Posted in Ketogenic Life, Of Heart and Mind

Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) affects 10-20% of Americans during the winter months. Research shows that SAD, also known as the “winter blues”, is due to the decrease in sunlight available during the autumn and winter months. Because there is a decrease in sunlight, there’s an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, contributing to depression-like symptoms.

Lead researcher Brenda McMahon and her colleagues, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, presented findings in 2014 at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Congress in Berlin, Germany. Such findings followed 11 people with SAD and 23 people without SAD during the summer and winter months to see how the levels of serotonin and SERT (serotonin transporter) proteins changed during the seasons.

The results showed that those with SAD had 5% higher levels of SERT proteins during the winter than in the summer. Those without SAD had unaffected SERT and serotonin levels. “SERT carries serotonin back into the nerve cells where it is not active, so the higher the SERT activity, the lower the activity of serotonin,” explains McMahon. This seems to offer confirmation that SERT is associated with SAD.

Robert Tisserand and Psychology Today discuss how serotonin, melatonin, dopamine and norepinephrine (neurotransmitters) are all contributors to the symptoms of SAD. They also offer ways that you can naturally increase these levels during the winter when sunlight is not highly available.

Here’s some great ways to increase those neurotransmitters for overall improved mood during the winter months:

  1. Vitamin D Supplementation
  2. Exercise
  3. Sunlight or Light Therapy
  4. Massage
  5. Recall Happier Times!
  6. Essential Oils
    1. Stimuating Oils (black pepper, grapefruit, jasmine, lemon, rosemary)
    2. Calming Oils (bergamot, clary sage, orange, rose, sandalwood)

Seasons Greetings,

Coral A.J. Gibson

Resources:

Posted in Of Heart and Mind

Your Brain on Gratitude

‘Tis the season. Thanksgiving is here, and soon, Christmas will be, too. Today, in church service, we discovered how our body and mind respond to experiencing gratitude on a regular basis. This is what we will be discussing today.

An individual is positively affected neurologically, physically and emotionally when they experience gratitude regularly. The Huffington Post wrote an article called “The Neuroscience of Gratitude” which shares the following implications of gratitude:

  • production of dopamine and serotonin increases
  • it can be a natural antidepressant
  • the more these neural pathways are fired, the more automatic it becomes
  • encourages the search for constructive themes, rather than destructive ones

A study conducted in 2015 by four researchers created a four-condition experiment (stimulus, reflection, probe and rest) where participants read an excerpt telling of one of four phases of the Holocaust: 1. The rise of Nazism and Persecution, 2. Internment, 3. The Final Solution, 4. Final Months and Liberation. After reading the excerpt, they were instructed to reflect and feel, as much as possible, how it would feel to experience what they had just read, and create a deep, personal, realistic reaction. Then, they had to rate how much gratitude they felt on a scale from 1 to 4. A black screen would then be presented, as they were instructed to rest and release their mind of all thoughts for a 12-16 second period, acting as a baseline prior to the next phase. The four conditions of the experiment are shown in the figure below. The hypothesis? “That gratitude ratings would correlate with activity in brain regions associated with moral cognition, value judgment and theory of mind.”

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Experiment Protocol

The results? “Ratings of gratitude correlated with brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex, in support of our hypotheses. The results provide a window into the brain circuitry for moral cognition and positive emotion that accompanies the experience of benefitting from the goodwill of others.”

How awesome! When we feel grateful, we begin to elicit the positive emotion that comes from experiencing the benefit of a gift from someone. Even amidst tragedy and shortfall, simply “thinking” gratitude into existence will rewire the neural pathways to make it a habit for emotional well-being.

Here are four ways that you can practice gratitude:

  1. Write it down. On a daily basis, write down at least 5 things you are grateful for.
  2. Get into a routine of gratitude. You can have an accountability partner; you can write it every morning before you start your day; you can keep a list posted to be reminded daily. Whatever works for you.
  3. Meditate. You can do so sitting quietly or during your favorite exercise activity, such as yoga, pilates or even running.
  4. Surround yourself with people who share gratitude, too. These people might be family, co-workers or your church friends. Make sure you are not exposed to complaints every day. Be grateful and help others do the same.

Best Wishes,

Coral A.J. Gibson

Posted in Ketogenic Life

Digestive Enzymes: Pros and Cons

I’d like to start this discussion of digestive enzymes by providing data on the prevalence of digestive challenges in the United States from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. There are 60 to 70 million people affected annually by digestive diseases. In 2009, 245,921 deaths occurred in the United States in which one of many digestive diseases was the primary cause of death. The diseases include diagnoses like chronic constipation, hemorrhoids, GI infections, pancreatitis, abdominal wall hernias, diverticular disease, IBS, liver disease and viral hepatitis.

