Your ‘Second Brain’ and Anxiety and Depression

Surprising connection between mood and gut flora.

In school, we all learned about our primary nervous system, which is composed of the brain and spinal cord and its capabilities. But did you know that your gut actually contains one of the largest concentrations of nerves in the body and plays a large role in your emotions, moods and brain function?

Ever hear or say, “I had a gut feeling”? Or have you ever had “butterflies” when nervous, or been so upset you couldn’t eat?

Well, these are real feelings that emanate from your digestive system.

Both your enteric nervous system in your gut and your central nervous system were formed out of the same tissue in fetal development. These two nervous systems are connected and communicate via the vagus nerve, which runs from your brain stem to the nervous system in your gut.

The enteric nervous system in the gut is made of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the entire gut, which is about 9 meters long from the mouth to the anus.

This second brain contains somewhere around 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system!

This multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system enables us to “feel” the inner world of our gut and its contents.

Your gut bacteria play an active and integral role in your body, and help the immune system, synthesize nutrients and process foods.
And as the latest research shows, are extremely integral in your brain and mental health.

What is also very interesting, however, is that about 90% of the fibers in the vagus nerve, carry information from the gut to the brain, and not the other way around.

These messages from the gut to the brain can have a powerful influence on moods, Including anxiety and depression.

Scientists also know that the enteric nervous system manufactures around 95% of the body’s serotonin, an important (feel good) brain chemical that has a direct effect on moods and even some mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, and OCD.

When you consider that your gut is your “second brain,” it becomes easy to see how your gut health can impact not only brain function, but psyche, and even behavior as well.

Abnormal gut flora, as well, can be directly tied to abnormal brain function. In coming years, psychiatry will most certainly expand to treat the second brain along with the brain in your head.  In fact, some of the more cutting-edge physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists are now looking at digestive issues such as IBS, food allergies, and gluten intolerance as contributing to mental illnesses.

Our gut bacteria may actually have a very significant influence on early brain development and behavior, and the absence or presence of particular microorganisms in infancy can permanently change gene expression.

Gut bacteria can influence signaling pathways involved in learning, memory, and motor control. This suggests that gut bacteria are closely tied to early brain development and subsequent behavior and learning deficiencies.

Adding in the right probiotics (healthy bacteria) to your daily routine have also been found to influence the activity of hundreds of your genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner.

The types and function of your gut bacteria are extremely dependent on how things such as whether you were born via vaginal birth or by C-section, whether you were breastfed as a baby, and your diet and lifestyle choices, including whether you have a history of taking antibiotics and other medications, such as antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRI’s).

Besides antibiotics, and junky processed foods, our gut bacteria are also highly susceptible to:
•    Chlorinated and fluoridated water
•    Antibacterial soap
•    Agricultural chemicals
•    Pollution

So how to get your gut flora under control?

First of all, if you have any type of IBS, gluten sensitivity, or other allergies, or if you have ever had issues with anxiety, depression, or any other mental or emotional issues, try cutting out gluten, corn and dairy first. Then cut out processed foods (like fast food, hot dogs, lunch meat, processed cheeses and frozen dinners), and sugars—including those in sodas and added to other foods. A diet heavy in processed foods and sugars will likely grow harmful bacteria. And sugars–of all kinds–feed bad bacteria and yeasts like candida, totally upsetting the delicate balance of the healthy intestinal flora.

Introduce large populations of healthy bacteria. While changing your diet can help, getting a good dose of probiotics can be hastened by taking a broad-spectrum supplement containing Bifidobacterioum longum, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus among others.

The December 2011 issue of Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility reported that Bifidobacterium is actually known to decrease anxiety by decreasing the excitability of enteric neurons.

Other research also found the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus increased GABA, a calming neurotransmitter that regulates many physiological and psychological processes, also reducing the stress related hormone,  corticosterone.

So take care of your second brain, and you will affect not only your overall health, but you may find that you end up with a happier, less stressed, relaxed outlook on life. This, as you know, has far-reaching implications in every area of your health and wellbeing. You truly are what you eat. And you truly feel (good or bad) based on what you eat.

A Votre Sante!


