Friday, January 9, 2015 0 comments

A Bulletproof, Ketogenic-Paleo Road

Oh, that white crystaline goodness, it is so good, so yummy.... so addictive, so bad for me!
In my new quest for better health, fewer prescription medications and better fitness, I have been doing a lot of research. Since I am eternally on a quest for new knowledge, I am focusing this year on health, fitness, weight loss and addiction. Why addiction? One, because I smoke, two, because I think I am addicted to sugar. First and foremost, my Mountain Dew addiction, which I decided to address first, because honestly, once I start losing weight and feeling better, I think the cigarette habit will be easier to break.

Over the years, I have read many books about diet and fitness, sometimes out of curiosity, sometimes out of necessity, but never in my life have I needed to lose weight more than now. After having children, my weight always came off easily with a regular exercise routine, I never had to work too hard at it. Now, in my forties, post-hysterectomy I find that I am 50 pounds heavier than I was not too many years back and my health is declining. It is time to take some action!

I started with the Bulletproof diet, this book has some interesting research behind it, even if much of it is from the Author, Dave Asprey's own biohacking experiments. Dave clearly did much research before trying different methods of losing weight, gaining energy, lean muscle and overall fitness. Much of the science behind his methods made sense to me and I decided to give it a whirl.

Sadly, the primary source of the fat in Dave's method is through the consumption of MCT oil in your morning coffee. I cannot stand coffee and I just feel like I am setting myself up for failure by following a diet or method that I cannot follow completely. But I got to thinking, I still like the idea behind the diet and I think I can get behind most of the techniques and even stick with them, so I began to search for alternatives to the Bulletproof coffee. Dave's diet is part Paleo and part ketogenic in nature, Upgraded Paleo, if you will. Much of the science behind the methods he uses, lead me to read more about ketogenic diets, which are actually much more common than I thought. Paleo diets consist of primarily proteins and fat, same as a ketogenic diet, which uses more fat than protein. Dave sort of combined the two ideas, High fat (Good fats), High Protein, Lots of veggies and little carbs.
Dave explains in his book, the process of ketogenics and the benefits of putting your body into a ketogenic state.

I know I eat to much sugar, I consume too many carbs, so the idea behind eliminating my sugar addiction seems sound to me and may ramp up my weight loss. With all that rambling aside, I decided to try a little combination of Keto-Paleo. So, no more morning coffee, I just can't take it. I purchased some almond milk and will start again next week, or maybe even tomorrow.


Almost Bulletproof Salad and a not so good alternative to Coffee

I have been eating a modified version of the Bulletproof diet for the past few days, modified because I did not quite have all of the supplies I needed to go fully Bulletproof. Now that I have everything I need to go fully Bulletproof, I am going to need to continue making modifications to suit my tastes.

First of all, I do not like coffee, never have. I prefer sweet over savory and definitely sweet over the bitter taste of coffee. While my collegues fuel up their mornings with coffee, I drink Mountain Dew. I figured with the butter and oil in the Bulletproof plan, Maybe, I could stomach the coffee, since it is a main staple of the diet. I even purchased the pure ground vanilla, thinking I could somehow modify the coffee and make it palatable for me. The first go around was yesterday, I made the coffee, added the butter, vanilla, butter and oil, but it didn't work for me, it just tasted like.... coffee.

Now, I didn't realize until dumping my coffee down the drain, but the vanilla was all bunched up in the bottom, perhaps I need to brew it with the coffee rather than just adding it to the final product. I love French Vanilla cappucino, but only from the gas station machines, lol, I cannot stand the way the baristas make it, it still tastes like coffee and not sugar. Anyway, I hadn't yet purchased my immersion blender, so it's possible, it might all taste better once I get it mixed up right. I will at least give it one more try.

This morning, I tried some green tea. I brewed it in the keurig instead of using the coffee. I added the butter, oil (1 Tbsp. each of Brain Octane and MCT oil), 1 Tbsp. of Collagen (Because I am female, over 40 and need to lose a lot of weight) and blended it all up with my handy immersion blender, threw it in a travel mug and drank it on the way to work. Or that was the plan anyway. I don't know if it was the collagen (Which is supposed to be tasteless) or what but I truly felt like I was trying to drink lard from the cup, I tasted oil (It reminded me of trying to induce labor once, at 42 weeks pregnant and a bottle of castor oil) YUCK! I could not get it down. I tried to swirl it around in my cup and take another sip, but, I gagged, almost heaved and forced it down my throat.

