Seven Mental and Social Hacks For Staying Slim This Holiday Season.

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One solution to holiday feasting is to simply take the Spartanesque route and consume oodles of sparkling water and gum while avoiding the caloric excess altogether.

To me, that doesn’t sound like much fun. And I certainly do my fair share of eating and drinking during the holiday season.

But at the same time, we could all use a little help ensuring that the body fat doesn’t get too high by the first week of January. After all, who wants to spend the entire first month of the year battling the bulge? So in today’s guest post by author Abby Maroko, you’re going to get seven mental and social hacks to staying slim this holiday season. Enjoy, and leave your comments, questions and thoughts below the post!

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As athletes and exercisers, we are strongly connected to our bodies and physical pursuits. So of course, when the winter holidays roll around, gaining weight – especially in the form of fat, can pose a giant concern.

For others of you, you might be worried about gaining weight causing depression and/or guilt, which can drain your motivation and become all consuming, leading to skipped workouts.

I don’t want to let the fear of gaining weight eat away at you, or myself. There is too much fun to be had – and too much mingling and bonding to do, to be spending this precious time of cheer staring at your plate in indecision.

Thanksgiving is behind us, but we have a whole holiday season ahead. That is a lot of days and a lot of opportunities to eat, especially if you are hibernating inside and spending too much time in the kitchen. You are going to need a bulletproof plan to ensure that you maintain the physique you desire and the one that is conducive to your fitness goals and overall happiness over the rest of the Winter holiday season.

This is not a guide to dropping pounds. I do not encourage you to set that goal over the holidays. A more realistic goal is to maintain your body weight and physique.

In this article, I give you a look inside my arsenal of mental and social hacks for keeping your body tight, and, free from binge and overindulgence regret, keeping your happiness high this holiday season. They are an amalgamation I’ve strewn together from my expertise as a personal trainer, lifelong athlete, health coach, and student of psychology. If you’re an athlete, your athletic experiences will help you better assimilate these tips, because I use the terminology of sport and competition that only people with a seriously vested interest in their health and fitness will understand. Oh, and don’t worry, this list of tactics is a guilt-free spread, so dig in.

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1.  Go The Distance: From Your Kitchen.

What I mean: In the most respectful way, LEAVE YOUR KITCHEN when you are done eating (a later tip will help you decide when exactly you are done). As registered dietician Keri Gans advises in her weight-loss and weight-maintenance book, The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You, short-circuit nighttime eating by simply leaving the very environment which is taunting you, your kitchen. She jokes that nothing good happens in the kitchen after 10 pm. Definitely mostly true, unless you are naughty ;).

Your call to action: Step away from the leftover heaps of stuffing and pitchers of eggnog. If your friends and family are still in the kitchen, leave and take the conversation into another room with you. If it is the days after the big meal, don’t hang out in the kitchen where all the remnants are stored. When you leave behind the food, you also leave behind the desire to eat it, which can get mixed up with boredom or be unconsciously practiced out of poor habit or social mirroring, aka doing what those around you are doing, which, again, is something you don’t think much about (‘monkey see, monkey do’, especially when you are distracted by conversation.

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2.  Dissociate and distract yourself from food.

What I mean: This should be no problem for you. You are already well practiced with these strategies.
When physical discomfort rises during a workout, race, or event, you shift your focus to your mind with tricks like mantras. And, over a long training period/cycle, when you are wobbling from a long bike ride and your quads are tender to the touch, you utilize your mind by distracting yourself with activities like reading, again, to take your mind off of the pain.

You will make the same transition–from body to mind, just with food, to tackle your holiday race.
Indulging in cravings is a visceral, or gut (pun intended), action–meaning it is rooted in your body. Your blood boils and your eyes pop out when you see a gooey piece of cake on the counter.

Your call to action: Transfer the heat in your fingertips to your mind by engaging in an activity other than eating when you are finished eating. Call a friend. Read a book. Do you like to play an instrument? Do a spontaneous jam session. The holidays grant you the opportunity to do things your busy life doesn’t otherwise allow for. Take advantage of the free time and do something that doesn’t involve ingesting calories.

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3.  Work the preemptive cheat.

What I mean: Like it sounds, a ‘preemptive cheat’ is a planned indulgence. You eat something tasty when the craving hits. You eat a reasonable portion of the ‘cheat’ to prevent eating a gargantuan amount later. If you enjoy sweets, you would have a piece of chocolate before your sweet tooth totally rages. Why? The rubber band effect is at play. The harder and longer you restrict yourself, the bigger and stronger your desire pushes back. The result? You are way more likely to come crashing down from perfection into a full-fledged binge.

This tip stems from Jill Coleman, MS, owner of JillFit physiques, a health and wellness brand where she does nutrition, fat loss, and mindset coaching. A former physique competitor, she takes pride in her body and values staying lean and muscular. She is able to do this while having nibbles and tastes of semi-unhealthy or taboo foods on a regular basis, and it has worked to avert sabotage of fat loss for many of her clients. The preemptive cheat will also protect your mood, because nobody feels good after a giant binge session.

Your call to action: At your big holiday meals (Christmas, Channukah, Kwanza, whatever else you may celebrate) this year, seize the moment and eat one food or taste one dish that looks good to you when it is served. Eat it when your taste buds are yanking at your tongue for it.

This one might be the hardest one to wrap your mind around and muster up the courage to employ, because I am asking you to indulge in something you ban every other day of the year. Something you consider ‘a treat’. You don’t want to feel like you are cheating, either.

Here is my advice to you on this: reframe this as a splurge instead of a cheat. You are breaking zero rules except the ones you place on yourself. And if you are too fixated on the cheat thing, make it your guiding goal to just be nice to yourself. You put enough wear and tear on your bodies and minds every day of the year in training, and opening up this little window to splurge will reinvigorate you by giving you a break from the pressure and grind.

Strive for imperfection. Veer outside of your diet lane.

Do exactly the opposite of what you do in training, or what you are forced to do on your recovery days, and loosen the gears of your eating mindset. Be less restrictive now so you don’t come crashing down later.

Disclaimer: If you are an all-or-nothing thinker, portion sizing probably is not your thing, and this strategy will be unappealing to you. No problem. Leave it behind, and focus on strategies 1 and 2. There is plenty of ammo there to shoot down the threat of gaining weight. If you are one to attack leftovers like a behemoth, the preemptive cheat is a match for you.

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4.  Play the “What Am I Thankful For?” Game

What I mean: Thanksgiving has obviously passed, but this strategy is so powerful that we are going to carry it over from Turkey Day to the rest of the holiday season. With the additional opportunities to gather with our loved ones during winter vacations comes additional time to reflect on what we are appreciative for. Activating that feeling of being blessed will trigger the release of gratitude—or just a bunch of feel-good hormones—which will flow through your body. And–the number one result, you will have stopped thinking about food.

Your Call to Action: Take a moment or a minute to stand (please, less sitting), think, and harness what it is you are appreciative of. If family and friends surround you, just open your eyes. That will save you the effort of thinking. Also, take advantage of being enveloped by loving relationships and be engaged in them. I mean, get involved in conversations. Look at your buddies and smile at them. Laugh with them. These experiences will help prevent unwanted eating in two ways. A) By diverting your attention. They will pull your attention to other people and push your attention away from food, and B) By feeding your soul, which might be the real source of your hunger. Yes, as airy-fairy as it sounds, you might just need to satisfy emotional or social cravings, which can often get lost in translation in the body-mind conversation, making us think we need to eat more.

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5.  Pinpoint your why.

