7 Ways Magnesium Relieves Stress & Anxiety

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are THE leading mental disorder in the US today. Despite being highly treatable, less than 40% of those suffering from anxiety seek out help (1). Although not the only solution, I have found that magnesium relieves stress and anxiety better than almost any other natural compound I have come across.

As a cheap nutritional option to combat the insidious effects of chronic stress, I think magnesium could be one of America’s most critical nutrients. In addition to relieving stress, magnesium also has an incredible capacity to improve your ability to adapt and perform at a higher level.

How Magnesium Relieves Stress

Magnesium has a long list of benefits for the body. Because it is utilized by over 300 enzymatic processes in the body, just making sure you get enough will help ensure you are running at your full potential. This alone will reduce stress by improving your energy and ability to solve problems in your daily life.

In addition to this, there are a number of ways that magnesium acts in the body to reduce stress and anxiety.

Balances Blood Sugar 

If there was one factor that contributed to almost every chronic disease it would likely be blood sugar imbalance. This happens as a consequence of carbohydrate-heavy diets, sedentary lifestyles, malnutrition, and many other factors.

Rapid blood sugar fluctuations can contribute to chronic inflammation, hormone imbalances, neurotransmitter imbalances, and weight gain. All of these things can contribute to a subpar mental state, a lowered ability to handle stress, and an increased likelihood of experiencing anxiety.

One of the biggest symptoms that you are experiencing a blood sugar imbalance is something called reactive hypoglycemia. Shortly after a meal, you become tired and irritable followed by a rampant increase in hunger. Other symptoms include shakiness, anxiety, and dizziness. This condition is what we have come to know and love as “being hangry”.

In addition to following a healing diet low in carbohydrates and rich in healthy fats, magnesium supplementation has been shown to help prevent such drastic drops in blood sugar, helping to mitigate the inflammatory effects (2).

Stabilizes Cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone released in the body when we are under stress. While it has received a bad rap recently, cortisol is absolutely vital to health. When we are faced with a pressing situation that needs increased focus and energy to conquer, cortisol does this for us.

When under stress for long periods of time however, chronic elevation of cortisol can become a problem. Chronic elevation of cortisol contributes to neuroinflammation and blood sugar imbalances that throw increase the likelihood of experiencing anxiety.

Chronically elevated cortisol can also contribute to depression, memory loss, and brain fog, among other mental disorders.

During these times, magnesium can help by lowering cortisol, preventing neuroinflammation, and effectively lowering the tendency of anxious feelings (3, 4).

Improves GABA Levels

Mental states are heavily controlled by chemicals in our brains called neurotransmitters. When it comes to a balance between vigilance and relaxation, two neurotransmitters named glutamate and GABA are primarily responsible.

Glutamate is upregulated during times when we need to focus or be on our toes while GABA is what tells our brains to relax and rejuvenate. In our overstressed society, people tend to be glutamate dominant.

What should happen in a healthy individual is that excess glutamate in the brain is converted into GABA to help balance us out after stressful events. During times of chronic stress, we stop converting glutamate into GABA efficiently which leaves our brains in a stimulated state.

This leads to inflammation and high levels of damage to the brain tissue which is highly correlated with anxiety disorders. Magnesium supplementation helps to boost GABA production in two ways, by binding and stimulating GABA receptors and by increasing the conversion of glutamate into GABA (5).

You also rely on adequate levels of Zinc, taurine, Vitamin B-6, and glutamine to make adequate GABA, more on this here.

Reduces Brain Inflammation

As I have touched upon already, neuroinflammation is highly detrimental to a healthy mental state. Inflammation in the brain is thought to be one of the leading causes of anxiety and depressive disorders (6, 7).

The brain is one of the most concentrated areas of mitochondria in the body. If you are not familiar, mitochondria are structures in your cells that produce all of the energy for your body. The areas that have higher concentrations of them are indicative of the energy demands of those tissues.

Mitochondria are very sensitive to inflammation. When in an inflamed environment, they have a reduced ability to produce energy. In the brain, this can have many consequences. There are several ways this could be explained but if you think about it on a basic level, if your brain isn’t running efficiently, you won’t be able to handle the demands of a stressful life.

Magnesium deficiency is often found in those with elevated inflammatory cytokines, inflammatory immune modulators that are also high in people with autoimmune disorders. Magnesium supplementation may help to negate this inflammatory effect.

Alleviates Symptoms Of Depression

Anxiety and depression are often closely tied to one another. It has been estimated that about 90% of people who suffer from anxiety, also experience symptoms of depression.

Luckily, magnesium supplementation may assist with both (8). This effect is likely achieved by helping to balance neurotransmitters, lowering inflammation in the brain, balancing blood sugar, and assisting in mitochondrial energy production.

It has been shown in one study to be as effective as pharmaceutical anti-depressants, possibly by helping to upregulate the production of serotonin in the brain (9). Serotonin is the neurotransmitter in our brain responsible for making us feel happy and content so this is important.

Upregulates Neuroplasticity 

If downregulating inflammation in the brain is one of your primary targets in improving anxiety (and I think it should be), then increasing neuroplasticity should also be a target. Neuroplasticity is simply your brain’s ability to heal and create new brain cells.

Targeted together, lowering inflammation and increasing the formation of new brain cells will help the brain rebuild itself in a beneficial way.  Magnesium helps support the production of brain derived neurotrophic growth factor (BDNF) which improves the brain’s ability to rewire itself.

Magnesium is one of the few nutrients that has been shown to support neurogenesis (10). Specifically, a form of magnesium that can cross the blood-brain barrier may be the best for this. I go into my favorite forms of magnesium at the end of this article.

Detoxifies Heavy Metals

Heavy metals like lead, mercury, and aluminum can make their way into the brain tissues and cause massive amounts of inflammation. In fact, heavy metal exposure has been linked to anxiety in addition to a range of other neurological disorders like autism, ADHD, and depression.

Magnesium deficiency is correlated with reduced Cytochrome P450 and NADH cytochrome reductase enzymes which plays a vital role in phase I liver biotransformation.  Magnesium is also critical to the development of proper glutathione levels for phase II liver detoxification.

Magnesium can help with ridding the body of heavy metals to prevent them from entering the brain in the first place. It is possible that magnesium, if able to cross into the brain, could also pull heavy metals from within (11).

The Nutrient Of Resiliency

In addition to the benefits listed above, I consider magnesium an all-around master mineral that improves the function of almost every process in the body. By helping the body run more efficiently, you unlock extra energy that can be used to conquer the stressors of daily life.

By unlocking the ability to conquer your stress more effectively, you will likely experience much less anxiety as you go about your day. The way I see it, you can either spend your life trying to run from stress, or you can improve your ability to overcome stress. The latter is much more realistic given the demands of life we face in our society and magnesium is one key that I use every day to unlock my own potential.

Best Forms Of Magnesium 

Most magnesium supplements have a low absorption and an even higher proportion of those do not even make it into the brain. When looking to improve something like stress and anxiety, you absolutely have to consider this effect.

Magnesium L-Threonate

When I realized that most magnesium supplements do not provide the brain benefits they should, I decided to make my own.

A specific form of magnesium called magnesium L-threonate is the only form so far to be shown in animal studies to cross over the blood-brain barrier. Consequently, this form of magnesium has shown numerous beneficial effects on cognitive processes such as memory as well as measures of anxiety and depression.

Brain Calm Magnesium is one of the foundational supplements I recommend to just about every one of my clients, especially those dealing with increased stress. I get consistent feedback on what an immediate difference it makes in my clients’ lives just about every day.

Transdermal Magnesium 

For those with GI disorders inhibiting the absorption of nutrients or those who accumulate stress as the result of localized pain in the body, topical magnesium can be extremely beneficial.

Magnesium mineral sprays can temporarily reduce pain by becoming directly absorbed through the skin and alleviate pain entirely when used over long term periods. People experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis can benefit from these mineral oil sprays by improving the balance of magnesium to the affected area.

