Men, Women, and Stress Hormones

Here’s a recent article from Runner’s World magazine in which I was interviewed about the hormonal differences between men and women – and how that relates to fitness and well-being. It’s interesting that women hear the word “testosterone” and automatically think that it’s only a “male” hormone – when in fact, women produce plenty of their own testosterone. Unfortunately, they also suffer the detrimental effects of “low T” when they age, when they’re under stress, when they diet to lose weight, and when they fail to get enough sleep (just the same for men). In fact, an imbalance between testosterone and cortisol (stress hormone) is a primary cause for exhaustion or “burnout” and low vigor that I’ve talked about on The Dr Oz Show – so it’s important to keep your stress hormones in proper balance for a lot of good reasons.

Please take a look at the Runner’s World article and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading,

Shawn

About the Author: Shawn Talbott holds a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry (Rutgers) and a MS in Exercise Science (UMass). He trains for iron-distance triathlons and ultramarathons in Utah – and is always sure to keep himself in biochemical balance and with high vigor.

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

Follow me at:

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Twitter

LinkedIn 

Facebook 

ShareCare 

 My books related to stress, cortisol, vigor, and Feeling Your Best:

▪                Vigor Diet – The New Science of Feeling Your Best

▪                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. FREE versions at  http://www.KilleratLarge.com

▪                The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolconnection.com/

▪                The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolconnectiondiet.com/

▪                Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolcontrol.com/

Can Love and Running Coexist?

You and your partner both love running and being together. So why doesn’t it go so well when you actually run together?

Published
May 13, 2013
Mars Venus June 2013

“You never leave your runner” I said, grinding my teeth, and gasping.

Less than 24 hours after Peter had kneeled down and asked me to marry him, vowing to stick by me for better, for worse (and, I assumed, for faster or slower), he was darting ahead, bounding over roots and rocks, not even looking over his shoulder to make sure I was okay.

“But we’re running,” he said, his eyes bulged in confusion. “I want to push it as much as possible.”

I craved quality together time; he wanted a workout. It was one in a series of missed signals that got triggered every time we tried to take our partnership on the road (or trail). When I asked, “You okay?” He seethed. When he didn’t ask, I fumed. Indeed, we learned the hard way what many other couples already knew: Even if you love running and love being together, there is a very good chance you may not love running together.

“When romantic partners are intimate in so many functions in their life, whether it’s work, a hobby, or a sport, it can get intense,” says Michael Gervais, Ph.D., a high-performance psychologist in Los Angeles. While plenty of couples cherish running as together time, others always go their separate ways. Fifty-eight percent of runners in a runnersworld.com poll said that they never train with their romantic partner. Another 26 percent of runners said that they train for and go to the same races together—but run at their own paces. Just six percent of runners said that they train and race in lockstep.

To be sure, sharing your love of running with the love of your life has plenty of benefits. There’s no need to explain the early start that cuts short a late night out. No need to justify mysterious smells, sweaty kisses, ugly feet, or why a $120-shoe expenditure every few months is non-negotiable. And that’s to say nothing of the ease of planning vacations around races and the companionship of someone who can genuinely commiserate when you’re sidelined by injury.

Experts say that learning to nurture and respect your partner beyond his or her role as your beloved—as a runner—can bring you closer. “The great thing about running—like any leisure activity—is that it breaks down the normal patterns of communication and the roles we play,” says Dennis Orthner, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Social Work. “That gives you an opportunity to open up new channels of communication and break down the normal barriers for intimacy.”

So why can mixing romance and running be so tough? After all, you’re doing the thing you love with the one you love. All those feel-good hormones are pumping; your body and confidence are getting a boost. Experts say that conflicts can stem from basic gender differences—shaped by nature and nurture—along with communication breakdowns that can start before the first shoelace is tied.

But running together doesn’t have to wear down your relationship. With a little planning, and the same kind of give and take that you exercise off the road, you can each run happily ever after.

BRAIN CHEMISTRY
Some of the potential for problems comes from differences in basic brain chemistry, says Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist who has finished more than 100 marathons and triathlons. “When men and women compete, they have totally different hormone production, and they’re going in completely opposite directions.”

Even at rest, men have about 10 times more testosterone than women. Testosterone helps guys be more driven, competitive, goal-oriented, and focused. During competition—or even just a training run—testosterone gets elevated even higher. “It’s all about going up against the other person,” Talbott says.

In women, on the other hand, competition prompts the production of oxytocin, the so-called “cuddling” hormone associated with nurturing, collaboration, empathy, and trust; it’s the same hormone that promotes bonding between moms and newborns, and two people who are falling in love.

This can be further reinforced by socialization, says John Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. “Men get benefits from staying focused on one thing and accomplishing that task,” he says. “Women get more benefits from talking and sharing.”

That explains why it took a little adjustment when Meleah and Greg Shank started training together for the Big Sur Marathon. Meleah jokes that she had to give her husband a five-word-per-hour quota, because otherwise he wouldn’t make a peep. “If I’m running, I’m thinking about running,” Greg says. “I’m worried about whether or not I’m going fast and performing at my best. I may appear quiet because I’m focused on that, or trying to solve a problem. It’s not that I don’t want to talk, but there are times when I just want to be in my head.”

Just knowing—and respecting—that can help you sidestep trouble, says Gray. The chattier partner won’t take the silence personally and can maybe bring along some music or some other running buddies for entertainment.

Indeed, Meleah came to savor the silent together time, focusing on the sounds of their footfalls or their breathing rhythm. “I learned to just be present and enjoy his company without trying to force anything or nudge the situation,” she says.

She also learned to avoid heavy topics that required his decisions or attention. “It’s so easy to take advantage of our alone time,” she says. “In the past I may have been tempted to have a ‘conversation list’ of things to bring up with him during our run. But the quality of running together is quite different from having dinner together by ourselves. With running, we are connecting in such a different way, without having a conversation.”

