Help Cure Cancer

I’m raising money for cancer research by riding the Huntsman 140 – and you can get some FREE gifts for your help (see below)…

Please donate any amount that you can to support cutting-edge cancer research at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI)!

This past week, I used the 9-stage Tour of Sufferlandria to get in some hard training and raise money for the Davis Phinney Foundation to help people with Parkinson’s Disease. You can still donate to that effort if you’d like to?

For anyone who can make a donation to support cancer research at HCI – I will send you some FREE gifts:

For the first $20 donor (located in Utah), I have a pair of tickets to attend the screening of “Made to be Broken” – the documentary film about Karl Meltzer’s record-breaking traverse of the Appalachian Trail (Feb 21st at 6pm – at HCI). Make your donation HERE and then email me at smtalbott@mac.com and I will have your name added to the “will call” list.

Anyone else donating $20 will receive a FREE e-book copy of my latest book, Best Future YouHarnessing Your Body’s Biochemistry to Achieve Balance in Body, Mind & Spirit. Same deal – make your donation and then send me your email at smtalbott@mac.com so I can send you the book.

Anyone who is able to donate $50, will receive the Best Future You e-book and a DVD copy of the award-winning documentary film, Killer at LargeWhy Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat. (email your mailing address to me).

Anyone who is able to donate $100 to support cancer research will receive the Best Future You e-book, the Killer at Large DVD, and a FREE shipment of Stress Tea and Stress Cookies – courtesy of my daughter (Courtney) and wife (Julie). This package is their most popular offering and includes 24 servings of Stress Tea (12 Fruit Punch + 12 Mango Peach) and 2 dozen Stress Cookies (12 Dark Chocolate + 12 Crunchy Peanut Butter).

Stress Cookies are a little project that Courtney and I started last Summer to develop healthy functional foods to help people reduce stress and improve vigor (physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being). I have stepped away from Stress Cookie, but Courtney and Julie will continue fulfilling orders for a few more months (until Courtney heads off to college).

As many of you know, I have recently accepted a new position as Chief Science Officer with Amare Global. In my new role with Amare, I am 100% focused on developing a new line of products – and I couldn’t be more excited about what the team is building. We’re keeping our exact product lineup under wraps until our pre-launch in Sept, but those who know my areas of research will expect some cutting-edge approaches to helping people achieve balance and elevate life.

So – to sum up:

Donate $20 – get the Best Future You e-book

Donate $50 – get the Best Future You e-book & Killer at Large DVD

Donate $100 – get the Best Future You e-book & Killer at Large DVD & Stress Cookie/Stress Tea Combo Pack

The Huntsman Cancer Institute is truly a world-leading organization in cancer research and treatment. People from all over the world benefit on a daily basis from HCI’s amazing work. Please support their efforts at any level that you can – and THANKS!

Shawn, Julie, & Courtney

 

How to Improve Sleep Quality?

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, I visited KUTV’s Fresh Living to talk about a few tips to help improve sleep quality.

You can watch the short (4min) video here – and read about some of my favorite tips below.

Have you ever had the experience of being exhausted during the day and all you can think about is getting some sleep?

But 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? 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 to cellular stress.

The combination of daytime fatigue/exhaustion and nighttime insomnia/restlessness 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 daily 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!

Sleep researchers from the University of Chicago and several other universities have shown that inadequate sleep leads to a cascade of biochemical events, starting with increased cortisol levels (stress hormone), which induces insulin resistance, leading to higher blood-sugar (glucose) levels, causing increased measures of oxidative and inflammatory damage, stimulating appetite, and eventually leading to abdominal fat (belly fat) gain. Researchers have compared “normal” sleepers (averaging eight hours of sleep per night) to “short” sleepers (averaging six hours or less of sleep per night) – finding that the “short” sleepers secreted 50 percent more cortisol and insulin and were 40 percent less sensitive to the effects of insulin than the “normal” sleepers. Missing a couple hours of sleep can basically put you into a pre-diabetic state with all the associated cellular stress and eventual health problems.