Spray mineral oil daily over an affected area following a shower or before bedtime. Anecdotal evidence suggests that spraying magnesium oil over extended time duration can also alleviate cramping during menstruation.

For topical use, we have two forms of magnesium:

Magnesium Oil With MSM is great for reducing inflammation in achy joints and supporting healthy connective tissue.

Magnesium Lotion With Melatonin is a great solution for those who live stressful lifestyles and tend to have trouble sleeping at night.

Magnesium-Rich Foods

In addition to supplementation, there should be an effort to include as many magnesium-rich foods as possible into your diet. The following are the top food sources of magnesium you should be consuming on a daily basis:

Swiss Chard

Spinach

Grass-Fed Dairy (Butter, Ghee, Raw Cheese, Raw Milk)

Avocados

Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds

Pink Salts

Nuts

Dark Chocolate (100% Cacao with no added sugar)

Wild-Caught Fish

Sprouts

Sea Vegetables (Kelp, Wakame, Nori)

Organic Coffee

Summary

Magnesium is essential to human health and intricately involved in helping the body endure heightened levels of stress.

If you are a hard-charging person and tend to experience feelings of overwhelming stress and anxiety, make the conscious effort to increase your magnesium uptake and you will notice just how powerful this little mineral can be.

Mental health struggles are slow, silent killers sapping us of energy and happiness.

Whether challenged by depression, anxiety, stress, addiction or another manifestation, every single person is impacted and affected–you, your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers–either directly or indirectly every single day.

This Mental Wellness Summit Will Empower You Too: 

Overcome the silence, isolation and fear of your struggle

Transcend outdated, prescription-based healthcare systems

Find holistic practitioners and natural solutions for your pain

Implement expert practices, tools and tips into your daily routine

And so much more!

You can register for this event for free here

You will want to listen to my presentation on Friday, September 29th as I go through how to apply a ketogenic diet to reduce inflammation in your brain and improve your mood, memory and mindset!!

Sources For This Article Include:

1. ADAA: Facts & Statistics
2. Chaudhary, D. P., Sharma, R., & Bansal, D. D. (2010). Implications of magnesium deficiency in type 2 diabetes: A review. Biological Trace Element Research. PMID: 19629403
3. Dmitrašinović, G., Pešić, V., Stanić, D., Plećaš-Solarović, B., Dajak, M., & Ignjatović, S. (2016). ACTH, Cortisol and IL-6 Levels in Athletes Following Magnesium Supplementation. Journal of Medical Biochemistry, 35(4), 375–384. PMID: 28670189
4. Abbasi, B., Kimiagar, M., Sadeghniiat, K., Shirazi, M. M., Hedayati, M., & Rashidkhani, B. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences : The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 17(12), 1161–1169. PMID: 23853635
5. Moykkynen, T., Uusi-Oukari, M., Heikkila, J., Lovinger, D. M., Luddens, H., & Korpi, E. R. (2001). Magnesium potentiation of the function of native and recombinant GABA(A) receptors. Neuroreport, 12(10), 2175–2179. PMID: 11447329
6. Sathyanarayana Rao, T., Asha, M., Ramesh, B., & Jagannatha Rao, K. (2008). Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 50(2), 77. PMID: 19742217
7. Lucas, M., Chocano-Bedoya, P., Shulze, M. B., Mirzaei, F., O’Reilly, É. J., Okereke, O. I., … Ascherio, A. (2014). Inflammatory dietary pattern and risk of depression among women. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 36, 46–53. PMID: 24095894
8. Serefko, A., Szopa, A., & Poleszak, E. (2016). Magnesium and depression. Magnesium Research. PMID: 27910808
9. University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium Overview
10. Abumaria, N., Yin, B., Zhang, L., Li, X.-Y., Chen, T., Descalzi, G., … Liu, G. (2011). Effects of Elevation of Brain Magnesium on Fear Conditioning, Fear Extinction, and Synaptic Plasticity in the Infralimbic Prefrontal Cortex and Lateral Amygdala. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(42), 14871–14881. PMID: 22016520
11. Nutritional Magnesium Association: Magnesium Deficiency Found in Mild-to-Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease (Link)

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7 Ways To Balance Cortisol Levels

If you are like most people in our society, you are under some form of stress every day. Everything from busy lifestyles, poor sleep, environmental toxins, to poor emotional health put an excess demand on our bodies. Typically when this happens, your body will be producing elevated levels of cortisol from the adrenal glands.

Cortisol is your body’s way of boosting your energy so that you can overcome your stressors. When it becomes dysregulated however, chronic cortisol elevation can have health consequences. With the increased demands of today, it is important to balance cortisol levels for optimal health.

What Is Cortisol?

Cortisol is notoriously referred to as the stress hormone. Over the years, various media sources have deemed cortisol the bad guy, claiming that it is bad for the body. What most people don’t realize however, is that cortisol is an essential part of how your body works.

Our ancestors often lived in hostile environments with immediate threats to their lives. In these situations, we needed a way to quickly maximize our energy and highten our senses to improve the chances that we could evade an immediate threat.

The cortisol response is essentially our way of increasing our ability to survive in a dangerous situation. When your brain perceives stress or an immediate threat to your wellbeing, it releases cortisol. When cortisol is released, it acts as a mild pain releiver and signals the release of stored sugars into the blood for immediate energy.

When there is a physical threat in our immediate environment, this is a very useful action from the body. However, in today’s culture many people get small cortisol releases throughout the day from stressors that do not get resolved or are simply derived from stressful thinking. A repeating cycle of this can cause many problems in the body.

High Cortisol

Most people who are under chronic stress will have elevated cortisol levels. This is because the body is trying to ramp up its ability to deal with an excess demand. While high cortisol levels are not a problem in of themselves, chronically elevated cortisol can be.

One of the big problems with chronic cortisol elevation is that we often see blood sugar imbalances. These are one of the most insidious robbers of our health. Blood sugar imbalance increases inflammation which puts more stress on the adrenals and begins a vicious cycle as they continue to make each other worse.

If continued long enough, this chronic elevation of cortisol can also throw off sex hormone balance and contribute to weight gain, brain fog, low energy, and an overall lowered vitality.

Chronically elevated cortisol (sometimes diagnosed as Cushing’s Disease/Syndrome) is often the beginning of adrenal dysfunction if nothing is done to restore balance (1).

Low Cortisol

Adrenal fatigue, or more accurately HPA axis dysfunction, is often characterized by a chronically low cortisol level. These people tend to feel tired and unable to handle daily stressors of life. Other symptoms could include weight gain, hormone imbalance, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and frequent crashes in energy.

This often occurs after a prolonged period of high cortisol and why it is so important to learn how to balance your own.

Low cortisol is often a sign that the body has been under elevated stress for an extended amount of time and can no longer handle the demand of its environment. This is when someone begins to progress through the various stages of adrenal dysfunction as cortisol output continues to decline.

This state can also be induced by Addison’s disease. Addison’s is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system begins to attack the adrenal glands, hindering its function (2).

Strategies To Balance Cortisol

The demands of today are not changing and our health is a reflection of that. Now, more than ever, it is critical to employ strategies to balance cortisol. This will ensure the body remains in an adaptive state rather than a maladaptive one. This will also ensure that you have the energy and mental clarity you need to have a deep experience of life.

When it comes to balancing cortisol and optimizing hormone balance, these are the strategies you must follow.

Anti-Inflammatory Healing Diet

One of the most foundational principles of balance in almost any body system is having a healthy blood sugar balance. This is because blood sugar imbalances can contribute to inflammation which throws off more processes in the body than one can count.

This means cutting out sugar, processed carbohydrates, and grains from your diet. These should be replaced with healthy fats from coconut, avocado, olives, grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, and dairy products from pasture-raised animals. Small amounts of nuts and seeds such as macadamia, sprouted almonds, and sprouted pumpkin seeds can also be a great addition.

Finally, you want to complete your meals with moderate amounts of protein from pasture-raised animals or wild-caught fish, along with lots of fibrous veggies. Because this aspect of health is so important, it is the basis for all of my health protocols. You can read more about the benefits of this style of eating here.

