MindBody Fitness

What Drives You ?

What motivated me to write about this was in fact looking back on my years of racing triathlon. Specifically, what was the driver and impetus not to start racing, but rather, what was pushing me more and more that ultimately forced me to examine why and could and should I stop?

So it occurred to me that there are 2 different forces at work – desire and fear. Initially, my desire was curiosity and excitement of discovering a new sport – to get fit, get stronger and faster and get more competitive. All of which seemed positive in nature. As the years went by and the more racing I did, the harder it became to slow down in my efforts to get better and faster. What I was losing sight of as I was pushing to my limits was how hard it was to accept the reality that I couldn’t stop.

My desire was slowly being replaced by fear – the fear of slowing down or being less competitive. The sport and triathlon community can drive your decisions if you allow it to. Much like anything in life – what is your why?

What I also realized was how sports imitates life and vice versa. I started to examine what else in my life was being driven and dictated by desire or fear? My work, personal relationships, travel, exploring new hobbies.

Thankfully, being a curious student of human nature and working in the field of preventive medicine I was able through much self-exploration to get clarity on this issue.

Much of my behavior was fear – based. What would happen if I trained and raced less? If I took off a season to explore other hobbies? The fear of the unknown or even if I came to the realisation that I was always pushing myself so hard – a part of me didn’t want to stop and take notice.

Fear is a negative motivator. We are held hostage of its grip. Your thoughts often begin with – I must.. I should.. If I don’t… As opposed to desire – I want to… I look forward to…. There’s very little in this world that brings us pure joy that is fear-based. It’s often been said that success is not what you accomplish but rather what you overcome. Getting over and out of fear-driven thinking leads us to real gratification. The greatest athletes of our time, were and are, driven by an unwavering desire to win and compete. They use powerful visualization techniques that propel them to excellence with little room for doubt or fear.

I have always been an optimist – having a positive outlook on life and trying to see the best in people and myself. I was a “glass half -full” person. So, I knew that I could trust myself in making the right decision but arriving at that decision was tricky.

We are all impacted by so many internal and external factors that influence our thinking and behaviors. As such, it’s important to get clarity on your why.

Gaining Clarity

1. Do you see yourself through the eyes of others.

2. Do you feel the need to please others.

3. What are your personal goals.

4. Are your goals your own and are they realistic and attainable.

5. Do you have hard time saying no.

6. Are you adventurous and like to explore new places, meet new people and try new things.

7. Failure and not reaching your desired goal is part of growth and should serve as an incentive from which to learn.

8. Do you battle with self-doubt.

9. Are you curious by nature.

10. Are you a source of motivation for others and take initiative.

Clarity

Clarity empowers you to move forward on your decisions. It gives you strength and a path to reaching your goals. It helps you to get around obstacles as you move forward seeking out the path of least resistance.

Injuries in sports or conflicts in relationships are signs not to be ignored. Manage them and don’t ignore them. Use them as learning experiences.

Repetitive overuse injuries tend to be correlated with reoccurring thinking and rigid behavioral patterns. We are products of our thinking and beliefs. Your body has its own mind and once you tune into it and pay attention the easier life is to manage.

Life After Triathlon

After 19 yrs and 135 triathlons I have decided to move on. In fact it has been a gradual unwinding process. The sport gave me so much and taught me a lot about human potential and how hard work and dedication can pay huge dividends. I developed interesting and diverse life-long friendships as well as travel to many cool destinations. But, more significantly, while I was getting faster, stronger and more competitive, I was slowly shifting my life balance. It was this realization that was the impetus for change and my eventual decision to move on.

As I look back on my triathlon years I have many interesting memories, thoughts and feelings. I met some amazing athletes, from elite and professional triathletes to individuals that sought out the sport to test their ability and to overcome self-doubt to working with combat injured marines who overcame physical disabilities to PTSD. I realize that multisport racing, was and is, a huge commitment and not for everyone. I transformed my body going from 185 to 150 lbs so I could train and race competitively. This was an arduous process that challenged me on many levels – but was a necessary evil in order to compete at a high level. Sacrifices were many, including a healthy, long-term relationship because I was so all consumed with the triathlon lifestyle. Most of the travel I did was centered around training or racing. Looking back, I know that I wasn’t really available to be in a healthy and balanced relationship. At the time, triathlon was my priority. It was like a drug, and unless you didn’t partake like I did, I was quick to disengage.

Today, I have a healthy and balanced relationship with my wife, take more time to travel, ( I still seek out where the nearest pool or open water and great running trails are located) pick up new hobbies or revisit old ones. I can share my experiences with others and help them avoid or learn from my mistakes. While I do miss the endorphin high I’d get from a hard -earned podium spot or reaching new levels of fitness, I was conflicted with the seemingly never ending pursuit of excellence. Was the sport putting these demands on me or were they self-inflicted? Was I ever truly satisfied with my accomplishments and how much did they really define me?

Today, I’m not so connected to my watch and the need to measure my performance and output. I see many of my friends who still race and it seems some are built for the sport and its demands, while others struggle to stay healthy and cannot divorce themselves from racing. Their bodies, whether its nagging injuries, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, mood swings, food cravings, immune system issues, are screaming for attention. I refer to these athletes as “sick-fit.” While they exhibit the ability to race and push their bodies, their underlying systems are failing them. They have taught themselves to ignore symptoms of fatigue and over-training. I tell my clients and friends once something no longer brings you joy and feels like you are pushing a boulder up a hill, you need to ask yourself if it is time to re-evaluate your life and your commitment to your sport. Are you in control or is the sport in control of you?

If you are new to the sport or new to endurance sports, join a triathlon club or seek out a well-known coach so you get off on the right foot and hold you accountable. There’s much to learn and much to gain. If you have any questions or need some advice you can reach out to me. As long as you stay in balance and listen to your body, you can have a very rewarding experience and reach goals you may never thought possible.

NFLD – Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

NFLD a condition whereby fat accumulates in the liver and compromises function. It is, in fact, an increasingly growing problem that is often left unchecked and overlooked. The liver performs about 500 functions – critical in detoxification, hormone balance, blood sugar regulation, helps in storing vitamins and minerals, facilitates blood clotting and immune system modulation. It’s often referred to as the “stealth organ” – functioning quietly until problems arise. It’s now considered in the medical community as the “silent killer.”

It doesn’t just afflict obese and diabetic individuals. Liver disease is often associated with excessive alcohol use. NAFLD doesn’t have to be triggered by alcohol use.

NAFLD is dangerous because the triglyceride fats released by a damaged liver are in fact a better predictor of heart disease than LDL cholesterol. It’s closely linked to metabolic syndrome, which involves high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and weight gain – a precursor to stroke, diabetes and cognitive impairment.

Left untreated, NAFLD can progress to NASH ( nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) – liver inflammation. This can lead to liver fibrosis which can lead to cirrhosis, and ultimately, liver failure.

The good news: all factors that lead to NAFLD are lifestyle related. Changes in your diet, levels of activity and reducing environmental toxins can significantly improve the health of your liver.

Artificial Sweeteners and Processed Foods

NAFLD can be fueled by artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup and refined carbohydrates. High consumption of these foods has a profound effect on fatty liver. Oddly, it’s not fat intake that drives up fatty levels in the liver. Excess fat in the liver comes from either surrounding adipose tissue (where elevated insulin triggers fat storage) or is created in the liver when we consume high levels of fructose ( also known as de novo lipogenesis).

When we consume fructose it is processed in the liver. The body’s preferred fuel storage substance is glycogen, but the liver cannot easily convert fructose into glycogen. Since fructose has to be stored somewhere, the liver converts it into fat – the body’s other energy storage molecule. Alcohol and fructose are metabolized the same way. Sugar has been termed the “alcohol of a child.”

Accumulated fat in the liver then leads to two possibilities – the fat can return to the bloodstream as triglycerides, which can stick to the artery walls, leading to atherosclerosis, or it can remain in the liver and disrupt liver function.

How NAFLD progresses to NASH:

According to Dina Halegoua-DeMarzio, MD, ” The presence of fat in the liver causes stress to the liver cells surrounded by the fat. The new fat cells move in next to healthy liver cells, irritating and inflaming them. Then those irritated liver cells lay down scarce tissue, and that decreases liver function.”

Additionally, before steatosis starts, liver function deteriorates, leading to problems throughout the body – reducing elimination of toxins and hormone byproducts and weakening the immune system.

Blood sugar dysregulation also occurs. Once the liver becomes fatty from too much fructose, the pancreas starts to over compensate for the weakened liver. It releases more insulin to aid the liver but ends up creating new fat. This makes fatty liver disease both a “trigger and a result of metabolic dysfunction, in which fat burning slows and insulin becomes dysregulated, leading to a host of other health issues.”

