Stress, Cortisol Complicate Fire Service Work

Reblogged from : http://www.firefighternation.com/article/firefighter-safety-and-health/stress-cortisol-complicate-fire-service-work

Understanding your body’s physiological responses means understanding that the effects of firefighting can take their toll as soon as the alarm sounds. (Lloyd Mitchell photo)

Dan DeGryse, BA, BS, CEAP, CADC, LAP/C, Battalion Chief, Chicago Fire Department; Director, Rosecrance Florian ProgramPublished Friday, February 20, 2015

As firefighters, we go from 0 to 60 mph in a matter of seconds when we hear the bell ring at the fire station.

We race to gear up and to process the information about where we’re headed. But we don’t prepare our bodies for that rush of adrenaline. Given the unexpected nature of the work, I’m not sure how we would or could. It’s not as easy as warming up or stretching before exercising.

Our bodies release adrenaline and cortisol when they’re stressed. Cortisol is a stress hormone – actually, a steroid hormone. (I call it a hormone on steroids.) It’s great to get you going, but is it healthy for our hearts to race 10 to 15 times a day? That’s 30,000 instances of a racing heart just on the job alone if you do the math over a 30-year career.

I started researching cortisol – how it affects the immune system, the digestive tract, concentration, etc. – a few years ago after studying the suicide rate within the Chicago Fire Department. I looked at other main causes of death, and heart disease topped the list, as it does nationally. Diet, exercise, smoking and heredity are some of the main risk factors for heart disease, but excessive stress can contribute to those risks.

What if I get that injection of cortisol and my heart goes through the roof, but then I find out it’s a false alarm? Now what? How do I get my heart rate back to normal, and where do the adrenaline and cortisol go? My understanding is they get absorbed back into the body, and that made me wonder if we truly know the effects of what happens when that occurs.

When I hear the firehouse bell go off, it’s like a jolt. Even though it may not be for me, I can still feel my heart race a bit, and I have to sit there and breathe, relax and try to calm down. That’s just an attempt to get my body back to its neutral state; that doesn’t reduce the amount of adrenaline and cortisol that were just released in my body.

Former U.S. Fire Administrator Olin Green wrote in 1991 about the dangers of stress within the fire service. But after more than 25 years on the job, I hadn’t heard anything about that until I started researching the topic. I never looked at stress as a possible hindrance until now. And I don’t want the next 25 years to pass without addressing it.

For many years, we’ve talked about improving personal protective equipment: bunker gear, helmets, self-contained breathing apparatuses, hoods, gloves and boots. We’ve also found out that the heat buildup inside of our bodies and the skin exposure to carcinogens are as dangerous as us breathing in something toxic.

I’m finding out that adrenaline and cortisol, which are naturally occurring and necessary for us when in our fight-or-flight mode, are potentially hurting us from the inside out.

The cortisol in our bodies is typically highest in the morning to help get us going. The level of cortisol lowers throughout the day in sync with our circadian rhythm. The level is lowest – half of the morning level – at night. But if we’re constantly stressed by the firehouse alarms or during runs, what are the effects of the continually higher levels of cortisol on our minds and bodies?

Although there is research available on this subject for military and police personnel, I haven’t found any related to the fire service. My hope is that further research on the topic geared toward the fire service will help spread awareness about the physiological effects of stress we experience throughout our careers.

For example, when I look at my own physiological responses regarding this issue, I can tell you that when I come home after a long shift and being up most of the night, I feel like I’m shaking from the inside out. I try to meditate before I go to sleep so I don’t have that feeling.

Another example of the physiological effects of cortisol: I spoke to a coworker who has 27 years on the job, and he told me he wakes up pretty much every night at 1 a.m. He wrestles around, gets up to walk around and then tries to go back to bed. He had a sleep study, and the technicians figured out that he typically doesn’t have one minute of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which helps give us more energy during the day. Cortisol levels also fluctuate during sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Some people take medication to help them sleep, while others might have a drink before bed. Self-medication can quickly progress to addiction. We know that all too well.

That’s part of the reason why I split my time between work as a battalion chief with the Chicago Fire Department and Rosecrance, a leading provider of addiction and mental health treatment services in Rockford, Illinois. In fall 2014, I worked with Rosecrance to help launch the Florian Program, which is the first program in the country dedicated to treating fire service personnel with an eight-bed coed inpatient unit.

That program aims to help firefighters and paramedics with serious substance abuse and mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. Knowing what we know now about cortisol’s overall effects on our long-term well-being, we are incorporating its significance into our program.

Florian clients will have their cortisol levels tested initially when they check in for treatment. Dr. Raymond Garcia, medical director at the Rosecrance Harrison Campus, where the Florian Program is located, will evaluate those tests to check for abnormalities and to see if there’s a need to incorporate techniques for clients on how to de-stress. Clients whose cortisol levels have been identified as abnormal will be retested at the end of treatment to evaluate progress and treatment success.

