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US Health Report: Exercising More, but Mental Health Suffers

A new U.S. health report shows that Americans are making progress in their attempts to exercise more and stop smoking, but still have a way to go when it comes to mental health. As LiveScience reports, we’ve actually gone backward with an increase in suicide rates and depression rates in teens.

It’s important to remember that a healthy mind is just as important as a strong body. One easy and free way to boost your overall feeling of well-being is to expose yourself to sunlight every day. Studies show that the complex stimulus of sunlight can affect your mood and mental health through a number of mechanisms, including affecting your vitamin D, serotonin, endorphins, nitric oxide levels and mitochondrial energy, ultimately having an immense effect on your mental health.

Other studies show that good mental health also depends on the health of your gut flora. It’s true that your gut is intricately connected to your brain — in fact, your gut is often referred to as your “second brain.” The two brains actually communicate, and this pathway determines how foods affect your mood. You help your gut help your mood by eating fermented foods and supplementing with a probiotic.

Studies have also linked depression to chronic inflammation and dysfunction of the gut-brain axis. Depression is often found alongside gastrointestinal inflammation, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancer. For addressing the underlying inflammation as well as other chronic disease, exercise has been proven to be one of the most potent anti-depressants at your disposal. In fact, it’s a key treatment strategy for depression.
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