Frank Lipman, MD, states: “I never think of fatty liver as separate from metabolic dysfunction.” Metabolic dysfunction, similarly, cannot be separated from the conditions that result from it: type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Other Triggers of NAFLD

Choline Deficiency – choline is a nutrient that helps transport fat throughout the body. Great sources are eggs and liver. If someone is deficient in choline, fat gets into liver but cannot get out.

Sedentary Lifestyle – is also a factor. Simply put, exercise burns fat.

Toxin Exposure – the liver serves as the body’s main detoxification organ. The toxic load from environmental and industrial chemicals on our bodies is immense. The exposure and accumulation of toxins is a huge challenge to the liver. Limiting our exposure to these toxins, combined with improved nutrition will vastly reduce the stress on the liver.

Steps To Prevent And Reverse NAFLD.

1. Stop consuming high fructose corn syrup found in processed foods and sodas. A nutrition plan that focuses on whole foods – vegetables, pastured-animal proteins, nuts, seeds, low-glycemic fruits (blueberries, cherries, grapefruit).

2. Consume fructose from fruit with other foods. Fruits do contain fiber, pectin and phytonutrients which are good for the body.

3. Get daily fiber – fiber prevents the intestines from absorbing fructose too soon, avoiding high impact on the liver. Eat fruit with fiber like chia or flax seeds, nuts and nut butters, avocados and leafy greens.

4. Embrace healthy fats – oily fish, olive oil, avocados, nuts abs seeds, grass fed – animal proteins, coconut oil and glee.

5. Avoid fast foods – high in trans fats and high fructose corn syrup.

6. Increase choline – found in eggs and liver. You can also supplement with choline if needed in the form of phosphatidylcholine.

7. Minimize pharmaceuticals – frequent or overuse can harm the liver ( ex: acetaminophen).

8. Minimize toxin exposure – avoid insecticides like DDT, chemicals used in large scale industrial and agricultural operations, common herbicides like atrazine and glyphosate, heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic. So eat organic foods when possible, avoid lawn chemicals, industrial cleaning products, chemical based skin and health care products, use a high quality water filter for your shower and drinking water.

9. Exercise – lowering your body fat can drastically improve liver function and reduce fatty liver. High intensity interval training (HIIT) produces the best fat- burning results.

The Integrative Approach To Treating Depression

Integrative medicine approaches depression very differently than traditional medicine, which focuses on treating symptoms with pharmaceuticals. Physicians often prescribe SSRI’s to handle the dysregulation of neurochemicals like serotonin.

More recently, healthcare professionals are viewing depression as a symptom of multiple underlying issues – including faulty gut health, vitamin deficiencies, genetic factors, toxin exposure, thyroid problems and sleep disturbances. Pharmaceutical treatments can have short term benefits by manipulating brain chemistry. But, longer lasting changes really come from rebalancing and rebuilding integrative systems that impact the brain and body.

Heal The Gut

Serotonin might be the single most important neurotransmitter which is mostly manufactured in the gut and impacts many other neurochemicals. Leaky gut which is triggered by food intolerances and toxins and unhealthful gut bacteria can disrupt the production of serotonin. Additionally, leaky gut can trigger systemic inflammation which also leads to depression. Research shows that treating leaky gut often helped reduce depression significantly. The brain and gut are connected a bi-directional pathway.

Healing the gut and microbiome includes introducing fermented foods ( kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut), taking prebiotics like onion and garlic which help fertilize the good bacteria, lower the consumption of refined carbs and sugars and increase the intake of healthy fats ( cold water fish, flax and chia seeds, avocados, olive and coconut oil).

Address Vitamin Deficiencies

Vitamin B is crucial to mood regulation. Low levels of B-6, B-9 and B-12 are all correlated to depressive symptoms. B vitamins are critical to the methylation process which supports the body’s production of beneficial neurotransmitters and detoxification process.

Omega 3 fatty acids ( DHA and EPA) are essential to brain function. Recommended dosages are 500 mg of DHA and 1000mg of EPA. If these are low you significantly increase the probability of developing mental illness. Omega 3’s can also be found in cold water fish and flax seeds.

Minimize Toxin Exposure

Exposure to chemicals like pesticides, herbicides and glyphosate found in commercial agriculture and toxicity from heavy metals like mercury and lead have been linked to a variety of disorders including anxiety, panic attacks and clinical depression. Many of these toxins can pass through the blood brain barrier and impact the brain directly. Therefore, eat certified organic foods, drink filtered water, use air purifying filters, replace cleaning and health care products with organic and chemical free ones. Exercising regularly also helps to boost the body’s detoxification process.

Thyroid Function

The thyroid secretes hormones that affect every part of the body, including the brain. Hypothyroidism, indicative of low thyroid hormones as been linked to depression. It is often triggered by an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks the thyroid tissue thinking it’s an invader. Gluten is often a trigger- which has been shown to imitate thyroid tissue. Resetting the thyroid involves a combination of diet and lifestyle interventions.

Genes

SNP’s ( single nucleotide polymorphisms) are genetic variations which are passed through generations. It’s been estimated that up to 40% of our population carry the MTHFR SNP which impairs vitamin B production which impedes the methylation process – needed for detoxification and the production of neurotransmitters needed for mental health and mood stabilization. It’s the SNP for methylation that get passed on not a gene for depression. The good news – we can treat methylation. Protocols for treating depression include methylated B vitamins and increasing exercise.

Sleep

Sleep deprivation and over sleeping can be a strong trigger for depression. It’s during our sleep that the brain and body detoxify. Every cell is in the human body is essentially a molecular machine that has evolved to function on a 24 hour cycle called circadian rhythms. Our neurochemistry is correlated with our circadian sleep cycle. Our bodies and brain function optimally when we go to sleep when it’s dark and wake when it’s light and ideally at the same time every day.

Additionally, healthy and regular social interactions are as important as diet, exercise and sleep in impacting and managing depression. We are all very impacted by the people we engage and spend most of our time with!

Mindfulness and meditation practices have also been shown to be powerful antidotes to managing stress that is often a trigger for depression

New Treatments For Depression

Probiotics – help boost and promote beneficial and diverse bacteria in our gut, where most of our serotonin is produced. What’s good for the gut is good for the brain.

Light Treatment – has been used successfully to treat SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and non – SAD conditions.

Movement Therapy – rhythmic movements have been shown to elevate mood enhancing neurochemicals.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – this therapy has been used to help calm people before bedtime and ensure better quality sleep and reducing insomnia.

Industrial Chemicals

Chronic and repeated exposure up to 200,000 known toxins is a real assault on our bodies.

Some are fat soluble and get stored in body.

Some are water soluble and body can remove them.

Pesticides ( glyphosates)

Vaccines ( aluminium hydroxide) – powerful xeno estrogens

⁃ they are estrogen disrupters

⁃ No amount is safe

⁃ Ubiquitous in the environment.

⁃ Toxins which can be naturally found in environment as well

⁃ Mycotoxins ( molds)

⁃ Mercury and cadmium in fish

Their burden outweighs their ability to bio transform !

The toxic load challenges our bodies ability to detoxify

The challenge is finding out if you have a genetic susceptibility to these toxins. A MTHFR gene mutation will impede the methylation process which is key to our body’s ability to detox.

Medicine and vaccines can be toxic – we are not in most cases pre adapted to these and thus we react to them

Some people may be more susceptible because they are genetically more hyper sensitive ( more receptors or deficiency in bio transformation systems )

We all have different abilities to absorb, bio transform and eliminate toxins.

Need to look at exposure and frequency of exposure to toxins

⁃ Pre natal exposure a concern !

⁃ In and outdoor pollution through inhalation.

⁃ Dermal exposure

⁃ Vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs

⁃ Carcinogens

⁃ Food toxins ( gluten, trans fats and GMOs)

⁃ Industrial chemicals ( cleaning and health care products)

We need more phyto nutrients and polyphenols

Detoxification Process

Bio transformation process has been impacted greatly by the industrialisation of farming where we see the phyto chemicals have bread out.

The toxic load exposure has increased over time.

Phase 1

Begins in liver and gut mucosa

Cytochrome p450 enzymes start the process of detox to rid body of toxins in

Phase 2

involves glutathione conjugation and SNPs that reduce enzyme speed

The real challenge to medicine:

Multiple genes are affected by a vast array of environmental toxins ( industrial chemicals, pesticides, GMO’s, food toxins, metals, molds) combined with individual genetic and epigenetic ( lifestyle) factors that affect susceptibility and bio changes.

The key by looking at genes is you can better determine susceptibility and ability to better handle detoxification

Question – will toxic burden combined with oxidative stress and weak genetics outweigh the body’s ability to biotransform the toxins and rid the body of them ?

Toxic burden affects cell membranes, enzymes, glutathione production ( master antioxidant ) leading to chronic degenerative disease.

Mitochondria

Found in all our cells and are considered the true powerhouses of our body’s energy.

Where energy is created by combining glucose and oxygen into ATP. ATP is the main energy currency in the cell and carries energy in its chemical bonds that the cellular machinery can use to function and grow. In essence, it’s fundamental to health and our existence.

