Weight Loss – Cortisol Levels Can Impact your Ability to Lose Weight

Cortisol levels can affect your ability to lose weight

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The Summary – a few sentences that summarize this blog

1. Cortisol regulates your blood sugar, blood pressure, metabolism, inflammation and your immune system.

2. Cortisol deficiency results in fatigue, chronic exhaustion and Addison’s disease.

3.  Excessive amounts of cortisol causes you to gain weight, especially around your abdomen, accelerates aging and stomach ulcers and depresses your immune system.

4.  Stress increases your cortisol levels – you must remove stress from your body on a daily basis.

5.  Aim to not allow stress in – do not let or allow other people or events to control your emotions.

6.  Cortisol blockers might be a consideration, but check with your physician first.

The Details:  If you want to know more about how cortisol affects your ability to lose weight and what you can do, please continue reading…

Cortisol

Cortisol levels can impact your ability to lose weight.  Your pituitary gland produces adrenal cortical stimulating hormone (ACTH) which in turn causes your adrenal cortex to produce cortisolCortisol is a hormone in a group of steroids called glucocorticoids which regulates blood sugar, inflammation and your immune systemCortisol regulates your metabolism and blood pressure.  Some studies suggest that cortisol levels may be a predictor of fractures for older adults.

A deficiency of cortisol results in fatigue, chronic exhaustion and Addison’s disease.  An overabundance of cortisol causes you to gain weight, especially around your abdomen.  It also depresses your immune system and can accelerate aging and stomach ulcers.

Cortisol and Stress

An increase in any kind of stress leads to an increase in cortisol production.  All these stresses are additive and cumulative in their effect.  Examples of stress are:  physical (overexertion, trauma, infection); environmental (heat, cold, noise); chemical (nutritional deficiencies, refined sugar consumption, drugs); psychological (worry, fear); and/or imaginary stresses.

Cortisol and Fat

Cortisol impacts fat in your body in two ways.  Initially when your stress occurs, fat is broken down to supply the body with an immediate source of energy.  Your brain releases corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) and puts your body on alert to your Fight or Flight responseCRH causes your pupils to dilate, your thinking to improve and your lungs to take in more oxygen.  When this happens, your appetite is suppressed and your digestive system shuts down temporarilyCRH then triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol which helps to mobilize your carbohydrate and fat supplies for quick energy.

Here’s when the problem begins – when you have overcome the stress, your adrenaline levels dissipate, but your cortisol levels remain high to bring your body back into balance.  This balance is achieved by increasing your appetite to replace the carbohydrate and fat supplies that you used up when you needed them.

This whole process sounds logical – and, it worked well before the evolution of modern society.  Today, your body is ‘forced’ into refueling when it doesn’t need to refuelSustained stress keeps your cortisol levels elevated, and causes your hunger to remain unabatedHigh cortisol levels keep your insulin levels elevatedHigh cortisol levels stimulate additional glucose production.  This ‘excessglucose is now converted to fat and is stored as excess fat.

High levels of cortisol make you feel tired and listless.  In order to compensate for being tired or exhausted, you eat to renew your energy level.  How many of you have ever had the ‘need’ for a candy bar, or coke, to take the edge off a temporary feeling of exhaustion?  This extra fat is stored around your waistline because the cells in that part of your body are more sensitive to cortisol.

Your abdomen contains fat cells rich in stress hormone receptors.  The sensitivity to cortisol makes them particularly sensitive to high levels of insulin, which, in turn, makes them very efficient for storing energy in the form of fat.  This is a very dangerous place to store excess fat.  It can lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease.

Cortisol – Stress – Fight or Flight Stages

The primary function of your subconscious mind is to protect you from harm and injury (real or imagined).  As a result, real or perceived stress causes your adrenal glands to enlarge and secrete large amounts of adrenal cortical hormones.  These hormones suppress inflammatory responses and mobilize your body’s energy reserves.  In the old days, the human response was automatic to Fight or Flight.  Your body responds initially to this first stage of Fight or Flight response by increasing your heart rate and blood pressure and causing your pupils to dilate.

Your body begins diverting its biochemical resources to survival.  Your self-healing is arrested.  Your immune system is suppressed.  Your glycogen stores in your liver and muscles are mobilized to raise blood sugar levels.  Your digestion and assimilation processes are inhibited.  Your stomach lining becomes thinner and ulcerated and your thymus gland and lymphatic tissue shrinks.

The second stage of the Fight of Flight response is adaptation.  Your adrenal glands enlarge and release large quantities of adrenal cortical hormone.  Your symptoms disappear and you begin to feel better and have the energy necessary to cope with the stress.

After an extended period of time in the adaptation stage, you will experience exhaustion and enter the third stage.  If you don’t have sufficient reserves to continue fighting the stress, you will soon deplete all your body’s energy’s reserves.  The symptoms return and you no longer have the ability to fight it.  Some people collapse in exhaustion or suffer a nervous breakdown, become dysfunctional or experience a heart attack or stroke.

The fourth stage is death if the stresses continue after stage three.  Your body is no longer able to adapt, rest, regenerate and healing is arrestedDeath is not far behind.

What Can You Do?

Removing yourself from these stresses is the best medicine.  Eliminating the stress allows time to reverse the physiological effectsRest and nutritional support are necessary to begin restoring your body to its original condition.  Peace of mind returns as you near replenishment.

It should be noted that while in stage two, adaptation, you can actually feel or perceive no stress.  Your adaptation stage has led your conscious mind to perceive that you have overcome your stress.  A serious problem while in adaptation is the suppression of your immune system.  You are more susceptible to colds, infections, allergies, flu, etc.  You can also exacerbate any existing diseases and maladies that you have.

Chronically high levels of cortisol lead to the accumulation of abdominal fat.  It is nearly impossible to get rid of this extra fat caused by stress because it is constantly being resupplied with additional stress and more cortisol.  A suppressed immune system can lead to additional health issues.

How do you control or correct your cortisol levels?  One way is to get a cortisol test. Determine if you need to take corrective action.  Another way is to practice stress reduction on a daily basis.  I believe that stress reduction is your most essential and effective solution.  Since stress caused your cortisol levels to rise, removing the stress shuts down your production of cortisolMeditation, exercise, hot bath or shower, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), breathing exercises, improving your time management and self-hypnosis are just a few of the many ways for you to control the stress in your life.

Ten to fifteen minutes of physical activity can improve your mood in the short-term and reduce stressIntense physical exercise is very effective to remove stress.  Work on your attitude and motivation – both are self-initiated.  Find something fun to do.  Listen to relaxing music or read a fun book.  Work with a friend.  Positive relationships with others help to reduce stress.

If you can’t gain control over your stress, you can’t expect any other support measure or therapy to work effectively.  If you are exercising and finding no response to your efforts for weight loss, then you might not be doing the right kind of exercise (type, intensity, frequency, duration, etc.)  Check with a physical trainer or check out the internet.

Positive thinking, positive attitude and affirmations are great options to choose to reduce stressNegative self-talk (I’m too fat, this doesn’t work, I’ve tried this before and, I’ll never look good again, etc.) has a major impact on your ability to cope with stress.  Don’t be overly diet consciousFocus on eating balanced meals and snacks when you are hungry – the key concept here is ‘when you are hungry.’  Stop eating when you are really satisfied, not when everything is gone from your plate.

Dedicate a portion of your day to you.  Ten minutes to simply reflect and relax.  Do something that will revitalize you in the short-term.  Give yourself a foot-rub, do a cross-word puzzle, just do something that is devoted 100% to your relaxation.

Rest is extremely important and should be used as part of your strategy to overcome stressDiet is important also.  Choose a low glycemic diet to remove a lot of the sugar that causes an increase in your cortisol levels.  A comprehensive and complete vitamin and mineral supplement is needed to help control cortisol levels.

