By Dr. Mercola

Americans are taking fewer vacation days than they did 15 years ago, often not taking all of their earned vacation days, according to a survey by the US Travel Association.1 But the decision to put work over family and friends can lead to burnt bridges among personal relationships that can make your life richer for decades to come.

The survey revealed that seven out of 10 respondents skip kids’ activities, birthdays, and vacations in favor of work, while, paradoxically, 73 percent said spending time with family makes their lives richer and more meaningful.

Another survey found Americans use only 10 of their average 14 days of vacation a year, and while about one-third of Americans report feeling stressed out at work, most won’t take a vacation day because of it.2

In short, many Americans find it hard to find a suitable work-life balance that allows them to pay the bills and earn financial security while still spending time with family and having ample free time for their own sanity.

If it’s been awhile since your last vacation, you may be starting to feel it. Lack of adequate time off can manifest in many mysterious (and not so mysterious) ways, as the list below, compiled by TIME, explains.3

10 Signs You Need a Vacation

1. Little Problems Seem Huge

When you’re in a good place mentally and emotionally, you can handle those daily curveballs that come your way – with ease and even your fair share of finesse. But if you’re overly stressed, forget about it. Even small nuisances will seem overwhelming and may cause you to snap at co-workers or clients unnecessarily.

2. Coworkers Ask if You’re Alright

You probably spend a lot of time around your colleagues, and they may be among the first to notice that you’re not acting like yourself. Maybe you’re unusually cranky, quiet, or tired instead of your chipper self.

This is a sign that a long weekend is calling your name (if you can’t take a longer vacation, at least try to fit microbreaks into your day by walking outside for five or 10 minutes).

3. You’re Making Mistakes

Workplace errors are often the result of chronic stress. This can be problematic for your reputation and job security or, depending on your line of work, potentially deadly to those around you (such as if you work in the medical field). If you notice you’re making an unusual number of mistakes, arrange for some time off to regroup.

4. You’re Overly Cynical

Those who are most successful at work have about six positive experiences for each negative one. A ratio of three to one (in favor of positive) is about the bare minimum you need to stay happy at work. If that ratio gets flipped and you’re finding your work unfulfilling and frustrating without any positive merits, it could be due to impending burnout.

5. You’re Engaging in Counterproductive Work Behaviors

Arguing with co-workers, taking extra time at lunch or breaks, or “borrowing” office supplies are examples of “counterproductive work behaviors” or CWBs.

These behaviors are linked to high levels of workplace stress, and they may manifest weeks or months after the most stressful periods (such as a busy season).4 Time off may be a welcome cure (and might even give you time to seek out other opportunities).

6. You’re in Physical Pain

Workplace stress, particularly heavy workloads, negative work environments, and obstacles that prevent you from completing your work, are linked to pain levels in employees.5 Stress also promotes inflammation and pain sensitivity, which is why recurring backaches, headaches, eye strain, and other aches and pains are signs a vacation is long overdue.

7. Your Stomach’s Upset

An upset stomach and other digestive issues can also be manifestations of overwork and stress.6 The latter can even lead to changes in the bacteria in your gut that can make you prone to stomach issues.

8. You Have Trouble Sleeping

Excessive work stress and burnout can increase the chances of sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. People who are overworked have more trouble unwinding at the end of the day and also are more likely to report daytime sleepiness.7

9. You End Your Day with a Glass of Wine

Regularly using alcohol as a coping mechanism may be a result of too much stress at work. Those experiencing chronic stress and burnout may be more vulnerable to using alcohol and food as ways to ease stress in favor of healthier options like exercise.

10. You Lost the Sense of Purpose of Your Work

A more serious sign of burnout is losing perspective of why you’re working in the first place. You may not see any benefits, when in fact your job benefits your community, your country, or your family. If you can’t remember why you wanted your job in the first place, schedule a break from your daily grind soon.

What Do You Stand to Gain from Taking a Vacation?

You’ve seen what might happen if you don’t take a vacation, but what might happen if you do? According to research from the University of Calgary, taking a vacation (or even participating in leisure activities) can actually reduce depression.8

A separate study found sharing vacation experiences with your loved ones is a valuable contributor to family cohesion,9 whereas immersing yourself in a different culture may also foster creative thinking10 and improve well-being.11 Still other research by British research Scott McCabe has shown the following vacation benefits:12

Rest and recuperation from work Provision of new experiences leading to a broadening of horizons and the opportunity for learning and intercultural communication Promotion of peace and understanding
Personal and social development Visiting friends and relatives Religious pilgrimage and health
Subjective wellbeing    

As the Examiner reported:13

“McCabe believes these positive benefits [of vacation] to be so strong that he recommends that families be given some form of financial assistance if they are unable to afford vacations on their own.”

Keep in mind that not every vacation will leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed. Generally speaking there are some universal factors that tend to contribute to a restful time off, and if you’re chronically stressed you’ll want to be sure you plan your vacation with at least some of these in mind:14

  • Free time for yourself
  • Warmer, sunnier location
  • Good sleep
  • Making new acquaintances
  • Exercising during vacation

Even Planning a Vacation Can Benefit Your Mental Health…

It can certainly be exciting to travel the world and see new cities, states, or countries… but a vacation doesn’t have to be elaborate to be beneficial and enjoyable. Simply planning a vacation may help boost your mood, even if you don’t actually go on one.

Research showed people were happiest during the planning stage of their vacation, when their sense of anticipation was peaked.15 After the vacation was over, levels of happiness quickly returned to baseline.

“Staycations” have also become popular among those looking for a respite without breaking the bank. You might stay at a nearby hotel or bed-and-breakfast for a night or two to break up your daily grind. Or you can plan a week of day trips – visiting museums, zoos, national parks, theme parks, or other local points of interest – and returning home to sleep each night.

