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science nutrition <strong>blog</strong>

By Steve Blechman


Prolonged stress brought on by financial problems, relationship difficulties, pressures at work or individual coping strategies can increase levels of hormones called glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones that include the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands located above each kidney. The adrenal glands are composed of two parts: the cortex and the medulla. Cortisol is produced in the adrenal cortex. Cortisol controls the metabolism and use of proteins, fat and carbohydrates. It also increases blood sugar and regulates blood pressure. Research has shown that long-term chronic stress, often referred to as “the silent killer,” can cause diseases and death by:

- Sudden heart attack

- Cardiovascular disease

- Hypertension and stroke

- Cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease

- Bleeding ulcers

- Anxiety

- Depression

- Cancer

- Alcohol and drug abuse

- Liver disease

- Sleep disturbances

- Obesity

- Abdominal fat stores

- Metabolic syndrome

- Diabetes

ScienceDaily recently reported, “Cardiovascular disease is a major global problem, and we are preventing and treating it using several approaches, including pharmaceuticals, physical activity and diet. But this study emphasizes we have to include sleep as one of the weapons we use to fight heart disease— a factor we are compromising every day,” said senior study author José M. Ordovás, Ph.D., researcher at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) in Madrid, and director of nutrition and genomics at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. “This is the first study to show that objectively measured sleep is independently associated with atherosclerosis throughout the body, not just in the heart.”

The new study included 3,974 bank employees in Spain from the PESA CNIC-Santander Study, led by JACC editor-in-chief Valentin Fuster, MD, Ph.D., which uses imaging techniques to detect the prevalence and rate of progression of subclinical vascular lesions in a population with an average age of 46 years. All participants were without known heart disease and two-thirds were men. All participants wore an actigraph, a small device that continuously measures activity or movement, for seven days to measure their sleep. They were divided into four groups: those who slept less than six hours, those who slept six to seven hours, those who slept seven to eight hours and those who slept more than eight hours. The participants underwent 3D heart ultrasound and cardiac CT scans to look for heart disease.

The study found that when traditional risk factors for heart disease were considered, participants who slept less than six hours were 27 percent more likely to have atherosclerosis throughout the body compared with those who slept seven to eight hours. Similarly, those who had a poor quality of sleep were 34 percent more likely to have atherosclerosis compared with those who had a good quality of sleep. Quality of sleep was defined by how often a person woke during the night, and the frequency of movements during the sleep, which reflect the sleep phases.

The new study is different from previous studies on sleep and heart health in several ways, Ordovás said. It is larger than many earlier studies and focused on a healthy population. Many previous studies have included people with sleep apnea or other health problems. While other studies have relied on questionnaires to determine how much sleep participants got, this study used actigraphs to obtain objective measures of sleep.

“What people report and what they do are often different,” he said.

The study also used state-of-the-art 3D ultrasound to measure atherosclerosis throughout the body, not just in the heart.

In an editorial, Daniel J. Gottlieb, MD, MPH and Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, from the VA Boston Healthcare System and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Center, said further studies are needed to determine whether changing sleep behaviors will improve heart health.

“The potentially enormous impact of sleep deprivation and disruption on population health, reinforced by the present study, is ample justification for such trials, which are needed to place sleep with confidence alongside diet and exercise as a key pillar of a healthy lifestyle,” they wrote. (ScienceDaily, January 14, 2019)

Chronically high levels of cortisol suppress the immune system and are an important component of overtraining syndrome that plagues intensely trained athletes. High levels of cortisol can promote weight gain by increasing caloric and fat intake, resulting in greater body fat. Cortisol can increase the number of fat cells, which makes it increasingly more difficult to control body fat. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels can increase abdominal fat! We did not completely understand the molecular role of cortisol in promoting obesity and weight gain until now.

For the first time, a recent study provides the molecular understanding of why people gain weight due to chronic stress, disrupted circadian rhythms and the use of glucocorticoid drugs often used in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. The new research was done by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and published in the prestigious journal Cell Metabolism on April 3, 2018.

Mary Teruel, Ph.D. and senior author of the study said, “It explains why treatments with glucocorticoid drugs, which are often essential for people with rheumatoid arthritis and asthma to even function, are so linked with obesity, and it suggests ways in which such treatments can be given safely without the common side effects of weight gain and bone loss.” This new research suggests that by controlling the timing of cortisol levels, pulses can help reduce weight gain.

Cortisol levels rise and fall over a 24-hour cycle, lowest at 3:00 a.m. and highest at 8:00 a.m. The circadian rhythm cycle is 24-hour body clock governed by when we wake up to light and start the day and exercise, and at night when getting ready to slow down and go to sleep. So, what can we do to lower stress during the day and night to prevent hypertension, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, the metabolic syndrome and weight gain?

1. Practice relaxation techniques. Learn how to relax! Yoga, meditation and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response. Also, read a good book and get a massage. These activities can reduce your everyday stress levels.

2. Exercise during the day. Exercise relieves and lifts your mood during the day and night.

3. Eat a healthy Mediterranean diet. Recent research has shown that a low-carb Mediterranean diet is more effective for weight loss than a low-fat diet. The Mediterranean diet is high in fish, vegetables, nuts, beans, legumes, olive oil, mono and polyunsaturated fats and small amounts of red wine. It is low in saturated fats. The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to be protective against cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, inflammation, depression, cancer, obesity and abdominal fat stores.

4. Take a sauna bath or hot tub (i.e., Jacuzzi™). Heat therapy is a great way to relieve stress. It increases vasodilation, blood flow and relaxation.

