Best Future You – Introduction Part 2

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.

My 13th book, Best Future You, will be released on Feb 1!

Until then, I’m keeping the price at $3.49 – less than the cost of a grande latte! (it’s also FREE if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member)…after that, the price goes up to $9.99 – so get it now!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.

Introduction – Part 2

The body is a dynamic, ever-changing, always-adapting collection of intricate structures and systems. Sometimes it works perfectly on its own—your lungs fill and empty, your heart beats, and your eyes blink—all without you having to remember to “work” them. But sometimes your body breaks down. In most circumstances, the damage is only temporary, because your internal repair mechanisms jump into action to fix the damage and get you back to full function. Sometimes, however, the damage persists. You accumulate little bits of damage and dings and creaks over the years, until you find yourself waking up one morning with physical ailments, such an aching knee, a stiff back, or a generalized pain through your entire body. Sometimes the ailments are more “psychological” in nature, such as depression, fatigue, brain fog, lack of motivation, or outright burnout. Sometimes, those little changes in metabolism and cellular function mean that we wake up on the morning of our twentieth high school reunion and somehow we’ve gained twenty (or more) pounds of belly fat and more wrinkles than we can count.

Whether physical or mental, all these ailments have their roots in problems with the biochemistry of your body. Specifically, I’m referring to the biochemical activity among hormones, enzymes, blood-sugar levels, brain signals, and the other internal interactions that take place below the surface of your skin that you are hardly aware of—until something goes wrong. When the balance between hormones, such as cortisol and testosterone; or between neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine; or between enzymes, such as catalase and glutathione peroxidase, is disrupted, you can be left feeling “blah” and exhausted.

This feeling of exhaustion is caused in large part by internal biochemical imbalances, and I’ve been invited on numerous national television broadcasts to explain why so many millions of people are more likely to feel tired, stressed, and depressed and less likely to feel energetic, relaxed, and happy. In the type of lifestyle research that I do, we use natural therapies (nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, herbal supplements, and others) to reestablish biochemical balance to improve psychological vigor.

I’ve written entire books about restoring vigor (The Secret of Vigor, 2011), which is defined as a combination of physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being – and the opposite of what we know as “burnout”. Our modern scientific concept of vigor is somewhat comparable to the ancient descriptions of vitality and wellness from traditional medicine systems around the world. Nearly every ancient culture has typically held a common belief that true health stems from a strong “life force” in the body. Other names for this life force, or vigor, include:

  • Qi (traditional Chinese medicine; pronounced “chee”)
  • Prana (Ayurvedic/Indian medicine)
  • Pneuma (ancient Greek medicine)

Practitioners of traditional medicine might have restored “life force” in their patients by improving their nutrition or administering herbal medicines. These natural therapies often “worked,” and patients felt better as a result. What these ancient healers did not fully appreciate was “how” their therapies were working to actually alter biochemical processes in the body. In modern times, millions of people attempt to temporarily reduce fatigue with unbalanced energy drinks or other stimulants. However, that approach does not restore vigor and is actually more likely to create additional imbalances that further sap vigor in the long term.

Chronic stress—and the underlying biochemical imbalances that it leads to—undoubtedly plays a major role in many of today’s modern diseases, particularly depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and obesity. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the World Health Organization:

  • 80 percent of North Americans have enough daily stress to cause health problems.
  • Stress contributes to half of all illnesses in North America.
  • 70–80 percent of all doctor visits are for stress-related illnesses.
  • More than half of all deaths before age sixty-five result from stressful lifestyles.

The good news is that by naturally restoring biochemical balance, you can dramatically reduce feelings of stress, cut fatigue and depression, boost physical and mental energy, and significantly improve vigor.

It may be hard to understand how something as simple as stress can cause so many problems—from depression to heart disease to weight gain. But the fact is, your body’s response to everyday pressures—including deadlines, traffic, money concerns, family conflicts, irritating coworkers, and other worries—is actually a chronic stress response. And that response to chronic stress causes an immediate and profound change in a variety of hormones and related biochemicals in your body. Further, those compounds are distributed throughout the entire body, where they influence the function of every organ and cell.

Initially, the effects of chronic stress are subtle. On the biochemical level, hormone levels change (e.g. increased cortisol and reduced testosterone); blood sugar levels fluctuate more dramatically (because cortisol interferes with insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar); cellular damage increases (caused by oxidation and inflammation set in motion by blood sugar fluctuations); and brain function is compromised (due to imbalances in neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine). Although you are hardly likely to detect such biochemical changes on a daily basis, what you might notice is that you experience a few extra pounds of weight, a slight reduction in energy levels, a modest drop in sex drive, or a bit of trouble with memory or mood. Even then, you probably brush off these health signals as “normal” aspects of aging. However, these common symptoms are actually the earliest signs of depression, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, obesity, diabetes, impotence, dementia, heart disease, cancer, and many related conditions—and chronic cellular stress can trigger all of them. Indeed, researchers are discovering that cellular stress may well be the key factor in the very process commonly recognized as “aging.”

I’ve learned through experience with thousands of people who have read my books, attended my lectures, and enrolled in my programs, that when people become that better version of themselves – that “best future you” – they often feel so good that they’re motivated to help someone else achieve the same – they pay it forward. I see it in action every day and all over the world – people helping other people to achieve what they’ve achieved. Many people who witness this phenomenon describe it as “magical” – which it might be in terms of the life-changing benefits that it brings to people, but that “magic” is deeply rooted in the science of maintaining biochemical balance.

If reading this book can give you some ideas and strategies for helping you to feel your best, then that’s a win. But, I think our opportunity is much bigger than that. I’m banking on Best Future You helping you to feel so much better, that you’re motivated to help someone you know to feel their best, or look their best, or perform their best – you get the idea.

Thanks for reading – tune in next time for another installment…

Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author


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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)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)
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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