Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Do fitness trackers cause cancer?


Fitness trackers have taken the world by storm. The ability to monitor everything from the steps you take to the amount of high quality sleep you get and the amount of exercise you do has made the recording of personal progress as simple as looking at your watch or tapping on your phone. Since the people that would most want to use these devices are the ones who are most concerned about their health, an obvious question would be about whether they have any negative health effects.

Can fitness trackers cause cancer?

The mechanism used by fitness trackers to transmit information is very similar to that used by mobile phones. They do this using something called non-ionizing radio frequencies or radiation (RF). Radiation is a scary word, but the sun's rays and our own body heat emit a form of radiation. Some forms of radiation can cause cancers, whiles others don't. Since the form of radiation emitted by tracking devices is non-ionizing, the energy is not strong enough to alter molecules or atoms. They do, however, make electrons go into a higher energetic state. Forms of radiation that alter molecules are the ones that cause mutation and cancer. The radiation from fitness trackers doesn't directly change your molecular structure, but they do energize electrons. This means that the cancer-causing risk of these devices are low... but not absent.

The World Health Organisation states that mobile phones are possibly carcinogenic because of the long-term radiation that they emit. More research needs to be done, since mobile phones have not been around for as long as we think and cancer takes a long time to form. This makes it very hard to study and draw definitive links between the two. More research is currently being done. The radiation in these devices is relatively low. There are bodies like the FCC that closely monitor the amount of radiation emitted from consumer devices to make sure that they stay within pre-determined limits. Fitness trackers emit far less radiation than mobile phones.

Should we be wearing fitness trackers all day long?

Fitness Finest explains that researchers have pointed out that the increase in mobile phone usage without an increase in brain cancers shows that there might not be a link between the two. They also say that since fitness trackers emit even less radiation, long-term cancer should be 'the least of your worries for now'. They also say that the unproven cancer risk of wearing one of these devices is far less than the risk of diseases caused by living a sedentary lifestyle. If you live a healthier lifestyle than what you would without a fitness tracker, you would be better off wearing one.

The New York Times quotes Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has had a lot of focus on the connection between mobile phones and cancer. Dr. Joseph Mercola says that as long as the fitness tracker does not have 3G capabilities, the cancer-causing effects of fitness trackers are "minimal, if any". He says that fitness trackers with a 3G connection, though, would equate to having a phone strapped to your wrist permanently.

My verdict

I would look at whether or not wearing a fitness tracker encourages you to live a healthier lifestyle. If the answer is yes, then the known positive effects will outweigh the unknown negative health effects. If wearing one of these devices does not affect the amount of exercise you do, restful sleep you get or the food you eat, there is not much point in using one anyway.

I am looking forward to reading what you have to say about whether or not you think fitness trackers can cause cancer in your comments below. Stay Strong!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Write for us


Do you have something to share with the online health and fitness community? Or do you want to expand your brand? We are now officially open to guest posts and contributor posts.

So how does it work?

If you have something valuable to say that you think our readers will enjoy, you now have the opportunity to pitch for content to be published on our site. At our own discretion, we will only accept content that abides by the following rules:

1) Your article must be relative to our audience

We post content for the health, fitness, bodybuilding, nutrition, supplements, lifestyle, dieting and weight loss audience. Content outside of these topics will not be accepted.

2) Content must be original

We don't accept content that has been published anywhere else on the internet. All content you submit must be unique (one of a kind). If your article is accepted, do not share the same content anywhere else. This will result in us taking down your content and banning you from guest posting on our site in the future. You may write about the same topic at multiple places, but the wording and subject lines should be different. We check for content originality before accepting your post.

3) Content must be read-worthy

We get that you are submitting content to build your own brand and reach out to our audiences, but this is not an opportunity for you to write one long advert. If you're an egg supply company, submit an article about the health benefits of eggs - not an article about why everyone should buy from you instead of the next guy. Athletes who are trying to build their online reputation can write about what exercise and eating plans work for them - not about why prospective sponsors should give them a call. Write about something that will educate our readers and teach them how to achieve greater health.

4) Your submitted article should cover the topic well

People love explanations. Don't expect the reader to understand the same terminology or principles that you do. If you are writing about how to increase testosterone naturally, for example, give an explanation about why people should want to increase their testosterone levels. If you can write about a topic in less than 500 words, you haven't covered it very well. For this reason, we don't accept posts less than 700 words long. This can include your personal introduction at the beginning or author's by-line at the end of the post.

5) You must have the rights to all media that you submit with your content

Pictures and other media aren't required, but if you want to submit pictures of yourself or anything else that you think is relevant, you can. Make sure that you do not send pictures or other media that belongs to someone else - this can be seen as fraudulent. If you absolutely need to use media that is owned by someone else, provide a link to the original source.

6) You may provide a method for our readers to connect with you

If your content is good enough, we'll share it with our audience. We value good content, and we are happy to reward you with visibility to our readers. You can provide yourself with an introductory paragraph at the beginning of the post or an author's by-line at the end (choose one - don't do both). You may give yourself a link to your website or your social media accounts (both are also OK). If relevant, you may link to a certain page or post of your website within the article body if applicable.

7) Link to trustworthy sources where applicable

If you are making a claim that needs scientific proof, link to sources that prove your claim. Links that support your statements need to come from reputable sources.

I'm interested! How do I apply?

Write your article in a Microsoft Word document and attach this document in an email to safricansoptters@gmail.com. We will read your post and get back to you as soon as we can. We will publish the article and send you the link to the new post, reject the post and give you reasons why or suggest edits before it can go live. Guest posts will be also shared on our Twitter page.

SA Spotters will always be dedicated to putting our readers first and giving them content that helps them achieve their individual goals. Stay Strong!

Friday, June 14, 2019

How mental stress affects muscle growth


Do stress levels at work or home affect muscle growth? Absolutely - but there are things that you can do about it.

Cortisol

You've probably heard of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is released as a response to stress and one of its primary roles is to give your body the energy it needs to fight off or escape a potential threat. Cortisol stimulates energy production and immune response. Cortisol levels are naturally higher in the morning and taper off throughout the day until they reach their lowest before bed time and during sleep. This makes sure that you have the energy that you need throughout the day while ensuring that you can get the recovery that you need at night. People with cortisol levels that are too low have constant fatigue and vulnerable immune systems. Healthy cortisol levels are good for you, but too much is not good either. Your body needs periods of low stress (and lowered cortisol) to calm down and recover. Thinking about stressful things at night can increase cortisol levels, which puts your body into a fight-or-flight response when it needs to start the recovery process instead.

One of the benefits of regular exercise is that it teaches the body to deal with stress. Exercise improves the way that cortisol is used by providing an outlet for the energy that cortisol creates. It also ensures that we don't experience the negative effects of too much cortisol production. Exercise tricks our bodies into thinking that a potentially harmful (or stressful) situation is over and that it can go back into rest and recovery mode. Too much exercise, though, can elevate cortisol levels. Physical stress (or physical exertion) can also trigger the release of cortisol. In order to recover sufficiently, our bodies need periods of low stress to enter its rest mode. If mental stress from work and physical stress from exercise releases more cortisol than what your body can recover from, your body will spend too much time in overdrive and too little time in recovery. Exercise can help you to deal with mental stress, but only to a certain point until it becomes too much. How do you make sure that you aren't stressing more than what your body can handle? Make sure that you balance out overall stressful situations with relaxing ones. Mental tranquility triggers speedy physical recovery. There is nothing wrong with feeling a little stress every now and then, but you need to make sure that you make time to feel relaxed. You can do this by spending time with a loved one, enjoying a hobby or through positive reflection. Doing these things at night will increase sleep quality.