Sleep and Your Waistline

Here’s another article from Shape magazine where I talk a bit about the links between sleep and body fat. There’s an interesting body of research showing that when we don’t get enough sleep, several hormones are thrown out of whack (leptin, ghrelin, and cortisol), and our body responds with increased appetite (for junk food) and accelerated belly fat storage. We see this same relationship between less sleep and more belly fat in under-slept moms, stressed business people, overtrained athletes, and anxious students – it’s about as close as you can get to a true modern health epidemic when you make the links between lack of sleep and – diabetes – obesity – heart disease – cancer – and depression.

Take a read and let me know your thoughts…

Thanks for reading,

Shawn

About the Author: Shawn Talbott holds a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry (Rutgers) and a MS in Exercise Science (UMass). He trains for iron-distance triathlons and ultramarathons in Utah – and is always sure to keep himself in biochemical balance and with high vigor.

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

Follow me at:

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Twitter

LinkedIn 

Facebook 

ShareCare 

 

My books related to stress, cortisol, vigor, and Feeling Your Best:

▪                Vigor Diet – The New Science of Feeling Your Best

▪                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. FREE versions at  http://www.KilleratLarge.com

▪                The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolconnection.com/

▪                The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolconnectiondiet.com/

▪                Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolcontrol.com/

6 Reasons You Need More Sleep

And how to put yourself on snooze control—tonight!

By Ysolt Usigan
woman eating cake

Sleep Curbs Unhealthy Cravings

Although most people get around five to seven hours of sleep a night, experts caution that number should really be somewhere closer to eight hours of sleep. “The problem with being chronically sleep-deprived (as in, missing one to two hours nightly) is that the body perceives the sleep loss as a “stress,” which increases levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol (which interferes with insulin function),” says Shawn Talbott, nutritional biochemist and author of “The Secret Vigor: How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy.”

That means blood sugar regulation is compromised and you’ll crave more sweets and junk food. The increased appetite for unhealthy snacks puts you at risk for abdominal weight gain, diabetes and obesity. Yikes!

sleeping

Sleep Repairs and Rebuilds Cells

When we sleep, our body helps repair and rebuild cells more efficiently, says Len Saunders, author of Keeping Kids Fit. “This will also help strengthen our immune system to fight sickness and disease,” he explains.
Sleep Improves Memory

Sleep Improves Memory

The right amount of sleep can improve your memory, creativity, and awareness. “Another job our body performs more effectively while we sleep is repairing neurons in the cerebral cortex of the brain, which is related to improving memory and concentration,” Saunders explains.
woman blowing her nose

Sleep Prevents Illness

Not only can enough sleep keep you at a healthy weight, it can also help prevent medical illnesses. “Sleep deprivation is often derived from an untreated sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or snoring and can cause serious medical illnesses such as high blood pressure and heart failure,” says Dr. David Volpi, Founder of Eos Sleep (formerly Manhattan Snoring & Sleep Center).
Sleep Improves Energy

Sleep Improves Your Energy Level

Some of the most obvious benefits of getting enough sleep are improved energy, vitality and endurance, says Randy Ganther, weight loss expert. With enough sleep, you’ll be able to function the best of your ability at work, during your workouts and even during sex.
depression

Sleep Helps Beat Depression

If you get an adequate amount of sleep, you improve your mood. Insomnia increases your risk for depression and anxiety, says Elizabeth Lombardo, psychologist and author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. But Lombardo cautions that there is such a thing as too much sleep. For instance, people who are depressed often sleep 12 or more hours a night.
How to Get More Sleep

How to Get More Sleep Tonight

Daniel Cohen, a holistic health and wellness counselor, suggests the following tips to help you get more sleep:

Get into a routine. Try going to bed half an hour earlier each week or set a bedtime. This will get your body used to a schedule.

Relax before bed. Turning the television off and taking some time out for yourself before bedtime, whether it be relaxing with a good book or meditating. This will help reset your brain and get it into sleep mode.

Cut out the caffeine! As we all know, caffeine keeps us stay alert and ready to start the day. If you are the type of person that gets a jolt from caffeine, cutting it out four to six hours before bedtime can help ensure that you get a restful night’s sleep.

Eat a high-protein snack before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan your body needs to process melatonin and serotonin.

Avoid alcohol You may think that having a drink before bed might make you sleepy, but the effects are short lived. You will often awake several hours later, unable to fall back to sleep.

Healthy Habits…

Here is the text from a recent interview I did with Shape magazine – about different habits that we all should be doing to improve our health. I talked specifically about getting enough sleep (for cortisol balance and belly fat control) and “food journaling” (to get an idea of what we really eat everyday). Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading…

Shawn

About the Author: Shawn Talbott holds a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry (Rutgers) and a MS in Exercise Science (UMass). He trains for iron-distance triathlons and ultramarathons in Utah – and is always sure to keep himself in biochemical balance and with high vigor.

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

Follow me at:

YouTube

Amazon

Twitter

LinkedIn 

Facebook 

ShareCare 

My books related to stress, cortisol, vigor, and Feeling Your Best:

▪                Vigor Diet – The New Science of Feeling Your Best

▪                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. FREE versions at  http://www.KilleratLarge.com

▪                The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolconnection.com/

▪                The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolconnectiondiet.com/

▪                Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolcontrol.com/

 

9 “High-Maintenance” Healthy Habits That Truly Pay Off

From meditation to super-fast sprints, sometimes the things we want to do least are the things we need to do most!

