Cells, strokes & stress

We used to be worlds apart……medical science and hypnotherapy. 

The placebo effect while well documented was unexplainable…..How could just believing something would work actually affect a physiological change. And not just for the little stuff either, the placebo effect has been seen in cancer remission, fertility, heart and lung disease recovery rates to name but a few.
Research in this area is now managing to bring our worlds a lot closer. Changing how you think affects the cellular environment, which affects the development of genetic markers in your DNA.

So research published this week has shown that when Mum and Dad got together and created a little single celled you, not only did you get a unique blend of their DNA you also got a map of instructions overlaid onto that DNA that manipulates how much those genes get to affect you. They can be silenced or boosted but most importantly the map is termed 'epigenetic.' Which means that ultimately environment is the deciding factor in how those cells develop. 

So……no longer single celled obviously, that epigenetic map is inside of every single cell in your body, all the new ones being created daily to replace the worn out ones and all with the ability to develop a little differently to whats gone before as the environment in which they flourish is changed by you.

So with that bit of background what's to be done.

Well in another paper an 11 year multiethnic study has too been published this week. It has studied the effects of negative emotions, particularly stress on the incidence of strokes and cardiovascular disease in a sample of 6700 people. 

Higher levels of stress, hostility and depressive symptoms are associated with significantly increased risk of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) in middle-age and older adults, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

A TIA is a stroke caused by a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain.

Researchers measured chronic stress in five domains: personal health problems, health problems of others close to the participant, job or ability to work, relationships and finances.

In follow-up for an additional 8.5 to 11 years, 147 strokes and 48 TIAs occurred.
Compared to people with the lowest psychological scores, those with highest scores were

• 86 percent more likely to have a stroke or TIA for high depressive symptoms.
• 59 percent more likely to have a stroke or TIA for the highest chronic stress scores.
• More than twice as likely to have a stroke or TIA for the highest hostility scores.
• No significant increased risk was linked to anger.

"There's such a focus on traditional risk factors - cholesterol levels, blood pressure, smoking and so forth - and those are all very important, but studies like this one show that psychological characteristics are equally important," said Susan Everson-Rose, Ph.D., M.P.H., study lead author and associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

These associations noted in the study were significant even when researchers accounted for age, race, sex, health behaviors and other known risk factors of stroke.
APA American Heart Association. (2014, July 15). "Increased stroke risk linked to high stress, hostility, depression." Medical News Today. Retrieved from

The FAST recognise stroke picture

Just maybe you can act even faster and change your psychological environment now.


Hypnotherapy | Overweight & overwhelmed

As a specialist in weight management hypnotherapy I see lots of people wanting to change their shape and size. So we sit and talk awhile. 

Now I'm no kind of dietician or personal fitness instructor so what I bring to the table is an understanding of a persons own emotional and psychological issues surrounding food and eating and feelings and so on……….which in a hypnosis setting really means that what I bring to the table is a way for you to understand your own feelings and behaviour. Seriously I don't know why you do the things that you do, but you do……and no amount of words can help you explain to me the complexity that is the you inside.

And the fact is that even just thinking about why you do the stuff you do and trying to be logical about it is pretty much impossible. Overeating or undereating doesn't make sense to your conscious mind. Nobody sets out with a plan to feel uncomfortable, ashamed, guilty or ill, or unconfident or misunderstood, to feel unsexy or in pain or stressed and depressed or under pressure from society to be different and conform or any of a myriad of other negative emotions that clients have expressed.

As an aside I do not under any circumstances believe that being overweight for example should make anyone feel like this, but if you are coming to see me then its not because you are truly happy about how you feel.

And so at some point the grand old daddy of all phrases makes its appearance 'Emotional Eater'

To which nearly everyone will say "Naah not me, I don't think so, I just enjoy eating the stuff I do, I get a craving….I'm just always hungry, I've always been a big eater. Honestly I've got a pretty good life, nothing to get sad or mad about. I don't use food at all to mask or soothe my emotions." Or something along those lines.
Terming something 'emotional eating' doesn't mean you're cuckoo or not able to cope with things…..not in the slightest

Heres a little Emotional Overeating Fact Box……does anything tick with you?

1. Emotional eating is often thought to be caused by an inability to distinguish physical hunger from unpleasant emotional states.
2. There are a number of recognised differences between emotional and physical hunger. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly rather than  gradually, is experienced as an inescapable craving rather than a hunger pang in the stomach, and feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly. It causes cravings of foods high in fat and sugar and is not satisfied once the person is full, leading to overeating to the point of discomfort. 
3.  Emotional eating triggers feelings of guilt and shame which do not normally follow eating to satisfy physical hunger.
4.  Emotional overeating is a way of coping with or silencing a range of negative emotions. However, the feelings of guilt and shame which follow an episode of emotional overeating usually leave the person feeling worse rather than better.
5.  As overeating can cause weight gain, over time emotional overeating can lead to further difficulties such as greater dissatisfaction with body image and diminished self-esteem. Recent research suggests around 45% of people who are obese use food as a means of managing their emotions. (Buckroyd, J. & Rother, S. (2008) 'Psychological Group Treatment for Obese Women' in Buckroyd J. & Rother S. (Eds) Psychological Responses to Eating Disorders and Obesity: Recent and Innovative Work, Chichester, Wiley & Sons, 103-119.)

You have learned to do the stuff you do and continue to do it because at some point it has achieved the desired results. Feeding someone, treating them with little sweet titbits is love. Physiologically we desire high calorie foods, evolution wise eating high calories was a successful survival strategy and thats why that stuff tastes good, the way we're built means that anything promoting survival of the individual or the species is a pleasant thing to do. We know food like chocolate affects the brain chemicals in a completely different way to sprouts.

a meme describing you are what you eat

So when you feel like you are struggling with weighty issues, and the whys and the how to stop it are proving elusive perhaps a talking therapy can improve your success most importantly in the long term.

Stress in all its shapes and forms whilst sometimes appropriate can have a major physical and mental health impact. Being overweight is stress on top of stress and has a direct influence on slowing down digestion and therefore the ability to lose weight.

When it feels like you are fighting a losing battle and every day you have to summon the motivation to continually deny yourself the stuff you really want. Or you yoyo yearly strugglingly determined to reach a target weight then temporarily feeling euphoric before slowly gaining back each valiantly lost pound. And as the old habits reemerge to take you down deeper than before it is horribly stressful.

A study published 2 days ago concludes that: 

Stress can be dramatically reduced from just 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation
Stress reduction from just 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation - Medical News Today

Mindfulness is one of the elements of my approach to weight management. Simple, Elegant & Successful