CAT cropped headCatherine (Cat) Ebeling RN BSN, is a back to basics diet and wellness specialist. In addition to her advanced degree in nursing, she has spent the last 30 years intensely studying diet, health and nutrition. She also has 4 books including the popular “Fat Burning Kitchen, Your 24 Hour Diet Transformation” that has sold over 300,000 copies worldwide, and has helped thousands of people transform their lives, lose weight and improve their health.

                                                  Her mission is to help others prevent disease and live their best life ever.

                                                      Nutrition made Easy. Simple.Smart.Nutrition.


  • Mercola, The Root Cause of Anxiety and Depression That Few Suspect, May 3, 2012.



Eat Your Depression Away

The Holidays are over, the decorations put away, and a huge pile of bills sits waiting for you.

Short, gloomy, dreary, cold winter days ahead. 

Enough to make you depressed? 

You are not alone. 

Although depression can make you feel alone, at least 20% of Americans live with depression. 

Women are almost twice as likely to become depressed as men. This is partly due to monthly menstrual hormonal swings, puberty, and pregnancy as well. And because women are often the caretakers of the family, they may feel overworked, stressed, and neglect their own wellbeing. 

Many men go undiagnosed, and fail to recognize depression or to seek help for it. While men can have the typical symptoms of depression, many actually become irritable, angry and hostile instead, and try to self-medicate with alcohol, marijuana or drugs. Suicide is more serious risk for men with depression, who are four times more likely to successfully attempt suicide than women. 

Did you ever stop to think that the pile of cookies you ate last night in front of the TV, or the carton of ice cream you ate after a stressful day, may actually be making you more depressed? 

The causes of depression can vary, but doctors usually never even consider that diet plays a huge role in our mental and emotional wellbeing.

While physicians tend to hand out anti-depressant drugs like candy, these drugs often can have very negative side effects.

Wouldn’t it be better to find natural cures for depression?
While you may not think so, what you eat has a very definite effect on your mood and outlook on life.

We truly are what we eat. 

There are some surprising and very effective ways to fight the ‘blues’ with diet, lifestyle changes and supplements, and you can avoid the trap of having to turn to medical antidepressants with their unpleasant, and sometimes tragic side effects.  

Your brain must have the right chemical balance in order to function optimally. Eating the wrong types of foods will not only alter the brain’s chemistry, but many processed foods have synthetic chemicals, preservatives, and other unnatural additives that confuse or distort your brain's natural chemistry. 

Brain chemistry can actually be changed significantly for better or worse by a single meal.

Some foods like sugar and caffeine can create a seemingly positive effect on brain chemistry immediately, but actually have the reverse effect in the long run. 
So knowing how certain foods can affect your brain chemistry and your mood can be very helpful in figuring out what to eat or avoid.

Did you know that a deficiency of any one nutrient can actually alter your brain function and lead to depression, anxiety, irritability, ADD, and other mental disorders? 

The natural chemicals in the brain that govern your mood are neurotransmitters. The ones that play a role in depression are serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. 

In depression, there are primarily reduced levels of serotonin. Serotonin has a lot to do with your feelings of wellbeing and is involved with emotional control, mood, arousal, and even appetite. 

Along with decreased serotonin, there are lower than normal levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in depressed people as well.

These energizing neurotransmitters create a sense of alertness and excitement, and help you take action. 

Antidepressant medications help mostly by helping to preserve levels of serotonin in the brain, but when you change your natural brain chemistry with medication, you get side effects such as anxiety, drowsiness, irritability, nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness. Antidepressants can take away interest in sex and cause weight gain, as well as increasing thoughts of suicide.

Yes, antidepressants can actually increase the risk for suicide. 

These drugs have very dangerous side effects if you quit them cold turkey too. 

But there are ways to help our bodies naturally make more of these neurotransmitters, and avoid the harmful side effects and feel better too.

Many of the building blocks of our brain’s neurotransmitters are made from the amino acids in the protein in our diets.

The amino acid tryptophan or l-tryptophan as it is sometimes called, is a precursor to serotonin while the amino acid, tyrosine, is a precursor to dopamine and norepinephrine. 

Eating foods rich in protein will help to increase the amount of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in your brain, and serotonin is absorbed better by eating foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates. 

BUT, not all sources of carbohydrates will work for raising the serotonin level.

