Thursday, May 23, 2013

Exercise Helps with Depression

When you have depression, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference. 
Exercise helps with depression.

Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research on depression and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help reduce anxiety and improve mood. 

Exercise may also help keep anxiety and depression from coming back once you're feeling better.

How Exercise Helps
Exercise probably helps ease depression in a number of ways, which may include:
  • Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
  • Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
  • Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects
Psychological and Emotional Benefits of Exercise
Exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits too. It can help you:
  • Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
  • Take your mind off worries. Exercise is a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.
  • Get more social interaction. Exercise may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
  • Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage anxiety or depression is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how badly you feel, or hoping anxiety or depression will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.

Types of Exercise and Physical Activities
Exercise includes a wide range of activities that boost your activity level to help you feel better. Certainly running, lifting weights, playing basketball and other fitness activities that get your heart pumping can help. But so can activities such as gardening, washing your car, or strolling around the block and other less intense activities. Anything that gets you off the couch and moving is exercise that can help improve your mood. 

You don't have to do all your exercise at once either. Broaden how you think of exercise and find ways to fit activity into your routine. Add small amounts of physical activity throughout your day. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a little farther away from your work to fit in a short walk. Or, if you live close to your job, consider biking to work. 

How to Get Started with Exercise
Starting and sticking with an exercise routine can be a challenge. Here are some steps that can help. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program to make sure it's safe for you.
  • Identify what you enjoy doing. Figure out what type of physical activities you're most likely to do, and think about when and how you'd be most likely to follow through. For instance, would you be more likely to do some gardening in the evening or go for a jog in the pre-dawn hours? Go for a bike ride or play basketball with your children after school? Do what you enjoy to help you stick with it.
  • Get your mental health provider's support. Talk to your doctor or other mental health provider for guidance and support. Discuss concerns about an exercise program and how it fits into your overall treatment plan.
  • Set reasonable goals. Your mission doesn't have to be walking for an hour five days a week. Think realistically about what you may be able to do. Tailor your plan to your own needs and abilities rather than trying to meet unrealistic guidelines that you're unlikely to meet.
  • Don't think of exercise as a chore. If exercise is just another "should" in your life that you don't think you're living up to, you'll associate it with failure. Rather, look at your exercise schedule the same way you look at your therapy sessions or medication — as one of the tools to help you get better.
  • Address your barriers. Figure out what's stopping you from exercising. If you feel self-conscious, for instance, you may want to exercise at home. If you stick to goals better with a partner, find a friend to work out with. If you don't have money to spend on exercise gear, do something that's virtually cost-free, such as walking. If you think about what's stopping you from exercising, you can probably find an alternative solution.
  • Prepare for setbacks and obstacles. Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small. If you skip exercise one day, that doesn't mean you can't maintain an exercise routine and may as well quit. Just try again the next day.
                                      Exercise (walking) helps with depression.

                                    Exercise (bicycling) helps with depression.

Brain Chemicals and Hormones

Brain Chemicals
Many of our moods depend on our nervous system. Too much or too little of the chemicals that speed things up or slow things down and the whole thing can go out of kilter. The basis of many of our medications is to correct these imbalances. Here are just a handful of the essential neurotransmitters and the way they work.
Brain Chemicals
Glutamate and GABA can be thought of as mainstay neurotransmitters. They exist in high concentrations within the brain where one (glutamate) is the throttle and the other gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) acts as the brake. Glutamate has an important role in learning and memory but too much and it can lead to agitation, impulsive behavior and even violence. GABA has the opposite effect – it is the anti-stress, anti-anxiety, anti-panic, anti-pain neurotransmitter. It increases our levels of tranquility by inhibiting too much nerve activity and helps us fall asleep. Some of the most frequently used drugs for anxiety enhance the action of GABA.
Serotonin is all about serenity and hopefulness in moods. Serotonin is probably the most famous neurotransmitter because of the antidepressants that boost it up. Receptors for serotonin show up in the intestines (it makes food move through faster), blood vessels (increases constriction--and blood pressure and migraines), and of course the central nervous system. High serotonin levels lower appetite.
When levels of serotonin are low, our ability to sleep is disturbed and we can't feel pleasure in anything.  We crave carbohydrates. Low levels are linked to depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, violence, aggression, and suicide. And low levels of serotonin are linked to panic disorder. Weirdly, low levels of serotonin may also lead to urinary frequency, hyperactive bladder, and urge incontinence. In the past they knew that women with bladder problems were depressed, but they thought the bladder problems caused the depression. Now, however, it looks as though both could be caused by low serotonin levels.
The latest generation of SSRI drugs, such as Prozac, aim to increase levels of serotonin within the brain. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression.
Dopamine is our arousal and stimulation neurotransmitter. We associate dopamine with rewards as it controls our appetite for sex, eating, pleasure and even creative thinking. Too little dopamine can lead to depression but too much can lead to dependence on the agent doing the stimulating. Cocaine, for example, increases dopamine levels in the brain’s reward circuit and, for a period, can produce intense pleasure. Long-term use seems to result in neural degeneration from overproduction of dopamine.
Endorphins are both hormones and neurotransmitters and they can pack a punch. We have at least 20 different types of endorphins some of which are more powerful than morphine. We tend to release endorphins when we’re under stress or in pain. The higher the level of endorphin the less pain we feel and the more relaxed, even euphoric, we can become. Foods like chocolate or chilli peppers enhance the secretion of endorphins. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that we associate chocolate with comfort and pleasure.
Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline) is the main neurotransmitter of the sympathetic nervous system. We associate this with our fight-or-flight mechanism and moderation of other physical actions such as heart rate and blood pressure. Too little norepinephrine and we become sleepy and lethargic. Too much and our thoughts run away with us, we become twitchy and nervous, our hands and feet go cold and our blood pressure climbs.
Acetylcholine isn't one of the main mood neurotransmitters, but it is high during the fight or flight response, helps with alertness, and is released during REM sleep, so it probably plays a role in mood that they haven't figured out yet.

