Muscle Growth and Hypertrophy

Muscle Growth and Hypertrophy

Muscle Growth and Hypertrophy

Muscle growth and hypertrophy are essential when you want to stay fit. Everyone has muscles, but many want them to be a bit bigger. Did you know there are over 600 muscles in your body? Muscles are responsible for actions like movement, digestion, circulation, and respiration. There are different muscles for each job in the body. 

Injuries, diseases, and various disorders affect the way your muscles function. These issues can be muscle pain spasms or more severe like paralysis and cardiomyopathy. 

Living a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition and adequate exercise prevents early deterioration of muscle and function and improves endurance, size, and strength.

Muscles

Muscles’ function is to contract and relax. It doesn’t matter if that muscle is voluntary or involuntary. It is going to contract in one-way shape or another. 

The somatic nervous system is responsible for the voluntary movement of skeletal muscle, while the autonomic nervous system is responsible for involuntary action like that of smooth muscle [1].

3 Different Types of Muscle Tissue

There are three different types of muscle tissues. Each type of muscle also functions differently within different areas of the body. These are: 

  • Skeletal: As part of the musculoskeletal system, these muscles work with your bones, tendons, and ligaments. Tendons attach skeletal muscles to bones all over your body. Together, they support the weight of your body and help you move. You control these voluntary muscles. Some muscle fibers contract quickly and use short bursts of energy (fast-twitch muscles). Others move slowly, such as your back muscles that help with posture.
  • Cardiac: These muscles line the heart walls. They help your heart pump blood that travels through your cardiovascular system. You don’t control cardiac muscles. The heart tells them when to contract.
  • Smooth: These muscles line the insides of organs such as the bladder, stomach, and intestines. Smooth muscles play an essential role in many-body systems. These include the female reproductive system, male reproductive system, urinary system, and respiratory system. Different types of muscles work without you having to think about them. They do essential jobs like moving waste through your intestines and helping your lungs expand when you breathe.

Skeletal Muscle

Skeletal muscles consist of flexible muscle fibers that range from less than half an inch to just over three inches in diameter. These fibers usually span the length of the muscle. The fibers contract or tightens, allowing the muscles to move bones so you can perform lots of different movements.

Skeletal Muscles Structure

Each muscle can contain thousands of fibers. Different types of sheaths, or coverings, surround the fibers:

  • Epimysium: The outermost layer of tissue surrounding the entire muscle.
  • Perimysium: The middle layer surrounding bundles of muscle fibers.
  • Endomysium: The innermost layer surrounding individual muscle fibers.

Actin and myosin are both proteins that are found in every type of muscle tissue. Thick myosin filaments and thin actin filaments work together to generate muscle contractions and movement. 

Myosin is a type of molecular motor that converts chemical energy released from ATP into mechanical energy. 

This mechanical energy is then used to pull the actin filaments along, causing muscle fibers to contract and, thus, generate movement.

What does skeletal muscle look like?

Skeletal muscle fibers are red and white. They look striated, or striped, so they’re often called striated muscles. Cardiac muscles are also striated, but smooth muscles aren’t.

How healthy is skeletal muscle?

Although skeletal muscles typically make up roughly 35% of your body weight, this can vary from person to person. Men have about 36% more skeletal muscle mass than women. People who are tall or overweight also tend to have higher muscle mass. Muscle mass decreases with age in both men and women.

Hypertrophy

In simple terms, hypertrophy just means “to make bigger.” It is the opposite of atrophy which is to make smaller. When we talk about hypertrophy in muscles, we mean muscle growth. Muscle growth and hypertrophy is the primary goal of why people work out and train. 

When you talk about muscular hypertrophy, it is different from just gaining strength. Although with hypertrophy comes more strength, it is a different concept and different mode of work than strength training [2].

  • Hypertrophy is done to increase the size of a muscle
  • Strengthening is done to increase the ability to produce force

2 Different Types of Hypertrophy

1. Myofibrillar hypertrophy

  • This type of muscular hypertrophy involves increasing the number of protein filament bundles known as myofibrils. Myofibrils help the muscle contract and relax. Increasing myofibrils boost muscular strength. With myofibril hypertrophy, the muscle also becomes denser [3].
  • Growth of muscle contraction parts.

2. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy

  • You can also increase the volume of fluid within the muscle. This is called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. The fluid provides the energy the muscle needs during weight training. Similar to how adding water to a balloon makes the balloon grow, more fluid in the muscle makes it look bigger [4].
  • Increased muscle glycogen storage.

How to Build Muscle?

There are many ways to muscle growth and hypertrophy and strengthen muscle, but we want to focus on how to maximize hypertrophy. 

1. Diet and Sleep 

You need proper fuel and rest to build muscle. There has always been a debate between carbs, proteins, and fats.  With so many diets out there, you should not solely rely on one of them. 

The main thing to always keep in mind when it comes to the human diet is that we need all the macronutrients. It would help if you ate carbs, proteins, and fats. Neglecting any one of those will directly impact not only your muscle growth but your overall health.

Proteins get broken down into amino acids that are the building blocks of all our cells. Carbs are your body’s primary source of fuel. Fats are required for hormone function. Many studies show the benefit of eating a higher amount of protein when trying to build muscle. 

Research indicates that achieving muscle hypertrophy requires balancing muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown. Additionally, consuming protein within 24 hours of weight training can provide a positive net balance. 

This net balance supports muscle growth. Follow your workouts with higher protein meals or shakes to give the body the nutrients to achieve maximum hypertrophy.

Carbs are beneficial for:

  • Carbs prevent muscle weakness
  • It can prevent muscle degradation
  • Carbs help muscles recover from exercise

Recommended Protein Intake for Muscle Growth and Hypertrophy

  • Individuals in Energy Balance
  • Consume ~0.4 g/kg body mass (i.e., 0.24 plus 0.06 with protein added to account for the influence of other macronutrients in meals and protein quality), to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) following a period of rest or exhaustive resistance exercise.
  • Spacing protein-containing meals ~3–5 h throughout the day maximizes MPS rates over the course of a 12 h (i.e., waking) period.
  • Practice pre-sleep protein ingestion (1–3 h prior to sleep) to offset declines in MPS that would occur during an overnight fasting period.
  • To maximize muscle protein accretion with resistance exercise, daily protein intakes should be ~1.6 g/kg/day and up to 2.2 g/kg/day. This intake can be achieved by ingesting 3 meals, each containing ~0.53 g/kg protein, or 4 meals containing ~0.4g/kg protein.
  • Individuals in Energy Restriction
  • Daily protein requirements are greater than they are during periods of energy balance to promote the maintenance or increase in lean body mass.
  • Resistance exercise should be performed during energy restriction to promote the retention of lean body mass if desired.
  • For athletes cutting weight over an extended period, high-quality protein sources such as whey and casein, or a blend of each, should be chosen to optimize appetite control and ensure dietary compliance.
  • Protein intakes of ~2.3–3.1 g/kg/day have been advocated to promote leaner body mass retention during weight loss. Exercise-naive adults who have a more significant body fat percentage should aim to achieve the lower end of this range. However, leaner individuals with resistance-training experience who are more vulnerable to losing lean body mass during energy restriction should aim for the higher end of this range [5].

