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Mastering Stress: Differentiating Good from Bad, Healing Trauma, and Optimizing Health with Jeff Krasno

Stress seems to be a constant companion in our lives, but what if I told you that not all stress is created equal? In today’s episode, we talk with Jeff Krasno to uncover the mysteries behind stress – the good, the bad, and everything in between. 


Jeff Krasno is the co-founder and CEO of Commune, a masterclass platform for personal and societal well-being. He hosts the Commune podcast, interviewing a wide variety of luminaries from Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson to Matthew McConaughey and Gabor Maté. Jeff pens a personal weekly essay titled “Commusings” that explores spirituality, wellness and culture and is distributed to over one million subscribers every Sunday.


Jeff is the creator of Good Stress, a collection of wellness protocols that he developed to reverse his diabetes, lose 60 pounds and reclaim his health at age 50. Good Stress is available as an on-line course and is being developed into a book and TV series. 


Understanding Good Stress vs Bad Stress 

In today’s modern world, stress is often synonymous with negativity. We’re bombarded with endless pressures, fear, judgment, and a constant influx of information from 24-hour news cycles and social media. This chronic exposure to stressors creates a relentless state of tension, leaving us feeling like we’re in a perpetual chase, unable to find respite and regain our balance.


This persistent stress takes a toll on both our psychological well-being and our physical health. We’re familiar with the detrimental effects of chronic stress on our body’s endocrine system, particularly the hormone cortisol. While cortisol serves important functions, such as waking us up in the morning and keeping us alert, chronic activation of cortisol wreaks havoc on our immune system, gut health, and metabolism. The incessant release of cortisol keeps us in a constant state of readiness, diverting glucose to our extremities as if we’re perpetually preparing to fight or flee.


However, it’s essential to recognize that not all stress is inherently harmful. Our ancestors evolved to navigate health-conferencing Paleolithic stressors, such as food scarcity, by storing energy in the form of fat during periods of abundance to prepare for lean times. But in today’s world of abundance, our biology is mismatched with our environment. Our bodies, designed for occasional scarcity, are overwhelmed by an overabundance of nutrient-deficient, refined foods, leading to metabolic disorders like obesity.


How Our Lifestyles May Be Contributing to Poor metabolism, Trauma, and Chronic Disease

This evolutionary mismatch between our biology and modern lifestyle has profound implications for our health, particularly concerning neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Increasingly viewed as metabolic diseases, these conditions are linked to insulin resistance and impaired glucose utilization in the brain, highlighting the intricate connection between our metabolic health and cognitive function.


In essence, the root of chronic disease lies in our modern-day ease, the abundance that surrounds us at all times. To address these challenges, we must recognize the importance of aligning our lifestyles with our evolutionary biology, fostering a balance between abundance and scarcity to promote optimal health and well-being.


In my neurobiofeedback programs and therapeutic work with individuals facing brain-related challenges, I often encounter the profound impact of sugar metabolism on cognitive health. The breakdown of sugar, or glucose, plays a pivotal role in conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Additionally, I’ve found that unresolved traumas can manifest as blockages within the brain’s neural pathways, inhibiting optimal functioning. By addressing these traumas at a deeper, soul level, we create space for healing and restoration.


Jeff also mentions that while traditionally associated with biochemical processes, metabolism extends beyond physical substrates to encompass the processing of emotional and psychological experiences. Much like the body metabolizes nutrients, the psyche metabolizes trauma. However, just as an overabundance of sugar can disrupt metabolic function, unresolved traumas can impede emotional well-being. 


The goal is to cultivate openness and resilience, allowing individuals to move through trauma and reclaim their vitality. By acknowledging the spiritual and physical dimensions of healing, we create pathways for growth and restoration, enabling individuals to be more present and available for life’s experiences.


Jeff’s Personal Health and Wellness Journey

Before founding Commune, Jeff was the CEO of Wanderlust, a wellness events company that brought together renowned teachers and thought leaders from around the globe. While it was fulfilling, the constant travel and high-pressure nature of the business took its toll on his health and well-being. Despite being immersed in the wellness industry, Jeff found himself struggling with obesity, chronic fatigue, brain fog, and other symptoms that he had normalized.


