I have been scanning through numerous diet books lately.  The conflicting information is amazing.  There are recommendations for no protein, all meat, no legumes, no grains, no fruit...the list goes on.  The real problem is that we are all from different cultures and backgrounds, and what might work for one person, is not necessarily ideal for someone else.  I was reading the book Younger (Thinner) You Diet by Eric Braverman, MD.  He spent time talking about neurotransmitters and their affect on our ability to lose and maintain weight.  The first neurotransmitter he discusses is dopamine.  He ties rapid or significant weight gain to a dopamine deficiency.  Dopamine is important because it effects or physical and mental energy.  This also has an affect on on metabolism - slowing it down, also.  If you are someone who always gains weight, even when you haven't changed your eating habits, it may be due to a dopamine deficiency.  According to Dr. Braverman, "Without the right amount of dopamine, the circuits in our brains do not relay the message that we feel satisfied and full.  Instead of walking away from the table, we'll just keep eating and eating and eating:  We are never emotionally or physically fulfilled by food, no matter how much we've eaten."  The following is a list of indicators from the author which point to low dopamine in the system:
  • Do you recognize when you are full? 
  • Do you feel happy after eating?
  • Can a small snack like a piece of fresh fruit tide you over until the next meal?
  • When following other diets, have you found that you were always hungry, even after you finished a meal? 
  • Do you drink copious amounts of liquid with your meal?
If you answered no to any of the above questions, you may want to consider changing your diet to lift your dopamine levels. Recommendations to lift dopamine levels in the body include eliminating sugary foods and processed "simple" carbs from the diet.  It may be beneficial to get your vitamins, minerals and amino acids checked to see if your system is out of balance.  Next week - I will talk about acetylcholine - have a great day - Shanna

Happy Winter!  The actual winter cold may be beneficial for some people this year.  Many people's allergy symptoms have lasted longer this year due to the freezing and thawing.  There are definitely more molds and fungus in our environment.  One bothersome microbial that many people have an abundance of in their systems is candida.  Candida comes in many different varieties and we all have candida in our guts.  The concern is when our systems are out of balance, and we get an overabundance of candida in our systems.  Candida can be associated with almost any symptom or ailment - from fatigue to diarrhea to headaches.  Candida also lives on sugar, so if you are having symptoms or ailments and sugar cravings, candida may be a concern for you.  For many people, it is necessary to replenish the systems friendly bacteria, avoid all sugars and sugar producing foods, and to use supplements to alleviate the candida in the system.  If you are feeling not up to your optimal level, it is worth looking into how candida could be affecting you.  Have a great day - Shanna
Each January, I look at simple ways to gain health.  I am making more of an effort for myself to be conscience of my food and exercise choices.  On an ongoing basis, I have the following goals - I know that I will continue to mess up on these goals, but I just remind myself to get back on track. 
  • Walk once or twice a day (mix in jogging and sprinting with the walking for some interval training).
  • Do some sort of weight lifting each day (going to the gym is not my strong point).  I count carrying laundry, groceries and items around the house for this goal.
  • Eat real food.  Whenever possible, I buy whole, organic foods.  I attempt to avoid foods that label's list more than five ingredients, or ingredients that I do not recognize.  
  • Eat mindfully - I tend to do things quickly, so I am working on slowing down when I eat. 
  • Meditate - I like a walking meditation.  I work everyday at being present in the moment.
  • Continue to clean up my environment - use non toxic products, pick up trash on my walks, drive less, and conserve resources such as water and electricity.
  • Eat less meat - I try to do a couple meat free days during the week, and I rarely eat meat for more than one meal a day.  I try to treat meat as a condiment, rather than the largest part of a meal.  I load up on vegetables. 
  • Simplifying life - do one thing at a time, rather than multitasking, doing things for others, and simplifying routines. 
All of these items are a work in progress.  I have better days than other, but I don't worry when I overindulge on one day, I just start over the next day.  Have a great day - Shanna