2. Exercise

With exercise, muscle growth and hypertrophy are induced. What causes it is “as calcium is released in higher quantities with each contraction induced by the neuron, calcium binds to calmodulin, which activates calmodulin kinases (CaMKs), and in turn, activates Akt, which activates protein synthesis via mTOR and the inhibition of glycogen synthase pathways.”

Muscle growth is achieved when a combination of things occurs: muscle damage and repair, mechanical tension through stretch and force, and the build-up of metabolites like lactate, hydrogen ions, creatine, and others. 

Metabolite accumulation can occur as lactate, hydrogen ions (lowering pH), and phosphate molecules accumulate within the cell. The collection of these, and likely others (like creatine), metabolites in the cell shows an increased expression of Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1).

This increases the proliferation of satellite cells and increases protein synthesis via the Akt pathway. Also, the increase in growth hormone (GH) further increases the release of IGF and the release of Interleukin-6 (IL-6) for different effects on satellite cell recruitment.

How Muscles Work During Exercise

To be able to return for another bout of exercise, the trauma to the muscle leads the cell to release calcium (likely due to damage to the sarcoplasmic reticulum) into the surrounding extracellular area; this release of calcium leads to the activation of an immune response.

As soon as one hour after this event, neutrophils go through phagocytosis and clean up the debris of dislodged and broken organelle proteins caused by the stress put on the myocyte. 

24-48 hours after myocyte damage, macrophages are the dominant immune cells finishing phagocytosis and releasing cytokines and growth factors to activate other immune clean-up cells and the repair process.

These cytokines, Interleukin-1, 6, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF), are the regulators of inflammatory response and communicate more or less the need for further necrosis and inflammation between immune cells. 

Growth factors such as growth hormone (HGH), insulin-like growth factor (IGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) are released to begin the repair process.

Main Concepts and Strategies When Exercising

To accomplish muscle growth and hypertrophy you have to induce some kind of physical activity. The main concepts and strategies to think about when creating a program or just in exercise are:

1. Engage in strength training regularly.

You can’t just work a muscle once and expect it to grow. It needs to be stressed repeatedly over time. Resistance training at least three times per week can provide the tension necessary for the muscle to adapt and grow. Constantly doing the same exercise over again is an excellent place to start. Over time repeating the same workout does lead to fewer results, so it is essential to switch up the routine.  

2. Increase resistance over time.

Starting with lighter weights gives the muscle time to adjust to a new weight training program. But once that weight becomes easy to lift, it needs to be increased if the goal is hypertrophy. The general rule is to increase your weight by about 5-10% to prevent injury.

3. Aim to overload the muscle or muscle group.

If you walk out of your weight training sessions feeling as if you could go through the sets and reps again, you’re not overloading your muscle enough. While you don’t want to go to the point of pain, growing muscle requires a certain level of overload. During your workout, aim to push your muscle as much as possible while still being safe.

4. Lift heavy for higher reps.

A hypertrophy workout involves lifting fairly heavy weights. You also want to shoot for higher reps than if your goal was strength. Again, you have to overload the muscles to a certain extent if you want them to grow [6].

5. Sets and repetitions.

Start muscle growth and hypertrophy with two to three sets of ten to 15 reps, completing repetitions at a manageable but challenging weight. So if you are doing three sets of 12 repetitions, the weight you use should be heavy enough that you cannot do more than 12 reps, but not so heavy that you cannot get to 12. If you know your one-rep max and have the basics of working out down, you should be looking to lift between 65%-75% of your 1RM for eight to 12 reps for three to six sets.

6. Reduce your rest periods.

The rest time between sets changes based on whether the goal is to increase muscle size or strength. The recommended rest period is generally between two and five minutes for strength increases. This period is shortened to 30 to 90 seconds to increase muscle size.

7. Allow adequate time for muscle recovery.

Getting enough recovery time is critical to building bigger muscles. It is during this recovery that muscle damage is repaired. Therefore, if you don’t allow enough time for this repair to occur, not only will muscles not reach their maximum size, but you also risk injuring them. Allow 24 to 48 hours before working for the same muscle group again [7]

Muscle Soreness

Many people have sore muscles after working out. The soreness results from tiny tears (microtears) occurring when you put stress on a muscle. Usually, muscle soreness sets in a day or two after vigorous exercise. This condition is why providers call this condition delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

The muscle tissue becomes inflamed as the muscles repair themselves and the tiny tears heal. Your muscles recover within a few days, and the inflammation goes away. With continued exercise, the muscle tissue tears and rebuilds again and again.

To watch the full episode on Muscle Growth and Hypertrophy, click here for more 👇

TIME STAMPS:

00:00 Intro
00:49 Plugs
02:11 Episode Introduction
06:05 Different types of muscle tissue
07:20 The skeletal muscle structure
11:48 What is hypertrophy?
15:55 How to build muscles and maximize hypertrophy?
18:43 Building muscles: Carbohydrates
20:33 Building muscles: Protein
24:42 Protein recommendations for building muscles
29:32 A Scientific explanation of how hypertrophy works
34:06 Things you can do to maximize hypertrophy.

How Does Caffeine Affect Your Body?

How Does Caffeine Affect Your Body?

How Does Caffeine Affect Your Body?

Can caffeine affect your body? The short answer is yes. In this episode and honor of Caffeine Awareness month, we will discuss how caffeine affects your body and is effects after consuming it for a long time.

Most Americans use caffeine daily but don’t even know what it is or what caffeine exactly does. About 85% of people in the US consume at least one caffeine beverage/per day [1]. 

What is Caffeine, and Can Caffeine Affect Your Body?

When someone says caffeine, we immediately think of coffee. And while coffee has caffeine, it’s not it. Caffeine is a bitter-tasting, white, and odorless powder. It is naturally found in the fruit, leaves, and beans of coffee, cacao, and guarana plants. The truth is that caffeine is added to almost all kinds of food and drinks. 

It is also a Central Nervous System Stimulant and one of the most common psychoactive drugs used globally. In addition to that, caffeine is the only legal, unregulated psychoactive drug. 

So, the next time you wonder why you are addicted to caffeine, it’s because of its psychoactive properties. 

How Caffeine Acts in the Body

The way caffeine works are thought to be mediated by several mechanisms: 

  • Antagonism of adenosine receptors
  • The inhibition of phosphodiesterase
  • Release of calcium from intracellular stores
  • The antagonism of benzodiazepine receptors

The most common one is that it blocks the action of adenosine on its receptors and prevents the drowsiness associated with it.

Adenosine Antagonist 

When a person is awake and alert, small amounts of adenosine are present in CNS. Over time, adenosine accumulates in the neuronal synapse by being constantly awake. 

Once adenosine increases, it binds and activates the receptors found on specific CNS neurons. 

When activated, the adenosine receptors produce a cellular response that increases drowsiness. 

What Happens to Adenosine?

