Dr. Michael Bedecs is a recognized expert in anti-aging medicine and has worked closely with people in addition recovery for years. Check out my interview with him and for more information, go to his website: http://www.agemanagementcenter.com.
The body has the capacity to produce a large number of hormones that dramatically alter our mood, and form the underlying foundation of our brain function. There are hundreds of different hormones, so in Spiritual Adrenaline, we focus on those that are critical to people in recovery and explain why they are so important.
Endorphins are chemicals produced naturally in the brain that trigger the sensation of pleasure. The brain regulates both the production and release of endorphins. The use of alcohol and drugs stimulates the production, and then overproduction, of endorphins. Over time, the body loses its ability to naturally produce endorphins, as alcohol and drugs overstimulate production in the brain. The brain simply cannot keep up, and production of endorphins slows as the body loses its ability to produce them.
In recovery, with the passage of time, endorphin levels in most people will stabilize.. Spiritual Adrenaline can help with this, as through proper nutrition and an exercise regimen, brain chemistry can be restored naturally. Folks need to speak to their doctor about the specifics of their situation and overall health.
How to Stimulate Endorphin Production
Exercise regularly: Endorphins are released from the pituitary gland during strenuous exercise because exercise is a form of “healthy stress” upon the body. The endorphins then have the ability to bind to opiate receptors throughout the body, helping to minimize the pain that is incurred as the exercise becomes longer in duration and intensity. Many serious athletes experience a “runner’s high,”which is a state of euphoria that, for some, is similar to a drug or alcohol high, which can continue long after the exercising is completed.
Eat Spicy Foods: These foods help stimulate the production of endorphins. Research studies have determined that when the “spicy” part of the food comes into contact with the taste buds on your tongue, a “good pain” signal is sent to the brain, which stimulates endorphin production. This may explain why eating spicy food seems to be so “addictive” to some people. Look for foods rich in capsaicin. These foods include hot peppers, tobacco peppers and ginger.
Eat Foods Rich in Tyrosine: During the biochemical process, which permits the body to create endorphins, tyrosine is needed. Without tyrosine, the body’s ability to create dopamine is severely compromised. Foods rich in tyrosine include meat and dairy products.
Sex and Laughter: Studies confirm that sex and laughter also stimulate endorphins in the brain. This makes sense, given that these two behaviors stimulate the pleasure center in the brain.
Recommended reading: Depression Free Naturally, Dr. Joan Mathews Larson, Random House, 2001; Good Calories, Bad Calories, Gary Taubes, First Anchor Books, 2007; Nutritional Supplements, Joe Cannon, MS, Infinity Publishing, 2008; Eating Right to Live Sober, Katherine Ketcham and Dr. L Ann Mueller, Signet Books, 1986.
We look forward to your feedback on this and other blog posts or questions. Shoot us an email or video at: email@example.com.
Tom discusses with Dr Michael Bedecs the role of endorphins and its contributing factors to overall wellness. Dr. Bedecs focus is on the root causes of metabolic imbalances. Many people who use drugs, do so to increase their endorphin levels.
The question becomes – how do people in recovery increase their endorphin levels safely and naturally? Dr. Bedecs explains why individuals who have hormone deficiencies need to understand and manage this area to drive positive energy into their lives.
This is part two of our look at B vitamins. For people in recovery all eight B vitamins are critical because they are necessary for the breakdown of sugar in the blood and conversion of sugar to energy.
In part one we laid out the consequences of inadequate B vitamins in the diet so we won’t revisit those here. The good news is you can obtain all the B vitamins you need just by eating right. By making even minor changes to your daily diet you can see substantial improvement in how you look and feel and in your energy levels.
A Little History of B Vitamins, Bill W. and Recovery
Almost from the beginning, the founders of AA recognized that certain foods helped reduce cravings and provide energy. They did not understand exactly why but they knew that certain foods seemed to help. Those foods included: baking soda, hot dogs, sauerkraut, certain juices, ketchup and honey.
Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, became very interested in the biochemical basis of alcoholism and the inter-relationship between food and supplements and how they could enhance recovery and relapse prevention. He researched this area extensively, especially in the last few years before his death in 1971. Throughout his life, Bill W. suffered from hypoglycemia and chronic, sometimes, clinical depression. In his book The Soul of Sponsorship, Robert Fitzgerald, wrote that from 1944 to almost 1955, Bill W. experienced debilitating depression that at times made him suicidal. Bill W. never stopped searching for a cure to his depression.
Bill W., wrote: “It was Dr. [William} Silkworth who introduced the idea to me that alcoholism had a physical component—something he called an ‘allergy.’ He knew this was a misnomer; he used it to express his intuition that something was physically wrong with most of us, a factor perhaps causative and certainly an aggravation of the alcoholic’s condition.”