The key isn’t so much where you go as simply taking time off to just be with those you love, explore your surroundings, and nurture your inner self. Take the time to do the things you don’t get to do each day – like lingering over a cup of coffee and having the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

Whether your vacation is down the street or across the globe, you’ll enjoy numerous mental and physical health benefits both during your trip and upon your return. Surprisingly enough, even though many Americans forgo their annual vacations, 24 percent believe a vacation is a birthright… if you claim yours, here are even more benefits you’ll enjoy, according to the US Travel Association:16

  • Increased health: Travelers rate their health a full point higher (on a scale of one to five) while on vacation.
  • Deep sleep: Travelers say they get three times more deep sleep while on vacation, as well as an additional 20 minutes of sleep a night after their vacation.
  • Life satisfaction: Feelings of life satisfaction increase during vacation and continue to stay elevated after returning home.
  • Improved work life: Vacations can enhance your productivity and business accomplishments at work, so you’ll return to work refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.


Sources:


Related Articles:

  The Importance of Taking Vacations for Recovery, De-stressing and Reflecting

  Why is America the 'No-Vacation Nation'?

  10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier

 Comments (25)

By Dr. Mercola

That depression can take a toll on your physical health is pretty well-recognized. Recent research has also found that it can actually cause changes in your brain.

Specifically, recurring depressive episodes reduce the size of your hippocampus — an area of your brain involved in forming emotions and memory — stressing the importance of early intervention, especially among teenagers.

Your memory isn't only restricted to remembering dates and passwords; it also plays an important role in developing and maintaining your sense of self.

When your hippocampus shrinks, it's not just your rote memory that is affected, behaviors associated with your sense of self are also altered, and a smaller hippocampus equates to a general loss of emotional and behavioral function.

The good news is the damage is likely reversible, but to do that, you have to actually do something about your situation.

Chronic Depression Can Damage Your Brain

Using brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of nearly 8,930 people from around the world, an international team of researchers found that those who suffered recurring bouts of depression also had a smaller hippocampus.1,2,3

This applied to about 65 percent of all depressed participants.  Those who were experiencing their first depressive episode did not show evidence of shrinkage, suggesting it's the repetitive recurrence that causes the hippocampus to shrink.

Those who showed hippocampal shrinkage also reported getting depressed earlier than the others, typically before the age of 21.

Previous studies have noted that depressed people tend to have a smaller hippocampus, but it was not known whether this was a predisposing factor, or a result of the illness.

This study reveals the answer: Depression comes first; the brain damage follows...  According to co-author Professor Ian Hickie:4

"[The] more episodes of depression a person had, the greater the reduction in hippocampus size. So recurrent or persistent depression does more harm to the hippocampus the more you leave it untreated.

This largely settles the question of what comes first: the smaller hippocampus or the depression? The damage to the brain comes from recurrent illness...

Other studies have demonstrated reversibility, and the hippocampus is one of the unique areas of the brain that rapidly generates new connections between cells, and what are lost here are connections between cells rather than the cells themselves.

Treating depression effectively does not just mean medicines. If you are unemployed, for example, and then sit in a room doing nothing as a result, this can shrink the hippocampus. So social interventions are just as important, and treatments such as fish oils are also thought to be neuro-protective."

The Inflammatory Roots of Depression

Contrary to popular belief, depression is not likely caused by unbalanced brain chemicals; however there are a number of other biological factors that appear to be highly significant. Chronic inflammation is one such factor.5

Scientists have also found that your mental health can be adversely impacted by factors such as vitamin D deficiency and/or unbalanced gut flora — both of which, incidentally, play a role in keeping inflammation in check, which is really what the remedy to depression is all about.

As discussed in an article by Dr. Kelly Brogan, depressive symptoms can be viewed as downstream manifestations of inflammation.

"The source itself may be singularly or multiply-focused as stress, dietary and toxic exposures, and infection... [I]nflammation appears to be a highly relevant determinant of depressive symptoms such as flat mood, slowed thinking, avoidance, alterations in perception, and metabolic changes,"6 she writes.

Certain biomarkers, such as cytokines in your blood and inflammatory messengers like CRP, IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-alpha, show promise as potential new diagnostic tools, as they're "predictive7 and linearly8 correlative" with depression.

For example, researchers have found that melancholic depression, bipolar disorder, and postpartum depression are associated with elevated levels of cytokines in combination with decreased cortisol sensitivity (cortisol is both a stress hormone and a buffer against inflammation).9

As explained by Dr. Brogan:

"Once triggered in the body, these inflammatory agents transfer information to the nervous system, typically through stimulation of major nerves such as the vagus, which connects10 the gut and brain. 

Specialized cells called microglia in the brain represent the brain's immune hubs and are activated in inflammatory states.

In activated microglia, an enzyme called IDO (indoleamine 2 3-dioxygenase) has been shown11 to direct tryptophan away from the production of serotonin and melatonin and towards the production of an NMDA agonist called quinolinic acid that may be responsible for symptoms of anxiety and agitation.

These are just some of the changes that may conspire to let your brain in on what your body may know is wrong."

Sugar Is One of the Most Inflammatory Ingredients in Your Diet

It's virtually impossible to address inflammation without noting the role of sugar, found in ample supply in most processed foods.

Besides promoting chronic inflammation, refined sugar intake can also exert a toxic effect by contributing to insulin and leptin resistance and impaired signaling, which play a significant role in your mental health.

Sugar also suppresses activity of a key growth hormone called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), which promotes healthy brain neurons. BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia, which animal models suggest might actually be causative.

In 2004, the British psychiatric researcher Malcolm Peet published a provocative cross-cultural analysis of the relationship between diet and mental illness.12 His primary finding was a strong link between high sugar consumption and the risk of both depression and schizophrenia.

Another study13 published in 2007 found that inflammation may be more than just another risk factor for depression. It may in fact be the risk factor that underlies all others. According to the researchers:

"The old paradigm described inflammation as simply one of many risk factors for depression. The new paradigm is based on more recent research that has indicated that physical and psychological stressors increase inflammation.

These recent studies constitute an important shift in the depression paradigm: inflammation is not simply a risk factor; it is the risk factor that underlies all the others.