  • When caffeine is consumed, it antagonizes the adenosine receptors. Caffeine prevents adenosine from activating the receptor by blocking the receptor site. Therefore, caffeine temporarily prevents or relieves drowsiness and maintains or restores alertness [2].
  • Caffeine also increases energy metabolism throughout the brain but can also decrease cerebral blood flow, which induces relative brain hypoperfusion [3].

Due to the blocking of adenosine inhibitory effects through its receptors, caffeine indirectly affects the release of the following [4]:

  •  norepinephrine
  • dopamine
  • acetylcholine
  • serotonin
  • glutamate
  • gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
  • neuropeptides 

Inhibition of Phosphodiesterase

Phosphodiesterase inhibition prevents the ability to break down cAMP and cGMP. The levels inside the cell increase, therefore, leading to a decrease in calcium levels in the cell. It leads to vasodilation and smooth muscle relaxation [5].

Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor and works mainly in your heart and brain. However, it vasodilates your peripheral and bronchial vessels as well.

Releases Calcium from Intracellular Storage

Caffeine affect the body by taking calcium from the bone and introducing it into the bloodstream. Most studies show that this amount is not substantial enough to cause osteoporosis, and the calcium loss can be replaced by adding some milk. 

Benzodiazepine Receptor Antagonist 

Studies show that caffeine has weak antagonistic properties at the benzodiazepine receptor sites. The reaction, however, can be due to adenosine suppression [6]. 

SNS vs. PNS

The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) controls homeostasis. The PNS maintains the body at rest and is responsible for the “rest and digest” functions. 

Similarly, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) controls the body’s responses to a perceived threat and is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. 

Effects of Caffeine on the Body

Caffeine’s direct effects on the body are due to the inactivation of adenosine receptors. It leads to greater stimulation of the SNS, causing various effects. Here are the most common effects of caffeine on the body: 

Increase in alertness

  • The stimulating effects of caffeine cause alertness right away. In addition to that, it can also temporarily relieve drowsiness and fatigue.

Decreased suicide risk – check with your doctor

  • One study found that the mood-enhancing effects of caffeine were linked to a percent lower risk of suicide in participants.

Increased heart rate and blood pressure

  • Caffeine affects your body by resulting in a rapid heartbeat. In that case, this may be a concern if you have a preexisting heart issue. You may notice arrhythmias whenever you have caffeine.
  • It can also temporarily raise your blood pressure. The effects may be especially noticeable if you have caffeine during or right before exercise or other physical activity.

Confusion

  • Too much caffeine can overstimulate the brain, leading to confusion or the inability to focus on one task.

Headache

  • A headache can occur from either too much caffeine or as a symptom of caffeine withdrawal. But specific amounts can help with headaches.

Irritability

  • When your body is used to caffeine, you can experience irritability as a symptom of withdrawal.

Heartburn

  • The acidity of certain caffeinated products, like coffee and soda, may cause heartburn.

Diarrhea

  • Caffeine can also help regulate your bowel movement, but too much intake can cause opposite effects like diarrhea.

Fertility/Pregnancy

  • Some women who consume too much caffeine might experience difficulties getting pregnant. If you’re trying to get pregnant, It’s best not to consume more than 300 mg per day.
  • Consuming too much caffeine affects your body during pregnancy, which may cause miscarriage and developmental issues in newborns. 
  • It’s recommended that pregnant women consume no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day. It equals about one 12-ounce cup of coffee.

Bones

  • Caffeine prevents calcium absorption in the bones, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. As you get older, your bones may break more easily.

Urination

  • Frequent urination may be experienced when you consume too much caffeine. Caffeine affects the body as a diuretic, and long-term use of high amounts of caffeine may increase bladder instability. It can worsen the risk for those already experiencing bladder problems.

Jitters

  • Caffeine can give you the jitters if you’re not used to it. If you have an anxiety disorder or sleep disorder, caffeine may make it worse.

Metabolization of Caffeine 

  • Caffeine from coffee or other beverages is absorbed by the small intestine within 45 minutes of ingestion and distributed throughout all bodily tissues.
  • ​​Peak blood concentration is reached within 1–2 hours.
  • Caffeine’s biological half liver varies from individual to individual, roughly between 2 and 7 hrs.
  • It can also be absorbed rectally. However, the rectal route has a 30% lesser absorption rate [7].

The FDA has cited 400 milligrams a day for healthy adults—about four or five cups of coffee—as an amount not generally associated with complications.

To watch the full Episode 92, click here for more 👇

TIME STAMPS:

0:00 Intro
0:50 Plugs
2:16 Episode Intro
6:07 The only unregulated psychoactive drug
10:19 How Caffeine Acts in the Body
10:25 Adenosine Antagonist
13:03 Caffeine decreases cerebral blood flow
15:39 Inhibition of Phosphodiesterase
16:29 Releases Calcium from Intracellular Storages
18:52 Benzodiazepine Receptor Antagonist
23:13 A possible reason why you are irritable
25:00 Effects of Caffeine
25:10 Increase in alertness
29:18 Tips on setting your body clock
33:07 Estimating time when to take caffeine
39:32 Frequent urination
39:58 Too much caffeine can cause diarrhea
40:41 Decreased suicide risk
46:33 Caffeine as medicine

The Power of Your Mitochondria

The Power of Your Mitochondria

The Powerhouse of the Body – Mitochondria

The power of your mitochondria plays an important role in your body. You have memorized what a mitochondrion is, but do you know about the power of your mitochondria? Has anyone ever asked you, “How are you taking care of your mitochondria?” 
 
You may remember from high school biology that all human cells have a nucleus. And nucleus contains our genetic blueprint (DNA). But do you remember much about mitochondria? 
 
We can say that Humans generate and use electricity. These so-called power stations of the cell convert nutrients into energy. They are the foundational generators that provide every living cell, and ourselves. It is the energy we need to move, adapt and evolve. 
 
Chemical energy produced by the mitochondria is stored in a small molecule. These are called adenosine triphosphate
(ATP). Mitochondria contain their small chromosomes. Generally, mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are inherited only from the mother.
 
Where did the mitochondria derive from? One theory behind where this small but mighty organelle came from was no further than the bacteria in our environment [1]
 
Unlike the microbes that thrive in our gut, scientists believe that we evolved a close companionship with bacteria. This bacteria could tap into a far more efficient energy production model than our far-off microscopic ancestors.
 
 
 

Facts and Functions of Mitochondria

Fun fact: 

Mitochondria is the only other organelle in the cell (outside the nucleus) to contain a copy of your genetic code. 

Scientists have been inspired to improve their knowledge about mitochondria. They have also studied its function outside the energy production using that knowledge. It turns out that mitochondria are multifunctioning organelle. 

Functions:

  • ​​Play a vital role in the aging process, and most age-related diseases
  • Are vital to cell health, including by regulating how nutrients get into individual cells
  • Help maintain the integrity of a cell – The energy it produces is used for growth and cell functions but is also targeted to help heal and recycle other outdated parts.
  • They help in the immune function – help activate various antiviral and anti-inflammatory pathways to help fight pathogens.
  • Regulating cell death – is an essential system designed to help destroy infected or damaged cells.