Mitochondria are also responsible for many other tasks including producing cell signalling molecules, regulating vital calcium levels, producing body heat and killing off unviable cells.

Key To Understanding Energy

Fatigue = when energy demands exceeds energy delivery !!

Must reduce negative internal and external influences before you can promote and sustain a positive energy environment.

Signs Of Compromised Mitochondrial Function:

⁃ fatigue

⁃ Weakness

⁃ Pain

⁃ Poor healing

⁃ Memory loss

⁃ Low focus / poor concentration

⁃ Autoimmunity

⁃ Cancer

⁃ Insulin resistance

⁃ Cardiovascular and neurological diseases

Cellular damage = cellular aging

Mitochondrial damage – leads to compromised function !

Need to repair, promote and enhance function

Environmental Factors That Impair Mitochondrial Function:

⁃ nutrient deficiency ( B-vitamins, magnesium, copper, CoQ10 and iron )

⁃ Excess carbs and refined sugars

⁃ Toxins ( herbicide, pesticides, chemicals, GMO’s)

⁃ Infections : microbial and viral ( Epstein Barr, hepatitis )

⁃ Epigenetics ( activation of specific genes)

⁃ Lack of quality sleep

⁃ EMF / reduced exposure to natural sunlight

⁃ Lack of exercise ( strength and aerobic)

⁃ Oxidative stress and free radical build up ( internal and external influences)

Enhancing Mitochondrial Function To Optimize Energy

⁃ CoQ10, B vitamins, magnesium, iron and copper

⁃ Anti-inflammatory /Ketogenic diet

⁃ Healthy fats ( Omega 3 fatty acids like DHA / EPA, coconut and extra virgin olive oil, avocados, chia/ flax seeds)

⁃ Antioxidants ( reduce oxidative stress and boost Glutathione and NrF2 pathway)

⁃ Organic foods

⁃ Eliminate processed foods

⁃ Intermittent fasting ( increases fat oxidation and growth hormone production)

⁃ Full spectrum light

⁃ Reduce EMF ( poor lighting and devices)

⁃ Grounding

⁃ Reduce oxidative stress

⁃ Balanced exercise and recovery

– Avoid overtraining

⁃ HIIT training ( increase protein synthesis and muscle growth. Increases mitochondrial density and biogenesis through fat oxidation )

⁃ Mindfulness and deep breathing ( down regulates sympathetic and up regulates parasympathetic system)

⁃ Restorative sleep ( reset bio and circadian rhythms)

⁃ Cold exposure ( shown to boost mitochondrial biogenesis)

⁃ Increase exposure to negative ions ( clean water and air, use ionizing filters)

⁃ Building a healthy and balanced gut microbiome (single best predictor of longevity) and reducing toxins that lead to leaky gut.

⁃ Gut healthy foods ( sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir)

Beliefs And Culture Are More Powerful Than our Genes

Our health is more than waiting for disease to happen. It is a dynamic process which is very driven by how we manage our thoughts and beliefs. In fact, our thoughts and beliefs which are shaped by a multitude of internal and external environmental forces may in fact be more powerful than our genes. In truth, we are not a victim of our genetics – which is often what we are told. Epigenetics – a relatively new science, proves that our inherited genes only influence about 10% of how we function. Aging and disease are the result of imbalances that occur over many years. These imbalances start with early life experiences and are reinforced over time and help shape our thoughts and beliefs. Experiences lead to beliefs which lead to behaviors which lead to health outcomes.  Our emotions: positive ( hope, love and happiness) vs negative ( sadness, anger and fear) will help determine whether we move in a direction towards health and wellness or away from it. Some experts believe that early life repeated exposure to shame, betrayal and abandonment play huge roles in shaping a negative emotional landscape that ultimately drives our biology and thus longevity.

The body is great at self-healing until it cannot and ultimately gives up. Unfortunately, traditional medicine which focuses on treating symptoms and not addressing underlying causes does little to encourage our connection to, and belief in, our body’s ability to self-heal. The beauty lies in our awareness of, and our ability to, self-correct. Getting over our fears might be the single greatest pathway to freedom from disease.

Cellular inflammation that leads to more systemic problems has been determined to be the root cause of most degenerative diseases and, ultimately, the aging of the body. This process actually begins with our emotions. This in turn impacts various biological functions ( neurological, immune, digestive, metabolic systems). For example, fear can drive up our cortisol levels which in turn impacts cellular activity which leads to increased inflammation. Left untreated over time, dysfunction and disease eventually set in. Our emotions are not just stored in our minds but are stored in our fascia throughout the body as well. Often deep tissue and myofascial bodywork and therapies can be performed  to help release these stored emotions and free us of dysfunction and disease.

Our brains are divided into a left and right hemisphere. You may have heard how someone is either more left or right brained. These 2 brains can communicate and share information. If we are to manage our emotions better it has been suggested that we need to get out of our left brain ( which handles logic and linear thinking) and into our right brain (the creative and artistic aspects). The right brain connects much better with the body’s organs and structure. The left brain gets educated. The right brain is where wisdom lies as it connects with the fascia, organs and tissue.

Our culture rewards hard work and perfectionism. The pressure to excel in school, work and sports puts enormous load on our emotional and physical health. We are often labeled at a young age based on how we perform. If we don’t live up to high expectations imposed by others or from ourselves this can start a cascade of negative emotions that over time can impair our physiology. In fact, it has been said that migraines are perfectionist tendencies that we place on ourselves. Most of us are brought up to strive for and seek perfection, but in truth we must learn to live with imperfection.

Human development is the synthesis of our DNA, family, social influences and environmental factors. It could be said various cultural portals are as, if not, more important than our biology. Examples include:

1. Being a teenager, going to college and handling transition to adulthood.

2. Retirement age of 65

3. Life expectancy set a certain ages.

4. Woman are infertile after 35

We are all influenced by the people who we surround ourselves with ( sociogenomics). Nothing shapes us more than our social environment. It’s been said that we co- author each other’s biology!

In fact, it’s been proven that our health, longevity and financial status is closely correlated with the people we spend most of our time with. You cannot pick your family but you can certainly choose your personal and work relationships !

Medical diagnoses also drive our physiology. Western medicine doesn’t emphasize prevention and self healing. It supports sickness and disease. We have become numb to and disconnected from our own capabilities. We over rely on technologies and under rely on our own bodies capacity to heal. Western medicine is what most people depend on. This dependency dictates what steps we take. We have become disconnected from our real ability to self correct as we have given the emotional and physical responsibility to medical providers. As such, it’s best you understand their limits and what other options you really have. The medical approach reminds me of action our military takes against adversaries – bring in the big guns and destroy the target.

Keys for good health !

1. The mind is a healer or it’s your slayer!

2. Self-acceptance and self-love are the keys to good health and vitality. Research shows that self- love actually reduces cortisol driven stress, increases vasodilation needed for healthy heart function and up regulates the parasympathetic nervous system that helps reduce the impacts of stress, lowers our cravings for sugar, balance our microbiome.

3. Our genes are not our destiny.

4. We are dynamic and adaptable beings, and as such, if given the chance, the body can self correct if the mind is in the right place.

5. The wrong and self defeating beliefs are true roadblocks if left unrecognized.

6. Remove the words should and must – they place lofty expectations on us.

7. You are never too old to start something new or change your life.

8. Surround yourself with people you admire and can learn from.

9. Keep learning and stay active.

10. Live in the present and future while learning from your past.

Thyroid Facts

A small gland located in your neck that truly powers the entire body. In fact, every cell has a receptor for thyroid hormone. When the thyroid is functioning optimally you feel energetic and positive. When it’s off you feel totally opposite. Cell replication depends on the right amount and type of thyroid hormone. Every cell needs exactly the right amount.

Hypothyroidism is low thyroid hormone and leaves you depressed, listless, cold with brain fog and often leads to weight gain. Hyperthyroidism is too much leaving you anxious and ramps up your metabolism, leaving you feeling weak and shaky.

Your thyroid is very affected by sleep, stress and the foods you eat. When your other hormones are out of balance your thyroid takes a hit.

The thyroid interplays with other organs and, as such, works more like a thyroid signaling system – involving the hypothalamus, pituitary and thyroid. A true blood panel will test for TSH, regular and reverse T3 and T4.

Imbalance Factors:

Many factors influence the balance of your thyroid signaling system – consuming foods that you are allergic to, a lack of thyroid-supportive nutrients, an imbalance of sex or stress hormones, exposure to environmental toxins and sleep deprivation. The biggest culprit is autoimmunity.

An under active thyroid might indicate Hashimoto’s disease where the body attacks and destroys its own thyroid tissue. This condition is often reversed with diet and lifestyle changes. An overactive thyroid might be another autoimmune condition called Graves’ disease. If left untreated, can lead to osteoporosis, heart disease and liver failure. Again dietary and lifestyle changes are needed.

