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Got Stress?

Of course you have stress – everyone does – and while “some” amount of acute/temporary stress can actually be a good thing – it’s the long-term chronic stress that leads to problems such as burnout, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia (among many other stress-related conditions).

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I recently did a video “deep dive” into how chronic stress is related to many areas of gut-brain-axis balance and mental wellness – hope you enjoy it.

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Amare in Austin!

Amare will be visiting Austin, TX on Thurs April 26 – Register HERE

7-10pm at Renaissance Hotel – come out to see how Amare is changing the way the world thinks about (and improves) mental wellness.

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The “Right” Fiber for Gut-Brain-Axis Balance on Good Morning San Diego

I’m in San Diego to give a few presentations at the Experimental Biology scientific conference, including one on how the Fundamentals Pack improves both “good” bacteria and mood state (depression, anxiety, stress, etc).

This morning, I visited Good Morning San Diego to talk about how the right kinds of fiber  can help to modulate the signals coming form the gut (the “2nd brain”) to the first brain (in our head) to help balance food cravings, energy levels, and mood levels.

See the segment HERE

You may have every intention to eat better. But when your stomach starts to growl, all bets are off. You give into your cravings for chips and soda, again! Why is this happening?

What your gut tells your brain – and vice versa – is part of what scientists call the gut/brain axis.

What’s an out of balance gut look like? You may have digestive issues such as bloating, cramping or occasional diarrhea or occasional constipation, causing the wrong signals to be sent to your brain.

There are several things we can do to balance our gut/brain axis so that we feel better physically and emotionally.

1. Bring on the fiber! There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble is like nature’s broom. We don’t digest it, and it carries toxins with it as it exits our bodies. Soluble fiber absorbs water and helps to normalize digestion. It can also act as a prebiotic, which means it feeds the good bacteria in our gut. Visuals high fiber foods Nuts seeds and whole grains

2. Add fermented foods to your diet. Kimchee, yogurt, kefir and kombucha all help to maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Visuals Kimchee, yogurt kefir

3. Feed your gut and brain plant-based amino acids. Amino acids are used by the body for many physiological functions. One amino acid found in matcha – called theanine – has been shown to promote relaxation without causing drowsiness, reduce nervous tension, and help prevent the negative side-effects of caffeine. It’s a great brain nutrient.

National Stress Awareness Day

According to a recent survey reported by CNBC, “roughly 63 percent of U.S. workers said they regularly engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking, to combat work-related stress.”

The Wall Street Journal has previously run pieces about how chronic stress can increase cholesterol levels (and have equivalent detrimental effects on heart health as a poor diet) and how workplace burnout is reaching epidemic proportions – especially among the highest-performing individuals.

These articles in mainstream business publications do a good job of highlighting the particular problems with mental wellness and physical health that are associated with “chronic stress” versus short-term stress (which can often be “good” in certain ways).

Any type of stress, but especially the low-grade, chronic stress that we experience at work and in our stressful “too-busy” lives, leads to both behavioral changes (less exercise, eating more “comfort foods,” drinking, smoking, etc) and biochemical changes (higher levels of stress hormones like cortisol), which can suppress immune system function, increase blood pressure and cholesterol, elevate appetite, reduce sex drive, lead to memory and emotional problems, and increase fat gain – especially in the abdominal region (belly fat). Chronic stress can also lead to wide-ranging alterations in our gut microbiome – leading to mental wellness challenges including depression. anxiety, and burnout.

As the author of several books on these topics, a lead researcher on several research studies, and co-founder of Amare, the “mental wellness company” –  I continue to be fascinated by the strong association between nutrition/supplements and how we feel. The growing scientific database demonstrating the close mood state and metabolism effects of chronic stress highlights how strategic nutrition and lifestyle choices can activate many of the body’s own internal “anti-stress” protective pathways, thus protecting your physical health and mental well-being at the cellular level.

For almost two decades, I have run a program (where I live in Utah), that teaches people about the link between chronic stress and health (especially fatigue, weight gain, and depression). Our program generally reduces perceived stress levels and stress hormones by ~20%; increases levels of “good” bacteria by ~30%; and elevates mood, energy, and overall well-being by ~50%. Some of the “standard” recommendations to combat stress apply – such as being physically active, eating balanced meals, getting enough sleep, etc. But, we also educate people about what we’ve found to be our “top five” ways to resist the detrimental health effects of chronic stress:

1. Have an “Outlet” (a hobby or some diversion outside of work)…

2. Do whatever you can to make the sources of your stress more “Predictable” or learn to develop more “Control” over those stressors (e.g. by identifying patterns related to when your stressors might appear)…

3. Hang out with Friends (avoid social isolation) – tough times are always easier when you’re around other people…

4. Put the stressor in Perspective with other parts of your life – by learning to tell the difference between “big” issues and “little” issue. Ask yourself whether or not this source of stress will be important to you five years form now….

