, along with other positive lifestyle changes, to help curb obesity.17

8 Potential Benefits of Melatonin Supplement

Melatonin may help boost your health in various situations, as shown in the table below. While each benefit is backed up with scientific research, always consult with a doctor before giving melatonin supplements a try:

• Insomnia — Melatonin is primarily used to help treat people who have sleeping disorders by inducing sleepiness quicker.18

• Jet lag — Melatonin may be used to help treat jet lag by adjusting your body to a new time zone. However, it’s generally recommended only for travelers who cross four to five time zones.19

• Heart disease — People who are struggling with heart disease may benefit from melatonin. A study has found that it may help lower your bad cholesterol levels by as much as 38 percent.20

• Menopause — Increasing melatonin consumption in menopausal women 42 to 62 years old may help improve mood and stave off depression.21

• Autism — Children diagnosed with autism who are also plagued with sleeping problems may benefit from melatonin supplementation. Research indicates that taking the hormone can lead to deeper sleep and better daytime behavior.22 However, I advise consulting your health care provider before giving any melatonin supplement to children.

Fibromyalgia — People affected with fibromyalgia are believed to have lower levels of melatonin. A group of researchers found that increasing the melatonin levels of fibromyalgia sufferers through supplementation helped alleviate their symptoms and improved sleep quality.23

Gallstones — Melatonin can help lower your risk of gallstones by inhibiting cholesterol absorption across the intestinal epithelium, as well as increasing the conversion of cholesterol into bile.24

• Tinnitus — If you have tinnitus, slightly increasing your melatonin may help improve your symptoms. In one study, participants who took 3 milligrams of melatonin supplements every night experienced a decrease in tinnitus intensity after the testing duration.25

Do Not Take Melatonin if You Have These Conditions

Here’s a crucial question you should ask yourself: Are you fit to take melatonin? While there are valid reasons for taking this supplement, remember that it can exacerbate certain health conditions as well. If you’re taking any of the following medications, you should not take melatonin as the mixture can have adverse effects to your health:26

• Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs

• Anticonvulsants

• Contraceptive drugs

• Diabetes medications

• Immunosuppressants

Taking melatonin while pregnant should be avoided as well, since there’s little knowledge in this field.27 If you’ve recently developed pregnancy-related sleeping problems, I advise you to consider behavioral and dietary changes before considering melatonin or other similar types of supplement.

Refrain from giving melatonin to children, including babies and toddlers, unless approved by your physician. While a 2016 study found that children with sleep difficulties who took melatonin did not develop any concerns or adverse side effects,28 it’s better to be safe.

10 Side Effects of Melatonin You Should Know About

Some of melatonin’s potential side effects include:29,30

Daytime sleepiness
Short-term depression
Irritability
Vivid dreams, or possibly nightmares
Mild anxiety
Headaches
Abdominal discomfort
Confusion
Body clock disruption
Dizziness

If you are already taking a melatonin supplement and begin to experience any of the mentioned side effects, stop taking it immediately and consult with a doctor for safer alternatives. In addition, melatonin and alcohol should not be taken together, as it can increase your chances of accidents because the sedative effects are amplified.31

Remember: Consider Optimizing Your Melatonin Levels Naturally Before Taking a Supplement

Melatonin is a crucial hormone that performs few but important functions. Low levels of it can lead to sleep disruption, increase your risk of certain diseases and lower your antioxidant capabilities. However, remember to always try and improve your sleeping habits and environment before attempting melatonin supplementation.

While there’s an abundance of scientific evidence that suggest melatonin supplementation can be beneficial to your health, too much of it can actually make you more wakeful. By primarily focusing on natural strategies, you forego this risk, as well as the chances of developing unpleasant side effects that can further disrupt your quality of sleep. If you do decide to take a melatonin supplement, seek guidance from a doctor first.

Frequently Asked Questions About Melatonin

Q: Is melatonin addictive?

