Following the Advice of Ancient Philosophers Can Make You Happier

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

For many, happiness is elusive at best and at times near impossible. There’s always something (or someone) pushing our buttons, making us feel less than joyful. According to Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist and positive-emotions researcher, most Americans have two positive experiences for every negative one.

While that sounds good and well, this 2-to-1 positivity ratio is barely enough to get by. To flourish emotionally, Fredrickson’s research1 shows you need a 3-to-1 ratio. That is, you need to have three positive emotions for every negative emotion. Only 20 percent of Americans achieve this critical ratio, which means 80 percent do not. Even worse, more recent research suggests nearly 25 percent of people experience no life enjoyment at all!2

The good news is, happiness can be learned. Part of the equation is training yourself to view life’s events from a different perspective. Inconveniences and more serious troubles are unavoidable facts of life. What many fail to realize is that these events do not automatically bar you from being happy — unless you let them, that is.

Make Happiness-Boosting Rituals Part of Your Daily Routine

As noted by Eric Barker in a recent Time article:3

“… [Y]ou’ve probably read a zillion articles about happiness online and you’re not a zillion times happier. What gives? Reading ain’t the same as doing. You wouldn’t expect to read some martial arts books and then go kick ass like Bruce Lee, would you? All behavior, all changes, must be trained.

The ancient Stoics knew this. They didn’t write stuff just to be read. They created rituals — exercises — to be performed to train your mind to respond properly to life so you could live it well … And what’s fascinating is that modern scientific research agrees with a surprising amount of what these guys were talking about 2000 years ago.”

Disappointment, especially if you’re constantly struggling with things “not going your way,” can be a major source of stress, and centenarians — those who have crossed the threshold of 100 years of age — overwhelmingly cite stress as the most important thing to avoid. This does not mean they were blessed with carefree lives. “Avoidance” here really refers to the ability to manage your stress so that it doesn’t end up wearing 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. The key, as Barker notes, is consistently training yourself to let go of the negativity. This isn’t something you do once and you’re done. It’s something you do each and every day, or however often you’re triggered. One foundational principle is the realization that the way you feel about an event has everything to do with your perception of it.

Perception Is Everything

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. Ryan Holiday, author of several books, including “The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living,” offers the following clarification:4

“Shakespeare and the Stoics are saying that the world around us is indifferent, it is objective. 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.”

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an adaptation of this philosophy and teaches you that the negative feelings you experience in response to life events are in fact rooted in your beliefs, most of which are either irrational or flawed.

While seeking the aid of a qualified mental health professional is certainly recommended if you suffer from depression or other mental health issues, for the run-of-the-mill upsets of daily life, you can raise your happiness level by shifting your focus from ruminations about what caused the situation to what your beliefs about it are.

Next, ask yourself whether you’re actually thinking rationally about the issue. Is it true that you can never find another partner after a breakup, or is meeting someone else within the realm of possibility? Is your life really over because you lost your job, or is it possible you might find a job that suits you better or pays more?

Follow Your Own Advice

Another potent technique you can use to increase your positive-to-negative-emotion ratio is to ask yourself, “What would I recommend if this happened to someone else?” and then follow your own advice. Barker highlights this technique with the following example:

“Traffic is terrible. Your friend is driving. He leans on the horn, punches the steering wheel, and shouts at the other drivers. You’re like, ‘Jeez, calm down. Why you getting so worked up? Chill.’ The next day traffic is terrible but you’re driving. So, of course, you lean on the horn, punch the steering wheel, and shout at the other drivers.

See the problem here, Sherlock? We all do it. But there’s a lesson to be learned that the Stoics knew a few millennia ago. When something bad happens, ask yourself, ‘What would I recommend if this happened to someone else?’ And then do that. You’ll probably be more rational. And it’s harder to ignore the advice — because it’s your own.”

Dan Ariely, a professor at Duke University and author of “Predictably Irrational,” explains that the reason this technique — which he calls “taking the outside perspective” — works so well is because when we make recommendations to others, we don’t take our own current state of mind and emotions into account.

We’re distanced emotionally from an event that happens to someone else, and that distance allows us to make saner, more reasonable decisions. By pretending we’re giving advice to someone other than ourselves allows us to, temporarily at least, distance ourselves from emotions that cloud our judgment.

Discipline of Assent

Most of us have habits that contribute to our misery more than our happiness. Maybe you drink a bit too much, or eat things you know you’ll regret later. The problem is, habits are really hard to break. Few have the iron willpower needed to change a bad habit overnight. So, what can you do? Here, the ancient philosophers suggested simply postpone your decision to act. As Epictetus said:

“Don’t let the force of an impression when it first hits you knock you off your feet; just say to it, ‘Hold on a moment; let me see who you are and what you represent. Let me put you to the test.'”

According to Barker:

“[M]odern research into breaking bad habits says the same thing. First catch yourself in the act, and then postpone: Those in the postponement condition actually ate significantly less than those in the self-denial condition. The result suggests that telling yourself I can have this later operates in the mind a bit like having it now.

It satisfies the craving to some degree — and can be even more effective at suppressing the appetite than actually eating the treat. It takes willpower to turn down dessert, but apparently it’s less stressful on the mind to say Later rather than Never. In the long run, you end up wanting less and also consuming less.”

Once you’ve learned to postpone, the next step is to replace your bad habit with something healthier or more constructive. Trying to eliminate the habit simply will not work. Instead, when your cue to eat/drink/smoke/chew your nails or whatever bad habit you may be struggling with arises, insert a new routine in place of your old one.

