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  • Omega-3 fatty acids (O3FA) are well-known for their role in human health and wellness—and there are various sources of O3FA, including fish oils (i.e. fish body oils), krill oil and algal oils. But there is another "old school" source of O3FA that has been overlooked in recent times: cod liver oil. Now if you're wondering why I'm taking the time to talk about a product that your grandmother or great-grandmother probably used, the reason (primarily) has to do with inflammation.

    About Inflammation

    Let's start with a brief review about inflammation, a useful natural reaction that the body has in response to injury and certain other conditions. Chronic inflammation, however, can be more destructive than beneficial and is a major component in many human diseases. Furthermore, it must be understood that chronic inflammation isn't just associated with disease states. In fact, higher intakes of red and processed meats, sweets, desserts, French fries, and refined grains are associated with experiencing more inflammation,1 as is exposure to colder temperatures (i.e. colder climates).2

    Since prolonged inflammation is detrimental to the host, higher organisms have evolved protective mechanisms to ensure resolution of the inflammatory response in a limited and specific time-and space-manner. Once thought as a mere passive process of dilution of inflammation, resolution is today envisioned as a highly orchestrated process coordinated by a complex regulatory network of cells and mediators.3

    Pro-resolving Mediators
    Among the molecules that facilitate resolution of inflammation, resolvins, protectins, and maresins produced from O3FA are the lipid mediators which are particularly important. These internally produced anti-inflammatory and pro-resolving mediators counteract the effects of proinflammatory signaling systems and act as "braking signals" of the persistent vicious cycle leading to unremitting inflammation.

    In fact, the same pro-inflammatory factors that initially trigger the inflammatory response also signal the termination of inflammation by stimulating the biosynthesis of pro-resolving mediators. Resolvins, protectins and maresins and have been shown to reduce airway inflammation, dermal inflammation colitis, arthritis, and postoperative pain. Studies have shown that these mediators increase with time during the inflammatory process.4,5,6

    DHA The most well-known O3FA are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). While these two O3FA can be used to generate resolvins, there is another O3FA called docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), which is a particularly effective precursor to different resolvins.7 DPA is an intermediate in the biosynthesis of DHA from EPA. In any case, DPA is not always seen in omega-3 fatty acid products. It can, however, be found in some cod liver oil products.

    Cod Liver Oil And Inflammation

    It should be noted that cod liver oil is a natural source of vitamins A and D, in addition to O3FA. This is significant since maintaining healthy vitamin D levels is necessary for supporting cardiovascular health,8,9,10,11 and vitamin D plays an important role in healthy skin and in regulating a healthy immune system.12 Furthermore, some cod liver oil products are a direct source of pro-resolving mediators. Not surprisingly, cod liver oil has shown value for its anti-inflammatory effects.

    A study13 was conducted to compare the effects of supplementation with either sunflower oil (source of omega-6) or cod liver oil (source of omega-3) oil, in rates with inflammatory colitis. Inflammatory markers increased in rats fed sunflower oil but was blunted in rats fed cod liver oil. In fed cod liver oil group, the damage score was markedly reduced by day 30, and inflammation and ulceration were almost absent by day 50.

    A 9-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized human study14 was conducted in 58 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to determine whether cod liver oil supplementation would help reduce daily NSAID (pain medication) requirement. Patients took either 10 g of cod liver oil containing or identical placebo capsules. Documentation of NSAID daily requirement, clinical and laboratory parameters of RA disease activity, and safety checks were done at 0, 4, 12, 24 and 36 weeks. At 12 weeks, patients were instructed to gradually reduce, and if possible, stop their NSAID intake. Results were that 39 percent of patients in the cod liver oil group and 10 percent of patients in the placebo group were able to reduce their daily NSAID requirement by more than 30 percent. Researchers concluded that cod liver oil supplements containing n-3 fatty acids can be used as NSAID-sparing agents in RA.