Moreover, inflammation explains why psychosocial, behavioral and physical risk factors increase the risk of depression. This is true for depression in general and for postpartum depression in particular."

Eating Real Food May Be Key for Successful Treatment of Depression

The evidence clearly indicates that your diet plays a key role in your mental health, for better or worse. So if you're struggling with depression, mood swings, or feel yourself sliding into "the blues," I strongly advise you to look at what you're eating. The key is to eat real food, ideally organic (to avoid chemical exposures) and locally grown (for maximum freshness).

Also make sure to eat plenty of traditionally cultured and fermented foods, which will help nourish beneficial bacteria in your gut. Good examples include fermented vegetables of all kinds, including sauerkraut and kimchi, kombucha (a fermented drink), as well as fiber-rich prebiotic foods like jicama (Mexican yam).

Optimizing your gut flora appears to be absolutely crucial for good mental health, which is understandable when you consider that gut bacteria actually manufacture neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, along with vitamins that are important for brain health. In fact, you have a greater concentration of serotonin in your gut than in your brain.

I recommend avoiding all types of processed foods, including certified organic ones, as processed foods are no longer "alive." What you're looking for is whole, unadulterated foods, with which to cook from scratch (or eat raw). Processed foods are simply loaded with ingredients known to alter your gut flora and promote inflammation, thereby inviting depression. This includes:

  • Added sugar and high fructose corn syrup
  • Genetically engineered (GE) ingredients (primarily corn, soy, and sugar beets) which, besides their own unknown health risks, also tend to be heavily contaminated with glyphosate—a Class 2A carcinogen that can also damage your gut microbiome and has been linked to antibiotic-resistance. Most conventional (non-GE) wheat is also treated with toxic glyphosate prior to harvesting.
  • By altering the balance of your gut flora, pesticides and herbicides also disrupt the production of essential amino acids like tryptophan, a serotonin precursor, and promote production of p-cresol, a compound that interferes with metabolism of other environmental chemicals, thereby increasing your vulnerability to their toxic effects.

  • Artificial sweeteners, along with thousands of food additives, most of which have never been tested for safety
  • Chemicals in the food packaging, such as bisphenol-A (BPA), bisphenol-S (BPS), and phthalates, which can migrate into the food
  • Trans fats

Exercise Effectively Combats Depression and Helps Rebuild Your Hippocampus

Recent research has shown clear links between inactivity and depression. Women who sat for more than seven hours a day were found to have a 47 percent higher risk of depression than women who sat for four hours or less per day. Those who didn't participate in any physical activity at all had a 99 percent higher risk of developing depression than women who exercised. Indeed, exercise is perhaps one of the most effective yet underutilized treatments for depression.

Studies have shown its efficiency typically surpasses that of antidepressant drugs. One of the ways exercise promotes mental health is by normalizing insulin resistance and boosting natural "feel good" hormones and neurotransmitters associated with mood control, including endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA. 

It also helps rid your body of stress chemicals that can lead to depression, and while depression can shrink your hippocampus, exercise has been shown to increase the volume of gray matter in the hippocampal region of the brain. It also promotes neurogenesis, i.e. your brain's ability to adapt and grow new brain cells. While sugar suppresses brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), thereby raising your risk of depression, exercise boosts it. 

Exercise initially stimulates the production of a protein called FNDC5, which in turn triggers the production of BDNF. BDNF is a remarkable rejuvenator in several respects. In your brain, it not only preserves existing brain cells, it also activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and effectively makes your brain grow larger. Research14 confirming this includes a study by Kirk Erickson, PhD, in which seniors aged 60 to 80 who walked 30 to 45 minutes, three days per week for one year, increased the volume of their hippocampus by two percent.

Meditation Also Alters Your Brain in Beneficial Ways

Meditation is another underutilized tool to optimize mental health. Not only is it helpful for stress relief and gaining greater self awareness (if not a more spiritual perspective of life's ups and downs), it too has been shown to alter the structures of your brain for the better. As reported by Forbes:15

"The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the 'me' centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions...

Skeptics, of course, may ask what good are a few brain changes if the psychological effects aren't simultaneously being illustrated? Luckily, there's good evidence for those as well, with studies reporting that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being."

With regards to depression specifically, a 2014 meta analysis16 of 47 studies concluded that mindfulness meditation can be helpful. While the overall effect size17 was "moderate" at 0.3, Forbes rightfully points out that this is identical to the effect size for antidepressants, which is also 0.3, and the go-to solution in most cases of depression. Like exercise, mindfulness meditation has also been shown to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, and brain areas involved in the regulation of emotions and self-referential thought processes.18

Shrinkage of the amygdala has also been noted. In this case, less cell volume in a brain center can be a blessing, as the amygdala controls the subjective perception of fear, anxiety, and stress.

People suffering with anxiety disorders tend to produce too much serotonin in the amygdala, which is why serotonin-boosting drugs like SSRIs can worsen depression and anxiety in some people. Previous studies have also revealed that increased nerve activity in the amygdala is part of the underlying mechanism that produces anxiety. Basically, those with anxiety disorders have an over-active fear center, and meditation may help dampen this over-activity.

Key Strategies to Overcome Depression

Two key strategies for overcoming depression have already been addressed above: diet (trading in the processed foods for real food, with an emphasis on fermented foods to optimize your gut flora), and exercise. Optimizing your vitamin D level by getting appropriate sun exposure (or taking a vitamin D3 supplement with vitamin K2) is another key strategy not to be overlooked. In one previous study, people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels.

Considering the fact that vitamin D deficiency is typically the norm rather than the exception, and has been implicated in both psychiatric and neurological disorders, getting your vitamin D level checked and addressing any deficiency is a crucial step.

There's no doubt in my mind that if you fail to address the root of your depression, you could be left floundering and struggling with ineffective and potentially toxic band-aids for a long time. Your diet does play a large part in your mental health, so please address the impact processed foods might be having.

