Best Future You – Chapter 1 – Balancing Biochemistry

My 13th book, Best Future You, is out!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting excerpts from the book and blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.

Chapter 1 – The Battle for Balance

Balancing Biochemistry

When measuring the state of their health through lab tests, people often want to get their “numbers” down. For instance, they may strive to lower their cholesterol or to lower high blood-pressure readings. But when it comes to the subject of cellular stress, the goal is not simply to “lower” oxidizing free radicals or inflammatory cytokines or even stress hormones like cortisol – but instead to maintain proper balance. In fact, many stress physiologists believe that the problem is not so much the absolute level of cellular stress that people are exposed to, but their degrees of variability in that exposure that lead to imbalances that further lead to tissue dysfunction and systemic disease. In other words, people should aim to have neither high levels of cellular stress – nor low levels – but rather, a “just right” level that fluctuates normally in response to stress and adaptation. In coming chapters, we’ll look more at how chronically high cellular stress is bad, but also how chronically low cellular stress can also be bad—and especially how “flat” levels of cellular stress/adaptation that show little to no fluctuation seem to be just as bad as either extreme, because they lead to problems with biochemical balance and to adverse changes in other aspects of biochemistry farther “downstream” in the metabolic cascade.

You’ve just learned a great deal about biochemistry, and at this point you have a better understanding of how exposure to our external and internal environments affects your biochemical balance. You may also have come to realize that chronic cellular stress is not only a major stumbling block to developing daily vigor but a drastic threat to your long-term health as well. As you continue reading, you will recognize that the importance of balancing cellular stress is at the very heart of, and sets the foundation for, everything that we might do to improve how we feel, look, and perform.

Thanks for reading – tune in for the next installment when I kick off Chapter 2 with “Managing Cellular Stress – the Basis for Feeling, Looking, and Performing Your Best

====================================

Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author

 

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The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic
The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)
The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)
Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)
Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)
The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)

Best Future You – Chapter 1 – Sleep Loss and Cellular Stress

My 13th book, Best Future You, is out!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting excerpts from the book and blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.

Chapter 1 – The Battle for Balance

Sleep Loss and Cellular Stress

Have you ever had the experience of being exhausted during the day and all you can think about is getting some sleep? And then, when your head finally hits the pillow, you’re wide awake! Logically this “dynamic duo” of fatigue plus insomnia (or what we call “nighttime restlessness”) would seem to be opposites: If you’re so tired, why can’t you fall asleep? But they are commonly found together in the two-thirds of the North American population who report experiencing chronic stress and who also gets inadequate sleep (we often refer to these folks as the “tired and wired” – and they number in the millions). The common element? You guessed it: disruptions in the body’s biochemical balance. That imbalance is characterized by too much cortisol, too little testosterone, and the cascade of metabolic disruptions including oxidation/inflammation that lead cellular stress.

In the previous section, I discussed what happens when stress-induced imbalances in free radicals, cortisol, and cytokines precipitate a downward spiral that leads to cellular stress states such as obesity. By the same token, the combination of daytime fatigue/exhaustion and nighttime insomnia/restlessness also sets off a vicious cycle in which stress makes it hard to relax and fall asleep—which then leads to more fatigue. And being more fatigued after a sleepless night makes it harder to deal with stressors, which then causes even more difficulty falling asleep the next night…and the next night and the next after that in a repetitive cycle that ultimately ends in burnout.

In the long run, when you sleep fewer hours than the recommended eight hours per night, you can experience annoying side effects, such as headaches, irritability, frequent infections, depression, anxiety, confusion, and generalized mental and physical fatigue. Not only can the lack of sleep leave you feeling lousy and low on vigor, but research shows that even mild sleep deprivation can actually destroy a person’s long-term health and increase the risk of burnout, diabetes, obesity, and breast cancer. In many ways, sleeping fewer than eight hours each night is as bad for overall wellness as gorging on junk food or becoming a couch potato!

On the biochemical level, one of the major problems with the modern “late to bed, early to rise” lifestyle is that your cellular stress levels never have enough time to fully dissipate as they are supposed to overnight – they become chronic stressors rather than acute (temporary) stressors. As a result, your body never has a chance to fully recover and repair itself from the detrimental effects of chronic stress – and thus, is always out of balance. And when your biochemical balance is out of whack, it puts your overall metabolism into a downward spiral, accelerating the “breakdown” of tissues and sending your energy, mood, and mental focus into a tailspin, leaving you with low vigor.

Thanks for reading – tune in next time for the installment about, “Balancing Biochemistry.”

