Fitness

How to keep your energy chain maintained. Protective compounds.

How to keep your (electron transport) chain-2.png

How to keep your energy chain ( electron transport or ETC) running might not be something you think about, but if you are concerned about being healthier, this is an often overlooked area of maintaining health. It came as a huge disappointment to find out that the historical use of a false tooth compartment to hide cyanide tablets (for soldiers and spies) to commit suicide was pure fantasy. Although cyanide hidden in glasses appears to be more likely, the role of cyanide to induce rapid death is indisputable. We are at a time where industrial pollutants are at an all time high and cyanide being one of those pollutants, might not induce a theatrical foaming of the lips and contorted last throws of life (as seen in many an old war movie); it may induce a slower, less dramatic affect on cell function and efficient biology over time.

Cyanide is certainly ubiquitous in the industrialised environment but unknowingly for many, trying to achieve a ‘healthier’ balanced diet, cyanides are present in many foods favoured by the health conscious.

There are more than 2500 plants associated with cyanide content, these include almonds, millet, lima beans, soy, spinach, bamboo shoots, and cassava roots (which are a major source of food in tropical countries), cyanides occur naturally as part of sugars or other natural compounds. Cassava consumption (especially so in poorer countries) is associated with the neurological, irreversible disease called Konzo (Nzwalo & Cliff, 2011). Some other major sources of cyanide are:

Seeds/kernels of apples, apricots, plums, peach and nectarine, millet, almonds, flax seed, , spinach, sorghum gluten free flour like cassava often used to replace normal flours. Simply type in cassava poisoning into a search engine and you'll see some cases where dozens of people from the same meal have died from a so called bad cassava. Most likely it was the poor preparation and failure to remove the cyanide from the cassava that lead to these numerous deaths. In one case in the Philippines in 2005, 27 children died in such a manner.

Other cyanide sources include vehicle exhaust, releases from chemical industries, burning of municipal waste, and use of cyanide-containing pesticides (Jaszczak et al 2017) and the more obvious smoking.

Excess cyanide (ions) is able to disrupt the efficient production of energy that is produced through the electron transport chain/mitochondria (energy producing cells) where water, carbon dioxide and energy are end products. The loss of this function often creates a decreased ability to utilise carbohydrate effectively and the result can be an excess of lactate, which diminishes cell function further and creates hypoxia. Lactic acid seems to be getting some praise of late but it is the hallmark of inefficient energy production, as observed in the so called Warburg state seen in cancer (5). As cyanide levels increase cellular death occurs through increased lactic acidosis. This is the death throw that you see our actors who have crunched down on that mythical hydrogen cyanide capsule. It's also observed as a cause of death to the unlucky Private Santiago in A Few Good Men, where he has a rag with cleaning fluid, stuffed into his mouth creating a not to dissimilar occurrence.

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You want the truth? You can't handle the truth but it might be that a combination of dietary cyanide and pollutants might not be as healthy as you think.

If there’s a ubiquitous source of cyanide and other pollutants in the environment does it make sense to have plenty of cyanide containing foods? Let’s not take this out of context. Here and there - having foods that have some levels of cyanide in should pose no problem to a healthy individual but what if your diet contains a regular supply and also contains plenty of vegetables that contain goitregens or foods that slow down thyroid function (and also contain cyanide) it may be problematic. Many people seem to promote a diet high in raw green vegetables, nuts, seeds, often low in adequate protein and often deficient in adequate energy/carbohydrate. In this instance the so-called healthy diet, in a highly polluted area becomes a burden not a provider of energy to promote optimal thyroid health, energy and liver enhancer (energy, detox, hormones etc.).

Chris Masterjohn’s report - Thyroid toxins, highlights the out of context suggestions of nutritional science evaluation of compounds in a test tube compared to a real world scenario.

The line that divides nutrients from toxins is often thin and equivocal. Since any given chemical may react in any number of ways in a test tube depending on the other chemicals with which it is combined, it is often possible to prove such a chemical to be both a nutrient and a toxin.

If a diet is to be considered healthy, it should meet the body’s energetic demands without reducing its function. A healthy energy chain ensures that carbohydrate is metabolised efficiently without an excess of lactic acid production.

The abundance of glucosinolates found in broccoli, cauliflower (and other brassica vegetables) and other cyanide like food sources combined with other environmental pollutants may pose substantial problems over time. Heavy metals like mercury, which are also increasing environmentally can decrease selenium and iodine uptake creating another algorithm for decreased function.

 cell enhancers

cell enhancers

Caffeine can be considered a useful compound for preventing excess uptake of metals and may go someway to explain the anti-oxidant and other positive effects observed in neurological degeneration diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia (Liu et al., 2016). Other compounds like methylene blue can be seen in the next diagram that promote a better energy chain.

" As I have shown in my earlier days , one can knock out the whole respiratory chain by cyanide and then restore oxygen uptake by adding methylene blue  which takes the whole electron transport chain over between dehydrogenases and  O2 ."   Albert Szent Györgi

You can also reduce the risk of excess cyanides in foods through heating, boiling and other forms of processing but given that the zeitgeist is as raw, wholesome and as gluten free as one can be, it’s unlikely that this occurs in the upwardly mobile food neurotic.

References:

  1. Jaszczak, E., Polkowska, Ż., Narkowicz, S., & Namieśnik, J. (2017). Cyanides in the environment—analysis—problems and challenges. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24(19), 15929–15948. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-9081-7

  2. Liu, Q.-P., Wu, Y.-F., Cheng, H.-Y., Xia, T., Ding, H., Wang, H., … Xu, Y. (2016). Habitual coffee consumption and risk of cognitive decline/dementia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Nutrition, 32(6), 628–636. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2015.11.015

  3. Nzwalo, H., & Cliff, J. (2011). Konzo: From poverty, cassava, and cyanogen intake to toxico-nutritional neurological disease. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0001051

  4. Masterjohn, C. Thyroid Toxins Report. 2007

  5. http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/cancer-disorder-energy.shtml

  6. Szent Györgi, A. Introduction to a Submolecular Biology. Academic Press. 1960.

http://www.keithlittlewoodcoaching.com

A biochemical approach to decreasing muscle pain with food and hormones.

 pain and hormones

pain and hormones

A biochemical approach to decreasing muscle pain is often the last place most people look and that includes many pain specialists. Modulating pain and hormones through food and other variables can create some impressive results. Aches and pains are a common theme in every day living. Some people seek to push themselves harder with excessive training schedules, others spend more time in a seated position and other factors contribute to tissue not responding the way that it should. Pain and the concept of nociception is a system of feedback for the body that is protective in essence. You touch something you shouldn’t; first pain kicks in to remove you from the painful stimulus (lasts less than 0.1 seconds), after that and depending on severity of damage second pain kicks in.

First pain and second pain (both reside in the anterolateral system or ALS) utilise different chemical messengers and another factor for this form of feedback is that other nociceptive factors like touch, visual, auditory and other sensations of stress can be part of the problematic feedback if not resolved. All of these have the capacity to interrupt optimal motor control and functioning of joints and soft tissues and affect hormone profiles. Even a bad smell can create neurological chaos.

Another less well known aspect (in therapy based settings) of disruptive function in muscle tissue are the effects of hormones that may lead to decreased feed back and be responsible for pain. Hypothyroidism affects muscle tissue via energy and neurological deficiencies.

Hypothyroidism results in

Slower peripheral and central nerve conduction velocity Lower body temperature is a factor creating slowed velocity Decreased active cell transport in the cerebral cortex Decreased flux of sodium and calcium for contraction/relaxation Poor production of energy for contraction/relaxation Decreases depolarisation of action potential

 cold body

cold body

In a nutshell a colder, slower body leads to a decreased   coordinated body that has a hard time contracting and relaxing muscle tissue. This can lead to increased incidence of injury and pain.

A slowed heart rate is a sign of hypothyroidism and the bradychardia (slowed heart rate) should serve the purpose of describing the decreased rate of function throughout all muscle tissue. Thyroid hormone can improve both rate of contraction and relaxation in both fast and slow twitch muscles but also exerts a cardio protective role on blood vessels and bowel function via smooth muscle tissue. The documented symptoms of hypertension and constipation along with the neuromuscular actions tend to resolve with adequate thyroid hormone (Gao, Zhang, Zhang, Yang, & Chen, 2013).

Prior to initiating thyroid therapy it’s essential to rule out functionally hypothyroid states induced by diet, stress, excess exercise and other environmental factors. Many clients often present with lowered temperature, with cold hands, feet and nose, altered bowel, sleep and emotional function, which can often be resolved with appropriate energy and decreased intestinal irritants.

Chronic pain increases cortisol production which decreases thyroid hormone production (Samuels & McDaniel, 1997) as does fasting or calorie restriction which induces a decrease in available T3 (thyroid hormone) (Hulbert, 2000).

This gives us two approaches 1) to reduce pain with appropriate therapy and to ensure that adequate energy modulates the suppression of excess cortisol and increases available thyroid for tissue organisation and recovery.