We can educate them about stress and cortisol and give them tips on what to do when they return to their jobs, because they’ll face the same triggers and traumas as they did before treatment.

Research has shown that low-intensity exercises, yoga, meditation, breathing techniques and acupuncture can help reduce cortisol release in the body. Avoiding sugar and caffeine is best after a jolt of cortisol. Eat fruit high in vitamin C and food high in protein (eggs, lean meat), zinc (seafood) and magnesium (spinach), and avoid high-carbohydrate foods and sugary desserts.

And what if there’s a way to change the tones in the firehouse? We don’t have all the answers yet. Until we do, let’s research and study the issue first.

Because doing nothing for the next 25 years is unacceptable.

Good Sex Vs. Bad Sleep

While driving to work early in the morning the thought came to my head; if you are lacking in sleep will sex help to counter act the destructive force of no sleep. Obviously as a new father I must be contending with some issues. The good news is that you can have sex when you are tired but the bad news is you can’t sleep when having sex.

 Of course once you are sleep deprived there is no remedy other than sleep and if you are sex deprived you technically will still be highly functional. So sex will not counter act lack of sleep and getting some good sleep will help out your sex life.

 After minutes of very serious research this is what I came up with. Use this info to enhance your health and enjoy!

Lack of Sleep

1. Lack of Sleep Makes You Drunk

According to researchers sleep deprivation is as bad as alcohol consumption in how it affects our reflexes and critical thinking ability. It makes us dangerous drivers and bad decision makers. Consider the tragedy of the Exxon Valdez or just what could happen if you drift off while driving. Getting sleep could save your life and/or someone else’s.

2. Lack of Sleep Makes You Fat

Not getting enough sleep is a double whammy on the chemicals in your body. Leptin levels drop when you don’t get enough sleep. Leptin is responsible for making you feel full. Conversely lack of sleep increases your levels of ghrelin, which signals your appetite. So you get hungrier and you don’t feel full when you eat.

On top of that, sleep affects the function of your prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that deals with processing inhibitions. So not only are you hungry and insatiable, but you’re far more likely to make bad choices and eat junk food. And it starts early. A recent study shows teens who get fewer than eight hours per night of sleep have an average BMI of 3.8-4.7% higher than their counterparts who get regular sleep.

3. Lack of Sleep Can Make You Crazy and/or Kill You

Lack of sleep puts you at risk not only for obesity, but also for heart disease, heart attacks, hypertension, and diabetes. A lack of sleep has been shown to lead to or worsen type 2 diabetes. It can also increase your risk for colon cancer. If you’re lucky and avoid a fatal disease, you might just go crazy – sufferers of sleep apnea have been shown to be twice as likely to develop dementia as they age.Recent Alzheimer’s research also suggests it is during our sleep that our bodies clean up any “plaque” in our brains. A build-up of this plaque is related to the onset of Alzheimer’s. A lack of sleep, therefore, could put you at a higher risk for developing the disease.

4. Lack of Sleep Makes You Less Manly

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, University of Chicago scientists found sleep deprived research subjects suffered a decrease in testosterone levels the equivalent of aging 10 to 15 years. Low testosterone cannot only effect your sex life, but your energy level and ability to concentrate. For younger men proper testosterone levels also play an important role in forming strength, muscle mass, and bone mass needed for the rest of their lives

5. Sleepiness Causes Accidents

Sleep deprivation was a factor in some of the biggest disasters in recent history: the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill, the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, and others.

But sleep loss is also a big public safety hazard every day on the road. Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. The problem is greatest among people under 25 years old.

Studies show that sleep loss and poor-quality sleep also lead to accidents and injuries on the job. In one study, workers who complained about excessive daytime sleepiness had significantly more work accidents, particularly repeated work accidents. They also had more sick days per accident.

6. Sleep Loss Dumbs You Down

Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes in many ways. First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently.

Second, during the night, various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in the mind. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.

7. Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Serious Health Problems

Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

According to some estimates, 90% of people with insomnia — a sleep disorder characterized by trouble falling and staying asleep — also have another health condition.

8. Lack of Sleep Kills Sex Drive

Sleep specialists say that sleep-deprived men and women report lower libidos and less interest in sex. Depleted energy, sleepiness, and increased tension may be largely to blame.

For men with sleep apnea, a respiratory problem that interrupts sleep, there may be another factor in the sexual slump. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2002 suggests that many men with sleep apnea also have low testosterone levels. In the study, nearly half of the men who suffered from severe sleep apnea also secreted abnormally low levels of testosterone during the night.

9. Sleepiness Is Depressing

Over time, lack of sleep and sleep disorders can contribute to the symptoms of depression. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night.

The most common sleep disorder, insomnia, has the strongest link to depression. In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without. In fact, insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression.

Insomnia and depression feed on each other. Sleep loss often aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep. On the positive side, treating sleep problems can help depression and its symptoms, and vice versa.

10. Lack of Sleep Ages Your Skin

Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. But it turns out that chronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.