Nutritional supplements are also extremely valuable as part of your overall strategy to combat stressPhosphatidylserine (PS) has been shown to be effective in repairing the cortisol receptors in your hypothalamusExceptionally high levels of cortisol have been shown to damage these receptors in your hypothalamus and reduce the ability of your hypothalamus to sense and correct high cortisol levels.

Cortisol Blockers

The jury is on both sides regarding the effectiveness and efficacy of cortisol blockers.  There are many factors contributing to weight gainCortisol is one.  Cortisol blockers may help, but they would be one tool to consider.  The Federal Trade Commission has intervened to stop claims of cortisol blocker manufacturers to state that they, do, in fact, block cortisol or cause weight loss.  There are so many lower cost options to address elevated cortisol.  I would recommend considering this option after seeing the results of everything else you have done that aren’t effective.

Perception

Some people react with outrage to someone cutting in line in front of them at the grocery store, or in front of them when they are driving.  Others accept it without concern – just a course of life.  The way you perceive stress in your life also plays a major factor in how your body will react.  It’s not what happened to you, it’s how you reacted to it.  How many people do you know irritate you every time you see them?  Just hearing them talk, or seeing them in person puts you on alert.  Why?  You allowed yourself to react that way.  You made that choice.  Your choice to get upset, or allow it to affect you emotionally, results in elevated levels of cortisol in your body.  Don’t let other people control your emotions.

Red O’Laughlin  aka  The Prosperity Professor

Weight Loss – Carbohydrate Absorption Might be an Option

Foods high in carbohydrates

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The Basics:  What you need to know in just a few sentences.

Carbohydrates are converted into glucose in your body. The glucose is taken up by your cells for energy.

Excess glucose is sent back to your liver and in converted into glycogenGlycogen is sent to your muscles and stored for future energy needs.

Excess glycogen is sent back to your liver and is converted into triglycerides.  Most triglycerides are stored as fatunlimited storage potential in your fat cells.

Fiber can prevent or slow down the insulin surge caused by glucose.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors prevent the digestion of carbohydrates.

Alpha-amylase inhibitors block the absorption of carbohydrates.

The Details:  If you really want to know more about carbohydrate absorption and weight loss, please continue reading.

Weight loss can be tricky even on a good day.  Carbohydrate absorption is another option to consider for weight loss.  Eating excessive amounts of carbohydrates, particularly those with a high glycemic index, causes an insulin spike.  Foods with a high glycemic index contain lots of simple sugarsInsulin increases amino acid absorption in your body, stops protein breakdown after a workout, and replenishes glycogen stores in your liver.

Carbohydrates and Fat Storage

Carbohydrates are converted into glucose.  The glucose is used by your cells for energy.  Once your cells use up the glucose that is needed for energy, then the excess glucose goes back to your liver and is converted to glycogenGlycogen is stored then in your muscles for future energy useGlycogen gives your muscles the energy to work.  What happens when you fill up your muscles with glycogen?  The excess glycogen is sent back to your liver where it is converted into triglycerides.  Most of these triglycerides are then stored as fat.  Unlike your muscles, your body has an unlimited storage potential for fat.

Some of the triglycerides remain in your blood vessels.  Your blood can actually thicken if there is an excessive amount of triglycerides.  When this happens you are a good candidate for a heart attack or stroke.

Carbohydrate Absorption – Fibers

How can you prevent, or slow down this process?  One way is to eat something that will absorb some of the carbohydrates and dampen the insulin surge caused by glucoseFiber is a good thing to eat before or during your meal.  Fiber helps you in two ways.  First, you may eat less because you have a feeling of being full.  Second, it binds or disrupts the full impact of the glucose conversion in your body.  Many studies, in the United States and overseas, have shown very positive effects of adding fiber to your diet on a regular basis – lower body weight and lower waist-to-hip ratios.  It also has been noted in many of these study groups that markers for heart disease were reduced.

Are all fibers created equally?  No.  Fiber from oats and barley are called beta-glucansBeta-glucans have been shown to be very effective in slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates.  Another fiber for your consideration is glucomannan.  It is a dietary fiber that is actually a water-soluble polysaccharideGlucomannan is effective in reducing the insulin spike after eating high-glycemic foods.  It is very effective for constipation, high cholesterol and obesity.

Carbohydrate Absorption – Other Options

Are there any other options beside fibers?  There are things other than fiber that can interfere with or inhibit the breakdown of simple and complex carbohydrates.  Oral anti-diabetic drugs called alphaglucosidase inhibitors are used to treat type-2 diabetes.  The alpha-glucosidase inhibitors prevent the digestion of carbohydrates.  I always prefer natural solutions to prescription medicine solutions when they are available and safe.  The mushroom, Maitake, has a naturally occurring alpha-glucosidase inhibitor.  The Salicia oblonga is a plant that has used in Ayurvedic medicine for over a thousand years.  It is also a naturally occurring alpha-glucosidase inhibitor.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors produce abdominal gas as a side-effect because many of the starches and glucose are not absorbedStarches and glucose produce gas when left alone in your intestine react with normal bowel bacteria and yeast.  Prescription alpha-glucosidase inhibitor medicines list many serious side effects.  As always, carefully read your prescription labels for side effects and possible contraindications with other food and drug products.

White kidney bean extract is an alpha-amylase inhibitor.  It blocks carbohydrate absorption by blocking the enzyme, alpha amylase which is used to break down carbohydrates in your digestive tract.  The undigested carbohydrates are allowed to process through your body without absorptionWhite kidney bean extract is a dietary supplement that can be taken before each meal.  You may also find dietary supplements containing both alpha-glucosidase and alpha-amylase inhibitors.

Carbohydrate Absorption – Your Health

As always, you are responsible for your own health.  Just because you might choose to take carbohydrate blockers or inhibitors, you can’t expect to eat all the carbohydrates you want.  You have to eat and exercise in moderation.  It might be best to use a carbohydrate blocker or inhibitor for your biggest carbohydrate meal of the day.  Check the side effects prior to using any prescription carbohydrate blocker.  You can determine the safety of those side effects and whether this option is really something you want to do.

Red O’Laughlin  aka The Prosperity Professor

 

Weight Loss – A Calorie Restriction Lifestyle Can Lead to Weight Loss and a Healthier Life

Calorie Restriction and Weight Loss

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The Basics:  What you need to know if a few sentences.

Eating less and exercising more is not the answer to looking younger, living longer and being healthier.

A Calorie Restriction lifestyle is based on eating fewer calories, but those calories must include balanced nutrition.

Balanced nutrition with reduced calories improves many aspects of your health as evidenced by measuring biomarkers associated with age and health.

The Calorie Restriction lifestyle is a lifestyle – something you do daily – not a diet – not fasting – not starvation.  The lifestyle includes many things besides eating – reduction in stress, exercise in moderation, meaningful relationships and many more.

Calorie Restriction improves your memory, cognition, energy, and protein synthesis.

This blog will concentrate of the Calorie Restriction lifestyle regarding diet choices and nutrition.

The Details:  If you really want to know why Calorie Restriction lifestyle works, continue reading.

The American weight loss paradigm is to eat less and exercise more. It doesn’t work in study after study for a myriad of participants. I believe it works to a degree when you are young and without any significant health problems. As you age, your body’s systems begin to degrade and other factors begin to counter the effects of diet and exercise.

Calorie Restriction Lifestyle

Calorie restriction is a lifestyle and not a diet. It should not be confused with restricted calories that might border on malnutrition. Calorie restriction means you restrict certain types of calories and maintain the required vitamins and minerals necessary for your good health. Calorie restriction has been demonstrated in many laboratory studies to improve your well being, your weight and your lifespan.

Stress, oxidation and inflammation impact your health every day. Over time you age, you become less able to do the things you want to do, and your quality of life decreases. You can add healthy and productive years to your life if you can effectively counter the daily effects of stress, oxidation and inflammationCalorie restriction research has been ongoing since 1935.

