Grandma's Little Black Book 
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Health Sex & Happiness


Oxytocin, Endorphins, Weight Loss, Diet, Relationships, Stress, Cortisol & More

Oxytocin & Endorphins for Happiness & Weight Loss  

Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice is an exciting program including a best-selling book, DVD, Audio CDs and PBS program special by relationship author Dr. John Gray, created to show the relationships between two hormones, Oxytocin and Endorphins, for happiness and weight loss.  The book has already sold over 50 million copies, and video clips have appeared on the popular website, YouTube.

Happy Hormones Can Help

The main point made by Dr. John Gray, is that whatever a person can do to increase levels of these two hormones can influence their levels of happiness and help in diet and weight loss efforts.  The related book, titled Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice, goes into details and examples of how this relationship works.

Dr. Gray:  Men Are From Mars & On Ice

One important point that Dr. Gray has made in his previous writings and presentation material is how vastly different men are from women.  Not only do they think differently, they react differently, and perceive differently than women. He shows and tells how actions speak louder than words, and how the action of men can impact their women and derail weight loss efforts when those actions create inner stress in the women.

Dr. Gray:  Women Are From Venus & On Fire

It is no secret that women are far more emotional than men, and gravitate more towards verbal expressions of love and caring.  Men fix things; women want to talk about it.  Dr. Gray gives examples to demonstrate just how what men say and do, or don’t say and do, can affect their loved female. 

Happy Hormones for Happiness and Weight Loss

Certain actions create an increase in the happy hormones of Oxytocin and Endorphins.  This reduces stress, and reduces levels of the hormone Cortisol in the body.  Cortisol levels affect accumulation of fat, particularly in the abdominal areas.  High levels of Cortisol created by stress make losing weight more difficult, and the person unhappy.  The opposite affect occurs when Cortisol levels are reduced as stress is reduced.  It makes it easier to lose weight.

Happy and Healthy

Dr. Gray uses a lot of humor to transmit his messages.  His scenarios show how super-foods, sleep and exercise go hand-in-hand to create a person who is both happy and healthy.  He thoroughly discusses the relationship between feeling happy and creating happy hormones by doing little things like sharing a nice hug can promote desire, better blood sugar levels, lower body fat and other benefits at any age.

The relationship scenarios described by Dr. John Gray in his book, DVD, CD, and audio tapes are fun to enjoy and understand.  He clearly lays out his ideas of how he feels the relationships work between two hormones, Oxytocin and Endorphins, for happiness and weight loss and how they benefit happiness, health and the love life of anyone, at any age.

Learn more about this exciting information at his website devoted just to this program:  http://www.venus-on-fire-mars-on-ice.com/us/en  Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice, Dr. John Gray (accessed Mar 2011) 

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.

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Sex, Diet and the Relationship between Stress, Cortisol & Fat 

Many persons attempting to lose weight are unaware of how sex, diet and the relationship between stress, Cortisol and fat can stand in the way of their efforts.   If you want to have any chance at losing weight, one thing that is necessary is to reduce stress levels.  A reduction in stress levels can be achieved in many ways, including meditation, exercise, food choices, and some medications.  There is a direct relationship between stress and the levels of Cortisol produced by the body.  These levels of Cortisol affect the fat in the body, and even where that fat is stored.  Remember, these body hormones are produced naturally; it can be beneficial and helpful for dieting to understand how these chemicals affect the body.

The human body is an amazing machine, perfectly designed to meet the challenges of life.  However, the impact of continual stress upon the body can be drastic and negative for modern man.  Life in the modern world is far different from the natural life challenges of early humans.  No longer do we need to spend most waking hours seeking out enough food to survive, while dodging fierce animals and other hazards.  Modern man merely needs to get out of a comfortable bed, head to the kitchen and grab whatever food is handy, pop it into the microwave, and eat…and eat...and eat.  Life for modern man may have become too simple for his own good.