    Cod Liver Oil and Beauty
    In addition to inflammation, cod liver oil may also have a "beauty from within" application. Here's the rationale. O3FA have been shown to help reduce the visible signs of aging, and support cell rejuvenation. In one study, a diet providing as little as 295 mg/day of EPA was shown to decrease the risk in photoaging (i.e. more rapidly aged skin due to sun exposure) in women.15 In addition, vitamin D has been shown to play an important role in maintaining healthy hair due to its relationship with vitamin D receptors in hair follicles.16,17,18 Given that cod liver oil is a natural source of both O3FA and vitamin D, it may serve as an ideal supplement for the skin and hair.

    Due to its naturally occurring EPA, DHA, DPA, and pro-resolving mediators, cod liver oil is an ideal supplement for helping to reduce inflammation. Furthermore, it is a natural source of vitamins A and D; and may also have "beauty from within" applications. That being said, if you're going to use a cod liver oil supplement, it is important to use a clean product. I suggest looking for supplements from cod from Alaskan waters (a more pristine area) that are line-caught and flash-frozen to preserve freshness.


    1. Lopez-Garcia E, Schulze MB, Fung TT, Meigs JB, Rifai N, Manson JE, Hu FB. Major dietary patterns are related to plasma concentrations of markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Oct;80(4):1029–35.
    2. Halonen JI, Zanobetti A, Sparrow D, Vokonas PS, Schwartz J. Associations between outdoor temperature and markers of inflammation: a cohort study. Environ Health. 2010 Jul 23;9:42.
    3. Clària J. Resolution of Acute Inflammation and the Role of Lipid Mediators. Scientific World Journal. 2010; 10:1553–5.
    4. Recchiuti A, Serhan CN. Pro-resolving lipid mediators (SPMs) and their actions in regulating miRNA in novel resolution circuits in inflammation. Front Immunol. 2012 Oct 22;3:298.
    5. Serhan CN. Novel Pro-Resolving Lipid Mediators in Inflammation Are Leads for Resolution Physiology. Nature. 2014 Jun 5; 510(7503): 92–101.
    6. Spite M, Serhan CN. Novel lipid mediators promote resolution of acute inflammation: impact of aspirin and statins. Circ Res.2010 November 12; 107(10): 1170–84.
    7. Primdahl KG, Aursnes M, Walker ME, Colas RA, Serhan CN, Dalli J, Hansen TV, Vik A. Synthesis of 13(R)-Hydroxy- 7Z,10Z,13R,14E,16Z,19Z Docosapentaenoic Acid (13R-HDPA) and Its Biosynthetic Conversion to the 13-Series Resolvins. J Nat Prod. 2016 Oct 28;79(10):2693–2702.
    8. Wang TJ, Pencina MJ, Booth SL, et al. Vitamin D deficiency and risk of cardiovascular disease. Circulation 2008;117;503–11.
    9. Dobnig H, Pilz S, Scharnagl H, et al. Independent association of low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Arch Intern Med 2008;168:1340–49.
    10. Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Hollis BW, Rimm EB. 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in men. Arch Intern Med 2008;168:1174–80.
    11. Martins D, Wolf M, Pan D, et al. Prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and the serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the United States. Arch Intern Med 2007;167:1159–65.
    12. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Vitamin A. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. National Academy Press, Washington, DC; 2001:82–161.
    13. Vilaseca J, Salas A, Guarner F, Rodríguez R, Martínez M, Malagelada JR. Dietary fish oil reduces progression of chronic inflammatory lesions in a rat model of granulomatous colitis. Gut. 1990 May;31(5):539–44.
    14. Galarraga B, Ho M, Youssef HM, Hill A, McMahon H, Hall C, Ogston S, Nuki G, Belch JJ. Cod liver oil (n-3 fatty acids) as an nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-sparing agent in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2008 May;47(5):665–9.
    15. Latreille J, Kesse-Guyot E, Malvy D, Andreeva V, Galan P, Tschachler E, Hercberg S, Guinot C, Ezzedine K. Association between dietary intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and severity of skin photoaging in a middle-aged Caucasian population. J Dermatol Sci. 2013 Dec;72(3):233–9.
    16. Daroach M1, Narang T, Saikia UN, Sachdeva N, Sendhil Kumaran M. Correlation of vitamin D and vitamin D receptor expression in patients with alopecia areata: a clinical paradigm. Int J Dermatol. 2018 Feb;57(2):217–222.
    17. Gerkowicz A, Chyl-Surdacka K, Krasowska D, Chodorowska G. The Role of Vitamin D in Non- Scarring Alopecia. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Dec 7;18(12).
    18. Cheung EJ, Sink JR, English Iii JC. Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies in Patients With Telogen Effluvium: A Retrospective Cross-Sectional Study. J Drugs Dermatol. 2016 Oct 1;15(10):1235–37.

