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Boost your Summer SPF (Sun-Protecting Foods)

During the hot summer months – it’s important to protect our skin from the damaging effects of the sun.

Watch the video = http://kutv.com/features/fresh-living/sun-protecting-foods

When most people think about “SPF” – they think about the sun protection factor as it relates to sunscreen.

As a nutritionist, I also like people to understand the “other SPF” – referring to “skin-protecting foods.”

These are foods that deliver specific nutrients that can help to block harmful UV light, reduce sunburns, and deliver a range of anti-aging benefits.

Some of my favorites are:

Carrots, cantaloupe, spinach and kale – are all high in beta-carotene that concentrates in the skin and protects from UV rays. Try one of my favorite smoothie recipes:

Green Acai (makes ~16oz)

  • 1⁄2 cup chopped kale (packed)
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped spinach (packed)
  • 1⁄4 avocado
  • 1 packet (3.5oz / 100g) of frozen acai berries
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • handful of parsley

Grapes, blueberries, and cherries – are all high in polyphenols that can help to reduce sun-induced oxidation (damage) to cells and DNA. Pop your fruit in the freezer so you can enjoy a frozen treat on a hot summer day.

Tomatoes and Watermelon – are high in lycopene, a red carotenoid that can significantly reduce sunburn risk – and either one can be used as the base for a healthy and delicious summer salad.

Salmon is high is astaxanthin – a carotenoid that can increase the natural SPF of your skin by the equivalent of 2-4 SPF sunscreen (from the inside)! At your next summer BBQ, skip the burger and fries in favor of a salmon burger (astaxanthin) and sweet potato (beta-carotene) for the ultimate in inside-out sun protection.

Eat as many of these foods as often as possible to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the summer sun.

Thanks for reading,

Shawn
====================================

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)

 

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)

 

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)

 

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Curing Cancer This Weekend!

Kind of…

I’m riding my bike 140 miles in the Huntsman 140 on Saturday June 17 to raise money for cancer research.

If you can donate any amount, I’m still offering any of the great “prizes” (thank you gifts) that I wrote about here – or you can go directly to my donation page here.

I’m behind on my fundraising goal – so any amount is helpful – and I’ll be thinking of you on every pedal revolution!

$0.01 per mile = $1.40

$0.10 per mile = $14

$1.00 per mile = $140

Thanks!

Shawn

May is National Physical Fitness Month

In addition to May being “Mental Health Awareness” month, it is also designated as “Physical Fitness and Sports” month.

When we think about sports and physical fitness – we should always think about heart health – and on May 24, I visited Fresh Living on KUTV (Salt Lake City, CBS Ch2) to share a few of my favorite foods and supplements to improve heart health.

Video = http://kutv.com/features/fresh-living/healthy-foods-to-protect-your-heart

  1. Green tea and L-Theanine – reduce stress and blood pressure.
  2. Grapes and Grape seed flavonoids – lower cholesterol and improve blood flow.

Later this week, I’ll be presenting some new research related to cardiovascular fitness and astaxanthin at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Scientific Conference in Denver.

Astaxanthin is a nutrient that many people have never heard of – but they should learn about it because it’s one of the most powerful heart health supplements out there.

Our study found a dramatic and significant improvement in cardiovascular efficiency with astaxanthin supplementation – so people who took the supplement (versus a placebo) were able to do more exercise with less “strain” on their heart.

  1. Wild Salmon, Shrimp, and Astaxanthin – reduce oxidation and improve heart efficiency.

I personally drink tea, eat grapes (and drink red wine), and eat wild salmon because they’re both delicious and heart-healthy, but I also increase my daily intake of these important nutrients with dietary supplements of Suntheanine (L-theanine), Enovita (grape seed extract), and AstaZine (astaxanthin).

For more information about the astaxanthin study, visit www.ShawnTalbott.com after the scientific presentation on June 2.

 

May is Mental Health Month!

In celebration of Mental Health Month during the month of May, I talked to the hosts of Fresh Living on Salt Lake City’s KUTV about the wide range of nutritional approaches to help improve mental health.

