Natural Highs: How To Use Diet And Exercise To Achieve An Endorphin Rush

Many people who vigorously exercise on a regular basis know about that feeling after their workout. The one where you feel as if you’ve just conquered the world. The most commonly used phrase to describe the sensation was coined by avid runners and is known as the “runner’s high.”

While many people are not quite sure why this sensation happens, as it turns out, that overall feeling of euphoria after a satisfying exercise session comes down to biological science. It is caused by neurochemicals known as endorphins, which are made primarily in the hypothalamus and pituitary glands of the brain. The pituitary gland is a vital component to brain health because it influences all other parts of the body. But what exactly are endorphins? And how do they affect you?

We’ll examine this below, as well as delving into how to use diet and exercise to achieve an endorphin rush and feel like you’re on top of the world.

What are endorphins?

As mentioned above, endorphins are neurochemicals. More specifically, they are a large group of peptides that act on the opiate receptors in the brains. Opiate receptors are designed to act as a switch in the brain that triggers reward systems as well as addictive behaviors. When endorphins are released within the brain and stimulate the opiate receptors, it leads to feelings of pleasure, wellbeing, and even a reduction in pain.

The most common time endorphins are released into the body naturally is in stressful situations or if you are experiencing pain. The body naturally releases these endorphins to help cope with the experiences, with the aim being to combat the negative outcomes that accompany high levels of stress or pain by maximizing pleasure.

It’s not only stress or pain that can lead to the release of these neurochemicals, though. Other activities such as eating, sex, and exercise can all play a role in endorphin release. Because of the body’s ability to create endorphins during those times, it is said that their release can help modulate appetite, trigger the release of sex hormones, and increase the efficacy of the immune response.

woman wild swimming in natural waters
Image by Seth Doyle on Unsplash: Being in nature helps to produce endorphins.

What are the benefits of endorphins?

Aside from being able to help you deal with painful injuries or stressful situations, endorphins have been shown to promote overall wellness, especially when it comes to mental health. Studies have shown that participating in activities that boost endorphins can lead to the reduction of symptoms in those with depression and anxiety. Endorphins can also help to boost self-esteem because they lead can lead to a more positive and optimistic demeanor.

Other studies have shown that an endorphins have a role in weight gain or loss. This is because of their appetite regulation abilities. It’s also possible to be deficient in endorphins, leading to a range of potential symptoms, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Moodiness
  • Aches and pains
  • Addiction
  • Trouble with sleep
  • Poor impulse control

Does exercise increase endorphins?

Any type of physical movement will cause the body to produce endorphins. This is because exercise stimulates the body’s stress response. When you increase your heart rate or start to move your body in an active way, the body can see this as a sign of stress and begin to release stress hormones. When that stress hormone activation occurs, your brain counteracts it by releasing endorphins. This counteraction is why people can feel euphoric or a general sense of happiness after a good exercise session.

What activities increase endorphins?

You don’t have to wait for a stressful situation or injury to occur to take advantage of the happy chemicals in your brain! There are many activities you can partake in that will lead to a rush of endorphins. Running is perhaps the most common activity when it comes to endorphin release, but any type of exercise will do the job. Workouts with a higher intensity are more likely to give a rush, because they put more stress on the body and thus elicit a higher response to combat that stress. Wild swimming, for example, is another physical activity that sends stress signals throughout the body that will induce endorphin production and release.

Aside from exercise, some activities that will drive the release of endorphins include:

spicy red chilli
Image by Aliona Gumeniuk on Unsplash: Eating spicy food can help to trigger endorphin release in the body, research says.

What foods help release endorphins?

Since appetite regulation is an important part of food consumption and endorphins play a role in appetite, it’s no surprise that eating and endorphin release are connected. Eating good foods have been shown to trigger the release of the feel-good chemical that leads to those satisfied feelings of fullness and happiness after eating something you truly enjoy.

So which types of foods can trigger the release? Well, some are better than others. The best foods to eat if you want to give yourself an endorphin rush include:

Although these foods have been studied and shown to help boost overall feelings of happiness, simply eating your favorite food can also do the trick.

The endorphin rush is a natural high that everyone can benefit from – it’s great for the body, the mind, and overall levels of health.

Featured image by Anthony Fomin on Unsplash

4 Easy Steps To A Simple Winter Detox

As the body’s largest organ, the liver has a pretty big job to do. Along with over 500 other different functions, it provides the body with the much-needed exit door for toxins. It does this by filtering out all the blood that comes through the digestive tract and sorting through different nutrients, toxins, and hormones.