By Charlotte Anderson
woman meditating in living room

Meditation

You know you should meditate—everyone from your medical doctor to the guy checking you out at Whole Foods raves about its benefits. But is daily inward reflection really worth your time? Yes! In addition to reducing anxiety and improving your overall outlook on life, “meditation has been shown in research to reduce blood pressure, increase attention span, help insomnia, and increase compassion,” says Dr. Samantha Brody, a licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist.

And you don’t just have to sit and stare at the wall to clear your mind. “There are many different ways to meditate,” Brody says. “There is mantra meditation where you focus on a word or a phrase, meditation where you focus on your breath, and even moving meditation.” But the real trick, she says, is to stick with it, even when you feel like you don’t want to. “It’s on the other side of the resistance that you’ll find the biggest rewards!”

Ready to get started? Check out this beginner’s guide to meditation for everything you need to know.

RELATED: Look-Great Secrets From Jennifer Love Hewitt

track runner stretching hamstring

Stretching

Stretching is often overlooked because the results are not as visible as lifting weights and squatting—or so you thought. Stretching can lead to better posture, fewer aches and pains , and even a cheerier outlook on life. That’s because stretching increases your blood flow and circulation for a healthier body and sends oxygen to your brain for a clearer mind and sunnier moods,” says Peggy Hall, wellness expert.

To stretch properly, you can use any number of techniques from yogato active resistance to dynamic stretching, but it doesn’t have to be elaborate. The key is to make sure you stretch the front and back of your body evenly, says Greg Merseth, a personal trainer and correctional exercise specialist for Lifetime Fitness. “Everyone always stretches their hamstrings and forgets their hip flexors! This pulls your pelvis out of alignment and sets you up for a ton of functional problems.”

Not all stretching is created equal, so check out this quick guide on the best pre- and post-workout stretches for your body.

woman in bed with eye mask

Going to Bed Before 10 P.M.

“This is an excellent strategy to stay slim, as late nights are linked to craving salty, savory treats and overeating,” says Dr. David Grotto, M.D., author of The Best Things You Can Eat. What’s more, research shows that every hour of sleep you get before midnight is worth two hours of sleep after midnight!

“Sleep is the forgotten aspect of fitness, weight loss, and health,” says Dr. Shawn Talbott, Ph. D., author of The Vigor Diet: The New Science of Feeling Your Best. “But without getting those eight hours, we are overexposing our body to the stress hormone cortisol, which stimulates cravings for junk food, breaks down muscle tissue, and stimulates belly-fat storage.”

Try to establish a bedtime routine, and consider exercising earlier in the day to help tire you out. After that it’s a matter of just doing it. If you’re used to super late-nights, start by pushing your bedtime up 30 minutes or one hour at a time. Dr. Brody cautions that “although we all know what it feels like to be tired, stay up past your body’s signals to sleep and you can get a ‘second wind’ that can keep you from falling asleep.”

RELATED: The Best Foods for Deep Sleep

woman on smartphone

Food Journaling

Almost every health/nutrition/weight loss expert agrees that most people are unaware of what (and how much) they’re truly eating. And food journaling is the best way to change that! “Very often people will eat subconsciously—a bite here, a snack there—and not realize how many calories or what types of foods are going down the hatch,” Dr. Talbott says. “So food journaling makes us more aware of what we’re eating, when we’re eating it, and why—and it almost always makes us think about making better choices.”

You can always go the pencil-and-paper route, but there are many new apps and sites designed to help you log your daily intake—Dr. Brody recommends Myfitnesspal.com. The best part about food journaling is that you only need to do it every once in a while for it to be effective, even once a week can help you recognize bad habits and see where you might be able to make better nutrition choices.

One caution however: “For people who get obsessive or have an eating disorder history, sometimes tracking food can trigger negative behaviors or self judgment,” Dr. Brody says. If this describes you, talk to your doctor about alternate ways of improving your eating habits.

woman lying on hard-wood floor

Sleeping on the Ground

While we don’t expect you to give up your plush mattress to sleep on the floor every night, it might be worth a try if you have trouble sleeping. According to Dr. Brody, enthusiasts believe that being on the floor is a more natural state. Plus, sleeping on a thin mat has been shown in some cases to ease back pain, reduce snoring, and encourage a proper sleeping position.

The biggest problem with beds and pillows isn’t really the softness but rather the position in which you sleep, says Dr. Len Lopez, a nutrition and fitness expert and author of To Burn or Not to Burn: Fat is the Question. “Sleeping on your side, in the fetal position for six to eight hours, will shorten (tighten) your hip flexors and hamstrings which leads to back pain. It also shortens your pectoral muscles, one cause of upper-back pain.”

So how should you lay your head to rest? “The ideal way to sleep is flat on your back on something slightly softer than the floor and with no pillow—that way your spine is basically in it’s most neutral position,” Dr. Lopez says. He’s especially not fond of “head positioning” or ergonomic pillows which he says cause more problems than they help.

Dr. Grotto adds that if you are having a hard time adjusting to your new, harder accommodations, “try a handful of tart cherries and walnuts, natural sources of the sleep hormone melatonin” just before bedtime (or reach for one of these sleep-inducing snacks).

glass of water with lemon slices

Lemon Water

There’s nothing like waking up to a nice hot mug of… acidic water? Our experts say “yes!” “Lemon water is great for hydration, and the vitamin C in lemons helps detoxify, repair, and heal the body,” Dr. Grotto says.

Your body is dehydrated after a long night of sleep so try to get in the habit of pouring a glass of H2O with a squirt of lemon juice first thing in the morning. Lemon makes plain water taste better too, so you’ll be more likely to drink more, he adds. Just be careful to wait 30 minutes after drinking to brush your teeth as the acid temporarily weakens tooth enamel.