Sleep loss also causes the body to release too little human growth hormone. When we’re young, human growth hormone promotes growth. As we age, it helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones.

“It’s during deep sleep — what we call slow-wave sleep — that growth hormone is released,” says sleep expert Phil Gehrman, PhD. “It seems to be part of normal tissue repair — patching the wear and tear of the day.”

11. Sleepiness Makes You Forgetful

Trying to keep your memory sharp? Try getting plenty of sleep.

In 2009, American and French researchers determined that brain events called “sharp wave ripples” are responsible for consolidating memory. The ripples also transfer learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain, where long-term memories are stored. Sharp wave ripples occur mostly during the deepest levels of sleep.

12. Losing Sleep Can Make You Gain Weight

When it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze, you lose. Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours.

Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. “Ghrelin stimulates hunger and leptin signals satiety to the brain and suppresses appetite,” says Siebern. “Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin.”

Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss programs.

13. Lack of Sleep May Increase Risk of Death

In the “Whitehall II Study,” British researchers looked at how sleep patterns affected the mortality of more than 10,000 British civil servants over two decades. The results, published in 2007, showed that those who had cut their sleep from seven to five hours or fewer a night nearly doubled their risk of death from all causes. In particular, lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

14. Sleep Loss Impairs Judgment, Especially About Sleep

Lack of sleep can affect our interpretation of events. This hurts our ability to make sound judgments because we may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely.

Sleep-deprived people seem to be especially prone to poor judgment when it comes to assessing what lack of sleep is doing to them. In our increasingly fast-paced world, functioning on less sleep has become a kind of badge of honor. But sleep specialists say if you think you’re doing fine on less sleep, you’re probably wrong. And if you work in a profession where it’s important to be able to judge your level of functioning, this can be a big problem.

“Studies show that over time, people who are getting six hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, begin to feel that they’ve adapted to that sleep deprivation — they’ve gotten used to it,” Gehrman says. “But if you look at how they actually do on tests of mental alertness and performance, they continue to go downhill. So there’s a point in sleep deprivation when we lose touch with how impaired we are.”

Having Sex

1. Less Stress, Better Blood Pressure

Having sex could lower your stress and your blood pressure.

That finding comes from a Scottish study of 24 women and 22 men who kept records of their sexual activity. The researchers put them in stressful situations — such as speaking in public and doing math out loud — and checked their blood pressure.

People who’d had sex responded better to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or abstained.

Another study found that diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of your blood pressure) tends to be lower in people who live together and have sex often.

2. Sex Boosts Immunity

Having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A, or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections.

A Wilkes University study had 112 college students keep records of how often they had sex and also provide saliva samples for the study. Those who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of IgA than other students.

3. Sex Burns Calories

Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but it adds up: Forty-two half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound. Doubling up, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions.

“Sex is a great mode of exercise,” Los Angeles sexologist Patti Britton says. It takes both physical and psychological work, though, to do it well, she says.

4. Sex Improves Heart Health

A 20-year-long British study shows that men who had sex two or more times a week were half as likely to have a fatal heart attack than men who had sex less than once a month.

And although some older folks may worry that sex could cause a stroke, the study found no link between how often men had sex and how likely they were to have a stroke.

5. Better Self-Esteem

University of Texas researchers found that boosting self-esteem was one of 237 reasons people have sex.

That finding makes sense to sex, marriage, and family therapist Gina Ogden. She also says that those who already have self-esteem say they sometimes have sex to feel even better.

“One of the reasons people say they have sex is to feel good about themselves,” she says. “Great sex begins with self-esteem. If the sex is loving, connected, and what you want, it raises it.”

Of course, you don’t have to have lots of sex to feel good about yourself. Your self-esteem is all about you — not someone else. But if you’re already feeling good about yourself, a great sex life may help you feel even better.

6. Deeper Intimacy

Having sex and orgasms boosts levels of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, which helps people bond and build trust.

In a study of 59 women, researchers checked their oxytocin levels before and after the women hugged their partners. The women had higher oxytocin levels if they had more of that physical contact with their partner.

Higher oxytocin levels have also been linked with a feeling of generosity. So snuggle up — it might help you feel more generous toward your partner.

7. Sex May Turn Down Pain

Oxytocin also boosts your body’s painkillers, called endorphins. Headache, arthritis pain, or PMS symptoms may improve after sex.

In one study, 48 people inhaled oxytocin vapor and then had their fingers pricked.The oxytocin increased their pain threshold by more than half, meaning they sensed pain at a higher threshold or were more tolerant of pain.

8. More Ejaculations May Make Prostate Cancer Less Likely

Research shows that frequent ejaculations, especially in 20-something men, may lower the risk of getting prostate cancer later in life.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men who had 21 or more ejaculations a month were less likely to get prostate cancer than those who had four to seven ejaculations per month.

The study doesn’t prove that ejaculations were the only factor that mattered. Many things affect a person’s odds of developing cancer. But when the researchers took that into consideration, the findings still held.

