Dr. Phil Shares: Menopause Belly: Why Fat Accumulates & How to Tackle It?

 

Many women notice after age 45 that fat seems to accumulate readily at the waist. There are even terms for it, like menopause belly, muffin top, or “meno-pot.” What does the science tell us about menopausal belly fat and how to get rid of it? What are the hormonal drivers and are they amenable to change with personalized lifestyle medicine? Certainly belly fat, specifically subcutaneous and visceral abdominal fat, increases during menopause,1-3 when the changing hormonal environment can bring with it a remodeling of fat storage patterns. Abdominal fat, especially visceral fat, is biochemically different and more metabolically active than fat stored in other areas, secreting more pro-inflammatory cytokines and adipokines.4 That means preventing or reversing belly fat is not just a vanity project, it’s a meaningful step in managing a woman’s overall health, as abdominal fat has been consistently linked with insulin resistance, impaired glucose control, and overall higher cardiometabolic and breast cancer risk. Practitioners are often asked ‘How can I get rid of menopausal belly fat?’, and it is important to remember that effective management is multifaceted – encompassing an understanding how changes in sex steroids interact with other endocrine systems and also with lifestyle choices, and recognizing the best time to implement a lifestyle medicine approach is in the years before a woman’s final menstrual period.

The changing hormonal environment

A robust understanding of the hormonal changes associated with perimenopause and menopause can guide women toward effective intervention. Here are the top five hormonal changes associated with the menopausal transition.

  • Changes in estrogen and estrogen dominance: Menopause is often framed simply as the loss of estrogen, but the road from pre- to post-menopausal estrogen levels is not necessarily smooth. Although loss of estrogen itself is linked with increasing abdominal fat,2,3 paradoxically the estrogen dominance that occurs in perimenopause and that may continue into menopause is seen clinically as a culprit in expanding abdominal fat mass.5 Between age 35 and 45, most women are beginning to run low on ripe eggs and experience hormonal changes linked with advancing reproductive age.6 During this time reduced progesterone coupled with high and erratic estrogen occurs.6,7 Estrogen declines but is in relative excess to progesterone. This is the definition of estrogen dominance: having a progesterone level that’s less than 100X the level of estrogen, creating an imbalance in the estrogen-progesterone partnership and essentially an inadequate level of progesterone to keep estrogen in check. Local estrogen production in adipose tissue can also contribute to estrogen dominance during this time. For example, aromatase enzymes, responsible for converting androgens to estrogens, are more active in visceral adipose tissue of post-menopausal women in response to cortisol.8

 

  • Cortisol: Dysregulation of the HPA axis and cortisol excess can manifest as increased central and visceral fat mass and metabolic disturbances such as insulin resistance.9,10 Increased production of cortisol,11 and conversion of cortisone (inactive) to cortisol (active) has been described in post-menopausal women,12 indicating that increased cortisol synthesis and conversion could contribute to metabolic dysfunction in these women. Cortisol is regulated in part by sex steroids, and estrogen down-regulates the expression and activity 11β-HSD1, the enzyme involved in converting inactive cortisone to active cortisol13 – so higher estrogen, lower 11β-HSD1 and less active cortisol formed. Declining estrogen levels during menopause can have a knock-on effect on cortisol formation, and 11β-HSD1 has been shown to be upregulated particularly in visceral fat in post-menopausal compared with pre-menopausal women. 1,11,12 As well as contributing directly metabolic dysfunction, higher cortisol can feed back to hormonal environment and contribute to estrogen dominance occurring at this time through cortisol-induced aromatase activity.8,14

 

  • Insulin: Fat cells accumulating in the abdomen is linked with insulin resistance. The pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by abdominal fat interferes with insulin signaling.15 This results in insulin resistance where cell response to insulin is lost, which creates a cycle where greater production of insulin is required to manage blood glucose levels. Insulin is a gatekeeper of metabolism, and rising insulin levels can set off a chain reaction that ultimately leads to a cycle of weight and abdominal fat gain. Insulin can lower production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in the liver.16,17 Lower SHBG results in greater free androgens and estrogens in circulation, and is linked with visceral fat and insulin resistance in menopausal women.18,19 In addition, insulin resistance can have a knock-on effect on leptin, insulin’s cousin.