This is KEY. 

Sugar molecules in complex carbohydrates are bound together by fiber and must be broken down and digested in the small intestine in order to release the sugar into the blood. Because these sugars must be broken down during digestion, they are released into the bloodstream steadily and slowly. 

So the complex carbohydrates found in fresh vegetables, fruits, and starchy root vegetables like potatoes, help your body maintain high levels of serotonin. 

Refined carbohydrates on the other hand, are simple sugars with no fiber, that enter blood stream immediately after the first bite without the long process of digestion. So, blood sugar instantly goes up, creating a quick burst of serotonin (this is why you feel good immediately after eating sweets).  

Simple sugars are burned very quickly and the end result is low blood sugar. When blood sugar levels drop, so does serotonin.

So a diet of sweets and simple carbs actually will make you MORE depressed.

Besides depression, low levels of serotonin also contribute to sleep disturbances, hostility, aggression, and irritability. 

While certain foods act to raise serotonin and prevent depression, other foods can actually trigger depression. These include processed foods, sugary foods or foods containing hydrogenated oils. Alcohol can also contribute to depression, by causing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). And while caffeine is a stimulant, too much of it causes anxiety and nervousness. 

So the bottom line is, when you are down and think that going on a drinking binge, or eating a pile of cookies and ice cream to help you feel better, you are wrong.

It will actually make you feel worse, besides what it does for your waistline.

Molecules of certain types of partially digested foods actually affect the body’s chemistry and can definitely have an effect on mood. In many people these foods are not fully broken down during digestion, and the proteins and peptides from these partially-digested foods leak into the bloodstream through the intestines. 

Research on people with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) shows that their lack of the right type of digestive enzymes may cause this kind of situation. And depression and irritibility are commonly symptoms of gluten intolerance or celiac disease. 

Casein, (the protein in diary products), is very difficult to digest and can definitely be one of the primary undigested food substances that leak into the bloodstream. These substances affect the amounts of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels in the brain, and in turn affect mood. Incomplete breakdown of both casein and gluten leaking into the bloodstream can easily become a source of depression, anxiety, irritability or mood swings, affecting normal levels of brain chemicals.

[Note: casein, the protein molecule in dairy products primarily causes problems when the dairy products have been pasteurized—as most commercially produced dairy produts are. Raw dairy products like raw, aged cheeses or raw milk do not usually cause this reaction.]

It’s not surprising to conclude that intestinal permeability, and digestive enzyme deficiencies can also found in many folks suffering from clinical depression, the once in a while ‘blues,’ and mood swings. 

So if you are suffering from depression, it may be a function of your digestion, food intolerances, and intestinal permeability.

I know I am so sensitive to dairy, and all it takes is a bite to feel really depressed the next day. Try avoiding dairy and wheat gluten entirely for a week or so and see if that helps you feel better mentally and emotionally. 

A diet to prevent or cure depression is rich in natural, unprocessed foods.

Especially plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and organic, or grass-fed meats, organic poultry and eggs. 

Foods like beans, seeds, nuts, and legumes are also rich in protein and contain tryptophan which is what you need to make more serotonin, as well as dopamine and norepinephrine.

Just remember to get some complex carbs with your tryptophan as well. 

Consider that five servings of beans, a few portions of cheese or peanut butter, or several handfuls of cashews provide 1,000–2,000 mg of tryptophan, will work as well as prescription antidepressants—but don't tell the drug companies. 

Tryptophan is really quite easy to get from the foods listed below (in mg):

Lentils 215
Dried peas 250 
Navy 200   
Pinto 210  
Red kidney 240     

Soy 525 
Brazil nuts 185
Cashews 470   
Filberts 210 
Peanuts 340 
Peanut butter 330 (natural, not commercial) 

Pumpkin seeds 560     
Sesame seeds 330     
Tahini (ground sesame seeds) 575    
Sunflower seeds 340
Cheddar 340   
Parmesan 490   
Swiss 375
Eggs 210    
Poultry 250    
Brewer's Yeast 700

And, grass-fed beef, as well as fish and other seafood are very healthy, high-protein, dopamine and norepinephrine boosting foods, in addition to their contributions of Omega-3’s, CLA and zinc that help healthy brain function.
People suffering from depression generally are missing some important nutrients.