====================================
Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author

 

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The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic
The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)
The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)
Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)
Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)
The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)

Best Future You – Chapter 1 – “Stressed Out”—The Downside of Chronic Stress

My 13th book, Best Future You, is out!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting excerpts from the book and blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.

Chapter 1 – The Battle for Balance

“Stressed Out”—The Downside of Chronic Stress

When people reach a breaking point in the face of too many pressures and worries, it is common to hear them say they are “stressed out” – and the very same process is at work at the cellular level. There is a difference between being “stressed” (that you can adequately respond to) and being “stressed out” (which exceeds our capacity to cope). When you are “stressed,” your body undergoes an adaptive response. Being “stressed out” suggests that your body is unable to mount an effective stress response – leading to biochemical imbalance – aka cellular stress.

The bad news is that modern society makes chronic stress largely inescapable. In numerous research studies, scientists have shown that overall cellular stress is significantly related to the degree of “daily hassles” (more hassles = higher cellular stress) as well as to age (higher age = more accumulated cellular damage) and to hours slept (less sleep = more cellular damage). Worse than that, scientists at Rockefeller University in New York have suggested that being “stressed out” may be the primary cause of many common “modern” diseases, such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and burnout. In addition, researchers in Boston have suggested that chronic psychological stress is a primary cause not just of generalized cellular damage, but also of a variety of inflammatory diseases, including insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

When it comes to managing your weight or combatting obesity, you also have to seriously consider the impact of the cellular stress that accompanies chronic psychological stress. To begin with, the level of oxidation/inflammation in your body and the accumulation of abdominal fat (belly fat) are inextricably linked. That link takes place because cortisol, free radicals, and cytokines promote fat storage in a “chicken-and-egg” scenario in which it’s often hard to tell which came first (cytokines are a class of hormone-like signaling proteins that play a central role in the immune response and in the level of inflammation found throughout the body). So, when we gain belly fat, we often don’t know which came first; the stress (which causes an overexposure to cortisol); or the oxidation (caused by free radical overload); or the inflammation (altered by cytokine imbalance).

On the cellular level, oxidation/inflammation leads to obesity, which leads to more stress and oxidation/inflammation, which leads to more obesity. On the other side of the coin, reducing obesity has the opposite effect: Weight loss leads to a substantial improvement in biochemical balance and a drop in all forms of cellular stress, with drops in oxidation (free radicals), inflammation (cytokines), glycation (blood glucose), and stress hormones (cortisol). So the “chicken-and-egg” scenario that plays out across different types of cellular stress can run two ways, positively as well as negatively.

When these sources of cellular stress are locked in a downward spiral (moving toward “imbalance”), more inflammation and more obesity result; and when that cycle is reversed (moving toward “biochemical balance”), people experience weight loss and feel better. As you can see here and as you will learn throughout this book, it is the ability to manage chronic cellular stress that determines whether these biochemical cycles turn in the right direction.

Thanks for reading – tune in next time for the next installment about, “Sleep Loss and Cellular Stress

====================================
Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author
801-915-1170 (mobile)

 

Follow me on YouTube 
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Follow me on LinkedIn 
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The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic
The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)
The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)
Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)
Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)
The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)

Best Future You – Chapter 1 – Antioxidants – right where you need them most

My 13th book, Best Future You, is out!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting excerpts from the book and blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.

Chapter 1 – The Battle for Balance

Antioxidants – right where you need them most

Even if we understand that overexposure to free radicals and underexposure to antioxidants can lead to damage and dysfunction in the body, we often fail to stop and ask ourselves which of our body’s systems might benefit the most from increased antioxidant protection and reduced cellular stress. The correct answer, of course, is “all of them” – but just to make sure, take a minute to think about which parts of your body are exposed to the highest levels of free radical exposure.

  • For athletes, the lungs, muscles, and cardiovascular system are subjected to high free radical loads as a result of the increased oxygen and blood flow demands of exercise.
  • For those of us exposed to polluted air – or secondhand cigarette smoke – or car exhaust, the free radicals that you’re breathing in that “bad air” is certainly harming your lungs, but those free radicals are also transmitted to every tissue in the entire body by our blood supply.
  • For sunbathers, the skin can benefit from the increased protection that antioxidants provide against the oxidizing ultraviolet radiation of the sun. Likewise, anybody that spends time outdoors exposed to the sun should be concerned with the potential for ultraviolet radiation to damage eye health.
  • For anyone who hits the drive thru for a fast food meal deal (even occasionally), consider that the fat and sugar in that burger, fries, and soft drink will unleash a storm of free radicals, inflammatory compounds, and other cellular stressors. Combine that with the fact that most people simply don’t consume enough brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and we clearly have a cellular stress “gap” between our free radical exposure and our antioxidant shield.

Thanks for reading – tune in for the next installment – “Stressed Out”—The Downside of Chronic Stress

====================================
Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author
801-915-1170 (mobile)

 

Follow me on YouTube 
Follow me on Amazon 
Follow me on Twitter  
Follow me on LinkedIn 
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Follow me on Facebook 
Follow me on  Facebook (Author page)

 

The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic
The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)
The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)
Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)
Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)
The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)

Best Future You – Chapter 1 – What is Cellular Stress?

My 13th book, Best Future You, is out!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting excerpts from the book and blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.

Chapter 1 – The Battle for Balance

What is Cellular Stress?

A simple way to understand the meaning of “stress” is to define it as “the gap between demands and ability to meet those demands.” Every individual, of course, has a different capacity to effectively cope with stress and a different level of functioning when faced with stressful situations. The same is true of each of the trillions of cells in the human body. We all know someone who seems to be better “under pressure” than others. But even the rare person who has a high tolerance for stress ultimately has a breaking point. Add enough total stress to anyone – or any cell – and health and performance soon suffers.

To deepen our understanding of cellular stress, it is helpful to recognize the distinctions that many of the top stress researchers in the world use when analyzing this condition. First, is that the type of stress faced by our cousins in the animal kingdom, are typically short-term, temporary, or acute stressors. For example, if you were a zebra, you could consider a lion chasing you to be an acute stress. The lion charges at you from the bushes, you mount a “fight or flight” stress response to respond to the stress – and (assuming you get away) the stress response is over and done within a few minutes. That sort of short-term acute stress is distinct from the type of stressors that modern humans routinely face, because our stressors are longer-term, repeated, and chronic.

However, unlike animals, humans undergo not only physical stress but also psychological and social stress. Certainly, some sources of psychological stress are grounded in reality, such as the pressure you feel to make your monthly rent or mortgage payments. Other psychological stressors emanate from our imagination—for instance, the stressful encounters that you can imagine having with your boss, coworkers, kids, spouse, or others. So not only do you have to cope with real-life stressors, but your large, complex, and supposedly “advanced” brain has also developed the capacity to actually create stressful situations where none previously existed.

Earlier I described how the body can protect itself from cellular stress (oxidative stress) with “antioxidants” – which we can define as “substances that decrease the severity of oxidative stress caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS).” There are two main types of antioxidants:

  • Exogenous (meaning “outside” the body) – which includes dietary antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, & E, minerals such as selenium and zinc, and phytonutrients such as flavonoids (e.g. from blueberries, cranberries, grapes, etc) and carotenoids (including beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein from carrots, tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, etc).
  • Endogenous (meaning “inside” the body) antioxidants are enzymes that are naturally manufactured within each of our cells, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, glutathione peroxidase and a variety of others.

Our internal protective antioxidant enzymes tend to be much more potent and effective in counteracting the damaging effects of free radicals compared to exogenous dietary antioxidants. This is because dietary antioxidants can only scavenge free radicals in a “one-to-one” relationship – for example, one molecule of vitamin C (antioxidant) quenching one molecule of hydrogen peroxide (free radical). This 1:1 relationship is referred to as “stoichiometric” scavenging – and while important and essential to normal biochemical function in the body, it pales in comparison to the potency of the “catalytic” scavenging of free radicals that is possible with endogenous antioxidant enzymes. The antioxidant enzymes produced by each and every one of our own cells is approximately 1 million times more effective than exogenous antioxidants because the catalytic process allows each antioxidant enzymes to react with and deactivate millions of free radicals every second.

Thanks for reading – tune in for the next installment about, “Antioxidants – right where you need them most.

====================================
Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author

 

Follow me on YouTube 
Follow me on Amazon 
Follow me on Twitter  
Follow me on LinkedIn 
Follow me on ShareCare 
Follow me on Facebook 
Follow me on  Facebook (Author page)

 

The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic
The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)
The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)
Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)
Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)
The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)

Best Future You – Chapter 1 -Free Radical Theory of Aging and Disease

My 13th book, Best Future You, will be released on Feb 1 – TOMORROW!

Until then, I’m keeping the price at $3.49 – less than the cost of a grande latte! (it’s also FREE if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member)…after that, the price goes up to $9.99 – so get it now!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting excerpts from the book and blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.

Chapter 1 – The Battle for Balance

The Free Radical Theory of Aging & Disease

For more than 50 years, scientists have known the aging process to be linked to the free radicals described above. These highly reactive oxygen molecules, referred to by scientists as “reactive oxygen species” (ROS) are produced during normal metabolism and can react with and cause damage to cellular structures in every tissue and throughout the entire body. Particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage are cell membranes, DNA (genetic material), and mitochondria (where cells generate energy) – and damage in these vital areas often means that cells cannot function properly.

