Category Archives: stress

Why Emotions Trigger Food Cravings


The old saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” implies there is a deep connection between emotions and eating. My guess is  no one is really surprised by this idea. Both men and woman can identify ways in which their mood and appetite are intertwined and it is no mere quirk of man’s personality that this is true.

Evolution tells us that we were born to eat. The earliest creatures in the world’s history were simple eating machines. Their bodies consisted of an entrance for food, a digestive tract and an exit for refuse. In order to become more efficient at getting food creatures developed a system to locate food and to move toward it. This system is known as a nervous system. The first creature to have this ability is the worm. Eventually the nervous system controlling the digestive system (enteric nervous system) began to sprout nodes which were early brains.  As time went on and the brain became better developed it split off from the nervous system that controlled the digestive tract. Everything that followed in evolution, has served the purpose of developing  increasingly efficient brains (central nervous system) for acquiring the fuel of life.

Another example of how deeply connected the gut and brain are, is to look at the development of the fetus. When a human fetus is still just a lump of jelly, the digestive  and nervous systems are one structure. Soon this organ splits into two, one to become our gastrointestinal tract and the other the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). Even though they become physically separated the chemical signals used by the gut and nervous system remain virtually identical. These chemicals comprise the groups known as neurotransmitters and hormones.

The same chemicals in the digestive tract that cause the intestines to twist and convulse (peristalsis), in the brain stimulate the emotion of anxiety. This explains why people get “butterflies” in the stomach or diarrhea when they are nervous.  The brain chemicals involved in depression can cause constipation.  The syndrome of irritable bowel disease (IBS) with its cycles of diarrhea and constipation is thought to be a reflection of an emotional rollercoaster.  The chemical relationship between mood and appetite is even more complex but no less real. One of the most common side effect of mood altering drugs is increased appetite and weight gain. Just ask anyone who has been on an anti-depressant drug such as Prozac, Zoloft or Abilify.  The chemical in marihuana that gets people high is famous for triggering the eating binge called “the munchies”.

Appetite suppressant drugs often have effects on mood and can be the source of major side effects. One new generation of appetite suppressants being developed, Acomplia, failed to be approved by the FDA because it caused severe depression and suicidal thinking.

In the next part of this series we will look at ways we can influence the brain to control our appetite.

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Should You be Concerned About Your Cortisol Level and What Can You Do About it?


Many members at metabolism.com have expressed concern that their cortisol level is either too high or too low. I thought it would be helpful to highlight the latest exchange I  had on the subject.

Mohammed writes:

Hello:   My overall dhea and cortisol levels are ok but cortisol is a little high what can i take to stabilise the level of cortisol, i know reducing stress and exercise e.t.c but i mean in terms of products is there anything that can balance cortisol, because i am suffering from low t3 and i know without good adrenal fnx
thyroid supplemts wont be as effective

My reply:

As you know the adrenal gland produces a hormone that is vital to survival known as cortisol, cortisone, or glucocorticoid. You are correct that during stress the adrenal will produce more cortisol which helps prepare the body for aggressive activity or injury. When the stress is relieved cortisol levels return to normal. Excess of cortisol causes a disorder known as Cushing’s Syndrome and a deficiency is called Addison’s Disease or adrenal insufficiency. Both of these disorders can cause illnesses serious enough to result in death. Fortunately cortisol excess or insufficiency is very rare and when diagnosed in time can be controlled. Several years ago there was an unethical company marketing a product called Cortislim which they claimed reduced cortisol levels to induce healthy weight loss. This product was removed from the market. As far as I’m concerned there is no legitimate product that will safely reduce cortisol levels, nor should there be. The body regulates production of cortisol very carefully because it is such a potent hormone with potential to help and harm in major ways. I believe you would be safer letting your body decide what your cortisol level should be rather than trying to do it yourself. You can check out another of my blogs on the subject of adrenal function. My book Metabolism.com includes a section where I review the controversy about adrenal fatigue as well.

Hope this information helps.

