Friday, May 23, 2014

Divergent Diet

While you and I were growing up and learning how to take care of ourselves-- around the world scientists have been studying what people eat. Asking whether or not-- what we eat makes a difference to our health? Have you ever wondered about this?

Could it be true that what we eat can influence how we feel and think and how healthy we are?  

What the global nutrition research community has to say:

For the past 19 years- 20 different research projects evaluated the diets of 760,000 people in the United States, Europe and Asia. When the final results were published this year it was quite dramatic:

*Eating  2 1/2 cups of fruit per day reduces the risk of stroke by 32 %. 1

*Eating 2 ½ cups of veggies per day reduces the risk of stroke by another 11%. 2

Studies on the Mediterranean diet with 5-7 servings of fruits & vegetables daily indicate: 

*5-7 servings  of fruits and veggies per day reduce the incidence of heart attack, stroke and death by 30%. 3 

*Seniors who eat 5-7 servings of fruits and veggies per day are 17% less likely to develop memory and thinking problems.4 

80,000 British research subjects agreed to eat 5 or more servings of fruits and veggies every day:  

*Those who consumed  these suggested amount of fruits and veggies reported that they were 27% happier with their lives than the research participants who ate less than 1 serving per day.

All I’m saying is that this research is stacking up. Maybe it’s time to diverge from out old ways of eating and include fruits and veggies at every meal.  Just think about it….. 

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                                   Nutrition and Your Brain
                                   Super Foods Fantastic Foods to Heal Naturally
                                   Take the Pressure Off Your Pressure


1.Fruits and Vegetable Consumption and Risk of Stroke
2.Fruits and Vegetable Consumption and Risk of Stroke
3.Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet
4.Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet and Risk of Incident Cognitive Impairment
5.7 a Day for Happiness and Mental Health

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hunger Games-Part 2 Always Hungry, Craving Starches and Sweets? Imbalanced Hormones May Be Causing the Answer

In Part 1 of the Hunger Game series we looked at how our hormones  regulate metabolic functions, energy levels, sexual functions, sleep, how we react to stress, influence appetite and whether or not we put on excess weight and store extra body fat around  the waist line.

In Part 2  let’s look at the hormones that can  have a dynamic impact on how we look, think and feel: cortisol  & DHEA along with imbalanced levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone .

High levels of cortisol increase the storage of fat in the abdomen, decrease libido, muscle mass and bone density while making you depressed, anxious, stressed out and tired.

Elevated levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol often occur when we are under high stress. High cortisol  can trigger the production of excess abdominal fat. as it works hand in hand with insulin to produce extra body fat and increase inflammation in the body. 1 Elevated cortisol  can stimulate cravings for starchy carbs, sweets and junk foods as it increases appetite.

Solution: By learning good sleep habits and taking time out in nature-along with lifestyle changes like yoga and meditation the adrenal glands can be restored- this decreases the production of cortisol. As  cortisol levels normalize appetites calm down.  We become less hungry, less fat is stored and we can rebuild lean muscle mass even if we are not exercising regularly.

Sleep more to lose weight-yes good restful sleep is one of the best ways to rebalance stressed out adrenal glands that are over producing cortisol. Everyone needs between 7 1/2 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night. Insomnia or chronic disturbed sleep elevates the cortisol  and the fatigue this creates acts as an addtional triggers for craving starchy foods and sweets. An added benefit of restful healthy sleep is that it can increase the hormone-leptin that regulates our appetite.

DHEA is another adrenal hormone that helps regulate our immune response,normalize stress levels and enhance well being.

When our DHEA is at normal levels it can work to balance out the excess production of cortisol .Balanced levels of DHEA make it easier for us to lose weight and increase lean muscle mass, improve energy, boost libido and enhance well being.

Solution: Decreasing stress, increasing restful sleep, bringing more joy to our lives and learning to live at a more leisurely are strategies to improve DHEA levels. 2

Imbalances of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone may cause dramatic increase in abdominal fat storage and make it difficult to process insulin, cortisol and thyroid hormones.

Key symptoms that occur when the sex hormones are out of balance are:
-increased belly fat and weight gain 3
-decrease in lean muscle mass
-poor memory, focus and cognitive dysfunction

Inflammatory response from environmental toxins, high levels of  stress, poor diet, and aging and keenly influence our hormonal balance.

Solution: Get your hormone levels checked. Especially if you are feeling bogged down, fuzzy headed and your clothes are shrinking.

I like to use a saliva tests to evaluate cortisol & DHEA levels which can then be evaluated and rebalanced with herbal and nutritional therapies.  Estrogen, progesterone & testosterone levels are usually measured with blood work.-in some situations saliva testing can also be used.

Luckily many of the same foods that help rebalance our sex hormones will also stabilize our cortisol & DHEA, have a positive influence on insulin metabolism, keep us thinking clearly and benefit cardiovascular health.