Hormones also affect tendons; diabetics and poor insulin profiles appear to create disorganised tendon structure but this may be a factor related to decreased available thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism decreases available T3 within tendons, which can decrease growth, structure, and collagen production and create hypoxia of tissue leading to calcification.

Estrogen, although necessary for growth of tissue can often be found in excess creating problematic growth. Estrogen is also well known to decrease thyroid hormone and can provide an explanation why more females then men tend to be hypothyroid. The decrease in both thyroid hormone and progesterone can increase muccopolysacharides, which increase pressure in tissues, creating puffy, oedema like states. The swelling can be linked to many pain states which include carpal tunnel, which can be resolved with progesterone and thyroid in the absence of physical therapy. Progesterone also appears to induce myelination of nerves (surrounds and allows nerve conduction) and decreases inflammation (Milani et al 2010).

Energy production remains  a most potent form of therapy for decreasing pain, optimising rehabilitation and restoring tissue function.

References:

  1. Gao, N., Zhang, W., Zhang, Y., Yang, Q., & Chen, S. (2013). Carotid intima-media thickness in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism: A meta-analysis. Atherosclerosis, 227(1), 18–25. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.10.070

  2. Hulbert, A. (2000). Thyroid hormones and their effects: a new perspective. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 75(4), 519–631. http://doi.org/10.1017/S146479310000556X

  3. Milani, P., Mondelli, M., Ginanneschi, F., Mazzocchio, R., & Rossi, A. (2010). Progesterone - new therapy in mild carpal tunnel syndrome? Study design of a randomized clinical trial for local therapy. Journal of Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Injury, 5(1). http://doi.org/10.1186/1749-7221-5-11

  4. http://raypeat.com/articles/aging/aging-estrogen-progesterone.shtml

  5. Samuels, M. H., & McDaniel, P. A. (1997). Thyrotropin levels during hydrocortisone infusions that mimic fasting- induced cortisol elevations: A clinical research center study. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 82(11), 3700–3704. http://doi.org/10.1210/jcem.82.11.4376

Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - inheritance, environment and stress.

Estrogen excess.png

Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome - inheritance, environment and stress. Recently I took on a client who was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a slightly wayward insulin profile and the ‘best practice’ of oral contraceptives and Glucophage (metformin- blood sugar regulating drug) were suggested. My client had started bleeding daily and was informed that this was normal for three months but would help out with PCOS and weight gain. However this seemed at odds with my current knowledge and experience of biology and endocrinology. There are plenty of studies highlighting the diabetes inducing effects of estrogen and oral contraceptives.

Glycemia constitutes a fundamental homeostatic variable, and hence its alteration can lead to a number of pathophysiological conditions affecting the internal milieu of the human being. Since the early 1960s, the intake of oral contraceptives has been associated with an increased risk of developing disorders of glucose metabolism.(Cortés & Alfaro, 2014)

Is best practice the efforts of a global network of doctors or simply a corporate led strategy? Don’t get me wrong; the world is full of competent, passionate and well-meaning doctors who signed up to help others. But the concept of both best practice and clinical governance seem a utopian ideal when those that are responsible for drug development are companies whose primary function is to make as much money as possible, without appropriate direction.

Joseph Dumitt in his book Drugs for Life (2012) highlights that there hasn’t been a scientist at the head of a pharmaceutical company for many years and their direction being driven by economists and marketers. As there are many examples of absolutist statements regarding drugs and their positive effects on health that lack congruence over time, you’ll forgive me for sounding like a conspiracy theorist. How about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for better health despite its negative outcomes related to cardiovascular events or cancer? Or statin therapy for decreasing unnecessary risk factors based upon skewed data and early terminated trails with no public access to trial data (Lorgeril & Rabaeus, 2016)?

Back to PCOS. I have written previously about the effects of metformin and its use in gestational diabetes, and the problems it poses trans-generationally. It’s possible to suggest that the failure to act with appropriate biological interventions perpetuates the cycle of acquired traits from parents that are passed to offspring, treated ineffectively and generations of reproductive (and other tissues) tissue conditions continue without being resolved.

The biologist Jean Baptiste Lamarck's fourth law stated:

“ Everything which has been acquired..or changed in the organisation of an individual during its lifetime is preserved in the reproductive process and is transmitted to the next generation by those who experienced the alterations. “

It's worth pointing out that this is not isolated to the female of the species as the factors below have been shown to be instrumental in reproductive issues (testicular dysgenesis, hypospadias etc) in males.

The environment has been shown to be instrumental in the development of reproductive tissue disorders, diabetes and cancer but more emphasis is placed on the individual and their food choices rather than acknowledgement of industrial responsibility. Positive associations between levels of polychlorinated bisphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) have been confirmed in multivariate data analysis (Yang et al., 2015). Relationships between increases of luteinising hormone (LH) PCO, hyperandrogenism, annovulation, insulin resistance and pollutants are significant and may add to issues of detection, due to the subtle long term perturbations that often affect endocrine function. Stress, other pollutants and medications contribute to further problems that burden not only reproductive tissue but also other organizational hormones such as thyroid hormone.

PCOS is defined medically by the following: One of the main problems of treating PCOS with contraception is the many studies that clearly show a relationship between estrogen and decreased insulin sensitivity (Godsland et al., 1992)(Cortés & Alfaro, 2014). Progestin’s, the synthetic version of progesterone, also pose many problems but this has not deterred the inclusion of estrogen and progestin contraceptives as another inappropriate form of treatment. The burden of estrogen induced by the sources suggested above comes at a cost and it’s well known that an excess of estrogen can suppress thyroid function (thyroid is necessary for detoxification of estrogen and another organisational hormone progesterone.

Both thyroid and progesterone are known to improve insulin sensitivity and can create beneficial changes to disorganised tissue induced by an excess of estrogen. Thyroid nodules and uterine fibroids appear to be intimately linked by an excess of estrogen (Kim et al., 2010) and suppression of thyroid tumours can be achieved by thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) suppression by thyroxin supplementation (Grussendorf, Reiners, Paschke, & Wegscheider, 2011). An old rambling on thyroid nodules and fibroids.


Breaking the cycle requires interventions that address inheritance, environment and individual stressors. Strategies that involve adequate nutrition that build biology not reduce it, use of protective compounds like progesterone, thyroid and adequate carbohydrate can be of great benefit. Although this stands in contrast to the best practice of contraception, blood sugar medication and poorly thought out nutritional advice of restricting carbohydrates. As the environment appears to drive most of the increasing numbers of issues like PCOS, it becomes important to increase robustness, restrict exposure to what we can control and become more adaptable to what we can’t.

To find out more about coaching for these issues.

References:

Burkhardt, R. W. (2013). Lamarck, evolution, and the inheritance of acquired characters. Genetics, 194(4), 793–805. http://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.113.151852

Cortés, M. E., & Alfaro, A. a. (2014). The effects of hormonal contraceptives on glycemic regulation. The Linacre Quarterly, 81(3), 209–218. http://doi.org/10.1179/2050854914Y.0000000023

Dumit, J. (2012). Drugs for Life. Duke University Press.

Godsland, I. F., Walton, C., Felton, C., Proudler, A., Patel, A., & Wynn, V. (1992). Insulin resistance, secretion, and metabolism in users of oral contraceptives. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 74(1), 64–70. http://doi.org/10.1210/jcem.74.1.1530790

Grussendorf, M., Reiners, C., Paschke, R., & Wegscheider, K. (2011). Reduction of thyroid nodule volume by levothyroxine and iodine alone and in combination: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 96(9), 2786–2795. http://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2011-0356

Kim, M.-H., Park, Y. R., Lim, D.-J., Yoon, K.-H., Kang, M.-I., Cha, B.-Y., … Son, H.-Y. (2010). The relationship between thyroid nodules and uterine fibroids. Endocrine Journal, 57(7), 615–21. http://doi.org/10.1507/endocrj.K10E-024

Lorgeril, M. De, & Rabaeus, M. (2016). Beyond confusion and controversy, can we evaluate the real efficacy and safety of cholesterol-lowering with statins? Journal of Controversies in Biomedical Research, 1(1), 67. http://doi.org/10.15586/jcbmr.2015.11

Sleep, stress, sugar. Eat sugar for better sleep.

 Onset of sleep

Onset of sleep

Can you improve sleep and decrease stress by eating sugar for better sleep? If you put sleep, stress and sugar in the same sentence, most people think they have already put the three together with something like; too much sugar causes stress and affects your sleep. If you read on you should find yourself advantageously aware of sleep biology and why consuming sugary foods before sleep, and indeed if you wake up are the answer for a deeper nights sleep.

Ah a good nights sleep. You remember one of those don’t you? As a father to 3 children I have had my fair share of sleepless nights but a recent 11 hour sleep whilst my kids slept for 12 hours, recently reminded me of why everyone should strive for better sleep and the common approaches that people tend to fail to implement. A couple of years ago I studied a short course on the neurobiology of sleep with the University of Michigan and I found it useful as it correlated with aspects of serotonin function that Ray Peat (7,8) had talked previously talked about.

