Last time we looked at the physical and physiological adaptions needed to experience peak athletic performance while largely overlooking the psychological aspect.
The good news is that this state of mind is not just something you’re born with, its largely (although not completely) based on neurotransmitters and hormones. The psychological aspect is also essentially physiologically ‘hackable’ because your body and mind are a single unit.
Our ancestors appreciated this fact but here in the West, we have robbed ourselves of this knowledge and the wealth of wisdom that accompanies it. Western medicine has grasped a certain truth about the world and the human body and taken it to an extreme.
It’s clear that small changes to very specific elements can cause quite drastic changes, like giving statins to somebody who has high cholesterol reduces their levels of low-density lipoproteins (‘bad cholesterol’).
But nothing happens in isolation.
Along with a reduction in cholesterol, statins can also cause headache, dizziness, nausea, feeling unusually tired or physically weak, digestive system problems, muscle pain, sleep problems, and low blood platelet count. As reported on the NHS website.
Athletes and high performers have identified small changeable details of their in their day which can have a profound effect on many different aspects of their lives.
They have taken the Western thought process and applied it to the age-old wisdom that your body and mind are one thing. Even though many may not recognise that’s what they’ve done.
Coming from the ancient world, Shilajit is the perfect substance to highlight how this works.
Almost everybody has heard of dopamine but there is a widespread misunderstanding of its effect on the human organism. ‘Dopamine is released when you reach your goal.’
This is a half truth at best.
Yes, you will release dopamine when you reach a target you set for yourself, but it is mainly released when you’re working towards a certain goal. And the most is released soon before, as the anticipation of finishing reaches its crescendo. There’s a reason for this.
Dopamine is the ‘motivation’ neurotransmitter – to use a very colloquial term – and if it was only released when you finished a task, you’d have no motivation to work towards it.
The more dopamine, the more driven you are. This needs to be balanced of course. Too high levels will result in anxiety and low impulse control. Your body will learn which habits are ‘good’ by the amount of dopamine released, and these habits will become ingrained as you become more driven to fulfil those needs. This is why things like drugs, gambling, sex, and alcohol are so addictive.
Shilajit has been shown to increase dopamine in the part of the brain associated with learning and memory (cortico-hippocampal). Shilajit is also known for its anxiolytic and nootropic effects which may also increase neuronal dopamine levels partly as a direct result of lower anxiety.
Commonly known as the ‘love hormone’. That’s because it is one of the main hormones released during childbirth. That doesn’t mean its only for women though.
For men, taking oxytocin before or during sex has been shown to increase overall sexual satisfaction in a number of different parameters. Studies report a major effect on increasing feelings of connection with a partner as well as enhancement of the sensation of orgasm
(yes fellas, you read that right), which sounds like a good time to me!
And in an age of increasing disconnect from our fellow men and women, increasing feelings of connection can only be a good thing right?
Increasing a sense of connection and love for the people around you seem like an act of rebellion in the modern world. The brightest minds of this generation are tasked with getting you addicted to social media, gaming, internet dating, porn, pharmaceutical drugs and harmful food. I don’t know about you, but to me, that seems a little off doesn't it?
So that’s what you’re up against. The smartest people you’ve never met with all the funding in the world. And they’re trying to destroy your life in the name of profit. The greatest challenge this generation faces is not the same as the challenges of the past. It’s based on protecting yourselves from abundance, not scarcity. Abundance of baseless information and trash opinions on social media. From the dopamine hits of getting that extra like on an Instagram post, and from overindulging in brainwashing TV, junk food, alcohol....the list goes on. But there seems to be a common thread that ties all these vices together.
An epidemic of loneliness.
Now, I’m not saying Shilajit will cure that. Using Shilajit won’t suddenly make you a social butterfly, capable of captivating the hearts and minds of everyone you meet. But it does make you more sensitive to the effects of oxytocin release. So, it will help in deepening the connections you already have and feeling bonds that are already there.
The ‘stress hormone’.
During times of stress, your body can release cortisol after the “fight or flight” response (largely adrenaline), so you continue to stay on high alert. Cortisol also triggers the release of glucose from your liver for fast energy during times of stress. But it does a lot more than that.
Cortisol regulates your metabolism, blood pressure, blood sugar and supresses inflammation. Amongst other things. Its normal to have high cortisol (10-20 micrograms per decilitre [mcg/dL]) in the morning, and it will gradually decrease during the day.
So, the ideal situation is to have a spike of cortisol in the morning, followed by a steady decline as the day goes by.
Unfortunately, that is rarely the case in today’s society.
The zip on your jacket breaks. You car fails the MOT. You pick your coffee up by the lid and it's not attached.....you get the picture.
Stressors happen all the time and your natural response is to release more cortisol.
Again, this is normal – to an extent.
Shilajit has a fascinating effect on cortisol. It doesn’t increase it. It doesn’t reduce it.
It makes its half-life longer.
What this means is that the normal cortisol dump you experience in the morning will last you longer. Meaning the everyday stressors you face won’t cause an additional release of cortisol because your body can recognise there is sufficient levels in your blood already.
Serotonin is the 'happy hormone'. Except that it’s not.
Serotonin is widely misunderstood and incorrectly reported. It got this nickname because if you’re depressed, your doctor will likely prescribe you some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) meaning that serotonin will stay in the brain longer. Which is actually true, they do do that. But nobody actually knows why they work.
High levels of serotonin are actually associated with depression. It’s thought that this is a result of serotonin increasing levels of withdrawal and avoidance. People with social anxiety make too much serotonin, and the more serotonin, the greater the anxiety. This is also true of chronic disease patients. They tend to have elevated levels of serotonin, not too low. This is not ‘new’ knowledge either.
Serotonin is the ‘happy hormone’ in the sense that the lower it is, the more capacity you will have for feeling happy. So, the genuinely great news is this: Shilajit has no effect on serotonin.
5. Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer's is characterised by a progressive and eventually severe memory loss. Physiologically this is caused by a build-up of amyloid-β and tau proteins in the brain. Which basically cause plaques in your brain stopping new connections from being made whilst simultaneously blocking old ones.
This is why people often say about their family members with end-stage Alzheimer’s that they aren’t the same person. It’s because they’re not.
All of those connections are what makes you who you are and without them, well, the outcome is catastrophic. There are some ways to prevent this process, including making sure you use your brain throughout your life, making sure it doesn’t atrophy. Kind of like training your muscles in the gym. Another way is to prevent the build up of the tau proteins.
A cacophony or symphony, you choose.
Your hormones work in symphony with one another, like an orchestra. None of them can be changed significantly in isolation.
Human beings have over 100 different hormones, we have only touched upon a few here.
They are crucial for every single function in the human body. They work with and against each other depending on the context. When they are in harmony, you feel like you can take on the world. Everything seems like it fits into place, and the world is your oyster.
You’ve no doubt experienced that feeling at some point in your life. It’s like a non-naïve optimism that everything will work out just fine. What’s easier to imagine is when your hormones are out of whack. You feel low, you slump your shoulders and stare at the ground.
You second guess yourself and you feel as though you can’t speak your mind, so you and your needs are flattened by somebody else’s.
It’s the difference between quality music and offensive noise. It's Pink Floyd vs Pink. Bob Marley vs Island Boys. Fat Freddy's Drop vs Fat Man Scoop.
We spoke about marginal gains in a previous post and this applies here too. You can tweak your hormones based on your actions and what you consume.
Healthy habits and healthy food will result in healthier hormones!
The missing piece of the puzzle is Shilajit, which gives you the tools to tweak numerous hormones, all at once, helping you restore a harmonious state of mind, making you feel more like.....YOU again.
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