No more worrying about finding time to go to the gym or even finding 30 minutes in your hectic day. With his approach, you’ll sweat, you’ll get excited, and you’ll be amazed at the results you’ll see with just 20 minutes a day. That’s the same time it takes to read one chapter of your favorite book.
HIIT:High-Intensity Interval Training workouts are shorter, more challenging, and unleash a host of fat burning hormonal changes from the inside out that allows you to cut your training time in half.
Zero to 60: By combining HIIT workouts with Functional Training (FT) and Cardio-Strength Training (CST) exercises, your body can safely progress from zero to 60 without injury or too much muscle soreness which are two of the main reasons why people quit training.
The “Afterburn” Effect: The more you push your nervous system in short, timed intervals, the more energy or calories your body has to burn to come back to a normal state of equilibrium and rest. The scientific principle behind this concept is called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), which creates an Afterburn effect where your body and metabolism are literally burning more calories for hours after a workout to return to a state of rest.
Go Lean, Go Green, Go Clean: Proper nutrition that you actually enjoy and will cook, is more than half the challenge when getting in-shape. The program includes delicious 20 minute recipes and healthy nutrition tips that will help you go lean, green and clean.
No Gym Necessary:With either your own bodyweight or minimal equipment, you can do the workouts at home or on the road…no gym, no excuses.
Five Moves To Fit: Each workout has an average of five Big-Bang exercises, which use multiple muscles and burn the most amount of calories. These exercises are divided into Strength, Cardio or Core and Brett has also added a little Brazilian flare by adding some moves from the Brazilian martial art/dance capoeira. The moves are easy to learn, fun and sequenced in a specific order to optimize fat loss.
Have you ever woken up in the morning feeling completely exhausted even after a full night’s sleep? More often than not, this isn’t because you need more sleep. It’s because you aren’t getting enough deep sleep. But what counts as deep sleep and how much should you get each night?
While you’re sleeping, you cycle through several different stages of sleep. One of these stages is deep sleep. Some scientists also call it slow-wave sleep, or non-REM stage 3 sleep.
The thing is, very few people get enough deep sleep. Technology, modern-day stresses, caffeine, and unhealthy eating patterns all decrease the amount of deep sleep you get and can result in chronic sleep deprivation.
Many wearable devices now track your sleep patterns, showing the amount and type of your sleep. While not fully reliable they can help indicate if you’re reaching the optimal level of 1.5 to 2 hours of deep sleep each night.
Getting enough deep sleep can make a huge difference in your life. Here are 7 of the most important benefits of deep sleep, followed by ways you can improve your chances of more restful sleep.
All stages of sleep are essential for a properly functioning immune system. When you are sleep deprived, your immune system is weakened (1, 2). This makes you much more likely to get sick.
Scientists are still trying to figure out what each stage of sleep accomplishes for the immune system. So far, they have discovered that deep sleep plays an important role in the formation of immunological memory (3).
In other words, deep sleep helps your immune system develop a “memory” for bacteria and viruses you have been exposed to, which can help ensure you don’t get sick from the same pathogen again.
Research has found that the brain removes toxins during deep sleep (4). “It’s like a dishwasher,” explains Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester.
During the deep phases of sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain increases. CSF circulates nutrients and removes waste products or toxins from the brain.
Since the blood-brain barrier prevents the passage of most molecules, CSF is a vital component of the brain’s detoxification process because many of the compounds washed away via CSF are toxic to brain cells.
Beta-amyloid plaque, for example, is a sticky compound that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Normally, CSF can help shuttle amyloid plaques out of the brain (5).
Just a single night of sleep deprivation can result in higher levels of beta-amyloid in the brain. Can you imagine what can happen with years of chronic sleep deprivation? Experts believe it may help explain the link between sleep disorders and Alzheimer’s disease (6).
When you are in deep sleep, your body undergoes countless processes to rejuvenate you on a cellular level. As such, deep sleep is often one of the biggest reasons why people either wake up feeling rested or exhausted (7).
Researchers have even found that chronic fatigue syndrome is associated with compromised deep sleep (8). That’s why you can get 8-10 hours of sleep and still feel completely exhausted if you didn’t have enough deep sleep.
Aid in the prevention of neurodegenerative disease (12)
Levels of BDNF tend to decline with age. So, deep sleep is even more important as we get older. If you’re under a great deal of stress and eat too many processed foods, that can also negatively impact your BDNF levels (13).
A bad night’s sleep can have a dramatic effect on your memory the next day, making it difficult to retain and recall key details (14). Research has also found that when you don’t get enough sleep it can impair long-term memory, decision making, and your ability to focus (15).
The connection between memory and sleep is well established. Scientists previously believed memory consolidation (forming and storing memories) happened during REM sleep—the dream stage of sleep (16).