A: Currently, there’s very little information regarding melatonin supplement addiction. However, beware that it can still be abused, although the chances of becoming dependent are lower compared to other types of medications or supplements.32

Q: How long does it take for melatonin to work?

A: The average time for melatonin supplements to work is generally 20 minutes. If you’re about to take melatonin for the first time, it’s recommended that you take it one to two hours before your bedtime.33

Q: Can you take melatonin supplements while pregnant?

A: As of the moment, there is a lack of scientific evidence regarding the use of melatonin supplements on pregnant women, but it’s theorized that it may hamper sex drive, reduce ovarian function and increase the risk of developmental disorders. If you’re pregnant, it is best that you avoid using this supplement and resort to natural remedies to correct sleeping problems.34

Q: Is melatonin safe to use for kids?

A: Melatonin supplements are generally safe for children. According to a study published in Canadian Family Physician, children with sleep difficulties who took melatonin had no concerns or adverse side effects, according to their parents.35 However, consult with your child’s pediatrician before giving them any type of melatonin supplement.

Q: When is the ideal time to take melatonin?

A: Taking a melatonin supplement two hours before bedtime can help you maximize its effectiveness.36

Q: How long does the effects of melatonin last?

A: The half-life of melatonin is very short, around 59 to 65 minutes only.37

Q: Can you overdose on melatonin?

A: Yes. While there are no reported deaths related to overdosing from melatonin, consuming more than the recommended amount can cause side effects, such as autoimmune hepatitis, a psychotic episode, seizures, headaches or skin eruption.38


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Top 10 Health Searches for 2018

6 months, 21 days ago

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for subscribers like you, who help, support and share our vision for a naturally healthier, happier world, every day of the year.

Google recently announced the top health searches for 2018.1,2,3 Ketogenic diet and keto dishes were popular, although top billing still went to junk food items, with unicorn cake coming in at No. 1. Below, I’ll review the Top 10 internal Mercola.com searches for 2018 — the articles and information people have turned to again and again.

Below each search term heading, the most popular article of the year is hyperlinked; just click on it to read the full article.

No. 1 — High Blood Pressure

A blood pressure reading of 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) is considered healthy. High blood pressure (hypertension) is typically considered anything over 140/90 mmHg, although the latest guidelines4 from the American Heart Association now have 130/80 mmHg as the cutoff for a diagnosis of hypertension. In the U.S., an estimated 1 in 3 have high blood pressure, and another 1 in 3 have prehypertension.5

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia,6 adding further weight to recommendations to get your blood pressure under control in order to protect not only your heart but also your long-term cognitive health.

High Blood Pressure Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia” reviews the latest research linking hypertension with a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease; factors that can affect your blood pressure reading; common causes for high blood pressure; and, natural ways to normalize your blood pressure without drugs.

Beet juice, for example, has been found to have a beneficial effect on blood pressure.7 The beneficial effects are related to the nitrate found in beetroot juice. Your body converts the nitrate into bioactive nitrite followed by nitric oxide (NO), the latter of which helps relax and dilate your blood vessels. High-intensity exercise such as the Nitric Oxide Dump will also trigger NO production in your body.

A number of essential oils can also be helpful, including lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, bergamot, rose, frankincense, rosemary, lemon balm and clary sage.8 More information can be found in the popular article “Essential Oils Lower Blood Pressure.”

Salt-related hypertension is also a concern for many. In “Why a Low-Sodium Diet Might Wreck Your Health,” I interview James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D., about his book, “The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong — and How Eating More Might Save Your Life.”

A key take-home message here is that processed foods and sugars may have a far greater impact on your blood pressure than salt, and that your sodium-to-potassium ratio is far more important a factor than the amount of salt you eat.

No. 2 — Ketogenic Diet

Many of the disease epidemics facing us today — including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and dementia — could be turned around by educating people about the benefits of a cyclical ketogenic diet, i.e., a diet high in healthy fats, moderate in protein and low in net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber).