Since the thyroid signaling system interacts with all your other hormones and the signals are off you struggle to manage stress, sexual function drops and you see memory, mood and focus all suffer.

Supporting Thyroid Function:

1. Boosting Thyroid:

Focus On Nutrients:

To keep your thyroid signaling system functioning optimally you need the following:

– Iodine and protein. Iodine is a key building block of thyroid hormone. Sources include sea vegetables like kelp and seaweed. Protein such as high quality grass fed beef and wild-caught fish keeps you sated and reduces the blood sugar roller coaster.

– Iron, selenium and zinc. These minerals support proper function. Iron helps make iodine, selenium helps regulate excessive immune responses and zinc supports white blood cell production. Good sources include grass fed beef, spinach, pork and Brazil nuts ( high in selenium).

– Omega 3 fats. These are needed for cell walk integrity. Good sources include cold water fish, flax oil and seeds and chia seeds.

– Vitamin A. Helps T3 enter your cells. Good sources include orange vegetables and fruits such as carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, mangoes and apricots.

– B Vitamins and vitamin D. B vitamins ( grass fed beef, broccoli, green leafy vegetables and beets are good sources) are needed for mitochondrial function,vitamin D helps promote T-cell production. Vitamin D comes mainly from sun exposure or supplements or from fatty fish and portobello mushrooms.

Avoid Inflammatory Foods:

Autoimmunity develops when your comprised immune system starts attacking you. Assaults come from food intolerances, ongoing infections, environmental toxins and chronic stress. Because 80% of your immune system is housed in the gut, a damaged gut is a very common source of chronic inflammation. To heal thyroid function you need to heal leaky gut syndrome – one of the primary triggers for all autoimmune disease.

Leaky gut occurs in the lining of the small intestine where undigested proteins leak into the bloodstream. This jacks up the alert status of the immune system. To heal leaky gut eliminate processed foods and sugars, gluten ( a highly inflammatory protein found in grains) that mimics thyroid tissue setting off autoimmune reactions, conventional dairy that contains casein and growth hormones which are huge thyroid and endocrine disrupters, nightshades ( grains, legumes and soy ) can aggravate autoimmune issues.

Toxin Defense:

Exposure to industrial chemicals that saturate our air, water and soil get into our food sources. They can also be found in cleaning and health care products, home furnishings and more. To protect our thyroid we need to reduce our exposure to toxins and improve our body’s ability to detoxify.

Prevention – reducing exposure by:

Cleaning your air with a HEPA filter.

Filter all your water.

Eat organic and pasture raised foods.

Use organic plant-based body care products.

Remove mercury amalgams.

Detoxification: How to support your body’s ability to rid the toxins.

Check for any gene mutations through gene testing in order to determine the needed supplements to support detox.

Eat a non-inflammatory diet to support liver function.

Heal your gut.

Support your body’s natural daily detox by exercising and sweating.

Manage Stress:

Stress disrupts thyroid and immune function in many ways, including by slowing the production of thyroid hormone and weakening thyroid receptors. Magnesium, vitamin C and B complex help to rebuild depleted reserves.

Find the right balance of stimulating exercise combined with yoga and some form of meditation.

Sleep:

You need deep and regular sleep. Lack of sleep elevates your stress hormones like cortisol.

Good sleep hygiene includes:

– Get adequate natural light to help reset and regulate your circadian rhythms.

– Go to bed and get up about the sane time each day.

– After sundown, use amber light bulbs and avoid screens.

– Keep your bedroom dark and cool.

– Remove all electronics from your bedroom.

Achieving and Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight

The following strategies focus on setting aside calorie obsession and fat-gram fixation and identifying underlying health issues – a more holistic approach to eating and how food impacts your overall health and body balance.

1. Reduce Inflammation:

Chronic systemic inflammation is driven by an immune response can often lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and much more. One side effect of inflammation in your gut ( leaky gut ) is weight gain. If your gut gets inflamed due to excessive alcohol, processed foods, antibiotics or NASID’s the gut wall gets inflamed. When the gut gets inflamed, calcium and sodium enter surrounding cells – causing them to attract and hold water. “The extra water causes bloating and lowers the function of the cells mitochondria, making the body feel sluggish,” explains Elson Hass, MD. Hass calls this tissue swelling and abdominal bloating ” false fat” or water logged tissue. The biggest offender of inflammation-based weight gain is processed foods which are highly refined and loaded with chemicals. Foods that reduce inflammation include onions, turmeric, red grapes, green tea, berries, dark leafy greens and cold water fish.

2. Balancing Blood Sugar:

Simple sugars and carbs drive weight gain more than calories consumed. They lack nutrients ( fiber and protein) which slow digestion and balance blood sugar. When glucose enters the body quickly blood sugar soars. The pancreas releases insulin – a fat storage hormone, to balance the sugar levels. Blood sugar stabilises momentarily, and if insulin is overproduced, energy levels fall and hunger returns. If we ingest more carbs the cycle resumes. The long term consequence is weight gain and insulin resistance which sets you up for type 2 diabetes and and other inflammatory diseases. To balance your blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight you need to consume more nutritious proteins, healthy fats, fiber-rich vegetables and reduce your intake of refined sugars and grains and avoid artificial sweeteners!

Healthy Fats: avocados, sardines, organic cage free eggs, coconut, organic full fat dairy, extra-virgin olive oil, walnuts, almonds, macadamias, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

3. A Healthy Microbiome:

A heathy and balanced microbiome is essential to creating and maintaining a healthy weight. Your microbiome consists of trillions of microorganisms ( bacteria, yeasts and fungi) that live in the gut. A healthy gut is actually cool and digests and metabolises food more efficiently. Pathogenic bacteria and yeast ( such as candida which feeds off of sugar) creates an inflamed and possible leaky gut! Culprits include gluten, processed sugars, artificial ingredients, preservatives, hydrogenated vegetable oils and conventional dairy and meats.

Add cultured and fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso – all natural sources of probiotics, enzymes and prebiotics (soluble fibers that feed healthy probiotic microbes) as well as berries, dark greens and nonstarchy vegetables and legumes. Other gut friendly foods that support your digestive system include bone broth, kombucha and apple cider vinegar.

4. Elevate Your Mood:

Depression and anxiety often leads to weight gain. In fact, many anti depressants can actually lower metabolic function. Lowered moods lead to carb cravings! When serotonin ( which is mainly housed in the gut ) is low this often triggers these carb cravings. Serotonin, also known as the happiness chemical, is made of amino acids – the building blocks of proteins. As such, you need to focus on healthy proteins. The most important amino acid for making serotonin is tryptophan. Tryptophan deficiency has been linked to depression and poor sleep. Since the body cannot make its own you need to get it from food – organic dairy and poultry, soybeans and cashews.

Bottom Line – processed sugars and foods lead to nutrient deficiencies that impact your mood and metabolism!

5. Manage Your Stress:

Hormone imbalances can wreck havoc on your metabolism. Specifically, insulin and cortisol.

Insulin – insulin’s job is to transport sugar from your bloodstream into your cells. Food controls insulin. Keep insulin balanced by eating small, regular nutrient-dense meals.

Cortisol – balancing cortisol ( the stress hormone) is vital to maintaining a healthy weight. Cortisol is made from cholesterol. When stressed ( real or perceived) your body produces more cortisol but your cholesterol supply stays the same. Your body has to divert cholesterol away from making hormones that help maintain a strong metabolism. This is referred to as a “cortisol steal.” This in essence, explains how stress hampers your metabolism. If you are constantly stressed your cortisol levels and rhythms get out of whack as you over activate your sympathetic nervous system.

A low calorie diet can also stress your body. Insufficient caloric intake needed to fuel your resting metabolic rate causes your brain to send messages to your body to slow your metabolism. Consequently, cells cling to calories rather than burn them quickly and your metabolism slows.

You can counter cortisol effects by activating your body’s relaxation response ( parasympathetic system) by getting better sleep, mindfulness/ deep breathing and practicing meditation.

6. The Right Type of Exercise:

Interval based and high intensity training seems to have to greatest impact on metabolic function and weight control. Adjusting your workouts to meet your individual needs and level of fitness is important. If you have any questions regarding this or any of the above suggestions please reach out to me.

Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making guided choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. It is a dynamic process of self awareness, change and growth. It is the integration of mind, body and soul – a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being. Achieving wellness requires an individual to embrace the following components. I refer to these as the Five Pillars of Wellness:  mind-body connection, exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress.

I founded  MindBody Fitness in 1985. My company focuses on what is commonly referred to as a whole-person approach which helps individuals discover and implement a life balance by optimizing performance in life, work and sports.

As I developed a better understanding of how I can really impact people one thing became very clear: conventional medicine was limited because it really focuses on treating symptoms not examining the root causes of disease. Learning about and practicing preventive or functional medicine was really the approach that was going to change people’s lives.