What I mean: If you have ever read the classic book, Man’s Search for Meaning, by neurologist and psychiatrist Victor Frankl, you know the importance of having a reason, a why, to keep working towards your goals. In the book, Frankl details his experiences as a concentration camp inmate during World War II, really honing in on what he observed to be the sources of fuel for those who survived (and yes, he was one of those survivors). As the title suggests, it was the incessant search for meaning that sustained lives. And, he breaks down meaning into three categories: purposeful work, love, and courage in the face of difficulty. For you readers, purposeful work is applicable. Your purpose, or aim, is twofold: to stay trim and to stay in shape; and your work will take place in two domains: food and exercise. To do purposeful work, you will need to take potent action and make smart decisions about how you eat and move. This intention-focused work will keep you on track with your fitness and physique. You will not only survive the holiday season, but you will come out of it in step with your priority goals.

Your call to action: You already know your goals of staying trim and staying in shape. Now take it one step deeper. Ask yourself this: what is the why behind my desire or need to look good and perform well. Write your answers down on a sheet of paper and keep it at your bedside. I advise you to take a gander at it when you wake up and before you go to sleep, at the very least; and then use it additional times on an as-needed basis to avert any crises when they may arise (i.e. considering skipping a workout, taking your frustration out on a piece of cake instead of the pavement or a punching bag). For example, when you are ready to walk into the kitchen, walk to your room instead and read your special note. Feeding that why into your mind in the short window of time that could make or break you will save you from any unwanted eating or exercising blunders, which could set you back and weigh you down. Amazing how a few words can reel you back into the place you need to be.

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6.  Leave no room for mistakes.

What I mean: While completing my studies to become a Health Coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (an online program), I learned a great way to describe something I had been practicing for years. It is a technique called “crowding out.” To do it, you eat all of the good stuff first. There is no need to explore the science behind this trick. It is pretty simple. When your stomach is filled, and your cells are nourished, by nutrient-dense foods, and—tah-dah!—you don’t have the room or the need, and thus, lingering hunger, to eat poorer foods. You omit the futile feeding and you make your body smile by giving it, again, the good stuff.

Your call to action: You are what you eat, right? So, stay away from the nutrient-poor foods and live richly, by eating nutrient-rich foods. The key is to start with the good stuff. This translates to starting your day with the healthiest foods and starting each meal with the healthiest foods.

Wondering how to choose what is healthiest? Use your knowledge, taste buds, and gut compass (yes, what agrees with your gastrointestinal tract, as well as your intuition), to figure out what the “good stuff” entails. If you are not too knowledgeable about good vs. bad foods, revert to these two pieces of advice. From Skittles: “taste the rainbow.” Only execute it in the exact opposite way this candy brand had imagined. Don’t eat candy. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables that cover the whole spectrum of color. Red bell peppers. Orange sweet potatoes. Yellow squash. Leafy green kale, swiss chard, spinach (salivating as I type). There actually are no truly blue foods (they are a shade of purple), but blue berries (making it two separate words for the sake of not being redundant). Indigo blackberries. And purple cabbage. There are so many hues of plants in between, too.

The second sage advice to sprinkle into your dishes comes from journalist and activist Michael Pollan, author of several best-selling books, such as The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules: “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” And, if I can insert one more descriptor between the words ‘eat’ and ‘food,’ it is ‘whole.’ Basically, anything that came from the Earth or was raised naturally and humanely (for more information on mastering this selection process when you hit the grocery store, refer to Ben’s articles).

The most important thing is to apply these recommendations at the start of your day and start of your meals. Eating colorfully and eating lots of plants will take care of many of your nutrient needs and fill you up, leaving less room for scarfing down processed, sugar-laden junk food.

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7.  Scatter some beta-carotene into your daytime eating.

What I mean: Beta-carotene is also known as “Pro-Vitamin A” because it is assimilated into the body as either the precursor to Vitamin A, which or to function as an antioxidant. It shines through in foods as vibrant colors like green and orange. Today, I am encouraging you to be bright like the sun and go with orange, because these choices also contain natural sugar. Think carrots and sweet potatoes. By sprinkling these into your meals and/or snacks during the day, you will fend off the all-too-common and all-too-undesirable late night sugar feeds. You know, when you have just finished dinner and, as you are putting away any (potential) leftovers, you sneak into the pantry for a handful of chocolate chips or a pinch of granola—the things you were trying to avoid all day long! Avert the crisis, again, by getting your sugars earlier in the day, from natural sources, and you will end up satisfied at the end of the day. The return? Less time spent in the shadows of the dark of your kitchen, fewer calories consumed impulsively, glowing skin, and razor-sharp vision.

Your call to action: Add sweet potatoes or carrots to your meals and snacks during the day. For example, create a sweet potato hash for breakfast, mixing eggs, chopped up sweet potatoes, and any other veggies and seasonings you care for. Sticking to a more low-carb diet or fasting in the morning? Chomp on some carrots at lunch or for a snack. Do this and when you are winding down for the night, your appetite, and insulin levels, won’t spike up before you go to sleep.

Staying slim and fit doesn’t have to be so hard. It is the season of giving, so give yourself the gift of resting your mind and de-stressing. Strap yourself with these seven strong tips and you will have enough ammo to blast any chance of overeating or under-exercising you for the entire holiday season. Remember, athletes, this is a season we are tackling, so take it one day at a time. Each day you eat well and exercise well, you will have created a wave of momentum to carry into performing well the next day. I wish you all your best efforts. Luck will not be needed. Happy Holidays.

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Abby Maroko is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer. She is also a Health Coach certified by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is a two-time Boston Marathon qualifier and played competitive basketball for 12 years. Abby has a Bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan, where she also studied Movement Science. To contact her with comments or inquiries, send an email to [email protected] And to stay up on her latest articles on fitness, food, and psychology, as well as her adventures in fitness, visit her blog and follow her on Instagram @getamptnow.

Beyond Dehydration: Why Cramping Really Happens And What You Can Do About It.

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Last month, I read one of the best scientific treatises on cramping that I’ve ever seen. The title of the article was “Cramping In Sports: Beyond Dehydration“, and was written by today’s podcast guest, Andrew Buskard.

If you’ve ever scratched your head about why the heck you won’t stop cramping during your workouts or races, this episode is for you! During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why a cramp during exercise is way different than a medically associated cramp…

-What’s really happening inside your body when you cramp…

-Why the traditional theories of what causes exercise associated muscle cramping are incorrect or have been mostly disproven…

-Why neurologically related cramps are the primary cause of cramping during exercise…

-Why simply tasting something very salty can reverse a cramp…

-How your environment, your relaxation level and even your genetics can affect your susceptibility to cramping…

-Strategies to stop cramping when you have adequate electrolytes and hydration but you’re still cramping…

Do you have more questions about why cramping really happens? Leave your comments and thoughts below…

24 Cutting-Edge Interviews With The World’s Leading Experts on Fat Loss, Nutrition and Human Performance.

I’ve been keeping this big secret for awhile, but during the entire summer of 2014, I spent a ton of time interviewing an elite crowd of the world’s top experts on performance, fat loss, recovery, digestion, brain, sleep and hormone optimization.

And from Dec 15-Dec 19 (that’s next Monday through Friday!) I’m going to release ALL those interviews in what I will admit is the very first online conference I’ve ever organized (but even though I’m an online conference newbie, I’m still pretty darn proud of the content I’ve been able to collect for you in this one).

I have had the honor of conducting 24 one-on-one conversational video interviews with some of the world’s best doctors, athletes, scientists and biohackers. These talks capture their cutting-edge non-run-of-the-mill research and thoughts on performance, mental clarity and total body optimization. Each of these incredible conversations is going to be streamed online *for free* so you can watch and listen in.

And I guarantee these discussions are not coming up in your doctor’s office or average health or fitness magazine – this is groundbreaking stuff, and even includes an interview with the world famous Dr. Joseph Mercola, in which he reveals his most potent and effective daily habits, meals, and supplements for anti-aging and health.