 Brain chemicals

Brain Chemicals

Other chemicals called hormones may affect the delicate balance of chemicals in the brain. The potential relationship between depression and hormones focuses on 3 main areas: the fight-or-flight response, the thyroid hormones, and the sex hormones.

Frequently activated fight-or-flight response. Your body's hormone system regulates your response to stress. When you're under stress or perceive a threat, your hypothalamus - the area of the brain that regulates the release of hormones from glands throughout your body - increases production of a substance called corticotropin releasing factor, or CRF. CRF causes the pituitary and adrenal glands to increase the secretion of hormones that cause the body to be on alert and ready to defend itself, including the stress hormone cortisol. That means your muscles tense, your breathing becomes shallow, and your senses become sharper. Studies have shown that when this often-called fight-or-flight stress response is activated frequently, it may lead to depression. Experts have found that the hormone system is often overactive in many depressed people and that antidepressant medications can reduce CRF levels.

Over - or understimulation of thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland produces important hormones that can affect depression. An overactive thyroid, a condition called hyperthyroidism, can cause overproduction of hormones and result in symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia. An underactive thyroid, a condition called hypothyroidism, can cause depression and result in fatigue, mental slowness, and other symptoms.

Sex hormones. Sex hormones, especially female hormones, may be associated with depression. Childbirth, the menstrual period, and menopause all cause hormonal changes that may be linked to depression. Depression among women increases during times of hormonal change, such as after childbirth. Research suggests that 4 out of 10 women experience mood changes before their menstrual cycle. Approximately 5% of women experience serious depression during premenstrual periods. Talk with your healthcare provider if you feel depressed around your period, during pregnancy, after childbirth, or around the time of menopause. Also let your healthcare provider know if you feel depressed after starting hormone medications such as birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The 5 Stages of Grief

If you are dealing with depression due to the loss of a loved one, you have probably gone through the 5 stages of grief. And, if you're still felling depressed because of this loss, you may not have gone through all 5 stages of grief.
Defeat depression without drugs.

Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one—which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief—but any loss can cause grief.

The reaction to loss can encompass a range of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and is experienced differently by each person according to his or her culture, background, gender, beliefs, personality, and relationship to the deceased or loss. Feelings common to grief are sadness and yearning. Guilt, regret, anger, and a sense of meaninglessness can also be present. Some may also a feel a sense of relief and liberation. Emotions can be surprising in their strength or mildness, contrary to the expectations of the griever; they can also be confusing, such as missing a painful relationship.

Grief, like death, is a natural part of life. Understanding what to expect and engaging in coping strategies can ease you through the pain of the grieving process and open up your path to personal self-renewal.

Every person grieves differently. Just as no two lives are the same, so will each death, and each grief experience, be unique. Your experience may dramatically differ depending on how close you were to the person who has passed, for example, or the circumstances of their death­—sudden or gradual. However, there is plenty of available information to help you come to terms with your individual grieving process and learn how to cope with your grief.

