Tag: recovery

An Ayahuasca Experience: Why I Did It and What It Did For Me

If you are into biohacking, a follower of Tim Ferris or work in Silicon Valley, you may have heard of Ayahuasca. If not, you may be asking what the heck it is. A long time follower of Tim Ferris and an avid biohacker, I became interested in Ayahuasca years ago as a potential treatment for someone I knew that was suffering from anxiety and PTSD. It wasn’t until recently that I started seriously researching it as a potential treatment for me.

So, what is it? Ayahuasca is a type of plant medicine used in traditional ceremonies among the indigenous tribes of the Amazon region.  It is an entheogenic brew made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (Ayahuasca) and the Psychotria viridis leaf (Chacruna plant).  Chacruna contains DMT, a powerful hallucinogen, and the Ayahuasca vine contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These work in conjunction to produce a hallucinogenic experience that can last for several hours.

Studies have shown that Ayahuasca therapy may be effective in the treatment of PTSD, depression, addiction, and anxiety. This has led to increasing popularity and acceptance as an alternative form of therapy. The medicine works by breaking down the control that the prefrontal cortex has over parts of the brain, triggering vivid hallucinatory memories and emotions. By reliving traumatic memories and being aware of them within a safe, controlled environment, Ayahuasca allows the brain to reprocess and eliminate conditioned fear responses, commonly referred to as triggers.

Why did I want to do this?  For most of my life I have suffered from chronic PTSD, the result of being trapped in a basement with a house fire burning above me as a child. Add a handful of unpleasant experiences throughout my life and most recently a toxic, abusive marriage to that, and I was finding myself triggered in everyday situations – anxious, angry, and unable to get through some days  without crippling fear and anxiety. Those days were usually followed by horrific nightmares that I was unable to wake up from. Not fun. I tried various modalities of therapy to no avail, so I needed to do something different. I chose Ayahuasca because it is proving to be a faster and more effective  way to treat PTSD than traditional therapies.

Finding someone to administer and guide this was not easy. It took months of researching. When I finally got serious and was ready to commit to it, my healer kind of just appeared. They say you are called to do this and when you are really ready it just falls into place, which is exactly what happened for me. Two weeks later I was sitting in front of this man, ready to change my life. I chose to do multiple sessions, or ceremonies, in succession, as you can get deeper healing with each additional experience.

What was the experience like? Incredibly peaceful. After the initial set up, during which I was a bundle of nerves, I drank the medicine and laid down to wait. There was intense and beautiful music playing, and I quickly relaxed. My first night was all calm, healing energy and I felt more refreshed than I ever have the next morning.  There was some purging partway through (they don’t call this medicine La Purga for nothing) but it wasn’t violent or overly messy. My guide was well prepared and had it all under control.

The second night was filled with vibrant color and at times was almost like watching a movie that I was the star of. I was guided through some pleasant times and through painful experiences but without the deep emotion connected to them. There were a few interesting visions and some that were dark and difficult to face, but overall it was a beautiful, calming experience. While I made significant headway on the PTSD, other things also came up that I didn’t expect and were unaware had been the root of some present issues. The second night lasted significantly longer and I reached a greater level of insight and depth.

When I awoke from day two, all the negative emotion had been erased. It was no longer tied to the events.   I had an overwhelming sense of peace and calm. I felt physically refreshed, and like I had been emotionally reset.  I am now able to think about these experiences and take what I good I can from them. I am able to salvage some happy memories instead of the memories being overpowered by negative emotion because of who was present.  I am finally able to learn and grow from these same experiences that I couldn’t even think about prior to the Ayahuasca. I no longer react to some of my frequent triggers either. Time will tell on the rest of them as they are less frequent. And, unexpectedly, I also feel like some of my brain fog has cleared and I have better word recall.

It hasn’t been that long since the experience, but I haven’t had a nightmare since. I have noticed increased confidence and increased decision-making ability. I have also had multiple people tell me they can see and feel the difference in me.

I feel an immense amount of healing, and that I can finally move past all of the negativity. Truly past it, not just the kind of “past it” that happens with time.

