Tag: recovery

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!

 

 

Favorite Biohack #10 – Coconut Oil

Am I beating a dead horse with this one? Yes. I can’t say enough about coconut oil. I covered it under MCT oils, Bulletproof coffee, and in a host of other places and posts. However, there is a reason. This stuff is amazing.  I use it as lotion, to remove eye makeup, on my hair after blow drying, on my dog’s skin, and for hiding dog pills.  I also cook with it (food grade) and use it in fat bombs. In a pinch, it will go in coffee as a substitute for MCT oil if I am out.

Other using include oil pulling, which removes toxins, whitens teeth and freshens breath, to kill lice when combined with apple cider vinegar, to clean and moisturize makeup brushes, a body/lip scrub, a massage oil, eyelash growth serum, cold sore treatment, to reduce indigestion, and a chest rub when combined with eucalyptus oil.

I started using coconut oil in 2008 as a moisturizer. I had to use something all-natural for a few weeks on doctor orders, and never went back to traditional lotions again. I liked the smell and the way my skin reacted (or didn’t react, is more like it) so much that I haven’t used traditional moisturizer since that time.  Not only does it moisturize well, the antibacterial properties help heal small cuts and scrapes quickly and without scarring.

It also aids the treatment of minor  skin problems, such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema, (fortunately I have no experience with these) and helps to delay the appearance of wrinkles. The is the result of its antioxidant properties. and is part of the reason coconut oil is often included in soaps, lotions and creams.

However, I prefer the raw form.  I use Parachute, which is pure coconut oil. It is somewhat greasy and will ruin clothing if you use too much, so beware, but the moisturizing properties and healing effects far outweigh the occasional clothing mishap. My teenage daughter adopted it  about a year ago and now refuses to use anything else on her skin.  Even my husband will use it on occasion.

I have previously covered the benefits of MCTs on weight loss and energy (see Favorite Biohack #1, Bulletproof Coffee), so I won’t go into detail on that again, but do not forget those benefits. They are important ones when you hit midlife.

Also don’t forget that it can help fight and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. There is an NIH sponsored study on this ongoing. Results are pending, but you can check it out here if you would like more information on the study, or read this article from a few years ago for more detailed information on a previous study.

Still think I am off my rocker? For a review of the top 77 uses for coconut oil, some of which I have listed already, view this article from Dr. Josh Axe. He isn’t off his rocker.

What are you thoughts in this? Do you use coconut oil? If so, for what?

 

 

 

 

Favorite Biohack #9 – External Testosterone Cream

Another disclosure on this one:  Consult your physician before using this.  This is my experience based on my particular situation and it may be different for you.

Back when I was trying to figure out what was “wrong” with me, I had a full panel of lab work done and in doing so, discovered that I was not producing anywhere near the acceptable level of testosterone.  Because my health insurer decided I didn’t need the prescribed medication regardless of what my doctor said, I turned to biohacking.

Enter testosterone cream. I tried a few before settling on the one I use now (click here for the details) from BioLabs Pro. I like this one because its not greasy and absorbs well, so it easily fits into my post-shower ritual.

I noticed a huge difference in my attitude using this. For example, I stopped crying over EVERYTHING, which was really annoying. I gained my normal edge back, and a little more bravado as well.  (I did manipulate this when I discovered I don’t like going over obstacles during Spartan training. A little more cream and over I went with no problem. I don’t condone this, fyi. It worked, but probably not the best idea I have ever had.)  I would like to say I put on more muscle using this, but it could also be from increased weight training. I would also like to say I was leaner (before getting sick) but that may also have been due to the increase in workout intensity.

You will deal with some acne while adjusting to this, as it is a hormone, but it went away after a few months. The annoyance factor of that was offset by my skin healing faster.  I also noticed a need for stronger deodorant. That did not go away. Be prepared!

There are also some nasty side effects to testosterone supplementation, such as an increased risk of cancer. and some lesser ones like increased hair growth,  changes in sleep and appetite, and headaches. (For the full list from the Mayo Clinic, click here.) Definitely get your lab work done before taking this on because if you don’t need it, it may not be worth the risks.