This is not working. I want to try the diet the right way, I have read the book and I feel like maybe it can work for me, but the coffee is a major component and Dave Asprey doesn't give many options if you are not a coffee drinker. I have got to find a suitable substitute if I am going to make this work!

I settled down for lunch a little while ago, with my big salad full of healthy vegetables and some grass-fed steak, left over from last night's dinner. Last night, I blended up the Bulletproof Ranch Dressing; put it in the fridge overnight. You know, it doesn't taste bad on the finger, for just a quick taste, but UGH, I poured it all over my salad and UGH, I can't stomach it. Now, I am trying to eat less processed food and follow the bulletproof diet, but I have to be able to stomach what I am eating to enjoy it, otherwise, I will not be sticking with it.

Because I work at a hospital, I was able to go to the cafeteria and grab some salad dressing off of the salad bar. I went with Olive oil and Balsamic Vinaigrette, it is definitely NOT part of the Bulletproof plan, but you know what? If I don't find ways of eating healthy that appeal to me, I will never stick to any plan. So, as I sit here eating my almost Bulletproof salad, I decided to look for some clean eating salad dressings. They may not be Bulletproof, but they are certainly going to be healthier than the processed salad dressings in the store aisles. I have yet to try them, but anything has got to be better than that crap I tried to eat today. I want to be bulletproof, I want to try the strict guidelines for at least 2 weeks, but so far, I am not having any luck here....

Clean Eating Honey Mustard Dressing by The Gracious Pantry
Creamy Garlic Salad Dressing by Shelly Heim
Tomato Basil Vinaigrette by A Proverbs 31 Wife
Avocado Dressing by Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice
Balsamic and Maple Dressing by Mother Thyme
Sesame Ginger Dressing by Little B Cooks
Vegan Green Goddess Dressing by Detoxinista
Italian Basil Vinaigrette by Savory Notes
Paleo Savory Ranch Dressing by Primal Kitchen
Greek Salad Dressing by Primal Palate
Mango Cumin Salad Dressing by Sweet Life Bake
Pumpkin Apple Salad Dressing by Healthy Mama Info
Creamy Coconut Milk Salad Dressing by The Yummy Life
Apple Pomegranate Salad Dressing by The Diva Dish
Blueberry Salad Dressing by My Food Style
Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette from Sparkpeople website
Clean Simple Vinaigrette from Sparkpeople website
Clean Ranch Dressing from Sparkpeople website
Awesome Balsamic Garlic Dressing from Sparkpeople website
Olive Oil and Lemon Salad Dressing from Sparkpeople website
italian vinaigrette salad dressing from Spark people website
Favorite Salad Dressing from Spark people website
Tangy Salad Dressing from Spark people website
DP CE Creamy Lemon Dressing from Spark people website
DP CE Honey and White Balsamic Vinaigrette from Spark people website
DP CE Orange Herb Dressing from Spark people website
DP CE Basil Walnut Vinaigrette from Spark people website
DP CE Rice Vinegar and Wasabi Dressing from Spark people website
CREAMY LIME-N-HONEY DRESSING from clean cuisine and more

So, there you have it. I cannot account for any of these just yet, but now I have several options to try when making my salads, these are all "Clean eating" salad dressings, which truthfully is what the Bulletproof diet is all about. While some of the ingredients may not be bulletproof, again, i stress (at least for myself) that the only way you can stick to a diet or change in lifestyle is to find something that works for you. every one of us is different. Maybe I won't be fully bulletproof after all, but eating a salad for lunch, with clean dressing is way better than what i was eating and is certainly a giant step in the right direction. Just because I am changing the plan to suit my own taste and my own needs, does not mean I am not going to be healthier, even if i am not bulletproof.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 0 comments

Desperately Seeking Sleep

Two of the items I am trying to focus on this year losing weight and eating healthy, have both led me down the same path. In order to lose weight, I need to eat healthier. In order to lose weight, I also need to decrease stress and the inevitable sustained cortisol response and the negative effects it is having on my body. The more research I do about stress and ironically weight loss, I keep coming across one thing they both have in common, Sleep. Sleep and I have a long, troubled past. I have written about sleep before, here and here. Researches have long attributed sleep problems to depression, meaning if you are depressed, you might be more likely to have sleep problems. However, the tide is starting to change and now, studies are showing sleep problems may actually lead to depression. In fact, one study suggests those with sleep disturbances have a ten-fold chance of getting depression. Yet another viscous cycle, sleep problems may cause depression and depression may cause sleep problems. Another chicken or egg controversy.