5. Turn off the TV! Watching TV before bed or worse, falling asleep to the TV, interferes with sleep. The blue light from TV can affect sleep and production of melatonin, which tells your body it’s time for sleep.

6. Avoid tablets and smartphones before sleep. Research has found that mobile devices, tablets, backlit e-readers and computer screens emit blue light and disturbs melatonin and biochemical processes that promote sleep.

7. Listen to classical music. Recent research has shown the powers of soothing music to lower stress. Especially slow, quiet, classical music! This type of music slows pulse and heart rate and decreases stress hormones.

8. Have more sex! Sexual activity, especially orgasm, triggers the release of oxytocin, which promotes bonding and helps relieve stress. Science suggests sex can improve mood and combat anxiety by reducing stress.

9. Get more sleep. Recent research has shown that nighttime owls have a higher risk of dying sooner. Sleep problems disrupt metabolic and hormonal control systems that regulate bodyweight. This has resulted in cardiovascular disease, poor blood sugar control, insulin resistance and stress-related increase in cortisol. CT scans have shown that short sleep duration increases abdominal fat, total body fat and surface fat. Many studies link inadequate sleep to obesity. “Less than seven hours of sleep a night is associated with increased morbidity and mortality due to increased inflammatory burden and endothelial dysfunction.” (Experimental Physiology, April 23, 2019.) Better yet – try rocking yourself to sleep. Studies have shown that rocking yourself to sleep, like in a hammock for instance, or in bed, improves sleep quality and improves memory. (Current Biology, 2018, Current Biology, 2019)

10. Take NEW AML CALMING COCKTAIL™ at night on an empty stomach. AML CALMING COCKTAIL™ contains a synergistic blend of research-backed compounds that helps manage stress, anxiety and promotes relaxation and sleep naturally!† AML CALMING COCKTAIL™ is the most scientifically advanced anti-stress formula for chilling out ever developed naturally – without the use of potentially dangerous drugs, or alcohol abuse! Experts are warning of a potential public health crisis fueled by binge drinking in young adults ( May 14, 2019.)† Excess drinking from stress can damage the liver, the pancreas, heart and brain!

AML CALMING COCKTAIL™ contains 10mg of melatonin.

1) Research has shown that 10mg of melatonin in adults can enhance mental health.†

2) Melatonin can promote sleep naturally.†

3) Helps manage stress, anxiety and depression.†

4) Helps burn fat by increasing brown fat thermogenesis. †

5) Melatonin is an antioxidant and neuro-protector in the brain. Stress can increase oxidative stress and inflammation.†

AML CALMING COCKTAIL™ contains 3 grams of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA function has an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.†

1) GABA helps manage stress and anxiety.

2) GABA promotes a feeling of relaxation and calming effect. †

3) Oral administration of GABA reportedly elevates resting serum growth hormone (GH) concentrations. Growth hormone has been shown to improve lean body mass by supporting muscle growth and enhancing fat loss.† Research has shown that 3 grams of GABA, orally ingested, elevated both immunoreactive GH (irGH) and immunofunctional GH (ifGH) compared to placebo. Peak concentrations were elevated by 400% in adults. (Science in Sports and Exercise, January 2008.)†

AML CALMING COCKTAIL™ contains 3 grams of L-taurine. Taurine functions as an inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitter in the brain. Taurine works synergistically with GABA by activating GABA receptors for greater effect.†

1) Taurine enhances mental health.†

2) Taurine helps manage stress and anxiety. †

3) Taurine functions as an antioxidant. Stress increases reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inflammation. †

4) Taurine helps promote feelings of relaxation especially when it is combined with GABA.†

5) Taurine plays a protective role in managing stress-induced behavior and biochemical changes.†

6) Don’t take taurine supplements before a workout because research has shown that it can hinder performance!

AML CALMING COCKTAIL™ contains 100mg of magnesium from magnesium citrate.

1) Research has shown that magnesium may help manage stress.†

2) Magnesium plays a modulating role in the brain, influencing several neuro transmissions pathways associated with management of depression.†

3) Magnesium is crucial for the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system.†

4) Magnesium and L-taurine work synergistically for managing stress and healthy cardiovascular functioning. Taurine is an amino acid found in high concentrations in excitable tissue including the heart.†

AML CALMING COCKTAIL™ contains 200mg of L-theanine. L-theanine is a major amino acid found in green tea.

1) L-theanine helps promote feelings of relaxation and sleep.†

2) L-theanine functions as an antioxidant. Stress increases reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inflammation.†

3) L-theanine increases the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain.†

4) The anti-stress and calming effect of L-theanine have been reported in the scientific literature with good results.†

AML CALMING COCKTAIL™ contains 300mg of 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan.) 5-HTP is an amino acid (similar to L-theanine) where it is used to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin.†

1) 5-HTP helps promote feelings of well-being.†

2) 5-HTP can promote sleep.†

3) 5-HTP can help manage stress, anxiety and depression.†

4) 5-HTP promotes feelings of relaxation naturally.†

5) 5-HTP helps curb cravings and reduce appetite.† 

AML CALMING COCKTAIL™ contains 500mg of ashwagandha extract.

1) Ashwagandha, a natural Ayurveda herbal adaptogen, helps manage stress naturally!†

2) Research has shown that supplementation with ashwagandha extract may help reduce the stress hormone cortisol.† 


† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.





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  8. Stress Hormone Rise At Night Makes You Fat! By Steve Blechman
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