Fatty Foods Addictive? Yes!

After 28 scientific research studies, the results are becoming clear. Fatty foods and foods containing high fructose corn syrup affect the brain in much the same way as cocaine. Although the massive packaged food industry disputes these results, medical studies are consistent. These foods trigger the same regions of the brain as addictive drugs.

Everyone is aware of the growing obesity epidemic in America. Our fast food culture is literally growing out of its clothing. Anyone who has tried to eliminate fast food from their diet can attest to how hard it is to go cold turkey and eat sensibly.

One medical study at Scripps Research Institute fed lab rats fatty and sugary products, like bacon and cakes. The rats only had access to this special diet for one hour each day. The impact of this food, however, lasted much longer. These rats started binge eating during their one hour of sweets and fats, ignoring more nutritious food that was available all day. The rats quickly became obese. Brain scans of the lab rats showed brain patterns that matched those associated with cocaine ingestion.

Another study at Brookhaven National Laboratory focused on the dopamine receptors in humans. Dopamine is produced in the brain to signal pleasure, like receiving a reward. Dopamine releases follow exercise, sex or ingesting cocaine or heroin. The dopamine receptors in long-term drug abusers become less sensitive. That is why addicts require more drugs over time to achieve the same "high". Brain scans of obese people showed a similar decrease in dopamine receptor sensitivity. That led researchers to conclude that these people needed more and more food to feel satisfied, leading to their obesity.

Princeton university researchers studied lab rats that were offered sugar water. Over time, rats that were allowed ready access to sugar water ate less food and drank more sugar water, shifting their nutrition dramatically. When the sugar water was taken away from the rats, they exhibited withdrawal symptoms, as though they were addicted to drugs. To scientists' surprise, a similar French study showed that lab rats preferred sugar water to cocaine.

What does that mean for us? Clearly, going cold turkey on McDonalds is probably harder than cutting down on lettuce. Shifting our eating toward a healthy diet required time and discipline. Substituting non-calorie sweeteners does not help wean our brains off of sweets, do diet cola isn't the answer. Instead, a gentle decrease in sweet and fatty foods is better, allowing your brain to readjust. With time, your dopamine receptors can regain their former sensitivity and you will not crave sweets or junk food. Until then, keep a lot of carrots on hand!

Have you sworn off high fructose corn syrup? Click on the Comments button and give us your experience!

Let Stress Make You Better

Stress is a factor in everyone's life. Many maladies are blamed on stress, yet stress plays a key role in making successful people successful. Why does stress affect different people in different ways? How can we harness the beneficial elements of stress and deflect the harmful effects?

Stress is a natural reaction of our body to change. Positive change or negative change, it doesn't matter. Our body ramps up to respond to the new situation before the situation is analyzed.  To decide first and key up the metabolism second meant that the cave man was some animal's lunch, so our body put the actions into priority order.

When you detect a change in your environment, your body reacts by releasing the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones prepare our body for quick action. Your pulse rate increases, blood pressure rises, muscles flex, you breathe more quickly and shallowly, and all of your senses become heightened. These reactions get your body ready to respond, but at a cost. Over time, untreated stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive issues, insomnia and depression.

One expert on stress and dealing positively with stress is Dr. Michael Gervais. Dr. Gervais is the founder of Pinnacle Performance and a consultant to successful athletes, managers, military personnel and performers of all kinds. He has built a very successful business teaching people new ways to deal with stress so that their peak performance is achieved.

Dr. Gervais teaches that our reaction to stress can be negative, focusing on the possible poor outcomes of the situation, or positive, focusing on the preparation and capabilities that will enable an outstanding result. In his view, stress unlocks our energy. Too much energy is destructive. Too little energy leaves us wanting. The key is to let our energy rise to an optimum level and keep it there. Many athletes talk about being "in the zone" and Gervais believes that this zone is found when stress energy is at the optimum level.

Gervais recommends a three step method for managing stress to achieve peak performance.

Step 1: Calm your body. Using biofeedback and breathing exercises, Gervais teaches his clients to calm their bodies at the onset of stress.

Step 2: Refocus your mind.  Stress can make you distracted and destroy your focus. Using meditation and behavior modification, Gervais teaches his clients to filter out all of the distractions and narrow their attention to the situation and how they are feeling. This "being in the moment" technique pushes away the irrelevant and allows the situation at hand to receive all of the attention.