It can be scary to think that our own body is producing these damaging molecules as a normal part of living and breathing – but it’s even scarier when you realize that ROS are all around us in the environment in the form of sunlight, car exhaust, air pollution, cigarette smoke, poor diet, and many other sources. Our bodies are constantly being bombarded by free radicals, and constantly under threat of cellular damage and dysfunction – unless we do something to protect ourselves.

Antioxidants are compounds that can react with and quench – or inactivate – a free radical so it cannot cause cellular damage. As such, antioxidants help to protect every cell in our body from damage by free radicals.

Too many free radicals – or too few antioxidants – can wreak havoc on cell membranes and DNA, leading to tissue damage and a wide range of chronic diseases including cancer, arthritis, and heart disease.

The free radical theory of aging (and disease promotion) holds that through a gradual accumulation of microscopic damage to our cell membranes, DNA, tissue structures and enzyme systems, we are predisposed to dysfunction and disease. In response to excessive free radical exposure, the body naturally increases its production of endogenous antioxidant enzymes (glutathione peroxidase, catalase, superoxide dismutase and others), but it has been theorized that our bodies are less able to activate these internal protective systems as we age. Thus, in order to promote optimal health and well-being, many of us probably need to augment our natural defenses by “manually activating” these natural pathways in order to help prevent excessive oxidative damage to muscles, mitochondria and other tissues.

If you’ve ever noticed an apple turning brown shortly after being cut open or an old car with rust spots all over it, you’ve actually seen the results of the natural process of oxidation. One simple definition of oxidation is that it describes what happens when oxygen combines with another substance. On a somewhat more technical level, oxidation refers to the “loss of at least one electron when two or more substances interact.” How are these electrons lost? They’re “stolen” by the highly reactive free radicals described above.

Free radicals are highly reactive and potentially damaging, because they have an “unpaired” electron that wants to “pair” with another electron. Unfortunately, free radicals often try to “take” that needed electron from proteins and lipids (fats) in the cells, creating microscopic damage to cellular structures and leading to tissue dysfunction. Perhaps even worse than the direct damage to DNA and cellular structures is that damage in one part of the cell can set off a chain reaction of damage that can be propagated from one part of the cell to another, just as a campfire spark jumps from tree to tree in a forest and leads to a wildfire.

Free radicals are not necessarily “bad”—a certain amount of cellular “signaling” by free radicals is actually needed for normal physiological functioning, including normal glucose transport, mitochondrial genesis, and muscle hypertrophy (growth). However, unchecked or excessive free-radical activity is what leads to cellular damage—oxidation or oxidative stress—and the cycle of inflammation and tissue dysfunction that follows.

Consuming antioxidant nutrients in the form of brightly colored fruits and vegetables has clearly been shown in research studies to be associated with reduced free radical damage and improved health. Unfortunately, the practice of “taking antioxidants,” in the form of high-dose vitamin supplements, is being linked by a growing number of scientific studies to more harm than good, which you’ll learn more about in Chapter 3.

Cells are typically able to protect themselves from free-radical damage through the internal (endogenous) antioxidant enzymes described above (superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, catalase) as well as through antioxidant nutrients found in the diet (vitamins C and E, minerals selenium and zinc, flavonoids, and carotenoids—many of which can directly “quench” free radicals by donating their own electrons).

As you’ll learn in Chapter 4, our bodies possess their own built-in systems of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory defenses that naturally protect us from our stressful environment (collectively known as the cellular defense response, or CDR). However, when these internal systems are overwhelmed by free radicals and other sources of cellular stress, damage may occur to DNA, proteins, and lipids in cell membranes (generally referred to as “lipid peroxidation”). Excessive free-radical production can come from air pollution, cigarette smoke, intense exercise, and even immune-system activity (because immune cells release huge amounts of free radicals such as superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and nitric oxide as part of their “respiratory burst” to kill pathogens and clear out damaged cell material).

The most common free radicals in the body include superoxide (O2-), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), hydroxyl radical (OH-), nitric oxide (NO-), and peroxyl radical (NOO-). Superoxide, the most reactive of the free radicals, is formed in the mitochondria of the cell during the normal passage of molecular oxygen through the electron transport chain during creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) for cellular energy. Superoxide is inactivated by the action of the cellular antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase, resulting in hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). At this stage, hydrogen peroxide is still a free radical, but one with a lower potency. Hydrogen peroxide can be further converted into harmless water and oxygen by the activity of other cellular antioxidant enzymes; catalase and glutathione peroxidase.

