Archive Monthly Archives: May 2015

Emotional eating, cravings and impulsive hunger

Emotional eating, food cravings, impulsive hunger, and hunger pains are some of the most powerful ties to eating junk foods that exist. These often overlooked eating triggers can ruin our health and weight. Worse than that, they can make us feel or appear weak. These common drivers of over eating are just as physical as high blood pressure, chronic pain, or a broken bone. Most importantly they have nothing to do with willpower.

Diets fail and exercise falls short in reducing body fat (in traditional models) because they do not address the hormonal and brain chemistry situation that is driving our relationship with specific foods. In essence, when done outside of a bigger plan or effort to address these issues full circle, they become a gimmick, or some new fad program and over time WILL make things worse for most people.

Low calorie, low fat, 5-7 meal a day programs in the long run will terrorize virtually everyone who tries them. Not only do the make us miserable, not only do they not work, they can actually cause us more harm than good. Anyone who has tried a low calorie, low fat diet of almost any kind knows that before long you will be more hungry than ever, think about food all the time, and even if you hit the first drop in weight of the yo-yo diet phenomenon, you eventually will plateau only to then regain your weight as the yo-yo goes back up full swing.

If anyone tells you all you need to do is, “eat less and exercise more,” you are speaking to the wrong person. Most people out there have tried it and the vast majority of health care practitioners and government guidelines still recommend it, but you need to know that these recommendations that are what is in error, not your intentions or efforts most of the time. The premise is simply wrong.

If you address the hormonal/brain chemistry piece first, or at least at the same time as you start an appropriate eating and exercise program (doing the right kind of exercise) you can FREE yourself of your emotional eating, impulse eating, cravings and hunger pains. Once you do this you will also be free from the clutches of all of your “go to” weakness foods. When you approach this equation correctly, one step at a time, you can eliminate binge eating, emotional food crutches, cravings, and overall nagging hunger itself. This my friends, is absolutely LIBERATING. This my friends, is WILL POWER, not some mystical trait some have and most think they do not possess.

It has taken me until now to realize this myself. I too have given into the party lines over the years, spoke to calories, watched fat, and tried to exercise weight issues away for myself and others….and I know now, I was wrong. I am happy to say that we are now on the right track. I did not realize just how powerful those attachments to certain foods can be, how physically addictive they truly and literally are, until I broke free of them. Once you do so your entire reality shifts and you feel like you have will power flowing out of your ears. But the truth is, that state of control and your confident, healthy relationship with food is in us all the time. Just usually hidden by diet myths and masked by gym lore.

Emotional eating, impulse eating, cravings and nagging hunger all start and are perpetuated by your brain chemistry. Food (especially processed and refined food) activates your biological addiction cycle by stimulating your pleasure centers of your brain and activating all of your feel good neurotransmitters. These regions are the same that are hi-jacked by cocaine, heroine, painkillers, and other addictions, except much more powerfully believe it or not. Momma rats once strung out on sugar in experiments will abandon their young to get more sugar, but not when addicted to cocaine. That is how powerful this brain chemistry attachment to food can be.

On the other side of the equation it is important to know that your metabolism is not determined by calories, it is driven by hormones. Hormones tell us if we are truly hungry, thirsty, and signal when we are full. Hormones control fat gain and loss, muscle gain and loss, your energy levels, your metabolic rate, clarity of mind, and your motivation. Not calories. Trying to use a linear equation to balance calories in and calories out as many of us have been told to control our weight or metabolism is useless. Without the fat storing hormones in play you can eat 10,000 calories a day and not gain weight, yet while they are being over stimulated you can gain weight eating 1,000 calories a day…..both a mathematical impossibility if calories really controlled the bodyweight show. They just don’t, and we need to think outside of that old, overly simplistic model.

Now having worked with hundreds of people and reviewed studies and data of thousands on people we know that what most people consider the psychological side of weight issues is not “all in your head” but rather can be as hard wired as any pathway or reflex we have in our body, or more so. So again, although this powerful chemistry stage is set at this moment in your brain, it is NOT all in your head. Follow the order of brain chemistry, hormonal chemistry, then metabolism and you will start to see a change where all other efforts have fallen short. Stay tuned in to this blog and we will have more details and specifics to come.

