Episode #160 – Full Transcript

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast #160 from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2011/08/episode-160-how-to-stop-carbohydrate-cravings-in-their-tracks/

Introduction:             In this podcast, how to stop carb cravings, dizziness with carb restriction, is instant coffee safe, should you prioritize sleep or training, indoor training on a triathlon bike vs. a road bike, can caffeine give you man-boobs, how many triathlons can you actually do, compartment syndrome, how many intervals should you do during a workout, and can you do long workouts fasted.

Ben:                Welcome to the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.  This is Ben Greenfield and you may have noticed that this week, the podcast is being released a day late.  That’s right.  I’m a little bit tardy this week and the main reason for that is that the entire BenGreenfieldFitness.com website was hacked and experienced an extreme slowdown as did Pacific Elite Fitness and a few other websites that I run.  And so I spent quite a bit of time this week trying to rescue my website.  As a matter of fact if you try to visit BenGreenfielditness.com anytime in the past week to check out the latest posts like the most recent one on interval training and the benefits of interval training, you may have noticed that it was slower than usual.  Now don’t worry, I’m on top of it and everything is going to be fixed in the next two weeks.  I’m moving the website to a server that can actually handle the load and is also protected against robot attacks on the internet.  So, with that being said, we’ve got a really cool interview today on a unique subject particularly how to stop carb cravings and the use of neuro-feedback or bio feedback to address carbohydrates cravings.  It’s an interview with Nora Gedgaudas who wrote the book Primal Body-Primal Mind and who is a Nutritional Therapist based at Portland, Oregon.  Now, I will warn you, I actually recorded today’s interview from the Portland Airport.  So you may occasionally hear an airplane flying overhead, announcement on the speakers and a little bit of an echo compared to my usual interviews, but this was a good enough interview and I really wanted to bring it to you.  So, a few special announcements and then we’re gonna jump on to this week’s Q and A followed by the how to stop carb cravings interview with Nora Gedgaudas.

Special Announcements:

Ben:                So, just a few announcements.  The first is you may remember my friend Chef Todd who has done several videos over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com on healthy cooking and cooking techniques and who is now going to be teaching a webinar about How to Cook Fresh in Five Simple Steps.  Totally free webinar, free video cooking webcasts and I will put a link in the show notes for you to register.  His stuff is usually funny and entertaining and typically you learn a lot without really feeling like you’re going to school.  So, I highly recommend his web cooking classes, his webcast and that free webinar How To Cook Fresh In Five Simple Steps.  Next, the Low Carb Diet for Triathletes went live last week, it is still live and it is over at LowCarbTriathlete.com and again that’s the book that I wrote because there’s really not a lot of resources out there for people who want to go low carb but also want to be extremely physically active.  Frankly, most of the authors or resources in the low carb community are not marathoners or Ironman Triathletes or cross fitters or the type of incredibly physically active people that  listen in  to the show and there’s an entirely different approach  you need to take when it comes to a local carb diet  if you are that type of individual.  So go to LowCarbTriathlete.com to check that out.  And then one  other thing is that we do have brand new Ben Greenfield Fitness Triathlon uniforms.  Cool tech pants, tech coats, hats, a bunch of really like high performance type of gear, it’s the same stuff that I wear when I go to races and I will put a link  in the show notes to the official new Ben Greenfield Fitness store where every piece of clothing is actually emblazoned with the same fire and water Ironman tattoo that appears on my back.  So, kind of a cool design and if you need some new threads check those out.  So, let’s go ahead and have a quick message & then move on to this week’s Listener Q and A.

Listener Q and A

Ben:                Now I thought it was interesting that this week we did get some questions about carbs and carb restriction.  So, because we are actually talking about carb cravings in today’s featured interview with Nora Gedgaudas, I thought we’d start with this question that came in from Chris.

Chris:             I experimented with severe carb restriction a few times and always experienced equilibrium loss within a few days until I started eating carbs again.  What is the deal with that?

Ben:                Well, probably the most likely thing, Chris, is that when you lower your carb intake, it’s usually gonna cause your insulin level to decrease a little bit.  One of the things that insulin can cause is sodium retention.  Now, you combine that loss of sodium retention with the lower blood sugar which basically can decrease your blood volume and sometimes when you’re on a low carbohydrate diet you can also have a little bit lower adrenalin levels and less stimulation of your sympathetic nervous system.  And all these stuff works together to cause a decrease in your blood pressure.  Now, adequate blood supply to your body’s organs depends on a few things.  One of that is that your  heart is strong enough to pump blood, one is that your arteries and your veins can strip and squeeze blood and then you also need enough blood and fluid within your vessels and when any of those things aren’t happening to a strong enough extent which can happen especially when you first switched to a low carbohydrate diet and you’re not used to that, you can get some abnormal changes in blood pressure.  Specifically it’s called orthostatic hypertension.  And what that means is that when you stand up after you’ve been sitting or you’ve been lying down your body has to work to adjust to that change in position.  What it does is that it pushes blood upward and it supplies the brain with oxygen.  If there’s not enough blood supply for the brain to get supplied with oxygen, you can feel dizzy and you can feel lightheaded.  And so essentially, you are probably experiencing some of the effects of hypotension or low blood pressure.  There are other things that could be applied on a low carb diet or especially immediate switch to low carb diet it’s most likely what’s going on.  So, great question.

Christine :     Is instant coffee safe?  I tried to avoid processed food and drinks and I’ve often wondered if the process of making instant coffee is safe or not.

Ben:                I think this is a great question.  Instant coffee has been around for a long time.  It’s basically just regular coffee and it’s been dehydrated.  Almost all of the water has been removed.  There’s two different ways to do that, you could freeze dry to produce your instant coffee crystals or you can spray dry coffee to do that.  So, for freeze drying which is a good way to preserve a lot of the flavor in the coffee, you let the coffee sit so the water  kind of evaporates from it naturally and this leaves a concentrated coffee solution which you then freeze and the remaining water that’s in the coffee freezes into ice crystals and then you use special process which is kind of similar to evaporation called sublimation to get rid of the ice.  So, basically all you have left is just dry grains of coffee and of course when you add water to those you can make instant coffee.  And the other way to get instant coffee from coffee beans is through spray drying.  Again you let the coffee sit, you allow the water to evaporate from the coffee and then you take that concentrated coffee and you essentially spray it from a really high position in a big hot air chamber and what happens is, as the coffee falls the water that’s in it evaporates and you get this dry coffee crystals that fall to the bottom of this big hot air chamber.  So, there’s not a ton of chemicals  used in the process of creating instant coffee but there’s definitely one potential carcinogen  that you should be aware of   called the acrylamide.   Acrylamide has been associated with cancer.  It’s a chemical compound that’s created when you heat some foods and for that second spray drying method that I mentioned you can definitely get some acrylamide formed when the coffee which contains a little bit of what’s called asparagine is heated at the temperature that’s above about 250 degrees and that will happen during the second process that I described in that hot air chamber.  So, when you look at acrylamide in unbrewed coffee grounds, usually it’s gonna be about anywhere from 45 up to a little  over 300 of what are called a nanograms per gram and when you look at in instant coffee crystals, it’s anywhere from three  or four times that amount and they have done studies on this over at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in the United States and have found that levels of acrylamide in instant coffee are several times higher than the levels in regular brewed coffee.  So, the question is which brand of coffee uses this freeze drying method that would technically be a little bit safer and I would say  a good brand to go with would probably be the Starbucks.  They make their instant coffee a little bit differently.  The micro grinding process, which means that it’s almost like  they take their brewed coffee and just grind it into almost like a dust-like consistency.  So, you take like those Starbucks via packets and those are likely to have a lot lower level of acrylamide than like Nescafe or Folgers which have actually both been studied and found to definitely have a high number of parts per billion of acrylamide in the instant coffee.  So, I would say probably that the best brand  to go for  would be Starbucks.  If you gonna go instant coffee that’s pretty readily available.  So, good question.