Since the liver is a detoxifier all on its own, it can be hard to imagine how you can help the process out. But some detox programs can actually give the liver a little boost when it comes to getting its job done properly. During winter, a specific type of detox may be especially important because the what the body needs during those cold months of the year is different than in other seasons. So, what is a winter detox, exactly, and how can you do it for optimal health? Read on for our easy steps to a simple winter detox.

What is a winter detox?

In the simplest terms, a winter detox is just a detoxification program that occurs in the winter season. There’s much more to it than just doing your simple juicing and cleansing, though. A detox is designed to reset and rejuvenate the body to help battle fatigue and other unhelpful symptoms that happen when the body is weighed down by too many toxins.

When it comes to winter detoxification, the idea is to focus on eating better, moving more (even though it can be hard to get outside exercise), and balancing your body and mind. A winter detox should include foods that have warming properties to ensure that the optimal metabolic state is reached. It’s important to keep warm in the winter for overall health because when the internal temperature is stable, the body is more likely to be able to fight off viruses and infections.   

Vital RX - winter soup
Image by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash: How can I detox my body at home naturally? Start with your diet.

What are the benefits of a detox diet for winter?

When the seasons change, the body undergoes some changes, too. This is because it has to prepare itself to adapt for the colder temperatures. Processes like metabolism, hormone levels, and circulation all need to adjust when colder temperatures roll in. Lifestyle changes such as more indoor time and the consumption of heavier comfort foods can also lead to changes in the body. With all these different changes come all-new toxins for your body, some of which it might not be used to.

The biggest benefit of doing a winter detox is to help your body adjust to those changes. Since there will be new toxins to eliminate, the body will need to be ready and able to get rid of them so that any side effects from being over-toxified don’t set in. Think of it as a fresh start for your liver.

How can I detox my body in winter safely?

If you want to do a detox, it might be tempting to look up a quick three-day program so you can get it over with. However, the safest way to detox the liver is by taking your time. This is because toxins need ample time to be released from the body or they may end up sticking around and triggering an inflammatory response. This can lead to flu-like symptoms (and the feeling that you’re hurting your body more than helping).

You don’t want to end up overloading your detox pathways so that nothing can get out, so you’ll also want to pay close attention to what you’re putting into your body during a detox. If you’re trying to eliminate toxins but continue to consume others, it’s a losing game. You have to be tuned into your body and really listen to it. If something doesn’t feel right, chances are you should slow the detox program down.

How do you do a simple detox?

Here are our four key steps to a simple winter detox.

1. Start with your diet

Eating a proper diet is vital to a winter detox. You’ll want to eat warming foods designed to help keep the body’s temperature where it needs to be during long bouts of cold weather. Start by eliminating sugars, processed foods, and caffeine from the diet, and eating winter detox foods such as healthy soups, walnuts, fruits like blueberries and cranberries, Brussels sprouts, and salmon.

2. Practice mindful relaxation

Mental or emotional health is just as important as physical health during a detox. When stress is at an all-time high, the body can have a more difficult time removing toxins, as the overabundance of stress hormones slows the detoxification process.Taking a long mineral bath or doing an online yoga class from the warmth and comfort of your own home can go a long way toward reaching a nice and relaxed state.

Vital RX - winter
Image by Clint Patterson on Unsplash: A winter detox can be as simple as just a few lifestyle changes.

3. Stay warm

Feeling sluggish in the winter happens to everyone. Less vitamin D, coupled with the fact that circulation suffers in cold temperatures by trying to preserve warmth for the internal organs, can lead to winter tiredness. Stay cozy with warm socks, blankets, sweaters, or heating options when you’re in your home.

4. Supplement where necessary

Even if your diet is ideal and your winter detox is going smoothly, supplementation can help make sure that your body is getting what it needs while it’s hard at work getting rid of what it doesn’t. Riboflavin is a great supplement to take because of its immune supporting benefits, and milk thistle, dandelion root, and turmeric can all help the liver get the toxins out.

Doing a winter liver detox can help you rid the body of the toxins that build up over the course of the colder months, and keep you healthy throughout a season where many people are more susceptible to illness.

Featured image by Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho on Unsplash

What Is The Goal Of Lifestyle Medicine?

Health is the most important thing a person can have, but in today’s convenience-based world, it can also be one of the easiest things to take for granted. Modern society has the majority of the American population moving less due to sedentary work, eating more processed foods that lead to inflammation and chronic disease, and dealing with unprecedented levels of stress and mental health issues.

Traditional forms of medicine tackle these issues with treatments after the fact. Traditional medicine treats rather than prevents, and often hopes for the best in cases of serious illness. But lifestyle medicine is a different form of health care altogether, and its big goal is to prevent health problems entirely before they come to fruition.

What is lifestyle medicine?

Lifestyle medicine is a form of health care that operates under the umbrella of a few different processes. The first part of lifestyle medicine revolves around diet. The diet of the typical American citizen is full of processed foods that offer little to no nutritional value, and often contains high levels of sugar, carbs, and salt. Lifestyle medicine aims to change this into a wholefood, plant-predominant diet so that the body is being fueled with nothing but what it needs.

Lifestyle medicine also has a heavy focus on regular exercise routines that ensure people are moving as much as they should be. Another big focus area is sleep and stress. Since busy schedules and high-stress lives are commonplace for Americans, lifestyle medicine encourages stress management and restorative sleep as a key component in the way people take care of themselves.

Finally, lifestyle medicine also aims to have people establish positive social connections within their community while avoiding harmful substances.

How does lifestyle medicine differ from traditional medicine?

As mentioned, traditional medicine does not usually take a proactive approach to one’s health. Certain measures that could be considered traditional do act as preventative measures, such as cancer screenings and the encouragement of healthy lifestyle, but they tend to fall on the second tier of health care.

Lifestyle medicine is the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Its entire goal is to create a healthy population not through advancement of medications or other technologies that can help treat disease, but through the elimination, reversal, or prevention of disease altogether. Since many chronic diseases can be prevented, lifestyle medicine aims to arm the population with the knowledge they need to avoid getting sick in the first place.

Vital RX - nutritious food
Image by EllaOlsson on Unsplash: Eating healthily is one of the six pillars of lifestyle medicine.

What are the pillars of lifestyle medicine?

There are 6 pillars of lifestyle medicine, all of which play a specific role in the prevention of disease and in the attempt to sustain healthy living well into old age. They are:

1. Healthy eating

By choosing a diet that is full of nutrients the body needs to function at its best, a person can avoid certain health conditions that can be brought on by nutritional imbalances.

2. Increased physical activity

Many jobs and lifestyles involve people sitting at their desk or on the couch for long hours. This level of sedentary living is not healthy for any individual. If a person is not exercising adequately, it can lead to many health issues.

3. Strategies to manage stress

Stress can put a huge burden on bodily processes and lead to a wide variety of different health conditions, such as cognitive disfunction and psychiatric disorders. Stress management is a key part of lifestyle medicine because dealing with stress properly can help lower the risk for these conditions.

4. Improvement of sleep

The brain needs to sleep to help the brain process the events of the day and the body repair itself. When a person doesn’t get adequate sleep, it can lead to a decline in overall levels of wellness, including cardiovascular health and immune function. Lifestyle medicine aims to improve sleep to avoid these complications.

5. Avoidance of risky substances

As much as lifestyle medicine is about giving your body what it needs, it is also about avoiding what it doesn’t need. Things such as alcohol and drug use should be avoided to help prevent disease in the future.  

6. Formation of good relationships

People need others to help them get through life, and research has shown that healthy relationships have a direct impact on overall levels of wellness.

When used in conjunction with one another, these six pillars of lifestyle medicine can lead to optimal health and a lowered risk for developing chronic health issues in the future.

Vital RX - mental health
Image by Keegan Houser on Unsplash: Stress management is another pillar of lifestyle medicine that can go a long way when it comes to warding off chronic disease.

What is a lifestyle medicine doctor?

Any medically licensed doctor can practice lifestyle medicine, but that doesn’t mean all of them are properly equipped to do so. A true lifestyle medicine doctor is well versed in the areas of health coaching and nutrition, and takes the time to understand a patient’s personal situation in order to address all the things that may be contributing to the onset of chronic disease.

Studies suggest that five out of the seven major causes of death in the United States can be attributed to lifestyle-related diseases. Lifestyle medicine doctors are there to help lower those statistics through the use of different techniques and coaching practices, as well as collaboration with other health care professionals and their patients.

What are the benefits of lifestyle medicine?

Lifestyle medicine holds many benefits, the most obvious being a better level of overall and optimal health. Taking care of oneself using the six pillars of lifestyle medicine can lead to an increased lifespan and a better quality of life.

Featured image by Simon Maage on Unsplash

How To Avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) This Winter

As the seasons change, different types of health conditions become more prevalent. In spring, many people suffer from heightened allergies, while in summer, those with asthma may experience worsened symptoms, and winter poses a bigger threat for the spread of the flu.