The most common deficiencies are:

Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B6

Omega 3’s

Vitamin C

Sunshine or vitamin D3

Folic acid and vitamin B12 are essential B vitamins and work together in many biochemical processes.

In studies of depressed patients, at least half were found to be deficient in folic acid. 
Depression is the most common symptom of a folic acid deficiency. 

A vitamin B12 deficiency (more often a problem in vegetarians) can also cause depression. Correcting a folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiency with supplements or diet will quickly result in a dramatic improvement in mood. 

Food sources that are rich in folate include beef liver, pumpkin seeds, leafy green vegetables, and yeast. Vitamin B12 is abundant in animal products such as red meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese and eggs. 

Vitamin B6 is another B vitamin that is often low in many depressed people. The best food sources of vitamin B6 are protein-rich foods such as red meat, fish, and eggs. Other good sources of B6 are quinoa, brown rice, oats, lentils, peanuts, and walnuts. 

The latest research also shows a strong connection between depression and low levels of omega 3 fatty acids.  And the more severe the depression, the lower the level of omega 3 fats. 

Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential part of brain cell membranes in healthy individuals, and a component of the myelin sheaths, which cover nerves and transmit messages properly. Omega-3 fats are generally found in grass-fed meats as well as wild caught fish and organic eggs, or as supplements.  

A depletion of the neurotransmitter called norepinephrine may result in poor memory, loss of alertness, and clinical depression. To make norepinephrine,  amino acids from our diet are changed into dopamine, which then turns to norepinephrine. To do this, it requires a large amount of vitamin C. 

Physicians have had great success reversing depression with large doses of vitamin C, and is a very safe and inexpensive approach to try.

Sunshine or vitamin D3 helps banish the blues as well. When we can’t get enough sun exposure in the winter, obviously a trip to a tropical island would certainly put a smile on your face, but since we can’t all do that, just getting out in the sunshine when you can, and supplementing with vitamin D3 will definitely help brighten your mood as well as protect your health.

And, my favorite natural (very effective) antidepressant is Sam-E.

SAMe (known formally as S-adenosylmethionine) is not an herb or a hormone. It's a molecule that all living cells, including our own, produce constantly. To appreciate its importance, you need to understand a process called methylation. It's a simple transaction in which one molecule donates a four-atom appendage—a so-called methyl group—to a neighboring molecule. Methylation occurs a billion times a second throughout the body, affecting everything from fetal development to brain function. It regulates the expression of genes. It preserves the fatty membranes that insulate our cells. And it helps regulate the action of various hormones and neurotransmitters, including serotonin, melatonin, dopamine and adrenaline.

And without SAMe, there could be no methylation as we know it. Our bodies make SAMe from methionine, an amino acid found in protein-rich foods, then continually recycle it. SAMe breaks down to form homocysteine. Homocysteine is extremely toxic. But with the help of several B vitamins (B6, B12 and folic acid), our bodies convert homocysteine into glutathione, a valuable antioxidant.

High homocysteine is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. During pregnancy, it raises the risk of spina bifida and other birth defects. And many studies have implicated it in depression.

How does SAMe improve a person's mood? Scientists are not really sure, except for the fact that it really works well.

Since the 1970s, researchers have published 40 clinical studies involving roughly 1,400 patients. And the findings are remarkably consistent. In 1994 Dr. Giorgio Bressa, a psychiatrist at the University Cattolica Sacro Cuore in Rome, pooled results from a dozen controlled trials and found that "the efficacy of SAMe in treating depressive syndromes… is comparable to that of standard… antidepressants." Without the side effects of regular medical antidepressants.

Our brains do not require antidepressant medications to function properly.

Instead of masking the symptoms with a drug induced haze, is far far better to find the underlying cause of depression, and diet is KEY. 

Amazingly, a healthy diet not only reduces or eliminates the symptoms, but it also prevents the occurrence of depression by keeping those important brain chemicals in balance. 

The quick fix may be tempting, but in the long run, you will feel drastically better following a healthier diet—without the side effects—and have improved health and well being. 