The name of this conference is REV Yourself”, it’s hosted by en*theos.com, and it’s all about showing you exactly how to rev your body and look, feel, and perform at your absolute peak potential. All of these interviews will be streaming for free starting December 15, and even though it’s over a month away, you can take early bird action and sign up right here to get full access and all the details.

Check out this amazing line-up of experts and topics:


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How To Use NLP To Beat Food Cravings, Run Faster and Permanently Change Any Bad Habit

with Andy Murphy

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You can train your unconscious brain to change your habits and actions, but to do so, you must reprogram it.
  • One extremely important part of Neurolinguistic Programming is to create a physical anchor.
  • You can use NLP for both physical performance and mental performance, but also for self-control and changing habits permanently (including controlling food cravings, as you’ll see in this video).


How To Protect And Enhance Your Sleep

with Ameer Rosic

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • How to start every day with some type of beverage that supports your mitochondria, such as apple cider vinegar, organic baking soda or minerals.
  • Standing and moving during the day activates specific sleep pressure proteins that allow your pineal gland to produce melatonin at night.
  • We all hear blue light is bad for you and your sleep, but blue light exposure can actually help you sleep when exposure is done in the morning.


How To Change Your Life By Getting More Done In Less Time

with Ari Meisel

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Create very small, achievable intermediate goals instead of big, lofty goals – get “one small win” each day.
  • Use virtual assistants, personal assistants and automation websites to get more done in less time – and that you don’t have to be rich to do it!
  • Use the Pomodoro technique of “interval training” of your tasks, with “25 minutes on-5 minutes off”.


How To Play More And Exercise Less

with Darryl Edwards

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Include the PRIMALITY components of “Primality, Restorative, Integrative, Mindful, Adaptive, Life Enhancing, Instinctive Movement, Tactical, Youthful Exuberance”.
  • Use the concepts of primal play, you can maintain levels of extreme strength and fitness without ever stepping foot into a gym.
  • Play – it not only increases levels of fitness in a fun way, but also causes a hormonal response that makes you both happier and smarter.


How To Build Strength & Cardio At The Same Time

with Doug McGuff

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You can engage your anaerobic energy system to the extent that you can overload it with lactic acid and get an enormous cardiovascular effect – but you can do this with weights, not cardio!
  • Within just 12-15 minutes of super-slow, controlled and intense strength training using 5 basic exercises, you can build strength and cardio at the same time.
  • Lactic acid can actually be quite useful, and you can train your liver to actually take lactic acid and convert it into glucose to be a useable fuel source.


How To Fix Your Gut

with Dr. Alejandro Junger

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Most Western doctors test the gut the wrong way, and don’t actually measure the DNA of organisms in the gut, which is the gold standard for testing.
  • Yeast and fungal overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth and parasites are three common and harmful gut issues that are commonly seen in the gut of civilized populations.
  • When the conditions in your gut are not optimal, such as lack of good bacteria, too much starch and sugar, or an unhealthy diet, you will set yourself up for being “taken over” by gut invaders.


Protecting Your Body From The Hazards Of Airline Travel

with Dr. Jack Kruse

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Increasing use of technology/wifi on airplanes can cause much more damage to your body than airport X-rays.
  • Communicable disease, blood clots and risk of catching a cold can be 100x higher when you are flying.
  • There are 17 things you can do to protect your body from the hazards airline travel – from foods to supplements to biohacks.


Hidden Secrets To Becoming A Better Breather

with Dr. John Douillard

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You can train yourself to achieve a deep, meditative state of alpha brainwave activation and focused relaxation during exercise.
  • Breathing through your nose during exercise is a key skill that you must learn to correctly activate your lung’s receptors to lower cortisol.
  • The secret to decreasing pain and discomfort during exercise is to use proper breathing tactics to get the ideal combination of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activation.


How To Become A Fat Burning Machine

with Dr. Peter Attia

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • It takes 1-3 months to become fully fat adapted, but when you do it, it allows you to do long workouts and get through the day while sparing your use of carbohydrates and glycogen.
  • Once you’ve achieved a state of fat oxidation, you can “cheat” on carbs and still get yourself back into fat oxidation within 48-72 hours.
  • “Bonking” during exercise is not necessarily a factor of running out of carbohydrates or glucose, and is probably instead because the brain fails to utilize glucose – and this can be fixed with adequate amino acids.


How To Challenge Your Body And Mind

with Hobie Call

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • If you want to do a race or an event, then push yourself to that same level in at least a few of your training sessions.
  • A treadmill plus a weighted vest, with 1:3 or 1:4 work:rest ratios is a very difficult but highly effective way to become a tougher, faster runner.
  • It’s OK to defy the norms of training – Hobie runs just 10 miles a week, but is still one of the fastest racers out there!


How To Easily Track What’s Going On Inside Your Body

with Jeff Hunt

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • There are 12 important things that you can pay attention to that will directly dictate knowing whether or not you’re getting the most out of your workouts, or are at risk for injury or illness.
  • When you look at an isolated single variable, such as urine color, it can tell you a little bit about your state of recovery, but putting together a cluster of recovery factors is far more accurate and informative.
  • Lack of recovery doesn’t just mean that you’re unable to workout hard – it also means you can lose your love of exercise and your passion for the sport you’re competing in!


Top Recovery Tools: the Best Ways to Recover as Quickly as Possible

with Jeff Spencer

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • The same strategies that work for a Tour de France cyclist can work for the traveling businessman and the busy soccer mom.
  • You can stack injury recovery techniques such as heat, then topical, then electrical or laser or mechanical stimulation, and do it all outside for benefit of sunlight.
  • The next “big thing” in recovery and injury prevention is to pay attention to your electrochemical gradients, and how the use of devices affects your cell’s ability to recover.


How To Conquer Your Fears, React Under Stress, and Master Your Life

with Jesse Elder

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • When you see evidence that your training is working, it’s a huge boost. So don’t just train, give yourself a chance to compete, because results beat theory.
  • Your life is meant to be lived as fully as your imagination and courage will allow.
  • Thoughts create feelings… and feelings are more powerful than most people will ever know.


How To Enjoy Real Food (Without Spending Your Life In the Kitchen)

with Jessica Greenfield

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Eating real food doesn’t mean spending long periods of time in the kitchen – and much of the techniques you can use from fermentation to slow food prep can be done without you even being there!
  • One of the best ways to save time on eating real food is to batch your grocery shopping also batch your food prep into just one to two times during the week
  • Learning how to use a crockpot is one of the best things a beginner can do.


Why You Need To Do Hard Things

with Joe DeSena

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • From watching TV in Mandarin Chinese to carrying 70 pound rocks up hills, doing hard things can give you a long, fulfilling life by keeping you from getting soft.
  • The mental component of training is just as important as the physical component.
  • A good way to build durability is to do a hard, intense workout immediately followed by an easy, long workout.


Why You Need To Cheat On Your Diet

with John Kiefer

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You can cheat every day on your diet if you time your carbohydrates, fats and proteins properly throughout the day.
  • Ice cream, alcohol and dark chocolate can each have benefits if you eat them at specific times during the day.
  • In moderation, insulin is actually a good hormone that can assist with both muscle gain and fat loss.


How To Become A Supple Leopard

with Kelly Starrett

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • The worst thing you can do before or after exercise is to sit down.
  • The best way to assess why you got injured is to start by assessing hydration, sitting too much, not sleeping enough and things that you may not think have anything to do with the injury itself.
  • Skin massage, raking with soup spoon or stick, dry brushing the skin and even keeping a Chinese soup spoon in your bathtub or hot tub for skin therapy is an enormously effective injury prevention tactic.