Most people have heard of the five stages of grief, also known as the Kubler-Ross model. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a groundbreaking psychiatrist who ignited public conversation about death in a time when the subject was largely taboo. Her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, introduced the world to the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Though the stages were originally intended to reflect the experiences of those dying, Kubler-Ross later extended their definition to encompass the experiences of anyone who has suffered a loss or tragedy.

The 5 Stages of Grief
Denial: This stage is often experienced as a state of shock. You may feel numb, disoriented, or overwhelmed. Some report a trance-like state or a sense of unreality. Though confusing, these feelings help us to slowly come to terms with the reality of the loss, rather than dealing with all of our emotions up front.

Anger: Anger can be directed at anyone who you feel has blame in your loss. You might feel anger toward your family and friends, your loved one who has passed, or the doctors who were unable to save them. You may also be angry with yourself or the world. This anger is a manifestation of the pain of your loss; it can be understood as a measure of your love for the person.

Bargaining: You may find yourself asking “what if” questions, thinking about what could have been done to save your loved one, and perhaps bargaining with God or the world: “If I could have just one more day with them…”  Bargaining is often accompanied by guilt. This is basically our way of negotiating with the hurt and pain of the loss.

Depression: Depression and sadness are the most recognizable, commonly-accepted symptoms of grief, yet all too often grieving persons are expected to “snap out of it” and act normal. It’s important to understand that after the loss of a loved one, depression is a perfectly normal emotional response. During this stage, you will likely withdraw from normal activities and feel as if you are in a fog of sadness. You may find it difficult to go on without that person in your life.

Acceptance: This is the point where we accept our new reality, one in which our loved one is no longer present. Acceptance does not necessarily mean that you’re “okay” with your situation; it simply means you recognize that the person is indeed gone, that your situation has changed. Acceptance is also when we begin to pick up the pieces and reorganize our lives to fit in with this new reality.

The five stages of grief are not linear; they can occur in any order, and possibly more than once. While the Kubler-Ross model is the most widely recognized, there are many variations, typically ranging from three to seven stages. They may have slightly different titles—“guilt” instead of “bargaining,” for example. 

When researching these, it’s easy to feel inundated with information regarding exactly what “stages” you will experience. Keep in mind that these are broad guidelines to help you understand your grief, not to-the-letter definitions. The goal of these models is to help you accept that though your feelings and reactions can be scary or overwhelming, they are a normal part of grieving, and allowing yourself to experience them will ultimately aid you in healing.

Recovering from Grief
Most people accept that someone has died, but accepting the reality of the loss involves waiting for the numbness, shock, and sense of unreality to subside. To work through the pain of grief is to think one’s thoughts, feel one’s emotions, and to do what our bodies need to do about the grief we experience. This may be memories of the deceased, pangs of guilt or longing, and crying or being with other people. 

Adjusting to an environment where the deceased is missing is a further step in acceptance, where the bereaved begin to rebuild their world, picture of the future, and sense of meaning in the absence of the deceased. People can establish new routines or adapt previous ones. To emotionally relocate the deceased acknowledges that our relationships are not severed by death. The physical presence of the departed may be missing, but we can continue to relate to them through our memories, feelings, and rituals.

Myths About Grief

MYTH: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it. 

MYTH: It’s important to be “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you. 

MYTH: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it. 

MYTH: Grief should last about a year.
Fact: There is no right or wrong time frame for grieving. How long it takes can differ from person to person. 

Source: Center for Grief and Healing

Things to Know:
Everyone grieves differently: what you should expect is a variety of intense emotions, as well as physical symptoms, which can come about in any order. It’s important to understand that what you are experiencing is normal.

It is always better to talk about your grief and deal with it directly than to ignore or suppress it.
A support system that assists you with your emotional and practical needs can help ease the grieving process.

Many people find comfort in ritual, such as memorial services or end-of-life celebrations, which can be healthy outlets to come together and openly mourn with others.

Defeat depression without drugs.

Defeat depression without drugs.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wild Salmon Health Benefits

Wild salmon is a powerful food, and, in many ways, is a true super food. In fact, few single foods can bring as many health contributions to your diet in significant quantities as wild salmon. Wild salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids which helps people with diabetes and heart disease. Wild salmon is low in saturated fat and calories but high in protein.
Wild salmon helps to reverse Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Note: Make sure that you choose wild salmon over farmed salmon. Farmed salmon is injected with antibiotics and color-enhancing chemicals. Whereas wild salmon eat other fish, farmed salmon is fed corn and other foods so that they can be produced in mass quantities.