My healer joked at the end that it is said that there is life before Ayahuasca and life after. So far, I like life after.  I feel rewired, reset. I am calm and at peace, finally.

This was a fantastic experience and I am ecstatic to have found a treatment that really worked instead of just masking the symptoms. This was truly life changing. Words cannot even convey the power of the experience and the depth of the healing that this brought on. For the sake of anyone suffering from emotional trauma, I hope this continues to gain acceptance as a form of treatment.

If you are considering this and would like more details about the experience (I know I wanted to talk to people who had actually done it before committing) you are welcome to reach out to me privately through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. I am happy to share my experiences with you and help you reach the level of healing you seek.

🙏 💚

The Power of Mind Over Matter

I knew I was healing when I stopped hating weekends. I was the only person I knew that hated weekends. I hated that my spouse was home with nothing to occupy his time except me. I was supposed to entertain and if I didn’t do a good enough job there would be consequences. I dreaded that and as a result, I hated weekends.

Being in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship had left me with some side effects, and none of them positive. Living in constant fear of another person left me jumpy at home but also afraid to leave the house (more consequences). Although I starting forcing myself out immediately after leaving the relationship, months later I was still a home body that could now run the occasional errand.  After years of being screamed at for talking to anyone I was now learning to talk again, but it was a slow process because I had become so comfortable in my own head that I would go hours without speaking, even in social situations.

After years of control, explosive anger, unpredictable moods and unimaginable verbal abuse, I had escaped and was now trying to put my life and myself back together. A few months in it hit me that I hadn’t dreaded the past weekend. I had actually enjoyed it. This was my first clue that I was healing.

You see, I had been depressed but I didn’t know.  While that may sound unbelievable, it is the truth. Apparently others saw it, but I was oblivious. How was this even possible?

I am naturally a happy person. When my life abruptly changed and I found myself in an abusive situation (it happened suddenly and without any warning, almost immediately after getting married), I was still a happy, optimistic person. Years later, I had retreated into my own head, where I still had that same happy optimism. I had also accomplished a great deal in the year before I left, and as far as I knew, depressed people don’t do that.

During the years of living in the situation, I still felt happy and positive inside, but had retreated so far into my own head that I didn’t notice how I had changed outwardly. I didn’t even realize that I no longer left the house. In fact, I didn’t do anything at all, except work – and only work like writing or working on my website. I didn’t see my friends. I didn’t listen to music or watch movies. I didn’t wear any color anymore. Heck, I didn’t even wear actual clothes anymore. I lived in gray sweatshirts and black yoga pants. Dressing up was putting boots and a sweater with the yoga pants. Toward the end I didn’t even exercise out anymore and had put on weight.

I finally escaped and was not living in that toxicity. However, it wasn’t until a few months later when I started to heal that I realized that I had been depressed and had no idea.

How had I been depressed for so long and not even known? I think it is because I biohacked my way out of feeling it.  I hacked low energy with Bulletproof Coffee and workouts. I hacked overall pain with workouts and sauna.  Most importantly, I hacked my brain. I have covered what I did in both my book and this blog, so I don’t want to bore you by covering it again, but I do want to touch on it.

My brain hacking recipe was this: meditation, sauna, BDNF, brain games and personal development.

Meditation calms an overactive mind. As your breath and mind work together, your brain waves slow down and your breath lengthens. This calms the body and gives you a relaxed feeling – even when surrounded by chaos. It became something I did regularly and almost without thought. I got to a point that I was being screamed at while I was sitting there meditating and calm.

Infrared sauna helps with cellular regeneration. Clearing out the toxins the body created by stress was exactly what I needed. I went twice a week for 30 minutes, and for added bonus, I meditated in the sauna. I would go in a ball of stress and come out relaxed and clear of body and mind.

BDNF is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that controls memory and cognitive function. You can take steps to increase your BDNF, which decreases as we age. I believe that increasing my BDNF allowed me to function under extreme stress. When I would have otherwise been an unfocused mess, I was able to perform at a higher level cognitively because I learned how to increase this.

