Dwelling On Stressful Events Can Make You Sick

University of Ohio researchers have found that when people “were asked to dwell on stressful events, their levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of tissue inflammation, rose”. This is the first study to directly measure the physical effect that obsessing on negative events has on our bodies. “Much of the past work on this subject has looked at this in non-experimental designs. Researchers have asked people to report their tendency to ruminate, and then looked to see if it connected to physiological issues (ie cortisol levels). It’s been correlational for the most part,” said lead researcher, Dr. Peggy Zoccola.

why-rumination-dwelling-obs

In this new study, Dr. Zoccola et al recruited 34 healthy young women and “asked each to give a speech about her candidacy for a job to two interviewers in white laboratory coats, who listened with stone-faced expressions”.

Half of the group was asked to contemplate their performance in the public speaking task, while the other half was asked to think about neutral images and activities, such as sailing ships or grocery store trips. The researchers drew blood samples that showed that the levels of C-reactive protein were significantly higher in the subjects who were asked to dwell on the speech. For these participants, the levels of the inflammatory marker continued to rise for at least one hour after the speech. During the same time period, the marker returned to starting levels in the subjects who had been asked to focus on other thoughts.

What does this mean to you?

  • C-reactive protein is produced as part of the immune system’s initial inflammatory response. It rises in response to traumas, injuries or infections in the body. In these short-term situations, it’s a good thing.

However, in when elevated levels of C-reactive protein become a chronic, day-to-day kind of thing…it’s not so good. “More and more, chronic inflammation is being associated with various chronic disorders and conditions, such as….heart disease, cancer, dementia and autoimmune diseases.” Conclusions

  1. The result of a single study should always be judged with a critical eye. More research is necessary before mainstream science and medicine will get on board.
  2. You don’t have to wait for mainstream medical approval to make use of this research. We all have stressful situations in our lives…lots of opportunities to obsess and dwell on how we were screwed over by our bosses or that jerk on the highway.

The next time you find yourself dwelling over some crappy event in your life…pay CLOSE ATTENTION to how your body feels.

  • Pay attention to your breathing – are you holding your breath?
  • Pay attenting to your temperature – do you feel warm, cold, normal? Are your hands sweaty, clammy?
  • Pay attention to your heartbeat
  • Look at your face in the mirror…what do you see
  • Pay attention to your muscles – tight or relaxed?
  • Listen to your emotions – anger, sadness, calm, happy?

And after you have collected all that data, ask yourself a question…

  • Is dwelling on this particulary stressful event good or bad for YOU?

 

Reference

 

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Change Your Body Language Change Your Life

There is a large body of research which shows us that your body language tells us lot about your state of mind.

In fact, we all make split second decisions about other people based on their body language each & every day.

  • Do we like that person?
  • Do we trust them?
  • Do they give us the creeps?

What you may not know is that…

And you don’t even need to believe me for it to work.

Because “our bodies change our minds, our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”

power-posing-hormones

Spending 60 seconds in a “power pose” WILL increase your test, decrease your cortisol and make you feel and act like your best self.

Seriously…this stuff works.

Like Dr. Cuddy says…“Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.”

Reference

Why Do We Get Angry? – New Research

Why is it that some people get angry at the littlest thing while others have the patience of Job?

New research from the University of Cambridge finds that low levels of serotonin in your brain have a major impact upon how you react to that jerk who cut you off in traffic this morning.

Building upon previous serotonin/aggression research, this study is the first to show how serotonin helps regulate behavior in your brain as well as why some people are more prone to aggression.

The Science

In this study, healthy volunteers’ serotonin levels were altered by manipulating their diet.

  • On the serotonin depletion day, they were given a mixture of amino acids that lacked tryptophan, the building block for serotonin.
  • On the placebo day, they were given the same mixture but with a normal amount of tryptophan.

The researchers then scanned the volunteers’ brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as they viewed faces with angry, sad, and neutral expressions. Using the fMRI, they were able to measure how different brain regions reacted and communicated with one another when the volunteers viewed angry faces, as opposed to sad or neutral faces.

The research revealed that low brain serotonin made communications between specific brain regions of the emotional limbic system of the brain (a structure called the amygdala) and the frontal lobes weaker compared to those present under normal levels of serotonin.