Dawn says:    My question concerns training versus sleep for older athletes.  I’m a 64-year old truck driver with highly irregular schedule.  I’ve been doing sprint duathlons for about five years and I’m trying to work up to international distance duathlons.  Currently, I’m able to train 4 1/2 hours per week on average.  Would it be better to add training instead of sleep on days when I’m physically tired?  Go the weekend warrior route or forget longer events.

 Ben:               Well, I certainly have done studies on sleep deprivation and endurance.  There was one study a couple of years ago over in Great Britain where they compared folks who got 8 hours of sleep with people who had actually been awake for 30 hours.  And no surprise here, after a 30 minute time trialon the treadmill, the time to exhaustion was significantly less in the sleep deprived people.  They covered a   lot less  distance in the study.  The interesting thing about the study, I think, is that even though they are going much slower they had the same rating of perceived exertion.  Meaning they were going slower even though they felt like they were working just as hard.  So, very interesting and it means not only the sleep deprivation decrease your performance but you may not even be aware that is decreasing your performance.  There’s also issue of sleep deprivation in terms of you metabolize glucose a lot less efficiently   so  it  may  affect  your blood sugar levels.  You’re gonna have higher levels of cortisol which can impair your ability to recover after an exercise session.  Typically, there are some fluctuations in the hormones that are responsible for regulating appetite. So, you may have a lot more appetite cravings and be able to adhere to a healthy diet a little less efficiently.   So a lot of issues with not getting adequate sleep and while I think that for short periods of time it’s okay, you know like Dean Karnazes running 4o marathons in 40 days and getting something like four to five hours of sleep a night, I think that from a lifestyle standpoint it’s gonna end up coming back to bite you.  So I would stick to the shorter events and get enough sleep or just rearrange your schedule when you’re doing a lot of high intensity intervals, doing a lot  of  bang for your buck, quality over quantity type of sessions and totally doable for you to do a duathlon on four to five hours a week of training even like an Olympic distance duathlon which is a 10K run, a 40K bike and a 5K run.  You should be able to do that on four to five hours of training per week as long as those are intense interval based training sessions.

Cindy:            I have a road bike and a triathlon bike.  I ride my triathlon bike for racing long rides and the road bike for group rides.  Are there any disadvantages to doing all my winter indoor rides on just my road bike and leaving my triathlon bike until the weather is nice in the spring?

Ben:                Whenever I hear a question like this, the thing that I think about is the issue of neuro-muscular recruitment and the fact that you’re using a lot different muscles on a road bike than you are on a triathlon bike.  The C-tube angle on the positioning on the triathlon bike means you’re gonna be realizing your quadriceps a lot more.  You’ll gonna be in a pelvic or a pelvis bone shifted forward type of position, whereas when you’re on a road bike  your pelvis tilts backward a little bit, you use more of your hamstrings and your glute muscles.  And so it’s different muscular recruitment and that can make a difference in your efficiency once you start doing something like racing or training on your triathlon bike later on in the year.  I mean we look at the 10,000 hour theory which you see on the books nowadays.  It originated from a study back in the 90’s where they looked at the performance of violinists and they showed that about the number of accumulated hours required to be a good violinists which is somewhere around 10,000 hours so it’s kind of like the magic point.  You don’t necessarily need 10,000.  They’ve actually done this study in sports and they found that, for example, for a hockey player to get a lot better at the sport they’re required about a 5,000 hours, soccer players about 4,000 hours, wrestlers about 6,000 hours or so.  It’s very seldom that in sports you actually need this 10,000 hour level especially sports that are not fine motor skill sport.  And cycling certainly won’t be considered a fine motor skill sport.  So, I would say that in the off season you should try and get on your triathlon bike at least once a week if you’re say riding about three to four times a week.  And that’s gonna pay dividends when you get into your actual race season and you wanna be recruiting a lot of those muscles rather than having you re-train your brain to get used to using your quadriceps for the pedal stroke.  You’re naturally able to do that already.  And those muscles are also trained so they’re less likely to fatigue and less likely to cramp when you start racing and riding along on them.  So, that is the deal with the tri-bikes versus the road bikes.

Joe:                 I read somewhere that intense exercise produces high levels of adrenal steroid hormones that cause a testosterone deficiency.  Is this true and if it is true then doesn’t a diet high in caffeine, a known adrenal stimulant, cause testosterone deficiency, as well?  In other words are hard workouts and my energy drinks both a contributing factor to my man boobs?

Ben:                Well this is an interesting question.  Man boobs, the medical or scientific term of that is gynecomastia and it’s breast enlargement of one or both of the breast in males.  And typically this is caused by hormonal imbalance, particularly an issue with testosterone and estrogen.  Too much testosterone getting converted into estrogen, too high of the estrogen levels due to pollutants and environmental toxins kind of sneaking in to the diet or sneaking into your lifestyle as well as dietary deficiency, your nutritional deficiency like deficiency in Vitamin D, magnesium or amino acids or fatty acids or any of the things that can help out with your testosterone levels.  Adrenal exhaustion is certainly another thing that can cause a decrease in testosterone levels and the hormonal imbalance in males.  I would encourage you to go BenGreenfieldFitness.com  and do a search for adrenal exhaustion because I have podcasted on it in the past.  And you can go read the transcription where I described adrenal exhaustion and some of the ways to dig yourself out of it or avoid it in the first place and also kind of describe it more fully.  You kind of have this law of diminishing returns that when it comes to hard interval training and energy drinks or caffeine, small amounts will stimulate your sympathetic nervous system, might help you burn some extra fatty acids for energy and may give you a little bit of an extra kick to get through your workout and have a higher intensity workout.  I have about 8-12 ounces of black coffee in the morning and sometimes I have a powdered energy drink like a delta-e or something like that in the afternoon.  I choose powder just because it typically has a natural sweetener.  It doesn’t have a lot of citric acids that are in the soda based drinks and usually doesn’t have any of the sugars in it.  So, if you are working out maybe doing interval training session one day and weight training session the next day, have a cup of coffee in the morning and you take in a day off each week.  That’s really not gonna be a big deal unless you already have an existing hormonal imbalance in which case you may need a few weeks of easy rest and lighter activities like yoga and walking.  If you are slamming a red bull in the morning and a monster in the afternoon and you’re doing a cross fit workout of the day in the morning and you’re going on a hard run in the afternoon and your diet is crap then that could certainly be contributing to adrenal exhaustion, hormonal imbalance and even if you are in good shape a little bit of man boobs is going on.  So, my recommendation would be moderation in everything.  Don’t give up your caffeine or your energy drink to your high intensity intervals but certainly use them wisely.  The other thing is to help control or decrease the conversion of testosterone into estrogen like by products which can happen.  I actually take a supplement called ProstElan.  It’s like a salt pometo extract with some zinc and some other things worked in there.  Take two or three of those in the morning and that’s something that can help out quite a bit.  I know people, especially older guys, who take six of those in the morning.  Pretty simple, a little pill you pop in the morning can certainly help out with that.  So, I’m gonna put a link to that for you, Joe, in the show notes and I will also put a link to a lecture on a video that I did that included, among other things, piece of how to double or triple your testosterone levels and that’s just a free video along with a PDF handout and I’ll put a link to that in the show notes underneath your question and this is for the show notes for Episode# 160 over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.