RELATED: 6 Reasons Drinking Water Helps Solve Any Problem

woman running quickly

High-Intensity Sprints

Hang around any fitness venue long enough and you’re guaranteed to hear people touting the benefits of high-intensity interval training(HIIT). But running is tough enough—why add sprints that make your heart feel like it’s going to explode?

Super high-intensity sprints (10 on a scale of one to 10) with short recovery periods (30 to 60 seconds) have been shown to improve endurance and overall fitness level just as well as much longer steady-state exercise, Dr. Grotto says. So you reap the same benefits in a much smaller amount of time. And when it comes to torching calories, HIIT can’t be beat! Not only do you burn more calories during HIIT workouts, but the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into hyper-drive, meaning you burn more calories in the 24 hours after you leave the gym. (Click here to learn more benefits of HIIT).

To do a HIIT workout, try one of our fat-blasting Tabata drills or simply pick your favorite piece of cardio equipment and alternate 20 seconds of maximal effort with 10 seconds of rest, eight times total.

woman on a walk in mountains during the winter

Outdoor Walks

Walking in a winter wonderland sounds delightful, in song anyhow. But in reality, most people don’t want to drag themselves outside to take an after-dinner stroll in frigid temperatures. Why should you do it anyway? We need fresh air, sunlight, and to move our bodies just as much as we need healthy food and a solid workout, Dr. Brody says.

“We’re just not designed to sit all day, and certainly not to sit all day inside.” Moreover, recent research shows that being exposed to cold forces our bodies to work harder, thereby amping up our immune systems and even stimulating our bodies to burn more fat!

Dr. Brody encourages her patients to take any opportunity to step outside for a breath of fresh air, even when it’s cold. But an important reminder: “If it’s very sunny where you live, be sure to protect your skin. And make sure that you have good supportive shoes.” It’s a good tip to keep a spare pair of athletic shoes in the trunk of your car anyhow, whether they’re for an impromptu walk or a walk to the gas station.

Beating Stress

Here’s the text from a recent interview I did with Prevention magazine – I think it covers a lot of the important aspects of why overexposure of stress hormones like cortisol can be so bad for our waistlines, brains, and overall health. I’ve spoken about cortisol on The Dr Oz Show and of course written several books on the topic – so I’m excited to be working on two new and different dietary approaches to balancing the stress response (one product is a capsule and the other is a drink) – stay tuned!

Thanks for reading…

Shawn

About the Author: Shawn Talbott holds a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry (Rutgers) and a MS in Exercise Science (UMass). He trains for iron-distance triathlons and ultramarathons in Utah – and is always sure to keep himself in biochemical balance and with low cortisol and high vigor.

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

Follow me at:

YouTube

Amazon

Twitter

LinkedIn 

Facebook 

ShareCare 

 

My books related to stress, cortisol, vigor, and Feeling Your Best:

 

▪                Vigor Diet – The New Science of Feeling Your Best

 

▪                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. FREE versions at  http://www.KilleratLarge.com

 

▪                The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolconnection.com/

 

▪                The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolconnectiondiet.com/

 

▪                Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolcontrol.com/

Prevention

How To Lower Cortisol Manage Stress

Beat Your Stress Hormone

How managing cortisol can help you think faster, slim down, and even prevent a cold

By Elizabeth Svoboda

Poor cortisol: It means well but just doesn’t know when to quit. Produced by your adrenal glands, this “stress hormone” helps regulate blood pressure and the immune system during a sudden crisis, whether a physical attack or an emotional setback. This helps you to tap into your energy reserves and increases your ability to fight off infection.

Trouble is, relentless stress can keep this survival mechanism churning in high gear, subverting the hormone’s good intentions. Chronically high cortisol levels can cause sleep problems, a depressed immune response, blood sugar abnormalities, and even abdominal weight gain. “When cortisol spikes, it tells the body to eat something with a lot of calories—a great survival tactic if you need energy to flee a predator but not if you’re fretting over how to pay bills,” says nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott, PhD, author of The Cortisol Connection.

Fortunately, an antidote to the body’s fight-or-flight mode has evolved: the relaxation response. Here are eight surprising ways to invoke stress management—and in some cases, cut your cortisol levels almost in half. 

To Cut Cortisol 20%…Say “Om”
People who practiced Buddhist meditation significantly decreased both cortisol and blood pressure in a 6-week Thai study. Similarly, participants who meditated daily for four months decreased the hormone by an average of 20% in a study at Maharishi University, while levels in the nonmeditating control group actually went up slightly. (New to meditating? Check out Meditation To Match Your Personality.) 

To Cut Cortisol Elevation 66%…Make a great iPod mix
Music can have a calming effect on the brain, especially while you’re facing down a major stressor. When doctors at Japan’s Osaka Medical Center played tunes for a group of patients undergoing colonoscopies, the patients’ cortisol levels rose less than those of others who underwent the same procedure in a quiet room. Even if an invasive gastrointestinal exam isn’t in your immediate future, you can forestall cortisol spikes in other stressful situations—when hosting dinner for your in-laws, for instance—by queueing up background music. And to wind down faster at bedtime, listen to something soothing instead of watching TV. 

To Cut Cortisol 50%…Hit the sack early—or take a nap 
What’s the difference between getting six hours of sleep instead of the suggested eight? “Fifty percent more cortisol in the bloodstream,” Talbott says. When a group of pilots slept six hours or less for seven nights while on duty, their cortisol levels increased significantly and stayed elevated for two days, found a study at Germany’s Institute for Aerospace Medicine. The recommended 8 hours of nightly shut-eye allows your body enough time to recover from the day’s stresses, Talbott says. When you fall short of the mark, take a nap the next day—Pennsylvania State University researchers found that a midday snooze cut cortisol levels in subjects who’d lost sleep the previous night.