Calorie Restriction Mimetics

An alternative to calorie restriction is being investigated called calorie restriction mimetics. Calorie restriction mimetics addresses stress, oxidation and inflammation issues without the reduction in calories. Calorie restriction mimetics foods or compounds must mimic the metabolic, hormonal and physiological effects achieved by calorie restriction with higher caloric intake. Additionally, the increased caloric intake must ensure that the body’s maintenance and repair processes are not interrupted, and the effects of longevity and age-related diseases are reduced. Compounds that have been evaluated as possessing calorie restriction mimetics traits are resveratrol, green tea polyphenols, pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), and branched-chain amino acids.

Calorie Restriction and Longevity

Calorie restriction has been studied for years in the laboratory. Humans have a typical lifespan of 75-80 years. It is difficult to measure generations of humans adhering to calorie restriction for many reasons. As a result, medical researchers study biomarkers that show the progression of aging more slowly. Two of those biomarkers are lower body temperature and lower fasting insulin levels. The lower fasting insulin levels result in lower body fat.

The actual biochemical mechanism of calorie restriction is still being investigated. Laboratory studies project that calorie restriction protects your body against oxidation and inflammation. The key to making calorie restriction an effective anti-aging and weight loss program is maintaining your optimal nutrition with restricted calories. Short-term extreme calorie restriction diets yield weight loss results. However, serious health issues developed, such as anemia, muscle atrophy, neurological deficits and edema, when continued longer than six months.

Calorie Restriction and Health

It is critical to keep your nutritional requirements met when using calorie restriction for health improvement and weight loss. Calorie restriction with optimal nutrition has been shown to reduce your body fat mass, reduce cardiovascular disease, and reduce the risk of diabetes. With an optimal nutritional lifestyle and restricted calories, the biomarkers of slowed aging improvemitochondrial biogenesis, reduced DNA oxidative damage, improved blood lipids, improved insulin sensitivity, etc to name a few.

Calorie Restriction – Food and History

Eastern medical thought tells you that you should eat when you are hungry. Western medical thought has programmed you to eat several times a day. Today most people overeat. If you are old enough, think back to the size and types of meals that were served in the 1950’s. If you wanted a hamburger, fries and a soda, you usually went to a diner. The size of the burger was typical of the ‘junior’ size in most hamburger fast food places today. The quantity of fries was half to two-thirds the size of a regular order of fries today. The soda was an 8.5 ounce bottle – or 6 to 8 ounces if served in a glass.

Today, a typical hamburger is twice the size (in weight) and in many cases accompanied by another burger. The bun is much larger also. The fries can be supersized and the drink is monstrous compared to the old soda bottles. Most people were satisfied eating that meal back in the 50’s. Today, many people go back for a refill on their soda or a pie for dessert. The caloric intake of that one meal is a multiple of what it was decades ago. The processed food content of today’s meal is also significantly different that the typical meal fifty plus years ago.

Calorie Restriction and Your Eating Habits

Do you really need to eat that much food today at one sitting? I went to a hypnotist for weight loss at a company sponsored event several years ago. I was around twenty pounds over what I weighed in the military when I routinely passed my flight physicals. I was really curious about hypnotism and weight loss. It was interesting being hypnotized and listening to everything going on around me while I was hypnotized. I can remember (I think I can) everything he told us while we were ‘under’ his spell. I learned that each one of you has an internal sensor that tells you when you are full. Most people have been programmed to ignore it.

You reach a point when eating a meal in which you could literally get up and leave, but you don’t. You have been conditioned by your parents and society to eat what is on your plate. If you can’t, you order a doggie bag and take it with you. You can’t let the food go to waste and be thrown out. Your internal sensor occurs about the same time it would have taken you to eat that 1950’s meal. The size and caloric intake meets your body’s requirements for your level of hunger. You should stop, but you don’t.

Calorie Restriction and Your Internal Sensor

The purpose of the hypnotist was to help us reconnect with our body’s internal sensor and to help us push away from our meal, and be satisfied with what we had eaten. I easily recognized my internal sensor; and, I also realized that I had been blasting through my internal sensor many times in the past – literally at every meal.

I notice today that it is still easy to recognize my internal sensor. I look at what is remaining on my plate when my internal sensor trips the alarm and I think about how much enjoyment I am getting from that food. I have to make a decision – right then – to continue eating or to stop. It is a choice to stop eating that I have to make at every meal to keep my body lean and trim, and to continue in excellent health for the rest of my life. It is a habit, a lifestyle, that you should consider adopting.

Calorie Restriction – Plan and Listen

Plan to listen to your body during your next several meals. You will get a subtle feeling that you are satisfied before you finish what is on your plate. You don’t have to eat until you are no longer hungry. You don’t have to eat everything on the plate. That being said, you need to train your mind to order – or to prepare – the right quantity of food for the meal you plan to eat. The right quantity of food must ensure that you are getting the best bang for your dietary buck, so to speak. You need to avoid those empty calories for foods (white flour and refined sugar). You need nutrient-dense foods.

Calories Restriction – Nutrition and Eating

Nutrient-dense foods have a high nutrient to calorie ratio – they are rich in nutrients per calorie. A strawberry is nutrient dense – comparing each calorie versus the vitamins and minerals present. You want to consume foods that provide energy, support tissue growth and repair, and help you to regulate your metabolism. Nutrients are considered to be carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water.

Be careful which Calorie Restriction diets to use. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) recommended by the NIH (National Institute of Health) and the AHA (American Heart Association), provide nearly half the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) of 27 essential micronutrients and completely void in another 15 essential micronutrients. The RDI is the daily level of nutrients considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of 98% of healthy people in every demographic in the United States.

Calorie Restriction Lifestyle

A Calorie Restriction lifestyle is not a diet. It is a lifestyle choice. If you consider it a diet, then it has a beginning and an end. It will become difficult to maintain over time. You have made lifestyle choices already to achieve your current weight, body fat content and overall health. Your current lifestyle continually maintains your current weight and overall fat content. A Calorie Restriction lifestyle change in your eating habits can start with your current level of eating – total calories.

A true Calorie Restriction lifestyle would be approximately 35% less than what is currently advertised by health professionals as the daily calories needed to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Calorie Restriction is not fasting or starvation. The key to Calorie Restriction is maintaining optimal nutrition with reduced calories.

Calorie Restriction – Fasting and Starvation

Fasting and starvation do help in the short-term. Fasting and starvation allow your body to begin cell and tissue repair without interruption. Fasting and starvation allow your body to begin generating new cells as it deems necessary. Fasting and starvation allow your body a brief respite from the energy demands of eating, digesting, assimilation and elimination. That energy can be directed to improving your immune system, elimination of toxic waste products, and restoration of your metabolic function.

Short-term results of fasting and starvation are good. However, without the nutrients needed to sustain and improve your health, you will start putting your body in jeopardy. If you choose to enter into a long-term fast or short-term starvation diet, you should consult an experienced health provider knowledgeable in weight management. This is particularly critical if you are on prescribed medicines. Set a realistic goal for weight loss, and for the duration of your fast or starvation plan. Do not extend it yourself because the consequences can endanger your health.

If you do decide on a fasting regimen, it is critical to ensure that the actions you are taking are safe and effective. Juice fasting (fruits and vegetables) and herbal teas offer a better option than water alone. Electrolyte control is maintained better with juices than water alone. Any fast must have the requisite daily vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Gum chewing introduces digestive enzymes into your stomach and can injure your stomach lining since there is no solid food (assuming a juice regimen). Deep breathing exercises help during a fast to provide fresh air to help cleanse your blood.

Water is needed during a fast to maintain proper hydration. Caffeine and alcohol dehydrate. Fasting results in water loss before fat loss. Over time, your body will lose fat on a fast. You need to be conscious of the likelihood of muscle loss during a fast. This is a point to talk to your doctor about to ensure that you do no physical damage during a fast.

Things of concern for your physician or health provider should be the prescription medicines and the other supplements that you may be taking. Contraindications of prescription medicines are known by most pharmacists and doctors, but the relationship of natural supplements and prescription medicines might not be as obvious. Particular attention should be noted with the following: curcumin, trans-resveratrol, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, ginkgo biloba, and branched-chain amino acids.