9. Stronger Pelvic Floor Muscles

For women, doing pelvic floor muscle exercises called Kegels may mean more pleasure — and, as a perk, less chance of incontinence later in life.

To do a basic Kegel exercise, tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. Count to three, then release.

10. Better Sleep

The oxytocin released during orgasm also helps sleep, research shows.

Getting enough sleep has also been linked with a host of other health benefits, such as a healthy weight and better blood pressure. That’s something to think about, especially if you’ve been wondering why your guy can be active one minute and snoring the next.

Old feller using HGH and Testosterone Therapy

74-year-old defies time with hormones

Jeffry Life, age 74, uses performance enhancing drugs that are similar to the ones used by athletes like Lance Armstrong. The physical results are easy to see, but he says the rock hard body isn’t the only effect. Life claims his mind is sharp and he feels like a man half his age.

“I’m not against aging. I’m against getting old,” he tells CNN’s Kyung Lah. Life uses testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) accompanied by a daily fitness regimen and a low-carb diet. The physician considers himself a trailblazer for others who want a better quality of life in old age.

The FDA regulates the use of HGH and has not approved it for anti-aging purposes. Watch Lah’s report to see how Life’s company, Cenegenics, has found a “natural loophole” to give their patients HGH, and why some critics don’t support their use of hormones as a fountain of youth.

You can watch the video here:

http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/07/74-year-old-defies-time-with-hormones/?hpt=ac_mid&hpt=hp_tvbx

I have a lot to say about this and it may be in conflict with itself when you think about it but that’s ok because one sign of intellegence and humans are the only creature capable of this but we can hold two opposing thoughts in our head at the same time…..

First of all, this guy is 74 and he looks great! Now looks aren’t everything but he wouldn’t look this way on just the drugs alone. The drugs allow for muscular developement precisley by using resistance training. In other words you have to workout and eat right to get any benefit from the drugs. I say that if anyone wants to return to a lifestyle of exercise at the age of 70 plus and they would like to take PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) then more power to em!  Somewhere in the video they start talking about getting cancer from these drugs and the Dr. says he would not blame the drugs. To me this is stupid to even bring up. He is 74!! He can basically get cancer any friggin second from just about anything at this point! So once again  I say this is great for older people who want to reclaim some of there youth.

But on the other hand , if you watch the video you see they mention it costs about $15,000 a year to go on this program and they ask one of the patients how he feels about that. He says that it is worth it so that he can protect his health . So this is good I suppose but isn’t it funny that people will spend all their youth and health in the pursuit of money and then spend all their money to make themselves well again.

So somewhere in the middle lies the truth. As with anything there are people who can take advantage of these kind of things and if they desire to use them they should be able to. The medias “concern” about “will it cause cancer” is just their way of making the story appear to be more controversial than it really is.

 

Some athletes should watch for heart conditions

Some athletes should watch for heart conditions

Lori NickelMilwaukee Journal Sentinel

11-12-12

Nov. 11–Many assume only those who are aging or overweight must be concerned about the health of their hearts. But in a few unique cases, even competitive, elite athletes need to pay close attention:

Amenorrhea

Amenorrhea is when a woman, particularly an athlete, misses her menstrual cycle on a regular basis.

“Amenorrhea definitely correlates with having premature heart disease,” said Anne Hoch, a medical doctor and expert in female athletes and cardiovascular health.

She and researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin began studying athletes at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School in Milwaukee and found amenorrhea and osteoporosis, which is a reduction in bone mass, was very common. But they didn’t have the technology to do the cardiovascular studies on the girls.

They moved on to the Milwaukee Ballet, where they found 64% of the ballerinas had what’s called the female athlete triad — disordered eating, amenorrhea and osteoporosis — or components of the triad and also had early cardiovascular disease.

It might seem shocking — premature heart disease among our most fit and strong women. But the findings didn’t surprise Hoch.

“We kind of expected it because post-menopausal women who are in their 60s and stop having their period, their estrogen levels drop and when it drops, they have an increase in a cardiovascular event rate,” Hoch said. “When young athletes’ periods stop, their estrogen level drops also, but they physiologically have the same hormonal profile as the postmenopausal women.”

The testing went on, with Marquette University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and UW-Parkside runners who were not having their menstrual periods.

“They all had evidence of premature heart disease,” Hoch said.

There is good news: The condition can be treated with folic acid.

Pregnant women take that supplement. It’s also in a plain daily multivitamin with about 0.4 milligrams. But amenorrhea patients need much more: 10 milligrams.

“In a subsequent study, we treated all the dancers with folic acid for their heart disease, and then we retested and their cardiovascular disease normalized,” Hoch said. “So it was reversible. It’s very treatable with folic acid.”

Enlarged heart

When you think of an enlarged heart, you might think of heart disease and risk for cardiac arrest. But an enlarged heart isn’t a disease. It’s a reaction, or a symptom, of other conditions.

And in the case of an athlete, it can be a good thing.