Bill W. later learned of the work of Dr. Abram Hoffer and Dr. Humphry Osmond. These doctors introduced Bill W. to their work as pioneers in what was then known as “megavitamin therapy”. Bill W. was known to consume a lot of caffeine and sugar and was a chain smoker until the time of his death. He agreed to modify his diet and went on a megadose of niacin. Dr. Hoffer later wrote, “I met Bill in New York in 1960…[he] was very curious about it and began to take niacin 3,000 mg daily. Within a few weeks, fatigue and depression that had plagued him for years, were gone. He gave [niacin] to 30 of his close friends in AA. Of the thirty, 10 were free of anxiety, tension and depression in one month. Another ten were well in two months.”
These experiences led Bill W. to author multiple pamphlets on “Vitamin B3 Therapy” and to personally distribute them to AA-affiliated physicians. Bill W. self-published two pamphlets, First and Second Communication to Alcoholics Anonymous Physicians (1965) and (1968.)After Bill’s death in 1971, Lois, his wife and founder of Alanon, published a pamphlet, The Vitamin B-3 Therapy: A 3rd Communication to AA’s Physicians, which stated that her husband, Bill, had become convinced that there was a biochemical connection with alcoholism and addiction.
This is a nutshell history of Bill W.’s pioneering work. The point is, he was onto something a long time before most others accepted that proposition that vitamin deficiency and diet could exacerbate underlying medical conditions, more specifically addiction and related illnesses. Fast-forward fifty years, and there is substantial scientific evidence to confirm the work of early pioneers such as Dr.’s Hoffer and Osmond and advocates like Bill W.
So the question is, why don’t we hear more about this in recovery circles? I won’t speculate, but I thought it was so important that I created Spiritual Adrenaline as a mechanism to carry this message to as many people as possible.
Here is our look at the last four B vitamins.
B7 also known as Biotin
Biotin helps enhance metabolic function. Deficiencies manifest in skin inflammation. Foods that are rich in Biotin include: organ meats (liver, kidney), swiss chard, carrots, almonds, walnuts, strawberries, raspberries, onions and cucumbers.
B3 also known as Niacin
Niacin assists with carbohydrate breakdown as part of our metabolic function and with oxidation of the blood. Deficiencies include irritated skin, diarrhea and improper function of the central nervous system. Foods that are rich in Niacin include: meats, milk, whole grain products, passion fruit, peanuts, avocado, potatoes and mushrooms.
There is no credible scientific research that I am aware of that confirms that niacin taken in isolation, even in large doses, can in-and-of-itself cure depression or any other condition. Moreover, mega doses of any supplement can cause substantial stress to organs, which may have already been subjected to years of stress and abuse. I do not recommend that folks self-prescribe mega doses of anything without first speaking to their physician and having the appropriate blood work done.
There is substantial credible and scientific evidence that sufficient intake of B vitamins and other nutrients can impact the aforementioned conditions.
B9 also known as Folic Acid
Folic Acid is needed for the maturation of red blood cells and for critical body function on the cellular level, which are too complex to explain in a short blog post. Deficiencies manifest in the following ways: anemia, red blood cell imbalance, and can result in birth defects in babies born to mothers who are deficient in Folic Acid. Studies have shown a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke for men who have sufficient folic acid intake. Foods that are rich in Folic Acid include: oranges, beans, whole grain rice, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, asparagus, broccoli and meats (organ meat such as liver and kidney).
B5 also known as Pantothenic Acid
B5 is necessary for the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates. Deficiencies manifest in: Anemia, depression and other psychological disorders and convulsions. Foods rich in B5 include: sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, corn, broccoli, mushrooms, meat, dairy, and dairy products.
Bill W. was right. For people in recovery, the B Vitamins are a critically important component in the quest for what he called “emotional sobriety.” Emotional sobriety is defined as a sense of happiness and fulfillment in sobriety, beyond simply abstaining from alcohol and other substances.
Recommended reading: Food for Recovery, Dr. Joseph Beasley and Susan Knightly, Crown Trade Publishing, 1993; Nutritional Supplements, Joe Canon, MS, Infinity Publishing, 2008; The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism, Dr. Abram Hoffer and Dr. Andrew W. Saul, Basic Health Publications, 2008.
We would love your feedback on this and other blog posts as well as questions. Shoot us an email or video at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s important to know each of the vitamins and the role each plays in our body. Let’s make sure we are clear on what a vitamin is and isn’t. A vitamin is “any of a group of organic compounds that are essential for normal growth and nutrition and are required in small quantities in the diet because they cannot be synthesized by the body.” Given the body cannot produce vitamins on its own, we have to get them from somewhere.
It is critical to know where to get these vitamins in the way nature intended: Through our food. Supplements work, but they’re manufactured, and not as potent as the real deal. There is no better way to get your nutrients than through real food that either grew in the earth or walked on it (apologies to vegetarians).