One of the best ways to improve your sleep quality is to manage electronic interruptions. The beeps and buzzes from your computer and iPhone can add an annoying level of stress to your day. Instead of just responding every time you get an electronic interruption, take charge of those devices and set them to only alert you at specific times. Remember that your cell phone is there for your convenience – not the convenience of others. For instance, most e-mail programs are automatically set to check for new messages every five minutes – which means you’re interrupted by the “new-message beep” ninety-six times in an eight-hour day! How do you expect to get any “real” work done? Also, consider (as I do) shutting off your e-mail program during certain parts of the day, enabling you to get your “important” work accomplished whenever you’re most mentally fresh. Whenever possible, leave the cell phone behind. It may be hard to imagine today, but it wasn’t too many years ago that people got along perfectly fine without cell phones. Try taking a break from your phone when possible by leaving it behind – especially during your daily workout. I make that recommendation, because if you carry your phone with you—even if you tell yourself that you won’t answer it—a part of your mind still waits for it to ring, or buzz, or play your favorite ringtone. Let that part of your brain relax and forget about the phone every now and then.

Here is my favorite “bedtime routine” to help get your body and mind ready to sleep:

  1. Set an alarm – for when you want to go to bed! Let’s say you want to get 7 hours of sleep – and you need to wakeup at 6am to get ready for work. That means that you need to be asleep by 11pm – and your alarm should go off at 10pm to give you an hour to get ready for sleep.
  2. When that alarm goes off at 10pm, put down your electronic devices – and get away from their brain-stimulating blue light. For that hour, read a book and allow your body and mind to slowly relax toward sleep. Drink a warm cup of herbal tea. Have a small snack (see below) – which will help you fall asleep faster due to increased melatonin production and help you stay asleep thru the night due to better blood sugar control.
  3. Here are my favorite “Sleep Snacks”  – my favorite “stress balancing” foods and supplements that can be used to help bust stress and improve sleep quality.
  • Oatmeal and Cherries – help the body to generate more melatonin (the sleep hormone) so you can fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer (and also keep you from taking synthetic melatonin hormone “supplements” that can interfere with your body’s ability to make it’s own melatonin – you’ll also avoid the common “melatonin hangover” that leaves so many people groggy and sluggish the next morning).
  • Corn Grass Extract / phytotonin (sleep stress) – a plant-derived phytonutrient (MBOA), a non-drowsy melatonin-like “plant-melatonin” that improves mood during the day and dramatically enhances sleep quality at night.
  • Milk / casein decapeptide (cellular stress) – the “old wives tale” about drinking a glass of warm milk before bed to help you sleep is TRUE! The anti-stress and relaxation benefits of milk are due to a specific protein chain (decapeptide) that naturally induces a relaxation response in the brain – improving both sleep quality and stress resilience.
  • Sugar – that’s right – sugar – it’s not exactly “toxic” like you may have read about – but you need to use it wisely. We all know that when we’re stressed out, we crave sweets. This carb-craving is because cortisol (our primary stress hormone) signals the brain to seek out sugar to “fuel” our fight-or-flight stress response. Instead of gorging on junk food to satisfy these sugar cravings, we can use the right amount of properly balanced carbohydrates to reduce cravings, while also improving daytime mood and enhancing nighttime sleep quality. Just the right amount of low-glycemic carbohydrate, about 10-20 grams (40-80 calories), can increase serotonin levels (for good mood during the day) and naturally enhance melatonin   production at night (so you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper for improved sleep quality).

By using your behaviors and targeted foods to address different aspects of our stress response, we can effectively and naturally control existing stress – while also “vaccinating” ourselves against future stress  – which increases our overall resilience to the stressful modern world in which we all live – and enables us to finally get some much-need restorative sleep!