After many years in the health and fitness profession I started to embrace a different approach –  to educating and empowering the client so that he/she can take responsibility for his/her health and well-being. It is about teaching people that wellness is more than the just absence of disease – it is the optimal balance between mind, body and spirit. It is about taking control of, and, responsibility for your thoughts, beliefs action and behaviors. It is the view that the body is a complex ecosystem that’s influenced by environment, diet, mindset and much more.

I have always been interested in human potential. What are the drivers behind building success and maintaining passion and joy in work, sports and life? What are the positive and negative factors that impact our longevity and quality of life? One thing was very clear – human potential cannot be reached without self- awareness and self-responsibility – they are, in fact, the building blocks of our existence.

About 15 years ago, I realized I needed a personal challenge. I had been spending so much of my time helping and motivating others. So, I started training for and racing triathlon and soon became very involved in both racing and coaching. Then in 2007, I helped organize and coach a team of combat injured vets who had returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. They competed in both triathlon and adventure racing. This experience was a turning point in my life for it taught me so much about human challenges and struggle and the ability to overcome great odds, as many of the team had suffered limb loss, traumatic brain injury and PTSD. This helped launch a rejuvenated understanding and enthusiasm for attaining optimal health and wellness and the belief in 4 constructs:
1. Human potential is unlimited!

2. The mind is the driver and the body is the vehicle and the health and synergy of both is what gets you through life.

3. I believe if you have a clear vision of who you are and what you can become and have a greater passion for living your life to your true potential, then you can achieve greater success in attaining optimal health.

4. Self-awareness and self-responsibility are essential to creating work-life balance.

I believe that there are 5 main pillars to achieving a strong foundation in overall wellness. And that regardless of one’s age or state of health- IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO CHANGE!

A. The mind-body connection – the mind and the body are not separate entities. They are interconnected. Understanding the integration between the two is key to good health and longevity. It is the foundation of the 4 other pillars. Get to know and understand your whole person.

B. The body was designed to move. We will examine types, frequency, intensity and duration. What is important to understand is there is something for everyone.
C. We need to nourish our bodies and brains with healthy foods. We will also examine the role of supplements and vitamins, as they have a very important supporting role.

D. Besides exercise and diet, sleep is one of the most important and critical factors in achieving optimal health and wellness. I will explore why it is so important and how to optimize it.
E. Understanding and managing stress is key to maximizing optimal performance in your work and personal life. We will discuss some effective stress reduction techniques. In addition, we will examine techniques and suggestions for improving wellness in the workplace (ergonomics, postural issues that lead to shoulder, neck and back problems, effects of prolonged sitting, and the importance of hydration and healthy eating in job performance).

So let’s take a more detailed look at these 5 pillars with the understanding that much like the structure of a house, the human body needs a strong foundation.

– Like any structure, humans are only as strong as their weakest link!!
– The beauty of the human body is we can modify and improve its structure if it has been weakened or compromised, much like we can redesign and rebuild a house. One major difference – we cannot buy or rent another body.
– We must all learn that this body that we were given, and thus we are personally responsible for its care and longevity. Later we will discuss how our genes really only impact 10% our health and the other 90% is affected by lifestyle choices we make.

Bottom line: Your health is most important investment you will ever make.

1. Mind- Body Connection: as mentioned above wellness is the balance between the mind, body and spirit. It forms an equal sided triangle. All sides need the strength and support of the other sides. We are not just a body and brain. We are the product of our thoughts and beliefs, our attitudes, perceptions and actions. Much research has proven that our thinking can affect not only our attitudes but our physiology. Positive thinking translates in to not only a healthy mindset but also a healthy body. A variety of illness and diseases from heart disease, cancer and many autoimmune disorders are impacted by our thoughts and beliefs. We become what we think we are. As a wellness coach, I have seen over many years how fear and negativity can lead to higher stress levels, and in turn, depression, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and a variety of illnesses. On the other hand, I have seen how a positive outlook and approach can become a powerful motivator in changing and improving people’s lives.

– Mounting research reveals that you cannot separate your health from your emotions.
– Having an optimistic perspective (“the glass half full versus the glass half empty”) can translate into living a longer and healthier life.
– Studies show that a significant reduction in the risk of developing heart disease is correlated with higher levels of satisfaction in one’s life and work.
– The emerging field of psychoneuroimmunology has proven the brain and immune system are indeed wired together, and portions of the nervous system directly connect with immune-related organs.

Working in the wellness industry for 30 years, I have discovered how resistant to change people can be. I used to think that those people were in fact “hard –wired”, blaming their genetics and life circumstances. Once I realized that resistance to change was a mindset, I set out to educate my clients on 3 important tools they needed to develop in order to change and strive for their full potential:
1. Self -awareness.
2. Self- motivation.
3. Self-responsibility.

The beauty of the mind is it can change, and as such, have a profound effect on one’s health and well being.
One must first understand the self-limiting mindset and be willing to look honestly at oneself, be open to new possibilities and realize that although change can be uncomfortable, it is possible and can be a life changing gift. All you need is the will and the way. Remember – how you choose to live your life is your choice!!!

Happiness: Is the ultimate expression of an optimistic approach to life.
– Manifesting positive emotions and happiness is one the greatest and most powerful gifts.
– Being happy is a choice you must make.
– Looking towards others for affirmation is very limiting.
– It must come from within (self –acceptance ).

From 10 Keys to Happier Living
• Giving: doing for others
• Relating: connecting with people
• Exercising: self care of body
• Appreciating: open to the world around you
• Trying out: learning new things
• Direction: setting goals
• Resilience: not settling
• Emotion: being positive
• Acceptance: being comfortable with oneself
• Meaning: being part of something bigger

2. Exercise: When I first started in the fitness industry, people engaged in exercise to get fit, reduce stress, lose weight and better prepare a recreational or competitive athlete for sports. Today we have a better understanding how exercise is really the cornerstone of overall health and longevity. It improves our energy, moods, cognitive function, bolsters our immune and neurological function, balances our hormones, reduces stress, improves sleep, lowers our risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, diabetes (insulin resistance and glucose tolerance), stroke and dementia. In essence it is essential to our survival and quality of life. It is the most powerful anti-aging medicine known to mankind.

The biggest obstacles to working out I hear from my clients are: “I don’t have the time.” I am not a morning person and I cannot make time at the end of the day.” I simply am not motivated to workout”
So let’s address these.
– Building new healthy habits takes time.
– Make fitness fun and challenging but most of all make it enjoyable.
– Give it enough time to see and feel some results!
– Everyone can make time; it is simply making it a priority. 10-20 minutes of exercise has been proven to be very beneficial to produce health and fitness gains. If you re-structure your schedule you can find the time.
– Get to bed earlier. Lay out your workout gear besides your bed.
– Write down your workout goals and schedule them into your smartphones and tablets.
– Hire a trainer or find a friend who will help keep you motivated and accountable.
– Workout at home. You don’t need a fully equipped home gym. You just need a space, proper flooring, a few weights, resistance tubing and a medicine ball. In fact, body weight training alone can render great results!! Email me at philipb@rcn.com or visit my website at http://www.mindbodyfitness.us and I will walk you through what you need and can forward you some DVD workout suggestions to get you started.
– If you need the gym environment, join a fitness club. Try a yoga or indoor cycling studio.
– Working out is the single best way to bolster your health and wellness.
– Studies have proven that mixing up your training ( type, intensity and duration) leads to more optimal results.
Take Away: Making time for fitness is the gift that keeps giving. Your body will thank you and serve you for years to come. It is the best investment you will make in your lifetime.

A. Type: I tell my clients to find something you enjoy and will commit to. Ideally cross-training which basically means using a multi exercise approach seems to be most effective. Any program should include the following:
– Flexibility ( stretching)
– Core training ( Yoga, Pilates, core-specific training)
– Full body conditioning ( Cross-fit, Circuit training, P90X)
– Aerobic conditioning ( walking, cycling, swimming, running, triathlon)
B. Frequency: Ideally 5-7 days per week. Alternating any of the above is the best approach. Too much of one thing creates over training injuries and leads to boredom.
C. Intensity: This really depends on your level of fitness. New research indicates that high intensity training yields the best results in terms of building strength, lowering body fat and increasing cardiovascular fitness. High intensity and interval training usually involves shorter bouts of exercise with appropriate rest intervals. It is the best bang for your buck!
D. Duration: this really depends on your intensity level and your training objective. The minimum if you are time-constricted should be 20 minutes. Cross Fit or conditioning classes ( circuit training, cycle classes usually last 45 min).

3. Nutrition: This has become the hottest topic in the health and wellness field. I cannot stress enough – YOU ARE NOT JUST WHAT YOU EAT BUT WHAT YOU DIGEST!
So what is healthy eating?
A. It is a commitment that requires discipline and planning.
B. It is the willingness to break old habits and create healthier ones.
C. Social support is crucial to making and upholding new eating habits.
D. Knowing and dealing with internal and external obstacles to change.
E. Learn to prepare and cook healthy meals and snacks.

