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‘It’s like a sober bar’: Windsor coffee shop that gives former addicts safe spot an inspiration for U.S. mom

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Distraught by watching her son nearly die of a drug overdose, a Pennsylvania woman and her husband drove seven hours to Windsor, Ont., to meet former addicts who now run a “sober bar.”

The Spiritual Soldiers Coffee Compound serves a warm dose of acceptance to anyone battling addiction, trying to stay clean. Debra Altland was so inspired after reading about its story, she told her husband they had to make the trek.

“Just the atmosphere in here. Just their story. I was like, I need to do this,” said Altland. “I need to bring this to the states. We don’t have something like this in the states.”

Within six months, she hopes to have a similar shop opened in her small community of Dillsburg, Pa. — a borough of roughly 2,500 people.

Watch Debra Altland talk about nearly losing her son, and what a ‘sober bar’ would do in Pennsylvania: 

Distraught by watching her son nearly die of a drug overdose, Debra Altland from Pennsylvania drove seven hours to Windsor, Ont. to meet the recovered addicts who now run a “sober bar.” 1:03

However, Altland’s future wasn’t always this clear. Four years ago, her 19-year-old son Tyler was hospitalized after having a drug overdose.

“At that point in time I was told he only had a less than five per cent chance of living,” said Altland. “They brought in a pastor and told us to start praying for our son.”

At that point in time I was told he only had a less than five per cent chance of living. – Debra  Altland ,  Tyler’s mother

This was the very first moment she discovered her son had an addiction to heroin. One of the most difficult moments was watching him “code right in front of us.” Medical staff rushed in to resuscitate the teen.

‘I couldn’t take him off the ventilator’

He survived and stayed in a coma for a few days while on a ventilator. Doctors even recommended the family stop life support.

“I held his hand and said to him, ‘I need to know you’re in there, or I have to let you go,'” said Altland. “And my son grabbed my hand so tight and sat straight up in bed, and I knew at that moment I couldn’t let him go. I couldn’t take him off the ventilator.”

Altland, left, was told by doctors that her son Tyler only had a five per cent chance of survival following an overdose. (Submitted by Debra Altland)

More than 20 surgeries followed, and Tyler nearly had both of his arms amputated. When he overdosed, he was found lying face down. That caused compartment syndrome, resulting in insufficient blood supply to his arms.

Her son is out of rehab, “but I can’t tell you that he’s sober.”

By bringing a “sober bar” to Pennsylvania, Altland is hoping it will not only help her own son, but the many others struggling with addiction in that state.

Mike Brown, Spiritual Soldiers Coffee Compound co-owner, said he’s humbled to have heard from people all over Canada and the United States about the ‘sober bar’ in Windsor. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Emotional meeting

Altland’s story from a parent’s perspective brought Mike Brown to tears. He co-owns the Spiritual Soldiers Coffee Compound and spent more than half of his life battling addictions with alcohol and cocaine.

“Her son’s story is very similar to mine. I’ve had a suicide attempt, and I’ve overdosed,” Brown said. “I always say my parents are the real soldiers. They stuck by me.”

Her son’s story is very similar to mine. I’ve had a suicide attempt, and I’ve overdosed. I always say my parents are the real soldiers. They stuck by me.– Mike Brown, Spiritual Soldiers Coffee Compound co-owner

“It’s like looking at my mom in the eyes right now,” he said, during Altland’s recent visit to Windsor.

Altland and her son at her wedding. (Submitted by Debra Altland)

Brown commends her and other parents in her shoes for sticking by their children while they battle addiction, and “not cancelling them out.”

The coffee compound’s story has travelled across North America, being shared on social media widely. Brown has gotten messages from people in Texas, California, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and even Australia.

Here’s one of the hundreds of messages the coffee shop has received: 

Coffee shop fills gap in community

The coffee shop started last summer as a way to fill a gap in the community — a place for people to feel vulnerable and safe after rehab or outside of group meetings.

“All of us should be dead, but we sit here today, and it’s a common problem that we all have — my friends and I, and her son,” said Brown. “To see someone extend their hand and say, ‘I want to bring this to our community’ is … I don’t even know how to put it into words.”

I don’t know if I would be sitting here if I hadn’t found this coffee shop.– Jay Arruda

Even in the first six months, many people have been helped inside the colourful cafe filled with positive messages written on the walls, stories of hope and understanding, and its “fun” sober atmosphere.

The happy place

People like Jay Arruda credit the shop for helping him stay on track.

“I don’t know if I would be sitting here if I hadn’t found this coffee shop. I wouldn’t actually,” said Arruda.

Jay Arruda is nearly nine months sober and attributes some of that to the Spiritual Soldiers Coffee Compound, which he describes as a fun environment with supportive people. (Jason Viau/CBC)

He’s just 21 years old and already lived a life of addiction. It started in high school with marijuana and spiralled out of control when that led to OxyContin and fentanyl.

