Should You Use Supplements?

Black glasses besides flower and supplements

Supplements Versus Food

Supplements have been around for a while. With so many companies coming out with different products claiming to be good for your liver, joints or brain, it becomes tempting but confusing as to which ones are the best. Do we even need supplements? Can’t we just stick with healthy food and exercise?

The answer is absolutely! Supplements are not needed unless you have a severe deficiency of a certain vitamin or mineral (i.e. vitamin D deficiency). Going back to organic chemistry, the human body is not able to tell the difference between a synthetic compound and the same compound naturally found in food.

From this point of view, it makes no difference if you ingest a compound synthesized in the lab versus ingesting it from food. Your body will digest and absorb the compound either way. But supplements should never be a replacement to food! As the name implies, they should “supplement” what you are already taking in naturally.

There’s a catch however! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements. This means that you do not know how pure your product is and whether it even has what it claims to have inside the capsules, pills or powder. In addition, many companies can use different ingredients for the same advertised product.

You do not really know what you are putting inside of your body unless you have a mini-lab at home to analyze your supplements; 99% of people don’t! Therefore, it is very important to do your research on which companies are most reputable and stick with only a few.

To further add, many supplements claim to do this and fix that. Do not fall trap to these baseless claims! Unless proper randomized controlled trials are done, take these claims with a grain of salt. As of to date, there is no supplement that will increase your intelligence, make your penis grow bigger or increase your height.

All of these claims feed on the insecurity of the buyers. Don’t be that buyer! Be thankful with your physique and how God made you. There is no replacement for nature. Just be yourself, adopt a healthy diet, socialize and exercise as frequently as you can.

This is the true formula for healthy living.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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Your Health Comes First

Brunette woman performing handstand on beach with golden retriever in water

Make Your Health A Priority

Don’t wait until your later years in life to start caring about your health; start caring today! Lifelong habits are easier to develop and maintain from a younger age. Many people don’t care about their physical or mental health because they assume that they are or will remain healthy. That is the wrong mindset to have.

But if you will ever experience a first panic attack, heart attack or brain attack without previously caring about your health, you will be in more shock shortly thereafter. The key is to live a life without surprises regarding your physical and mental health; sometimes it’s possible while sometimes random events occur.

But there is a higher chance of random events occurring when you don’t take your health into consideration. Just because you are young does not mean that you are healthy; your mind and body may still be in the process of becoming damaged. And just because you are young does not mean that you can use drugs without worrying about their damaging effects.

Damage has been done to your body since you were a child; it’s called living life. But accelerated damage is done when you don’t eat healthy, do not exercise, consume drugs and alcohol and smoke cigarettes. Why take a chance in life and wake up one day with a mental or physical condition, when you could have avoided them by paying a little more attention to your lifestyle?

On a positive note, medical and psychiatric research are advancing: new treatments are being developed and more information is being discovered regarding the pathophysiology of diseases. But you cannot bank on the research, expecting to be in good hands. You never know what mental illness or physical disorder you may experience in the future.

At the end of the day, it’s your body and mind. It’s you who has to defeat the illness!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Attacked By Clots

Green broccoli and cigarettes arranged in the shape of lungs

Pulmonary Embolism

The importance of exercise and eating healthy is reiterated numerous times by the medical community for a reason: to avoid medical complications that can kill, such as pulmonary embolisms. When a person does not manage their cholesterol very well, a clot can form in their legs that can dislodge and travel to their lungs.

Just because a clot forms does not mean that a piece of it cannot dislodge. In cases of pulmonary embolisms, the dislodged clot travels into a pulmonary artery which supplies blood to your lungs. When the clot finds a new home and prevents blood flow to a certain portion of your lung, oxygen is no longer delivered. You then experience the symptoms listed below:

  • Shortness of breath (worsening with exertion)
  • Chest pain (worsening with exertion)
  • Coughing with blood-streaked sputum
  • Discolored skin
  • Excessive sweating
  • Lightheadedness
  • An irregular heartbeat

A family history of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism increase your chances of developing the condition. Poorly managed heart disease also contributes to clot formations. Certain cancers and surgery can increase your risk of developing a blood clot.

Long trips overseas contribute to pooling of blood in your lower extremities, increasing your risk of developing a blood clot. It is very common to hear of a person passing away after returning from a long trip overseas; little movement of your legs during a long flight is the culprit. Another example is a lengthy bedrest without movement after one finishes surgery; the blood pools in the legs and contributes to clot formation.