I hope this moves you to care for your digestive system more avidly.

This information should help you make more informed decisions about how to care for yourself. I’ve battled with digestive challenges my entire life, and I am finally learning applicable lessons that can transform the way my body processes, absorbs and utilizes the food and drinks I consume. A large debate exists between traditional medicine and functional medicine in regards to the implementation of digestive enzymes.

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In this video, Dr. Amy Meyers discusses when the supplementation of hydrochloric acid, the primary stomach acid, is appropriate. She does a marvelous job explaining where in the digestive process digestive enzymes should step in, and how functional medicine can be used when your digestive enzymes aren’t equipped to do the job on their own.

Many traditional medicine practitioners will prescribe medications to calm or alleviate the symptoms associated with the digestive challenge. Or they will tell you to cut everything out of your diet. Remove all of the food your body is having a hard time processing, and you’ll have no problems. That’s the thought at least. However, just like when a child has to get sick a couple of times to build immunity against all the sickness at school, your digestive system has to LEARN how to digest the foods you consume. That does not mean eat fried chicken every day to force your system into agreeing with it. That means you can not remove EVERYTHING from your diet to make the process less dynamic. Your digestive system was designed to consume unprocessed, nutritious food that’s made with integrity.

In discussing the hidden dangers of digestive enzymes, Dr. John Douillard summarizes what happens when digestive enzymes are utilized more frequently than necessary.

DIGESTIVE ENZYME SUMMARY

  1. Congested intestinal villi: stools that are too dry or too loose.
  2. Toxins drain from the gut to the liver.
  3. The bile in the liver becomes congested.
  4. The bile becomes too thick to flow through the bile ducts.
  5. Thick bile coats the pancreatic enzyme ducts.
  6. Small intestines signal for more bile and enzymes.
  7. Bile and enzyme ducts end up over-crowded and in digestive gridlock.
  8. Digestive fire weakens and food intolerances can appear
  9. Long-term enzyme dependency ignores the potentially serious underlying cause.

Dr. Douillard shares great insight on how you can avoid digestive disasters by consuming apples, beets, celery, artichokes, leafy greens and turmeric. It is beneficial for your digestive system to be cleansed on a regular basis. When you are constantly in a cleansing state, however, you can cleanse yourself into having a digestive system that only works if they keep cleansing it. Douillard calls these people cleansing casualties. It is recommended to pick one or two days a week to provide the cleanse your body needs to strengthen the system once again.

Take the necessary steps to further educate yourself on healthy digestion and how doing so can help brain function, hormone stability and longevity.

Cheers,

Coral A.J. Gibson

 

Posted in Ketogenic Life, Of Heart and Mind

PTSD vs. TBI Using SPECT Scans

Because CT and MRI scans are unable to detect with sensitivity and specificity what a SPECT scan can when diagnosing mild TBI and PTSD, a group of researchers (Daniel G. Amen ,Cyrus A. Raji , Kristen Willeumier , Derek Taylor , Robert Tarzwell , Andrew Newberg , and Theodore A. Henderson) chose to use SPECT scans to see if they could find a true difference between the brain of those with TBI and PTSD. SPECT scans provide the clinical utility of the “delineation of the neural circuitry underlying PTSD ” and the improved detection of TBI. The SPECT scans in this study contain populations of those with PTSD, TBI, co-morbidities as well as those unaffected by either. The following is a collection of the statistics of those with PTSD and TBI in both military and civilian populations in the United States.

Military:

  • DoD reported 307,283 diagnosed cases of TBI from 2000–2014.
  • Congressional Research Service reporting 103,792 diagnosed cases of PTSD from 2000–2012.
  • Over 400,000 military personnel and veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD or TBI since 2001 [17, 18], and many have been diagnosed with both. The overlap of these two populations has been estimated at 33% [34, 35] to 42% [39]. among veterans. Those who have experienced a blast-related TBI have more than double the risk of developing PTSD.

Civilian:

  • About 7.7 million in the US population suffer from PTSD.
  • TBI is also quite prevalent, with 2.5 million annual visits to emergency rooms for suspected TBI.
  • 49% of those with TBI are likely to be diagnosed with a psychiatric illness the following year.