Going over Vitamin B is much more complicated than going over others, as there are eight B Vitamins in total. We will deal with four in this blog post, and four more in Part Two.
Why Should People in Recovery Care?
For people in recovery, all eight B Vitamins are critical because they all are necessary for the breakdown of sugar in the blood, and conversion of sugar to energy. We focus on sugar so much in Spiritual Adrenaline because, according to many studies, as many as 93% of people in early recovery have blood sugar imbalances. So it’s critical to understand how B Vitamins impact their body’s ability to convert sugar into energy.
Without ingesting the appropriate amount of B Vitamins, even those eating large amounts of sugar complain of sluggishness, anxiety and depression, as their body may lack the capacity to synthesize the sugar into energy. The question then becomes, is a genetic predisposition towards these conditions or is diet to blame, or a little bit of both. If it is behavior, that’s something that can be addressed.
It’s my opinion that too many medical professionals go right to the prescription pad to address these conditions without first evaluating nutritional intake and the role, if any, that diet may be playing. Being honest about your health history with your doctor will make it much easier for a medical professional to determine if diet is playing a role in some condition you are experiencing.
So what’s the good news?
The good news is that the body has an amazing capacity to repair the damage if you focus on a balanced and nutritious diet. For most folks, simple changes to diet can undo years of substance abuse and poor diet in a relatively short period of time. Until such time as you are able to modify your diet, I highly recommend you take a multi-vitamin supplement in consultation with your doctor.
My primary energy source while active and using, and in early recovery, was sugar and caffeine. Nicotine was also something I perceived as an energy source both while active and in early recovery. None of these energy sources are sustainable over time and all of them, when abused, have very serious consequences. I often thought I was exhausted, anxious and/or depressed, but never gave thought to how my diet, along with other bad habits, could be impacting my mood.
One month after leaving rehab, I had a full spectrum blood analysis and among the issues raised by my blood test, was being Vitamin B deficient. This surprised me and was not something I had previously been aware of. I began to take supplements and over time, improved my diet. The result, along with exercise and other lifestyle modifications, for me has been incredible. I have abundant energy almost all of the time, rarely get anxious and almost never feel depressed or down.
I look at what I am putting in my mouth to eat as medicine and try and remember the reason for eating is to enjoy, but also provide my body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. My blood work today confirms that my diet is providing the appropriate amount of B Vitamins across the spectrum, which may play a major role in explaining why I feel so good.
Give it a try and see if it makes a positive difference in your life
Here is a look at our first four B Vitamins:
Vitamin B1 otherwise known as Thiamine
B1 assists in the breakdown of carbohydrates, and proper nerve and heart function. Deficiencies manifest in the most serious of ways: nerve damage, cardiac issues up to and including heart failure, and brain damage. It is relatively easy to get B1 from diet. Foods that are rich in B1 include whole grains, nuts, potatoes and most meat. Pork is exceptionally rich in B1.
Vitamin B2 otherwise known as Riboflavin
B2 assists in breaking down sugar and converting sugar to energy. B2 is critical to get the metabolism functioning optimally. B2 also helps with health on the cellular level as a building block needed to maintain cell membranes. Deficiencies manifest in the following ways: lack of energy, depression, irritability, dry skin, splitting of the lips and gums (cold sores), and skin inflammation. Foods that are rich in B2 include: milk, diary products, eggs, and meat. For vegetarians, try Soy Milk and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B6 otherwise known as Pyridoxine
B6 is absolutely critical (I know, you have heard that before). B6 is crucial to almost all metabolic functions in the body. Moreover, it helps convert other substances into tryptophan, an amino acid that is essential for the production of protein, along with other B vitamins such as Niacin. Deficiencies manifest in the following ways: anemia, skin lesions, convulsions, and lack of energy and depression. Foods rich in B6 include: Fish, meat (especially the organs such as liver and kidneys), and whole grains. . For vegetarians, try Soy Milk and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B12 otherwise known as Cobalamin
B12 assists with the manufacture of red blood cells, nerve function, and DNA synthesis. Deficiencies manifest in the following ways: anemia, depression and other psychological disorders and convulsions. Foods rich in B12 include meat, dairy, and dairy products. . For vegetarians, try Soy Milk and fortified cereals.
In Part Two of the B Vitamins, we will look at Biotin, Niacin and Pantothenic Acid, and Folic Acid.
Recommended reading: Food for Recovery, Dr. Joseph Beasley and Susan Knightly, Crown Trade Publishing, 1993, Nutritional Supplements, Joe Canon, MS, Infinity Publishing, 2008, The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism, Dr. Abram Hoffer and Dr. Andrew W. Saul, Basic Health Publications, 2008.
We would love your feedback on this and other blog posts as well as questions. Shoot us an email or video at: email@example.com.