On April 29, I talked about a range of foods to help alleviate the “fatigue” that comes with disrupted mood = http://kutv.com/features/fresh-living/dr-shawn-talbott-nutrition-for-mental-wellness

On May 1, I talked about a simple 3-step approach to improving the communication between the gut-immune-brain axis, that can significantly boost our mental wellness and help us feel our best =  http://kutv.com/features/fresh-living/improving-mental-health-with-nutrition

Talking points from the May 1 show:

  1. Start with the Gut (the “2nd brain”) by restoring “good” bacteria with probiotics, prebiotics, and phytobiotics.
  2. Prime your immune system with “glucans” from yeast, mushrooms, and fatty acids from healthy fats.
  3. Tune up your brain and sharpen your mental focus with flavonoids from brightly colored fruits and vegetables (apples, grapes, pine bark).

Every aspect of how we feel and perform on a daily basis is influenced by our diet – including stress, mental focus, sleep quality, and even bigger issues such as depression and anxiety. It’s very likely to you – or someone you know – is affected by a mental wellness issue, which affects 1-in-5 of us! (and many experts feel that when you add in daytime fatigue and nighttime insomnia, it’s more like 1-in2 of us).

A recent research study shows just how impactful the right foods can literally be “curative” for epidemic diseases such as moderate to severe depression. Researchers from Australia looked at a Mediterranean-style diet (see below) – showing a significant reduction in depression indices – with more than a third of participants showing such dramatic changes that their depression was essentially gone – cured!

The diet used in the Australian study was approximately 40% carbs, 40% fat, and 20% protein primarily from whole grains, fruits/veggies, legumes, low-fat dairy, nuts, eggs, and lean meats (and limitations on sweets, sweetened beverages, refined grains, fast/fried foods, and processed meat). Of particular note, is that the diet was fairly high in fiber (15grams/day from fruits/veggies/legumes) and flavonoids (notably from red wine) – which may be delivering a prebiotic/psychobiotic anti-depressant effect mediated by the gut microbiome.

This is the very same style of diet regimen that has previously been shown to reduce heart disease, encourage weight loss, and prevent dementia – so now we can add anti-depressant effects to the list of health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. This food-mod connection is certainly meaningful for the millions of people who struggle with mental health issues everyday – from everyday bothers such as stress and insomnia – to more problematic issues such as depression and anxiety.

For the past 20 years or so, I’ve been studying how stress-induced imbalances can lead us to feel fat, fatigued, frazzled, unfocused, and general in a funk. However, restoring biochemical balance in the brain, the immune system, and the digestive system can help restore mental wellness. From my perspective in physiology (MS, exercise physiology) and biochemistry (PhD, nutritional biochemistry), I study how lifestyle (diet/exercise/sleep/stress/supplements) influences our psychology and behavior. In this way, I’m more of a “nutritional physio-psychologist”!?!? ;^)

Talking points from the April 29 show:

If you’re finding yourself stressed out, or if you can’t focus, or you find yourself low on energy, or in a bad mood, then you might consider adding certain foods and spices to your daily regiment to help dial up your mental wellness.

My nutritional approach to improving mental wellness and helping you feel better is multi- dimensional in nature and addresses many of the triggers that lead people to experience fatigue, including mood issues (depression/anxiety), brain fog (ADHD), and stress (cortisol/burnout).

There are many foods, herbs, and supplements (not to mention stress management, exercise, sleep patterns, etc) that can improve energy levels in this “multi-dimensional” way (for example, when you reduce depression/confusion/stress, the person often reports more “energy” and feelings of well-being).

Here are some examples of foods that I often recommend to help alleviate fatigue caused by various mood states:

Sad – coffee – go get a small latte with one shot of espresso (100mg of caffeine) and 1% milk. The combination of the stimulating caffeine plus the relaxing small peptides (protein chains) in the milk will help to increase neuron activity in the brain, without overstimulation – just enough to help you get out of a sour mood, but not enough to make you feel jittery and tense. Note = you need to stop at only one shot of espresso – consuming more caffeine will tip the scales towards tension/anxiety.

If you’re not a coffee drinker, then look for a new supplement called Whole Green Coffee Bean that combines a balanced blend of natural caffeine for energy, chlorogenic acids for blood sugar control, and polyphenols for brain protection – all bound to the natural coffee bean fiber – so you get long-lasting mental energy without the crash.

