Women’s health concerns are much more complex than men’s and with the help of physical therapy (also called physiotherapy in many parts of the world), many of these issues can easily be remedied or addressed. There are main factors that greatly differentiate men from women. Of these, it is important to highlight three: menstruation, pregnancy and lactation. These bodily changes in a woman are mostly influenced by hormonal fluctuations and can also be a reason for mood swings and differences in behavior.
There are so many misconceptions and misinformation about nutrition. Everyone wants to believe they are eating to properly fuel their body and prevent disease. There is one clear path to learn how to separate fact from fiction when it comes to nutrition information. For some reason, many people prefer to follow the nutrition fads, instead of trying to understand how the body works.
The mind is a powerful tool or weapon that can be used to work for us or against us. Everything begins with a thought. From the moment we wake up until laying our head on the pillow each night, our mind is consumed with thoughts; more than 60,000 a day by the time we reach age 40.
95% of those thoughts occur in the subconscious mind, making us unaware we have them or even what they are most of the time. Thoughts run on autopilot throughout the day unless we do the internal work to become aware of them and shift our thinking.
Awareness is the first step to reprogramming the mind with different thought patterns. Once we begin practicing a mindful lifestyle and becoming aware of the thought patterns that are regularly showing up in our lives, we can then learn and use tools to reprogram the mind to think differently. Think of it like this: the brain is the hardware, and our mind is the software, the software we use daily determines how we think, feel and react or respond to various situations.
The good news is, it is possible to “rewire the brain” a term referred to as neuroplasticity. The latest technology in science reveals that by creating new neural pathways in the brain, we are capable of rewiring neural pathways, creating new neurons that fire together which allows us to think and process differently, thus leading to less reactionary responses and more responding to our external environment.
The question is how do we do this if our mind is on autopilot and we are mostly unaware of our thoughts?
One answer is through the long-practiced method of meditation, a process of refocusing the mind. Meditation is a mental exercise that with practice trains the brain to think and process differently. It is through refocusing the mind to think about one thing and ultimately “no thing” that allows for us to tap into our subconscious mind and create new programming.
Often people say they cannot meditate or can’t calm their monkey mind. That is true for those who do not practice training it to be different. Being mentally fit is a practice that requires exercise, just as muscles do when training in the gym or recovering from a physical ailment. The mind must also be exercised and taught to think and react differently.
There are many different modalities to the practice of meditation, just as there are many workouts in the gym to become physically fit. It’s about exploring the types of modalities and finding one that works for you or your client. Mental resilience is built each time new neural connections are made, each time we go through a challenging time and overcome it, we become more mentally fit thus giving us resilience for the next time we face something hard.
Understanding how the brain works and how it pre-dispositioned to think negatively over positively, allows us to have compassion and patience with ourselves while learning to create a consistent routine of practicing meditation. Discovering the mind/body connection and how they work together also empowers us to be able to choose differently in situations where we become aware we are reacting from autopilot rather than choosing to respond.
Meditation is currently a $1 billion industry and is rapidly growing. Learning how to use meditation in your own life, while also learning how to instruct others through science-based, proven modalities expands your revenue offerings as well as helps clients heal faster and live happier lives.
Webinar with Briana Bragg
Join Briana for Re-booting the Mind/Body Connection for Empowered Living. This webinar will provide an overview of the mind/body connection with techniques to un-entangle from autopilot, and update our subconscious programming to live a happy, healthy, fulfilled life – while teaching your clients to do the same.
Briana Bragg is the founder of Vacation of the Mind®, a mental wellness company dedicated to helping one million people or more reduce stress, refocus the mind, and lead healthier and happier lifestyles through practical techniques of nature-centered mindfulness and meditation. Briana is the author of “Journey into Tranquility®”, a meditation teacher training course that utilizes science-based methodologies of nature, meditation, and creative visualization in a three-step process Breathe, Refocus, Journey, curating guided journeys that connect people to nature and stillness. Briana’s dynamic energy and passion are fueled by her devotion to the well-being of others.
Marketing is tough, there’s no question about that. Even all the amazing tools of keywords, Google and Facebook algorithms marketing is still like trying to hit a moving target. What worked once, may not work again. Many don’t do marketing because of the costs of acquiring a new client are viewed as too steep.