Reduce Stress and Promote Peace

When we are constantly grinding sometimes we forget how to relax. For example, many people who come to me with adrenal dysfunction often feel chronically tired, yet wired at the same time. If you don’t take time out to train your ability to relax, stressed out can become your default state.

This is why it is important to balance your stress with relaxation. This can be done in many ways. From a daily perspective, it can be super helpful to spend time in prayer, meditation, deep breathing, stretching, taking a healing bath, or gratitude journaling upon waking or before bed.

Additionally, you want to reflect on your life and see if their are areas of stress that you can cut back on. This could mean removing stressful people, surrounding yourself with uplifting friends, finding a way to reduce that long commute, improving communication skills (great for reducing stress in relationships), and anything else you can think of. Find those areas of your life that are robbing your energy unnesecarily and do what you can to improve them.

Sleep Well

As I said, it is critical to balance your stress with relaxation so that your body can rejuvenate and adapt for a stronger tomorrow. This is especially important when it comes to sleep. Getting high-quality, deep sleep on a regular basis can be just as much of a game changer as balancing blood sugar.

This is because deep sleep rejuvenates the brain and restores balance to the whole body in so many ways. Unfortunately, our modern-day environment is really messing with our ability to sleep.

On top of being under chronic stress, we are surrounded by blue light from electronic devices, EMF from phones and wifi, and we don’t spend time in the sun as much anymore. These are all things that control our brains internal clock that tells us when to sleep.

Deep Breathing

Deep breath work is a great way to quickly pull your body out of a stressed state. This is because, done correctly, it can activate the parasympathetic branch of your nervous system which is responsible for inducing a state of relaxation.

One common and effective way of doing this is to perform what is called the box breathing technique. This is a simple technique where you breath in, hold, breath out, hold, and repeat in increments of 5 seconds each. So breath in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, etc.

Many people will notice that this technique is great for grounding during a time of stress and quickly reduces any anxiety they are feeling. You can also employ an active form of this technique when you are walking somewhere. Following the same pattern, breath in, hold, breath out, and hold in increments of every 5 steps. This can be a great mindfulness strategy when you don’t have time to sit and meditate.

Grounding

Modern humans have largely separated themselves from the earth in many ways. We spend much of our time indoors and as a result we no longer receive regular sunlight or contact with the bare ground. These are both actually very important for our health. Our bodies are optimized to work with the light and magnetic forces that are put out by the earth and sun. When we do not receive these things, we experience consequences.

Studies have actually shown that getting barefoot contact with the earth can lower inflammation and improve stress levels in humans (3). To take these benefits a step further, I would recommend doing so in the sunlight with skin exposed. The best times of day to perform these activities are sunrise, midday, and sunset, this way your brain will reset with the circadian cues of the environment that tell us when to sleep.

Magnesium

Stress increases our need for magnesium while also rapidly depleting it from the body. Because magnesium is used for so many processes in the body, including energy production, a deficiency could make your stress more detrimental to your health. This can lead to a downward spiral of health consequences if it is not addressed.

While some people may be able to get away with consuming magnesium-rich foods, I often recommend supplementation as a way of topping off your body’s stores and improving your resilience to stress.

Specifically Brain Calm magnesium gets consistent results improving mood, promoting relaxation, improving sleep, improving blood sugar, and improving ability to adapt to stress. These effects collectively can help cortisol levels tremendously.

Adaptogenic Herbs

For additional support that can be easily implemented into a busy lifestyle, adaptogenic herbs can be powerful. These are herbs that strengthen your ability to handle stress by improving stress hormone signaling (4).

Improving stress hormone signaling is important to help with blood sugar and sex hormone imbalances which contribute to many health problems on their own.

One of the best herbs I have found for this is ashwaganda, which provides beneficial effects for both cortisol and DHEA (a sex hormone precursor). It has also been shown to lower subjective reports of stress and improve cognitive function.

Introducing Cortisol Defense

Other herbs that provide similar benefits are Magnolia of cinalis and Phellodendron amurense. Together these herbs help to improve cortisol-DHEA balance and improve perception of stress.

I have been working on a new supplement that incorporates these herbs, along with other powerful cortisol stabilizing compounds, to help combat the negative effects of chronic stress. Cortisol Defense is the result.

It is a powerful formula containing clinically tested extracts of these herbs that outperform all others. In addition to the lifestyle strategies outlined above, Cortisol Defense can help you conquer your stressful lifestyle once and for all.

Mental health struggles are slow, silent killers sapping us of energy and happiness.

Whether challenged by depression, anxiety, stress, addiction or another manifestation, every single person is impacted and affected–you, your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers–either directly or indirectly every single day.

This Mental Wellness Summit Will Empower You Too: 

Overcome the silence, isolation and fear of your struggle

Transcend outdated, prescription-based healthcare systems

Find holistic practitioners and natural solutions for your pain

Implement expert practices, tools and tips into your daily routine

And so much more!

You can register for this event for free here

You will want to listen to my presentation on Friday, September 29th as I go through how to apply a ketogenic diet to reduce inflammation in your brain and improve your mood, memory and mindset!!

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Tritos, N. A., & Biller, B. M. K. (2014). Cushing’s disease. Handbook of Clinical Neurology, 124, 221–234. PMID: 25248590
2. Husebye, E. S., Allolio, B., Arlt, W., Badenhoop, K., Bensing, S., Betterle, C., … Pearce, S. H. (2014). Consensus statement on the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of patients with primary adrenal insufficiency. Journal of Internal Medicine, 275(2), 104–115. PMID: 24330030
3. Oschman, james l. (2015). the Effects of Grounding on Inflammation, the Immune Response, Wound Healing, and Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Inflmammatory and Autoinmmune Diseases. Journal of Inflammatory Research, 8, 83–96. PMID: 25848315
4. Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2009). Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity. Current Clinical Pharmacology, 4(3), 198–219. PMID: 19500070

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4 Ways To Use Apple Cider Vinegar On A Ketogenic Diet

4 Ways To Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Anyone who is interested in natural health knows about apple cider vinegar. This ancient tonic has significant health benefits that can be applied to any lifestyle. With the explosion of the ketogenic diet, people are always looking for ways to improve ketosis to magnify its benefits. In this article, you will discover 4 ways to use apple cider vinegar on a ketogenic diet.

I have covered apple cider vinegar extensively on my website for its versatile benefits. There are 4 particular uses that I have found extremely helpful for improving blood sugar stability and supporting ketone production in the body.

Apple Cider Vinegar 

There are many types of vinegar on the market, but in my opinion none of them compare to that derived from apple cider.

This tonic is actually fermented from the juice of apples and contains beneficial enzymes, acetic acid, and other beneficial organic acids that provide amazing health properties.

While other vinegars, such as white distilled or balsamic, may taste good in certain recipes, they simply do not provide the same healthful effects. I recommend buying the unpasteurized, unfiltered form of apple cider vinegar with the mother still intact.

Acetic Acid 

Although apple cider vinegar contains an array of beneficial compounds, acetic acid is one compound that provides many of the benefits.

Acetic acid is a product of the fermentation that converts the sugars in apple cider, first to alcohol, then into acetic acid.

There are several reasons why I think getting more of this organic acid in your life can benefit your ketogenic diet.

Ketogenic Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar 

To be clear, almost anyone can benefit from adding apple cider vinegar into their diet. I have just found these benefits to compliment the ketogenic diet very well.

Improves Blood Sugar Balance 

One of the biggest benefits of a ketogenic diet is that it regulates blood sugar levels. This helps curb insulin resistance and drastically downgrade inflammation in the body.

If you have read many of my articles on the ketogenic diet, you know I am a strong proponent of occasionally cycling out of ketosis by consuming a higher carbohydrate meal (learn why here).

While cycling out of ketosis does have its benefits, consuming a carbohydrate-rich meal can be somewhat inflammatory in nature due to an increase in insulin and temporary burning of sugar for energy.