Step 3: Generate confidence. Here Gervais teaches positive inner monologue. By overtly identifying positive outcomes and reasons for success, the natural tendency toward negative self-doubt is eliminated. This is not easy, and requires preparation and some identifiable ability to succeed, but this third step puts you into the best possible frame of mind for top performance.

By following these three steps, Gervais believes, anyone can improve their performance and eliminate the negative aspects of stress.  This is not changing the situation, but rather changing our reaction to the situation.  That is the key.

How do you handle stress? Do you have a favorite technique? Click on the Comment button and let us know!

Chocolate As A Health Food

For many of us, life without chocolate would be drab and desolate. Good news: recent research has shown that chocolate is good for you and can actually extend your life! That means that I will probably live to be 120.

A little more information is needed to maximize the health effects of chocolate. As in all things, all chocolate is not alike. The primary contributor to the positive impact of chocolate is an obscure thing called flavonoids.  Flavonoids are found in many berries, red wine and green tea. So I may live to be 130, between the chocolate and the red wine.

Flavonoids are antioxidants. That means that they inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. That is a good thing, because oxidation releases free radicals that cause damage to our cells. This damage is associated with aging (boo!) and in more extreme cases, cancer, stroke, heart disease and neurological disorders.

To get the most out of your daily chocolate, choose chocolate that is rich in flavonoids. That means dark chocolate. Milk chocolate only has about 25% of the flavonoids of dark chocolate, and white chocolate has no flavonoids at all.

The best yard stick for flavonoid content is the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate. Shoot for 70% cocoa, at least. You get a nice taste and plenty of wonderful flavonoids in every bite. Be aware that very high levels of cocoa can taste bitter or dusty to some people, so sample before you make a large purchase. Sample anyway, it's just a sensible thing to do!

A German research study found that people with high blood pressure saw an appreciable drop in their blood pressure if they had a daily serving of chocolate. A follow-on study in the H.S. found that the drop in blood pressure was accompanied by a 10% drop in low density lipoprotein, the "bad" cholesterol. Several studies have also tied chocolate consumption with improved mood and mental outlook. Really sorry I missed out on that study!

Chocolate is a wonder drug. It improves your blood pressure and cholesterol readings. It improves your mood and feeling of well being. It slows aging and fights many diseases. It pairs well with red wine, another healthful substance. I think I'll head on down to that Scharffen Berger chocolate shop and get some health food right now!

Can Coffee Cure Cancer?

Coffee is a wonderful drink. It makes mornings possible for millions of sleep-deprived people across the country. It kicks of a cozy chat with a good friend and caps off a wonderful meal. Now there is research that ties coffee drinking with a reduced risk of uterine cancer.

Harvard University scientists studied nearly 70,000 women and their health records over 26 years. The women were between 34 and 59 years old and were divided into three groups: those who drank little or no coffee, those who drank two or three cups of coffee each day and those who drank four or more cups of coffee each day.

In the study, the coffee drinkers had a lower occurrence of uterine/endometrial cancer than those who abstained. The 2-3 cup a day drinkers had a 7% lower risk of cancer and the heavy coffee drinkers had a 25% lower risk of cancer. Pretty compelling results!

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. There was no "cause and effect" tie claimed between drinking coffee and lower incidence of cancer, although the researchers did not rule that out. The scientists did point out that coffee drinkers typically have lower levels of insulin and estrogen than non-drinkers. Separate studies have tied high levels of insulin and estrogen to endometrial cancer.

Other studies have connected coffee drinking with reduced risk of liver and prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's and cirrhosis of the liver. Other benefits are associated with antioxidants, and coffee has more antioxidants than the standard-bearer for antioxidants:  green tea.

Does this mean that you should drink coffee to avoid cancer? That's a bit premature. Much more study is required before you can expect your doctor to prescribe a daily espresso. There are some downsides to coffee drinking to be considered, such as insomnia, heartburn, increased blood pressure and irritability. Moderation should always be your guide. A few cups of coffee a day seems to be a positive thing, on net. It can also avoid those nasty bruises from hitting your face on your keyboard when you fall asleep at work! That is priceless.

Eat To Live

What do you get when you combine an endorsement from the famed Dr. Oz with the promise of losing 20 pounds in two to three weeks? You get the popular "Eat To Live" diet. Now in its second revision, the Eat To Live book spells out the road to better health and a slimmer waist-line.

The Eat To Live diet is the brain child of Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Dr. Fuhrman's basic premise is that our food choices are causing poor health and by changing our selection of foods we can improve our health without feeling like we're dieting. The primary focus of the diet is to maximize nutrients while minimizing calories. Sounds simple, right?