Is there a way to market effectively, without spending loads of money, and have the leads be highly qualified and likely to buy from you? Yes.
You need to not only build, but to boost your referral network. A referral network is simply people, companies, practices that you can refer your clients to and visa versa. Building an active referral network is a relatively cheap form of marketing that pays huge dividends because even though these leads are from businesses, and other professionals they are essentially still word of mouth referrals. The only difference is that the lead/new client can be traced back to a specific person/company. After all, I think we all know that word of mouth is king when it comes to marketing and advertising. I’m also sure we all wish we didn’t have to work so hard to get more clients/patients.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a steady stream of referrals coming through your door?
Referrals are some of the best leads you can get because they come in already knowing about you, and you have a built-in credibility because of the referring person’s relationship with that lead. If the lead knows, and trusts the person who did the referring, all you need to do is not mess it up and chances are very high that lead will turn into a client. The trust can’t get much higher than if your referrals come from a medical professional.
There are probably more tips and tricks to boost your referrals from your network. Here are the principles I’ve personally used to over double the amount of referrals coming into our facility. Because these are principles or steps, they can be replicated, regardless of whether or not you have the same business model or niche as I do.
First, you need to identify who you need to talk to. When it comes to professional referrals I would start with your existing clients and who do they see, or visit. Find out the names of the companies, doctors, practices, etc. where they go.
Another way to boost your network is to identify which clients or situations you will most likely come across in your business/practice that you’ll need to refer out to someone else. If you’ve got someone, that’s great. A good goal to shoot for is at least 3 vetted sources for each referring need. For example, if you need to refer to a rheumatologist, you should strive to get 3 different rheumatologists that you’ve talked to, met, and feel like they would take good care of your patients/clients.
The second step is to connect with these people/companies. It’s easiest to connect with other professionals with whom you share a client/patient. A great phrase to use if it is a medical provider is that you want to ‘collaborate on care’. Keep in mind you shouldn’t disclose the name of your client/patient without a HIPPA release/disclosure. But you can say that you share a patient with xyz and would like to collaborate on care. Once you start having a dialogue you can get your HIPPA release – that’s not the focus here though. The primary objective is to make a connection and talk.
You can email, call, or drop by their office/facility. You may have to do all of them, and more than once. Remember the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
If after repeated efforts to connect you still haven’t made a connect. Drop it and move to someone else. Not every doctor, therapist, facility will be willing to talk or connect. That’s ok. You want to find ones that care as much about your clients/patients as you do.
This is a really important step. I hope it goes without saying that you need to track your results you get with your patients/clients. Objective and subjective measures are important. This is a primary reason we do assessments, right? Get usable data. As you retest, what do you do with that information. You need a place where you can find, see, and have visible the progress your people are making.
We use a software that we can customize all our specific tests/measures. Each time we enter a value it lets us know the percentage improvement from baseline to current, or from the previous measurement to the current. Having hard numbers and percentages look awesome. We also make it a point of writing down all the ‘weekly wins’ our clients have. We write it up on a whiteboard. This lets our prospects that come in see our latest amazing results. It also reinforces a sense of community and connection among our members as they see their achievement and others’ up on the board. It also makes it SUPER easy to know who and what to highlight when it comes to the next step.
The other thing you must be able to track is where your leads, prospects, and clients come from or visit. Most CRM softwares have the ability to track a lead source. If you don’t have one, you can use a simple excel spreadsheet.
Step four is to now communicate frequently with your network. What should you say? Show them the results you are getting with you clients, and specifically the people they’ve referred over to you.
Highlight their progress, and why that’s important to them and to the client. You can let them know what’s going on with your business (new products, recent media coverage, awards, new hours, etc.).
We started sending out a monthly newsletter just to our referral network. I’ve found it keeps us top of mind and tip of tongue. The newsletter is great because there may be people in your network who don’t refer many people to you, but seeing your successes will help them feel like they can, and seeing a specific client story may jog their memory about a specific person they see who they can refer to you.
I also directly email the referral source with an update monthly on all the people they’ve sent or whom we see conjunctively.
