Strong Happy Healthy

Health, Fitness, and Nutrition; Resource for Women

Author: SuzieHuening (Page 1 of 2)

Are you Inflammaging?

At 55 years old (as I write this), I’ve been dealing with chronic inflammation for over half my life. Debilitating pain and swelling started in my mid 20s and went undiagnosed for years, until eventually being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as Hashimotos Thyroiditis. At times, by being very proactive about my health with intentional nutrition, exercise and effective medication, I have been in remission. But after menopause, the familiar pain and swelling started again, which sent me back to the drawing board, and being more determined than ever to rid myself of this chronic inflammation. While bloodwork still indicates things are fine, ultrasound to several joints revealed otherwise.

 Health is a fine balance, and learning what ignites the fire of inflammation and what can douse it out can mean the difference in living a vibrant life or a life constantly trying to chase away pain and/or disease. Medication can surely help, but it doesn’t heal. So I suggest if you’re experiencing these or any autoimmune issues, you don’t just rely on a medication prescribed by your doctor, and for you start being proactive about your holistic health. 

Inflammation is your body’s protective response to injury or damage. It helps your natural healing and repair processes. While this is process is critical for repairing injuries, major health issues can arise when your body is chronically inflamed. Many modern stressors, such as pollution, food sensitivities and carrying extra weight, can lead to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation not only can lead to a variety of diseases, to include cancer, Alzheimers and more, but it also accelerates the aging process and this is commonly called “inflammaging”. 

 Not only do we need to avoid the triggers and purge toxins, we need to also include nutrients that help our bodies combat inflammation. Our bodies are miraculous and we have been given a beautiful planet full of what we need for optimal health, but our society over the years has turned to pharmaceuticals and food has become more of an indulgence and source of entertainment than a fuel source for our body’s health. 

Nutrients known to reduce C-reactive protein (CRP;a measurement of inflammation)

Nutrient Key Effects*
Creatine Prevented exercise-induced rises in CRP in athletes49
Curcumin Lowered CRP more than control in patients with toxin-induced skinirritation50 Lowered CRP by a huge 6.4 mg/L in a meta-analysis of 6 studies of patients with elevated CRP51
Fenugreek Reversed elevated CRP levels in rats with experimental arthritis52
Ginger Reduced hs-CRP in diabetic adults47
Green Tea Polyphenols Lowered CRP in a rat model of systemic inflammation53
Isoflavones Reduced CRP by 1.1 mg/L in postmenopausal women when combined with exercise54
L-carnitine Lowered CRP in end-stage renal disease patients on dialysis55
Magnesium Higher serum magnesium correlated with lower CRP in overweight middle-aged women56
Probiotics Lowered hs-CRP in diabetes patients57
Omega-3 fatty acids Low omega-3 in blood correlated with higher CRP in patients with peripheral artery disease58 Lowered hs-CRP and depression scores in depressed shift workers59 Lowered CRP and CRP/albumin ratio (beneficial) in colorectal cancer patients60
Quercetin Lowered CRP when given with vitamin C61
Red yeast rice Lowered hs-CRP by nearly 24% in people with moderately highcholesterol46
Vitamin C Reduced plasma CRP 24% in active or passive smokers48 Lowered hs-CRP in hemodialysis patients62
Vitamin D Higher vitamin D levels correlated with lower CRP in humans with rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory condition63 Reduced serum CRP in pregnant women by 1.4 mg/L while controls rose by 1.5 mg/L (400 IU daily dose)64
Vitamin E(alpha-tocopherol) Lowered CRP in humans and animals65
Zinc Lowered hs-CRP from more than 10 to 7.7 mg/L in diabetics with kidney disease66 Lowered hs-CRP in young obese women67
Combinations Mixture of resveratrol, pterostilbene, quercetin, delta-tocotrienol,and nicotinic acid reduced CRP 29% in healthy seniors68

There are many different herbs that can help you reduce or prevent inflammation in your body.

1. Turmeric (Curcumin)

The anti-inflammatory agent in turmeric is its yellow pigment called curcumin. Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines have long used turmeric and curcumin to reduce inflammation as well as treat digestive disorders, wounds and infections.

Studies have shown that curcumin also acts as an antioxidant and may combat cancer. Fresh or powdered turmeric is excellent in curries, soups or other dishes. Fresh turmeric can be added to fresh vegetable juices. Supplements of curcumin are also available.

2. Green Tea

The preventative effects of green tea against cardiovascular disease and cancer are well established. More recent studies have shown that green tea can be an effective anti-inflammatory, particularly in the treatment of arthritis. It can also reduce inflammation of the digestive tract potentially helping conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

It’s recommended to drink 3 to 4 cups of tea daily. Green tea extract can also be found in pill form. And for those who don’t want the caffeine, decaffeinated green teas are available.

3. White Willow Bark

White willow tree bark has been used as a treatment for pain and inflammation since ancient Egyptian and Roman times. Many studies have shown that white willow bark has a similar effects as aspirin, but with fewer side effects than aspirin.

The usual dose of white willow bark is 240 mg per day for ongoing conditions. There are also herbal blends that contain white willow bark which can be used for an acute event, such as a headache.

4. Maritime Pine Bark (Pycnogenol)

Bark from the maritime pine tree (Pinus maritima) can be processed into pycnogenol. This extract has been used for more than 2,000 years to help heal wounds, scurvy and ulcers as well as reducing vascular inflammation. It is one of the strongest antioxidants known today.

Studies have shown that pycnogenol is 50 to 100 times more potent than vitamin E in neutralizing free radicals in the body. It has also been found to reduce blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. A typical dosage is 100-200 mg daily.

5. Chili Peppers (Capsaicin)

The countless varieties of hot peppers we have today began as one small shrub (Capsicum annum), native to tropical regions of the Americas. The chemical capsaicin is what makes a pepper hot. And it’s capsaicin that’s been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effectin your body.

Any type of chili pepper, such as cayenne or jalapeno, contains capsaicin. You can use chili peppers fresh or powdered in a wide variety of dishes, including desserts. Supplements containing capsaicin are often mixed with other herbs to create natural anti-inflammatory blends.

6. Frankincense (Boswellia serrata)

Boswellia is a tree variety native to India, Somalia, Ethiopia and the Arabian Peninsula. Frankincense is a resin extracted from the trees. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and pain-controlling properties. Boswellia resin is currently used to treat degenerative and inflammatory joint disorders

One study showed that a combination of Boswellia and curcumin was more effective for treating osteoarthritis than a commonly used synthetic drug. It’s recommended to take 300-500 mg of Boswellia extract two or three times a day for ongoing inflammatory conditions.

7. Black Pepper

This unassuming spice actually packs an anti-inflammatory punch. The distinctive flavor of black pepper comes from the chemical piperine. Even at low doses, piperine has been shown to reduce inflammation. It can inhibit the spread of cancer and has been shown to suppress the feeling of pain and arthritis symptoms.

8. Resveratrol

This is an antioxidant found in many plants. The highest amounts have been found in Japanese knot weed (Polygonum cuspidatum) and in the skins of red wine grapes. Resveratrol has been shown to be a strong anti-inflammatory. It also protects against DNA damage and mutations. You can find resveratrol as a common supplement in natural food stores. A typical dosage is from 50 to 500 mg per day.

9. Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)

This herb is derived from a woody vine native to Peru. The bark of cat’s claw has traditionally been used to treat arthritis, bursitis and intestinal disorders. Studies have shown that it can reduce inflammatory responses in the body and it has a protective effect against gastrointestinal inflammation.

You can make a tea from cat’s claw from either a prepared tea or use 1000 mg of the bark to 8 ounces of water. It is also available as a dry extract in a capsule. It’s recommended to take 20 to 60 mg daily.

10. Rosemary

In one study, participants were given small amounts of various common herbs and spices for a period of 7 days. Rosemary showed one of the strongest protective affects against inflammation and oxidation.

The other top spices were turmeric, cloves and ginger. The researchers noted that the amounts given of each herb were no more than what someone would normally eat in a seasoned soup, sauce or other dish.

11. Cloves

Clove oil can be applied directly to the gums to help with a toothache or for pain control during dental work. Cloves have been shown to reduce mouth and throat inflammation. Cloves can also be used to treat diarrhea, nausea, hernia, bad breath and as an expectorant.

The powdered or whole dried flower buds are delicious in many savory dishes as well as in desserts and hot drinks.

12. Ginger

Research has shown that ginger has a better therapeutic effect than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat pain and inflammation. Ginger also inhibits the activation of several genes involved in an inflammatory response.

13. Cinnamon

This popular spice is made from the bark of cinnamon trees native to China, India and Southeast Asia. In addition to being anti-inflammatory, cinnamon has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, anti-cancer and lipid-lowering properties. It has even been found to act against neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

In addition to the nutritional component, it is important to keep the body moving. Exercise will keep the blood flow to get the micronutrients to their targeted tissues remove toxins with the lymphatic system, and keep the joints stable with muscle support. 

Last, but most definitely not least, meditation will help reduce pain as well as stress (which is known to increase inflammation) so that can stop the constant cycle.  It’s not “woo woo”, it’s actually science.

If you would like more information on coaching please reach out to me at Suzie@StrongHappyHealthy.com

Thank you to EcoWatch and Chatelaine websites for information used to write this article. 

When is Stress Good for You?

When Is Stress Good For Us
Hormesis; effects on the body

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? That’s hormesis!

Hormesis is essentially a good type of stress. It’s having a positive response to temporary minor stressors. Having some stress is good, and is necessary to improve the body and mind to become more resilient and stronger, but not all stress is created equal or is beneficial. And obviously, having constant mental stress or physical stress can wreak havoc on our health and have no benefits. So what stress is good and how can we use it to benefit ourselves?

Exercise is a classic form of hormesis. When you’re lifting heavy weights or even light weight to the point of muscle fatigue, you damage your muscle fibers and they built back bigger and stronger. This also applies to endurance exercises as well. 

One of the best types of exercise for boosting your resilience is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It has a particularly strong hormetic effect on your mitochondria — they become more efficient to deal with the stress, which increases your energy production and slows down aging at the cellular level.

Another great form of hormesis, is Intermittent fasting.

  • It makes your cells more resilient to oxidative damage
  • It protects your brain cells and improves cognitive function
  • It burns fat like crazy
  • It gives the body a rest from digestion so it can effectively cleanse itself
  • It produces more growth hormone
  • It helps you live longer.

The ideal window for fasting is between 16-48 hours. Shorter than that and you don’t see the above benefits as much. Longer, and you start to run into downsides, like dips in energy and muscle loss.

Extreme temperatures are also another type of hormesis. Cold exposure, for example, makes your cells produce antioxidants system-wide, protecting your body from inflammation and damage and increases immunity. Heat exposure makes the proteins in your cells more resilient to stress and slows down cellular aging. 

Hypoxia is another example; when you cut off oxygen to your brain for a short amount of time, it gently stresses your neurons. They respond by creating brand new mitochondria, increasing your brainpower and helping you think faster and work smarter. You’ve probably seen the guys at the gym wearing the Darth Vader looking mask. They are doing hypoxia training. 

Another type of hormesis is exposure to sunlight. We all hear warnings to stay out of the sun or cover up and slather on sunscreen to exposed areas because of the damage the sun can do. But the sun in right doses has many health benefits that we need. Sunlight in the right dose actually makes your cells stronger and helps them protect themselves from cancer. An appropriate dose of sunlight also drives your cells to produce more vitamin D, which affects more than 1,000 reactions across your whole body, including testosterone production, antioxidant production, and more. 

But, to keep the body from being overstressed from our perceived stress/ mental/emotional; bills, relationship issues, traffic etc, physical stress ;overtraining, injuries, surgeries, or even chemical stress; viruses, bacteria, alcohol etc, our bodies can benefit from adaptogenic herbs as well as other techniques to keep the cortisol levels in check and not constantly elevated. Our stress is designed to help us when we need to survive, but if that switch is constantly turned to the “on” position, we never have time to recover from stress mode and go back to homeostasis, which can create a chemical imbalance. That is when stress does not benefit us; distress. There are many ways to combat that as well, but I will leave that for another post.

Do You Want to Be Burden?

This may make some people defensive, but it needs to be said. You, me, WE, have a responsibility to at least try to be healthy. If we will not do it for the quality of our own lives, then we need to consider its effects on our children and/or society as a whole.

In the United States, and some other Western Societies, the lack of personal responsibility in health is causing everyone’s medical cost to skyrocket. If you’re neglecting your health, you’re contributing to the problem. Period. Health insurance is not supposed to replace personal responsibility or preventative care. Some people obviously can’t help a specific disease, but if your habits created the condition they can reverse or alleviate it, so make the choice to be proactive about your health!!! Ignorance is no longer an excuse. We know what is healthy and what is not, for the most part. Yes, there are hard to avoid toxins in our food and environment, but that’s another topic, and we can work on that as well (individually and as a society).

My family encouraged my grandmother to strength train after a couple of falls which required assistance in her getting back up; once stranded upside down in a laundry basket. We all, including her, had a good laugh over that. But sadly, she eventually needed costly round the clock care, and it caused a huge rift between her children, and eventually completely fractured our once fun family. Who wants to spend their retirement funds on their parents or give up all their free time because they need to be a caregiver for a debilitated parent who is adamant to stay in their own home? And let’s not even get into the guilt associated with it all, which can turn into anger and resentment directed in all directions. 

She sadly spent her last few years in a retirement home, bed ridden, and too weak to even use the TV remote. She “still had her wits about her”, as they say, and lived until she was 101years old. She had a brilliant mind and had been an avid reader, but that mind became bored and foggy. She couldn’t read due to cataracts and was too weak to even hold a book. She was completely dependent on other people to help her do everything, to include wiping her butt. We loved her dearly, but we dreaded visiting her. It was depressing (especially for my kids), as we sat in that small, warm, dim room, trying to engage in intermittent conversations with her, between episodes of her nodding off. It was painful seeing her in that state, but probably equally painful imagining ourselves in that condition. Nobody wants to end up there at the end of their life.

Now, given this situation, and how it ultimately affected my mom’s life, causing her to miss work to the point she just gave up and retired from her once thriving Real Estate career, and ultimately severing a relationship with a brother she had once been very close to, you would think she would have been more proactive about her own health. But NOPE. For years, I begged her to eat right and I begged her exercise. I would give her health club memberships, workout equipment, a FItBit, nutritional supplements, etc., but couldn’t force her to do any of it.

Every time I engaged her in a conversation about it, she would come up with an excuse or change the subject altogether. She was really good at that. She was and in victim mode, and when someone is in victim mode, they don’t take responsibility they cast blame. It was so incredibly frustrating to have someone you love not take responsibility for something as basic as their own health.

As she grew increasingly more negative, I felt helpless as I witnessed her joy for life and her health suffer. She broke her leg from a simple fall, that could have been prevented had her health been better. Her rehab was difficult because she was so weak. She went into a depression and more serious health issues developed, that I feel were the ultimate outcome of poor mental/emotional state and lack of attention to nutrition and exercise (Mindset, Nutrition and Exercise; in that order).  She is now in a memory care facility, against her wishes. This is as burden left for primarily for my brother, now her legal guardian, and me. We take on the responsibility of her care, selling her house, and living with the guilt that she lays on us heavily. And living so far away, I feel guilty I can’t visit her or help more.

There are unforeseen circumstances that may render us dependent at times in our lives, this is true. But when we become dependent on others from neglect of our own personal health….well, it’s inconsiderate. Many “health issues” can be prevented our cured with a change in lifestyle. Making a different choice every day to create healthier habits.  Type II Diabetes can lead to a myriad of other diseases, to include Alzheimers. They are referring to Alzheimers as Type 3 Diabetes. So, you may lose your foot, your eye sight and your mind because of choices and habits you’re making NOW!

If that doesn’t concern you, then have the courage to improve your own health in order to potentially reduce the burden on your children and/or society. You will also find great reward in the quality of your life by doing so. 

Are You Deficient In Vitamin B12?

Depression and Anxiety could be due to lack of micronutrients; B12.

Did you know that our ability to absorb vitamin B12 decreases with age? In fact, research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims that 4-percent of females between the ages of 40 to 60-years old suffer from a B12 deficiency. Combine age with certain prescription medications (i.e., for heartburn), drinking too much alcohol, certain GI disorders that affect absorption, and a lack of meat in your diet, and you could find yourself deficient in vitamin B12. B12 is not found in plants, so people who avoid eating animal products (I’m talking to you Vegans and Vegetarians) need to supplement with B12.

Vitamin B12 benefits your mood, energy level, memory, heart, skin, hair, digestion and more. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin in treating adrenal fatigue, multiple metabolic functions — including enzyme production, DNA synthesis and hormonal balance, as well as maintaining a healthy nervous and cardiovascular system. B12 is also required for the production of serotonin and dopamine, the feel good chemicals.

10 Signs of B12 Deficiency:

  1. Cognitive Issues; memory loss, “brain fog”,  dementia
  2. Dizziness/Balance Issues; with standing, vertigo walking or going up stairs
  3. Neurological issues; Pins and needles/tingling
  4. Lack of Energy; even after resting, often due to anemia associated with B12 deficiency. (lack of oxygen/lowered red blood count)
  5. Visual Issues; retinal damage, difficulty adjusting to light, blurred vision.
  6. Muscle Weakness; due to poor protein synthesis and lack of oxygen in the blood (lack of oxygen/lowered red blood count)
  7. Smoother tongue; less bumps on the tongue, which lead to decrease in taste. Food losing taste can also lead to weight loss (not the good kind)
  8. Mood Changes; anxiety, depression.
  9. Digestive Discomfort; nausea, diarrhea or constipation
  10. Pale Complexion (again, due to decreased red blood cell production).

Change Will Happen; Grow with it or Grow Bitter

The beauty of life is change.