Clearly, without a healthy set of mitochondria, your ability to lead a healthy life can be significantly reduced. It is why establishing a healthy, resilient line of mitochondria is so important to optimize your wellbeing. Here are a few tips you can take away to improve the power of your mitochondria [2]

1. Get active

Fun fact, you can increase the number of mitochondria within you simply through regular exercise. When your body notices a new routine in your fitness, it works to generate more energy and helps your body to adapt to changes in stress and the environment. Abundance in the power of your mitochondria means more stamina and the more remarkable ability to allocate resources to healing after a heavy workout. 

2. Eat the right foods

Your diet is so crucial to mitochondrial health. The key is to eat enough nutrient-rich foods. Think about it this way; you’re gathering and improving natural resources used to create energy. It provides access to antioxidants that help neutralize the toxic by-products associated with normal energy production. 

3. Decrease inflammation

Inflammation can have a very destructive effect on your mitochondria. Inflammation issues may stem from gut dysbiosis that can promote an inflamed state within your body. Changing your diet can help balance your gut and adjust the inflammatory levels inside you [2]
 
Scientists found out that the mitochondria change their role during the inflammatory state. Enzymes change as the production of reactive oxygen species increases. In return, this damages the cell structures.

4. Focus on Quality Sleep

The mitochondria are such incredible organelles. They are essential in establishing healthy sleep habits. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep and learn more about practicing good sleep hygiene. ​​
 
Less than seven hours of sleep a night can reduce so-called mitochondrial DNA copies in the participants’ blood cells. Mitochondria are like the power source of a blood cell. Cells function much better when more mitochondrial DNA copies are available [3].
 
A new study based on 30 pairs of twins suggests that less than seven hours of sleep is bad for our health and leads to poor cell function.
 
 

Viome Results on Mitochondrial Health 

In May of 2021, I was able to analyze my gut and cellular health to see what is my mitochondria health. My score was 50/100. 

Reference ranges: 

  • Not Optimal
    • 0 to 40 which represents 19.0% of the Viome population
  • Average
    • 41 to 65, which means 79.0% of the Viome population
  • Good
    • 66 to 100 which represents 2.0% of the Viome population

How are the scores calculated? 

Mitochondrial Biogenesis Pathways – Mitochondrial Biogenesis Pathways score assesses the activity levels of molecular pathways needed to biologically generate and maintain the cellular functions of your mitochondria to meet your body’s energy and metabolic demands. 

It includes PGC1-alpha signaling – known as the master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis.

If the score is not optima, it implies insufficient activity in the mitochondria support functions. It could be due to excessive oxidative stress or a deficiency in specific nutrients. This deficiency serves as cofactors needed for the mitochondria biogenesis pathways. 

Energy Production Pathways – Energy Production Pathways score evaluates the efficiency of your cell’s ability to convert carbohydrates (glucose) into energy molecules that fuel our cells (otherwise known as ATP). 

If the score is low, your mitochondrial metabolic activity is sluggish. It could use a little boost from the molecular targets and vitamins. It can also come from a cofactor or coenzyme supplements like:

  • CoQ1, 
  • NAD+ precursors
  • L-Carnitine
  • Various activators of AMPK (an activator of metabolic pathways, which stimulates mitochondrial ATP production).

My Personalized Supplements to Support Mitochondrial Health 

Ashwagandha Root & Leaf Extract (263 mg/day) – these extracts can be seen in-vitro to enhance cellular energy production. It is done by increasing Succinate Dehydrogenase (SDH) levels. These levels are essential enzyme in mitochondrial energy production.
 
Curcumin (550 mg/day) – increases the translocation of Nrf2 to the cell nucleus. This enhances mitochondrial biogenesis and health via PGC-1α and p-AMPK pathways.
 
Magnesium (604 mg/day) – Magnesium is essential for all ATPase activity. It is a class of enzymes that catalyze the phosphate bond in ATP. This results in a release of energy used for other cellular reactions. It includes the movement of calcium across and within the cell membrane of cardiac and vascular tissues.
 
L-Theanine (140 mg/day) – includes neurological and cardiovascular protective effects. Through enhanced cellular antioxidant activity and mitochondrial function, these effects are mediated.
 
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) (35 mg/day) – In the body, B3 is converted into (NAD). NAD is a coenzyme found in glycolysis. It is also located in the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex. The citric acid or TCA cycle is seen in energy production pathways. 
 
The TCA cycle is also known as Krebs cycle. It produces Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which provides energy to cells. 
 
NAD also exhibited antioxidant activity and increased NAD biosynthesis. It offers protection against DNA damage during oxidative stress.
 
 

To watch the full Episode 84, check out our video below! Let’s all learn about mitochondria here 👇

TIME STAMPS:

0:00 Introduction
0:49 Cup of Nurses Introduction
2:42 Episode Introduction
2:55 The Powerhouse of the Body – Mitochondria
9:21 What are the functions of the Mitochondria?
11:58 Improve Your Mitochondria: Get Active
14:55 Improve Your Mitochondria: Eat the right foods
15:43 Improve Your Mitochondria: Decrease Inflammation
17:18 Improve Your Mitochondria: Focus on Quality Sleep
20:57 Viome Results on Mitochondrial Health
22:58 How Viome Scores are Calculated
29:20 Personalized Supplements to Support Mitochondrial Health
29:34 Supplement: Ashwagandha Root & Leaf Extract
29:47 Supplement: Curcumin
30:12 Supplement: Magnesium
31:14 Supplement: L-Theanine
33:48 Supplement: Vitamin B3

 

The Stress Response and What Foods Lower It

The Stress Response and What Foods Lower It

The Stress Response and What Foods Lower It

How we react to the stress response is important. We all deal with stress differently. Some people can get over it quickly, while others take their time. But why is that? Is there a way to help reduce anxiety? Does food play a role in this? Find out more by reading about it in our post.

What is Stress

Stress is your mental and physical reaction to pressure from a certain situation. But remember not all of the stress response is bad, certain stress helps you and gives you the strength to do more. Negative or harmful stress is referred to as distress and on the flip side, positive or good stress is referred to as eustress. 

The Stress Response 

The stress response begins in the brain starting with the cerebral cortex, amygdala, and hypothalamus. When someone comes into contact with a stressful situation the cerebral cortex identifies it and sends the information to the amygdala. The amygdala interprets the senses and if it perceives it as dangerous it sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. 

When someone experiences a stressful event, the amygdala, an area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. This area of the brain functions like a command center, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that the person has the energy for fight or flight.

The hypothalamus controls such involuntary body functions as breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, and the dilation or constriction of blood vessels and bronchioles in the lungs. The autonomic nervous system has two components; 

  • Sympathetic nervous system: functions like a gas pedal in a car. It triggers the fight-or-flight response, providing the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers.
  • Parasympathetic nervous system: acts like a brake. It promotes the “rest and digest” response that calms the body down after the danger has passed.

After the amygdala sends a distress signal, the hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system by sending signals through the autonomic nerves to the adrenal glands.