Matt says:      There is a growing scene here with plenty of sprint/Olympic triathlons, aquathlons, 10K runs and time throw rides and I like to race as many of these as possible.  Isn’t that where all the fun lies?  Is it okay to have a season without a high priority race?  And if so, how should my program reflect this lack of one single peak?

Ben:                Well, what Matt is getting at is that normally when you say that you’re a triathlete or marathoner or somebody who has this sporting event that you’re preparing for, typically you can chose anywhere from two to four advances.  Your high priority events that everything else is pointed towards.  You set up your program in what is called the model of periodization and what that means is you start off with some easy base aerobic workout to build the foundation to get you ready for the harder step later on in the  year.  You gradually build intensity and as you get closer to the race, the race-specific nature of your exercise sessions gets greater and greater.  The intensity grows and then as you get closer to the race, you begin to decrease your volume and do what’s called a taper and then you race really hard and then typically after you’ve tapered and after you’ve raced and after you’ve recovered from that race, you kind of have to rebuild cause you lose a lot during your tapering or during your recovery from the race.  You lose a lot of fitness so you rebuild and start all over again.  I certainly coached people who just want to race all year long and not really worry about tapering and getting the slight loss in the fitness that can occur from the taper.  You can certainly do that.  The only issue is that usually when you’re just like doing a bunch of races all year long and not really peaking for any of them, it’s tough to actually get faster cause you make that choice to maintain this steady state level of fitness throughout the season or throughout the year rather than doing a stair step approach to fitness where you increase your fitness and you stabilize for a little while, drop a little bit and then increase again, stabilize and drop a little bit and over the course of several years, you can massively improve your fitness.  That’s how a lot of like pro athletes actually become pro-athlete especially like endurance sports.  It’s a stair stepping effect.  You do have a trade off, if you race a lot, you don’t prioritize any of those races, you may not experience as high in increase in fitness and you may not experience like PR’s and stuff like that.  So, there certainly is a trade off there but I agree it can be fun to just go out and race and use that as your motivation to stay fit throughout the year.

Angie:            I noticed after a couple of miles of running both my feet go completely numb.  I’ve tried loosening my laces, changing my running shoes, stretching, rolling my calves and none of it seemed to help. I also have an ultra sound done after 30 minutes of running and was diagnosed with chronic exertional compartment syndrome.  I am not too keen on the idea of going on a surgery route and wonder if you’re familiar with this and whether you can suggest any ideas before I gave up on running altogether.

Ben:                It’s something that I’ve seen in athletes that I’ve worked with before, this chronic exertional compartment syndrome.  You see it more in bigger muscle bound athletes who are doing explosive speed type of sports but you can also see it in endurance athletes and basically what it is, is that your arms, your legs, your  appendages, they have these groupings, these compartments where a bunch of muscles and blood vessels and nerves are all bundled and you take each of these bundles and then they’re encased by this thick layer of connective tissue.  It’s called fascia that holds everything there in place and fascia is very inelastic, it doesn’t stretch too well. So, what happens is when you have this exertional compartment syndrome and you’re exercising a lot or repeatedly contracting muscles, the pressure within each of those compartments goes up to a very high level and the fascia surrounding those compartments can’t stretch.  The compartments aren’t able to expand as much as they’re supposed to be able to under increased pressure and you get a ton of pressure within the muscles and as that happens, it compresses nerves and blood vessels and decreases blood flow which means that the tissues inside that compartment don’t get enough oxygen rich blood and they are essentially oxygen starved and they become damage the same way that your heart, if oxygen starved, undergoes a heart attack and this cannot be painful but can be damaging to the muscles.  It’s like if you got a soda can and you shake it up and you don’t open it up you get all the pressure inside and it puts a lot of stress on your nerves and your muscles and your blood vessels.  So, there are a lot of different things that could cause this type of compartment syndrome.  Really naturally big muscles, thick or inelastic fascia or even just high pressure in the veins within each of those compartments could all contribute something like compartment syndrome.  As far as what to do about it, you could certainly look into getting some fascia work done like a deep tissue type of massage.  You could look into frequent use of a foam roller combined with stretching to again try and improve elasticity in your fascia.  That, combined with regular massage therapy, could certainly help out. If I were in your shoes, I’m not a doctor and wouldn’t consider this as a medical advice, but if you wanted to try anything out before you go in for a surgery just try resting for a little while.  Taking a break from weight bearing exercise and combining that with lots of yoga, lots of stretching, lots of foam rolling and a frequent massage therapy, especially in the area where you’re getting these pain and they’re probably in the front and back of your lower leg, focus on that area and the fascia on that area and see what happens.  You may experience some relief.  So, that would be my recommendation.

John:              Ben hey, John Shaeffer from Brandon Panama City Beach, Florida.  I have to call and let you know that after our telephone consultation, I implemented pretty much everything that we’ve talked about, especially from the low carb diet information that we talked about and using the Low Carb Diet for Triathletes book that you recommend on that call.  I would say that I have lost five pounds and at this point have never felt better.  I have told you that I raced Ironman Florida in 2005 and since then have done nothing but downhill in terms of fitness for whatever reasons.  But since I implemented all the things that we talked about, I really felt fantastic.  I’m doing the 3o minutes of easy cardio in the morning in a fasted state.  And then every other day  doing some of the high intensity interval and I tell you it’s really working fantastic.  So, thanks for all of that.  I just have a couple of questions for you.   First, you recommended me doing this high intensity interval for 30 seconds to a minute at maximum effort and then do a forward recovery I think that’s what you prescribed.  My question is how many of those maximum effort should I be doing?  Second, I want to know about doing from longer bike rides, a moment I ride with a group, been doing a two hour ride on the weekend and I’m doing fasted as well and then after one hour on the bike I’ll eat a Gu Roctane,  put some  hydrated water all along and then at hour thirty do another Gu Roctane.  And I feel pretty good doing that I guess I’m just calling to ask for some reassurance to make sure that I’m doing all these things correctly.

