There's a lot of factors that calculate for how positive your performance and physique results are. However; few are as important as your hormone profiles. These chemical messengers drive your conscious experience in every direction imaginable, sending the instructions to your neural, physiological, and musculoskeletal systems...doing everything from help you experience the sensation of hunger to put your body into action to satisfy your hunger.
But, even though your hormones drive a lot of thoughts, feelings, and actions...you still possess the ability to 'act on' your own hormones through optimizing the health and performance of your endocrine system--the manufacturing plant of your hormones.
According to former Marine F-18 fighter pilot turned naturopathic physician turned Scottsdale's "Most Eligible" Male, Dr. Michael Major; through controlled stress, enhanced sleep, properly-timed nutrition, supplemental interventions, or a blend of several therapies, methods, and practices...you can produce hormone profiles likely to message the body with instructions for carrying out actions you'll enjoy.
"Dr. Mike" is a naturopathic physician who serves the Fountain Hills community in Arizona. His clients benefit from accelerated musculoskeletal recovery from injury or post-operative conditions through a variety of medical interventions. He also helps his patiens & clients optimize their hormone levels for improved sleep, muscle recovery, and metabolic activation.
He and I sat down to discuss the key variables that affect your endocrine system and how to optimize your hormone profiles for best performances at being You!
Below transcript outlines and describes what we covered during the discussion:
Dr. Mike states how important it is to understand the four (4) building blocks for optimizing your endocrine system for effective hormone balancing.
1) Physical stress: Exercising your muscles, placing a demand upon your heart, and igniting your metabolism to a point that is uncomfortable is extremely useful for helping your chemical messengers (hormones) communicate more effectively with your body.
2) BCAA and Co-Factors: Dr. Mike encourages the consumption of quality protein in the right amounts. Knowing that each person's metabolism and digestive system is different, there will be different ways for meeting amino acid and co-factor requirements, but they must be met in order to fully optimize your hormone systems. These co-factors include, but are not limited to B-Vitamins, Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E.
3) Insulin response: First off, physically stressing muscle is the best way to improve your body's insulin response (insulin response associates with how well your body uses glucose). However, the correct timing of the right types of carbohydrate along with proper micro-nutrient profiles (co-factors) will further improve your body's insulin response. Co-factors are generally smaller molecules that help your body with the absorption of larger molecules.
4) Adrenal support: Your adrenal gland conducts the release of cortisol and other stress hormones. This isn't bad when your body is under physical duress and a hightened sense of awareness and alertness is useful. But, too often, the common American brain is under un-necessary stress leading to constant adrenal activity and regular release of cortisol. This can trigger your body to store fat and lower its metabolic rate while you experience a low level of stress and mild anxiety as a result. Getting the right amount of quality sleep along with the management of any stimulant consumption, like that of caffeine, as well as having a method of dealing with stress will help alleviate adrenal activity and help keep your mind calm and your body active.
THE NUTRITION FACTOR
Dr. Mike: There are five main types of diets that have shown positive results over sustained time depending on what your performance goals are:
Paleo: Serves as a sound baseline plan for nutrition. Predominantly sourced from plants and animals, the paleo plan includes a variety of whole foods, and it aims to reduce consumption of added sugar (reduciton of breads & pastas) while increasing consumption of nutrient-rich foods.
Perhaps the term "paleo" scares people off, but all this nutrition plan consists of is eating real food and staying away from non-real food.
Without any calorie-restriction, this is one of the better plans for managing your nutrition.
Ketogenic: This reduces your carbohydrate intake dramatically, while even zeroing -out carbs entirely during your "fat-adaptation" phase, during which your metabolism learns to transform fat into energy efficiently and in abundance. Once your metabolism has become "fat-adapted", you can slowly integrate carbohydrate into your nutrition when cycled at the correct times in the correct amounts. And the timing here has more to do with your metabolic activity than with the time of day.
Ketosis is seductive due to its fat-burning characteristic; however, re-configuring your metabolic systems to incinerate fat as fuel first is a tricky, lengthy, and possibly fustrating process. Furthermore, a ketogenic diet could have negative affects on sporting performance, especially those involving anaerobic activities.
Endurance and aerobically-driven sports have shown positive results from a fat-dominant, keto-style diet, but much research must be conducted before sustained performance results will obtain from a continued high-fat, low-carb diet.
Itermittent Fasting: This nutrition "tool" is often applied by those who live a ketogenic and/or paleo nutrition lifestyle. Intermittent fasting is the cyclical restriction of food in small blocks of time--often between 18 and 24 hours. And this is performed one or more times during the week or in less frequency during the month for others.
Fasting your system starves your body of glucose (sugar) which then has your metabolism start looking for other fuel sources--eventually fat. Fasting also stresses your cellular environment, leading to the death of many weaker cells and the strengthening of many stronger cells. This has been shown to improve a variety of health markers from intestinal health to DNA health.