Addressing Wants and Desires

One of the greatest contributors to unhappiness is our wants and desires — regardless of whether they’re able to be fulfilled or not, because as soon as you get the thing you desire, another, newer, better thing will come along, fueling your desire to acquire yet again. Fulfilling desires is a never-ending cycle. Here, the old adage to “be grateful for what you have” is part of the prescription. Barker cites “The Daily Stoic,” which says:

“Here’s a lesson to test your mind’s mettle: take part of a week in which you have only the most meager and cheap food, dress in shabby clothes, and ask yourself if this is really the worst that you feared.” To which Barker adds, “And research shows doing that really works. But it ain’t any kind of fun.

Luckily, there is a less painful way to get similar results. What’s something you used to relish that you now take for granted? Did that first morning cup of coffee used to be a wonderful moment — and now it’s just something you hastily gulp down? Well, skip it for three days …

When I spoke to Harvard professor Mike Norton he said this is how you can regain appreciation for the things that you’ve taken for granted. Make them a treat … Deprive yourself a bit — then savor the hell out it. This is how you can stop wanting and start enjoying what you have.”

Those Who Feel They Have Enough Are Usually Happier

Some even claim that the key to happiness is learning to appreciate “enough,” and embracing a more minimalist lifestyle. The average credit card debt for Americans who carry a balance is $16,000,5 and 38 percent of U.S. households carry some amount of credit card debt. The total outstanding consumer debt in the U.S. in 2016 alone was a staggering $3.4 trillion.

Meanwhile, financial hardship and work stress are two significant contributors to depression and anxiety. The answer is pretty self-evident: Buy less. Many who have adopted the minimalist lifestyle claim they’ve been able to significantly 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 level of happiness and life satisfaction.

The key here is deciding what “enough” is. Consumption itself is not the problem; unchecked compulsory shopping is. It’s like being on a hamster wheel — you keep shopping, thinking happiness and life satisfaction will come with it.

Yet it never does. 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, connection and experiences that bring purpose and passionate engagement.

The Importance of Gratitude

The philosophers of old placed great emphasis on gratitude as a way of cultivating happiness and inner peace. Today, thousands of years later, the benefits of a thankful attitude have been firmly established through scientific study.

People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions and less anxiety, sleep better6 and have better heart health.7 Studies have also shown that gratitude can produce measurable effects on a number of systems in your body, including:

Mood neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine)

Inflammatory and immune systems (cytokines)

Reproductive hormones (testosterone)

Stress hormones (cortisol)

Social bonding hormones (oxytocin)

Blood pressure and cardiac and EEG rhythms

Cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters (dopamine)

Blood sugar

A team of researchers at UCLA showed that people with a deep sense of happiness and well-being had lower levels of inflammatory gene expression and stronger antiviral and antibody responses.8 This falls into the realm of epigenetics — changing the way your genes function by turning them off and on.

Part of your longevity may depend on the DNA you were born with, but an even larger part depends on epigenetics, over which you have more control. Indeed, research suggests your thoughts, feelings, emotions, diet and other lifestyle factors exert epigenetic influences every minute of every day, playing a central role in aging and disease.9

How to Cultivate Gratitude

Even if you don’t often feel gratitude right now, know it can be cultivated and strengthened with practice. One way to harness the positive power of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal where you write down what you’re grateful for each day. This can be done in a paper journal, or you can download a Gratitude Journal app from iTunes.10

Avoiding getting sucked into bad news is the other side of this equation. You may have to limit your media exposure from time to time if you find it difficult to maintain a positive outlook in the face of worldly horrors. Other ways to cultivate gratitude include writing thank you notes, remembering to say “please” and “thank you,” nonverbal actions such as smiling and giving hugs, and expressing thanks through prayer or mindfulness meditation.

The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is another helpful tool. EFT is a form of psychological acupressure based on the energy meridians used in acupuncture. It’s an effective way to quickly restore your 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.

Reflect on Each Day

The ancient philosophers also prescribed morning and evening rituals aimed at guiding and improving your mental and emotional state. A beneficial morning ritual will help set the tone for your day, while the evening ritual allows you time to reflect on the day’s events. The philosopher Seneca wrote about his evening review ritual as follows:

“When the light has been removed and my wife has fallen silent, aware of this habit that’s now mine, I examine my entire day and go back over what I’ve done and said, hiding nothing from myself, passing nothing by. For why should I fear any consequence from my mistakes, when I’m able to say, ‘See that you don’t do it again, but now I forgive you.'”

Other Habits That Promote Happiness

In order to be happier, you might think the first step would be to eliminate negative experiences in your life, but often these are beyond your control. Instead, focus on increasingyour positive experiences. This is something that virtually everyone can do. Even ordinary moments can be a source of great pleasure.

In many ways happiness is a choice, and you can create it and nourish it by implementing certain routines and daily practices. In fact, happy people tend to have habits that set them apart from their unhappy peers, such as letting go of grudges, treating people with kindness, dreaming big, not sweating the small stuff and much more. The following list includes “prescriptions” from psychologists that are known to boost your level of happiness.11

Make happiness your goal

The first step toward greater happiness is to choose it. You need to believe that happiness is possible, and that you deserve it. (Hint: You do. Everyone does!) Research shows that the mere intention to become happier actually makes a big difference.12

Identify what makes you happy

If it’s been awhile since you’ve felt truly happy, you may have forgotten what it is that gets you there. Take time to reflect on what gives you joy, and not just the obvious, like your family, but also little things, hobbies and interests.

Make happiness a priority

Make a point to schedule your weeks around events (or ordinary activities) that make you feel happy and alive.

Savor pleasant moments

People who take the time to savor pleasant moments report higher levels of happiness, regardless of where the day takes them.13 If you don’t already do this, keeping a daily diary of pleasant moments and whether or not you truly savored them, might help.