Both of these options are designed to build your credibility that they can trust you, and you know what you are talking about. It also opens the door for more communication. I would recommend trying to always make the newsletter and email feel conversational by asking a question. It could be as simple as asking, “is there anything we can do to help you?”. Or if you are communicating directly with one person/facility, ask them about a situation (no personal details) that you’ve just seen or have a question about. Give them your thoughts and ask for theirs.
Think of communication with your referral network like a bridge. The first contact is like a piece of rope spanning a river. With each contact you strengthen that bridge. Soon it becomes a log that can be used to walk across the river. That’s good, it’s a solid way to cross, but only one person can cross at a time. We want to help you get multiple referrals at the same time, or at least more frequently. That comes with more communication and contacts. You want to convert this metaphorical bridge from a log into the Brooklyn bridge. It all happens with the trust and results you communicate frequently to your network.
This will be the biggest step that gets glossed over and forgotten. Consistency is key. It’s key in fitness and it’s key with your network. You can’t reach out just once, or send just 2 newsletters. You’ve got to do it consistently. Once your network knows that this is a consistent habit for you, it’s just one more reason to trust you because you are consistent and you follow-up.
The more you repeat the first four steps, the more referrals you will get. It might take a month or three, but you will see an increase in your referrals and an increase in your network as those other companies don’t just talk about you to their patients/clients, but they start talking about you to their network. And before you know it, you are changing the world. Get after it!
Ryan Carver is the owner of Leverage Fitness Solutions where they specialize in helping older adults defy the status quo around aging. Ryan has been training the older adult since 2006. Ryan has published numerous articles on senior fitness and serves on multiple professional boards. He and his wife have 4 kids.
When asked, Is beer good for runners? Running legend Jim Fixx’s answer was, “Sure, if it’s the other guy drinking it!” By abstaining from alcohol, you can indeed gain an advantage over your competitor’s poor judgment. Just how bad is alcohol for athletes? Does it have any health benefits, too? Let’s look at some of the good, the bad, and the ugly regarding alcohol and athletes.
Socializing with a glass of wine, a beer, or a cocktail can add a nice touch to the end of the day for those who like to relax with an alcoholic beverage. Raising a glass to celebrate a victory is a fond tradition. But we know surprisingly little about possible health benefits of drinking in moderation because almost all studies are based on self-reported information that gets tangled up with lifestyle. Do adults who do moderate social drinking enjoy a healthier lifestyle than non- or heavy-drinkers? Does alcohol make them healthier—or do social connections make the difference? While moderate alcohol intake has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease, so has eating a healthy diet and being physically active.
Alcohol has a negative reputation regarding athletics, be it heavy beer consumption after a hard work-out, or teams enmeshed in a culture of binge drinking. Student-athletes binge-drink more than non-athletes. Male athletes binge-drink more than female athletes. And all athletes drink more than non-athletes. The higher alcohol intake of athletes can be attributed to stress and anxiety associated with being a competitive athlete, increased muscle pain and soreness, socializing or bonding with teammates, and the belief the athlete “earned” the drink—a reward for having completed the hard effort.
Alcohol is the 3rd leading preventable cause of death in the US. (Tobacco is Number One. A poor diet with inactive lifestyle is Number Two.) Any level of alcohol intake can contribute to several types of cancer
How do you know if you have a drinking problem?
Moderate drinkers typically sip (not gulp) their drinks, stop drinking before they get drunk, and do not drive after drinking. Problem drinkers commonly drink to get drunk and to solve their problems. They drink at inappropriate times (such as before going to work) and may become loud/angry or silent/reclusive. People addicted to alcohol start drinking with no plan, deny drinking, hide bottles, and miss work or school because of hangovers.
Despite the bad and the ugly, alcohol is an undeniable part of our sports culture. The following tips offer suggestions for helping athletes manage alcohol.
• Don’t drink excessive alcohol before an event—especially in the summer heat! Drinking too much the night before an event will hurt your performance the next day. You’ll notice a slower reaction time and reduced eye-hand coordination and balance. Research with Australian rugby players who consumed on average 9 beers post-game (with a range of <1 to 22 beers) indicates—no surprise— their high alcohol intake impaired their performance. Other studies report athletes are less able to do repeated sprints (think soccer, hockey) and jumps (volleyball, basketball). Among heat-stricken summer runners, a common denominator was booze the night before the race.