Tension

Tension is one of the ways that cortisol affects muscle tissue. Cortisol tenses muscles so that they are primed for action. In nature, this would help you to make the fast movements that you need to eat (catch prey) or avoid being eaten. Think of the muscular tension as your muscles' version of 'standby mode'. As great as this is for action, it's not so great for recovery. Your muscles need to get out of 'standby mode' and enter 'rest mode' to grow. Tensed muscles cannot recover as well and relaxed muscles. If mental stress increases muscular tension, they will take longer to recover from exercise.

Exercise can decrease tension caused by stress, but prolonged physical stimulus and increased tension from non-exercise stress without sufficient relaxation can severely decrease the amount of optimal recovery time that your muscles need. If you feel like your muscles are negatively affected by stress, here are 7 ways to decrease the effects of stress from work. If work stress creates muscular tension, exercising after work will release the tension and give you the evening and night's sleep to recover. Applying heat (like through a hot bath or sitting in the sauna), stretching regularly, massage and aromatherapy are great ways to relieve tension and speed up muscle recovery.

Poor decisions

Stress can also negatively impact muscle growth by negatively impacting the decisions that you make. Stress can cause us to make unhealthy decisions in an attempt to cope with that stress. Drinking alcohol negatively affects muscle growth, and so does smoking. Irregular sleeping habits and erratic diet choices are other ways that our attempts to cope with stress can lead to decisions that hamper muscle growth.

In the above ways, mental stress can have an indirectly negative affect on muscle growth. Some stress is not too bad, but when you stress more than you relax; you risk sacrificing muscle because of it. Stay Strong!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The good things you lose through sweat


Sweating is very good for you. It helps to eliminate toxins, hydrates the skin, opens up pores and even boosts immune function because of the increased body temperature that kills off unwanted germs that can’t survive in hotter environments.

As much as sweating is beneficial, too much of it can be harmful. Too much sweating can lead to the loss of precious nutrients. The biggest one of these is water. It is always important to make sure that you drink enough water during strenuous exercise to keep hydrated. Your body needs water to eliminate toxins like lactic acid during exercise and bring fresh nutrients to the muscles.

Water is not the only healthy nutrient that your body loses while you sweat. Your body also loses electrolytes through sweat. Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge. Electrolytes are water soluble, which means that they can be lost when you lose water (through sweat, urination, vomiting, diarrhea etc.). The most important electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride (chlorine), calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

These electrolytes circulate throughout our bloodstreams and internal water supplies in order to perform their functions. Here is a basic overview on each electrolyte:

Sodium

We often associate sodium with salt, which is actually a combination of sodium and chloride (the scientific name for salt is sodium chloride). While most people have too much sodium (and sweating helps to drop sodium levels), it is actually a very important electrolyte. Sodium helps us to hold onto liquids. Without it, water would flow through our bodies without being absorbed. That is why people with low blood pressure need to increase sodium intake while people with high blood pressure need to decrease sodium intake. Sodium allows our bloodstream and organs to hold onto and use water and function properly. Your muscles also need sodium to function. Low sodium levels can lead to poor blood circulation, feeling light-headed, pains and cramps, headaches and a lack of energy.

Potassium

Potassium is the 3rd most abundant mineral in the body (at around the same amount as sulfur and chlorine) after calcium and phosphorus. It is needed to sustain life and needed for all organs to function. Potassium aids hormone regulation and blood vessel health. It also helps to balance liquid and electrolyte levels and aids in controlling blood pressure. It is necessary for gastrointestinal health and keeping acid-to-base ratios in check. It works with glucose and insulin usage. Heart, lung and kidney diseases are prevalent where potassium levels are too high or too low. Diets higher in potassium are associated with better blood pressure, less hypertension and less stroke risk. Most people living in the western world are potassium deficient.

A healthy diet usually allows for enough potassium consumption (although people who follow unhealthy diets usually don’t get enough). Sweating too much can potentially lead to lowered potassium, which can lead to muscle weakness, slower reflexes and digestive problems.

Chloride (Chlorine)

Chloride is a negatively charged form of chlorine –this is the form it takes when in the body. Chlorine works with sodium and water to allow for the flow of fluid. It is also crucial for digestion and most chlorine is found in your red blood cells. Chlorine helps the liver detox waste products and is also used to maintain the correct acid-base balance. It is stored in the kidneys. Although chlorine deficiency is of little concern in general, excessive water loss via profuse sweating, vomiting or diarrhea can create a chlorine deficiency, which can lead to potassium loss, low fluid volumes and an altered acid-base balance.

Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant electrolyte most of it is used in the bones. Small amounts are also used for cell signalling (coordinating cells to work together), blood clotting, muscle contraction (intra-cellular calcium causes muscle contraction while the removal of it causes the muscle to relax) and nerve function. Your entire nervous system depends on calcium. Calcium is present in every cell of your body. Calcium is also used to find dead cells and stop the body from wasting resources by repairing what is already dead. Calcium is also needed for brain growth and development. Lowered calcium levels can lead to lack of energy, bone, skin, and hair and nail problems, tingling or numb sensations and cramps.

Magnesium

This electrolyte is involved in over 300 enzyme system and biochemical processes in the body. These processes include protein synthesis, energy production, energy expenditure, muscle function, glucose level regulation, and blood pressure mechanisms. Most people don’t have enough magnesium and sweating further reduces magnesium levels. Low magnesium can lead to muscle weakness, ticks, twitches and tremors, spasms and cramps, depression and chronically low energy levels. Legumes and leafy greens are generally good sources of magnesium.

Phosphorus

Although most of us get enough phosphorus through our everyday diet, water loss can decrease phosphorus levels. This can lead to fatigue and weakness, irritability or anxiety, weight and appetite changes, nerve numbness and stiff joints and bone problems.

The effects of loss of these minerals shows that decreasing physical performance can be linked to the amount of fluids we lose during exercise.  Since we lose more than just water through sweat, we need to make sure that we look after our bodies and replace what is lost through proper hydration and nutrition. Stay Strong!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Everything you need to know about testosterone



I've had so many people ask me a whole range of (sometimes weird) questions about testosterone. In this post, I will answer as many of these questions as I can. I have also searched for additional questions so that you can learn as much about this hormone as possible.

The Basics

What is testosterone?

Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone, commonly known as the male sex hormone. The female sex hormone is estrogen. Testosterone levels govern physical masculine characteristics like reproductive ability, energy production and hair growth, deepness of voice, muscle size and fat metabolism. It is often used in sexual performance medications that treat erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation or poor libido. It is also a main component in anabolic steroids that are used to increase muscle size or performance.

What does testosterone do?