Brain games (like Lumosity, soduku, etc.) sharpen your focus. Depression and stress decrease your focus. Through brain games I was able to increase my focus, even during this toxic period. I also learned to tune out chaos by playing games in noisy situations, like on a bus or in a crowded coffee-house.

Personal development is different for everyone, but for me, I focused on strengthening my mind, my sense of who I am as a person, and my confidence. I read, listened to podcasts while driving, and surrounded myself online with positive, affirming people. I journaled to keep focused on future goals and what I was grateful for each day. I am now very stable emotionally and have developed an unwavering sense of self. It seems like the toxicity that was my every day was allowing me to grow in ways I wouldn’t  have otherwise. I gained  self-control. I now respond rather than react when challenged. When my integrity is questioned, I no longer question myself. I can now look objectively at my own behavior and change behavior I don’t like without feeling like less of a person.

All of these factors led to me living in a chaotic, stressful environment and being in a depressed state without being aware of it. To me, this is testament to what cane be accomplished with biohacking, and a testament to the power of the mind. We have the ability to control our own experience much more than we realize.

Please do not misunderstand me – I am not saying that everyone with depression can biohack it. I am saying I think that is why I didn’t realize I had a problem. However, my depression was caused by the perceived hopelessness of the situation I was in, and not something chemical. I am also not suggesting that anyone in an abusive situation retreat into their own head and biohack how they feel. Safety and sanity are the goals, and getting out of the situation is the way to achieve that. However, or the average person who experiences normal mood swings and minor depressive incidents, maybe biohacking can be part of the solution.

I get better and better as I get farther and farther removed from the situation. I feel very fortunate that depression did not get the best of me. I am hopeful that I can find a way to help others through situations like this at some point. For now, I hope this helps you understand what you can accomplish through biohacking. Regardless of where you are on your journey, keep experimenting and trying new things. You won’t know what works until it works and when it does, it can be amazing.

 

 

 

 

Sleep: The Ultimate Biohack

If you are experiencing memory loss, low energy, irritability, weight gain and loss of cognitive function, you could have a medical condition. Or, you could just need more sleep.

In our society we wear our sleep deprivation like a badge. Its proof that we have it all – we work harder than anyone we know, we party hard into the wee hours of the night because of our busy social life…we have made it, and we have the bags under our eyes to prove it.  We also have excess weight,  a short temper, and an in ability to make good decisions, along with several other not so nice side effects of not enough sleep. We are, to put it simply, a mess, but we look good on paper, don’t we?

Sleep is the most underrated biohack there is. It is not glamorous or cutting edge. In fact, you have probably heard that you need to get more sleep since you were in your teens.  If you are anything like I was,  you feel like you are fine on 6 hours. Why is that we accept this lifestyle when we know we shouldn’t?

Sleep deprivation is no joke. When we don’t get enough hours, not only do we drag around with dark circles under our eyes, but we can’t hold conversations, we can’t concentrate, and we are irritable. We all know this first hand, but did you also know that it can impair your judgement when it comes to tasks like driving and your decision-making abilities at work? Not to mention that you experience a decreased ability to handle stress, increased anxiety, slowed reaction time, and significant memory impairment, as well an overall loss of cognitive ability.  Long term sleep deprivation can have serious effects, like depression, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, decreased sex drive and diabetes.

The benefits of getting enough sleep are simple:  you don’t experience the above.

Most people are sleep deprived and do not realize it. We operate in such fast paced, high stress, overstimulated world that we don’t even notice the effect is having on us anymore. If we could decompress a bit and get adequate rest, the benefits to our system would be noticeable.

If you are noticing any of the symptoms noted above, try adding an hour of rest to your day and see if you notice a difference. Just an hour can increase your energy level, help you think better and add more patience to your day.  If you can’t sleep in a bit or go to bed earlier, try adding a short nap at lunch or when you get home. Every little bit helps.

With all the stimulation in our daily lives, it can be hard to find the time to go to bed earlier, and when you do get into bed, its hard to calm down enough to get to sleep. There are a number of things you can try to help with that.