Regardless of which came first, the sleep problems or the depression, it is becoming clear to me that fixing my sleep issues will be an important step to improving my health and losing weight. Not getting enough sleep has been linked with not only depression, but also weight gain and a decreased ability to manage stress, which has also been linked with weight gain and ironically sleep disorders.

If fixing sleep can help me reduce the negative effects of prolonged stress, lose weight and kick depression, I think it is a little important to start understanding sleep and get better at sleeping. So, I plan to focus more of my efforts on researching sleep and getting better at it.

One thing I read over and over is the importance of a sleep routine a controlled sleeping environment and the impact diet and exercise can have on sleep and sleep quality. So over the next few days, I will look at ways to improve my sleep and increase my sleep quality. Have you had sleep problems? The more I read, the more I realize it truly is one of the most chronic problems suffered by modern society. Everyone is trying to hack their sleep and come up with the next new supplement to get them there. I have even read about learning to function highly on fewer hours of sleep, but I am not interested in sleeping fewer hours, lets try getting some sleep before we worry about functioning on less sleep because clearly that is not working for me.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015 0 comments

Benefits of Massage Therapy

I have been getting massages for years. Originally, as a way to pamper on my birthday or Mother's day and on occasion, just because life was crazy and I needed some down time. However, in the past few years, working more and more stressful jobs and just the regular stress associated with being a single parent, I found massage to be more and more about taking care of myself and less as a treat. In fact, I now consider massage more about health than I do a luxury. I am certain there are plenty of people with still consider massage a luxury and that may be true, but for me, massage has become a luxury I cannot afford to live without. 

My regular massages started with some serious lower back pain which had a huge impact on my quality of life and my ability to get my work done. Yoga was helpful, but having someone get all those pesky trigger points out of my muscles really made a huge difference. I had been going to physical therapy for over a year and could not stop the pain I was having in my lower back and hip. Regular massages seemed to help and actually led me to the chiropractor. (My regular massage therapist stuck her elbow in my sciatic nerve, which immediately stopped the relentless pain which had me suffering for over a year), she told me that I should try her chiropractor. Ironically, two visits to the chiropractor and my back pain was gone, my hip pain was gone and I literally felt as if I had a new lease on life. The chiropractor had his own massage therapist, who would give me a nice quickie of a massage to relax my muscles before the manipulation was performed by the doc. This is when all the interconnectedness (Is that a word?) hit me.... My muscles are so tight from all the stress, my spine is out of alignment, it is all related.... It got to the point where the massage therapist could trigger a migraine by massaging one particular pesky trigger point in my back. Yep, that very knot in my back may very well be causing my migraines. Sounds crazy, right? I kid you not, I could actually feel a migraine starting in that very muscle, by getting the tension out of that muscle and subsequently drinking enough water to flush all of those toxins out of my system, I could head off days in bed, in the dark.

With all of that said, depending on my financial circumstances, I have made massage a regular part of my routine. I will skip a haircut, if money is tight, but, I will not skip my massage. Now that I am researching the negative impact excess cortisol production can have on my body, I feel validated in my every other week luxury, because if there is one thing I know for sure, regular massages help my physical body manage stress better. The tighter those muscles get in my back and neck, the more difficulty I have getting through the day. Stress causes those muscle spasms and those muscle spasms cause me more stress and more difficulty dealing with stress. 

I was not surprised at all to find massage listed as one of the ways to help conquer cortisol and its negative impacts. But, I wanted to set out to find some evidence for this theory before posting about it.

I found numerous staggering statistics about stress. Experts estimate that upwards of 90% of disease can be attributed to stress. That really is an amazing statistic. From mental health issues like depression to obesity, heart disease and everything in between. Stress can be responsible for many conditions AND makes other conditions worse.

Research shows amazing benefits of massage therapy and it appears that regular massages compound the benefits.

Among the list of physical benefits:
Pain Relief
Reduced cramps and spasms
Reduced adhesions 
Reduced swelling
Increased flexibility
Relief of migraine and stress or tension headaches
Reduce scar tissue
Increase circulation
Alleviate tight, weak or atrophied muscles

Don't some of these things remind you of the list of complications caused by sustained cortisol release?

To me, these benefits alone are enough to consider massage therapy a regular part of your healthy lifestyle. An astounding number of workers miss at least one day of work due to lower back pain. According to the American Chiropractic Association, Americans spend $50 Billion per year on back pain (this is just the identified costs) and is the number two cause of missed work, behind upper-respiratory infections. In fact, Back Pain is the leading cause of disability in the US, according to a 2010 study on the Global Burden of Diseases, published by the Lancet. With that kind of data backing it up, the removal of back pain should make massage therapy more of a priority rather than luxury for some.