In 2018, Jeff sold the company and spiraled into depression, grappling with questions of identity and purpose. It was a period of forced introspection, during which he confronted the stark reality of his physical and psychological health. Concerned by his deteriorating condition, Jeff turned to technology, using a continuous glucose monitor to track his blood sugar levels. To his shock, he discovered that he was on the cusp of diabetes, despite leading a seemingly healthy lifestyle.


This wake-up call propelled Jeff into a journey of self-discovery and experimentation, as he dove into the realms of functional and integrative medicine. Drawing on insights from leading experts and conducting extensive research, he went on to reclaim his health and vitality. Through a combination of dietary changes, lifestyle interventions, and ancient healing practices, Jeff witnessed remarkable transformations in his body and mind.


As he navigated all of this, Jeff became determined to share his findings with others. Armed with newfound knowledge and personal experiences, he launched into a mission to empower individuals to take control of their health and well-being. Jeff’s story serves as a testament to the power of resilience, self-discovery, and the human capacity for transformation.


Jeff’s Protocols for Optimal Health

Jeff emphasizes that humans are not fixed products but rather processes constantly adapting to their environment. Drawing parallels between ancient wisdom and modern science, Jeff underscored the importance of living in alignment with our evolutionary heritage.


Jeff’s journey toward optimal health began with a simple question: How can he live more in tune with his Paleolithic ancestors, free from the burdens of modern diseases? This inquiry led him to experiment with various lifestyle interventions, with intermittent fasting being one of the key practices he embraced. By consolidating his food consumption into an eight-hour window, Jeff experienced significant weight loss and a range of other health benefits.


In addition to dietary changes, Jeff explored the therapeutic potential of temperature exposure, both extreme heat and cold. Contrary to the comfort of a controlled environment, he sought out fluctuations in temperature to activate the body’s innate resilience mechanisms. Through practices like cold water immersion and sauna sessions, Jeff tapped into the body’s capacity for neurogenesis and mood regulation.


Jeff’s approach to health is not dogmatic but rather balanced, incorporating evidence-based protocols into his daily life while allowing room for enjoyment and socializing. By adopting a personalized blend of wellness practices, Jeff has witnessed transformative results in his physical and mental well-being.


Realigning with Natural Rhythms

Encouraging more time in the kitchen, Jeff also reflects on the evolving nature of modern life, where convenience often overshadows mindful living. He notes the ease with which one can order almost anything with a simple tap on a smartphone, even a pineapple delivered to the doorstep, regardless of the season. However, amidst the conveniences lies a paradox—the prevalence of the standard American diet, exported globally, often lacking in nutritional value.


Drawing attention to the importance of sleep, he highlights its foundational role in mental and physical well-being. Remarkably, even a single night of poor sleep can disrupt insulin sensitivity. Reflecting on this, he delves into the evolutionary perspective, noting how our ancestors adapted to seasonal variations in sleep patterns, becoming slightly more insulin resistant in summer to store fat for the impending winter.


Transitioning to the impact of modern culture and technology on sleep, he discusses the prevalence of blue light emitted by screens, disrupting our natural circadian rhythm. Exploring the intricacies of our biological response to light, he explains how exposure to blue light in the morning helps regulate cortisol levels, while avoiding it at night supports melatonin secretion for restful sleep.


Offering practical tips for better sleep hygiene, he suggests implementing a night shift function on screens or simply putting them away before bedtime. Emphasizing the importance of creating a sleep-conducive environment, he recommends using amber light in the evening to promote relaxation. He shares his own experience of maintaining a cool, dark room for optimal sleep, aligning with the body’s natural inclination to rest in cooler temperatures.


Ultimately, he underscores the significance of introspection and aligning with biological rhythms, urging individuals to consider how they evolved and how they can harmonize their lifestyles accordingly.


Jeff’s journey toward optimal health serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for anyone seeking to reclaim their vitality and well-being. Want to catch the full episode to learn more about the power of good stress in your life? Click below to listen on your favorite platform!



If you enjoyed diving into the world of stress, wellness, and healing with Jeff Krasno, we’d love to hear from you! Your feedback helps us continue bringing you valuable insights and guests. Please take a moment to leave us a rating and review on your favorite podcast platform. Your support means the world to us! Thank you for being a part of our community.

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