Nutrient contents in wild salmon include:

Wild salmon provides key nutrients for your health, including:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Vitamins A, D, B6, E
  • Antioxidant known as astaxanthin
  • Essential amino acids
  • High quality protein
  • Appreciable amounts of calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus
All of these nutrients combine to make wild salmon the natural choice for anyone concerned with their own health or their family’s health.

Health Benefits

Health benefits associated with wild salmon include the following.

Prevent High Cholesterol: Studies show that salmon helps to lower triglycerides. High triglycerides are associated with high bad cholesterol and low good cholesterol. When your triglyceride levels are high, you have a greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Eating wild salmon several times per week will help to lower your triglyceride levels. 

Prevent High Blood Pressure: Consuming more wild salmon will also help to lower your blood pressure. If you do not suffer from high blood pressure, the omega-3 fats in salmon will help to prevent an unhealthy rise in blood pressure in the future. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can lead to heart attack, stroke or heart failure. You can minimize your risks of these diseases by eating wild salmon regularly.

Prevent/Reverse Type 2 Diabetes: The Omega-3s and quality lean protein in wild salmon helps to stabilize blood glucose levels, which is very beneficial to Type 2 diabetics.

Prevent/Reverse Heart Disease: As previously mentioned, studies show that salmon helps to lower triglycerides. In addition, wild salmon reduces plaque formation with the arteries and lowers cholesterol levels, all of which is beneficial to anyone with heart disease. The carotenoid in salmon is a particularly potent antioxidant known as astaxanthin, which has been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammation, eye diseases, general aging and many other conditions.

Note: Astaxanthin is produced by phytoplankton, tiny plants that use it to shield themselves from ultraviolet radiation. Shrimp, krill and other tiny crustaceans then eat the phytoplankton and accumulate astaxanthin in their bodies (which is what makes them pink), and then salmon eat them and store the astaxanthin in their skin and muscles. Sockeye, coho and king salmon have the deepest color orange whereas pink and chum salmon (most often canned) are the lightest.  

Protect Against Cancer: When your diet is rich in omega-3 fats, you run a lower risk for certain cancers. For example, consuming salmon and other cold water fish has been linked with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Studies show that men who incorporate salmon into their diet one or more times each week are much less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who do not eat salmon. 

Promote Eye Health: Studies show that increasing your intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids may decrease the risk of dry eye syndrome. Other studies show that diets that are high in omega-3 fatty acids protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD affects over 30 million people globally and is the leading cause of vision loss in those over 50 years of age. Eating fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids a minimum of three times per week has been associated with a 75% reduction in AMD. Wild salmon is a great option for promoting eye health. 

Prevent Excessive Weight Gain: Incorporating wild salmon into your diet will give you the protein you need without the high and unhealthy fat levels of red meat and chicken. Salmon is also an excellent source of niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, selenium, phosphorus and magnesium. You may choose to add wild salmon to your diet to replace excessive eating of tuna, which can contain mercury.

Prevent Depression: Fish oil may help combat a number of serious psychiatric illnesses. According to researchers at an international conference sponsored by the National Institutes of Health there is evidence which suggests that higher consumption of essential fatty acids in fish, particularly omega-3, appear to be linked to a lower risk for depression and better treatment of manic depression and schizophrenia. "In a study of more than 1,000 people (average age 75), those with higher blood levels of an omega-3 called DHA were more than 40% less likely to develop dementia (including Alzheimer's) over the next nine years than people with low DHA levels. ...Experts advise eating a weekly serving of fish rich in omega-3's." (Information source: "Boost Your Brain Power With Omega-3's," by Holly McCord, R.D., "Prevention" (Nutrition News web site))

More Health Benefits
Based on hundreds of clinical studies, the Omega-3 fatty acids in wild salmon provide many health benefits, including:
  • Protect heart health
  • Reduce risk of sudden death from heart disease
  • Reduce risk of stroke
  • Reduce chance of heart disease in Type 2 Diabetes
  • Essential in infant brain and eye development during pregnancy and infancy
  • Improve blood lipid patterns
  • Improve blood vessel function
  • Improve symptoms of immune and inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Asthma and some skin conditions
  • Reduce the risk and severity of some psychological/mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Depression and Bipolar Disorder
  • May reduce the risk of certain cancers, particularly Breast Cancer
  • May help reduce the severity or development of Nephritis, Migraine, Alzheimer's Disease and Type 1 Diabetes
The Biology
The protective role of fish against heart disease, diabetes and cancer may be attributed to the type of oil found in certain species of cold-water fish, especially Alaska wild salmon. These fish oils, referred to as “Omega-3”, are polyunsaturated. Their chemical structure and metabolic function are quite different from the polyunsaturated oils found in vegetable oils, known as “Omega-6”.