Thanks for reading,

Shawn

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Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN

Nutritional Biochemist and Author

(801) 915-1170 (mobile)

smtalbott@mac.com

www.shawntalbott.com

 

StressCookie.com – Herb-infused tea and cookies that improve vigor (physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being)

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Best Future You – Harnessing Your Body’s Biochemistry to Achieve Balance in Body, Mind, and Spirit

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)

The Health Professionals Guide to Dietary Supplements (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkens)

A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)

Mushrooms Prevent Dementia?

This is an excellent article about edible and medicinal mushrooms as “brain food” to possibly mitigate neurologic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (which is looming in the near future as a massive public health epidemic).

Can Mushrooms Help Delay or Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?

New Rochelle, NY, January 24, 2017—Certain edible and medicinal mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that may enhance nerve growth in the brain and protect against neurotoxic stimuli such as inflammation that contribute to neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The evidence supporting a potential role of mushrooms as functional foods to reduce or delay development of age-related neurodegeneration is presented in an article published in Journal of Medicinal Food, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Medicinal Food website until February 24, 2017.

In “Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms: Emerging Brain Food for the Mitigation of Neurodegenerative Diseases,” Chia-Wei PhanPamela David, and Vikineswary Sabaratnam, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, discuss the scientific findings related to the health benefits of edible and culinary mushrooms. The authors focus on the activity of bioactive components of mushrooms that may offer neuroprotective and cognitive benefits.

“In contrast to the body of literature on food ingredients that may benefit cardiometabolic diseases and cancer, very few studies have focused on food that may benefit neurodegenerative diseases,” says Journal of Medicinal Food Editor-in-Chief Sampath Parthasarathy, MBA, PhD, Florida Hospital Chair in Cardiovascular Sciences and Interim Associate Dean, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida. “The current study might stimulate the identification of more food materials that are neuroprotective.”

Adverse life experiences associated with obesity and binge eating disorder

It’s interesting how much our life experiences and overall mental wellness impact our future choices and risk for chronic conditions…

In this article, “life adverse experiences” are defined as, “all kinds of traumatic experiences occurring in childhood, adolescence and adulthood, which include emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape, bullying by peers, witnessing domestic violence, and serious accidents that threatened the lives of subjects.”

 

J Behav Addict. 2016 Mar;5(1):11-31. doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.018.

Life adverse experiences in relation with obesity and binge eating disorder: A systematic review.

Abstract

Background and aims Several studies report a positive association between adverse life experiences and adult obesity. Despite the high comorbidity between binge eating disorder (BED) and obesity, few authors have studied the link between trauma and BED. In this review the association between exposure to adverse life experiences and a risk for the development of obesity and BED in adulthood is explored. Methods Based on a scientific literature review in Medline, PubMed and PsycInfo databases, the results of 70 studies (N = 306,583 participants) were evaluated including 53 studies on relationship between adverse life experiences and obesity, 7 studies on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in relation to obesity, and 10 studies on the association between adverse life experiences and BED. In addition, mediating factors between the association of adverse life experiences, obesity and BED were examined. Results The majority of studies (87%) report that adverse life experiences are a risk factor for developing obesity and BED. More precisely a positive association between traumatic experiences and obesity and PTSD and obesity were found, respectively, in 85% and 86% of studies. Finally, the great majority of studies (90%) between trauma and the development of BED in adulthood strongly support this association. Meanwhile, different factors mediating between the trauma and obesity link were identified. Discussion and conclusions Although research data show a strong association between life adverse experiences and the development of obesity and BED, more research is needed to explain this association.

KEYWORDS:

binge eating disorder; obesity; trauma

Traditional herbal medicine as modern dietary supplements…

Interesting perspective on the distinction between dietary supplements and “herbal medicine” – very much in-line with a seminar that I delivered at Hong Kong Polytechnic University a few years ago and a project that I just finished for a major pharma company. Unfortunately, the point is somewhat moot, given our current regulatory framework where herbs are classified as supplements and “traditional medicines” have a very expensive path to become “botanical drugs” – but there is not much possible in the middle ground…

 

Chin J Integr Med. 2017 Jan 20. doi: 10.1007/s11655-016-2536-8. [Epub ahead of print]

Non-scientific classification of Chinese herbal medicine as dietary supplement.