Studies show our mood and physical bodies favor traditional foods that our ancestors ate. These foods include grass-fed meats, organic and raw dairy and butter, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Avoiding processed, packaged foods with refined flour, sugars, or corn syrups, and preservatives and chemicals is extremely important for those of you with depression.

Don’t go for the quick fix, when you can permanently change your life and health for the better. 

REAL Happiness is just around the corner!

Till next time, stay Happy, Healthy and Lean!



Catherine (Cat) Ebeling RN BSN, is a back-to-basics diet and nutrition specialist. In addition to her advanced degree in nursing from a major medical school, she has spent the last 30 years intensely studying diet, health and nutrition. She also has a book titled "The Fat Burning Kitchen, Your 24 Hour Diet Transformation" that has sold over 60,000 copies worldwide, and has helped thousands of people transform their lives, lose weight and improve their health.   

                       Her mission is to help others prevent disease and live their best life ever.    

               Nutrition made Easy. Simple.Smart.Nutrition.


Andrew Saul, Depression,, 2007. 
Food Allergies and Depression,
Ron Hoggan M.A. & James Braly M.D.,
Food and Depression,
WebMD, Depression and Diet, Jan 2012

The Long Lost Family Dinner

As a kid, I almost always had to make it home for our family dinner. This time was sacred family time for us.

It was important to be at dinner on time, cleaned up and ready to eat.This was our family dinner, where we all came together, and it was a mostly daily occurrence.

We always said ‘Grace’ together, my dad dished up our dinners, and we waited patiently until everyone was served before we could dig in.

Table manners were important– no elbows on the table, napkin goes on the lap, bread is broken in half before buttering, ask to have things passed to us, ask "please" for seconds (but don't interrupt), and never leave the table until everyone was finished eating and we were excused.

We all talked, took turns, and had polite, and not-so-polite conversations. Sometimes there were arguments, sometimes lectures, sometimes scoldings, forgiveness, or words of wisdom passed on. There was a lot of love in that circle around our table. Sometimes hilarity ensued and we laughed until we cried. Sometimes there were tears and pouting. Sometimes there was little conversation, but most of all, we were all together, sharing our meal.

All in all, I remember those times well, and I realize now how incredibly important it was to keep the family together and functioning as a unit, instead of isolating ourselves, coming and going in our own little worlds as we pleased.

Today, I have three teens. When they aren’t away at college, they often seem to be working during dinner time, and catching up with them and their busy lives is a tough proposition. A family dinner these days is often a struggle to get everyone to coordinate schedules and social obligations.

I really miss our own family dinners when the kids were younger.

Too often now, it’s sports practices, after school activities, work, homework, friends, and college that take this precious time away.

The family dinner concept still runs very strong and deep within our culture and its importance goes way beyond simply providing a meal.  

There is something totally sacred and special about a shared meal—not the big holiday gathering, but the simple, regular meal that anchors families, even on nights when preparation is quick, talk is light, and everyone has someplace else they need to be.

Some evenings, the mood is right and the whole family shows up and you can get a glimpse the power of this communal gathering, and why social scientists say such communion acts as a special barrier for kids, protecting them from some of the more harmful aspects of our society.

It is a healing balm for families and children.

As hard as it is, it is during the teen years that this family time pays off the biggest. The more often families eat together, the less likely the kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, be depressed, or have eating disorders.

Kids who come from homes where there is a regular family meal get better grades in school, eat a healthier diet, get along with others better and have better social skills and manners.

Researchers from the National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that the family dinner improves with practice. In other words, if a family rarely eats together, the food is less healthy, the talk is meager, and the experience is not so great. Over time, the conversation improves, the food improves and the whole dinner atmosphere gets better.

Kids who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to get A's and B's in school than kids who have less than two family dinners a week. Foreign-born kids are much more likely to eat with their parents. When researchers looked at ethnic and racial breakdowns, they found that more than half of Hispanic teens ate with a parent at least six times a week, in contrast to 40% of black teens and 39% of whites.

The most noticeable effect was among the kids who rarely ate with their families. Girls, especially, fared poorly. They ate fewer fruits, vegetables, and calcium, and consumed more soft drinks and snack foods. Girls who dined alone were also more likely to have some type of eating disorder. Boys, too ate less healthy foods when not eating with their families.