You might be surprised at how much happiness is to be had in your everyday life. Try appreciating the scent of your coffee, relishing in the feeling of your soft bed, or enjoying the sunrise before you start your day.

Ditch joyless distractions

There’s only so much time in a day, so be sure to protect your attention and time from unnecessary and unproductive distractions. This includes texts, tweets and emails, which take you away from the true pleasures in life. If necessary, turn off social media completely.

Think keeping tabs on your Facebook friends equates to happiness? Think again. Research suggests the more time people spend on Facebook, the more their moment-to-moment happiness declines and the less satisfied with life they become.14

Let every thought be a positive thought

Simply thinking about something positive, and smiling as a result, can make you happier and more upbeat. A genuine smile includes the facial muscles around your eyes, and can actually prompt brain changes linked to improved mood.

Prioritize experiences over things

Research suggests experiences make us happier than possessions; the “newness” of possessions wears off, as does the joy they bring you, but experiences improve your sense of vitality and “being alive,” both during the experience and when you reflect back on it.

Have a backup plan for bad days

When you’re having a bad day and your mood is sinking, have a plan in place to lift it back up. This could be calling a close friend, watching a comedy or going out for a jog — whatever works best for you

Identify your sense of purpose

Happiness isn’t about pleasure alone; it’s also about having a sense of purpose. The term “eudaimonic well-being” originated with Aristotle, and describes the form of happiness that comes from activities that bring you a greater sense of purpose, life meaning or self-actualization. This could be your career, or it could be gleaned from volunteering or even taking a cooking class.

Socialize — Even with strangers 

Having meaningful social relationships is important for happiness, but even people who engage in “social snacking” report greater happiness. Social snacking describes the little ways you connect with others, including strangers, on a daily basis.

In general, the more you mingle and chat with the people around you, the more cheerful and brighter your mood is likely to be. To learn more about the benefits of striking up casual conversations wherever you happen to be, see my previous article, “How to Talk to Strangers.”

Get away

Taking time away from the daily grind is important for helping you recharge. And while even a weekend getaway can give you a boost, a longer trip is better to help you create meaningful memories. These memories can be tapped into later to help boost your happiness. Experts recommend a two-week vacation, ideally, even if it’s to a locale close to home.

Spend more time outdoors

Exposure to bright outdoor light is crucial for a positive mood, in part because regular exposure to sunlight will helps to enhance your mood and energy through the release of endorphins.15 Getting sun exposure outdoors will also help you optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency has long been associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), as well as more chronic depression.

In Japan, the practice known as “forest bathing” has been part of the national health program since 1982, and the benefits of this kind of ecotherapy are now starting to become more widely recognized in the U.S.16 The aim is to slow down and unplug from the daily stresses by reconnecting with nature.

Estimates suggest the average American spends anywhere between 80 and 99 percent of their life indoors — a lifestyle trend that has led to what some now refer to as “nature deficit disorder.”17 Spending more time in nature can go a long way toward increasing your sense of well-being and satisfaction.

Practice kindness

When people make a point to conduct three to five acts of kindness a week, something magical happens. They become happier. Simple kind acts — a compliment, letting someone ahead of you in line, paying for someone’s coffee — are contagious and tend to make all of those involved feel good.

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Class and Race Profiling in the Vaccine Culture War

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Barbara Loe Fisher

The Vaccine Culture War is heating up.1 Ground zero is America, Europe and other economically developed countries, where the pharmaceutical industrial complex is raising an iron fist to protect multibillion-dollar profits by disempowering the people.2,3,4,5,6,7,8

In America, professors and doctors in academia and government are profiling parents by class and race to shame and discredit those challenging vaccine orthodoxy. Elite members of the highest paid professions in our society are using academic journals and mainstream media to openly preach fear, hate, prejudice and discrimination against people who disagree with them about vaccination.

Law Professor: Mothers of Unvaccinated Children Are Criminals

“When it comes to vaccines, rich parents get away with child neglect,” the headline in The Washington Post proclaimed on May 10, 2017. The OpEd was written by Linda C. Fentiman, a Pace University law professor promoting criminal prosecution of mothers whose children are not vaccinated.9

She alleged that state legislatures are accommodating “wealthy” mothers by allowing exemptions in vaccine laws, while poor pregnant women have “faced charges of criminal child abuse” and imprisonment for “failing to deliver adequate nutrition or delivering drugs via their breast milk.”

She suggested that ALL mothers who don’t vaccinate their children are criminals and should be punished — “regardless of socioeconomic status” — because vaccination is a “collective obligation” and “the science on the efficacy and safety of vaccines is clear.”

Boston Herald: Hang People Talking Bad About Vaccines

That “punish the mothers” OpEd was preceded by a May 8 Boston Herald editorial revealing just how far the persecution of people advocating for vaccine safety and informed consent has gone. The Boston Herald editorial staff called for the execution of individuals who exercise free speech about vaccine risks and failures.

As in, it should be “a hanging offense” to inform parents (especially, to inform parents in “immigrant communities”) that vaccines carry an unpredictable risk of injury or death and often fail to work as advertised.10

Nobody should be surprised. Prejudice and discrimination against groups of people, whether because of the color of their skin, their gender, how they dress, what they eat, where they live, their religious beliefs, their cultural values and political opinions — or simply because they choose to stay healthy in a different way — is always a slippery slope once it is allowed to gain a foothold in society.

MD, Professor, Vaccine Developer Calls for ‘Funeral’ of Vaccine Safety and Choice Advocacy

In 2011, Dr. Gregory Poland, a University of Minnesota professor of medicine and vaccine developer at Mayo Clinic,11,12 profiled parents concerned about vaccine risks in the New England Journal of Medicine.