Also be sure to support optimal brain functioning with essential fats. This includes healthy saturated fats like avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, raw dairy, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, unheated organic nut oils, raw nuts, and grass-fed meats. I also recommend supplementing your diet with a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat, like krill oil. This may be the single most important nutrient to battle depression.

Last but not least, add some effective stress-busting strategies to your toolbox. Ultimately, depression is a sign that your body and your life are out of balance. One way to return balance to your life is by addressing stress. Meditation can be helpful, as discussed above. When weather permits, get outside for a walk. But in addition to that, I also recommend using a system that can help you address emotional issues that you may not even be consciously aware of.

For this, my favorite is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Recent research has shown that EFT significantly increases positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, and decreases negative emotional states.  EFT is particularly powerful for treating stress and anxiety because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.19,20


Although you can learn the basics of EFT on your own, if you have a serious mental disorder or depression, I highly recommend consulting a qualified EFT practitioner.21 For serious or complex issue you need a qualified health care professional that is trained in EFT to help guide you through the process, as it typically takes years of training to develop the skill to tap on and relieve deep-seated, significant issues.




Related Articles:

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  Scientific Links Between Processed Foods and Depression Keep Getting Stronger

  Important Factors Typically Ignored in Depression

 Comments (50)

By Dr. Mercola

There are many reasons to snack on whole, raw almonds. They’re an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants, for starters, and almond skins even contain beneficial phenols, flavonoids. and phenolic acids, which are typically associated with vegetables and fruits.

Drinking almond milk may therefore seem like a smart choice, one that may offer you the health benefits of almonds in beverage form – but it’s not as healthy as it would appear, particularly if you buy commercial varieties.

What exactly is almond milk? It’s typically a combination of almonds, water, sweetener, thickener such as carrageenan, and, often, fortified nutrients such as vitamins A, E, and D.

The problem is that most almond milk contains hardly any almonds, mostly water, added sugars, and a smattering of vitamins for good measure. As Business Insider put it:1

If almond milk closely resembles any beverage, it's a glass of water and a multivitamin.”

A Handful of Almonds in a Carton…

The amount of actual almonds in a half-gallon carton of almond milk is shocking: research suggests it’s just over a handful. In one analysis of the UK almond milk brand Alpro, almonds made up just 2 percent of the beverage, and the Almond Board of California noted that ingredients are pretty similar between UK and US almond milk brands.2

If you’ve ever wondered how almond milk can be so low in calories – about 30 calories in a cup, compared to 160 calories in a serving of almonds – it’s because it’s mostly water… not almonds.

“Based on these numbers,” Business Insider reported, “to get the nutritional value of a handful of almonds, you'd have to drink not just a few cups of the almond milk but an entire carton of it.”3

Almond Milk Sales Soar as Consumers Get Ripped Off

One maker of plant-based milk, White Wave, reported first-quarter sales in 2014 had increased 50 percent over the prior year. In the US, almond milk tops the plant-based milk market, taking up two-thirds of the share (followed by soy milk, at 30 percent, rice, and coconut milks).4

In all, sales of alternative milks are soaring and are expected to reach $1.7 billion by 2016, with almond milk leading the way.5 But as a consumer, you have to question what you’re really paying for… and how much it’s costing you. In the case of almond milk, you’re paying a lot of money for what is essentially water and sweetener with a handful of almonds.

According to Mother Jones:6

“…the almond-milk industry is selling you a jug of filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds. Which leads us to the question of price and profit… A jug of almond milk containing roughly 39 cents worth of almonds, plus filtered water and additives, retails for $3.99.”

Are Other ‘Alternative’ Milks Healthy?

Almond milk is just one plant-based milk available in most major supermarkets. You can now easily find a handful of others as well, most of which are marketed as healthy… but are they really? Here’s a run-down on some of the more popular alternative milks on the market:

Soy Milk

One of the worst problems with soy comes from the fact that 90 to 95 percent of soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified (GM). GM soybeans are designed to be "Roundup Ready," which means they're engineered to withstand otherwise lethal doses of herbicide.

The active ingredient in Roundup herbicide is called glyphosate, which is responsible for the disruption of the delicate hormonal balance of the female reproductive cycle.

What's more, glyphosate is toxic to the placenta, which is responsible for delivering vital nutrients from mother to child, and eliminating waste products. Once the placenta has been damaged or destroyed, the result can be miscarriage. In those children born to mothers who have been exposed to even a small amount of glyphosate, serious birth defects can result.

Glyphosate's mechanism of harm was identified in 2013 and demonstrates how this chemical disrupts cellular function and may induce many of our modern diseases, including autism. It’s also been declared a “probable carcinogen.”

Aside from the GM issues, thousands of studies have linked unfermented soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility, and even cancer and heart disease.

The only soy with health benefits is organic soy that has been properly fermented, and these are the only soy products I ever recommend consuming.

After a long fermentation process, the phytate and "anti-nutrient" levels of soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system. To learn more, please see this previous article detailing the dangers of unfermented soy.

Rice Milk

Rice milk is composed of similar ingredients to almond milk, namely filtered water, rice, and added vitamins. There’s nothing particularly healthy about rice milk along with a potential harm: arsenic.

Rice has been shown to accumulate 10 times more arsenic than other grains, due to physiology and growing conditions, and is an ingredient of “moderate” concern in rice and rice-based processed foods, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG reported:7

“In 2012, the independent, highly regarded Consumer Reports research organization made public tests indicating that arsenic concentrations commonly exceeded 100 parts per billion in rice, rice flour, crackers, pasta, hot and cold breakfast cereals, and infant cereal…

Arsenic levels in rice milk often surpassed 10 parts per billion, the maximum allowed in drinking water.”

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is made from the expressed juice of grated coconut meat and water. About 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is rarely found in nature.

Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, a monoglyceride that can actually destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV and herpes, influenza, measles, gram-negative bacteria, and protozoa such as Giardia lamblia.

Lauric acid is a type of medium chain fatty acid (MCFAs), which is easily digested and readily crosses cell membranes. MCFAs are immediately converted by your liver into energy rather than being stored as fat.