• If you are going to drink the night before or after an event, plan to also consume a proper sports meal with extra water. While excessive drinking is obviously problematic, a modest amount of alcohol consumed along with a balanced meal will unlikely have a negative impact. Yes, alcohol impairs glycogen resynthesis a bit. But in the real world of sports drinking, athletes who are heavy drinkers tend to make high fat food choices (nachos, burgers, etc.). The lack of healthful grains, fruits and veggies (carbohydrates) more significantly hinders glycogen replacement!
• First quench your post-exercise thirst with water, then enjoy alcohol, if desired. Alcohol is a diuretic; it stimulates the formation of excess urine. Whiskey and other spirits with a high alcohol content will dehydrate (not rehydrate) you. If you “must” drink spirits, ask for extra ice with the cocktail. Beer would be the better choice, given the alcohol content of beer is lower and the water content is higher. Yes, dehydrated adult athletes can rehydrate with a beer or two. Low-alcohol beer is the wiser choice, and no-alcohol beer the wisest beer choice.
• Heavy alcohol intake is not on the list of Best Recovery Practices for athletes to follow! Remember: bad things happen during exercise and good things happen during recovery. Wisely chosen recovery fluids and foods help you rehydrate, refuel, and repair your muscles. Adding alcohol to the mix slows down muscle repair, protein synthesis and adaptation processes. Yet a glass or two of wine or beer, along with plenty of water and food, is permissible.
• Alcohol is a source of calories that can quickly add up. Add in the calories in the pizza, nachos or munchies that you can easily overeat when alcohol lowers your inhibitions, and you can easily succeed in gaining body fat. Just five Heineken Light Beers add 500 calories. A goblet of wine can easily add 200 calories. Be wary of drinks that come with umbrellas! (400-800 calories/10-ounces)!
• Beware of drinks in a can, such as White Claw Surge with 8% Alcohol By Volume. (ABV). You can end up drinking more alcohol than you intended. You might want to stick with the original White Claw—hard seltzer with 5% ABV—similar to most canned beers, though some craft beers have a higher alcohol content.
• Don’t drink alcohol if you want a good night’s sleep. Alcohol might help you fall asleep faster, but it disrupts your sleep cycle. You’ll get less restorative sleep. Alcohol alters body temperature, which can affect how well you sleep. It also aggravates snoring (due to relaxed muscles and a lower breathing rate), so your bed partner becomes sleep deprived and grumpy. Plus, you’ll need to go to the bathroom more often in the middle of the night. None of this enhances athletic performance.
• If you don’t want to drink, be prepared to quickly say “No thanks” in a polite but convincing voice. If the person keeps insisting, respond again: “Î don’t want to drink today. I’d appreciate if you’d help me out.” Instead, be pleased that you will enjoy the natural high of exercise.
Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD counsels both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes in the Boston-area (Newton; 617-795-1875). Her best-selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook is a popular resource, as is her online workshop. Visit NancyClarkRD.com for more info.
It’s hard to believe that something we do from the second we come out of the womb to our deaths is so frequently overlooked. Very few know the nuances of breathing. For example, breathing slow actually gets more air into the body than breathing fast! Why? More time to allow for oxygen transport and carbon dioxide to be eliminated. Athletes have just recently been taking advantage of this.
Here is something to ponder, breathing through your nose is much more efficient, healthy and is related to curing many disease states including obesity.
With that in mind, here are a few other interesting facts about breathing.
- The average person breathes 17 times a minute. That equates to almost 25,000 breathes a day! On the contrary, athletes breathe on average 5 to 6 times a minute. That means they breathe only around 8500 times a day. Considerably more efficient! The diaphragm is one of the most used muscles in the body, next to the eyes and heart. Treat it with care
- Depending on the situation, you breathe more through one nostril! The right nostril is tied more to the Sympathetic Nervous System and dominate in situations where the fight or flight response is necessary. Also, in the morning when waking up! The left nostril is related to the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which controls the rest and recovery response and therefore is more dominate when you are winding down or going to sleep.
