Tag Archive | Stress

The Joys and Surprises of Research

Introduction to My Research on Hair Loss and its winding path.

Have you ever started researching a topic only to find startling information that leads you down a whole other path of investigation? Well, that was me this week. Two summers ago, I had a severe allergic episode that led to me scratching out almost half of my hair. The whole thing was terribly distressing as I’ve always had lustrous, thick hair. It took more than six months to bring my allergies under control and, therefore, the interminable itching of my scalp and face. In the last two years, I have had to change allergy pills three times and have had six more allergic episodes which lasted anywhere from an hour to two days in the last year and a half. Thankfully, I have not had a repeat of the six month ordeal from two years ago, I’d likely be bald if I had. 😦

The Beginning (for me)

Now you may be wondering, if it’s been going on this long, why haven’t I gone to the doctor or done the research necessary to come to a solution to my problem. The way I figured it, my doctor was only going to do what I was already doing and that was changing my allergy pill until we found one that took care of or eliminated my allergy symptoms. I figured I’d save myself the added cost of exam/ visit fees and I eventually found a pill that worked for me. Fexofenadine Hydrocloride (Allergra). It stopped my itchiness like an electrical circuit being cut. Also, I did constant research on allergies and hair loss, but I’m sure you know how research can sometimes go. If you aren’t asking the right questions phrased in just the correct manner, you are likely to hit many “brick walls” in your hunt for answers. Until last week, I hit a LOT of walls, but I did find some halfway helpful information, too. All this last week, I’ve hit link after link of information that I hadn’t even considered and all because I changed my approach in phrasing my search key.

A New Thought Occurs

Many menopausal women are given Biotin (also known as Vitamin H or coenzyme R, but classified like many vitamin-like substances as a B-vitamin) from their doctors to treat their sudden hair loss. I know a lady whose doctor has been steadily increasing her Biotin uptake over the last six months and she’s been satisfied with the results. Even though, I am nowhere menopause, I thought maybe Biotin was the key for anyone suffering sudden, unexplained hair loss. And that is where my research began; Biotin and hair loss.

One article talked about dietary sources of Biotin and its absorption in the intestine. Furthermore, the article talked about how the good bacteria in our guts produced Biotin as well for our benefit. All this made me wonder, what processes or factors could exist that might inhibit the absorption of Biotin? So I did more research and discovered articles that pointed to intestinal parasites and worms as possible preventors of proper nutrient absorption. Another surprising discovery through this avenue of thought was another article which saw a link between hypoglycemia (which I have) and the inefficient uptake of biotin. That same article referred to the imbalance of intestinal flora as Intestinal Dysbiosis and linked a number of conditions in addition to hypoglycemia as being impacted or even developed due to the Dysbiosis.

A Surprising Link Discovered

After that, I researched the impact of supplementing Biotin and what role Magnesium plays in the conditions mentioned in the Dysbiosis article. First, I read that supplemental Biotin taken for long stretches and in high doses can cause liver damage… unless taken in conjunction with Inositol, a vitamin-like substance sometimes called Vitamin B8. This substance acts as a coenzyme to Biotin, buffering it so the liver won’t be taxed by Biotin supplementation. Secondly, I read that Magnesium deficiency can contribute to conditions such as hypoglycemia, fibromyalgia, migraines, insomnia, and many others.

An investigatory paper written by an MIT student in 2007, had a ton of information on Magnesium and Fibromyalgia that I found interesting because my mother was diagnosed with FM almost a decade ago.

A Simple Solution?

Now, I’m going to make a statement that is taking hold in my mind. And you are free to agree or disagree with me. Is it possible that all of these conditions which are plaguing first-world nations, primarily, are a side effect of lifestyles and diets? Most of us lead a sedentary lifestyle and prefer to have fast or convenient foods. So we aren’t moving our bodies as much and eating highly processed foods devoid of real nutrition. Nor are we getting proper rest because of stress, poor diet, too much TV/ computer time. It’s becoming a real problem of epidemic proportions.

Certainly, there is not a single condition cropping up and plaguing us. Perhaps, that is why doctors continue to treat the symptoms associated with these conditions and not getting to the root cause of the condition itself. They don’t realize that all these things are from the same source. Am I simplifying things too much? Making connections where there shouldn’t be?

Hippocrates said, “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” Perhaps, we would do well to live by that adage?

 

I‘ll cover this topic in greater detail in the weeks to come after I’ve done some more research and have collected my thoughts on the subject matter better. Plus, I’m putting into practice some of the advice given to see if it’ll bring my body back into balance. Have a fantastic week all!