There are numerous studies showing that MCFAs promote weight loss, including one study that showed rats fed MCFAs reduced body fat and improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.8

Yet another study found that overweight men who ate a diet rich in MCFAs lost more fat tissue, presumably due to increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation from the MCFA intake.9 In addition, coconut milk is rich in antioxidants and nutrients, including vitamins C, E and B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron.

Raw Milk

Many consider raw milk to be an “alternative” form of milk, but it is actually how all milk used to be consumed. High-quality raw milk from a reputable source is far preferable to the pasteurized CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) milk found in most supermarkets.

High-quality raw milk has a mountain of health benefits that pasteurized milk lacks. For example, raw milk is:

  • Loaded with healthy bacteria that are good for your gastrointestinal tract
  • Full of more than 60 digestive enzymes, growth factors, and immunoglobulins (antibodies)
  • Rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which fights cancer and boosts metabolism
  • Rich in beneficial raw fats, amino acids, and proteins in a highly bioavailable form, all 100 percent digestible
  • Loaded with vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, and K) in highly bioavailable forms, and contains a very balanced blend of minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron) whose absorption is enhanced by live lactobacilli

If You Love Almond Milk, Make Your Own

While almond milk isn’t exactly a superfood by any means, there’s nothing inherently unhealthy about it – unless you choose varieties with added sweeteners and other additives. For the most part, it’s more deceptive than anything, as you’re paying a premium for mostly water and could get better nutrition from eating a handful of actual nuts. Still, if you enjoy the taste of almond milk and don’t want to give it up, making your own almond milk is far more economical – and healthier – than buying a ready-made version.

You can increase the amount of almonds for added nutrition, leave out the sweeteners and other additives, and be left with an almond-milk beverage that’s actually decent for your health at a fraction of the price. It’s simple to make, too. One recipe from Whole Foods Market involves first soaking about one cup of organic, raw almonds in cold water overnight (about 10-12 hours).10 Then, blend the almonds with about three cups of water (you can add more or less depending on how you like the consistency).

Strain the frothy mixture through a cheesecloth, fine-mesh strainer or nut-milk bag. Your almond milk will keep in the fridge for about three days (give it a stir before drinking). Also, don’t throw away the leftover pulp; it can be added to smoothies or even baked goods for added nutrition. One benefit to consuming almonds this way is that they’ll be soaked before you eat them. Soaking helps to get rid of the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, which can interfere with the function of your own digestive and metabolic enzymes.

Phytic acid, which is found in the coatings of nuts, is an "anti-nutrient" responsible for leeching vital nutrients from your body. Phytic acid also blocks the uptake of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc. Further, when nuts are soaked, the germination process begins, allowing the enzyme inhibitors to be deactivated and increasing the nutrition of the nut significantly, as well as making them much easier to digest. (Enzyme inhibitors in nuts [and seeds] help protect the nut as it grows, helping to decrease enzyme activity and prevent premature sprouting.)

Choose Raw Almonds for Best Results

When choosing almonds for this recipe (or for snacking), try to find raw, organic almonds. It can be tricky, as pasteurized almonds sold in North America can still be labeled "raw" even though they've been subjected to one of the following pasteurization methods:

  • Oil roasting, dry roasting, or blanching
  • Steam processing
  • Propylene Oxide (PPO) treatment (PPO is a highly toxic flammable chemical compound, once used as a racing fuel before it was prohibited for safety reasons)

There are generally no truly "raw" almonds sold in North America, so don't be misled. It is possible to purchase raw almonds in the US, but it has to be done very carefully from vendors selling small quantities that have a waiver from the pasteurization requirement. The key is to find a company with the waiver that is not pasteurizing them.



Sources:


Related Articles:

  Tree Nuts, Chockfull of Healthful Fats, May Help You Live Longer

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 Comments (87)

By Dr. Mercola

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),1 an estimated 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, and the prevalence is rising.

Since national surveillance began in 1982, the number of annual Lyme cases reported has increased nearly 25-fold.2 The disease is also spreading out geographically.3

Between 1993 and 1997, 43 counties across the US had a high incidence of Lyme disease. By 2012, the number of hotspots had skyrocketed to 182. As reported by Time Magazine:4

“‘Lyme disease is not only becoming more rampant in its normal hotspot of the northeast United States, it’s spreading across the country,’ a new report5 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.

 ‘Over time, the number of counties identified as having high incidence of Lyme disease in the northeastern states increased more than 320 percent,’ researchers write...

They also note that the disease is appearing in states where it has never been recorded before. One big reason why Lyme disease is spiking, according to the CDC report: climate change.”6

Eliminating Predators Have Allowed Lyme Disease to Spread and Become More Prevalent

While deer usually gets the blame for spreading tick-borne disease, rodents are actually the primary threat. According to Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at a Lyme disease research center:7

“The resurgence of deer population is an overblown factor. Our research suggests that white-footed mice are more important numerically. Basically, mice are a fantastic host for both the tick and [the bacteria that causes Lyme].”

Ticks are not born with the Lyme spirochetes. It picks up the bacteria when feeding on an infected host.8 Ostfeld’s research indicates that white-footed mice infect 75-95 percent of larval ticks that feed on them, while deer only infect about one percent.

Urban sprawl and hunting has eliminated many of the mice’s natural predators, allowing populations to grow, and with them comes infected ticks. This year, ticks are epidemic in certain areas of the US, including Illinois.

The CDC has identified high-risk counties in 17 states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease refers to illnesses transferred by biting or blood-sucking insects. The bacterium responsible for Lyme infection is Borrelia burgdorferi, 9 a “cousin” to the spirochete bacterium that causes syphilis.

Many still attribute transmission of Lyme disease exclusively to ticks (in the US, the black-legged deer tick, Ixodes scapularis; in Europe, the castor bean tick, I. ricinus.).10

But according to Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt — one the leading authorities on Lyme disease — the bacteria can also be spread by other biting or blood-sucking insects, including mosquitoes, spiders, fleas, and mites.