On a physical front, testosterone gives males their distinctive masculine differences to females. Higher testosterone levels in males explain why they are naturally stronger, taller, have greater muscle mass and have lower average body fat percentages. Testosterone levels are also the reason why men are generally more driven by sexual desire.

How does testosterone work?

Testosterone is a hormone. A hormone is spread through the blood stream and signals changes throughout the body. In the case of testosterone, it tells the body to make more hair, turn fat into energy, increase muscle fiber and reproduce with a suitable mate.

Why is testosterone important?

Since testosterone increases energy and strength by signalling important body changes, it is important because it is closely tied to vigor and strength. Without it, muscle mass will be significantly drop and the body will struggle to turn stored calories (fat) into energy. Sexual drive will also disappear.

What is testosterone made from in the body?

Your body converts cholesterol into testosterone via the kidneys or testes. Cholesterol is to testosterone what protein is to muscle.

How is testosterone formed or made?

A part of the brain called the hypothalamus detects that testosterone levels are low and signals the need for more testosterone. The testicles respond by making testosterone from cholesterol. If there is not enough cholesterol in the bloodstream, the testes can make their own cholesterol to use. This cholesterol production, however, is limited and therefore low cholesterol levels can lead to lowered testosterone production. Read more about how testosterone is made.

Do testosterone levels fluctuate?

Yes. Testosterone is used and converted into other substances. When levels drop, the brain signals the need for more testosterone which leads to increased production in the adrenal glands, ovaries or testicles. Testosterone levels rise and fall throughout the day. For example, testosterone levels are naturally elevated in the early hours of the morning. As men age, testosterone levels fluctuate less.

What is testosterone converted into?

An enzyme called 5-Alpha Reductase converts standard testosterone into something called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is 5 times more powerful than normal testosterone. It also increases physical masculinity via increased muscle strength, hair growth etc. Around 10% of testosterone is converted to DHT. Aromatase converts testosterone into estrogen. In men, about 10% of testosterone is converted into estrogen, while more is converted in woman

When are testosterone levels the highest? When are they the lowest?

According to Livestrong.com, testosterone levels are closely linked to our circadian rhythms (our natural sleep and wake cycles). Our T levels are highest early in the morning (usually around 8 am). They gradually fall during the day and reach their lowest point at around bedtime. This is why sleep quality is directly linked to testosterone quality. If you need to increase your sleep quality, try these tips.

Can testosterone be increased?

Yes. There are many things that determine the amount of testosterone that you have. Testosterone levels are affected by diet, age, physical activity, environmental factors and even stress and emotions. Read about natural ways to boost it.

Can testosterone be increased naturally?

Yes. Eating healthy, taking cold showers, catching some sunlight, doing compound exercises and reducing mental stress levels are sure-fire ways to increase testosterone naturally. Squats and pull ups are great exercises that can increase testosterone naturally, but overtraining can deplete testosterone levels.

How do you increase testosterone?

There are supplements that you can buy at drug stores or supplement shops that increase testosterone levels. If your T levels are extremely low, there are medications that doctors can prescribe. You can increase testosterone naturally by doing compound exercises like body weight exercises and weight resistance training, eating healthy food that includes Omega 3 found in fish and antioxidant found in fruit and vegetables, getting vitamin D from sunshine and improving blood circulation through cold showers and exercise.

Where is testosterone released (secreted) and stored?

Testosterone is secreted by the testicles in men and by the ovaries in woman. Small amounts of testosterone are produced in the adrenal glands. It is made when the pituitary gland in the brain signals the need for more testosterone.

Where does testosterone go to in the body?

Like all hormones, testosterone circulates through the blood and sends messages to almost every organ in the body. It tells muscles to increase in size, it tells skin to produce more oil and it tells fat to turn into energy.

How is testosterone released?

When testosterone levels are low, the pituitary gland in the brain sends a message to the testosterone-producing organs (testes in men, ovaries in woman and adrenal glands to a lower extent in both). These organs make testosterone from cholesterol until the pituitary gland sends a message to indicate that there is enough testosterone in the bloodstream.

When is testosterone produced and released?

This happens when testosterone levels are low. The pituitary gland decides when to send messages indicating the need for increased testosterone. There are certain times when testosterone levels are released and therefore at their highest - typically in the early morning hours (since the body has had the whole night to recover and regulate hormonal levels), when men are anticipating sex and after exercise (compound exercises are the most effective at boosting testosterone levels). Drops in body temperature also spur on an increase in testosterone, which is why cold showers lead to a spike in testosterone levels.

Where in the body is testosterone produced in males?

It is typically produced in the testes. A very small amount of testosterone is produced in the adrenal glands as well.

Is testosterone made in females? And where is it made?

Yes. Testosterone is made in females in the ovaries. A small amount is also made in the adrenal glands.

How do testosterone levels decrease?

Testosterone's role, like any other hormone, is to send messages to the body's organs and cause it to make changes. When it does this, it is converted to another compound. Testosterone levels drop as they are used by the body. In the long run, testosterone levels decrease because of a variety of factors. Age decreases the amount of testosterone that the pituitary gland signals for production. Increased fat mass leads to increased conversion from testosterone to estrogen.

When do testosterone levels drop?

Short-term, testosterone levels drop when it is used by the body. In healthy adults, this will lead to the creation of more testosterone. Long-term, testosterone levels drop because of decreased physical activity (which signals a decreased need for testosterone), increased fat mass (which converts testosterone into estrogen) and declining overall health (which decreases the body's ability to produce testosterone).

Is testosterone converted to estrogen?

Yes. This is done by fat cells. This explains why men with lower fat levels tend to have higher testosterone levels, while men with higher fat compositions tend to have lower testosterone levels. Belly fat is known as the fat that is most proficient at turning testosterone into fat.

When is testosterone converted to estrogen?

Fat tissues have an enzyme called aromatase. This enzyme converts testosterone into estrogen. Increased visceral fat (abdominal fat) leads to increased aromatase levels, which increases the conversion of testosterone into estrogen.

What makes testosterone convert into estrogen?

For natural reasons, this helps to balance out hormonal levels. Without this conversion, our bodies would be struggling to cope with too much testosterone that could have disastrous effects. This is primarily done by aromatase enzymes which are found in fat cells.

Why are my testosterone levels low?

There could be a variety of reasons. Low blood circulation will reduce testosterone's impact on your body and lead to decreased production. Inactivity (lack of exercise) signals the lack of need for testosterone. Increased heat reduced the testes' ability to produce testosterone. Unhealthy diets and lifestyles decrease the body's ability to produce testosterone. High quality sleep is needed for optimal hormone production and regulation. Stress also plays a negative factor when it starts to impact overall health.

Why does testosterone improve sport performance?

It does this because of its role to improve muscular strength and increase fat metabolism (conversion of fat into energy); increasing physical competency and therefore enhancing physical ability.

Does masturbation decrease testosterone levels?

According to Healthline.com, masturbation does not have any significant effects on testosterone levels. Some studies found a correlation between frequent masturbation and decreased testosterone levels, whiles others found the exact opposite.

Are testosterone levels genetic?