He said, “Antivaccinationists tend toward complete distrust of government and manufacturers, conspiratorial thinking, denialism, low cognitive complexity in thinking patterns, reasoning flaws and a habit of substituting anecdotes for data.” Then he used a death image to invoke a thinly veiled threat. He asked, “What can we do to hasten the funeral of antivaccination campaigns?”13

CDC on Mothers: Who Are They and Where Do They Live?

Trash talk has become the weapon of choice for a select group of professors and doctors using academic journals and mainstream media to humiliate and bully people who disagree with them about the science, policy, law and ethics of vaccination.

In the 21st century, it has been going on in earnest since about 2004 when Centers for Disease Control (CDC) officials kicked off the Vaccine Culture War by asking this question in the Journal of Pediatrics: “Children Who Have Received No Vaccines: Who Are They and Where Do They Live?”14 The CDC study authors played with the words “undervaccinated” and “unvaccinated” so mothers could be profiled by class and race. They said:

“Undervaccinated children tend to be black, to have a younger mother who was not married and did not have a college degree, to live in a household near the poverty level, and to live in a central city.

Unvaccinated children tended to be white, to have a mother who was married and had a college degree, to live in a household with an annual income exceeding $75,000 and to have parents who expressed concerns regarding the safety of vaccines and indicated that medical doctors have little influence over vaccination decisions for their children.”

There it was, the uncomfortable truth that it is college educated, financially stable middle class mothers independently evaluating the benefits and risks of vaccination rather than blindly trusting and relying on someone else to do their thinking for them.

Although the CDC’s 2004 profiling study drew lines between mothers based on race and socio-economic class, there was no discussion of the distinct possibility that those lines would disappear if ALL mothers were financially stable, able to access full information about vaccination, and were truly free to make voluntary vaccine decisions without being punished for the decision they make.

Your skin doesn’t have to be a certain color and you don’t have to belong to a certain socioeconomic class — or have a college degree — to figure out that you are not being told the whole truth about risks that doctors insist your child must take. All you have to do is vaccinate your healthy child and witness that child have symptoms of severe vaccine reactions and either die or become a totally different child physically, mentally and emotionally.

Delegitimizing Vaccine Exemptions and Those Who Take or Give Them

For more than a decade, professors at Johns Hopkins and Emory universities have published articles profiling parents making independent vaccine choices for their children for the purpose of creating a public narrative that delegitimizes vaccine exemptions and the human right to exercise freedom of thought, conscience, religious belief and informed consent to vaccine risk taking.15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24

In 2012 these esteemed professors also put the squeeze on pediatricians to discourage them from exercising professional judgment and conscience when giving children medical vaccine exemptions,25,26 directing them to strictly conform to narrow vaccine contraindications approved by the CDC, which exclude 99.99 percent of children from qualifying for a medical exemption.27,28,29

Since doctors cannot predict who will be harmed by vaccination,30,31 this kind of cruel utilitarian public health policy selects an unknown number of children, who are biologically vulnerable to being harmed by vaccines, for sacrifice. When doctors with big titles in government and academia put a target on the backs of parents and doctors opposing inhumane one-size-fits-all public health policies and laws, it gives a green light for legislators to do the same thing.

In 2012, California pediatrician politician Richard Pan lobbied to eliminate the personal belief vaccine exemption for children to attend school. He told The Associated Press that, “In private schools, these are people who have money, who are upper middle-class, and they are going on the internet and seeing information and misinformation.”32,33

Educated Critical Thinkers Eating Organic, Leaning Holistic

In 2013, the flames of prejudice were fanned by an online publication profiling parents in a San Francisco community and labeling them “vaccine deniers.”34

The parents were described as “wealthy, educated, liberal leaning” and often working in “technology, law and other white collar professions that demand critical thinking skills,” who put their children at risk by feeding them non-GMO organic food, taking them to holistic doctors, and paying $20,000 a year to send them to private schools where self-reliance, independence and critical thinking are taught.

So, by 2015, the narrative about parents being stupid and crazy for questioning the safety of vaccines had morphed into one profiling parents by class and race. The New York Times had no problem running the headline, “Rich, White and Refusing Vaccinations.”35

2015 Measles in Disneyland Unleashes Media Hate Fest Attacking Parents and Civil Liberties

And when a measles outbreak popped up in 2015 at Disneyland, it didn’t matter that only 2.5 percent of California children were attending kindergarten with a personal belief vaccine exemption.36

It was an opportunity for the pharmaceutical industrial complex to create a media hate fest that turned into a competition for who could suggest the most egregious violations of civil liberties and the nastiest kinds of punishment for parents declining to give their children every one of the 69 doses of 16 vaccines on the CDC’s poorly studied childhood vaccine schedule.37,38,39

An Arizona State University magazine editor wrote, “Shouldn’t we know where they live? Every single exemption request should be reviewed in a public meeting and approved by a public body (like a city council or school board). And if the exemption is approved, basic information — the parent’s name, address and the vaccinations declined — should be available on the internet via a publicly maintained registry.”40

Professors at major universities suggested the government should impose a tax on unvaccinated people,41 suspend free speech about vaccination,42 and deny elected representatives public office and strip doctors of their medical licenses if they talk bad about vaccines.43 A science writer urged Americans to turn on each other and conduct a “concerted campaign of person-to-person shaming and shunning.”44

A USA Today OpEd stated flatly: “Parents who do not vaccinate their children should go to jail.”45 By the end of 2015, the California legislature had narrowly voted to eliminate the personal belief vaccine exemption, while denying medical care to the children of parents making vaccine choices had become standard behavior in pediatric offices across the country.46,47

Professor and Vaccine Developer: ‘Snuff Out’ Vaccine Safety and Choice Advocates

In 2016, the profiling of vaccine hesitant parents based on race and class had become so politically correct in America that two Michigan pediatricians felt comfortable describing them this way: “These parents almost always come from privilege, and they are almost never punished for their actions … they are by and large white, educated and affluent.”48