What Stress Does

The magnificent machine known as the human body was designed to handle high stress situations, lack of food, and other challenges through a complex interaction between hormones, cells and organs.  For example, when in a high stress situation, the pituitary gland triggers release of adrenal cortical hormones, including Cortisol, from the adrenal cortex and adrenal medula.  When adrenaline is released, the body gains incredible abilities of strength, speed and fast reaction times to help combat and meet danger.  As part of this reaction to stress, these hormones work to lower inflammatory and healing processes, and suppresses the immune system.  Another reaction that happens when Cortisol is released in the body is that blood sugar levels rise, and stored glycogen energy in fat cells is released.*

The big difference between early and modern humans is that stress affecting early man had a beginning and an end.  Modern man is under attack from different stressors 24/7; there is no end to modern stress.  Continued stress depletes the adrenal and other glands and affects entire organ systems.  Having this continual stress wears out the adrenal glands and can result in medical conditions of Hypoadrenia, Hypothyroidism, reactive Hypoglycemia and lowered immunity.

Even when the morning meal may seem to be easy, stress can begin with the daily commute to work or school.  Moms are under incredible stress all the time, trying to balance marriage, child rearing, errands, money management, bills, shopping, and planning, running the family, and work duties.  Additional stress enters the picture any time the news comes on the air, presenting a dangerous world with almost every story.  No wonder baby fat is the hardest for Moms to get rid of!  Speaking of baby fat, research studies show that high levels of Cortisol result in deposit of fat into abdominal fat cells rather than in the hip areas.  Cortisol even may alter and enlarge the size of fat cells, making it even harder to lose weight.  

What Cortisol Does

High levels of Cortisol produced by stress lead to hunger and an appetite for sweet or fatty foods, and this will affect blood sugar levels.  Blood sugar levels normally will fluctuate during the day, and cause hunger when levels are low.  Too high levels can lead to diabetes, a serious disease.  Levels that are too low can cause fatigue.  Finding the right balance is a key to feeling well, having energy and controlling weight.

Other Beneficial Hormones

There are other hormones that can come into play in the quest for weight control.  One of these is Oxytocin, the “feel-good” hormone.  Fortunately for some, sex is one way produce Oxytocin, another important hormone that does work to achieve the goal of reducing stress.  Oxytocin can be produced from something as simple as seeing your mate, or getting a nice hug.  Those good feelings reduce stress, and that is exactly what is needed for reduction in Cortisol production and weight loss.  An expert in this area is relationship author Dr. John Gray, who discusses this very issue in one of his latest books, Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice.  He says that stimulating hormones that control Cortisol will reduce stress levels also help to stabilize blood sugar, insulin, weight and inspire sexual desire.  All of these good things aid in weight control and making a diet effective.***

Certain foods, like chocolate, can also produce Oxytocin.  Losing weight is a mix of controlling food choices, getting adequate exercise, feeling good, and getting enough sleep so the body can renew its resources.  Controlling blood sugar levels is a must for controlling appetite and preventing diseases like diabetes.  Cortisol levels control body energy by stimulating metabolism of fat and carbohydrate.  Too high levels of Cortisol result in high appetite and food consumption, fatigue and depositing of fat in the abdominal area of the body.  Some diet programs recommend tracking waistline measurements as a better way to determine fat instead of stepping on the scale.  The American Psychological Association cautions that losing weight can never be successful if a person has overwhelming amounts of stress.

High levels of Cortisol can eventually cause emotional problems, upset metabolism, cause fatigue, and the weight gain itself will lead to physical problems of joint pain, insomnia, lowered immunity and early signs of aging.  With lowered immunity, the body is more likely to be affected by illness and infections.

A key to losing weight is looking at diet and the relationship between stress, Cortisol and fat.  Focus on stress reduction to reduce appetite and improve overall health.  If Cortisol levels are overly high, the body is fatigued, hungry and listless.  The answer is a low glycemic diet, exercise (including sex for producing those happy hormones like Oxytocin) and reducing stress in your life.

*Read about Cortisol at:  www.webmd.com (accessed Feb 2011)

** Read about these studies at:  http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/stresscortisol.html (accessed Feb 2011)

 *** Read more from Dr. Gray at: http://www.venus-on-fire-mars-on-ice.com/us/en (accessed Feb 2011)

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.