Besides the incredible number of physical benefits, consider the psychological benefits of massage therapy. 

Decreased Anxiety & Depression
Increased Energy
Enhanced Sleep Quality
Reduced Fatigue
Improved Concentration

We have seen over the past few days, as I research stress, significant amounts of stress can cause a host of physical and psychological problems. Nothing ages us quicker than stress. While ideally, we would eliminate this age-inducing, disease promoting stress all together, that is likely unrealistic for most of us. Certainly, reducing the negative effect of stress should be considered in lieu of eliminating it entirely. Massage is definitely one way to reduce these negative effects.

Dating back 3000 years and one of the oldest healing arts, massage therapy promises to be an impressive way of reducing stress. There is plenty of evidence supporting the benefits of massage on patients with migraines, chronic pain, sleep disturbances and other chronic conditions. Millions of people can attest to the relief of stress and tension received when getting regular body work (Massage). Regular massages should be considered another powerful tool in your quest to reduce stress and improve your health and well-being.

I for one have a massage pre-scheduled for each payday. I need to make my health a bigger priority in my own life. How about you? Do you make massage therapy a regular part of your routine?

Click here to read more about the benefits of massage therapy.
MedlinePlus has an astounding list of 486 research papers on the benefits of massage therapy.

Current Clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of massage therapy on different conditions can be viewed at the Here

Read more about Stress and the damage it can do to your body as well as some ways to reduce the negative effects of long term stress:

Monday, January 5, 2015 0 comments

Aromatherapy to Reduce Stress

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I have focused a lot of time and energy lately researching stress and the negative impact it has on the body. I am looking for ways to improve my general health and well being and lose some weight. My research shows the two are related. Stress hormones like cortisol wreak havoc on the waistline and mine is proof of the negative impact sustained stress can have. I decided this year would be the year that I improve my health and get back into shape once and for all. As I research the fastest ways to get that process started, I have identified stress as a primary cause for many of my chronic health problems and my ever-increasing waistline.

Once I identified stress as one of the primary things I need to control in my life, I decided to look at the various ways I can reduce stress and minimize the effects it has on my body. I already identified dietary changes that I need to incorporate into my life, as poor diets full of processed food only further cause damage to the body and decrease its ability to deal with stress. I also identified supplements and herbs that can be helpful in reducing the negative impacts of my chaotic single-parent lifestyle. 

One thing I have always been interested in, aromatherapy, has been identified as another way to potentially reduce stress and minimize its destruction in my body.

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for promotion of physical and psychological well being. It has been practiced in other cultures for thousands of years and its use is incorporated into the holistic practices of modern medicine. Taking slow, steady, focused breaths and inhaling soothing essential oils can be a great way to allow the olfactory nerve to send calmness and peace to your mind.

Because essential oils do not depress brain function, they could be better for you than sedatives. 

It is thought that when inhaled, essential oils affect the limbic system of the brain and can regulate emotions. They can be inhaled directly, diffused into a room or using a diffuser, candles and air fresheners.

Essential oils can also be applied topically using massage oils, bath oils and bath salts.

Everyone responds to essential oils differently so it is best to try different oils and see which works best for you. The synergistic effect of combining some oils has also been found to be beneficial.

Following are a number of oils you may wish to consider using for stress relief. This is far from an exhaustive list, but meant to provide a starting point in using aromatherapy and essential oils to find balance in your body and mind.

Lavender - one of the most popular essential oils and one of the best all-around essential oils, Lavender has powerful healing powers. Lavender gives many people a sense of calm, relaxation and clarity and is soothing to the nerves. It can help induce sleep and soothe muscle cramps. This ultimate adaptogen oil  has helped patients relax while making them alert enough to perform math computations with accuracy and speed.

Bergamot or Orange -This familiar scent, used to flavor Earl Gray tea has an uplifting aroma and can be very healing. Both oils have been used for emotionally based issues like anxiety, stress and depression. Researchers from Mei University in Japan found that patients who had orange fragrance administered to them were able to markedly reduce the amount of anti-depressants they took. The orange oil also restored their endocrine and immune systems to normal levels.

Neroli or Orange Blossom - Calming and relaxing and promotes confidence, hopefulness and peace.

Tangerine- This oil has powerful abilities to calm the nerves and body and restore vigor and energy as well as resolve insomnia.