- Want to think big? Alveoli, where O2 – CO2 transition occurs, covering a surface measuring more than 1,076.4 square feet or about 100 square meters. Equivalent to half a tennis court! The next time you breathe in think about all the places that breath must go!
- Think about this… a blue whales’ lungs in total have a combined capacity of over 1,300 gallons of air! That’s a big breath!
- Laughing matters! Normal inhalation fills just 25% (tidal volume) of the total lung capacity. The remaining 75% (residual volume held in the lower 2/3’s of our lungs) remains filled with old stale air. Respiration becomes even shallower when compounded by stress.
- Laughter helps to provide longer exhalations, thus ridding the lungs of residual air and enriching the blood with ample supplies of oxygen! It is the only time everyone uses the diaphragm efficiently. Have you ever laughed so hard that your stomach hurt? Case in point.
Once we pay attention to breathing, our lives can be enhanced beyond what you can imagine! From health to athletic performance, you will be giving your body every chance to be all it can be!
Reprinted with permission from author.
Mike Rickett MS, CSCS*D, CSPS*D, RCPT*E is a nationally recognized health and fitness trainer of the trainers, fitness motivator, author, certifier, educator, and the 2017 NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year. He has been a fitness trainer for more than 35 years. With Cheri Lamperes, he co-directs BetterHealthBreathing.com, a conscious breathing educational program focusing on the diaphragmatic technique to enhance overall wellness. In addition, he also directs the personal training site ApplicationInMotion.com.
Health and wellness folks are sometimes confused about the role each professional might play in helping individuals to live their best life possible. Our clients are seeking to be healthier by losing weight, managing stress, stopping smoking, becoming less isolated, and often, managing a health challenge of some kind. To do so they need excellent wellness information, great treatment (if that is called for) and a way to make lifestyle changes that will ensure lasting success. So, who is responsible for what?
Fitness trainers, rehabilitation therapists, physical therapists, dietitians, various treatment professionals and health educators can help their clients/patients to know what lifestyle behavioral changes will move them towards improved health and wellbeing. What we often hear from these medical and wellness pros is frustration with a lack of success on their client’s part in making the recommended changes and making them last. The reality is, most people simply don’t know that much about how to change the ingrained habits of a lifetime.
The physical therapist works with their client in their session and sends them home with exercises that must be done every day. The dietitian creates a fantastic meal plan that their client must put into practice. The fitness professional creates a tailor-made workout plan, but their client needs to exercise on their own, not just in front of their trainer.
Health educators, treatment professionals, etc. provide the
Health and Wellness Coaches provide the
Our Clients find their
Everyone’s challenge is the how. It takes more than willpower and motivation. What is often lacking is an actual well-thought-out plan that the client has co-created with the help of someone who can provide support, accountability and a well-developed behavioral change methodology. Translating the lifestyle prescription into action and fitting it into an already busy life is often where, despite good intentions, our clients struggle. This is where having a trusted ally in the cause of one’s wellness pays off.
As the field of health and wellness coaching grows, the challenge coaches sometimes face is clarity about their own role. Sometimes the confusion is all about the what and the how. For coaches to be proficient at “writing” the lifestyle prescription they need additional qualifications. It becomes a question of Scope of Practice.
To guide coaches, the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC) has developed a Scope of Practice Statement. Here is the part most relevant to our question:
“While health and wellness coaches per se do not diagnose conditions, prescribe treatments, or provide psychological therapeutic interventions, they may provide expert guidance in areas in which they hold active, nationally recognized credentials, and may offer resources from nationally recognized authorities such as those referenced in NBHWC’s Content Outline with Resources.” (NBHWC)
If coaches can “wear two hats” professionally they can combine the what and the how. Otherwise, the key is to coordinate with other wellness professionals or work with the lifestyle prescription that their client already has.
