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The Cortisol Connection: Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health — And What You Can Do About It Paperback – June 14, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Stress is killing us," warns Talbott, and "humans are not zebras": unlike the rest of the animal kingdom, our fight-or-flight reactions to physical and emotional disturbances can lead to prolonged, chronic stress and elevated levels of cortisol. Over the long term, excessive amounts of this "primary stress hormone" can "kill your sex drive, shrink your brain, squelch your immune system, and generally make you feel terrible." While Talbott freely admits that nearly as many ways to cope with stress exist as events and situations that cause it, his recommended solution to alleviating tension and achieving balanced cortisol levels is the SENSE program. These five principles-Stress management, Exercise, Nutrition, Supplements and Evaluation-aren't necessarily groundbreaking, but they're undoubtedly sensible. Talbott is a nutritionist, and thus the book's coverage of vitamins, minerals and adaptogens (general anti-stress supplements) is especially comprehensive, and includes important recommendations for safety and dosage levels. With features including a "Stress Self-Test," daily food plans and a guide to additional stress management resources, the text is organized for both quick reference use as well as for readers, especially health care workers, interested in conducting a more detailed exploration.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


Cortisol. Who knew! Too little, or none.. and you have Addison's Disease and cannot handle stress without medication. Too much? Weight gain, IBS, joint pain, hair loss, and more.

This book not only outlines the problems caused by stress, which causes too much cortisol to be created by the body, but how to cope with it. Not only will you be informed about what and how much damage can be done to the body by too much stress/cortisol, but there are recommendations on how to change it. Nutrition, supplements to take or not to take? And of course a healthy diet and exercise are the among the answers.

This is not a gloom and doom book by any means. This is a book that explains a problem, and gives simple and often enjoyable approaches to controlling stress and the overproduction of this hormone. Read a trashy novel, soak in a hot tub, give yourself days off each week..hey, I can do that!

Often books that you think you should read to learn something you feel that you should know about are dry and dull and agonizing to get through. This one has bits of humor ( humans are not zebras!) and it presents information in such a clear and simple way that I was able to zip right through the pages, and make my way through it in 2 sittings.

Even though I have read it cover to cover, you can be sure that this is one that will spend a long time on my nightstand. I want it to be available for quick reference and reminders of what I should be doing and looking for. Not just a good and informative read, but by all means, a keeper! - Kathleen Wagner, LibraryThing Early Reviewer
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Hunter House; 2nd edition (June 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089793492X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0897934923
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thanks for visiting my Amazon.com "Author Central" page.

I am an exercise physiologist, nutritional biochemist, and entrepreneur who helps people to Look, Feel, and Perform at their peak potential. My MS is in Exercise Science from UMass-Amherst, my PhD is in Nutritional Biochemistry from Rutgers, and I've studied entrepreneurship (EMP) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

I taught Nutrition and ran the Nutrition Clinic at the Univ of Utah for about 5 years - where I developed a full-semester course on dietary supplements and natural products (because Utah is sort of the "silicon valley" of nutrition products).

I am also the Executive Producer of the documentary film about America's obesity epidemic, Killer At Large, which has won a number of "best documentary" awards on the film festival circuit and has been featured within Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative to fight childhood obesity (as part of the "Chef's Move to School's" outreach program)

I've written 7 books so far:
-2 textbooks on dietary supplements (carried in most libraries)
-3 books about stress/health (the "Cortisol Connection" series)
-1 book about reducing pain/stiffness naturally with supplements, diet, exercise, stretching, etc (Natural Solutions for Pain Free Living)
- 1 children's book called Springtime Robins
-The NEW book, The Secret of Vigor, is my best one yet...

In addition to my writing projects, my "day job" is running a research and development company (GLH Nutrition) that educates consumers about dietary supplements (via the SupplementWatch website at www.supplementwatch.com) and improve endurance performance (via Wicked Fast Sports Nutrition at www.WickedFastSportsNutrition.com).

I also train for Ultramarathons and Ironman triathlons. I'm an avid reader (go figure) and love my Kindle.