Generalisations of sleep biology phases are:

Sleep latency - Getting your sorry arse to sleep

NREM sleep - Keeping your sorry arse asleep

REM sleep - Deep arsed sleep

Wakefulness - Wake your sorry arse up

One of the primary driving factors of the onset of sleep or sleep latency is the production of adenosine. Caffeine is a well-known antagonist of adenosine and therefore many a wise word about not drinking caffeine after 3-4 pm as it has a half-life of 6 hours are well heeded (yes I know there are some of you that metabolise caffeine really well after that time with no impact on sleep, STOP SHOWING OFF).  Avoiding caffeine though out the day isn’t necessary and caffeine is a widely mis-understand compound that shows many beneficial effects, if you follow the rules for its consumption.

Often there is much focus on the role of melatonin and sleep induction and structures like the suprachiasmatic nucleus and waking. Melatonin does indeed promote sleep but so does adenosine and I think the supplementing of melatonin misses key biological functions that induce sleep more effectively and without the negative effects associated with its use.

Serotonin and melatonin confusion

 Sleep wake compounds

Sleep wake compounds

Just like the holistic health practitioner that suggests that coffee causes adrenal fatigue (it doesn’t but that’s another blog by itself), some practitioners recommend the use of 5HTP - tryptophan supplements (tryptophan converts to serotonin) for better sleep but this is misguided for the following reasons. It’s true that melatonin is a hormone of sleep and that it is derived from serotonin and that serotonin has a small but limited role in inhibiting the cholinergic system responsible for keeping you in an alert, thinking state. In the diagram below and born out of many studies is that serotonin is a powerful compound of wakefulness that synergises with histamine and the histaminergic system to bring you out of the deeper REM sleep, and start the process of waking you the hell up. The diagram from Brown et al (Brown, Basheer, McKenna, Strecker, & McCarley, 2012) highlights the complexities of the sleep wake compounds but also useful for highlighting serotonin's role (5HT) in the excitatory waking state. It’s also a great overview of the many areas and compounds that aren’t addressed in this blog. One thing that should become clear is that the neural structures controlling sleep are many and so are the interactions between hormones and other compounds of wakefulness. My advice below is not complete but merely a reflection of some of the simple changes that you can do (and which I have done with many clients) to create better sleep and recovery. 

Here are a few pointers on serotonin and melatonin.

  • Many people are aware of the fact that at least 95% of the body's serotonin is produced in the intestines - namely the enterochromaffin cells.

  • People associate serotonin as a hormone of calmness. 1) It’s not a hormone 2) well known side effects of serotonin excess are insomnia and anger.

  • Serotonin induces spasticity of the colons smooth muscle tissues

  • Eating excess muscle meats increases serotonin (as does eating poorly digestible foods), inflammation and can contribute to increased wakefulness by synergising with histamine.

  • Melatonin may be implicated in seasonal affective disorder due to increased levels in darker winter days. Sunglass wearing may pose similar issues (Alpayci, Ozdemir, Erdem, Bozan, & Yazmalar, 2012)

  • Supplementation with melatonin during the day can induce disruptive changes to fertility and also suppress thyroid hormone (Creighton & Rudeen, 1989).

  • Peak concentrations of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) occur at night and might be suggestive of thyroid hormone suppression induced by melatonin and other hormones. The pituitary responds by increasing TSH to bolster thyroid hormone supply.

Of course there are other compounds which include acetylcholine, GABA, oxycretin, histamine and many other areas of the central nervous system that could be mentioned but I have tried to stick to the mechanisms that can be changed and promote change in a short space of time.

If you find it hard to drift off, these are my suggestions as to why this might happen:

  1. You are eating foods that promote intestinal inflammation and increase serotonin and histamine.

  2. You are exposed to excess stimulus such as blue light, Wi-Fi or other source.

  3. Your blood sugar levels are not balanced and promote the stress hormones that liberate glucose from stored fats and proteins - adrenaline-glucagon-cortisol.

If you wake up at night the following might be also be an issue

  1. You are eating foods that promote intestinal inflammation and increase serotonin and histamine.

  2. Your blood sugar levels are not balanced and promote the stress hormones that liberate glucose from stored fats and proteins - adrenaline-glucagon-cortisol.

Point 2 may be a significant factor for many people and available efficient glucose production may be one of the most under-rated factors in both the onset of sleep and maintenance of sleep. Waking up to urinate at night is a feature of the diabetic like state. Poor blood sugar regulation requires, that instead of relying on blood and liver glucose stores, the stress response be relied upon to liberate energy from stored fats. This is an inefficiency that requires a stressed state. You should not be waking at night to go for a pee.

 Morning Cortisol profile

Morning Cortisol profile

You can see from the average nighttime cortisol profile that cortisol generally starts to rise around 2 am, steadily increasing prior to the onset of waking. If your ability to regulate blood sugar levels is compromised this can increase the burden to blood sugar regulation and increase waking further. The REM phase of sleep uses a similar amount of glucose as the waking state.

Here are some useful tips that I use with clients to promote better sleep and recovery.

  1. Take a look at the previous post on resolving digestion issues. This helps to take away some of the factors related to serotonin and histamine excess.

  2. If you are exercising hard, low carb, busy parent or whatever form of stress and therefore don’t manage your blood sugar levels, you don’t manage your sleep. If you struggle getting to sleep a sweet drink like milk and honey (yes the old wives tale works like a charm). A glass of fruit juice with gelatin is also good. Any pattern with something with sweet with a little protein/fat is useful.

  3. Add some salt - increased stress burdens the adrenal glands, usually though thyroid hormone suppression. Salt is wasted in this state and so is magnesium. Salt spares magnesium, so adding a little salt also helps magnesium regulation.

  4. If you wake during the night. This can be common when trying to resolve these issues as liver function and hormone regulation take a little time to adjust. Therefore having something sweet by the bed can help to help you re-enter sleep. Squeezy honey tube or pouch of juice with straw I find useful so that the juice goes straight down rather than covering my teeth.

  5. I have often found that progesterone and thyroid play a key role in sleep and many clients have benefitted from resolving the states of low progesterone/thyroid, which may not have resolved with food alone.

  6. Optimal blood sugar regulation often starts with eating breakfast to decrease adrenaline, glucagon and cortisol (Jakubowicz et al., 2015)(Levitsky & Pacanowski, 2013). Drinking a kale smoothie or coffee on an empty stomach is not the best way to break your fast and set up the day.

  7. Of course aspects of sleep hygiene related to no phones, WI-FI etc goes without thinking and go as far as turning your router off at night.So armed with some facts that you can decrease stress and improve sleep by eating sugar in the right amount, you can go and experiment for yourself.

References:

  1. Alpayci, M., Ozdemir, O., Erdem, S., Bozan, N., & Yazmalar, L. (2012). Sunglasses may play a role in depression. Journal of Mood Disorders, 2(2), 80. http://doi.org/10.5455/jmood.20120529055051

  2. Brown, R. E., Basheer, R., McKenna, J. T., Strecker, R. E., & McCarley, R. W. (2012). Control of Sleep and Wakefulness. Physiological Reviews, 92(3), 1087–1187. http://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00032.2011

  3. Creighton, J. A., & Rudeen, P. K. (1989). Effects of Melatonin and Thyroxine Treatment on Reproductive Organs and Thyroid Hormone Levels in Male Hamsters. Journal of Pineal Research, 6(4), 317–323. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-079X.1989.tb00427.x

  4. Jakubowicz, D., Wainstein, J., Ahrén, B., Bar-Dayan, Y., Landau, Z., Rabinovitz, H. R., & Froy, O. (2015). High-energy breakfast with low-energy dinner decreases overall daily hyperglycaemia in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomised clinical trial. Diabetologia, 58(5), 912–919. http://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-015-3524-9

  5. Levitsky, D. A., & Pacanowski, C. R. (2013). Effect of skipping breakfast on subsequent energy intake. Physiology and Behavior, 119, 9–16. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.05.006

Online:

7. http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/serotonin-depression-aggression.shtml

8. http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/serotonin-disease-aging-inflammation.shtml

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Being holistic versus (holistic) critical thinking.

sunrise-2.png

Is being 'holistic' an advantage to holistic critical thinking? It’s relatively easy to get drawn into a naturalistic fallacy of consuming all foods in their most raw natural state. Perhaps you’re someone who went from a fast food diet, where you didn’t feel your best, to consuming more whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables? It’s easy to see how a switch and positive changes can occur in the short term. The next step is to start preaching to the masses how sugar is bad, how your life will be saved with green smoothies, nuts, seeds and coffee butt cleanses. For the record this is a waste of coffee and not to far from what I was preaching a decade ago. So what does it mean to be holistic?There’s a large movement within the health fitness and wellness industry (and lay people) that are drawn to  'holistic' thinking, and their definition is often enforced by the fallacy that everything in its most natural state is better for human health. This appears to include foods like nut milks (yes you can milk a nut), kale smoothies, seed oils like flax and undercooked broccoli and other greens, despite their negative effects on human health when consumed in substantial amounts. It’s a religion, and much like religion and with this mind-set it isn’t going to make you any healthier. I’ll make reference here to the late, great Beastie Boy, MCA who despite being a vegan and a Buddhist died far too early from throat cancer.