6 Ways To Get As Fit As A Navy Seal

with Mark Divine

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You should try to do something that scares you at least once a week.
  • Durability includes pushing through injuries, even though we’re often told not to – and sometimes it’s OK to keep going when you’ve injured your shoulder, knee or back.
  • Stamina and endurance are sorely neglected training areas, and when not done in excess and used strategically, can result in huge fitness boosts.


The 3 Keys To Looking Good Naked

with Mark Sisson

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You should lift heavy stuff 2-3x per week and you don’t even need to step foot in a gym to do it.
  • Sprint for 15-60s 1-2x per week, allow yourself to fully recover in between each sprint and go beyond running to try things like cycling, elliptical, swimming, etc.
  • A key to looking good naked is to avoid snacking and to instead turn yourself into a fat burning machine.


Practical Ways To Protect Yourself From Hidden EMF Killers

with Michael Neuert

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Popular science believes that the only thing to worry about when it comes to electrical devices is heat, but the signals these devices emit go far above and beyond merely heat.
  • There is absolutely no way to truly know, measure and mitigate EMF in your home and work environment unless you use a meter to test.
  • You can shield yourself from EMF effectively by taking proper steps – including how your home and office devices are configured.


How To Cool The Brain

with Nora Gedgadaus

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • High blood sugar can cause neural inflammation, and it can happen even on a low carb diet if you are stressed.
  • Once you have an immune reaction that affects your brain, you’ll have that immune sensitivity forever.
  • Curcumin is an extremely potent anti-inflammatory, which works very well with resveratrol (e.g. organic red wine) and other flavonoids (e.g. dark colored organic vegetables), bioperine (e.g. organic black pepper).


How To Fix Your Adrenals

with Shawn Talbott

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Humans are not zebras who just run from a lion every now and then, and there is a big difference between acute stress and being stressed out.
  • When cortisol levels are high, you shuttle resources away from producing testosterone, and adaptogenic herbs can be used to lower cortisol and increase available resources for other hormones.
  • One of the best ways to test for your adrenal function is a simple salivary cortisol test at multiple times during the day.


Biohacking Your Brain

with Steven Fowkes

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • Some of the best cognitive enhancing gear includes a good water filter, a HEPA filter with a negative ion generator and an infrared lamp.
  • The biggest ways to destroy cognitive performance include gut inflammation, gluten, milk protein from commercial dairy and amino acids deficiencies.
  • You can amplify your choline levels with foods such as walnuts, broccoli, cauliflower for choline, while also shutting down brain inflammation with foods such as coconut oil, cur cumin and fish oil.


How To Transition Back To Regular Eating From A Detox

with Yuri Elkaim

 

In this talk you’ll learn:

  • You can do two to four cleanses per year that coincide with the seasons.
  • Cleansing doesn’t require fancy supplements or juices, but can be accomplished 100% with real food.
  • If you don’t use it you lose it – and if you completely avoid natural sources of gluten or lactose, you may struggle heavily with them if you ever need to eat them.

Amazing, right?

It’s incredible, and I’m extremely honored, to have this much healthy living wisdom all in one place. I can’t wait for you to check out these cutting-edge, non-run-of-the-mill interviews so you can REV yourself, get the most from your body and mind, and experience what it feels like to look, feel and perform at the complete next level.

REV Yourself streams for 100% free starting Monday, December 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM PT / 3:00 PM ET, and goes all the way through December 19. Click here to register for free and get your all-access ticket today.

Four Natural Ways I Fix My Joints, Bones And Injuries Fast (Without Drugs And Surgery)

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Now that I’m doing a lot of obstacle racing (see photo above, in which I’m clambering over a wall in my last Spartan race), I’m getting a fair share of scrapes, bruises, sprains, and strains – more than I experienced when racing Ironman triathlon.

These bone, muscle and joint injuries aren’t happening because I’m weak or unprepared, but are rather just natural consequences from shoving the human body to it’s limits. Living life to it’s full extent.

Dying empty.

Whatever you want to call it.

And while my 26 Top Ways To Recover From Workouts and Injuries with Lightning Speed is a really comprehensive primer for accelerating recovery and managing injuries, I’ll readily that admit some of the things I talk about in that article can seem excessive, inconvenient or expensive. Let’s face it – it can be tough to drive to the acupuncturist every week, fly to Europe for stem cell therapy, or hunt down a good therapist with a decent cold lasering device. Instead, I’m often asked about the more practical stuff and nitty-gritty details of the easy-to-implement things that I personally do on a daily basis when I need a bit of fast fixing up, accelerated recovery, or when the athletes I coach write me for quick and easy-to-implement solutions after they’ve tweaked an ankle, knee or hip.

So rather than giving you a big, intimidating list of a few dozen things to do when you’re injured, here instead are four simple, practical and natural ways I fix my joints, bones and injuries fast (without drugs and surgery).

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1. Hot-Cold Contrast

OK, quick confession: I actually now have an endless swimming pool called an “AquaFitness” pool at my house. I keep it next to a hot tub. Both are non-chlorinated and are instead kept clean with an ozone filter and ClearChoice Enzymes.

I keep the pool at 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the hot tub at 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once per week, no matter what, I do a hot-cold contrast session in which I swim, tread or move in the cold water for 8 minutes, soak in the hot tub for 2 minutes, then repeat for a total of 30 minutes. To enhance blood flow and decrease inflammation, I’ll do this protocol as often as every day if I’m injured or if I’m tapering for a race.

This is just one example of what is called a “hot-cold contrast session”. This therapy has several physiological effects that can enhance recovery, including reflexive vasoconstriction to cold followed by vasodilation from heat (blood vessel “pumping”), slowing of nerve conduction velocity (which decreases pain and muscle spasming/guarding), decreased firing of the muscle spindles (which can reduce the stiffness that occurs when injured) and increased flow of inflammatory byproducts out of muscle tissue, which is especially useful in acute inflammation stages in which swelling can cause pain and discomfort.

What are some other examples of hot-cold contrast that you can implement?

-Take a 5 minute shower with 20 seconds cold, 10 seconds hot, 10 times through.

-Go to the gym and sit in the sauna for 5-10 minutes, then jump into a cold shower for 2 minutes, and do rounds for 20-30 minutes.

-Take a 20 minute hot magnesium salts bath, then follow it up with a 5 minute icy cold shower.

Want something slightly more complex? Here’s one that I assigned to one of my athletes last week. He called it the “Killer Cold Pool Protocol”, and it involves 10 minutes of cold pool immersion (use an underwater .mp3 player if you get bored) and then a transition into a hot sauna for 10 minutes of yoga “sun salutations”, followed by going back into cold pool for 10 minutes, and so on, with a goal of completing 3 rounds for a total of 60 minutes.

Afterwards, he said: “Wasn’t as bad as I thought, after the first 60 secs or so. By the 3rd “set”, I waded right in and was no issue. Amazing how much of this is psychological. Felt like a fu&%#*g beast afterwards. Haven’t felt like that in a long time.”

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2. Deep Tissue Work

So here’s the deal: I’ve written many times before about the benefits of foam rolling and deep tissue work, and extolled the virtues of book like “Becoming A Supple Leopard” and “Ready To Run” as the best resources to learn how to do deep tissue work the right way.

But once again, this particular article you’re reading now is about the practical application of deep tissue work, and exactly what I do in my own program, so here you go:

-Every Tuesday and every Friday I do a full body foam rolling session that takes about 20 minutes, starting with my low back and progressing to upper shoulders, neck, under armpits, chest, hips, hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, IT band (outside of thighs) and adductors (inside of thighs). By the time I finish, I am usually dripping with sweat, and I count this rolling session as “workout time”. I use something called a Rumble Roller, which has ridges in it that help dig into muscle tissue. See, the #1 problem I observe in the athletes I advise is that they initially think foam rolling involves about 2 minutes of messing around with a foam roller. This doesn’t count. It’s just foreplay. Instead, you need dedicated, scheduled and planned sessions of rolling around on the floor and making sweet love to your foam roller as you grunt, twist and grind.