Although the majority of TBI symptoms can resolve over time, a significant proportion of cases develop a persistent post-concussive syndrome (PCS). Long-term consequences of seemingly trivial head injuries may be significant. TBI scans found these areas of the brain to be of particular interest (orbitofrontal cortex, temporal poles, and anterior cingulum) while PTSD scans found these more interesting (amygdala [9], corpus callosum [10], insula [11], anterior cingulum [1214] and hippocampus [15, 16]). A recent meta-analysis showed that PTSD patients had significant activation in midline areas implicated in self-referential processing and autobiographical memory.

The treatments for PTSD and TBI/PCS are different. Therefore, by reliably separating them and accurately identifying cases in which both are present, the use of the SPECT scan emerges as a genuine diagnostic need. All PTSD-identifying regions were hyperactive on SPECT when compared across all groups, and the TBI-identifying regions were correspondingly hypoactive.

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Perfusion is defined by Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary as “the pumping of a fluid through an organ or tissue”; in this instance, through the brain. When you look at the scans above, you can truly see the differences in perfusion across the four groups receiving SPECT scans. A healthy control shows normal higher perfusion to the cerebellum. The PTSD subject shows increased perfusion in the brain—particularly in the frontal lobes. The TBI subject shows decreased perfusion throughout by comparison. The subject with both PTSD and TBI shows perfusion that is lower than the person with PTSD but higher than the subject with TBI. These results suggest that TBI is associated with hypoperfusion while PTSD is associated with regional hyperperfusion, which both provide  important insights in regards to the pathophysiological differences between the disorders.

Many research studies have found the positive benefits that pure therapeutic ketones have on the perfusion across the brain, along with the neural communication across its lobes. If you or anyone you know are interested in getting a SPECT scan of your brain, visit one of the Amen Clinics across the nation! My goal is to get this information into the hands of those affected by TBI and PTSD, and hopefully this will aid in doing so!

With warm regards,

Coral A.J. Gibson

 

Posted in Of Heart and Mind

Essential Oils for Stress

If I asked every single person I talk to daily about their stress levels on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being stress-free, 10 being on the verge of a breakdown), I’d say many people are in the position to respond with a 7 or higher. Why is that?! Now, I can’t say I don’t stress.

For those of you who know me personally, you know I’m pretty good at managing stress. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have stressful times during the week.

Stress can be defined as “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension”.

It could also be defined as “importance attached to a thing.” 

I think this distinction is pertinent to understand. The second definition could contribute to the first definition. However, many people experience stress by things that are NOT important. Therefore, the tension is being created by our psychological state in a form of anxiety, which can be defined as “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune”. If something is not important, to experience anxiety could be the contributing factor to stress. And that’s the kind of stress we need to work on mediating. Experiencing stress because of a crucial deadline for a work project is MUCH more reasonable than experiencing stress because your dog chewed up a $5 pillow you bought at Walmart. Of course, that is just an example. There are many trivial events in our life that contribute to anxiety without probable cause. Those events should not get more than a minute of anxiety or stress. Many people suffer from stress and anxiety on a daily basis. The management of these are what could propel you into a state of peace.

The use of aromatherapy with essential oils for the management of stress has been found to provide psychological and physiological benefits. I have put myself into a new work position full time and wear my lava rock essential oil necklace DAILY to help me as I go through training and catching onto the new flow of the workplace. You might not think that necessary, but it’s therapeutic in nature and forces my brain and sympathetic nervous system to relax and reduce the response to stress.

Check this out! A research study from 2002 as cited in this article from the Japanese Journal of Pharmacology found that the simple inhalation of patchouli and rose oil reduced sympathetic nervous activity by 40%, with rose oil reducing adrenaline concentrations by 30%. Amazing! This article also discusses how aromatherapy works through the nose, lung and the skin. When these scents are inhaled, “volatile aroma compounds from plants are capable of exerting direct-to-brain actions, primarily through the limbic and olfactory systems.”

I’d encourage you to try a few of the essential oil suggestions in the above article to achieve a sense of peace from stress and anxiety. I personally LOVE the Breathe blend from doTERRA. This is a remarkable blend of Laurel Leaf, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Lemon, Cardamom, Ravintsara, and Ravensara. There are a multitude of single oils and blends to help you manage the stress you’re experience, whether it’s stemmed from importance or anxiety!

Happy smelling!