It is true that eating plenty of foods in their most natural state f(or some foods) can be important for health. But the image on the right highlights the faulty narrative of being holistic without thinking about the consequences. Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats and the like require minimal processing but in the quest for longevity, taste and profit, adding preservatives and flavour enhancers causes our food sources to become problematic. The so called ‘holistic’ folk get lost in this narrative urging your diet to become abundant in the rawest, greenest and brownest foods, that are most indigestible and contain potent inhibitors of biological function.

To integrate a level of holism into nutrition and function requires a level of critical thinking. What do these foods contain? How do they affect physiology? It’s well known that the brassica vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and sprouts contain potent compounds that decrease energy output. These goitregens inhibit thyroid output and isothiocyanates found in cruciferous vegetables affects TPO or thyroid peroxidase, both of which are exacerbated when iodine uptake or restriction is present. Research tends to support these problematic effects (Choi & Kim, 2014)(Truong, Baron-Dubourdieu, Rougier, & Guénel, 2010), but much attention is focused on the smaller compounds that seem to work well in test tubes, rather than its global effects. As the environment becomes more stressful for biology do we need more building or reducing factors within our control?

The environment can be a harsh place. There are plenty of pollutants that have a negative effect on fertility, metabolism and other key endocrine aspects of health, some of which are industrial, others purposively added to food (arguably another form of industry) (Rajpert-De Meyts, Skakkebaek, & Toppari, 2000)(Upson, Harmon, & Baird, 2016). We can argue that the environment has always been a harsh place and adaptation has taken place as a response to selective pressures at the heart of evolution. Yet currently we are heading towards a tipping point, as environmental stimulants appear to be at the heart of acquired biological damage that is inherited by offspring. Cancer, fertility and other metabolic diseases are more common than ever and yet the approach is to keep seeking the magic bullet to ameliorate the fate that awaits many of us.

If we were to ask:

What enhances biological function, makes us more robust and allows us to have a stronger conversation with a stressful environment?

Rather than succumb to its stressors.

 The highway to health

The highway to health

A biological system in its best working order could be represented, as an infinite road stretching into the  distance, perhaps with the odd bump along the way or a slight deviation but an ability to get back on track is available. Compare that to the inhibitory T-junction where the body cannot function as the clear straight road, it deviates from its true organised direction. The journey is laboured and restrictive. The ability to flux and respond to stressors is key and adequate energy is an essential component of reorganisation.

Nutrition is an important factor for such conversations with the environment. Eating a diet that is dominated with foods that are difficult to digest, decrease energy availability and create more stress are not going to make chatting any easier. If we make the effort to understand what keeps a cell and its mitochondria functioning at its most efficient state, we can understand why aspects such as sugar, adequate protein, moderate exercise, light and other factors, can play a role in overcoming current stimulus that decrease function and increase disease states.

The following article is definitely worth a read for an understanding of the concepts that I have talked about. http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/vegetables.shtm

References:

Choi, W. J., & Kim, J. (2014). Dietary factors and the risk of thyroid cancer: a review. Clinical Nutrition Research, 3(2), 75–88. http://doi.org/10.7762/cnr.2014.3.2.75

Rajpert-De Meyts, E., Skakkebaek, N. E., & Toppari, J. (2000). Testicular Cancer Pathogenesis, Diagnosis and Endocrine Aspects. Endotext. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25905224

Truong, T., Baron-Dubourdieu, D., Rougier, Y., & Guénel, P. (2010). Role of dietary iodine and cruciferous vegetables in thyroid cancer: A countrywide case-control study in New Caledonia. Cancer Causes and Control, 21(8), 1183–1192. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10552-010-9545-2

Upson, K., Harmon, Q. E., & Baird, D. D. (2016). Soy-based infant formula feeding and ultrasound-detected uterine fibroids among young African-American women with no prior clinical diagnosis of fibroids. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(6), 769–775. http://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510082

Can a bad smell create pain, dysfunction and weakness?

We know about the feedback of pain and painful stimulus (nociception) and the creation of pain to warn us but what about the effects of noxious and more subtle smells on the nervous system? Over the last few years I have found that nothing ceases to amaze me when it comes to the human body. As it becomes possible to dissect systems and assess interactions of specific stimulus, observing the input/output relationship between stimulus and body. Pain stimulus is observed to be chemical, thermal or mechanical in nature. Please bear with the technicalities before I explain the simplified mechanisms or skip to the last part of the blog, if you get bored!

There are many factors that contribute to a patient’s perception and physical feeling of pain. Pain is the central nervous systems response to an event that has the capacity to injure the tissues of the body. Nociception or pain can be qualified from the following pathways.

The ‘First’ pain is usually a withdrawal mechanism (Nociceptive Withdrawal Reflex or NRA) mediated by the neurotransmitter glutamate and utilises the neospinalthalmic (new pain) tract in the anterolateral system or ALS. This typically lasts less than 0.1 of a second and the signal, suggested to be dampened in the substantia gelatinosa, an area found in the dorsal aspect of the spinal cord. Think about that sharp initial pain experienced causing you to move away from a stimulus, which has been detected by free nerve endings.                               Smelly pain

The ‘Second’ pain is also part of the ALS but is part of the paleospinalthalmic tract (old pain). It typically takes over from the initial first pain/neo. It is mediated by the compound substance P and can be associated with that long, lingering pain experienced from an injury.

In addition to pain, we have the capacity to assess many other features of mechanical distortion such as pressure, stretch and touch. The Dorsal Column Medial Lemniscus or DCML, allows the nervous system to provide adequate feedback to tasks and environmental stimulus.

Another part of the pain detection system is the trigeminal chemosensory system, which has nociceptive/pain and temperature pathways that feedback to cranial nerve five, called the Trigeminal nerve (CNV). When a noxious or toxic substance is processed by the neurons in the mucosal areas of the nose, mouth, eyes and lips it is relayed into the thalamus. The VPMN (or ventral posterior medial nucleus) relays signals to the sensory cortex and provides responses, such as watery eyes, sneezing and withdrawal

When we inspire air with small particles of pollutants, they pass from the lungs into the blood stream. Although the blood brain barrier is supposed to prevent any unwanted chemicals, crossing from the blood to the brain; the Circumventricular organs present an area that does not have the capacity to restrict compounds that can create dis-organisation of neurological signals entering and leaving the brain. The area postrema, also has a chemosensory role to initiate vomiting to deal with exposure to harmful compounds

So let’s have something a little easier on the eyes and brain to read now. For example:

Perhaps you are walking across the road in heavy traffic. Sucking up all the pollutants such as benzene, carbon monoxide and other waste products of burning fossil fuels into your lungs as you find your way from one side of the road to another.

For a few seconds your brain, exposed to the onslaught of pollution, has a hard time processing the compounds that have made their way into areas such as the pineal gland or chemoreceptors that can induce vomiting in response to a noxious stimulus.

You are in a rush and bump into someone, his or her shoulder hitting you firmly in the chest. It was slightly painful but you don’t really notice it, the pain pathway, along with pressure, stretch and touch receptors provided some form of feedback. The brain, perhaps still not capable of processing this feedback due to the short exposure of increased pollutants, is just trying to get on with the milieu of everything else that your body demands of it.

Meanwhile the pectoralis muscle, which is being used with each step that you take, has been exposed to increased pressure, a state of contraction or small window of pain that necessitated a withdrawal reflex. The intrafusal muscle fiber that monitor both stretch and contraction now have increased signal towards sustained contraction due to the chaos of external compounds that entered areas of the brain.

So now we might have some level of muscle dysfunction. We probably don’t even know about it. That level of muscle dysfunction now increases and decreases tension demands to receptors found in the ligaments and tendons. The joint mechanoreceptors have a different signal. The skin exteroreceptors perhaps have a different signal. There’s no pain to remind us of the event. In fact we have now gone to the gym and started doing a bunch of push-ups or gone shopping for food and simply carrying the bag home with that hand and shoulder. This doesn’t create pain, but simply sets the foundation for increased areas of dysfunction from distorted neurological signalling.

The concept of this neurological/chemical chaos is often referred to as ‘brain fog’. It seems to be in the literature for many reasons, blood sugar issues, gluten, estrogen (PMS and menopausal females are particularly susceptible) and other factors. It’s also possible that brain fog can be created from specific food stressors, once again eliciting the same response, proposed in the heavy traffic.