The statistics are clear: Kids who dine with the family are healthier, happier and better adjusted in life.

Being together for dinner really counts. Whether it’s the social interaction, the good examples it provides, or the fact that family dinners usually consist of better food choices is unclear. Most likely it’s the combination of those things.

Mealtime is often the only chance parents have to actually take a good look at their teens, carry on a conversation, catch up on their lives and assess any physical or emotional issues that may be going on.

This is where a family builds identity, culture and memories.

Wisdom is passed down, family jokes are cultivated, and the rest of the world is looked at through the reinforced family values. The harshness of life seems far away.

If work schedules or extracurricular activities keep your family from eating dinner together, make it another meal.

The key here is togetherness, not just the meal.

Perhaps you can work on a few breakfasts together, or even a lunch or two. One of my friends has a family meal, but if everyone cannot make the mealtime, they get together to play cards or a game after dinner and spend time together that way.

Even if you can't do it every night, once or twice a week family meals is better than not at all. It doesn't have to be a fancy meal–it can even be a pizza from the local take-out joint.

Turn off the TV and the put the cell phones away for a while. Pull up some chairs. Invite conversation. Look at each other. Make eye contact. Interact. And please, pass the potatoes.

Till next time, stay healthy, lean and happy!


Catherine (Cat) Ebeling RN BSN, is a back to basics diet and nutrition specialist. In addition to her advanced degree in nursing from a major medical school, she has spent the last 30 years intensely studying diet, health and nutrition. She also has a book titled "The Fat Burning Kitchen, Your 24 Hour Diet Transformation" that has sold over 60,000 copies worldwide, and has helped thousands of people transform their lives, lose weight and improve their health.  

Her mission is to help others prevent disease and live their best life ever.    

Nutrition made Easy. Simple.Smart.Nutrition.



Nancy Gibbs Time magazine, June 4, 2006
Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times, October 2007

The Power of a Hug

We are all born with a hunger for the touch of another human.


Of course you know babies have a need for touch. Nurtured in the womb, and held close to feel mother’s beating heart, babies are soothed and nourished by hugs and human touch.


Children, too have a physical need for hugging and closeness. A hug or a touch stops bad dreams, helps heal injuries, frightens away the ‘boogieman’, and helps to instill a sense of calm and self worth.


Studies show that orphans who are not hugged or touched on a regular basis, actually grow less, have weaker immune systems, get sick more often and have more physical and emotional health problems than children brought up in a home with affectionate parents.


These children actually suffer from something called ‘failure to thrive’ when they are lacking the human touch. They have malnutrirtion, lose weight and even die. All from a lack of being touched and held.


Hugs can calm a stressful day, relieve tension and turn a bad day into a good day.


But physical closeness—touching, hugging, is just as important a need as we get older, but it is often neglected or overlooked.


Nothing compares to the loving hugs of a mother or a bear hug from your dad. An embrace from your loved one or spouse can instantly calm a stressful day and relieve tension. And for those who are sad, or mourning a difficult loss, a heartfelt hug does so much more than any well-chosen words.


Our skin is the largest organ on our body. Our skin not only protects our insides, but it contains our very important sense of touch. While we know that our sense of touch can protect us from injury, our sense of touch also has the real need to feel closeness from others.



We are all programmed by nature to want to touch and receive touch from others.


Did you know that without physical closeness, relationships will

not progress? Not just between lovers, but also between parent and child.



Many emotional problems stem from a lack of closeness and bonding between parent and child. Did you know that most failing marriages are lacking in touch and physical closeness? Think of what the power of touch could do…


For many who live alone, days and weeks may go by without a touch or the feel of a human, or being physically close to anyone. The elderly, the disabled, and the very ill are at greatest risk of touch deprivation.


Touch can do so much:


·      It helps loved ones feel more lovable

·      It can forgive or soothe tension

·      Reduces pain

·      Relieves loneliness, frustration, anxiety and depression

·      Overcomes fear

·      Gives one a sense of connection and belonging

·      Transfers energy

·      Strengthens the immune system

·      Lowers the blood pressure and the heart rate


We all tend to live in our own little personal technological bubbles now…we text, we email, we talk on our cell phones, we visit on Facebook, we Twitter, but our face-to-face contact is limited, and physical contact, even more so.

