Friday, June 7, 2024

To Your Happiness and Health


There is a correlation between happiness and health. In fact, there are four distinct levels of happiness that are directly involved in your overall well-being.

Robert Spitzer, S.J., president of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith, refined a model of the Four Levels of Happiness, to say it will “dictate our actions, choices, and ethics,” and “whichever level of happiness dominates our lives will determine the depth and endurance of our happiness.” I will add to that, it will also determine the depth of the symbiotic (balanced) nature of your total self.

The first level of happiness is centered around immediate gratification and physical pleasure, such as consuming food, beverage, and other substances (licit or illicit). Level One is not all bad because we do need to consume food and drink to live. Satisfaction from the pleasure of eating foods, particularly bad foods, feeds our dopamine receptors (the “feel good” hormone), and we want to feed that pleasure. Think of the song “Feed Me” from the movie Little Shop of Horrors. Level One can leave you in a shallow state, which ebbs and flows waiting for that next dopamine fix from sustenance or substance.

People that are in this lowest rung of happiness may dietarily struggle with weight management, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, arthritic pain, hyperlipidemia (abnormal cholesterol levels), ADD/ADHD, or dietary-related stress from adrenaline dominance.

To overcome Level One happiness and move into the higher levels, you must work on Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude. Prudence helps you differentiate the good habits from the bad. Once you're able to make the distinction between good versus bad, it is followed by Temperance–the ability to say no to the bad. As you start to say no to the bad habits, you use Fortitude to help you have the courage to move toward the highest good (not just "a good").

The second level of happiness hinges on feeding the ego that's self-serving (i.e. “all about me”). Spitzer explains it as, “I need to be constantly achieving and winning in my life, for example, being recognized at work, getting the next promotion, or making sure my project has top priority.” While Level One can center itself around pleasure, Level Two could lead to pride—the focus is being in control and consuming power. Level Two is on a Win-Lose model, as Spitzer elaborates, “in order for me to win, others must lose.” This second level isn’t all bad, like Level One, because having self-confidence and good credibility can be meritorious. Level Two is less shallow than Level One, but it’s still not sustainable.

People in Level Two happiness may lead to changes in health including adrenal stress, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, erratic changes in mood, struggles with mental health and focus, high blood pressure, ADD/ADHD, adrenaline dominance, non-dietary related digestive discomfort, or a compromised immune system.

To overcome Level Two happiness and move into Level Three and Four, you'll need to strengthen your virtue of Humility, and it will be Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude to get you there. 

The third level of happiness as Spitzer remarks, “is also somewhat about ego, but unlike Level Two, it is turned outward. My skills and talents are aimed at serving others. It is still about winning, but it’s now more about achieving Win-Win results rather than Win-Lose.” In other words it is less about me and more about others. By redirecting the focus from you as a person, you begin to see the bigger picture of meaning and purpose in life. Spitzer goes on to say, “My [your] happiness is now growing in pervasiveness because it impacts other people.”

And finally the fourth and highest level of happiness, Spitzer says, “is what I ultimately seek in life. I fundamentally desire ultimate or perfect truth, beauty, love, goodness, and being.” Once you reach Level Four happiness, you see the “material elements of the world” is really about being in relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This highest level of happiness is long lasting and enduring. 

Once a person breaks through into the two higher rungs, Levels Three and Four, the expectations people have in making better and healthier lifestyle choices become more obtainable. Levels One and Two can inhibit personal growth until you cross over into Level Three, and definitely Level Four. The lower two levels that feed on short term happiness is superficial, because in a way it’s not happiness in the truest sense. It resembles a mirage more than reality. As Jim Morrison from The Doors said, “break on through to the other side.” That other side is true happiness.

by John Connor, CNC

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Conquering Symptoms of Low Testosterone Naturally

Testosterone is an androgen hormone produced by both men and women, but found predominantly in men. Production of this hormone begins at puberty and peaks around the age of 25. By the late 30’s and into the 40’s, production of testosterone begins to decline.

Testosterone supports many bodily functions including muscle mass and strength, bone density, libido, fat distribution, and red blood cell production. As testosterone levels decline around the age of 40, these bodily functions can be negatively affected.

One specific area men are concerned about is low libido. Erectile dysfunction (E.D.) is also a concern, which is often times associated with low libido, but not necessarily related testosterone levels. So how does a man with such a dilemma approach low libido and E.D. naturally?

Since low libido and E.D. are actually two different problems, I’ll approach each one independently. First, low libido.