First, try getting into a bedtime routine. It tells your mind that its time to shut down, and by the time your head hits the pillow, you should be ready for sleep. Your routine will be personal to you. It can include putting on pajamas, reading, relaxing with a cup of decaf herbal tea, or even cleaning up the kitchen and getting coffee ready for the morning.  Whatever your routine is, you will notice after a week or so that your body will start to feel relaxed and ready to shut down.  My bedtime routine includes turning everything off, cleaning up anything that remains in the kitchen, getting my coffee pot ready for the morning and getting into my Athlete Recovery pajamas (I am not affiliated with them but I swear by these). Once in bed, I use California Poppy Seed Extract (this is the one I use; again not affiliated with it, it’s just the one I use) for a natural way to help me wind down a little faster.

Next, try a digital downtime. Turn off the television, put your phone in the charger and not next to your bed, and out away the i-pad. If you want to read, read an actual book instead of a Kindle. The blue light from our devices disrupts your brainwaves and adds to the inability to fall asleep. Some people watch t.v. to fall asleep, and while I understand that (I am one of those), it is important to listen to your body cues and turn it off when you feel yourself getting ready to sleep.

Another thing to try is a specific sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day, even weekends. It allows your body to get into a rhythm Make bedtime a priority. Set an alarm and consider it an appointment you have to keep. When the alarm goes off, no more to do list, no more emails, no more conversation with spouses. It’s an appointment, and you keep it. You will notice you start to get tired on cue when you have gotten into the routine, and you will start to wake up on your own.

In her book Thrive, Arianna Huffington recommends a sleep experiment to see how much sleep you really need. You will need an extended vacation to try this, but go to sleep at the same time every night, and track when you wake up. After the first few days you will recover from some of your exhaustion and get into a rhythm, and your natural waking time will show you how much sleep is optimal for you. Be careful though, because this can be deceiving.  If you are in a chronic state of stress, anxiety or depression, this will affect your sleep pattern and could have you waking up earlier than you should.

When I was married, I was constantly stressed and anxious. Living in fear of someone’s every move doesn’t do much for your sleep habits, and I thought I only needed 6.5 hours for years. As soon we split up and I moved out, my natural rhythm kicked in and I found myself sleeping 8 hours consistently within a few weeks. This was after a solid week of 10 hour nights, so don’t let yourself be fooled by a body in recovery mode.

Remember that you will need more sleep in recovery, whether its emotional or physical recovery. This is because sleep is when your body repairs itself. If you do not get enough sleep, your body cannot repair itself adequately, which can contribute to injuries as well as exhaustion. This is true even if you are not injured but do strenuous workouts. Any athlete will tell you that it is very important to allow your body to sleep as much as it needs while in recovery.  You may need to adjust your schedule to accomplish this, especially if you have an office job.

What makes sleep the ultimate biohack is that it is something we can all do, it costs us nothing to do, and it has a significant impact on all facets of our life. It has no side effects. It instantly enhances mood, performance and cognitive function. You don’t have to buy it. You can’t run out of it, and you can do it everyday to get all of these great effects.

So, let me ask you… is it nap time? Are you ready to make sleep your favorite biohack this year?

I would love to hear from you! What is your favorite way to wind down or your sleep ritual?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biohacking Stress to Power Through Everyday

We all know that stress wreaks havoc on the body, but did you know that there are other ways to deal with stress than pummeling a punching bag or screaming into a pillow? Biohackers do, and they employ these alternative techniques to help them handle the every day stressors, which makes them better equipped to handle it when major stressors occur.

MCT oil is pretty much the answer to life, as far as I am concerned. When it comes to battling stress, the two major benefits are energy and cognitive function. Stress wreaks havoc on your brain. When you are stressed, your brain produces hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. While an occasional adrenaline rush can be fun, a consistent overproduction of these hormones can lead to problems like fatigue, memory issues, confusion, the inability to concentrate and impaired decision-making. When you are experiencing stress, it is important to feed your brain what it needs to continual to function. MCT oil is exactly that. This high quality, low carb fat will provide your brain a readily accessible and easy to process form of energy that your brain needs continue functioning optimally, even when bombarded with stress hormones. It also feeds your body with a healthy source of energy, which can keep you from feeling the fatigue that often comes with the stress hormones.