  • Chemically, a fatty acid is an organic acid that has an acid group at one end of its molecule, and a methyl group at the other end.1 Fatty acids are typically categorized in the omega groups 3, 6 and 9 according to the location of their first double bond (there’s also an omega 7 group, but these are less important to human health).2 Now don’t panic if you’re not up on your chemistry; this isn’t going to be a chemistry lesson. I just wanted you to understand why a fatty acid might be called an omega 3 or omega 6 fatty acid.

    The term essential fatty acid refers to a fatty acid, which the body cannot manufacture and must obtain from dietary sources. These essential fatty acids were originally designated as Vitamin F, until it was realized that they must be classified with the fats.3 There are two fatty acids designated as essential fatty acids: linoleic acid and alphalinolenic acid. This does not mean that the other 15 or so fatty acids found in the omega 3, 6 and 9 groups aren’t important, just that a healthy body can manufacture them as long as it gets enough linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. Nevertheless, research demonstrates that there are health benefits to be had by obtaining some of the other non-essential fatty acids directly; more on this later. Now let’s discuss the roles of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in the body, as well as sources of EFAs.

    Roles and sources of essential fatty acids
    The body uses essential fatty acids (EFAs) for the formation of healthy cell membranes, the proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the production of hormone-like substances called eicosanoids (thromboxanes, leukotrienes, prostaglandins). These chemicals regulate numerous body functions including blood pressure, blood viscosity, vasoconstriction, immune and inflammatory responses.4

    Dietary sources of the omega 6 fatty acids include some leafy vegetables, seeds nuts, grains, vegetable oils and meats. Dietary sources of the omega 3 fatty acids include some vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, shellfish and fish.5 Dietary supplement sources of essential fatty acids and nonessential fatty acids include Evening Primrose oil, Borage oil, Flax seed oil and Fish oils (marine lipid concentrate). Now let’s take a look at some of these individual dietary supplement sources of essential fatty acids, and the benefits they have to offer.

    Evening Primrose & Borage Oils: Sources of GLA The oils from the Evening Primrose plant and Borage seed are rich in the omega 6 fatty acid, gamma linolenic acid (GLA); as well as EFAs. Although fatty acids are found in significant quantities in a variety of plants, GLA is only found in a few. GLA is a precursor to various natural chemicals found in the body. Among these are prostaglandins, a type of short-term hormone-like substances, which play a variety of roles in the body. Published research on these sources of GLA have demonstrated them to be useful in PMS6,7,8,9,10,11, pregnancy and lactation12,13, inflammatory conditions14,15, rheumatoid arthritis16,17,18, skin conditions19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,20,32,32,33,34, stress and performance35,36, as well as migraine headaches.37 Furthermore, the unique balance of GLA to EFAs in any one of these sources may have a distinct benefit over another source depending on the condition in question. For more detailed information on EPO and BO, read the Intelligent Supplementation article, “GLA: Gamma Linolenic Acid from Evening Primrose & Borage Oils.”