Change is inevitable. You must change to grow.
Thank goodness for hindsight, because now I realize that one of the best things about being a military spouse, for me personally, has also been one of the hardest things; the constant uncertainty and constant changes. Making vacation plans can be a challenge, finding employment in your trained field each time you relocate (licenses in one state, living in another etc), handling moves, selling/buying property with power of attorney and taking care of the kids on your own while your spouse is deployed/in the field or TDY (Temporary Duty away from , moving and leaving friends; All come with their share of hardships. Finding housing each time, in the right school district, right price, in a community where you feel at home, but not having the luxury of time to go check out the housing and the area in advance; yes…yes…it can be very  stressful.
Change and challenge are good.
As challenging and as stressful as these things have been for me,  they have also taught me that I am not in control of the situation. Taught me that I have to make the best of the situation or it will get the best of me, so be prepared but don’t resist. It may have taken a long time to realize it, but I see the benefit now. 
I can’t live in the past or stress over the uncertainty of the future. I enjoy the moment; certainly not every single moment, because we have to have contrast or life becomes boring. Change, and letting go of the need to control the outcome, has made me stronger. I appreciate the lesson in the change and the new experience. I enjoy meeting  new people, seeing new places. Come to think of it, that’s what made being a teenager so exciting; everything was new and exciting as we gained independence. But somewhere along the way, some people tend to dig in and get set in their ways, resisting change, blaming others or the next generation for changes that make them uncomfortable. They get bitter and complain. They are a victim of this un-welcomed change. 
I remember when my husband poo poo’d the idea of having a cell phone; “If someone wants to call me, they can wait until I’m at home or at work. They don’t need to reach me in the car.” Then he got used to the cell phone, but was sad that people weren’t calling him on it more often. “Nobody ever calls me on my cell phone.” Fast forward a few more years, he poo poo’d the idea of texting; “If someone wants to tell me something, they need to talk to me, not text me. The kids need to quit texting so much.” Fast forward a few more years, we text all the time. It doesn’t take the time or the privacy to conduct a phone call. So, yes, there is a definite benefit to it.  He has embraced it. Resistance was futile in a house with teenagers. 😉
The next generations are expanding our world, and we can either learn and grow, or be stressed and overwhelmed, wishing for life as we once knew it. That’s the way it’s always been, and always will be. It’s called progress, and for those who resist change, it will always make them uncomfortable and even bitter at times.  
 Lifting weights also stresses the muscles, even makes you sore, but later you’re able to do more, you’re stronger and feel great about your progress. As an avid weight lifter, I enjoy the challenge and changes it creates in my body. Changing the routine can be a challenge at times, but doing the same thing day in and day out also can be a drag. After implementing a new workout routine, the soreness wears off in after the first few days, and the changes start to appear in a few weeks. I’m more focused in the moment and not just going through the motions with no enthusiasm. No change is mind numbing. 

CHANGE WILL HAPPEN FOR EVERYONE. You can’t take things back the way they were and complain about how things are different. If you want to be happy, learn from the change, grow with it, and for God’s sake, quit complaining!! You’re taking away your own joy, and possibly a little bit of the joy from people who spend time with you….unless, however, you’re with a group of complainers who like to sit around and b***h about everything. If that’s what brings you joy, then have at it, at least you’re getting joy about complaining (but don’t spread that type of joy to those of us who don’t want to participate, please!). Learn and grow from changes. It stimulates you. Appreciate the moments of your life! Enjoy your journey…. because you are creating it! 

Change is Always Ahead

Slow the Aging Process With Intermittent Fasting

SLOW THE AGING PROCESS WITH INTERMITTENT FASTING

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Youthful Aging, Using Micronutrient Supplementation Support

There are already several studies showing that caloric restriction can extend the lifespan of  many different species, including mammals. Since these studies have proven to work so well on animals, many people are trying to do the same.

Results based on more that 70 years of research show that people who reduced the calories they consumed by just 20% during a period of 2 to 6 years, were able to lose weight and promoted many anti-aging mechanisms in the body.

But just restricting your calories, won’t provide you with the best results.

Cornell University researchers, back in 1934, studied a similar diet on rats. Their diet was severely reduced in calories but maintained micronutrient levels. The results showed that the rats lifespan were twice than what would normally be expected.

And this research is the base to what you probably already heard: “intermittent fasting”, works better than just reducing calories.

There are two different methods for  Intermittent Fasting:

* A “Daily Fast”

With the “Daily Fast”, you will stay without eating for 14 to 16 hours a day, and you’ll eat, for example, only dinner and brunch. You need to make sure not to eat anything at least 3 hours before going to bed. When you do this, you’re giving your body the 6 to 8 hours it needs to metabolize stores of carbohydrates and glycogen (the energy in your muscles). When your body finishes the process, it will start burning fat.

* The 5:2 Diet:

With the 5:2 diet, you should fast one or two days, per week. On the other 5 days, you should eat normally.

On the days that you fast you can choose to simply not eat anything or you can reduce your caloric intake to just 500 to 600.