Exercise is a powerful mood booster and stress reliever. Not only does it allow you to work out your frustrations doing something productive, but it gives more energy following your workout, which can help you battle the fatigue and brain fog you may feel.It also provides a strong dose of endorphins, and thanks to Elle Woods, we already know that endorphins make you happy.

Supplements like GABA, 5-htp, and fish oil can also help combat the effects of stress. GABA is a neurotransmitter that is inhibited by cortisol and adrenaline. It promotes a feeling of calm, so adding a GABA supplement when stressed can help you maintain your sanity. 5-htp is a neurotransmitter with a similar function, but it can make you drowsy to best to use this one at night. Omega 3 or fish oil is another quality fat that provides energy to your brain and helps with cognitive function.

If these aren’t your thing, a trip to the local day spa can melt away all of your cares. There you will usually find a sauna, you can get a massage, and get a good dose of aromatherapy.

I have mentioned  infrared sauna in multiple posts. There is a reason I go twice a week – it is good for the body and the soul. It promotes healing at the cellular level, meaning it cleanses old cell tissue and allows reproduction of new, healthy cells. It eliminates toxins and promotes a general feeling of relaxation and well-being.  For an added bonus, I meditate in the sauna. I am stuck in there for 30 minutes, might as well, right?

If your local spa doesn’t have an infrared sauna, you can still benefit from infrared technology by using Athlete Recovery sleep wear. Created by Tom Brady for Under Armour, this sleepwear is bio-ceramic and has infrared technology woven into the fabric. While you sleep, the infrared waves promote healing and regeneration. I know it sounds crazy, but it works. I have several pairs now and have seen a huge benefit from wearing them. I sleep much better, and better sleep means a more resilient brain to handle the stress of the day. I also wake up less sore than I used to (even while in training for a Spartan race) and it helps to keep night sweats at bay.  (Side note – the line also includes some day wear as well. More updates on the track suit to come.)

Essential oils are also a very underrated way to combat the effects of stress. Lavender is a very soothing scent and it helps to induce a calm feeling. It also acts as a sleep aid and relieves muscle soreness, which can follow the adrenaline boost you get with stress. It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory agent, which you will need if the stress becomes chronic. Peppermint acts as a mood booster and energizes you. It can also aid in relief of sore muscles, but is best used in the morning or when you need a pick me up due to its energizing properties.

Getting a massage feels great but it can also relax even the angriest of minds. Releasing tense muscles reduces overall tension. As you release the trapped lactic acid from tight muscles, you can feel the tension melting away and being cleared from your system. When your system cleanses, so does your mind and with it goes some of the stress. The spa atmosphere is designed to relax you as well.  I don’t know about you, but I have never left a massage feeling anxious.

In summary, go for a run, get a massage after, and then run your diffuser while sipping a Bulletproof Coffee and wearing your Athlete Recovery track suit. Life will be good again.

Dealing With Chronic Pain or Illness

There is more to chronic pain and chronic illness than just how the illness makes you feel physically.  There is an enormous mental component to it as well.  You are suddenly forced to accept that your life has changed drastically in a negative way and by something you have no control over. That takes a toll.

When my endocrine issue began, I was so focused on how to hack the problem that I don’t think it ever really set in that this could be permanent. Also, it’s an annoyance, but something I am relatively easily able to handle. I was more frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t get help from traditional medicine than anything else.

That is not the case for most people who have a chronic condition. The reality for someone learning they have a chronic illness is that their life changes instantly and completely. Not only are they dealing with a physical condition, but it suddenly becomes about doctor visits, days stuck inside because of pain, family that say they want to help but are busy with their own lives, friends that disappear because they don’t want to make accommodations or just can’t deal with a sick person, health insurance not allowing the treatments you need, and the often insurmountable cost of medical treatment. Life changes, but not in a positive way.

This can be often be worse than dealing the illness itself.