Health 24 reveals a study that proves that genetics aren't as important in determining testosterone levels as we think. In this study, it was shown that environmental conditions during childhood were the major factor in determining testosterone levels later in life. Healthy boys that got sick less often had higher testosterone levels, since illness stripped the younger boy's energy levels and therefore reduced their body's function of testosterone creation and regulation.

The effects on your body

How does testosterone change the body?

Testosterone is an androgenic hormone, which means that it produces masculine qualities in the body like increased body hair and muscle mass. It also increases energy and metabolizes fat into energy; increases bone density and increases physical (athletic) performance. It also elevates sex drive and sexual performance.

Can testosterone make you tired?

Testosterone actually increases energy levels by metabolizing fat (turning it into energy). Drops in testosterone can cause loss of energy. Low testosterone levels are heavily linked to chronic fatigue in men.

Will testosterone make you gain weight or lose weight? (Weight-loss)

Fat mass and testosterone are interlinked. They can be seen as opposing forces that balance each other out. Testosterone increases energy levels by metabolizing fat tissue and turning it into usable energy. On the other hand, increased fat mass (especially visceral fat - which is fat in the abdominal area) contains an enzyme which converts testosterone into estrogen. The more testosterone you have, the easier it will be to burn fat. Ironically, more fat will decrease your testosterone levels.

Will testosterone increase your height or make you taller?

Livestrong quotes a study that shows that increased testosterone levels can lead to increased height. It also states that reduced T production in young boys can lead to stunted growth. The hormone most commonly known for increasing height, though, is Human Growth Hormone (HGH).

Why does testosterone cause baldness?

From a biological standpoint, testosterone is what gives a man his lively vigor. Health is visible to more than just the amount of exercise that you can do. A man's hair and facial mane signifies his vigor and ability to protect his family and provide for them, similar to the mane of a lion. To find out how this happens in the body, keep on reading.

Will testosterone make you bald or cause hair loss?

Testosterone is linked to baldness. Men who were castrated at a young age did not have receding hairlines or go bold as they aged. It is a little more complicated than that, though. It is not the presence or amount of testosterone that leads to baldness, but the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotesterone (DHT). DHT shrinks hair follicles until hair stops growing entirely. Baldness is heavily connected to genetics because some men are more susceptible to the balding effects of DHT than others.

What causes DHT to be produced?

DHT (dihydrotesterone) is 5 times more potent than normal testosterone. It affects the body's hair follicles, skin and prostate. DHT is converted from normal testosterone by the enzymes 5-alpha reductase and DHEA (a hormone which is more commonly found in females). The prostate needs DHT to function normally. Enlarged prostates can be caused by too much DHT in the body.

Does DHT directly affect baldness?

No. This is determined to a greater extent by your genetics. Some men's hair follicles are more sensitive to the balding effects of DHT than others. For this reason, one man with lower levels of DHT can bald faster than someone else with higher levels of DHT. Genetics determine how susceptible your hair follicles are to the balding effects of DHT. Other factors that impact baldness include stress, age, diet and overall health.

Will testosterone make you look older?

This depends on your sex and age. For younger males, higher testosterone levels will make you look older due to increased body hair and muscle mass. It will also cause the typical deepening of a man's voice. For older males, increased testosterone levels will make you look younger because your body will have more energy, your bone and muscle density will be better and therefore your body won't look as frail. Depending on your genetics, testosterone will be converted to DHT which could initiate balding. Females need testosterone in order to produce estrogen (the female hormone). Testosterone can therefore have a positive impact on how well a woman ages.

Will testosterone cause acne?

Testosterone can cause acne, especially if it is not regulated properly. This typically occurs during puberty because the body needs to learn to regulate the new release of increased testosterone levels. Too much testosterone can lead to acne because it can overstimulate the oil glands in the skin.

Will testosterone raise blood pressure?

Harvard Medical School explains that testosterone could potentially lower blood pressure, increase good cholesterol and lower the chances of diabetes in men. They warn that more information is needed to confirm this and that undergoing testosterone therapy when the body does not need it could upset natural hormonal balances, although it seems to have positive effects when given to older men with low testosterone levels. Woman need to be even more cautious about increasing testosterone levels through t-therapy. Read more about t-therapy below.

Can testosterone cause blood clots?

A study by The BMJ found that testosterone therapy was linked to higher incidents of venous thromboembolism (VTE - blood clotting in the veins). There was a 63% increase in VTE among men who underwent t-therapy in the first 6 months of their treatment, compared to those who didn't.

Will testosterone help joint pain?

Not really, but this depends on the cause of the joint pain. Low testosterone levels can be interlinked with joint pain, but they are not mutually exclusive. If the joint pain is caused by lowered bone density (osteoarthritis), testosterone may play a role because it increases bone density. Lowered T levels could lead to lower bone density. If it is caused by increased weight which places additional pressure on the joints, testosterone could be interlinked because lower T levels can lead to weight gain. Fat mass produces an enzyme which converts testosterone into estrogen. One of testosterone's roles, on the other hand, is to convert fat into energy. Therefore, low testosterone levels tend to be a secondary cause of joint pain. There are many people who suffer with very low T levels who don't have joint pain, and there are many people who have high testosterone levels but suffer with joint pain. T-therapy cannot reduce joint pain on its own, or improve the health of a single joint.

Will testosterone help gain muscle or improve muscle growth?

Yes. One of testosterone's primary roles is to increase physical performance by increasing muscle strength. It will also reduce the time needed by muscles to recover before they are ready for another workload. If you are currently trying to gain muscle mass, there are also other aspects that come into play regarding increasing muscle size, such as the exercise used to stimulate muscle growth, the nutrients you supply your muscles with and the amount of rest you give them to rebuild and get stronger.

Will testosterone increase muscle size?

Yes. Base testosterone levels determine how much muscle you will have naturally. More natural-occurring testosterone levels are why males tend to have more muscle mass than females. Increasing testosterone levels will increase muscle mass. You can increase testosterone levels naturally by doing compound exercises, taking cold showers regularly, eating high protein foods (especially with magnesium and omega 3), getting enough high quality sleep and exposing your body to sunlight.

Will testosterone kill you?

Yes, too much testosterone can kill you. LA Biomed cites a study which found that men who live the longest have testosterone in the middle ranges. Too high or too low testosterone levels can lead to health complications. In the study, 3690 men were split into four groups, depending on their testosterone levels. The group with the lowest T levels and the group with the highest T levels had the lowest mortality rates.

At what age do testosterone levels start dropping?

According to WebMD, testosterone levels in men start to decline after the age of 30. It is commonly known that T levels in healthy men start to decrease by 1% per year from the age of 40.

Are my testosterone levels dropping?

Symptoms of decreased T levels include fatigue, hair loss, increased fat mass, depression, listlessness, decreased/decreasing muscle mass, physical weakness, low sex drive and other sexual challenges. If you are above the age of 30, drink a lot of alcohol, live an inactive or unhealthy lifestyle, struggle to get enough good quality sleep or face excessive mental stress, you are at risk of lowered testosterone levels.

What are the symptoms of low testosterone?