5. Look on the Bright Side (really). As simplistic as it sounds, the fact that you can look to “what is improving” in a given situation can help to psychologically buffer the stress in others areas…

We also look at (and measure) a wide range of “natural therapies” for controlling stress and improving emotional well-being. Our work has been presented at more than a dozen recent scientific conferences. Not long ago, I presented a study at the American College of Nutrition Scientific Conference that showed how chronic stress can reduce a parameter that we call “Vigor” (a combination of physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being), and how a range of dietary ingredients (American ephedra, New Zealand pine bark, Green tea, Theanine, and others) can improve psychological parameters that are commonly disrupted by stress (e.g. mental focus, mood, tension, irritability, well-being). Next week, I will present some new clinical data at the Experimental Biology Scientific Conference demonstrating the stress-mediating benefits of microbiome modulation with probiotic/prebiotic/phytobiotic supplementation.

I think that it’s important for people to understand that chronic stress (including sleep deprivation) is “just as bad” for our overall health and well-being as eating poorly or being sedentary – but it’s also important to know that there are numerous “anti-stress” approaches that can help us to survive – and even thrive – in a world awash in stress. It’s not an overstatement to say that chronic stress is killing us – but we don’t have to let it happen to us. Fight back.

Amare Full House in Salt Lake City!

Standing room only in SLC stop on Amare’s National Launch Tour!

Amare Launch Tour in Multiple Cities

It’s another big week for Amare – with Launch Tour events in multiple cities across the country:

Phoenix AZ – Wednesday April 11

Salt Lake City UT – Thursday April 12

Charlotte NC – Saturday April 14

Sacramento CA – Saturday April 14

See more info about each event below and REGISTER so you can hear more about how Amare is changing the way the world thinks about (and improves) Mental Wellness.

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Amare in Palm Beach Florida – April 5

Amare Global Launch Tour, Palm Beach Gardens

Date: Thursday, April 5th
Time: 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Location: DoubleTree by Hilton, 4431 PGA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Speaker: Dr. Shawn Talbott – Chief Science Officer/Founding Executive

There has been a radical shift in scientific thinking that your mental health might not just be in your head . . . but it’s in your gut!

Come learn why – REGISTER HERE (Free)
7:00pm – 8:30pm Introduction to Amare (invite guests) – Amare, The Mental Wellness Company, is a new and exciting company in its launch phase. Amare’s vision is to lead the global mental wellness revolution, empowering people to live happier and healthier lives.
8:30pm – 10:00pm Products & Business Training – Amare’s unique business model allows you to “do well” by helping other people “be well.” Our mission is to create natural mental wellness products for a community of passionate people who desire an extraordinary life.

There is NO greater wealth than peace of mind!

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Blood Sugar Balance

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(KUTV) Salt Lake City – March 27 was American Diabetes Alert Day, so today is a great time to review some of the simple steps that we can take to keep our own blood sugar levels within balance. Dr. Shawn Talbott, a Psycho-Nutritionist who studies natural approaches to help people feel their best, sat down with Brooke & Caitlin today on Fresh Living do discuss what Diabetes is and why proper blood sugar control is so important.

http://kutv.com/features/fresh-living/dr-shawn-talbott-on-blood-sugar-balance

American Diabetes Alert Day was March 27 – so today is a great time to review some of the simple steps that we can take to keep our own blood sugar levels within balance.

First of all – WHAT is Diabetes and WHY is proper blood sugar control SO important?

Diabetes, rather than being a single disease, is actually a collection of conditions that result in too much sugar in the blood (high blood glucose). The most common types of Diabetes are:

  • Type 2 diabetes – which affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose).
  • Type 1 diabetes – in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.
  • Prediabetes – in which blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes – is a form of high blood sugar affecting pregnant women.

Blood sugar – also known as blood glucose – is the primary fuel source for our brain and to help prime our fat-burning metabolism. This means that maintaining an adequate blood sugar balance is important for both mental wellness and physical health. I’ve written a lot about natural ways to optimize blood sugar balance in many of my books, so I want to share my favorite tips – the “4 F’s” of blood sugar control: Fiber, Fat, Fitness, and Forty Winks.