Thanks for reading – next installment will be about, “What is Cellular Stress?

====================================
Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author

 

Follow me on YouTube 
Follow me on Amazon 
Follow me on Twitter  
Follow me on LinkedIn 
Follow me on ShareCare 
Follow me on Facebook 
Follow me on  Facebook (Author page)

 

The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic
The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)
The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)
Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)
Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)
The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)

Best Future You – Chapter 1 – The Battle for Balance

My 13th book, Best Future You, will be released on Feb 1!

Until then, I’m keeping the price at $3.49 – less than the cost of a grande latte! (it’s also FREE if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member)…after that, the price goes up to $9.99 – so get it now!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be I’ll be posting excerpts from the book and blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.

Chapter 1 – The Battle for Balance

If you think about the modern world in which we live, you’ll realize that we’re surrounded by almost countless sources of stress. The sources of stress in the modern world are all around us – externally from the environment; internally from our own metabolism; and bombarding us from every corner.

Consider some of the major sources of stress:

  • Emotional stress from work deadlines, bills, traffic, relationships
  • Physical stress from normal aging, sleep deprivation, lack of exercise (or too much)
  • Environmental stress from air/water pollution, sunlight, secondhand smoke, and myriad toxins lurking in our foods, cosmetics, and other products
  • Non-Optimal Diet such as too many processed foods and inadequate nutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables

If that news weren’t bad enough already, we also have to consider that our bodies naturally produce highly reactive molecules known as free radicals as a normal part of metabolism (converting food into cellular energy). These free radicals can create a unique type of internal cellular stress that accumulates as we age.

In many ways, we need to accept the fact that our exposure to stressors that can unbalance cellular biochemistry comes from myriad external sources, but also from internal ones – and that they’re all around us and unavoidable.

Since this is the world we live in, we need to use as many tools as we can to protect us – and luckily, the natural world has also provided us with numerous tools to both protect and repair our unbalanced cells and realize our best future selves. But, before we can fight that fight, we need to know what we’re up against – and knowledge about free radicals and cellular stress is the first step in preparing for the fight.

Thanks for reading – tune in next time for the section about the Free Radical Theory of Aging & Disease…
Shawn
====================================
Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author

 

Follow me on YouTube 
Follow me on Amazon 
Follow me on Twitter  
Follow me on LinkedIn 
Follow me on ShareCare 
Follow me on Facebook 
Follow me on  Facebook (Author page)

 

The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic
The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)
The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)
Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)
Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)
The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)

Live long and prosper (longevity and wel

Live long and prosper (longevity and well-being benefits) with a Mediterranean Diet http://ow.ly/XE2HM

Best Future You – Introduction Part 2

My 13th book, Best Future You, will be released on Feb 1!

Until then, I’m keeping the price at $3.49 – less than the cost of a grande latte! (it’s also FREE if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member)…after that, the price goes up to $9.99 – so get it now!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.

Introduction – Part 2

The body is a dynamic, ever-changing, always-adapting collection of intricate structures and systems. Sometimes it works perfectly on its own—your lungs fill and empty, your heart beats, and your eyes blink—all without you having to remember to “work” them. But sometimes your body breaks down. In most circumstances, the damage is only temporary, because your internal repair mechanisms jump into action to fix the damage and get you back to full function. Sometimes, however, the damage persists. You accumulate little bits of damage and dings and creaks over the years, until you find yourself waking up one morning with physical ailments, such an aching knee, a stiff back, or a generalized pain through your entire body. Sometimes the ailments are more “psychological” in nature, such as depression, fatigue, brain fog, lack of motivation, or outright burnout. Sometimes, those little changes in metabolism and cellular function mean that we wake up on the morning of our twentieth high school reunion and somehow we’ve gained twenty (or more) pounds of belly fat and more wrinkles than we can count.

Whether physical or mental, all these ailments have their roots in problems with the biochemistry of your body. Specifically, I’m referring to the biochemical activity among hormones, enzymes, blood-sugar levels, brain signals, and the other internal interactions that take place below the surface of your skin that you are hardly aware of—until something goes wrong. When the balance between hormones, such as cortisol and testosterone; or between neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine; or between enzymes, such as catalase and glutathione peroxidase, is disrupted, you can be left feeling “blah” and exhausted.

This feeling of exhaustion is caused in large part by internal biochemical imbalances, and I’ve been invited on numerous national television broadcasts to explain why so many millions of people are more likely to feel tired, stressed, and depressed and less likely to feel energetic, relaxed, and happy. In the type of lifestyle research that I do, we use natural therapies (nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, herbal supplements, and others) to reestablish biochemical balance to improve psychological vigor.