Some other factors which can contribute to blood clots include:

  • Smoking tobacco
  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • And hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women

Prevention is key! A pulmonary embolism is a very serious medical condition and many patients do not recover from one. It is very important to lead a healthy lifestyle: exercise, eat non-fatty foods, move around during a long flight, take blood thinners if needed and as prescribed by your doctor, wear compression stockings after surgery and drink plenty of fluids.

Guess what can happen when you experience a pulmonary embolism, even after recovery? Such a serious medical condition increases your risk of developing depression and anxiety. It is very common for a mental illness to follow a physical disorder secondary to the stress which it brings upon your life.

The DSM Ready Movement is about leading a healthy lifestyle that incorporates mental health, physical health and spiritual well-being!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

HIV-Associated Dementia

Silhouette photo of woman infected with HIV standing beside window curtains

Attacked By The Human Immunodeficiency Virus

It is important for people to be educated on HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Many of these infections cause symptoms that are not well known to everybody. Staying educated is the first step in preventing infections and knowing what to expect when they do occur.

HIV can spread to the brain and cause encephalopathy, resulting in dementia. When HIV has reached this stage, patients may start to experience loss of memory, cognitive impairment, lack of interest in activities, reduced coordination and swelling of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal column.

It is believed that HIV promotes inflammation in the brain and damages neurons. As the symptoms mentioned above become apparent, patients may also begin to experience depression, psychosis, mania and seizures. Imagine how devastating this must be to a patient who already is miserable from having acquired the infection in the first place!

Once HIV has progressed to HIV-associated dementia, there is no reversal. HAART therapy can help prevent or slow down the process, but HIV-associated dementia is a progressive condition; it gets worse over time. The key to avoiding HIV-associated dementia is to start HAART therapy as soon as possible.

And the key to avoiding HIV is to be smart with your sexual encounters. If you ever suspect a partner to have an STD, they probably do! Trust your intuition and do not take the risk engaging in sexual activity with them. It only takes one exposure with contaminated fluids to become infected with HIV.

Your quality of life is more important than 20 minutes of pleasure. Be smart and respect yourself!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Health Effects Of Cigarettes

Grayscale photography of young man smoking a cigarette in front of a girl

Smoking A Lot Of Cigarettes Lately

The most addicting drug known to mankind, arguably, is nicotine which is found in cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. More than 400,000 deaths each year in the United States are attributable to smoking cigarettes.

90% of all lung cancer deaths are due to smoking. More women die from lung cancer than breast cancer. Smoking damages the small airways and alveoli in your lungs, which are responsible for exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen. Oxygen is breathed in while CO2 is breathed out.

Some lung diseases caused by smoking include lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis is caused by the bronchial tubes becoming narrowed, inflamed and secreting a lot of mucus, leading to chronic coughing and difficulty breathing.

Emphysema is caused by the air sacs in the lungs (alveoli) thinning and rupturing, resulting in larger air spaces instead of many small ones. Paradoxically, this makes it more difficult to breath due to less surface area available for gas exchange at the alveoli, resulting in shortness of breath.

Smoking can also damage your heart and brain. Your blood vessels become thicker and narrower, promoting several physiological changes: an increase in blood pressure, an increase in heart rate and clot formation. Clots can form in the blood vessels supplying your heart, restricting blood flow and resulting in coronary heart disease. Small pieces of clots can also break off and travel to the brain and cause a blockage, resulting in a stroke.

Smoking causes many different types of cancer:

  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Renal cancer

Smoking during pregnancy not only affects the mother but also the baby:

  • Can cause an ectopic pregnancy
  • Can cause a preterm delivery
  • Can cause stillbirth
  • Can cause low birth weight
  • Can cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Smoking also causes:

  • Damage to your teeth and gums
  • Weaker bones (especially in women past childbearing age)
  • Reduced fertility in men by damaging sperm
  • An increased risk for developing eye damage (cataracts and age-related macular degeneration)
  • Diabetes mellitus type II
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • A decreased immune function, increasing your vulnerability to bacterial and viral infections

And lastly, smoking is very psychologically addicting. So why consume this legal substance that kills your body and imprisons your mind? It is not even worth it to try it once. You have no idea how your mind will react to it; you may never try it again or find yourself in a deadly, passionate love affair!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Struck By Seizures

Close-up of a human eye

What Medical Conditions Cause Seizures?