It turns out, deep sleep is just as important for memory consolidation. Studies have found that increases in deep sleep can improve learning, information retention, and task performance (17).
Have you ever gone to bed while feeling stressed out? If you were able to get a good night’s sleep in, it’s likely you woke up feeling much better.
According to researchers from the University of California Berkeley, deep sleep reorganizes connections in the brain that result in reduced levels of stress and anxiety (18). Deep sleep provides an overall stabilizing effect on a person’s mood the next day.
On the contrary, they also found that a single restless night can raise anxiety levels by as much as 30%. So, if you ever find yourself stressed out or in an emotional slump, try improving the amount of deep sleep you get.
There are a variety of simple steps to improve sleep quality. These include reducing your exposure to blue light at night, sticking to a consistent sleep-wake routine, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, and getting regular exercise. Studies suggest that exercise during the day can significantly increase the amount of deep sleep you get (24).
CBD Oil is also increasingly being looked at as a natural way to support restful sleep (25). To gain the full benefits of CBD Oil for sleep, seek out a broad spectrum oil with at least 25mg of CBD per serving and take it 30 minutes before bedtime.
In addition to easing stress (which negatively impacts sleep), a scientific review of CBD (cannabidiol) found that it reduced the time it takes to fall asleep, prevented disrupted sleep, and improved daytime alertness, all signs that point to beneficial deep sleep (26). With CBD Oil benefits that include calming stress and restoring sleep, you may find yourself waking up in the morning feeling fully refreshed.
Mushrooms are one of the most underestimated foods on the planet. They are nature’s way of recycling, breaking down organic matter into fertile soil. Mushrooms also contain incredibly powerful compounds that can bolster your health and balance your immune system.
These compounds fight inflammation, destroy infectious microbes, slow down aging, and even help regenerate nerve cells.
Most of all, mushrooms are immune powerhouses. They strengthen your immune system when it’s too weak and downregulate it when it’s too active—such as with autoimmune issues.
This is particularly important to realize because our immune system needs more help than ever. The rates of autoimmune disease are at an all-time high and steadily increasing (1).
Modern eating habits and overuse of antibiotics have also damaged our gut. Since close to 80% of immunity is linked to gut health, this makes our immune systems weak.
Mushrooms are one of the best ways to give our immune system a helping hand. But not any mushroom will do the trick. Here are five of the most effective immune-regulating mushrooms known to science.
The turkey tail mushroom is one of the most studied medicinal mushrooms due to its ability to fight disease and bolster your immune system.
This amazing mushroom contains bioactive compounds called beta-glucans. When consumed, beta-glucans can stimulate the immune system by enhancing macrophage and natural killer cell function—two types of cells that play an important role in your immune system (2).
Studies also suggest that beta-glucans can help the immune system slow the growth of tumors and protect your body from the effects of cancer-causing compounds (2). One NIH-funded study in 2011 even showed improved immune response in breast cancer patients (3).
Turkey tail also contains prebiotics which feed the good bacteria in your gut, supporting overall immunity. Since turkey tail is so effective at enhancing the immune system, many people consume it during the cold and flu season.
Shiitake mushrooms are a common staple of Asian cuisine. They have a meaty, yet versatile flavor.
Animal studies indicate that shiitake mushrooms can fight obesity (6) and support a healthy heart (7). And human studies show it may significantly improve your immune system.
Specifically, the American College of Nutrition found that shiitake mushrooms can improve the efficiency of the immune system, improve gut immunity, and decrease inflammation (8).
And lab tests on human cell lines show shiitake mushrooms can prevent malignant tumor growth. It does this by signaling tumor cells to lyse (burst) in a process called apoptosis (9).
Lastly, shiitake mushrooms may have potent antimicrobial properties, making it an effective natural antibiotic. What makes them even more amazing is that a study showed it only killed disease-causing (pathogenic) microbes, leaving beneficial bacteria unharmed (10). On the contrary, prescription antibiotics kill off both beneficial and bad bacteria in your body.
Cordyceps mushrooms are well-known among professional athletes for their ability to improve physical performance and energy levels. But what most people don’t realize is, cordyceps can also benefit your immune system.
According to a publication in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cordyceps can help improve your body’s innate immunity (11).
Cordyceps is so effective in modulating immunity it has even shown benefits in studies on those with moderate to severe asthma (12).
Evidence also suggests that cordyceps can help autoimmune issues and decrease the number of harmful bacteria in the gut. This is a perfect example of how mushrooms can balance out your immune system.
While some mushrooms, such as shiitake and maitake, can be easily incorporated into healthy meals, others are less likely to top your plate.