Calorie Restriction Benefits

A Calorie Restriction lifestyle is a permanent choice – not a temporary fast or starvation program. Calorie Restriction lowers your blood pressure and pulse rate, lowers your body temperature, reduces free radicals and blood glucose levels and reduces your risk of chronic disease (cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease). Calorie Restriction improves your insulin sensitivity and DNA repair as well as increases muscle mass. Calorie Restriction stimulates BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) and boosts your DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) levels. Calorie Restriction improves your memory, cognition, energy, and protein synthesis.

Red O’Laughlin  aka The Prosperity Professor

Weight Loss – Breathing Properly Can Improve Your Weight Loss and Health

Breathing and weight loss

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The Basics: The key thoughts of this blog are –

Breathing, when done correctly, reduces stress, improves your health and can help you lose weight.

Google and YouTube are two great resources to learn and see how prayanamas (breathing exercises) are done.

Master one or two specific types of breathing exercises and your health will improve.  People who know how to breathe correctly are never sick a day in their lives.  Most people do not know how to breathe correctly.

The Details:  Continue reading to learn more about breathing correctly to improve your health, reduce your stress, improve your brain function and clarity and to lose weight.

Learning how to breathe properly can improve your health and possibly help you lose weight.  A couple of years ago I became aware of pranayamas – forms of breathing exercises that have been developed over the centuries by many Eastern cultures.  Take a brief moment and think about your posture and the quality of your breathing.  When you breathe, is it a full breath, or are your shallow breathing?  Most people generally slump over in their chair in front of a computer and their breathing is shallow.  The same can be said for your driving posture.  When you watch television, your posture typically leads to shallow breathing.  When you stand, you probably don’t take really deep breaths – or expel the air from your lungs fully.  The lower part of your lungs never gets fully exercised.  You never get a chance to fully mix the air in your lungs and expel it.

Breathing Test for Efficiency and Effectiveness

I discovered a short 30-second qualitative test to evaluate your overall health.  It involves your breathing capacity and effectiveness.  It is simple – take a large breath and begin counting out loud each number, in a whisper, as fast as you can, for as long as you can, on that one breath.  The number you arrive at after the test is an indicator of your breathing efficiency or effectiveness.  People achieving a count in excess of 150 generally are never ill or sick a day in their lives – no matter how many sick people are around them.  They inhale enough oxygen that their blood system can kill fungi, viruses, and bacteria on contact.  It also provides more oxygen to your brain so that you can think more clearly.  Don’t feel badly if you don’t achieve much over 75 on your first attempt.  Most people average 50 or less.  Breathing exercises can improve your number and your health.

Breathing Research Tool

I find that Google and YouTube are excellent complimentary research tools.  I prefer to read first and then observe a video.  I can watch exactly how something is done – or follow the process a bit better.  As I observe the different pranayamas being performed by different experts, I can see the correct way to perform the exercises and the subtle differences from one guru to another.

Prayanama Breathing Exercises

Allow me to provide an example of one type of pranayama.  Bharamari pranayama is also called the Humming Bee Breath.  That is because you make the sound of a humming bee while performing this pranayama.  The process is simple.  I know that the vast majority of my audience cannot assume the normal yoga pose – sitting with their legs folded in front of them.  I can’t either.  It’s not that important in the big scheme of things at this level of performance.

Sit comfortably in a chair with no arms rests.  Sit with your back straight and shoulders relaxed.  When you are comfortable – take nice slow comfortable breaths and release them without holding your breath.  Close your eyes and relax and breathe only through your nose.  After four or five comfortable breaths, continue breathing only through your nose and start humming with your exhaleHMMMM.  When you are out of breath, stop and take another breath.  Take a normal breath, not a deep one.  Exhale without forcing the air out of your lungs – just let it flow naturally.  Do this a half-dozen timesgentle breathing each time.  That’s it.  That is the Bharamari pranayama.  If you feel dizzy, for whatever reason, stop immediately.

Breathing for Stress Relief

You might ask, what does this do?  Obviously it is important; otherwise I would not have shared it.  This type of breathing exercise allows your body to calm down – to reduce the stress, worry and anxiety of your daily life.  It calms your entire nervous system.  It is one of the best stress management tools that I have found.  You have heard the old adage – take a deep breath, hold it, and then slowly let it out.  That is also a pranayama – and it works to reduce stress also.

Using a Mudra to Help Breathing Exercises

If you watch the videos on YouTube, you will see various hand positions used with different pranayamas.  They are called mudras.  With the Bharamari pranayama, I use a mudra in which I place my left hand in my lap with my left thumb pointing away from me.  I then place my right hand on top of my left so that the finger tips of my right hand are at the base of my left hand – the knuckles of each hand are slightly overlapped.  I have seen other mudras with the hands on each knee and the thumb and first finger touching (typical yoga pose), and others with your fingers gently inserted into your ears, covering your eyes, nose and mouth.  Each type of mudra has significance while performing this pranayama.  I prefer the simply right hand over the left hand mudra.

Breathing Exercises and Blood Pressure

The vibrations of your breathing actually interact with the organs and glands in your body and produce positive and harmonious results.  One of the positive results I find using this technique – other than a profound calm – is that it lowers my blood pressure – by a measurable amount.  Historically my blood pressure goes up whenever I gain weight or stop exercising.  If I lose weight – or exercise consistently – my blood pressure returns to normal.  I find that I can obtain normal readings – from a previously elevated blood pressure reading – by doing this pranayama.  I spend a lot of my waking hours focusing on the positive aspects of life and not allowing stress and negativity into my thought processes.  Regardless of how hard I try, a small amount creeps in.  This type of breathing exercise eliminates those stressors that creep into your life through out the day.  Additionally, it improves the oxygen levels in your bloodstream and helps your immune system and brain function.

If you are apprehensive about some future event, or if you just want to reduce the stress in your life, you should consider this as an additional tool in your health tool boxPranayamas might help you to lose weight if your weight gain is stress related.

Red O’Laughlin  aka The Prosperity Professor

Weight Loss – How Your Basal Metabolic Rate Can Affect Your Ability to Lose Weight

Basal Metabolic Rate and Weight Loss

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The Basics:  A short list of those things that can affect your basal metabolic rate.

Your basal metabolic rate is responsible for 70% of your total calories burned every day.

Genetic and environmental factors can cause your basal metabolic rate to increase or decrease.  Those factors include gender, age, weight, height, body surface area, diet, exercise, muscle mass, and ambient air temperature to name a few.

Your thyroid and adrenal glands can increase or decrease your basal metabolic rate.

There are several natural supplements that can increase your basal metabolic rategreen tea, fish oil, capsaicin and ginger are just a few.

The Details:  Continue reading to better understanding exactly what affects your basal metabolic rate and what you might be able to do to increase the burning rate of calories.

Your basal metabolic rate can affect your ability to lose weight. Your basal metabolic rate is the minimum calorie requirement needed to sustain your life while at rest (assume that you sleep all day and all night and don’t move). Your basal metabolic rate is responsible for burning up to 70% of your total calories daily. Calories are burned to support all bodily processes (respiration, maintaining body temperature, digestion, pumping blood, maintaining your balance, etc.). Your basal metabolic rate is a combination of factorsgenetic and environmental. Your basal metabolic rate might be set too low.

Factors Affecting Your Metabolic Rate

Genetic factors mean that some people can burn calories faster or slower than others. Gender, age and weight also have an impact. The more you weigh the higher your basal metabolic rate. Men have a greater muscle mass and burn calories at a higher rate than women. You begin to lose basal metabolic efficiency at approximately 2% a year after age 20. At age 60, it is not unusual to see your basal metabolic rate significantly slower than you were at age 18.