These are the most common signs of low T levels:
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue/ low energy
  • Reduced muscle size and strength
  • Development of gynaecomastia in men (increased breast tissue)
  • Reduced sex drive and function and low semen count
  • Increased body fat
  • Decreased bone density
  • Mood changes (depression, listlessness)
  • Decreased memory and brain function
  • Smaller testicle size

Are testosterone levels higher in the morning?

Yes they are. Your body spends the night recovering physically and regulating its hormone levels. It is similar to a battery that is placed on charge. Testosterone levels tend to peak in the morning and slowly tapir down throughout the day, with their lowest levels being at night before you sleep.

How does testosterone burn fat?

As a hormone, testosterone travels throughout the body via the bloodstream and sends messages to the different organs that it comes into contact with. It tells muscle tissue to increase in size, which takes a lot of calories to build and maintain. It also tells the body to metabolize fat into energy. Higher testosterone levels are the reason why men tend to have less body fat than woman.

What does testosterone do to your face?

Besides increased facial hair, testosterone also increases oil secretion in the skin. This can lead to acne and pimples if unregulated. Since it decreases body fat, it can give the appearance of higher cheek bones and a more muscular face. It can also lead to a square jaw bone structure, similar to the facial structure of most cartoon superheroes.

Sexual function

Will testosterone increase or boost female libido?

Mayo Clinic states that studies show that testosterone therapy can improve the sex drive of a woman who has diminished sexual desire after menopause. They warn, though, that the long-term effects of T therapy in woman are unknown. UTSW Med, on the other hand, states that T therapy does not work and can have adverse side effects in woman. What is my opinion? Increase testosterone naturally by exercising regularly, getting enough good quality sleep and exposing yourself to enough sunlight and your sex drive will thank you, just the way nature intended.

Can testosterone cause infertility?

Yes. While testosterone is needed for sperm production, T therapy can diminish the creation of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone is directly linked to sperm production. So while testosterone boosting drugs may increase sex drive, they could diminish fertility in the process. According to The Advanced Reproductive Medicine of the University of Colorado, regaining sperm counts after testosterone therapy can take months and certain treatments could permanently lower sperm counts.

Mood, behavioral and emotional response

Will Testosterone help anxiety?

According to Very Well Mind, low T levels are linked to social anxiety, and estrogen is linked to increased feelings of anxiety. They also explain how stress leads to the production and release of the stress hormone cortisol, which slows down testosterone production. Testosterone and cortisol tend to balance each other out. For this reason, testosterone could reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Can testosterone cause depression?

On the contrary, depression is one of the major signs of low testosterone levels. Depression is more linked to people who don't have enough testosterone and t-therapy has been shown to improve the mental well-being of people who struggle with depression. If you flood your body with too much testosterone in the form of supplements, drugs or steroids, you could experience the opposite effect as your brain tries to balance out the sudden increases in testosterone.

How does testosterone affect the brain?

Testosterone has a positive effect on neurotransmission within the brain. It encourages new brain tissue growth. Testosterone also has a role in increasing Human Growth Hormone (HGH) secretion, which is essential for optimal brain development and recovery. For this reason, low T levels are connected to lower levels of focus and concentration.

How does testosterone affect mood and behavior?

According to Health Line, testosterone is linked to dominance, competitiveness and aggression. It boosts self-esteem and gives you the 'emotional power' that you need to overcome certain challenges that are important to survive and flourish as a species. Sexual activity and competitive activities affect testosterone secretion. Low testosterone levels are linked to lower confidence, willpower and motivation. Lower T levels also lower focus and concentration and can lead to feelings of sadness or depression. Health Line notes that Testosterone levels are only one factor out of many things that influence personality traits.

Why testosterone makes you angry

Anger can be caused by both high and low testosterone. Low T can lead to anger because the mind gets frustrated with the simple tasks that it is struggling to accomplish, when these tasks should be easy. Performance is very important to a man. Men find personal value in what they are able to do. Decreased ability can pull on the emotional strings of someone with low T levels. Additionally, low testosterone can cause depression, and anger might be depression in an explosive (instead of the typical implosive) form. High T levels can cause anger for two reasons. Similar to low testosterone, the brain might be working overtime to correct the sudden increase in testosterone, which leads to the same symptoms that low testosterone levels might exhibit. Secondly, we've examined how testosterone increases competitive nature and feelings. Anger might be the tool that a person feels is the most effective at gaining that competitive edge over a situation.

Testosterone boosters, pills, patches, supplements and replacement therapy (TRT)

Who needs testosterone supplements, boosters or replacement therapy? 

People with chronically low testosterone levels will be recommended one of these methods by a doctor. You can request your doctor to test your testosterone levels (via blood test) if you suffer from fatigue, depression, listlessness, decreased sex drive or desire, lower memory or mental ability or decreased muscle strength. Age, lack of physical activity, poor dieting, smoking and alcohol abuse are common causes of lowered testosterone levels.

What tests are done by a doctor before testosterone therapy?

Generally, a DRE and PSA test (read below for descriptions) are recommended for t-therapy candidates. If either if these tests indicate potential prostate cancer, further testing is done to see whether the patient has prostate cancer. The reason for this is because the lowering of testosterone is a common method of treating prostate cancer.

What is PSA?

Prostate-specific antigens (PSA) are proteins made in the prostate. They liquefy semen and allow sperm to swim freely. The larger a prostate, the more PSA will be present in the bloodstream. A PSA blood test is a measurement used to determine how much free vs bound PSA is in the blood. This provides a good indication of prostate enlargement and whether this enlargement could be due to cancer.

What is a DRE?

A DRE is a digital rectal exam. It is also known as a prostate exam.

What is a prostate?

The prostate is a gland that secretes fluid for the sperm to swim in. It sits between the penis and the bladder, just before the anus. The urethra (the tube that removes urine) runs through it.

How does testosterone therapy work?

There are two types of t-therapy: Exogenous and endogenous. Exogenous refers to therapy using testosterone that is made outside of the body while endogenous is where testosterone is made within the body. There are a variety of methods that can be used and different methods are prescribed by doctors in accordance with individual requirements. Read on to find out more about the different types of testosterone therapy currently available.

What is the difference between testosterone therapy (t-therapy) and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)?

There is no difference. They both refer to treatments were testosterone is put into the body.

What types of testosterone therapy are there?

The injection

This is the original, oldest form of testosterone therapy. It is relatively cheap and works for most people. The cons are that this treatment requires that you see your doctor every few weeks and may induce a mild yo-yo effect within the body since T levels increase and slowly reduce to natural levels as the drug wears off before the next injection.

The patch

The T patch provides a more stable from of testosterone supply. One con of this method is that almost half of all men develop a skin irritation or negative reaction to the patch on the area of skin to which it is applied.

How does testosterone boosting gel work?

This is one of the most common forms of t-therapy. It delivers the stability which the injection lacks, and induces far less irritation than the patch. A con with this method is that a small portion of men don't get enough absorption from the gel to meet their needs.

Pills

Some brands can potentially cause liver toxicity. Besides the obvious convenience, they tend to be more effective than patches but may cause negative oral symptoms such as gum and mouth irritation, pain or tenderness.

What are testosterone pellets?

These are another form of t-therapy. Pellets, which are about the size of a grain of rice, are implanted into your skin by a doctor. The testosterone drugs in these pellets take a long time to be absorbed by the body and therefore provide a slow and steady supply of the hormone.