-Every day before breakfast, I use a tiny little ball with ridges in it (called a “Beastie Ball” and made by the same folks who make the Rumble Roller). I roll each foot for about one minute, and then roll the outside of each hip for about one minute. Why these sections? I know from experience that the bottom of my feet and the outside of my hips are the two areas of my body that get the tightest when I’m in training, so I prioritize hitting those every day, and it makes a night and day difference.

-Once per month, I do a 60-90 minute full body massage or full body foam rolling session. Make it deep, make it hard, make it hurt so good.

If you can just start doing those three pieces of deep tissue work, you’re going notice your body change in – drumroll please – 9-12 months. Yep, you heard me right. Get committed. Just like muscle gain, fat loss, getting to the extreme edge of cardiovascular fitness, and any other beneficial positive change, it takes patience to change your body, and it takes that long for your fascia, ligaments and tendons to begin to adapt and become more mobile.

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3. Topical Treatments

Truth be told, about once a week some beauty or health care product company sends me some fancy bottle of some new magical potion or lotion that is supposed to instantly make soreness and injuries vanish.

As I’ve discussed in a previous podcast, not only do many of these creams, lotions, and topical treatments contain unhealthy active ingredients, but most of them simply don’t really seem to work for me at all.

So when it comes to topical treatments for muscle soreness and injuries, what does actually work?

-Every day, post-workout, I step out of my cold shower, completely dry my body, and then apply transdermal magnesium lotion (not spray) to any major muscles I’ve worked. I rub it in for about 30 seconds. Compared to magnesium spray, magnesium lotion absorbs much better and doesn’t leave me with a dry, scratchy or itchy feeling, or any white residue. The magnesium relaxes muscles and creates “tissue saturation”, which allows the mineral to travel to the body’s tissues and cells at a high dose without losses through the gastrointestinal tract. 

-If I have a muscle that has been strained, sprained or seems to be in a constant state of spasm or guarding, or a sore joint, I apply topical frankincense oil. Yes, frankincense, just like they brought little baby Jesus. The stuff works.

Incidentally, if you really need to amplify delivery of magnesium or frankincense into your muscle tissue, here’s a tip I learned last month from Dr. Jeff Spencer as I was interviewing him for my REV conference: if you happen to have an electrostimulation device (listen to my podcast with MarcPro to learn more about these) you can slap it on over whatever topical treatment you’ve just applied, wrap an ace bandage around it if that helps the electrodes to stick better, and the electrical stimulation effectively drives the topical treatment deeper into the tissue.

I think that’s a pretty cool biohack, especially considering it comes straight from the guy who is responsible for ensuring Tour De France cyclists bounce back as quickly as possibly between grueling stages.

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4. Nutrients

Finally, we get to nutrients.

If you’re into health, you’ve probably read about everything from glucosamine chondroitin to ginger to turmeric to tart cherry juice to proteolytic enzymes for easing joint pain, healing muscles faster, or decreasing inflammation. Heck, just head down the supplements aisle of your local health food store and pharmacy or do a search for “natural anti-inflammatories” on the internet and you’ll find all these and many more often recommended.

Just like I’ve done with smart drugs, sleep aids, and everything else I do as a human guinea pig health blogger, I’ve tried them all. I’ve ground up ginger root by hand, I’ve ordered shockingly sour bottles of tart cherry extract and lemon bioflavonoids, I’ve scooped powdered glucosamine and chondroitin into smoothies, and I’ve even sent my wife back to the grocery store three times in a single month to stock our kitchen back up on turmeric…

…and most of this stuff works. A little bit here, a little bit there, and you notice some significant changes in the way your muscles feel the day after a hard workout, or how “lubed up” your joints feel after a tough season of racing.

But it also gets exhausting to throw everything and the kitchen sink into your body, and to try to keep track of everything you’re supposed to be taking if you’re injured, you’re sore or you’ve really beat up your body.

It’d be nice if all this stuff was somehow compressed into a single capsule.

It turns out that all this stuff now does actually exist in just ONE bone and joint healing supplement. So now I just use that single supplement for recovery. I don’t take it every day, but when I’m injured, I’ve finished a race, or I’m really sore, I use 6 capsules in the morning and 6 capsules in the evening. The supplement is called “NatureFlex“, and it contains four different blends:

NatureFlex-Osteo-Mineral Blend: Naturally occurring minerals to assist in maintaining a proper electrolyte balance while at the same time keeping calcium dissolved in solution, preventing the calcium from depositing in your arteries and joints (this is damn important if you’re using anything that has calcium in it). This blend contains Goat Milk Mineral Whey, Di-calcium Phosphate and Acetyl-L-Carnitine

-Collagen Blend: This blend contains chicken collagen type II, the principal structural protein in cartilage that provides strength, flexibility and support, along with Lutein Esters. Unlike most collagen blends, the collagen used in NatureFlex comes from chickens free of growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and insecticides. This form of collagen is a whole food concentrate that has no known side effects and provides maximum absorption.

-Flex Blend: This blend contains natural anti-inflammatory ingredients that are also known for their alkalizing effects and potent antioxidant properties, including White Willow Bark, Tart Cherry Juice, Feverfew Leaf, Valerian Root, Ginger Root, Turmeric Root (curcuma longa) Acerola Cherry and Lemon Bioflavonoids.

-Enzyme Blend: Finally, you may have heard of proteolytic enyzme supplements like Wobenzymes and Recoverease. Rather than taking those separately, those same enzymes are now actually mixed in with the blends above, and include Protease, Bromelain, Papain, Amylase, Lipase and Cellulase.

So yes, it’s basically a shotgun approach.

And again, I don’t recommend dumping all that stuff into your body every day unless you’re got some pretty serious joint arthritic issues going on, but when you need rapid recovery from a nutritional standpoint, or you’re injured and you want to pull every last nutrient trick out of the closet, this stuff works and it works fast. The stuff is made about 4 hours from my house at a local organic goat farm, and you can get bottles of it here

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Summary

So that’s it. Those are my staples.

If you have questions, comments or feedback about hot-cold contrast, deep tissue work, topical treatments or nutrients, then leave your thoughts below.

Also, if you have your own fast recovery tricks that you’ve found to be particularly potent, I’d love to hear about them, so feel free to share those below too. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy living life at a slightly faster pace than the rest of the general population.

The 30 Days No Alcohol Experiment: Part 1 (What Happens When You Quit Alcohol Cold Turkey).

30 days no alcohol

It was in a podcast episode last month with James Swanwick that a crazy thought entered my mind.

During the podcast (yeah, this is a mouthful) “How Quitting Alcohol Helped Today’s Guest Lose 30 Pounds, Make More Money, Attract Better Friends And Lovers, And Got A Job Hosting SportsCenter on ESPN (And Your Formula For Reducing or Quitting Alcohol)”

…I asked James if he actually got any blood testing before and after quitting alcohol.

He said no (but he wished he had).

So after I recorded the podcast, I e-mailed the good folks at WellnessFX, and said, “Hey look – it would be an incredibly interesting experiment to take some guy or girl who is drinking alcohol pretty liberally and to test their blood biomarkers, then have them quit alcohol for 30 days, and then re-test – just to see what happens inside your body when you quit alcohol for 30 days.”

Within about 5 minutes, I got an e-mail back.

They said, “Let’s do it.”

Not only that, but WellnessFX graciously offered their flagship $198 “Baseline Package”, which includes an advanced biomarker analysis and an intuitive health dashboard to track the results.

My next task?