By 2017, Peter Hotez, a Baylor University professor of medicine and vaccine developer,49,50 slapped the “high educational attainment and socioeconomic status” label on parents defending vaccine freedom of choice. In Scientific American magazine, he called on the U.S. government and G-20 nations to take steps to “snuff out” the “American anti-vaccine movement.”51 To “snuff out” means to “crush or kill.”52

It is no wonder the Boston Herald editorial staff did not hesitate to suggest that the hangman’s noose was the kind of punishment that these “white, educated and affluent” parents deserved.53 Apparently, you get a free pass to engage in race and class baiting if you have M.D., Ph.D. or J.D. written after your name and or bang the drum loudly for forced vaccination, suggesting that those who refuse to believe get a taste of the whip.

History does reveal that it is much easier to wage a reign of terror when the gallows and guillotine in the public square are used to teach unbelievers a lesson. Clearly, the doctors and professors demanding that we roll up our children’s sleeves to prove we are willing to take one for the team are getting nervous. They know that more than 90 percent of American parents are asking pediatricians questions about vaccine safety and want to make voluntary vaccine decisions for their children.54

Professor and Vaccine Developer: Take Away Vaccine Exemptions

Wealthy vaccine developers, like pediatrician and professor of vaccinology Dr. Paul Offit,55,56,57 are lobbying to eliminate all vaccine exemptions that have not been approved by doctors, so parents are legally prohibited from exercising freedom of thought and conscience when making health care decisions for their children.58,59,60

Offit believes that children can safely receive 10,000 vaccines at once61 and has contempt for parents who do not agree with him about that. He said, “They’re people who believe they can know anything and know as much as their doctor — if not more — by simply studying it, reading about it.”62

Wealthiest Profession in America: Medical Doctors

Offit is a member of the highest paid profession in America — medical doctors63,64 — and he also belongs to an elite academic community where professors of medicine at some universities are paid $3 to $4 million per year,65 which is comparable to pharmaceutical company salaries. In 2011, the annual salary for an M.D. vice president at Merck was $6 million.66

There are about 750,000 medical doctors working in the U.S. and, although currently the top five medical specialties earn an average $400,000 to half a million dollars per year, the average annual income for most doctors is between $190,000 and $240,000, which is more than six times the U.S. median income of about $36,000 and four times the U.S. household median income of $56,000.67,68,69

There are about 33,000 medical doctors working for the federal government, and they are paid an average $206,000 per year.70 Full professors at colleges and universities are paid on average between $140,000 and $220,000,71,72 but some are paid millions.73

Give No Safe Harbor to Race and Class Baiting

While doctors and professors certainly have the legal right to make a lot of money, it does not give them the moral right to dictate what other people in society can value, think, believe, say or do. Their vicious attacks on people who disagree with them about health and vaccination is an attack on basic human rights that protect all people, rich and poor, and of every race in every country, against tyranny.

Class and race baiting has no place in the public conversation about vaccination and there should be no safe harbor for those who engage in it. Until laws are passed limiting the authority of medical doctors using the heel of boot of the state to violate human rights, the people’s health and freedom will be in danger. Learn more about vaccination and health within

It’s your health. Your family. Your choice.

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ReCODE: The Reversal of Cognitive Decline

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Alzheimer’s is now the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind heart disease and cancer. While prevalence is rapidly increasing, the good news is you actually have a great deal of control over this devastating disease.

Dr. Dale Bredesen, director of neurodegenerative disease research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine, and author of “The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline,” has identified a number of molecular mechanisms at work in this disease, and has created a novel program to treat and reverse it.

Originally known as the MEND (Metabolic Enhancement of Neurodegeneration) Protocol, the program is now called ReCODE (Reversal of Cognitive Decline).1

“You hear things that sound like hyperbole when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, but unfortunately, they’re not,” Bredesen says. “It’s currently costing the United States over $220 billion annually. It is a trillion-dollar global health problem. It was the sixth leading cause of death … Now, it has become the third leading cause of death in the United States. This is something that’s set to bankrupt Medicare.

It strikes about 15 percent of the population, so it’s incredibly common. In fact, you have the pathophysiology of the disease for about 20 years before the diagnosis is made. Many of us are walking around with early Alzheimer’s without realizing it. It’s a huge problem on the rise, and there hasn’t been any sort of a monotherapeutic approach that has worked for this terrible illness.”

Why Functional Medicine Is the Ideal Treatment Approach

Projections estimate Alzheimer’s will affect about half of the senior population in the next generation. Genetic predisposition does play a role. An estimated 75 million Americans have the single allele for Apolipoprotein E epsilon 4 (ApoE4). Those who are ApoE4 positive have a 30 percent lifetime risk of developing the disease. Approximately 7 million have two copies of the gene, which puts them at a 50 percent lifetime risk.

That said, even if you have one or two copies of this gene, you can still prevent Alzheimer’s from developing. But you do need to be proactive. One of the disease mechanisms Bredesen’s team discovered involve amyloid precursor protein (APP) and dependence receptors, first identified in 1993. Bredesen explains:

“These are receptors that actually create states of dependence on trophic factors [and] hormones … If they don’t get the appropriate factors, they induce programmed cell death. They induce neurite withdrawal [editor’s note: a neurite refers to a projection from the neuron’s cell body] and things like that. The surprise was that APP actually looks like a dependence receptor. We started looking at this further [and found] … that APP actually is an integrator.

In other words, it’s not just waiting for one molecule. It is summoning many different things. Whether it is going to give you the signals that indicate you should … make synapses and keep memories, or the opposite … forget [and] activate programmed cell death, depends on a whole set of signals.