There are hundreds of hormone reactions happening all throughout the body 24 hours a day. To say that low libido is always caused by low testosterone would be false. As I’ve mentioned in previous health blogs, stress can have a dramatic effect on hormone levels. In this particular case there is a simple flow chart to illustrate how stress can cause low testosterone: 

high stress -> low progesterone -> high estrogen -> low testosterone

When I’m working with a person with low testosterone, my first question is what’s your stress level like? If they have high stress, chances are they have low progesterone–a hormone that helps to cope with stress. Natural, bio-identical progesterone can be a safe solution to low testosterone, rather than that person getting on some form of testosterone therapy, which may be needed. But I like to see a person’s health from every angle and not just assume that they need testosterone therapy right away, which may not be the case

One of the safest ways to get testosterone back to optimal levels is to exercise to the point where you perspire. Lifting weights is very effective, and exercising large muscles (back and thighs) works well. This is a great way for men to produce more of their own testosterone, plus it also releases endorphins that increases a positive mood.

The other difficulty men are confronted with is erectile dysfunction, or E.D. In cases where low libido and E.D. are not related, how can we deal with E.D.? Often, the complication is a lack of blood flow. Many men with E.D. have high blood pressure or high blood sugar (type 2 diabetes), and sometimes both. Smoking cigarettes can also cause E.D. due to lower oxygen levels in the body.

High blood pressure can be caused by constricted blood vessels (sometimes associated with stress), or clogged arteries from plaque build-up. Similarly, high blood sugar can also cause plaque build-up, plus high glucose levels can damage the lining of blood vessels. Either way, blood flow is being restricted.

Rather than take a pill to address the restrained blood flow associated with E.D., there is a much safer and more natural approach, and it has to do with your eating habits.

Eating a carbohydrate rich diet that includes sugar, potatoes, corn, bread, pasta, rice, and let’s not forget about sweet tea and soda drinks, can all cause high blood sugar and high blood pressure. By reducing these foods and eating a low-carb diet, a person can in a matter of weeks correct blood flow issues linked to E.D. A dietary regimen should consist of eating lean animal proteins, healthy fats, and a mixture of green and colored vegetables, and fruits, especially berries. Blueberries and broccoli are extremely nutritious.

Not only can dietary change and exercising benefit in areas such as low testosterone and E.D., the individual will have more energy, have a reduction of stress, and a more positive mood for starters. I realize it is easier to take a pill to make these health concerns magically go away, but the underlying issues are still there, we’re just simply putting a band-aid on it. However, by taking the time to eat healthier and exercise, the results may be even better than you think.

by John Connor, CNC

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Why You Should Have a Stress Outlet

A normal daily grind can be tasking. Schedules, deadlines, family needs, and then recent events all cause stress. Which is why we should all have a stress outlet. It benefits the mind, body, and soul.

Over the years I have allowed stress to dictate how I felt and lived. For my own health I had to make a change. So naturally I reached for my stress outlet without even realizing it.

To better understand stress there is some basic nutrition to know. Stress affects our hormones. Particularly adrenaline. Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” hormone that left unchecked can wreck havoc on how we deal with stress.

Music has always been my getaway from all the hustle and bustle. And as I focused on teaching and playing my instruments more frequent, little did I know that I had stumbled onto my stress outlet.

We cannot simply turn off stress, but the good news is we all can manage it through some healthy outlet.

Maybe it’s a hobby you enjoy. Perhaps prayer, meditation, or exercise. Whatever outlet works best for you, that is your time each day to let your mind and body relax for a while.

One thing I’ve learned about stress as a nutritionist and from personal experience is stress doesn’t go away on its own. It grows, and if we burry our stress inside, such as thoughts or feelings, it can only cause more health problems.

A stress outlet also acts as a coping mechanism. It helps us process emotions, which are very powerful. An emotion can consume us if not controlled.

Stress affected me to the point where I had no other place to turn than to my stress outlets, which was music and prayer. These have been my stress outlets for years and work harmoniously. Just a natural part of my daily routine.

It took a couple years for me to really utilize my stress outlet. To learn how to let it calm down my mind which usually runs ramped with ADHD.

In fact there are some days that get so busy I have to purposefully stop what I'm doing, take a deep breath, and relax for a couple minutes. This is very important to keep stress in check. Otherwise the stressor has no place to go and will build from within causing further issues.

Now that I’ve learned to use my stress outlet properly, I don’t worry like I used to. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. My stress outlet was a game changer and maybe a life saver.

I recently had my annual physical, and the doctor was pleased to see how healthy I was for a 41 year old. One indicator of stress is high blood pressure. My blood pressure has been on point lately.

I’ve spent several years allowing my stress outlet to play an active part of my life. Now I simply don’t stress over little things. Coping with stress has become easier.