Find a willing, drinking victim who would not only give up alcohol for 30 days, but would do it between the celebratory holiday time frame of Thanksgiving to Christmas day and be willing to have all their health results publicly released here on BenGreenfieldFitness.com. In other words, they’d need to not only sober up cold turkey, but also be a glutton for some pretty serious self-control under intense public scrutiny.

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How To Find A Crazy Person Who Will Give Up Alcohol For 30 Days

So, knowing that most of my followers tend to err towards the edge of biohacking and self-experimentation, I posted the following on the BenGreenfieldFitness Facebook page:

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The post received 108 entries.

Of those 108 willing participants, I chose one lucky guy named Jason Sissel.

So…who is Jason? Here’s his photo and stats…

Jason Sissel

Background:

  • Former Wall St. professional
  • Left the corporate world to run own businesses (founded a pediatric cancer non-profit, investment/consulting business, software business, and to inspire others to pursue what makes them happy in life)
  • 38yrs old, 5’11”, ~180lbs
  • Sponsored ultra-endurance athlete
  • Estimates he is probably about 20 pounds overweight due to taking the entire last year off (after cycling across the USA), exacerbated by poorer-than-normal eating and drinking lots of wine and beer. Quite frankly, he got physically burnt out and let himself get in an unmotivated funk.
  • He loves motivating and inspiring people – particularly the few hundred folks who have joined his foundation to raise funds for kids in cancer treatment by doing endurance events.

Athletic Highlights:

  • Cycled across USA (self-supported)
  • 1x Ultraman World Championship
  • 1x Ultraman Canada Championship
  • 3x Ironman
  • 1x Marathon des Sables (a marathon in the Sahara Desert);
  • 1x Texas Time Trials 24hr Bike (2nd, A.G.)
  • Climbed 3 of the Seven Summits

Wow. So obviously, Jason is no joke.

You may wonder why I picked a person who is so physically fit and active, rather than some sedentary, beer-chugging couch potato. Easy: most of the readers of this blog: A) drink alcohol; B) exercise hard. So Jason was a natural choice, since his lifestyle reflects the majority of folks who are going to benefit from the results of this experiment.

OK, OK, Jason was possibly drinking more than most readers of this blog, and said in his submission:

“…for better or worse, I also love red wine and beer and usually find myself enjoying a few bottles of wine per week or a few beers while watching sports…”

A few bottles of red wine a week?

Dang. I’m a glass of wine a day guy, but couldn’t tell you the last time I punished several bottles in a 7 day time span.

Plus, Jason obviously appears not to be some kind of a flake who would derail himself halfway into this experiment at some kind of booze-infused holiday party. In other words, he freaking ran across the Sahara desert, so I figured he could last 30 days without drinking.

Here’s Jason’s current drink chart going into the no alcohol experiment:

Jason Sissel alcohol

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Jason’s Pre No-Alcohol Stats

Jason was required to keep a strict nutrition (food and drink), exercise and sleep journal for the 15 days prior to his first WellnessFX blood lab draw, and he is also required to continue these logs during the entire 30 days of the no-alcohol period.

Since he’s a bit of a self-quantifier geek, Jason was actually able to supply even more data prior to quitting the alcohol, including a resting metabolic rate test and a DEXA scan (a very accurate method of body fat testing that allows you to see where body fat is actually distributed).

And of course, we also get to see half-naked photos of Jason before and after, which he was a bit embarrassed to submit – but hey, ya gotta play by the rules, right?

In just a moment, I’m going to give you a very helpful walkthrough of all these documents, but in the meantime:

Click here to download Jason’s resting metabolic rate test (RMR) results.

Click here to download Jason’s body fat (DEXA) results.

Click here to download Jason’s full WellnessFX blood results. 

Click here to read Jason’s first blog post “Biohack: 30 Days No Alcohol” (and follow his own thoughts on this 30 day experiment)

Finally, below are Jason’s pre-30 days no alcohol front and side photos.

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The 30-Days No Alcohol Bloodwork

OK, as promised, here is my walkthrough and explanation of Jason’s WellnessFX blood results, metabolic test results, and DEXA Scan.

Below, I’ve taken a screenshot of each of the components of Jason’s WellnessFX dashboard. I should note that this was Jason’s second blood panel that he’s done with WellnessFX, and that his previous blood panel was kind of a “Cadillac” panel (WellnessFX’s Premium Panel) and tested for even more than the Baseline panel that he went through as part of the no-alcohol test. So on the screenshots below, the dots that are farther to the left are from bloodwork that Jason did in October of 2013 and won’t be taken into account for this experiment or explanation.

vitaminsminerals

OK, a few things to note here on Jason’s vitamins and minerals. The first is that his Vitamin D is low…really low. Ideal ranges for Vitamin D are 40-80 and he is at 11. It is well known in nutritional science that drinking too much alcohol can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb and activate Vitamin D.

Vitamin D only becomes physiologically active after it’s been chemically modified in the liver and kidneys. Since the liver must carry the majority of the burden of alcohol metabolism, excessive alcohol consumption puts an unhealthy overload on the liver and makes it less able to perform its other duties. This overload on the liver can eventually result in a number of disorders, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis. By compromising normal liver function, alcohol interferes with the conversion of both dietary (from food) and endogenous (from sunlight) vitamin D into its active forms. As a consequence, heavy drinkers will tend to have low blood levels of vitamin D.

Jason will not be adding any extra Vitamin D supplementation over the next 30 days or increasing his sunlight exposure significantly, so it will be interesting to see how cutting alcohol affects his Vitamin D.

You’ll also note that Jason’s magnesium levels are low (although this value is taken from his October 2013 results). Although quite deleterious (since magnesium is involved in over 300 different enzymatic reactions), a magnesium deficiency is actually quite common among endurance athletes. As Rhonda Patrick notes in this WellnessFX article on magnesium deficiencies, alcohol can literally DOUBLE the excretion rate of magnesium in both acute (one time) and chronic (frequent) alcohol consumption cases.

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rbcsiron wbcs

As you can see, Jason’s red blood cell count, hematocrit and overall oxygen carrying capacity is chugging along just fine, with no apparent issues with anemia, iron, etc.

However, when you look at his white blood cell count, you can see elevated eosinophils along with low neutrophils.

An abnormally high amount of eosinophils in the blood can suggest a variety of different problems, such as allergies or infections, and I often see this in individuals who are A) eating lots of foods that create autoimmune issues, such as commercial wheat, soy, or dairy; B) have some kind of a gut infection, such as bacterial overgrowth or a parasite.

Neutrophils are white blood cells that help fight infections. Low levels can indicate an immune weakness or deficiency, while higher levels can indicate increased inflammation or infection. While full-on alcoholism and high amounts of liver damage can indeed cause a low white blood cell count due to the vitamin deficiencies and low protein that accompanies liver inflammation,. a moderate consumption of alcohol should not really affect white blood cells. So I highly doubt that Jason’s level of alcohol consumption is deleteriously affecting his counts, but it will still be interesting to see how his white blood cells respond to 30 days of no alcohol.

In the meantime, if white blood cell counts are abnormal and accompanied by gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or indigestion, I will typically recommend a Complete Gut Panel to test for bacteria, parasites, yeast, fungus and microbial status of the gut.

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bone electrolytes kidney

I’ve already addressed Jason’s low Vitamin D status, which is repeated in the bone biomarkers section of this blood panel, but here you can also see Jason’s electrolytes and kidney function. All is relatively normal here.

When looking at an electrolyte panel, however, one important variable to pay attention to is CO2, also known as biocarbonate. Bicarbonate (HCO₃⁻ ) is the main form of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the blood. Bicarbonate acts as a buffer against acids in your blood, so a low bicarbonate suggests too much acid and a high bicarbonate too little. You can see that Jason’s bicarbonates are borderline high (at 29), suggesting that he may be bordering on a bit too alkaline. You can read up on metabolic alkalosis here, but I find Jason’s values interesting because I’d expect to see more metabolic acidosis in a heavy drinker, since alcohol has potential to create a net acidic state.