These include estradiol, progesterone, pregnenolone, free T3, NF-?B and inflammation. We realized this is what the epidemiologists have been telling us. This is, in fact, what functional medicine does.

If you look at the molecules involved, you can’t escape the conclusion that a functional medicine approach is an optimal approach. This in no way says that you shouldn’t develop drugs as well, but you want to test the drugs on a background of the appropriate program.

We tell patients, ‘Imagine you have 36 holes in your roof — because we initially identified 36 different mechanisms involved — if you patch one hole, that’s not going to help you much. You want to patch all the holes.’ Now, a drug typically patches one hole … [but you need to] patch the other 35 as well.”

Not All Alzheimer’s Is the Same

In his research, Bredesen determined there are several subtypes of Alzheimer’s. Two of them are actually not an illness, per se. They are strategic programming downsides of the synaptic density based on a mismatch of a number of different inputs, but essentially not illnesses. If you implement Bredesen’s recommendations, you can reverse those problems. Bredesen explains:

“You can think about it the way you need to think about osteoporosis. You’ve got osteoblastic activity. You’ve got osteoclastic activity. It’s an imbalance in those two over your life that leads to osteoporosis. What we’re seeing [in these subtypes of Alzheimer’s] is no different. We realize this is synaptoporosis. There is synaptoblastic activity, and there are dozens of signals that feed into synaptoblastic activity [and there’s synaptoclastic activity].”

For clarification, your brain’s ability to speak, learn and make decisions requires connections between brain cells. You have some 100 billion neurons in your brain, and each neuron has, on average, nearly 10,000 connections, called synapses. These synapses are critical for cognitive functions such as memory storage and decision making.

When you get Alzheimer’s, you initially lose the function of the synapse, and ultimately the structure of the synapse. Eventually, the brain cells themselves start to die. This process is what causes the hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer’s. To function properly, the synaptoblastic and synaptoclastic activity in your brain needs to be balanced.

“What we discovered is that everybody with Alzheimer’s is on the wrong side of the balance. In other words, their synaptoblastic activity is too low, and/or their synaptoclastic activity is too high. We want to go after all of those different things. Now, when we then started to measure these, we realized that you’ve got to measure things that aren’t measured in clinical practice. This has been the big problem.

People say that Alzheimer’s disease is mysterious; there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s because they have not looked at these larger datasets. This is part of the new medicine … We now argue that you can, for the first time, both prevent and reverse cognitive decline. Actually, we published the first paper that showed reversal of cognitive decline.2,3 The bottom line is we need to look at larger datasets. When you do that, you can see very clearly … that there are subtypes.”

Alzheimer’s Subtypes

While these classifications have not become widely accepted yet, Bredesen has published two papers on Alzheimer’s subtypes, based on metabolic profiling.4 These include:

1. Type 1, inflammatory (“hot”) Alzheimer’s: Patients present predominantly inflammatory symptoms. They have high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha, reflecting a chronic inflammatory state. When the NF-?B part of inflammation is activated, it also alters gene transcription. Two of the genes turned “on” are beta-secretase and gamma-secretase, the latter of which cleaves APP, thereby promoting synaptoclastic processes.

2. Type 1.5, glycotoxic (sugar-toxic, “sweet”), a mixed subtype: This is an in-between subtype that involves both inflammation and atrophy processes, due to insulin resistance and glucose-induced inflammation.

3. Type 2, atrophic or “cold” Alzheimer’s: This is classified as patients presenting an atrophic response. While a completely different mechanism from inflammation, it produces the same end result — it pushes APP in the direction of creating amyloid plaques and Alzheimer’s cell signaling.

When you withdraw nerve growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), estradiol, testosterone or vitamin D — any compound that provides atrophic support — your brain responds by blocking synaptogenesis. As a result, your ability to retain and learn new things is reduced.   

4. Type 3, toxic (“vile”) Alzheimer’s: These are patients with toxic exposures. Many will have chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) markers, even though most do not fit the official criteria for CIRS. “They act like CIRS patients (in their labs, not necessarily symptoms) with dementia,” Bredesen explains.

They will typically have high transforming growth factor beta and complement component 4 A; low melanocyte-stimulating hormone; high matrix metallopeptidase-9; human leukocyte antigen-antigen D related qs (associated with bio toxin sensitivity), yet they rarely have the pulmonary complaints, rashes, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue typically associated with CIRS. “When you treat those, then they get better. Without treating them, they continue to decline,” Bredesen says.  

What About Genetic Influence?

As for the genetic component, Bredesen notes:

“With respect to genetics and Alzheimer’s, about 95 percent of cases of Alzheimer’s are not so-called “familial” Alzheimer’s disease. Those are relatively uncommon. Actually, mutations in APP itself are very rare causing Alzheimer’s. They tend to be very clearly clustered in families. They come on early.

However, about two-thirds of the people who have Alzheimer’s do have one or two copies of ApoE4. In that case, the genetics of risk for Alzheimer’s is very important. The ApoE4 increases your risk for type 1. It increases your risk for type 2. But it actually seems to decrease your risk for type 3, the toxin-associated [subtype], which is very interesting because … ApoE4 [has been found to be] protective with respect to parasite-associated dementia …

In fact, ApoE4 is protective for certain things. It is a more pro-inflammatory state, so very good for dealing with things like microbes. Not so good for aging, thus a case of what’s called antagonistic pleiotropy … It gives you advantages when you are young, but it is a liability with respect to chronic illness when you are older.”