Some might say, how can the body be so fragile? Surely we are more robust than that? But it is possible to create these specific dysfunctions but they can be unravelled. Understanding specific stimulus can give us a solution to what dysfunction exits. We might never find out how it came about but a thorough history taking can help to influence where we assess and how to treat it. This is where a technique like P-DTR or Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex, developed by Dr Jose Palomar is unique and effective at uncovering specific neurological dysfunction.

If emotions, visual, auditory, mechanical, chemical and pain factors perpetuate dysfunction, then using those stimulus can pose an effective form of assessment and treatment.

  1. Palomar, J. Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex: Course Notes.
  2. Purves D et al Neuroscience 5th edition. Sinauer Associates 2012
  3. http://www.neurology.org/content/77/12/1198.short

Muscles, pain, hormones and other stuff.

As a therapist who works within the fields of pain, movement, energy and digestion I have seen my share of pain and muscle dysfunction in clients. As my exposure to these situations increase, I realise more than ever, that the muscles are very rarely the problem. Specific muscle dysfunction usually boils down to spindle cell

Thyroid pic

dysfunction and notably Nuclear Bag Fibres (NBF) and Nuclear chain Fibres (NCF). The primary roles of these structures are related to stretch and contraction of muscle function. There can be other factors involving neuro transmitters, involved in nocicpetion such as glutamate, utilised in the withdrawal reflex and often referred to as first pain, (also known as Neospinalthalamic tract located in the Anterolateral system or ALS) and lasting, less than a tenth of a second. Problems can arise when the following pain pathway, called second pain (or Paleospinalthalmic tract also part of the ALS) has problematic feedback with first pain, this is mediated by Bradykinin.

Further complexities arise with serotonin and other structures associated with pain such as the Amygdala and Peri Aqueductal Gray (PAG) that are beyond the scope of this short blog. However a common, over looked feature of pain, may arise with hypothyroidism .

Low thyroid function can be classified effectively with assessment of a basal temperature test and a reading of between 36.6 and 37 degrees. Most blood tests designed to measure thyroid hormones such as TSH, T3, T4 and others, often do not reflect accurate function of thyroid hormone. This is often due to feedback loops between cellular function and the Pituitary gland. Some of the regular hallmarks of hypothyroidism are poor energy, weight gain, poor sleep, hair thinning, digestive dysfunction (constipation and also alternating loose stools), cold hands and feet and pain. Here's an old blog on thyroid and adrenalin issues.

Another assessment of thyroid function is the Achilles return reflex. When stimulating the myotactic reflex a hammer hits the Achilles tendon stimulating, the dorsi flexors or calf muscles. The response should be a quick return of the foot to it’s resting position but with low thyroid the foot returns slowly. Low thyroid output equals low ATP (Adenosine Tri Phosphate – the energy used by the mitochondria/cells). This low energy state does not allow for optimal contraction and relaxation. This is where we can see specific issues with NCF and NBF’s within the muscle spindle cell.

Muscle tendons and associated ligaments provide a feedback loop via the Golgi Tendon Organs or GTO’s. There’s potential for pre-existing GTO dysfunction to drive muscle dysfunction and vice versa. As far back as the 1960s symptoms associated with muscle disorder from low thyroid were.

* Weakness

* Cramps pain and stiffness

* Hypertrophy

* Myotonoid features.

A well-documented feature of hypothyroidism is muscular hypertrophied calf muscles and despite their size may often test weak to stimulation.

Muscle pain, may indeed not be muscle related, it may be due to many factors, suggested above and these may even be related to hormones and neurotransmitters. Many people often deal with muscle aches and pains by constantly focusing on mobility work but these structures continually return to their pre mobility work status (although this could also be an underlying stability issue). In reality there can be many factors that create dysfunction such as crude touch, vibration, nociception, Golgi, Pacini-pressure related structures and many more. But even after seeing a skilled therapist, these still don’t appear to get better, then addressing the chemical aspects of pain and function might be the next sensible thing to do.

References:

Armour Laboratories. The Thyroid Gland and Clinical Application of Medicinal Thyroid. 1945.

Ramsay I. Thyroid disease and Muscle Dysfunction. William Heinemann Medical Books. 1974.

Purves, D. et al. Medical Neuroscience. 5th Edition. Sinauer Assocates Inc. 2001

Starr, M Hypothyroidism Type II. Mark Starr Trust 2013.

http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/hypothyroidism.shtml

Are you using nature to regenerate?

The more clients that I see, I realise that some are very in touch with their bodies and some have no idea what is going on with it. The same rationale can be applied to those who feel the immediate value of being immersed in nature and others who are blissfully unaware of the subject matter. I often remember the change that my body used to experience as I drove out of London towards the Yorkshire Dales; as I edged past the M25 into the countryside and the journey terminated in a swathe of greenery and granite rock, the stress meter had dialled down to a zero. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So why is nature important to human body? The escalation of urbanised environments is ensuring that humans are packed into industrialised, colour lacking, banal developments, that do little to stimulate the eye and increased tension with hustle and close knit streets that people rush to and from work. This dense packing of people also accumulates a large amount of industrial pollutants, be it Benzene from car fuel, Wi-Fi (of which there is an increasing amount of literature to support it’s negative effects to hormone and cellular function) and many other factors that test the body to its limits.

There is increasing research that suggests that urbanisation is a prominent factor in rumination/negative thinking and decreasing mental health. To deal with managing aspects of mental health, exercise is often touted to be helpful as a distraction hypothesis and I don’t dispute the effectiveness of exercise training to help in this situation. A distraction is positive and exercising is essential for good health. However, how many people actually use, quiet appreciation in exercise to regenerate? We often so concerned with pushing ourselves in professional life that exercise often becomes wrapped up in the same goal setting schedules that people religiously stick to. Walking, boating, hiking and taking time to appreciate nature, take in the colours, slowly breathe in the less polluted air, listen to the birds sing, or simply sit on the beach and absorb the endless horizon of water. To often we don’t stop to take in these natural beauties as we are trying to beat those personal bests.

Studies are showing that walking for 90 minutes in a natural environment fares much better than walking in urban settings; The effects showing additional decreases in negative thinking and activity of the brain. I am a firm believer that running and cycling in built up areas may make you fitter but probably less healthier. Increased oxidation of pollutants in urbanised areas, contribute to health issues and mortality rates are on the rise. Training efficiently and smart would warrant that we should aim to exercise less in this manner. Walking in green spaces and utilising the stress decreasing mechanisms of nature, may have more impact to your health than running or cycling on by without appreciating the spaces surrounding you.

Life seems to be whizzing by faster than ever, isn’t it time we slowed down to appreciate it more? Train for strength, walk for health?

References:

If you can’t rotate, just wait…for the injury.

Rotation is one of the most important motions that humans have in their repertoire of locomotion. After stabilisation of the neck, chest and pelvis is achieved at the age of 4-5 months, a baby develops the ability to rotate from supine to prone and back and then progress to four-point, quadrapedal and then verticalisation before the monumental task of gait is achieved. So if rotation is one of the first components of movement and locomotion that we establish, it would also appear to be one of the first movements that we tend to lose as we develop dysfunctional or habitual movement.

Why does this happen? Or A question that I am often posed by my clients. How did I get to be like this? I would offer the following scenarios:

  • Too much exercise- focus on sagittal plane or backwards and forwards motion.
  • Too little exercise – stuck at a desk-sofa, inability to breathe, lack of movement.

For the committed exerciser a lack of rotation or the lack of reprogramming of rotation is often key. The neck and thoracic spine were built for rotation. Squats, deadlifts, pull ups, benching, Olympic lifting and other exercises do little to improve rotation. Even if a good trainer implements some great rotational exercisers such as wood-chops, cable push or pulls with rotation, med-ball tosses and the like, the action of creating an optimal rotation pattern is hard to achieve without some form of neuro-biomechanical re-programming. In short:

MORE DOES NOT MEAN BETTER

Understanding how good rotation (and frontal plane or side to side mechanics) looks like and how to reprogram it, should be considered by those wanting to improve mechanics or to move away from sources out of pain but of course a lack of rotation is not the only cause of pain and or altered mechanics. Regional interdependence is a concept that suggests that poor movement and pain in one area may be the product of another seemingly unrelated area.

So what’s good?

As always depending on your slant opinions can vary. I tend to use mechanical analysis such as SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Analysis), combined with some other biomechanical considerations such as, DNS, gait and to change the clients patterns I use techniques such as Neuro Kinetic Therapy and Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Release or PDTR for efficient results.

Here’s a quick way to analyse rotation.

Standing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe standing position observes a ground up view of rotation. In short it helps to breakdown issues related to mobility or stability. What you are looking for is approximately 45-50 degrees of rotation at the hip and pelvis and 90 degrees of rotation of the upper body. It should be compared with the other side

 

 

 

 

Seated

ComplOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAeting  the test seated with the feet on the ground allows for an assessment of rotation of the upper body minus involvement of the lower body to determine interactions. In short an approximate rotation of 50 degrees either side is ideal. Unilateral differences should be compared as part of the treatment strategy.