When do testosterone pellets wear off?

Since absorption rates are very slow, testosterone pellets can last up to 6 months.

Are there any side effects of testosterone therapy?

Yes. Testosterone therapy can increase the amount of red blood cells in the blood, breast size and sensitivity, sleep apnea, skin irritation and acne, and cause reduced sperm count among other effects. The side effects are dependent on a variety of factors like the type of treatment and specific drug used.

How long does t-therapy take to work?

The positive effects of testosterone should be felt within 2 months.

Are there any people who should avoid t-therapy?

Yes. If you have prostate or breast cancer (as well as bumps in these areas or a PSA greater than 3ng/ml in the blood), too many red blood cells present in the blood, severe sleep apnea, problems with your urinary tract or heightened risk for heart failure; testosterone therapy is not recommended.

Which form of testosterone or testosterone treatment is best? Are injections, pills, patches, TRT, or supplements better?

As discussed above, different forms of testosterone therapy have their individual pros and cons. Injections seem to provide the highest amount of testosterone per single dose while gels give a stable income of testosterone while reducing the risk of skin irritation. Testosterone booster supplements, on the other hand, are more natural.

What testosterone boosters are there?

There are many testosterone boosters available on the market. Here are the most common, natural ones:

Ginger

The African Journal of Biomedical Research has a study where rats were split into three groups. One group was given an amount of ginger, while a second group was given twice the amount. The third group was given none. The group of rats who had the highest amount of ginger had the highest amount of serum testosterone levels after the 14 and 28 day trials. Other studies back up these findings. Sperm production and sexual function were also increased.

Vitamin D

Studies prove that increased Vitamin D levels lead to increased testosterone levels. Exposure to sun initiates the production and release of Vitamin D. If you are unable or unwilling to expose yourself to the sun's rays, you can take a multivitamin which has Vitamin D or buy it on its own at supplement stores. This may come in handy particularly during winter seasons. Vitamin D is also needed for a healthy immune system.

Zinc

Zinc deficiency is prevalent throughout the Western world. Low zinc levels are closely associated with low testosterone levels. Studies show that zinc supplementation increases natural testosterone production. You can read one of those studies here.

Magnesium

Magnesium is also a great testosterone booster, together with its other muscle-boosting and endurance-prolonging effects. Many people are magnesium deficient. You can read about a study which observed the positive correlation between magnesium and testosterone levels here.

Tribulus Terrestris

This is a medicinal plant that has been used for centuries to improve overall health. Its testosterone-boosting effects make it one of the most popular natural t-boosters. Since this is a natural booster, it won't increase your T levels if they are already as high as they can be. It can increase testosterone production in people with lowered levels, though.

Fenugreek

Also a popular, natural, plant-based testosterone booster; fenugreek works by reducing the enzymes that convert testosterone into estrogen. This leads to natural increases in testosterone levels and increases testosterone's effect on every bodily function before being metabolized.

D-Aspartic Acid

This amino acid is important for protein synthesis (the conversion of protein into body tissue), but it also increases testosterone levels by increasing the amount of T that the testes make. It takes under 2 weeks for testosterone to levels to increase as a result of aspartic acid supplementation.

Ashwagandha

Health Line lists the benefits of this medicinal herb; such as reduced blood sugar levels, assisting in the prevention of cancer, reduced cortisol levels and reduction of anxiety, stress and depression, increased muscle mass and strength, reduced inflammation, lowered cholesterol and improved brain function. They cite studies that prove that this herb increases testosterone levels while also increasing sexual function and fertility in men. In one study, 14% of the participants' partners became pregnant, while they were testing the herb's ability to reduce stress levels.

Are testosterone boosters effective or any good at all? And do testosterone boosters work?

Yes they do. The studies above show the results of extensive trials done to test their effectiveness. It is important to remember, though, that these are more natural approaches compared to testosterone therapy where we have already compared the different options currently available. Since they support natural testosterone production within the body, many of these testosterone boosters won't work if your testosterone levels are already at the highest levels that they can be naturally.

How do testosterone boosters work?

Different boosters work according to different mechanics. Ginger is a powerful antioxidant and therefore increases overall health which boosts all vital functions, such as testosterone production. Vitamin D is needed for proper hormone regulation, boosting natural hormonal activity. Zinc increases the body's ability to create new cells and chemicals. Magnesium increases the body's energy levels and therefore ability to maintain itself. Tribulus Terrestris stimulates the formation of Testosterone. Fenugreek reduces the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. Aspartic acid increases the amount of testosterone made in the testes. Ashwagandha increase overall health restores vigor to the body in general.

Are testosterone supplements and boosters safe?

This depends on the supplements. The ones outlined above are safe for general use if taken within recommended dosages. Typically, testosterone boosters bought off the shelves of reputable supplement stores are safe for use by most people. Most of them are nutrients that the body needs daily. Most are herbal, plant-based products. You need to be more careful with testosterone boosters (or treatments) that you buy at 'over the counter' sections of pharmacies or that require a prescription. As always, consult your doctor before taking any new supplements or medications.

What do testosterone supplements do?

These boosters, or supplements, are used to increase the amount of testosterone within the body. In most cases, boosters work by increasing the amount of testosterone that is naturally produced. For treatments that involve using testosterone that is produced outside of the body, refer to the testosterone replacement therapy section above.

Can testosterone expire?

Inside the body, testosterone is converted or metabolized into different chemicals once it has completed its job. In outside sources such as testosterone therapy medications, they do expire. Pay close attention to the leaflets provided in order to stay within expiry dates.

Can testosterone supplements, patches or pills cause depression?

Testosterone actually decreases the chances of depression and anxiety. Those are common symptoms of low testosterone levels. Natural boosters and supplements are generally safe for consumption because they increase testosterone production by increasing health and overall internal function. I cannot speak on behalf of all supplements, since there might be added ingredients in the products that could affect your mental state (although not very likely). Testosterone therapies like pills, patches, gels and injections could potentially overload your system with too much testosterone if not taken as prescribed by a doctor. This could create adverse effects, including mental instability, as your body tries to balance out the sudden spike in testosterone.

Are testosterone boosters the same as steroids?

Supplements and boosters that are bought off the shelves of reputable pharmaceutical or supplement stores are not the same as steroids. These boosters mainly work by increasing your body's natural production of testosterone, instead of introducing external testosterone into the system. Most of these supplements are common nutrients that the body needs like magnesium, zinc, antioxidants and amino acids. Testosterone therapies like patches, pills, gels and injections are more similar to steroids in comparison.

Which testosterone boosters work?

As described above, all the testosterone boosters and supplements listed here are shown to work by trusted studies. The question is whether they will work for you as an individual. If you are not deficient in magnesium (most people are - especially those who exercise regularly or don't eat enough leafy greens), a magnesium-based testosterone booster will not have an effect on you. Since boosters increase natural T production, you will experience no effect if your T levels are already as high as they can be. In addition to this, most of them take about 2 weeks or more to bring about noticeable differences.

What is the best testosterone supplement or booster? Which testosterone supplement should I take?