The book Eat To Live offers a vegetarian diet that promises substantial weight loss in six weeks. For those of us who can't totally give up meat, there is a more moderate plan that accomplishes the same goals over a longer time. Sticking with the list of approved foods eliminates the need to count calories. Simply put, you can't eat enough of these foods in a day to exceed your calorie maximum.

The Eat To Live diet stresses raw vegetables. In fact, the humble salad is featured as an entrĂ©e.  Other veggies are served steamed. Between the raw and steamed vegetables, Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating a pound of each every day. Additionally, you should eat four servings of fruit each day and a tablespoon of ground flax seed.

Processed carbs are not on this diet. That means no bread, pasta, white rice, sugar or fruit juices.  Don't even think about having a donut. Starchy vegetables (potatoes or corn for example) are limited to one cup a day. You can also have one oounce of raw nuts and two ounces of avocados a day.

The Eat To Live diet is exhaustively described in his book but you can also purchase a DVD with healthy cooking tips, an on-line community and even an iPhone/iPad application. The book plus DVD and on-line membership runs $30 for three months.

Will this program work for you? Certainly eating a vegetarian diet can help you lose a lot of weight quickly. A lot of us can't see living life without beef, though. That can be a deal breaker. A life of salads may not be worth living.

Some people won't tolerate the massive ingestion of raw vegetables, especially those with inflammatory bowel disease. But if you can see yourself eating this meal plan on a long-term basis, the Eat To Live diet does allow you to eat all you want, so there's no feeling of starvation and the weight will drop away, reinforcing your resolve.

Have you tried Dr. Fuhrman's Eat To Live diet? Click on that Comment button and share your story. Otherwise, grab yourself a diet buddy over at WannaBuddy.com and start making a salad!

The Benefits Of A Running Partner

Running is a great sport. It requires very little equipment, needs no gym membership, and can be enjoyed by nearly all ages. Some people think of running as a solitary sport, but running can be so much more rewarding with a running buddy.

One huge benefit of a running partner is increased personal safety. With a buddy you are far less likely to attract unsavory attention. If you get a cramp, fall down or experience any sudden health issue, having a running partner can make the situation more manageable and far less scary, too. With twice as many eyes, you are less likely to overlook a running hazard or miss that dog behind the tree, waiting to pounce.

Running is great fun and wonderful exercise, but (let's face it) some days it's harder than others to put those running shoes on and get out there. Knowing that someone else is depending on you can eliminate those excuses that plague solo runners. You might be willing to let yourself down, but not your running buddy. That keeps many of us on track, every day.

Sure, we learned how to run when we were tots. That doesn't mean that we learned the best, most effective and healthiest stride and form. Having a running partner can be a source of tips and feedback. It's pretty hard to run behind yourself and critique your running form, but your buddy can easily point out your wasted motion or improper foot placement. Oh, so that's why I get shin splints!

Beginning runners can feel awkward when they first go out for a run. Having a running partner makes that go away (who can laugh at us both?) and you can encourage each other. Your buddy is a constant source of moral support and motivation.

It may not be intuitive, but running with a partner usually means that you will run longer and faster. It is human nature to unconsciously compete with the person running next to you, so you will keep the pace up without struggling and push yourself further than you would if running alone. Knowing that your running buddy is doing fine also makes that inner monologue stop whining!

We all know about the cardio benefits of running, but did you hear about the cognitive benefits? Recent research by psychologists has shown that running while maintaining an active conversation stimulates many areas of the brain and can actually make you smarter. That can explain why you feel so clear-headed after a run with your buddy!

So, how about getting yourself a running buddy? Be sure to match your abilities and schedule (and attitude toward foul-weather running) with your prospective partner, so that you don't have a difficult conversation about unmet expectations.  Finding a new running partner can be a great way to make a new friend and widen your social circle, so you want to make sure that you are both on the same wavelength from the beginning.

Don't know anyone who's looking for a new running buddy? No problem! Just click over to WannaBuddy.com and select the Running Buddy activity and get running!

The Kirstie Alley Diet

From Cheers to Fat Actress to Dancing With The Stars, Kirstie Alley has never shied from the public eye. Over the years her weight has taken more turns than a Cheers bar stool. During some thin years, she was a spokesperson for Jenny Craig. When she added a few more curves, Jenny dumped her. So Kirstie teamed up with Organic Liaison to create her own diet. Take that, Jenny Craig!