More from Prevention: How To Have Your Best Night’s Sleep Ever

To Cut Cortisol 47%…Sip some black tea 
The “cup that cheers” has deep associations with comfort and calm—just think of how the English revere their late-afternoon teatime. As it turns out, science confirms the connection: When volunteers at University College London were given a stressful task, the cortisol levels of those who were regular black-tea drinkers fell by 47% within an hour of completing the assignment, while others who drank fake tea experienced only a 27% drop. Study author Andrew Steptoe, PhD, suspects that naturally occurring chemicals such as polyphenols and flavonoids may be responsible for tea’s calming effects. 

To Cut Cortisol 39%…Hang out with a funny friend 
The pal who keeps you in stitches can do more than distract you from your problems—her very presence may help temper your hormonal stress response. Simply anticipating laughter is enough to reduce cortisol levels by nearly half, according to researchers at Loma Linda University. (If your favorite Tina Fey clone can’t meet for coffee, you may be able to achieve the same stress-melting effect by popping in a DVD of The Office or Groundhog Day.)

More from Prevention: The 8 Friends Every Woman Needs 

To Cut Cortisol 31%…Schedule a massage 
A little pampering can rub your stress levels the right way. After several weeks of massage therapy, subjects’ cortisol levels decreased by nearly one-third, on average, according to studies at the University of Miami School of Medicine and elsewhere. In addition to keeping cortisol under control, massage sessions reduce stress by promoting production of dopamine and serotonin, the same “feel good” hormones released when we socialize with pals or do something fun. 

To Cut Cortisol 25%…Do Something Spiritual 
Religious ritual fortifies many people against everyday pressures, and it can also lower cortisol secretion, report University of Mississippi researchers. Churchgoing study subjects had lower levels of the stress hormone, on average, than those who did not attend services at all. If organized religion isn’t of interest to you, try developing your spiritual side by taking a walk in nature’s “cathedral”—in the woods or along a beach—or volunteering for a charity. (New to volunteering? Here’s how to find the best fit for you.) 

To Cut Cortisol 12-16%…Chew a Piece of Gum 
Next time you feel frazzled, try popping a stick of gum into your mouth to instantly defuse tension, suggest new findings from Northumbria University in the United Kingdom. While under moderate stress, gum chewers had salivary cortisol levels that were 12% lower than nonchewers and also reported greater alertness than their gum-deprived counterparts. One possible mechanism: In past experiments, chewing gum increased blood flow and neural activity in select brain regions.

The good side to stress

Under the right circumstances, a little bit of cortisol can: 

Boost sex drive
Women who took 20 sniffs of a bottle containing a component of male sweat, a reported pheromone, experienced surges in mood, sexual arousal, and cortisol levels within 15 minutes, found a study from the University of California, Berkeley. (Check out these simple ways to Want Sex Again.)

Ease pain
Patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia who took customized cortisol doses improved symptoms by 75%. Researchers speculate that cortisol may help kick certain hormone-producing systems back into high gear. 

Improve memory
A study of 90 men done by the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that moderate levels of cortisol translated into better performance on memory tests, although very high levels—”from too much stress”—reduced the effect (meaning poorer recall).

More from Prevention: Are You A Stress Eater?

Published November 2011, Prevention | Updated June 2013

http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/how-lower-cortisol-manage-stress

Read more: http://www.prevention.com/print/24368#ixzz2YeFtCiBU

Red Palm Fruit Phytonutrients

Here’s an interview that I did recently with the Star Newspaper (the most widely read English-language newspaper in Malaysia). The article is about the blend of phytonutrients found in red palm fruit specifically (flavonoids, carotenoids, and healthy fatty acids – all with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity). There are a number of natural plant extracts that have similar “blended benefits” because of their unique phytonutrient matrix – sources such as acai berries, New Zealand pine bark, and the red palm fruits that are the subject of this article.

Please give the article below a read and let me know your thoughts in the comments box at the end.

Thanks for reading…

Shawn

About the Author: Shawn Talbott holds a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry (Rutgers) and a MS in Exercise Science (UMass). He trains for iron-distance triathlons and ultramarathons in Utah – and is always sure to keep himself in biochemical balance and with high vigor.

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

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My books related to stress, cortisol, vigor, and Feeling Your Best:

 

▪                Vigor Diet – The New Science of Feeling Your Best

 

▪                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. FREE versions at  http://www.KilleratLarge.com

 

▪                The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolconnection.com/

 

▪                The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolconnectiondiet.com/

 

▪                Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House) – FREE text at http://www.cortisolcontrol.com/

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Nutrition

Home > Lifestyle > Health > Nutrition

Published: Sunday July 7, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM 
Updated: Sunday July 7, 2013 MYT 9:54:47 AM

Palm-ing stress away

By FIONA HO

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties found in palm phytonutrients may help combat the adverse effects of stress.

Phytonutrients found in palm may play a role in helping to restore the body’s natural biochemical equilibrium that stress disrupts.

 

The demands of modern living can have a disruptive effect on the human body.

The bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in a day, your annoying mother-in-law isn’t going away any time soon, and your responsibilities of your job and home only seem to increase day by day.

As a result, many of us are constantly stressed and tired from simply trying to live.

Stress is the body’s reaction to any event that requires an adjustment or response. In dealing with a stressful event, a part of the brain called the hypothalamus triggers an array of neural and biochemical reactions to help the body cope with these changes.

The succession of neuronal and hormonal signals prompts your adrenal glands, located on top of your kidneys, to release a cocktail of hormones, which include adrenaline and cortisol.

These biochemical reactions prepare the body to react with physical, mental and emotional responses.

Such responses can be beneficial in a critical, life-or-death situation, say if you ever find yourself confronted with an angry lion.