Vegan / Vegetarian: While the two are different, they are similar enough to couple together in this discussion. The aim here is NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS. Some vegetarians choose to still eat eggs, cheese, and other secondary and tertiary products made from animal products--cookies, cakes, etc. Either way, the vegan/vegetarian diet is far healthier than the Standard American Diet, and can even be effective for athletes in sports or for other people wanting a high amount of muscle tonus.
It is possible to obtain optimal protein requirements through a vegetarian diet, but there is a high level of difficulty in doing so. Getting the proper amino acids along with the right co-factors for proper protein synthesis becomes a challenge when you remove animal protein from the menu. But with detailed planning and proper consumption, it's been shown that it's possible to meet the protein and other nutrient needs of a highly active body using a vegan/vegetarian approach to nutrition.
Carnivor: This is an ONLY RED MEAT kind of nutrition plan. It's one of the latest crazes in modern nutrition and has shown interesting results in terms of its effectiveness in helping improve certain immuno-deficiencies as well as combatting other diseases and illnesses of the body caused by inflammation.
The sustainability of this diet is questionable, but like each type of diet listed here, you could integrate it into your weekly nutrition plan and go one or two days where you're ALL MEAT ALL DAY. And then you can transition to vegetarian on another day or two other days. This will all depend on your body type, current level of health/fitness, and your goals.
All these diets have pros and cons, and the fact is...you'll have to learn which type of nutrition meets the needs of your body with regard to the demand you impose on it.
The chances are that a mixed blend of these different types of diets will serve most people well. Ensuring your consuming gratuitous amounts of vegetables along with the protein to meet the needs of muscle/tissue repair is what's important. Couple that with getting those nutrients in at the right times and you've got yourself an ideal nutrition strategy.
The TOP FOUR FOODS YOU WANT IN YOUR DIET:
- MEAT: (grass-fed, wild-raised, wild-caught, free-to-roam): Select top quality meats for the richest protein and amino acid complexes along with healthy fats and the appropriate vitamins and minerals to help your body absorb it all.
- HEALTHY FAT: (avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds, oils): Feeds adrenals and helps body absorb Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Ideal source of metabolic energy with 400% more energy production per molecule.
- VEGETABLES: cruciferous types like broccoli, spinach, kale, bok choi, cauliflower: These foods are packed with fiber and rich with vitamins and enzymes known for improving digestion and gut health.
- FRUIT: (not juice): Blueberries, apples, oranges, etc. These are rich in anti-oxidants and fiber content.
The TOP FOUR FOOD YOU WANT OUT OF YOUR DIET:
- MEAT: Conventionally processed meats. Stay clear of meats with preservatives, anti-biotics, colors, dies, and other additives.
- WHEAT: and other Lectins: Contain anti-nutrients your digestive system is unable to process.
- DAIRY: (from cows): Increases estrogen, packed with anti-biotics, and rich with casein protein, which your body doesn't digest well.
- FARMED FISH: Plucked from stagnant water with anti-biotics, pesticides, coloring, and plastic chemicals. Tough on your entire bodily system.
And the BIG ENDOCRINE ENEMIES - THE HORMONE BATTLE
- CHRONIC STRESS: This is the low-level, under-the-radar-but-still-there kind of stress that lingers day after day. It hurts both, the psychological processes the mind as well as the physiological and associated processes of the body. This can throw hormones out of an optimal range and even set of sub-optimal behavior patters.
- ALCOHOL: Hops, especially for men, can have detrimental effects due to the estrogenic attack on male testosterone it deploys. Along with slowing metabolism and weakening hormone balance, it aids in visceral fat consolidation and digestive complications.
- ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS: These once thought to be genius additions to our food stuffs have since been associated with a variety of diseases and illnesses from brain disorders to cancer. These artifical sweeteners not only negatively effect metabolic processes, but often times they trick brain activity into still releasing hormones as though sugar has entered into the blood, even though it hasn't.
- SOY: Again, this is especially for men. As many of the crimes against hormones are crimes against testosterone, they appear to have a greater affect on men. And soy is disasterous for men. The consumption of soy is a big starter for estrogenic activities to occur and it's also packed with hard-to-digest lectins.
- SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES, PLASTIC, AND COSMETICS: Here, we look at household items and standard home consumables, like candles, as possible toxin sources. It's no secret cheap candles and make-up can have side effects; but because you don't see an immediate effect, often times people will continue using products they know are harmful. So, take a look around your home and workplace to identify any of these toxic products and get them out."
Wow! I just read through that again; and...just WOW! There's so much information. In fact, there's so much that it could be overwhelming and you may be wondering, "Where do I start".
Here's a great start point...Pick one! That's it...just pick one of these factors we talked about and turn it into something that's working for you, your nutrition, your hormones...your life!
Too often you can get stuck in the same place even though you're doing everything you can, right? Well, that's just it; you can't do everything. So, just DO ONE THING, and do it until you've integrated it into your begin and it's become a habit that's fully integrated into your body.