Unfocused – nuts, such as almonds and walnuts – and seeds, such as black cumin seed and pumpkin seed, contain healthy oils and other phytonutrients, that can induce a relaxation and anti-stress effect. The healthy fats in nut and seed oils can also to help protect the brain – and actually improve brain function. For example, black cumin seed oil has been show to increase brain power with improvements in focus. Memory, and overall cognition.

Tired – grapes and apple, which contain antioxidant compounds called OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanins), can improve mental and physical energy levels. An even richer source of OPCs is New Zealand pine bark extract, which can be taken as a tea or a dietary supplement, and has been studied for improving “brain energy” and ADHD.

Stressed – prebiotics, which we normal get from high-fiber foods like fresh fruits and veggies and probiotics, which we think of finding in yogurt and fermented foods like kefir and kombucha – can also help to reduce stress, change our appetites (away from stress-induced sugar cravings), and improve our overall well-being. You’ve heard the term “gut-feeling” before – which refers to the “2nd brain” in our gut – the “enteric nervous system” that has as many neurons and produces as many neurotransmitters as the “1st brain” (in our heads)! Research is showing that keeping our guts balanced with pre-biotics and probiotics can help to maintain not just our intestinal function but also our brain function and overall mental wellness.

Bloated – Artichoke and Ginger are two of the best “digestive” aids to helping to maintain gut function and keep us from feeling overly full, bloated, and gassy. When we’re bloated or have indigestion, we can focus the way we want to and our energy levels are certainly sub-optimal. Just as pre/probiotics can help to maintain gut function in the “lower” gastrointestinal tract, artichoke and ginger can help to maintain optimal function of the upper and middle portion of the GI tract.

Anxious – green tea, contains the relaxing amino acid, Theanine, that induces a state of “relaxed alertness” where you feel “in the zone” with clear mental focus but also with a sense of peaceful calmness.

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

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)

 

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)

 

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)

 

 

Synbiotics Reduce Oxidative Stress

Yet another example of how keeping the gut microbiome healthy – in this case with a “synbiotic” combination of probiotic and prebiotic – also keeps the rest of the body healthy (reduced oxidative stress and cellular damage).

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:9315375. doi: 10.1155/2017/9315375. Epub 2017 Feb 13.

Influence of Synbiotics on Selected Oxidative Stress Parameters.

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to assess synbiotic (Lactobacillus casei + inulin) influence on oxidative stress parameters such as concentrations of malondialdehyde (MDA), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), glutathione, and free sulfhydryl groups content. Experiments were carried out on healthy volunteers (n = 32). The subjects were divided into women group (n = 16) and men group (n = 16) and randomly assigned to synbiotic and control groups. Blood samples were collected before synbiotic supplementation and after 7 wks, at the end of the study. The administration of synbiotic resulted in a significant decrease in MDA (p < 0.01), H2O2 (p < 0.01), and GSSG concentrations (p < 0.05) as compared with the control groups and significant increase in the concentrations of GSHt (p < 0.001), GSH (p < 0.01), and -SH group content (p < 0.05) versus control. Synbiotics containing L. casei plus inulin may have positive influence on selected oxidative stress markers.

PMID:

 

28286605

 

PMCID:

 

PMC5327756

 

DOI:

 

10.1155/2017/9315375

Polyphenols & Microbiome…

I’m giving a short talk and participating in an expert panel discussion at UC Davis next week, where I will talk about, “Gut Feelings – the Role of the Microbiome in Mental Wellness” – and touch on aspects of dietary supplements related to probiotics, prebiotics, and “phytobiotics” like polyphenols that can modulate (and be modulated by) our microbiome.

Here is an interesting recent paper on the topic…

Biochem Pharmacol. 2017 Mar 16. pii: S0006-2952(17)30141-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2017.03.012.

Role of the small intestine, colon and microbiota in determining the metabolic fate of polyphenols.