Given the "organic" in Kirstie's partner Organic Liaison, it is clear that the Kirstie Alley diet is organic. Beyond that, it is supported with daily supplements, meal planners and an on-line community in a pay-as-you-go package. She says that her diet will help you to lose weight AND flush toxins from your body.

The supplements have fun names that hint at their purpose. The "Rescue Me" daily pill is supposed to help you resist craving food. No real description of how this pill does it, so some faith is required here. The "Release Me" daily pill is a pretty calcium supplement. This is a very good idea, especially for women. The "Pagoda" pill is green tea, said to increase fat burn. For those awkward moments when the diet gets to be a bit too much, there is the "Relieve Me" pill for clearing out your colon (oh, my) and the "Nightingale" pill to help you fall asleep. Wow, that's a lot of pills to add to your medicine chest!

The Kirstie Alley diet targets a daily intake of 1,400 calories. This is a sensible and safe level that has the endorsement of the government for weight loss. The diet program includes meal guides and menus. It even has a list of organic grocers near you for sourcing all these new organic products.

This diet is not free. In fact, the program costs $119 per month if you buy the entire package. There is also a $20 startup fee. This gets you’re the program guide, the on-line community, email access to a "health director" and a supply of the 5 supplements.

Does this diet work? Pretty much any meal plan that keeps you on 1,400 calories a day will help you to lose weight safely. Kirstie Alley's diet has received a lot of attention, between her stints on Dancing With The Stars and an endorsement from Kelly Preston. Is it work $119 a month? There are some cheaper alternatives, like watching Food Network to get healthy recipes and finding a real-life diet buddy on WannaBuddy for support and encouragement instead of messaging on a web site. In the end, it's up to you how you stay motivated. If Kirstie is a role model to you of someone who can be confident and successful without starving herself into a Size 0 dress, go for it! Oh, and practice dancing in heels, we don't want you to fall off the stage.

The Atkins Diet

If you have only heard about one diet, you have probably heard about the Atkins diet. Named after its founder, Dr. Robert Atkins, this diet enjoys great name recognition. Thought by many to be the father of fad diets in the decades since its inception, most people know that the Atkins diet features all the meat you can eat, but know little else. Here are a few more details that might help you to understand Dr. Atkin’s diet a bit better.

The Atkins diet is based on minimizing your body’s production of insulin by eating protein in abundance but nearly no carbs. Insulin is naturally secreted by your body to adapt blood sugar into a form usable by your muscles. Insulin is released when carbohydrates are digested. By not eating carbs, you secrete less insulin. In Dr. Atkin’s theory, that means that your body will burn fat to produce energy in the absence of carbs. Burning fat means losing weight. Bingo! Weight loss!

There are four phases to the Atkins diet. In phase one, called the induction phase, you eat a diet made up almost entirely of protein. You are allowed only 20 grams of carbohydrates a day. One slice of bread is around 15 grams of carbs, so your daily allowance is very limiting. During the two week induction phase you are expected to lose up to 15 pounds. That certainly gets you psyched about Atkins!

Phase two is called ongoing weight loss. During this phase, you slowly re-introduce foods back into your diet. Your daily carb allowance starts at 25 grams and slowly increases as you determine how many carbs you can eat and still lose weight. This is called your ongoing weight loss level. This carb level varies from person to person, so finding your individual carb allowance is the key to this phase. Most people spend one or two months in this phase.

In phase three, you are preparing for your life of maintenance. You enter phase three when you are about 10 pounds from your goal weight. During this phase you slowly increase your daily carb intake, from your ongoing weight loss level to a level where you neither gain or lose weight. The Atkins people call this your carbohydrate equilibrium point. This phase is all about preparing for a lifetime of maintenance, called phase four.

Phase four, called maintenance, is part of your life forever. If and when you gain weight, you return to phase two carb levels until you drop back to your target weight. Should you drop below your target weight, you merely bump up your carb level for a week or two.

The Atkins approach is easy to understand and easy to follow. The lack of carbohydrates is normally offset by binging on proteins. The increased consumption of fat and cholesterol is a concern for many physicians. The Atkin’s diet claim that weight loss will come strictly from fat is not scientifically supported, either. But most people are able to stick with the Atkins diet for at least a few weeks with lots of burgers, cheese and nuts, and most people lose weight, too.

Is the Atkins diet for you? Most people, especially men, can lose 5-10 pounds quickly. The unlimited access to protein keeps you from feeling hungry. Maintenance is more of a problem, though. Cholesterol can also be a problem with Atkins, so be sure to get regular checkups.