Life is much too precious to worry about things you cannot control. And even the things you can control is all the more reason to have an outlet to deal with it.

My schedule changes every week. At first it was stressful, but I've learned to roll with it. Having a stress outlet has definitely helped adapt to the fluxes in my schedule.

Once you figure out the best stress outlet for you, and it can be more than one, use that outlet daily to expedite results. It will give your body and mind a chance to relax a bit each day.

You’ll be much happier when you take control of your life with a healthy stress outlet.

by John Connor, CNC

Monday, February 18, 2019

Fish, Flax & Krill: What You Need to Know about Omega-3

While fats have been given a bad reputation for decades, most will agree there’s at least one type of fat we all need–omega 3 fatty acids.

The health benefits we receive from omega-3 come from EPA and DHA. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is essential for heart health, and may play a role in cholesterol and triglyceride levels. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) helps to improve memory and cognition.

There are different opinions what is the best type of omega-3, either animal or plant source. We’ll take a look at three common sources of omega-3, and the pros and cons to each one.

Flax and Chia seed (oil)

Flax seed, also known as linseed, gained popularity in the 1980s and 90s. People were hearing about mercury toxicity in fish (oil) which gave the green light to pursue flaxseed oil as a healthier source of omega-3.

Flaxseed contains ALA (alpha linoleic acid). The body breaks down ALA into EPA and DHA. The downside is if the body cannot convert ALA into EPA and DHA the health benefits are null and void. We're learning now that the body may only utilize between 1-8% of EPA and DHA from flax.

There’s really no omega-3 benefit from flax, however there may be some benefit from the flax lignans. A lignan is a phytoestrogen found in the hull of the flax seed that can help with menstrual and menopausal symptoms.

Recently chia seeds have been touted as a rich source of omega-3, EPA and DHA, but it’s more expensive than flax seed and we run into the exact same problem with very little ALA converting into EPA and DHA.

Krill oil

Krill are small crustaceans (shellfish) that have a similar resemblance to shrimp. The name krill is a Norwegian word meaning “small fry of fish.” Krill is a food source for salmon, which gives the fish it’s pinkish hue.

Krill oil has been promoted as a better source of omega-3 than fish oil. At first glance that may appear to be true because omega-3 (EPA and DHA) from krill oil uses a phospholipid carrier rather than a triglyceride carrier. You tend to get more EPA and DHA from the phospholipid carrier than a triglyceride carrier.

There is a new study that found 40% of krill oil on the market is spiked with fish oil, possibly inferior fish oil, so you don’t know if you’re really getting 100% krill oil in a product. Also if you are allergic to shellfish then you may be allergic to krill oil.

Fish oil

Fish oil is the most common way of getting your omega-3, and is the broadest in quality standards ranging from very poor quality to excellent quality. You will get more EPA and DHA from a quality fish oil product than krill oil, and definitely more than a plant source like flax.

Poor quality fish oils get their fish from just about anywhere, including mercury-containing waters. Companies will use solvents such as hexane as well as high heating treatments to extract the omega-3 from the fish, and also may contain a harmful chemical called BPA. Poor quality fish oil has a tendency to go rancid faster.

Good quality fish oils come from cold water fish from waters that do not contain mercury. That alone is an improvement from poor quality fish oil. Usually companies with higher standards will not use solvents, rather more natural extraction methods, but some may still use high heating methods. If the label on the bottle states the fish oil comes from cold water fish, or better yet uses the term “pharmaceutical grade” or something along those lines it may be a good quality.

One of the best fish oils is a bio-identical omega-3 extracted from salmon. Instead of solvents to extract the omega-3, water and enzymes are used for a much more natural process. Plus it uses a phospholipid carrier for increased absorption.

In Summary

If you’re looking for a good omega-3 supplement, pharmaceutical grade fish oil or bio-identical omega-3 from salmon extract are both great choices. The salmon extract tips the scale for me because it may absorb better and there is no chance of it going rancid.

by John Connor, CNC

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Get the Most Out Of Your New Year's Resolution

It's time to start a new year, and that means new year's resolutions. You want to better yourself in some way–slim down, better skin tone, more energy, better sleep, more money...sorry I can't help with the money part, however I can help with better health.

Weight loss is a popular new year's resolution and it seems like everybody has the solution. Pick up a tabloid at the grocery story, surf the web or social media, and it's imminent, everybody out there has a quick fat loss tip like, lose ten pounds in ten days, or let's flush that fat once and for all. My personal favorite is, lose weight without changing your diet. There are countless fad diets that circulate this time of year.

