Americans are tired, depressed, and overweight. We spend more than $100 billion on energy drinks, antidepressants, sleep drugs, and other products designed to help us feel different. But they don’t necessarily help us feel better.
Most of the problems we experience in our well-being and vitality are because we are out of balance biochemically: our internal equilibrium is off. Our diets and environment, as well as our physical, emotional, and psychological health can cause biochemical changes in our bodies that drive how we feel, look, and perform on every level.
The solution is to restore the equilibrium in body, mind, and spirit. Once you biochemically rebalance, brain fog fades and is replaced by mental clarity. You start losing weight, especially in the abdominal area (belly fat). You sleep better and daytime energy returns to youthful levels. That feeling of emotional engagement and well-being returns. As you get yourself into a more positive cycle, you click into the groove. It gets easier to stay there, and you start making good choices that keep your biochemistry running the right way.
You don’t have to flood your system with synthetic pharmaceuticals that block your neurotransmitters. Instead of trying to go around the blockade, it?s time to knock it down!
Your Age is Stressing Your Body
People are surprised to learn that even the process of aging represents a stress on the body because of the slow and progressive disruption of metabolic balance. Cortisol (a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands in response to stress) levels rise and testosterone levels fall about 1 percent each per year after your mid-30s. Eventually, we all age ourselves into metabolic imbalance, but stress exposure and sleep loss accelerate the process and quickly lead us to a state of low vigor where we gain belly fat and feel more tired, depressed, and confused.
While every day can bring different challenges to our equilibrium, especially for working moms, there are numerous factors within our control. Tactics such as natural dietary supplements, lifestyle programs, aromatherapy, and even brain training can help restore equilibrium so you look, feel, and perform better. These strategies align with the way your body is intended to operate. The whole idea of restoring your equilibrium is to build the foundation and opportunity to reach the unreachable?whether it?s weight loss, energy, or something else.
What Foods to Avoid?
When it comes to diet, biochemical balance, and health, researchers know a great deal about what not to do. This comes down to avoiding or limiting your intake of highly refined carbohydrates, sodas, and processed foods containing high-fructose corn syrup and trans-fat (usually listed on the label as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil). These types of highly processed foods set off a bio-chemical chain reaction in the body that leads to unhealthy elevations in blood sugar, insulin, cortisol, cytokines, and free radicals?all combining to disrupt equilibrium and generate the majority of our first-world health problems including obesity, diabetes, depression, fatigue, low libido, attention deficit, and many others.
These biochemical events are not only bad for your long-term health but also for your long- and short-term ability to heal and rebuild tissues. For example, chugging a sugary soda leads to microscopic tissue destruction via a number of the following related events:
- Spiking blood sugar and insulin levels lead to protein glycation and destruction of collagen and elastin (key structural proteins in healthy connective tissues such as skin and joint cartilage).
- Elevated cortisol levels lead to imbalances in the inflammatory process in favor of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which lead to further damage to tissues and blood vessel linings.
- Inflammatory cytokine signaling elevates free-radical destruction of cells and tissue membranes throughout the body.
And, all these events are detrimental to your stamina, looks, and life expectancy.
What to Eat?
The notion of poor dietary choices leading to so much destructive metabolism in your body is scary. However, we all make these choices many times a day when we choose what we eat. People should choose diets that provide ingredients that not only reduce these detrimental biochemical chain reactions but also prevent and reverse the effects of oxidation, glycation, inflammation, and all the rest of the negative factors on health.
Some of the easiest routes to controlling these metabolic marauders are to:
- Eat a preferable 3 to 1 ratio of omega-6 and -3 essential fatty acids.
- Eat fewer refined carbohydrates and more whole-grain carbs.
- Eat more antioxidants from brightly colored fruits and veggies, and balanced supplements.
- Reduce stress or control your exposure to the stress hormone cortisol.
A Few Words about Testosterone
Both men and women should be concerned about having sufficient amounts of this hormone. Our testosterone levels peak in our mid-20s to early 30s, and dip to about 40 to 50 percent of youthful levels by the time we hit age 60. Stress, poor diet and sleep patterns, and lack of exercise can cause those levels to decrease even further. There are many benefits to maintaining youthful testosterone levels, including high psychological vigor, mental and physical energy, improved muscle mass, less body fat, and improved general well-being.
Connecting the Dots: Stress, Cortisol, and Testosterone
One of the major problems with today’s late to bed, early to rise lifestyle is that your cortisol levels never have enough time to fully dissipate as they are supposed to overnight. As a result, your body never has a chance to fully recover and repair itself from the detrimental effects of chronic stress. That overexposure to cortisol throws a monkey wrench into your ability to maintain biochemical balance. When your biochemical balance is out of whack, it puts your overall metabolism into a downward spiral, accelerating the breakdown of tissues and sending your energy, mood, and mental focus into a tailspin, leaving you with low vigor.
Not only is it is possible to begin shedding the blahs and kick start the quality of your life today, but it’s also a great deal easier to implement than most people understand. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time giving the same old standard recommendations. By now, you know all about the importance of physical activity, eating balanced meals, and getting enough sleep. But few of us do it because of a lack of understanding about the importance of internal equilibrium to our levels of physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being. Instead, I am excited to talk with people about improving their equilibrium, so that they can become even better versions of themselves.
By Shawn Talbott, PhD, LDN, FACSM