Ben:                So, two part question from John.  First of all, how many intervals should you be doing?  You know, there’s been a lot of a study done on interval training.  I would certainly encourage you to go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and look at the awesome info graphic that’s up on that website that the folks greatest design and there is a really cool graphic primer on interval training and how to do it.  Interval training is originally based on a study back in the 90’s which basically used about 20 seconds of really intense exercise followed by about 10 seconds of rest.  So, when I say really intense exercise, I mean seeing stars all out sprint a 170% of VO2 max which for those of you who have ever been at VO2 max know is like almost put a gun to your head hard.  So, they did that for four minutes.  Twenty seconds on, ten seconds of for four minutes.  So, basically eight repeats of 20 seconds with a 2:1 work to rest ratio.  They did this 4x a week, that’s a total of 16 minutes a week.   They had one other day where they did steady state training and I think it’s about 20 minutes or so.  And then what they did in the study was they compared that to the people who didn’t do interval training and just did steady state training at 70% of the VO2 max.  But it’s still pretty hard, but it’s nothing compared to this 20 second ultra intense intervals.  The steady state groups only got fitter by the end of the study, but the interval training group got a way fitter in a lot less time.  So, what that means is that in terms of interval training based on that study, you could get away with as little as 16 minutes of actual training per week in terms of cardiovascular intervals if you’re actually getting up to 170% of the VO2 max state.  Now if that doesn’t appeal to you 20 seconds with extreme intensity, you could use the results of another study that was back in 2009 and that used about 60 seconds of intense exercise and only 95% of VO2 max.  Still hard, but nowhere near 170%.  That was followed by 75 seconds of rest and they did that for anywhere from 8-12 cycles 3x per week.  So, that’s about six minutes per day 3x per week or 18 minutes and they had gains that were very similar to people who did the steady state training for about five hours a week.  So, 16 minutes versus five hours, technically if you include the rest period would be closer to 32 minutes versus five hours.  But still, we’re looking at a time range if you’re really going hard on your intervals anywhere from 15-30 total minutes per week that you can get away with for actually doing high intensity intervals.  The trick is that most people don’t do interval training as intense as they should so you really got to make sure that you push yourself.  So, what we’re be talking about is 4x a week you go to the gym you do five minute warm up and then you do five really hard, super hard one minute repeat and then you do a five minute cool down and each of those one minute repeats has anywhere from 60-90 minute or a 60-90 second recovery after it.  And so what will that come out to?  That would be somewhere in the range of like what you do in the warm up.  The cool down, the recovery period, 15 minutes 3-4x a week so 45 to 60 minutes a week for the high intensity interval training and you’ll certainly see a lot of benefits in terms of your cardiovascular endurance and fitness from that lower volume of training which is why I love high intensity interval training.  You also ask about this eating pattern that you have during your long rides, in kind of waiting an hour into that ride before starting your eating and that’s actually really cool strategy.  I love the strategy of intermittent fasting and utilizing a fasted exercise sessions intelligently and in moderation to improve your ability to burn fatty acids to tap into some of your body’s own storage fat fuel.  And also to lower your daily carbohydrate intake a little bit.  The trick is, when you’re going out in a two or three hour ride in a fasted state you don’t do the whole thing in a fasted state.   You can just fast and not eat any carb for the first 40-60 minutes of that session and then dive in to your carbohydrate consumption either less than of what you would normally take in or the same as you normally take in.  So, for example, if I wanted to use fasted exercise sessions and I’m training for Ironman, I’ll have a 50 mile bike ride in the morning.  I might do the first 15 miles with no gels or anything like that and then after 15 miles start using a gel every 30 minutes.  And I get the advantage of having done some of that workout in say 45 minutes of the workout in a fasted state which works well when you just kind of roll out of bed in the morning.  All you’ve really got on board are your liver’s glycogen storage-or your liver’s storage of carbohydrate and you take off and it’s great for learning some fatty acids utilization.  So, speaking of fatty acid utilization, we are right about the time for the carb craving interview with Nora Gedgaudas.  So, we’re gonna jump right in to that interview after a quick announcement.

Feature topic:

Ben:                Hey, folks this is Ben Greenfield and I hear a lot of talk these days about primal and paleo and one individual whose on the forefront of much of the thought in terms of that particular area of nutrition, as well as a lot of really cool cutting edge topics associated with nutrition is somebody named Nora Gedgaudas and hopefully I’m pronouncing that okay.

Nora:              You know you did really well.  I’m impressed.

Ben:                Yes.  I practiced.

Nora:              You’re among the elite few who actually seems to pronounce that well.

Ben:                Nora has a new book called Primal Body-Primal Mind and we’ll talk a little bit about that later on and I’ll be sure to put a link to it in the show notes for you.  But Nora is Board certified in Holistic Nutrition and she’s recognized by the Nutritional Therapy Association as a certified nutritional therapist.  She’s been a guest lecturer on radio, on television.  She’s got her own top rank radio program on Voice America Radio’s health and wellness channel and also a podcast on iTunes called Primal Body-Primal Mind.  And today’s interview with Nora is being recorded in the Portland airport and I will be editing as much as possible to make sure that we cut out all the overhead announcements or rumbles of airplane, but today we’re gonna focus specifically with Nora on the topic of cravings-carbohydrate cravings, food cravings and some of the things that you can do to overcome those.  So, Nora thank you so much for joining us today.

Nora:              Ben it’s really a pleasure being here and I feel so close and yet so far away from you.

Ben:                Yes!  I didn’t mention Nora’s office is actually located in Portland.

Nora:              Yeah.

Ben:                Yes, unfortunately not in the airport.

Nora:              Right.

 Ben:               So, Nora when it comes down to cravings let’s go right after this.  Why do some people crave carbohydrates particularly?

Nora:              Well, there are a lot of layers to that onion, and I’ve looked at this question quite a bit.  And one of the primary issues is that we’re all metabolically adopted to being more or less one of two things.  We either are metabolically a fat burner, which is the way I believe that we were designed to be, or we are a sugar burner, we’ve metabolically adapted ourselves to depending on sugars as primary source of fuel.  And so, to one or the other of those two things and a diet that’s dominated by carbohydrate rich foods tends to generate an adaptation to being dependent on glucose that way.  And if you’re dependent on that fuel you’re going to be craving that kind of fuel.  And that just sort of makes some basic sense.  But there are other possible issues surrounding that kind of thing and there are a lot of reasons why, for instance, a person, there can be other carbohydrate based foods where the issue may or may not be sugar, but may also connect to certain other things.  Like for instance the food sensitivity issues or for instance candida yeast overgrowth or parasites or some people have serotonin deficiency issues that may cause them to crave carbohydrates.   For some people it’s a seasonal effect of disorder related issue which basically is another form of serotonin deficiency.  In menopause, there can be hormonal imbalances that give rise to carbohydrate cravings.  And also in grains there also exist in addition to the sugar or the starch which turns  into sugar.  There are also exertions.  There are these morphin-like compounds which can trigger serious cravings in some individuals.  And in those folks when they get off the grains they might actually, rather than feeling better, initially feel worse because they literally go through stages of withdrawal as their bodies attempt to or it tends to deal with the lack of those opiates for a period of time.  So, it’s a complex issue.  There are layers of this onion.