Customer Reviews

Very insightful and informative book!
J. Jones
The thing I like most about the book is its ability to explain the very complex cortisol problems stress creates with simple terms and examples.
Jeff Nelson
I highly recommend this book to anyone who feels stressed out by our "modern" way of life.
C. Holland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

145 of 151 people found the following review helpful By surewords on December 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
Overall, the book is fairly well written and easy to follow. The recommendations (dietary and other) would probably be helpful...if indeed your problems are due to elevated cortisol levels. However, on pgs. 78-79, the author makes the serious mistake of discouraging the use of hormone testing to determine actual cortisol levels. Instead, he recommends that you use his questionnaire (pg. xvi) as your sole guideline. Unfortunately, most of those questions deal with general stressors which nearly everyone experiences, along with other general health related questions. The point is, anyone could get a high score on this questionnaire, including those with high cortisol; low cortisol; fibromyalgia; chronic fatigue syndrome, and any number of other ailments. This creates a very serious problem, because if someone with low levels of cortisol (common in CFS, for instance) were to take some of the supplements that the author recommends, that person's already weak adrenal glands would be depleted even further, with potentially catastrophic consequences. So, my recommendation is to read this book with an open mind, but definitely get your cortisol levels tested (contrary to the author's opinion, salivary cortisol testing has proven quite reliable) before using any of the herbs or other supplements suggested.
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202 of 219 people found the following review helpful By David Spero on February 19, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stress is bad for you. We all knew that, but Shawn Talbott explains some of the biochemistry of stress in layman's terms. After reading The Cortisol Connection, you will know WHY chronic stress is bad and what it's likely to do to you.
Much of this has been covered better in other books about stress, such as Robert Sapolsky's Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. What's new about Cortisol Connection is the strong evidence that stress makes you gain weight. It puts on fat and makes your cells resistant to insulin, which puts you at risk for diabetes.
I'm very interested in this, because I'm currently researching a new book called The Politics of Diabetes. (I should also admit that Hunter House, publisher of Cortisol Connection, also published my first book, The Art of Getting Well: Maximizing Health When You Have a Chronic Illness.) I found Talbott's work helpful.
What I did not find, though, was many good ideas for what to DO about stress. He mentions stress reduction and exercise, but he seems to believe these are not realistic goals for most of us in our fast-paced society. Nearly all his recommendations are for food supplements - vitamins, herbs, minerals, amino acids - over 50 in all. And he really doesn't prioritize among them. I still have no idea where to start with these supplements, which ones have strong supporting evidence and which don't.
I also found his reference list really aggravating. I like to check references, both to learn more and to confirm that the author is playing straight with the facts. Talbott combines all the references for the first five chapters (six pages of references) into one long list, without numbers. So there's no way to tell which reference goes with which paragraph or claim in the book.
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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful By James May on May 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
While this book contains some good information about the effects of stress on the body and the body's biochemical response to stress, it mixes this up with a lot of pseudoscience: telling you that you can control your cortisol levels by taking vitamin supplements, which will then solve all your health problems and make you slim! As another reviewer has pointed out, Shawn Talbott sells a slimming aid called Corti-Slim, containing mostly vitamins, which seems to have no science behind it's claims.

If you are looking for a book based on science and fact, I would recommend "The Stress of Life" by Hans Selye, or "Mind-Body Health and Stress Tolerance" by David Jameson instead of this one.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Don't automatically dismiss this book because Shawn Talbott, comaker of the Cortislim brand of supplements, is the author. He does not hawk his wares in this book. Instead, he talks about common-sense issues relating to chronic stress in modern society and the simple steps you can take to reduce that stress.

Most humorously he compares humans to Zebras and discusses that while the Zebra and the human both have the same fight-or-flight mechanism that releases the stress hormone cortisol during times of emergencies, at least the Zebra is responding to events in which he can quickly flee or actually fight. Humans in modern society have the fight-or-flight mechanism in response to situations in which they cannot quickly resolve the problem - credit card bills, layoffs, mortgage payments, even traffic jams. Since fighting or fleeing are not options, the hormone cortisol builds up in our systems on a semi-permanent basis eventually causing such problems as insulin resistence, autoimmune diseases, and even cardiovascular disease.

The author talks about simple steps you can take to reduce the effect of this inevitable stress on your health via the SENSE program which stands for stress management, exercise, nutrition, supplements, and evaluation. Again, most of his advice is good common sense, and he backs up what he says with chemical descriptions, in layman's terms, of what is going on in your body as you apply or fail to apply stress management techniques.

The section on supplements is general and all-in-all pretty good advice. The author suggests vitamins B and C as well as magnesium for targeting stress in general. The author suggests lesser known supplements such as magnolia bark, epimedium, and L-theanine for actual cortisol control.
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