This slight alkaline state could be caused if Jason has very poor breathing patterns (shallow, chest breathing all day long), was taking a lot of bicarbonates or antiacids (like Tums, for example), engaging in heavy use of licorice-based supplements (glycyrrhizinic acid) or had a low level of potassium. But none of these seem to be the case with Jason, so this is a bit of a head scratcher for me, and I’ll be interested to see how his values change after 30 days of no drinking.

In addition, as you can see, Jason’s kidneys look fine. No issues there.

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liver

As I would have expected due to his level of alcohol consumption, Jason has elevated liver enzymes. His Alanine Aminotransferase, or ALT, is especially elevated. This is an enzyme in liver cells, and liver damage or disease causes a release of ALT from the liver cells, increasing the amount in the blood. AST and ALP are found in cells other than liver cells, while ALT is more specific to liver cells.

High alcohol intake and high body fat percentages can both increase liver enzymes. I suspect we’ll see some very favorable decreases in Jason’s liver enzymes at the end of 30 days.

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diabetesthyroid

Here you can see that Jason has high fasted blood glucose and high hemoglobin A1c (a 3 month snapshot of his average blood sugar levels). Since alcoholic drinks contain high amounts of sugar from both glucose and fructose sources, this is no surprise. In an active athlete like Jason, I’d expect to see fasted glucose levels that are below 90, but instead, he appears to have chronically elevated blood sugar levels and is relying upon carbohydrates (not fat) for energy. In Jason’s resting metabolic rate results farther below, you’ll see that this is indeed the case.

In addition, Jason has a very elevated TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).  TSH triggers the thyroid gland in your neck to produce thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which are crucial for your body’s use of energy. The amount of functioning thyroid hormones gives your brain feedback as to how much TSH to release, so the brain will release less or more TSH as it senses is necessary. Low thyroid function can cause weight gain, fatigue, cold intolerance and brain fog.

Prior to this test, Jason was aware that he was hypothyroid, and is currently on 75mcg per day of Synthroid (Levothyroxine). This is definitely not my top pick for thyroid supplementation, as it is a synthetic form of thyroid and contains only one of the two major thyroid hormones: T4. I’m a much bigger fan of a full spectrum of thyroid hormones that includes T1, T2, T3 and T4. In the past, I’ve recommend natural thyroid replacement supplements such as ThyroGold for this reason.

While alcohol isn’t always the culprit when it comes to low thyroid function, it can certainly play a role. It has been shown to cause direct suppression of thyroid function by cellular toxicity, and indirect suppression by blunting the release of an important thyroid-related hormone called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). With elevated chronic use, it can also cause a decrease of peripheral thyroid hormones like T3 and T4, primarily due to it’s deleterious effect on liver and gut conversion of thyroid hormones to their active form.

My guess is that Jason experiences a distinct drop in TSH after 30 days, indicated improved thyroid function.

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inflammation

Jason hs-CRP – a primary indicator of inflammation, is just fine. If anything, I’d expect it to decrease at the end of the next 30 days to below 0.2, as alcohol is both acidic and inflammatory.

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LipidPanel

lipidpanel2

Jason has some pretty serious lipid panel “issues”.

For example, Jason’s Triglyceride to HDL ratio (one of the first values I pay attention to on a lipid panel) is very high, at 5.9 (I like to see it below 1!). Excess triglycerides can be stored in blood vessels, contributing to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Higher amounts of HDL can carry these fatty deposits away from blood vessels and be protective. So the ratio of triglycerides to HDL can be a valuable measure to help predict cardiovascular risk.

Due to it’s high fructose content, most forms of alcohol can shove triglycerides through the roof. Alcohol has an especially significant additive effect on the postprandial (after a meal) triglyceride peak when it accompanies a meal containing fat, especially saturated fat. This results from a decrease in the breakdown of cholesterol due to an acute inhibitory effect of alcohol on the activity of the crucial fat burning enzyme lipoprotein lipase.

Alcohol also increases the synthesis of large VLDL particles in the liver, which is the main source of triglycerides in the high triglyceride state so often seen with chronic excessive alcohol intake.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not completely demonizing alcohol here. Low to moderate consumption (such as a glass of red wine a day) has actually been shown to increase HDL and favorably affect blood lipids. But it appears Jason has definitely exceeded this beneficial amount.

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The 30-Days No Alcohol Body Fat

Below are Jason’s DEXA scan numbers, which he got from DEXAFit Chicago.

Although not quite as accurate as underwater weighing (hydrostatic measurement) Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is one of the better methods for measuring body fat. This test is performed by lying in a giant scanner that passes over your entire body, and then generates a three-dimensional model that shows fat-tissue mass (subcutaneous fat and internal “visceral” fat), lean muscle mass, and total body mineral content (total skeletal mass and bone density).

One of the advantages of the DEXA scan is that it also indicates regional body fat distribution – such as fat tissue percentage in your left arm vs. your right arm, trunk, left leg vs. right leg, and perhaps most importantly, android versus gynoid fat (fat carried on the waist or apple shape versus fat carried on the hips or pear shape) .

This is important because carrying too much fat in the wrong area can make you more disposed to serious health problems. For example, seeing the ratio of android to gynoid fat distribution will give you a good indication of your susceptibility to heart attack, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Excess android fat around the abdomen and trunk and inside the abdominal cavity potentially puts you at greater risk for metabolic disorder, heart disease, and stroke.

One study based on 14 years of data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found that, when it comes to your risk of early death, being obese overall may not be as important as where on the body your fat is distributed. In the study, apparently thin people who were of normal weight but had a lot of visceral or belly fat were twice as likely to die early as people of normal weight with no gut, or people who had more of their fat distributed through their body, such as their ams and legs. People with lots of concentrated belly fat also had a higher risk of death than people who were simply obese all over.

Ever hear the phrase “beer-belly”? In case you hadn’t already guessed, excessive alcohol consumption is one of the most potent ways to increase your android belly fat and make you prone to all the dangers that accompany full-on obesity, even if you’re thin.

Below, you can see how Jason measures up. A full 45% of his android tissue is composed of fat, compared to only 29.5% of his gynoid tissue. Between his trunk and his belly alone, he has over 41 pounds of pure fat, with a total body fat % of 29.9!

Now granted, Jason has not been training much lately, and admits that he hasn’t trained for ultra-endurance since cycling self supported across USA (~100mi/day) last summer. At this point, he’s simply running aerobically 3-4 days per week for 30 minutes, and doing kettlebell swings, core strength and stability drills on another 3-4 days per week.

But despite having a strong history and jam-packed resume as an ultra-endurance athlete, Jason is at high risk for cardiovascular disease and other metabolic disorders. Jason is likely going to read this statement and cringe, but at least he’s serving as a warning beacon for the rest of us. Just because you run across the Sahara desert does not mean you’re healthy on the inside. You simply can’t outrun a bad diet, or excess alcohol intake.

If you’d like to read up more on body fat distribution and cardiovascular disease, here’s an excellent paper, and the helpful graphic I’ve taken from that paper is shown below Jason’s DEXA scan results.

dexa3 dexa2 dexa1

adiposity

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The 30-Days No Alcohol Metabolic Results

Jason also underwent a resting metabolic rate test (RMR) to see how many calories his body is burning at rest. During this test, you simply sit quietly and breathe in and out of a tube as your respiratory gases are measured. At 1848 calories, Jason’s metabolism is slightly low, which is no big surprise after seeing his thyroid numbers.

But check out Jason’s RER (in the second graphic below).

