Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Why I Run + Brooks Running Giveaway

As someone who enjoys running long distances, I often get questions from friends and family about why I like running so much.

Why do you like running?

How can you run for so long?

Don’t you get bored?

My short answer is always something like: “I dunno. I just do. It relaxes me,” which I’m sure makes people think I’m even crazier! Ha! I often elaborate about why I love it so much, but my response is usually all over the place depending on how I feel about running at that very moment. (Like a lot of runners, I go through phases of “love” for the sport, but it’s always something that I come back to for a variety of reasons.) So, I started to think about why I love running so much (and maybe you can relate) and, in honor of Global Running Day today, I thought it would be the perfect time to share.

Camp Brooks 2017-54 (1024x1024)

It makes me feel healthy.

Ok, ok, I know this sounds totally cliche, but there have been so many times in my life when I haven’t been healthy enough to run (i.e. colitis flares, injuries), so, now when I run, it signifies that I AM healthy, which, is a big deal! I’m physically able to put one foot in front of the other and, even if I don’t have the best run, I’m still grateful for my level of health.

It makes me feel grateful.

When my ability to run was taken away from me, it made me appreciate it so much more. Now, I never take a run for granted. In fact, as cheesy as it may sound, at the start of every run, I take a minute to thank my lucky stars (and modern medicine) for my health. Because of my challenging journey with an autoimmune disease, running means something totally different to me now. I still remember coming back from rough flares and feeling those first several steps of my run. Every single one felt like a blessing, and I have never forgotten that feeling since.

It’s helped me accomplish things that I didn’t think were possible.

When I talk about running, I often tell people that training for the 2015 Boston Marathon in the worst winter the Northeast has ever seen (hey, 8+ feet of snow) made me a stronger person in so many aspects of my life. I truly believe that experience changed me. I mean, if I could run for 3+ hours in 15 degree weather with snowbanks as tall as me on the side of the road or, hell, stay on a treadmill for 2 hours straight, I could do anything! And, of course, there is no greater sense of satisfaction than setting a personal goal and conquering it, which obviously carries over into my daily life, too.

It’s my time to truly disconnect.

Because of the nature of my jobs, I’m almost always “connected” in one way or another. If I’m not sitting behind my computer, I’m updating my social accounts or chatting with clients on WhatsApp. When I run, I make it a point to totally disconnect from the world. I might listen to music or a podcast, but I don’t check my email or social media. It’s 100% my time to unwind.

Giveaway time!

In honor of Global Running Day, here’s your chance to become a Brooks-endorsed athlete and win a pair of the brand new Glycerin 15!!! Read on for details!

According to the fifth annual Brooks Global Run Happy Report, the majority of runners across the globe (62%) dreamt of becoming a professional athlete as a kid; however, big-time endorsement deals in running are generally reserved for only the fastest in the world. Brooks is mixing things up because the company believes all who run—fast or slow; chasing a personal record or feeding the soul—deserve support in their running pursuits. All runners interested in becoming part of the Brooks Big Endorsement can sign up at http://ift.tt/2rT8lv1. In addition to bragging rights, Brooks-endorsed athletes will receive a $1 check and access to content from Brooks experts about training, nutrition and a variety of other running related topics. Woohoo!

To enter for a chance to win a pair of brand new Glycerins, sign up to become a Brooks-endorsed athlete and then just leave a comment on this blog post saying that you did so. I’ll randomly pick a winner next week. Good luck!

P.S. Looking for a running workout to do today? Check out some of my favorite high-intensity running workouts!

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3 Ways to Regulate Insulin That Have Nothing to Do with Food

Insulin Dictionary Definition closeup highlighted in pinkToday’s guest post is served by a good friend of Mark’s Daily Apple, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, or as you might know her—The Paleo Mom.  