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Kidney Stones – Effects of Low Fat Diet, Water, and Testing

Kidney stones are a painful problem that may be alleviated by the effects of implementation of a low fat diet, water and testing.  Recent information from WebMD.com and the Mayo Clinic indicates that kidney stone formation is increased when a certain abnormal balance of substances are found in the urine.  The substances under study are water, minerals, salts, and some other substances that need to be balanced for the body to function properly.

Kidney Stones Contain Calcium

For the most part, kidney stones are formed by excess calcium deposits.  This can be identified when levels of calcium in the urine change.  The balance of substances determines the type of stone produced.  The urine content is derived from the kidneys and is sensitive to intake of certain chemicals and medical conditions like gout or bowel disease.  Whenever a disease, inflammation or other occurrence like surgery affects the body, the gastrointestinal system may not work properly.  If an intestinal problem causes fats to not become absorbed as they normally are, it could cause a change in the way the intestines process substances like calcium and minerals.  This could result in formation of calcium, struvite, uric acid, xanthine or cystine kidney stones.

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Persons suffering from kidney stones most likely will be experiencing severe pain in the back or side areas, under ribs, or spreading pain in the groin and lower abdomen.  Urination may be painful, and the urine discolored to pink, red or a brownish color.  The affected person may experience vomiting, nausea, frequent urination, and if infection is present, they will have fever and chills.   Medical assistance is necessary if pain is severe enough that the person is unable to sit or stand comfortably, or if there are other symptoms of vomiting, nausea, fever and chills.

Low Fat Diet, Water, Testing

Three things to watch for to help prevent kidney stone formation include drinking plenty of water, reducing fat by eating a low fat diet, and getting regular parathyroid gland function testing.  When sufficient water is consumed, the urine will maintain a nice clear color.  This requires drinking approximately eight to ten glasses of water per day.  Without enough water in the body systems, various minerals, salts, and other substances clump up together and form a kidney stone.  Lack of sufficient water can allow crystalline forming substances including calcium, oxalate and uric acid to increase, which may lead to formation of stones.

Other Causes of Kidney Stones

Some families experience kidney stones in each generation as an inherited tendency.  This is very common and unavoidable for those family members.  If a family member is known to have kidney stones, other descendants should be watchful for their own problems with kidney stones.  Another cause of kidney stones occurs if the parathyroid glands overproduce a hormone that can result in higher calcium levels.  Higher calcium levels may then cause kidney stones.

Risk Factors for Kidney Stones

In addition to the familial connection, other risk factors for kidney stones may be present.  Typical contributory factors include being obese, male, over 40 years old, medical or surgical conditions, digestive diseases, and some diets.

Persons who are concerned about the possibility of getting or having kidney stones should discuss this problem with their personal physician.

Sources:

WebMD.com  http://www.webmd.com/kidney-stones/kidney-stones-cause  (accessed Mar 2011)

MayoClinic.com  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kidney-stones/DS00282/DSECTION=causes

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.

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Top Ten Health Tips

Ask about the top ten health tips and you will have about one hundred answers.  But there are ten good ones that can be agreed upon by most sources.  These include the following, not necessarily in this order however:

1-      Get enough sleep every night.  Sleep time is the time when your body does its repair work.  Lack of sleep not only prevents adequate natural recovery, it also interferes with your ability to resist disease and makes you crabby.

2-      Eat fresh and natural foods and try to limit additives.  Choose organically grown produce and consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to get enough vitamins and fiber in your diet.  Fiber helps flush out the digestive system and keep the colon clean.

3-      Drink sufficient water daily.  The body is mostly made of water and it needs to be kept hydrated.  If you have dark circles under your eyes, one cause may be lack of enough water.  Water keeps your digestive system working properly.  It is possible to drink too much water and that can be fatal; as with everything else watch and maintain moderation.

4-      Exercise is important.  This is another thing that aids digestion and proper bodily functions.  You are using large muscles and this moves blood and iron around to where they need to go.  You will help burn calories just by walking.  Some experts advise that you get a pedometer and try to walk 10,000 steps per day.  Do many types of exercises such as weight bearing exercise, interval training, and cardio exercise.

5-      Do not smoke or stop smoking.  Visible results can be achieved just by stopping smoking and staying away from second and third hand smoke.  Lungs of smokers are black; healthy lungs are pink.  Smoking will shorten your life and can affect the heart.