It seems that we retreat into our personal space more and more, even though our physical world has become more crowded.


For a person to survive, it has been said that we need at least 4 hugs a day, and 12 hugs to feel good and improve our emotional state.


While we feed our bodies and eat healthy foods, we need to also feed our spirits and care for our emotional health.


Lift your head up and look around. Reach out your hand to shake someone else’s hand, touch someone on the arm when you speak to them, or better yet, give your friends and loved ones a heartfelt hug next time you see them.


Till next time,

Stay healthy, lean and happy!


Catherine (Cat) Ebeling RN BSN, is a back to basics diet and nutrition specialist. In addition to her advanced degree in nursing from a major medical school, she has spent the last 30 years intensely studying diet, health and nutrition. She also has a book titled "The Fat Burning Kitchen, Your 24 Hour Diet Transformation" that has sold over 60,000 copies worldwide, and has helped thousands of people transform their lives, lose weight and improve their health.

       Her mission is to help others prevent disease and live their best life ever.    

Nutrition made Easy. Simple.Smart.Nutrition.




Increase Testosterone Naturally–Not for Men Only!

It may come as a surprise, but testosterone is a hormone that is necessary for both men and women.

Optimal levels of testosterone not only affect (men’s and women’s) libido, but also muscle strength, muscle recovery, lean muscle to body fat ratio, good mood and feelings of well-being, bone density, energy levels, and overall aging.

Testosterone levels tend to decrease starting around the age of 40 at the rate of about 1% a year. Short term that doesn’t seem like a lot, but over a few years, it can be a significant amount and be a cause of low libido, obesity, brittle bones, muscle loss. and depression.

Testosterone levels in the low range may also increase your chances of dying of a heart attack. While low testosterone levels primarily affect men and women in middle age, it can also affect men as young as 30.

The first most noticeable symptom for low testosterone levels is lack of interest in sex.

And this applies to women as well as men. Some men may have difficulty obtaining an erection as well. “If you have reduced levels of sexual desire, have your testosterone level checked immediately,” says Dr. Allen Seftel, a urologist at Case Western Reserve University Hospitals of Cleveland.

Men and women with borderline testosterone scores can raise their levels by natural means before getting into medical testosterone therapy.  And it pays to start at a younger age as well.

Do women need testosterone?

Yes. Women’s testosterone levels start to rise in puberty, because testosterone is actually a precursor to estrogen. Testosterone in women increases libido, helps clear thinking, sound sleep, and overall feelings of well-being and confidence as well helping the body maintain lean muscle mass and less body fat.

During perimenopause and menopause, testosterone production drops as the ovaries stop producing hormones. Women’s ovaries produce most of the testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen in the body.

Most women only replace estrogen after menopause, and replacement of estrogen alone will not correct the loss of interest in sex, loss of muscle, and general lack of mental get-up-and-go.

This decrease in testosterone production is sometimes referred to as andropause in men. Falling levels of testosterone can cause a wide variety of unrelated symptoms including:

-sexual dysfunction, including loss of interest, inability to have orgasms and impotence



-irritability and mood swings

-loss of strength and lean muscle mass

-increased body fat

-hot flashes

Lifestyle factors such as poor diet, excessive beer drinking, stress, lack of exercise, exposure to environmental toxins, smoking, and certain prescription medications can significantly reduce testosterone.

But there is good news. You can actually increase your testosterone significantly naturally by following the guidelines below.

1. Eat grass-fed beef instead of commercially raised beef.

Commercially raised animals are fed growth-stimulating hormones–including synthetic estrogens, antibiotics and processed grains. These hormones in commercially raised beef affect the body’s natural testosterone levels.

Research shows consumption of hormones from commercial beef contributes to falling sperm counts, cancer, and obesity.

2. Increase your zinc. 

Supplementing with zinc can really help raise testosterone levels. Zinc is the most crucial of all the minerals in the body for testosterone production. And, zinc deficiency is very common in the U.S. population, especially among athletes and the aged. Zinc is missing from most commercially-processed foods, and easily lost by drinking alcohol, sweating, and medication.

Red meat, especially grass-fed meat, is high in zinc, as well as seafood–especially oysters.

