The Twelve Steps & Ending Dickish Behavior….

Dr. Mark Borg is the author of a provocative new book, Don’t Be A Dick! The book looks at the underlying reasons people behave badly and offers a roadmap for change through inventories, journals and other hands on tools. This is the final interview in a five part series with Dr. Borg. In this episode, I discuss how and why the Twelve Steps can play a role in ending dickish behavior. If you are interested in learning more, visit http://www.centralrecoverypress.com.

Fructose, Glucose & Your Liver…

Not all sugars break down in your liver similarly…..

Fructose, Glucose & Your Liver

            In Spiritual Adrenaline: A Lifestyle Plan to Strengthen & Nourish Your Recovery, I focus on liver disease given the prevalence of this disease in the addiction recovery community.   I leave treatment to medical professionals and instead focus on nutrition and lifestyle.   In Spiritual Adrenaline, there’s an entire section for people with comprised liver function, liver disease or for those looking to engage in self-care to help their liver heal.   See Ch. 3, pgs. 30-34, Ch. 9, pgs. 88-98, 122.  An October 2019 study looked at how different types of sugars breakdown in the liver.  Here’s some updated information that you can use to empower yourself on the path to health, hope and healing.

Not All Sugars Are Equal


            Traditional nutritional recommendations did not distinguish between fructose and glucose, and how each impacts your liver.   It was generally accepted that both impacted the liver in the same way.  That turns out not to be true in people consuming a high-fat, Western style diet.   In a 2019 study at Harvard Medical School, researchers fed rats a high-fat, Western style diet.   They then divided the rats into two groups:  One was fed high amounts of glucose and the other high amounts of fructose (both ate the high-fat Western style diet).  The addition of sugars was intended to mimic sugary drinks like soda.  The researchers found that large amounts of fructose disrupted liver function in ways that are detrimental, while glucose can improve liver function.  The researchers found “fructose makes the liver accumulate fat” while “adding glucose promoted the liver’s ability to burn fat, and, therefore make for a healthier metabolism”.  How can you use this cutting-edge science to benefit your long-term health in recovery, help repair damage caused by years of substance abuse and enable you to make conscious contact with your body?

Cover of Spiritual Adrenaline

The Spiritual Adrenaline Solution

            Among the recommendations in Spiritual Adrenaline is to learn nutritional basics that can help you make educated choices in what you eat.  For example, the differences between fructose, glucose and sucrose and how each impacts your body.  This is critical for people in addiction recovery given the number of people in recovery with Type 2 Diabetes and Hypoglycemia.   In Spiritual Adrenaline, recommend: avoiding juicing and explain why; provide recommendations for alternative sweeteners to make it easier to avoid refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup; provide detailed lists of complex carbs which break down into sugars during digestion much more slowly; and, provide a 7-day detox to help wean you off refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other junk carbs that increase inflammation and cause liver damage over time.    For more information on how the Spiritual Adrenaline lifestyle can benefit you, visit www.spiritualadrenaline.com.

Citation:  Softic, S., Meyer, J.G., Wang, GX, Schilling, B., Cohen, D.E., Dietary Sugars Alter Hepatic Fatty Acid Oxidation via Transcriptional and Post-translational Modifications of Mitchondrial Proteins, Cell Metabolism,  Vol.30, Issue 4, pgs 735-753, Oct. 1, 2019.

Are You A Dick? Take the Dick Quiz….

Here’s my second interview with Dr. Mark Borg, the author of a provocative new book entitled “Don’t Be A Dick, Change Your Mind, Change Your World”. You can watch the interview below or on the blog at www.spiritualadrenaline.com. If you want to purchase his book, it’s available at Barnes & Noble, on Amazon or at the Central Recovery Press website: www.centralrecoverypress.com. Central Recovery PressMark B Borg Jr….


Why Meditation Can Eliminate The Destructive Forces of Stress

shutterstock_381784540Just like our computer has an operating system, and everything relies upon the functionality of that system, we also have an operating system in our brain. Sometimes, we have to reboot the computer due to a glitch, virus or some other problem. Other times you need to upgrade the operating system so the computer can continue to run smoothly.

Think of meditation as an upgrade to your brain’s operating system. Studies prove that by practicing meditation regularly, we rewire the way our brain processes information, and how we react to people, places and things in our everyday life. One of the slogans at twelve step meetings is “Think Differently,”with the “Think” upside down. Science has proven that we can in fact change the way our brain operates, and really think differently.