    Fish Oils: Sources of EPA/DHA Omega 3 fatty acids
    Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega 3 fatty acids (O3FA). O3FA supplements are mostly derived from the oils of cold water species of fish like salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel. There are many therapeutic applications for O3FA, primarily due to its cardiovascular-enhancing and anti-inflammatory benefits. Research has shown that O3FA cardiovascular benefits include reducing the risk of atherosclerosis38,39,40,41,42,43,44, modifying cholesterol levels (i.e., increasing “good” HDL cholesterol, while decreasing “bad” LDL cholesterol) and decreasing triglycerides45,46,47,48,49, and decreasing high blood pressure.60 O3FA have also been shown to block the production of certain inflammatory chemicals in our body. Consequently, studies have demonstrated the ability of O3FA to reduce inflammation in such disorders as rheumatoid arthritis51,52,53,54, asthma55,56,57,58, colitis59,60,61,62,63, Crohn’s disease64,65,66, and Lupus67,68,69. In addition, O3FA have shown to reduce the symptoms of other disorders including angina70,71, migraine headaches72,73,74,75, psoriasis76,77,78,79,80, and tinnitus.81,82 For more detailed information on O3FA, read the Intelligent Supplementation article “Omega 3 Fatty Acids.”

    Flax Seed Oils: Sources of Omega 3, 6 & 9 fatty acids

    Flax seed naturally contain a complex of different categories of fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3), linoleic acid (omega-6), and oleic acid (omega-9). Much of Flax seed’s benefits are a function of its alpha linolenic acid (ALA) content, and the fact that ALA can be converted by the body into EPA—the same omega-3 found in fish oil. As a matter of fact, research has found that supplementation with Flax seed oil can effectively increase EPA concentrations in tissues.83 Lignans, also found in Flax seed, account for various benefits offered by this plant. Studies involving Flax seed have been conducted on its anti-inflammatory properties84, its antilupus properties85, and its cardiovascular enhancing properties.86,87,88,89,90,91

    Just a quick note to mention that the omega 9 fatty acid, oleic acid, has been shown in research to lower heart attack risk and arteriosclerosis92, and aids in the prevention of breast cancer.93

    In addition to the two essential fatty acids, there are other fatty acids whose consumption may have benefits for human health. Both the essential and non-essential fatty acids can be obtained from dietary supplement sources including Evening Primrose oil, Borage oil, Flax seed oil and Fish oils (marine lipid concentrate). Each of these sources has their own potential advantages. Perhaps a combination of all of them may yield the broadest spectrum of both essential and nonessential fatty acids.


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  • There is probably nothing—and I mean nothing—like unrelenting stress to sabotage weight loss. Stress really does a number on your body. The sad thing is that stress, no matter where it comes from, will have the same detrimental biochemical effect—a spike in cortisol, your body's premier fat storage hormone. Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands as part of our "fight or flight" mechanism. While you may be aware of stress—whether it is physical, emotional, or psychological—you may be completely unaware of steadily accumulating "silent" stress caused by electropollution thanks to our smartphones, tablets, cordless phones, routers, smart meters and even baby monitors. All of these digital wonders emit biologically active, disruptive man-made radiation that surrounds us 24/7 in a sea of invisible energy—a major autonomic nervous system stressor that nobody is talking about.

    It turns out that our DNA is exquisitely sensitive to even the minutest amount of non-ionizing (non-heating) electromagnetic radiation from wireless technology. Our bodies respond to this type of radiation in a number of ways including the secretion of heat shock proteins—around 20 to be exact—with a corresponding elevation of cortisol.

    Out of control cortisol levels and non-stop stress can send your health into a downward spiral resulting in a series of negative consequences besides stockpiling on tummy fat. Practically every single disease known to man is due to unmanaged stress. Your brain can actually shrink; the happy hormone serotonin can take a nosedive, your bone density and strength can diminish, and mental illness can set in.

    The two hormones that are most impacted by various types of stress are the ultimate fat promoting cortisol and insulin. Remember, the stress hormones, more than any other hormones, will inhibit your ability to lose weight even if you are on the best diet and exercise program!


    This fat storage stress hormone is blocked by omega-3 rich oils:

    • Walnuts and walnut oil
    • Camelina (wild flax) oil
    • Fish and fish oil

    When cortisol—your main stress hormone—is behaving itself, it truly is your BFF hormone. It gives you that "get up and go" and provides you with just the right surge of energy in emergency situations whether you are emotionally upset or physically challenged or suffering from low blood sugar. But when you can no longer hit the pause or refresh button, and that cortisol surge won't quit, then you run the risk of some very unpleasant side effects—including weight gain.