Abstract

This article focuses the category status of Chinese herbal medicine in the United States where it has been mistakenly classified as a dietary supplement. According to Yellow Emperor Canon of Internal Medicine (Huang Di Nei Jing), clinical treatment in broad sense is to apply certain poisonous medicines to fight against pathogeneses, by which all medicines have certain toxicity and side effect. From ancient times to modern society, all, or at least most, practitioners have used herbal medicine to treat patients’ medical conditions. The educational curriculums in Chinese medicine (CM) comprise the courses of herbal medicine (herbology) and herbal formulae. The objective of these courses is to teach students to use herbal medicine or formulae to treat disease as materia medica. In contrast, dietary supplements are preparations intended to provide nutrients that are missing or are not consumed in sufficient quantity in a person’s diet. In contrast, Chinese herbs can be toxic, which have been proven through laboratory research. Both clinical practice and research have demonstrated that Chinese herbal medicine is a special type of natural materia medica, not a dietary supplement.

KEYWORDS:

Chinese herbal medicine; dietary supplements; herbal medicine; non-scientific classification

Stress Cookies Ingredient Summary

Stress Cookies come in two flavors – Dark Chocolate and Crunchy Peanut Butter. Both versions share the same “salty oat” base that is slightly sweet and slightly salty (just what you want when you’re stressed).

Stress Cookies look like cookies – and taste like cookies – but they’re really more like healthy energy snacks that are high in protein (10-12g from whey/egg), low in sugar (5-6g), and moderate in healthy fat (4-6g) & smart carbs (12g prebiotic carbs & 5g fiber).

You can think of Stress Cookies as a superior choice compared to mainstream energy bars like Clif bars (protein for soy and ~5x higher in sugar) and Kind (~half the protein and ~3x the fat). They’re also a lot lower in total calories (150-160 per Stress Cookie) compared to a Kind bar (~200) or Clif bar (~260) – so you can enjoy a Stress Cookie any time that stress hits. I typically eat at least 2-per day – starting (breakfast) and ending (nighttime snack) my day on the right note and often having another Stress Cookie during a long running or cycling workout.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not “against” Clif bars or Kind bars – they’re basically indestructible, so I carry them in my computer bag when traveling and in my glove compartment as “emergency” snacks for long trips – but I created Stress Cookies to have a superior nutrition profile and a superior “functionality” profile (reducing stress, improving focus, elevating mood, and enhancing sleep quality).

We only sell Stress Cookies online and we bake every batch “on-demand” by hand – so your Stress Cookies arrive fresh and vacuum-packed to your door within 2-3 days of coming out of the oven.

Let’s take a look at some of the goodness in Stress Cookies

First of all, you’ll see that Stress Cookies contain 3 “EQQIL” blends for carbs, proteins, and fats. EQQIL is the name of our company – our tagline is “Achieve Balance. Elevate Life.” The name “EQQIL” comes from the idea of restoring equilibrium (balance) in body/mind to achieve “Qi” (the concept of “life force” in traditional Chinese medicine).

EQQILTM Carb Blend: Rolled Oats, Wheat Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Sorghum Flour, Cane Sugar

Our primary source of carbohydrate is Rolled Oats for their ability to balance blood sugar and increase production of both serotonin (for good mood) and melatonin (for good sleep quality). Because Stress Cookies contain Wheat Flour, they’re not “gluten free” – but because our 5 carb sources are varied, they can be considered “low gluten” for people who are only moderately sensitive. Combining Brown Rice Flour and Sorghum Flour enables us to reduce our use of Wheat Flour – but we can’t eliminate it completely without “ruining” the delicious experience of Stress Cookies (gluten-free cookies are simply unsatisfying). Cane Sugar?!?! Despite what you may have heard about sugar being “toxic” – you might be surprised to learn that our brain is designed to perform optimally when using sugar (glucose) as its exclusive fuel source. In addition, our bodies are most efficient at burning stored fat for fuel when we have access to a small amount of sugar to “prime” the metabolic fat-burning machinery (“fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate” is a common saying among metabolism experts). The small amount of sugar (5-6g) that we use in Stress Cookies is just enough to give you the sweet taste that we all crave as part of our natural stress response – and the right amount to maximize serotonin/melatonin synthesis for good mood during the day (serotonin) and superior sleep quality at night (melatonin). The total carb content of Stress Cookies is 22-23g per cookie (about half of what you get in many energy bars) – with most of that coming from “prebiotic” carbs and fiber (both of which support the health of beneficial probiotic bacteria in our guts).