Burn Fat for Fuel” details how burning fat for fuel improves mitochondrial function, and why cycling in and out of nutritional ketosis is recommended once your body is able to efficiently burn fat. In this article, I also review the benefits of intermittent fasting and longer water fasts, as well as the fats to eat more of and which ones to avoid.

No. 3 — Beets

Beets have gotten loads of beneficial press in the past year, as research demonstrates the beneficial impact of plant-based nitrates on your heart health. In “Why Some Nitrates Are Healthy While Others Are Harmful,” I review the ins and outs of healthy versus unhealthy nitrates.

Your microbiome converts the nitrates found naturally in plant foods into beneficial nitric oxide, while the nitrates in cured and processed meats raise your risk of cancer by being converted into carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds due to the presence of proteins and heme in the meat.

No. 4 — Vitamin D

We’re continually learning more and more about the benefits of vitamin D — and how vitamin D works with other nutrients to optimize health. “Without Magnesium, Vitamin D Supplementation May Backfire” explains why optimizing your magnesium level is so important for effectively raising your vitamin D level.

Like vitamin K2 and calcium, magnesium is a crucial cofactor when trying to raise your vitamin D, as it’s required for the activation of vitamin D. Without sufficient amounts of magnesium, your body cannot properly utilize the vitamin D3 you’re taking, and research shows improving your magnesium status can actually allow you to raise your vitamin D level while taking lower doses.

To assess your magnesium level, check your RBC magnesium level and track signs and symptoms of magnesium insufficiency to determine how much magnesium you need. Low potassium and calcium are also common laboratory signs indicating magnesium deficiency.

Remember that the only way to determine how much sun exposure is enough and/or how much vitamin D3 you need to take is to measure your vitamin D level, ideally twice a year. According to the latest research, a level between 60 and 80 ng/mL appears to be ideal for optimal health and disease prevention.

No. 5 — Intermittent Fasting

Fasting upregulates autophagy and mitophagy — natural cleansing processes necessary for optimal cellular renewal and function — and triggers the generation of stem cells. The cyclical abstinence from food followed by refeeding also massively stimulates mitochondrial biosynthesis. All of this is needed for optimal health and disease prevention, which is why fasting has such a powerful regenerative effect.

Research shows fasting is a powerful lifestyle tool for combating obesity, insulin resistance and related health problems, including cancer. There’s even evidence to suggest fasting can help prevent or even reverse dementia, as it helps your body clean out toxic debris.

While water-only fasting is the most effective, it can also be the most problematic, as it forces fat-soluble toxins out of your fat cells. If you’re highly toxic and your detoxification pathways aren’t working well, this could actually be dangerous.

Fortunately, research has confirmed that similar results (albeit not as profound) can be achieved through intermittent fasting, i.e., following a meal-timing schedule where you’re fasting for at least 16 hours every day and eating all of your meals within eight consecutive hours.

While some intermittent fasting plans place no restrictions on the foods you eat (only when and/or the number of calories), recent evidence suggests intermittent fasting is far more effective when combined with a ketogenic diet.

This makes sense considering both strategies improve your fat burning ability and have similar rejuvenating and regenerating effects. All of this is reviewed in the popular article “Why Intermittent Fasting Is More Effective Combined With Ketogenic Diet.”

No. 6 — Flu Shot Facts

Flu protection is a common yearly concern, online search data reveal. Two of the most-read articles for 2018 were “The Big Bad Flu Data — What You Need to Know About Vaccine Effectiveness and Alternatives,” and “New York City to Require Flu Shots for Preschoolers and California Moves to Eliminate Vaccine Exemptions for the Poor.”

As noted in “The Big Bad Flu Data,” the vaccine effectiveness against influenza for the 2017/2018 seasonal flu vaccines was just 36 percent, meaning for a vast majority of people, it offered no protection at all. What’s more, research shows the flu vaccine does not result in significantly fewer or lessened symptoms should you contract the flu.

