Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Control Your Anxiety With Food

12 month prevalence

In our country today, anxiety has passed depression as the number one mental health issue.  As shown in the chart above, 18.1% of the US Adult population suffers from some sort of anxiety.  Out of that population, 22.8% of the cases are classified as severe.  Severe anxiety can result in not only feelings of heightened anxiety, but in panic attacks as well.  The most used treatments revolve around medications which suppress the feelings of anxiety rather than dealing with any underlying causes for the anxiety.

Depression, whether it is one episode or recurring episodes, effects 6.9% of the population overall, and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, effects more females than males.

Depression can appear in different ways between the sexes, so in my opinion, it is debatable as to whether males suffer less depression.  Male depression can exhibit in agitation, anger and frustration as well as somber mood and hopelessness.  Unless a practitioner understands that, males may go untreated and are therefore not included in these statistics.  Individuals with anxiety can also struggle with bouts of depression and vice versa.

How did we get to this place?  In my opinion there may be several reasons.  First, lack of personal identity is rampant in our society.  We are taught that we are what we do.  Whatever role we have, becomes who we are and when that role ceases, we become lost.  We are told that a person has no value unless they are successful, nice looking, financially stable or hold a job with a distinguishable title.  In order to achieve a feeling of worth and value, we tend to perform, work harder, do more and try our best to achieve that successful image.  That lifestyle is very stressful and individuals tend to burnout after awhile.

Second, we are just too busy.  People have sacrificed play time, rest time and face to face interaction with others for activities, social media and time in front of numerous screens.  These screens, whether they be computers, iPads, or phones, tend to stimulate the brain in ways that interfere with good sleep patterns. especially if we look at them up until the time we go to bed.

Busyness interferes with our eating patterns as well.  We catch a quick bite of something as we head out the door and eat it in the car on the way to dropping our kids off at school before work.  We have traded the relatively peaceful breakfast, lunch and dinner at the family table for Starbucks and fast food.  That takes a toll on what our bodies can handle.

So, how does food help us deal with anxiety?  It helps to provide our brain with enough consistent glucose so it is able to function well.  If we eat mostly or all carbohydrates at our meals, our brain has a good supply of glucose for 1.5 -2 hours after the meal.  If we don't eat again for 4 or 5 hours, the glucose supply becomes low and our brain becomes concerned.  According to Kristen Allot ND, "In order to continue to function well, the brain will tell the kidneys to release adrenaline in order to increase blood glucose.  Although the brain now has some fuel, the amygdala has been stimulated by adrenaline.  This can cause your concerns or irritations to become amplified into anxiety or anger."  Usually, when adrenaline is released, there is a reason.  We need it to function, to do something physically.  When adrenaline is used to feed the brain, it is still in the system because it doesn't get used up with physical exertion and then contributes to anxiety levels.

It is interesting to understand that the symptoms of Anxiety or Anger are very similar to the signs for Hypoglycemia.  Hypoglycemia can occur whenever our blood sugar levels drop.  Often we think we have problems with anxiety, when we may not be eating enough protein with our meals, or eating often enough so that our brains have the fuel needed to function without adrenaline release.  When a person eats at least 21 grams of protein with their main meals and eats at least every 4 hours, they should notice a decrease in anxiety.  If meals cannot be eaten every 4 hours, then a snack with carbs and protein should be eaten in order to keep the body functioning well.  Many of my clients notice a difference within 24 hours. Before modifying their eating habits, I often ask them to keep a food journal over 3-4 days.  They note what they have eaten, when they have eaten and when their anxiety levels or anger issues increase.  They often notice a change in their emotional health if they have gone two to four hours without eating and their previous meal was mostly carbohydrates.

Finally, if you have a snack before bed, just make sure it isn't sugary or full of carbohydrates.  Again, give  your body a dose of protein with your carbs and you may find that you sleep better.

What are some healthy protein sources?  Quinoa has 11 grams of protein per half cup.  Refried beans have 8 grams per half cup.  A quarter cup of nuts has 8 grams of protein and 2 T of nut butter has the same.  Seed butter, such as sunflower seed butter has 5 grams of protein per 2 T serving.  Greek yogurt and pumpkin seeds are a good snack with plenty of protein as well as cottage cheese that has 12 grams per half cup.  If you like eggs for breakfast, bear in mind that each egg only has 7 grams of protein so if you are shooting for 21 grams at breakfast, you either need 3 eggs or another source of protein with them.  3 ounces of wild fish, chicken, turkey, beef or pork will supply you with 21 grams of protein as well.

In closing, just a note.  You don't see me adding soy to the list of healthy proteins.  I don't recommend soy because it can create so many issues due to its estrogen content.  Soy is not the best protein to eat, in my opinion.  It is difficult to change your diet all at once, so give yourself some grace when starting a transition of this kind.  You may find it difficult to begin to eat healthier so try one meal at a time.  If you aren't a breakfast eater, try introducing the morning meal with a protein shake.  These kinds of transitions need to fit into your lifestyle and food preferences or they don't work.    The most important rule of thumb is to make sure you space your meals and snacks about 4 hours apart and make sure they contain at least 21 grams of protein for main meals and 6-7 grams of protein for snacks.   You should see a drop in your anxiety level if you implement these simple practices.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Do You Have A Cat That Is Overweight?

I wanted to share with you some information that I discovered because I'm sure I'm not the only person who loves cats and has a cat that has become overweight.  I try very hard to feed my animals the best food so they don't develop food related issues.  However, as it turned out, I missed that goal because I didn't realize that cats are unable to digest carbohydrates.

Poor Charlie became overweight quite rapidly and it seemed as though any effort that I made to restrict his food put him into huge stress.  One day, he just seemed very depressed and lethargic and I knew something was wrong.  I decided I needed to research the problem and what I came up with turned out to bring about an amazing transformation.