Coral A.J. Gibson

 

Posted in Corrective Exercise, Of Heart and Mind

Physiological Benefits of Yoga

Have you ever practiced yoga? Do you have someone in your life who seems to live at a yoga studio? The anecdotal evidence for practicing yoga is unquestionable: feelings of peace, mindfulness, heightened awareness, lowered stress, increased strength, among so many others. Even just 15 minutes a day of yoga is able to soothe the body by connecting breaths with movement to provide psychological benefits to this practice.

Even more empowering than the physical and psychological aspects of yoga are the physiological implications of current research. This National Health Interview Survey in 2015 looked to compare the use of different complementary health approaches in the United States. They found that 9.5% of U.S. adults (21 million) used yoga as a mind & body practice; this is an increase from 6.1% in 2007 and 5.1% in 2002. The numbers are still rising.

With this rise in the application of yoga to help improve health, it is valid to say there is something else more significant that people are benefitting from in their practice. Take 25 minutes of your time to watch this incredible video to get insight on where research is taking yoga.

Since 2012, Medicare has covered cardiac rehabilitation programs that include yoga. This is astounding to see alternative medicine applied amongst the Western medicine practices to help with cardiac rehabilitation by stabilizing blood pressure and reducing stress. Similarly, in this interview, Susan Taylor, PhD. discusses how neuroplasticity is directly affected by the meditation that takes place during yoga. “Positive thoughts expand our brains. Negative thoughts shrink them.” An extensive number of research studies show the positive effects of yoga on the neural communication across the brain that provides a more stable brain and “self-directed neuroplasticity”.

Enjoy looking through these Instagram pages for inspiration into making yoga a more regular practice in your life:

Experience the physical, psychological AND physiological benefits that can only be found through the practice of yoga and meditation.

Resources:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/03/01/yoga-health-fitness-trends/23881391/

https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/NHIS/2012/mind-body/yoga

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ipp-gjAxbXw&feature=youtu.be&list=WL

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/neuroplasticity

 

 

Posted in Ketogenic Life

Intermittent Fasting

Let’s talk about how intermittent fasting will revolutionize your brain and metabolism.

The benefits are numerous, yet the most important is a simpler and longer life. I imagine you’ve seen people meal prepping, packing 6 meals a day to eat every two hours on the hour like clockwork. Doing so makes your body dependent on the incoming food. Your brain counts down the minutes, your insulin spikes and crashes and your hormones make you hangry if you are a few minutes late. Intermittent fasting is the opposite!

Intermittent fasting (IF) means that you will consume fewer meals and practice  more periods of fasting. There are multiple schedules you can follow. The easiest to follow, and the one I recommend beginners do to start, is to wake up, drink their ketones and wait to have their first meal until they are truly hungry. This will help the body relearn the signals for hunger rather than just following culture and time patterns. For many, that time comes around 12-1pm. They then use an 8 hour feeding window, so their last meal of the day should be consumed before 8-9pm.

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As I discussed last week, your body might reach a plateau when following any routine for an extended period of time. When your body is ready for a new routine, you can implement one of the other intermittent fasting schedule options outlined by Intermittent Fasting 101 from Keto Kookie. As your body gets more accustomed to this new way of eating, you might implement a full 24- or 48-hour fast. Doing so regularly will dramatically help with cell regeneration, ridding your body of toxins, allowing it to recover from the abundance of tasks it has daily. Intermittent Fasting can also help in chronic disease prevention as The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discusses here.

*Note: While Intermittent Fasting is widely regarded as the optimal way to eat, you should always talk to a doctor before making dietary decisions.

Challenge yourself to start Intermittent Fasting beginning with dinner this Sunday night.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

To health and happiness,

Coral Gibson

Posted in Ketogenic Life, Of Heart and Mind

Reducing Anxiety!

With exogenous ketone supplementation! 

SNOOOPY
An article published on December 6, 2016 in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience discusses the impact that ketone ester and BHB salts on blood glucose and BHB levels as well as performance on an elevated plus maze (EPM). What these researchers, including Dr. Csilla Ari and Dominic D’Agostino, concluded is astounding!

After 83 days chronic and 7 days sub-chronic exogenous ketone supplementation to a standard diet, the following results ensued!

  • less entries were made into closed arms on the maze
  • more entries were made into open arms on the maze
  • more distance was traveled in open arms on the maze

With these results, researchers concluded that exogenous ketone supplementation may represent a promising anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) strategy by helping induce nutritional ketosis. Take a moment to look through this incredible research article!

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If you haven’t tried exogenous ketones for whatever reason, I believe anxiety reduction is a good reason to start!