Ben:                Interesting.  So, when it comes to everything from serotonin to yeast to fungal infections and so on, do you find that anyone of those reasons that you listed tends to be kind of most prevalent in folks?

Nora:              I would say the number one issue that I run into is fundamental dysglycemia in people.  And I’m always suspicious of other things accompanying that.   But I find if I oftentimes address dysglycemic kinds of things, in other words either hypoglycemia or just what is called a subclinical form of hypoglycemia we refer to as reactive hypoglycemia that in some ways that this can also help address some of these other issues.  It can have a bit of indirect effect on supporting the recovery from these other related issues.  So, my own thing is to think very foundationally.  If somebody’s having these problems, my question is okay, why is that and what are the different layers to this onion.  And then I start peeling away with those layers cause I wanna get to the core of what’s actually going on and addressing that dependence on carbohydrates that may have really become a carbohydrate intolerance that generates cravings.  It is at least part of the equation almost every time.  And then moving from there to some of these other things.  And you just kind have to go about the rest of these rather sort of symptomatically, figuring out whether they have symptoms of  seasonal affective disorder, whether they have serotonin related deficiencies, for instance, that could be triggering some of these cravings whether or not they have a history for instance of candidiasis problems.  Sometimes I do functional blood chemistry analysis with people.  And although it’s not a particularly reliable way to do this, sometimes the presence of what looks like a gut infection will just sort of light up on the functional blood chem in the markers and then we go further to do an expanded GI panel and test to see if those kinds of issues are in fact happening with that person.  So, whether a woman is going to  menopause and she’s having hot flashes and things like that, then there’s a good bet that menopause might be part of the equation.   And this menopausal symptoms, you need sufficient estrogen for proper serotonin receptor activity.  So, it kind of ends up turning into a bit of a serotonin issue again but it’s related to this estrogen kinds of things.  So, these problematic fluctuations in estrogen are oftentimes the result of adrenal related problems.  And a lot of adrenal related problems are commonly generated by chronic dysglycemia.  So, restoring healthy adrenal function ends up being a key in that equation but also again looking at what’s going on with dysglycemia becomes important.  It’s an important thing to look at every single time.

Ben:                So, it sounds to me like when somebody is craving carbohydrate, say they get home from work at night, they’ve had dinner, it’s two hours later.

Nora:              Right.

Ben:                They’re sitting on the couch watching TV and they simply feel this unstoppable urge to go to the refrigerator and they grab for a chocolate bar or what not.  There needs to be some detective work done there to actually kind of figure out what… if the cause goes beyond the simple like habit that actually is going on there.

Nora:              Yeah, I mean if you’re craving something sweet after meal that to me is a pretty strong indicator of insulin resistance.  And your body is just not able to… is not responding to the… it’s not able to metabolize carbohydrates very well.  There are issues with that.  And so, because you’re insulin resistant, you start craving more fuel because you’re just not able to make right use of the carbohydrate you’re manufacturing.  The carbs ends up getting shunted into and a lot of times people will also feel really tired after meals.  When they’re insulin resistant because it’s very energy intense to take that sugar and convert it into triglycerides for storage when you’re body can’t make use of the glucose.  So, if it’s a couple hours after meal, yes it could be a reactive hypoglycemic thing.  If you’re talking about chocolate, sometimes I’m also interested in looking at whether or not there might be a little bit of magnesium deficiency thing going on around there just because the magnesium deficiency is sometimes associated with chocolate cravings.

Ben:                It sounds to me like someone could get tested for many of these things.  The only thing you mentioned that I’m curious if a test exist for what you talk about like a serotonin deficiency intake issue.  Is there actually a way to test something like that?

Nora:              Right.  Yes.  Well and really the best way to test for that is just simply by going at it symptomatically.  There is a big popularity now in natural health practices to do this urinary test for neurotransmitter deficiency and the science behind these are extremely poor.  It’s a great marketing gimmick but the reality behind it is just not very sounds science.  And I have a great article about this on my blog.  If you go to the nutritional geek corner of my blog there’s an article about neuro transmitter testing the sort of wild and wacky world of neurotransmitter testing and why these urinalysis approaches for neuro transmitters aren’t such a good idea.  For one thing, in looking at a urine sample to figure out what’s actually going on in your brain is the equivalent of looking at your waste basket to try to figure out what’s in your refrigerator.  It’s just not a very sound way to go about it.  However, people who are serotonin deficient have certain consistent symptoms associated with that.  You very often have people who are depressed in their serotonin production, who are fundamentally depressed.  They may be chronically worked and anxious.  And they tend to be kind of negative thinking.  They very often are prone to disease like neuro defective disorder or symptoms.  They can be prone to anger or aggressiveness.  They don’t sleep very well.  Sometimes they can be shy or fearful people.  And you get somebody who maybe has a loss of pleasure on the things that they use to enjoy and of course carbohydrate cravings are commonly associated with that.  So, you have somebody that meets some of those criteria and they’re self medicating with the carbohydrates or maybe they have a history of the SSRI use and very often they do.  It’s a lot to go places to look.

Ben:                Interesting.  Okay.  So, let’s talk about the actual solution.  You, I know, have worked with people before for reducing carbohydrate cravings and much of your work, if I’m not mistaken, has been done in psychology, correct?

Nora:              Well, I know. I’ve been specialist in an area called the neuro feedback which is a form biofeedback.  And of course I deal a lot with a lot of the people that come in to my office have been struggling with all kinds of issues, a lot of times mental health issues, but all kinds of things in all kinds of levels.  And there are people that come to me for peak performance related things, too.  It’s just a sort of whole gamut.  But anything that is under the control of the central nervous system or the brain can stand to be potentially powerfully impacted by brain training.  And so brain training is a way that sort of help optimize brain function.  When people come in with all these different symptoms and issues it kind of speaks to certain constellation, if you will, of neurological disregulation.  And it tells me what type of training a person might be most responsive to.

Ben:                Gotcha.  So, what type of methods have you found to be kind of most effective for reducing something like carbohydrate cravings?