These glands respond by pumping the hormone epinephrine into the bloodstream. As epinephrine circulates through the body, it brings on a number of physiological changes. 

  • The heart beats faster than normal, pushing blood to the muscles, heart, and other vital organs. 
  • Pulse rate and blood pressure go up. 
  • The person starts to breathe more rapidly. Small airways in the lungs open wide. This way, the lungs can take in as much oxygen as possible with each breath. Extra oxygen is sent to the brain, increasing alertness. 
  • Sight, hearing, and other senses become sharper. 
  • Triggers the release of blood sugar (glucose) and fats from temporary storage sites in the body. These nutrients flood into the bloodstream, supplying energy to all parts of the body.

The Body’s Stress Response Process

All of these changes happen so quickly that you won’t be aware of them right away. The body’s wiring is so efficient that the amygdala and hypothalamus start this cascade even before the brain’s visual centers even have a chance to fully process what is happening. That’s why people are able to jump out of the path of an oncoming car even before they think about what they are doing.

As the first surge of epinephrine subsides, the hypothalamus activates the second component of the stress response system, the HPA axis. This process consists of the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands. The HPA axis relies on a series of hormonal signals to keep the sympathetic nervous system going [1].

If the brain continues to perceive something as dangerous, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which travels to the pituitary gland, triggering the release of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).

This hormone travels to the adrenal glands, prompting them to release cortisol. The body thus stays revved up and on high alert. When the threat passes, cortisol levels fall. The parasympathetic nervous system, the brake, then dampens the stress response.

Cortisol is also responsible for:

  • Increased urea production, appetite suppression, suppression of immune system, exacerbation of gastric irritation, an associated feeling of depression, and loss of control.

In addition to the HPA axis, some other hormones such as Growth Hormone (GH) and thyroid hormones also play a significant role in stress. 

  • Growth hormone is a peptide hormone, released from the anterior pituitary gland. GH raises the concentration of glucose and free fatty acids.
  • Thyroid hormones, the Thyroid releases thyroxin and triiodothyronine. The main function of thyroid hormones is to increase the overall metabolic rate. Thyroxin also increases heart rate and also the sensitivity of some tissues to catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine).

Negative Effects of Stress

When you are unable to efficiently cope with stress or if the stress persists over a long period of time it leads to negative systemic effects. Stress affects the body in many ways. Stress affects both physical as well as mental health.

Some of the prolonged effects may be individualized, but some of the effects are common to every individual. Most of the effects are associated with increased concentrations of corticoids and adrenaline. Some major effects on the body systems are [2]:

Digestion

Inconsistent eating habits, acid reflux, diarrhea, or constipation are the common symptoms seen in stressed persons. Chronic stress is also associated with obesity leading to many other negative effects.

Though there is no clear evidence that stressful life events promote the development of diabetes in children or in adults. In addition to that, hormonal changes occurring during acute and chronic stress can also affect glucose homeostasis in both healthy people and in those with diabetes.

Several studies have reported a negative effect of acute stress on the maintenance of blood glucose concentrations in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Circulation

Both adrenaline and cortisol affect heart and blood pressure when active over long periods of time. Too much adrenaline makes blood pressure go up which in turn affects the functioning of the heart since the heart has to pump harder and faster. 

This can produce coronary heart disease, strokes, and sudden cardiac arrest. Stress has been reported to be a predictor of incidents of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) and hypertension. Stress can cause increased oxygen demand on the body spasm of the coronary blood vessels and electrical instability in the heart’s conduction system. 

Chronic stress also leads to increased blood cholesterol levels 

The persistently high levels of cholesterol and other fatty substances in the blood may cause atherosclerosis and sometimes may be a reason for a heart attack. 

Cortisol also plays role in the accumulation of abdominal fat leading to obesity. Occupational stress also has a significant influence on the onset of CHD.

Schnall PL, Landsbergis PA, Baker D (1994) Job strain and cardiovascular disease. Annu Rev Public Health 15: 381-411.

Eaker ED (1998) Psychosocial risk factors for coronary heart disease in women. Cardiol Clin 16: 103-111.

Torpy JM, Cassio L, Glass RM (2007) Chronic Stress and the Heart. JAMA 298: 1722.

Fumio K (2004) Job Stress and Stroke and Coronary Heart Disease. JMAJ 47: 222-226.

Immunity 

The persistent activation of the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis in chronic stress response impairs the immune response leading to several types of infections. Studies have shown that people under chronic stress are more susceptible to viral illnesses like flu and common cold as well as other infections. 

Cohen S, Doyle WJ, Skoner DP, Rabin BS, Gwaltney JM Jr (1997). Social ties and susceptibility to the common cold. JAMA 277: 1940-1944.

The high levels of stress hormones suppress the release of cytokines chemicals secreted by Th cells. Cytokines regulate both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses in the body.

Chronic stress may dysregulate cytokines that can lead to suppression of both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses, as well as systemic inflammation.

Proinflammatory cytokines produce symptoms of fatigue, malaise, diminished appetite, and listlessness, which are the symptoms usually associated with depression.

Segerstrom SC, Miller GE (2004) Psychological stress and the human immune system: a meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychol Bull 130: 601-630.

Neil S, Ironson G, Siegel SD (2008) Stress and Health: Psychological, Behavioral, and Biological Determinants. Annu Rev Clin Psychol 1: 607-628.

In some cases, stress could also be a cause of cancer. The persistent activation of the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis in the chronic stress response and in depression probably impairs the immune response. It can also contribute to the development and progression of some types of cancer. Studies have indicated that stress can promote breast cancer cell colonization of bone.

Reiche EM, Nunes SO, Morimoto HK (2004) Stress, depression, the immune system, and cancer. Lancet Oncol 5: 617-625.

Reproduction

Since sex life depends on the fitness of both body and mind, chronic stress may decrease libido. It may even cause erectile dysfunction or impotence in men. In the case of chronic stress, testosterone levels can drop to an extent that can interfere with spermatogenesis (sperm production). In women, stress can affect the menstrual cycle. It can lead to irregular, heavier, or more painful periods [3].

2 Foods That Decrease Stress

There are many foods that can help you with stress. The reason many foods decrease stress is that they usually help rev down the stress response. There are many common foods that will help you get through your stressful times.

Chronic stress leads to poor food choices that further increase inflammation, this is why it is important to eat healthily and dial down on nutrition. 

Oatmeal

The main reason why oatmeal helps with stress and anxiety is that it boosts serotonin. Seratonin is a natural feel-good neurotransmitter. Oatmeal increases serotonin due to the fact that it is a good source of tryptophan.

Tryptophan is a precurses to serotonin and studies are looking at whether levels of tryptophan have an impact on mood. Oats are also a complex carb high in fiber, and rich in vitamin B, magnesium, and potassium.

Those nutrients play a key role in blood sugar stabilization, mood, and energy. Fiber has been shown in some studies to decrease oxidative stress and inflammation. Stable electrolyte levels help with heart function and blood pressure. 