Research has shown that a back to back, 2day fast, burns more visceral fat; the fat that is internal and surrounds the organs. Visceral fat may not be visible to the naked eye, but it’s more of a health concern than subcutaneous fat, and can cause serious health issues. When you see a distended abdomen on a male that appears hard and rounded, almost like a pregnant belly, that is due to visceral fat.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

* weight loss

* improved brain function

* increased blood sugar control; resets insulin sensitivity

* reduced inflammation

* increased energy

* optimized metabolism

* improved blood pressure

* long-term appetite control

* increased beneficial intestinal bacteria

* better focus

* slower aging

* increased human growth hormone

* more lean muscle mass

* great heart health and endothelial function

Look to Food for Health and healing; not emotional comfort

Look to Food for Health and Healing; not emotional comfort

To achieve optimal results with Intermittent Fasting, you can implement micronutrient support. These foods, besides having a lot of benefits for your health, should be included in your diet. Make sure you add the following:

* Any supplements that include quercetin, pterostilbene, resveratrol, grape seed extract, and black tea extract.

* Omega-3 fatty acids

* Fruits

* Dark chocolate

* Soluble fiber

* vegetables

* black or green tea

By adding these supplements to your Intermittent Fasting, you’ll be able to reduce systemic inflammation as well as improve overall health. Plus, the right supplements can allow your body to fight diseases like cancer, heart disease, obesity, or diabetes, by boosting your immune system.

How to Turn on Your Fat Burning Machine

The hormones insulin and glucagon are both produced in the pancreas and work in balance. When one goes up the other goes down and vice versa. This was ideal when food wasn’t always readily available.  But now it is, for most of us, and that’s where the problem starts. 

These two hormones serve opposite functions. Insulin is secreted by the beta cells of the pancreas when your blood sugar levels are high. So, following a meal that contains mostly high glycemic/high sugar carbohydrates, your blood sugar level shoots up quickly past the normal post meal level of 140 mg/dl. This will facilitate storage of glucose (blood sugar) in the muscle tissues and especially fat cells.

 Glucagon is secreted by the alpha cells of the pancreas when blood sugar is low. This primarily occurs between feedings (fasting) and while exercising. Glucagon causes the liver to release stored energy into circulation.

 Insulin promotes storing energy and manufacturing proteins while glucagon promotes the release of stored energy, both glucose and fatty acids.

 If you want to convert your body to a perpetual fat-burning state, it is essential that you keep your insulin and blood sugar levels low. That’s because burning sugar always takes precedence over burning fat. The more carbohydrates in your diet, the higher your blood sugar and insulin levels will be. If you are consistently burning more sugar, that means you end up storing more fat.

If your body is accustomed to burning sugar for energy, as soon as it is out of the bloodstream, your body will start begging for it again. You will have cravings and even experience a “high” from eating sugary foods. As your blood sugar rises and subsequently crashes, you will become edgy, depressed and fatigued until those cravings are fed again. This constant process reduces insulin sensitivity, causing your body to need more. You may call it a sugar addiction.


The ideal way to start burning body fat, instead of storing it, is eating foods with a lower glycemic index and exercising with high intensity. Eating more protein and less carbohydrates. When eating fast burning (high on the glycemic index) carbohydrates, one needs to include fiber, protein or healthy fats, to slow down the digestive process, and in the process making it lower glycemic index.

Exercise, especially intense exercise, is very effective at burning the glycogen stores in muscle tissue. Your glycogen (the storage form of glucose in your muscles and liver that your body can burn as fuel when necessary) is depleted during sleep and fasting, and will be depleted even further during intense exercise. This can further increase insulin sensitivity, which means that a post workout meal (within an hour window of exercise) will be most efficiently utilized. Protein should be consumed at this time to help with muscle recovery, and the body is able to utilize more protein following exercise. 

Interestingly, exercise and intermittent fasting can both achieve some of the same benefits, so why not double up and do both? Some of the things both can achieve are:

  • Decreases blood glucose
  • Decreases insulin level 
  • Increases glucagon
  • Increases growth hormone
  • Increases insulin sensitivity
  • Promotes lipolysis and free fatty acid mobilization
  • Promotes cellular fat oxidation.

Intermittent fasting (IF) has tremendous benefits for burning fat, and getting off the vicious sugar burning cycle. During the fasting process, the body isn’t fed sugars and burns off its glycogen stores. This forces the body to go into fat burning mode for energy.