EQQILTM Protein Blend: Ultra-Filtered Whey Protein, Organic Free-Range High-Omega-3 Eggs

The quality of our protein blend is second-to-none (10g for Dark Chocolate & 12g for Crunchy Peanut Butter). We don’t use cheap inferior protein sources like soy or gelatin/collagen – we use the very highest-quality Ultra-Filtered Whey Protein Concentrate rich in immune-supporting immunoglobulins such as beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin – combined with ethically-raised Organic Free-Range High-Omega-3 Eggs to give you targeted benefits for muscle gain and fat loss.

EQQILTM Fat Blend: Grade AA Butter, Virgin Coconut Oil, Cold-Pressed Avocado Oil, RSPO-Certified Malaysian Red Palm Oil

I’ve been formulating nutrition products for long enough to remember when fat was “worse” than carbohydrates and “too much” protein was “dangerous” for some unexplained reason.  People get so (inappropriately) focused on specific macronutrients that we get hysterical and fooled into eating food abominations like nonfat SnackWell cookies or low-carb bread. Good grief! What the science tells us quite convincingly is that no single macronutrient (protein/fat/carb) is “good” or “bad” on it’s own – but the total amount (quantity) and source (quality) and ratio (balance) of macronutrients can be very important for overall well-being. This is why our blend of fat sources includes fat sources providing saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that are also rich in naturally-occurring antioxidants such as vitamin E, carotenoids, and flavonoids.

EQQILTM Herb Blend: Corn grass [Zea mays] extract, New Zealand pine bark [Pinus radiata] extract, Enzyme-treated Asparagus [Asparagus officinalis] extract, SuntheanineTM L-Theanine

If Stress Cookies were simply a handmade-to-order healthy treat that tasted amazing, they would be a hit. But, it’s our proprietary blend of 4 research-proven herbal ingredients that really sets Stress Cookies apart in terms of their ability to address different aspects of stress:

  • Theanine (psychological stress) – a unique amino acid naturally found in green tea leaves. Theanine reduces the beta brain waves associated with tension/anxiety – and increases the alpha brain waves associated with relaxed alertness and calm focus.
  • New Zealand Pine Bark Extract (physiological stress) – contains OPCs (oligomeric proanthycyanins), that protect the body and brain from inflammatory and oxidative stress – improving both mental performance (of the brain) and physical performance (of the body).
  • Japanese Asparagus Extract (environmental stress) – a novel amino acid profile stimulates the production of anti-stress compounds called heat-shock proteins (HSPs) that improve the body’s stress resilience at the cellular level.
  • Corn Grass Extract (circadian stress) – contains high levels of MBOA, a non-drowsy phytonutrient precursor to serotonin and melatonin that improves mood during the day (serotonin) and dramatically enhances sleep quality at night (melatonin).

Eat a Stress Cookie (and drink a Stress Tea) – you’ll feel better during the day – you’ll sleep better at night – and you’ll reach personal performance levels that you’ve been missing out on because of your chronic stress exposure. It’s not an overstatement to say that you can “get lean by eating cookies” – as long as the “cookies” are Stress Cookies that deliver the right balance of high-quality proteins, smart carbs, and healthy fats – combined with our cortisol-lowering and motivation-enhancing herbal blend to get you in the right biochemical and psychological zones to be at your best.

Melatonin Unsafe for Kids?