If You’re ApoE4 Positive, Fasting Is Strongly Indicated to Avoid Alzheimer’s

Interestingly, ApoE4 is actually a rather useful gene, as it helps your body survive famine. Granted, lack of food is a rare situation in most developed nations — most suffer health problems from an overabundance of food — but as soon as I heard this, I suspected having this gene could be a strong clinical indication that you absolutely need to do intermittent fasting or longer fasts on a regular basis in order to avoid Alzheimer’s. Bredesen confirms my suspicion, saying:

“This is absolutely the case. I think it’s a very interesting point. ApoE is such a remarkably interesting gene … [It’s] is a fat-carrying molecule … What does that have to do with Alzheimer’s disease? Why do you start with ApoE4 and end up with Alzheimer’s? We started looking at this. It turned out, surprisingly, that ApoE actually enters the nucleus. It binds to the promoters of 1,700 different genes. It literally reprograms your cell toward a more inflammatory state.

In fact, if you look at the groups of genes, you couldn’t tell a better story about Alzheimer’s. It binds to things related to neurotrophic support … ApoE has a big impact … The ApoE4 was the primordial gene that appeared between 5 and 7 million years ago … For 96 percent of all of evolution of hominids, we’ve all been ApoE4 double positive … ApoE3 appeared 220,000 years ago. ApoE2 appeared 80,000 years ago.

Interestingly, ApoE4 prepares you to change niches. When we moved from in-the-trees arboreal ancestors to walking on the savannah, stepping on dung, puncturing our feet, eating raw meat filled with microbes, we needed a pro-inflammatory gene. In fact, if you look at the genes that are different between simians and hominids, a surprising number of these are pro-inflammatory.

It also allows you to eat fat, absorb it better and go longer without eating. If you take people who are ApoE4-positive and -negative and starve them, the ones who are negative will tend to die earlier. Therefore, it’s not that it’s better or worse. It’s different.

It gives you some advantages. It gives you some disadvantages. Therefore, you can learn to live your life slightly differently that is of advantage to you. My argument is that if you do the right things, Alzheimer’s disease should be a very rare illness …”

Mitochondrial Dysfunction Is at the Heart of Alzheimer’s

Bredesen has identified more than four dozen variables that can have a significant influence on Alzheimer’s, but at the heart of it all is mitochondrial dysfunction. This makes logical sense when you consider that your mitochondria are instrumental in producing the energy currency in your body, and without energy, nothing will work properly.

Your mitochondria are also where a majority of free radicals are generated, so when your lifestyle choices produce higher amounts of free radicals, dysfunctions in mitochondria are to be expected. The accumulation of mutations in mitochondrial DNA are also a primary driver of age-related decline.

“One of the biggest surprises we found is that if you look at why APP is making these amyloids, it’s actually changing the synaptoclastic side. The very amyloid that we have vilified and tried to get rid of turns out to be a protective response to three fundamentally different classes of insults. These go along with the subtypes of Alzheimer’s.

If you’ve got inflammation going on, you are making the amyloid because … it is a very effective endogenous antimicrobial. If you are decreasing your trophic factor support … you are downsizing a network. As mentioned earlier, in that case, it’s not really a disease …

[It’s] a falling apart of the system. You’re making amyloid because you’re fighting microbes, because you’re under assault and you’re inflamed, because you are decreased in your trophic support (insulin resistance, and so on) or because [you’re toxic].

Guess what amyloid does beautifully? It binds toxins like metals, mercury and copper. It’s very clear you’re making [amyloid] to protect yourself. It’s all well and good if you want to remove it, but make sure to remove the inducer of it before you remove it. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk.”

Why Drug Treatments Aren’t the Answer

When it comes to Alzheimer’s, the evidence suggests that holding out for a drug treatment would be foolish, as it’s unlikely to work very well, and here’s why:

“The hope is that we would use a specific drug and test drugs to see if we can prevent it. Here’s the problem: APP is like a CEO essentially. It’s looking at all the inputs from both sides, the pro and the con. It’s deciding, ‘Are we going to be able to make more memories? Are we going to have a positive synaptic plasticity? Are we going to be synaptoblastic or are we synaptoclastic?’

Now, in the few families that have this [familial presenilin 1 mutation], they are pushed towards the synaptoclastic side from the beginning. That is not representative of what over 95 percent of us have. We are pushed there appropriately because we ate the wrong foods, we stayed up too late and we abused ourselves with stress; we were exposed to toxins; we lived a Western lifestyle; our hormones decreased. Those are the things that drive our APP to produce the synaptoclastic side.

In those presemilin1 cases and in the APP mutations, it is not the same mechanism. Unfortunately, the mouse models that we all work with are like familial Alzheimer’s, not like the sporadic Alzheimer’s, which is the vast majority [of real-life cases]. This is not to say that the drug cannot work. Let’s hope for the best. But again, I would argue that you want to address the various things that are contributing to an appropriate response of your APP, which we ultimately call Alzheimer’s disease …

The critical piece here is … to say … ‘Let’s look at all of the contributors to your cognitive decline.’ We know ahead of time that because of the cognitive decline, you have this change. If it’s what we call Alzheimer’s, you, by definition, have a change in your APP signaling with the occurrence of this amyloid. Let’s look at all the things that contribute to that.”


While ReCODE looks at all of the contributing factors, restoring mitochondrial function is a cornerstone of successful Alzheimer’s treatment. One of the most powerful ways to optimize mitochondrial function is pulsed or cyclical ketosis, which is the main focus of my book, “Fat for Fuel.”

Not surprisingly, Bredesen’s ReCODE Protocol makes use of nutritional ketosis, and he’s starting to familiarize himself with cyclical ketosis as well. Typically, patients are asked to get a ketone meter, and to maintain a mildly ketogenic state of 0.5 to 4 millimolar betahydroxybutyrate.