F. The body and brain need fuel to work properly. Food is energy and as such it needs to be clean and wholesome.
Foods To Eat:
– Organic vegetables and fruits
– Grass fed beef ( much healthier than grain fed )
– Wild fish ( much better than farm raised)
– Nuts ( almonds, cashews, walnuts)
– Seeds ( pumpkin, sunflower)
– Low- glycemic carbs ( quinoa, steel cut oats, beans, legumes, sweet potatoes, yams, brown rice)
– Sea salt
– Healthy Fats (Kefir, full fat yogurt, avocado, nuts, organic butter, organic whole milk, coconut oil)
– Complete proteins ( cage free eggs, free range chicken)
– If you are going to eat pasta ( spinach or rice)
– If you are going to eat bread ( sprouted wheat or gluten free)
One of my favorite energy meals or snack:
– Green smoothie ( ½ cup kale and spinach, 1 tbs flax seed, ½ banana, ½ avocado, ½ cup berries, 1 cup vanilla almond milk, 2 tbs complete whey protein)

Foods To Avoid:
– Any processed foods and trans fats
– Refined carbohydrates: cereals, crackers cookies, etc
– Farmed salmon: crammed into pens and fed soy, lower in VitD and higher in contaminants, PCB’s and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT
– Non- organic milk: high in growth hormones ( rBGH) leads to higher IGF-1 which has been linked to breast, prostate and colon cancer.
– High glycemic carbs: which elevate blood sugar quickly causing the release of insulin. Ex: potatoes, cereals, breads ( white and whole wheat), white rice
– Canned tomatoes: contain BPA ( toxic chemical)
– Processed meats: loaded with growth hormones and antibiotics, sodium nitrate ( which can convert to nitosamines which is a potential cancer-causing chemical)
– Margarine: loaded with trans fat, free radicals, emulsifiers, and preservatives
– Vegetable oils: highly processed. They oxidize good cholesterol into bad cholesterol.
– Microwave popcorn: loaded with toxic carcinogenic chemicals ( PFC’s) can lead to thyroid disease, infertility, immune system problems, cancer, elevated LDL cholesterol.
– Table salt: 95% processed sodium chloride
– Soy protein: almost 100% of soybeans are genetically modified which are also designed to withstand large doses of herbicides.

Healthy Fats:
– New research is shifting our understanding on the consumption of fat. In fact, virtually all fats in their natural state including saturated fat found in butter, eggs, and red meat can help facilitate a healthy metabolism and support essential biochemical processes, including optimal cell, nerve and brain function.
– Full fat dairy ( milk, yogurt, cheese) is in fact inversely associated with obesity and metabolic disease. Studies prove that people who eat high fat dairy foods had a lower risk for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
– So, what’s in high fat dairy? Butyrate – which inhibits inflammation and Phytanic acid –which helps reduce trigylcerides and improves insulin sensitivity.
– Take Away: Add more healthy fats, lower glycemic carbs and complete proteins
Gluten Avoidance:
– Gluten is a protein found in many grains, including wheat, rye, barley, spelt and Kamut.
– One in 100 individuals has an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease, whereby gluten attacks the small intestine. Researchers now believe that another 40-50% of Americans may have developed a non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
– In this case, gluten sets off a chain of inflammatory events that can lead to an array of disorders – acid reflux, arthritis, chronic fatigue, migraines and brain fog to name a few.
– New research is looking at the role gluten may play in the aging of the brain and the onset of neurodegenerative disease.

Paleo Diet:
– The fast growing trend towards Paleo, or as some call it the “caveman diet,” is gaining a lot of traction these days. This approach emphasizes grass-fed meats, wild fish, edible greens, vegetables, roots, nuts, seeds and some seasonal fruits, while minimizing reliance on processed sugars and gluten containing grains. It is in fact a low carb diet (not a no-carb!!) with higher percentage of fats and proteins. Recent studies indicate that the Paleo diet may reduce the incidence or risk of developing heart disease, metabolic syndrome (type 2 diabetes and obesity), autoimmune and neurodegenerative disease.
– Another interesting fact: after you get used to this new way of eating you will really benefit from the removal of gluten, processed sugars and foods and will experience higher and more sustainable energy, greater alertness, clearer thinking, improved sleep and less mood swings)
Sweeteners:
– The widespread use of sweeteners ( aspartame) found in both drinks and foods can have a profound effect on your gut microbiota or flora. They in fact may induce certain gut bacteria to induce glucose intolerance and metabolic disease, which are strongly associated with promoting inflammation based diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

– Once promoted as aiding in weight loss and preventing diabetes, artificial sweeteners interfere with the body’s ability to utilize glucose by disrupting the function of essential gut microorganisms.
– Gut microbes are essential and must be in the right balance for optimal health. They provide us with critical nutrients, help fight off pathogens and keep our immune system in balance.
Take Away: Do not use sugar substitutes. Stay away from Splenda, Equal, Sweet’N Low, Agave Nectar, Xylitol and Erythritol.
Ok to use- small amounts of Stevia and Raw Honey.
Supplements and Vitamins:
– Ideally we should get our nutrients from our foods. However, it requires much work and preparation to provide these necessary nutrients that our bodies need. If you eat a wholesome and balanced diet you can get most of these.
– Unfortunately, due to the stressful and time-crunched lives most of us lead, I recommend supplementing with the following. The lists below help with lowering your risk of developing autoimmune, metabolic and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, they help regulate hormones, stabilize and strengthen gut flora, and help reduce risk of neurodegenerative disease and cancer.
Take with Breakfast:
– Omega 3’s 1500 mg/ day
– Magnesium 500 mg/ day
– Calcium 100 mg/ day
– Vitamin C 1-500-100mg/day
– Vit D 1000 IU / day
– Vitamin B complex 100mg/ day
If you have digestive issues or GERD
– Take 2 DGL and 2 HCL tablets 15 min before eating.
Other Nutrition Tips:
– Do not skip breakfast – it lowers metabolism by up to 40% (need to turn on the metabolic engine!!)
– It is best to eat the bulk of your calories during the daytime – Your stomach actually has a bedtime! Its muscle contractions are tied to the light-dark cycle (aka circadian rhythm). Contractility is greatest during the day and as such is best to consume the majority of your calories.
– Eating small meals throughout the day helps stabilize glucose levels, enhances metabolic and cognitive function and stabilizes mood and energy levels.
– Going for a walk after meals – encourages peristalsis and hastens stomach emptying.
– Never go right to bed after eating a late dinner.
– Drink 4-8 glasses of filtered water each day.
– Drink your water or beverage of choice after your meal ( promotes better digestion
– Eat a balance of foods at each meal ( Healthy fats, complete protein, low-glycemic carbs)
– Don’t go to a party or social function hungry!
– Plan your meals and keep healthy snacks with you during the day ( nuts, fruits, etc)
– Remember the old adage: Failing to plan is planning to fail
Coffee
– 1-2 cups per day ( no caffeine after 2 pm)
– To reduce acids, oils and any impurities do the following:
A. Use organic beans ( course grind)
B. Cold brewing method ( use Toddy ) – use coarse grind
C. Chemex method – use coarse grind.
D. Bullet proof Coffee: Blend together coffee, 1tbsp organic butter, 1 tbsp coconut oil. This way you can introduce some healthy fats and allows for better absorption of the caffeine and less stress to the digestive tract.
4. Sleep:
– This is one of the hottest topics in the health and wellness field.

– Some of the top researchers believe that sleep is also very critical to the pursuit of optimal health and longevity.

– Adults need 7-9 hours per night.
– Unmanaged stress leads to elevated cortisol ( stress hormone) which disrupts sleep.

– Sleep is where our bodies and brain repair and re-balance themselves.

– Sleep deficit or prolonged deprivation can directly impact our immune systems, create inflammation, hormonal imbalances, metabolic and cognitive impairment and even alter our genetic physiology. We will discuss epigenetics later – which looks at how our lifestyle choices and behaviors can turn on or off certain genes.

– Sleep problems can lead to a surge in pro-inflammatory molecules throughout the body which in turn creates problems such as cognitive impairment
( decision making, reaction time, situational awareness and communication can be reduced by up to 50%), memory loss, sexual dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, cancer and even Alzheimer’s.

Sleep and Alzheimer’s:

– It turns out much of our brain health is impacted by not what happens when we are awake, but rather when we are asleep and allowing for the brain to recover and heal from all the stresses that are imposed upon it.

– When we are asleep our brains do not actually go to sleep.

– Several parts of the brain are significantly more active at night than during the daytime.

– One of them is the glymphatic system – which behaves like a recycling or sewage system by clearing away all of the brain’s toxins.
– Tau protein, which is the crucial component of amyloid plaque ( the hallmark of Alzheimer’s) is very actively recycled during sleep.

– Acetylcholine is a chemical involved in both creating memories and sleep and dreaming. Apparently, the brain cells that produce acetylcholine are destroyed in the early development of Alzheimer’s, which contributes to a reduction of dreaming.