It is easy to say that if you are dealing with a chronic condition, seek therapy to assist with coping.  However, that doesn’t help much when you are laying on a sofa alone, watching everyone you know out enjoying themselves on social media. No matter how many coping skills the therapist gives you, you still know you are missing out.  You feel so alone and isolated. If you are a parent or loved one trying to help someone through this, it’s very hard to watch this play out.  Chances are that no matter what you try to do to help, it will be little more than a short distraction. In this article at themighty.com, the author outlines things that come with chronic illness that you don’t realize – things like sleeplessness, having to ask others to do too much for you, and the need to give up hobbies you love.

When faced with a chronic condition, some will rise up and fight it. Others will retreat and wallow in self-pity. Sometimes the choice to do either isn’t even a choice, it’s just what you have to do. I am continually amazed by the determination and resolve I see from those who face their condition head on and fight it with everything they have (check out @marcusaureliusanderson and @im_taylor_on Instagram; they will inspire you). There are countless people who can barely face a Monday, yet these people soldier on the face of adversities most of us can only imagine.

And while a chronic illness isn’t a death sentence, it is a life sentence that can mean the death of certain things. My daughter was starting to record her first EP when struck with an inflammatory bowel disease (as of the time of writing this we are still waiting on further testing to determine which type). It made singing too painful for to keep going, and for her could mean the loss of her hobby and potential career.  Not wanting to accept that, she hid her symptoms at first, afraid that everyone would be upset that she couldn’t go on and out of fear of being too needy. (Of course when she finally told me I felt awful for pushing her through what I thought was just teenage laziness. Parent guilt is fun too.)

If you are dealing with a chronic condition, find kindred spirits. I found mine online and in targeted groups. It can be extremely helpful to find others who are dealing with your condition, and learn how they handle it.  It is inspiring and gives hope to find people who lead relatively normal lives. You may end up with new friends that “get” you, when all your friends no longer do. There is immense power and comfort in community.

As we embark on this life changing process for my daughter, I am learning about conditions that I had no idea existed and that people I know are living with them – people who I had no idea were suffering. I cannot imagine having to deal with some of the issues I am learning about, and sadly, I wonder how often I have been less than compassionate because I did not know.  I am a very driven, no excuses, get up and do it kind of person, and I fear that I have been intolerant at times with others that aren’t like that, possibly because they can’t be. I can already see a more compassionate being emerging. Hopefully this post will inspire the same in you. Try this – post something on social media to see who is dealing with a chronic condition and watch the responses you get. I bet it will surprise you. It surprised me.

Let me know what happens in the comments or on social media. Together let’s make this a better place for chronic sufferers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Productivity Hack

OK, no judging…I am sharing my favorite productivity hack with you because I love you and want the best for you. Even if it means sharing something I am slightly ashamed of!

 

 

For more productivity hacks, check out the podcast from BioTrust Radio,

titled 7 Steps to Be More Productive:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/biotrust-radio/id1307215363?mt=2&i=1000417452066

PROMO ALERT!!

Free Kindle downloads this weekend in honor of the audio book release!  You can also get the audio book for free here.

Click on the link under Get the Book to grab your free copy starting tomorrow.

Happy reading!

A Must Listen To Podcast Episode

Short post today because I want to say only one thing:

You must listen to this podcast.

If you are: keto, thinking about keto, curious about keto, just getting into biohacking, have any health issues you want to find a way to get rid of, looking for a way to increase energy, looking for a way to lose weight, want to erase brain fog, want to improve your memory, or human in any way, you MUST listen to this podcast. 

This episode is from BioTrust Radio and it features Shawn Wells (my biohacking mentor, formulator of most of the supplements I use and founder of Zone Halo Research – you can find him on Instagram @zonehalo, or on his website). It is called The ABCs of the Keto Diet: Avocados, Bacon, Coconut oil, and beyond!  You can find it on iTunes as well as here.

I am fired up about this episode because not only is it everything keto, it goes into so much more that we are all struggling with. It may be a long episode (just short of 2 hours) but it is worth every second. Play it in the car while stuck in traffic if you have to, just get through it. It is jam packed with great information. Shawn Wells is a wealth of information and we are fortunate that he shares it with us…and for free! You will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take advantage.

So, happy listening! Hope you find something useful.

What Is Insulin Resistance?