I’ve written entire books about restoring vigor (The Secret of Vigor, 2011), which is defined as a combination of physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being – and the opposite of what we know as “burnout”. Our modern scientific concept of vigor is somewhat comparable to the ancient descriptions of vitality and wellness from traditional medicine systems around the world. Nearly every ancient culture has typically held a common belief that true health stems from a strong “life force” in the body. Other names for this life force, or vigor, include:

  • Qi (traditional Chinese medicine; pronounced “chee”)
  • Prana (Ayurvedic/Indian medicine)
  • Pneuma (ancient Greek medicine)

Practitioners of traditional medicine might have restored “life force” in their patients by improving their nutrition or administering herbal medicines. These natural therapies often “worked,” and patients felt better as a result. What these ancient healers did not fully appreciate was “how” their therapies were working to actually alter biochemical processes in the body. In modern times, millions of people attempt to temporarily reduce fatigue with unbalanced energy drinks or other stimulants. However, that approach does not restore vigor and is actually more likely to create additional imbalances that further sap vigor in the long term.

Chronic stress—and the underlying biochemical imbalances that it leads to—undoubtedly plays a major role in many of today’s modern diseases, particularly depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and obesity. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the World Health Organization:

  • 80 percent of North Americans have enough daily stress to cause health problems.
  • Stress contributes to half of all illnesses in North America.
  • 70–80 percent of all doctor visits are for stress-related illnesses.
  • More than half of all deaths before age sixty-five result from stressful lifestyles.

The good news is that by naturally restoring biochemical balance, you can dramatically reduce feelings of stress, cut fatigue and depression, boost physical and mental energy, and significantly improve vigor.

It may be hard to understand how something as simple as stress can cause so many problems—from depression to heart disease to weight gain. But the fact is, your body’s response to everyday pressures—including deadlines, traffic, money concerns, family conflicts, irritating coworkers, and other worries—is actually a chronic stress response. And that response to chronic stress causes an immediate and profound change in a variety of hormones and related biochemicals in your body. Further, those compounds are distributed throughout the entire body, where they influence the function of every organ and cell.

Initially, the effects of chronic stress are subtle. On the biochemical level, hormone levels change (e.g. increased cortisol and reduced testosterone); blood sugar levels fluctuate more dramatically (because cortisol interferes with insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar); cellular damage increases (caused by oxidation and inflammation set in motion by blood sugar fluctuations); and brain function is compromised (due to imbalances in neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine). Although you are hardly likely to detect such biochemical changes on a daily basis, what you might notice is that you experience a few extra pounds of weight, a slight reduction in energy levels, a modest drop in sex drive, or a bit of trouble with memory or mood. Even then, you probably brush off these health signals as “normal” aspects of aging. However, these common symptoms are actually the earliest signs of depression, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, obesity, diabetes, impotence, dementia, heart disease, cancer, and many related conditions—and chronic cellular stress can trigger all of them. Indeed, researchers are discovering that cellular stress may well be the key factor in the very process commonly recognized as “aging.”

I’ve learned through experience with thousands of people who have read my books, attended my lectures, and enrolled in my programs, that when people become that better version of themselves – that “best future you” – they often feel so good that they’re motivated to help someone else achieve the same – they pay it forward. I see it in action every day and all over the world – people helping other people to achieve what they’ve achieved. Many people who witness this phenomenon describe it as “magical” – which it might be in terms of the life-changing benefits that it brings to people, but that “magic” is deeply rooted in the science of maintaining biochemical balance.

If reading this book can give you some ideas and strategies for helping you to feel your best, then that’s a win. But, I think our opportunity is much bigger than that. I’m banking on Best Future You helping you to feel so much better, that you’re motivated to help someone you know to feel their best, or look their best, or perform their best – you get the idea.

Thanks for reading – tune in next time for another installment…

====================================
Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author

 

Follow me on YouTube 
Follow me on Amazon 
Follow me on Twitter  
Follow me on LinkedIn 
Follow me on ShareCare 
Follow me on Facebook 
Follow me on  Facebook (Author page)

 

The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic
The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)
The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)
Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)
Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)
The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)

Best Future You – Introduction Part 1

My 13th book, Best Future You, will be released on Feb 1!

Until then, I’m keeping the price at $3.49 – less than the cost of a grande latte! (it’s also FREE if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member)…after that, the price goes up to $9.99 – so get it now!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.

