Whether your goals are to maximize your metabolism or optimize your brain function, you may do well to find out if you are sensitive to gluten grains, including wheat, barley and rye. At a recent lecture in Atlanta, Robert A. Rakowski, one of the country’s leading researchers about nutrition for stress, anxiety and depression, offered these insights about gluten:
The Thyroid Connection. Coeliac disease patients have a 10 times increased incidence of auto immune thyroiditis. Celiac disease, also referred to as celiac sprue, is an inflammatory condition of the small intestine precipitated by the ingestion of wheat in individuals with certain genetic make upGreater than 95 percent of thryoid disease originates in the thyroid gland and much of this is auto immune in origin. Thyroid auto-antibodies can bind to the TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) receptor. If the auto-antibodies bind but do not stimulate, thyroid hormone production will fall and the patient will be hypothyroid. Moral of this story: If you have a sluggish metabolism, ask your doctor to check your thyroid more thoroughly. Most doctors only check TSH, T4 and sometimes T3, which is 3 to 5 times more biologically active than T4. Most drugs given for sluggish metabolism only address T4. In our Total Fitness newsletters, we have talked about the importance of reversing stress. Why? Reverse T3—an actual hormone you produce when you are under stress lowers your metabolism. More enlightened doctors will now check TSH, T4, T3, reverse T3 and also see if you have auto immune thyroid disease. If you have an auto immune thyroid condition, also find out if you are also sensitive to gluten grains.
The Brain Connection. My book, Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide (New York: Marlowe and Co., 1999), discussed the importance of getting the wheat out. New research reported by Rakowski has found that 9 out of 10 people with abnormal brain MRIs will completely normalize brain function in only 30 days on a gluten-free diet. That means anyone with anxiety, depression, ADD, ADHD, alcoholism, autism, schizophrenia or other health-related conditions may do well to have themselves tested for gluten sensitivity. You may also follow a modified elimination diet for 30 days to see if you feel better.Avoid: Wheat (durum, semolina), Rye, Barley, Spelt, Triticale, Kamut, Farina. Choose instead: Buckwheat, Rice, Corn, Potato, Tapioca, Bean, Sorghum, Soy, Arrowroot, Amaranth, Quinoa, Millet, Tef, Nut Flours.
My mentor in fitness, Paul Chek, calls wheat one of the four “white devils” that should be avoided by high-performance athletes. The others? White sugar, salt and dairy products, another common food sensitivity. For more information: Look up: www.gluten.net.
The Six Movements of the Spine: Keep Your Back Healthy with Variety
One of the most common mistakes most exercisers make in working out on their own is what is called pattern overload—in plain English, doing the same exercises over and over without enough variety to keep the back healthy.
Your spine naturally moves in six directions—1) forward, as when you are bending over, 2) backward, as in backbends, 3 and 4) laterally, as in side bends to the right and left and 5 and 6) in rotation, as in twisting to the right or left. Keeping your spine strong and flexible enough to move in all six directions will keep you out of your doctor’s office and playing well in golf, tennis or any sport.
Very few exercise machines are designed to work the spine laterally or in rotation, so many people who only lift weights through machines often end up with weak backs. Yoga naturally moves the spine in all six directions, but whatever your preferred mode of exercise, make sure your workout addresses all six. Examples? Stand in the center of a room and rotate to throw a ball. Use standing side bends in your warm up and/or cool down.
Want to Maximize Your Metabolism? Follow These Suggestions
Optimize the conversion of T4 to T3. Your body converts the thyroid hormone T4 into the more active form T3 in your liver and kidneys. If you are toxic from taking drugs for years, eating low-quality food or breathing polluted air (just a few common causes of toxicity), consider an appropriate detoxification program. If you are not sure whether you would benefit, ask me for a questionnaire. Common signs of toxicity include binge eating, PMS, digestive disorders, joint pain and fatigue.
Manage stress. To raise your metabolism, lower reverse T3 by getting adequate rest and avoid overdoing aerobic exercise by using a heart rate monitor to maintain an optimal zone. Instead of trying to be superman or superwoman, find out how much happier you can be doing less. A study of stressed rats showed they needed a huge stimulus in order to feel happy. As you destress, not only will you raise your metabolic rate, you’ll also have more energy and find new joy in the simplest pleasures of life.
Make sure you include adequate EPA/DHA. These essential fatty acids support he pituitary gland, which governs the thyroid, and help with receptor binding.
Make sure you get enough iodine. Many nutritionists warn against soy, cabbage, broccoli and other healthy foods for people with thyroid problems. However, Rakowski says that you’d have to eat 6 pounds of soy daily to cause a problem. Because these foods have so many other benefits, including lowering your incidence of high cholesterol and heart disease, you can counteract any worries by simply including adequate iodine in your diet, especially in the form of bladderwrack, which helps the body pull heavy metals from the thyroid gland.
Optimize estrogen. Many premenopausal and menopausal women find their metabolism declining. While there may be multiple reasons for this, estrogen increases TBG, thyroid binding globulin. Ask your doctor to take a comprehensive look at all your hormones, and don’t forget exercise. Exercise helps raise healthy estrogen ! Also, 70-75 percent of metabolism is based on fat-free muscle mass.
Filter your water. Chlorine and flouride compete with iodine in the thyroid gland.