The type of dietary fat (monounsaturated, saturated, or polyunsaturated) we consume alters the production of a group of biological compounds known as eicosanoids(prostaglandins, thromboxanes, and leukotrienes). These eicosanoids have biological influences on blood pressure, blood clotting, inflammation, immune function, and coronary spasms. In the case of Omega-3 oils, a series of eicosanoids are produced, which may result in a decreased risk of heart disease, inflammatory processes, and certain cancers.

Omega-3 oils also exert additional protective effects against coronary heart disease by:
  • decreasing blood lipids (cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins or LDL, and triglycerides)
  • decreasing blood clotting factors in the vascular system
  • increasing relaxation in larger arteries and other blood vessels
  • decreasing inflammatory processes in blood vessels
Findings from Clinical Studies
Additional studies have provided exciting news about the benefits of Omega-3 oils for individuals with arthritis, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, lupus erythematosus, asthma, and certain cancers. Research studies have consistently shown that Omega-3 fatty acids delay tumor appearance, and decrease the growth, size, and number of tumors.

A recent study at the University of Washington has confirmed that eating a modest amount of salmon (one salmon meal per week) can reduce the risk of primary cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest claims the lives of 250,000 Americans each year. Fresh, fresh-frozen, or canned Alaska sockeye salmon provides the highest amount of Omega-3 fatty acids of any fish — 2.7 grams per 100 gram portion.

Other studies, such as the Zupthen Study, a 20-year investigation of a Dutch population, confirmed similar benefits. The risk of coronary heart disease decreased (as much as 2.5 times) with increasing fish consumption. This suggests that moderate amounts (one to two servings per week) of fish are of value in the prevention of coronary heart disease, when compared with no fish intake.

The type of dietary fat we consume is very important. It has been well documented that saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease. The amount of saturated fat in both high-oil fish and lean fish is minimal. Fish, and other seafood, also offers lean, high-quality protein, as well as many other important vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin E:

  • Powerful antioxidant
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease
  • Prevents the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins
  • Reduces the buildup of plaque in coronary arteries
Salmon is also a good source of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants, which also include Vitamin C and beta carotene, act at the molecular level to deactivate free radicals. Free radicals can damage basic genetic material, and cell walls and structures, to eventually lead to cancer and heart disease. Vitamin E lowers the risk of heart disease by preventing the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), thus reducing the buildup of plaque in coronary arteries. Other research has found that Vitamin E plays a protective role against cancer and the formation of cataracts, and may possibly boost the immune system in the elderly.

Cooking and Preparation Tips

You can eat wild salmon in a variety of ways. It is delicious on top of a salad with your favorite low-fat salad dressing. It can be made into a salmon burger or eaten with a side of rice and vegetables.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when cooking wild salmon is that they overcook the salmon! This dries out the salmon and destroys some of the Omega-3 benefits. Instead bake the salmon in aluminum foil and add 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil on top -- this will prevent the salmon from drying out, providing a very succulent and scrumptious flavor.

If you really don't like the taste of salmon, place a ½ pat of organic butter on top of the salmon after cooking -- you'll just love the buttery flavor!

Another option is to place a thin slice of cheese or a ½ handful of mozzarella cheese on top of the salmon after baking -- you'll love it!

Canned wild salmon (like sardines and tuna) can be eaten right out of the can -- there is no need to cook it. You can also add it to your salad for some additional protein.

What Salmon to Buy and Where
Wild Alaskan salmon, which spend most of their lives in open oceans, generally have very low levels of toxins. Coastal and farmed salmon, depending on the fish and meal they are fed, may have higher levels. The Environmental Defense Fund lists farmed Atlantic salmon as an “Eco-Worst” choice and recommends people eat no more than two servings a month due to high PCB levels.

Two of the best websites that sell wild salmon are:

Thawing Tips
You can cook your salmon frozen , but we suggest that  you thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Place the wrapped package on a plate and allow 8-10 hours (extremely large cuts may take a bit longer). Try not to speed up the process of thawing seafood by defrosting it in the microwave or thawing it under warm water. Doing this causes the salmon to lose flavor and texture.

Grilling Tips

Preparing the Grill:

  • Fish cooks best over a medium-hot fire.
  • Make sure the grill is hot before you start cooking.
  • Liberally brush oil on the grill just prior to cooking.

