Balance Stress Hormones—and Vigor Will Follow

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.

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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.

Balance Stress Hormones—and Vigor Will Follow
Numerous studies convincingly show that reducing “biochemical stress”—including restoring balance between various measures, such as cortisol, testosterone, glucose, cytokines, CRP, and others—also reduces the risk of dying and increases lifespan. Positive changes in psychological measures of stress, such as a greater sense of “meaningfulness in life,” have also been associated with improvements in biochemical balance markers. But this “psycho-biochemical” effect appears to cut both ways, because individuals with “downward” financial mobility (such as job loss) tend to have higher indices of cortisol/cytokines, and those individuals with the highest financial stress (poverty) have been shown to have a striking six-year-shorter life expectancy, attributable to increased disease risk from excessive metabolic stress. In similar fashion, the risk of developing burnout, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has recently been shown to be approximately three times higher in subjects with elevated psychological stress and dysregulations across the Four Pillars.

Numerous forms of “stress management” exist, and many fine references are available on that topic. However, this book takes the view that although stress-management techniques have been around for decades, very few of those regimens have made a large impact on the health or well-being of the average person. This fact has nothing to do with the techniques’ being ineffective—they work if you can actually put them into practice. For many people, however, wedging another stress-management tool into their already busy lives does little more than just add further stress. I know that some stress-management gurus will disagree with me, but from a purely practical point of view (from my position as a nutritional biochemist and an exercise physiologist), most people can’t be bothered with traditional approaches to stress management. And many rarely take the time to exercise or eat the way they know they should—both of which could go a long way toward reducing the detrimental effects of stress on the body.

Giving up old unhealthy habits—such as grabbing a fast-food meal when you’re feeling stressed instead of sitting down to a nutritious dinner—is always a challenge. But besides the difficulties of changing behavior, I believe most people do not take advantage of stress busters, such as exercise or dietary supplements, simply because the idea that stress can seriously damage health has not really sunk in—including for many in the medical profession.

Almost everyone is now aware that smoking is bad for you, and laws have systematically reduced the number of places where cigarette smoking is allowed. I don’t think society has reached that critical mass of opinion about the impact of stress, though. In Chapter 1, I stated that I believe it is just as important to get your stress levels under control as it is to eat a healthy diet and get physical activity. Once you let that idea sink in—and once you’ve absorbed the information about how much damage stress can do to your heart, your brain, and your overall health—I believe you will naturally begin to adopt the behaviors that will help you balance your stress hormones.

To make it easier for you, I’ve outlined the best strategies for restoring balance across your personal Four Pillars of Health, and I’ve grouped them into several categories that I define as “Vigor Improvement Practices” (VIPs). You’ll find details on these practices in the last part of this book—Part III—which I designed for people asking “what to do” to build vigor. The best thing “to do” is to take small steps, and I’ve intentionally kept my recommendations simple so you can easily incorporate them into your lifestyle. You should also be encouraged by the fact that thousands of clients and participants in my programs have successfully used these practices and enjoyed noticeable benefits in relatively short periods of time—without undue hardship or inconvenience in their already busy and stressful lives. I’m confident the same results are available to you.

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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