6-      Eat more fish and less red meat.  Choose poultry and fish over fatty red meat and processed meats.  Lean red meat, wild game and portion control will help.

7-      Socialize.  Being married can mean a longer lifetime.  Man was not meant to live alone; neither was woman.  Join groups of interest, and have a spiritual life for better health and a positive outlook on life.

8-      Limit junk food.  Plan your food intake to make the most value out of the least number of calories.  There is some proof that eating fewer calories (but enough) can lead to a longer lifetime.

9-      Have a pet.  People who care for pets get unlimited love in return and are happier.  Even just petting an animal can lower blood pressure.

10-   Visit a doctor for routine health maintenance.  Find problems early for the best chance of solutions and prevention of bigger problems.

There are many more great ideas for better health besides my top ten health tips.  These are some of the most frequently suggested health tips and they can be a good guideline for improvements in healthy living.

Before beginning any diet or exercise program, please consult with a doctor.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.

Sources:

http://www.oprah.com/health/Dr-Ozs-Dieting-Secrets Dr. Oz’s Dieting Secrets (accessed Feb 2011)

http://www.oprah.com/health/YOU-On-a-Diet-Basics Dr. Mehmet Oz, You: On A Diet Basics (accessed Feb 2011)

 

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Is There A Health/Wealth Connection to Fat/Debt? Ask Dr. Oz  

Is there a connection between health and wealth, fat and debt?  Dr. Oz and Suze Orman weigh in on the burdensome aspects of this relationship.

The logical answer to questions about whether there is a connection between health and wealth or fat and debt was put forward recently on an episode of The Doctor Oz Show, featuring guest Suze Orman.  Orman, a successful financial consultant, author and talk show host, joined with Dr. Mehmet Oz to explain how a recent Stanford University study linked the two problems together.

The study, “Economics of Obesity,” was conducted by Jay Bhattacharya, M.D., PhD., in May, 2010.  Dr. Bhattacharya has published numerous studies on the relationship between weight and economics.  Dr. Oz and Ms. Orman demonstrated the relationship between health and wealth and fat and debt with three female guests, each who had elevated BMI levels and were in debt from $20,000 to $40,000. 

After some questions were asked, it became evident that the women were, in fact, hiding the facts of their problems from themselves and others.  The audience was also tested and had their FICO credit scores calculated, showing again the relationship that exists between overweight and wealth.  Over 41% of the audience registered poor FICO scores in the range between 560-659, a total of 59% were overweight or obese, and their BMI average was 27.  With BMI calculations, points above 25 indicate overweight.  Only 26% of the audience had excellent FICO scores between 720 and 850. 

The study from Stanford University showed that on average, overweight individuals earn $3.41 per hour less than normal weight persons, or $7000 per year less.  Other costs related to obesity include higher medical expenses, greater impact by diabetes and heart disease, income losses, and higher rates of bankruptcy due to medical costs.  Ms. Orman related the stress of financial woes leading to overeating, and a reverse effect of spending too much to compensate for being overweight and under stress.  As weight goes up, so does credit card debt for many persons.  Another important factor related to both debt and overweight is that the person affected not only hides the truth of their situation from themselves, but also from others. 

Ms. Orman, a recognized financial expert, and Dr. Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, have put together a 4-step plan for successful management of wealth/health and fat/debt problems. In brief, the four steps include the following tactics:

1. Write down all expenses and all food that is eaten.

2. Make changes in very slow, small increments.

3. Cut up credit cards, but do not close accounts or that will negatively affect credit scores.  Cut out all junk food.

4. Stand in the truth to yourself and others.

There is a statistical relationship between debt load and excess weight.  Tackling both problems at once, with the same techniques can help those who are overweight and overburdened financially.  As one aspect improves, the other should statistically also show improvement.  Relief from debt lifts a load, and relief from overweight lifts the stress that can lead to overspending.

Sources:

* Jay Bhattacharya, M.D., PhD., “Economics of Obesity,” May 2010 http://aic.ucdavis.edu/obesity/obesitypdf/BHATTACHARYA.pdf

 (accessed 3-30-2011)

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.