A few of the additional proven benefits of intermittent fasting are:

-Promotes Fat Loss, longevity

-Starves bad bacteria in the intestines

-Improves; brain function, immune system, allergies, cellular regeneration and repair

-Reduces; inflammation, cravings, blood pressure

-Fights glucose dependent cancer cells

So… as a recap, to start burning fat instead of sugar, you want to increase glucagon production and insulin sensitivity by increasing quality protein consumption, while eating fewer carbohydrates (low GI), keeping blood sugar levels low. Also  including exercise and IF into the plan would be the ideal way get the fat burning machine going.

Fit vs Healthy

You can be fit without being healthy

You can be fit without being healthy

When I first started exercising in the early 80’s, I was hooked on the overall feeling it gave me: energetic, athletic, and strong. I remember feeling like I wanted to stay moving all day. I was in my early 20’s then, so…there was that youth thing in my favor and those endorphins were addictive. As I got into competitive bodybuilding, my mindset somewhat shifted to obtaining “the look”. My nutrition wasn’t for overall health, it was for looking and being lean and muscular. My workouts were primarily geared to build muscle or lose fat, depending on whether or not it was on or off season (ie; prepping for a contest or not). I was still very adamant about maintaining flexibility and never got the “puffy” off season look.  I didn’t understand the huge swings in weight then, and I don’t understand it now. You have to eat more to gain muscle, sure, but some people take that to the extremes and find it difficult when it’s time to get ready for a contest. Up and down, up and down….the yo yo effect is not healthy…but I digress…

Although I never had huge weight swings and typically only started my contest prep 9 weeks out, I still could have gone about it in a much healthier fashion. During contest prep, I would get excessively lean, as expected, but my skin and hair would dry out and my face would look gaunt, even at such a young age. I would eat far too little fats. Back then we thought of all fat as the enemy. There was no such thing as eating “healthy fats” during contest prep. The mindset was, eating fats will make you fat, period.

But competitions came to an end for a long time due to some life changes and being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  At times it was debilitating and I never imagined I would be able to compete again, and honestly it wasn’t a huge concern because I had far more pressing issues to do deal with at the time. Having an autoimmune disease made me question where I was focusing my efforts. Was I doing everything to look fit, or to be healthy? Was I eating just for the macronutrients or was I also getting in the necessary micronutrients; vitamins and minerals? I hadn’t really considered true nutrition for my overall health. I had always thought by staying active and lean, meant I was healthy. With experience comes wisdom, and I have realized health has to come first and that being “fit” is NOT the same thing as being “healthy”.  After-all, there have been some pretty fit looking bodybuilders who have dropped dead due to what they have put their bodies though for the sake of getting big or getting shredded for a show.

I appreciate and respect the fine balance of health. I have to be very proactive to maintain that balance. When my nutrition is off and/or I miss workouts (or overtrain), it undeniably  has a negative effect on my health, and I have to chase away inflammation and pain. Through extensive research, trail and error, I’ve found specific nutrient support, coupled with intermittent fasting, gets everything back on track much quicker. My rheumatologist was amazed that my condition has actually improved. I can’t stress the importance of nutrition enough. It’s not just about macros!! So many fitness competitors only worry about their macros. I see post on social media #IIIYM meaning; if it’s in your macros you can eat it. Basically to hell with the micronutrients needed for overall health and any other additives hormone or toxins that may be in your food that adversely affect your health.

While most of us want to look in shape, being truly fit has several components, and they are not just aesthetic; strength, body fat composition (which is the most visually obvious) endurance, flexibility and balance are all important. And being healthy has far more components. I would advise any people just starting their fitness journey to consider the balance of being both healthy and looking fit. Be patient and take on daily healthy habits. It’s not just a sprint to “look fit”. Be consistent, be smart, be proactive about overall health/wellness.  Being healthy versus being merely fit, includes having energy and a good immune system. But true health goes beyond just the physical; it reaches into mental, spiritual and social realms. Be Strong, Happy and Happy for LIFE!!

Can Women Slow the Aging Process With Free weight training?

Building strength for quality of life.

Building strength for quality of life.

Can Women Slow the Aging Process with Free Weight Training.

As we age, the significance and various advantages of free weight training, turns out to be progressively critical. Interminable exploration has been done on this particular topic, and as an aftereffect of these studies we now have hard proof that as we age our bone thickness density declines or weakens and we lose muscle (sarcopenia), however unlike some degenerative conditions, there is something we can do to fight both of these widely recognized negative impacts of aging.

Medical research has demonstrated, that by keeping weight on the bones and keeping the joints moving, we can keep up healthy bone density and more joint flexibility as we age. Why weight training? Basically, the process of  lifting weight causes the muscles and ligaments to pull against the bone, this procedure empowers various cells in the bone to produce more bone, therefore increasing bone density; the vast majority of the people don’t understand that bone is living – developing tissue and reacts to the stresses of weight training, by becoming stronger/denser, just like the muscles.