That’s because turkey tail, tremella and cordyceps are fungi not known for their taste, and are not readily found on food shelves so you’ll want to supplement instead.
Above all, make sure mushrooms are certified organic. As nature’s recyclers, mushrooms are masters of absorbing the matter they are grown in, whether good or bad. By choosing certified organic, you’ll gain access to the highest quality mushrooms, free of pesticides and herbicides.
For optimal immune support, supplement with powdered extracts. Since each mushroom can support immunity in different ways, opt for a blend of several varieties for maximum benefit.
Since buying individual extracts or a specific mushroom blend can be pricey, consider choosing a superfood green juice powder that comes with organic mushrooms without any extra cost. With 5 types of organic mushrooms you can bolster your immunity every day.
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Power up your day with this flavorful, refreshing smoothie. It’s packed full of plant-based antioxidants that rehydrate your body fast. In just minutes you’ll feel refreshed, reenergized and have the superfood nutrition you need to stay strong.
This super smoothie comes with hydrating minerals. Pure coconut water gives you potassium and other natural electrolytes to reenergize the body fast.
Sweet apples combine with tart berries for a refreshing taste that is full of healthy nutrients including quercetin. The antioxidants found in berries (called anthocyanins) have also been shown to support brain health, and protect your cells from daily oxidative stress.
A scoop of tasty Super Green Juice powder provides 44 organic superfoods. Inside are vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and probiotics for a nutrient infusion that delivers a near instant lift of energy and vitality.
Most reporting done on the immune system has focused on ways to strengthen or stimulate immunity. The hope is if you bolster the immune system you can fight off illnesses better or avoid getting sick altogether. Especially during cold and flu season. The full story on immunity is more complex.
A healthy immune system is a balanced immune system, one that is not too weak and not too strong. In reality, it’s important to regulate immune function, not just strengthen it.
Just like the immune system can become weak—making you susceptible to getting sick—it can swing in the opposite direction and become overstimulated, leading to an attack on your own body. A hyperactive immune system is just as dangerous as a weak immune system, but for different reasons.
When the immune system becomes overactive, it can start indiscriminately attacking your own healthy cells leading to autoimmune issues (1). An overactive immune system can damage the body and result in a wide range of concerns including…
Early evidence suggests that a compound extracted from hemp called CBD (cannabidiol) oil can exert immunomodulatory effects on the immune system. In doing so, CBD may balance the immune system and help prevent it from becoming overactive (2, 3).
While scientists still haven’t entirely figured out the details, they believe that CBD exerts this immune-regulatory effect and other benefits by acting on the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
The ECS is a relatively recent discovery. It is a complex network of receptors, enzymes, and cannabinoid molecules that help your body maintain homeostasis or a state of balance.
In this case, when the immune system becomes overactive, the ECS can help normalize immune function (4). This helps ensure that it does not attack your own cells or cause chronic inflammation.
One animal study, for example, found that the endocannabinoid system helps maintain a balanced immune response in the gut and pancreas (5). It does this by modulating the activity of specific macrophages and T cells in the gut.
CBD has a wide range of direct and indirect effects in the body, including research that shows cannabidiol has significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (6).
Current research suggests that CBD inhibits the FAAH enzyme which degrades anandamide—a natural endocannabinoid in the body that stimulates the ECS (7). When the FAAH enzyme is inhibited, less anandamide is broken down. This effectively increases the amount of anandamide circulating in the body. The increased anandamide levels, in turn, then stimulate the ECS.
This means CBD may indirectly stimulate the ECS by increasing the amount of anandamide in the body. Research is ongoing into how cannabinoids work in the body and interact with the endocannabinoid system (8).
Scientists still haven’t uncovered a specific cause for an overactive immune system. In reality, it likely has many different causes. So far the evidence seems to suggest that diet, toxic chemicals, gut health, and genetics are among the most influential factors (9, 10).
As your ECS attempts to regulate the immune system it uses compounds called endocannabinoids as fuel. However, if your immune system is constantly stimulated, the ECS may run out of fuel and lose its capacity to downregulate immune activity. When this happens, scientists call it an endocannabinoid deficiency.
While more research is needed, CBD appears to be a promising compound for the immune system by stimulating the body’s own balancing system, the endocannabinoid system.
Beyond taking a quality CBD Oil, research suggests that there are other strategies that can help keep the immune system in good working order. Here are more ways to keep your immune system balanced and healthy:
With an abundance of environmental toxins, poor nutrition, and genetic influences, the immune system can become overactive and attack the body’s own healthy cells.
As such, regulating immune function is more important than ever. Early evidence suggests that CBD Oil may be a helpful strategy to prevent the immune system from becoming hyperactive.
For a healthy and robust immune system, CBD Oil shouldn’t be your only strategy. A balanced and strong immune system is achieved with a healthy lifestyle that includes good sleep, stress management, daily detoxification, vitamin D, and making sure you eat plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and veggies. The immune system impacts every part of the body, and needs a whole-body approach to keep it in good shape.
Having painful, stiff, or swollen joints is a huge burden in life. It prevents you from doing the things you love the most. Whether it’s hiking, arts & crafts, or working on your next DIY project to improve the house. Seeking relief, many people will talk to their doctor.
He or she may recommend strategies like physical therapy, exercise, and a daily regimen of anti-inflammatory drugs. What most people don’t realize, however, is there’s something else you can do to support joint health.
Curcumin actually inhibits inflammation at the molecular level, by interrupting NF-kB (nuclear factor kappa beta), a protein that turns on inflammation in cells. The journal Oncogene published a study in 2004 showing curcumin even matched the effectiveness of some well-known anti-inflammatory drugs, without any negative side effects (3).
Because turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory, it provides relief for achy and stiff joints. Another pilot study on rheumatoid arthritis patients showed curcumin performed better than an anti-inflammatory drug (4).
Researchers have found that tart cherry juice and cherries are one of the best foods out there to support healthy joints.
One study, for example, found that drinking cherry juice twice a day for 21 days reduced joint pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis (5). Cherries support joints in another way as well.
Scientists have discovered that consuming cherries can help reduce uric acid in the body (6). This is important because when uric acid builds up in the joints, it causes considerable pain, and can lead to gout, a type of arthritis (7).
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are beneficial for your heart, brain, skin and more. These healthy fats work by helping to reduce inflammation, and research shows them to be effective for joint pain (8).
What makes these healthy fats so essential is that your body can’t make them, so you have to seek out food sources. The essential fatty acids to look for are alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6).
Seeds are some of the best sources of joint-soothing omega-3 and omega-6. These include hemp seeds and hemp seed oil, flax seeds, borage seed oil, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds.
If you’re looking to preserve the health of your joints, then cruciferous veggies are a must. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower contain an amazing compound called sulforaphane.
Among its many benefits, sulforaphane protects the health of your joints. One study specifically found that the sulforaphane in broccoli can help prevent the degradation of cartilage (10).
Why does this matter? Well, your joints are primarily made up of cartilage. This cartilage can break down over time, eventually causing the bones to scrape against one another resulting in joint pain, stiffness, and discomfort.
The juice and core of pineapples contain bromelain, which is a proteolytic enzyme that helps to break down excess proteins in the body.
Over the years, studies have suggested that bromelain provides an impressive range of health benefits including its ability to reduce allergy symptoms (11) and prevent muscle soreness after exercise (12).
But what makes bromelain really shine is its effect on the joints. Evidence suggests that bromelain may relieve osteoarthritis, ease joint pain, reduce swelling, and alleviate inflammation (13).
If you want to take full advantage of these benefits, consider taking a supplement that contains bromelain. That’s because bromelain works best as a proteolytic enzyme when taken in-between meals. Supplements also deliver a high potency amount of bromelain for optimal benefit.
Whether you’re experiencing joint discomfort from wear and tear, an old injury or strenuous exercise, these superfoods have beneficial compounds that can help restore and protect the health of your joints. Consider adding or supplementing these foods for the next several months to start seeing more spring in your step.
On any given day of the week, high school science teacher Alan Goodison can be found instructing his students on the finer points of physics. Once papers are graded and lesson plans are put away however, he transforms from a teacher to a top athlete. It’s a path that has led from the classroom to the world championship of his chosen sport, coastal rowing.
Unlike the calm waters of river rowing, coastal or offshore rowing is an extreme and exhilarating race through an open course while facing often rough ocean swells.
It’s a sport that’s rising in popularity with 500 rowers from 29 different countries and regions represented at the 2019 World Rowing Coastal Championship in Hong Kong.
Making it to the world championship level of any sport requires immense determination and commitment. Not to mention consistent training sessions to build strength, stamina and speed.
It’s a journey that began over two years ago as Alan and doubles partner John Whooley began training and racing around the scenic coastal waters of Ireland. Alan’s preparation for races was filled with six extended training sessions a week, with a mixture of endurance and high intensity workouts. All while teaching full-time and welcoming a new baby into the family.
For Alan, having a single-minded focus on the goal of reaching the world championships helped him get through long days filled with countless workouts. The right nutrition also made a substantial difference. To help him get through tough workouts with energy to spare, Alan turned to the goodness of Touchstone Essentials’ organic, whole food nutrition.
“It wasn’t easy putting in so much training on top of work and family, but it was definitely worth it. The superfood nutrition from Touchstone Essentials made it possible to train and recover to my full potential, and the feeling of representing your country on a global stage is amazing,” shared Alan.
With a full family and work life, getting extended downtime for recovery wasn’t possible. So, Alan turned to organic superfood nutrition to supplement the extensive energy that intense frequent workouts demanded.
Whether for a workout or workday, each morning started out with Organic Super Protein delivering 18g of superfood protein, energizing MCTs, plant-based omegas and digestive enzymes. Benefits Alan felt right away:
“Organic Super Protein is an easy and delicious way to get healthy protein every day, which is essential for repairing the microtears that happen in muscle tissue during intense exercise.”
About 30 minutes before training, Alan took three capsules of Boost Focus Fuel, filled with a special organic blend of energizing green coffee beans, green tea and adaptogen herbs for sustained energy. After each workout, he supported rest and repair with another Organic Super Protein shake, and Green Energy, supplying antioxidant-rich green tea and proteolytic enzymes that support muscle recovery.
“Taking Boost and Green Energy made sure I had energy to get through both interval and endurance training, and could recover quickly. I found that I didn’t experience much muscle discomfort at all, even after the most intense sessions, so I was able to keep my training on track,” explained Alan.
All that training paid off when Alan and John were selected as team #1 to represent Ireland at the Men’s Doubles in the 2019 World Rowing Coastal Championship in Hong Kong.
In a field of 42 men’s international teams, and through intense preliminary heats, they made it to the final, and finished 13th in the world. It’s an inspiring example of how perseverance and determination can make dreams come true.
Next up for Alan is more training and racing. The Irish Championships will be held in the summer, followed by the World Championship in Portugal in September 2020. “It’s a great feeling to represent your country and go up against the best in the world. And with the goodness of Touchstone Essentials superfood nutrition, I know I’ll keep getting better.”
By now, most people have heard about the benefits of CBD Oil. This natural plant extract has made countless headlines for its calming properties and how it can aid restful sleep, soothe stress, ease discomfort, and support everyday wellness. Still, many people wonder, will CBD work for me?
Touchstone Essentials has launched a new CBD sampling program that lets people try before they buy, featuring single servings of the best-selling Calm Premium CBD Oil 750mg tincture.
While CBD Oil has numerous long-term benefits, with Calm Premium CBD Oil, many people experience its effects in as little as 30 minutes. That’s why even a single serving can give a taste of enhanced well-being, and why samples are an ideal way to try CBD.
Touchstone Essentials and Verb have partnered to create a special sampling app exclusively for Visionary Business Owners (VBOs) to share the goodness of Calm CBD Oil. The app is loaded with innovative features that make it easy to share, sample, and succeed. Best of all, the app is FREE.
For VBOs, the sampling app provides an easy, socially-distancing way to share single serve samples of Calm CBD Oil with friends, family and contacts. With just a few taps on the phone, sampling sticks are packaged in a branded folder, wrapped in a professional brochure, and shipped off automagically to the contact of their choice.
Calm CBD Oil comes from organically grown hemp, has 25mg of CBD per serving and is broad spectrum for a wide range of benefits, all without any THC, and it finishes with a refreshing organic peppermint flavor.
Each sample mailer contains two single serve sample sticks of Calm Premium CBD Oil for double the goodness. There’s no cost for the sample mailer, just $5.95 to cover shipping and handling. VBOs can cover that cost, or can send contacts to a sample website where a person orders their mailer and covers the shipping.
Once the sample arrives, people can try CBD Oil for themselves, and if they want to keep the calm feeling going, can easily order a full-sized bottle, backed by science, hundreds of five-star reviews, and a money-back guarantee.
As new VBOs join in the US, they gain instant access to the sampling program, and can get one or more complimentary sample credits added to their account so they can start sharing samples right away. [100PV+ first order = 1 free sample credit | 500PV+ first order = 5 free sample credits]
To maximize all the ways the sampling program can support and grow their business, VBOs can simply download the Verb app, login with their email and account password, and start to share, sample and succeed!
Vitamin D is one of the most overlooked components of a healthy immune system. In fact, before the development of antibiotics and advanced medical care, healthcare professionals unknowingly treated patients that had infectious diseases using vitamin D, achieving better outcomes in the process.
An excerpt in the London Journal of Medicine from 1849 revealed how one physician used cod liver oil—a rich source of vitamin D—to help 206 out of 234 patients recover from tuberculosis (1).
In 1903, a Swiss doctor named Auguste Rollier used sunlight therapy for patients with infectious diseases, leading to the creation of sanatoriums where TB patients received vitamin D through sunlight exposure. Many doctors during this time believed that sunlight killed the tuberculosis bacterium (2).
Despite this being over 100 years ago, these physicians were surprisingly on-point. Recent decades of scientific research has revealed that vitamin D has intimate ties to the immune system.
Vitamin D and Protection from Viruses
When your body doesn’t have enough vitamin D, your immune system can have a difficult time fighting off infections. Several studies have found that people with vitamin D deficiencies are more likely to experience upper respiratory infections (colds), influenza, and bacterial infections (3).
Moreover, there’s evidence that supplementing vitamin D can decrease the risk of getting sick with influenza or other related illnesses (4). This could explain why so many people get sick in the winter.
In winter months, people tend to bundle up against the cold and spend less time outdoors. Plus, people living in northern latitudes, which covers most of the US and Europe, can’t make vitamin D in winter months due to the angle of the sun relative to earth. The lower levels of vitamin D then make you more susceptible to catching a cold or flu (5, 6).
There’s also evidence that suggests low levels of vitamin D are associated with worse COVID-19 outcomes and increased mortality. It’s theorized that this occurs because vitamin D can help prevent the dangerous cytokine storm that can happen with a COVID-19 infection (7, 8).
For this very reason, researchers from Trinity College Dublin are also urging the Irish government to promote vitamin D for improved COVID-19 outcomes (9). Of course, this research is just preliminary and does not prove anything as of yet. Time will tell whether there is a true relationship between vitamin D and COVID-19 outcomes.
That being said, all this is pretty impressive for a little vitamin that your body makes from the sun, right? And it turns out that vitamin D does much more for the immune system than just helping it eliminate infection from viruses.
Vitamin D and Autoimmunity
Vitamin D can help balance out the immune system. In other words, it exerts immunomodulatory effects. This is important because when the immune system becomes overactive, it can attack your cells. When this happens, it’s called autoimmune disease.
Research has found correlations between vitamin D deficiency and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes (10). As such, experts believe that getting enough vitamin D is important for the prevention of autoimmunity (11).
The take-home point here is that vitamin D has immunomodulatory effects that help balance the immune system and may prevent the immune system from overreacting and attacking healthy cells.
The Potential Link Between Vitamin D and Cancer
Most people realize that the immune system is important for killing off infections. But in addition to killing off harmful bacteria or viruses, your immune system has the important job of destroying cancer cells before they multiply and become a problem (12).
Of course, the immune system isn’t perfect. And cancer cells have some clever tricks. Some cancer cells, for instance, can change their behaviors to hide from natural killer cells—a type of immune cell that can kill harmful microbes or cells including cancer cells (13).
Evidence suggests that vitamin D may play an important role in the immune system for several types of cancer cells (14). This could explain why there are associations with vitamin D and reduced cancer mortality (15). This seems to be particularly the case for vitamin D and reduced risk of breast cancer.
One study showed women with high levels of vitamin D (> or equal to 60 ng/ml) had an 82% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women with a low level of vitamin D (<20 ng/ml) (16). Survival rates for breast cancer are also markedly better for women with higher vitamin D (17).
Of course, cancer is exceptionally complicated, and this does NOT mean vitamin D is a prevention or cure. Rather it shows that vitamin D plays an important role in the immune system, which we rely on to keep us healthy.
How to Get More Vitamin D
Ideally, you should get vitamin D naturally, from the sun, which is easier in summer months. Aim for at least 15 minutes of direct sun to skin exposure every day. If you have darker skin, you need even more time in the sun.
In addition to producing vitamin D, sun exposure is known to trigger the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide can combine with reactive oxygen species (also made by sun exposure) to produce a compound called peroxynitrite that is a natural antibacterial agent produced in your body (18).
Getting sun exposure can also help normalize your circadian rhythm for better sleep which also plays a critical role in immune health (19, 20).
However, getting 15+ minutes of sun exposure simply isn’t possible or even practical sometimes. If you’re unable to get enough sun exposure, the next best option is getting it through your diet with wild-caught oily fish or wild mushrooms, or via a nutritional supplement.
While it’s a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement during winter months or if you spend most of your time indoors, many vitamin D supplements out there are sourced from the fat in lamb’s wool. Not so appetizing, right?
Mushrooms are the only superfood source for vitamin D, making them an optimal, environmentally friendly source of vitamin D. Despite rumors that the plant-based form of vitamin D is inferior to animal-based vitamin D, studies have found that both forms of vitamin D are equally effective (21).
In addition to organic vitamin D, an ideal supplement should include the nutritional co-factors that optimize absorption. Mineral-rich greens provide the right balance of vitamin K, magnesium and other nutrients your body needs to make the most of vitamin D.
The immune system is critical to our well-being. Research shows that vitamin D is a keystone for immune health through protecting us from infections, and helping to prevent an overactive immune system. Since one small vitamin can have such a big impact, getting enough vitamin D should be a priority every day.
Your body has a variety of systems in place to keep it running. The cardiovascular system pumps oxygen and other nutrients to your tissues. Your respiratory system brings air into and out of your lungs. Your digestive system helps you break down food and utilize their precious nutrients. Each system plays a critical role in keeping you healthy.
But did you know your body also has an endocannabinoid system?
Even though most people are unaware of this system, it has a huge impact on your mental and physical health. In fact, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is regarded as “the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health” (1).
Bold statement, but it’s true. This is partly why hemp oil supplements with CBD have become so popular—because evidence suggests they support the endocannabinoid system (2).
The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of receptors, receptor molecules, and enzymes. Components of the ECS can be found throughout your entire body. This includes your immune system, brain, gut, and central nervous system.
Parts of the Endocannabinoid System: The endocannabinoid system consists of three primary components:
Cannabinoid receptors: Structures found on the surface of cells. When activated, they stimulate the ECS.
Cannabinoids: Molecules that specifically bind to and activate cannabinoid receptors.
Enzymes: Breaks down cannabinoids once they’re no longer needed.
Cannabinoid receptors can be found all throughout your body. They are embedded in the membranes, or surface, of your cells. Receptors are like the ignition of a car. If you have the key that fits, you can start the car and drive. In this case, when a cannabinoid comes along (the key), it binds to the cannabinoid receptors and stimulates the ECS (i.e., starting the car).
The two primary cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2. There are other cannabinoid receptors, but these two are the most well-studied. CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system which includes your brain and spinal cord (3). As such, the CB1 receptor is thought to regulate anxiety, stress, learning, memory, and your overall mood (4).
CB2 receptors are predominantly found in cells that are part of the immune system. Which means they primarily affect immune system homeostasis. But they have other roles as well.
Cannabinoids are the molecules that “turn on” the endocannabinoid system by binding to cannabinoid receptors. There are two primary types of cannabinoids that control the ECS: endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids are molecules naturally produced by your body. Specifically, your cells produce them on an as-needed basis. The two most prominent cannabinoids are anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG). Both of which have a long list of scientifically supported benefits (5).
Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that’s produced in the brain. Due to its effects on the body, anandamide has earned itself the nickname, “bliss molecule.” That’s because elevated levels of anandamide are often associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. Anandamide is also shown to encourage the growth of new brain cells (6).
2-Arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG)
2-Arachidonoyl glycerol, or 2-AG, binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. Scientists believe that 2-AG specifically plays a large role in suppressing inflammation by modulating the body’s immune response (7).
Unlike endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids are not produced in the body. Instead, they are found in cannabis and hemp. Because they stimulate the endocannabinoid system in a similar way to endocannabinoids, hemp oil supplements have become incredibly popular.
Furthermore, evidence suggests that phytocannabinoids exert a wide range of beneficial effects. Studies indicate that cannabinoids may:
They are truly impressive molecules to say the least.
The most common phytocannabinoids include THC, the famous CBD (cannabidiol), cannabichromene, and cannabigerol. While endocannabinoids may provide similar benefits, phytocannabinoids are helpful if your body doesn’t produce enough endocannabinoids on its own.
Enzymes are tiny structures that break down substances in the body. They are an essential part of countless biochemical reactions in the body. For the ECS, enzymes disassemble cannabinoids when they’re no longer needed. This ensures that the ECS isn’t “overstimulated.”
While there are several enzymes involved with the ECS, the two most important ones are FAAH and MAGL. FAAH, or fatty acid amide hydrolase breaks down anandamide. MAGL, or monoacylglycerol lipase, deconstructs 2-AG (14).
With this in mind, the ECS can have a greater effect if these enzymes are temporarily shut down. This is the case with phytocannabinoids like CBD. Scientists believe CBD inhibits the FAAH enzyme which causes the ECS to act with a greater balancing force (15).
The Role of The Endocannabinoid System
Because the ECS is such a vast system, it affects countless systems in the body. It’s like the big boss that controls all of the other systems in your body. The master system, so to speak.
The endocannabinoid system has to be vast in order to carry out its primary role: maintaining homeostasis.
The ECS and Homeostasis
Homeostasis is the continuous process of achieving a state of balance. Think of yin and yang or a set of scales. Homeostasis is all about finding that perfect sweet spot so your body can function in an optimal state.
Maintaining homeostasis, or balance, is key to living a healthy life.
If your blood pressure is too high, it can lead to heart problems. But if it’s too low, your blood won’t circulate as it should.
If your skin produces too much oil, you might get acne. When it doesn’t produce enough, it can get dry.
If your immune system is too weak you will get sick. But if it’s too overactive, it may result in autoimmune disease.
The point is, maintaining homeostasis is incredibly important. And the ECS is the invisible hand that controls homeostasis. To drive the point even further, here are some examples of how the endocannabinoid system helps the body stay in a balanced state.
Your brain has about 100 billion neurons (16). These neurons control basic functions with chemicals called neurotransmitters. This includes functions like talking, moving, breathing, and learning.
Much like any system in the body, your neurons perform best when they are in the homeostatic sweet spot. When the balance of neurotransmitters goes haywire, things can easily go wrong.
For example, an excess of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine can result in chronic stress or anxiety (17). Low levels of norepinephrine, on the other hand, can result in extreme fatigue, a lack of concentration, and a poor mood (18). This is where the endocannabinoid system comes into play.
According to Dr. Ethan Russo, neurologist and medical scientist, the endocannabinoid system regulates “neurotransmitter function … if there’s too much of one kind of neurotransmitter it will bring it down, if there’s too little it will bring it up.” (19)
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to infection or physical injury. In low amounts, it’s beneficial for healing damaged tissue and fighting dangerous microbes that cause illness or disease. Once the infection is eliminated or the injury is healed, the inflammation goes away. Your body then can return to a healthy, balanced state.
But things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes inflammation can persist well after it’s needed. When this happens, it’s called chronic inflammation. Over time, it can wreak havoc on your body (20).
Too much inflammation is harmful, whereas too little will leave your body vulnerable to germs. Much like your brain, evidence suggests the endocannabinoid system helps to control inflammation homeostasis. Or more specifically, the balance of your immune system.
Scientists have found that endocannabinoids regulate the immune system by limiting the immune response (21). It regulates the immune system by signaling the apoptosis of activated immune cells while simultaneously suppressing proinflammatory cells like cytokines and chemokines (22).
Simply put, the ECS may combat chronic inflammation by preventing the immune system from becoming overactive. When the immune system is no longer needed in a given area, cells produce endocannabinoids which tell the immune system to back off.
Imagine homeostasis as a pendulum, depicted at the beginning of this guide. When it swings to the right, you’re stressed. When it swings to the left, you are completely chill.
Maintaining a balance between these two ends of the pendulum is essential. If you’re constantly stressed, it can send your body haywire. On the flip side, if you’re content to stay in your comfort zone, you won’t accomplish much in life. A small amount of stress is actually beneficial.
Evidence suggests that the endocannabinoid system encourages stress homeostasis by playing a role in stress adaptation (23). Adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola rosea work in a similar fashion.
Simply put, the ECS helps you become more resilient to the effects of stress. That way you can quickly return to a state of balance after a stressful event. Researchers have even found that when the ECS is weak, chronic stress will likely follow suit (24).
So, you now know how the endocannabinoid system plays a role in homeostasis, which in turn has a massive impact on your well-being. But what happens when your endocannabinoid system doesn’t work as it should?
Over the past several years, scientists have discovered that the endocannabinoid system can be in a weakened state. When this happens, they call it an endocannabinoid deficiency.
When your body can’t maintain homeostasis due to an endocannabinoid deficiency, it can result in a long list of health issues from headaches, to muscle discomfort, to digestive problems (25). This supports the idea that maintaining homeostasis is absolutely essential for a healthy mind and body.
Hemp oil is an extract of hemp that contains phytocannabinoids like CBD and cannabichromene. Most companies use specific strains of hemp that are rich in CBD to create their oil.
Hemp oil products have become increasingly popular because of their proposed benefits, supplementing the endocannabinoid system with phytocannabinoids (26). While most phytocannabinoids are thought to have beneficial effects, CBD has gained the most attention.
According to the latest research, CBD inhibits the FAAH enzyme, which deconstructs anandamide (15). As a result, taking CBD may increase the amount of anandamide in the body, which can stimulate the ECS. This may explain why hemp oil has such a wide range of benefits.
The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a complex network of cannabinoids, receptors, and metabolic enzymes. Its primary role is to help the body and mind maintain homeostasis. In doing so, it keeps countless systems in balance. That way, nothing becomes underactive or overactive. It’s an absolutely essential process for maintaining optimal health.
The problem is, the endocannabinoid system can become weak. When this happens, scientists have predicted that it may result in the development of health problems. This is why phytocannabinoid-rich supplements like hemp oil have become popular, and are projected to become increasingly in demand. The phytocannabinoids affect the ECS, which could result in a wide range of effects due to how the ECS interacts with the body.
Researchers are still trying to fully understand the ECS, how it works, and how cannabinoids affect the body. While phytocannabinoids show promise for their therapeutic effects, this does not mean they are a magic bullet that will cure anything. That being said, hemp oil still remains as an excellent choice for supporting your general health.