Friday, April 20, 2012

The Stress Free Belly...

In case you didn’t know – I’m a big fan of massage therapy. Since stress can kill, and living in today's modern world means stress is a constant companion, massage has become a major part of my wellness program. But here is a stress control technique that surprised me...

Recent research suggests that eating 'friendly' bacteria could help reduce anxiety.

In the journal Neurogastroenterology and Motility, a study found that giving a probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum to mice with infectious colitis helped reduce their anxious behavior. [1]

And, in another study, researchers at Ireland's University College Cork, gave mice a probiotic known as lactobacillus. They found that doing so resulted in reduced anxiety and depression-related behavior. [2]

So what do these studies mean? Well, to me it confirms my belief that food is a natural medicine, and like all drugs you can use it to better your health or damage it.

Perhaps the benefit of “good” intestinal flora is its ability to improve break down and absorption of the foods we eat. And one of the easiest ways to include Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus into our diet is through yogurt. Many popular yogurt brands now come with probiotics – like Activia - just take a look at the label.

If yogurt isn’t appealing to you, there are also probiotic supplements you can buy at your local health food store.

On a side note, it seems that our bellies also have a "brain" of their own: the Enteric Nervous System (the nervous system networked throughout your stomach and intestines). This system contains some 100 million neurons (more than is found in the spinal cord or in the peripheral nervous system) and can control digestive behavior independently of the brain. It is believed that this second brain could be responsible for triggering the hormones that change your mood and regulate stress.

So until we know more, be kind to your gut... if you feed it properly… it will be kind to you, too.

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

 

References:
1. Bercik P, et al.The anxiolytic effect of Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 involves vagal pathways for gut-brain communication.Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011 Dec;23(12):1132-9.
2. Bravo JA, et. al. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 20;108(38):16050-5.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why Protein Shakes Are The Best Whey

If you’re a fan of my Facebook page, you would have read a recent question I posted regarding protein shakes. A few of you even commented on it (thanks, btw). Personally, I am a fan of these supplements because of their simplicity and ability to provide the body with quick nutrition.

And for me, the most versatile and generally useful kind of protein shake may be the whey-based one. This is because whey protein contains numerous essential amino acids packed into it. And whether you are a body builder or an over 40-something person looking for a way to improve your diet, keeping a steady flow of nutrients is vitally important.

Another benefit of using whey-based protein shakes is that you will generally find little fat within these dietary supplements. Thereby giving you some room to enjoy fats in something else; perhaps a greasy “cheat” food you love?

Variety is also a benefit. I like to blend frozen organic fruits such as blueberries, cherries or mango into my shakes to vary the flavor and boost my antioxidant and whole fruit consumption. And since whey has little flavor, you can be creative with your personal taste and consistency. There are even flavored varieties of whey protein if you prefer; like banana, chocolate and strawberry (but I use plain, and avoid artificial additives by using REAL fruit or cacao).

Although using a protein-shake supplement may seem expensive or time consuming; it’s not. It costs no more, nor consumes more time than waiting in line at the drive through for a fast-food snack! And it is certainly better for you!

So, ditch the junk and allow protein-shakes to play a happy and healthy role in your nutrition.

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fat Loss & The Twilight Effect

There’s probably one thing you will never see me doing: sunbathing.

In fact, because I tend to cringe at direct sunlight and have been known to “glitter” from time to time (inside joke), some would think I belong on the cast of “Twilight,” but a vampire I’m not. Despite my Hispanic roots, I have always been a fair skinned person.

And, since sunlight is a key component to the synthesis of vitamin D, you can understand my curiosity regarding vitamin D research and its effects on fat loss.

Recent buzz is that increasing (or maintain adequate amounts of) vitamin D is one of the newest ways to lose weight and burn fat.

It seems that if you are lacking in vitamin D, you may be prone to subtle changes in your body composition. Some have a noticeably increased accumulation of fat around the waist area, giving a person a distinguishably apple shape.