The ReCODE protocol evaluates 150 different variables, including biochemistry, genetics and historical imaging, to determine which factors are most likely driving the disease. You can get more details on these variables by reading Bredesen’s outstanding new book, “The End of Alzheimer’s,” which was just released this week. An algorithm then generates a percentage for each subtype. While most patients have a dominant type, other subtypes typically contribute to the disease.

From this, they then devise a personalized treatment protocol. For example, if you have insulin resistance, which many do, you want to improve your insulin sensitivity. If you have inflammation, then you’ll work on removing the source of the pro-inflammatory effect.

Oftentimes you’ll need to eliminate toxins and/or address leaky gut or a suboptimal gut microbiome. Interestingly, they also place great focus on the rhinosinal microbiome, the microbes residing in your nose and sinuses. According to Bredesen, your rhinosinal microbiome can have a significant influence on this disease. Many Alzheimer’s patients have elevated levels of a number of different pathogens, especially oral bacteria, such as P. gingivalis and Herpes simplex virus-1.

“There’s a tremendous amount you can do,” Bredesen says. “We recommend that everybody over the age of 45 get what we call a “cognoscopy” … It’s very simple. You’re going to look at these different things in your blood. You’re going to look at your genetics … Then get on the appropriate program for prevention. If you’ve already started to be symptomatic, get on an appropriate program for reversal. The earlier, the better.”

Following is a list of suggested screening tests.

Alzheimer’s Screening Tests

Test Recommended range

Test: Ferritin

Recommended range: 40 to 60 ng/mL

Test: GGT

Recommended range: Less than 16 U/L for men and less than 9 U/L for women

Test: 25-hydroxy vitamin D

Recommended range: 40 to 60 ng/mL

You can get test here

Test: High-sensitivity CRP

Recommended range: Less than 0.9 mg/L (the lower the better)

Test: Fasting Insulin

Recommended range: Less than 4.5 mg/dL (the lower the better)

Test: Omega-3 index and omega 6:3 ratio

Recommended range: Omega-3 index should be above 8 percent and your omega 6-to-3 ratio between 0.5 and 3.0

You can get the omega-3 index test here

Test: TNF alpha

Recommended range: Less than 6.0

Test: TSH

Recommended range: Less than 2.0 microunits/mL

Test: Free T3

Recommended range: 3.2-4.2 pg/mL

Test: Reverse T3

Recommended range: Less than 20 ng/mL

Test: Free T4

Recommended range: 1.3-1.8 ng/mL

Test: Serum copper and zinc ratio

Recommended range: 0.8-1.2

Test: Serum selenium

Recommended range: 110-150 ng/mL

Test: Glutathione

Recommended range: 5.0-5.5 ?m

Test: Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol)

Recommended range: 12-20 mcg/mL

Test: Body mass index (which you can calculate yourself)

Recommended range: 18-25

Test: ApoE4 (DNA test)

Recommended range: See how many alleles you have: 0, 1 or 2

Test: Vitamin B12

Recommended range: 500-1,500

Test: Hemoglobin A1c

Recommended range: Less than 5.5 (the lower the better)

Test: Homocysteine

Recommended range: 4.4-10.8 mcmol/L

Core Treatment Strategies

Bredesen recommends mild ketosis and a mostly plant-based diet to all his patients. The specific diet recommended in his protocol is called KetoFlex 12/3, which involves a daily fasting period of 12 hours. For ApoE4-positive patients, 14 to 16 hours of fasting instead of the minimum 12 is recommended.

He also recommends exercise, to increase BDNF; stress reduction; optimizing your sleep, which is critical for cognitive function, and nutritional support. Important nutrients include animal-based omega-3, magnesium, vitamin D and fiber. All of these nutrients need to be optimized.

“I always tell patients, ‘We’re going to treat you now like a competitive athlete’ … We want to optimize these things. When you do that, the effects are absolutely striking. I’ve seen people go back to work. One person said, ‘I’ve allowed myself to talk to my grandchildren, once again, about the future, because I had to stop doing that.’

One person went from third percentile to the 84th percentile on his cognitive testing. Another person increased hippocampal volume dramatically. These are unprecedented effects, because we are addressing the specific items that are actually causing the cognitive decline.”

He’s also following Michael Hamblin’s work on photobiomodulation, which uses near-infrared light and red light between 660 and 830 nanometers for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. Dr. Lew Lim has developed a device called the Vielight, which employs light emitting diodes at these frequencies. Alzheimer’s patients using the device for 20 minutes a day report remarkably positive results.

Bredesen also agrees that electromagnetic exposures from wireless technologies are a crucial component that needs to be addressed, as this type of radiation activates the voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) in your cells, and the greatest density of VGCCs are in your brain, the pacemaker of your heart and male testes. It is my belief that excessive microwave exposure and glyphosate, which disrupts the blood brain barrier, are two of the most significant factors contributing to Alzheimer’s.

More Information

To learn more, be sure to pick up a copy of “The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline,” which details all the different evaluations recommended in his ReCODE Protocol. As noted by Bredesen:

“The hope is that when we all work together, we can make a major impact and reduce [Alzheimer’s prevalence]. As I said, it should be a rare illness. That is the truth. It should be a rare illness if we do the right things … We are in the middle of a revolution. This is a major change in medicine. We are now looking at how the human organism actually works. We are now able, for the first time, to do essentially what Jonathan Wright calls human biochemistry.

Drugs may or may not turn out to have their place. But the bottom line is we need to understand what’s causing the problem … We are now dying of complex illnesses, like cardiovascular disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. This is a real revolution in the way that we think.

My fervent hope is that we will see more of this in medical schools and in our universities — starting to look at what is actually driving these illnesses, instead of the old-fashioned approach of ‘Let’s write them a prescription.’”

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