Just as athletes work out and develop their leg, arm and core muscles, the heart — a muscle itself — strengthens and can grow. Duke University professor of medicine William Kraus said there are two stimuli for growing an athletic heart, one good and one bad.

An athlete with a lot of blood flowing through the heart dilates the heart, which forces the heart to thicken to accommodate that dilation.

“Think of a balloon,” Kraus said. “As you’re blowing it up, the wall of the balloon thins. The pressure inside exceeds the pressure outside. What the heart does to accommodate that is thicken the balloon so it can sustain that pressure difference.”

Endurance athletes — marathon runners, triathletes — often have enlarged hearts.

“No medical consequences,” Kraus said. “It’s a good kind of enlarged heart.”

But there is a bad kind — and athletes are at risk.

In those cases, the heart doesn’t widen, it just thickens.

“Eventually you have almost no chamber size, no area where the blood is flowing in,” Kraus said. “Weight lifters, people who do power-type exercise — weightlifting, football — they get that kind of enlarged heart. It can eventually lead to heart failure, is associated with high blood pressure.”

That condition, too, is reversible.

“The heart is a dynamic organ,” Kraus said. “That’s the nice thing about treating high blood pressure. When you have high blood pressure, you’re going to have a thickened heart but if you control that blood pressure, it will regress and normalize. That’s why treating blood pressure is very important; you can undo that damage.”

___

(c)2012 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Visit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at http://www.jsonline.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Articles featured in Life Extension Daily News are derived from a variety of news sources and are provided as a service by Life Extension. These articles, while of potential interest to readers of Life Extension Daily News, do not necessarily represent the opinions nor constitute the advice of Life Extension.

Boost Your Testosterone & Your Training With These Natural Ingredients.

In the last post I talked about getting your testosterone levels checked and how to boost your levels using supplements. In this post we will go deeper with more supplements and some ways to eat and getting natural ingredients found in your food.

Many people understand the role testosterone plays in aiding the development of muscle mass, with the male sex hormone being related to dominant male features. There is even an entire sub-category of sports supplements dedicated to increasing your testosterone levels, with options ranging from the more recent D-Aspartic Acid, through to classics such as Horny Goat weed and Longjack. I am not a big fan of all these supplements because there is a lot of hype behind them. I wouldn’t waste your money on Horny Goat Weed but look carefully at the information on D – Aspartic Acid and make an educated decision for yourself. Just remember that a lot of the studies they boast about are sometimes paid for by the company….(conflict of interest).

Many worry stepping away from supplements could result in their testosterone levels dropping, but did you know there are certain foods which you can consume to aid increased testosterone during off-cycles, or even use to boost your ‘T’ levels should supplements not be your thing? Below we look at some of the natural ways of increasing your testosterone levels through the food you eat.

Resveratol

Resveratrol has been shown to not only increase testosterone levels, but also improve epididymal motility (sperm activity). Commonly an active ingredient in many T-Boosting sports supplements, Resveratrol is also found in the skin of red grapes, with research showing 5-10g of grape skin being enough to elevate testosterone levels.

boost testosterone

Vitamin D

SHBG, or Sex Hormone Binding Globulin, is a hormone associated with the lowering of the male libido and is surprisingly easy to keep in check. Consumption of adequate vitamin D can ensure your SHBG levels stay low, with the full RDA of vitamin D being available in a single can of tuna (but watch out for tuna because it is high in mercury so eat it only once a month at the most). Now, the RDA of Vitamin D is 3000 i.u./day. But tests have shown that an individual can take up to 40,000 i.u./day before showing toxic levels. I do not know why they make the RDA so low. I am currently taking 9000 i.u./day and I am waiting on blood work on my D levels. I am sure my levels are not too high, if anything they are still low.

Meat and saturated fat

Here’s a conundrum; consuming too little meat can lower testosterone availability by up to 14%, with a lack of protein deactivating testosterone hormones. However, a diet too high in saturated fats (typically found within red meats) can also make testosterone dip. The solution? Limit your consumption of fatty red meats to leaner alternatives.

Cortisol and garlic

Cortisol is the hormone typically related to stress, and is responsible for catabolism (the state opposite of anabolic). By reducing cortisol your body is better able to remain in an anabolic state, allowing  for development of muscle mass. Best controlled through the avoidance of over training, cortisol can also be reduced through the consumption of allicin, commonly found in garlic.

Bringing it all together.

Mega dosing D-Aspartic Acid, Tribulus, and Ashwagandha.(mentioned in my last post)

Get Resveratol from grapes (you can buy supplements at the vitamin store too)

Take lots of vitamin D or get a lot of sun.

Eat lean beef and avoid saturated fats.

Reduce cortisol levels by eating lots of garlic .


Test Your Test Part 1 of the Testosterone Series

Test your Test

Guys are always trying to up their testosterone levels. Why not, it’s a good idea. Low test levels probably account for at least some of the reason it’s so hard for some men to make lean, muscular gains. But often times they are doing it with all sorts of food and supplements and they don’t even know what their actual testosterone level is.  So the best thing for a guy to do, is go to his doctor and have them draw blood and test your hormone levels first. And while you are there have them check your vitamin D levels too.