However, repeated stressful situations put a strain on the body that may contribute to physical and psychological problems over time. The reason for this is because the biochemical reactions that follow a stressful event disturb one’s physical and mental equilibrium.

For instance, a spike in cortisol – the primary stress hormone – alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and other growth processes.

While cortisol is essential in organising systems throughout the body, which includes the heart, lungs, circulation, metabolism and skin, research shows that too much can actually make your brain more vulnerable to damage due to strokes and ageing.

Stress may also contribute to unhealthy eating habits, with many people admitting that they are overeating or eating unhealthy foods due to stress. This leads to side effects such as mood swings and weight gain.

Utah-based biochemist and exercise physiologist Dr Shawn Talbott says that the secret to overcoming stress is by restoring the body’s biochemical balance. In doing so, we reclaim our “vigour”, a source of natural energy innate in the human body.

“Vigour is a sustained feeling of physical energy, mental clarity and emotional well-being – a true state of wellness and vitality,” he writes in his book, The Secret of Vigour.

“We measure vigour with a mental and physical energy parameter, and it is very much linked to how people feel,” he explains in an interview with Fit4Life.

Combating stress

Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, as well as your behaviour. If left unchecked, they can contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, obesity and diabetes.

Chronic stress plays a major role in disrupting vigour. Dr Talbott explains that we can dramatically reduce stress, cut fatigue and improve vigour by achieving “oxidative balance, glycation balance, inflammation balance, and metabolic balance”, or what he refers to as the “four pillars of health”.

“All four pillars are closely linked and they affect one another,” he says.

“For example, when you are stressed, heightened cortisol levels can increase oxidation, which may in turn , lead to inflammation.”

In The Secret of Vigour, Dr Talbott writes: “Oxidation balance is achieved by balancing the free radicals and antioxidants in the body to limit cell and DNA damage in the body. We can control free radical exposure and cellular oxidation (damage) through a balanced dietary intake of antioxidant nutrients.”

Glycation is a reaction that takes place when simple sugar molecules, such as glucose or fructose, become attached to proteins or lipid fats without the moderation of an enzyme. Its ill-effects, often a result of connective-tissue damage and chronic inflammation from diabetes, can lead to conditions such as cataracts, Alzheimer’s, and diseases of the pancreas and liver.

According to Dr Talbott, glycation balance can be achieved by making nutritional adjustments to control blood sugar level, which could reduce glycation throughout the body.

Inflammation balance can be restored by balancing insulin activity and blood glucose levels.

”Inflammation is a normal metabolic process with many life-sustaining benefits. However, if it becomes overactive or misdirected, our bodies can fall into a hyper-inflammatory state, which leads to pain, stiffness, gastrointestinal problems and brain fog. Controlling inflammation also helps to balance oxidation, glycation, and cellular stress,” he says.

Finally, metabolic balance is achieved by correcting the imbalance between cortisol and testosterone levels.

“Cortisol overexposure leads to a reduction in testosterone levels, and this metabolic imbalance invariably leads to a cascading “domino effect” of increased oxidaton, glycation and inflammation.

“In many ways, the balance between cortisol and testosterone is the ‘master controller’ among the four pillars of health,” the doctor shares.

He adds that by restoring the balance in these pillars, one achieves biochemical balance, and reclaim his vigour.

“The lack of vigour is associated with wrinkling skin, thinning hair, spreading waistlines and diminished sex drive. Restoring vigour will not only make you look and feel better, you will live better as well.”

The vigorous palm

According to Dr Talbott, phytonutrients found in palm may play a role in restoring the biochemical balance in the body.

Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants that help to prevent disease and keep the body working properly.

The palm fruit contains a high content of phytonutrients known as carotenoids (a precursor to Vitamin A) and tocotrienols (a derivative of Vitamin E).

Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants reputed for their anti-ageing properties. They protect cells from oxidative stress, free radical damage (including UV exposure) and pro-inflammatory chemicals.

Their antioxidant properties don’t only help stave off wrinkles, they also help protect the lining of the arteries and the fats in the blood from oxidative damage caused by free radicals, ensuring a functional overall biological system.

Meanwhile, recent studies suggest that vitamin E tocotrienols have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help increase the body’s immune system’s ability to fight inflammation.

Vitamin E occurs naturally in eight different forms: four tocopherols and four tocotrienols – each named alpha, beta, delta and gamma. With continuing research, the vitamin E tocotrienols are fast emerging as the superior siblings in the vitamin E family, essential for the full range of antioxidant properties in vitamin E.

Combined, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties found in these phytonutrients make the palm fruit the ideal package to help protect your body against the ravages of stress. It also helps your body recover from stress,” Dr Talbott concludes.

 

Glutamine & BCAAs for Post-Exercise Recovery

Here is the text from a recent interview I did for Oxygen Magazine – you can read the full article with additional links here

Glutamine: Your Post-Sweat Supplement?

 

By Lara McGlashan MFA CPT

 

May 27, 2013

 

Is glutamine, an amino acid touted for its ability to build and preserve lean muscle, worth adding to your training diet? Find out what it is, how it works and how to use it.

 

Ask 10 active women for their thoughts on glutamine and you’ll probably get a variety of comments, running the gamut from “Works like magic” to “Wasn’t for me, didn’t do much.” So how do you decide? Here, we’ll clear out the hype by explaining what it is, breaking down the unique way it works to potentially optimize muscle recovery and then delve into the latest science and get to the heart of the matter: Should you supplement your training diet with glutamine?

 

What It Is?

 

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in your body. It’s a part of the non-essential group of about 20 amino acids that are found naturally throughout your body. This means that your body can produce glutamine on its own from other available compounds whenever necessary. For the most part, your need for glutamine can be met with a healthy diet rich in quality protein, such as steak, poultry, fish, dairy products and beans. But glutamine’s non-essential status doesn’t mean you should snub its supplement form, because here’s the rub: Glutamine is the primary fuel source for your immune system and much of it is stored in your muscles.

