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20-Second Stress Relief, Speech Delays, Kidney Stones, Protein vs Carbs, and Much More

Issue 178

Good afternoon Nikkola Newsletterers!

Apparently, now that it's January 4, it's too late to say "Happy New Year," so I'll instead say, "Welcome to the first Nikkola Newsletter of 2024!"

Being that we're kicking off a new year, motivation is word and concept people are talking a lot about. But it's more than haning inspirational photos on your wall or writing out goals in a brand new notebook.

To feel motivated, you need the right balance of neurotransmitters and hormones.

If you don't have that balance, you don't have the building blocks of motivation. So, no matter how much you'd like to accomplish something, there's a very good chance you won't follow through.

What neurotransmitters actually cause the feeling of motivation? I'll try to be brief here (I've gone into greater depth in articles on my blog).

Dopamine, often referred to as the "reward chemical," plays a crucial role in the pleasure and reward system of the brain. It helps regulate movement, attention, learning, and emotional responses. Serotonin influences mood, emotion, and sleep, contributing to feelings of well-being and happiness. Norepinephrine affects attention and responding actions in the brain, and endorphins are natural painkillers that also boost pleasure.

Where are these neurotransmitters created? In your brain and in your gut. So, feeling motivated is as much of a gut thing as it is a brain thing.

Enjoy this week's carefully curated newsletter!

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🏃‍♀️ The Warm-Up

Brief summaries of the latest research findings.

Fall asleep fast(er). If you're having trouble falling asleep, or your mind is racing too much even to make an effort, try out this 20-second breathing hack popularized by Andrew Weil. You'll overwrite the sympathetic (fight or flight) part of your nervous system with the parasympathetic (rest and digest). Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth over eight seconds. Do four to eight rounds of such breathing and you should feel much more relaxed. You might wonder why you can't do it in 17 seconds, or if 23 seconds would be better. I don't have a good answer for that.

Tylenol in the third trimester may cause speech delays. A new study found that when women took acetaminophen just once per week during their third trimester, their children would have a significantly reduced vocabulary at age two, the age at which word usage jumps significantly. There are natural ways to lower pain, so it might be better to try those options before resorting to pharmaceuticals.

Do you get kidney stones? It's likely because of your microbiome. According to the new study's author, "We found not only that those who got kidney stones had an unhealthy microbiome, including a gut microbiome that was more likely to excrete toxins to the kidneys, but also that they were antibiotic resistant." Hardly a day goes by when I don't see a new study emphasizing the importance of maintaining a healthy microbiome.

Eating more protein and fewer carbs reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Period (every health and fitness pro should read this). Principal findings: "Summarizing data from 124 prospective studies involving over five million participants, our research findings indicate that protein intake, including total protein, animal protein, and plant protein, is associated with a reduced risk of CVD, while carbohydrate intake is associated with an increased risk of CVD. Our research indicates that a high overall intake of fat is associated with a lower all-cause mortality rate; however, this association varies in analyses stratified by fat type. An increase in the intake of PUFA and MUFA is associated with a reduction in all-cause, CVD, and cancer mortality rates, while an increase in the intake of SFA is associated with an increase in cancer mortality rate."

If you're going to go vegetarian or vegan, you absolutely must prioritize protein. It turns out that even vegetarian athletes, who should be very conscious of "meeting their macros," fall short of their minimum protein intake by about 20%. As a result, they have significantly less lean body mass. Can you follow a vegetarian diet and consume enough protein? Yes, if you're extremely diligent about your protein intake. But most people are not, and therefore, recommending a vegetarian or vegan diet should be done so with extreme caution.

🏋️‍♂️ The Workout

Full-length features from my blog

Suntheanine: Calm and Focus With This Science-Backed Ingredient. Would you benefit from an increase in mental focus combined with an increased sense of calm? That’s exactly what Suntheanine offers, without the jitters of stimulants or the drowsiness of a sedative. With the recent rise in concerns about mental wellness, Suntheanine, a unique form of l-theanine, has been gaining attention. L-theanine, traditionally derived from black or green tea leaves, is well-known for its ability to enhance brain health. Additionally, it can assist with various types of anxiety disorders. This compound is celebrated for its potential to enhance brain health and manage various forms of anxiety. As we delve into the world of Suntheanine, it’s essential to understand its origins, properties, and how it stands out from regular l-theanine, commonly found in tea leaves. Keep reading...

Plant-Based Diets, Depression, and Anxiety. The effort to convert people to plant-based diets is nothing new, but the effort to move people from eating meat to going vegan continues to gain traction. There are some who wholeheartedly believe a plant-based diet is better for your health than one that includes animal proteins. But those leading the anti-meat agenda likely have goals in mind that aren’t really about your health. If you could build muscle, maximize bone density, minimize excess body fat, and boost cognitive function by removing meat from an otherwise healthy diet, I’d be the first to jump on board. Keep reading...

🧘‍♀️ The Cooldown

Other interesting articles from around the web

Why Your Mood Can Boost or Weaken Your Immune System (The Epoch Times). We often think of medicine passively these days. You get the treatment—pills, shots, procedures—and it fixes you up. No personal investment needed. Like a car wash, you simply show up and ride the conveyor belt, emerging shiny and clean. However, a growing body of research indicates your mind plays a profound yet overlooked role—that thoughts and feelings can boost wellness or chip away at health even with the best treatments modern medicine can offer. Keep reading...

Florida Surgeon General Calls for Halt in Use of COVID mRNA Vaccines (The Defender). Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, M.D., Ph.D., today called for a “halt in the use of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines” over safety concerns that the mRNA technology is delivering DNA contaminants into people’s cells. In a statement released today by the Florida Department of Health, Ladapo said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to adequately respond to questions he raised about the issue in a letter sent last month to the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Keep reading...

In faith, fitness, and fortitude,
Tom Nikkola, CSCS

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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