The findings suggest that when serotonin levels are low, it may be more difficult for the prefrontal cortex to control emotional responses to anger that are generated within the amygdala.

Using a personality questionnaire, they also determined which individuals have a natural tendency to behave aggressively.

In these individuals, the communications between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex was even weaker following serotonin depletion. ‘Weak’ communications means that it is more difficult for the prefrontal cortex to control the feelings of anger that are generated within the amygdala when the levels of serotonin are low.

As a result, those individuals who might be predisposed to aggression were the most sensitive to changes in serotonin depletion.

What Does This Mean to You?

It means that if you don’t want to live your life being Mr. or Ms. Grumpy, you may want to take steps to avoid low serotonin.

These steps can include:

 

Reference

Improve Your Bad Mood with Fatty Food

A new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, showed that this great big delicious, chocolate-fudge ice cream sundae has the power to reduce feelings of sadness.

Congratulations science…..you now know what every Mom with a crying child has known for millenia.

Food soothes raw emotions.

In particular, fatty foods can reduce feelings of sadness or stress or depression…

The Science

The researchers took a group of twelve healthy human volunteers and:

  1. Put them on a 12 hour fast
  2. Induced either neutral or sad emotions (via music & visual images)
  3. Delivered an intragastric infusion of either fatty acids of saline
  4. Measured their levels of fullness, hunger, nausea and mood
  5. Performed a 40-minute fMRI scan, while
  6. Measuring fullness, hunger, nausea and mood 3 more times during the fMRI scan.

Here’s what they found

  • Hunger scores increased during sad emotion and decreased during neutral emotion conditions (main effect of emotion).
  • The difference in hunger ratings between the emotions was much smaller in fat compared with that in saline vehicle conditions (fat-by-emotion interaction effect)
  • This indicates that the effect of sad mood on hunger is attenuated by fatty acids.
  • The fMRI results agreed with these findings – showing that the behavioral and nerve cell responses to sad emotions were also lessened.

  • Mood ratings decreased during the sad conditions, with no change or a slight increase during the neutral conditions (main effect of emotion).
  • The difference between emotions was smaller in the fat than in the saline vehicle conditions (fat-by-emotion interaction effect).
  • This difference confirms that fatty acids successfully moderate feelings of sadness.

Conclusion

Previous research has shown that sugary, high-carb foods are effective in attenuating moods – ie making sad people less sad.

This study shows that dietary fat has the same effect.

However, it neglects to mention that drowning your sorrows in lasagna & ice cream sundaes is not a fool-proof solution.

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Reference

The Dreaded Kraft Dinner Hangover

I did something really stupid yesterday.

It was just one of those days where I was:

  • short on time
  • running low on healthy food
  • hungry as a bear
  • and in a bad mood (crappy day, don’t even ask)

As a result of my crappy day, my stress levels were sky high and my serotonin levels were down in the dumps.

As a result of that, I began to have a wicked craving for carbs and was experiencing a generally crappy mood which also caused a craving for a great big dietary hug from Mom.

So, in a moment of emotional weakness, I ripped open a dusty old box of Kraft Dinner from the pantry.

And I ate that glow in the dark orange, mushy, creamy, full of chemicals, pasta slop.

And I loved every spoon/shovelful.

Unfortunately, for the rest of the evening I was craving carbs like a heroin junkie craves heroin.

And this morning, I woke up with everything aching…my head, my back, my muscles feel stiff and sore and I am still craving carbs and feeling generally like crap.

So, what did I do to get rid of my Kraft Dinner hangover?

  1. Exercise – at 4:30 this morn, I woke up and did 30 minutes of joint mobility and muscle flexibility exercises. Nothing too intense – just working the stiffness out of my body
  2. While exercising, I drank a serving of Athletic Greens
  3. I also choked down a Vitamin B Complex pill and another herbal adaptogen product to help get my hormones back in order.

The result:

At 6:30 this morning, I started writing this post and…

  • my headache is gone,
  • my craving for carbs is 82% gone,
  • my muscles feel normal – not optimal, but okay.

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Overall, I feel 91% less crappy and ready to go train another 6 clients.

Conclusion

Just Say No to Kraft Dinner

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