Common side effects of tick bites include an itchy “bull’s eye” rash, pain, fever, and inflammation.

However, you don’t have to get the hallmark “bull’s eye” as this rash occurs only in about half of those infected, so absence of such a rash does not exclude the possibility of a tick bite. Symptoms of Lyme disease typically start out with:

  • Unrelenting fatigue
  • Recurring fever
  • Headaches / migraines
  • Achy muscles and/or joints

If left untreated, the disease may progress to muscle spasms, loss of motor coordination, and even intermittent paralysis, meningitis, or heart problems. For a more complete list of symptoms, refer to the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance.11 Lymedisease.org has also created a printable Symptom Checklist.12

The B. burgdorferi spirocheteis shaped like a corkscrew, which allows it to burrow into and hide in a variety of your body’s tissues. It can also live intracellularly (inside your cells), which allows it to evade antibiotics.

For this reason, some doctors recommend giving antibiotics along with Plaquenil in order to change the intracellular pH.13 The organisms can also take up residence in biofilms, or in an encoated “cyst” form.

All of these different morphologies and clever evasion capabilities explain why Lyme infection can cause such wide-ranging multisystem involvement and why treatment is so difficult.

This also explains why recurrence of symptoms can still occur after standard antibiotic protocols. Complicating matters further, ticks can also infect you with a number of other disease-causing organisms, such as Bartonella, Rickettsia, Ehrlichia, and Babesia.

These organisms can travel with Borrelia burgdorferi (the causative agent of Lyme) and each organism causes a different set of symptoms. According to Dr. Klinghardt, many Lyme patients have one or more of these co-infections, which may or may not respond to any given treatment.

The Lyme bacterium has yet another stealthy survival mechanism. While most bacteria need iron to survive, the Lyme bacterium has adapted to survive without iron, using manganese instead.

This allows it to evade your body’s natural immune system defenses that destroy pathogens by cutting off their iron supply.14

If you’re looking for a film about Lyme disease I recommend UNDER OUR SKIN. This film has changed the landscape of the Lyme epidemic, bringing unprecedented awareness in an engaging and accessible way. UNDER OUR SKIN exposes a hidden story of medical and scientific malfeasance and neglect.

Why Lab Tests Are Unreliable for Diagnosing Lyme Disease


The simplest presentation of Lyme disease is the orthopedic forms, which typically affect the larger joints. When the microbes and the associated immune reactions are situated in the connective tissue, the infection presents as a “vague, dispersed pain,” which oftentimes ends up being misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia by conventional doctors. In fact, Lyme disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose, and doctors quite often get it wrong.15

Lyme is known as “the great imitator,” as it can mimic many other disorders, including multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, ALS, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s disease.16 When nothing unusual shows up on blood tests, some patients are even told their problems are “all in their head,” and may be referred to a psychologist.  

One of the reasons blood tests are so unreliable as indicators of Lyme infection is that the spirochete is capable of infecting your white blood cells. Lab tests rely on the normal function of these cells to produce the antibodies they measure. If your white cells are infected, they will not respond to an infection appropriately. Interestingly, the worse your Borrelia infection is, the less likely it will show up on a blood test.

In order for Lyme tests to be useful, you actually have to be treated first. Once your immune system begins to respond normally, only then will the antibodies show up on a blood test. This is called the “Lyme Paradox” — you have to be treated before a proper diagnosis can be made.

I recommend the specialized lab called IGeneX because they test for more outer surface proteins (bands), and can often detect Lyme while standard blood tests cannot. IGeneX also tests for a few strains of co-infections such as Babesia and Erhlichia. That said, a negative on the IGeneX test for these co-infections does not necessarily mean you are not infected, as there are many more strains than tests can currently detect.

The Controversy over Treatment for Chronic Lyme

While most doctors now acknowledge that Lyme disease is real, controversy still remains over whether or not Lyme can persist and become chronic — and if so, whether extended, long-term treatment with antibiotics is effective.17 Doctors who belong to the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) do not believe in chronic Lyme and typically will not treat a Lyme patient beyond four weeks.

Doctors belonging to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society18 (ILADS), on the other hand, do believe Lyme can persist and are willing to treat you beyond the four- week period. Insurance companies typically will not pay for extended use of antibiotics though, as they follow the guidelines of the IDSA.

Personally, I find it baffling that physicians would deny the possibility of ongoing infection when these organisms are known to operate by stealth, and are capable of evading detection and most standard treatment protocols. I can tell you first hand, from my experience with my girlfriend Erin who was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2013 after suffering from a range of hard-to-pin-down symptoms for 14 years, chronic Lyme does exist.

The good news is that no matter how long you’ve had it, there is hope for a full recovery. A new Lyme research center attached to the rheumatology division at Hopkins Bayview Medical Center has also been created, specifically to investigate chronic Lyme. As reported by BDN Maine News:19

“Dr. John Aucott, a leading Lyme researcher tapped to direct the Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center... said his new affiliation with Hopkins will bring fresh attention, and resources, to the issue. He and others will look to determine if the infection is hiding or, as he hypothesizes, is developing into a new disorder, possibly an autoimmune one like rheumatoid arthritis. He and others will explore if there is a genetic component, an underlying condition or other bacteria or viruses involved.”

Treatment Recommendations



Total Video Length: 1:35:03

Download Interview Transcript

I personally do not believe that long-term antibiotic treatment is a wise choice for most chronic Lyme sufferers. I recommend exhausting every natural alternative before resorting to long-term antibiotics as it will seriously impair your gut microbiome. They also leave you open to yeast or fungal co-infections, which are already common in the disease.

Eliminating the beneficial bacteria in your gut with antibiotics will also seriously impair your natural immune function, and may raise your risk of antibiotic-resistant infection, which could be life-threatening. A gentler solution to conventional antibiotics is the Nutramedix line of herbal antimicrobials. This was developed by one of my alternative medicine mentors, Dr. Lee Cowden, and is often termed the “Cowden Protocol.” 

