Depression and Anger Affect the Immune System For older men, feelings of depression may weaken the immune system, new research suggests. And anger seems to have a similar effect in both men and women caring for a spouse. People have traditionally looked at depression and stress with a one-size-fits-all mentality. This view suggests that all stressors will apply equally to all people. But there are certain groups, such as older men, who are more vulnerable to stress and depression. The researchers studied the relationship between anger, depressed feelings and the immune system in 82 elderly individuals who cared for a spouse. At the start of the study and 18 months later, the investigators evaluated the participants' physical and psychological health, as well as their physical activity. Investigators also measured how vigorously participants' immune systems responded to substances that trigger the activation of cells called lymphocytes. In men, feelings of depression were linked to a diminished immune response. Most of the depressed feelings of men in the study arose not from actual clinical depression but from feelings of loneliness, the report indicates. Older men may be more reluctant to talk about their problems and tend to have fewer friends than older women. Some research has suggested that men's bodies are better equipped for dealing with short-term challenges than long-term challenges. Men typically experience bursts of stress hormones when faced with a challenge, but this type of response may not be effective for dealing with chronic sources of stress. Although the relationship between depressed mood and immunity differed by gender, higher levels of anger were linked to reduced immune function at the end of the study in both male and females. The combination of anger and chronic stress can result in reduced immune function. Journal of Behavioral Medicine Perfectionism Reinforces Eating Disorders College-aged young adults already concerned with their physical appearance can have tendencies toward eating disorders reinforced by perfectionist fathers. A survey of more than 400 male and female college students showed that fathers are more likely than mothers to create the kinds of pressures that can lead to disordered eating, and eventually to anorexia, bulimia and other problems. Seventeen percent of the students surveyed exhibited eating patterns considered maladaptive, including vomiting as a result of feeling uncomfortably full. Personal perfectionism was also found to be more an issue in eating disorders than food itself. Those who feel out of control of their lives and bodies may turn to eating as an area in which they do have a sense of control. A Technique For Anger Management Anger, the experts tell us, is more than an out-of-control emotion that disrupts lives and relationships. Everyone understands how anger can lead to road rage, domestic abuse, and legal problems -- but few of us appreciate how damaging anger is to our physical health. Further, very few people yet understand how easily anger can be managed and dissipated through Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Our emotions trigger the release of a variety of chemicals that cause physical responses throughout the body. The more often "anger chemicals" are released, the more their release is reinforced, so that anger becomes an automatic response. Some of us never outgrow the temper tantrums we had as toddlers. Psychiatrists and psychologists refer to uncontrollable childhood or adolescent anger and aggression as "disruptive disorders," which can lead to school suspensions, frequent fights, drug use, illegal activities, hostility, and violence. These same behaviors often continue through adulthood, where they contribute to injuries and serious illnesses. Some medical researchers attribute cancer and depression to the depletion of energy that occurs when anger is directed inward, while they attribute heart disease, high blood pressure, and other conditions to anger directed toward others. Counselors usually turn to a patient's personal and medical history in order to study the psychiatric disorders, medical or biological factors, undiagnosed learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), drug or alcohol abuse, past traumas, and other environmental factors that may have contributed to the problem. They use crisis management, time-outs, prescription drugs, and other prevention skills in combination with individual counseling, family counseling, and group therapy to help hot-heads of all ages bring their anger under control. These are laudable goals, and these methods work well for some people -- with time, practice, and perseverance. For many who use these approaches, even those who do so successfully, anger management is a full-time job. Wouldn't it be wonderful if something could neutralize the anger reaction so that it doesn't even occur? Then instead of living a reactive life, in which all they do is react to situations around them, people could reach their goals without being distracted by things that would normally send them off in a rage. For a small but growing number of anger management students around the world, that possibility is not a remote daydream, it's an everyday reality. Instead of the progress and moderate success rates claimed by conventional therapies, the procedure they use works progressively claims an 80 percent success rate. One moderate technique is a method of tapping with the fingertips on key acupuncture points, an unlikely sounding protocol that subtly addresses