Grilling Salmon:

  • Cut large steaks or fillets into meal-size portions before grilling.
  • Oil fish lightly just before cooking.
  • Grill salmon with skin side down on parchment paper or foil. No need to flip!
  • Cook fish approximately 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
  • Seafood continues to cook after it’s removed from the heat so take it off the heat just as soon as it starts to flake.
  • Slide a sharp knife tip into the center of the thickest part of a cooking salmon portion, checking for color (Our favorite is when the flesh is still red/rare on the inside). We have found that overcooking is one of the biggest mistakes our customers make when preparing salmon. This is quality salmon, no need to dry it out!

Plank Grilling Tips:

Planking is a traditional Northwest-style of cooking using aromatic pieces of wood. It’s a great way to add subtle flavors to your wild Alaska Seafood. Many stores sell pre-cut planks now, but it’s just as easy to make your own.
  • The best wood choices for planking are Cedar, Alder and Oak.
  • Pre-soak the plank in water for 30 minutes – two hours.
  • Pat planks dry with paper towels and spray-coat or lightly oil one side of the plank.
  • Season salmon lightly with an herb blend or just salt and pepper. Go easy, as you don’t want to overpower the flavor you will get from the plank.
  • Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  • Place the planked salmon on the grill over indirect heat and close the lid.
  • Turn the heat down to medium.
  • Check salmon frequently after 10 minutes.
  • Salmon will continue to cook after it is removed from the heat. (See grilling tips to know how to tell when salmon is finished)
  • Serving: the plank provides a beautiful, organic-looking platter for serving.

Baking Tips

  • Rinse and pat fillets dry.
  • Spread thin coat of olive oil over salmon.
  • Coat bottom of pan with olive oil.
  • Sprinkle seasonings over fish.
  • Bake in 375°F oven for 10-12 minutes or until fish begins to flake.

Broiling Tips

  • Preheat the broiler to Med/High.
  • Rinse and pat fillets dry.
  • Place parchment paper inside a shallow, nonmetal dish. Put salmon fillets on top of parchment, skin side down.
  • Top with olive oil and seasoning of your choice.
  • Broil the fish 4 to 6 inches from the heating element for 5 to 6 minutes or until the fish is done. (No need to turn.)

Poaching Tips

  • Place poaching liquid in saucepan.
  • Bring to boil and reduce to simmer.
  • Place salmon in liquid and poach for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness (8 minutes per inch thick).


Reference: Death to Diabetes Website 


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cycle of Depression

Negative events such as several deaths feed into your negative thinking, low self-esteem, feeling of hopelessness, etc. and biochemical/hormonal imbalances which may extend your feeling of sadness and feeding into lower serotonin levels and higher cortisol levels creating a vicious cycle of depression (as depicted in the following diagram).   

Note: In order to break this cycle of depression, you must seek proper treatment.One of the keys to defeating depression is to break the cycle of depression as depicted in the following diagram.

Reference: Death to Diabetes Website 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Health Problems with Depression

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that depression is a major cause of illness and death in the United States, as it results in a "reduced quality of life, social functioning and excess disability." 

Many depression patients have other diseases at the same time, thus lowering their quality of health. Depression symptoms also affect the patients' well-being and cause them to use unhealthy habits to cope.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) notes that depression is often seen with other illnesses. Some of them are neurological, such as Parkinson's disease and strokes, while others are related to lifestyle, such as heart disease and diabetes. 

Depression can also occur in patients with fatal diseases, such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. Patients who suffer from depression and another disease have worse symptoms of both diseases when compared with non-depression patients. These patients also have higher medical costs, because they are treating two illnesses, and may have more trouble adapting to their symptoms.

Health  problems that people with depression deal with include but are not limited to the following:
-- High blood pressure
-- High cholesterol
-- Chronic fatigue
-- Obesity
-- Diabetes
-- Heart disease
-- Allergies
-- Skin problems, i.e. psoriasis, eczema
-- Thyroid problems

Note: The good news is that the majority of these health problems can be treated (without the need for medications) by eating a healthy diet, exercising, and making other lifestyle changes.

Treatment Strategies for Depression

Treating depression can be complex. Because of the wide range of treatment options available, it's important to stay informed. Here are some of the more common treatment strategies recommended for depression:

Drugs & Medications
 Drugs and medications are common therapies to help people with depression. They are often supplemented with psychotherapy, lifestyle choices, and other forms of depression therapy.

Medication therapy is a common treatment for depression. Often combined with other therapies, antidepressant medication can help control depression symptoms so you can begin to reclaim your life.