Have you tried the Atkins diet? Click on the Comment button and let us know how it worked for you. And remember, diets are easier to follow when you have a diet buddy. Click over to WannaBuddy and find yourself a diet buddy if you don’t have one already.

Surviving the Holiday Season

As the days get shorter and the air develops a chill, it is only natural that we slow down. The combination of limited exercise and holiday snacks can be really hard on our waistline. Here are some tips on avoiding that holiday bulge.

Staying fit during the holidays takes vigilance and some savvy strategy. Everywhere you turn there are opportunities to indulge but never enough time to work it off. A gym membership isn't the only answer, though. There are ways to keep fit and control the deluge of calories that the season puts in your path.

Except in the very coldest weather, taking a walk can be a great way to clear your mind, stretch those under-used muscles and get a little cardio into your day. Find a walking buddy for some companionship, mental stimulation and that little bit of competitiveness that can add an extra mile to your route. "No, I'm not tired, are you?"

Whenever you get the chance, take the stairs! It's amazing how many calories you can burn in a day if you skip the elevator. Denizens of the 33rd floor need not apply, there's nothing healthy about arriving at your office drenched in sweat. If you have a reasonable climb, though, those stairs are pretty much what that Stairmaster at the gym is offering up.

When you're at home, try using the rest room on the other floor. That is, if you are on the ground floor, use the upstairs bath, and vice versa. Ranch model dwellers need not apply, I know. In the course of the day these climbs can make a difference. Do yourself two favors at once and increase your water consumption. Everybody wins!

Do you have a TV and a DVD player? That's all you need for in-home instruction in yoga or Pilates. This lets you learn (and fumble, I've got to be honest here) in private and progress at your own speed. Plus, you will save money because you won't need those trendy workout togs, either. There are some great instructional videos for every level, so don't think that you need a gym membership and live instructor just to learn the Sun Salutation.

That TV can serve double duty for exercise. If you have a Wii (or any game console, really) you can get a great workout with the Wii Sports game that comes with every unit. You will be shocked at how much you will sweat working your way through a single boxing match. And, believe it or not, tennis elbow is very common when playing Wii Tennis, so don't forget to stretch first!

Do you really, really need to get out of the house? Consider visiting your local YMCA gym. Most of them offer day passes, so you don't need to make a long-term commitment and can take advantage of the exercise equipment, pool and spa. Tell your friends that the YMCA has a strict "No Cell Phones" policy and really get some relaxation.

Holiday parties can be brutal. Food you would never touch, otherwise, becomes heaped on your miniature plate. Eating food with a tiny fork does not reduce the calories! Consider selecting proteins over carbs when available. The long-term impact on your waistline will be reduced. Instead of egg nog, maybe you can suggest a holiday sparkling punch made from seltzer water and pomegranate juice. It is very tasty, has fewer calories and won't tempt you to belt out a chorus of "Deck the Halls," which is a good thing.

So, enjoy the holiday season. With some of these strategies you could even enter the new year with a slender outline and healthy outlook on the world!

The Alessandra Ambrosio Diet

Alessandra Ambrosio is a Brazilian supermodel, best known for her work with Victoria's Secret. Recently, she has been getting a lot of press for her quirky take on dieting. Given the results, there may just be something to her approach!

Alessandra spends most of her calories on protein. She does not believe in starving herself and has even been seen eating (gasp) an ice cream cone. It is worth noting that Alessandra was a overweight (her words) as a child and only recently slimmed down to her current supermodel physique. Even giving birth to her first child, daughter Anja Luise, did not destroy her bikini-ready curves.

There is no published diet guideline for Alessandra's eating plan. A fan of eggs, she typically starts every day with a scramble and a bagel. And that bagel is slathered in butter! Violating nearly every diet book written, Alessandra says that she many times skips breakfast if she is pressed for time.

For lunch, Alessandra eats very lightly. She says that a quick snack of fruit or a protein bar is enough. Again, if rushed she will skip lunch, too. If she is not working, she enjoys a casual lunch of sushi or a salad.

Alessandra rarely eats dinner at home, preferring Japanese, Thai, Brazilian or Korean restaurants. She is not afraid of eating red meat and allows herself to sample anything that sounds interesting. Her only real "no-no" is carbonated beverages, and that is more of a taste preference than a dietary restriction.

Surprisingly, Alessandra does not have a gym membership. Instead, she keeps her 5' 10" frame strong and toned by running on the beach, rollerblading, swimming and volleyball.  She says that anything outdoors is good for her body and benefits her soul.

