Category Archives for Fasting

Any Idea What The Courage Hormone Is?

The hormone that makes us brave?

When I first read about the description for this hormone I thought first of testosterone, adrenaline, or even cortisol. But I was mistaken.

This hormone is the hormone that I have been speaking about as the under-appreciated giant hormone personality in our lives and health.

This hormone has the ability to destroy the negative effects and high levels of chronic stress hormones like cortisol.

The way this hormone works and why it is considered the courage hormone is that when this hormone is stimulated it down regulates our fear response and can stop the fight or flight response of freeze or flee. When activated it amps up our social awareness and lights up areas of the brain associated with meaning and value and has been shown to make people more trusting, be more trust worthy and help others.

The hormone I am talking about is oxytocin. Oxytocin drives our mental awareness to what is important to us, opens our thinking to include others and promote empathy as it stimulates trust and therefor gives us courage to act in our social world and makes us brave with less fear and more compassion.

Oxytocin has been called the "bonding" hormone or the "love" hormone and is strongly stimulated during breast feeding, intimacy, and in close familiar relationships. It is also stimulated when you get or receive a compliment, play with your kids, when you hug or shake someones hand, when you pet your dog or cat, when you talk and when you journal.

The biggest social evidence of the power of oxytocin is how it changes our physiology through laughter. We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine and we can thank oxytocin for that.

Men in particular I hope you are reading and hearing this message. Many men experience mild to moderate depression and write it off under the guise of stress, corporate living, being the provider, having an "A" personality or being a "driver." These are issues I speak about in my presentation on the "Irritable Male Syndrome," and they are very real, and at these levels very responsive to oxytocin "therapy." Keep it in mind my brothers.

My friends I extend a virtual hug and mental handshake as I tell you all that I love and appreciate you and hope you join me today in seeking out a little extra humor and together we can all build up a little bit more courage and live the life of the brave!

Dr. Don

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Is cancer genetic?

It appears......not.

When you transplant healthy genes into a cancer cell it still produces more cancer cells when it divides. AND if you take cancer genes and put them into a healthy cell that cell still produces more healthy cells when it divides.

If cancer was purely genetic, as in our DNA housed in the nucleus of each cell, when you remove the nucleus and transplant it into another cell then the new cells that get replicated from that cell with the cancer genes should have cancer as well if cancer is genetic. But, as it turns out, THEY DON'T.

In the medical research text book, "Cancer as a Metabolic Disease," the 3 plus decades of collective cancer research lead by Thomas Seyfried, the book's author, shows that cancer is not a genetic disease but rather a metabolic disease.

Now, are there genetics at play that make one more susceptible to cancer, I would say yes. Are there genetic variants that effect our metabolic pathway that plays into cancer, yes. But is cancer a purely genetic disease, it seems not.

This should be very exciting! This means no one, no matter what gene they might have, even if that gene is believed to cause cancer, is determined to get cancer.

What this means is that the environment and how we live our life and our lifestyle is what is the driving force behind the development of cancer and how our genes respond. AND this is something we can change, improve, and effect. We not only have a say in this, but we have a very high level of control.

If cancer truly is a metabolic disease, and I believe it is, and this research does too, then how we chose to fuel and care for our body becomes extremely important.

The basic, fundamental first tier step is deciding to become a fat burner rather than a sugar burner. That is the the fundamental summary concept. You influence this by what you eat, when you eat, and how you move. As you do this you need to keep a healthy balance of your body's coordination systems so it can play nice and be as strong and effective as possible. The body's communication system primarily breaks down to 2 sides:

Nervous System and the Hormonal System

So, here is the focus:

1. Become a fat burner over a sugar burner
2. Keep you Nervous system tuned up and in proper healthy repairing tone
3. Be hormone focused and stay hormonally sensitive

Everything I post here and write about is trying to drive those 3 point above. Go back check them out and keep learning, when you do, share what you have learned with me please!

Health is Freedom!

Dr. Don

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My Ethical Issue With Reduction vs. Elimination In Dietary Recommendations.

Just about every standard diet around or that has ever been proposed have all used the same model and construct of calorie reduction and reducing fat.

There have been many clever ways to package this idea from grazing on small meals and snacks all day long, to having a point system that maxes both fat and calories in a day, to constructing blocks designed of food combinations, to straight up calorie and fat gram counting.

This massive effort was promoted by all of our government agencies, stamped with approval by all our many medical associations and institutions, and embraced by the eager food industry to all help us loose weight and get healthy.

What came next was the introduction off modern "health food," labeled as low fat and reduced calories being now called "Diet," "Light," "Lean," and used terms such as "Healthy Portion," "Heart Healthy," and were quickly promoted and partnered by the new industry of weight loss and all their new programs like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Lean Cuisine, all they way up to Slim Fast, Nutrisystem and Medifast and all the other countless shake based meal replacement groups out there.

This new cultural model for eating essentially promoted REDUCTION. The only thing limited was fat and calories. By reducing what you ate by 25% or 500 calories a day you would lose 1 lb of body fat a week. This new fad diet concept, and yes, it is the ultimate fad diet, did not care what you ate with your daily points, blocks, and the 75% of the food you were allowed to eat.....just keep the calories lower and the fat low overall.