Regulating blood sugar levels is a key feature of any health-promoting diet [15, 20] . High blood sugar levels after eating are a major stimulator of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are chemically reactive molecules that have important roles in cell signaling (the complex communication between and within cells) and in homeostasis (maintenance of a stable environment inside and outside the cell). But ROS are also potent signals for inflammation and stimulate the production of proinflammatory cytokines (chemical messengers), and also injure cells and tissue. As a result, chronic high blood sugar levels can cause serious damage throughout the body, including to blood vessels and vital organs. This is why diabetes (chronical hyperglycemia) is associated with higher risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, vision problems, kidney disease, and nerve damage.

When we consume carbohydrates, blood sugar increases. In response to the rise in blood sugar, the pancreas releases the hormone insulin, which facilitates the transport of glucose into the cells of the body and signals to the liver to convert glucose into glycogen and triglycerides for storage.

Using a wide array of enzymes, liver cells (called hepatocytes) first convert excess glucose into glycogen (which is stored in the liver and in muscle tissue) for short-term storage. When needed, the glycogen is rapidly converted back into glucose and released into the blood to maintain normal blood sugar levels and provide energy for the body’s cells between meals. There is also a maximum glycogen storage capacity in the muscle tissue and liver, so whatever glucose is consumed beyond that amount is converted into triglycerides (molecules composed of three fatty acids and a glycerol) for longer-term storage in adipocytes (fat-storage cells). This process is also stimulated by insulin. Triglycerides are released by the liver into the blood to circulate to adipose tissues (fat deposits), where they are taken up by adipocytes. So when we eat a high-carbohydrate meal, blood glucose and blood triglycerides are increased.

Chronically elevated blood sugar levels stimulate adaptations within cells, rendering them less sensitive to insulin. These adaptations may include decreasing the number of receptors to insulin embedded within the cell membranes and suppressing the signaling within the cell that occurs after insulin binds to its receptor. This causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin to lower the elevated blood-glucose levels. This is called insulin resistance or loss of insulin sensitivity, when more insulin than normal is required to deal with blood glucose. When blood-sugar levels can no longer be maintained in a normal range (due to the pancreas being unable to keep up with insulin demand and/or substantial loss or inhibition of insulin receptors in cells), you get type 2 diabetes.

While the Paleo diet and several other popular dietary templates focus on food choices that help to regulate blood sugar levels—generally, by moderating intake of carbohydrates while choosing low-glycemic-load options—blood glucose responses are impacted by more than just the quality and quantity of carbohydrates that we consume. In fact, there’s emerging evidence that lifestyle factors may be equally, or perhaps even more, important that dietary choices when it comes to insulin sensitivity.

1. Exercise

Physical activity provides a wide range of benefits, from improving bone density to cardiovascular health to metabolic health. Exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity through a direct action on the glucose transport molecules (GLUT-4 receptors) in the individual cells of our muscles [1]. It also affects the full range of hormones related to accessing stored energy and regulating how that energy is used. This “boost” in metabolism is one reason why exercising can make us feel more energetic throughout the day. This is also a major reason exercise is linked with a reduce risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

On the flip side, sedentary behavior itself can actually induce insulin resistance. A series of studies performed in healthy adults, in overweight and obese adults, and in athletes have shown that even a relatively short period of inactivity (for example, 3-days bed rest due to injury, illness or volunteering for a clinical trial) induces insulin resistance [1, 7, 9, 17].

And, it’s a pretty major effect: one study in healthy adults showed a 67% increase in insulin secretion following a glucose challenge test (meaning two thirds more insulin was needed to regulate blood glucose levels) following 5-days of bed rest [9]. And, this inactivity-induced insulin resistance is paired with dyslipidemia, increased blood pressure, and impaired microvascular function—no wonder being inactive so dramatically increases risk of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

So, while exercise itself improves insulin sensitivity, we still need to avoid prolonged periods of inactivity, like sitting at a desk job. Fortunately, even short activity breaks regularly spaced throughout sedentary periods can dramatically improve glucose metabolism. One study in overweight and obese adults showed that a 2-minute movement break every 20 minutes of sitting time lowered post-meal glucose and insulin levels substantially [7].

What does this mean? It’s important to both include regular exercise into our routines but also to avoid prolonged periods of inactivity in order to regulate insulin sensitivity.

2. Stress

Psychological stress causes the release of both catecholamines (via activation of the sympathetic nervous system) and glucocorticoids (via activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal [HPA] axis). The combined actions of catecholamines and glucocoritcoids like cortisol (as wells as corticotropin-releasing hormone which is also secreted upon activation of the HPA axis) prioritize the most essential functions for survival (perception, decision making, energy for our muscles so we can run away or fight for our life, and preparation for wound healing) while inhibiting non-essential functions (like some aspects of the immune system especially in the skin, digestion, kidney function, reproductive functions, growth, collagen formation, amino acid uptake by muscle, protein synthesis and bone formation). This is beneficial in the case of acute stress (from a survival standpoint) but is also the reason why chronic stress is so detrimental to immune and metabolic health.

Chronic stress causes insulin resistance, mediated directly via the actions of cortisol and indirectly via increased inflammation that is also a feature of chronic stress [14, 18, 19]. In fact, many researchers have proposed that chronic stress may be a dominant contributor to the pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome, that nasty combination of obesity, insulin resistance and/or type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia and hypertension.

Epidemiological studies linking chronic stress with insulin resistance are now supported by mechanistic studies showing that chronically elevated cortisol is diabetogenic (meaning it can cause diabetes). Cortisol suppresses insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells, impairs insulin-mediated glucose uptake in cells throughout the body (by inhibiting GLUT-4 translocation into the cell membrane), and by disruption of insulin signaling in muscle tissue [5, 10]. In addition, a growing list of inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-? which is induced by chronic stress, are known to cause insulin resistance [8, 16].

Recent evidence shows that even acute stress causes hyperglycemia and insulin resistance [11]. Liver insulin signaling is impaired following acute stress independent of cortisol. Plus, cortisol acutely suppresses insulin secretion by the pancreas as well as increasing glucose output by the liver.

What does this mean? Both acute and chronic stress can directly cause insulin resistance independent of diet, making mitigating stress and improving resilience to stress a primary target for blood sugar regulation.

3. Sleep

Only about 35% of Americans get the recommended 8 hours or more of sleep each night. The health detriments of inadequate sleep are pervasive, affecting every system in the human body and increasing risk of nearly every chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. In fact, sleeping less than 6 hours per night (like an estimated 40% of Americans) increases risk of type 2 diabetes by 50%. And, if we pool diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance together, that risk soars to a whopping 2.4 times [12]!

In fact, a variety of studies evaluating the effects of partial sleep (sleeping 4 to 5 hours per night, rather than the recommended 8) demonstrate that inadequate sleep causes insulin resistance in healthy people [2, 3, 5, 12].

And while most studies show insulin sensitivity decreasing by 15-30% after four or five nights of partial sleep, one study showed that even a single night of partial sleep causes insulin resistance in healthy people (a 25% decrease in insulin sensitivity!)[6].

Sleep restriction also increases the measurable free fatty acids in the blood, a contributor to insulin resistance that plays a central role in the development of metabolic diseases. Getting 4.5 hours of sleep per night compared to spending 8.5 hours in bed increased serum free fatty acids in healthy men by 15 to 30 percent [13]!

What might be even more fascinating is that there’s emerging evidence that the impact of sleep on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism is even greater than diet. Research presented at last fall’s Obesity Society Annual Meeting showed that a single night of lost sleep was worse than six months of a high-fat Western diet in terms of insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism [21].

Even a modest sleep debt, getting a mere 30 minutes less per night than you need on weeknights, can have a big impact on insulin sensitivity. One fascinating study looked at the impact of sleep on patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes [2]. The study participants kept sleep logs, and the researchers calculated how much less sleep they got than the recommended 8 hours a night cumulative over the workweek (not including sleeping in to “catch up on sleep” on the weekends).They were randomized into one of three groups: usual care, physical activity intervention, or diet and physical activity intervention. When the participants were recruited, those that typically didn’t get enough sleep were 72% more likely to be obese. The researchers then followed the participants over a year to see what would change. Note that addressing sleep was not part of any of the study interventions. The amount of sleep debt that individuals had didn’t typically change during the study.

Sleep debt dramatically impacted risk of obesity and insulin resistance, and the correlation between the two increased throughout the study. At 12 months, for every 30 minutes of weekday sleep debt, the risk of obesity was 17% higher and the risk of insulin resistance 39% higher.

What does this mean? Getting adequate sleep every single night is absolutely critical for insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation! And given that inadequate sleep is considered a cause of chronic stress, this emphasizes the need to carve out sufficient time for sleep even more!

If you struggle to get enough sleep or the quality of your sleep needs improving, you will absolutely love the comprehensive and epic online sleep program I’ve created, Go To Bed! This program gives you all of the scientifically validated tips and tricks for improving your sleep and provides you with a 14-day challenge so you can get the best sleep of your life! Mark’s Daily Apple readers can save 10% off the entire Go To Bed online program by using coupon code DailyAppleSleep.

Take Home Message

Dialing in lifestyle habits are absolutely critical for maintaining (and regaining!) insulin sensitivity and regulating our blood sugar responses. So, for those who struggle with blood sugar regulation, rather than adopting more and more extreme dietary interventions (e.g. consuming fewer and fewer carbohydrates, which can cause dietary insufficiency of many important vitamins, minerals, antioxidant phytochemicals and fiber), have a critical look at your stress levels, your activity levels (both in terms of engaging in regular exercise and in terms of avoiding prolonged periods of inactivity), and your sleep habits. Chances are good that expending some effort into improving these will pay great dividends in terms of insulin sensitivity and overall health!

Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D. (a.k.a. The Paleo Mom) is the blogger behind the award-winning blog www.ThePaleoMom.com, cohost of the top-rated and syndicated The Paleo View podcast, and New York Times Bestselling author of The Paleo Approach, The Paleo Approach Cookbook, and The Healing Kitchen. Sarah earned her doctorate degree in medical biophysics at the age of 26. She spent the next four years doing research on innate immunity and inflammation before becoming a stay-at-home mom. After her second daughter was born, she began to experiment with the Paleo lifestyle. It had an amazing effect on her health, including contributing to her 120-pound weight loss! Over time, she healed herself of a long laundry list of physical complaints including: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, acid reflux, migraines, anxiety, asthma, allergies, eczema, psoriasis and an autoimmune skin condition called lichen planus. Sarah successfully transitioned her originally skeptic husband and two spirited young daughters to a paleo diet and lifestyle. Her passion for providing straightforward explanations of the science behind the paleo diet and its modifications, plus her love of food and cooking and her dedication to her family form the foundations of her blog, her podcast and her books. You can also find Dr. Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Thanks to Dr. Sarah Ballantyne for today’s excellent post. Insights, questions? Share your thoughts in the comment section, and thanks for stopping by today. Enjoy the week, everybody!

1. Arciero PJ, et al, Effects of short-term inactivity on glucose tolerance, energy expenditure, and blood flow in trained subjects. J Appl Physiol. 1998;84:1365–1373.
2. Teresa Arora, et al, The impact of sleep debt on excess adiposity and insulin sensitivity in patients with early type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Clin Sleep Med. 2016 May 15; 12(5): 673–680.
3. Bosy-Westphal, A., et al., Influence of partial sleep deprivation on energy balance and insulin sensitivity in healthy women, Obes Facts. 2008;1(5):266-73
4. Broussard JL, et al, Impaired insulin signaling in human adipocytes after experimental sleep restriction: a randomized, crossover study. Ann Intern Med. 2012 Oct 16;157(8):549-57.
5. Coderre L, et al, In vivo effects of dexamethasone and sucrose on glucose transport (GLUT-4) protein tissue distribution. Am J Physiol. 1996 Oct;271(4 Pt 1):E643-8.
6. Donga, E., et al., A single night of partial sleep deprivation induces insulin resistance in multiple metabolic pathways in healthy subjects, J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Jun;95(6):2963-8.
7. Dunstan DW, et al. Breaking up prolonged sitting reduces postprandial glucose and insulin responses. Diabetes Care. 2012 May; 35(5): 976–983.
8. Glovatchcka, V, et al, Chronic stress-induced changes in pro-inflammatory cytokines and spinal glia markers in the rat: a time course study. Neuroimmunomodulation. 2012; 19(6): 367–376.
9. Hamburg, NM, et al, Physical inactivity rapidly induces insulin resistance and microvascular dysfunction in healthy volunteers. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2007 Dec; 27(12): 2650–2656.
10. Lambillotte C, et al, 1997 Direct glucocorticoid inhibition of insulin secretion. An in vitro study of dexamethasone effects in mouse islets. J Clin Invest 99:414–423
11. Li L, et al, Acute psychological stress results in the rapid development of insulin resistance. J Endocrinol. 2013 Apr 15;217(2):175-84. doi: 10.1530/JOE-12-0559. Print 2013 May.
12. Lucassen EA, et al., Interacting epidemics? Sleep curtailment, insulin resistance, and obesity, Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2012 Aug;1264(1):110-34
13. Rao MN, et al, Subchronic sleep restriction causes tissue-specific insulin resistance. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Apr;100(4):1664-71.
14. Rosmond R 2003 Stress induced disturbances of the HPA axis: a pathway to Type 2 diabetes? Med Sci Monit 9:RA35–RA39
15. Samuel VT and Shulman GI. Mechanisms for insulin resistance: common threads and missing links. Cell. 2012 Mar 2;148(5):852-71.
16. Solomon SS, et al. TNF-alpha inhibits insulin action in liver and adipose tissue: A model of metabolic syndrome. Hormone and Metabolic Research. 2010;42:115–121.
17. Stuart CA, et al, Bed-rest-induced insulin resistance occurs primarily in muscle. Metabolism. 1988;37:802–806.
18. Tamashiro KL, et al, Chronic stress, metabolism and metabolic syndrome. Stress. 2011;14:468–474
19. van Raalte DH, et al, 2009 Novel insights into glucocorticoid-mediated diabetogenic effects: towards expansion of therapeutic options? Eur J Clin Invest 39:81–93.
20. Wilcox G. Insulin and Insulin Resistance. Clin Biochem Rev. 2005 May; 26(2): 19–39.
21. Obesity Society. “Insulin sensitivity: One night of poor sleep could equal six months on a high-fat diet, study in dogs suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2015. <http://ift.tt/1PavuPm>.


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Father’s Day Care Package

This post is sponsored by American Greetings. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Father's Day Care Package // katheats.com #fathersday

What do you do on Father’s Day when your father lives in a different state? In the past, I have sent him coupons and gift certificates in the mail to be used when we were together or we have celebrated a few weeks early or late at a family gathering. But this year, inspired by the card section at Target, I decided to send him a package in the mail with a bunch of little treats.

Mazen and I had so much fun picking out cards together. Of course, he wanted all of the superhero ones or cards with crazy googley eyes and I was on the hunt for the perfect message inside!

We finally picked out a variety of cards for all the dads/granddads/father figures in our lives. We found a little something for everyone, from silly to sentimental to Star Wars themed.

I love the message behind their latest campaign “A card is just a card. But in the right moment, it means everything.” So true with a surprise care package of treats he will love!

To go with our card, we hit up several stores to collect items that were special and that we thought he would enjoy.

Our package included:

-New gardening gloves and seeds for his garden

-Virginia peanuts (he is nuts for nuts!)

-A nighttime reading light

-UVA-colored jelly beans (to pick at the Duke fan in him)

-A pound of Virginia coffee

-SARDINES (he loves them)

-Locally made chocolate toffee

-And a picture of the parts of a flower that Mazen made in school.

And of course, we both wrote in the card and placed it on top! Spiderman theme won out ; )

I have warned my dad not to read this blog post so as not to spoil the surprise!

My dad says thanks to American Greetings for sponsoring this post : ) 

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