“It brought me down pretty quick. I ended up getting kicked out of my house. I would steal from my parents, and it got really bad,” said Arruda, who has been sober for nearly 10 months.

After finishing a treatment program in May, Arruda works at the coffee shop, offering his story as a sign of hope to anyone who walks through the doors. 

He describes the shop as his happy place, full of smiles and filled with people with a common goal to stay sober.

“You don’t see anybody taking shots, and it doesn’t bring back old memories,” Arruda said. “There’s just no temptation in here. Everyone’s smiling. Everyone’s happy, playing cards. You’re dancing. It’s like a sober bar.”

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Researchers warn about the severe psychological distress caused by eating junk food

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(Natural News) Does junk food make you sad? While the current state of the American food industry is more than enough to make anyone feel depressed, new research from Loma Linda University demonstrates a link between junk-laden diets and psychological distress. Based on their findings, it appears that what you eat can and does affect your mental health — and that the prepackaged garbage peddled as “food” can have a seriously deleterious effect on your emotional well-being.

Even after adjusting for other external factors, the scientists found this relationship held steady: The more junk food a person ate, the more distress they reported feeling. When you consider the physiological effects junk food has on the body, it is no wonder that people report feeling like they are more distressed: They are in distress, they just don’t know it’s because of what the “food” they’re eating is doing to them on the inside.

Estimates suggest that the average American gets 60 percent of their daily calories from processed or junk food. Junk food consumption is a widespread problem here in the United States. Now, there are questions about whether or not junk food is a driving force in the plague of insanity (and stupidity) striking the U.S.

Scientists link junk food to poor mental health

Published in the journal International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in early 2019, a study from Loma Linda University scientists finds a link between poor diet and poor mental health. Even after adjusting for external factors such as gender, age, education and income level, the association between junk food intake and mental illness remained.

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Study leader Jim E. Banta, Ph.D., MPH, an associate professor at the school, says that their conclusions support the findings of previous research. To conduct their study, Banta and his team looked at data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). The scientists used 240,000 phone surveys conducted by CHIS between 2005 and 2015, and included data on socio-demographics, health status and health behaviors.

“This and other studies like it could have big implications for treatments in behavorial medicine,” Banta said of the findings.

“Perhaps the time has come for us to take a closer look at the role of diet in mental health, because it could be that healthy diet choices contribute to mental health. More research is needed before we can answer definitively, but the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction,” he added.

The fact that scientists in the 21st century are only now just beginning to even consider the possibility of a relationship between nutrition and mental health is truly disturbing. Natural health practitioners have long been aware of the importance of good nutrition for total well-being, including mental state.

Is poor nutrition turning America insane?

Vitamin D deficiency is a well-known cause of depression. B vitamins, iron, selenium and magnesium also support good mental health and deficiencies in these nutrients can also cause depression and anxiety. There is a growing body of research which strongly supports poor nutrition as a causative factor not only in depression, but in other mental illnesses — including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, OCD and more.

For example, Dr. Banta notes that some research has linked high sugar consumption to bipolar disorder, while fried foods and processed grains are linked to depression. There is no ignoring the link between diet and disease — whether it is of the body or of the mind makes no difference.

Nearly 60 percent of the American population’s diet comes from disease-causing food, and it is hard not to wonder if obesity, heart disease and death aren’t the only problems being caused by junk food diets.

Are the increasingly insane leftists just running around in a nutrient-deprived, sugar-spiked frenzy? Whether you’re talking about the inanity of “social justice” score-keeping or the rapid acceptance of censorship to silence conservatives, it’s clear that the far left is missing a few bolts upstairs. A diet of GMOs, pesticides and toxic food additives will do that to you, though.

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Eat healthier to improve your physical and mental well-being

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(Natural News) The physical health and mental well-being of a person depend a lot on nutrition and the food that he eats. Diet also influences the risk of developing chronic diseases. While the relationship between physical health and diet is well-understood, little is known about how diet and its quality influence the development of mental disorders. In a recent study, researchers from the University of Regensburg in Germany investigated the behavioral effects of a Western diet on pattern separation – the process of keeping items distinct in memory. They discovered that a diet consisting of increased amounts of sugar and saturated fatty acids, reduced levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and an increased ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids (Western diet) harms memory. The results of their study were published in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness.

The Western diet impairs pattern separation

In this study, researchers investigated the utility of spatial separation – a behavioral process associated with the hippocampus – in the assessment of dietary interventions and the behavioral effects of the transgenerational administration of a Western diet on pattern separation. Pattern separation is the process of keeping items distinct in memory and is mediated by the hippocampus. Previous studies have suggested that there is a relationship between hippocampal function and diet quality in both humans and animals.

To examine the association between them, the researchers used rats, feeding over seven generations a diet containing increased amounts of sugar and saturated fatty acids, reduced levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and an increased ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids. This diet composition is characteristic of a diet known as the Western diet. The researchers administered it transgenerationally because previous studies have shown that interventional diets need to be implemented over several generations to induce behavioral effects.