These are very exciting concepts, very real, and proving to be very successful. There is hope!

Keep at it, there is more out there than many think.

Dr. Don

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Hormones Whisper, Not Scream

Do you know how much thyroid hormone is made and secreted per year in a healthy person? Interesting questions huh? How much could it be? We often think of hormones as these fountains of substances that get pumped out throughout our day every day. The truth is, a healthy thyroid will produce about 1 teaspoon full of thyroid hormone per year. 1 Teaspoon, 5 ml, 5 grams (give or take)! That is not very much!

Thyroid hormone has a strong influence over all of our 70,000,000,000,000 cells, each and every day and night. That is 70 trillion cells! Research focusing on tissue sensitivity and molecular biology illustrates that hormones have a massive amount of impact with a VERY little amount of actual exposure or direct contact. I think of it as if I was in a large banquet room eating dinner and a famous celebrity walks in. Very quickly the attention of each person in that banquet room will shift to see what the ruckus is and before long everyone in the room knows that celebrity is there. It doesn’t matter whether that celeb sits by them, talks to them, or even makes eye contact with them, they all become hyper aware of their presence. That awareness will stimulate some action of some kind from looking over, to sparking conversations, to thinking back to the movies the celebrity might have starred in. Some people and their table partners will get quite riled up about it, others will just note it an be on to the rest of their dinner, but everyone will have been affected by the celebrity’s presence.

We see a very similar behavior in our cells and tissues when a specific hormone like thyroid hormone shows up. Many cells will have direct contact with the thyroid hormone, some will respond and change via a direct stimulus while others will start to change their behavior from just the exposure or awareness that thyroid hormone is in the room. Some cells will start a chain of activities that spread from one area of the tissue to another like a whispered message telling every worker in the factory to step it up, the boss is on the floor. So whether the cells were directly stimulated by the thyroid hormone or indirectly through the presence and anticipation of the message of the thyroid hormone, the entire tissue, and at times organs, respond appropriately.

There are many points in the process of hormonal influence that contribute to the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the given hormone in general. The cells can improve receptor sensitivity to the direct contact with the hormone. There is tissue sensitivity to the “awareness” of the presence of the hormone and the consequent indirect, or priming response within the tissue. There is the conversion of the hormones back and forth from active to inactive forms throughout our system and body, as well as the ability to recycle or eliminate excess hormone. Then of course there is the hormonal gland or organ’s ability to respond to proper stimuli and produce the hormone and shut off production when needed.

What is the take away message? Hormonal response, balance, effectiveness and over all health has a tremendously strong energetic element to it. When hormones just show up on the scene it changes our body’s behavior and the amount of actual hormone needed to direct a response or function is very, very, very small. So small that to continue the analogy, just the rumor of the hormone coming starts the cells and tissues of our body to react and change. This is an amazing realization. Think what happens when we take synthetic hormonal medications or bio-identical hormones, how can that affect this incredibly delicate, sensitive process? Is more really better? It is a tough question.

I used to think of the body like a machine. No longer. I then thought of it as a living machine, as in bio-mechanics, or bio-chemistry. Now I realize it has more to do with bio-energetics than anything and the full, overall coordination, globally, and at the tissue as well as the cellular level and is crucial to healing and overall health and wellbeing.

I have a high level of respect for the dynamics of the body in health, healing and disease. So much so that the idea of a treatment, or symptom management seems ridiculous when trying to heal or improve one’s overall health, especially hormones problems, there simply is SO much more to consider.

Be humble my friends. Understand we are learning, and what we think today might not be what we know tomorrow. What your doctor says might be spot of or decades old and light years off what is actually going on. The answer? Learn all you can and process health care professionals concepts against your own knowledge and experience. If they can’t explain things in a way that makes sense to you, then either they don’t know the subject well enough or they are working with a false premise….aka, they are wrong.

Stay sharp out there, you are the final authority for you and the ultimate benefactor of your health decisions….good or bad. So step up and play your health CEO role for you and your family and remember, a little goes a long way!

Dr. Don

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Balancing Blood Sugar Does Not Resolve Diabetes

The elephant in the natural health care room is that helping someone go from being clinically diabetic, or defined with high fasting blood sugar (over 125 and an A1c over 6.0), to having normal blood sugar and A1c ranges, does not free them from being physiologically diabetic.