That is determined by what your body needs. It you eat an unhealthy diet, antioxidants like ginger and Ashwagandha might show you the biggest difference. If you sweat a lot and don't replace your electrolytes, magnesium supplements might give you the bigger result. If more testosterone is converted into estrogen than normal in your body, fenugreek might be best. Since the supplements listed above are natural, you can try out the different ones for a period of three weeks each until you find the one which your body responds to the most.

Are testosterone injections legal, and are they dangerous?

T injections are only legal once they have been prescribed by registered doctors. During the prescription, the doctors will determine whether there are any risks involved with the injections. Without a prescription, they can be very dangerous, since they involve hormonal levels which the body depends on to survive and maintain its overall well-being.

Can testosterone shots reverse a vasectomy?

No. Testosterone will not reverse the effects of a vasectomy. If you switch off a tap, changing the water on the other side of the tap won't turn the tap back on.

Will testosterone supplements, patches, or pills increase penis size?

These methods may increase penis size. The Daily Mail covered a story about a man who had a very small penis due to low testosterone production. He also had problems with normal erections and struggled to ejaculate due to a low sperm count. In 9 months of testosterone treatment, his penis almost doubled in size. It is important to note that he had extremely low levels before starting the treatment. There is a direct correlation between testosterone secretion and penis size.

Will testosterone shots help erectile dysfunction (ED)?

This is one of the reasons why testosterone shots are prescribed by doctors. They may help with erectile dysfunction. 

Will testosterone cream build muscle?

Since testosterone increases muscle mass, T creams and gels may assist in the creation of more muscle. As stated in the descriptions of different testosterone replacement therapies above, some people experience lowered rates of testosterone absorption from creams and gels compared to other treatments. Muscle mass could increase, especially if testosterone levels are lower than what they should be.

Which testosterone level do you check?

Testosterone is mostly tested via blood test. There are two values which this test shows: testosterone attached to the protein albumin or sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and free testosterone. Doctors mainly look at free testosterone to determine T levels. Normal T levels range from 300-1000 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter) in adult men and 15-70 ng/dL in adult woman.

When do testosterone levels start dropping in men?

Testosterone levels change frequently. After the age of 40, T levels in healthy men should drop by around 1% per year.

Different forms of testosterone

Where does testosterone cypionate come from?

This is a form of testosterone given as an injection, a method of t-therapy that is injected into muscle tissue or under the skin's surface of men who have low T levels. 

Testosterone in drug form can be made in different ways. There are synthetic ways to create testosterone, but plant sources are cheaper and easier to make. This is done using phytosterols, the chemical compounds found in plants. Soy and yams are the most common plants used to derive the phytosterols needed to make testosterone drugs.

Is testosterone cypionate the same as normal testosterone produced in the body?

Testosterone cypionate breaks down into the same kind of testosterone that the body uses, but it takes more time to do so. This increases the effectiveness of testosterone cypionate, because it allows the testosterone to be used slowly as opposed to creating a large spike in testosterone levels which drop back to normal shortly afterwards. This increases the effectiveness of the testosterone drug from a few hours to several days.

When does testosterone convert to DHT?

An enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR) turns T into DHT (dihydrotestosterone). This is done in the testes and prostate. DHT is 5 times more powerful than normal testosterone. This happens to almost 10% of normal testosterone.

Why does testosterone convert to DHT?

DHT is, like testosterone, an androgenic hormone. This means that DHT is needed to create the characteristics needed for masculinity. Some parts of the body respond better to normal testosterone (muscle tissue), while other parts respond better to DHT (basically everything else). This is why people who use DHT inhibitors often experience symptoms associated with low testosterone levels (larger breast tissue, depression, lower energy levels and higher levels of estrogen). DHT is needed by the body in the same way as testosterone. As we've already discussed, the effects of DHT on hair loss are more genetic than anything else. Taking drugs that inhibit DHT production often leads to decreased performance (mental, physical and sexual).

Medical

What testosterone level is normal? What is too high and what is too low?

In men, normal testosterone levels range from 300-1000 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter), while woman should have testosterone levels of 15-70 ng/dL. Anything above or below this is regarded as too high or too low. Healthy men should expect of drop in testosterone levels of approximately 1% per year after the age of 40.

Who discovered testosterone? 

In 1935, Ernest Laqueur discovered testosterone by successfully separating it from the testicles of bulls.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

4 Keys to Turning 2019 into Your Healthiest Year Yet!


New Year’s resolutions are awesome, and while they’re fun to make, they're also difficult to keep. Every year, approximately 1 in 3 Americans make New Year’s resolutions. However, very few maintain their new commitment throughout the year.

It’s estimated that around 75-percent of resolution makers stick to their plans for a week. Six months later, that number drops to 50-percent.

Once the excitement of the New Year’s ends, it can be difficult to maintain enthusiasm about resolutions. Still, it’s not hopeless.

The following segments highlight 4 keys to sticking to your resolutions and making 2019 your healthiest year ever.

Key One: Focus on Mental Health


Life's responsibilities, such as family and work, can have a considerable negative impact on your mental health. Heavy workloads, long hours and ongoing chaos can create anxiety, depression and stress. Because of this, it’s essential that you find ways to find a balance between life and work. There are many resources and practices to help you accomplish this. 

Incessant work as a part of many people’s identity. In fact, many professionals are practically programmed to work nonstop. This can help people succeed in their careers, but the negative effects on one’s physical and emotional health don’t outweigh the benefits.

It’s important that you find time for yourself. By taking time to unplug and give your mind a break, you can relieve stress and find a sustainable work-life balance.

Key Two: Need an Energy Boost? Exercise


Many people go to doctors complaining of fatigue. Counterintuitively, however, the solution for fatigue is more physical activity.

Studies show that moderate physical activity creates the urge to want to do more. The more you move around, the more you will feel energized. However, there’s a limit to the amount of exercise that will make you feel rejuvenated.

Studies showed that regular, low-intensity exercise can increase energy by 20-percent and decrease fatigue by up to 65-percent. While many believe that exercise makes you tired, it actually creates energy. 

Your diet does produce some energy, but your ability to produce energy is directly affected by your daily activity. Experts recommend a 10- to 15-minute daily walk to keep your energy levels high.

Key Three: Beat Common Colds & Illnesses with Proper Hygiene


Most serious infections are spread because of people’s habits. Handwashing is an excellent way to prevent the spread of disease.

Healthcare specialists recommend that providers clean their hands as much as 100 times during each 12-hour shift. Studies show that healthcare providers clean their hands less than 50-percent than what the experts recommend. Because of this, 1 in 25 patients succumbs to illnesses every day. 

Hand sanitizer is a popular cleaning product. However, alcohol-based sanitizer does not kill clostridium difficile, which causes clostridium difficile colitis – severe inflammation of the large intestine. Still, it’s more effective and gentler on the skin than hand soap. Also, alcohol-based sanitizer does not create superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics. You can prevent the spread of disease by washing your hands often.

Key Four: Make Diet a Priority


Seemingly every year, a new diet fad hits mainstream media. More often than not, these trendy, restrictive diets are flawed. Yet that is now changing thanks to the development of eHealth devices which can improve patient awareness of their health, as well as improve the relationship between healthcare providers and the general public. 