Apple cider vinegar has actually been shown to help balance this blood sugar response when strategically utilized around meal time. In fact, research has shown that in certain instances, apple cider vinegar was able to reduce the glycemic index of a carbohydrate-rich meal (white bread) from 100 to 64 (1)!

Swap the white bread for a low-glycemic carb source and you have done yourself a huge favor.

May Improve Fat Burning

Ketosis is literally the physiological state of burning (oxidizing) fat for energy within the body. So, by improving your body’s ability to oxidize fat, you will support a state of ketosis. Some research has suggested that apple cider vinegar may actually have a modest boosting effect on fat oxidation in the body. (2, 3)

You may have heard of people losing excess body fat simply by adding apple cider vinegar into their daily routine, in addition to improving blood sugar balance, maybe upregulating fat oxidation is the reason why.

Aids Digestion

A ketogenic diet is higher in fat than what most people are used to. People who are used to digesting primarily carbohydrates and proteins may need some additional support with breaking down their meals.

Apple cider vinegar can improve stomach acid and gallbladder function to help with the digestion of fats.  Additionally, many people are simply not producing enough stomach acid for effective digestion. Adding apple cider vinegar to foods or consuming before meals can help with this.

Curbs Carb Cravings

Many people swear by consuming apple cider vinegar or sour foods to ward off sugar cravings. This can be helpful when following a ketogenic diet, especially if you are in the beginning stages or experiencing keto flu symptoms.

One of the main reasons many people get sugar cravings is due to blood sugar imbalance. Because of its blood sugar stabilizing effects, apple cider vinegar may be helpful if you are experiencing sugar cravings on a ketogenic diet.

Typically, these cravings are much stronger at the beginning stages of ketogenic diet because your body is adapting to burning fat.  At this point some people have a temporary span where they ar not producing ketones while having low blood sugar at the same time, leading to sugar cravings.

This benefit can also be derived from citric acid derived from lemons and limes so utilize these three liquids to keep cravings at bay.

Ways To Use Apple Cider Vinegar 

Considering the benefits mentioned above, you may find it beneficial to add this powerful tonic to your ketogenic diet plan. I personally use it just about every day in one of these 4 ways.

Put On Food

Perhaps one of the simplest ways to incorporate apple cider vinegar on a ketogenic diet is to simply add it to your meals. 1-2 Tbsp goes a long way on meats, veggies, and especiialy on higher carb meals when cycling out of ketosis.

Sometimes when I cycle out of ketosis I like to have rice or quinoa. To cut down the glycemic index of these I will add a splash of apple cider vinegar directly to the cooking liquid. To take it a step further, I love to throw in some grass-fed butter, coconut oil, turmeric, and black pepper to turn this meal into a delicious anti-inflammatory delicacy.

I personally love the way it tastes on a nice grass-fed steak or mixed in with quinoa on a higher carb day. In fact, using apple cider vinegar as a base for marinade is a great way to make your meat very easy to digest, tender, and tasty!

Drink Before Meals

Some people do not like the way apple cider vinegar tastes in their foods or even at all. For these people to still get the benefits, I will recommend mixing 1 Tbsp in 2-4oz of water so it can be downed quickly. Drinking this about 15 minutes before a meal helps promote stomach acidity to improve digestion.

This method will also help stabilize blood sugar if consumed before a higher carbohydrate meal.

Mix With Soups & Stews 

In addition to putting apple cider vinegar on your foods, it is actually great for soups and stews as well. Adding in a splash to a beef stew or chicken soup can tang up the flavor a little while also helping pre-metabolize the meal.

The enzymes and acetic acid in there will help to start breaking down the proteins and vegetable fibers to help with digestion and extraction of nutrients.

Morning Primer 

Finally, one of my favorite ways to use apple cider vinegar is as a morning energy tonic. 1-2 Tbsp in an 8oz glass of water or warm cup of bone broth first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day. This is a great way to help prime the kidneys, control microbial balance in the gut, balance the body’s pH, and provide a gentle energy lift.

Most people I work with report feeling a great boost in overall wellbeing when they do this on a regular basis. Try this out daily for two weeks and see how you feel. You can also use apple cider vinegar in this fashion any time you need a pick-me-up.

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Liljeberg, H., & Björck, I. (1998). Delayed gastric emptying rate may explain improved glycaemia in healthy subjects to a starchy meal with added vinegar. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 52(5), 368–371. PMID: 9630389
2. Li, X., Chen, H., Guan, Y., Li, X., Lei, L., Liu, J., … Wang, Z. (2013). Acetic Acid Activates the AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Signaling Pathway to Regulate Lipid Metabolism in Bovine Hepatocytes. PLoS ONE, 8(7). PMID: 23690240
3. Pan, J. H., Kim, J. H., Kim, H. M., Lee, E. S., Shin, D.-H., Kim, S., … Kim, Y. J. (2015). Acetic acid enhances endurance capacity of exercise-trained mice by increasing skeletal muscle oxidative properties. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, 79(9), 1535–41. PMID: 26000971 
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What Is The Best Magnesium Supplement?

What Is The Best Magnesium Supplement? 

Magnesium is one of the most important nutrients for human health. I have covered this extensively on my website for years. After reading my articles, many people reach the conclusion that they would like to add a magnesium supplement to their daily regimen. If you go to a local supplement, health food, or online store you will notice there are A TON of different forms of magnesium. These are not all created equal. So, what is the best magnesium supplement for the most health benefits?

The different forms of magnesium are metabolized and have different effects in the body. Some provide negligible effects, some stronger, and some I would consider superior. This is something I observed early on when considering adding a magnesium supplement to my personal line.

The Fundamental Role Of Magnesium

I say magnesium is one of the most important nutrients in the human body all the time and there is a HUGE reason for this. One of the biggest predictors of your overall well-being is your body’s ability to create and utilize energy. From a cellular level, this energy comes in the form of a molecule called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

Your body is constantly operating within a balance of breaking down and rebuilding itself, a principal called homeostasis. On a very basic level, when you are breaking down faster than you are rebuilding, you have disease. When you are rebuilding as quickly as you are breaking down, you are thriving, adapting, and becoming stronger.

Every cell in your body relies on ATP in order to carry out its function. A fundamental principal of human physiology is that cells cannot effectively utilize ATP unless it is in its activated form, Mg-ATP. Magnesium actually binds to ATP and this important step allows our cells to use it more effectively.

Additionally, magnesium is intricately involved in the biological process of manufacturing ATP, so it could not be more crucial in this regard that you have enough magnesium to provide for the energy making process of almost every cell in your body. This is key in helping to optimize your body’s ability to heal and adapt.

Symptoms Of Deficiency 

Magnesium deficiency is often misdiagnosed because it is not easily detected in routine bloodwork. This is because almost all of the body’s magnesium is stored in the bones and organ tissues, particularly in the heart (1). It is estimated that only 1% of our total magnesium can actually be found floating around in the blood.

The organs in your body that require the most ATP include the brain, muscles (heart, digestive tract, skeletal muscle), and the ovaries if you are a woman.

Consequently, some of the most prominent symptoms of magnesium deficiency are brain fog, poor memory, trouble concentrating, muscle cramps/weakness, fibromyalgia, migraines/headaches, anxiety, depression, and PMS.

These are some of the common symptoms, however magnesium is also involved in over 300 different enzymatic processes in the body so symptoms of deficiency may vary widely. Some experts even claim that magnesium deficiency may contribute to over 20 different diagnosable medical conditions (2).

Why We Need More Than We Used To 

Although some magnesium can be obtained from the diet, there are a couple important reasons why I often recommend supplementation.

First, modern industrial farming practices have drastically depleted soil of its nutrient content, this means we are likely receiving much less than we used to.

Next, our environment is filled with new chemicals and biological stressors that increase our need for magnesium. These include things like EMF, pesticides, heavy metals, and general chronic stress involved with our chosen lifestyles. All of these things increase stress on our bodies, increase the need for ATP, and rapidly deplete magnesium stores as a consequence.