Abstract

(Poly)phenols are a large group of compounds, found in food, beverages, dietary supplements and herbal medicines. Owing to their biological activities, absorption and metabolism of the most abundant compounds in humans are well understood. Both the chemical structure of the phenolic moiety and any attached chemical groups define whether the polyphenol is absorbed in the small intestine, or reaches the colon and is subject to extensive catabolism by colonic microbiota. Untransformed substrates may be absorbed, appearing in plasma primarily as methylated, sulfated and glucuronidated derivatives, with in some cases the unchanged substrate. Many of the catabolites are well absorbed from the colon and appear in the plasma either similarly conjugated, or as glycine conjugates, or in some cases unchanged. Although many (poly)phenol catabolites have been identified in human plasma and / or urine, the pathways from substrate to final catabolite, and the species of bacteria and enzymes involved, are still scarcely reported. While it is clear that the composition of the human gut microbiota can be modulated in vivo by supplementation with some (poly)phenol-rich commodities, such modulation is definitely not an inevitable consequence of supplementation, it depends on the treatment, length of time and on the individual metabotype, and it is not clear whether the modulation is sustained when supplementation ceases. Some catabolites have been recorded in plasma of volunteers at concentrations similar to those shown to be effective in in vitro studies suggesting that some benefit may be achieved in vivo by diets yielding such catabolites.

KEYWORDS: Bioavailability; Conjugation; Microbiota; Phenolic acids; Polyphenols

PMID: 28322745 DOI: 10.1016/j.bcp.2017.03.012

Stress, Overeating, and Obesity?

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017 Mar 11. pii: S0149-7634(16)30394-3. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.01.026.

Stress, overeating, and obesity: Insights from human studies and preclinical models.

Abstract

Eating disorders and obesity have become predominant in human society. Their association to modern lifestyle, encompassing calorie-rich diets, psychological stress, and comorbidity with major diseases are well documented. Unfortunately the biological basis remains elusive and the pharmacological treatment inadequate, in part due to the limited availability of valid animal models. Human research on binge eating disorder (BED) proves a strong link between stress exposure and bingeing: state-levels of stress and negative affect are linked to binge eating in individuals with BED both in laboratory settings and the natural environment. Similarly, classical animal models of BED reveal an association between acute exposure to stressors and binging but they are often associated with unchanged or decreased body weight, thus reflecting a negative energy balance, which is uncommon in humans where most commonly BED is associated with excessive or unstable body weight gain. Recent mouse models of subordination stress induce spontaneous binging and hyperphagia, altogether more closely mimicking the behavioral and metabolic features of human BED. Therefore the translational relevance of subordination stress models could facilitate the identification of the neurobiological basis of BED and obesity-associated disease and inform on the development of innovative therapies.

KEYWORDS: Animal model; Chronic subordination stress; Ecological momentary assessment; Negative affect; Social stress; Stress

PMID: 28292531
DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.01.026

Dementia Metabolism?

Fantastic article with innovative ideas about using amino acid formulations to circumvent the metabolic derangements typical of dementia.

Abstract pasted below and full article at = https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5316456/

Amino Acid Catabolism in Alzheimer’s Disease Brain: Friend or Foe?

Abstract

There is a dire need to discover new targets for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) drug development. Decreased neuronal glucose metabolism that occurs in AD brain could play a central role in disease progression. Little is known about the compensatory neuronal changes that occur to attempt to maintain energy homeostasis. In this review using the PubMed literature database, we summarize evidence that amino acid oxidation can temporarily compensate for the decreased glucose metabolism, but eventually altered amino acid and amino acid catabolite levels likely lead to toxicities contributing to AD progression. Because amino acids are involved in so many cellular metabolic and signaling pathways, the effects of altered amino acid metabolism in AD brain are far-reaching. Possible pathological results from changes in the levels of several important amino acids are discussed. Urea cycle function may be induced in endothelial cells of AD patient brains, possibly to remove excess ammonia produced from increased amino acid catabolism. Studying AD from a metabolic perspective provides new insights into AD pathogenesis and may lead to the discovery of dietary metabolite supplements that can partially compensate for alterations of enzymatic function to delay AD or alleviate some of the suffering caused by the disease.

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

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

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)

Follow me on YouTube 

Follow me on Amazon 

Follow me on Twitter  

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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)

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