Once you know what your actual level is then you can try a few things to increase it. Then go back to your doctor regularly to have your levels reevaluated. That’s the only way you will know if anything is working.

The range for testosterone is between 200 ng/dl – 1800 ng/dl You will see this range printed on your blood report. So if your test level is 200 ng/dl your doc will tell you it is on the low end of the range. But if you go to an endocrinologist they will tell you that it is frightfully low. They say that the median testosterone  levels for a man is 700ng/dl. Anyone with a testosterone level of 700 will be able to build muscle so you are good.

If your test levels are low you can try using supplements.Obviously, you don’t want to turn to anabolic steroids!

D-Aspartic Acid, Tribulus, and Ashwagandha

I am not a big fan of all these supplements because there is a lot of hype behind them. I wouldn’t waste your money on more than 3/4 of whats out there but look carefully at the information on D – Aspartic Acid and make an educated decision for yourself. Just remember that a lot of the studies they boast about are sometimes paid for by the company….(conflict of interest).

Try mega dosing D-Aspartic Acid, Tribulus, and Ashwagandha.  3g of the former, and 5g each of the latter per day, split into two doses.  They’re all reasonably cheap, and the former and the latter have been shown in clinical studies to increase test levels.  Tribulus has not, but anecdotal evidence seems to support its inclusion in high doses.

I only mention these supplements because of the clinical studies but still remain somewhat skeptical. Again, do your own research and figure it out if this is something that you want to try.

In part 2 of the Testosterone Series I will talk about more supplements and other natural ingredients  you can eat to increase your testosterone levels.

The Body Is A Machine. What’s Under Your Hood?

 Does the machine need to be maintained? Yes. Does the machine need to be protected? Yes.

Does the machine require your full investment? Absolutely!

Anything less and you are selling yourself (your body) short. Not exercising , eating wrong and neglecting yourself is the equivalent of leaving a beautiful muscle car out on the grass to get punished by rain , sleet and snow.

Sure you can always go out there and sand away the rust and do some body work and add a fresh coat of paint but no matter how hard you work it will never truly be mint again. Same goes for your body. We can relentlessly batter our selves  in our youth but when we get older you can work for years to try and reverse the damage done. You can gain back some of your health and vitality but you will always have to settle for the fact that some of it is lost forever.

So it is better to start as soon as you can and STAY WITH IT! No matter your age , your never too old or too young to get on a good program and keep your health on line.

For those of you who are 1st responders just remember that there is a lot of risk doing your job being unfit. Brains and brawn are both equally important.

1970 AMX by American Motors Corporation (AMC) ...

1970 AMX by American Motors Corporation (AMC) two-seat sports GT coupe with the 390 Go-Package. The 6.4 L V8 engine produces 325 horsepower (242 kW). This muscle car is finished in “Big Bad Orange” (paint code P-3). Also shown are the optional black “C-stripe” on the sides and 15-inch “Machine” wheels. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Human Energy System , What Is ATP?

 

 

The Human Energy Systems

 

 

What is ATP?

 

When setting training programs, it is important to understand the energy systems of the human body. Here they are explained in simple terms.

The food we eat, in the form of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, is used as fuel for reactions in the body that make everything work. To use these fuels for muscle action, the body converts them to a common ‘energy currency’, called adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP). There are essentially two mechanisms for producing ATP, the aerobic and anaerobic pathways. ‘Aerobic’ means with oxygen, while ‘anaerobic’ means without oxygen.

For low intensity activities, for example reading, working and jogging, and more intense however sustained activities such as marathon running, the ATP required for muscle contraction is produced primarily by the aerobic pathway. The rate that ATP is supplied by the aerobic processes is relatively slow, and therefore the rate of work output is also slow. The by-products of aerobic metabolism are carbon dioxide, which is exhaled by normal respiration, and water. As long as there is a continual supply of fuel (e.g. fats and carbohydrates stored in the body) and oxygen, aerobic activities can continue for long periods.

B0007640 ATP

B0007640 ATP (Photo credit: wellcome images)

For more explosive movements, such as sprinting or jumping, ATP is required at a faster rate. This ATP can be supplied by anaerobic pathways. There are two pathways by which the body produces energy anaerobically. The muscle can use stores of ATP, or a similar compound called phosphocreatine, already present in the muscles. ATP can also be produced via the lactate anaerobic system, so called as lactic acid is produced as a by-product. The anaerobic processes cannot continue indefinitely as the stores of ATP or phosphocreatine become depleted, and lactic acid accumulates within the muscles and causes muscle pain and fatigue.

During exercise, both aerobic and anaerobic systems work concurrently, however the proportion of ATP supplied from each process varies according to the intensity and duration of exercise. For example, 100m sprinters will use predominantly the anaerobic system, an 800 meter runner both anaerobic and aerobic sources, while the long distance runner will derive most of their energy via aerobic processes.