Supplementing with magnesium will help restore optimal levels to ensure effective energy production. Another cool thing I like about magnesium is that it can also improve your ability to adapt to a stressful lifestyle, similar to common herbal adaptogens.

Top Forms

There are A TON of different types of magnesium that are sold in stores. Many of these simply are not effective and will not do anything beneficial for your health. In fact, some forms of magnesium are not even absorbable by your digestive tract.

Below are some of my favorite forms of magnesium and the ones that are the most likely to benefit your health.

Malate 

Magnesium malate is magnesium bonded to malic acid. Malic acid is naturally occuring in many foods, especially fruits. This form of magnesium is theorized to be best suited for improving energy-related disorders.

This is thought because malic acid is a key component of the Krebs Cycle. The Krebs Cycle is the biological process that is responsible for manufacturing ATP, AKA energy. This is where magnesium malate may be helpful in conditions such as chronic fatigue or depression.

Animal studies have observed that magnesium malate may provide benefits for blood sugar regulation and magnesium/calcium balance, making it a solid option for supplementation (3).

Glycinate 

Magnesium Glycinate (or chelated magnesium) is a compound made up of magnesium and the amino acid glycine. This is thought to be one of the most bioavailable forms of magnesium for supplementation as well as one of the most gut friendly. Many people experience diarrhea with magnesium supplementation so this can be an important consideration.

For clinically diagnosable magnesium deficiency (hypomagnesia), the glycinate or bisglycinate form of magnesium are typically the most recommended for correcting this.

L-Threonate 

Magnesium L-threonate (MgT) is a newer form of magnesium with significant implications for mental health. Some preliminary research has highlighted the cognitive boosting ability and potentially even neuroprotective effects against Alzheimer’s disease (4).

What is so novel about this form of magnesium is that it is the only form shown in animal studies to cross the blood brain barrier. This is important because having this capability allows it to exert its beneficial effects on the brain specifically.

Consequently, this form of magnesium has been shown to improve measures of cognitive abilities such as short and long term memory and learning (5, 6). Additionally, this form of magnesium may be superior for conditions such as depression, anxiety, and brain fog.

In this article, I go over this 2010 study where a MgT supplemented group was able to retain their memory of where a submerged platform was hidden after 24 hours.  Both young and old rats in the control group forgot and began randomly searching through the maze and took more than twice as long as the MgT supplemented group.  The results of the study showed that old rats saw a 100% improvement in spatial long-term memory and even out performed younger rats who had not used MgT (5).    

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Citrate 

Magnesium Citrate is one of the most commonly used forms of magnesium because it is relatively low cost while also being reasonably bioavailable when consumed orally.

This form of magnesium is unique because it is one of the only ones that is naturally acidic. This is due to it being bound to citric acid, a common food additive that also occurs in citrus fruits.

Two noteable properties of this form of magnesium are its ability to aid in bowel movements as well as potentially help with oxalate metabolism. I often encounter patients who have kidney stones due high levels of dietary oxalates (more on this here) so this may be helpful for them.

While it may be beneficial for someone with kidney stones to supplement with magnesium citrate, I have actually found potassium citrate to be powerful for this. In combination, they may both provide benefits.

Chloride

Adding a chloride to magnesium brings another broad-range support compound to the mix. When these two are broken down in the body, you get the benefits of both magnesium and chloride.  Magnesium chloride is the most stable form of magnesium and is especially good for detoxification and for kidney function.

Chloride ions are abundant in the human body. First of all, as an electrolyte, chloride ions help to assure the proper conduction of impulses within the nervous system. They work along with potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphate, and magnesium to assure proper muscle contraction, control blood pressure, and allow for healthy brain function.

Additionally, chloride combines with hydrogen in the gut to produce HCl (stomach acid). Adequate stomach acid is needed to properly digest our foods and to activate intrinsic factor for absorbing Vitamin B12.

Inferior Magnesium Forms

Forms of magnesium that are often cheap yet offer relatively low bioavailability include the oxide, dihydroxide (milk of magnesia), sulfate, aspartate, and carbonate forms.  These forms of magnesium do not absorb well and tend to offer little benefit beyond laxative or antacid properties.

Magnesium Sulfate (also known as epsom salt) may, however, be suitable for absorption through the skin. For a step above, in my opinion, I would recommend these Magnesium Chloride salts for soaking. They are more expensive but likely to be much more beneficial.

Before You Buy 

While there are many forms and many brands of magnesium available on the market that will likely provide you with benefit. There is one consideration that I find critically important however.

As with all supplements, it is important to ensure you are getting yours from a source that tests every batch to ensure you are getting what is on the label and nothing else. This includes things like unwanted toxins, allergens, and heavy metals.

All of my personal line products are pharmaceutical grade, GMP compliant. This means they are produced in strictly monitored facilities who also send batches of their product to third parties for analysis before selling to consumers.

Brain Calm Magnesium 

There are many different forms of magnesium and they seem to have slightly different effects in the body. When I decided to add a magnesium supplement to my personal line I wanted it to contain the best forms of magnesium to provide a well-rounded benefit.

Brain Calm Magnesium was the result of this. It contains patented malate, glycinate, and threonate forms of magnesium for maximum neurological and systemic benefits for the body.

I often recommend this supplement for most people as a cost-effective way to boost magnesium levels, increase the body’s resilience to stress, and promote a tranquil and relaxed mental state. 

Topical Magnesium Chloride 

If you are someone with a lot of digestive issues, you may want to consider a topical magnesium. This type of magnesium can be applied directly to the skin and absorbed into your blood stream for increased bioavailability.

This type of magnesium is also great for applying to tense muscles, aches, and pains. For this purpose, I have found that the Ancient Minerals brand works the best.

The topical magnesium with MSM is the best for applying to problem areas or as a general magnesium supplement. The combination of magnesium and MSM is powerful for controlling inflammation and strengthening damaged tissues. This form is also very suitable for athletes!

For those who have trouble sleeping at night, Ancient Minerals also carries a topical magnesium with melatonin. For this one I will typically recommend applying one pump to the bottoms of the feet or abdomen 30 minutes to 1 hour before going to bed.

Top Magnesium Foods 

While magnesium supplementation is often a great idea, eating the right foods is just as important.

In the video below I go into detail on my favorite dietary sources. For convenience, I have listed my top 12 below.

  1. Swiss Chard
  2. Spinach
  3. Grass-fed Dairy
  4. Avocados
  5. Pumpkin Seeds
  6. Pink Salts
  7. Nuts
  8. Dark Chcolate
  9. Wild-Caught Fish
  10. Sprouts
  11. Sea Vegetables
  12. Organic Coffee

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Mental health struggles are slow, silent killers sapping us of energy and happiness.

Whether challenged by depression, anxiety, stress, addiction or another manifestation, every single person is impacted and affected–you, your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers–either directly or indirectly every single day.

This Mental Wellness Summit Will Empower You Too: 

Overcome the silence, isolation and fear of your struggle

Transcend outdated, prescription-based healthcare systems

Find holistic practitioners and natural solutions for your pain

Implement expert practices, tools and tips into your daily routine

And so much more!

You can register for this event for free here

You will want to listen to my presentation on Friday, September 29th as I go through how to apply a ketogenic diet to reduce inflammation in your brain and improve your mood, memory and mindset!!

Sources For This Article Include: 

1. The AFIB Report: Magnesium
2. Magnesium: An Invisible Deficiency That Could Be Harming Your Health (LINK)
3. Virag, V., May, Z., Kocsis, I., Blazovics, A., & Szentmihalyi, K. (2011). [Effects of magnesium supplementation on calcium and magnesium levels, and redox homeostasis in normolipidemic and food-induced hyperlipidemic rats]. Orv Hetil, 152, 1075–1081. PMID: 21676674
4. Li W, Yu J, Liu Y, et al. Elevation of brain magnesium prevents synaptic loss and reverses cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Mol Brain. 2014 Sep 13;7(1):65. PMID:25213836
5. Slutsky I, Abumaria N, Wu LJ, et al. Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-77. PMID:20152124
6. Abumaria N, Yin B, Zhang L, et al. Effects of elevation of brain magnesium on fear conditioning, fear extinction, and synaptic plasticity in the infralimbic prefrontal cortex and lateral amygdala. J Neurosci. 2011 Oct 19;31(42):14871-81. PMID:22016520

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How To Follow A Ketogenic Diet

How To Follow A Ketogenic Diet 

A ketogenic diet has been shown to help people lose stubborn weight, drastically reduce inflammation, boost energy, and improve brain health (1). With all of these benefits you might be wondering how do I follow a ketogenic diet? 