The 2 main concepts, the very backbone and rational off this model, low fat and daily calorie restriction are both anecdotal hypotheses, not facts, and not evidence based, AND as it turns out very limiting and actually DANGEROUS.

Calories do not determine metabolism. Fat is essential and when it gets too low it causes part of the chronic stress and malfunction that leads to disease.

Low Fat, Low Calorie dieting may induce short term moderate weight loss but it does so by injuring our metabolism. What we now know from long term EVIDENCE is that it increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and overall causes of death. AND 98% of the weight loss (usually in the form of water, some fat, and some muscle) is regained plus interest (and usually as fat giving us a net gain in fat for our efforts).

Hormones drive metabolism and paint the landscape that our health is resultantly depicted. Hormones determine hunger, satiety, fat loss and gain, muscle mass and atrophy, and even mood, mental clarity, emotions, and quality of life.

Our current Standard American Diet creates imbalances in our hormones that in time can cause our health issues. By simply reducing the frequency and severity in which we imbalance our hormones but continue to imbalance them will not stop the disease process, and doesn't seem to slow them much once started either. To recommend them knowing this is unethical and to utilize these models knowing this is denial.

Elimination is the key to today's weight and chronic disease issues. There simply are behaviors and actions that we much stop if we want to loose weight and get healthy. There are other actions and behaviors we simply have to start for the same reason.

First steps:
1. Eliminate snacking
2. Eliminate sugar

Add in first steps:
1. Eat more healthy fat
2. Mix intensity exercise/training into your physical activity

Bonus musts:
1. Improve your sleep
2. Celebrate silence: meditation and paced breathing
3. Neurological tune up: chiropractic

For more advanced concepts, scroll back on my wall and keep an eye out.

Let me know how it goes!

Dr. Don

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So many men are failing the test!

Low testosterone.

It is becoming rampant and our men's health is paying the price. It has been estimated that men today have one third of the testosterone that our great grandfathers had. Why?

Diet, stress and inactivity.

First, it is important to know that men have a hormonal cycle as much as women, but not the same. A man's testosterone levels cycle every 15-20 minutes.....that's right, 3-4 times an hour. They also fluctuate daily with the highest levels being in the morning around 8 am and the lowest in the afternoon about 3. Men have a monthly testosterone variance that changes from man to man, and we men have a yearly cycle that is highest in October and lowest in April.

So men, if you think you are not hormonal, your just delusional. In fact when given surveys where female identifier questions are removed men report experiencing PMS symptoms as much as women!

DIET: Insulin resistance is connected with low T. As a man becomes more insulin resistant his testosterone drops. Eating. Each time a man eats his testosterone drops sharply. So frequent (5-7) meals a day on a moderate to high carb diet really hits us men where it hurts. Oh, and soy products, alcohol, licorice, and stevia have all shown to lower a mans T levels. FYI

STRESS: Cortisol and testosterone seem to have an inverse relationship, when one is up, the other is down. So the regular stress response, hyper stress reactions, poor emotional management, sugar and caffeinated drinks, excess belly circumference and body fat will all contribute to a drop in T.

INACTIVITY: Human Growth Hormone and testosterone are tightly connected in the man's body. Weight lifting and High Intensity Interval Training have been shown to boost HGH 2,000% and raise T. Walking, or what I call stress release cardio has shown to drop cortisol levels, lower insulin resistance, and raise T.

Here is a bonus: Sleep. Sleep is when our hormones do most of their action, build us up, repair, recovery, and reset. No sleep, no hope at stable hormones or T levels.

Fasting: Fasting has been shown to raise T levels 180% in just a short term (one day) fast and keep them high and even higher after the 3rd day of a fast.

Sharp T fluctuations and overall reduced T levels in men have been connected to irritability, anger issues, moodiness, and even depression. Take this seriously.

So there you go my brethren, you have the info, now take the action!

Dr. Don

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Feeling the Fast

feeling the fast

Fasting is getting more and more attention as word gets out on all of the health benefits that can come from fasting. As people do start to look into fasting, they realize that the straight forward concept of fasting is much more than simply not eating. It doesn't take long to realize that there are many different kinds of fasts that can be used. While technically fasting is simply the abstinence of eating food, there are many ways to approach how and when to do this.

Fasting ranges from the traditional model of fasting in that people refrain from eating and at times from drinking to intermittent fasting, pseudo fasting, fat fasting, juice fasting, broth fasting, every other day fasting, or any combination of these, and probably some others that don’t come to mind.

In the truest definition, the term intermittent fasting technically means any fasting attempts that last less than 20 days. That’s right, 20 days! Long term fasting starts on the 21st day.

Intermittent fasting is popular in today’s pop fasting and health circles, but they usually are referring to eating in a specific eating window. For example, one’s eating window might be 8 hours where they eat from 12-8 pm then the refrain form eating the other 16 hours, from 8 pm to 12 the next day. In this sense they are extending the overnight “fast” and get a short 16 hour mini fast so to speak. If you like this model and get good at it then you can extend the fast by shortening the eating window to 6 hours or even 4. Most people choose to skip breakfast and have their eating window include lunch and dinner with some potential snacking in between. Metabolically speaking research suggests that shifting the eating window earlier, like form 8 am to 4 pm makes for a healthier metabolic change overall.