Body surface area and body fat percentages also affect your basal metabolic rate. Your basal metabolic rate increases with greater body surface area. A short person can gain up to 15 pounds a year compared to a tall person with the same weight. Your basal metabolic rate increases with a higher body fat percentage. Diet and exercise have an effect also. Diet changes – from starvation to abrupt changes in eating patterns can cause your basal metabolic rate to be reduced by 20-30%. This is a serious change in burning calories in your body. Exercise can raise your basal metabolic rate when you add lean muscle which burns more calories compared to fat.

Your body temperature affects your basal metabolic rate. For every degree increase in your internal temperature (normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees) your basal metabolic rate can increase by approximately seven percent. Chemical reactions occur more rapidly at higher temperatures. The outside air temperature can affect your basal metabolic rate. Hot temperatures have little affect since your body can compensate by releasing more heat to the air. But, colder temperatures have a more pronounced affect because your body has to generate heat to compensate for the colder outside temperature.

Thyroxin and Adrenaline Affect Your Basal Metabolic Rate

Your thyroid gland produces thyroxin. It regulates the increase or decrease in your basal metabolic rate. The more thyroxin produced the higher your basal metabolic rate and vice versa. Adrenaline can also increase or decrease your basal metabolic rate, but not to the same degree that thyroxin does.

Nutritional Supplements Can Raise Your Basal Metabolic Rate

The following nutritional supplements have been shown to safely raise your basal metabolic rate. Fucoxanthin (found in brown algae), pomegranate seed oil, green tea polyphenols (epigallocatechin gallate – EGGC) in combination with caffeine, fish oil rich in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), conjugated linoleic acid (CLA – found in meat and dairy products), capsaicin (the active ingredient in hot red peppers), and extracts of ginger.

Each works a little differently. EPA and DHA inhibit key enzymes responsible for lipid synthesis and enhance lipid oxidation and fat burning. EPA and DHA also inhibit free fatty acids from entering your fat cells for fat storage. CLA causes increased energy expenditure, decreased fat cell differentiation and increased fat burning and fat oxidation. EGGC in combination with caffeine and capsaicin work thermogenically. Thermogenesis increases your body’s basal metabolic rate by increasing your body’s core temperature. Extracts of ginger increase your oxygen consumption and enhance fat burning.

Red O’Laughlin  aka The Prosperity Professor

Weight Loss – How Adrenaline Affects Weight Loss

Weight Loss - Adrenal Function

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The Basics: What you need to know about adrenaline (and cortisol) and losing weight.

Your adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisolStress and other factors cause your adrenal glands to overproduce adrenaline and cortisol.  Over time it can lead to adrenal ‘burn-out’.

Adrenal ‘burn-out’ leads to serious health problems.  Long-term high levels of adrenaline and cortisol cause your pancreas to overproduce insulin.

Insulin sensitivity is a side effect of the overproduction of adrenaline and cortisol. Over time, insulin sensitivity can lead to insulin resistance – creating further health issues.

To rebalance your hormones, you must change your lifestylereduce stress, eat correctly, etc.  Stress reduction and stress management are key to a healthy life.

The Details: Continue reading to gain a better understanding of the relationships of the different hormones in your body and how they affect your health and your ability to lose weight.

Adrenaline may be preventing you from losing weight.  The hormone adrenaline is similar to hormone cortisol in that it responds to stress.  There are times when you might not eat for a while and your blood glucose levels fall to dangerously low levels.  Your body is stressed when your blood glucose levels fall significantly.  Your adrenal glands can make both adrenaline and cortisolAdrenaline (and cortisol) can correct the condition of very low glucose levels in your body by converting glycogen and protein to make glucose.  Your body automatically converts to a new source of glucose to meet your body’s glucose needsFat is used as an energy source when you have depleted your all your glucose and glycogen stores.  The real problem arises when your body has too much adrenaline (or cortisol).

Hormonal Imbalance and Your Adrenal Glands

Hormone imbalance can arise when you allow your body’s glucose levels to fall to low levels by not eating the proper foods on a regular basis.  Your hormone levels change to the meet the lifestyle choices you make on a daily basis.  If your hormones remain constantly in flux, you may develop serious health problems.

At the beginning stages of hormonal imbalance, your insulin responsiveness begins to degrade.  Your insulin becomes more insensitive to levels of glucose in your body – it takes more insulin to do the same job compared to what it used to take.  You start out your life with high (meaning good) insulin sensitivity.  You are able to eat anything you want and never gain weight.  Your age and lifestyle choices begin to affect the sensitivity or responsiveness of your insulin.  Gradually your insulin becomes less and less sensitive (or active) to the same quantity of glucose.  Your cells become less receptive to receiving the glucose it needs because your insulin is not strong enough to do its job.

Insulin Resistance

Continuously high levels of adrenaline and cortisol can cause insulin resistanceInsulin resistance means that your body will make more insulin than is customarily needed to feed the cells in your body.  Long-term insulin resistance generally leads to excessive amounts of glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol to accumulate in your bloodstream.

Without any changes in your lifestyle (food choices, total calories, exercise, nutritional balance, stress relief, etc)  your insulin sensitivity will degrade to a level to be classified as insulin resistance.  Your body has many built-in protective processes.  When your pancreas sends insulin into your bloodstream and discovers that there is still a need for more insulin, it makes more insulin and sends more insulin into your bloodstream.  Your body doesn’t want excessive amounts of glucose building up to dangerous levels.

Adrenal Glands and Stress

Similarly, your hormones can experience similar difficultiesContinuous untreated stress can ‘burn-out’ your adrenal glands.  This typically happens when you are stressedday-in and day-out – and there appears to be no end in sight.  You are literally fatigued from the stresses in your life.  Your adrenal glands have been working overtime to address your internal biochemical needs associated with stress, and you are unable to address the causes of your stress.  People with insulin resistance typically start adding a lot of fat, especially visceral fat around their abdomen.

Your adrenal gland secretes hormones that control your blood pressure, heart rate and sweating – to name a few.  Adrenal gland burnout does not happen overnight.  It takes years of constant overproduction to enter into a burnout condition.  The longer it took to burnout your adrenal glands, the longer it will take to recover.

As with correcting stress in your life, you must start by removing the causes of your stress.  If you are insulin resistant and have adrenal burnout, you need to remove the sources of those two conditions to recover fully.  Depending on how long, and the choices you have made, it might be best to reduce rather than eliminate things such as: over exercising, smoking, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, white sugar, etc.  Cold turkey is not always the best way to start fixing a problem.

Healthy Habits

Insulin resistance can improve with dedicated healthy lifestyle.  Your adrenal and cortisol levels will heal with time and careful attention to your stress relief and stress management.  It is common to have withdrawal symptoms when adjusting to a new lifestyle.  You have trained your body to respond in a certain way to the stresses you accept and to the foods you choose.  Fatigue, irritability and depression are common symptoms when rebalancing your hormones.  Don’t be surprised if you gain a little weight or experience water retention.  These symptoms are generally short-lived and moderate quickly thereafter.

You can reestablish normal biochemical levels of insulin, adrenaline and cortisol by controlling your lifestyle.  Consider any withdrawal symptoms as side effects that changing your lifestyle is working.  As with most systems in our bodies, one cause is generally not the only cause of the symptoms you experience.  It is critical to know that the choices and actions you chose to arrive at your current hormonal imbalance will return to normal if you adopt those actions required for a healthy lifestyle.  Some people can adjust easily within thirty days – others might take ninety days to adapt to a new lifestyle.  Monitor the changes in your body and be vigilant to those persistent symptoms that won’t go away.  There may be another underlying cause producing those symptoms.

Lifestyle changes must become a new habit in your life to effectively rebalance systems that have been out of balance for a long time.  Body fat will begin to disappear as you normalize your insulin activity, cortisol and adrenaline levels.

Weight Loss – How Acupuncture Can Help You Lose Weight

 

Acupuncture and Weight Loss

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The Basics: What you need to know about acupuncture and weight loss.

Acupuncture aligns your body to reduce cravings, stress and other factors that block or impede weight loss.

Acupuncture is more effective than almost any other weight loss treatment used today.

Acupuncture improves your total health, in additional to achieving weight loss.