Nora:              Well, to me it kind of needs to be ideal in a way.  It needs to be a kind of a two-pronged approach.  In other words, ideally I’d really like to address this on a nutritional biochemical level with a person as well as get at some of what’s going on with them on that sort of bioelectric level with the brain training.  And I think the combined approach tends to be very synergistic and it tends to work very nicely in helping to sort of restore equilibrium to that person’s functioning.  Now when it comes to the biochemical approach to things, there are a couple different ways of going about it.  A person can either choose to “manage” their blood sugar.  In other words, well, okay.   A person, they’re addicted to carbohydrates, they really don’t want to give up that addiction to carbohydrates.  And so, if they’re going to maintain that addiction to carbohydrates, they are going to have to manage that blood sugar and it’s quite a little juggling act because sugar is not a long burning kind of fuel.  It’s kind of like a turbo fuel that the body needs to replenish quite regularly.  And it’s a little bit like trying to heat your house with wood stove using nothing but kindling all day.  You can do it.  You definitely can do it, but you’re gonna have to be a slave to that process.  My preference is to eliminate blood sugar from that mood and cognitive equation and help the person adapt instead of being a sugar burner to being more so a fat burning.  Relying instead on dietary fiber and particularly key tones on free fatty acids for their primary source of fuel and eliminating sugar and starch from the diet as much as possible and forcing the body to adapt to this other form of fuel which is a lot more steady, a lot more reliable and could be akin to instead of putting a nice big log on the fire a couple of times a day.  And where food is no longer a preoccupation and that those swings up and down just don’t happen.  You just have a much more even burning and long lasting energy state.  And it just kind of depends on where a person is coming from.  I don’t like to put people in management mode if I can avoid it.  And I try to make a case for encouraging them to do things differently if at all possible, because I don’t like to see people dependent on having to take a bunch of supplements of having to eat constantly and be preoccupied constantly with food if they don’t have to be.  And there are other benefits, as well, to other issues, as well, that go beyond the craving thing.  And I got into this in quite a bit length in my book.  There are really good reasons for getting the sugar and starch out of there and not relying on that.  But again the approach depends.  Now when it comes to neuro feedback, I’m always looking at.  I don’t say okay certain protocol here for carb cravings.  I’m really looking at how this particular person is put together and how these symptoms are manifesting for them because it could be showing up as a depressive state or in an anxiety related state which, believe it or not, blood sugar can have a huge impact on that.  And things related to that, are they having issues with sleeping, are they having issues with digestion.  You know, what’s going on with them.  And based on what they tell me about how their functioning or not functioning day to day, that tells me a lot about what kind of brain training that person might best benefit from.  And I proceed according to some protocols.  And then I adjust those protocols to ultimately customize the approach to that particular individual.  And it’s usually different for everybody.  And everybody requires something a little bit different when it comes right down to it.  But it’s a symptom driven or subjectively driven process, if you will.

Ben:                So let’s say that someone decides that they want to try something like neurofeedback to make a lifestyle change and do something like address carbohydrate cravings.  And they walk into a practitioner’s office.  What is it that they’re going to expect and probably before we go into that in terms of actually finding a practitioner, how it is going about doing that?

Nora:              Well, the thing I recommend that people do is that you go to a website called eegdirectory.com.  And that will basically give you a wonderful directory full of practitioners literally all over the world that practice neurofeedback.  And I prefer to find somebody myself.  I would be inclined to find somebody who is using a particular neurofeedback system called cygnet because I think that has the broadest range of capability right now.  And it is getting some of the most cutting edge results.

Ben:                You said it was called cygnet?

Nora:              Yes.  C-Y-G-N-E-T.  And if you go to eegdirectory.com you can see listed alongside the practitioner’s names whose using what type of neurofeedback system.  Not that if they’re not using cygnet they’re no good.  And I don’t want to send that message.  But if you’ve got a choice between a couple of practitioners near you and one is using cygnet and one isn’t, I would maybe give the cygnet practitioner a first shot.  But what you’re going to want to do is really try to get together with that practitioner if you can.  Hopefully they offer a free consultation of some sort.  Or at least get them on the phone or enter into some kind of dialogue to get a sense of whether or not you resonate with them and their approach to things.  And whether or not neurofeedback feels like something that’s really right for you.

Ben:                So, then you found a practitioner.  And I’ll put a link to that directory for folks listening in, I’ll put a link to that in the show notes.  And then you go to this person’s office and what happens then?

Nora:              Oh terrible, horrible things.  Unspeakable things.  Well, basically we all have different approaches in terms of how we do an initial intake.  Some people just sit there and go entirely through a symptomatic profile and go by history.  Most of us take a pretty thorough history of where a person’s brain and nervous system have been.  And we look at that as a way of figuring out exactly what type of nervous system that we’re dealing with.  And again what type of training that person might respond best to.  Some of us do certain types of testing to further kind of clarify certain aspects and maybe provide some more objective data.  But regardless of that, once we sort of figured out what we want to do then the person is seated in a nice comfortable chair.  And there are these electrosensors that are affixed to the scalp with a little bit of electrodes pasted into cotton balls.  No fuss, no musses.  No pain involved or anything like that.  And again different areas of the brain are localized for different functions.  And so based on the kinds of issues a person is presenting with, that we may start with a different type of placement depending on the person.  So these sensors are affixed to the scalp.  And there are wires coming from these sensors that go in to an amplifier.  The amplifier amplifies the signal.  And then that amplified signal is projected on to a computer screen that’s sitting in front of the neurofeedback therapist.  And there we are able to see the EEG scrolling across the screen.  And with the cygnet system we also have this lovely 3D compressed spectral array that’s really colorful and very cool.  And we then set goals for the brain.  And ask the brain just kind of be here for a little while.  You know, here’s a frequency range.  We want you to kind of exercise.  And here’s a pace we want you to kind of lock into. And we want you to notice yourself.  This is the sort of message we’re sending the brain in unspoken terms.  Notice yourself here.  Be here for a little while.  And we ask the brain to be aware of many different aspects of its own function simultaneously while it works there.  The way this translates is that there’s another screen, a nice video screen that the client is sitting in front of, that contains a display of some sort.  And it may look like a video game or it may be some kind of other type of video run off a DVD or it could be any number of things.  We have a lot of options now.  And there is some kind of visual thing happening.  There’s usually an auditory piece to this which either contains music or beeps or things that also are giving the brain some information about itself.  And I also happen to have there is a stuffed dolphin.  Some people use a teddy bear.  I know that different practitioners use different things that have a transducer on them that emit kind of a rumbling kind of sensation.  A little bit of the dolphins’ sort of rumbles and purrs as the brain is doing what it does.  And so some people are more visual in their learning styles.  Some are auditory and some are kinesthetic.  The visual and auditory pieces are taken care of by the video display.  And the stuffed animal provides the tactile piece that allows the nervous system to triangulate the information that it’s being given.  And as a person sits there on the chair, everything that’s happening up on that screen is basically giving the brain information about its own functioning so that it can regulate itself.  And it’s not a conscious process.  The conscious mind which sometimes gets terribly upset by this especially in type A personality adults.  Kids don’t care.  They’re just happy that they’re getting to see this cool thing on the screen.  Or that they’re getting points or whatever.  And they don’t care how it’s happening.  And type A personality adults who are used to bending everything to their will get terribly upset and think how am I doing this.  And they get 99% of everything the brain does.  It really goes outside the awareness or permission of the conscious mind.  The conscious mind is this tiny little sliver of brain function that we put on a pedestal.  And it may just be the most narcissistic entity in the universe.  It likes to think it’s running the show.  And it is anything but running the show.  So at any given moment, there are sight, sound, smells, air temperature, all kinds of tens of thousands of bits of information coming in through our senses to which our nervous system is responding and adjusting our physiology and everything else.  And occasionally figuring what kind of bone it’s going to throw the conscious mind to make it feel like it’s actually participating in something to make it aware of itself.  But that’s kind of a level on which this works.  So the brain is sort of getting a representation of itself.  And it’s a little like looking in the mirror.  And as the brain sees itself function, it notices what it’s doing.  And we ask it to pay special attention to certain areas of its own function.  And as the brain becomes aware of what it’s doing with those areas, it typically knows what it needs to do in order to self manage those areas better.