Small annoyances aside, I feel better overall when I use this cream. I simply function better.  To me, it is worth trying just for that.

*image from BioLabs Pro site

Favorite Biohack #7 – Infrared Sauna

Warning, this post contains information on sex. It is basic and vague, but it is there.

Men: this is one you may not want to read. You are welcome to, but consider yourself warned – it contains information you may not want.

I covered the sauna recently in its own post, but I wanted to revisit it because I realized the sauna has had a benefit to me that I didn’t address.

In my book, I touched in the changes that occur in the female body during aging, one of which is a biological change in the nether regions. (Last chance to stop, guys!)  As I mentioned, in addition to dryness, your skin thins and tear easily, and the combo can make sex painful.

What does this have to do with the sauna? I remember hearing on the One Life Radio show with guest Shawn Wells that he found that infrared sauna visits had a positive effect on the skin of the elderly while working in a nursing home. They bruised less and the skin didn’t split as easily. (Shawn explains it better; I think this is the episode here.)  I had forgotten about this until this week, when I was thinking about how my own skin didn’t seem to be as affected by rough play with my dog as it used to be even a year ago.

Infrared sauna helps to regenerate you at the cellular level. Essentially this means that your cells function better following a sauna visit, and a healthy cell creates new healthy cells. The inability to generate new skin cells causes our skin to thin as we age, which is part of why it tears so easily. Promoting the generation of new skin cells will help thicken skin, and the benefits of this affect all skin, including where it counts.

I have no idea if there is any research to support this specific benefit because I haven’t researched it. It makes sense that it would – skin is skin.  I will tell you that I have noticed a positive difference. (Don’t worry – that is all the detail you are going to get!)

I promised to update you on any new discoveries in this area in my blog, and this is what I have found in this area since writing the book.  Hope it helps.

Favorite Biohack #5 – Apple Cider Vinegar

Anyone who has heard me say I do shots of Apple Cider Vinegar usually thinks I am crazy.  I admit, this one is a little wonky and it is not for everyone. Its acidic and strong – and an incredible substance.

To hit the highlights of what ACV can do for you, it can:

  • Lower blood sugar
  • Immediate cure for indigestion
  • Weight loss
  • Antibacterial
  • Probiotic
  • Lower the risk of cancer
  • Soothe a sore throat

Let’s break these down a bit.

ACV can help lower blood sugar. It slows the rate of digestion,which has an effect on insulin sensitivity and results in lower blood sugar. Taken after a high carbohydrate meal, it can prevent a spike in blood sugar and the nap usually follows.

ACV is an immediate cure for digestion because it turns alkaline once in the body. This I didn’t believe and resisted trying because it didn’t make any sense to me. However, it is true and its now my go to for a bout of indigestion. Its also the reason for ACV being in my top 10 biohacks because it is immediate.

ACV allegedly can aid in weight loss because it helps you feel full. Studies are still ongoing on this and more information is definitely needed before we say ACV can definitely aid weight loss, but I suspect its because it slows digestion which leaves you feeling full longer and therefore you eat less.

ACV is an antibacterial agent. I have used it on small cuts and skin issues and they seemed to heal faster. I have also heard of it being used as a cleaning agent for this reason; especially useful if you are looking for an organic way to clean fruits and vegetables, your skin, hair or false teeth.

ACV is useful to help heal and restore your gut biome. Its alkalinity and antibacterial properties aid in eliminating harmful bacteria and promoting the growth of useful bacteria. This may be the primary reason that ACV boosts your immune system.

Studies are ongoing about the effect of ACV on cancer cells. There is information both supporting and disproving its use in the treatment of cancer.  Since it is part of my routine anyway, I am going to keep using it while its studied, and hopefully a positive link will be found. If not, there are enough other benefits for me to keep as part of my routine.

Again, it sound weird that an acidic substance will soothe a sore throat, but it does. Just as lemon will soothe a sore throat, so will ACV.  When I get a cold I start on a drink of  three tablespoons of ACV, a tablespoon of honey and the juice from half a lemon mixed into a mug of hot water.  I do this 3-4 times a day and before bed. I think I suffer less than the average person with a cold, which could be completely off base, but it makes me feel  like I am doing what I can to ease the cold.

There are many other uses out there – try this list of 101 uses from Dr. Oz, for example. These are the ones I use, but I would love to hear your uses. I am all for learning new ways to utilize this amazing liquid!

 

 

 

Favorite Biohack #2 – The Keto Diet

Endless lettuce, always tired, perpetually starving and uncontrollable grouchiness is what dieting means to most people. Sounds like heaven, said no one, ever. With the keto diet, there is a better way.

I have been low-carb for as long as I can remember. Going back to the late 90s, when Jennifer Aniston became the new It girl and was on the Zone Diet, she introduced us all  to a diet of lean protein, fruits and veggies with no processed carbohydrates or diary. I figured out then that I felt better without carbs, and had been doing some modification of that formula until I discovered the keto diet.

If you read my book, you know that I wasn’t just low carb. I was also low sugar (limited fruit) and low-fat (no dairy), which didn’t leave much out there for me to consume. I was addicted to anything that claimed it was low fat and low sugar, and stuck in a never-ending cycle of eating what I thought was right, starving, binge eating carbs because I needed energy, and feeling bad about myself for doing it. It’s no wonder I was grouchy and a slave to my blood sugar.  All that changed when I found ketones, and shortly thereafter the keto diet.

In a nutshell, the keto diet is an ultra  low-carb diet that limits all foods that contain sugar or convert to sugar. However, you eat healthy fats, so your body still has something for fuel. I eat bacon, olive and coconut oil, nuts, cheese, red meat, and even red wine in moderation.  I don’t eat pasta, potatoes, rice, or any other grains. I must admit that I will cheat with the occasional sweet potato. I love those. Aside from that, I don’t really miss any of it. I am happy, energetic and satiated. All the time. Not many people on a “diet” are able to say that.

Am I super skinny? No. I never will be, I am not built that way. What I am is in decent shape, strong and happy. That works for me. I also don’t feel like I am on a diet. I eat this way because I choose to, because it is what feel right for me. It is what fuels me and allows me to do what I do without diet pills, stimulants or other “miracle” pills.

The science behind the keto diet is strong and compelling. Unfortunately, so is the army of uninformed that are against it. In my opinion, those against it fail to understand that different diets work for different people, based on each person’s makeup and circumstances. That aside, lets talk about what the science has found in support of keto.

The name keto comes from ketones, which is a what your body produces when food or carbohydrates are restricted for an extended period. Put simply, ketones are what happen when the body converts your stored fat to a fuel that your body can use.

When in a state of ketosis (producing ketones), your body will use stored fat as its fuel. This helps with weight loss and energy.  It also helps with memory and focus, because your brain uses this same fat for its fuel. With a steady supply of healthy fat and ketones, your brain is never lacking in what it needs to function, so you don’t feel brain fog, scattered or like you just can’t think straight. (Not from food, at least. Life still happens.) With a constant source of usable energy, you don’t get blood sugar dips accompanied by grouchiness and tiredness.

The science is best explained by those who do it for a living, so I will defer to Dr. Josh Axe, who explains the principles behind the keto diet and why it works here, and the Ketogenic Bible by Dr. Jacob Wilson and Ryan Lowery. There is more information in this book than you can imagine, and it runs the gamut from how to do the diet to its potential effects on diabetes and cancer. It’s definitely worth a read.

If you aren’t up for a big book, check out the podcast Keto for Normies at ketoconnect.libsyn.com.

You can can also follow some keto and fitness rockstars like Dominic D’Agostino, Joe Rogan or Ben Greenfield on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

For an easy to follow guide, check out the Diet Doctor website, which you can find here:  https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto. You will find tips, tricks, recipes, and a great explanation of how and why the keto diet works.

I could go on about keto all day (which apparently I do, and I am often told to pipe down at home) so I will stop here. If you would like more information on this subject, check out the people above, or just let me know. I am happy to expound. My family will be happy that I have someone else to talk about it with too.