    The human brain contains more than 60 percent fat. It also happens to need more omega-3 fatty acids than any other organ or system in the body. The EPA and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) fats are major players in regulating emotions, mood and warding off depression. These Smart Fats can help to reduce aggression and hostility in a number of clinical studies. They can help to fortify your system so you can mentally handle and cope with stress more efficiently to minimize the damage created by elevated levels of cortisol.

    According to the National Institute of Health, omega-3s help to balance stress hormone levels and provide direct weight loss benefits. They can be supplied by ALA-rich walnut and walnut oil, Camelina oil, as well as fatty fish and fish oil.

    Walnuts and walnut oil contain high levels of the omega-3 plant-based ALA, which have many added benefits besides their ability to regulate stress hormones. Camelina oil is also a rich source of ALA, but contains an amazingly high amount of stable monounsaturated fatty acids (omega-7s), as well as vitamin E, which makes it a very beneficial oil for medium-heat cooking. Due to its high antioxidant content, it's known as the "better" flax. Of course, an even more direct source of the omega-3 fatty acids is fatty fish like wild caught salmon, sardines, anchovies and mackerel.

    Walnuts, however, unlike fish or fish oils, are rich in trace minerals like zinc, selenium, calcium, copper, and manganese. Walnuts and walnut oil also pack a serious dose of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and vitamin E— all notably worthy vitamin stress relievers that soothe the nervous system. Walnuts are also one of the richest natural sources of melatonin—second only to tart cherries. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates your body's sleep-wake cycle. It ensures that you get the sleep you need for restorative rest that also prompts weight control.

    Omega-3 rich foods right before bed—like a couple of walnuts or walnut oil in a smoothie—will come in very handy when you consider that just one night of poor sleep can raise cortisol by 45 percent.

    As it turns out, sleep and cortisol are intimately entwined. Chronically high cortisol levels disturb sleep, and lack of sleep can make you fat.

    Sleep deprivation has reached epidemic proportions here in the US. Approximately 7 out of 10 Americans report sleep-related problems. Lab tests show that cortisol levels are much higher in sleep-deprived people. A landmark study in 2000 by the University of Chicago's Department of Medicine revealed that not only does sleep deprivation affect tiredness and immunity, but too little sleep impairs the way your body actually handles food, creating impaired glucose tolerance. This can result in insulin resistance and obesity.

    And it's not just cortisol and insulin that become out of whack without proper rest. A lack of quality sleep also impedes surges of growth hormone, resulting in increased fat tissue and reduced muscle mass—just what you don't need. Growth hormone is released while you sleep, raising gradually from about 10 PM and peaking at about 2 AM. It also prompts your body to burn fat in order to repair the tiny tears in your muscles caused by exercise. This gives you a higher muscle-to-fat ratio, which boosts your metabolism, helping you to lose weight and keep it off.

    In order to boost growth hormone, even more, eat a light cortisol-containing snack of walnuts or a smoothie with walnut oil or even an omega-3 deviled egg—providing your gallbladder can tolerate eggs—just before you retire.

    Cortisol is such a primary fat storage hormone because it activates enzymes to store fat when it comes into contact with any and all fat cells. Abdominal fat has four times the amount of cortisol receptors than any other fat cells and so is a telltale sign of cortisol imbalances that your body can't hide.

    High cortisol levels over a long period of time have huge consequences, such as chronically high blood pressure, memory changes, depression, insomnia, slow wound healing and diabesity (diabetes + obesity, a term coined by my buddy, the late, great Dr. Atkins).

    Elevated cortisol levels also depress thyroid function, interfere with progesterone (your body's natural anti-depressant), raise blood sugar and cause your body to break down muscle tissue to be used for energy—a big setback for weight loss since muscle is a natural calorie burner. The less lean muscle mass you have, the lower your metabolism and the easier you gain weight.