Peppermint - Uplifting and refreshing, this essential oil is both calming and stimulating. 

Vetiver- The musky aroma of vetiver is often used for stress and insomnia and can help soothe the mind of racing thoughts. 

Ylang Ylang - This oil is relaxing and calming and promotes heart health. It eases tension and helps to balance the hormones. Its therapeutic effects can help you sleep well. It’s especially useful for dealing with anger, stress and by inhaling the aroma one can stimulate circulation and lower blood pressure

Geranium - Known for boosting the immune system and balancing hormones, it calms the nerves and uplifts the mind while balancing the body's systems. It is also thought to relieve tension and stimulate creativity.

Frankincense - This oil has a rich historical background in the uses for soothing and calming the mind and body. It is a good option for relieving tension and exhaustion and is calming and soothing to the mind. Rich in molecules that can permeate the blood-brain barrier, this oil helps carry much needed oxygen to the brain and stimulates limbic function, which includes hypothalamus, the pineal and the pituitary glands.

Spearmint -This familiar scent is good for mental health and is soothing to the mind.

Rose - Very good for handling hormonal imbalances and be calming to the nerves. It stimulates the mind and promotes a sense of wellbeing.

Sweet Marjoram - Known in folklore as the herb of happiness and joy of the mountains, this muscle relaxing, anti-inflammatory scent has sleep-promoting properties. Nourishing and powerful, this oil is effective against stress.

Cedarwood - Also known for its calming properties has been found beneficial in treating ADHD. Stimulating the limbic system, and the pineal gland, this essential oil helps increase the production and release of melatonin.

Chamomile - Both German and Roman chamomile are recognized for their ability to stabilize the nerves and emotions. The German variety is considered to clear the mind and eliminate anger while the Roman variety is recognized for its ability to help with sleep and anxiety.

Jasmine - This stimulating, uplifting aroma can produce feelings of calm and relaxation as well as relieve stress headaches and insomnia.

Sandalwood - Used as an aid in meditation and yoga, this is often regarded as the sacred oil. It targets the limbic system and balances the emotions and the immune system.

Valerian - This oil is often used to enhance sleep, but also can be used as a stimulant. A German study showed improved sleep and fewer side effects in patients when compared to those taking sedatives. 

Vanilla - This homey-smelling oil emulates the scent of mother's milk and can stimulate mental clarity and induce relaxation and tranquillity.

Once again, this is not an exhaustive list of beneficial oils, but is meant to provide a starting point for using essential oils to create a more calm in your life. 

Have you used essential oils for stress? What oils have you found to be most beneficial?

Read more about stress and the negative impact it has on your body and other ways to improve your reaction to stress and lessen its impact on your health:

Sunday, January 4, 2015 0 comments

Decompressing with Ancient Medicine

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In recent posts, I have been looking at the body's stress response and the role excess cortisol production plays in poor health and bigger waistlines. Sadly, as technology improves, our health is on the decline. Our high-paced, eternally connected lives put our bodies into a state of constant stress and our fast food, processed diets perpetuate this crisis. Diets high in chemicals and preservatives and low in nutrients do nothing to counteract the stress response our fast paced lives put us in. This stress response, includes excess production of cortisol, which wreaks havoc on our bodies, minds and souls.
As we seek diets that deliver power, energy and health, scientists and nutritionists alike are rediscovering ancient medicines and nutritional beliefs. The use of traditional medicine like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is often considered part of the holistic approach to modern medicine and nutrition.

While researching different ways to reduce stress in my life and eliminate or reduce the negative impact of increased cortisol production in the body, I could not ignore looking to these ancient practices as a way of finding some answers.

The concept of adaptogens is thousands of years old and an important feature of these ancient practices. An adaptogen has the ability to increase resistance against a multitude of stresses, including physical, chemical or biological agents. Adaptogens also help the body to maintain youthful function, regardless of the stressor, and the ability to normalize bodily functions beyond what is required to gain resistance to stress naturally. They exert a normalizing effect, allowing the increase of healthy functions that are impaired by stress and decrease unhealthy responses that are triggered by stress. Simply put, they enhance the body's natural ability to maintain homeostasis and fight age-inducing stress. By this definition, how can we afford to ignore looking at ancient medicine to assist in the battle against stress and its negative impact on the body?