Tea 

Tea has been around for thousands of years. There is a wide assortment of teas but specifically, black tea has been associated with calming and relaxing properties. There are 2 major players when it comes to tea having these beneficial effects. L-theanine and catechins are responsible for the destressing functionality of tea [4]

L-theanine is an amino acid commonly found in tea and certain mushrooms. L-theanine facilitates relaxation by boosting GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. It also reduces the amount of cortisol in your system.

What is really interesting is that l theanine increases alpha brain waves which are associated with wakeful relaxation while promoting attention and creativity. 

According to a study shown on WebMD, tea drinkers showed a drop in cortisol levels and decreased platelet aggregation after a stressful situation [5].

Catechins are naturally occurring phenols, also known as antioxidants. It helps combat oxidative stress. It has also been linked to the inhibition of corticosteroid-induced anxiety and stress [6]. 

Learn more about stress response by watching the full Episode 82 here 👇

TIME STAMPS:

0:00 Introduction
0:45 Cup of Nurses Introduction
2:28 Episode Introduction
2:45 The Stress Response
16:33 Negative effects of stress
16:46 Effects of Stress in Digestion
19:02 Effects of Stress in Circulation
20:49 Effects of Stress on Immunity
27:12 Effects of Stress in Reproduction
33:00 2 Foods that Decrease Stress
33:25 Foods that decrease stress: Oatmeal
35:23 Foods that decrease stress: Tea

How to Optimize Your Immune System

How to Optimize Your Immune System

How to Optimize Your Immune System

It is important to optimize your immune system. When the weather is cold, many people get sick, and sometimes, common colds turn to flu when your body cannot fight it off. It is why you optimizing your immune system is a must.
Unfortunately, a lot of people have a low immune system during cold seasons. Many look for ways to boost it, but it’s best to get ahead. It is ideal to strengthen our immune system before illness takes over.
 
The best way to stop being sick is to prevent yourself from getting sick. There are steps you can take to better optimize your immune system. Hydration, sleep, nutrition, and supplements are key fundamentals for staying healthy. 

Hydration

Drinking enough water optimizes your body’s performance in every aspect. Staying hydrated has been associated with an increase in the performance of your immune system. Studies have shown that fluid balance plays a major role in immunity and immune function [1].

The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is responsible for maintaining optimal immune system health. Some of the functions of the lymph system are:

  • Maintains fluid levels in your body: The lymphatic system collects excess fluid that drains from cells and tissue throughout your body and returns it to your bloodstream, it then recirculates through your body.
  • Absorbs fats from the digestive tract: Lymph includes fluids from your intestines that contain fats and proteins and transport them back to your bloodstream.
  • Protects your body against foreign invaders: The lymphatic system produces and releases lymphocytes (white blood cells) and other immune cells that monitor and destroy foreign invaders.

How the Lymphatic System Helps Optimize Your Immune System

How does the lymphatic system help your immune system? ]Here are studies we found out regarding this topic:

1. Transports and removes waste products and abnormal cells from the lymph.

The lymphatic system relies heavily on lymph which is made up of about 90% water. Less body water may mean less lymph production or a less efficient lymph system.

2. In A 2013 study published in Luminescence, researchers investigated the effects of dehydration on immune functions in 25 university judoists after a judo practice session.

Subjects were divided into two groups according to their level of dehydration after practice (mild dehydration and severe dehydration).

Results suggested that dehydration resulted in immunosuppression, including decreased neutrophil (an important type of tissue-healing and infection-fighting white blood cell) function.

3. In a 2012 study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism by researchers. In this investigation, they found the effect of exercise-induced dehydration and overnight fluid restriction on saliva antimicrobial proteins (secretory IgA (SIgA), α-amylase, and lysozyme). All are essential for the host defense. 

The researchers concluded that modest dehydration decreased salivary flow rate (SFR), α-amylase, and lysozyme secretion rates. However, they also commented that whether the observed magnitude of decrease in saliva AMPs during dehydration compromises host defense remains to be shown.

4. A 2019 review showed that researchers evaluated the effects of dehydration on several kinds of allergy responses and exercise-induced asthma, especially during endurance exercise.

They found that exercise-induced dehydration reduces airway surface hydration, resulting in increased bronchoconstriction. This is a response to exercise in exercise-induced asthma individuals and asthma patients [2].

How Sleep Affects the Immune System and Your Mood

Sleep is one of the most important components of staying healthy. Not only does sleep impact your immune system it is safe to say that sleep affects every part of your life. Many people don’t know that a part of your immune system actually increases when you fall asleep.  When you sleep the production of cytokines increases, which means you’re in a more inflamed state [3].

Some experts even say that sleep can increase immune memory:

  • During sleep, breathing and muscle activity slow down, freeing up energy for the immune system to perform these critical tasks.
  • The inflammation that happens during sleep could harm physical and mental performance if it occurred during waking hours, so the body has evolved so that these processes unfold during nightly sleep.
  • Melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone that is produced at night, is adept at counteracting the stress that can come from inflammation during sleep. 

Undifferentiated or less differentiated cells like naïve and central memory T cells peak during the night, when the more slowly evolving adaptive immune response is initiated.

Nocturnal sleep, and especially SWS prevalent during the early night, promotes the release of GH and prolactin, while anti-inflammatory actions of cortisol and catecholamines are at the lowest levels [4].

The endocrine milieu during early sleep critically supports (1) the interaction between APC and T cells, as evidenced by enhanced production of IL-12, (2) a shift of the Th1/Th2 cytokine balance towards Th1 cytokines, and (3) an increase in Th cell proliferation and (4) probably also facilitates the migration of naïve T cells to lymph nodes.

Thereby, the endocrine milieu during early sleep likely promotes the initiation of Th1 immune responses that eventually supports the formation of long-lasting immunological memories.

Prolonged sleep curtailment and the accompanying stress response invoke a persistent unspecific production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This is best described as chronic low-grade inflammation, and also produces immunodeficiency, which both have detrimental effects on health.

Effects of Citrus, Ginger, and Yogurt in Optimizing Your Immune System

To stay healthy and maintain a solid immune system, you must include foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins. How can citrus, ginger, and yogurt help optimize your immune system? In many ways, of course. For one, citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C, which keeps your immune system strong. Ginger is an excellent addition to food and drinks. It also helps decrease inflammation in your body, while yogurt’s “live cultures” help stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases. In addition to that, here are the health benefits of citrus, ginger, and yogurt:

Citrus fruits

  • Citrus fruits have a high vitamin C content. They are also high in potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin B. They also contain a good amount of fiber.
  • Citrus fruits also contain antioxidants. It is theorized that antioxidants may block the expression of certain genes that can be associated with cancer or certain degenerative diseases. 