Midlife Mom to Supermom reviewed by Greek blogger Thirsty 4 Health

Midlife Mom to Supermom: How to Turn Stressed and Tired into Happy and Energized was recently reviewed by Greek health blog Thirsty 4 Health.

Read the review here: http://thirsty4health.com/book-review-midlife-mom-to-supermom/

Thanks for the great review, glad you enjoyed the book!

Share more, you never know who you may help.

I was working the day job this week, which had me in the home of a woman who I had met briefly once or twice before. It was a cold (by southern California standards, anyway) winter day, and I was bundled up like a small child on a ski hill. This poor woman had all the doors and windows open, and was clothed in a tank top and jeans with bare feet. Hot flashes, she explained.  Not wanting to self-promote too much, I shared with her my fantastic vitamins that have all but nixed the hot flashes from my life, and moved on to the business at hand.

Later in the day I realized I had done this woman a disservice by not sharing more with her, because I had information that could help her feel better. I contacted her and shared my book with her.

Several hours later I got the most amazing message from her. She had read most of the book and was deeply grateful that our paths had crossed. She went on to share her current reality, and how excited she was to try the tips I suggest.  That made my day. Okay, it made my week. This is precisely why I wrote the book, and I was very happy that it had helped someone.

On that note, here is a short video that an awesome friend and designer put together for me.

If you know anyone struggling with energy, hot flashes, mood, decreased cognitive function, or any of the joyous things we experience after our thirties, please share this with them. Let’s create an army of happy women that feel great!

Infrared Sauna – Hot or Hype?

It was September, 2017. I swear it was sauna month. It started with my daughter, who wanted a sauna membership for the health benefits. Next it was my mentor, who did at least four podcasts on how great it was. Finally, it was my day spa, who gave me a free session for by birthday. Fast forward to January 2018, and I am hooked.

To me, the sauna was a hot, steamy place at the gym filled with smelly bodies in various states of undress, and that just seemed like a hotbox of bacteria to me. I could not understand why my child wanted to start doing this. According to her I had it all wrong, and there are multiple health benefits to the new saunas. Who listens to their children, though, right? But when my bio-hacking mentor started talking about it, I started to pay attention.

Still skeptical, I wasn’t on board yet, but I gave in to the daughter and got her a membership at the local day spa where I go for monthly massages. Then my birthday rolled around and I was given a free session. Why not, I said.

On the day of, I was presented with a towel wrap and a small, dark box. “Hop in,” the clerk said cheerfully. She showed me how to work the light and radio, and said, “okay, now you just sit and sweat!”

Feeling a little odd, I donned my wrap and climbed in. It was a two-person, infrared sauna. It wasn’t steamy, no smelly bodies aside from mine, and my choice of music and heat level. It’s a dry heat, so I was able to tolerate 130 degrees with no problem. (Yes, dry heat really does make a difference.) The zen-like music of the spa and the aromatherapy scents filtered in the through the dark glass.  In the solitude of the darkened box, I completely relaxed. And sweat I did! I emerged thirty minutes later feeling like a new person. The ever-present plantar fasciitis pain in my foot was decreased, my allergy symptoms had lessened, and my entire body felt rejuvenated.

Still thinking this might be all in my head, I headed home to do some more research on this. I found that infrared sauna is used to detoxify the body, reduce inflammation, enhance metabolism, and reduce anxiety and depression. This is basically what I had just experienced.

To explain a little further, infrared sauna ignites your cells at a metabolic level, promoting cleansing and rejuvenation at the cellular level. When your cells are detoxified and functioning better, it makes sense that you will feel better and perform better. Your circulation improves, heart function improves, inflammation reduces, which decreases chronic pain, and your mood improves. (For a more scientific explanation of the benefits of infrared sauna, please visit https://draxe.com/infrared-sauna/.)

Saunas are now being used to aid and/or treat skin issues, metabolic conditions, diabetes, anxiety and depression, arthritis, digestion problems, chronic pain, aid in weight loss, and many other issues. There is also some rumination about infrared saunas being anti-aging, although this is still being tested. (I volunteer to test it! Guinea pig here!)