Naturopaths have long prescribed Phytotherapy (the use of plants in healing) with adaptogens, for their ability to balance, restore and protect the body. They help the body respond to any influence or stressor and normalize physiological function. Naturopath Marcelle Pick, of Women to Women reports that adaptogenic herbs can recharge your adrenal glands and help your body respond to stress. Several adaptogens, which continually showed up in my research include Ashwaganda, Astragalus, ginseng, licorice root, holy basil some mushrooms and Rhodiola.

Unlike any other compound, adaptogens condition your body to respond favorably to stress at the physiological level through a unique mechanism. Much like modern immunizations adaptogens deliver minute shocks of mild stress to the body and condition your physiology to respond more favorably to major stresses. Adaptogenic herbs do not alter mood, but rather, they help the body function optimally during times of stress.
Ashwagandha- Ashwagandha, which literally means “the earthy strength of a stallion." Also known as Indian Ginseng, this antioxidant and adaptogen, from Ayurvedic or Indian Medicine, reportedly has some powerful stress relieving properties which include reducing cortisol production. It has been shown to improve energy, enhance performance and improve recovery for the exercise-induced stress. One study shows Ashwagandha root produced a 28% reduction in cortisol. Herbalists have long prescribed Ashwagandha for high blood pressure, insomnia, chronic fatigue and anxiety-induced impotence. It enhances endocrine function, especially the adrenals and thyroid by boosting the conversion of T4 (the thyroid's storage hormone) to T3 (the active thyroid hormone). Ayurvedic healers have long prescribed the herb to treat exhaustion brought on by both physical and mental strain. Of all the Ayurvedic herbs used in India, Ashwagandha is among the most prized.

Astralgus - Used in Chinese medicine for centuries, this adaptogenic and tonic root boosts immunity, energy and immunity by increasing the amount of anti-stress compounds our bodies use to repair and prevent stress-related damage. It may also reduce the ability of stress hormones, like cortisol to bind receptors.

Ginseng- For thousands of years, Asian Ginseng has been one of the most popular and valued medicinal plants in the world. This well-known adaptogen is also considered the most potent. Western herbalists say that it restores and strengthens the body’s immune response, promotes longevity, and enhances the growth of normal cells. Research indicates that it promotes a sense of well-being and may protect against some kinds of cancer. Research has also validated its ability to improve mental performance and help the body deal with stress. It has also reportedly lowered blood pressure, improve depression and lower blood sugar. It is believed to affect the body by influencing cell metabolism and has been studied for its ability to help the body withstand stress.

American Ginseng is Asian Ginseng's less-stimulating cousin. Like other adaptogens, it corrects imbalances in the endocrine system, including the adrenal glands, where cortisol is produced. Because it also helps improve the pancreatic function, it is also beneficial for people with metabolic syndrome.

Korean Ginseng is very useful for adrenal exhaustion and has a synergistic effect when combined with licorice root.

Licorice root can increase energy and endurance, boost the immune system and protect the thymus from being damaged by cortisol but its use requires professional supervision because of how it may affect blood pressure.

Holy Basil - Also known as Tulsi, has been used in India as the "elixir of anti-aging," for centuries. Preliminary studies suggest it can help the body fight stress, boost the immune system and regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and hormone levels. Studies have also shown this mild adaptogen has the ability to enhance health due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It may also strengthen memory and concentration, improve digestion and reinforce the body's ability to control blood-sugar. Due to its ability to support healthy metabolism, it is considered one of the most useful adaptogens.

Cordycep Mushrooms- Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake mushrooms are funguses with antioxidant properties. They may not be adaptogens in the classic sense, but each has adaptogenic, antitumor, and immune-enhancing properties.

Reishi (Ganoderma) Mushrooms- These antioxidant-medicinal mushrooms have been shown to enhance immunity, relax muscles, improve sleep, ease chronic pain and reduce cholesterol.

Rhodiola - This herb is another form of ginseng, often used for its ability to lower cortisol. Studies show it can balance cortisol levels, reduce fatigue and stress as well as improve cognition and feelings of well-being. Rhodiola has also demonstrated a remarkable ability to support metabolism, improve brain function, heart health, depression and reduce stress. Rhodiola defends the body overall, and protects general health and well-being. Its anti-stress and fatigue-fighting properties make it one of the most popular botanicals in all of Siberia.

Other herbs to consider trying:

Amalaki-One of the most used herbs in the world, Amalaki is thought to support the body during all three stages of stress that supports emotional and cognitive wellness. Amalaki is believed to reduce stressful agitation reactions during the initial phases of the stress response, support the physiological resistance of the second phase of stress and finally prevent or delay fatigue and exhaustion found during the final stage of the stress response, protecting against the long-term impact of sustained stress and systemic decay.