When I did a google search, I came up with a website from a Siamese cat breeder in Illinois.  She had information about Young Again food on her website so I emailed her and she was gracious enough to correspond with me about the whys and whats contributing to her decision to use this food with her animals.  She gave me the contact number to speak directly with the manufacturer which I did.  I soon learned that Charlie was stressed out because he was continually hungry due to the amount of carbs in the food I was feeding him.  The wet food was just fine, but the dry food was 1/2 brown rice!  She instructed me that when I received the new food, I should put down two big bowls of it and just let them eat all they wanted.  (I have two cats) She said they would self regulate in a few days, which they did.

Six weeks later, Charlie has lost about 1/3 of his body weight free feeding and he has much more life in his eyes and is more active.  I am sooooo very glad that I made the switch to this food and I would recommend it to anyone who has a cat, dog, ferret or fish!

Now to be completely honest, I love the food so much that I became an affiliate and I have information about it at my website http://www.livingwellcc.com/products/youngagainpetfood.html

If you believe this food would be good for your pets, I would appreciate you going to my site and purchasing the food from there, just because it helps me out a little bit.  If you have any questions, please let me know.

In the meantime, here is an article off their site talking about this issue - 

Obesity in Cats

Margaret A. Wissman, DVM, DABVP
March 2010
It is now estimated that 57% of the cats in our country are overweight or obese. And just as in humans, obesity in cats can lead to a number of very serious problems including being more prone to osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, respiratory disorders, hypertension (high blood pressure) and cardiac (heart) disease.
How can you tell if your cat is overweight? When you view your cat from above, your cat should show an obvious narrowing around the waist. When you run your fingers over your cat's ribs you should be able to feel each rib under a thin layer of fat. If you can't feel each rib then most likely your cat is on the road to becoming overweight. Of course, if you suspect your cat is overweight, you should talk to your veterinarian, who can best assess your feline's body condition and address any weight concerns you may have. 
The good news is that by feeding your cat the proper balance of animal proteins and fats, she can eat as much as she wants and still be able to maintain a natural healthy weight.
Weight loss options
Once your cat has been diagnosed as overweight or obese, it's time to do something about it. Increasing exercise is always a good idea, however, this can be difficult. Try increasing playtime with a cat, teach her to play fetch and encourage any extra activity you can.

It is equally important for you to give your cat a cat food that is appropriate for weight loss and healthy weight maintenance. Most cat foods on the market are loaded with carbohydrates and plant proteins like corn gluten, which are the incorrect nutrients for healthy cats! This is because cats are true carnivores, meaning that their diet should consist primarily of meat proteins and fats, and very little in the way of carbohydrates.

What should you feed your overweight cat?
There are a plethora of different kinds of foods available for adult cats. Check the label carefully. If the protein content is below 50% and the fat level is below 20% then the diet contains too many carbohydrates. The top nutrients should be in the animal protein group (pork, chicken, beef, egg, poultry meal, fish, etc.) Foods listing proteins like corn gluten meal or more than one carbohydrate source from plants may appeal to the cat's taste buds but they create a vicious cycle of overeating and weight gain. Here's why:

Carbohydrates are broken down and digested very quickly, providing the cat with an overabundance of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Any sugar not immediately used for metabolism and activity will be stored as fat.

However, when fed a protein-based food, the proteins are digested much more slowly, which will fuel the cat's metabolism and activity over a longer period of time and satiate your cat's hunger. 

You know the old joke about after eating Chinese food that you will be hungry again in an hour? That's because the rice and predominately carbohydrate laden diet is digested quickly, and before long, your brain is signaling that you're hungry again! Ditto with carbohydrate-laden cat foods! But with a meal that's high in meat protein (with little or no carbs), digestion and utilization of the nutrients occurs more slowly, so your cat won't feel hungry for quite a while and the energy will be used to fuel the needs of the body instead of being stored as fat.

Cats are carnivores: you won't ever see a cat out hunting for an ear of corn. Instead, the cat is out hunting for the mouse or bird found in the cornfields. That is their natural diet. Of course you don't want to feed your cat mice, so Young Again has created dry cat foods that copy the nutrient profile found in a natural diet so that you CAN provide your beloved feline with a food that is nature identical and will work in harmony with your cat's digestive system and metabolism.

The beauty of Young Again Cat Food is that you can offer your feline this pelleted food in a bowl and just leave it out for her to eat free choice. Within two weeks of consuming Young Again, your cat will naturally adjust the amount of food that she needs to fuel her metabolism. Since proteins are digested more slowly, she won't be hungry all the time, as she would if she was consuming a carbohydrate-laden diet. So, she will gradually adjust the volume of Young Again that she wants and needs to approximately one tablespoon per day for every 5 pounds of healthy body weight. An eight pound bag of Young Again Cat Food will last the average 8 pound cat about 100-120 days depending on activity level and weather you supply treats. Of course, provide her with fresh, clean water at all times.

On Young Again Cat Food, your cat will begin losing excess body fat, and will in turn, begin developing better muscling, as well as a softer, more kitten-like coat. She will have more energy and this will also help her lose excess body fat. Cats that were couch-potatoes will begin playing, exploring and even jumping and climbing! Shy cats may become more outgoing and friendly. And an added benefit will be found in the kitty-litter box, with smaller, more compact fecal components, due to the high-digestibility of the food. Young Again guarantees these results in as little as 8 weeks.

If you want to improve your cat's health, help her lose the excess weight, develop a more active lifestyle and let her eat as much as she wants,offer her Young Again Cat Food. It is one of the best things you can do for your feline friend!