– Glucose Intolerance – Prominent in diabetes, glucose intolerance has been potentially linked to the elevated risk and onset of Alzheimer’s. In fact, many researchers are now calling Alzheimer’s “type 3 diabetes”. Poor sleep leads to more carbohydrate cravings and imbalances in cortisol levels. The result – more inflammation and higher blood glucose levels.

Other Facts:
– Further studies show that extended wakefulness can permanently damage neurons that are essential for alertness and cognition.

– Reduced sleep may also be linked to shrinking of brain volume which promotes faster aging.

– Additionally, there are certain chemicals that are secreted during REM sleep ( deepest stage of sleep) that are critical for repairing both the body and brain.

– During the daytime we are bombarded with thousands of stimuli- auditory, visual and neurosensory. The brain cannot process all of this stimuli and information as it comes in.
It turns out much of the tagging and archiving of memories takes place at night while you are sleeping. If you do not get good sleep you simply don’t process this information and store it in memory.
Take Away and Tips:
– Get 7-9 hours of sleep.

– Your brain is very active when you sleep, especially during REM sleep.

– If you are sleep deprived it is harder to get into REM sleep due to elevated cortisol

– Sleep helps to recycle brain toxins, specifically Tau proteins, which are the building blocks of amyloid plaque.

– Extended wakefulness can permanently damage neurons essential for alertness and cognition.

– Try to get to sleep and wake at a regular time. Consistent sleep helps with biological and hormonal rhythms.
– Reduce use of electromagnetic devices before bedtime (TV, smartphone,etc.) Blue light emissions disrupt melatonin levels which are vital for sleep.

– A dark and cooler room will provide the best conditions to promote healthy sleep.

– Regular exercise and a healthy diet help promote good restorative sleep.

– Preferably get your exercise in during the daytime – not too close to bedtime.

– Stop caffeine intake by 2 pm.

– Alcohol before bedtime is very disruptive to REM sleep.

– If you cannot sleep- DO NOT USE SLEEP DRUGS!

– Natural sleep aids include: 5-HTP, Melatonin, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Valerian root.

5. Stress Management:
– Stress exists in many forms.

– Stress can be negative or it can be positive. It can be harmful if it is not managed and understood. It can be beneficial if it ignites a change in our thinking and behavior.

– It is our response to the stress that really affects our health and well being.
– Stress first needs to be identified.

– What is the source? Is it a person? Is it a situation? Is it our own actions and behaviors that are responsible?

– Once it is identified then you need to come up with a strategy to manage it?

Stress Reduction:
– Getting adequate and restorative sleep.

– As previously discussed getting proper exercise and a healthy diet helps to reduce and stabilize our stress hormones by improving our moods, cognitive function and mental clarity, reducing the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, autoimmune and neurodegenerative disease.

– Due to the mind-body connection our thoughts and beliefs directly impact our physiology. A stressed out mindset yields a stressed body and vise versa.

Time management is a powerful tool in the battle against stress.
A. Making time for fitness or trying a new activity or sport.
B. Explore new hobbies and taking time away from work.
C. Learn to cook and prepare healthy foods.
D. Learn to slow down and realize that you need to live in the moment.
E. Let go of what you cannot control!
F. You cannot change the past, but you can shape the future!

Workplace Stress:
– Getting proper nutrition before, during and after work reduces mental and physical fatigue and stress at work. It is especially important to hydrate throughout the day
(preferably filtered water – avoid too much caffeine and sweetened beverages)

– Working out before work helps to better prepare you for the work day.

– Mid-day workout or a walk can help give you a much needed break and re-energize you for the rest of the day.

– Ergonomics profoundly affect your health and performance.

A. Sitting properly with good posture in a supportive ergonomic chair.

B. Adjusting your desk and computer to facilitate and reinforce your good position.

C. Taking work breaks – stretch and move which reduces neck, shoulder, back and eye strain problems.

D. Hydrate throughout the day.
E. Try to use better lighting (CFL lighting) if you cannot have access to natural lighting. Reducing harsh and/or dim lighting has been proven to improve employee moods, reduce absenteeism and illnesses.
Adrenal Fatigue:
– When the body is exposed to stress, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis ( HPA axis) is activated – triggering a variety of hormonal changes that leads to cortisol release from the adrenal gland.
– When the stress is removed a negative feedback cycle kicks in and reduces the cortisol release.
– If we are exposed to chronic stress this negative feedback cycle gets turned off and our adrenals keep pumping more and more cortisol until we become resistant to its effects.
– Eventually, the HPA axis cannot keep up with demand for cortisol and the cortisol levels get too low, and we are left with adrenal fatigue syndrome.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue:
– Trouble getting up in the morning
– Inability to manage stress
– Brain fog
– Dizziness when standing from a sitting /lying down position.
– Vulnerable to allergies
– Low blood pressure
– Low sex drive
– Low blood sugar

Triggers of Adrenal fatigue:
– Unmanaged/ chronic stress
– Poor sleep
– Too much television or computer work right before bedtime ( Blue light reduces melatonin – a vital sleep hormone)
– Pumping your body with too much caffeine to get you started and skipping a healthy breakfast.
– SAD ( Standard American Diet) – high refined carbs, processed foods which trigger blood sugar problems forcing adrenals to release cortisol and epinephrine.
– Skipping meals
– Lack of exercise or too much high intensity exercise (especially if you are not eating healthy carbs – fruit or starchy tubers such as sweet potato, celery, beets, yams).

Preventing Adrenal Fatigue:
– Get 8 hrs of sleep each night.
– Try to get to bed and wake at the same time.
– Limit exposure to blue light before bedtime or install an app like F. lux on your computer.
– Don’t skip meals –especially breakfast.
– High protein breakfast is best ( helps to stabilize blood sugar)
– Eat some healthy carbs – especially if you engage in high intensity exercise.
– Practice mindful meditation or yoga to reduce mental/emotional stress.

Cortisol:

– Cortisol is a stress hormone that is both essential to our health and in too large quantities, can be very damaging.

– As mentioned earlier, unmanaged stress elevates cortisol.
– Poor sleep leads to higher cortisol levels

– Exercise and healthy eating ( healthy fats, complete proteins, and avoiding refined sugars and processed foods) help to regulate cortisol.

Practicing meditation:
– Helps moderate and re-train the body’s fight or flight stress response (the Sympathetic Nervous System). This response triggers a release of pro-inflammatory chemicals including cortisol and adrenaline. Furthermore, it disrupts digestive and immune processes and can also lead to joint and tissue inflammation, altering brain chemistry – promoting depression, bi-polar and anxiety disorders, mood swings and elevated food cravings.
– Mindful meditation combined with deep breathing helps to quiet the above response and activate the Parasympathetic Nervous system – lowering our stress hormones and quieting and resetting the brain and body.

The last 2 areas I want to discuss are Epigenetics and The Brain-Gut Connection

Epigenetics:
– Epigenetics refers to the change in gene expression without involving any changes to the underlying DNA sequence.

– In essence you can turn on or turn off certain genes that can have a profound effect on your health and longevity. These changes are influenced by age, internal and external environmental factors and the onset of disease or inflammation.

– Research has proven that we all can positively or negatively influence our genetic makeup.
– So even though you have inherited a predisposition towards a disease (family history) you can greatly reduce or reverse its effect on you.

– Researchers have investigated the genetic effects of various mental states on our immune system.

– One study revealed how chronic loneliness was associated with up and down regulation of specific genes. Genes involved in the regulation of inflammatory response were up-regulated, while genes involved with antiviral control were down-regulated. The outcome was decreased immune function. In socially active people, the opposite was true.

– As we get older our lifestyle choices have greater impact on our health and longevity than our genetics.

Let’s look at the factors that impact epigenetics:

A. Healthy diet – avoiding refined and processed foods, GMO’s.
B. Managing stress – which profoundly affects our mental and physical well being.
C. Exercise – strengthens the immune, hormonal and neurological systems.
D. Adequate sleep – allowing the body and brain to recover and remove any toxins.
E. Positive Mindset- our thoughts and beliefs drive our actions and behavior.

The Exposome:
– It refers to the sum of all non-genetic exposures in an individual lifetime, starting from the moment of conception. It encompasses everything from the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the lifestyle choices we make, to the health of our parents at time of our conception. Essentially, the full spectrum of environmental exposures that impact our health.
A. Specific external environment: diet, physical activity, water consumption, exposure to chemical and toxic pollutants and agents, and health of parents at our conception.
B. General external environment: climate, economic, psychological and social, influences, stress.
C. Internal environment: biology, metabolism, microbiome, inflammation, hormones and oxidative stress.

– The exposome is the primary driver of human health and disease. It influences about 90% of our health while the genes influence 10%.

– The exposome is what alters our genetic biology by up- or- down regulating our genes.