It is not thought to cause resistance because this protocol cycles various herbal antimicrobials. The use of antifungals like fluconazole and nystatin may be appropriate and helpful when a secondary yeast infection is present. Ideally, you would focus on boosting your immune function with a healthy diet and antioxidants such as astaxanthin. A compounded drug called low-dose naltrexone (LDN), known to help your body fight harder, may also be beneficial. 

Below is a summary of Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt’s basic treatment strategies. For more comprehensive details on his full treatment protocol, please see this previous article: “Dr. Klinghardt's Treatment of Lyme Disease.” You can also visit Dr. Klinghardt’s website,20 where he posts his more current treatment protocols and recipes. In summary, there are five basic steps to his protocol:

  1. Evaluation of all external factors. External factors include electrosmog, EMF, microwave radiation from wireless technologies, and molds. (For more information on mold, see Ritchie Shoemaker’s website21).
  2. Remediation and mitigation of external factors. Once external factors have been assessed, they're remediated and mitigated. (Please refer to our previous article on mold remediation.) To mitigate microwave radiation, Dr. Klinghardt recommends shielding the outside of your home with a graphite paint called Y Shield. Inside, he uses a special silver-coated cloth for your curtains. Patients are instructed to remove all cordless telephones and turn off all the fuses at night, until they have recovered from Lyme disease.
  3. Addressing emotional issues. Emotional components of the disease are addressed using Energy Psychology tools, including psychokinesiology (PK), which is similar to the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), but more refined and advanced.
  4. Addressing parasitic, bacterial, and viral infections. Dr. Klinghardt addresses the parasites first, followed by the bacteria and the viruses. "The Klinghardt Antimicrobial Cocktail," which includes wormwood (artemisinin), phospholipids, vitamin C, and various herbs, is an integral part of this treatment. He addresses viral infections with Viressence (by BioPure), which is a tincture of Native American herbs.
  5. Addressing other lifestyle factors. Nutritional considerations and supplements are addressed.

Nutritional Supplements That May Be Useful in the Treatment of Lyme Disease

The following table lists a number of nutritional supplements found to be useful in the treatment of Lyme disease by those embracing natural methods.

Probiotics to improve immunity and restore microflora during and after antibiotics Curcumin is helpful at reducing neurological toxins and brain swelling
Astaxanthin to neutralize toxins, improve vision, and relieve joint pain, common in Lyme Whey protein concentrate may help with nutrition, often poor in Lyme patients who don’t feel well enough to eat properly
Grapefruit seed extract may treat the cyst form of Borrelia Krill oil to reduce inflammation
Cilantro as a natural chelator for heavy metals Serrapeptase helps to break biofilms
Resveratrol may treat Bartonella, a co-infection and also helps detoxification GABA and melatonin to help with insomnia
Artemisinin and Andrographis, two herbs that may treat Babesia, a common co-infection CoQ10 to support cardiac health and reduce muscle pain and brain fog
Quercetin reduces histamine (often high in Lyme) Transfer factors can help boost immune function

Additional Resources

Prevention 101

Considering how difficult it is to diagnose and treat Lyme disease, I strongly recommend taking preventive measures22 to prevent infection in the first place. This includes the following recommendations:

  • Avoid tick-infested areas, such as leaf piles around trees. Walk in the middle of trails, and avoid brushing against long grasses path edgings. Don’t sit on logs or wooden stumps.
  • Wear light-colored long pants and long sleeves, to make it easier to see the ticks.
  • Tuck your pants into socks, and wear closed shoes and a hat — especially if venturing out into wooded areas. Also tuck your shirt into your pants.
  • Ticks, especially nymphal ticks, are very tiny, so do a thorough tick check upon returning inside, and keep checking for several days following exposure. Also check your bedding for several days following exposure. Ticks must typically remain attached for at least 24 hours for the Lyme disease bacteria to be transmitted into your blood stream, so early removal is important.
  • If you have Japanese barberry on your property, you may want to consider getting rid of it. As noted in a recent Forbes article:23
  • “This popular shrub has pretty red color and is easy to grow — so much so that it is invasive, choking off native plants in its path. Deer favor native shrubs, leaving the thorny barberry alone.

    And the microclimate around the barberry also favors the tick’s reproduction and that of the white footed mouse, an intermediate host in the transmission cycle, resulting in an aptly described ‘tick nursery.’ So rid your property of barberry and go with native plants as much as possible.”

I do not recommend using chemical insect repellants directly on your skin as this will introduce toxins directly into your body. If you use them, spray them on the outside of your clothes, and avoid inhaling the spray fumes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list24 indicating the hourly protection limits for various repellents. Also beware of using toxic insect repellants on your pets. Misuse of Spot-On flea and tick products can be lethal. For safer alternatives, see Dr. Karen Becker’s recommendations.

If you find that a tick has latched on, it’s very important to remove it properly. For detailed instructions, please see Lymedisease.org’s Tick Removal page.25 Once removed, make sure you save the tick so that it can be tested for presence of pathogenic organisms.





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By Dr. Mercola

Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that crawl out like vampires in the night, feeding on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Although they’re found worldwide, bed bugs were considered largely eradicated in the US until recent decades.

Now, they’re spreading rapidly in North America, including in the US where they’ve been detected in every state. Cleanliness is no deterrent for these pesky creatures, and they’ve popped up everywhere from five-star resorts and cruise ships to libraries, schools, and day care centers.

While a bed bug may go for months without eating, they prefer to feed every several days, and will travel up to 100 feet to find a meal (although most live within eight feet of a sleeping surface).1

Bed bugs typically hide during the day, in mattress seams, bed frames, headboards, dressers, behind wallpaper, and any other small crack or crevice they can find. This is why one of the first things you should do while traveling is to check your sleeping area thoroughly for bed bugs or signs that they’re around (like feces).

Are Bed Bugs Dangerous?