 

  • Leptin: Leptin is the put-down-your-fork hormone, the one that tells you when you are full.20 Elevated insulin levels eventually lead to elevated leptin, which despite what you may think, does not mean you are more likely to put down your fork and stop eating. Instead, consistently elevated leptin levels lead to a dysfunction of leptin receptors and they stop sending signals to the brain to tell you to stop eating – this is called leptin resistance.21 The mechanisms driving leptin-resistance are complex, but high intakes of refined carbohydrates have linked with its development.22

 

  • Thyroid hormones: Thyroid hormones, which regulate how quickly we burn calories and maintains our metabolism, can becomes unbalanced with age, a trend that has been labeled ‘thyropause’. If the thyroid becomes underactive, this can lead to symptoms including weakness, fatigue, and weight gain.23

What can be done?

One of the biggest myths in women’s health is that once hormones change with menopause, abdominal adiposity is immovable – however addressing modifiable hormones such as cortisol and insulin in the following ways can have an impact.

  • Make foundational changes to dietary intake. When evaluating diet, consider factors that influence insulin levels, such as high carbohydrate intakes or intake of refined carbohydrates which require greater insulin response to manage spikes in plasma glucose. Remove inflammatory or trigger foods, as inflammation can contribute to insulin resistance.31 Add in foods rich in antioxidants which promote detoxification. Eliminate alcohol which robs you of deep sleep and lowers metabolism by more than 70% for 24 hours. Choosing when to eat during the day can also make a positive impact to insulin levels and insulin sensitivity. Time-restricted feeding (TRF) protocols, a type of intermittent fasting, where food is consumed during a limited number of hours per day (often 6 or 8) has been shown to reduce body weight and abdominal fat32 and improve insulin sensitivity even without weight loss.33

 

  • Add more movement to the day. Sitting is like the new smoking. Approximately 35 chronic diseases and conditions are associated with sedentariness, and sedentary behavior makes people more prone to gain body fat.24 High intensity interval training (HIIT) is effective at reducing abdominal and visceral adiposity, as well as improving insulin sensitivity and building muscle.25,26 Studies in post-menopausal women show that HIIT training results in greater abdominal and visceral fat mass loss compared to continuous exercise programs (where heart rate was maintained at a constant level)27,28 showing that HIIT is a time-efficient strategy for improving central obesity in this population. In addition to HIIT programs, practicing yoga can be recommended for menopausal women, showing significant reductions in menopausal symptoms.29 In broader populations, interventions that included yoga asanas were associated with reduced evening and waking cortisol levels, as well as improved metabolic symptoms.30

 

  • Support reparative sleep. A primary step to losing belly fat is to get enough sleep and to make it quality sleep. Epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown links between sleep duration and the risk of obesity and central adiposity.34 People sleeping 7-8 hours/night night have been shown to accumulate less visceral fat mass than those sleeping for ≤6 hours/night.35 Sleep debt leads to changes in leptin and other hormones related to satiety, greater feelings of hunger, dietary indiscretion and poor food choices, as well as reduced physical activity and insulin resistance.34 In other words, getting that solid sleep needs to be a priority. As well as sleep quantity, sleep quality has to be considered, as poorer sleep quality is associated with higher visceral fat mass.36 Subjective poor sleep quality is linked with altered cortisol response37 and insulin resistance in postmenopausal women.38