Pseudo fasting or a fasting mimicking diet as it has been called in the literature, is when a person sticks to a very low calorie diet eating only between 500 and 800 calories per day. IN medical obesity circles they now call this concept a Very Low Calorie Diet or VLCD, and are using it with meal replacements all over the country, but the long term results are terrible and frankly there is a better way. This eating style and form of fasting has been used over a prolonged period of time (8 weeks) with those with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes and was shown to reverse not only their diagnostic symptomatology criteria of high blood sugar and insulin resistance but also to actually reverse the fat deposits in their pancreas and potentially reverse some of the plaguing that can arise with prolonged insulin resistance.

Other studies looking at the over 90% success rate of bariatric surgery to “cure” or completely reverse type 2 diabetes realized through comparing surgery candidates who went through the surgery and those who did not but went on the same post surgery diet actually lost more weight and reversed or “cured” type 2 diabetes at the same rate as people who actually had the surgery showing that it was the 500-800 calorie restrictive post surgery pseudo fast that did all the work.

Many groups consider the significant drop in insulin exposure in the blood and to the body to be the heavy lifter in the overall benefit of fasting, especially in metabolically challenged people with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, weight and cardio metabolic issues. Fat is the only food that does not cause insulin secretion, therefore by only eating fat and refraining from the carbohydrates and protein that do cause insulin secretion one can manage to eat and still gain the benefits of the low insulin exposure and health changes seen in all out fasting. These 2 models, as far I have seen, have not been tested head to head to see just how much of a metabolic or health change occur in a full fast vs. a fat fast, but don’t be surprised if you see one very soon!

I would consider broth fasting a form of fat fasting since most home made broths do not have sugar or other insulin stimulating ingredients and really only contain fat and minerals. Broth fasting is done just how it sounds, you make a big batch of home made broth, be it bone broth, vegetable (potassium), chicken, or seafood broth, and you drink it throughout the day. People use the broth as a way to ease through a fast drinking it as they feel the need, as well as try and target healing, particularly in the gut, by drinking a certain amount of broth per day. I personally like to add fresh herbs to my broth a few minutes before drinking it, or maybe some dried seaweed to add flavor and have enjoyed a dab of hot sauce as well, just for flavor.

Juice fasting is a bit different since when you juice fruits and vegetables you are basically removing all the fiber and extracting the juice which is basically water, minerals, some vitamins, and sugar form the plant. This method offers a wider variety of flavor depending on what plant foods are added but can raise insulin and therefore may have benefits but they will be different than from the other forms of fasting. In my personal and clinical experience there is a possibility of getting too much sugar in juice and it often seems to promote a higher degree of crankiness than any of the other methods of fasting that I go into here.

Another benefit of all of the fasting techniques here besides possibly juice fasting is that if done long enough and with intermittent fasting combined with a higher fat and protein, low carb diet approach, can help people shift from being a sugar primary metabolic burner to a primarily fat burner. Over time, with enough exposure to this model and some metabolic flexibility one can even move into a state of nutritional ketosis where the process of burning fat for energy yields a higher level of ketones that then in turn are preferably used by the high energy organs in our body like the brain, heart, kidneys and just about all of the other cells of the body. This is not to be confused with ketoacidosis which is a state that is produced by uncontrolled type one diabetes. Diets have never been shown to produce ketoacidosis, they are two completely different things.

So whether you want to get into or try fasting for the health benefits, to lose weight, or to promote nutritional ketosis, there are a few points that are very important to keep in mind.

1. Fasting is the intentional utilization of, or shift into a specific metabolic pathway of primary fat burning vs. primarily burning sugar. Basically you are trying to shift from sugar burning to fat burning.

2. Shifting metabolic dominance from sugar burning to fat burning can take time and effort. The switch is not a simple on off switch like flipping on your lights but rather a slow dial that needs be turned from one side to the other on a dimmer.

3. Fasting symptoms and discomfort are often not a result of the fasting or the switching of the metabolic switch, but rather due to detoxification and breaking free of the carb addiction cycle in your brain and body.

4. Becoming an efficient faster and getting to a point where fasting is easier and can be prolonged is like building a muscle as you flex and move over time as you get into shape. It takes practice, and a plan.

5. Hunger for the most part in modern living is an aberrant sensation. There is no such thing as acute hunger that might come up by skipping a meal or snack. If you feel any “hunger” sensations in the short term process of fasting then it is really the ”urge” to eat that you feel.

When making your plan to start into any fasting protocol, and yes, it is a protocol, as in a planned progression that fits into a larger goal or health improvement picture. We often support the process with specific exercises, supplements and stress resilience concepts as well. So, as you try some of these fasting concepts out remember that they are not gimmicks or fad diets and should be thought through, prepared for, and monitored for optimal benefit and outcomes.

All that said, give it a try and let us know how it goes.

Dr. Don

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