Thanks

Dr. P

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Getting the Right Amount of Sleep Helps Prevent Diabetes


One aspect of lifestyle that is often overlooked is time spent sleeping. Getting adequate sleep is often sacrificed due to the demands of job and family. In the Sleep Heart Health Study over 1400 men and women were surveyed about their sleep habits and its relationship to diabetes and prediabetes. It was found that sleeping less than 6 hours per night was associated with increased risk of having diabetes. Interestingly, in those sleeping more than 9 hours per night there was an increased risk of diabetes and prediabetes.The authors of the study recommend trying to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night to minimize the chances of developing blood sugar problems. To learn more about ways of preventing diabetes see pages 90 to 98 in my ebook “Metabolism.com”

Maintaining ideal body weight with diet and exercise is also crucial for avoiding diabetes and prediabetes.In overweight adults for each2.2 pounds(1 kilogram) gained per year the risk of developing diabetes increases about 50% over the next ten years. By losing 2.2 pounds per year the risk of developing diabetes is reduced about33% for the next 10 years (J Epidemiol Community Health. 2000; 54(8):596-602).

Speak to your healthcare professional to find out if you are at risk for developing diabetes and to learn ways you can avoid it.

Gary Pepper M.D.

Editor-in-Chief, Metabolism.com

The terms of service for metabolism.com apply to this and all posts; http://www.metabolism.com/2008/09/06/terms-conditions-service-agreement/

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Is it all related?


Hello, I am brand new to these forums and hope someone can give me some insight and/or feedback.  I am have had odd symptoms over my life; some treated and some “seemed” to correct themselves.  I know I have low T, but what concerns me is that I am receiving treatment and like usual; no reasoning as to why this has taken place (cause).  Reading your forums made me wonder if it is just low T or if it is a combination of things.  A little about me; I am male, just turned 40, slightly overweight and went from being an athlete to a work-a-holic with a semi-sedentary job.   I was diagnosed with low T (197) and received some treatment which helped moderately but now I am going two months without anything (medication) and I honestly can’t believe how bad it is.  Here is a list of current symptoms:

  • Depression, anxiety, anger and mood swings.
  • Absolutely no energy at all.  Literally, it takes effort to make a phone call and I am always tired.
  • Weight gain, primarily around my midsection and some in my breasts.  I am about as pear shaped as you can get.
  • Lately, can’t think straight, can’t remember simple names and places.
  • Significant loss of muscle, feeling weak and body aches like I am 40 years older than I am.  Getting off the couch is a chore.
Questions:  Can all this be attributed to low T or severe low T?   Will it get better with medication (typically)?
Now here is a condensed list of other issues I have had over the last 20+ years:
  • Inconsistent erections and lack of full erections.
  • Poor sleeper, go to bed at 1-2 and wake up at 7 or 8.  Can’t get comfortable, can’t shut off brain and always hot.
  • When I get hot, I RARELY sweat.  Instead, I feel like my insides are boiling and nothing can seem to cool me off once I get hot.  I just moved to Louisiana, so it like the worst place for me!
  • Extremely inflexible.  Even when I was playing sports competitively, it took forever to loosen up.  This lead to a multitude of pulled muscles, bad back, you name it.
  • Went from skinny 6’4″ 180 in high school to 280 in a few years after stopping sports.
  • I have been on medicine for ADD (adderrall) for 10 years and was given medicine for depression which was later discontinued.
  • I had an instance where where liver inflamed for no reason and my Billirubin (?) counts went to 6 times normal.   Nothing could be figured out as to the cause, but I remember feeling a lot like I do now.
The reason I am providing all this information is because I hope to quit treating symptoms and help my doctor find a cause.  I am tired of taking medications and remember what it felt like to feel good, think clearly and not be such a mental case.   Maybe it is all just low T or maybe these symptoms match something(s) else.   Either way, I just want to have hope that I will stop feeling this way.  Thank you for your time.

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Sally Anne Wins Our Free Nutrition Consultation


Sally Anne’s submission was chosen by Beth Ellen DeLuglio as the winner of a free nutrition consultation. Beth and Sally have already been working together for the past week. We look forward to keeping members of metabolism.com posted on their progress.