Meditation was originally an ancient Buddhist technique designed to quiet the “monkey mind.” Buddhist sutras teach that without the ability to quiet the mind, it is not possible to bring an end to actual or perceived suffering and move closer to enlightenment. Fast forward to the present where meditation has adapted these teachings for the modern world. The goal of meditation is to stay in the present, and simply notice feelings and thoughts, as they come and go.

Here is the undisputed evidence of the benefits of a regular meditation practice:

Less Fear: MRI scans prove that after an eight-week course of mindfulness, study participants’ fight or flight center (the amygdala), the primal region of the brain that handles our most basic instincts, appeared to shrink. This area of the brain is associated with fear and emotion, and is responsible for our response to stress. The degree of change was directly correlated to the number of hours of practice.

Less Pain: Researchers studied the reaction of experienced meditators to painful stimuli. The studies showed that the more experienced and committed meditators reported less pain in response to the stimuli. Even though participants reported feeling less pain, scans of their brains showed the same or more brain activity in the pain centers. So according to their brain function, they experienced the same degree of pain, but experienced less pain. Researchers attribute this to the meditators’ ability to exercise control, or become “uncoupled” in the anterior and cingulate cortex regions of the brain.

Feeling Zen: Even when not meditating, experienced meditators’ brains’ default, or baseline function, was substantially different than that of non-practitioners. Their brains functioned at the same level of non-practitioners when the non-practitioner’s were meditating. The researchers characterized this as the continuing state of “zen,” the result of years of experience and training in meditation.

My Experience

There is no dispute that meditation works. Science has confirmed the benefits that practitioners have enjoyed for thousands of years.

Cover of Spiritual Adrenaline

When I first started meditating four years ago, I could not sit still for ten minutes. My monkey mind was all over the place – thinking about the past, the future, and everywhere in the present other than where my physical body was located.

I was never really present. In early recovery I smoked which made meditation and being present all the more difficult. Nicotine was an enemy because I always wanted a cigarette. I would have constant thoughts about whether I could sneak out of wherever I was to have a smoke. I was also constantly “craving” the smoke, so I was unable to stay in the present and enjoy.

I struggled through meditation, but over time, was able to focus for 20 minutes, then 30, then 45, and then more. Currently, I can meditate for about an hour. When I am under stress, even ten minutes is difficult, but I force myself to stay planted and focus. This helps to calm my mind, and move me past the stress. For the most part, I am able to rein in my “monkey mind.” Quitting smoking really made this easier.

I am still a beginner, and I do not really like meditation. It makes me feel uncomfortable. That’s exactly why I force myself to do it.

The Spiritual Adrenaline Solution

In my book, Spiritual Adrenaline: A Lifestyle Plant to Strengthen & Nourish Your Recovery, I include lots of variations for simple meditations you can do in the privacy of your own home.  I also include evidence-based research  confirming the short and long-term benefits of mediation.  Check out Chapter 11, pages 162–181 to learn how to integrate mediation into your daily life.  I’ve got mediations you can do while cooking, eating meals, attending twelve step meetings and exercise.  I’ve also included a full body mediation that refocuses you back on your own health and helps you make conscious contact with your own body.   For more information on my book, visit http://www.spiritualadrenaline.com.

Recommended Reading for Beginners: Meditation for Beginners, Jack Kornfeld, The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Echart Tolle.

We would love your feedback on this and other blogs. Shoot us an email or short video to: blog@spiritualadrenaline.com.

Your Bliss Point….

How Processed Food Manufacturers Get You Hooked to Their Products….

I recently posted about how food portion sizes and calories are much higher in the United States compared to England.  The same exact products in the U.S. have substantially more calories!  Seems hard to believe but it’s true.  Why?   It’s due to something known as the bliss point. 

What’s the Bliss Point?

To maximize your enjoyment of processed foods, the food industry works hard to formulate their products to maximize the endorphins rush.  Scientists use focus groups to try out different recipes before a product is released.  These scientists tweak salt, sugar and fat content until the maximum enjoyment level is reached.  This means the greatest number of endorphins produced.   There’s a fine line between maximum enjoyment and too much.  Scientists call the point of maximum enjoyment the bliss point, beyond it, the yuck point.    

Sounds A Lot Like Drugs?

 If you think this sounds similar to drugs, you are right.  It’s a substance that gives the maximum pleasure possible and provides instantaneous gratification.  However, not long after, the crash and cravings start.   I cannot open a bag of potato chips or Doritos and have just a few.  I finish the entire bag.  You too????  To some extent, it’s because of my genetic pre-disposition to always want more.  However, it’s also due to how products are manufactured, making it almost impossible to have just one or a few.