Food strategies include eating 2-3 cups of specific vegetables each day: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, chard, beet greens, lettuce all support the body’s ability to eliminate unnecessarily high levels of hormones and can also improve how our hormone receptor sites more efficiently  utilize the levels of hormones we do have in our bodies.

Two cups of green tea per day (with or without caffeine) and moving away from high levels of empty carbs and sugar help the body restore itself and make it possible to have more sustained energy.

Finding ways to be happy and experience more joy in life is also important. Learning to laugh and being able to take life less seriously is good medicine too.
You can reach me with your questions at the email address listed above or use the comments box below.  I enjoy hearing from you.

1. Awakening Cortisol Response in Lean, Obese and Reduced Obese Individuals: Effect of Gender and Fat Distribution
2.DHEA: Obesity, Aging, Immune Challenges
3.Sex Hormones, Appetite and Eating Behvior 

Other topics you might like: Hunger Games Part 1
                                             Super Foods Fantastic Foods to Heal Naturally
                                             The Number One Healing Secret

Hunger Games Part 1 Always Hungry, Craving Starches and Sweets? Imbalanced Hormones May Be the Answer

You are not alone…..about 35% or 4 out of 10 Americans may be obese and struggling with weight loss challenges. Our hormones regulate our energy level, sexual functions, sleep, how we react to stress and many other important metabolic cycles in the body. Did you know they can influence appetite and food cravings along with whether or not we store excess body fat and put on weight?

Insulin regulates how carbohydrate foods are broken down and whether or not the fuel is burned for energy or stored as fat. 1

Our pancreas secretes the hormone insulin in response to the carbohydrate foods we eat. If you are following the Standard American Diet (SAD) you are probably eating carbohydrates 6 times a day or you may be loading up on white flour and white sugar. Too many carbs , too much white flour and white sugar trigger high levels of insulin  which signal our cells to fill up with fat instead of burning our carbohydrate foods for energy. High levels of insulin  reduce the ability of our body to respond properly to it and can suppress the production of an adrenal hormone-glucagon. 2 At the same time-low glucagon levels make it very hard to burn up body fat.

Solution: Eat more leafy green vegetables and low sugar fruits so that you can cut back on bread, pasta, cookies and cake. Eat your heavy carbs early in the day so your body has time to burn off their influence throughout the day. The quickest way to pack on excess fat is to eat heavy carbs late in the day.

High levels of ghrelin make you feel hungry all the time.

The pancreas and the stomach produce ghrelin. Right before meal times our ghrelin levels go up to create hunger. After meals they drop as our hunger subsides. If our ghrelin levels are too high we can feel hungry all the time.

Solution: Make sure that you have some form of protein and fiber with every meal. These foods slow down our ghrelin production and normalize appetite making us less hungry.

Leptin works with ghrelin to regulate appetite and body weight.

When leptin levels are too low cravings for sweets, high calorie foods and increased appetiteare triggered. Our fat cells produce leptin  but things like high stress, not getting adequate sleep, and eating large amounts of high calorie foods drive the leptin levels too low. The same things that make leptin too low can also make the body resistant to using it efficiently.

Solution: Regular restful sleep, reducing stress and regular exercise not only keep us from storing fat but also encourage fat loss. As the leptin levels normalize- these same steps will also balance our insulin levels.

Human Growh Hormone (hGH) encourages fat loss. 5

Our pituitary produces the hGH which actually encourages burning fat as fuel and can create weight loss.  hGH also enhances muscle growth. The more muscle we have the higher rate of calories we burn each day.

Solution: Amplify your hGH by lifting weights regularly and having intense short periods of exercise often. IE short sprints, brief fast walks, rapid short bike rides etc.

Our brains and emotions  have a remarkable effect on our neurotransmitter and hormone production…regardless of what you eat and no matter much you weigh you can help ourselves feel better by practicing being happy for a few minutes each day.

Hug a friend, cuddle with your pets, practice smiling morning and evening while you think about things in your life that you are grateful for.  All of these can make wonderful changes in  how you feel about yourself and in turn make it easier to follow through with your plans to become more healthy.

I enjoy hearing about your healing adventures and respond to all communication so let me hear from you by posting your comments or emailing me direct.

1.Causes of Obesity Insulin Resistance Tied to Fructose Generated by the Body
2.Appetite Controlling Hormones Leaves Obese People Still Hungry
3.Ghrelin-What is Ghrelin?
4.Researchers Identify Genetic Causes of Severe Obesity
5.Impaired hGH Levels-Sleep Fragmentation

You might also enjoy: Better Sleep-7 Tips for a Good Night's Rest
                                    The Best Advice to Create Joy in Your Life
                                    The Physical Effects of Obesity on Happiness

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