Is it a mobility or stability issue? An old vid blog can you up to date on this concept. 

Rolling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe rolling pattern is a great leveller for the athlete and non athlete alike. The concept is to assess the ability to roll using only upper body or lower body, analysing segmental movement and in most cases many people cannot adequately roll.

In fact the compensation strategies can reveal much about how an individuals brain has elected to move with compensatory mechanisms. Correcting these can be achieved with NKT and PDTR in the space of a few minutes in some cases.

Rolling patterns represent one of the first forms of locomotion in the neonate and initial rolling patterns starts at the age of 4-5 months.

Rolling assessment allows for the identification of muscles/structures that may contribute to poor rotation in gait, day - day and sporting activities.

Comparing upper to lower body and prone to supine can determine deficits that can be rectified in both pain and optimisation of movement.

  • Upper body prone to supine left to right
  • Upper body supine to prone left to right
  • Lower body prone to supine left to right
  • Lower body supine to prone left to right

 When we lose efficient rotation in everyday activities such as walking and running, structures that may not be able to rotate efficiently may be forced into compensatory movement. For instance, the lumbar spine which has minimal degrees of rotation when compared to the thoracic spine can often be the source of pain

Integrating rotation into your exercise and injury prevention routine should be as important as your warm up itself. If you feel that you can’t rotate that well then get in contact with someone who can assess and change your rotation.

You can find out more in my breathing pattern and core workshop coming up soon called The Foundational Five about how to change core function.

 References:

  • Cook, G. et al. Selective Functional Movement Assessment. Course Manual
  • Kobesova, A., Kolar, P., Developmental kinesiology: Three levels of motor control in the assessment and treatment of the motor system, Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2013),
  • Weinstock, D. Neuro Kinetic Therapy.
  • Cook, G. Gill, L. Hoogenbam, Voight M. Using Rolling to Develop Neuromuscular Control and Coordination of the Core and Extremities of Athletes. N Am J Sports Phys Ther. May 2009; 4(2): 70–82.

 

 

 

 

 

Adrenal Fatigue or Reductionist Thinking?

adrenal  

Here is the first part of my article, which published in the May 2014, Womens Health and Fitness Magazine.

Adrenal fatigue or reductionist thinking?

Often, being given a distinct diagnoses that can relate to modern living can   make sense to us, a modern condition that makes sense of the hectic lifestyle and the symptoms that we have been experiencing. Over the last decade there has been much literature on a so  called 'Adrenal fatigue', whose symptoms are wide reaching from fatigue, digestive dysfunction, weight and sleep issues.

Walther Canon and Hans Seyle, probably the most prominent  scientists to study and interpret the mechanics behind, adrenaline, cortisol and the stress response, showed that when  rats were exposed to high levels of stress, they developed issues such as ulcers, intestinal bleeding and then finally death. The common suggested auto immune diseases that are becoming more prevalent, such as intestinal hyper-permeability or leaky gut can therefore be interpreted as symptoms of chronic stressors.

The premise of adrenal fatigue works something along these lines.

  • You are exposed to stress
  • You produce stress hormones (Alarm phase)
  • Your body returns to normal
  • You become stressed again on a regular basis
  • You enter the adaptation phase
  • You constantly maintain the stress response through permanent exposure
  • The adrenal glands become exhausted
  • Suggestion that you have adrenal fatigue or exhaustion phase

There are many problems with this interpretation and deduction of adrenal fatigue, and how many practitioners treat this reductionist diagnosis.  If your adrenals were truly fatigued, you may not actually be with us anymore and ultimately be dead. Cortisol which is produced by the adrenal glands, is the primary hormone that directs immune function, inflammation and is involved in virtually all aspects of body function. Certainly the terms hypocortisolemia, too little cortisol and hyper, too much cortisol make sense, and that is what a typical adrenal stress test tells us. Are we producing too much or not enough cortisol , on that particular day, based around a suggested norm?

Cortisol does go up and down, and probably outside of suggested arbitrary norms especially if you experience or engage in the following:

  • Excessive physiological or structural stress, intense exercise without adequate rest.
  • Psychological stress
  • Diet or fail to eat enough calories, eating too much may also contribute over time
  • Eat a so called healthy diet based upon current guidelines
  • Fail to get adequate sleep.
  • Chronic exposure to environmental pollutants

The longer one stays in a state of chronic stress the more compromised all aspects of body function become. This can ultimately result in hormone, immune and metabolic systems dysfunction.

The positives from treating the aspects of adrenal fatigue are a compliance of those suffering from the suggested condition, to address aspects of why they have got to this current state of affairs. Overworking, too much or too little exercise, not enough sleep and psychological stress recognition can be aspects that can be changed with great effect.

To create effective change, should we not consider other aspects of function that would treat the root cause, rather than plaster over the symptom? Lets take a look at the cross over between symptoms of both adrenal and thyroid dysfunction, which have roots in energy and digestion. You may start to notice that there are many symptoms that you may experience a mixture of both and to highlight adrenal fatigue alone is problematic. The thyroid gland supports energetic process’s and when this becomes compromised we call on the adrenal glands to act in a supporting role. Addressing energy, metabolism and digestion, should be the target of any lifestyle or therapeutic interventions.

Adrenal symptoms Thyroid symptoms
Fatigue

Difficulty sleeping

Low blood pressure

Clenching teeth

Dizzyness

Arthritic issues

Crave salt

Sweats a lot

Allergies

Weakness

Afternoon crash

Need to wear sunglasses

Anxiety

Weight gain or loss

Difficult to lose or gain weight

Nervousness/anxiety

Constipation

Hair loss

Poor energy/fatigue

Feel cold hands and feet

Mentally sluggish

Morning headaches

Seasonal sadness

Poor sleep

 

 

 

 

However treating adrenal fatigue in isolation with adaptogenic herbs, restriction of sugar and other stimulants as is often the case, may be unwarranted and most importantly ineffective in resolving these issues. Treating any system in isolation is reductionist and often gives you at best, reductionist results. The complex interaction of the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal-Thyroid-Gonadal axis is a system that helps our body manage many global aspects of our body's function and therefore addressing adrenal balance leaves a gaping hole in your treatment strategy. Consider that the adrenals and in particular cortisol production can be a slave to the your environment, nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle choices. Take stock, address what may be affecting your stress hormone production, If these factors can be changed do so. Stress is a double-edged sword. We need a certain amount of stress to improve our physiological function. Constant exposure to stress decreases our biological state.

Raising biological wholeness such as energy levels, cognition and increasing balance throughout the hormonal system can give much better results than focusing on the adrenals. Remember that the adrenals and ultimately cortisol production elevate in response to, what you eat, or fail to eat, the environment, psychological and physiological stress. All of these aspects are changeable.  In the next article I suggest some strategies that can be used to improve energy and lower adrenal stress.

Nutrition and Exercise dogma

Dogma creation If you haven't yet met someone who has recommended you either some form of diet or a type of exercise, you are unique, in fact a real rarity, and somewhat lucky.

The fitness and wellness industry is awash with much dogma, often created by short term ideologies, that in long term may be harmful to ones health. A friend sent me a link to a simple yet effective graph from Keith Norris's blog  on chasing performance goals and their impact on health.  This got me thinking about the fields that I work in and how much of the recommendations are riddled with dogma and lack critical thought processes.

There's often a reason for this dogma existing and for many it is due to the anecdotal gains that can be experienced in the short term. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • High carb to low carb
  • Eating grains to not eating grains
  • High meat eater to vegetarian
  • Sedentary to high intensity exercise
  • Modern SAD to Paleo
  • Regular diet to juicing

There are plenty more and the point to be made is, some positive gains can be made in the short term, change to metabolic markers, restriction in excessive calories, weight loss and a variety of other markers. From the diagram above you can observe that whenever there is a change to the input of a system, change can occur and especially when there has been little variance in the past. As change occurs and an almost linear increase in perceived health markers also occur, a Zone of Optimisation and resultant dogma often ensue.

'This really worked for me, and it will do for you, trust me!'

Is the problem for many people, those often short term gains, on the way up on your performance curve, may actually start falling sooner than you think.

For the performance exerciser, poor movement, compensation and ultimately pain will ensue.

For those to the new diet, great results could  turn into stagnation, weight gain and a host of metabolic disturbances.

Is it working for you? Well do you:

  • Have good digestion?
  • Have deep restorative sleep?
  • Balanced energy?
  • Healthy libido?
  • Balanced emotions
  • Good stress response

If you don't, you may just be coming down from that peak of physiological and biochemical gains. When might it happen, 1, 2 or even 5 years down the line perhaps?  Hysteresis or a systems memory can be changed with ease if there exists, little underlying metabolic damage and a reduction of factors that increase resistance to repair  that system. Supporting metabolic processes should be first and foremost.

Understanding that fitness is not always a healthy pursuit and paying attention to markers that increase vitality should be a goal, and be pursuant to any fitness goal.