– Similar to a film production – the genes are the script and the exposome is the production and performance. The script doesn’t change from production to production and the best script in the world means nothing if it is not produced well.

– Dr. Francis Collins of NIH summarized it best: “Genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger.”

Telomeres:

– Telomeres (more specifically, telomere length) are DNA biomarkers that might hold the key to understanding and measuring life expectancy. Simply, the greater the length the greater the longevity.

– They are the end sequence of chromosomes that house our DNA.

– Their job is to protect the threadlike structure of the chromosome from unraveling.

– Oxidative stress (harmful free radicals) and chronic inflammation decrease the strength and protectiveness of telomeres. In addition, our dietary patterns and lifestyle decisions impact telomere length and integrity.

– Research indicates that aerobic exercise which activates specific anti-inflammatory processes, can help prevent or inhibit telomere shortening.

– It is also noted that high intensity training mixed in with aerobic conditioning has the greatest effect.
Bottom Line:
Our genetic makeup is important, but it is the internal and external environment
that shape our health and longevity. Thus, it becomes each individual’s responsibility for
understanding and managing the 5 pillars of wellness.
– Mind Body Connection
– Exercise
– Diet
– Sleep
– Stress Management

Brain-Gut Health:
Hippocrates said 2000 yrs ago : “ All disease begins in the gut”.

– Well, here we are in 2015 and all the research supports that claim.

– In fact, an unhealthy gut is a precursor to a broad range of diseases that include: obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, some cancers, and neurodegenerative disease.

– The gut is comprised of over 100 trillion microorganisms.

– The microbiome ( gut flora) helps with gastrointestinal function, regulates metabolism, protects us from infection and makes up about 75% of our immune system.

– Research shows that an imbalance in gut flora is directly responsible for diseases such as depression, autoimmune disease, autism, IBS, leaky gut syndrome and type 1 diabetes.

Factors that lead to an unhealthful gut:
A. Over use of NSAID’s ( ibuprofen, naproxen)
B. Antibiotics.
C. Chronic and untreated stress.
D. Intake of refined sugars, carbs, GMO’s and processed foods.
E. Dietary toxins (wheat).
F. Sedentary lifestyle.
G. Poor sleep.
Leaky Gut Syndrome:
– One of the most important functions of the gut is to create a barrier to prevent foreign and toxic substances from entering the body.

– When the intestinal barrier weakens and becomes permeable (leaky gut syndrome) large proteins can enter the bloodstream, which are not supposed to exist outside the gut. This forces the body to create an immune response to destroy them.

– It is the process of destruction that plays a major role in the development of autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, celiac disease and Hashimoto’s (thyroid disease).

– The breach of the intestinal barrier by food toxin like gluten and chemicals like BPA or arsenic causes an immune response that also affects other organs (pancreas, liver kidneys and brain).

– Leaky gut can also show up in many other ways, not just in the gut (brain fog, heart failure, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, allergies, skin problems like eczema and psoriasis and depression.

Bottom Line: if you have a leaky gut you probably have compromised gut flora and vise versa. When your gut flora and gut barrier are impaired you will have inflammation. The systematic inflammatory response then triggers an autoimmune condition.
Restoring and Maintaining a Healthy Gut:

A. Remove all food toxins.
B. Eat fermented foods (kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, etc).
C. Get plenty of fermentable fibers (sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc).
D. Take a high quality probiotic.
E. Get tested for and treat any intestinal pathogens (parasites).
F. Manage your stress levels.
G. Get restorative sleep.
H. Exercise regularly (sedentary lifestyle slows down gut motility).

The Gut- Brain Connection:
– A very powerful interrelated and bi-directional axis exists between the gut and brain.
– Gut health (gut biome) may play a significant role in the onset and proliferation of many autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome , Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
– Recent studies indicate that Parkinson’s patients that displayed symptoms of leaky gut syndrome and SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) also manifested weak motor function. When the SIBO improved so did the motor function!
– It is believed that leaky gut impacts inflammation, oxygen delivery and blood sugar regulation.
– Gluten intolerance or sensitivity: Research has shown patients with neurodegenerative disease have tested positive for gluten antibodies (tTG6). People who are gluten intolerant and eat gluten – their body attacks a vital enzyme in the brain that can lead to neurodegneration. Gluten therefore, can contribute or exacerbate Parkinson’s if a person is gluten intolerant.
Potential Therapy for patients with Neurodegnerative Disease:

A. Low-dose naltrexone ( LDN) – increases intestinal motility and and promotes T regulatory cell function which helps regulate immune function
B. Curcumin – found in turmeric seems to provide neuro protection for the brain. The best source is liposomal curcumin ( available at Seeking Health).
C. Excess Iron – It is important to check your iron levels ( serum and ferratin). Elevated iron levels can act as a catalyst for oxidative damage. The best way to lower iron levels ( if needed) is to give blood or lower your consumption of organ meat and shellfish, avoid high doses of vitamin C and reduce alcohol intake.
D. Glutathione – a very powerful anti-oxidant that serves as anti-inflammatory for the gut and brain. Our bodies do produce it but it can be quickly depleted with high levels of stress, poor sleep, inadequate exercise and the onset of autoimmune disease. The best source is liposomal glutathione or alpha-lipoic acid.
Food sources: Red meat, organic fruits and vegetables ( note cooking vegetables reduces their content by up to 60%)
Food for the Brain:
A. Omega 3’s ( DHA)
B. B12 and B6 ( meat and dark veggies)
C. Choline ( eggs)
D. Heme Iron ( meat)
E. Vitamin D ( 1000 IU)
F. Curcumin ( 400-500mg)
G. Acetyl L Carnitine ( 1000-200mg)  The Five Pila

Have An Open Mind

Life can throw us many curve balls. Truthfully, it’s not the curve ball that is the challenge but rather how we respond to it. We are all in control of our own lives and, ultimately, our destiny. Part of being in control is the willingness to create a plan and, more importantly, the ability to be flexible.

Life is full of challenges and those of us who can make the necessary adjustments are the ones that will flourish. This requires the development of an “open or learned ” mindset. An open mind is one that seeks information and continues to learn and adapt. Part of this process is the ability and desire to listen more and talk less. If you are always speaking you cannot listen. If you are more concerned about being heard, again, you are not listening. An open mind is one that is capable of handling stress better and re- calibrating when life is difficult. An open mind is less judgemental and more adaptable.

Life is a constant learning process and the sooner you grasp that concept the better off you will be and can be better suited to handle what life throws at you.

Surround yourself with people who you can learn from and that you respect. Our social connections might be the single most important aspect of our ability to the successful in this life. A closed mind and restricted social structure will certainly limit your successes and, ultimately, shut down your connectedness to the world and the ability to learn from others.

A curve ball is just that – a ball that challenges your ability to adjust. You can only adjust if you keep open mind. Admit your weakness and make them your strengths. You are only as strong and your weakest link.

A mentor once told me the more you learn the less you realise what you know.

The Bank of Life

Many years ago my father sat me down as a young boy and proceeded to give me his philosophy on life. He told me that hard work and financial stability are the keys to a happy and fulfilling life. I admired his love for both his work and devotion to his career. He taught me the importance of saving and building wealth. While his passion for his work was admirable, I was struck by the lack of importance he put on his health and well-being. In fact,  his addiction to smoking and his poor diet contributed to a shortened life –clearly a paradox existed which led to his imbalanced life.  It took me many years to understand why he chose to live his life this way.  His passing served as a gift (of sorts) to me –it launched my life and career in a new direction. I embarked on a crusade  not only to study and understand human behavior but also to comprehend what motivated and influenced people and their lifestyle decisions.

Life is about making decisions and trade-offs. It’s about growth and learning –  making mistakes and learning from them. My father’s life choices  taught me that one needs to invest in both wealth and health. They are, in fact, synergistic. Smart banking is smart living and vice-versa, and the parallels are clear. Life is  like a bank. You make deposits (i.e.  healthy choices like starting an exercise program or studying a new language); and withdrawals (i.e. quitting your gym membership or taxing your body with poor food choices).  If you deposit more than you withdraw you have a surplus. If you withdraw more than you deposit you are at a deficit. It soon became pretty clear to me that health and wellness mimics this principal. Your mind and body are yours for a lifetime. How you treat them is up to you.

Healthy tenets (“deposits”) in the Bank of Life include:

– Find meaning and purpose.

– Find role models and mentors from whom you can learn. Surround yourself with people who are successful and are willing to share their vision.

– Feed and stimulate your mind.

– Challenge and strengthen your body.

–  Give back and contribute to the well-being of others.

– Understand that wealth and money does not buy you happiness, but rather it gives you the freedom to make choices.

–  Recognize that you always have options.

–  Realize  that no one but you and you alone are responsible for your decisions.

–  Avoid withdrawing more than  you deposit.

–  Make sure you pay off your debts ( financial, social, personal).

– Live with integrity.

*And remember, it’s never too late to open a bank account!!