While apples are tasty & beautiful, having an apple shape may actually increase your risk for developing diabetes, insulin resistance, and heart disease.

The reason, in part, may be due to increased visceral fat around your organs, or possibly a lack of proper hormone signaling. Did you know fat affects your hormones, too?

What’s more is that recent research seems to suggest that children with deficient levels of vitamin D also have an increased risk for being overweight in their adult lives. (Good thing Lexi loves her milk!)

So if you are like me, and you swear you can hear your skin sizzle in direct sunlight, take heart. There is still hope to improving your levels of vitamin D and possibly increasing your fat burning potential.

Try this: Simply increase your vitamin D consumption by taking a supplement, consuming low fat, organic milk, dairy and yogurt products, or (for those of you NOT on the “Team Edward” side) - more exposure to SUNLIGHT.

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal



The Legal Stuff: The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to Fill Your Time with Blessings


So, we spent this past Easter at the in-laws place. They’ve got a nice chunk of land in the wooded area of northeast Texas and their home is set deep within their acreage so that, looking out, you see nothing but nature. Rabbits, and squirrels abound and it’s not surprising to find a hummingbird or two there this time of year. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place filled with family, love and special moments.

I can still see Lexi among all the grandchildren racing through the field. She always has such a joyful look about her when she runs. It’s a scene that is awesome, inspiring and –to me- very precious.

You don’t have to be a parent to feel this way, though. I’m sure you’ve experienced moments in your life that you wish you could capture and relive over and over again; like watching the favorite parts of a movie about your life.

Unfortunately, life can’t be lived that way. It must be consumed as it is given to us, the good and the bad. This is why each moment we have must be wrung of its fullest potential. Squeeze the very best we can out of it.

So today, do what you need and want to do. Do something useful, whether that means running through a field just for the sheer joy of it, or experiencing the moment vicariously through your children and locking it within your heart. Try to live so that at the end of the day, when you lay down to sleep, you can rest with the satisfaction of knowing that not only have you been blessed with that time, but that time was filled with blessings, too.


As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal



The Legal Stuff: The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

When Fear Grips You

“Daddy! It’s a spider! It’s a spider, Daddy! Kill it, KILL it!!” These were the words my soon to be four year old shrieked at me from the bathroom where she had been preparing for her bath. She was standing naked and pointing at the tub as I assured her that things were going to be alright.

Warily looking into the tub, I saw no spider. I saw no kind of inset anywhere! “It’s right there, Daddy! Kill it!” she pleaded. I sighed and picked it up with my bare hands despite her voiced concern for my welfare.

To her embarrassment, she blushed when I revealed that the vicious and deadly “spider” was nothing more than a tiny, tangled bit of her own hair.

She bashfully giggled and entered the tub and I chuckled at her expense. She had truly seemed terrified, though. The funny thing is that we are all scared of something; whether it’s spiders, disease or financial loss. We all suffer from this emotion repeatedly. We never out-grow it.

Fear is a “survival instinct,” an emotion that is natural and present in all living creatures. Sometimes, it can be something as small and seemingly silly, like an imaginary “hair” spider in your tub. But sometimes it is far worse. Those are the times that fear, a very REAL fear, can be so large and frightening that it can leave you paralyzed.

How do you react to it? When you experience something THAT frightening, does it stop you from acting responsibly; from moving forward with the goals you originally had planned? What do you do?

You call for help... Why? Because there are no “bonus rewards” for fighting fear alone! You sometimes need a champion to help fight for your cause and there is no shame in that. And because no two persons’ fear is exactly the same, be prepared to return the favor.

Soon enough YOU will be called upon to be that champion and help someone else through their gripping fear. It’s your duty to stand up for another that needs your help, even if doing so causes you some trepidation. Have courage & be brave with your stand. Because sometimes, helping those that cannot help themselves, is the best way of getting over your own fears.

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.