The benefits of infrared sauna can be seen in as little as 15-20 minutes, but I prefer 30 minute sessions, as I now use my sauna time to meditate to increase relaxation and cognitive effects.  I have also noticed improved skin, a decrease in chronic pain and an overall decrease in allergy symptoms.

In a few short months I have grown to look forward to my sauna time and miss it when I am not able to make it. I don;t know how I lived without this, or why I waited so long to try it, but I am now a believer.

If you are already in, you can find personal infrared saunas on Amazon here. Otherwise, check with your local spa or gym to see if they have an infrared sauna, and if they do, hop in and give it a try. Many day spas now offer monthly memberships as well.

You will not regret it if you try this. Let me know what you think after you do!

 

To Bulletproof, or Not to Bulletproof?

Ah, the age-old question…. You didn’t realize they meant coffee, did you?  😊 Just kidding of course. We all know the answer for me is yes to the coffee.  But, I don’t mean the coffee either, for once. I am referring to the product line.

My bio-hacking journey began with Bulletproof Coffee to try to keep myself awake during a challenging health issue. I have now taken bio-hacking far beyond the coffee, but I am back to talking about the coffee today because I recently had an interesting experience that I wanted to share.

I am training for a Spartan Race at the end of January (2018). It’s my first one, so I was doing what I assume most people do, which is going crazy with the workouts so I am strong enough to haul myself over walls. Everything was humming along, I was getting stronger by the day, and then, WHAM! I couldn’t motivate myself off the sofa.

This was around the beginning of December. Keep in mind that I am not one to skip a workout. I get up early to make sure I have time for them, and often schedule my appointments around workouts. I am also not a person that has trouble motivating myself.

Am I getting sick? I wondered. A week passed and no illness, but still no motivation. Was I burned out? I took a week off to recharge, and still no motivation. Was it mind over matter? Meditation, deep thought, soul searching… and nothing. It didn’t appear to be in my mind.

I just didn’t have the level of energy I am used to having. My days can be mentally taxing and although I love what I do, it was zapping me. I was not used to this, so I tried more caffeine, using MCT oil in unorthodox places, and still nothing.

I also noticed I was forgetting things, and didn’t have the word recall I usually have. As I was pouring MCT oil into my coffee one afternoon and fumbling over whatever I was trying to say, my husband casually remarked that I needed to use more because the brain octane clearly wasn’t working.

“I am not using Brain Octane, “I replied. “This oil was recommended to me by a friend and I decided to try it.”

“It’s not working!” he said. We laughed and went on with our days.

However,  I kept returning to that comment. Could it be that this oil wasn’t working? Isn’t all MCT oil the same?

I was running out of the MCT oil, so I started doing some research on MCT oils in general. Turns out they are not the same. They are all made differently, using a widely varied quality of ingredients.  Bulletproof has always touted its quality of ingredients, and is one of the reasons I believed in them and supported what they do.

I already knew that the Brain Octane Oil was made with superior quality and uses a proprietary blend of MCTs, but after my research I decided to go back to it and see if it really did make a difference. I put in my order, waited a few days while I finished up the other oil, and then I was back on the brew.

Well, guess what? It does make a difference! I noticed an immediate difference in the way my system handled it. (Let’s just say the other oil didn’t make things run as efficiently.) I also noticed a marked difference in my energy level. I was not only off the sofa, but I got more done in one morning than I did the previous week. It was like when I first discovered the coffee all over again!  I was back to working out, back to being happy, back remembering what I wanted to do that day, and back to holding an intelligent conversation.

The point of all this? It is my opinion that Brain Octane Oil is worth its weight in gold. There is no substitute. I have now completed my unwitting experiment, and it is just not worth the functioning at a sub-par level to save a few bucks. After a few days of being back on Brain Octane Oil, my cognitive function was back to normal, my energy level was back to normal, and my system was back to normal.

Bulletproof knows what they are doing, and I am sticking with the original from this point forth.

What has your experience with MCTs been? Let me know in the comments, or click the social media buttons at the top of the page and leave your comments there!