We thank those of you who submitted your thoughts to this contest and hope that by keeping up with Sally’s comments, problems and progress that you can gain useful information to help you achieve your own goals. We also plan to rerun the contest in the near future so keep your eyes open for more information.

Sally’s winning comment is as follows:

The biggest obstacle to acheiving my weight loss is many-fold and complex as I believe it is for most. I believe my sleep apnea is the worst “culprit”. I also have Hashimoto’s thyroid disease and in 2006 I crash dieted and lost 82 lbs in 11 months only to suffer a rapid rebound weight gain of 40 pounds. For over two years, I have not been able to get this weight off. I was previously insulin resistant and had surgery on PCOS. The fibromyalgia affects working out. I feel that all of these issues feed off one another. It is crystal clear to me that feeling poorly every day from debilitating fatigue is the biggest obstacle to acheiving the weight loss I so desperately need. I really do need help. I want to live before I die.

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Armour Crisis Creates New Alliances


Good things can develop during a crisis situation. For me it was the eye opening experience I had this week by participating in The Thyroid Patient Community Call. The Thyroid Patient Community Call is a group internet telephone call hosted by Janie Bowthorpe, author of Stop The Thyroid Madness. During the 90 minute session I was able to interact with dozens of callers as well as Janie herself. Needless to say, Janie’s audience is mostly individuals who are deeply committed to maintaining Armour Thyroid as a treatment option and who are equally angry with the field of Endocrinology which backs the ban on dessicated thyroid hormone. I knew this audience wanted answers to some very tough and troubling questions. For a few days before the call I needed to review for myself just how this crisis developed, and how I became a lightning rod for the growing controversies. I believe this process was necessary and therapeutic.

Being a strong advocate of t4 plus t3 therapy and of Armour Thyroid, I was in sync with most of the topics being discussed on the call. What was hard for me was hearing the out pouring of stories describing how endocrinologists had alienated (infuriated) so many thyroid patients. How to explain but not excuse the inflexibility, wrong headedness and arrogance of a whole field of medicine on a topic central to its mission, my own field for the past 25 years? My head still hurts thinking about it. For those wanting to hear how this played out can visit Talkshoe.com which hosts these shows and follow the instructions for listening to past episodes of Janie’s show. Perhaps Janie can give more specific instructions by posting them here.

I came away from Janie’s session with a firm recognition that the field of Endocrinology is in serious need of a make-over. Imagine a Democrat walking into a room full of staunch Republicans and asking everyone to join him in a sensitivity training program. It is a lonely job.

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Why we binge eat


Over eating and emotional eating is just another sign that you are in fact human.

knowing why is more than half the battle

knowing why is more than half the battle

You’ll see a lot of articles about how to fight the occasional eat-fest, in fact I dare you to find one woman’s or man’s magazine near the holidays and at the beginning of summer that doesn’t address this issue.

In these magazines, and even on weight loss forums all over the net, you’ll see suggestions with how to beat it: eat this food, don’t eat that food. Go for a walk, take a bath. But let’s be honest, if these things worked, we’d all be prunes from taking all of those bubble baths and ben and jerry’s would be out of business….well, okay, they’d have to at least sell the summer home in Buenos Aires.

So here’s some more practical advice on discovering your reasons for binging and how to heal from them:

There are only 2 possibilities for eating past hunger:

1) you’re not getting enough nutrients from the foods you eat.

If this is true, your cravings will be for very particular food groups and will often come with other health problems like light headedness, cranky moodswings, headaches, muscle cramps, etc.

For example, someone that does not get enough protein or is getting too much protein will crave sugary foods because both proteins and sugars will show up in your blood sugar insulin levels, keeping the right amount of proteins in your diet will keep sugar cravings at bay. If this is you, you may feel fatigued in your workouts, have irregular periods or feel sluggish.