Ginger

  • Ginger boosts a variety of antioxidants such as gingerols, paradols, sesquiterpenes, shogaols, and zingerone.
  • It has been shown that ginger is able to decrease inflammation in conditions such as RA, gut disease, and asthma
  • A 2-month study in 64 people with type 2 diabetes found that taking 2 grams of ginger powder daily significantly reduced levels of inflammatory proteins like tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and C-reactive protein (CRP), compared to taking a placebo [5].
  • In another study, male athletes who received 1.5 grams of ginger powder daily for 6 weeks had significant reductions in levels of inflammatory markers, such as TNF-alpha, interleukin 6 (IL-6), and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1-beta), compared to athletes who received a placebo

Yogurt

  • One of the key elements in why yogurt helps the immune system is its probiotic effect, specifically something called lactobacillus [6]. 
  • Lactobacillus produces an enzyme called lactase which breaks down lactose into lactic acid. 
  • In one study in 326 children, six months of daily L. acidophilus probiotics reduced fever by 53%, coughing by 41%, antibiotic use by 68%, and days absent from school by 32%

Supplements to Help Optimize Your Immune System

Supplements are always talked about, especially in winter. In addition to that, winter is when most people get sick. It is why it is crucial to keep your body healthy. You can also do this by taking supplements. What are the supplements you need to help optimize your immune system?

Vitamin D 

  • The recommended amount is 600 – 2000 IU.
  • Vitamin D is required in the regulation of T and B cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, and keratinocytes. There also seems to be a link between vitamin D and many autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s disease, juvenile diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Fish, red meat, liver, and egg yolks, are excellent foods rich in Vitamin D. 

Vitamin C Optimizes Your Immune System

  • For adults, the recommended daily amount for vitamin C is 65 to 90 milligrams (mg) a day, and the upper limit is 2,000 mg a day
  • Research shows vitamin C is essential for the growth and repair of tissue all over the body. Vitamin C helps heal wounds and repair and maintain healthy bones, teeth, skin, and cartilage — a type of firm tissue that covers the bones.
  • As an antioxidant, vitamin C fights free radicals in the body which may help prevent or delay certain cancers and heart disease and promote healthy aging. Vitamin C from foods also seems to reduce the risk of cartilage loss in those with osteoarthritis.
  • Citrus fruit, such as oranges and orange juice, peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes.

Iron

  • The amount of iron you need is 8.7mg a day for men over 18. 14.8mg a day for women aged 19 to 50. 8.7mg a day for women over 50.
  • The main responsibility of iron is properly functioning hemoglobin. It helps carry oxygen to your tissue and organs. 
  • Some of the other ways iron helps your immune system is by playing a major role in pathways and immune cells involved in iron regulation, from initial uptake in the gut to the utilization of iron for Fe-S clusters, heme biogenesis, and mitochondrial function. 
  • Shellfish, spinach, liver, legumes, red meat, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa 

Vitamin E to Help Optimize Your Immune System

  • The recommended daily amount of vitamin E for adults is 15 milligrams a day.
  • Besides acting as an antioxidant, vitamin E supports your body’s immune function by supporting the growth of t cells. The role of the t cell is to fight infection by fighting against infected cells and activating other immune cells for an effective immune response. As a result, Vitamin E is a necessary tool in helping your body fight off and prevent infections.
  • Kiwi, avocado, spinach, squash, seeds, asparagus, and berries are great sources of Vitamin E.

Vitamin B

  • The recommended daily amount of vitamin B-12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia that occurs due to deficiency of folic acid and B12 causes systemic and vascular inflammation contributing to the pathogenesis of many other diseases such as cardiovascular, kidney, and neurovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and cancer.
  • Adequate dietary levels of folic acid and B12 can act as preventative measures for inflammation, immune dysfunction, and disease progression.
  • Salmon, walnuts, leafy greens, legumes, and eggs are excellent sources of Vitamin B. 

Do you want to optimize your immune system better? Check out the full Episode 80 here 👇

SHOW NOTES:

0:00 Introduction
2:17 Episode Introduction
4:34 Maintain Hydration
13:53 How sleep affects the immune system and your mood
22:20 Citrus, ginger, and yogurt
28:07 Supplements

Importance of Sunlight and How Light Affects the Eyes

Importance of Sunlight and How Light Affects the Eyes

Importance of Sunlight and the Negative Effects of Artificial Light

The importance of sunlight plays a crucial part in human health and well-being. Among the benefits associated with sunlight are Vitamin D production, promoting sleep, and bone formation. It also helps with depression and anxiety.
 
Artificial light is something that has become a growing concern. Light from our phones, lamps, and TVs also has an impact on us. Some research has been showing blue light in particular has a harmful effect on the eyes and brain.

 

Benefits and Importance of Sunlight

There are many benefits of sunlight that your body can use. The main ones are vitamin D production which promotes sleep, helps with bone formation, and treats anxiety, and depression.

We can all say getting your skin hit by the sun is a simple pleasure we’ve all experienced. It’s interesting to note that almost all animals on this planet need sunlight. 

 

Vitamin D production

Vitamin D is a little different than the rest of the fat-soluble vitamins. Unlike the other four vitamins, Vitamin D is actually produced in the body. It is also available in small amounts in egg yolks and fish. But for it to be useful, it is first converted by the body. Sunlight’s ultraviolet B energy converts the precursor to Vitamin D3 in the body [1]

How the body converts vitamin D precursor to useable vitamin D:

  • Sun gives off UVB radiation that hits the skin and converts cutaneous 7-dehydrocholesterol to pre-vitamin D3.
  • It is converted in the liver and kidneys to vitamin D3.
  • The type of vitamin D3 that is able to be used by the body is 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3. 

Fun fact: Vitamin D is one of the oldest hormones. It was the earliest life form for over 750 million years. Plants and animals that are often exposed to sunlight have the capacity to produce vitamin D.

It is why this is critically important for the development, growth, and maintenance of a healthy skeleton from birth until death. The major function of vitamin D is to maintain calcium homeostasis [2]. 

It accomplishes this by increasing the efficiency of the intestine to absorb dietary calcium. 1,25(OH)2D receptors (VDR) are present not only in the intestine and bone.

However, it is also found in a wide variety of other tissues, including the brain, heart, stomach, pancreas, activated T and B lymphocytes, skin, gonads, etc. 1,25(OH)2D is one of the most potent substances to inhibit proliferation of both normal and hyperproliferative cells and induce them to mature.

Sleep Promotion

Once light enters the eye, it is then sensed by a particular group of cells on the retina. It is then carried to the brain and interpreted as information about the time of the day. The brain will then send signals throughout the body. This is to control organs and systems according to that time of day.
 
Natural sunlight affects your circadian rhythm. Sunlight regulates the circadian rhythm. It helps the body know when to decrease or increase melatonin levels. During the day, daylight lessens your melatonin. At night when there is no sunlight, melatonin is higher. It also prepares your body for sleep. It is also why you feel tired once the sun goes down.
 

Bone formation

Another importance of sunlight is bone formation. Vitamin D allows your body to absorb calcium. Calcium is necessary for building strong, healthy bones. Without these, bones cannot form in childhood. It can also lose mass, becomes weak, and breaks during adulthood. Even if you get enough calcium in your diet, your body will not absorb that calcium if you don’t get enough vitamin D:

  • Osteoclast: large multinucleated cell responsible for the dissolution and absorption of bone.
    • Take calcium out of the bone and release it into the bloodstream.
    • If there is not enough calcium in the blood there will be a problem with:
      • Nerve function
      • Muscle contraction
      • Blood clotting
      • Cardiac function
  • Osteoblasts: large cells responsible for the synthesis and mineralization of bone during both initial bone formation and later bone remodeling.