Acupuncture helps you to quickly adopt and maintain new habits leading to a healthier lifestyle.

The Details:  Continue reading if you are intrigued why sticking needles into your body can help you lose weight.  It’s not complicated, but it is worth knowing.

Acupuncture can be used to lose weight. Acupuncture has been used in medical practice for over the past 5000 plus years. It has been practiced in China, Egypt, Brazil, Northern Canada and Alaska, South Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Acupuncture has been used to control pain, relieve addiction, reduce stress, treat allergies and lose weight. The first book on acupuncture was written around 200 BC. Ninety-five percent of everyone attempting to lose weight fails – that’s the national average in the United States. Acupuncture has been shown to be at least 60% effective in achieving weight loss.

Changing Habits with Acupuncture

Acupuncture opens the door to a lifestyle change. It is believed that physical change (weight gain or weight loss) happens because of mental and emotional habits developed over time. These habits become so strong that they block any attempt to change. That is why so many diet programs fail. You are anchored in a firm balance between your physical appearance and your mental acceptance of it.

Acupuncture helps you to break down these mental barriers. Your body has electrical forces that keep your body in balance. Over time this bio-electrical energy can become misaligned due to stress, diet, medications, sedentary lifestyle, etc. Acupuncture realigns your electrical forces and promotes balance in all the organs in your body.

Equilibrium Through Acupunture

Acupuncture sedates and calms sensory points and establishes equilibrium between your organs and your brain. Acupuncture is very effective for binge eating disorderexcessive eating brought on by stress, frustration and anxiety. If your weight gain has been exacerbated by stress, then acupuncture might be the right option to lose weight. However, acupuncture can be used with other weight loss options because it facilitates energy flow throughout your body, reduces stress and improves your overall willpower to lose weight.

Traditional Chinese Medicine – Five Element Theory

What if your weight gain was not stress induced? Traditional Chinese medicine has a five-element theory which identifies the root cause of excess weight as a disruption in the spleen and liver systems. Your spleen controls your digestive system and converts the food you eat into Qi, the fundamental essence of life. When your spleen is not functioning properly, you will have fatigue, water retention and a slower metabolism.

Your liver is responsible to keep the flow of Qi running smoothly throughout your body. Liver disharmony can trigger cravings and compulsive eating. Outside influences can disrupt both your spleen and liver functions. Chronic stress, fast foods, lack of exercise, anxiety, worry, fear, nervousness, etc can reduce your liver’s ability to function efficiently. This, in turn, causes your spleen and whole digestive system to operate at a slower rate and leads to a decreased metabolism.

Initial Consultation for Acupuncture

Prior to inserting needles, your acupuncturist should ask you questions regarding your eating habits, stress, cravings and your motivation to lose weight. Additionally, your family history of obesity might also be important to discuss. This helps the acupuncturist to focus on those areas which will bring you the best results.

Acupuncture Treatments

Acupuncture involves inserting very thin needles into various points in your body. The needles may be manually or electrically stimulated. A typical session lasts around 40 minutes. Initially, acupuncture treatments might be done daily. After a short while the treatments could be moved to every other day and eventually once or twice a week until no acupuncture treatments are necessary.

Maintaining Your Change With Acupuncture

As with any weight loss program, you cannot keep the same eating and exercise habits and expect to lose weight. Your acupuncture treatments work to help you change your mindset and your lifestyle. You have to maintain your new mindset to maintain your new body weight. Some acupuncturists may also recommend that you incorporate various herbs, supplements and massages into your weight loss regimen. These herbs and supplements target the same systems as the acupuncture needles.

Acupuncture Targets

Some of the weight loss points targeted by acupuncture are the spleen and thyroid gland. The functional objective of acupuncture is to balance your hormones and reduce your craving for sugar. Treating your kidneys reduces water retention. Your endocrine system can be balanced by stimulating your nerves to achieve hormonal balance. Your ovaries and adrenal gland can be targeted if weight gain is associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or menopause.

One of the most commonly used acupuncture points is the shenmen point on your ear. It is not associated with a specific organ, but it is akin to a microcosm of your entire body. Treatment of your shenmen point calms your mind and reduces your stress. Your ears have links to all your body systems.

Acupuncture Effectiveness

Studies have shown that acupuncture is effective – three to four times more effective than traditional weight loss programs. Acupuncture readjusts your cravings so that your appetite and anxiety are suppressed. You eat less and feel better. Additionally, your body is fully energized. It can maximize the absorption of food and regulate the elimination processes more effectively.

Choices

Acupuncture is a powerful tool in weight loss when used exclusively, or in conjunction with other weight loss programs. Acupuncture can help you to reduce stress, eat less, expend more energy, reduce your cravings, increase your metabolism and, most importantly, strengthen your willpower to succeed in losing weight.

Red O’Laughlin  aka The Prosperity Professor

Weight Loss – How Alcohol Impairs Your Ability to Lose Weight

Alcohol and weight loss

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The Basics:  Many of us like to have an occasional beer or glass of wine – but, is it wise when you are trying to lose weight.  Here is the overview you need to know.

Alcohol shuts down your metabolism and doesn’t allow you access to recently consumed carbohydrates or stored fat as an energy source.  You add calories without having the ability to burn fat.

White your metabolism is shut down, your appetite increasesAlcohol shuts down or slows down your body’s production of testosterone needed to build muscle mass and strength.

Alcohol increases your cortisol levels – which affect which energy source your body will use.  Increased cortisol levels cause you store more fat.

Alcohol dehydrates your body – it affects your mental and physical capacity.

The Details: Continue reading to understand why alcohol is like a poison that your body has to stop everything it is doing – putting your metabolism on hold – while it processes the alcohol by-product out of your body.

How many times have you exercised and had a beer, or other alcoholic beverage, immediately afterwards?  I have – many times.  In some of the running clubs I have belonged to, it was tradition to have a beer (or two) after the race, and reflect, with fellow runners, the trials and tribulations associated with that day’s race – or, simply, to solve the problems of the world.  Exercising and drinking appear to be linked by tradition.  For example, members of the Hash House Harriers describe their organization as a drinking club with a running problem.  However, if your goal is to lose weight, alcohol is not the drink of choice to make that goal happen.  Switch to water and you will have a much better results.

Energy Selection

Your body’s fuel of choice is carbohydrates.  All your systems are primed to start using carbohydrates for immediate energy.  Your carbohydrates not used for immediate energy are converted to fat for later usage.   Your body can operate on fat for energy when carbohydrates are not available – think of a high-protein diet.  Additionally, your body can use protein as an energy source.  Protein is used as an energy source when your body is lacking both fat and carbohydrates for fuel – think starvation.
You will still continue to store fat, but you can’t get access to it.  You will have access to carbohydrates and fats once the alcohol has been fully eliminated from your body.

Alcohol is converted into a chemical compound called acetate.  It becomes your body’s preferred energy source – above all other energy sourcesAlcohol is converted to acetate in your liver.  If you want to lose weight, consider abstaining from alcohol during your weight loss program.

Alcohol in Excess

Alcohol, in excess, can damage your liver, which creates many other problems.  Alcohol is not part of the normal human diet.  As such, your body doesn’t really know what to do with it, per se.  As a result, your body will ‘bump’ alcohol (think acetate) to the top of the list of energy sources to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

Beer belly’ physiques lead us to believe that alcohol is fatteningAlcohol is not fattening by itself because it is not stored as a fat.  It adds extra calories to your daily intake without allowing you access to burn those stored fat calories.  Overtime, the extra stored fat adds up and your beer-belly physique grows.

Alcohol and Appetite

Alcohol also increases your appetite.  After drinking alcohol your fat metabolism shuts down.  You are putting ‘on hold’ the fats and carbohydrates you already consumed, and now your body wants you to eat more.  You can’t win.  What if you drink alcohol with a meal?  Doesn’t that temper the effect of alcohol?  That’s what I’ve heard all my life.  That’s why I have a glass of wine with my dinner.   Researchers have found that you will eat more food when consuming alcohol, especially wine, with a meal.  Now I find out that alcohol causes me to eat more, restricts my body’s access to burning fat, and increases my overall caloric intake – at that meal.  It also increases your craving for a snack later in the evening.