In fact, there’s plenty of evidence suggesting flu vaccinations render you more susceptible to illness, both in that season and the following one. The article also provides the details of research showing vitamin D optimization would protect far more people than flu vaccinations.

The second article discusses the ongoing concern of mandatory flu vaccinations for school-aged children, and the elimination of vaccine exemptions. It also reviews a number of studies questioning the validity of annual flu vaccination as a public health measure.

No. 7 — Sucralose (Splenda)

Sucralose (sold under the brand name Splenda) is one of the main competitors to aspartame, and both of these artificial sweeteners can have serious health consequences, raising your risk of obesity, diabetes and other chronic health problems. One of sucralose’s mechanisms of harm is the destruction of beneficial gut bacteria.

New Splenda Studies Confirm Its Dangers” reviews research showing sucralose is not a biologically inert compound; it is in fact metabolized, and accumulates in fat cells — something that the industry has long denied — and has toxic effects in your liver. The article also lists commonly reported side effects, and other scientific findings that question its overall safety in the long term.

I also review how to determine whether you might be having a reaction to artificial sweeteners, and how to file an adverse reaction report with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

No. 8 — Probiotics

More attention than ever is being put on your gut health, and understandably so because 70 to 80 percent of your immune function resides within your gastrointestinal tract. Your gut bacteria can also influence your behavior and gene expression, and have been shown to play a role in a variety of diseases, including obesity, diabetes, autism and Parkinson’s disease.

While fermented foods and a healthy low-sugar, high-fiber diet are foundational for gut health, probiotic supplements can also be beneficial. In “Go With Your Gut,” I review the influence of your gut microbiome on your health, and how to identify a high-quality probiotic supplement.

I also discuss the benefits of sporebiotics, which in some ways are superior to conventional probiotic supplements, especially if you’re taking them concurrently with an antibiotic, or to reseed your gut following a course of antibiotics. Sporebiotics do not contain any live bacillus strains, only its spores — the protective shell around the DNA and the working mechanism of that DNA — which means they are not affected by antibiotics.

No. 9 — Berberine

A number of new supplements have gained recognition in the past year, with berberine, a powerful AMPK activator, being among the most popular and most-searched-for.

AMPK is an enzyme that plays an important role in body fat composition, inflammation, blood lipids, mitophagy (mitochondrial autophagy) and mitochondrial biogenesis. It also stimulates five other critically important pathways: insulin, leptin, mTOR, IGF-1 and PGC-1α.

In “PQQ, Berberine and Other Mitochondrial Enhancers,” I interview Dr. Michael Murray, a naturopathic physician and author of several books, about the benefits and action of berberine. For example, berberine has been shown to protect against oxidative stress associated with Parkinson’s disease, and has many of the same benefits as the diabetic drug metformin, but without the side effects.

No. 10 — Cancer

As you’d expect, cancer is also on the list of most-searched-for health concerns. Clearly, prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to cancer, and while diet is paramount (with cyclical keto and fasting topping the list of all-natural cancer prevention strategies), specific nutrients and supplements show great promise as well, curcumin being one of the most potent and most well-studied.

When it comes to cancer treatment, more people than ever before are forgoing conventional chemotherapy and are starting to take control of their own cancer treatment and care. Overall, years of research supports the sanity of this trend, as studies have repeatedly shown chemo is nowhere near as effective as most people think, and actually hastens death when given to severely ill patients.

Two of the most popular cancer-related articles for the year were “How Curcumin Targets Cancer” and “Chemotherapy Is Losing Its Luster,” which address prevention and treatment respectively.

The remarkable benefits of nutritional ketosis and fasting as adjuncts to conventional cancer treatment are also detailed in “Metabolically Supported Therapies for the Improvement of Cancer Treatment,” which features an interview with Dr. Abdul Slocum and Travis Christofferson, author of “Tripping Over the Truth: How the Metabolic Theory of Cancer is Overturning One of Medicine’s Most Entrenched Paradigms.”

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