Is it a step in the right direction? I would say YES. Has having normal blood sugar values alone really changed their risk for all the complications that come from diabetes….not necessarily….and usually no. How disappointing to say the least!

High blood sugar in diabetes is the symptom, or the effect of the problem. The cause of the underlying problem is insulin resistance. With insulin resistance being the actual problem that leads to the chronic blood sugar problems, you need to think of the whole Diabetes issues differently.

Along the road to becoming diabetic, as in type 2 diabetes specifically, statistically someone starts with high blood (serum) insulin, or hyperinsulinemia, for about 7 years before they develop metabolic syndrome (3 out of the 5 metabololic risk factors of LOW HDL, HIGH Triglycerides, HIGH blood pressure, HIGH fasting blood sugar, LARGE waist circumference of 40 for men or 35 for women or larger), or pre-diabetes just having a fasting blood sugar of 100-124. They then progress with metabolic syndrome and pre-diabetes for about 2-3 years before they get diagnosed with full blown type 2 diabetes. That is if they get diagnosed early, some people go for years with diabetic blood sugar levels before they realize it or are formally diagnosed.

Once they officially get type 2 diabetes, the option of simply “managing” their blood sugar, naturally or with medication to keep it in “range,” will not make them any less insulin resistant at that point. Keeping their blood sugar under “control” does not mean they are no longer diabetic physiologically because of the insulin resistance.

Reversing insulin resistance is not a blood sugar game, it is a hormonal game. Blood sugar levels will follow the improvement of insulin resistance, but insulin resistance does not follow simply lowering blood sugar. Just as an example to put this in context, carbs as in sugars, grains, and starches (and yes veggies but not what drives this issue), only account for 23% of our body’s insulin response. Protein is responsible for 10%, fat 0%, leaving 67% of the insulin response to other mechanisms and combinations of biochemical reactions like hormones and feedback loops. A good example of this is the fast that when you eat or inject into your veins 50 grams of glucose your insulin goes up about the same. BUT, only a small percentage of the glucose from what you ate actually gets into your blood stream….yet it creates the same insulin response. Obviously other mechanisms at play here. Insulin is stimulated indirectly via stomach stretching and sensations, from our brain sensing anything sweet (even artificial, no sugar/cal sweeteners) and believe it or not, even from thinking about eating certain foods or smelling them. Here is a mind blower…..the bacteria have the ultimate say in how much glucose, when and at what speed actually gets into your system, but that is another post. So yeah, there is a lot more at play that simply looking at blood sugar, so think outside the glucose box.

When you focus on hormones, and attempt to lower insulin levels, you need to change your habits and lifestyle and do the things that are shown to improve insulin resistance like: lose belly fat as well as extra body fat, metabolic exercise, decrease insulin exposure, improve hormonal resistance, build cortisol resilience, re-balance brain chemistry and improve the food addiction cycle, and then……and this is the hardest part, as well as the least understood and practiced step… have to heal, repair and regenerate the liver and pancreas.

If you do all of this, then you have a chance of recovering from diabetes fully. Skip any part of it, and especially if you ignore the last part, then you have no chance to reverse this process and will remain physiologically diabetic (advanced insulin resistance) whether your blood sugar is in range or not, and believe it or not, whether you continue to eat carbs and sugar or not.

We must change how we are looking at things. This can be done, but there is no quick fix, no one size fits all gimmick, no short cuts, no box detox or cleanse, no shake mix and food list that will do this FOR you. After all, for most adults, it has taken at least a decade and a lot of negative efforts to do the damage we are talking about……the sad part is that we see kid developing this process earlier and earlier and without that 10 year progressive ramp up…..but that is a whole separate post.

So my friends, put on your hormonal glasses and look through the lens of insulin vs. blood sugar. Work on when you eat as much as what you eat, focus on how you move not just moving, prioritize your sleep, and if you are an American or live in a western country, live as if you have this already started, because it has, don’t wait until your system is so damaged that a doctor tells you. And of course, seek help from appropriate professionals who work with this to guide along the way.