Zero To Sixty,Cardio At 3 a.m.,Firefighter Fitness And Your Fitness

That’s when the alarm came in for a high-rise apartment building not far from the fire headquarters where I am currently stationed. Upon arrival the alarm panel read 6th floor. According to procedure we have to use the stairs to anything 6 floors or below.

When we reached the bottom of the stairwell a tenant came running down and said the hallway was full of smoke and  there is an apartment on fire. We upgraded the response to a confirmed working fire. I took this brief second to turn my air supply on and make sure the new guy who I am partnered with was ready to go. He is a Staff Sergent in the reserves so of course he is ready to go.

Firefighters

Firefighters (Photo credit: thomaswanhoff)

 

So six flights up with all the gear and dressed and ready to go to work when we get there. I know that by the time we hit the 5th floor we are going to have to hook up our apartment pack hose line and then go on air and proceed to the 6th floor to attack the fire and search for victims. At floor five I tell the new guy to hold up and I go check out the 6th floor. I need to identify where the fire apartment is. As soon as the stairwell door is open I smell the familiar smell. The very distinct odor that clings to your nose hairs for the rest of your shift……..cooking. So all that and we find someone burnt food in the oven.

Sorry but no stories about fighting fires today.

This is zero to sixty. We were just asleep and within minutes we are climbing a staircase with every intention to go to work. No warm up no priming ourselves.

Early morning fires can be a real challenge specifically because of this. So it is a must for firefighters to have good cardio in their daily lives. A strong healthy heart can bear the stress of going zero to sixty but a heart that is on the verge of shut down due to clogged arteries is one of these calls away from failure.

Kinda scary.

You may not be a fireman so maybe you don’t think about scenarios like this one. But you should think again. What’s to say that while asleep in your bed at 3 am you won’t have to jump up immediately for an emergency. It could be anything. Maybe your smoke detector goes off and when you go check it out there is a fire in your house somewhere. Now your scrambling to get your family out safely and trying to find the sacred cat that went under the bed. You also have to call 911.

Zero to sixty and you’re wearing boxer shorts and slippers. It is freezing out, maybe raining. How fast and how hard do you think your heart will be beating?

Being a fireman has taught me well about preparedness. We always check and double-check our equipment and re-evaluate our skills,knowledge and ability. At quiet moments in the night we lay our heads down but with one foot on the floor. Radio transmissions are humming through out the night. Sooner or later we are getting up and going…..coiled like a spring.

When I go home, I sleep. I mean I really sleep. I try to make up for what was lost. I still know though, that I may have to wake up in the middle of the night. I certainly don’t want to wind up clutching my chest on the front lawn while my family is watching and I don’t want to make more work for the firemen when then come either!

That’s part of the deal. Taking care of yourself means so much more than some of us really consider. Yeah, we want to live to a ripe old age of 99 years old and be able to move around and have fun. But these 3 am emergencies are another aspect to consider.

This post is motivated by what someone I was talking to said to me…..”I’m not a fireman, I don’t have to be in as good of shape as you”.

This is how people think! Like being in shape is just an un-needed skill set. Because someone else will take care of you and handle your problems for you. Not smart!

When we discuss firefighter survival at work one of the key rules is to Never put yourself in a position where others have to come save you. We only break this rule when a life is involved.

If you don’t take care of your body then you are violating this rule. That goes for firefighters and non firefighters.

Always take command of yourself and be in charge 100 %. Hopefully when needed that person will come to save you but if something goes wrong you are still in a good position to save yourself. If you go down then you are no longer helping your family.

The Pillars of Manliness.

They don’t hand you a list like this when you graduate high school. You have to learn it from a role model like your father or older brother or someone like that. Only problem is not all kids have fathers or brothers to look up to. They wind up looking up to the wrong people and get a warped sense of values. Some role models just aren’t manly either.

Statue of a boy peeing into the valley to prov...

Statue of a boy peeing into the valley to prove his manliness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is good to read if you’re a young guy that is up and coming. But hey guess what ? If you’re a girl then you should read this too! That’s because if you can find yourself a guy one day that exhibits even a portion of these characteristics then you got yourself a catch!

If you’re a father this can be good to show your son. Or read it for yourself. We are always growing and reaching higher, let this help you out!

Manly is an adjective used to describe the physical and psychological characteristics of individuals traditionally associated with men such as courage and strength. Manliness differs from masculinity in that the latter refers to a simple biological predestination while the former is often used to describe the more sublime ideals of qualities traditionally specific to men. All males are masculine as they are sexually male. Yet manliness looks down upon males not exhibiting full native characteristics. Standards of strictly masculine and higher manly behavior have changed over time and vary a great deal depending on cultural values, upbringing and personal beliefs.

Understand what makes a male manly

There are seven pillars of manliness. To be truly manly, try to progress in as many as possible

  1. 1

    Physical.