Beyond the what and the how is the why. The “why” of behavior is all about motivation – initiating and sustaining behavioral change efforts by drawing upon the energy and desire to do so. The key here once again is the question of who is responsible for supplying this. People may initiate behavior based upon external motivation – the urging and cheering on of others, the fear of negative outcomes. In order to sustain that motivation, it has to come from within. The challenge here for all wellness professionals is to help our clients to discover their own unique sources of motivation. Seasoned wellness professionals realize they can’t convince or persuade anyone to be well. However, when we help our clients discover their own important sources of what motivates them, they discover their why. Motivation is fuel. Now with the aid of a coach our clients can find the vehicle to put in. They know what they need to change. Now they have a way to know how to change and grow, and they know themselves, why.
Webinar with Dr. Arloski
Join Dr. Arloski for The Behavioral Side of Health: Bringing Coaching Skills Into Your Wellness Work.
All wellness professionals want their clients to succeed at becoming as healthy and well as possible. For them to do so requires the expertise your bring from your profession as a fitness trainer, dietician, therapist, etc., and a way for your clients to follow through on your recommendations and live a wellness lifestyle. That’s where the skills of coaching come in.
Michael Arloski, Ph.D., PCC, NBC-HWC is CEO and Founder of Real Balance Global Wellness Services, Inc. Dr. Arloski is a pioneering architect of the field of health and wellness coaching. He and his company have trained thousands of coaches around the world.
Breathing – it’s something that most of us take for granted and many of us even abuse, by filling our lungs with smoke. Of course, that attitude of callous indifference undergoes a dramatic change when you have a child with asthma. Watching your child have to fight for every breath of air
Mounting evidence suggests that we may be able to live a longer, healthier life by strategically restricting our energy intake. For many years the scientific community has known that a surplus of energy intake results in the storage of fat, which is linked to chronic disease, and premature death. However, now emerging evidence suggests that restricting calories may be able to slow the rate in which we age. Aging can be categorized as either primary or secondary. Primary aging is considered inevitable at the date of this publishing and is the biological maturing and eventual breakdown that accompanies the years of age beyond 30. Secondary aging comes from external influences such as obesity and lifestyle factors that cause cellular damage and is not part of the natural aging process. (2)
What is calorie restriction? Calorie restriction describes a process where one limits the amount of food they consume. The term calorie is a shortened term originating from kilocalorie and is used as a measurement of food energy. When the body has an excess of calories beyond what it needs to function it stores those calories in our body as fat. Despite the diet industry’s most sincere efforts and propaganda, studies still do not support the effectiveness of one fad diet over another for weight loss. (13) This means, weight gain, and weight loss are ultimately determined by the number of calories consumed, and the number of calories expended.
Earlier we identified obesity as contributing to secondary aging. The scientific community has established that being overweight, or obese dramatically increases your risk of cancer, heart disease, and type II diabetes, among other chronic disease, thereby reducing life expectancy. In fact, people that are 100 pounds or more overweight can expect a life expectancy that is nearly 14 years less than the national average. This is a shorter life expectancy than that of someone who is of a healthy weight and smokes cigarettes. (3, 12) A calorie reduction below what your body is expending results in weight loss, and for those who have a higher than healthy level of body fat, can expect a reduction in not just their weight but in secondary and primary aging.
There are many misconceptions of what constitutes being overweight or obese. A person is classified as being overweight if they have a BMI (body mass index) of 25 or higher, and obese if they have a BMI of 30 or higher. BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your squared height in meters. BMI is likely a fair indicator if you are relatively inactive. If you are engaged in a fitness program or are an athlete, an alternative approach to determining healthy weight is by determining percentage of body fat. A healthy body fat is typically considered to be between 8-22% for men and 20-35% for women (aged 18-34). A classification of obese may be assigned if someone has a body fat percentage of 26% or higher for men and a body fat of 39% or higher for women. (7) As always if you’re not sure where you fit into these metrics see a credentialed fitness professional or consult with your primary care provider.
It is estimated a calorie deficit of 200-500 calories daily is required to achieve healthy weight loss. Two ways to achieve this deficit are to reduce calorie consumption and increase calorie burn (expenditure). Calorie burn can be increased through additional physical activity; however, it should be cautioned that one can consume calories at a far faster rate than physical activity can burn them. As an example, it is estimated that a 180-pound man burns approximately 14 calories per minute jogging (1). As a point of reference, a single Hershey kiss contains 22 calories. The lesson here is to use physical activity in addition to a nutritious diet, not in place of a nutritious diet. (For more information on a nutritious diet visit choosemyplate.gov.) Give special attention to the section on vegetables, especially non-starchy vegetables as they are high in vitamins and minerals and low in calories.