Fist steps? Lose weight if needed, get your fasting insulin under 5 and if you have a history of issues like 2, get that blood sugar under 90 and THEN look to work on healing your liver and pancreatic damage that has built up along the way in this process even if “standard” tests say you don’t have any issues in your lover or pancreas….by the time they can “see” it, you are in an uphill battle and it may be too late…..may be. Oh, and work on healing that chronic pain, see your chiropractor at least, since chronic pain DOUBLES your chances of developing diabetes on top of all this!

Context is everything, think about things differently and you will discover options you didn’t even know you had.

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Be well my friends!

Dr. Don

Message me if you have specific questions: [email protected]

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Avoid Homeostasis at All Costs

We often hear about the human body’s desire or continued efforts to maintain homeostasis or balance. Homeostasis also spelled homoeostasis (from Greek: ὅμοιος homœos, “similar” and στάσις stasis, “standing still”), is the property of a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relatively constant.

The concept is after all rather intuitive, that the body likes to maintain a constant level of activity and health. The reality is that the ultimate homeostasis in a living body is death…..quite the paradox.

The functions of the body rise and fall. They adapt and change, they are either building themselves up and getting stronger, or breaking themselves down and recycling.

Hormones for example, are pulsatile in nature, meaning they are secreted then shut off, secreted and then shut off again due to different stimuli rising and falling throughout the day and night as needed. It is only when they are stimulated too frequently that we see an issue of over exposure and do we then run into problems like hormonal resistance as in insulin resistance, thyroid resistance (hypothyroid), or adrenal resistance leading to adrenal fatigue to name a few.

When there is constant hormonal activation we can also see that each hormone’s counter balance hormonal counter part gets thrown off, as in insulin suppressing human growth hormone or cortisol suppressing testosterone. Yet another way our system is thrown off via constant hormonal secretions is due to the “bullying effect,” I call it. Many hormones will change their active personality in the constant presence of certain other hormones. An example is when insulin is constantly circulating you start to see cortisol start to gang up with insulin to promote weight gain, oxidation and inflammation. Another example is when insulin and thyroid gang up and different thyroid states makes insulin either more resistant or over reactive, both causing weight and energy issues.

As it stands, when insulin is on the playground it causes fat gain and will trump all 8 of the other fat burning hormonal players as they run and hide from the bully. Then when insulin has one of it’s bully partners with it, like cortisol or thyroid hormone, then these usually powerful fat burning, feel good, hormones are even more reluctant to return to the playground and play.

This example is specifically using hormones to illustrate my point but the same model can be outlined for neurotransmitters in your brain and body affecting mood, mental clarity, memory, and hinder the warding off mental decline and dementia. The nervous system also works in a pulsatile fashion building to a point of potentiation as it transmits it’s nerve impulses and signals throughout the body. If there is too much build up or excitement, or if that excitement is prolonged too long in that brain neuron then the brain cell can actually die in an excitotoxic reaction just as too little stimulation can cause neuronal atrophy and cell death as well.

Enzyme reactions, cellular energy and repair, muscle contractions, even our sleep patters all change and vary frequently throughout the day and many moment to moment. A snapshot of any one alone could give you a very poor indication that something is off or wrong when really it is just in mid cycle or swing. It is the overall picture of health or function that people label as homeostasis, but there is much more to health than simply staying alive and the truth of the matter is the body appears to be always striving to move towards homeostasis but never actually gets there or it would die.

The key takeaway here is that your body thrives on variation. Variation in your diet, your workouts, your thoughts, energy, sleep, body temperature, and activity are crucial to a well functioning, healthy body. Using a long term plan with true health promoting goals that incorporate regular changes and encourages variables in all of your efforts will prime your body to stay in functional shape or what we know as health and wellbeing. Try and keep things constant, comfortable or the same for too long and your body will rebel, resist and start to break down causing all of your well intentioned efforts to backfire.

Ever do, “all the right things,” to lose weight, get in shape, or reduce stress only to see no change or get worse? Ever do “X” routine that helped you before only to not “work” this time? There is a reason for this, your body is different and you need to meet that change with more directed change to stay a head of it. In time, it will come around but you may have to do some healing and create some new habits and use some very new approaches to your wellbeing.

You can totally do this, but you do need a plan, time, and some consistent effort and change to earn back your body’s trust and health. So go for it! Try something new, make a plan, and give it an ever changing run, you will be happy that you did.

Dr. Don

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