Typically, devoted fad dieters will lose weight fast, but the regimens of most new diets are too difficult to sustain for any amount of time. Ultimately, most people who follow these diets give up on eating healthy.

The idea of losing 10 pounds in a week is appealing to many. In reality, however, losing weight that fast is unhealthy and definitely unsustainable.

Alternatively, experts recommend adopting a healthy, sustainable lifestyle based on your own needs. For starters, try to stay away from beverages that are heavy in added sugar. Sugar-laden beverages are a top contributor to heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Also, it’s an excellent idea to stay away from sugary foods while you’re at it.

No matter what resolutions you take on in 2019, the idea is to do better than you did the year before. Many people choose health-related resolutions, and it makes sense. Investing in your health is an undertaking that can provide priceless returns for years on end.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Sleep addiction: Oversleeping is just as bad for you as sleeping too little


We know that most people in the typical Western lifestyle do not get enough good quality sleep. Our jobs are too demanding, our phones are too entertaining and our minds are too preoccupied with the events of the day to settle down and relax. 

There are still many, however, who experience the negative consequences of too much sleep. Here are the biggest reasons why too much sleep can hamper your overall well-being.

Your brain needs a balance between periods of activity and rest

By looking at the body, we can easily understand the importance of a good balance between work and rest. Too much exercise leads to overtraining. This happens when the body is subjected to more physical exercise than what it can recover from, and starts to break down instead of strengthen. Athletes, people with self-image disorders and exercise enthusiasts are the most susceptible to overtraining. We know that on the other hand, too little exercise is also detrimental to your health. 

By looking at the above example, it is easy to understand that the brain works in the same way. The brain needs enough stimulation to stay healthy. This is why playing chess regularly is linked to decreased mental illness occurrence like Alzheimer’s disease. Our brains were made to think, discover, solve problems and learn. 

Since we are living beings, we are constantly adapting to the stimulus that we receive. You can’t think of your brain as a tool that you leave in the shed for a few months and find in the same condition that you left it, because the brain is constantly adapting to change. If it is not used and exercised, it will diminish in ability. Our body’s constant adaption to stimulus is called homeostasis. Homeostasis is a survival mechanism where the body responds to stimulus.

Your brain uses neurons to process information. It does this by transferring information form one neuron to the other. The connections between these neurons thrive or wither according to the activities that you do regularly. This is why you can’t remember everything that you have ever learned. Doing less mental work allows the brain to clean up the connections between these neurons, giving you lower processing power. Since you have less processing power, your brain will tire sooner. Mental fatigue sets in prematurely and signals the need for even more sleep.

Varied stimulation

We’ve established how a stimulated brain is a healthy brain. Subjecting your brain to too few forms of stimulation also leads to a decline in mental function. Variety allows some brain functions to rest while still being stimulated enough to strengthen.

If we return to the physical exercise example, runners who add variety to their exercises will improve running performance more than those who don’t. For example, stretching the leg muscles increase their ability to run.

Falling into a simple cycle of work and rest decreases the brain’s ability to cope with work. By doing other activities, the brain will be strengthen and improve its overall processing power. For example, doing a hobby that you enjoy will release a hormone called dopamine, your brains enjoyment (or reward) hormone. This hormone has positive effects on the brain. It has been shown to increase learning ability and focus length. This could explain why adding humor to learning experiences increase information retention.

Sleep quality

Have you heard the saying, ‘there is nothing like good rest after good work?’ 
Good activity leads to good rest, while lack of activity leads to a decreased need (and therefore quality) of rest. This is why exercise gives people more energy. Their bodies respond to the lack of energy from exercise by creating even more energy. When we rest while still having a lot of energy, our bodies respond by decreasing overall energy levels. 

Our bodies rest when they are not exercising, but get the most rest during sleep. Our brains work in the same way: they get some rest while doing relaxing activities, but get the most rest from sleep. If sleep time increases while activity (being awake) decreases, your brain balances this out by lowering the amount of recovery that it goes through per sleep cycle. This ultimately means that when you sleep more, your brain learns to require more sleep for the same recovery functions that typically requires less sleep.

Sleep addiction

By what we have seen above, your brain will adjust to too much sleep and start to require more sleep for less mental output. This starts a negative cycle where more sleep leads to even more sleep. Since you are tired all the time (as a result of unintentionally training yourself to sleep so much), you think that you need even more sleep. You feel better after sleep, but this is short-lived because your brain will want to return to its new normal after a short period of mental effort. This is how sleeping too much is very similar to addiction.

Many argue that you cannot be addicted to a biological need like breathing and eating. We all know that we can be addicted to eating too much or too little. The inability (or extreme difficulty) to breathe too much does not take away from the fact that eating food can become an addiction. 
If you give your body too much or too little of what it needs, problems arise. It is as simple as that.

How much sleep do we really need?



Easy ways to keep oversleeping in check

Get a hobby

If you are using sleep as a way to escape from reality, find a good hobby that you enjoy. This will teach your brain that it can cope with stress while still being awake. By enjoying your wakeful hours, your brain won’t associate wakefulness with negativity. Teach yourself to deal with stress in ways that don’t require sleep. When you do sleep, being in a more relaxed and calm state will increase sleep quality and therefore reduce your total sleep need. Finding something that you enjoy doing while you are awake will reduce your emotional need to run to sleep. You will find it easier to stay awake during the times that you should be.
These hobbies can include reading, painting, spending time for friends and family and gardening.

Exercise

When you exercise, your body adapts by creating more energy. This energy surplus will make you feel better for longer. If you are already trapped in the cycle of low energy and too much sleep, start off with short, low-intensity exercises to build up your energy gradually. By doing too much too soon, you risk re-enforcing the false idea that exercise is draining or excruciating. By increasing your exercise efforts slowly and incrementally, you will start to enjoy it and experience the beneficial health effects that exercise brings you.

Stick to the same sleep schedule

Our bodies work on a sleep clock called the circadian rhythm. This allows us to learn when to sleep and when to stay awake. Certain things influence the circadian rhythm, like as sunlight, stress and physical activity. By going to bed at the same time, you increase your sleep quality because when you think you should sleep and when you actually do start to synchronize. If you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, you give your brain a chance to adapt to something useful; you will end up feeling tired when it is time to sleep, but wakeful for the rest of the day.

Make sure that you are getting the best quality sleep

Sleep quality refers to how much benefit you get from sleep within a certain period of time. If you sleep for a long period of time but do not recover sufficiently from mental and physical strain, you did not get enough good quality sleep. By increasing sleep quality, you reduce the amount of time that you need to sleep while increasing the amount of energy that you have when you are awake.

Here are some of the most common causes of poor sleep quality:

Snoring and sleep apnea (inability to maintain deep sleep due to a lack of oxygen)
Poor room light (not dark enough for the brain to associate sleep time with night-time)
Room temperature (too hot or too cold to relax)
Mental stress (brain feels too threatened to calm down)

Don’t sleep your life away. Learn that life can feel really good when you are awake if you make the effort to experience it. As with any major change, start small and build up progress over time to make that change sustainable. STAY STRONG!