The beginning of fall is generally the prime time for Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD, to come into effect. But what exactly is SAD? And is there anything you can do to combat symptoms if you suffer from the condition?

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mental health issue that appears when the colder weather begins to roll around. It is not considered to be its own entity, but rather a form of depression that occurs seasonally, at the same time every year. In cases of SAD, depression symptoms tend to go into remission during other seasons of the year and return again like clockwork when autumn begins.

SAD leads to mood changes that generally have a person feeling down for an extended period of time. It can sometimes affect people in the spring or summer, but mostly occurs in the fall and winter months. This has led to the disorder being referred to as winter depression, or the “winter blues”.

General feelings of sadness can occur naturally when the cold weather starts to hit and the year winds down. Such feelings are not generally considered a case of SAD, but when mood changes begin to affect daily activities in a negative way, it’s more likely to be considered Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is generally recurrent in individuals who suffer from the condition; it doesn’t just happen over the course of one seasonal change, but rather every year around the same time.

Vital RX - SAD
Image by freestocks on Unsplash: Less daylight is one of the main reasons researchers believe people develop SAD.

How does SAD affect you?

Since SAD is a type of major depression that only occurs for four or five months out of the year, the symptoms tend to present the same as they would in someone with year-round depression. Those who suffer from depression at all points of the year tend to experience symptoms that may or may not appear in those with SAD.

The typical symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of extreme sadness and hopelessness, and depressive thoughts
  • Losing interest in hobbies or other activities that you used to enjoy
  • Appetite changes and weight fluctuations
  • Sleep interruptions
  • Feeling short-tempered or sluggish
  • Depleted energy levels
  • Cognitive difficulties such as problems with focus and concentration
  • In serious cases, thoughts of suicide or death

For those with SAD, other symptoms may take hold. They also differ depending on the time of the year SAD sets in and vary on a person-by-person basis. Typical symptoms that occur in people suffering from winter SAD include:

  • Hypersomnia or oversleeping
  • Overeating with a high focus on carbohydrates 
  • Weight gain caused by overeating
  • Feelings of wanting to hibernate and withdraw socially

The symptoms of summer-induced SAD are different than those experienced in the winter months. They include:

  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss and decreased or poor appetite
  • Restlessness and agitation, which may lead to violent behavior
  • Increased levels of anxiety

To get a diagnosis, one must describe their symptoms and the pattern of their symptoms to a mental health professional to determine if SAD is the cause behind their mood changes.

How long does SAD last and who does it usually affect?

Depending on the person, SAD generally lasts anywhere from four to five months. Once the seasons begin to change again, symptoms tend to dissipate. Some research suggests that SAD is caused by changes in the amount of daylight one gets. In winter-onset SAD, the lack of sunlight contributes, while in the less common summer-onset SAD, the culprit is the presence of too much sunlight.

Young women with a family history of depression are generally most at risk for the illness, as well as those who live far away from the equator. The risk for developing SAD tends to decrease as people get older.

Vital RX - seasonal depression
Image by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash: Many people with winter-onset SAD socially withdraw, like a form of hibernation.

How do you fight SAD?

Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder can be tough, but there are ways to cope with the mood changes and symptoms that come along with seasonal depression. One of the best ways to combat SAD is through the use of light therapy. This therapy is performed using a bright light that is meant to mimic the natural light of the morning hours. If used in within the first hour of waking for at least 40 minutes, light therapy can be shown to improve mood by changing levels of brain chemicals.

Other forms of treatment include antidepressant medications or psychotherapy sessions to help improve symptoms. Some natural forms of treatment include mind-body connection activities such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, and music and art therapy.

Seasonal Affective Disorder affects around 4–6% of people seriously, while a mild form of the illness can affect up to 20% of Americans every year. The people affected are generally located throughout the northern part of the country, where weather changes are more prevalent. Although the symptoms of SAD can sometimes be debilitating, knowing the right ways to combat them can mean all the difference when it comes to coping with a recurring case of the winter blues.

Featured image by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Peptide Therapy: What Is It & Is It Safe?

Modern medicine has come a long way in treating chronic conditions and sporadic illnesses. When chronic illnesses first began being documented, they were looked at as nothing more than supernatural intervention. But as modernized medicine continued to develop, this old way of looking at death and disease grew less common, and effective treatments were formed.

One effective treatment for a variety of ailments includes insulin, the very first synthetic peptide used in the treatment of diabetes. Since the discovery of insulin and its medical uses, more peptides have been discovered throughout the brain, heart, and other tissues. So what is peptide therapy, exactly? And is peptide therapy safe?

