Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The 6 Fat Flush Commandments: Part 2

Stress less (and sleep more) for less fat.
Cortisol, the stress hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, is a fat-promoting hormone that creates belly fat, much to our dismay. When you are under any type of stress it triggers enzymes to store more fat because your body believes there is “danger ahead” and instant energy may be needed. Since deep abdominal fat contains four times more cortisol receptors than other fat sites, cortisol is drawn to it.

One of the secrets of low-stress success is simply getting the proper amount of sleep. Too little sleep can make you fat. A study that tracked the effect of sleep habits on the weight gain of nearly 70,000 middle-aged women recently confirmed this principle. This research showed that women who slept five hours per night generally weighed more than women who slept for seven hours per night. In fact, women who only got five hours of sleep versus seven were 32 percent more likely to experience major weight gain (an increase of thirty-three pounds or more). Plus these sleep-deprived women were shown to be 15 percent more likely to become obese over the course of the sixteen-year study.

When it comes to sleep, cortisol can cause a real domino effect on metabolism and overall health. Insufficient sleep can cause the release of cortisol and stimulate hunger. Cortisol surges throughout the night may keep you from sleeping and then impact changes in metabolic rate leading to a decreased ability to burn fat. As sleep levels decrease, cortisol increases, so elevated cortisol levels are connected with sleep-deprived weight gain.

In fact, a lack of sleep creates cravings. Researchers at the University of Chicago who deprived healthy young adults of sleep found that in addition to increased overall appetite, the volunteers experienced a particular surge in cravings for sweet and salty foods.

According to a landmark sleep study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, if you sleep between 7.5 to 8.5 hours per night you will secrete half as much cortisol than those who get 6.5 hours or less. Furthermore, inadequate sleep interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates and depresses leptin levels. As my Fat Flushers already know, going to sleep by 10 p.m. is an essential part of the Fat Flushing lifestyle habits to assure quality sleep and enough sleep—the best diet secret of all. The unavoidable action of natural aging compounds this fattening cycle.

When we are young our bodies naturally regulate cortisol levels by creating more cortisol in the morning (two to three times more), allowing us to start our day full of energy, and then our bodies naturally decrease cortisol levels in the evening so that we can easily fall asleep. Unfortunately by middle age our baseline cortisol level naturally begins to rise, making it tougher to go to sleep and to stay asleep. In fact, we become even more sensitive to the additional cortisol created by these same sleep disturbances, triggering even more hormone havoc, accelerating aging and increasing our waistline. Supporting the cortisol-producing adrenal glands can lessen this impact on cortisol levels…I’ve formulated Adrenal Formula to do just this!

Fat Flush also helps correct this vicious cycle by limiting cortisol spiking-caffeine in both coffee and tea, as well as recommending a meal plan with suitable between-meal snacks to keep cortisol at bay. Journaling is also a stress-controlling, and therefore cortisol-lowering, habit.

Of course, sleeping at least seven to eight hours is another must. Inadequate sleep also inhibits the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates, which lead to higher insulin levels.

One of the best kept secrets for balancing cortisol is the Earthing technology which has demonstrated that individuals who sleep “grounded” sleep longer and wake up more refreshed. The Earthing technology allows you to tap into the balancing and harmonious energy of Mother Earth which is teeming with free electrons that tamp down inflammation and act as natural antioxidants. A study will be released shortly demonstrating the weight loss effects of the Earthing phenomenon with test animals who were grounded during their lifetime and lost statistically significant amounts of weight simply by being “grounded.”

Stay tuned for the final two commandments in my next blog – The 6 Fat Flush Commandments: Part 3!

-Edge On Health, Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman