Sleep... Better Than Most Diet Plans!

A lack of sleep causing food cravings and weight gain?  As if there weren’t enough distractions in this world to prevent us from attaining that lean physique we desire.  Unfortunately, we have to add lack of sleep to that list now too.  An article published in Sleep and Breathing followed over 21,000 people for 3 years, and found that sleeping less than 5 hours per night was associated with significantly higher levels of obesity compared with those sleeping 7 hours per night.  Sleeping more than 8 hours did not provide any additional benefit.   It was also discovered that having a highly variable number of hours of sleep (few hours one night and lots the next) was also highly predictive of weight gain. The reason for weight gain caused by a lack of sleep is, like so many other things, hormonally regulated.  When you are not getting enough sleep your levels of gherlin increase (a hormone that increases appetite) and levels of leptin go down (a hormone that decreases appetite). In fact, one study in a group of sleep deprived young men exhibiting this hormone imbalance had abnormally strong cravings for calorie dense foods high in carbohydrates. Another study, found that 4 nights of sleep deprivation in healthy middle aged women increased caloric intake by 20%. 

Having sufficient REM sleep (the last stage of the sleep cycle in which we dream that is often cut short when we are not getting enough sleep) is crucial for mental sharpness, recovery from exercise, and overall energy levels. 

The take home message here is to consistently aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night to keep your hunger hormones in check.  If however, you are making the time for sleep but still having trouble, try these strategies:

  • Keep the room cool (20 C or less): our body temperature must drop before we fall asleep
  • Keep the room dark: pitch black is ideal as any light will disrupt melatonin production
  • No media or work: try and stay off the phone, TV, computer, and even avoid bright lights 30 min before bed to allow for proper melatonin secretion
  • Write out a to-do list for the next day before bed so you are aren't thinking of things throughout the night
  • Finally, certain supplements can help - my top choices are: 12 – 15gm of hydrolyzed collagen (contains glycine to promote sleep and enhance mental function the following day), 200 mg of magnesium (muscle relaxant), and possibly melatonin in certain individuals

Eating slower = less calories and more satisfaction

Most people would agree that the types of food we eat have an effect on our health in one-way or another, but what about the speed at which we eat our food?  A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association compared calorie intake among women eating their meals either slow (put their utensils down between bites and chewed the food thoroughly) or fast (used larger utensils and did not take breaks while eating).  What the researchers found was that the women who ate slower consumed about 65 less calories per meal despite spending more time at the table eating.  Not only did they eat less, they also reported being more satiated than the women who ate fast. 

Now, 65 calories may not seem like a lot, but if you were able to eat slow and cut 65 calories at two of your meals each day, that would add up to about 13.5 pounds of weight loss in one year. Not bad when you consider the average person gains between 0.5 to 1 pound each year.

The reason for the reduced intake is twofold. First, slower eating allows the hormones from your stomach to reach your brain and essentially say “stop eating, you have consumed enough”, this process takes about 20 minutes.  Secondly, when you eat slower you will have more conscious awareness and enjoyment of the taste and amount of food you are eating.  Eating slower and chewing your food thoroughly can also do wonders for improving digestion and feelings of well being after the meal.  This strategy is not an easy one to implement, but it is vitally important. Stay with it and in time you will find this approach much more satisfying.

By: Jeff Scull, M.A., Aegis Research and Development | Nutrition and Triathlon Coach

Love Your Tribe

There is quite simply no compromising when it comes to this principle.  Hopefully by now you have come to realize that “anti-aging” is not the purpose of this program.  Loving and supporting your family every day, however, is at the forefront of what this program is all about.  Anti-aging is simply one of the many consequences we get from living out this principle.  When looking at the longest living cultures around the world, one thing they all have in common, is amazing social networks, with family at the heart of it all.  At some level we are all aware of this need to love and be loved by our families, but for a variety of reasons family often gets pushed to the side as we chase after the things in life that we think will make us happy (moving up the corporate latter, new BMW, trip to the Bahamas, etc.).  This is one of the unfortunate lies that society has ingrained into the way we think about life in western culture (especially within the younger generations).  Maybe you’re thinking that you would love to make spending time with family a higher priority, but you have to work so that you can provide for them.  We understand this (we actually work quite a lot ourselves) and we are not suggesting that you quit your jobs, grow a vegetable garden, and live in sweet harmony with your family for the rest of your lives.  We are also not against promotions, cars, vacations, or any of that other fun stuff just in case you were wondering.  Rather we are talking about ways that you can connect with your friends and family on a much deeper level while doing the things you currently do.  Sometimes this will require you to make sacrifices in terms of your professional life, other times it will require you to step outside of your comfort zone and take a risk.  But most of the time all it requires is a shift in thinking.  One that moves from a self-focus to a people-focus.  When we focus our thoughts on what we can do for the people around us rather than what they can do for us, it literally changes the way we see everything in life (and also as a mysterious way of relieving much of the pressure we feel from the world).  The following keys are designed as practical things you can do to enrich the relationships with the people you love.  Although these keys may seem rather simple, they have the potential for some amazing life-altering consequences.                            

Volunteer at something you are Passionate about.

If you had the opportunity to help serve your community while simultaneously lowering your risk for depression, heart disease, and physical decline, would you take it?  Sounds like a no brainer right?  Truly a win-win situation. A report came out in 2007, titled “Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research” found exactly those things in addition to statistics that show that people who volunteer regularly actually live longer lives!  Researchers suspect that the improved health is likely due to a greater sense of purpose, enhanced social networks, and improved happiness and self esteem (positive mindset).  So in essence, volunteering improves the very three things that we consider as critical factors in enjoying a long and healthy life.  It is no wonder that all of the longest living cultures around the world make volunteering a way of life.  Whether it is caring for sick children in their village or helping out at the local church or other community event, there is no denying their ability to give without expecting anything in return.  So what is stopping many of us from volunteering on a regular basis?  Most people would suggest time as their biggest obstacle.  But unfortunately, that is not a very good excuse.  Researchers found that 40 – 100 hours of volunteering per year was the amount of time required to receive the health benefits listed above.  That works out to be 1-2 hours per week.  Doesn’t sound like much put that way.  We understand that in this day and age, time is precious, but we also understand that selflessly giving our time to a cause that benefits others is one of the greatest things we can do as human beings.  Our objective is not to make you feel guilty by not volunteering, but rather to enhance your life by encouraging you to do something bigger than yourself.              

A Paradigm Shift in Skin Care

The quest for healthy luminous skin has been sought after for generations.  Skin is often our first impression to the world and when our skin appears healthy and functions optimally, we exude more confidence.  Taking care of our skin is an investment into our future and ourselves. 

In recent years, great scientific advancements have been made to make modern-day skin care more effective at battling the negative signs of aging.  That efficacy is largely due to the use of topical "Cosmeceuticals", which combine cosmetics and pharmaceuticals to treat the skin, as well as "Nutraceuticals"- today's new generation of ingestible therapies that marry nutrition with pharmaceuticals to heal and repair the body's largest organ.

Topical creams and ingestibles alone are not enough to attain and maintain healthy, radiant skin-which is often a reflection of our overall health.  That is why I have developed the AEGIS 7 Elements, a comprehensive, 21st-century skincare philosophy that is entirely new.

Dr. Christina Plaskos