Unfortunately, there was old fashioned misguided judgment with respect to lifting weights that has kept much of our aging population of women from ever considering lifting weights. Until the 1980s, there were not very many health and fitness clubs, and the ones that were around, usually catered to bodybuilding men and athletes.  Women looked at weight lifting as something reserved for bodybuilders, athletes and manly looking women. Fortunately, the younger population in Western Society it’s very common to see women working out with free weights and embracing the strength and power it achieves. But sadly, many older women are aging even faster due to a lack of any form of strength training. 

There are a variety of ways to train for strength. The most simple, is using your own bodyweight against gravity, which can be done nearly anywhere. Most health clubs have machines that are built to facilitate your ability to lift the weight at the point where your joints and ligaments need the most assistance. Starting out, it is important to strengthen these joints and ligaments before overloading them with force and machines are wonderful at achieving this, whilst also allowing you to build ample muscular hypertrophy. But after building up some strength, it’s more beneficial to advance to incorporating more free weights and doing exercises in a standing position as much as possible. Free weights require your stabilizer muscles, or ancillary muscles, to come into play far more, while balancing and controlling the weights through the range of motion. Unlike machines, where the weights are balanced for you, and only force is needed to move the weight.  When ancillary muscles are used, it helps with overall proprioception/balance. With improved balance and increased strength, there is less likelihood of falls. And in the event of a fall, with increased bone density from the weight training, there is less chance of breaking a bone. 

Concerning seniors, grown-ups 65 and more seasoned, weighting training assists with bone density issues, as well as expands muscle quality also, in this way enhancing scope of movement and parity, furnishing them with a more secure and higher personal satisfaction. Like clockwork, a senior has a fall. At regular intervals somebody in this age group kick the bucket as an immediate aftereffect of their injuries brought on by a fall. Falls are the main source of harm related deaths. If they don’t die, typically they age faster and become dependent on family or caregivers, unless they change their course of action. 

In one year alone more than 1.8 million individuals 65 years or more were treated in emergency rooms, 20-30% of seniors who fall endure moderate to serious injury; wounds, hip breaks and other trauma. Quite a bit of this could have been avoided with increased senior physical conditioning through weight training and other exercise. Exercise and nutrition are so vital to remaining strong and healthy as we age. 

Natural Treatments for Stress

how adaptogens workAdaptogens – What Are They And What Do They Do?

The term adaptogen is used as a part of natural medicine to allude to herbs that is reported to build the body’s resistance to stress, injury, nervousness, and exhaustion. The idea of adaptogens goes back many years to old India and China, yet cutting edge research did not start until the late 1940’s. In 1947 Nikolai Lazarev characterized an adaptogen as an agent that permits the body to counter unfriendly physical, substance, or natural stressors by raising nonspecific resistance toward such stress, along these lines allowing the organism to ‘adjust” to the unpleasant circumstances.

There are almost one million recorded plants, herbs and botanicals on the planet. Of these exclusive 30 have been recognized as adaptogens-nontoxic with the capacity to help the body oversee stress and come back to a feeling of wellbeing.

Pure herbal adaptogens are actually occurring substances contained in a few plants that can help the body restore itself. They have been utilized as a part of Asian societies for a huge number of years to protect against anxiety, weakness, uneasiness and help resistant working, having already been called “rejuvenants”, “tonics”, “qi herbs”, “restoratives”, and “rasayanas” by natural health professionals around the globe.

Stress is a reality of regular life for those around the globe yet especially so in America. Day by day, we are shelled with stress and pressure from each bearing including work, family and the environment. Utilizing pure natural adaptogens may give some protection, relief and escape from day by day pressure experienced by everybody living in the modern world.

Herbal medication guarantees that adaptogenic herbs are distinct from different substances in their capacity to adjust endocrine hormones and the. They help the body accomplish ideal homeostasis. Adaptogens have a normalizing impact on the body and are able to do either toning down the activity of hyper functioning systems or fortifying the action of under-active systems.  These herbs are different from other substances in their capacity to adjust endocrine hormones and the immune system. They are the only natural substances able to help the body keep up ideal homeostasis.

More recently, adaptogens were used widely as a part of the training regime of the previous Soviet Union’s competitors. By considering the effects of training on the athlete’s body and giving them adaptogens to supplement their ordinary eating regimen the competitors performed better and their bodies recouped all the more quickly. Take a look at the medal counts from the Olympics during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The outcomes speak for themselves!!! Today numerous top competitors keep on using adaptogens to help them acquire peak performance.

From my point of view, the thing I like most about adaptogens is that they optimize physiological functioning.  Along these lines, we can create wellness versus treating disease. That, to me, is a better way to live.

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