The research and consistent testimony behind a ketogenic style of eating is compelling. By teaching your body to burn fat for fuel instead of sugar, you improve the function of almost every cell in the human body. This is likely due to the anti-inflammatory effect of being in ketosis as well as the efficient energy production that takes place from ketones.

This article breaks down what exactly a ketogenic diet is and how you can develop a ketogenic plan that is ideal for your needs!

Why Would One Follow A Ketogenic Diet? 

The goal of a ketogenic diet is simple, to convert the body’s primary fuel supply from sugar to fat. Fat is converted into ketones which are very efficient for energy production while also limiting metabolic waste that contributes to inflammation.

To get into this state, you must follow a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein nutrition plan. By making this simple dietary change, blood sugar drops to a level where the body must learn to utilize fat to survive.

At this point, the body begins to convert fatty acids into ketones which are then used by the cells in the brain and body to produce energy. This state is sometimes referred to as being keto-adapted.

Because ketones result in more energy and lowered inflammation, you can expect to enjoy a heightened sense of wellbeing, a sharper mind, and a natural increase in fat loss.

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Why Most People Are Not Keto-Adapted 

The body naturally favors sugar over fat as an energy source. At the same time, most Americans have a crazy high reliance on carbs and sugars as the primary source of calories in their diets.

This is why a ketogenic diet is needed to essentially re-teach the body to use fat for energy. Most people spend the majority of their life in a sugar-burning state and their cells lose the metabolic flexibility necessary to burn fat.

This is why It usually takes about 2-3 weeks for someone to become fully keto-adapted after beginning a ketogenic diet. Even though the body will begin to produce ketones within a few days, it takes longer for the cells to begin converting them into energy.

Ketogenic Macronutrient Proportions 

While macronutrient needs can change based on individual needs and activity levels, the general breakdown looks like this:

Low Carbohydrate:  5-10% of calories from net carbs (total carbs – fiber)

Moderate Protein:  20-30% of calories from protein

High Fat:  60-80% of calories from fat.

This is a great blueprint to start with. Some individuals need to stick to 5% carb range while others can get away with 15%. If you are more active you will likely need more protein and more overall calories in general.

This is where measuring your ketones can be very helpful! I would recommend tracking your ketone levels using a Ketonix breath monitor or a blood ketone monitor like this one to determine where you feel best.

Fundamental Diet Swaps 

As I mentioned already, Americans love their carbs. Take a look at any given meal in the Standard American Diet and you will see lots of grains and starches like bread, pasta, potatoes, cereals, and corn.

Following a ketogenic diet requires ditching these foods and replacing them predominantly with high-fat foods. It is not enough to just eat tons of fat however, these need to be healthy sources of fat. Your body also uses fats to make new brain tissues and insulation for your nerves so healthy fats mean healthy brain!

Ketogenic friendly fats that I recommend are things like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, MCT oil, pastured eggs, olive oil, olives, and avocados. High-fat nuts like macadamias can also be great as a snack.

Meals

For me, the primary reason to be on a ketogenic diet is for health and performance. While some advocate for high consumption of bacon and other processed animal products, I like to focus on maximum nutrition while minimizing toxins.

As far as meal structure goes, you can either intermittent fast or consume regular meals. If you are someone who handles fasting really well, then I would recommend fasting through breakfast and consuming two meals later in the day.

If you do not do well with fasting then consume 3-4 meals evenly spaced throughout the day. Anything more than 4 meals may increase your blood sugar even if they are ketogenic.

Some of the typical meals I recommend are:

Breakfast: 2-3 Pasture-Raised eggs cooked in coconut oil with low-carb veggies (spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.) OR One of our ketogenic coffee recipes.

Lunch: Chocolate Avocado Pudding or Gut Healing Protein Pudding (Or something similar)

Dinner: 4oz of Pasture-Raised Meat cooked in coconut or MCT oil (Pour on the meat after cooking) covered in lemon/lime juice, sea salt, and plenty of herbs. Along with a nice healthy portion of broccoli or other veggies covered in grass-fed butter, salt, and herbs.

Dessert: There are now tons of great keto dessert recipes that use stevia or monk fruit as a non-caloric sweetener. I make these Keto Cookies and this Coconut Milk ice cream when I’m looking for something sweet after dinner. The healthy fats help keep you full and blood sugar balanced so you can sleep soundly through the night.

These are just some ideas to get you going, but hopefully you get the general idea. These meals are high in fat and full of nutrition!

Salt and Other Trace Minerals 

One important aspect of following a ketogenic diet that is often overlooked is making sure you get enough sodium and minerals. When you are running on carbohydrates your body will retain sodium due to elevated insulin levels (2). Once you are running on ketones however, your body excretes sodium at a much higher level until you are fully keto-adapted.

This means while eating ketogenic it is important to use salt generously on your foods. I recommend either a pink Himalayan or Celtic sea salt as these contain naturally occurring minerals in addition to sodium.

So, salt your foods well but also eat plenty of mineral-rich foods like celery, cucumbers, and seaweeds. As an additional source of minerals, you can also sip on organic broth throughout the day.

Standard or Cyclical? 

There are two main types of ketogenic diet: standard and cyclical and one additional strategy for high intensity athletes called the targeted ketogenic diet.

Standard Ketogenic Diet: This is where you are trying to adapt your body to be in ketosis permanently. Here your carbs are limited to about 20-50 grams per day with moderate protein (0.8-1.2 grams/kg of bodyweight). The remainder of calories come from healthy fats.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet: This where you periodically consume higher amounts of carbs in order to temporarily come out of ketosis. How often you cycle out really depends on your preference. I often recommend starting out with one day every week while some people like to do once a month.

Targeted Ketogenic Diet:  This is for high intensity athletes.  On this diet, you go low-carb for all meals other than right before the high intensity activities.  About 30 mins-1 hour prior to the activity you take in 25-50 grams of net carbs.

Note About Carbs: When we are talking about carbs, we are talking net carbs. When you are looking at the nutritional information on a food, net carbs = total carbs – fiber. This is because fiber is technically a carbohydrate but it is not metabolized into energy like other carbs and will not have any effect on blood sugar.

Deciding What Works For You 

Deciding whether or not you want to follow a standard or cyclical ketogenic diet is highly dependent on your current needs.

For people who are just starting out on a ketogenic diet, I would recommend following the standard ketogenic diet for the first 2-4 weeks until your body is keto-adapted (read this article to understand when you are keto-adapted). Once you begin to feel good on a ketogenic diet, then you can try a higher carb day to cycle out and see how you feel.

In general, I find that most people feel much better when they periodically cycle out of ketosis. How often you cycle out can vary by person so you have to do some experimentation here.

Try the following cycles: 2x/week, 1x/week, 1x/2 weeks, and up to once every month. I find that most people do well with the once per week cycle.

Why Cycling May Be Advantageous

Cycling is a relatively new concept. It is thought that because the ketogenic diet mimics a starvation state, our bodies have a stress response when in a prolonged state of ketosis.

When the body constantly perceives that it is in a starvation state, you will have a higher tendency to go into fight-or-flight mode. This chronic stress state can have negative effects on thyroid function, sex hormone balance, and other aspects of vitality.

By periodically cycling out of ketosis, it is thought to replenish glycogen stores and signal the body that there is not actually a shortage of food and thereby negating many of the side effects associated with the stress response of starvation.