Alcohol and Testosterone

Alcohol has other effects on your overall health.  Your testosterone production slows down noticeably after consuming alcohol.  Scientists studied healthy adult males after they drank alcohol.  The results showed that alcohol lowered testosterone levels for a minimum of 24 hours and in some cases as much as 48 hours.  Is this a bad thing?  Testosterone is extremely important in your fat burning process.  It doesn’t directly burn fat, but is required in your body’s processes to build your muscle mass and strength.

Decreased testosterone levels lead to reduced muscle mass and strength, which, in turn, leads to higher fat accumulations, usually around the abdomen.  Larger, stronger muscles require more calories for daily maintenance.  This is good for people trying to lose weight.

Alcohol and Cortisol

Testosterone also blocks the receptors for cortisolCortisol is a hormone that promotes fat storage and reduces your muscle mass and strengthAlcohol causes cortisol levels to increase and interferes with your normal hormone balanceCortisol levels can also increase with stress, depression, fasting, stimulants and lack of quality sleep.

Moderation is desired with most things in life.  Cortisol is a natural steroid produced in your body.  Cortisol acts like an energy management system – it selects the right type and amount of energy source to be used to meet your daily physiological demands.  Your body prefers carbohydrates over fat for an energy sourceCortisol is responsible for that selection.  You need cortisol in moderation for a healthy body.  You don’t need excessive amounts of it.

Cortisol is responsible for delivering the right kind of energy to your working muscles.  When carbohydrates and fat sources are low, cortisol can direct your body to use protein as an energy sourceCortisol is a very important hormone.  However, an overabundance of cortisol can cause problemsincreased fat storage, increased blood sugar levels, suppressed immune system, as well as many other serious conditions.

Alcohol increases cortisol, as does stress.  It doesn’t matter what causes your cortisol levels to increase.  When stress levels are high, cortisol directly affects your ability to lose weight.  Your fat cells produce an enzyme that converts inactive cortisone to active cortisolVisceral fat cells, those located in your abdominal area, contain more of this enzyme than subcutaneous fat cells, those located just under your outer layer of skin.

Cortisol and Obesity

Obesity has its own set of problems with cortisol.  Obese people have a higher percentage of visceral fat compared to the non-obese.  The visceral fat cells contain more blood vessels than subcutaneous fat cells and four times the number of cortisol receptorsCortisol, in overabundance, in your visceral fat cells causes more fat to be stored.  It is thought that cortisol is the primary cause for the enlargement of your fat cellsHigher cortisol levels affect the production of your growth hormones, as well as your testosterone production.

Excess Cortisol

People with high levels of cortisol choose to eat foods high in carbohydrates and fats High levels of cortisol have been shown to cause fat storage to be withdrawn from your subcutaneous fat locations and deposited into your visceral fat cells deep within your abdominal wall.  When cortisol levels become extremely high, you may experience muscle atrophy, poor bone repair, increased bone loss, low energy and a depressed immune system.

Many elderly people have chronic pain associated with a variety of problems.  Chronic pain causes cortisol levels in your body to riseHigh levels of testosterone block cortisol receptors, and hence, thwart the effects of cortisolHigh levels of testosterone and low levels of cortisol are ideal for your overall healthLow levels of testosterone and high levels of cortisol cause you to store more fat.

Alcohol Before Exercise

Drinking alcohol before exercising has its own set of problems.  Assume you are going to eat a carbohydrate intensive meal (pasta with bread for example) to build up your glycogen reserves – the energy source your muscles use.  Many runners do this before a long-distance race.  Also assume that you decide to have a beer or glass of wine with that carbohydrate intensive meal.  What happens?

That pre-race alcoholic drink causes your body to shut down your fats and carbohydrates as an energy source.  Your stored glycogen will be used up at a higher rate than normal.  Since you can’t process the carbohydrates to restock your muscles, you have to live with the glycogen stockpile you had before you ate your pre-race meal.

Your running endurance will not be the same due to that alcoholic drink you decided to have with your meal.  The same situation (low running endurance) also arises when you are on a low carbohydrate diet.  I noticed this when I was on the Atkins’ Diet and did not know the cause.  Before Atkins, I could easily run eight miles on a practice day without much effort and felt pretty good afterwards.  While on the Atkins’ Diet my glycogen supplies were exhausted much earlier and I could barely run two miles comfortably – and, I would feel much more tired after the short run.

Alcohol and Dehydration

Alcohol acts like a diuretic – it dehydrates your body.  Hangovers are thought to be caused by excessive dehydration.  Your body needs to be hydrated to function properly.  Add exercise, especially intense exercise, and combine it with alcohol consumption and you interfere with your normal body functions.  Your body needs water to build muscle as well as to eliminate fatDehydration affects cell and fat metabolismDehydration affects your body’s ability to lose fat.  Even though you are consuming liquids (in alcoholic beverages), you are dehydrating your body.

Most people begin to think or feel that they are thirsty when they approach 1-2% loss in body weight through dehydration.  That 1-2% loss in body water weight can translate to 10-20% loss in overall performance (mental, physical and emotional).  Researches have determined that alcoholic drinks in excess of 4% alcohol (8 Proof) leads to higher rates of dehydration, especially within the first four hours.

Red O’Laughlin  aka The Prosperity Professor

Cardiovascular Improvement by Running and Sprinting

Running and Health

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The Basics:  What are the quick essentials to improving your cardiovascular health?

Running builds endurance, but it doesn’t build your cardiovascular health as well as sprinting.

Sprinting challenges your heart muscles to accelerate to full activity and then relax.  By adding sprints your your running program you can improve your overall health.

Dedicated sprinting days can be an effective replacement exercise to build cardiovascular health and to minimize the time required for exercise that day.

The Details:  If you want to really understand why sprinting is a great option to add to your running program – or – to replace your running program, continue reading.

For those who know me and have read my blogs in the past, they know I prefer to do fartleks than to jog.  I used to jog for years, actually decades.  I started jogging in earnest in the 70s – started running 5K (or equivalent) road races on weekends.  In the 80s, I ran a 2-mile race every Wednesday afternoon at Audubon Park in New Orleans; and, ran races every Friday, Saturday and Sunday – many times two in one day.  I didn’t run to win the races; I was beyond that capability – too many young studs out there running with me.  I ran for cardiovascular exercise because I truly enjoyed it.  I run during the summers and go on sabbatical during the colder months.  I love hot and humid weather for running or sprinting.

I was introduced to fartleks in the 90s.  A fartlek is a sprint – you run as fast as you can for as long as you can and then recover.  You do that cycle over and over again.  I would incorporate fartleks into my running schedule – an afternoon run after work, or a run during lunch – about one or maybe two times a week.  I would pick a starting point and an ending point and run between those two points as fast as I possible could.  Your heart rate goes up and then comes down as you recover – walk (or run) slowly while you catch your breath and time your pulse.  The timing of your pulse is very critical.  It gives you a quick assessment of your physical condition.

I am getting ready to start up my ‘summer’ running program.  Here are some insights into adding sprints or fartleks to your running program.  Stretch you legs before and after any running event.  I pick my starting point, slowly start running, and begin saying to myself, ‘zero’ every time my left foot hits the ground.  I start this mental process about twenty feet before I begin sprinting.  As soon as I reach my starting point, I crank up my speed and count every time my left foot hits the ground.  I start out at about 50% of my fastest speed and gradually work my way to higher and higher speeds with each fartlek.

My first fartlek is usually 30-35 steps of my left foot (about a hundred yards).  After I stop, I measure my time for the fartlek and my pulse rate.  (Note: I expect to run each fartlek faster than my previous one – and, I expect that my recovery rate will be the same or faster each time also)  I walk back to the starting line and continue taking my pulse rate.  I wait for it to fall below 120 before I begin the next fartlek. This exercise can be done while running longer distances – pick out a section of your course and make that your fartlek phase – continue running until you have recovered from the intensity of the fartlek.  Once you are stable, then do another fartlek.  In long-distance running I will run six to eight fartleks over a 5K course.  On a static course that I am just running sprints, I will run 10-15 repetitions.

