MindBody Fitness

Real Protection From Cognitive Decline

Much like our ability to slow down and reverse the aging of our bodies the same applies to our brain.

Adopting specific lifestyle behaviors in our 30’s and 40’s or in our 50’s and beyond can have a profound and tangible effect on how well we age. And the opposite holds true – neglect and destructive habits will compromise both our bodies and brain as we age.

As we age a build up of toxins such as tau proteins and beta amyloid plaques have been correlated to aging process and cognitive decline. This process which seems to be a natural aging process can be increased by many negative factors. Stress, lack of sleep, inactivity and neurotoxins ( including alcohol) can accelerate this process.

Neuroplasticity – defined by 3 mechanisms ( synaptic connection, myelination and neurogenesis) allows our brains to change and develop during our lifespan. Neurogenesis – the birth of new neurons is the real key to resilient aging.

This activity happens in the hippocampus – a region of the brain responsible for new memories. We store new experiences during the day and store them during sleep. The more we experience new things and activities and challenge new learning the greater the possibility of neurogenesis.

3 Ways To Turn On Resilient Aging By Activating Neurogenesis:

1. Aerobic Exercise and HIIT – helps to build BDNF ( brain derived neurotrophic factor) which encourages neurogenesis and minimize beta amyloid plaquing. Individual or group sports / activities are both effective.

2. Healthy Eating and Intermittent Fasting – research indicates that calorie restriction and intermittent fasting both encourage neurogenesis. Reducing refined sugars and processed foods help minimize oxidative damage to brain cells which has been linked to higher risks for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Restorative Sleep – new research has proven that sleep helps promote the brain’s neural “cleaning” glymphatic system which helps flush out the build up of tau proteins and beta amyloid plaque. Sleep deprivation leads to memory deficit and other cognitive impairments.

Brain resilience is supported by sufficient quality and length of sleep. The brain responds best to regular circadian cycles that are best promoted by consistent sleep habits (getting to bed and waking at the same times).

Consistent exercise, healthy eating and managing one’s stress levels ( best done with mindfulness and breath-based meditation) all improve sleep quality and consistency.

The key is building these new habits and until they become a regular part of your life.

Good Sleep Prep

As we all know good quality sleep is essential to optimal health. Irregular sleep and sleep deprivation are linked to a variety of compromised health issues: memory loss and lack of energy, focus and concentration, mood swings and emotional stability, depression, metabolic, digestive and immune system dysregulation.

Researchers have now pinpointed some good bedtime strategies and routines that help facilitate a solid and restorative night sleep.

1. Create and adhere to a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking at the same time is best way to create good sleep habits – even on weekends. This establishes consistent circadian bio -rhythms.

2. Electronic shutdown. Turn off all devices one hour before bed. After dark, the blue light from screens can prevent adequate melatonin levels needed to sleep. If you cannot unplug entirely, consider a light dimming app f.lux ( Apple) or Twilight ( Android). Also keep your bedroom dark and cool.

3. Bedtime rituals: Read a book, take a warm bath, creative writing all engage you without the negative impacts of your devices or TV. Over time, these rituals will help signal to your body and brain that it’s time for sleep.

4. Mind clearing: It’s imperative to quiet your brain before sleep. Layout workout clothes, prep your breakfast or lunch, complete a to-do list.

5. Relax the body: Adopt some deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation techniques to help release tension and stress.

6. Consider getting a sleep number bed – where you can adjust the bed angles and firmness to meet your individual needs. Supportive and high quality pillows are also essential.

Small Steps To Long Lasting Well-Being

Health and, ultimately, longevity are very much influenced and shaped by many small choices we make. Long lasting health is the summation of the food we eat, environmental influences, the level of activity, the quality of your sleep and the social/ personal relationships we create and maintain.

Most experts agree that reaching the goal of optimal well-being beings with starting small. Successes build on themselves. Healthy changes over time lead to increases in energy, confidence, clarity which power you on the create new healthy habits. Additionally, your personal successes inspire and motivate others.

1. Eat Right

Choose high quality whole-foods. Aim for organic, non-GMO foods. Eliminate or minimize refined sugars and processed foods. A well-balanced diet might include the following:

50-70% non-starchy vegetables ( dark leafy greens, crucifers, squash, onion and garlic). These provide vitamins, enzymes and phytonutrients, build energy and support detoxification, reduce inflammation and reduce cancer risk. Fermented vegetables help build and support a balanced microbiome.

10-15% high quality proteins (grass fed beef and organic poultry and eggs, wild caught fish, organic dairy, nuts, seeds and bone broth). These proteins contain amino acids – building blocks for the body, muscles and support immune function.

20-30% healthy fats ( coconut oil, olives, avocado, nut butters and grass fed butter). These fats balance hormones and absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. They support skin, brain, help in digestion and support satiety.

2. Sleep

During sleep our bodies and brain detoxify. The brain’s glymphatic system is similar to the body’s lymphatic system. This process only happens during sleep. The removal of proteins help to maintain normal neurological function. Build up of these proteins has been linked to brain fog, poor memory in the short term. Long term effects suggest a link to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Sleep is not a luxury but rather a necessity. Regular sleep helps to balance your circadian rhythms – expose yourself to early morning light, get outdoors throughout the day, turn off devices 2 hours before bedtime, keep your bedroom cool and dark.

3. Movement

Our bodies are designed to move and built for many different activities. It’s also designed to be stimulated by changing physical planes ( pivoting, turning, lunging, pushing, pulling and hoisting). These activities keep muscles strong, joints and tendons robust. Movement also has a protective purpose has muscle tissue to produce proteins called myokines that have important disease-preventive and anti-inflammatory functions.

– Move as much as possible at work. Walking meetings, standing desks, etc.

– Take frequent walks, pick up a new sport, try yoga. Find a friend or training partner to join you in your activities.

– Walk before lunch each day ( get some natural light, decompresses your digestive system, helps reset your nervous system in prep for eating and builds alertness and reduces cravings for sugar).

– Try mini sessions ( 10-15 minutes of any kind of exercise or movement)

4. Address Toxicity

Reducing your exposure to environmental toxins – chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, cleaning products, chemical based skin and health care products.

– Avoid GMO’s and processed foods.

– Epigenetics: The environment around your cells directly influences whether disease causing genes get switched on or stay turned off. Toxins and an inflammatory diet create the worst of conditions. A healthy diet and lower toxin exposure help the body to keep the disease-causing genes turned off.

5. Mindfulness And Deep- Breathing.

Learning to unwind and turn off the stressors is essential to good health and longevity. Most of us live in the “on” state – demands of work, relationships, pressure to perform, produce and succeed,etc. It’s challenging to find quiet and down time away from our devices and the above demands.

One way to find stillness and shut off the noise and down-regulate our nervous system is to adopt a meditation or mindfulness practice. As one expert suggests: “just as night follows day , stillness should follow activity – they are 2 sides of one whole.”

– Try deep / diaphragmatic ( belly) breathing

– 4-7-8 breathing ( Place tongue behind your front teeth at gum line, exhale through your mouth making a whooshing sound, close your mouth and inhale though the nose for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts and exhale though mouth for 8 counts). Repeat 10x.

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.