Your Neurotransmitters and Brain Health | Serotonin and Dopamine

We hear about neurotransmitters and SSRIs on a daily basis, but what are they, exactly?  SSRI is an abbreviation for serotonin selective reuptake inhibitor.  Whatever.  It basically means that the medication you’re taking is going to increase the serotonin levels in your brain.  For some people, this is a good thing because they’re running a little low on that precious neurotransmitter.  This happens for a variety of reasons.  Some people are genetically wired for a little less serotonin to begin with (not fair, but you can work through it), and other people run low due to chronic stress, medications, poor diet, poor sleep quality, and even low vitamin B levels (because Vitamin B is necessary for synthesizing serotonin).
Neurotransmitters are important in our brain because higher amounts of them speed up, slow down, and intensify or decrease the intensity of a message being sent within your brain.  Some of the most important are not only serotonin, but dopamine and GABA, too.MM Button Continue reading “Your Neurotransmitters and Brain Health | Serotonin and Dopamine” »

Should You Take Fat Burners?

Nope.

Fat burners may help you lose a few pounds in the beginning, but they usually lead to adrenal fatigue.  This means that your cortisol levels will be chronically elevated, causing you to feel exhausted and wired most of the time.

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Elevated cortisol levels eventually lead to decreased immune functioning, salt cravings, increased appetite, and more abdominal fat.  This basically means that you’ll be wearing two pairs of Spanx, fighting a cold, and eating Baked Lays while wondering why those fat burners aren’t working anymore. Continue reading “Should You Take Fat Burners?” »

11 Reasons You Should Stop Drinking Diet Sodas Today

Do you drink diet sodas?  Any at all?   Guilty as charged over here.  We keep Pepsi One in the garage refrigerator for pizza night.  Even though I know it isn’t the healthiest choice, this is what I call a “slider habit.”  I slide right back into said habit after enough time goes by that I stop thinking about the negative health effects.

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Here are 10 11 reasons that you and I should both avoid diet sodas at all cost.  They are no healthier than regular sodas, and some of what you read here may surprise you. Continue reading “11 Reasons You Should Stop Drinking Diet Sodas Today” »

Stress Awareness Month | How to Fix Adrenal Fatigue

Do you feel tired, yet wired?  Do have trouble falling asleep at night or have trouble sleeping through the night?  Are you putting on pounds around that dreaded abdominal area?  Are you a mom who runs around feeling overwhelmed on most days?  If you answered yes to any of these, join the crowd and by the way, welcome to the Adrenal Fatigue Club.

Most of us understand the connection between chronic stress and cortisol.  Long term, emotional stress increases cortisol levels and generally wreaks havoc on our neuroendocrine and immune systems, making weight loss virtually impossible.  In fact, elevated cortisol triggers inflammation at the cellular level, and guess what?  Inflammation at the cellular level is where all of the nine degenerative disease processes begin.  Strike 1.

Over time, elevated cortisol compromises our thyroid functioning and hormonal balance.  This can make any perimenopausal woman feel like she is losing her mind while sitting in a heated oven.  Chronically elevated cortisol triggers thyroid dysfunction, which is also an underlying cause of panic disorder, anxiety, and depression (for which people are often misdiagnosed and inappropriately treated with psychiatric meds).  Strikes 2, 3, and 4. Continue reading “Stress Awareness Month | How to Fix Adrenal Fatigue” »

Demi Moore Smoked “Something”

Demi Moore was reportedly hospitalized this week after friends placed a frantic 911 reporting that she had “smoked something.” Moore allegedly went into convulsions after “acting really hyper” all night, and her publicist later stated that Moore “looks forward to getting healthy.”

I think we can all agree that Demi Moore has been under an unusual amount of stress in past months.  Dealing with an extramarital affair is probably one of the worst forms of rejection that exists, and I have no doubt that the “something” she smoked was an effort to cope with that.  There are better, healthier ways to cope with stress, but the truth is this:  at some point in our lives, we have all chosen to smoke, drink, swallow, say, or do “something” that inevitably made us feel a little bit better.   Continue reading “Demi Moore Smoked “Something”” »

How to Quit Smoking Forever

Yesterday, my father in law saw his physician and got some exciting news.  His lung capacity increased from 38 to 68 over the past couple of months!  Why was this such a big deal?  He quit smoking.  Finally.  After years of chain smoking, he is now smoke free and living to tell the story.

Smoking can be one of the most difficult addictions for some people to kick, particularly those who have ADHD or who tend to be chronically anxious or uptight (or both).  There are two reasons for this:  nicotine is kind of a weird substance in that it both relaxes and stimulates the user at once.   Picture of Smoking Cigarette - Free Pictures - FreeFoto.com

Continue reading “How to Quit Smoking Forever” »

How to Reverse the Brain Changes Caused By Chronic Stress

What causes you stress?  Your health? Bills? Work? Family?  Chronic stress puts serious wear and tear on our bodies over time, but did you know that chronic stress can change your brain?  Thanks to research in this area, we’re learning more and more about the ways in which this happens.  The good news is this:  we can reverse all of these negative brain changes with exercise.

Below are a list of conclusions drawn from research on this topic.  In bold italics, I have added the counterpart conclusion from research on exercise and the brain.  Just a few more reasons to exercise this morning. Continue reading “How to Reverse the Brain Changes Caused By Chronic Stress” »

13 Reasons to Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

Whenever we go out to dinner, I can’t help but notice that the sweetener packets still consist of all three colors:  pink, blue, yellow. Here are my top 13 reasons you should avoid all of them.

1. Aspartame (Nutrasweet) can deplete your serotonin levels via phenylalanine, an amino acid. Serotonin helps you stay happy and satiated and when depleted, we feel anxious, irritable, sad, and sleepless.  We also tend to crave carbohydrates.   Unless you want to feel pissed off and fat at the same time, avoid aspartame. Continue reading “13 Reasons to Avoid Artificial Sweeteners” »

How to Be Happy

I am reposting this article from Thanksgiving because this topic is so important.  So many people use antidepressant medications before learning about the power of our behaviors to create healthy, happy moods.  If you haven’t read this yet, enjoy-if you have, it’s worth the read again.  Ciao!

I was talking with one of my girlfriends yesterday, and she told me that most of her friends use antidepressant or anxiety medications.  I was amazed to hear that one of her friends uses both Cymbalta and Adderall, and is trying to discontinue using her Cymbalta.  Yikes.  We all know someone who uses this type of medication, but how many people really understand how these work and what we can do on our own to create similar changes in mood related neurotransmitters?

Continue reading “How to Be Happy” »

Meditation and Fried Lizards

Do you ever feel run down? Burnt out?  How do you break the cycle of chronic stress and burnout?  Most people choose unhealthy ways to relax when feeling fried-think overeating, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and just about any bad habit or addiction out there.  These are all the result of normal people trying to feel better.  What can you do that will help you feel more restored, rested, and less run down?

Meditation is becoming widely recognized as one of the top ways to relax, restore central nervous system balance, and even live a longer.  Meditating is one of several primary ways to elicit the relaxation response, a function of the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system.  What is that?  Why does it matter?   Continue reading “Meditation and Fried Lizards” »