Last week (Jan 6, 2017) the NY Times asked the question that millions of parents have been asking for years, “Is the sleep aid melatonin safe for children and adults?”

You can read part of the article pasted below or the original at the NYTimes.

Here are a few things that you should know about melatonin:

Melatonin is a hormone – and like any hormone, taking it on a regular basis means that your body is likely to stop making it’s own and you’ll become dependent on the external source (this is how people become “addicted” to melatonin and can’t sleep without it).

All of the “natural” melatonin supplements on the market are actually synthetic hormones – they’re not natural at all.

Melatonin helps only about half of the people who try it to fall asleep 5-10 minutes faster – but not to sleep longer or better. In fact, many people report the very common “melatonin hangover” where residual unmetabolized melatonin is “leftover” the next morning – resulting in you feeling groggy and sluggish.

The best use of melatonin is for short-term (2-3 days) treatment of jet lag or to recover from shift work – but melatonin is not meant for regular use in adults or children.

If you’re not sleeping well, there are a lot of potential reasons – but the primary cause of your restlessness is likely to be chronic stress. Stress Cookies use a natural plant-derived precursor of melatonin to reduce stress, boost mood, and improve sleep quality.

Phytotonin (“phyto” = “plant”) increases serotonin levels during the day (for improved mood) and increases melatonin levels at night (for improved sleep quality). Because Phytotonin is not a synthetic hormone, but a natural building block, your body only synthesizes as much serotonin/melatonin as it needs – so no more “melatonin hangover” to fight through the next day.

Our whole family – kids included – enjoy Stress Cookies to reduce stress, beat burnout, improve focus, elevate mood, and enhance sleep quality. They look and taste like “cookies” – but they’re very much healthy snacks with high protein (10 grams from whey/egg), healthy fats (coconut/avocado oil), and smart carbs (prebiotics). Give them a try – feeling good never tasted so good!

Thanks for reading,

Shawn

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Is the Sleep Aid Melatonin Safe for Children and Adults?

By KEVIN MCCARTHY date published JANUARY 6, 2017 6:39 AM

QUESTION: How safe is melatonin to take regularly for sleep problems? Are there more risks for children versus adults?

ANSWER: There’s a dearth of safety data for melatonin, but there are a number of potential concerns, especially for children.

“I think we just don’t know what the potential long-term effects are, particularly when you’re talking about young children,” said Dr. Judith Owens, director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Parents really need to understand that there are potential risks.”

The pineal gland in the brain ramps up production of the hormone melatonin in the evening, as light fades, to encourage sleep, and it turns down production in the early morning hours. Synthetic forms of the hormone are also sold as a dietary supplement; because melatonin is found in some foods, like barley, olives and walnuts, it is regulated as a nutritional supplement rather than a drug, as most other hormones are.

In adults, studies have found melatonin to be effective for jet lag and some sleep disorders. It is also hugely popular as a sleep aid for children and can be useful for sleep disorders among those with attention-deficit disorders or autism, Dr. Owens said. “I rarely see a family come in with a child with insomnia who hasn’t tried melatonin,” she said. “I would say at least 75 percent of the time when they come in to see us” at the sleep clinic, “they’re either on melatonin or they’ve tried it in the past.”

While short-term use of the hormone is generally considered safe, it can have side effects, including headaches, dizziness and daytime grogginess, which could pose a risk for drivers. Melatonin can also interfere with blood pressure, diabetes and blood thinning medications.

Less is known about this potent hormone’s effects in children. Some research suggests it could, at least in theory, have effects on developing reproductive, cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems.

Success…

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”

-Robert Collier (American author, 1885-1950)

Post-Holiday Stress Solutions

Dr. Shawn Talbott: Post-Holiday Stress Solutions

(KUTV) Dr. Shawn Talbott visited Fresh Living with some great Post-Holiday Stress Solutions. (Watch the Video HERE)

As I write this, Halloween 2016 is a fading memory, I’m finally un-full from Thanksgiving feasting, and warm Christmas memories are just starting to get pushed aside by the New Year 2017. Like so many millions of other people, the holiday season means “busy-ness” – and being overly busy means being overly stressed. 