The goal is to eat just enough carbs to replenish glycogen stores without contributing to weight gain.

Ketogenic Vs. High Protein

Many people make this mistake when they begin a ketogenic diet: eating too much protein. A ketogenic diet is actually a high-fat diet with only a moderate amount of protein.

This is absolutely critical because consuming too much protein can negate the benefits of being ketogenic. One of the biggest problems is that excess protein can actually elevate blood sugar and pull you out of ketosis. This is due to a biological process called gluconeogenesis where protein is inefficiently converted into glucose (3).

While a high-protein diet can be beneficial for building muscle and potentially losing some weight, becoming keto-adapted is simply not possible. Appropriate protein levels are about 0.8-1.2 grams per KG of bodyweight, where reaching the higher level of this range should be on days when you are active or performing intense exercise.

For high-level athletes that incur higher amounts of muscle damage, a range of 1.5-1.8 grams of protein per KG of bodyweight can sometimes be followed while maintaining a ketogenic state. Again, the best way to determine the right balance for you is to measure your ketone levels.

Ketogenic Vs. Low Carb 

The difference between ketogenic and low-carb diets is kind of like the rule you learn in math class about squares and rectangles. All ketogenic diets are low-carb but not all low-carb diets are ketogenic.

The goal of a ketogenic diet is to drop blood sugar low enough to where the body preferentially uses fat for energy over glucose. For most people, this requires an intake of about 20-50 net carbs in a day. Many low-carb diets allow for the consumption of up to 100 grams of carbs per day. 

While some people may go into ketosis on a low-carb diet, many people just end up chronically hypoglycemic and feeling awful.

Keto-Adaptation 

Keto-adaptation is the process your body goes through during the first 2-4 weeks of following a ketogenic diet. This is the period where your body actually has to recalibrate to burning fat for energy over glucose.

During this period, you can expect to feel minor side effects that will typically dissipate rather quickly. For more information on these side effects and how to avoid them, read this post.

A great strategy to track your body’s adaptation to a ketogenic diet is to monitor your ketone levels. For my top strategies on this check out this post where I break down each method and what my favorite is.

Mental health struggles are slow, silent killers sapping us of energy and happiness.

Whether challenged by depression, anxiety, stress, addiction or another manifestation, every single person is impacted and affected–you, your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers–either directly or indirectly every single day.

This Mental Wellness Summit Will Empower You Too: 

Overcome the silence, isolation and fear of your struggle

Transcend outdated, prescription-based healthcare systems

Find holistic practitioners and natural solutions for your pain

Implement expert practices, tools and tips into your daily routine

And so much more!

You can register for this event for free here

You will want to listen to my presentation on Friday, September 29th as I go through how to apply a ketogenic diet to reduce inflammation in your brain and improve your mood, memory and mindset!!

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Branco, A. F., Ferreira, A., Sim??es, R. F., Magalh??es-Novais, S., Zehowski, C., Cope, E., … Cunha-Oliveira, T. (2016). Ketogenic diets: From cancer to mitochondrial diseases and beyond. European Journal of Clinical Investigation. PMID: 26782788
2. Brands, M. W., & Manhiani, M. M. (2012). Sodium-retaining effect of insulin in diabetes. AJP: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 303(11), R1101–R1109. PMID: 23034715
3. Veldhorst, M. A. B., Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S., & Westerterp, K. R. (2009). Gluconeogenesis and energy expenditure after a high-protein, carbohydrate-free diet. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(3), 519–526. PMID: 19640952

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5 Reasons You May Have an Amino Acid Deficiency

5 Reasons For Amino Acid Deficiency

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, many of us learn that in biology growing up. To paint a more in depth picture, amino acids are actually involved in many critical body processes from building muscle to synthesizing important neurotransmitters like GABA and dopamine.

When you digest any food with protein in it, you are breaking it down into these important amino acid compounds. Amino acid deficiency is something that too often gets overlooked, so in this article I’m going to cover the top 5 reasons that someone could become deficient.

The amino acids have been specifically studied for important roles they play in the body. For example, the branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are important for muscle synthesis (1). The amino acid glutamine plays important roles in maintaining gut lining health while also promoting a relaxed mental state.

There are 20 standard amino acids derived through the diet that all serve their own important roles in the body. 11 of these amino acids are considered “non-essential” meaning they are synthesized within the body. The other 9, however, are considered “essential” and must be acquired through the diet.

Poor Diet

One of the more obvious reasons for amino acid deficiency is the simple lack of proper nutrition. If your diet lacks the right foods with all essential amino acids, then you will not have them in your physiological arsenal.

One such diet that I often see amino acid deficiencies is a vegetarian or vegan diet. Because most foods on these diets are not complete proteins (not containing all essential amino acids), they require a little more planning to ensure adequate amounts of amino acids are absorbed into the body.

Also, a diet that relies on the chronic consumption of sugary and starchy foods and damaged fats (such as the standard American diet) can inhibit the ability of the pancreas to release proteolytic enzymes. Proteolytic enzymes are responsible for separating proteins into their individual amino acids.

Leaky Gut & Malnourishment

The lining of the gut is one layer of cells thin. This makes it very delicate but also very good at performing its function of regulating the absorption of nutrients from food. The spaces between these cells are tightly regulated to only allow certain things to pass while keeping the rest out.

When we damage these cells by consuming GMOs, foods with pesticides, chlorinated water, processed foods, taking antibiotics, or even from low-grade food sensitivities, the spaces between these cells are loosened. This is problem because larger food molecules get through into the bloodstream and the body mistakes them for foreign pathogens. This ultimately manifests in the body as sudden food allergies, autoimmunity, systemic inflammation, and malnourishment.

With a damaged gut comes poor digestion. At this point, even someone eating a clean healthy diet may not be extracting all of the important nutrients from their food.

Low Stomach Acid

A huge misinterpreted symptom in the body that I often encounter is heart burn. The traditional approach to correcting heart burn is to take something that neutralizes your elevated stomach acids levels. But what we know now is that heart burn is actually a sign of low stomach acid.

Stomach acid is what signals the esophageal sphincter (connecting the esophagus to the stomach) to close and prevent heart burn. So, the best way to mitigate heart burn is actually to support stomach acid.

Adequate stomach acid production is also critical for proper protein breakdown and amino acid absorption. Along with proteolytic enzymes from the pancreas, stomach acid must be present for proper digestion. Unfortunately, amino acids are also involved in enzyme synthesis so low stomach acid will typically also deplete digestive enzymes.

If you have acid reflux then this should be a huge indication that you need to start supporting your stomach acid production. If you do not have acid reflux but want to test your stomach acid levels, an easy at home test can help with this. Try the baking soda test outlined below and take necessary action steps depending on the outcome.

Blood Sugar Imbalance

Blood sugar imbalances lead to massive fluctuations in insulin and cortisol. When blood sugar spikes too quickly, insulin also spikes to shuttle sugar out of the blood and into the cells. This leads to a rapid drop in blood sugar and a spike in cortisol.

When your body is exposed to a stressor, cortisol will typically increase for a short period. Cortisol is catabolic, meaning it is responsible for breaking things down. After the stress has subsided, a healthy person would have a decrease in cortisol and the body would adapt and grow stronger during this rest period by repairing the damage that was done.

When cortisol is constantly spiking due to blood sugar fluctuations you get continued breakdown of tissues, chronic inflammation, and lowered ability to make important protein digesting enzymes.

The low blood sugar that occurs shortly after a high-sugar meal stimulates the body to shift into a state of gluconeogenesis (the body makes sugar from proteins). When in this state, the body rapidly degrades stored amino acids in the body, resulting in a potential deficiency much quicker (2).

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue manifests in several stages but ultimately disrupts many key processes in the body. First of all, adrenal fatigue leads to cortisol dysregulation which further exaggerates detrimental effects of blood sugar imbalance. As mentioned above blood sugar imbalance can often lead to gluconeogenesis which depletes amino acids.