Introduction

Even though the title of this book is Best Future You – and its overall theme is to help you achieve your ultimate peak of health, vitality, and mental/physical performance, this book is really about how to achieve all that through balance. The one common theme that runs through every concept and each chapter is the idea that maintaining balance, specifically biochemical balance, in our body, mind, and spirit is the secret to feeling our best, looking our best, and performing our best. Unfortunately, this is not at all what we see in most of the popular “self-help” and health-improvement programs these days. In fact, most popular programs are the antithesis of balance because they focus on the complete exclusion of entire food groups (e.g. carbs or grains or meat or fat or gluten or whatever) – or the imperative that you “must” include one certain magical “superfood” that has miraculous medicinal properties. What these misguided approaches fail to understand, is that such limited approaches deliver limited results (and limited benefits for you). In contrast, Best Future You takes a more comprehensive approach, to focus on a holistic approach to reducing cellular stress, restoring both physiological strength and psychological vigor, and thus improving how we feel, look, and perform on every parameter imaginable.

Being “out” of balance is a type of stress, specifically a state of cellular stress that leads to dysfunction and eventually to disease. The list of stressors that cause biochemical imbalance and cellular stress is a long one – covered in detail in Chapter 1 – and chances are good that you’re exposed to many of them on a daily basis.

As a lifestyle expert trained in the Western scientific disciplines of exercise physiology and nutritional biochemistry – as well as being a student of the Eastern concepts of Qi from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Prana from Indian (Ayurvedic) medicine, my idea of “balance” is quite a bit different than the standard definition. For many of my colleagues, and especially among writers of popular health books, the idea of balance refers to an inexact and imprecise concept of eating better and exercising more – which is not very helpful for readers who are trying to improve themselves. Instead, my idea of balance is very precise and very focused on the concept of maintaining biochemical balance between myriad hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and signaling molecules that course through our blood and brain and all parts of our body on a second-by-second basis. These molecules are responsible for one of my favorite sayings that, “biochemistry drives behaviors” which describes how our feelings of energy (or fatigue), or happiness (or depression), or mental clarity (or brain fog), or even feelings of success and achievement (or failure and defeat) are driven in large part by positive or negative changes in our underlying biochemistry.

I’ve been studying how to help people “feel/look/perform their best” for my entire career – more than 20 years now. As early as my first days of high school, I can remember being interested in the relationships between what we eat, how we look, and how we feel – even before I really understood that there were branches of science that studied these areas (nutrition, physiology, psychology, etc). Being interested in health and human performance led me to pursue undergraduate degrees in both sports medicine (BS) and fitness management (BA). While in college at a small liberal arts school (Marietta College in Ohio), I tried my hand at a sport that was completely new to me – rowing, also known as crew. I had no idea what I was getting myself into as a member of the novice crew team, much of which was already populated by rowers with years of prep-school crew experience. My first few weeks of rowing were miserable – I didn’t know how to properly hold an oar or balance a boat (called a crew shell) – so I got yelled at a lot by the coxswain (the person who steers the shell, guides the oarsmen, and commands the crew). Over time, and with the support and guidance of experienced rowers and patient coaches, I gradually learned both the proper technique of rowing and the important fact that being successful in crew hinges on a combination of hard individual work and coordinated teamwork. Thinking back to those four years as a collegiate rower, I’m convinced that my crew coaches are responsible for the way that I “coach” my readers and lecture audiences to harness scientific information for their own improvement. From my inauspicious beginnings, as a freshman who had never even seen a crew shell, I progressed steadily to become a member of a multi-championship boat, 2-time captain of my collegiate team, and member of the United States National Rowing Team.

After college and my short stint on the national team, I decided to study exercise physiology and human performance at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, while paying my tuition as the coach of the novice rowing team (Go Minutemen!). Being a crew coach was one of my most personally and professionally satisfying experiences, because it allowed me to impart my knowledge to help a group of young men and women to improve themselves beyond their expectations (exactly what I learned from my own crew coaches). My experience with the national team made me realize that there were plenty of better rowers than me, so needing a new exercise endeavor, I started riding as part of the UMASS Cycling Team. As a cyclist, I experienced the same steep learning curve, where I was initially terrible and was frequently “dropped” (left behind) by the group of experienced and talented collegiate cyclists. Eventually, I gained enough experience with team tactics, race strategy, and riding in a group at 30+ mph, to be invited to be part of a cycling development program at the US Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY. Once again, I was able to rely on the guidance and advice of far more experienced cyclists and dedicated coaches to teach me how to improve my skills as a cyclist. As part of this elite group of cyclists, I realized as I did with rowing a few years prior, that there were plenty of riders with vastly superior cycling skills compared to mine. As such, after a couple of years as a dedicated cyclist, I decided to switch my sports focus again to a new and rapidly growing sport – triathlon (swim, bike, run).