I can vary my course length also.  I usually start out at 30-35 steps until I have mastered that distance.  I can then extend my fartlek distance to 40-45 steps and then to 50-55 steps.  It all depends on the goals you have set for your running program.  Measuring your pulse every minute during your recovery phase is very important.  A quick recovery – under one minute is indicative of excellent physical fitness.  Early in the season my upper pulse is measured between 150 and 160 beats per second.  A measure of performance is to have my pulse rate below 120 beats per second in less than a minute.  As the season progresses and the temperature ramps up to around 100 degrees, the readings vary by very little.  By that time I’ve built up my endurance and I start extending my running distance to 60-70 (steps on my left foot) or more.  If it’s a good day and I feel really good, I will extend my last fartlek to 100 steps on my left foot.

I drink whole-fruit mangosteen juice to eliminate, or minimize and running related sore muscles.  I’ve found that whole-fruit mangosteen juice actually eliminates any muscle fatigue or soreness, even after not running for months.  I hydrate very well and listen to my body at all times.  I’m no longer pushing just to push.  If I run a really good fartleks one day and the next day it doesn’t feel right, then I truncate my run after three or four fartleks rather than running a dozen or more.

Why is a fartlek better for you?  A jog will keep your heart rate fairly consistent –whether it is at 150 or more beats per minute (I typically run in the 150-160 beats per minute range).  A fartlek causes your heart to race upward and then it comes back down.  You are cycling your heart muscles – it puts a lot of stress on that muscle.  In less than a couple of miles you can get an exceptional workout.  Sprinting at full speed is less damaging to your knees.  I’ve never had a knee injury while sprinting, but I’ve had several knee and other leg-related injuries over the years with the constant grind of jogging.  My objective is to get the best cardiovascular exercise in the minimal time allowed.  Why go out and run five, six or eight or ten miles and come back and have no real time to do other things?  At one point in my life I was running 8+ miles daily after work routinely during the week just to keep in shape.

You heart is able to handle the stress and when cycle it up and down by sprinting, and you get a better cardiovascular workout than by simple jogging.  My daughter and grandson used to run three 5K races a year with me – around Memorial Day, around Independence Day and around Labor Day.  Before my grandson turned a teenager (several years ago) he would usually beat me.  I had been jogging and not doing anything different.  I could finish a 5K race in a reasonable time, but it’s hard to compete with youth.  On one Memorial Day race he beat me by four minutes.  I started doing sprints up hills – a variation of fartleks.  I would sprint uphill and then walk down hill and do it over and over again.  There’s not much time between Memorial Day and Independence Day, but I managed to beat him by four minutes on that race and I did not other training other than uphill sprints.

If you are like many of us who do not have the time to spend jogging for an hour or more a day, you might consider adding fartleks to your routine, even if it is just one day a week.  It’s hard to wean yourself off jogging, but you can.  Different running programs improve different aspects of our healthSprinting improves your cardiovascular health.  Long distance running improves your endurance.  You need both.

Red O’Laughlin  aka The Prosperity Professor

Pain Management – What Can You Do?

Pain

tpsdave / Pixabay

I couldn’t resist posting a picture of Navy Seals enduring pain through their training program, especially having to lay in cold water (59 degrees in the summer time in San Deigo Bay).

The Basics: There are a number of processes by which pain spreads through your body. This is a brief discussion of the COX-2 mechanism.

COX-2 is a primary mechanism for pain generation in your body.

Pain medications inhibit the COX-2 enzyme.  However, they also inhibit the COX-1 enzyme, which is not good.

Curcumin (from turmeric) and gamma mangostin (a xanthone found in the mangosteen fruit) are natural inhibitors of COX-2 without inhibiting COX-1.

There are many nutritional supplements that can assist you with pain management.

The Details:  Understanding how pain progresses can give you some better insight into why some things work better than other things.

COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2) is an enzyme that is typically dormant and awaiting instructions to activate to fight pain by using biological mediators – prostaglandins, protacyclin and thromboxane.  When an injury or trauma occurs in your body – assume you shut the car door on your finger – your body responds by activating the COX-2 enzyme.  It ‘turns on’ and immediately isolates your injury through swelling – the swelling minimizes any infection that can reach the injury site.  Once activated, COX-2 is responsible for the pain, redness, heat and soreness associated with swelling and inflamed joints/muscles/ligaments/tendons/etc.

Pharmaceutical companies developed NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) to fight pain and inflammation (swelling).  They found that NSAIDs inhibited the COX-2 enzyme, which is great, but they also inhibit the COX-1 enzyme, which is detrimental to your health – think bleeding ulcers in your stomach and gastrointestinal lining, not to mention other side effects.  COX-2 selective drugs were developed which were ‘selective’ in fighting the COX-2 enzyme and had minimal effect on the COX-1 enzyme.  However, the side effects became life-threatening, and the minimal effects were still stronger than desired.  Celebrex is the only COX-2 selective drug available in the United States.  Vioxx and Bextra were removed due to death, heart attacks and strokes associated with long-term use.

Common side effects of Celebrex are abdominal pain, headache, nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, kidney failure, aggravated hypertension, tinnitus, blurred vision, weight gain, water retention, drowsiness, anxiety, fainting and general weakness.  Other side effects include an increase risk of heart attack, stroke and other terminal conditions.  Mix Celebrex with other drugs and you can compound the risk of many serious undesirable health problems.

My research has found that there are only two compounds that can effectively inhibit the enzyme COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2) and not affect COX-1 (cyclooxygenase-1) – a medical dilemma which as led to many deaths and prescription drugs being pulled from the marketplace.  Curcumin and gamma mangostin are chemical compounds that can effectively shut down COX-2 without affecting COX-1Gamma mangostin is a xanthone contained in the mangosteen fruit (not a mango).  Curcumin is found in turmeric, a spice in the ginger family.  All the other compounds that I’ve researched have some level of impact on COX-1.

I can attest to the efficacy of the gamma mangostin in fighting pain.  I did shut the car door on my middle finger – my knuckle.  Fortunately I was in my driveway.  I went inside and drank six ounces of whole fruit mangosteen juice which contains 40+ xanthones – gamma mangostin being one of them.  I went back to the car and headed off to work.  Throughout the day I had no pain in my finger – no swellingno redness no noticeable heatnothing.  I had full range of motion of that finger.  If I squeezed on my knuckle where the injury occurred I could feel pain.

I’ve been a long-distance runner for many, many years.  I would stop running in the winter months.  In the spring/summer I would start running again and I would have many days of muscle pain following the resumption of my hot-weather running habit.  I noticed that if I drank an ounce of whole fruit mangosteen juice before a practice run, immediately following a run and again that night I could see a reduction of 95-98% of the pain I had previously endured.  Pain was essentially erased during my training phase.  I have used this pain management option for many other types of pain (headache, tooth ache, etc) with good results.

Nutritional supplements that assist a pain management program are glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, (MSM) methylsulfonylmethane, (SAMe) s-adenosylmethionine, omega-3 fatty acids, krill, unsaponified soy oil, avocado oil, curcumin, ginger, boswellia, Korean angelica, Bromelain, vitamin D3, Astaxanthin, vitamin C, green tea extract, (EGCG) epigallocatechin gallate, niacinamide, resveratrol, coenzyme Q-10, (PQQ) pyrroloquinoline quinone, (NAC) n-acetylcysteine and (GLA) gamma linolenic acid.

In and of themselves, many of these nutritional supplements don’t have side effects.  However, in the presence of prescription drugs and/or other health problems, there may be serious consequences.  As such, talk to your physician before starting a nutritional supplement to support your current pain management program.

Red O’Laughlin  aka The Prosperity Professor