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Harm reduction and fighting poverty centre of Manitoba NDP addictions strategy

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Manitoba’s Opposition NDP has released its ideas for how to combat the ongoing crisis of drug abuse and addiction in the province, and harm reduction and reducing poverty are at the heart of the strategy.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew says reducing poverty is a long-term goal with significant resources and investments required, while a new harm-reduction strategy could create some more immediate and positive outcomes.

The 20-page report suggests the current battle with methamphetamine is only the latest version of a struggle to deal with addiction that goes back many years and includes the use of opioids and fentanyl.

“Manitoba has an addictions crisis, not just a meth crisis,” reads one of the report’s headlines.

Called We Have to Start Here, the report’s authors canvassed health and addictions workers and members of law enforcement agencies.

The contributors, Kinew says, were kept anonymous to prevent “reprisals related to their jobs.” He also declined to say how many people were consulted while gathering the information. 

NDP Leader Wab Kinew says ‘if we want to put the addictions issue to bed in Manitoba we need to fight poverty.’ (Gary Solilak/CBC )

Much of the background data on the addictions crisis has been widely covered in media. Meth-related ER visits have spiked, provincial health authorities distributed more than two million needles in 2017-18, and there is a significant increase in cases of blood-borne illnesses like hepatitis C, HIV and syphilis.

Respondents cited in the NDP’s report say poverty is a major contributor to addictions, and the government should make significant investments in its reduction to lower drug abuse rates.

If somebody has housing, if somebody has food, if somebody has a meaningful life — they don’t use meth.– Wab Kinew, Manitoba NDP leader

Citing the Virgo report on mental health and addictions, released last year, “the link between high rates of addiction among children and youth was poverty,” the NDP’s report says.

The report also says Indigenous people, because of the impact of colonization, poverty and residential schools, are more likely to turn to substance abuse.

The Opposition party is calling for provincewide job creation and training programs, increases in the number of social housing units and an overhaul of the Child and Family Services system.

“If somebody has housing, if somebody has food, if somebody has a meaningful life — they don’t use meth,” Kinew told reporters.

Poverty only 1 driver of addiction: Main Street Project

That comment caught the attention of Rick Lees at the Main Street Project.

Lees, who directs the substance abuse shelter and outreach program in Winnipeg’s core area, says many of the report’s suggestions aren’t a surprise, and are things he and others have been advocating for.

But Lees warns that addictions aren’t always connected to poverty. He says it’s just one driver of addiction.

Main Street Project’s executive director, Rick Lees, said poverty is only one driver of addiction. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

“Addiction levels the playing field and crosses all strata, demographics and class, so I am not sure that just putting a roof and food in someone’s way is going to be helpful,” Lees said.

He told CBC News he welcomed more dialogue on dealing with the city’s drug problem, but urged all sides to “stop looking at addictions through political lenses.”

Harm reduction

The second major thrust of coping with addictions in the province is harm reduction, according to the NDP report. Experts in the field told the authors the current view of drug use must end.

Kinew acknowledged reducing poverty was a long-term goal with strategies that take years to implement.

“In the absence of being able to accomplish those larger-term objectives immediately, what we need to do is implement harm-reduction techniques,” Kinew said.

The NDP is calling for a supervised consumption site in Winnipeg, 50 new long-term treatment beds across the province, research into new drug treatment programs and an overhaul of education on drug use.

Kinew declined to cost out either the poverty-reduction strategy or harm-reduction efforts, saying the NDP would hold a policy summit later in the year to chose specific programs and release the numbers as part of its position for the 2020 provincial election.

The NDP’s look into addictions also warned past efforts based on a “just say no” approach have failed, especially among children.

“Respondents believe a focus on abstinence-based education must be abandoned because as long as poverty, adverse childhood experiences and systemic inequality exist, drug use will remain in our society,” the report said.

Kinew reiterated this point, saying the experts he’s spoken to believe the old “war-on-drugs” stance and warning children on the evils of drugs have failed and may even prompt kids even more to try illicit substances.   

‘Half-baked,’ says PC minister

Justice Minister Cliff Cullen lashed out at the NDP’s contention that saying no to drugs is a failed effort.

Cullen says the report contains “half-baked, dangerous ideas.” 

“Wab Kinew wants to tell kids it’s OK to do meth and other illicit drugs. I have raised three boys to adulthood and I am proud to say I told them never to use illicit drugs. And they haven’t,” Cullen told reporters.

Justice Minister Cliff Cullen defended his government’s efforts to combat drug addiction.

Cullen says his Progressive Conservative government will receive recommendations from its own task force on addictions in June and expects many substantial policy changes will come from it.

He also defended what the Tories have done so far to push back against the issue of addictions in the province, citing an increase in treatment beds, opening new paid access addictions clinics and signing a deal with Ottawa for more funding for mental health and addictions treatment.

Cullen was also critical of the NDP’s decision not to name sources in their report.

Manitoba’s Opposition NDP has released its ideas for how to combat the ongoing crisis of drug abuse and addiction in the province. 2:39

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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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