Before we talk about losing weight or which diet plan to go on, ask yourself these two questions. One, do I want to lose weight or do I need to lose weight? There is a difference between need and want. Your doctor my want you to lose weight for health sake, but you have to want to make this change and have it last forever.

The other question I want you to ask yourself is what is your stress level? Be honest. On a scale from 1 to 10 where do you land?

If you want to lose weight and your stress level is high, I wouldn't recommend starting with a dietary overhaul just yet. The reason is because we're not dealing with just diet, we're also dealing with some sort of hormone imbalance.

Hormones play a factor in how we manage our stress and also how we manage our body composition. If you go on a diet while your stress level is high, then you probably won't succeed. That may sound harsh, but if you're on a diet and you have a stressful day, there's a good chance you'll reach for a comfort food. The answer to why we reach for comfort foods in times of stress is primarily due to one hormone–adrenaline.

Adrenaline is your fight-or-flight hormone. The body produces more adrenaline when it thinks it's in danger. There is no danger. No wild animal is chasing you, at least I hope not. But adrenaline is produced in abundance in stressful cases. It's trying to help you "survive" the stressor, so to speak.

Adrenaline tells the body to send more glucose to the brain and muscles to adapt and escape the stressor. The need for glucose goes up, so then we reach for comfort foods to meet that demand. Our body is tricking us into eating comfort foods, but it doesn't stop there. As glucose rises in the blood stream insulin comes in to control it, and then cortisol arrives to control the stress. Insulin and cortisol block fat from being used as energy. That is the end result. That is why people struggle with weight loss because of these hormones.

There are supplements that can help reduce stress. In addition you may find these suggestions beneficial. First, if it all possible remove the stressor from your life. If you live with the stressor or work with the stressor then that may not be feasible. In that case find ways to reduce stress, such as slowing down. Yes, sometimes we're constantly going, doing this and that. Make some time for yourself. Relax and enjoy a bit of quiet time. Enjoy life! Read a book, do yoga, pray, take a leisurely walk. If you want to burn off adrenaline and cortisol quickly, hit a punching bag or a pillow. Don't hurt yourself, but you'd be surprised how better you'll quickly feel.

As far as diet changes are concerned, start simple with substitutions. Instead of eliminating your favorite foods, substitute. Substitute your favorite foods with low-carb variations. You're eating the same foods, but prepared low carb. Many times telling someone who's stressed to cut out sugar is non-negotiable. Sugar is a biggie for many (thanks to adrenaline). Instead of eliminating sugar, use a low-carb substitute like stevia, xylitol, or erythritol.

Diet Doctor is a great online resource (, and it's free. If you would like more information make an appointment to see me.

This is the year you reach your goal. You can do it.

by John Connor, CNC

Monday, November 12, 2018

ABC's of Nutrition: Molybdenum

Legumes and whole grains are rich food sources of molybdenum. The typical American diet contains 50 to 500 micrograms of molybdenum per day. The food concentration of molybdenum is dependent on the soil content of molybdenum.

Molybdenum is available as sodium molybdate and molybdenum amino acid chelate.

Molybdenum deficiency may lead to the inability to process sulfites because the enzyme that detoxifies sulfites (sulfite oxidase) is molybdenum dependent. Symptoms of sulfite toxicity are an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, headache, disorientation, nausea, and vomiting. Molybdenum deficiency may be the cause of sulfite sensitivity.

Molybdenum works as a necessary coenzyme in the enzymes xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulfite oxidase. These enzymes are involved in uric acid formation, alcohol detoxification, and sulfite detoxification.

Molybdenum is an important mineral for those that consume high quantities of alcohol.

by John Connor, CNC

ABC's of Nutrition: Manganese

Good dietary sources of manganese include green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, whole grains, and nuts. Pecans and Brazil nuts rank at the top.

Some of the best absorbed forms are manganese bound to picolinate, gluconate, or other chelates.

Human manganese deficiency is not as well defined as in animals. Animal results have shown manganese deficiency may lead to impaired growth, skeletal abnormalities, and defects in carbohydrate and fat metabolism.

In several human studies where subjects were fed a manganese-reduced diet, several metabolic abnormalities developed, including appearance of a skin rash, loss of hair color, reduced growth of hair and nails, and reduced HDL cholesterol.

Manganese functions in many enzyme systems, including enzymes involved in blood sugar control, energy metabolism, and thyroid function.

High doses of manganese may inhibit the absorption of iron, copper, and zinc. On the other hand, high intake of magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, and zinc may inhibit the absorption of manganese.

by John Connor, CNC

To Your Happiness and Health

  There is a correlation between happiness and health. In fact, there are four distinct levels of happiness that are directly involved in yo...