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Women, Food & Family Fat – MSU Study of Picky Eaters

It should come as no surprise that women, food and family fat are related to each other.  Recent studies at Michigan State University of 400 low-income mothers clearly showed the influence that mothers’ diets had upon toddlers who became picky eaters.  The study included mothers of children ages 1 to 3 that were also enrolled in an Early Head Start program.  Professor Mildred Horodynski, MSU College of Nursing, looked at the diets of the mothers and how their food consumption was affecting the toddler’s food intake and choices.

Are Children Picky Eaters?

Some children are viewed to be “picky” eaters because they refuse to eat certain food items.  Some will even refuse bananas, strawberries or carrots purely because their mothers do not eat or enjoy those choices.  These foods are less likely to be served, and consumption of these foods is not encouraged by mothers who themselves are picky eaters. 

Is Obesity Related to Food Choices?

Similarities were shown with regard to obesity.  Obese mothers are more likely to help obesity develop in their youngsters due to food choices.  Toddlers who express a liking for French fries, and other high fat fast foods did so because their mothers provided those foods rather than an assortment of healthy fruits and vegetables throughout the week.  It is unfortunate that this is the case, because Horodynski says that the low fruit and low vegetable diet during childhood can create higher risks later in life for developing chronic diseases.  Instead of getting two or three recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day, these children only received one per week.  Low nutrient, high calorie alternatives were eaten, leading to obesity.

Children Mimic Behavior and Food Choices

This study has also been published in the journal, Public Health Nursing. Familiarity with different foods and exposure to new choices has a direct relationship to a child becoming “picky” with regard to unfamiliar foods.  If the mother expresses dislike or an aversion to a particular food item, chances are high that her children will mimic her behavior and also refuse those choices.  Some food choices are related to ethnic backgrounds and cultures.  A mother who then views her child as being a selective eater is not acknowledging her own selectivity and the impact of her role model behavior upon her children.

How Much Exposure Do Children Need to New Foods?

Obviously, if the mother does not enjoy a food, someone else needs to present the food as a treat or surprise to the children.  One or two times is not adequate; studies show that up to 15 times exposure is needed to influence the child before it can be assessed whether or not the child cares for or dislikes a particular food item.  Some parents attempt to get their children to try various new foods by making them eat a “no thank you” portion, in hopes that by trying a food, the child may discover it tastes good.

Is Ethnicity a Factor?

This study was conducted in 28 Michigan counties, and included low-income mothers of all races.  The Black families did consume a lower amount of fruits and vegetables compared to Hispanic whites, but all were beneath levels recommended by U.S. dietary guidelines.  Labeling a child as a picky eater also has negative effects because it reinforces the behavior in the child.

Change Food Habits to Stop Family Fat

Changing the eating habits of the mothers will impact the diet of the children and help to improve their future health and end the pattern of family fat.  If the mothers can be encouraged to alter their eating and food choice habits, the children will mimic that beneficial behavior.  Horodynski feels that one area in which public health nurses and professionals need to focus is on helping low-income mothers become aware of the impact their food choices and preferences do have upon young children.

Start Early

Introducing a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables should begin very early on, because children as young as two years old become set in their ways about food likes and dislikes.  Food preferences may begin as early as seven or eight months, according to Horodynski.  Just offering the foods is not sufficient; parents must also eat the foods and at least look like they are enjoying them.  Role modeling is not the only influence upon the food choices of young children.  They will also be affected by advertising and by their peers.  Parents, however, are the first line in creating healthy food habits for their children at home. Women, food and family fat are related; mothers need to be aware of this and examine their own food choices to help their children make better ones.

Sources: 

MSU News, Dec. 14, 2010.  Dr. Mildred Horodynski, Diets Have Biggest influence on Children Eating Healthy, http://news.msu.edu/story/8701/ (accessed Mar 2011)

Time.com, Déc. 29, 2010.  Bonnie Rochman, Want Your Kids to Eat Healthier? It Starts with Mom,

http://healthland.time.com/2010/12/29/want-your-kids-to-eat-healthier-it-starts-with-mom/ (accessed Mar 2011)

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