Ben:                So for something like a carbohydrate craving, are there specific questions that you ask someone as you’re doing the neurofeedback?

Nora:              Again, the conscious mind is a really trivial player.  I could be having a conversation with a client in a chair about something totally unrelated to what we’re doing.  And it doesn’t matter.  The brain is going to be inherently interested in itself.  And as long as the person is attending to the feedback, in other words, they’re looking at the screen, they’re taking in the fluctuations in the image.  And they’re taking in the sounds.  And they’ve got the rumbling stuffed animal happening there.  Their nervous system and brain are getting the information that they need in order to make the adjustments to their own functioning.  It’s all about the brain learning to manage its own states better.  And again, the conscious mind is not really so vital a part of this process.  And I realized it’s a little tough to wrap yourself around.  But it is extremely powerful.  One of the analogies I use for this involves… well, there are a couple of them actually.  I have a few different analogies I use.  But my colleague, Mark Steinberg, who wrote one of the forewords in the current release of my book, he is a neuropsychologist and a long time practitioner of neurofeedback.  He likens it to learning how to ride your bike on bumpy terrains.  And I kind of like that analogy.  You’re exercising your brain over what is normally kind of maybe treacherous terrain for you.  It’s easy for you to get thrown off into one sort of state mismanagement to another.  And by exercising yourself in these certain ranges, you’re learning to better navigate those bumps and turns so that you’re less likely to be thrown by them.  I would be inclined to also add the words learning to ride your bike on bumpy terrain with the lights on.  So then you’re really seeing the topography around you and mapping it in a way that helps you anticipate better.  You know, you learn the terrain in a way.  Are you there?

Ben:                I’m here.  I can hear you.

Nora:              Okay.  I saw a message up on my Skype screen saying that there was an internet connection problem.  So I just wanted to make sure we were still connected.  So at any rate, the neurofeedback really helps to facilitate the brain becoming much more comfortable with its own and much more self aware, if you will, of its own functioning.  The term biofeedback is something that many people are familiar with.  And they’re less familiar with neurofeedback.  Biofeedback is predicated on the idea that any autonomic function that you can become aware of.  And it’s traditionally was always sort of focused on what we call peripheral measures like breathing heart rate, galvanic skin responses,  sweat gland activity, maybe skin temperature, heart rate variability, things like that.  That any autonomic function-like that that you can learn to become consciously aware of.  You can learn to sort of regulate in some meaningful way.  And it’s usually focused around eliciting a parasympathetic response.  So they’ll hand you a thermometer.  And you sit there and you focus in a very conscious way I might add in that thermometer until your skin temperature goes up.  And as your skin temperature goes up that usually indicates that peripheral vessels have relaxed and now there’s peripheral blood flow which tends to be a consequence of enhanced parasympathetic functioning.  And now you’re feeling more relaxed and that’s all cool.  And as you go home, they hand you the thermometer and say okay now go home and practice this bunch before our next session.  Well, with neurofeedback we’re dealing directly with the electrical activity in the brain.  And because we’re dealing with electrical activity, the feedback is happening way faster than anybody can consciously process.  It’s virtually instantaneous.  It’s happening in an instant.  And this just blows past the capacity of the conscious mind to really be able to do very much with, which is actually a great thing because if you’re dealing with somebody who has no clue about what’s going on or maybe they’re not even particularly happy to be there.  I mean I’ve worked with two and half year old brain injured infants.  I’ve worked with eighty-nine year old Alzheimer’s patients.  I’ve worked with teenage sociopathic juveniles.  All of which either have no clue what’s happening.  Or could give a rats’ patooty of being there.  In fact they rather not be there, thank you very much.  But it doesn’t matter because the brain is inherently interested in information about itself.  And it will latch on to that.  And it will do what it needs to do to adjust itself, to manage its own states more effectively.  So you may have somebody who’s maybe you know I’ll have a kid walk in and maybe they’re in the middle of a hypoglycemic response.  They’re the proverbial I think many people might attach some judgment like a proverbial spoiled brat.  You know, kicking and screaming and raising a fuss and being very oppositional.  And it rolls off me like water off a duck because I’m looking at that as a certain type of disregulation.  And it doesn’t occur to me to judge that really.  So like by the time I’ve gotten the kid in the chair, if that kid is willing to just sit in the chair and usually you can entice them with the idea that they’re going to get to play a video game with their brain.  That’s so totally cool.  Of course, they’re thinking xbox and this isn’t quite like that.  And usually within a couple of minutes we have a very different kid sitting in the chair.  And the mom’s looking at me like what the heck just happened.  So here’s an analogy that I came up with that I think can illustrate this.  I’ll put that on hold for a moment.  We’ve all walked out of the house at one day or another with our hair sticking out funny or maybe a toilet paper stuck to our shoe or a woman might have her skirt tucked in the back of her panty hose or something.  And you’re walking to the street thinking you’re kind of alright or maybe you’re feeling it’s a little cold and drafty.  And you’re not quite sure why.  And people are treating you like you’re a little silly.  But regardless, you might then walk in to a bathroom and look in a mirror.  And you go, oh my god.  You’re looking in that mirror saying oh crap look at that.  And what you’re immediately doing when you see that hair sticking up funny?  You’re reaching up and you’re doing something to fix it.  However, if you walked in and you looked at in the mirror and your hair was okay but you had that toilet paper stuck to you shoe, you might go walking out with the toilet paper trailing behind you again because the mirror wasn’t quite pointed in the right direction.  Or you might still have the skirt tucked back to the panty hose.  So the job of the neurofeedback provider in my view and what we see to be figuring out with seems to be making sure that the brain is getting the right information about itself.  That the mirror is pointed at the right direction.  So that we’re training the appropriate frequencies.  We’re training the appropriate locations on the cortex.  And the brain is getting to see itself in the appropriate way so that it can go oh geez I’m doing that and adjusting itself appropriately.  And as the brain gets the appropriate information, it tends to make the appropriate adjustments.  Now that said, the best brain training and the best protocol in the world, the best information being given a brain and nervous system in the world, it’s not going to put a nutrient that’s not there.  It’s not going to take away some offending substance that doesn’t belong there.  You know the brain and the body needs certain raw materials in order to function properly, period.  And so that’s where the biochemical piece comes in where I prefer to address things from a nutritional stand point in the most foundational weight possible.  To give the brain the raw materials that it needs and help the person figure out what that might be so that then the brain has what it needs in order to self manage more appropriately.  And by giving the brain information about where it may be lacking in that regard using a tool like neurofeedback.  It’s practically a foolproof combination.

Ben:                Interesting.

Nora:              It’s pretty powerful stuff.

Ben:                So do you talk about neurofeedback much in your book Primal body, Primal mind?

