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They'll all fall

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Stress and eating with hormones and hypnosis

It might be possible to stop the (bad) stress. Cardio (aerobic) exercise is quite good for that over the short term (day to day), weight lifting (building muscle mass) is good over the long term and has about zero effect over the short term. There are hypnosis tracks available on http://www.briandavidphillips.com/ that let you set a 'relaxation trigger'. These are the DRTRC tracks (Deep Relaxation Trigger Response Conditioning). Listening regularly to these result in you setting a up the trigger word 'Xanadu' for becoming totally relaxed. You can say the word either out loud or inside your head.

Some notes about stress, nutrition and stress eating (intended to be a quick overview):
  1. The primary end[1] effect of stress is cortisol release. Cortisol is released to (primarily) make sure the body has glucose available. Cortisol does its job by breaking down lean body mass (muscle and similar) to convert to glucose.
  2. Eating carbohydrates will stop cortisol release and increase serotonin release. Both of these seem to be involved in stress eating, with serotonin being the primary effect. However, if you eat simple carbohydrates (sugar, white bread, potatoes, etc), the body will produce too much insulin (which "eats" sugar), and you will get too low blood sugar again - restarting the cortisol production, and thus triggering more eating.
  3. Using primarily complex carbohydrates and/or a low carb diet will keep blood sugar steadier, and usually help coping with stress. Be warned that some people need some carbohydrate in their diet to be able to handle stress - low carb isn't for them.
  4. Chrome supplementation might help, as it usually help blood sugar stay steady. This works primarily by increasing insulin sensitivity (and best in combination with Omega 3).
  5. Omega 3 supplementation often help against stress. This is at least partially because Omega 3 is needed to effectively burn fat, and thus help with blood sugar stabilization (as the body can more effectively burn fat instead of blood sugar). The fish oil based Omega 3 (EPA/DHA) is usable by your body immediately, while the supplementation from plant oils (ALA) needs to be converted to DHA/EPA in your body before being used except as fat to burn[2]. There's some the believe that ALA -> DHA/EPA conversion only happens randomly. ALA enter into the normal fat cyclus, at least. This has the disadvantage that it takes longer before ALA works, and the advantage that ALA will stay available for a long time (which EPA/DHA often is spent by the body in an amount of time measured in hours). Note that if your forebears are from Norway or Ireland, or are eskimos, you may want fish oil supplementation specifically anyway. A small large percentage of people from those areas lack an enzyme necessary to do the conversion from ALA to DHA/EPA.
  6. Generic high-quality vitamineral supplementation tends to help. In my personal experience, low quality supplementation helps very little. Most supplementation out there is, alas, low quality, as that's cheaper to make and the consumers don't know the difference. Supplement Watch has good documentation on various supplements. Unfortunately, their brand reviews require a subscription.
  7. Lack of calcium will block fat burning. The common sources of calcium are milk and dairy products, brocolli, and beans. Common calcium uptake inhibitors include caffeine and alcohol. (Stay of these anyway - you're stressed, remember?) There's some more info on calcium here.

[1] Stress is generally anything that pull the body "out of homeostasis". This include mental stress. The process here is remarkably similar no matter what kind of system stress you encounter, and include releasing cathecolamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline), and when you have elevated levels of these for a while, cortisol. The stressed out feeling may come either from cortisol or from the overload on the andrenerg receptors - as far as I know, we don't know yet. Note that cortisol levels rise during the day, and are normally highest at 4-5AM (that's right, AM).

[2] And as a polyunsaturated fat in the usual positions. This paragraph added to satisfy any pedants.

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