by Sara Gottfried, MD and Annalouise O’Connor, PhD

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Citations

  1. Yamatani H et al. Association of estrogen with glucocorticoid levels in visceral fat in postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2013;20(4):437-442.
  2. Shen W et al. Sexual dimorphism of adipose tissue distribution across the lifespan: a cross-sectional whole-body magnetic resonance imaging study. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009;6:17.
  3. Lovejoy JC et al. Increased visceral fat and decreased energy expenditure during the menopausal transition. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008;32(6):949-958.
  4. de Heredia FP et al. Obesity, inflammation and the immune system. Proc Nutr Soc. 2012;71(2):332-338.
  5. Prior JC. Progesterone for symptomatic perimenopause treatment – progesterone politics, physiology and potential for perimenopause. Facts Views Vis Obgyn. 2011;3(2):109-120.
  6. Hale GE et al. Hormonal changes and biomarkers in late reproductive age, menopausal transition and menopause. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2009;23(1):7-23.
  7. Hale GE et al. Endocrine features of menstrual cycles in middle and late reproductive age and the menopausal transition classified according to the Staging of Reproductive Aging Workshop (STRAW) staging system. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007;92(8):3060-3067.
  8. McTernan PG et al. Glucocorticoid regulation of p450 aromatase acitivty in human adipose tissue: gender and site differences. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;87(3):1327-1336.
  9. Paredes S et al. Cortisol: the villain in metabolic syndrome? Rev Assoc Med Bras (1992). 2014;60(1):84-92.
  10. Incollingo Rodriguez AC et al. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation and cortisol activity in obesity: a systematic review. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015;62:301-318.
  11. Li S et al. Effects of menopause on hepatic 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 actvity and adrenal sensitivity to adrenocorticotropin in healthy non-obese women. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2011;27(10):794-799.
  12. Andersson T et al. Tissue-specific increases in 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 in normal weight postmenopausal women. PLoS One. 2009;4(12):e8475.
  13. Andersson T et al. Estrogen reduces 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 in liver and visceral, but not subcutaneous, adipose tissue in rats. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(3):470-475.
  14. McTernan PG et al. Gender differences in the regulation of P450 aromatase expression and activity in human adipose tissue. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000;24(7):875-881.
  15. Castro AV et al. Obesity, insulin resistance and comorbidities? Mechanisms of association. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2014;58(6):600-609.
  16. Plymate SR et al. Inhibition of sex hormone-binding globulin production in the human hepatoma (Hep G2) cell line by insulin and prolactin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1988;67(3):460-464.
  17. Loukovaara M et al. Regulation of production and secretion of sex hormone-binding globulin in HepG2 cell cultures by hormones and growth factors. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1995;80(1):160-164.
  18. Davis SR et al. The contribution of SHBG to the variation in HOMA-IR is not dependent on endogenous oestrogen or androgen levels in postmenopausal women. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2012;77(4):541-547.
  19. Janssen I et al. Testosterone and visceral fat in midlife women: the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) fat patterning study. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(3):604-610.
  20. Klok MD et al. The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review. Obes Rev. 2007;8(1):21-34.
  21. Engin A. Diet-induced obesity and the mechanism of leptin resistance. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017;960:381-397.
  22. Harris RBS. Development of leptin resistance in sucrose drinking rats is assocated with consuming carbohydrate-containing solutions and not calorie-free sweet solution. Appetite. 2018;132:114-121.
  23. Diamanti-Kandarakis E et al. Mechanisms in endocrinology: aging and anti-aging: a combo-endocrinology overview Eur J Endocrinol. 2017;176(6):R283-R308.
  24. Levine JA. Sick of sitting. Diabetologia. 2015;58(8):1751-1758.
  25. Boutcher SH. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. J Obes. 2011;2011:868305.
  26. Maillard F et al. Effect of high-intensity interval training on total, abdominal and visceral fat mass: a meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2018;48(2):269-288.
  27. Maillard F et al. High-intensity interval training reduces abdominal fat mass in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Metab. 2016;42(6):433-441.
  28. Nunes PRP et al. Effect of high-intensity interval training on body composition and inflammatory markers in obese postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Menopause. 2018;Oct 1.
  29. Cramer H et al. Yoga for menopausal symptoms-a systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas. 2018;109:13-25.
  30. Pascoe MC et al. Yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and stress-related physiological measures: a meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017;86:152-168.
  31. Caputo T et al. From chronic overnutrition to metainflammation and insulin resistance: adipose tissue and liver contributions. FEBS Lett. 2017;591(19):3061-3088.
  32. Gabel K et al. Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: a pilot study. Nutr Healthy Aging. 2018;4(4):345-353.
  33. Sutton EF et al. Early time-restricted feeding improves insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress even without weight loss in men with prediabetes. Cell Metab. 2018;27(6):1212-1221.e3.
  34. Koren D et al. Role of sleep quality in the metabolic syndrome. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2016;9:281-310.
  35. Chaput JP et al. Change in sleep duration and visceral fat accumulation over 6 years in adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014;22(5):E9-12.
  36. Sweatt SK et al. Sleep quality is differentially related to adiposity in adults. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2018;98:46-51.
  37. Huang T et al. Habitual sleep quality and diurnal rhythms of salivary cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone in postmenopausal women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017;84:172-180.
  38. Kline CE et al. Poor sleep quality is associated with insulin resistance in postmenopausal women with and without metabolic syndrome. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2018;16(4):183-189.