Are You Stress Eating?

Stress Eating- Part ONE:

I’m certain a LOT of people can identify with this situation: A stressor of some sort has worked you up into a frenzy and now you’re seeking something to comfort you. Where do you go? The kitchen. Why? Perhaps, a memory of childhood makes it a relaxing place. So, you open the fridge or freezer for your favorite snack. Only you serve yourself an extra heaping serving because well… you’re gonna need it. At least that’s the way you feel. So you indulge, you feel relief from your stress, then you go about your business or maybe to bed since it’s that time. BUT the next morning you regret having over indulged.

Now freeze! Rewind. You CAN avoid that trap! There are foods that help alleviate the body’s stress response. You can reach for those foods instead at moments like the example above, or you can add them to your everyday diet to help your body fight stress regularly. There’s a great little book on the subject which I found extremely helpful called Stress Eater Diet by Robert B. Posner, M.D. and Linda Hlivka.

StressEaterBlog

Now I realize that the cover of the book says, “A Simple Guide for Women Who Want to Stress Less, Lose More and Look Fabulous!”, but the information can be applied to men as well. Granted, men and women respond to stress differently and carry their excess weight in different ways, but the foods which help reduce stress don’t care what gender you are since they will work just as well either way. 🙂

I’ll cover how to identify a stress eater, the stress alleviating foods, sugars, fat facts, how to tell the difference between true hunger and the emotionally driven sort, and tricks to reduce hunger if you are trying to lose weight and don’t want stress eating to derail your progress, plus a conclusion. I promise to try not going off on too many tangents, if it can be helped. 😉

Moving on: How does one know if they are a stress eater?

If you aren’t fully certain if you are a stress eater, Posner and Hlivka included a short 10 question quiz in the book, which I have transcribed below (pgs. 16-19).

You will answer with one of the four following answers:

a. All of the time (4pts).

b. Part of the time (3pts).

c. Some of the time (2pts).

d. Little to none of the time (0pts).

Note: Keep a tally of your points for the results.

Questions:

  1. When I am stressed, I eat without thinking.

  2. I have cravings for carbohydrates including sweets, chips, breads, rice and pasta when I’m upset or stressed.

  3. I experience difficulty in controlling my eating when I feel stressed.

  4. I find myself thinking about food when I’m stressed.

  5. After a bad day, I just open up the refrigerator or pantry and eat whatever I find.

  6. When I am upset or stressed, I don’t think about eating a balanced diet.

  7. I allow myself to eat what I want when I’m stressed.

  8. After a stressful day, I feel better after eating carbs.

  9. I feel stressed every day.

  10. As soon as I feel stressed, I will reach for food although I’m not hungry.

The Results:

0-6 pts.= You are not a stress eater. Stress does not interfere in your eating patterns.

7-12 pts.= You are a moderate stress eater. Stress does affect your eating patterns causing you to lose control of your diet at times.

13-18 pts.= You are a consistent stress eater. Stress guides your eating patterns and food choices which can be detrimental (harmful) with regard to weight control issues.

19 pts. and Over= You are an extreme stress eater. Stress controls your eating patterns causing you to lose constant control of your diet.

Sadly, the first time I took this quiz a few years ago, my point total was well above 20! I’m embarrassed by the number to be honest. But now, I’m between the 13-18 point mark, so I’ve progressed. Just last night, I experienced a major stressor thanks to one of my final classes and found myself wanting to gorge myself on chocolate and chips. But I told myself “NO!” and opted to look for foods that would reduce my stress and not the work I’ve put in to losing some excess weight. Since whole grains, though not necessarily in the form of breads, is on the list of stress reducing foods, I used rolled oats to make some oatmeal which I added chopped walnuts (also, on the list) and fresh blueberries, as well as a little brown sugar (not on the list, but since it was a little I didn’t figure it’d hurt me too much) to the pot as it cooked. Afterward, I stirred in some ground flax seeds since it’s supposed to be heart healthy.  😀 Within minutes, I felt immensely better and I wasn’t overcome with guilt over what I’d consumed either.

To follow:

Part Two (A and B): Stress Relieving Foods

Part Three: Sugars and Their Impact

Part Four: Surprising Fat Facts

Part Five: Physical Hunger Vs. Emotional Hunger

Part Six: Tricks to Reducing Hunger and Cravings

Part Seven: Conclusion

Note: I decided to break this one into “bite sized” chunks because I tend to get super excited and talk a lot about this subject as it’s one of my passions. Hopefully, I will be able to post once a week now for a while. 🙂