Portion Size and Taste in the United States

The person credited with pioneering research into the bliss point and how it can be manipulated was carried out by Howard Moskowitz, a Harvard educated scientist who went to work for the soda industry in 2004.    After working for years in the soda industry, Moskowitz developed bliss point markers for other industries and products including spaghetti sauce, soups, salad dressings, pickles, and pizza.   Over time, as you consume more sugar, your bliss point continues to change.  It takes more sugar to achieve the same endorphin rush.  Hence, the palate of Americans has changed over time as sugar has been included in an increasing number of products.   More sugar, more calories.  Not just calories but empty calories without any nutritional value.    

What’s the Solution?

Cover of Spiritual Adrenaline..

The solution is eating more whole foods and staying away from processed foods.   It’s also possible to satisfy your sweet tooth with natural sweeteners, some of which contain antioxidants and other healthy substances, and which won’t spike your blood sugar.   If you’re interested in learning how to eat healthy to enhance your recovery and reduce the chances of relapse, check out my book, Spiritual Adrenaline: A Lifestyle Plan to Strengthen & Nourish Your Recovery.   In Spiritual Adrenaline, I discuss why it’s important to transition from processed foods to whole foods and provide a number of healthy sweeteners as an alternative to refined sugars (Pages 23-25, 89-92).  To empower yourself in recovery, check out Chapter Nine and my list of Recovery Superfoods.  For more information, visit www.spiritualadrenaline.com.

 References:  The Extraordinary Science of Addiction Junk Food, The New York Time Magazine, Michael Moss, Feb. 20, 2013; How The Food Industry Helps Engineer Our Cravings, National Public Radio, Dec. 16, 2015.

HOW ALCOHOL UNDERCUTS STRENGTH TRAINING AND FAT LOSS

drinkIf you are serious about having a kick ass body and tearing it up at the beach next summer, there is no better gift you can give yourself than cutting out the alcohol.   This is one of hundreds of important health related topics I cover in my book Spiritual Adrenaline: A Lifestyle Plan to Strengthen & Nourish Your Recovery and on my website http://www.spiritualadrenaline.com.

So why does being sober help make the body you always wanted attainable? Here is what science tells us.

Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram.   Carbs contain 4, proteins contain 4, and fat contains 9. So only fat contains more calories than alcohol. Moreover, while rich in calories, alcohol is deficient in nutrients and contains almost none. So really, calories taken in by alcohol cannot help you achieve any goal in the fitness context. It can however, undercut your goals.

When alcohol metabolizes, it converts to acetate and acetyl coa. These substances signal the body to not burn any fat or sugar.

By drinking large amounts of alcohol and creating an imbalance of acetate and acetyl coa, your metabolism slows down, which interferes with fat burning and other body functions. As a result, you retain rather than burn fat.

Moreover, alcohol makes us crave food and even more alcohol. We all have gotten the munchies and sought out comfort foods while drinking. Often when I was drinking, I didn’t remember eating comfort foods until I found the wrappers or mess in my apartment the next day.   So even indirectly, alcohol increases overall calorie intake, and likely increases the intake of foods that are counter productive to strength training and fat loss.

So let’s make the most of our training now that alcohol is no longer undercutting our workouts and health.

There is one other benefit for people in the program. Early on, when people outside of recovery circles would ask me why I wasn’t drinking, I would tell them I was in “training.”   This was true, and gave me an out for having to lie to them about being on an antibiotic, or telling them that I was “sick,” or making up some other excuse to avoid telling them that I wasn’t drinking because I’m an alcoholic.

I much preferred having a healthy excuse, such as weight training, than pretending that I was “sick” and on antibiotic or some other medication. During my years of using, I had played the sick card as an excuse when I overslept, missed work, or was just barely functional. In recovery, I wanted everyone to know I was healthy and no longer wanted to use being “sick” as an excuse for anything.

In my book Spiritual Adrenaline: A Lifestyle Plan to Strengthen & Nourish Your Recovery, I cover all the basics about how alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs impact your metabolism and health.   Chapter Five (Recovery Exercise) is dedicated to going through the science and Chapter Ten (Your Exercise Toolbox) is full of exercise tools you can fine tune to your health and goals.   Spiritual Adrenaline can help you not just white knuckle it in recovery, but thrive.  For more information, visit http://www.spirituaoadrenalinel.com.

We would love your feedback on this blog. Please send your comments to Tom@spiritualadrenaline.com.