Furthermore, adrenal fatigue often throws off key sex hormones that regulate anabolic processes in the body. Because cortisol shares a production pathway with the sex hormones, when adrenal function is hampered and the body’s stress response is dysregulated, the body favors cortisol production.

As mentioned above, chronically elevated cortisol leads to catabolism (breakdown) of body tissues and rapid degradation of amino acids. When sex hormones are compromised, the problem is only made worse.

Solution: Supplemental EAA’s

Essential Amino acids are those which must be consumed through the diet. Whenever I have a patient who has any of the conditions outlined above or I suspect an amino acid deficiency, I recommend taking these in supplemental form.

As I mentioned, amino acids are involved in several key processes in the body. Just as one example, because of their involvement in neurotransmitter production, amino acid deficiency can really throw off your mood. This is one case where supplementing with additional EAA’s can provide powerful relief.

Although not a long-term solution, supplemental EAAs can provide very effective relief while working on the underlying issues.

Additional Benefits of EAA’s

In addition, to their therapeutic benefits, essential amino acids can actually be supplemented for additional health benefits.

Muscle Development

Proper development of muscle tissue relies on amino acids. The branched-chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine have been specifically studied in depth for their role in muscle formation (3).

Not only does this apply to normal growth of the body throughout life, but in other muscle development special cases. One such case is when muscle breakdown occurs due to resistance exercise. Amino acid supplementation can speed recovery and support muscle growth.

Additionally, amino acid supplementation may be helpful in cases of muscle wasting such as severe adrenal fatigue or during cancer treatment.

Bone Strength

The amino acid arginine plays an important role in bone formation and may reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

Arginine supplementation increases growth hormone and IGF-1 which both play a role in bone formation. Supplementation also increases nitric oxide in the body which is important for slowing the breakdown of bone (4). The action of these two mechanisms together act to increase bone density.

In addition to all the essential amino acids, you want to ensure you also get plenty of minerals and the vitamins D and K to ensure proper bone health.

Fat Burning

Essential amino acids can aid weight loss in a few different ways.  The amino acids arginine and lysine have been shown to support the production of growth hormone in some cases. Growth hormone has been known for some time to improve fat burning.

Additionally, lysine and methionine interact in the liver to form carnitine, an important transport molecule that moves fat into cells to be used for energy (5). This action literally improves your ability to burn fat.

Immune Health

Glutamine, arginine, and cysteine work to coordinate and support the immune system.

Glutamine interplays with lymphocytes and macrophages to coordinate necessary inflammatory reactions related to adaptive immunity. Arginine and cysteine both play roles in proper T-cell function (also important for adaptive immunity).

Adaptive immunity is the branch of your immune system that helps you build long-lasting defenses to pathogens like viruses and foreign bacteria. This is why most people only get the chicken pox once, their adaptive immune system has built defenses against it after the first exposure.

Deficiencies in these critical amino acids can contribute to significant immune suppression.

Cardiovascular Health

Circulation problems can lead to many health issues. Particularly organs that contain lots of tiny blood vessels, such as the brain, can be heavily impacted. Distal structures of the body such as the hands and feet will also be negatively impacted by poor circulation. Finally, sex organs will typically be impacted.

The amino acids arginine and citrulline may be able to boost circulation by supporting the production of nitric oxide (6). Nitric oxide is responsible for dilating blood vessels and allowing a greater amount of blood to flow through. This effect also helps to lower blood pressure.

Best Sources of EAAS

As I mentioned, amino acids come from foods with protein in them. In my opinion, the best sources of protein are sources that are low in toxins and contain a full array of amino acids.

Pasture-Raised Meats

Pasture raised meats are one of my top choices for getting a full range of amino acids while avoiding toxins that occur in conventionally raised meats. For example, beef from pasture raised cows is not only a great protein source, but also contains anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats.

Whenever buying the meat from an animal, always look for pasture-raised and organic. For beef particularly, look out for the 100% grass-fed signification. The pasture-raised certification also goes for poultry.

Whey Protein

Whey protein from grass-fed dairy is a great source of important amino acids. This source is particularly great for building and maintaining muscle because of its high amounts of the branched chain amino acids.

In addition to coming from grass-fed dairy, you also want a cold-processed, non-denatured whey protein. The heating and processing that a lot of whey proteins go through makes it harder for our bodies to digest and absorb.

Bone Broth

Bone broth has hit the mainstream hard the last few years and for many great reasons. Bone broth is a great source of amino acids along with gut healing nutrients like collagen and glutamine that are naturally occurring. Another huge benefit of bone broth is that most people tolerate it quite well with very little potential for allergies.

I think anyone could benefit from adding bone broth to their diet. It just has so many benefits.

You can buy already made bone broth at many grocery stores now, but there is question about quality variance between brands. You can also make your own using bones from pasture-raised animals. This method obviously requires a quality source of bones and the time needed to slow-simmer your bones.

The greatest bone broth solution to hit the market so far is bone broth protein powder. This bone broth has been dehydrated into a powdered form that contains 20 grams of protein per serving. Also, it tastes amazing. This is a great and economical way to include benefits of bone broth into our fast-paced lifestyles.

Vegan Proteins

There are a few complete sources of protein for vegans such as hemp and quinoa. As someone who doesn’t recommend a lot of grains in the diet, this can be tricky. Additionally, some of my patients have dairy sensitivities that make meeting dietary protein needs difficult.

For these cases I usually recommend a high-quality pea/rice protein. I made my own formula containing pea and rice protein along with several anti-inflammatory nutrients like ginger and l-glutamine. On top of the gut healing nutrients, this protein also serves as a powerful multivitamin source.  Check out the Gut Healing Protein here

In a lot of the cases that protein absorption is compromised, such as in the case of leaky gut, this combination of pea protein and gut healing nutrients can’t be beat. I use this one for many of my tough cases where digestive issues are present. After digestive issues have been resolved, I usually recommend my SuperDigest Protein for my vegan and vegetarian patients.

Amino Strong

When it comes down to it, one of the best ways to get amino acids into the body is to ingest them in their purest form. This way, there is very little energy that goes into breaking down the protein and your body absorbs them quite readily.

I formulated Amino Strong to provide a powerful source of all essential amino acids in specific ratios for therapeutic benefits.  Over 20 human trials have been conducted to arrive at this specific, patent-pending combination of amino acids in the most effective, anabolic ratios. The high absorbability of these amino acids also means greater support for the benefits mentioned above.

This is one of the primary supplements I used in my 20s when I was suffering from debilitating digestive issues and adrenal fatigue. It truly made a difference in my energy and performance and that’s why I have chosen to formulate this powerful blend.

I continue to use it today as a pre-workout powder and notice a huge difference in my strength, energy and muscle tissue development.

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You will want to listen to my presentation on Friday, September 29th as I go through how to apply a ketogenic diet to reduce inflammation in your brain and improve your mood, memory and mindset!!

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Zhang, S., Zeng, X., Ren, M., Mao, X., & Qiao, S. (2017). Novel metabolic and physiological functions of branched chain amino acids: a review. Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology, 8(1), 10. PMID: 28127425
2. Schutz, Y. (2011). Protein turnover, ureagenesis and gluconeogenesis. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 81(2–3), 101–107. PMID: 22419202
3. Tamanna, N., & Mahmood, N. (2014). Emerging Roles of Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation in Human Diseases. International Scholarly Research Notices, 2014, 1–8. PMID: 27351005
4. Visser, J. J., & Hoekman, K. (1994). Arginine supplementation in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Med Hypotheses, 43(5), 339–342. PMID: 7877530
5. Stephens, F. B., & Galloway, S. D. R. (2013). Carnitine and fat oxidation. In Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop Series (Vol. 76, pp. 13–23). PMID: 23899751
6. Stone, A. V, Vanderman, K. S., Willey, J. S., David, L., Register, T. C., Shively, C. A., … Ferguson, C. M. (2016). Impaired nitric oxide production in children with MELAS syndrome and the effect of arginine and citrulline supplementation, 23(10), 1780–1789. PMID: 26780180

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