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They compared the spatial pattern separation (or local discrimination) performance of these animals with that of rats fed a standard diet. For the test, they presented the rats two locations and allowed them to learn across trials to respond to the correct location. During spatial discrimination training, they designated a location as the correct one and rewarded the rats if they touched the correct location. They reversed the correct and incorrect locations every time the rats successfully got the correct ones nine times out of 10 trials.

The researchers found a separation-dependent difference between the standard and Western diet groups in the number of discriminations performed in the pattern separation task. The rats fed with a Western diet performed fewer discriminations. Rats with lesions in the dorsal hippocampus showed impaired pattern separation when the locations were close together but not when they were far apart. The researchers associated this impairment with hippocampal dysfunctioning. Their results align with previous studies which demonstrated that consumption of a Western diet impaired cognitive functions, damaged brain regions, and contributed to the occurrence of neurodegenerative diseases. Their results confirmed that pattern separation could be negatively affected by transgenerational administration of a Western diet.

The researchers concluded that spatial pattern separation can help detect the effects of dietary interventions and that the Western diet can impair pattern separation.

How to make your diet healthier

A healthy diet can provide many benefits, the most important of which is the prevention of chronic diseases. Here are some things that you can do to make your diet healthier:

  • Eat slowly
  • Choose whole grains
  • Add probiotics to your diet
  • Increase your protein intake
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid frying food and eating fast food
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Try new and healthy recipes
  • Eat vegetables first before every meal
  • Eat fruits instead of drinking them
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stop drinking sweetened beverages
  • Get adequate sleep

Eating healthier and becoming aware of your nutritional needs will not only improve your physical health, but these will also benefit your mental and emotional well-being.

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Apples: Eat them to keep the doctor away – and boost stem cell therapy

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(Natural News) There is some truth behind the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are superfoods, and they are good sources of antioxidants that protect cells from oxidative damage and boost the immune system. They also contain dietary fiber, which is good for digestion and the maintenance of gut microbiota. But there is more to apples than just being healthy, antioxidant fruits. In a recent study published in the journal Nutrition Research, researchers from Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea showed the beneficial effect of apple extracts on the proliferation of adult stem cells. They also identified the possible molecular mechanisms underlying apple’s pro-proliferative effects.

Apple ethanol extracts can enhance the proliferation of stem cells useful for tissue regeneration

Tissue regeneration using adult stem cells (ASCs) has significant potential in the treatment of many degenerative diseases. It also provides a promising means of repairing chronic tissue or organ failure due to injuries, congenital defects, and aging. Stem cells are essential in regenerative medicine because they can be used directly in cell replacement therapies. However, studies on their application in clinical settings suggest that age negatively affects the proliferation status and differentiation potential of ASCs. This presents a possible limitation in their therapeutic use.

In the hopes of addressing this limitation, researchers turned their attention to the pro-proliferative activity of apples. Apples are rich sources of valuable phytochemicals that are known to be beneficial to human health. They possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and even anticancer activities. These antioxidants can help maintain human cells and protect them from harmful oxidation products. In addition, apples contain metabolites that could ensure longevity and increase the number of human cells in culture. (Related: Apples could hold key for increasing lifespan.)

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Because of this, researchers hypothesized that apple extracts might exert beneficial effects on ASCs. They obtained apple extracts using ethanol as the extraction solvent and tested these on human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs) and human cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells (CB-MSCs). They also used 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and Click-iT 5-ethynyl-2?-deoxyuridine flow cytometry assays to evaluate the pro-proliferative effects of the extracts.

The researchers found that treatment with apple extracts promoted the proliferation of ADSCs and CB-MSCs. Apple extracts also induced the stepwise phosphorylation of p44/42 MAPK (ERK), mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), p70 S6 kinase (p70S6K), S6 ribosomal protein (S6RP), eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4B, and eIF4E in ADSCs. p44/42 MAPK (ERK) is a signaling pathway involved in the regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation. Inhibition of this pathway results in cell apoptosis. mTOR is a key signaling node that coordinates cell cycle progression and cell growth. p70S6K is a cytokine that regulates cell growth by inducing protein synthesis. eIFs, on the other hand, are proteins or protein complexes involved in translation and protein biosynthesis.

The researchers also reported that apple extracts significantly induced the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in both ADSCs and CB-MSCs. VEGF is a potent angiogenic factor, which means it promotes the formation of blood vessels. VEGF also plays a role in other physiological functions, such as hematopoiesis, wound healing, and development. IL-6 is a promoter of proliferation. The researchers further confirmed that the apple extract-induced proliferation of ADSCs under serum-free conditions is mediated by ERK-dependent cytokine production because when they pre-treated cells with PD98059, a specific ERK inhibitor, it inhibited the phosphorylation of the mTOR/p70S6K/S6RP/eIF4B/eIF4E pathway.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that extracts from apples are potent pro-proliferative agents, and the beneficial effect of apple extract on the proliferation of ASCs may overcome the limitation in their therapeutic use in tissue regeneration.

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