    In contrast, extremely low cortisol levels are associated with thinning skin, brittle bones and fibromyalgia—probably due to burned out adrenals. Maintaining balanced cortisol levels that are not too high and not too low is truly a lifetime balancing act and one I find my most challenging!

    Cortisol has a nasty habit of making you wake up in the middle of the night. Intermittent frequent awakenings—especially at 3 AM or 4 AM in the morning are often related to cortisol surges, which should be lower to allow you to sleep through the night. When melatonin levels naturally rise, cortisol should be lower. Taking melatonin before bed or drinking several ounces of diluted tart cherry juice may help neutralize excess cortisol and prevent it from keeping you up at night—when you need to be stacking ZZZs and snooze to lose.

    Repressed emotions can trigger over-eating and bingeing as many of us know. Also, this can impede our best weight loss efforts unless we can learn to cope with emotional issues. Impatience, discouragement, bitterness, frustration, and anger are often common triggers. Granted for many psychotherapy may a viable solution. For those that want to either augment this therapy or find a natural alternative, I would recommend the Bach Flower Remedies. They are a kind of energy medicine similar to homeopathy that offsets emotional turbulence that can be at the root of physical disorders. Developed in the 1930s by Dr. Edward Bach, an English immunologist, the most renowned formula, Rescue Remedy is a five-flower extract combo that is used to help alleviate trauma, whether emotional, physical or psychological.

    Women, in particular, benefit from the support of others in being able to handle all aspects of life including stress. A landmark study from UCLA proves something that many of us have already suspected: a unique bond forms between women. A circle of friends makes life brighter and the tough times easier.

    The researchers at UCLA demonstrated that women that were under stress produced brain chemicals that opened them up to making and maintaining friendships with other women.

    It was generally assumed that when a person experiences stress, the hormonal release creates the typical "fight or flight" response. Women have a very distinct response to stress, as opposed to men. In women, the hormone oxycotin is released which acts as a buffer to cortisol and encourages females to gather with their girlfriends. Men do not have this response because of the high amounts of testosterone they produce. So, when men are stressed they tend to go off by themselves, and when women are stressed they gather others around them.


    Here are some smart tips to balance cortisol levels and tame the stress hormone monster so it can't scare away your best weight loss efforts:

    1. Eat walnuts and enjoy walnut oil. This omega-rich nut can be popped into salads and side dishes. The oil—when roasted—is absolutely delicious (one of the tastiest oils I have ever used) and packs serious health benefits. Roasted walnut oil will lift an ordinary salad to the sublime with a basic mix of Romaine lettuce, chopped green onion, cilantro, celery and Celtic sea salt. Serve one tablespoon of roasted walnut oil per salad.
    2. Count on Camelina! Camelina is also an excellent oil for those with heart issues—because of its high vitamin E content, it works wonders for blood clots! It's a tasty salad dressing and can be used in medium-heat sauteing.
    3. Eat fatty fish and take fish oil supplements. Try to consume some wild caught fish at least twice per week and also supplement with fish oil on a daily basis to help manage stress better. Just make sure that the fish oil you buy is molecularly distilled and free of heavy metals. Do be aware, however, that fish oil is a natural blood thinner so caution should be taken if you are also taking blood-thinning meds. Choose the newer orange and lemon flavored fish oil liquids or softgels, which seem to be better tolerated.
    4. Shake MORE salt. Yes, you heard that right. Most of us are sodium deficient and the right type of salt (I like Celtic sea salt) can support adrenal function and help your body better cope with stress. It may then indirectly balance elevated or depleted cortisol levels. I would recommend at least 1/4 teaspoon in warm water first thing in the morning. Gargle with this and then swallow, as the salt is anti-bacterial to your mucous membranes.
      For an extra boost, try my Adrenal Cocktail. I have used this for years for my overstressed and overworked clients. It's best taken mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon. Mix four ounces fresh squeezed orange juice, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt. Take a blood test to actually measure your serum sodium so you can better take care of your body's sodium needs. Without sodium, muscles become stiff and hardened. Sodium relaxes soft tissue and is incredibly important when you are under stress.
    5. Lights out! Let's talk sleep—a key underlying cause for stress fat. Do try to be in bed by 10 PM when your cortisol levels diminish to their lowest levels (three hours after sunset), and to give muscle-building growth hormone a fighting chance to properly release. Ideally, your body will start to lower cortisol between midnight and 4 AM. If this important cycle is interrupted at all, you can kiss the prospect of ever melting that belly fat goodbye!
    6. So, by all means, shut off lights and start to dim them after dark to prepare your body for sound sleep and melatonin activation. Unplug all electronics and keep digital gadgets out of the bedroom to reduce invisible EMF stress. Disable wireless routers before bed and put your cell phone on airplane mode. Aim for seven to nine hours of peaceful, restorative rest.
    7. Eschew the blue—at night that is. On the light spectrum, blue light is great for helping you stay alert. One reason: studies show it suppresses melatonin production. As you get ready for sleep, it becomes increasingly important to filter out blue light to keep melatonin production at its peak. That's why dimming lights before bed may be so helpful to protect melatonin so it can do its job. And, that also means that you should avoid the blue light emitted from computer screens, iPads and your smartphone at night—especially in the hour or two before bedtime.
    8. Go barefoot. Going barefoot on your lawn or on the beach for at least 15 minutes a day can help your body get grounded. When you are grounded you discharge chaotic electromagnetic energies and absorb healing electrons from the earth through the body. These healing electrons can start to repair stress damage from elevated cortisol and curtail inflammation and pain by quelling free radicals.
    9. Curb the caffeine. Caffeine is an underestimated cortisol spiker that gives you instant energy in the short term but will come back to haunt you later. It also makes you lose key minerals like calming magnesium and calcium due to its dehydrating effects. It is a known blood sugar disruptor and contributes to anxiety and sleepless nights. While a tablespoon of high MCT oil like coconut can help regulate coffee's blood sugar peaks and valleys, it is even better to opt for a decaffeinated green tea or dandelion root tea, both of which will help give you energy without the crash and fall effect. If you MUST drink your Morning Joe, however, along with that coconut oil, you can spike your coffee with vanilla whey protein powder for a dose of Smart Fats and healthy protein to prevent cortisol spikes.
    10. Axe the alcohol. It can raise cortisol and dial down metabolism by greater than 70 percent. You may hate me for this, but alcohol (yup, even wine) makes it difficult for your liver to keep up with its other metabolic duties so it's not able to balance the rest of your hormones properly.
    11. Walk, don't run AWAY stress. If you are a fitness buff, then you know that intensity, not duration, is the current exercise hot button. Yet, any type of daily movement with deep breathing is a terrific combo to beat stress. Think yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi. But, DO give up that long-distance running. It elevates cortisol—as will any continuous exercise over a two-hour stretch. Burst running is a different story though, so mix it up. As far as I am concerned, I prefer brisk walking or jumping on my mini-trampoline to get my lymph flowing and thoughts in order. At least 20 minutes a day—and 40 minutes is even better—of consistent movement and frequent breaks from sitting at the computer are in order here. Exercise can help you cope with stress more effectively while you rev your metabolism, increase lean muscle mass, burn off belly fat, improve bone mineral density and reduce insulin resistance. You can't afford NOT to move.
    12. Take supplements to relieve tension. In this regard, the very best dietary supplement of all, which controls over 350 bodily processes, is magnesium. It literally acts like a tranquilizer in a bottle. You can take an Epsom Salt Bath (two cups to a tubful of water) to relax your muscles, or consider an easily absorbable magnesium supplement. I am especially a fan of magnesium formulas, which contain a mix of the best co-factors for absorption like the glycinate, malate, taurinate and orotate forms that target blood sugar, muscles, cardiovascular health and ATP energy. I am also a fan of adrenal tissue glandulars and pair this with the highest quality Rhodiola (an adaptogenic herb from Siberia), ideally taken at 7 AM, 11 AM and 3 PM —the times when blood sugar can be at a low ebb, creating physiological stress.

    Some of my clients also swear by phosphorylated serine—taken at least four hours before bed—to dampen cortisol surges that disturb peaceful sleep.