the underlying causes of frustration, anger, and impatience. Their method an emotional version of acupuncture except that needles aren't necessary. Anger, as it turns out, involves a disruption in the free flow of our energy meridians. We endorse a number of accouterments in treatment that contribute to an individual’s gaining control of their emotions in manners that can be used in daily living. In addition to reducing or eliminating rage and anger, other techniques have been consistently effective healing tools for hundreds of other physical, mental and emotional ailments. Please consult qualified health professionals before putting techniques into practice for yourself or others. Why do You Need Organic Food? By Rachael Droege The decision to purchase organic food over conventionally grown food is a personal one, and as you walk through the supermarket, many of which are now adding organic sections, you will likely ask the question: Is organic food really better? Well, organic food is certainly growing in popularity, and the global sales reflect this having increased over 10 percent to reach $23 billion in 2002. The U.S. market is also expanding as consumers increase their demand for healthy and natural products. U.S. organic food sales have increased from $3.5 billion in 1996 to more than $9 billion in 2001. Organic farming differs from conventional farming in the methods used to grow crops. Where traditional farmers apply chemical fertilizers to the soil to grow their crops, organic farmers feed and build soil with natural fertilizer. Traditional farmers use insecticides to get rid of insects and disease, while organic farmers use natural methods such as insect predators and barriers for this purpose. Traditional farmers control weed growth by applying synthetic herbicides, but organic farmers use crop rotation, tillage, hand weeding, cover crops and mulches to control weeds. The result is that conventionally grown food is often tainted with chemical residues, which can be harmful to humans. There is debate over whether dietary exposure to pesticides at levels typically found on food is dangerous, but experts say that consumers should use caution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides and 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic. Pesticides can have many negative influences on health, including neurotoxicity, disruption of the endocrine system, carcinogenicity and immune system suppression. Pesticide exposure may also affect male reproductive function and has been linked to miscarriages in women. Aside from pesticide contamination, conventional produce tends to have fewer nutrients than organic produce. On average, conventional produce has only 83 percent of the nutrients of organic produce. Studies have found significantly higher levels of nutrients such as vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and significantly less nitrates (a toxin) in organic crops. There is little question that organic foods are superior to non-organic ones. However, I see many patients who are not eating any vegetables because they either cannot afford them or they are too difficult to obtain. Please understand that it is better to eat non-organic vegetables than no vegetables at all. In the same vein, it is also important to realize that fresh non-organic vegetables will be better than wilted and rotten organic vegetables that are occasionally the only ones available in smaller organic produce stands. There are many highly perishable nutrients that degrade with time and exposure to air and ultraviolet radiation. If the organic vegetables are seriously damaged then it would be far wiser to eat fresh, undamaged non-organic vegetables. Hopefully, as the demand for organic increases the prices will drop, and the supply will increase making it far easier to obtain relatively inexpensive high-quality organic produce. If you must buy conventional produce, there are ways to reduce your pesticide exposure. Thoroughly washing all fruits and vegetables will help, although all pesticide residues cannot be removed by washing. You can also remove the outer layer of leaves or peel vegetables if possible. Another alternative is to grow your own vegetables, although this takes space, time and climate considerations. Another option is to buy organic produce selectively, as certain foods tend to have higher or lower amounts of pesticides. The following foods tend to have the highest levels of pesticides (from Environmental Working Group’s FoodNews.org): Fruit Vegetables 1. Peaches 1. Spinach 2. Apples 2. Bell Peppers 3. Strawberries 3. Celery 4. Nectarines 4. Potatoes 5. Pears 5. Hot Peppers 6. Cherries 7. Red Raspberries 8. Imported Grapes These foods tend to be lower in pesticide levels: Fruits Vegetables 1. Pineapples 1. Cauliflower 2. Plantains 2. Brussels Sprouts 3. Mangoes 3. Asparagus 4. Bananas 4. Radishes 5. Watermelon 5. Broccoli 6. Plums 6. Onions 7. Kiwi Fruit 7. Okra 8. Blueberries 8. Cabbage 9. Papaya 9. Eggplant 10. Grapefruit 11. Avocado In the case of organic foods such as grains and milk, you are better off avoiding these products all together. Organic grain will disrupt your insulin levels just like ordinary grain, and organic milk is pasteurized, which comes with its own slew of negative health effects. Your best bet may be to simply avoid grains and choose raw milk instead. AA&E Retreat provides dialectic and cognitive behavioral treatment. Call toll free 1-877-379- care (2273) for more information.
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