 

Sara Gottfried, MD

Sara Gottfried, MD is a board-certified gynecologist and physician scientist. She graduated from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed residency at the University of California at San Francisco. Over the past two decades, Dr. Gottfried has seen more than 25,000 patients and specializes in identifying the underlying cause of her patients’ conditions to achieve true and lasting health transformations, not just symptom management.

Dr. Gottfried is the President of Metagenics Institute, which is dedicated to transforming healthcare by educating, inspiring, and mobilizing practitioners and patients to learn about and adopt personalized lifestyle medicine. Dr. Gottfried is a global keynote speaker who practices evidence-based integrative, precision, and Functional Medicine. She has written three New York Times bestselling books: The Hormone Cure, The Hormone Reset Diet, and her latest, Younger: A Breakthrough Program to Reset Your Genes, Reverse Aging, and Turn Back the Clock 10 Years.

Annalouise O’Connor, PhD, RD

Dr. Annalouise O’Connor is the R&D Manager for Therapeutic Platforms and Lead for Cardiometabolic and Obesity platforms at Metagenics. Her role involves research coordination, as well as developing formulas for targeted nutrition solutions and programs to assist practitioners in the optimal management of their patients’ health. Annalouise trained as an RD and worked in clinical and public health settings. Dr. O’Connor completed her PhD in the Nutrigenomics Research Group at University College Dublin (Ireland) and postdoctoral work at the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute.

 

Dr. Laura: Long Term Effects of Cortisol and Stress

Cortisol is released in a daily rhythm, but also in response to stress. Ever wonder what are the long term effects of cortisol (stress) in the body?

picture from  philosophytalk.org

Long term danger can be perceived in the form of anything that takes away our freedom, feeling unloved, feelings of insecurity, projecting into the future something that is not true, as if it were and  fear-based memories for future survival so as to avoid any repeat of traumatic events.

Cortisol is not all bad, it has some daily and life-saving functions. The problems lies when the body gets stuck in fear gear, cannot return to its natural state of homeostasis and subsequently has difficult with rest and digestion.

Normal Cortisol Function

Cortisol hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is released twice a day with blood levels peaking in the morning, and rising slightly again in mid afternoon.

Throughout the day, cortisol:

  • Helps provide energy; maintains blood glucose
  • Suppresses nonvital organ systems to provide energy to the brain, nerves and muscles
  • Is a potent anti-inflammatory hormone
  • Prevents widespread tissue and nerve damage associated with inflammation

Short Term Stress Response

In response to a moment of physical or emotional shock or trauma, the body releases three main chemicals: epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. In the short term, these chemicals trigger a series of events in the body to promote survival including anti-inflammatory actions and activation of energy to flee from the danger. Short term response has a clear purpose to better outcome (safety, life).

Once the epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol are released into the blood flow,

  • heart rate increases
  • blood pressure increases
  • respiration rate increases
  • arteries vasoconstrictor & release sweat.
  • pupils dilate
  • Pro inflammatory response so as to destroy antigens, pathogens, or foreign invaders; adrenoreceptor antagonists have been shown to inhibit stress-induced inflammation and cytokine production by blocking the proinflammatory effects of norepinephrine.

Long Term Cortisol Danger

Body’s release

When the brain feels you are in danger on an ongoing basis, cortisol release goes into overdrive. This can be things that threaten our survival like financial concerns, relationship problems, too many commitments, feelings of bitterness towards others, anger, resentment, being unhappy with yourself, lack of faith, hope, love, fear of loosing something you treasure… the list can go on.

Basically the body gets stuck in some type of survival mode. It is then difficult to re-establish to its natural balance.

Medications

Long term medications that end on “-sone” are often producing similar effects to cortisol in the body. These are drugs that suppress the immune system like prednisone, hydrocortisone.

Cortisone type drugs are used to treat pain, allergic disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or breathing disorders.

Be sure to also be aware of information on cortisone drug side effects. 

  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle wasting
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hyper irritability
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Vascular fragility including easy bruising
  • Striae or redish stripes over the lower abdomen (thinning of the skin structures)
  • Suppressed immune system, make it easier to get infections
  • Central obesity

If you feel like you are “always on” , have difficulty digesting food or feel “tired and wired”, chances are you are running the meter up on cortisol. As you can see the long term effects are not favourable for good health.