Most antidepressant medications work by altering chemical reactions in the brain. The goal is to affect neurotransmitters, the chemicals that help brain cells communicate with each other.

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, sleep, inhibition, and other important brain functions, is the target of most depression medications. Often called the “feel good” neurotransmitter, serotonin helps promote elevated mood and feelings of euphoria. Many experts link depression to low levels of serotonin in the brain. Therefore antidepressants inhibit serotonin from being re-absorbed into the neurons in the brain.


Otherwise known as counseling or talk therapy—is the most common treatment for depression. There are varying styles of therapy a person can use to help overcome his or her depression.

Psychotherapy is the most common depression treatment. It is often used in conjunction with medication, lifestyle changes, and other therapies. Because the term “psycho” has a negative connotation, psychotherapy is more commonly known as counseling, talk therapy, or, simply, therapy.

Psychotherapy involves a patient or patients talking to a trained professional about their feelings, thoughts, stress, and more. This type of therapy is used for many mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. It can also be used to help troubled relationships, whether they are romantic or family centered.

There are four main psychotherapy formats:
Single: A patient meets one on one with a therapist.
Couples: Spouses or partners meet with a therapist. This format most often involves couples that are trying to work out issues within their relationship or couples in which one person is suffering from a mental illness.
Group: Two or more patients meet with a therapist. Patients are usually suffering after a similar life event (divorce, loss of loved one, etc.) or are battling the same mental illness.
Family: Whole families or members of families meet with a therapist. This format is designed to help families work through problems that are affecting the group as a whole, such as an inability to resolve conflicts or one or more family members suffering from addiction or mental illness.

Alternative Methods
Alternative and complimentary therapies incorporate multiple kinds of treatment, including nutritional supplements, meditation, and other various kinds of therapy.

In addition to psychotherapy and prescription medications, some people suffering from depression use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices such as meditation to ease their symptoms. In Western culture, CAM is defined as a healing practice that falls outside of the realm of conventional medical treatment.

CAM therapies are often used in combination with medication, psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and more.

For many alternative therapies, there is plenty of anecdotal support but varied clinical evidence as to their efficacy for treating depression. Although many therapies such as massage, yoga, and meditation are safe, you should always consult a mental health professional to make sure you are following the best treatment plan for your depression.

Nutrition. A plant-based diet can be very helpful because it provides key vitamins and minerals that help to nourish the brain and the body, i.e. B-Complex vitamins, Omega-3 EFAs, antioxidants. More importantly, by avoiding the processed foods and refined sugars, this prevents the sugar crashes and the consumption of food chemicals such as HFCS, PHOs, and artificial sweeteners.

Nutritional Supplements. Nutritional supplements can help your body and mind by providing the nutrients they need. Certain supplements, such as fish oil, valerian root, hops, passionflower, and vitamin B6 can help elevate mood and relieve stress by stimulating the right brain chemicals. Some blends of herbs can help calm a person if anxiety is an issue with depression.

Massage Therapy. The body can store tension and other ill feelings in its muscles. Regular massages can help alleviate muscle tension and some of the heavy-body feeling that often occurs with depression. A lighter, more flexible feeling in your body can make it easier to get out of bed and do the things you want to do.

Acupuncture. Acupuncture is an alternative treatment that uses the placement and manipulation of needles on specific points on the body. For thousands of years, Eastern cultures have used acupuncture to treat conditions from sinus congestion to chronic pain. Studies show acupuncture can help alleviate symptoms of depression by stimulating the flow of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. It can also help alleviate some of the aches and pains often associated with depression.

Acupressure. Like acupuncture, acupressure targets points of the body that are believed to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Instead of needles, the fingers are used to apply pressure to points on the body.

Expressive/Music Therapy . Music therapy uses many aspects of music and the music-making process to help people with depression via self-expression. These may include playing music, listening to music, writing songs, and discussing the content and context of lyrics. This therapy is designed to help a person constructively deal with the negative emotions surrounding his or her depression.

Meditation. The act of practicing mindfulness — or being fully aware of the world around you — teaches people to see the world in a different respect. That kind of stress relief and mindset can help people with depression figure out their place in the world or at least help them solve problems that are holding them back.

Guided Imagery. Guided imagery is a type of holistic healing technique that emphasizes the connection between body and mind. Its goal is to release trapped energy in the body and thus lighten the burden on a person with depression. A patient visualizes comfort and relaxation to help steer the unconscious mind toward peace.

Hypnosis. Hypnosis is one way of addressing the repetitive self-deflating thought process associated with depression. By targeting the patient’s subconscious, hypnosis aims to change negative thinking, reduce feelings of guilt and self-blame, and help you make positive choices by not dwelling on past negative actions, thoughts, or experiences.