Will following the Alessandra Ambrosio diet reshape you into a supermodel? That is more a matter of some great Brazilian genetics than diet, unfortunately. But her focus on eating proteins over carbs and plenty of outdoor exercise certainly won't hurt, either. Grab yourself a diet buddy and give it a try!

The Miranda Kerr Diet

Miranda Kerr is a wildly successful Victoria's Secret model.  This year she was chosen to model the $2.5 million diamond studded bra for the VS fashion show. Keeping her eye-popping figure is critical to her career, so when she speaks about diet and exercise, people listen.  Here are a few of her secrets.

Miranda is a fan of Dr. D'Adamo's Blood Type Diet. That diet tailors an eating plan to each blood type (they are A, B, AB and O) to match food with physiology. Since Miranda has type A blood, Dr. D'Amato recommends a vegetarian diet rich with whole and organic foods. She says that most of her diet is made up of low-GI and high-alkaline foods, with lots of purified water.

Since Miranda rarely eats red meat, she struggles to avoid anemia. Some vegetables contain iron, but they are not as readily absorbed as iron found in meat. That makes it even more important to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D (which enables iron absorption) and lots of iron-rich veggies.

To further augment her diet, Miranda Kerr takes coconut oil, goji berry powder, chia seeds, maca powder, bee pollen and noni juice. She drinks a lot of green tea, many times with a bit of ginger added. Every meal and break includes a glass of water, again with ginger or a squirt of lemon.

Breakfast is typically yogurt, muesli or an egg white scramble and fruits, she says. Her lunch is normally a salad with a bit of chicken or fish for protein. Most days include an afternoon snack of organic fruit or nuts. Dinner is her major meal, with lots of veggies, maybe a salmon steak and dessert of fruit.

Besides eating a laser-focused diet, Miranda spends some time in the gym every day. She starts with stretching and breathing exercises to get focused and warmed up. Interval training fills the next hour, with a series of high-intensity exercises that target every muscle group in her body in rotation. There are alternate days of weight training and jogging to build muscle tone and cardiovascular endurance. Given Miranda's day job, special attention is paid to toning the calves, thighs and abs.

Miranda Kerr delivered her first child just a few months before the Victoria's Secret fashion show. She credits her diet and exercise habits for allowing her to drop her baby weight so quickly. Based on her reception at the show, it all seems to be working.

Have you tried the Miranda Kerr diet? Click on the Comment button and tell us about your path to a supermodel figure.

Spontaneous Happiness

Merle Haggard sang "Everybody sings the blues sometimes" and nobody can refute that wisdom. Along comes Dr. Andrew Weil, who agrees, but says that we're treating it all wrong. Here are his recommendations for treating "the common cold of modern emotional life."

Dr. Weil has studied wellness and the inter-connection between our bodies and our minds for decades. In his new book, Spontaneous Happiness, he says that our approach to achieving happiness is flawed, and it's making us sick.

Depression can have many causes. Some bouts of depression are unquestionably linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Without correcting that imbalance, no amount of attitude adjustment will cure the depression. Yet many times depression is not based on a chemical problem at all.

Dr. Weil considers depression to be a disorder of modern life. He found that the more affluent become, the more depressed they tend to be. People in third-world countries have far lower rates of depression than those living in industrialized nations.

This all seems counter-intuitive, yet forms that basis for his book. He believes that our minds have not adjusted to modern life and the result is depression. We are inundated by a ceaseless flow of information, rarely see the sun and eat processed foods while attending to other priorities. Surprise! This affects our physical and emotional health.

This modern, machine-driven lifestyle has been termed "nature-deficit disorder" and is earning increasing attention from therapists and medical doctors. This disorder has been blamed for many behavior issues with children who spend their days in classrooms and evenings glued to laptop screens.

But what are we to do? Countering these trends is not easy, but possible. Just spending 20 minutes a day outside can work wonders. Your body can generate vitamin D, the lack of which has been long associated with many physical ailments. Your body will respond dramatically to the natural light (remember SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and those clever desk lamps?) and buoy your spirits dramatically. Nature's sounds will sooth your ears and calm your nerves. This will also help to reset your body clock so that you go to bed earlier and wake up rested.

Dr. Weil's new book offers specific tips on re-aligning the mismatch between modern life and our mind and body. He recommends aerobic exercises, getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and spending time with positive people. Through his series of coping mechanisms, he says that we can all learn to regain the contentment of childhood. What's not to like?