Brahmi- This age-defying Indian adaptogen assists in the regeneration of nerve tissue supporting mental stress and improving mental acuity.

Dong Quai - Said to be the queen of balancing herbs for female hormones and improved prostate health, this herb creates energy but is still calming to the body.

Gingko Biloba- Popular for its excellent cognitive effects, such as focus and concentratiion, this herb also reduces cortisol levels and provides improved glucose biosyntehises.

Schisandra: Schisandra is a potent general tonic and berry, decreasing fatigue, enhancing physical performance, and promoting endurance and reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body.

Gynostemma- Popular the world over for its ability to control weight, this powerful antioxidant also normalizes blood sugar levels, remove harmful blood fat and increases metabolic function. It relieves stress, relaxes the nervous system. It is also used for depression, stress and anxiety. In China, it is used to reduce fatigue and restore mental well-being.

To qualify as an adaptogen, an herb must be non-toxic and safe. It must have broad uses for health and reduce both mental and physical stress. They greatly improve the body's ability to handle stress and reduce the harmful effects that sustained stress can have on the body.In many parts of the world, they are used extensively for their ability to increase strength, energy, stamina and endurance as well as improving mental clarity during times of stress and appear to normalize the production of stress hormones.

With todays modern, stressful, ever-connected society, continual stress and poor diets are wreaking havoc on our bodies. With so many years of utilization to minimize these negative effects in other cultures, Modern western culture could possibly benefit from looking to these ancient remedies for solutions. I for one intend to look at these as possible remedies as I try to hack my way to better health and weight loss.

I am not a physician or practitioner and provide these suggestions from my research towards improving my own health and well being. Please consult your practitioner before using any of the medicines, supplements or herbs suggested in this blog.

Read more about stress and the negative impact it has on your body and other ways to improve your reaction to stress and lessen its impact on your health:

Stress is killing me
Conquering Cortisol
How to Eat the stress away
Supplementing your Stress Response

Saturday, January 3, 2015 0 comments

Supplements for Sugar Addicts

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In a recent post, I talked about different ways to break the sugar addiction cycle and I didn't feel confident in many of the suggestions I found. One idea that I did find promising was eating more healthy fats. The other recommendation, I thought might work well for me was supplementing to help my sugar cravings. I decided to do a little more research about this to see what I could find. There actually was quite a bit of information on the subject. Below are some of the supplements recommended to assist with sugar withdrawal and carb cravings.


Vitamin D - Apparently, when Vitamin D is low, the hormone that curbs your appetite doesn't work very well and we feel hungry more often.

Vitamin B Complex
Has been shown to help some with carb cravings. Inadequate utilization of the carbs you consume can make you crave even more carbs.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is critical for the production of the hormone cortisol. Similar to B complex vitamins, cortisol helps keep blood sugar stable during stress. As a result, vitamin C decreases the symptoms of low blood sugar and reduces sugar cravings

Omega 3s
These super fatty acids are powerhouses in brain cell function, insulin control and inflammation reduction. The omegas found in fish oil can help curb carb cravings because it enhances insulin sensitivity

According to Doctor Julia Ross, author of The Diet Cure, many of us are so depleted in some neurotransmitters that shere willpower is not enough to break the sugar addiction. She recommends supplementing with L-Glutamine for one month, while eating whole foods and eliminating processed crap. After one month, your cravings will be gone and you will no longer need to supplement.

Chromium Picolinate 
This mineral has been shown to improve mood, help suppress appetite, reduce carbohydrate cravings and help regulate blood glucose levels. Chromium can act as an insulin mimicker, helping to clear the blood of glucose. A dose of 600 mcg to 1000 mcg per day may be beneficial to help reduce appetite and carbohydrate cravings.

Chromium Polynicotinate
Chromium polynicotinate is a type of supplemental chromium that contains vitamin B3, or niacin. Chromium helps with the metabolization of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. As seen on the April 18 episode of "Dr. Oz," chromium polynicotinate helps us avoid eating excess sugar by reducing our cravings. It does this by helping to keep our blood sugar levels from spiking or crashing. This supplement also regulates insulin production through its trace minerals. When these factors stay regulated, we don't get those extreme cravings that have us downing a six-pack of cola by the afternoon. You only need 200 mcg a day to start seeing results.

Assists with glucose metabolism, which is how you use carbohydrates as a fuel. It may also help to improve your insulin sensitivity

Lipoic Acid. Take Lipoic Acid to assist with blood sugar stabilization and also to speed up carbohydrate utilization.