    • Manly men are physically more powerful and impressive than women or unmanly males.
    • Developed muscles and an overall higher level of fitness set the manly apart.
    • Athleticism is a key component of the physical pillar of masculinity, as it contributes to enjoyment of competition and overall physical prowess.
    • The manly male does not obsess over losing physical looks, and is not obsessed with physical appearance or the natural process of aging.
  2. 2

    Functional

    • To be a mature man, one must be committed to his family by contributing to it however he may.
    • As the head of the family, with a partner and offspring depending on you is to be a manly father.
  3. 3

    Sexual

    • It is typically seen as manly to be sexually assertive, bold, and experienced.
    • Married or single
  4. 4

    Emotional

    • Tolerant and in control are characteristics of the manly man.
    • To be overly emotional is to lack control of one’s self and environment.
    • An assured leader that others look up to and in control of his emotions.
    • It is manly to be calm, provide emotional support for those in need, and not be weepy. Knowing when to empathize shows a true man.
  5. 5

    Intellectual

    • Manliness is logical, intellectual, rational, objective and practical, not overtly emotional
  6. 6

    Interpersonal

    • A man seeks leadership roles such as guiding, disciplinarian, independent, free, individualistic, demanding.
    • Manliness is self-satisfied in that it does not seek nor need the approval of others.
    • The manly need respect as the womanly need love.
  7. 7

    Distinctive

    • Setting manliness apart from the feminine or unmanly males proves that person’s insecurity.
    • Manliness is wild and seeks the wild.
    • The manly consider risking loss to stand for important beliefs or principles.
    • As a mother’s touch is civilizing, a manly instinct is rough and indelicate

Become the manly male

  1. 1

    Physical

    • Lift weights, play sports, get coaching and lessons.
    • Stand up straight with a poised, erect stature.
    • Get a personal trainer.
    • Watch boxers or MMA fighters for inspiration.
  2. 2

    Functional

    • If a husband or father, develop and exhibit your leadership qualities.
    • If a boyfriend, develop your masculine maturity and find appropriate opportunities to learn to be a manly gentleman in that role.
    • Find a mentor from whom you can learn.
    • Emulate manly role models, familiar friends or famous heroes.
  3. 3

    Sexual

    • If single, work to become sexually confident and dominant.
    • Get a dating-help program or ask that “player” buddy who has all the luck with to help you out
    • Get out and meet more dates. Don’t be shy and pathetic and only hang out with friends.
    • If married, please your partner.
  4. 4

    Emotional

    • Honestly critique your emotional state and tackle your weaknesses in every situation in which you fall short.
  5. 5

    Intellectual

    • Develop your logical skills.
    • Join a debate team.
    • Take math classes.
    • Approach decisions and problems objectively.
  6. 6

    Interpersonal

    • Seek leadership roles in organizations.
    • Join sports teams.
    • Project confidence and do not seek the approval of others.
    • Save your tenderness for your relationships with women, but be a Rock of Gibraltar on whom the more emotional can lean on when necessary.
  7. 7

    Distinctive

    • Buy a gun.
    • Go hunting.
    • Be assertive in meetings at work.
    • Seek competition and revel in your new-found competitiveness

Live manliness

  1. 1

    Physical

    • Enjoy your new strength and athleticism.
    • Enjoy your athleticism, but do not put it on display.
    • Take good care of your body—diet and exercise.
  2. 2

    Functional

    • Be a leader in the family and outside.
    • Assume authority and seek responsibility to lead others.
  3. 3

    Sexual

    • Pursue partners, don’t just timidly express interest or desire abashedly from the shadows.
    • Do not be afraid to explore all aspects of your sexuality.
  4. 4

    Emotional

    • Feel the strength that comes from others who look up to you.
    • Be there for those who need emotional succor or for males needing a role model.
  5. 5

    Intellectual

    • Tackle problems with dispassionate ease as you think manly.
  6. 6

    Interpersonal

    • Be self-possessed and assured in your interpersonal relationships, now invigorated by manliness.
  7. Distinctive
    • Enjoy uninhibited competition.
    • Roam the wild, shoot buffalo.
    • Stand for your dearest-held beliefs.
    • In short, make civilization better.

     Tips

  • Be moral, loyal, honest, humble, charitable, strong, supportive, helpful, and caring.
  • Don’t let anyone walk over you; read “The Manipulated Man” and “The Myth of Man Power”.
  • The scout morals are good to follow: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Be prepared. To help others at all times. To keep myself physically strong mentally awake and morally straight.”
  • Speak up for yourself and your fellow men.
  • Emulate manly role models and heroes, famous or familiar friends.
  • Identifying as male is the first step: If you feel more comfortable as a girl, don’t feel like you need to be a man!

  • Be a man, and don’t become a Neanderthal: remind yourself constantly that a man is sophisticated and thinks of others.
  • Don’t use steroids.
  • Some cultures and value systems recognize behaviors as manly that many others would consider unacceptable or even illegal. When engaging in manly behavior, always ask yourself if you personally find your actions acceptable. It is OK to be less manly if it makes you a better human being.

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