Move, play, eat, digest and sleep well.

 

The difference between mobility and stability issues

Do you have an injury that keeps reoccurring? Finding the difference between mobility and stability issues can be the key to eradicating pain for good If you have ever suffered from an injury and there was no difference made between a mobility or a stability issue. Chances are you may still have the injury.

You often see many trainers and therapists focusing on mobility, mobility and more mobility. Release this muscle with that foam roller release the fascia with this ball but unless the distinction is made between whether a mobility drill or stability training or re-programming of the nervous system needs to occur, All you will end up with is one mobile injured body. It’s a simple thing to do. Just determine whether the movement can be conducted through the desired range. If it can’t, the question should be asked can this be done passively, with someone else guiding you through the movement. If the answer is yes. You have a stability or motor control dysfunction.

If you are the one of many going through the insurance/treatment mill or simply not getting any resolve from massage, exercise or whatever therapy that you are undertaking. Don’t be scared to ask the person treating you…Do I have a mobility or stability issue? It will help to cut through all the fluff. .

Getting to the core and why you have back pain despite rock hard abs!

The concept of ‘core’ conditioning has evolved significantly since the millennium and there have often been some common misunderstandings of the mechanisms, which can increase the prevalence of back pain. I know because I taught them in an inappropriate way, that’s the way that I was taught. But times change and increased knowledge and application go a long way for someone to determine what works and what doesn’t. Many people still have back pain despite participation in core conditioning regimes, pilates and other types of 'core' workouts. Many lay peoples understanding of the core is that a strong set of abdominal and back muscles prevents back pain. This statement is false and I have seen hundreds of people with strong trunk muscles all still prevent with back pain. Overtraining of the core is responsible for increasing back pain in many individuals. Many focus on strength, skipping key elements such as flexibility and stability paving the way for muscular dysfunction. Neuromuscular retraining should often be the focus for optimal core function but for many throwing big weights around, worrying about weight loss or how many spin classes they can get to takes precedence over dysfunctional movement and pain .

Then there is the concept of the inner unit which was touted by Richardson, Jull and Hodges, a good book and one that was part of the curriculum at the CHEK Institute (where I learnt a lot about rehabilitation) and no doubt many other institutions and how, by isolation of the Transversus Abdominus or TrA created an increase in Intra-Abdominal Pressure (IAP) co contracted with the multifidus and worked intrinsically with the pelvic floor.

Training the TrA in isolation fails to offer the complete picture and treatment for segmental stability. The diaphragm working in co-contraction with the TrA, pelvic floor and lumbar multifidus present a more appropriate method for stabilising not only the lumbar spine but provide a foundation for a more efficient methodology of rehabilitation which covers stability.

The Rehabilitation School of Prague’s model of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilisation offers a compelling model of stabilisation via developmental kinesiology. How the developing child moves and integrates stability is an effective method for re-integration of the intrinsic stabilisation system which comprises of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, TrA and spine flexors and extensors. The image below of the open scissors position of the rib cage and pelvis details the oblique angle that can occur when poor stability is mediated by poor diaphragmatic action.

why you get back pain, DNS

With DNS technique the flare of the rib cage and optimal contraction of the diaphragm can be corrected in the space of minutes to provide an optimal pathway for diaphragmatic breathing.

This concept is an effective method for rehabilitation but in my opinion there remain questions when utilising the concept of stability from the trunk. The diaphragm has the capacity to work segmentally too much or too little based upon a client’s injury history. Here are just some of many scenarios where the intrinsic stabilising system could become dysfunctional.

• TMJ or jaw dysfunction • C section or other significant scars on the body • Pelvic floor dysfunction • Any other muscles has the capacity to affect any other muscle in the body. • Local inhibition of synergistic, functional opposites or stabilising muscles • Emotional distress • Broken bones • Functional slings such as the posterior oblique sling, lateral sling and others • Why you get neck pain

Use of a joint by joint approach to testing such as Neuro Kinetic Therapy ™ helps to establish a baseline for dysfunctional patterns of facilitation (overworked muscles) and inhibition (underworking muscles). Decisions should be made as whether a mobility or a motor control issue exist. Motor control or the ability of the muscles to be efficiently recruited by the nervous system can be rectified by understanding patterns of inhibition and rewiring the nervous system for optimal control. Integration between both NKT and DNS techniques allows for a progression from pain and dysfunction to integrated movement patterns that can be hard wired with practice of developmental kinesiology exercises.

Many traditional and rehabilitation conditioning exercises often serve to increase dysfunction. Extension and even neutral load training based exercises such as deadlifts, bird dogs and horse stances can increase activation of the thoracolumbar fascia which serves as a conduit for force transfer especially for the posterior oblique sling. index

A release of the thorocolumbar fascia and integration of the posterior oblique sling through proprioception via taping or exercises remains an efficient method of neuro muscular activation rather than just increasing motor activity via strength and conditioning exercises. tape Posterior oblique sling and reducing back pain

Integration of techniques allows for a much more efficient treatment for clients who suffer from pain and movement dysfunction and can truly get to the core of both acute and chronic conditions. Isolated approaches yield isolated results.

To find out more about how to get out of pain and improve movement and energy please get in touch.

References:

Frank, C Kobesova, A and Kolar, P.Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilisation and Sports Therapy.Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013 February; 8(1): 62–73. Myers, T. Anatomy Trains. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. 2001. Richardson C, Hodges P and Hides, J. Therapeutic Lumbo Pelvic Stabilisation. Churchill Livingstone. 1999 Weinstock, D. Nuero Kinetic Therapy. An Innovative Approach to Muscle Testing. North Atlantic Books.

Why cycling for rehabilitation is not a good idea

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Many rehabilitation practitioners from surgeons to physios advocate stationary cycling as an integral part of the rehabilitation process for many injuries and in particular for knee injuries such as ACL (cruciate ligament injuries). There has been many discussions as to whether open (able to move through) or closed chain exercise (has to move against) is the best form of exercise to improve function. But is cycling and spinning counter-productive for improving (real) functional outcomes in post injury and operative situations?

What are the advantages of cycling for rehabilitation?

  1. Low load on the injured area.
  2. Localised conditioning
  3. Maintains localised fitness or allegedly maintains cardiovascular health

In a nutshell, cycling supposedly provides a low impact form of exercise that maintains some element of CV fitness and may give limited localised strength to quadriceps. In some cases of cruciate ligament injuries, people fail to increase adequate quadriceps strength. In which case, cycling and particularly spinning will be of little benefit to the rehabilitation process. In fact, an over reliance on the calf muscles with activities such as cycling can inhibit not only the quadriceps but the hip flexors, glutes and many other muscles, increasing subsequent dysfunction and future pain. Many clients that I have seen who either teach spinning or take part on it have often suffered from plantar fascia issues and over developed calf muscles that have often inhibited the thigh muscles.

Take a look at the picture above and this will give you an idea of why cycling can be detrimental to those seeking to improve functional strength. Here are some potential reasons.

  •  Inability to train functional slings such as the lateral, posterior oblique, deep longitudinal and anterior oblique sling.
  • Train the muscles into poor posture, note that with the picture above there is an approximate angle of 60 plus degrees of the thoracic spine.
  • Due to the angle of the pelvis, there is poor muscular recruitment between the knee and hip, flexors and extensors. In many cases the gastrocnemius of the calf has the potential to disrupt optimal mechanics of many of the muscles need to provide stability for the kne
  • Many people mistake the fitness associated with cycling as strength but in fact, training this way, serves to decrease optimal muscular recruitment and increase dysfunction.

Muscular slings in all their forms, whether it is from Vleeming or Myers, suggest optimal muscular recruitment via the use of slings, optimal use of fascia and a framework for tensegrity models. Take the posterior oblique sling, as pictured below. Its function during gait is documented and just one method for optimising support for all structures involving gait and performance. Any rehab methodologies should integrate these systems for optimal alignment, support and movement for injured or compromised structures. Sitting on a cycle provides insufficient training stimulus for structures that provide the most effective forms of joint stability and motor control.

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Individuals deserve the most time efficient and effective forms of therapy and exercise. Outcomes such as improved mobility, stability and enhanced motor control should be the goal and sitting on a bike may give a false positive as to enhanced function but it does not carry over to real world gains.  Spinning in particular continues to create dysfunction and disrupt optimal biomechanics. The fitness industry continues to use modalities that whilst make people, hot, sweaty and  increased  whoop factor and appear that they have done some good, actually creates injury after injury. Instead of telling people to get on your bike, we should be telling people to get off and use your legs properly.

Why is my neck so painful?

Why is my neck so painful? 10 reasons why you could be experiencing neck pain Neck pain is one of the most common conditions experienced in my practice. Here are 10 reasons why you may be experiencing neck pain.