Right around the same time, I graduated from UMASS with a master’s degree in exercise physiology and took a job with a corporate wellness company. In this new role, I split my time between developing multi-million dollar corporate wellness programs for Fortune 500 companies and training for triathlons (eventually holding a professional license and getting trounced by some of the top triathletes in the world at the time, including a young Lance Armstrong). I loved designing corporate wellness programs and helping thousands of people become healthier and live fuller lives – and I enjoyed even more making myself a guinea pig for different training regimens and racing strategies that I would experiment with on the professional triathlon circuit. However, after several years in both of these roles, corporate wellness and professional triathlon, I felt that something was missing in my knowledge base, so I decided to go back to school to study nutrition.

I studied nutritional biochemistry at Rutgers University, where my work was funded by competitive research grants from the American College of Sports Medicine, American Institute of Nutrition, Reebok, LifeFitness, and a variety of other public and private scientific grants. Studying the biochemistry of the body enabled me to delve into the “how and why” that various lifestyle interventions exerted their effects (including diet, exercise, stress management, and many others). For example, what molecules in the body are responsible for muscle growth, or bone loss, or appetite, or athletic performance, or energy levels, or any of the other aspects of health that we might be concerned with? Now I felt that I finally had the tools to help people get better from the inside out – right down to the cellular, molecular, and biochemical level.

Upon completing my PhD, I now had a broad educational background and lots of ideas that spanned many aspects of health (sports medicine, fitness management, exercise physiology, and now nutritional biochemistry), but I also had a burning desire to “build something” that could help people to harness some of these ideas and easily include them in their lives.  This led me to a career in product development, starting with “functional foods” at Nabisco Foods and spanning nearly 20 years with many different international companies and academic institutions to my current passion running my own boutique product development company (EQQIL, Inc.) with a range of “balancing” products in circulation with companies around the world.

As a product developer, I need to understand not only the scientific aspects of particular ingredients and formulas, but also the business and market implications, such as cost, profit margins, marketability, and many others. This led me to study business, innovation, and entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where over several years, I completed both the Entrepreneurial Masters Program and the Advanced Certificate for Executives in Management, Innovation, and Technology ACE in MIT). Studying entrepreneurship after so many years of studying science enabled me to understand one very important fact – that being that “science” can’t help anyone unless it reaches the market in a way that people can easily plug into their lives.

Across those years, I’ve started and sold several different health-focused companies; developed a range of top-selling products (foods, supplements, and cosmetics) and programs (exercise, weight loss, and wellness); written and edited hundreds of articles and books; and given dozens of scientific presentations all over the world. I’ve been fortunate to help educate a wide range of elite-level coaches and athletes in a variety of sports, including at the US Olympic Training Centers (middle and long-distance runners as part of the US Track & Field Association’s Performance Enhancement Team); the US Ski and Snowboard Team (during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games); professional basketball (NBA – Utah Jazz); professional soccer (MLS – Real Salt Lake); and international sports organizations in Canada, England, and Singapore. The scientific conferences are fun and interesting because they contribute new knowledge to the world, but it’s the products and programs that I’m most proud of because they can actually help real people to exert positive change in their lives.

None of this could have been possible without me being exposed over the years to a series of dedicated and inspiring coaches and mentors, as well as a natural curiosity about perfecting the coordination of body, mind, and spirit to help us achieve our best. This is what I hope Best Future You can be for you – a virtual coach to guide your curiosity and help you become the best future version of yourself.

Aside from my intellectual and business reasons for doing the kind of work that I do, I have a very personal reason for my work and for writing this book (my twelfth). I want to be always be striving to be the best version of myself. This means that I’m a better student and teacher, that I have a better outlook on life, that I have more stamina and resilience to stress, that I’m a better athlete, a better husband, and a better father. You get the idea – a better (future) version of my current (present) self. The whole idea of this book is to help you become your “best future you” – the best version of yourself. You might be interested in something like that because the best version of yourself might be more energetic or focused or happier than you are now (you’d feel better) – or you might have a complexion that is more youthful and radiant or a slim and toned physique (you’d look better) – or you might become leaner, stronger, and confident (you’d perform better).

Thanks for reading – tune in next time for another installment…

====================================
Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author

 

Follow me on YouTube 
Follow me on Amazon 
Follow me on Twitter  
Follow me on LinkedIn 
Follow me on ShareCare 
Follow me on Facebook 
Follow me on  Facebook (Author page)

 

The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic
The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)
The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)
Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)
Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)
The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)
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