People on over restrictive diets low on calories will crave carbohydrates and sugars because these are the sources more quickly turned into energy in the body.
If you know that you’re not eating well or are on a ___diet (fill the blank in with any one food item and you KNOW it’s a bad idea), this could be your reason. Do you feel hungry constantly, do you have trouble sleeping? These could be signs of imbalanced carbohydrates in your diet.

2)you’re not getting enough emotional outlets in your life.

Look, we’re emotional beings. We eat for hunger, yes, but we also eat because we’re stressed, tired, lonely, bored, celebrating. And we’re not the only ones. I’ve watched my cat eat until she puked (and then eat the puke, and then puke the puked food and eat it again) because she was lonely, so why should we expect more from ourselves? Okay, fine, don’t eat what you’ve puked.

If you know this is why you over eat, I ask you to think of one question: What feeling am I seeking when I eat too much?

This one question will get you a lot more than you may think. If you eat until you feel happy, what happened today or earlier that made you UNhappy? If you eat until you feel calm, what made you irritated? Generally, emotional eating form their own kind of food groups:

Crunchy salty foods = aggravation, irritation.

Sweet, soft doughy,creamy foods = sadness, need for consolation.

Soft, salty foods = boredom, loneliness.

Fatty, fried foods = feeling spacy, ungrounded, unsure.

Now of course there’s no science book that’s going to break down these parallels in what you eat, when and why. You could be ready to punch your boss in the face and reach for ice cream, not chips, but hey, don’t you want someone to console you after you punch him?

In the end, if you can start with knowing why YOU eat too much, that’s more than half the battle.

So I’m not saying the next time you go shopping to distract yourself from the Dorito aisle because it’s “bad”, but just think, what do I want to feel after I eat this? and see if that changes anything.

Kimberly, counselor since 1998 and founder of www.RedAppleYoga.com, holds a Masters in Health & Healing as a Certified Nutritional Counselor, a Masters in Education and is an internationally trained advanced  Yoga and Yoga Therapy instructor that has worked and studied in New York, Spain and in Southern India. Her practice is based in New York City. She believes in showing her clients how to combine time-tested ancient theories with modern knowledge to get the best benefits from both worlds.

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Why yoga works to balance weight


We’ve all heard how doing yoga is one of the best practices to adopt when trying to balance your weight, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and also to reduce stress.

But we’ve also all wondered exactly HOW these 60 minute sessions of bends and twists can promise so much?

Here’s the key to the health benefits of yoga poses:

Like traditional exercize (running, walking, playing group sports etc), yoga can get your heart rate up and tone and strengthen your muscles. But the special qualities that yoga alone offers is the attention it gives to our internal organs. Here’s a quick fact about the major types of yoga postures:

All forward bending poses will help to massage the stomach, pancreas and intestines, bringing new blood to these organs and therefore helping them to work better.

All twisting poses massage and compress the different sections of the colon, helping to manually move food along it’s route from the stomach and onwards.

Also, all “chin to chest” simple poses will massage the thyroid and parathyroid glands which are responsible for our body’s ability to properly absorb calcium in addition to keeping our sleep and metabolism regular.

Like many things in life, it is the simple stuff that is often offering the most complex benefits. If you’re new to yoga, research the variety of DVD’s, classes in your neighborhood and of course, local practitioners that can help you learn more.

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Cold sore cures


Yup, cold sores. Here at metabolism.com, we have the unique opportunity to discuss a range of health concerns, and I thought why not discuss something many people experience but few want to discuss: the cold sore!

One of the best euphemisms ever for the “gift that keeps on giving” if you ask me. But! Cold sores are just as easy to prevent and heal in a natural way as they are to freak out about!

One of the easiest ways to treat an existing breakout:

Avoid acidic situations: spicy foods, tomato products, hardcore toothpaste/mouthwash, coffee, alcohol, processed sugars. Now I’m not saying to stay away from these forever, but just as you’re healing.

dancing raisin

dancing raisin


Rub a raisin in your mouth: at the end of your day, after brushing your teeth gently, rinse your mouth completely with warm sea salt water (1/2 tsp per 80z). Then rub a raisin around in your fingers until it’s soft. Now split the raisin and apply the open side to the sore for 15-20 minutes. This can be repeated for 2-3 nights until it’s gone.