3. Along with zinc, vitamins A, E, C and B6 are all necessary to convert pre-hormones in the body to testosterone.

Eating bountiful helpings of fresh vegetables is essential in testosterone production–especially green, leafy and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. These vegetables all contain chemicals that are essential for healthy metabolism of estrogen in both men and women, allowing better utilization of testosterone.

4. Omega 3 fatty acids and saturated fats, are essential for normal testosterone production.

Foods containing cholesterol (your body needs cholesterol, and it will NOT contribute to heart attacks) are excellent, so eating butter, egg yolks and other animal products will supply the necessary cholesterol.

Did you know that the body makes most of its hormones from cholesterol? So, cutting back on fats, cuts down your body’s ability to make the hormones it needs. Studies clearly indicate that low fat diets result in lower testosterone levels. A high protein, moderate amount of fat and lower carbohydrate diet will contribute to the best levels of testosterone.

4. Limit your intake of refined, high-carbohydrate foods.

Of course that means cookies, candy and ice cream, but also starches such as breads, potatoes and pasta. Excess intake of these carbohydrates raise blood sugar rapidly, creating chronically elevated levels of the hormones insulin and cortisol.

Insulin and cortisol oppose testosterone and slow its production.

5. Losing weight alone will restore testosterone production.

In both men and women, fat cells breed aromatase. Aromatase is the enzyme that converts estrogen into testosterone. Fat cells also store estrogen, and too much is harmful to both men and women. As you loose weight your ability to convert testosterone to estrogen diminishes.

6. Lifting weights stimulates testosterone release for men and women, while excessive cardio decreases testosterone.

The best movements involve compuond movements like squats, dead lifts, pushups, pullups and presses. The greatest workout-related testosterone production occurs with the use of heavier weights and lower rep range. A study shows that the best is 85 per cent of your one-rep max. Make sure to train with high intensity for short periods of time. Your overall weight training workout should not last longer than 60 minutes (45 min is optimal). Train hard and get out of the gym to let your muscles recuperate and grow!

Rest Harder Than You Work Out.

If you overtrain — meaning you don’t allow your body to recuperate adequately between training sessions — your circulating testosterone levels can plunge by as much as 40 percent.

To avoid overtraining, make sure you sleep a full eight hours at night, and never stress the same muscles with weight-lifting movements two days in a row.

If you follow the above guidelines you may find your low testosterone symptoms disappear without having to resort to injections, patches or pellets.

If you see no change in your symptoms, you may need to visit the Doctor to get your hormone levels checked. Both men and women, especially those in their 40’s and 50’s, may find that free testosterone levels need an extra boost.References: 1. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno. 2. Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology. 3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. 4. Ponnampalam EN, Mann NJ, Sinclair AJ. Effect of feeding systems on omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and trans fatty acids in Australian beef cuts: potential impact on human health. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2006;15(1):21-9. PMID: 16500874. 5. Li D, Siriamornpun S, Wahlqvist ML, Mann NJ, Sinclair AJ. Lean meat and heart health. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2005;14(2):113-9. PMID: 15927927. 6. Dietary lean red meat and human evolution. Eur J Nutr. 2000 Apr;39(2):71-9. PMID: 10918988. 7. Fung TT, Schulze M, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Dietary patterns, meat intake, and the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Arch Intern Med. 2004 Nov 8;164(20):2235-40. PMID: 15534160. 8. Harris WS, Sands SA, Windsor SL, Ali HA, Stevens TL, Magalski A, Porter CB, Borkon AM. Omega-3 fatty acids in cardiac biopsies from heart transplantation patients: correlation with erythrocytes and response to supplementation. Circulation. 2004 Sep 21;110(12):1645-9. Epub 2004 Sep 7. PMID: 15353491. 9. Jiang R, Ma J, Ascherio A, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Hu FB. Dietary iron intake and blood donations in relation to risk of type 2 diabetes in men: a prospective cohort study. PMID: 14684399. 10. Longcope C, Feldman HA, McKinlay JB, Araujo AB. Diet and sex hormone-binding globulin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Jan;85(1):293-6. PMID: 10634401. 11. Prasad AS. Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells. Mol Med. 2008 May-Jun;14(5-6):353-7. PMID: 18385818. 12. Image by yongfook. 13.