Fiber – foods that are high in fiber, such as beans, oatmeal, apples, bananas, berries, whole grain bread and pasta can help to slow the digestion of carbohydrates in the gut and the absorption of sugar from the gut into the blood stream. High-fiber foods can often take some getting used to because of their taste, so I often recommend supplements such as Sunfiber (guar bean galactomannan) to increase your overall fiber intake – it’s tasteless, colorless, and can be added to a variety of foods without changing the taste. Sunfiber also has “prebiotic” benefits to support the “probiotic” beneficial bacteria in our gut.

Fat – adding some fat to your meals can also help to slow the digestion and absorption of sugar – it also helps to improve the flavor of high-fiber foods. Healthy fats can be found in avocados, olive oil, nuts like walnuts and almonds, and fatty fish such as salmon.

Fitness – exercise, or any type of physical activity, can help us to improve our ability to manage our blood sugar by improving the function of insulin (the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels). Exercise is so helpful for blood sugar balance that many diabetics are able to reduce (or completely eliminate) their diabetes medications.

Forty Winks – getting enough sleep is vital for our ability to control blood sugar levels. Just missing as little as 2 hours of sleep at night (getting 6 hours rather than 8 hours of sleep) means that we could be putting ourselves into a pre-diabetic state. This is because sleep loss is a “stress” that increases levels of cortisol (stress hormone). Cortisol can “block” insulin function, which leads to fluctuations in blood sugar levels – and cortisol can also stimulate carbohydrate cravings in the brain – which also increase blood sugar levels when we eat those foods.

To sum up, when blood sugar drops too low we get hungry – and when blood sugar rises too high, we stop burning fat. By keeping our blood sugar levels balanced within it’s optimal range, we can ensure that our brain and our body have “enough” (but not too much) glucose to perform at peak efficiency. Balanced blood sugar levels not only help us to burn fat more efficiently, but also help us to stay energized physically, sharp mentally, and have an overall higher levels of emotional well-being.

About the Author:

Dr. Shawn Talbott is a Psycho-Nutritionist who studies natural approaches to help people feel their best.

He received dual Bachelor’s degrees in Sports Medicine (B.S.) and Fitness Management (B.A.) from Marietta College, his Master’s degree (M.S.) in Exercise Science from UMASS, and his Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry from Rutgers. His research is focused on natural approaches to integrating physiology/biochemistry/psychology to improve human performance and optimize psychological vigor (physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being).

Dr. Talbott’s recent projects include two academic textbooks, an award-winning documentary film, and several best-selling books translated into multiple languages. His work has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, the TED stage, and the White House.

Can We Fix This?

This past Saturday (March 24), the school where I was a rower (Marietta College) dedicated a new boat in honor of one of my boatmates, Tim Grubert, who committed suicide in November 2016.

Tim was an amazing oarsman and a super-cool person – but he suffered bouts of depression for as long as I knew him. The thing is, he could have picked up the phone and called any of his boatmates to say that he was struggling – and any of us would have been on the next plane to lend a listening ear – or a shoulder to cry on – or a friend to vent to.

But, that’s not what you do when you’re fighting depression – or anxiety – or stress – or any of the various “flavors” of mental wellness challenges. You shut down – and the situation gets worse rather than better.

I’ve written many books and articles about the “epidemic” we’re facing I’ve educated online about depression and addiction and a variety of different mental wellness challenges – and yet, the problem seems to keep getting worse – and quickly. It’s important for people to understand that these are tough issues that are not just “in your head” (but also in your gut) – and that there are LOTS of effective natural approaches to help all of us feel better.

There are dozens of “awareness” days and numerous “organizations” (and a lot of these are doing amazing work) – so we don’t need “more” of the same – we need something different.

For example, just this past couple of weeks, we had World Sleep Day on March 16 (sleep is a huge aspect of mental wellness) and United Nations International Day of Happiness on March 20 (who doesn’t want to be happier?) – and a friend’s brother committed suicide.

March 20 would have also been the 42nd birthday of Chester Bennington, the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, Linkin Park (I have all their albums and my workout mix is full of their tunes). Chester’s widow, Talinda Bennington, watched Chester struggle with depression and substance abuse for years – so she started “320 Changes Direction” (3/20 is the date of Chester’s birthday) to help “streamline access to the help that IS available” (because she also realizes that there are lots of great programs out there doing amazing work – but people often don’t know where to turn to find help).

Information is starting to get out in the mainstream press, such as the Los Angeles Times article about rappers talking openly about mental wellness; the Players Tribune article about Kevin Love and the Men’s Health article about Michael Phelps and other professional athletes who struggle with mental wellness challenges; and the SELF magazine article on Demi Lovato and her struggles with mental wellness.

Amare Global, the Mental Wellness Company, (of which I am a Founder and Chief Science Officer) is changing the way that people think about (and improve) mental wellness. Our flagship FundaMentals Pack was named “2018 Product of the Year” for its revolutionary approach to optimizing gut-brain-axis and improving mental wellness. Our nutraceutical products are just one part of our overall “platform” of mental wellness solutions that will eventually encompass mindfulness, meditation, gratitude, breathe work, yoga, stress/sleep management, exercise, nutrition plans, and a range of science-based microbiome and mental wellness evaluations.

One of my favorite writers, Seth Godin, recently blogged about how important it is to “Find the others” – because “tribes build sideways” and today’s “connection economy” grows because somebody cares enough about something to start the process of connecting the people who are waiting to be connected. At Amare, we care – and we hope that you care enough to take a look at what we’re up to. Whether for yourself – or someone you know – there are literally millions of people who are waiting to be connected to an answer to their mental wellness challenges.

As Godin ends his blog, “ten by ten by ten is a thousand. Do it twice and you’re at a million.”

Thanks for reading,

Shawn

About the Author:

Dr. Shawn Talbott is a Psycho-Nutritionist who studies natural approaches to help people feel their best.

He received dual Bachelor’s degrees in Sports Medicine (B.S.) and Fitness Management (B.A.) from Marietta College, his Master’s degree (M.S.) in Exercise Science from UMASS, and his Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry from Rutgers. His research is focused on natural approaches to integrating physiology/biochemistry/psychology to improve human performance and optimize psychological vigor (physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being).

Dr. Talbott’s recent projects include two academic textbooks, an award-winning documentary film, and several best-selling books translated into multiple languages. His work has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, the TED stage, and the White House.

“Dangerous” Energy Drinks?

In a recent expert commentary in the Sports Medicine Bulletin of the American College of Sports Medicine, cardiologist Dr. John Higgins took issue with the safety of most energy drinks – please see the full article and see some highlights below.

Keep in mind, however, that not all “energy drinks” are the same – and when properly formulated, such as Amare’s Energy+ natural energy drink – they can actually be healthy and effective for improving physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being (a multi-faceted “energy” similar to psychological vigor – the opposite of burnout).

Many thanks to my colleague, Michael Quach for helping to compile this article and comparison chart below – or here as a PDF = Energy Drink Comparison

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In 2017, the energy drink market is expected to generate over $21 billion dollars alone! As the demand continues to increase, the demographic of consumers that are seeking a energy boost is becoming more popular in the younger population! (1) This poses true safety concerns and effects the largest and most vulnerable portion of humans today!

  • According to  Dr John P Higgins (M.D, FACSM, FACP, and Chief of Cardiology @ Harris Health Systems) (2)
    • There are many safety concerns with energy drink consumption, that include adverse effects to the cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems. Dr John P Higgins highlights the main issue that these energy drinks are accessible to anyone and:
      • Should not be consumed by children or adolescents
      • Should not be used for hydration by children and adolescents, and information about the absence of benefit and potential adverse effects should be provided to those who interact with young persons
      • Should neither be available for sale in K-12 schools nor advertised to children who attend such schools
      • Should not be marketed to (nor consumed by) vulnerable populations, including:
        • Those younger than 18 years
        • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
        • Caffeine naive or sensitive individuals
        • Those taking stimulant or caffeine-based medications
        • Those with certain cardiovascular or medical conditions.
      • Should be avoided before, during, or after strenuous activities, until such time that proper safety and efficacy data are available.
      • Should not be marketed premixed with alcohol or consumed with alcohol.
      • May contain high levels of carbohydrates and calories, which can contribute to obesity.
      • Should not be consumed close to bedtime.
  • In a nutshell, this $21 billion dollar industry is being driven by a poorly regulated product, with questionable efficacy,  that is accessible by any population. This combination is incredibly risky and Consumers need to be aware of the potential risks of consuming these energy drinks, find a healthy alternative, or not drink them at all!
  1. https://brandongaille.com/20-significant-energy-drink-consumption-statistics/
  2. http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/acsm/active032018.htm