Have Hope

Don’t give up hope, however. The first step is to recognize what is stressing you out. This is more than relationships, it can be pain, inflammation, poor diet, lack of sleep, poor coping mechanisms or genetic wrinkles.

Resolution doesn’t happen overnight but can be improved on a steady course of treatment over time.  Treatment will look at things like sleep hygiene, a healthy diet, the right amount and type of exercise,  and new perspectives on managing yourself in relationships with yourself and others.

The Last “Peace”

Need more peace in your life?  Join me at Goodness Me! on Sept 19th in a presentation on Anxiety Antidotes.

 

References:

Constanzo LS. 2011. BRS Physiology Fifth Edition. Walters Kluwer|Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Philadelphia.

Hannibal KE, Bishop MD. Chronic Stress, Cortisol Dysfunction, and Pain: A Psychoneuroendocrine Rationale for Stress Management in Pain Rehabilitation. Physical Therapy. 2014;94(12):1816-1825. doi:10.2522/ptj.20130597.

Wright H. 2009. A More Excellent Way. Whitaker House. Pennsylvania.

Dr. Laura: Get the Full Hormone Picture

Do you suffer from fatigue, depression, anxiety, hot flashes, decreased libido, stress, acne, insomnia, weight gain, infertility, hair loss or unwanted hair?

Get the full hormone

picture with the Dried Urine Total Comprehensive Hormone (DUTCH) test.

Seminar Saturday, Nov 4, 2017

10-11am

Forward Health

951 Gordon St. Unit 8B

Register Today: info@forwardhealth.ca

We look forward to seeing you here!

Although information gathered in a face-to face appointment is critical to getting to the root cause of an issue, testing is also a key to see the full picture.

Signs and symptoms of different hormone imbalance can look similar, so it is extremely helpful to know exactly what needs to be tweaked.

Through personal experience and advanced practitioner training with Kresser Institute of Functional Medicine, I am more prepared than ever to take you on a deep dive into your own personal hormone picture.

This test allows me as a practitioner to make a more informed decision on a treatment plan. For you, the patient it means more answers of what is really going on in your body and getting better sooner.

The test is easy to do, home-based 24 hour urine collection. Book your appointment today to get a comprehensive clinical intake and prescription for a full stress and hormone analysis. Learn more about the test at dutchtest.com

Did you know?

Botanical medicines are very good to balance all kinds of hormones. They come along side the body and bring what’s down up, and what’s up, down. They modulate. Knowing what plants, at what dose for what duration is key to getting you back to feeling great. Naturopathic doctors have extensive training in blending and prescribing natural plant medicine. In my cabinet I have over 60 different tinctures (individual plant based derivatives) so I can formulate individualized medicine that is just right for you.

Lifestyle measure to modulate stress are key to getting your hormones in balance. Dr. Laura has many different resources available for you to consider.

Acupuncture is also fantastic for balancing hormones and has been effective in reducing stress, fertility, insomnia, anxiety and depression.

So whether you prefer active therapy, a take along tincture, or a little of both, there is a treatment plan waiting right here for you.

 

From the heart and mind of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

 

Dr. Phil Shares: Why Naps Are Good For Us

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6 Reasons Why You Need to Take a Nap

Take a moment to ponder the following question (after you stop ROFL, of course): When was the last time you got seven to nine hours of good, deep sleep?

Now, ask yourself this: When was the last time you took a nap? You know, that amazing thing we used to do as children every single day?

Guilt. Shame. Peer pressure. These are just some of the reasons adults ignore their bodies’ plea for nap time and push through the day with caffeine and sheer force of will.

The thing is, a slew of scientific evidence suggests that if we could get past our societal hang-ups about napping and make it a part of our daily routine, a cornucopia of benefits may await us. And of course, we realize that depending on where you work, office naps are generally frowned upon, but hey — this may help you make the case for turning the break room into a nap room.

Read on for six of the most game-changing consequences of snooze your body can use.

1. Napping Is Better Than Coffee
When you hit the afternoon slump, you make a beeline for the coffeemaker, thinking that a jolt of caffeine will give you a much-needed boost.

But according to a 2008 study, you’d be better off finding a quiet spot and putting your head down. The study compared the effectiveness of a nap with caffeine in three areas: the improvement of declarative verbal memory, procedural motor skills, and perceptual learning. Researchers found that naps enhanced the recall of words compared to the placebo and caffeine groups, while caffeine actually impaired motor learning when compared to getting a short snooze in.