This is of course easiest on a cold sore that’s on the inside of the mouth, but you can apply a bit of the raisin mush to a band-aid or use like a lip balm for an external sore. I know I know, NOT the hottest look, but please, you’re embarrassed already, why not? 😉

Raisins have a high iron and potassium content which balances out the acidic environment that cold sores love.

Preventing more breakouts:

Discover L-lysine:

cold sore

cold sore

The amino acid l-lysine, one of the key essential amino acids (meaning we have to get it from our diet) to fight, minimize and prevent viral herpes (sorry, that’s the real name for cold sores!) is a nutrient you can easily find in supplement form. It also comes naturally in foods, but brewer’s yeast is a unique food with a high lysine content. (sorta like vegan powdered cheese…sorta)

If you’re taking the supplement form, make sure to take at least 1250mg per day when you feel it coming on, and then back down to lower levels once you’ve been breakout free for a while. Also remember to consume plenty of Vitamin C, Zinc and Bioflavinoids (from a good multi-vitamin or better from dark leafy veggies) when taking this supplement to support it’s benefits.

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Holidays, Stress, and Metabolism


We are in the middle of the holiday season, and for most of us it is also a wonderful and stressful season at the same time. We travel, host friends and relatives, throw big parties, attend big parties, eat delicious meals, indulge in entertainment venues, and so on. Sometimes our plans don’t work out quite as we expect and we get stressed and anxious.

As you already know, stress impacts metabolic functions in your body. It happens for a good reason of survival, as our nature to survive activates body’s basic ability to run for your life when stressful events happen. You will digest food and absorb your nutrients later when you are safe and out of danger. This is the basic survival mechanism. It is often not how much and what you eat and drink during these few holiday weeks, but how you eat, in what mood, and for what reason. Of course, if you already have issues with your metabolism, you should watch your diet however stress amplifies the damage while it doesn’t have to.

Holidays is a good time to apply any stress reduction techniques you already know – meditation, self-hypnosis, Epsom salt baths, aromatherapy, massage, and anything else you know. I would like to share with you two stress reduction techniques you can apply instantaneously so you will be able to dissipate the upcoming negative emotion.

1. www.emofree.com – Emotional Freedom Technique – EFT. Easy to practice it helps you to relax within seconds and neutralizes emotion, pain, or negative thought. Being so easy to learn and practice, it became one of the most widespread practices. You can do it anywhere – in the airplane, in your car, at your house, at the restaurant bathroom, etc. EFT process can be briefly described as tapping on specific face and body points while speaking out loud the affirmation of your choice. At first it looks unusual, but soon you will get used to it and enjoy the results it brings.
It is absolutely FREE to learn, and you can get materials and watch videos online. We can thank Gary Craig, EFT founder and wonderful person, for creating the system and making it so available.

2. Practice dissociating yourself from negative memories. For example, you are expecting visitors you associate some negative memories with. Even thought of seeing them makes your heart beat faster, and you get irritated. You can do the following to free yourself of this feeling. While sitting comfortably, close your eyes and vividly remember last time you had a confrontation with them. Do you see yourself in that memory as it is a movie, or you see everything around you from your own eyes? If you see everything around you in that memory, the chances are you are fully associated with it and reliving these emotions all over again. It is possible to change your emotional charge by simply changing the perception of this memory. Close your eyes again and watch this event as a movie with you playing one of the roles. See yourself in this movie. Now move it farther away from you on a TV distance and make it black and white – just like an old movie. Play with the distance, color, and/or quality, and move it farther or closer. Notice how your emotions are changing. Now, in your imagination, install a glass door between you and that movie. Notice how your emotions dissipate. This way you can override negative emotions associated with old memories. You can repeat this exercise a few more times with other memories associated with your upcoming visitors. After a while, you will be surprised to find yourself much calmer when your visitors arrive.

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