Too many things to do in not enough time. We’re always time-crunched – our sleep suffers, our diet and exercise patterns change (for the worse), our waistlines expand and our moods decline. 

As much as the holiday season truly is the “most wonderful time of the year” for many people, surveys show that it’s also the most high-stress time of the year. This is why “reduce stress” is always among the most popular of the New Year’s resolutions – typically behind only “lose weight” and “get in shape” in popularity. This is encouraging, not only because stress is associated with a higher risk for many diseases, but also because of the many very effective, very easy to follow strategies that can help control stress. Stress, as we all know, can come from a variety of sources – and at this time of year, turkey with the in-laws, hanging Christmas lights, and opening your post-holiday Visa bill are just some of the many sources of our escalating stress levels. 

The link between stress and disease is partly due to the fact that stress generally encourages us to eat more and exercise less – which is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing when we’re under stress. It also appears that these higher stress levels also cause a direct change in the body’s metabolic machinery – so appetite increases, fat storage accelerates, brain cells shrink, and immune cells become sluggish. Think about it – this means that holiday stress (and chronic stress in general) is making us hungry, fat, dumb, and sick – no wonder Santa can’t find good help these days. A key culprit in these metabolic changes appears to be the body’s primary stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is one of the hormones involved in the body’s Fight or Flight reaction to stress – so in this way cortisol is a “good” thing. But prolonged exposure to cortisol, such as those that we’ll all experience during this holiday season, are most certainly a “bad thing” because of the growing link between cortisol and health problems. Luckily, we have a lot of options for controlling stress – and guess what? – our grandmothers had it right all along. 

Getting enough sleep, regular exercise, and a balanced diet can all help to control the stress response and keep cortisol levels right where they should be. All of these approaches work – but the key here is BALANCE! By balance, I do NOT mean “deprivation” – but instead, I mean that one eggnog is better than 10 – and a slice of pumpkin pie is nicely balanced by a post-feast walk around the neighborhood. 

Here are my favorite “Super Stress Busters” – my favorite “stress balancing” foods and supplements that can be used to help bust stress and improve sleep quality. 

  • Green tea / Theanine (psychological stress) – a unique amino acid naturally found in green tea leaves. Theanine reduces the beta brain waves associated with tension/anxiety – and increases the alpha brain waves associated with relaxed alertness and calm focus. 
  • Dark Chocolate / New Zealand Pine Bark Extract (physiological stress) – contain OPCs (oligomeric proanthycyanins), that protect the body and brain from inflammatory and oxidative stress – improving both mental performance (of the brain) and physical performance (of the body). 
  • Japanese Asparagus Extract (environmental stress) – a novel amino acid profile stimulates the production of anti-stress compounds called heat-shock proteins (HSPs) that improve the body’s stress resilience at the cellular level. HSPs not only “protect” us from stress-induced cellular damage, but they help to “clean up” and repair residual damage – sort of like an internal cellar “tuneup” that keep cells running smoothly. 
  • Corn Grass Extract / Phytotonin (sleep stress) – a plant-derived phytonutrient (MBOA), a non-drowsy melatonin-like “plant-melatonin” that improves mood during the day and dramatically enhances sleep quality at night. 
  • Milk / casein decapeptide (cellular stress) – the “old wives tale” about drinking a glass of warm milk before bed to help you sleep is TRUE! The anti-stress and relaxation benefits of milk are due to a specific protein chain (decapeptide) that naturally induces a relaxation response in the brain – improving both sleep quality and stress resilience. 
  • Ashwagandha (hormonal stress) – the most revered of all the “adaptogens” in ancient Ayurvedic medicine (5,000 year history). Ashwagandha not only reduces feeling of stress and anxiety, but also helps our body to adapt to future stress by naturally balancing production of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone. 
  • Hemp / Cannabinoids (time stress) – “hemp” is the name for cannabis (Cannabis sativa) with no psychoactive compounds (such as THC – tetrahydrocannabinol). There are nearly 400 other cannabinoids in hemp, many of which help naturally balance the endocannabinoid systemm (ECS) in the brain – resulting in lower stress, reduced anxiety, and improved mood. Our body’s naturally produce their own “endocannabinoids” to help us adapt to stress – they’re responsible for the familiar “runner’s high” that we get after a good workout. 
  • Sugar – that’s right – sugar – it’s not exactly “toxic” like you may have read about – but you need to use it wisely. We all know that when we’re stressed out, we crave sweets. This carb-craving is because cortisol (our primary stress hormone) signals the brain to seek out sugar to “fuel” our fight-or-flight stress response. Instead of gorging on junk food to satisfy these sugar cravings, we can use the right amount of properly balanced carbohydrates to reduce cravings, while also improving daytime mood and enhancing nighttime sleep quality. Just the right amount of low-glycemic carbohydrate, about 10-20 grams (40-80 calories), can increase serotonin levels (for good mood during the day) and naturally enhance melatonin production at night (so you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper for improved sleep quality). 