1. The way that you breathe can cause changes to how the neck muscles are used. If you sit at a desk or do lots of repetitive exercise, chances are you are not using the correct muscles for breathing. 2. If you have ever had a car crash, whiplash or any injury that has involved a knock to the head or rapid movement of the neck, no matter how long ago, this can cause long standing neck pain if not rehabilitated properly. 3. Caesarean sections can inhibit the muscles in the neck by scar tissue. See my old post for details https://balancedbodymind.com/cesarean-section-or-chaos-section-why-you-may-have-back-pain-after-your-baby/ 4. Sit ups, especially too many, overwork the back of the neck and underwork the front of the neck muscles. Placing a tongue in the roof of the mouth can go some way to helping with this issue but optimal alignment needs to be restored. 5. Computer position and the seated posture. As many people spend many hours at a computer station this can cause key changes to the position of the neck and the rest of the spine. Having someone assess optimal positions at work can help to alleviate neck tension. 6. Negative emotions and psychological stress can reinforce the use of muscles at the side and back of the neck. Understanding what causes you to become stressed and removing yourself or developing better coping mechanisms can help to alleviate the physical stress experienced by the body. One of the reasons that we feel stress in our neck is due to two muscles (Sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius) being fed directly by a nerve (XI cranial verve) that comes straight from the brain rather than the spinal cord. Internal stress can show up externally in these muscles. 7. Problems with internal organs such as the liver can show up in the shoulder and neck via a connection from large nerves. Are you eating well, or are you exposed to environmental toxins that could be causing the liver to become dysfunctional? 8. Other key functions such as eyesight, jaw and hearing issues can cause the neck to become over, or underworked in key areas, causing muscles to develop dysfunction. 9. A herniated disc or irritated cervical (area of the neck) nerve can often cause neck pain. Usually you may find the pain radiating into the neck, back, shoulder and arms. 10. Any muscle that is not working appropriately in the body has the capacity to cause pain in the neck. For example if the muscles that stabilise the lower back are not working correctly, muscles in the neck may compensate to help achieve balance and overwork. Causing pain.

Ultimately any of the issues above are perfectly capable of being either avoided or treated quickly with the right type of analysis, treatment and appropriate exercise. Get in touch if you would like to find out how to get rid of your neck pain.

Old injuries and new pain?

Image-1 (2) Most people don't associate long term injuries that are often asymptomatic with current levels of pain. This single case study is a great way of demonstrating just how this can occur.

Brief history of client-34 year old rugby player presenting with recurrent achilles pain despite long term physio. A great case of lifitis as somebody reminded me about my own injuries recently! Two ruptured biceps over the last decade and neck injuries to boot. Presented with inhibited bilateral hamstrings, right lat, neck extensors and left rectus femoris and quadricep (hip and thigh muscles) inhibited. Also poor dorsi flexion (raising the foot from the floor) inhibited by his calf muscles. His thoroca-lumbar fascia, the piece of tissue that connects the glutes and lats was holding a lot of tension and contributing to a poor link between these two powerful muscles.

Compensation can take many forms. For example with this case the client was usiing his diaphragm to help stabilise other joints in his body that was not balanced with the pelvic floor and TVA (transversus abdominis or hoop like muscle that is a key player in spinal and segmental stability)

After testing and re-activating the muscles that were inhibited using NKT (TM) the muscles, I taped the right to left posterior oblique sling as you can see in the picture, with great results. The tape acts as a conduit for proprioception or communication between this key sling. Client has been free of achilles pain despite training heavily during pre season rugby training.tape Posterior oblique sling

Analysis in the form of SFMA selective functional movement assessment and re-establishing neural pathways through the use of NKT, appropriate treatment and exercise have ensured that this client got out of pain most effectively and the interesting part...I didn't touch his heel to get rid of the pain! To find out how to get pain free, moving and grooving get in touch to find out more.

Is your technique driving your injuries

Image-1 Training the classics like deadlifts and squats are an integral part of training and getting strong. More often than not we tend to sacrifice key parts of our body like a sacrificial lamb to the slaughter, inviting injury with each rep. One of the most common things that I see with clients deadlifting and injuries, is the drive with the neck in a fully extended position, which is shown above.

Using a body part to drive a movement isn't detrimental and as the motor control command is executed it has to start somehwere but extending the cervical spine shifts the emphasis on the kinetic chain. As the Cervical extensors are fully contracted, the whole extensor chain has to ensure that all the work is completed whilst a fully extended position is held. Short tight cervical extensors are a common finding in many people and their recruitment/facilitation and inhibition with many factors can be linked with issues in the calf and plantar fascia of the feet.

You will notice in the picture below as theorised by Myers and others that the superficial back line is a complete chain from head to toe. Facilitation of the cervical extensors can contribute to forward head posture and postural changes in the thoracic spine, shoulder and lower down the chain. Instead of creating injury hotspots, keeping the neck in a more aligned neutral throughout the lift and using the eyes to drive into extension can help alleviate the problems associated with facilitated neck muscles.

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Cesarean section or Chaos section? Why you may have back pain after your baby.

Medical systems can often create a vicious cycle and the Cesarean section is one such cycle. The creation of specialist departments often creates a vacuum where, what some might think as minor issues go ignored, yet affect those who have to undertake specialist procedures. In any other system say finance or banking it would be called negligence or incompetence for failing to notice where the system broke down (something not often noticed until after the debacle has occurred) but because it often involves individuals who suffer from one of the most common medical issues in the world the cause and effect often go unnoticed. It's a simple statement Cesarean sections could be one of the leading causes of back pain in females. A statement that can be validated fairly easily when you observe this phenomenon on a regular basis . I have never met a female client who had a C-section who didn't suffer from either lumbar, cervical or sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Governments who want to save hundreds of millions of unnecessary cash spent on treating back pain may want to scrutinise this point. It often serves the medical insurance system to keep this cycle system in full flow.lumbar spine

Females who have suffered from back pain, most likely due to failure to rehabilitate the key stabilising mechanisms of the the lumbo-pelvic complex may have avoided back pain all together. Implementing a basic program would not only help to avoid back pain but may aid women back into exercise much sooner assisting any psychological issues such as post-natal depression.

A general rule for low level exercise post C-section to begin is 6-8 weeks. The healing process starts immediately post op and the nutritional status and individuals immune system plays a significant role in healing time, decrease of infections and energetic processes.

During the surgery process. The skin, abdominal fascia, Rectus Abdominus and Transversus Abdominus (TrA) are easily severed with many nerves also being affected by the surgeons scalpel. This is where the chaos begins. Whilst the global implications of movement dysfunction are readily observed with restrictions to simple tasks such as standing, sitting and even turning over in bed. The local intrinsic nature of lumbo-pelvic stabilisation dysfunction is not observed until the women attends a specialist to deal with a particular pain syndrome. More often than not light cardiovascular exercise is recommended which serves to deepen the dysfunction not only due to the lack of appropriate muscle activation but also due to its effects on respiration.

The TrA whilst important with its synergistic role with the multifidi, diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles also has an essential function with respiration. During inspiration the primary muscle of inspiration the diaphragm contracts displacing the abdominal viscera outwards and downwards placing both the muscles of the pelvic floor and TrA in a stretched position. The natural recoil of the TrA assists in exhalation,helping to force air from the lungs. Post C-section this action can diminish placing additional stress on the excessory muscles of respiration. Additionally the flexors of the trunk, primarily the Rectus abdominis often become inhibited and other muscles can facilitate in response to altered movement dysfunction. In one case a patient with multiple C-sections presented with chronic recurrent cervical and lumbar disc issues. In particular the MRI showed a flattened cervical spine and it is worth-speculating that the anterior cervical flexors facilitated in response to a lack of trunk flexion. The patient was literally trying to flex her whole spine with her neck flexors. Use of Neuro Kinetic Therapy (TM) helped to re-establish synergistic neck and trunk flexion by restoring equilibrium.conceptual model

In this and 100% of all clients who have had a C-section the TrA can either be facilitated or inhibited. strategies to stabilise compromised structures and dysfunctional movement can be local or global. How Muscular dysfunction occurs

Strategies can include:

Breath holding via facilitation and compromised diaphragmatic action Facilitation of the pelvic floor Clenching of the masticatory muscles of the TMJ/Jaw Local compensation such as Quadratus Lumborum facilitation Cervical muscle facilitation and inhibition Altered lower limb mechanics including plantar fascia and disruption of dorsi flexion and toe mechanics.

Scar tissue formation can be problematic due to adhesions of healing tissue in particular to fascial continuation, function and adhesion of tissue to internal organs. Addressing these adhesions and restoring optimal function of the TrA and its dual facilitory or inhibitory effect on both local and global structures can be achieved with therapies such as NKT and appropriate corrective exercises. Even without a Cesarean section, you can apply the same rationale to tears or episiotomy procedures and the same fuzziness that the nervous system experiences when trying to provide stability to the body.

References: Chek, P. Posture and Craniofacial Pain. A Chiropractic Approach to Head Pain. Williams and Wilkins 1994

Weinstock, D. Neuro Kinetic Therapy. North Atlantic Books. Berkeley, California.