A seizure is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain that affects how a person appears or acts for a short time. Seizures are complex phenomena; it is not always clear what precipitates them. Some causes include: diet, medical conditions, head injuries, drugs, medications, infections, etc.

Malnutrition responsible for seizures:

  • Thiamine deficiency in alcoholics
  • Pyridoxine deficiency
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency

Medical conditions responsible for seizures:

  • Brain abscess – a collection of pus caused by an infectious source
  • Brain tumor – a mass of cells that continuously grow
  • Cerebral palsy – a movement disorder that appears in early childhood
  • Down syndrome – a genetic disorder characterized by growth delay and intellectual disability
  • Encephalitis – an inflammation of the brain caused by viruses, rabies, fungi, parasites or bacteria
  • Meningitis – an acute inflammation of the protective membranes of the brain caused by viruses or bacteria
  • SLE – an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own tissues
  • Multiple sclerosis – a demyelinating disease causing damage to the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord
  • Febrile seizures – fever in children that precipitates seizures
  • Hypoglycemia – low blood sugar
  • Sleep deprivation

Drugs responsible for seizures:

Drug withdrawal responsible for seizures:

  • Alcohol
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Anesthetics

Medications responsible for seizures:

  • Bupropion – an antidepressant
  • Clozapine – the gold-standard antipsychotic
  • Olanzapine – an atypical antipsychotic
  • Estrogens
  • Meperidine – a synthetic opioid
  • Prednisone – a steroid

Parasitic infections responsible for seizures:

  • Pork and beef tapeworms
  • Schistosoma
  • Malaria
  • Toxoplasmosis

The lists above are not inclusive of all the causes responsible for seizures. It is important to do your own research and speak with a medical professional in person to understand of any risks which you may have. If you experience even one seizure, it is very important to seek medical attention; identifying the source can help prevent future episodes as well as any injuries that can accompany seizures due to falling!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Importance Of Sleep

Man with hand on his face suffering from lack of sleep

What Can Lack Of Sleep Do To You?

Do not underestimate the importance of sleep. We lead busy lives full of responsibilities and goals that sometimes interfere with our sleep hygiene. After a long day of work, the last thing you want to do is go to sleep, only to wake up and go to work again; where is the excitement?

After a long day of work, you want to spend time with your family, play your favorite video game, drink a beer and watch “the game” or rent a new movie. But sometimes this pattern has to be broken by a good night’s sleep. The truth is that a good sleep hygiene will help you enjoy your downtime much more.

A lack of sleep can flip your personality upside down and turn you into someone who you are not: miserable, irritable, rude, defensive and easily annoyed. Your school and work performance may decrease; your concentration becomes subpar. You may lose interest in exercising; playing a sport may become more challenging and less interesting.

Many people underestimate the importance of sleep because they feel as if they are not gaining much from it; after all, the saying goes, “sleep is the cousin of death.” But in reality, sleep is when memories become consolidated, your mind and body recuperate, your fatigue dissipates and your mood stabilizes.

Developing the following sleep hygiene is crucial to reaping the benefits of sleep:

  • Go to sleep at the same hour every night
  • Wake up at the same hour every morning
  • Leave your bed after 30 minutes if you cannot fall asleep (the bed is only for sleep and sex)
  • Do not eat or drink a couple of hours prior to sleep
  • Do not consume alcohol a couple of hours prior to sleep
  • Do not exercise a couple of hours prior to sleep
  • Do not use electronics prior to sleep
  • Do not read, watch television or use the internet prior to sleep
  • Do not rely on sleeping medications

Once you start to appreciate the benefits of sleep, you will become thankful for rediscovering a fresh and vibrant version of yourself!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Gift Of Medical Marijuana

Medical cannabis leaves and black bottle of cannabis oil

Helping Patients Heal Naturally

The scent confuses you. Is it a drug of abuse or a medication for healing? You hear of stoners spending years of their lives getting baked. But you also hear of multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS patients benefiting from cannabis. You remain confused.

Why should medical marijuana not be legalized worldwide? If patients swear by it, does this not trump scientific evidence? If nature is able to provide a relief, then we must allow relief to be delivered. But sometimes man interferes when it would be best to allow nature to run its course.