By using your food (and supplements) to address different aspects of our stress response, we can effectively and naturally control existing stress – while also “vaccinating” ourselves against future stress – which increases our overall resilience to the stressful modern world in which we all live – especially during the Holidays! In bringing this balance into our holiday seasons, we’re better able to control stress and less likely to suffer the Bah-Humbugs that so many of us succumb to each year. Look at it this way, if indulging in holiday cheer just a little bit (instead of a lot) can help you control your stress levels, then you’ll be happier and healthier in the New Year. If nothing else, grandma’s gonna be happy just knowing that you took her advice – and that’ll be good for everybody’s stress level. Happy Holidays! 

Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN Nutritional Biochemist and Author  801) 915-1170 (mobile) smtalbott@mac.com 

For more information, visit ShawnTalbott.com and StressCookie.com

Dr. Shawn Talbott is a nutritional biochemist who studies “psychological vigor” (which is a combination of physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being). He is the author of 13 books, was part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative to fight childhood obesity, and was recently named the “World’s Fittest CEO.”

Dietary Stress & Gut Microbes…

Could your belly fat be caused by the “dietary stress” of disrupted gut bacteria from your Western Diet?

Stress Cookies are rich in “smart carbs” such as probiotics and fiber to help healthy gut bacteria to thrive…

Gut Microbes. 2017 Jan 6:1-13. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2016.1270811. [Epub ahead of print]

Western diets, gut dysbiosis, and metabolic diseases: Are they linked?

Abstract

Obesity afflicts 36.5% of the US population and 600 million individuals world-wide. Thus, it is imperative to understand the risk factors underlying metabolic disease including diet, activity level, sleep, and genetics. Another key contributory factor is the gut microbiota given its widely reported role in the development of metabolic disease. The gut microbiota, particularly its structure and function, is heavily influenced by Western style diets rich in a complex mixture of fats and high in simple sugars. In this review, the profound impact of obesity and Western diets on the gut microbiota will be illustrated, and the following research questions will be addressed: 1) to what extent do high fat diets (HFDs) alter community membership and function and does this depend upon the amount or type of fat consumed?, 2) how rapidly do dietary shifts alter gut microbial communities?, 3) are these alterations sustained or can the microbiome recover from dietary stress?, 4) how does diet drive host-microbe interactions leading to obesity?, and 5) what can be done to restore the detrimental impact of HFD on the gut microbiota? The goal of this review is to address these questions by parsing out the effects and underlying mechanisms of how Western diets impact the gut microbiota and host. By doing so, potential avenues for further exploration and strategies for microbiome-based interventions to prevent or treat diet-induced obesity may become more apparent.

KEYWORDS:  Western Diet; dietary fat; gut microbiome; gut microbiota; metabolism; obesity; prebiotics; probiotics

PMID: 28059614

 

DOI: 10.1080/19490976.2016.1270811