This mineral is involved in the production of feel good neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, it is also known to regulate blood pressure.

Coenzyme Q10
This key component of the mitochondria is critical to carb utilization.

Lipoic Acid
Assists with blood sugar stabilization and speeds up carb utilization. Recommended doses are between 50-250mg Lipoic Acid daily to control carbohydrate cravings.

Formed by amino acids, this substance helps transport fatty acids into the mitochondria for energy. Essentially, it might help you switch to burning fats as fuel, as you start to reduce your carb intake.
The recommended dose is 500-2000 mg daily.

Lipase, which is found in many digestive enzyme supplements, is a common deficiency in people who have blood sugar fluctuations, and it can also help break down fat and burn fat as a fuel.

This is the same substance that is found in smaller quantities in turkey meat and milk, and makes you tired after a big meal. It can be helpful in reducing carbohydrate cravings. The recommended dosage is 500-1500 mg per day, however, it should not be taken if you are on anti-depressants.

This compound is found in grapes and red wine and reportedly improves insulin sensitivity
The recommended dosage is 100mg per day

Herbal Supplements

This herbal sweetener can help decrease the urge for sugar consumption.

A popular herb, found in South America. It is as sweet as sugar but does not have the same negative effects as sugar and does not have any calories. 

Ginseng Root
A popular tonic which may improve stamina and maintain blood sugar levels

Astragalus Root
Very popular Chinese tonic which improves stamina and decreases sugar cravings

Licorice Root
A very sweet, anti-inflammatory plant which can substitute for sugar in tea.

Ashwaganda Root
Popular Indian sedative and tonic known to improve the metabolic system

Gymnema Sylvestre
An Ayurvedic herb used to treat diabetes, digestion, obesity and hypoglycemia. It may block the taste of sugar and its absorption in the body. The structure of gymnemic acid is similar to that of glucose molecules, which can fill the receptor locations on the taste buds and in the intestine, blocking the sensation of sweet, but also the absorption of glucose! The result of supplementation is less sugar cravings and lower blood glucose levels. It is also possible that Gymnema exerts its hypoglycemic effect by increasing the secretion of insulin, increasing utilization of glucose and preventing glucose absorption from the intestine. Gymnema can be found in teas, gums and various weight loss support products

Garcinia Cambogia Extract
The fruit Garcinia contains hydroxycitric acid, which has been shown to be very effective for weight management, but also for curbing appetite and body fat metabolism. One way this unique acid works is by stimulating the release and availability of 5-hydroxytryptamine or serotonin, which is highly involved in the regulation of eating behavior and appetite control.

Carralluma Fimbriata
This edible cactus has been traditionally used by tribal Indians to reduce hunger and enhance endurance. The effect Carralluma was evaluated in overweight individuals by providing them with 1 g of Carralluma extract per day for 60 days. Carralluma extract was found to suppress appetite and reduce waist circumference when compared to placebo over a 2-month period.

White Kidney Bean Extract
Also known as Phaseolus Vulgaris, White Kidney Bean Extract has been shown to slow the absorption of carbohydrates by inhibiting the enzymes that are responsible for their digestion, specifically amylase. White Kidney Bean is an alpha-amylase inhibitor. This action has been shown to not only slow absorption of carbs but also cause weight loss at doses of 500 mg to 3 g. It has also been shown to reduce blood glucose spikes caused by carbohydrate ingestion.

Isolated from Griffonia Simplicifolia, 5-HTP, or 5-hydroxytryptophan, is a direct precursor to the neurotransmitter tryptophan. Tryptophan has a direct effect on serotonin levels and can affect mood as well as appetite. It has been shown in various studies that supplementing with 5-HTP can cause decreased hunger, decreased food intake and weight loss in obese subjects. What’s more, it also causes a reduction in carbohydrate intake and a consistent presence of early satiety. Clinically, doses of 750 mg taken once per day have been shown to be an effective dose. 5-HTP is sold as 50 and 100 mg doses and can also be found in other weight loss products.

Well, there you have it, a ton of different supplements that may be able to help you curb your sugar cravings. I find it ironic that many of these supplements are the very same ones recommended for controlling cortisol production, reducing inflammation and inducing your relaxation response. I have not yet posted about the herbal supplements recommended to induce the relaxation response, but, you guessed it, there are several of them on both lists.

To read more see the following recent posts:

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only.  It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider.  Consulting with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.


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