Most of my life I struggled with low blood sugar.  I was tested on multiple occasions and everything was functioning properly, so I can only assume that it was because of an undiagnosed eating disorder that led to me not eating right, or just not eating at all at times.

When I started having health issues several years ago, having too much blood sugar never occurred to me. However, after studying insulin resistance for the last month or so, it looks like it is time to consider it as a factor.

What is insulin resistance? In a nutshell, its when your body stops using the insulin it produces. This leads to results in your cells not using blood glucose, which means the means the sugar you ingest stays in your blood. As you can imagine, this is not a good thing. It causes weight gain, lethargy, brain fog, hormonal disruptions, and can lead to type II diabetes.

According to and article in Everyday Health, titled What is Insulin Resistance? Everything You Have Ever Wanted to Know, “insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas, and it plays an important role in metabolism. Your pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream after you eat a meal. Insulin allows sugar in your bloodstream to enter into muscles, cells, and fat.  This hormone is also important because it stops sugar from accumulating in your bloodstream. The more you eat, the more insulin your body releases to regulate your blood sugar and keep it within a healthy range.”

For an explanation of the process, Medical News Today outlines what is known currently as the following  process:

  • “The cells of the body develop a resistance to the effects of insulin.
  • Insulin is essential for the regulation of the glucose circulating in the blood – it induces glucose to be taken up by the cells.
  • Insulin is also the chemical messenger that signals to the liver (which stores glucose), to hold on to its glucose and store it rather than release it into the blood. Glucose is packaged up for storage in the liver in the form of glycogen.
  • Insulin normally maintains a fine energy balance, never allowing the blood glucose level to rise too much for too long.
  • Resistance initially results in the pancreas simply secreting more insulin to maintain safe blood glucose levels and keep high blood sugars at bay.
  • Insulin resistance can eventually be accompanied by persistently higher glucose levels (prediabetes), and then the persistent hyperglycemia of type 2 diabetes; the release of extra insulin cannot be maintained to compensate for the increasing insulin resistance.”

In other words, resistance results in the manufacturing of more and more insulin to keep blood sugar within a normal range, and eventually your pancreas can no longer keep up. This eventually leads to pre-diabetes and finally, diabetes.

Factors that can cause insulin resistance are age, diet that includes excess alcohol, high amounts of sugar, processed foods and dairy, lack of physical activity, and stress.  Family history, steroid use and certain health conditions, such as PCOS, can also contribute to insulin resistance.

Testing for insulin resistance is difficult because while your pancreas is working, it is providing the amount of insulin needed to control the blood sugar, even if it working overtime. Apparently there is no test for the amount of insulin being produced, just the concentration of sugar in your blood.

Insulin resistance can be controlled with diet and lifestyle changes. A low carbohydrate diet combined with regular activity can reduce or reverse the effects of insulin resistance. Intermittent fasting can help regulate blood sugar and aid in controlling insulin resistance.  Lack of sleep, smoking and chronic stress all contribute to insulin resistance. Making lifestyle changes to ensure adequate rest, reducing stress and stopping smoking will also assist in controlling insulin resistance.

And yes, diet and lifestyle changes means cutting out foods that contain sugar or convert to sugar. 

The effects of insulin resistance sounds like my laundry list of issues that caused me to start biohacking. Due to an eating disorder outlined in my book (restriction of foods to an extreme level that left little on the menu, healthy or not) I certainly had the diet issues. Once I added chronic and extreme stress, my body broke down.  I was extremely lethargic, I gained weight rapidly despite restricting calories to an unhealthy level, I couldn’t think straight and couldn’t recall basic words and my memory was non-existent.  I also felt like what I was experiencing mimicked a metabolic condition – all of which is what insulin resistance can do. 

During all my blood work, I was tested for diabetes and my blood sugar levels were found to be in the normal range. However, I think this bears more investigation and perhaps more testing. Definitely more experimenting with Intermittent Fasting, the Keto Diet and things yet to be discovered. 

If you want more information on insulin resistance, there is a great article from NIH (National Institute of Health) that you can find here.

Check back in for updates as I biohack this. Let’s see what we find out!