2. Napping May Help You Lose Weight
Here’s another reason why some choice shut eye may be a better option than a strategic cup of joe and it has to with something called cortisol.

Cortisol is also known as the “stress hormone” and we produce it naturally when life is throwing you curveballs. Repeatedly. Drinking coffee can create an excess of cortisol to speed around your body. That’s less than ideal for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that extra cortisol may lead to increased glucose intolerance, which plays a role in packing on pounds.

In addition to a nice nap being better at boosting cognitive performance than coffee, a 2007 study suggests that napping does the opposite of coffee and actually decreases the amount of fat-storing cortisol in the body.

3. Napping Can Help Reduce Mindless Food Cravings
The next time you get less than your normal amount of shuteye, keep tabs on how much you eat the following day. If it’s more than usual, the culprit could be an imbalance of the “hunger hormones” ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin triggers appetite while leptin signals that your body has a sufficient amount of food energy to work with.

A Stanford study suggets that lack of sleep can lead ghrelin to increase and leptin to decrease — ideal conditions for overeating and over time, weight gain. A solid 20 to 30-minute nap can help to restore a balance of ghrelin and leptin, resulting in fewer zombie-like trudges to the fridge.

4. Napping Is Part of a Healthy Lifestyle
For “optimal health,” the American Academy of Sleep Science and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults get at least seven hours or more of sleep a night. Every night. Not just the weekends. A 2016 CDC study showed that 1 in 3 American adults aren’t getting their seven or more hours of sleep in. And the consequences aren’t limited to an afternoon slump and habitual yawning: A 2006 study by the Institute of Medicine called sleep deprivation among Americans an “unmet public health problem,” linking the chronic lack of sleep to a “deleterious health consequences.”

5. Napping Can Reduce Stress
Researchers at Pennsylvania’s Allegheny College investigated whether or not a 45 to 60-minute nap in the middle of the day can help the cardiovascular system recover in the wake of stressful events. They subjected nappers and non-nappers to psychological stress and found that while both groups’ pulse rates and blood pressure rose during the stimulus, the nappers’ blood pressure was significantly lower in the recovery phase. So, if you know you have a stressful week ahead, pencil in some nap time to give your brain a rest.

via GIPHY

6. Cat Naps Count, Too
By now, you may be persuaded that there’s a lot to be gained from a nap. But the fact remains that most people don’t have the time or opportunity to fit in a 20 to 30-minute snooze in the middle of the day. Well, it turns out all you need to do is follow the example set by our feline friends: A 2008 study showed that even a mere six minutes of shut-eye is enough to enhance your memory.

So, grab a pillow, find a quiet corner/chair/couch/bed and dream about all the ways you’ll benefit from a few more zzzzs

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Thanks To Beachbody.com for sharing

Simplifying Stress

What is stress really all about?

 Dr. Laura speaks on the phases, feeling and ways to combat stress.

Phases of Stress

 

stress-curvediplo

According to Hans Seyle’s Generalized Adaptation Syndrome, there are 3 stages of the body’s natural built-in response to demands made on an individual.

  1. Alarm reaction – “fight or flight”
  2. Resistance stage, which is the body adapting well and actually strengthening to a new level of stress.
  3. Exhaustion stage, when the body no longer has the means to continually adapt and strengthen, but rather breaks down in response as a result of the depletion in body.

As you can see, stress is normal part of living and what makes us stronger is a challenge to our system. It is important that periods of intense activity or stress on the body need to be followed by periods of intense rest.  If the stress persists without proper rest, then dis-regulation and illness may develop.

Anxiety

Long term stress usually manifests as anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety include mental, emotional, physical and cognitive.

  1. Worry
  2. Irritability
  3. Anticipation of the worst
  4. Fears
  5. Difficulty concentrating
  6. Poor memory
  7. Loss of interest, depressive state
  8. Troubles sleeping
  9. Digestive troubles
  10. Heart palpitation
  11. Feeling tension, twitches
  12. Aches and Pains
  13. Shortness of breath, constriction in chest

Learn to Relax

Easier said than done! Try to set out the intention for the following:

  1. Time with loved ones
  2. Regular routines for eating, exercise and sleep
  3. Create something
  4. Walk barefoot in the morning grass
  5. Focus on a steady breath, in and our of your heart area

More Information for Free

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND presents Simplifying Stress at Goodness Me! in Guelph on Tuesday, August 30.  Register Here. This session is for those curious about how we respond, adapt and can be overwhelmed by stress. Dr. Laura will share with you ways to clinically evaluate the state of stress, possible remedies to consider or avoid at different stages of stress and how to prevent future impacts.