One study looked at the importance of sunlight in the production of Vitamin D on bone, muscle, and cartilage health. The study looked at all the receptors that are associated with vitamin d and the connection to certain vitamin D  deficient diseases. It concluded

“Understanding the relative contributions of direct and indirect actions of vitamin D on bone is complex. The cells in bone and cartilage contributing to skeletal formation and maintenance have both VDR and CYP27B1 and respond directly to both circulating 25OHD and 1,25(OH)2D (circulating and endogenously produced).”

Dietary Calcium and Phosphate

However, these cells are also responsive to blood levels of calcium and phosphate, elements required for bone formation. Dietary calcium and phosphate can to some extent compensate for deficient vitamin D signaling, and vitamin D can compensate to some extent for deficiencies in calcium and phosphate. But all are involved.

Defining the optimal level of vitamin D to maintain bone health remains under debate. But achieving a level of 25OHD around 30 ng/mL is both safe and effective. Additional research will be necessary to determine whether this is the optimal level,” [3].

The second study said, Vitamin D is a secosteroid hormone essential for calcium absorption and bone mineralization which is positively associated with bone mineral density [BMD]. It is well-established that prolonged and severe vitamin D deficiency leads to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.” [4].

Anxiety and Depression

The importance of sunlight and darkness triggers the release of hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.

When sunlight enters your eyes, it stimulates the parts of your retina that then cue your brain to produce serotonin. Serotonin appears to play a role in regulating mood, emotions, appetite, and digestion. The body uses serotonin to send messages between nerve cells, but it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, which means that the brain has to produce any serotonin it needs to use [5].

Scientists don’t know exactly what causes depression, but one theory is that it’s due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters, like serotonin, in the body. 

Evidence Supports a Causal Role for Vitamin D Status in COVID-19 Outcomes

Analyzed global daily reports of fatalities and recoveries from 239 locations from 22nd Jan 2020 to 9th April 2020. This is a previous study we mentioned from Cup of news EP 10.

We present historical evidence that vitamin D supplementation prevented past respiratory virus pandemics. There is a discussion on how molecular mechanisms of vitamin D action can prevent respiratory viral infections and protect against ARDS. In the study, they highlight vitamin D’s direct effect on the renin-angiotensin-system (RAS), which in concert with additional effects, can modify host responses thus preventing a cytokine storm and SARS-CoV-2-induced pathological changes.

Unfortunately, about 42% of the US population is vitamin D deficient with some populations having even higher levels of deficiency, including premenopausal women, those with poor nutrition habits, people over age 65, and Caucasians who avoid even minimal sun exposure, and those who take prescription medication long term.

*Note that screening for Vitamin D deficiency is not part of the standard protocol in the US

Study on Sunlight

The present study examined the influence of simulated sunlight and relative humidity on the stability of SARS-CoV-2 in aerosols generated from viruses suspended in either simulated saliva or a culture medium at 20°C (68F). Simulated sunlight rapidly inactivated the virus in aerosols in either suspension matrix, with half-lives of less than 6 minutes, and 90% of the virus inactivated in less than 20 minutes for all simulated sunlight levels tested. 

Harmful effects of artificial light

Our bodies are evolved to the rhythms of the natural light-dark cycle day and night. The spread of artificial lighting means most people never experience truly dark nights anymore, which can cause problems with sleep patterns as humans’ circadian rhythm regulates core functions such as sleeping or waking up on an internal clock that depends upon darkness for validating information received through our eyes—such us noticing whether it’s daytime by judging how much brighter things appear than during “nighttime”.

Research suggests that artificial light at night can negatively affect human health, increasing risks for obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, breast cancer, and more.

Exposure to blue light at night is particularly harmful. Unfortunately, most LEDs used for outdoor lighting — as well as computer screens, TVs, and other electronic displays — create abundant blue light.

Blue Light

Nighttime exposure to blue light is particularly harmful [6]. LEDs used for outdoor lighting, computer screens, and TVs all emit a lot of that troublesome color which makes it hard for your body’s sight receptors to adjust accordingly- this causes insomnia as well as issues with hormonal regulation!

Maintaining an indoor ambiance during daylight hours can help you get better sleep at night time by giving those tired eyes something else other than bright displays or harsh florescent lights nearby so they don’t have any choice but close themselves off from the world due to lack of fatigue

Experts think digital eye strain, or computer vision syndrome, affects about 50% of computer users. Symptoms include dry, irritated eyes and blurred vision.

Blue light may also damage your retinas. That’s called phototoxicity. The amount of damage depends on wavelength and exposure time. Animal studies show even short exposure (a few minutes to several hours) may be harmful. A filter that cuts 94% of blue light has been shown to lessen the damage.

There’s evidence blue light could lead to permanent vision changes. Almost all blue light passes straight through to the back of your retina. Some research has shown blue light may increase the risk of macular degeneration, a disease of the retina.

Research shows blue light exposure may lead to age-related macular degeneration or AMD. One study found blue light triggered the release of toxic molecules in photoreceptor cells. This causes damage that may lead to AMD.

Blue Light and Sleep

Screen time, especially at night, is linked to poor sleep. The blue light from electronic devices messes with your circadian rhythm or sleep cycle. It signals your brain to wake up when it should be winding down. In one study, as little as 2 hours of exposure to blue light at night slowed or stopped the release of the sleep hormone melatonin [7]. Powering down your digital devices at least 3 hours before bedtime can help.

Blue Light and Cancer

Blue light exposure might raise your risk for certain cancers. One study found that people who work the night shift are at greater risk for breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers.

  • Study participants subjected to higher levels of blue light (lights on during sleep cycles) had a 1.5 times higher risk for developing breast cancer and a two-fold higher risk of developing prostate cancer compared to people who had less exposure to artificial light, the study researchers say [8].

Blue Light and Mental Health

Nighttime exposure to blue light was linked to depressive symptoms in animal studies [9]. But exposure to blue light during the day may have the opposite effect. It’s been used to treat a seasonal affective disorder or SAD. That’s a form of depression related to the changing of the seasons. Research shows 20 minutes of blue light exposure in the morning helps ease SAD symptoms. 

  • One study found that blue light deprivation (BLD) induced depression-like behavior in gerbils. Melatonin lost its rhythm, and corticosterone (CORT) levels decreased in the morning in the BLD group [10]

Learn more about the importance of sunlight by watching the full Episode 77 here 👇

SHOW NOTES:

0:00 Cup of Nurses Introduction
2:22 Episode Introduction
7:32 Benefits of Sunlight
7:59 Vitamin D Production
13:20 Sleep Promotion
13:45 Bone Formation
19:20 Anxiety and Depression
​​22:16 Evidence Supports a Causal Role for Vitamin D Status in COVID-19 Outcomes
26:55 Harmful Effects of Artificial Light
27:50 Blue Light
35:00 Blue Light and Mental Health