 

Evidence shows that during intense exercise, your muscles release glutamine into the bloodstream, which can deplete glutamine reserves by as much as half. Such a shortfall can promote the breakdown and wasting of muscle tissue. Shawn Talbott, PhD, a nutritional biochemist and research director for Supplement Watch, a health education company explains: “The depletion of glutamine is very much dependent on the overall intensity of the challenge. Extremely intense catabolic conditions (such as burn patients) might deplete glutamine levels by 90 percent, while the casual exerciser would have little to no glutamine depletion. A hard-training athlete would be someplace in between 30 to 50 percent.” So the more intense your workout effort, the greater the glutamine depletion is likely to be, which is why many experts consider glutamine to be a “conditional non-essential” amino acid.

 

How Glutamine Works

 

In many ways, glutamine can be seen as a virtual jack-of-all-trades: It aids in muscle metabolism and recovery, and plays an essential role in supporting the immune system. Glutamine is able to multi-task because it is not stored in the same way fat is stored as adipose or carbs as glycogen; rather, it becomes what is needed, and mostly it is needed to build and maintain muscles.

 

Oxygen advisory board member Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, explains further, “Glutamine is constantly being used and its form changes all the time. It can be a part of a cell membrane or an enzyme or a hormone – whatever the body needs – and your level of glutamine will go up and down on a daily basis according to your body’s demands.” As mentioned earlier, postworkout glutamine depletion may hinder your results since it directly affects immune and muscle response.

 

Research reveals that glutamine helps optimize recovery in the following four ways: Readily available glutamine can prevent muscle breakdown and prevent your body from using your muscle tissue as fuel when your body is depleted, a concept known in bodybuilding lingo as protein sparing. Glutamine spares protein by stimulating formation of glycogen, which comes from the breakdown of carbohydrates and is your body’s preferred energy source for exercise. When your body’s glycogen stores are depleted, your body may dip into your muscles to steal energy from protein – you don’t want that. In cases of extreme glycogen depletion, “Glutamine directly increases the activity of an enzyme that creates glycogen in muscle and liver cells,” says Talbott.

 

In a study done on cyclists, glutamine was given to subjects during a two-hour workout, which resulted in doubling the concentration of glycogen in the muscles. What’s more, glutamine is important for cellular hydration, which helps maintain cell volume and in effect, enhances protein synthesis, the process of rebuilding and repairing muscle tissues. Tom Bilella, CCN, CNS, head nutritionist for the New York Jets explains: “Glutamine gets into the cell then draws in water to volumize it. And since a hydrated cell is less likely to break down, this helps you maintain mass.”

 

Lastly, glutamine protects your immune system since it is the top fuel source for immune cells – and that in effect can help you build muscle. “If the immune cells don’t have enough available glutamine to do the necessary repairs, they will steal it from somewhere else,” says Talbott. “And since your body’s store of glutamine basically is your muscle, that will be the first thing broken down when the immune system needs some fuel.” A strong immune system will help your body fend off infections that can sideline training. It’s also worth noting that because of its close relationship with the immune system, glutamine supplementation has been shown to be effective when treating burn patients, cancer patients, and those with HIV/AIDS.

 

Glutamine’s Grey Area

 

As with all supplements in general, the question of whether or not glutamine is needed for active people is neither black nor white. Kleiner believes that supplementation with such a readily available nutrient is redundant for the typical athlete, stating that to date, there’s a lack of firm science favoring glutamine supplementation. “After exercise, refueling with carbs and protein is probably more significant and beneficial than supplementing with one single amino acid,” she says. And indeed, several studies support her school of thought. One done with elite wrestling athletes came up short on results when subjects were given glutamine in the hopes of retaining muscle mass while cutting weight; no significant differences between the glutamine and non-glutamine groups were evident. Another study also drew a blank when athletes were given additional glutamine hoping it would help prevent immune suppression post-exercise; it had little effect.

 

There could be several reasons for the failure of these recent studies to come up with any efficacy for glutamine supplementation, one of which could simply be that they were poorly designed. “Many studies take a small number of subjects, give them some capsules and a training program, and then fail to manage either the subjects or their supplements very well,” says Talbott. “The subjects forget to take their pills or miss a few training sessions, which results in a ‘no effect’ result from the study.” He also points out that the training regimen of the study participants might not have been difficult enough.

 

That being said, glutamine can help you retain muscle mass and enhance recovery if you’re working out hard, very hard, “Hard enough to get you into a hyper-catabolic state,” says Talbott. “If you’re not reaching that threshold, then glutamine probably won’t add much to your program.” But if you are, there are some benefits to be gained. Recall that glutamine is your immune system’s main source of energy, “So when you do a hard workout and cause some muscle damage, your immune system cells have to step up their activity,” says Talbott. Think of it this way: If you do a hard biceps workout and need to repair that muscle, the immune system will draw glutamine from somewhere else – your thigh, shoulders, or abdominal muscles – to repair the damage to the biceps if your glutamine stores are low. With that in mind, adding glutamine to a post-workout meal or shake could help boost muscle repair and recovery, sparing the body the breakdown it might incur as a result of a hard workout.

 

Who Can Benefit

 

Now that you know that glutamine is “conditionally essential” – meaning that in times of stress, heavy exercise, injury or illness, your need for glutamine increases – the question remains: who can benefit the most from using it? According to our experts, these two groups of athletes:

 

Contest competitors. Extreme dieting, such as a pre-contest fat-loss regimen, can lead to increased stress and protein and glutamine depletion. Since your body is continually trying to recover from strenuous exercise, it may become catabolic if your immune system isn’t up to par. Another appealing attribute to competitors is that glutamine has been shown to curb sugar cravings! “As little as 1,500 milligrams between meals can really help when you’re dieting,” says Bilella.