For persons of a healthy weight, calorie restriction appears to offer slowed primary aging. The current school of thought is that primary aging is slowed as a result of a protective cellular reaction triggered by the calorie restriction. There is still much we do not know about the mechanisms responsible for this anti-aging phenomenon and some debate among scientists exists. However, the most common consensus among scientists is that this reaction collectively comes from activating sirtuins, increasing AMPK, impacting MTOR, and an improvement in blood sugar. (8,10,15,16,17,18) If you do not know what any of that means here’s a quick break down but don’t fret if you are not familiar with the lingo.
- Sirtuins are responsible for DNA expression and control acetyl groups, as well as activate the mitochondrial antioxidant function. (8,16,17) Oxidative damage is believed to play a role in primary aging. Acetyl groups are important because they control the energy that proteins use during cell replication.
- AMPK (Adenosine Monophosphate Protein-activated Kinase) detects the presence of nutrients or prolonged absence of nutrients, which then triggers the fragmentation/breakdown of damaged mitochondrial components (mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell) that need to be rebuilt, increasing mitochondrial health and efficiency. (4,16,17)
- MTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin), specifically TORC1 regulates protein building and cell growth. It is theorized a reduction in TORC1 and in turn a reduction of cellular division results in reduced DNA damage, and less inflammation. (11,17)
- In terms of handling blood sugar, there are two important molecules at work. These proteins are Thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP), and Thioredoxin-1. When TXNIP is stimulated by insulin (which results when we eat) cell stress resistance is reduced resulting in increased oxidative damage to DNA. It is theorized that during calorie restriction, Thioredoxin-1 increases which increases oxidative stress resistance, increases nonoxidative glucose disposal, and increases insulin sensitivity (improves use of insulin and absorption of sugar) as well as reduces damage to DNA (and thus slowed DNA aging) (10,15).
Regardless of how precisely these mechanisms work or interact what we currently believe and have pieced together is a reduction in calories likely:
- Triggers a protective response in the body that helps:
- Protect mitochondria from free radical damage (mitochondria are the energy makers of the cells)
- Increases cell sensitivity to insulin and in turn increases absorption of blood sugar into the muscle
- Induces cellular stress resistance and cell cleansing, which shuts off cell replication. Think of cell replication like a copy machine, if you do not use the original for each copy, but instead use a copy to make a copy, each time the copy gets blurrier. This is thought to also occur in our cells, therefore the less copies we make or the slower we make them the slower the aging process occurs.
- Appears to reduce risk of age-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
- Begins at 10%-40% reduction in calories per day (from normal)
- Starvation is too far! You still need to get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients required to aid your body in recovery, and immune function otherwise your efforts will be counterproductive, which can be done by increasing your consumption of non-starchy vegetables.
- Calorie restriction can be accomplished by all types of fasting schemes. For example, fasting can take place daily for 12-16 hours, every other day, or over the weekends only. The important thing is achieving that 10%-40% reduction while still getting the proper nutrition necessary. (5)
The takeaway here is achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is the first step to a healthy lifespan and the incorporation of strategically fasting, may bring additional health and longevity. Fasting has been embedded in our culture in many ways from traditional religious observances as well in the fitness industry, but the question is what scheme and plan will work best for you. Most would agree it’s the health span (length of superior quality of life attributed to good health) more than the lifespan that’s important, and while there is currently no fountain of youth this appears to be a good place to start.
Remember, of course, to consult with your primary care provider before undergoing dietary changes.
Jeremy Kring holds a Master’s degree in Exercise Science from the California University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University. He is a college instructor where he teaches the science of exercise and personal training. He is a certified and practicing personal/fitness trainer, and got his start in the field of fitness training in the United States Marine Corps in 1998. You can visit his website at jumping-jacs.com
- American Council on Exercise. (2009). Retrieved from https://acewebcontent.azureedge.net/assets/education-resources/lifestyle/fitfacts/pdfs/fitfacts/itemid_2666.pdf
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