Nora:              I do.  Well, I talked about some.  It’s not a book about neurofeedback.  But I can’t totally separate the book from my experience in neurofeedback because I’ve been a pretty full time neurofeedback practitioner for the last 15 years.  And that work has really colored the approach that I take with nutrition because just as an example, if you go to a doctor’s office and you say hey, I’ve really got problems with anxiety and by the way I’m also depressed.  And incidentally I don’t sleep very well and hey, I get migraines pretty often.  And I don’t pay attention well.  I don’t know how many things were I just listed. We’ll just say half a dozen things.  Your physician is likely to look at you and say oh okay.  They’re going to look at that in a fairly compartmentalized way.  And they’re going to issue probably half a dozen different prescriptions to address what they are looking upon as fairly compartmentalized problems.  In neurofeedback, when a person walks into to a room and nobody ever comes in with just one thing, nobody ever comes in and just says hey, I have carb cravings and help me with that.  They might come in and say that.  And in fact I get that very often.  But there’s always a half a dozen other things associated with that.  And rather than looking at the various symptoms and it could be any number of different things that people are coming in with.  And symptoms, issues or goals that they’re hoping to get out of the training.  But what I see with each of those issues, symptoms or goals instead of compartmentalized things, I see them as different points in a constellation that formulates a bigger picture.  It tells me what kind of brain and nervous system I’m dealing with.  I see all of these things as very interrelated.  And we’re trained in the way that I have learned to do neurofeedback anyway through the EEG institute and the authors are where I’ve gotten my training with this.  We’re trained to look at this very holistically and look upon these things as being very interrelated.  And so when we decide to take a certain approach to what a person is telling us, when one of these areas improves usually you see improvement pretty much across the board.  And sometimes we need to adjust the mirror a little bit to get at different aspects of things.  But usually within a certain frame work of training, we’re adjusting the mirror within a certain frame work of training to kind of get at what a person has come in with this whole constellation of symptoms.  And it’s that approach to helping people.  And the ultimate effect is really raising the stress threshold enormously with folks because of course stress isn’t what happens to us.  It’s how we respond to what happens to us.  And if you’re better at functioning in a parasympathetic state and coming at things from more of a state of equilibrium then your capacity to deal with the things that come at you in life changes quite a bit.  But of course we all see the world through a lens that is the degree to which we choose to be dependent upon it our blood sugar, also our hormones and neurotransmitters.  And we all, at any given moment, have the ability to…  we all have things going on in our lives that are really great and other things in our lives that may be really challenging for us.  And what we choose to focus on at any given moment is going to a significant measure depend upon what lens we’re holding up in that moment.  Blood sugar can certainly color a lot of it.  And emotions which are often attached to this are just simply biochemical storms in our body and brain.  And the healthier the biochemistry, the better the emotional forecast.  But also all biochemical reactions in the body and brain are preceded by something that we call an electrical depolarization of the cell.  This electrical discharge that drives the biochemical reactions in the body and brain.  And that electrical depolarization is intimately depended upon certain timing mechanisms.  And those timing mechanisms are largely driven by structure in the brain called the thalmus which is sort of the pacemaker to the brain.   And it just so happens that we’re more or less with neurofeedback directly appealing to thalmus, to these timing mechanisms and also phase relationships and helping the brain sort of regulate those timing mechanisms in a healthier and optimal way.  So there’s this marvelous sort of concert I think that you can get between approaching things in a biochemical standpoint and also that sort of bioelectrics standpoint that that’s pretty nifty.  And you can get a lot of mileage out of either one of those by themselves.  I’m really astonished sometimes at how far I can get with either alone.  But together it’s a pretty great combo.  But looking at things in that way of sort of seeing different disregulations as this constellation rather than looking at(disconnected)

Ben:                Right here I was disconnected with Nora.  Got to love the Portland airport connection.  I think it cut me off after an hour.  And then took the interview right back where we left off.

Ben:                Okay.  So anyways, you were just finishing up on the feedback.

Nora:              Yes.  So that whole constellation way of thinking that drives the neurofeedback process for me has also had a profound influence on the way that I look at things from a nutritional stand point.  And it gets me to look at things in a very foundational way rather than saying hey, I feel depressed.  Here’s some saying John’s work which would be kind of sort of what I view as sort of a allopathic approach, honestly, to things.  Taking certain things to treat certain symptoms, I would rather look at why is this an issue.  And look at what some of the underlying mechanisms might be behind that and addressing that from a very foundational standpoint using either certain dietary measures or even at times when it is called for at certain supplemental approaches that can support that foundational functioning so that then the brain and nervous system and then the body’s biochemistry can better manage itself.  So the ultimate goal in the way I approach things is self empowerment.  Not a dependence on a particular therapeutic approach of some kind or dependence on brain training or dependence even on supplements.  It’s ultimately my goal to get people into a place where they’re able to self manage.  And some of that involves client education to help them become more aware of how the brain and body function, what kinds of things are going to influence that, what are the ways in which their diet and lifestyle habits that may be influencing some of these symptoms that their walking around with.   And then also helping them train their brains in a way that helps them become better at self managing their own states.  So that when they leave here, they don’t need me anymore.  They don’t need brain training anymore.  And they’re able to just sort of go off and lead a more functional life.  And that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.  I’m not interested in being anybody’s crutch long term on any level.  I would really rather see people self empowered.  And I think there’s a great deal right now in our culture that has people feeling extremely disempowered.   And anything that can restore that sense of self empowerment in my mind is a very good thing.  And you can really only do that by giving people foundational tools.

Ben:                Well, you certainly do have a good tool with your book.  I know we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of what you talk about in Primal Body, Primal Mind.

Nora:              The surface on the tip of the iceberg.

Ben:                Exactly.  I’ll put a link to that book in the show notes for those of you who want to kind of delve into some of the stuff that Nora has written even more.  And I’ll put a link also to everything that Nora mentioned during her interview today.  So that being said, I actually have a plane to catch.  So we’re going to stop there.  And Nora, I want to thank you so much for giving your time today.

Nora:              Ben, thank you so much for having me on your show.  It’s really a pleasure.  Obviously I love talking about this stuff.  Brevity may not be my strong suit.  But hopefully it has been helpful to some of your listeners.

Ben:                Yeah, absolutely.  Alright folks, that’s Nora Gedgaudas.  And I will put a link to that in the show notes.  Nora we’ll talk to you later.

Nora:              Sounds great, Ben.  Have a safe travel.

Ben:                So folks, I will put a link to Nora’s book in the show notes.  I will also put a link to the EEG directory she mentioned.  And the article on carbohydrate cravings that she wrote over on her website.  I will also link to that so you can follow that and check it out.  And if you have questions or feedback or comments, just leave them in the show notes in the comments section for this episode, Episode #160 at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, and while you’re there, please think about leaving a donation for the podcast.  You can donate as little as $1 a month to keep this podcast going and to support the number of downloads that occur on this podcast.  And you can also leave the show a ranking or rating in iTunes.  So until next time, this is Ben Greenfield and for those of you up in Canada, I’ll be headed up to Ironman Canada here in about two hours to cheer you on there in Penticton.  So have a healthy week and look for more articles coming out soon from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.

 For personal nutrition, fitness  or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’s from Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at http://www.pacificfit.net

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