Recreational marijuana is another story. We are talking about the medical benefits which can provide relief of symptoms to millions of patients worldwide. Drug addicts will never cease to exist; their reward centers lust for a high. But patients’ reward centers are not focused on intoxication; survival is their goal.

Let’s shove the stigma to the side and come together to deliver goodness where it is most needed. Whether you are a physician, lawyer, politician or farmer does not matter; common sense should prevail. And common sense is to provide a medicine, which in many cases is superior to conventional synthetics.

Psychological addiction is a concern; to deny this fact is to keep your foolish glasses on. But addiction is more of a concern with recreational marijuana; so is mental health. But medical marijuana is for the patients. The patients are suffering from physical disorders; getting high is not on their agenda.

On a positive note, it is happening. Medical marijuana is being delivered to the people worldwide. But many parts of the world still have no access. Is the process too slow? Perhaps. But the important thing is that the medicine has finally gone mainstream and the stigma is finally burning out.

Progress is being made. Nature is stepping in and helping us heal in times of need!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Demons Versus Science

Brunette woman suffering from sleep paralysis

Sleep Paralysis Symptoms

The feeling of being paralyzed while attempting to fall asleep or wake up is known as sleep paralysis. Folklore has it that sleep paralysis is an attack by demonic spirits who sit on your chest in the middle of the night and terrorize you. But science has it that sleep paralysis is a sign that your mind and body are not moving smoothly through the different stages of sleep.

People who experience sleep paralysis are conscious but feel like they cannot move or speak for up to a few minutes; some also describe a sense of choking or pressure. The symptoms occur when a person passes between the stages of sleep and wakefulness.

There are two variants of sleep paralysis: hypnogogic and hypnopompic. Hypnogogic sleep paralysis occurs when you are attempting to fall asleep and hypnopompic sleep paralysis occurs as you are waking up. In the process of falling asleep, your body relaxes and your mind drifts off into sleep. With sleep paralysis, instead of your mind drifting off into sleep, you remain aware of the process of falling asleep and find yourself unable to move or speak.

The sleep cycle alternates between NREM and REM sleep. 75% of sleep occurs in the NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stage, followed by a period of REM sleep. During the REM stage is when your eyes move quickly, your muscles remain relaxed or “turned off” and dreams occur. During hypnopompic sleep paralysis, you become aware of your surroundings before the REM cycle has ended, resulting in the inability to move or speak.

Sleep paralysis is more common than you think, with 4 out of 10 people suffering from it. It usually is first noticed during adolescence but can occur at any age. It is not clear what causes sleep paralysis, but it is believed that lack of sleep, stress, bipolar disorder, ADHD medications and substance abuse are some of the factors that may be linked to sleep paralysis.

There are no treatments that specifically target sleep paralysis. Improving your sleep habits, treating any comorbid mental illness that may contribute to poor sleep or treating an undiagnosed sleep disorder are some ways of helping relieve sleep paralysis.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Consistent Drive To Eat Healthy

Pleasant eating environment in a white kitchen

Is Eating One Meal A Day Healthy?

Eating healthy is a lifestyle. You must want it, seek it and live it. So many people attempt to eat healthy and sadly begin to give up after a week or two; other things in their life distract them and steer them off course. If you are not willing to change your eating habit 100%, then you will most likely fail in achieving a long-term healthy diet.

You must first find a reason to motivate yourself to adopt a healthy diet. Are you interested in losing weight or are you health-conscious and just want to eat healthy? Whatever the reason, it is very important to keep your drive alive no matter what obstacles you may be facing in life.

Obstacles, problems and concerns are part of life; they can only be dealt with but not always avoided. However, this does not mean that you must sacrifice eating healthy because of outside distractions. Your health always comes first! The moment that your mentality switches and you start putting your health second, you will lose your drive to eat healthy very quickly.

There are some people who believe that eating one meal a day is healthy. This is a very bad idea. To begin with, breakfast is the most important meal of the day: your body has not been eating for the last 8-10 hours and needs fuel to kickstart your day. Secondly, lunch is very important to keep your energy going in the afternoon; relying on energy obtained from breakfast is not a wise alternative.

And lastly, dinner is the last meal that connects two consecutive days; it refuels you before you say goodbye to today and say hello to tomorrow. Therefore, no meal should be subtracted from your day. Part of being healthy is being consistent with how often you eat. Adopting a healthy eating routine requires drive, consistency and passion!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)