References:

Hoffmann, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. The science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press. Vermont.

Sarris J., Wardle. J. (2014) Clinical Naturopathy 2e. An evidence based guide to practice. Elsevier. Australia.

picture from diplolearn.com

Massage Therapy for Heart Disease?

We hear it often enough….preventing heart disease involves making healthy lifestyle choices such as eating heart healthy foods, daily exercise and if you are a smoker…to stop, but there is one more component that is often overlooked….and that is a regular massage therapy treatments.  How and why you ask?  Well we know that massage therapy helps reduce stress and in turn helps decrease high blood pressure, but many are unsure of the link.

massagetherapy

So what is the link between stress and your heart?  For the answer lets look at the link between your heart and your nervous system…your autonomic nervous system that is. You know you have a central nervous system but you may not have heard of your autonomic nervous system. Let me tell you a little about it.

Your autonomic nervous system is made of two parts or states…..the sympathetic nervous system,  and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest state).  This is the system that is tied to our cardiac health.

Sounding familiar to you…..not yet?…well what if I told you the sympathetic nervous system is known as our fight or flight response. This is the state we find our bodies in during stressful times.  Stressful times can mean many things for our bodies. Stressed bodies are those that are constantly suffering with chronic pain, those that are constantly under pressure to succeed or meet obligations, in addition to strong emotions such as fear or anger.  These strong stressful emotions cause the hormones epinephrine, also known as adrenaline,  and cortisol to be released into the bloodstream causing  an  increase in  heart rate, and blood pressure as well as increased muscle strength and contraction…otherwise known as tension. The vessels also constrict in this state causing the blood to flow faster.  With increased blood pressure comes cardiac arrhythmia’s, which is when your heart skips a beat as it can’t keep up and pumps less effectively, causing less blood to reach your brain and other organs. Staying in this stressful state or in a sympathetic state  for a prolonged period of time is a problem in this modern time which  increases the likelihood of developing heart disease.

What we need then is for our bodies to be in a parasympathetic state, also known as, as I mentioned earlier, our rest and digest state. How do we get our body to the state which is characterized by reduced heart and breathing rates and widened  blood vessels which allows our blood to flow slower through the veins?  Well this is where the fourth component of prevention comes in…..and that is a regular massage therapy regimen.

Getting a regular massage can reduce the risks associated with stress. It is an ideal addition to quitting smoking, eating healthy and regular exercise. With massage techniques of effleurage and kneading, the nerve endings in the skin are stimulated and send messages of relaxation to your central nervous system, inhibiting  those stress hormones we talked about earlier….cortisol and epinephrine, and causing vasodilation or widening of the blood vessels.  Blood pressure will drop and your heart rate will slow down; your body is in the parasympathetic state. Resting and digesting, relaxing allows your organs to get all the nutrients they need. Promoting this state helps with high blood pressure, which is  the most common contributor to heart disease. Regular massage helps decrease tense and contracted muscles. When this happens, muscles and soft tissue are lengthened and pressure is taken off the blood vessels again allowing blood to flow freely and without restriction.

Unfortunately being inactive is also a top risk factor for heart disease. However like regular exercise, regular massage treatments improves circulation, strengthens the heart and lowers blood pressure…and eases tension…which are all the factors in lowering heart disease.  So, if you are not as active as you would like to be, massage therapy treatments, although not a replacement for regular exercise, can be a valuable addition to preventing heart disease.

 

5 Hidden Secrets of Weight Loss

When diet and exercise aren’t enough… you just can’t shake that extra weight. There may be hidden obstacles that need your attention before you can achieve your healthiest goals.

This Saturday, in a free public health forum, Dr. Laura Brown, ND will discuss ” The 5 Hidden Secrets to Weight Loss” at Guelph’s Goodness Me! Find out what may be the hidden reason for holding you back from your goals.

registernow

Saturday Oct 17th at 10-11:30am. Register Here

What do the following products have to do with weight loss?

Find out this and so much more this Saturday, October 17th at 10am at Goodness Me!

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