Glucose Pillars in Action (Acne, Belly Fat, and Mental Focus)

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at or at your favorite library or bookstore.

Pillar Points to Remember…
The next chapter explores the links between stress-hormone exposure and the other Pillars of Health; however, because cortisol (one of the primary stress hormones) has direct and indirect effects on glucose levels, it makes sense to outline a few of those effects in this chapter. Cortisol exposure stimulates a rapid increase in blood-glucose levels via several mechanisms, including stimulating the release of glucose stored in the liver, interfering with insulin’s action to stimulate cells to absorb glucose from the blood, and stimulating the appetite with specific cravings for sweets.

Adding to the connection between cortisol and insulin resistance are a series of studies showing that inadequate sleep causes insulin resistance. This is particularly interesting because of the well-known link between sleep deprivation and elevated cortisol levels. Sleep researchers from the University of Chicago and several other universities have shown that inadequate sleep leads to a cascade of events, starting with increased cortisol levels, 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 gain.

The research team compared “normal” sleepers (averaging eight hours of sleep per night) to “short” sleepers (averaging six hours or less of sleep per night). They found 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. The researchers also suggested that sleep deprivation plays a significant role in the current epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

These research results are a concern for anyone who wants to balance their blood-sugar levels—especially in light of statistics from the National Sleep Foundation, which show a steady decline in the number of hours that Americans sleep each night. In 1910 the average American slept about nine hours per night, whereas today people average only about seven hours of sleep per night—and many get far less than that—much to the detriment of vigor.

Pillars in Action (Acne, Belly Fat, and Mental Focus)
Tricia was a nurse and single mother of two teenage girls who Stabilized Glucose to enhance her mental function and reduce her belly fat. As a nurse, Tricia worked long, stressful hours and often pulled double shifts to earn extra money to support her daughters. As a single mom, Tricia had very little “downtime,” and she especially had trouble finding the time to prepare healthy meals. As a result, she and her daughters frequently ate fast food and other prepared packaged foods (low in fiber and high in refined carbohydrates). Tricia knew that she and her daughters should be eating better and that doing so could also help her lose some of the belly fat that she had gained over the last few years, but all the “diets” she read about had complicated recipes or long lists of “banned” foods—neither of which would work in a household with two picky teenagers.

By incorporating a few simple Vigor Improvement Practices related to healthy nutrition choices, Tricia was able to stabilize glucose for herself and her daughters. As a family, Tricia and her daughters agreed to give up soda (full-sugar and artificially sweetened) as a first step toward stabilizing glucose, and they also switched from refined-grain bread to whole-grain bread. They set a goal of preparing at least three “nonpackaged” meals each week, meaning no microwave or heat-and-eat dinners. They found that their meals didn’t take very much time to prepare if they planned ahead and had fresh vegetables and lean-protein choices already on hand in the refrigerator. In addition to replacing soda and refined carbs with a better balance of whole grains, vegetables, and protein, Tricia and her daughters also added a daily licorice-root supplement (containing glabridin) to help further stabilize glucose levels.

After one month, Tricia’s daughters found that their acne cleared up and their ability to concentrate on homework and exams was improved. Tricia herself reported a noticeable lifting of the “brain fog” that she’d been under for many months and a significant drop in her belly fat—so much so that she had to buy a smaller size of nursing scrubs.

About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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