Sunshine/Light Therapy. Light therapy involves sitting in front of an artificial light for a limited amount of time. Sunshine therapy involves the use of natural light. Both therapies help boost the levels of naturally produced vitamin D in the body, and this elevates mood. These therapies are typically helpful for people suffering from seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression brought on by changes in seasons.

Pet Therapy. Dog is man’s best friend, and when you’re depressed, it’s helpful to have a good friend. Pet therapy pairs a patient with a domestic animal that often goes everywhere with the person. Some feel this type of companionship can elevate moods and provide a sense of connectedness with another creature.

Hydrotherapy. This therapy uses water, such as a large bath or pool, to treat numerous conditions, such as chronic pain or depression. It might involve physical activity in water or soaking in water that has been treated with various salts. These can help alleviate the physical pain or tension associated with depression.

Aromatherapy. As many people believe the sense of smell is associated with emotions (e.g. the calming effect of smelling your favorite food), aromatherapy can help lift moods. Aromatherapy is the use of organic compounds called essential oils to improve a person’s mood, mental state, or health. The oils are extracted from various plant parts, such as roots, seeds, leaves, and blossoms, and can be blended together.

Yoga. Yoga uses multiple poses to stretch muscles of the body, promoting strength, flexibility, detoxification, and more. Yoga is becoming a popular way for people to incorporate exercise into their depression therapy. Many people like yoga because it incorporates a spiritual aspect, is generally a calm practice, and is done in a group setting.

Lifestyle Changes
Changes in your lifestyle, including diet, exercise, and more, are effective ways of complimenting you other depression treatments. Learn More

Treating depression effectively means doing more than taking your medications and going to therapy. The more you adapt your lifestyle to ensure your body and mind are healthy, the more adept you will be at responding to the challenges of depression.

Here are some ways you can improve your lifestyle to complement your depression treatment:
  • Healthy Eating: Avoiding processed foods, foods high in refined sugar, and foods packed with saturated fats should be your first step. These foods either require the body to work harder to digest them or can cause mood fluctuations you don’t want. The next step is to begin incorporating foods that may help elevate moods and fight depression.
  • Exercise: Exercise increases your brain’s production of chemicals, especially its natural antidepressants.
  • Weight Loss: Losing weight not only improves your self-esteem and overall health, but also can give your mind the boost it needs.
  • Meditation: Meditation can help relieve anxiety that sometimes accompanies depression. If depression is disrupting a person’s sleep habits, deep breathing techniques can help calm the mind in order to sleep better.
  • Sleep: Having a calming bedtime routine that helps you wind down and following a consistent sleep schedule can help improve the amount and quality of sleep.
  • Relationships: Depression can be alienating, but the right network of friends and loved ones can help you overcome your problems. Spending time with positive, supportive, and loving people can help you through your darkest times.
  • Stress Management: Stress is a part of life, but chronic, long-term stress can be debilitating, especially for someone with depression

Medical Procedures
Medical procedures are often reserved for people who suffer from severe depression, or are resistant to medications and other types of therapies.

Although medical procedures might be considered extreme and unnecessary for most people with depression, they might finally bring relief for people suffering from chronic, severe major depression if medications, psychotherapy, complementary therapies, and lifestyle changes have not eased their symptoms.

Here are some of the most common medical procedures to treat depression:
  • Deep Brain Stimulation. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) involves the surgical implantation of two electrodes in the section of the brain most clearly associated with depression.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy. Commonly referred to as “shock therapy,” electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) gets a bad reputation from its early days, when high doses of electricity were administered to patients without anesthesia. ECT is much safer today and involves a small electric current that is sent through the brain while the person is sedated. 
  • Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation. This is a relatively new procedure. Used for drug-resistant epilepsy and depression, it involves applying electrical impulses to the trigeminal nerve, the largest cranial nerve that supplies sensory information from the face and connects to deep portions of the brain.
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. This procedure uses a large electromagnet near the forehead to alter brain activity where the neurotransmitters responsible for mood — serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine—are made. 
  • Magnetic Seizure Therapy. MST uses electromagnetic energy to produce a seizure to hopefully change chemicals and impulses in the brain that affect mood. Like other therapies listed here, it is meant for treatment-resistant depression only.
  • Stereotactic Neurosurgery. This procedure involves the complicated mapping of a person’s brain so that a neurosurgeon can drill small holes in the skull and pass needles or electrodes into brain tissue.