friday some interesting facts and other things.
Friday, February 07, 2014
good morning all--hope you are having a great day. its below zero again here--supposed to be sunny today, so that's a plus.
well its been3 weeks since my weight has budged--in fact today it was .2 higher than last time. not helpful--I really could have used a boost this morning. but I have been tracking faithfully and recently upped my kettlebells and added a short yoga routine two days a week, and I'm on week three of the gateway to 10 K series and that is all going well. so I have to focus on the positive and let go of the rest. I would really like to jettison the scale altogether, but I really need to use it as a tool to stay on track and know when things are going well or badly. the trick is surmounting the bad days--a work in progress.
but enough about that--I just bought a new book "Healthy at Home" by Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, MD. (it's pronounced "tironey" as far as I can tell). She is an interesting person--originally trained in massage and herbal medicine, she became a midwife and eventually went back through traditional medical school. she is also a cancer survivor and a black belt in tae kwan do, and is a faculty member of the school of integrative medicine at the U. of AZ. This is a wonderful book that looks at and teaches the concepts of herbal medicine from a western medicine point of view. Dr. Low Dog believes (and I agree) that oftentimes we run to the dr. for antibiotics or other high impact medicines to treat conditions that would respond just as well to less intensive treatments--such as herbs and massage, relaxation etc. the book is divided into sections based on body systems and she begins each one with a good, simple explanation of the physiology and biology of the system, and then delves into the common problems that can afflict the system. importantly, she also includes a section in each area that clearly outlines when you should not attempt to treat a condition with these methods, but seek help from a physician instead. I have been kind of leapfrogging around in the book just to get a feel for what's in it--I always judge a book by whether or not I actually learn something I didn't know before in the first reading. last night I started in the chapter on the digestive tract, and I learned a bunch of interesting things. first off, I learned that when babies are born, they have taste buds not only on their tongues, but on the sides and roof of their mouths as well. babies can distinguish between sweet and bitter tastes IN UTERO when they are 16 weeks old and show a preference for sweet. people who were not breastfed, or were delivered by c section (both are true in my case) lack a number of healthy gut bacteria and allergies, celiac, eczema and other problems are more common in this population.
I also learned this one amazing thing about stress eating--I am going to quote directly from the book: this is not the entire section--I am going to kind of redact it to make it shorter--but you will understand the gist of this--if you want to read more in detail--I highly recommend getting the book--it is a treasure trove of information.
"Our digestive system is complex: it has its own independent nervous system, called the enteric nervous system (ENS). Often referred to as the second brain, the ENS is composed of more than 100 million neurons embedded within the gut wall stretching from the esophagus to the anus. ---Because the gut is so richly innervated, emotions impact its function. When you feel scared or upset, your brain triggers the release of stress hormones, preparing your body to fight or flee. The ENS responds by slowing or shutting down digestion and elimination. Makes sense, as it would be highly counterproductive to have to stop and go to the bathroom in the middle of a dangerous situation or waste precious resources on processing dinner. But think about those who live with chronic stress. Shutting down digestive enzymes and inhibiting muscle contraction is a sure setup for gas. bloating, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome.
The ENS produces neurotransmitters, hormones, and other compounds that are very similar to those found in the brain. Roughly half of all dopamine and 90 percent of the body's serotonin is produced by the ENS. ---The impact of stress on the gut may also be contributing to the enormous problem of obesity. Stress triggers the ENS to increase the production of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite. When we eat pleasurable foods (fatty and/or sugary foods), dopamine is released in the brain and in the gut, easing feelings of anxiety and depression. It's the brain in your gut that prods you to seek out those cookies when the boss is yelling at you! Chronic stress keeps ghrelin levels high and the abundance of refined high fat foods available 24/7 is a sure recipe for weight gain.
I found this fascinating--all this beating up on ourselves that we do for stress eating (which only makes more stress) when in fact we are not just "weak" or "self indulgent". we are reacting to real physiological forces that are acting just as they were meant to. the fact that we now live our lives in ways so far removed from the natural forces that shaped our physiology means that these mechanisms now produce results that are not in line with improving our survival, and so the protective effect of them goes awry, and they become harmful instead.
no wonder this is all such a challenge and the struggle seems to go on so long. we have a lifetime of damage to reverse and heal. but I find that encouraging. it IS possible to rebalance and heal this system that has become so confused. knowledge is the first step.
have a great day, everybody!