Vital RX - joint pain
Image by Anna Auza on Unsplash: Peptide therapy can be used to help manage joint pain.

What is peptide therapy?

Peptides are a short-chain of amino acids used for many bodily processes. They are considered to be proteins and are in charge of signaling throughout the body by attaching to receptors on cells, effectively initiating changes and processes while controlling how certain cells react to certain stimuli.

Since peptides are naturally occurring in the thousands, peptide therapy is a form of medicine that has managed to help treat diseases. When using specific peptides, studies have found that the therapeutic medication can target the necessary receptors in an attempt to heal ailments. Some peptides are isolated from natural sources, while others are synthetic.

What is peptide therapy used for?

The first use of peptide therapy helped people with diabetes manage insulin levels, but particular advancements in different forms of treatment has garnered attention for abilities to treat a wide variety of different maladies.

People often use peptide therapy to help combat and manage:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • HIV
  • Certain forms of cancer
  • Heart failure
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Hereditary angioedema (severe swelling)
  • Chronic pain
  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (immune disorder causing abnormal blood clotting)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Wound healing
  • Prevention of bone loss

Other forms of wellness peptide therapy include anti-aging, weight loss, muscle building, insomnia or other sleep disorders, and increased sexual function. As of 2018, there were over 150 peptide-focused medications in development, with 60 already available on the market.

What do peptides do to your body?

The naturally occurring peptides that have a direct effect on how cells work throughout the body are called biopeptides. They are vital components in the structural integrity of tissues and organs, bones and muscle, hormones, antibiotics, and enzymes. The synthetic forms of peptides are also used in courses of treatment, and each specific peptide will do something different for the body. These can be classified into different groups with different medicinal properties.

Groups of peptides include antibiotic peptides, which are used to help ward off infection and act as a first line of defense, whereas cardiovascular peptides contribute to overall heart health. Other groups of peptides include:

  • Bacterial
  • Brain
  • Cancer and anticancer
  • Endocrine
  • Fungal
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Invertebrate
  • Opiate
  • Plant
  • Renal
  • Respiratory
  • Vaccine
  • Venom

Although all peptides have a similar structure and function, they are able to assist in the treatment of various diseases because of the sheer amount of them and their classifications. They range from having 2 to 50 amino acids, and where they fall on that spectrum will also differentiate the level and type of treatment they can be used for.

Is peptide therapy effective?

In terms of the very first peptide, insulin injections, there is plenty of evidence to support that peptide therapy does have a positive effect on patients who suffer from diabetes. Insulin is a biopeptide that the body uses to help manage glucose levels in the blood, and is lacked by those who suffer from insulin resistance or diabetes. Thus the insulin injection was born to help combat those ailments, and is still a widely regarded treatment today.

When it comes to other peptide therapies, such as those used in patients with cardiovascular disease, studies have shown that they could be effective in treating heart disease and damage. More research is needed on the subject to confirm the efficacy of peptides for specific heart-related diseases.

Collagen is another peptide that has been used for the treatment of many things, both health-related and in the beauty industry. It has been advertised as an anti-aging marvel and a helpful assistant in maintaining joint health, and even has antioxidant properties that could help reverse oxidative stress.

Vital RX - diabetes
Image by Matt Chesin on Unsplash: Insulin injections are a form of peptide therapy used to help people manage type 2 diabetes.

The future of peptide therapy in medicine

Scientific innovation in the medical space continues to benefit from technological advancements and new discoveries. Peptides, and the continued research around them, have given medical professionals a clearer picture of how they can be used, what their role is in treatment of disease, and where they should continue to go in terms of research.

Early-stage clinical trials for many peptides are ongoing. New peptides are being explored for both assisted reproduction and weight loss, as well as other ailments that could benefit from peptide-induced cell modulation.

Peptide-enriched subscription boxes

Vital RX has launched a series of health subscription boxes that include peptides to help maintain health throughout the year.

The Weight Loss Box includes an AOD-9604 peptide that helps the body release fat from cells and manage appetite, and aids in the prevention of accumulating unhealthy levels of fat throughout the body. It also includes Ibutamoren Mesylate (MK-677), a peptide that encourages healthy levels of bone density and muscle mass, as well as improved sleep quality.

The Detox Box has a super-peptide known as BPC-157 that contributes to overall health. The Immune Box includes CDJ and Thymosin Alpha, known to help improve immune function.

For more information on Vital RX’s subscription boxes and the peptides that go into them, check out all subscription boxes here.

Featured image by Emma Simpson on Unsplash