Bed bugs are more of a nuisance than a danger, although they can prompt serious allergic reactions in some people. Although more than 40 human diseases have been detected in bed bugs, they’re not known to spread diseases, although evidence in this area is lacking.2

Their bites can cause significant itching, however, which can in turn lead to a secondary skin infection if excessive scratching damages your skin. They can also lead to loss of sleep, although this is typically due to anxiety over the bed bugs and not the bites themselves. When you’re bitten by a bed bug, it injects anesthetic and anticoagulant at the same time, so you won’t feel the bite until later.

Anywhere from a day to several days later red, swollen bumps, similar to mosquito bites, will appear, typically on your neck, arms, hands, and face (although they can be anywhere on your body). They may itch or feel irritated, but try not to scratch them.

The psychological toll that bed bugs exact can be steep, however. There is one case report showing a woman who committed suicide following repeated bed bug infestations in her apartment, and the researchers concluded, the bed bug infestations were the likely trigger for the onset a negative psychological state that ultimately led to suicide.”3

Research has also shown that people who have experienced bed bugs in their living environment are significantly more likely to report anxiety and sleep disturbances.4 Emotional distress and even psychological and emotional effects associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have also been reported after bed-bug infestations.

How to Detect a Bed Bud Infestation – and the Top 10 Bed Bug Cities

Bed bugs’ bodies are flat and range in size from one to seven millimeters (mm). Their shape, combined with their reddish-brown color, makes it easy for bed bugs to hide out along baseboards and the folds of luggage, bedding, folded clothing, furniture, and more.

If you look carefully, you may be able to spot bed bugs near your sleeping area, but they may also be present if you detect the following signs:5

  • Bed bug exoskeletons, which are released after molting
  • Rust-colored blood spots on mattresses or furniture (this is from their blood-filled fecal matter)
  • A sweet, musty odor

While bed bugs are found year-round, infestations tend to peak during the summer months, perhaps because more people are travelling during this time. And if you’ll be travelling, you might be interested to know if you’re going to one of the worst cities for bed bugs in the US, as compiled in Orkin Pest Control's 2014 Bed Bug Cities List:6

  1. Chicago, IL
  2. Detroit, MI
  3. Columbus, OH
  4. Los Angeles, CA
  5. Cleveland, OH
  6. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
  7. Cincinnati, OH
  8. Denver, CO
  9. Richmond-Petersburg, VA
  10. Dayton, OH

The Pesticides Used to Eliminate Bed Bugs Are Causing Illnesses…

No one wants to let bed bugs linger in their home or place of business, but you must use caution before accepting any of the standard pesticide-based treatments.

From 2003 to 2010, 111 illnesses, including one fatality, associated with bed bug-related insecticide use were detected by the Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks (SENSOR)-Pesticides program and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH).7

The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) has also reported a “dramatic increase” in the number of bed bug-related calls due to pesticide exposures. NPIC reported 169 such calls from 2006 to 2010, 129 of which resulted in mild or serious health effects (including one death).8

Most often, the illnesses were related to excessive insecticide application, failure to wash or change pesticide-treated bedding, and inadequate notification of pesticide application.

Serious Neurological Symptoms Reported After Bed Bug Treatments

Cases have also been reported of pesticides intended only for outdoor use being sprayed indoors. In one case in Ohio, according to a health advisory released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):9

“These illegal applications were made five times over 72 hours and included spraying of ceilings, floors, and even beds and a crib mattress. The occupants included a family with small children, who displayed health symptoms typical of pesticide poisoning, including headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and muscle tremors.

The families were evaluated and treated at a local hospital. The homes were evacuated and families relocated. The families lost furniture, electronics, clothing, linens, toys, and other personal items that were grossly contaminated.”

In other calls to NPIC, the CDC reported:10

“…the family members (ranging in ages from 1-32 years) experienced neurological symptoms (such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, visual disturbances, numbness in the face and limbs, muscle tremors, etc.), abdominal pain, and cardiopulmonary symptoms (chest tightness, heart palpitations, and chest pain).

Documented in another call was a mother who contacted NPIC describing her infant who developed vomiting and diarrhea after being placed on a mattress treated with an undiluted indoor insecticide.

Other bed bug related calls to NPIC describe similar complaints where the caller or the caller’s family members experienced headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tremors, etc., from indoor pesticides being misapplied (often over applied).”

Chemical-Free Thermal Remediation May Offer Non-Toxic Bed Bug Treatment

If your home is infested with bed bugs and you don’t want to douse your home in pesticides, there is another option: thermal remediation. The process essentially turns your home into an oven for a number of hours, during which the extreme heat (upwards of 130 degrees Fahrenheit) kills the bugs – no chemicals needed.11

Everything can remain in your home, except for plastic items or anything that might melt (and pets must be removed, of course). This makes it far more convenient than chemical treatment, which typically involves packing and bagging everything in your home and getting rid of clothing and mattresses. Plus, it solves the issue of pesticide resistance, which has been spreading among bed bugs. While thermal remediation may be slightly more costly than chemical processes, the health effects it can spare your family are truly priceless.

How to Avoid a Bed Bug Infestation

Bed bugs have become a fact of life in the 21st century, and not one that’s likely to go away any time soon. If you travel at all or visit any facilities like hospitals, libraries, movie theaters, etc., there’s a possibility you could bring home some of these unwelcome visitors. To minimize your chances of an infestation, follow the tips below:12

Always inspect hotel rooms for signs of an infestation (look for bed bugs in mattress seams and check for any rust-colored spots on bedding)Check your sleeping area thoroughly, including under the mattress, bed frame, and headboard as well as in nearby furnitureKeep your luggage on luggage racks, not on the bed or on the floor and away from electrical outlet panels, art frames, and other bed-bug hiding spots
When you return home, examine your luggage and clothing carefully, and store it away from your sleeping areaPlace all of your previously packed clothing directly into the dryer for at least 15 minutes on the highest settingKeep clutter in your home to a minimum (which will give bed bugs fewer places to hide)
Wash and dry bed linens on the hottest temperature setting allowedInspect any used furniture carefully before bringing it into your homeInspect your home for signs of bed bugs regularly, after you’ve travelled, had houseguests, or even when a service technician has been in your home


Sources:


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