 

Endurance athletes. It’s very common for distance runners to be more susceptible to catching colds and other upper-respiratory infections than the average weightlifter. Because of this increased risk of immune suppression, these groups of women are perfect candidates for supplementation.

As always – thanks for reading…

Shawn 

About the Author: Shawn Talbott holds a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry (Rutgers) and a MS in Exercise Science (UMass). He trains for iron-distance triathlons and ultramarathons in Utah – and is always sure to keep himself in biochemical balance and with high vigor.

 

Follow me at:

YouTube

Amazon

Twitter

LinkedIn 

Facebook 

ShareCare 

 

My books related to stress, cortisol, vigor, and Feeling Your Best:

 

  • Vigor Diet – The New Science of Feeling Your Best

 

  • 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. FREE versions at  http://www.KilleratLarge.com

 

 

 

 

More (endurance) for Less (moola)…

I recently read a blog entry from one of my favorite authors – Seth Godin. I’ve read all of Seth’s books, attended a some of his lectures, and even had some one-on-one time with him at a small event for authors in NYC – so I like to listen to his ideas and apply them to my writing and my businesses whenever I can.

Recently, he posted briefly about “Less for Less” and the relationship between the price you pay and the value you get from a product or service. It made me realize that what we’re doing at Wicked Fast Sports Nutrition is exactly the right balance for our endurance athlete customers.

At Wicked Fast, we carry only three products (but we have several interesting endurance products under development):

Intense Defense (the only endurance-specific multivitamin that detoxifies and enhances both fat loss and lean gain).

Energ-Ease (for pre-exercise endurance & stamina, avoidance of overtraining, and enhancement of mental & physical performance)

Recover-Ease (the only research-proven post-exercise recovery enhancement capsule)

Our products sell for $40-$50 for a full 30-day supply.

None of our products require a “loading phase” like other endurance products – and all of our products have been used in research studies and in the heat of competition at the recommended dose (not double or triple dosage so they get some results).

I don’t want to bash specific brands of endurance supplements, because I know a lot of the folks who work at those companies. They’re good people – we see each other at the same races and on the same trails. Unfortunately, the economics of the nutrition industry mean that they have to create a low-cost product (which often means low-potency) and advertise/sponsor like crazy (which often translates into high cost).

The combination of low potency formulas and high cost advertising is exactly what frustrated me about developing products within traditional nutrition channels – and what led my wife (Julie) and I to start Wicked Fast back in 2001.

Yikes! – We’ve been in business for a dozen years – and for that entire time, we’ve been creating and researching HIGH-potency endurance products and selling them with as LOW-cost as possible (directly to coaches and athletes via our website and at events around the country).

Let me give you a few examples.

Our Intense Defense formula is roughly comparable to a super-potent multivitamin sold by a network marketing company – but Intense Defense also includes ingredients to support detox pathways and enhance fat/lean metabolism. That other product sells for $149 (to support marketing and commissions), while Intense Defense sells for $50.

Our Energ-Ease formula for endurance/stamina is a non-stimulant approach to helping you train harder and compete at a higher level. It helps your body to use oxygen more efficiently (cordyceps/rhodiola), balance cortisol/testosterone ratio (eurycoma), and maintain mental sharpness in the late stages of your workout or race (eleuthero/ashwagandha/huzhang). People who use Energ-Ease tell us that it gives them an “extra gear” – especially at the end of their workout when they would normally start to fade. There are other cordyceps/rhodiola products from a company that advertises in all the cycling/triathlon magazines – but it costs more than double to get the same potency of oxygen enhancers (all that money, and without any ingredients for cortisol/testosterone balance or for mental sharpness – maybe not a great deal).

Our Recover-Ease formula for post-exercise recovery enhancement is our flagship product – the one that started it all 12 years ago. I formulated Recover-Ease because there were no good recovery capsules on the market (and there still aren’t, except Recover-Ease). There are certainly no shortage of “Recover-This” and “Recover-That” products on the market – but you’ll only buy them once because they’re God-awful blends of low-quality whey and cornstarch (maltodextrin) that will make you Heave. There ARE some decent recovery FOODS (such as chocolate milk) to help supply the protein and carbs for refueling your muscles – but Recover-Ease supports a different part of your recovery process (your immune system). After exercise, your immune system cells use the nutrients in Recover-Ease as a fuel source to help them super-charge their repair of tissue damage (lungs, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, etc) – so you bounce back to your next workout faster and more completely. No more heavy legs or nagging pains or stiffness. We still drink our chocolate milk, but always with our Recover-Ease (especially now that we’re in our mid-40s and have more post-race aches than we used to)…

That’s what we offer – a better multivitamin (that does more) – a better endurance supplement (that does more) – and a better recovery supplement (that does more) – and we offer all of them at a much better price than anything you can find elsewhere. We’re endurance athletes too – I’ve done 15 Iron-distance triathlons (#16 coming at the end of this month) and more than a dozen ultramarathons – so we’re right there with you (we also support hundreds of races around the country). We feel very strongly that high-quality endurance nutrition can be delivered to committed athletes at a reasonable price. That’s why we sell direct (to you or to your coach) and why you won’t find us on the traditional retail shelf.

Thanks for the last dozen years! We’re looking forward to helping you go Wicked Fast for the next dozen!

Shawn Talbott, PhD (CEO – Chief Endurance Officer & Formulator/Guinea Pig) – also CSO at MonaVie where I get to develop some of the most amazing general-health products to help everyone feel better (including athletes).

Julie Talbott (COO – Chief Operations Officer & Head Bottle Washer)