The RER is the ratio between the amount of CO2 produced and O2 consumed in one breath. Measuring this ratio can be used for estimating the respiratory quotient (RQ), an indicator of which fuel (carbohydrate or fat) is being metabolized to supply the body with energy.

An RER of 0.70 indicates that fat is the predominant fuel source, RER of 0.85 suggests a mix of fat and carbohydrates, and a value of 1.00 or above is indicative of carbohydrate being the predominant fuel source.

When I tested my RER after turning myself into a fat burning machine, my RER was approximately 0.66.

Jason’s RER is 0.90. He is a carb burning machine.

In other words, as we would have suspected based on his fasted glucose and hemoglobin A1C numbers from his bloodwork above, Jason is nearly unable to tap into his own body fat or to burn fat for fuel. Despite being an endurance athlete, his RER is actually well above the population norms of above 0.8.

You can read about all the dangers of chronically elevated blood sugar levels here. I would very much expect and hope for Jason’s RER to drop significantly after 30 days no alcohol, although this value could be highly related to Jason’s food intake, and not just his sugary drink intake.

rmr

rmr2

So what the heck kind of food has Jason been eating that would be affecting his metabolism so baldy? Despite popular belief that a consistent negative caloric balance can cure all metabolic issues (similar to the popular belief that ultraendurance athletes are metabolically bulletproof), Jason’s actually isn’t overeating. He’s simply eating a high amount of crappy, processed lean proteins and carbohydrates, combined with a low intake of healthy fats. Here are a few days worth of his eating going into this blood panel:

Jason Sissel diet

diet2

All that bread, cheese, grain, sugar and dairy isn’t doing Jason any favors, and is in fact likely oxidizing that big portion of morning fat from the Bulletproof Coffee he’s drinking, rendering his breakfast into an artery clogging nuclear bomb.

In a nutshell, once this 30 days no alcohol challenge is over, Jason should consider drastically changing his diet too.

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Summary

So that’s it!

In approximately 30 days, I’ll be releasing a follow-up blog post with all Jason’s new numbers, which will show the exact acute effect on your internal biology when you quit alcohol cold-turkey. Although it is possible that in 30 days, Jason may be settling down with a nice glass or two of a decent red wine or microbrew, I’m highly doubting he is going to be back up to a few bottles of red a week after reading this article.

Want to stay tuned to the rest of this 30 Days No Alcohol series? If you’re not already subscribed to my free newsletter, be sure to click here to do so and you’ll get an instant alert when I release Jason’s final results, along with any other updates along teh way.

In the meantime, leave your questions, comments and feedback below, and click here if you’d like to get your own lab testing.

The Little-Known Test That Tells You Everything You Need To Know About Your Metabolism.

organic acids test

Last year, I interviewed pro mountain biker Chris Kelly in the podcast “7 Signs Your Cortisol And Adrenals Are Broken.“. While that podcast went into lots of detail about how you can measure for adrenal fatigue, the fact is that you can delve into far more detail about what is going on inside your body, especially when it comes to your cellular metabolism.

This little known test that tells you everything you need to know about your cellular metabolism is called the “Genova Organix Comprehensive Metabolic Profile“, and in today’s audio podcast, Chris and I cover everything you need to know about it.

During our discussion, we discuss this .pdf print-out – so download it if you’d like to follow along as you listen in. I’ve also included helpful shownotes below, along with the questions that I ask Chris in this episode.

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Q. What is the organic acids test and how did you discover it?

A. About three years ago I wasn’t doing so well in terms of life outside of training:

  • Loss of sex drive.
  • Brain fog.
  • Fatigue.
  • Mild depression.

I ran a saliva hormone panel which showed low cortisol, low DHEA and low testosterone. Adrenal fatigue if you like. That was a red flag but it didn’t really say anything about the underlying cause. This was shortly after I met Dr. Dan Kalish and he persuaded me to take the organic acids test.

Organic acids are metabolic byproducts of cellular metabolism and they can be measured from a urine sample. There’s no need to go to a lab for a draw blood, you just collect urine at home. It’s a bit like when you put your car onto the rolling road and the mechanic analyses the exhaust gases. You can learn a lot about how well an engine is running like that.

I got really excited the first time I saw the test. At the time I was working at quantitative hedge fund as a computer programmer but my real passion was bike racing. The result looks very complicated to most people but to me it was like a programming problem.

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Q. What biomarkers does an organic acids profile actually test?

A.

Fat burning

  • Everyone wants to be a fat burning beast, right? This test will reveal show how well beta-oxidation is working, this turned out to be very important for me.

Blood sugar stabilization

  • This test was originally developed to help chronically ill patients, many of whom were pre-diabetic. The strange thing is those people have a lot in common with some athletes because (I suspect) of all the sugary sports supplements. This test can show you how well you’re burning carbs.

Energy production

  • Some of you listening will remember learning about the Citric Acid or Krebs cycle in biology. Basically it’s the process by which you convert food and air into energy. Each step of the process requires certain enzymes and nutrients to be in place, and when they’re lacking it shows up on this test. Once you know, it’s not hard to fix with supplements like CoQ10 for example.

Methylation

  • This gets complicated fast, and you’ve talked about it in length on the show. Methylation is the way in which our body turns off the genes that are the blueprint which defines us. It’s also critically important for detox. If you’ve done a 23andme saliva test and worried about the MTHFR mutation, do this test as it will help you understand how well your methylation is actually working. One of the most sensitive markers for vitamin B12 deficiency is methylmalonic acid. That’s an organic acid that’s on this test.

Toxins and detoxification

  • Everybody is exposed to toxins, it’s in the food we eat, the air we breathe. That’s why we have a liver, but sadly it’s becoming increasingly overburdened. 2-methylhippurate is an organic acid is on this test, it’s a breakdown product of xylene from paints, varnishes, carpet. New car smell. The scary thing is that it’s not on this test to detect accidental exposure, it’s on because everyone is exposed to xylene and therefore it’s a reliable marker of liver function. Once you know you’re liver’s struggling you can support the liver with extra nutrients.

Oxidative stress/antioxidants

  • This is a very difficult area. When the brain is starved of oxygen during a stroke the neurons are killed by factors relate to oxidative stress. In animals and tissue culture a great deal of careful work has been done.  Some would argue that oxidative stress plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease and aging.
  • In healthy people the role of oxidative stress is far from clear but there is no doubt that many doctors believe a vegetable based diet rich in antioxidants is useful.
  • Athletes create more oxidative stress through increased energy production, but I suspect there comes a point where enough is enough. Some level of oxidative stress is required for cell signaling and to elicit a training response.

Neurotransmitter turnover

  • The first thing I should make clear is that this is not a direct test for neurotransmitters. I learned from Dr. Kalish that neurotransmitters measured in the urine are made locally in the kidneys have no relationship with the levels in the brain. The blood brain barrier keeps everything separate. It’s confusing.
  • This test measures the metabolic ashes of dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline. Usually the solution to problems found is stress reduction and lifestyle modification but in many cases amino acid therapy can be extremely helpful for insomnia, anxiety, depression and addiction.

Intestinal bacterial overgrowth

  • Certain bad bacteria in our gut, specially in the small intestine produce chemicals that can be measured on this test. It’s a crude test for SIBO. If you have an overgrowth of these bacteria then it’ll show up as bloating and on this test.
  • Sometimes you can crowd out these bacteria with probiotics but sometimes a short killing phase works better.

 ———————————

Q. Who should take it, and why would someone take this test? 

A. In short, anyone looking to produce more energy. My original goal was to upgrade from the age group categories to pro, but now with hindsight I see it’s everything outside of racing and training that matters. So if you’re like me and you spend lots of time trying to concentrate hard, the neurotransmitter turnover section is going to be really interesting to you. The serotonin, melatonin pathway is very interesting to anyone suffering from problems with sleep.

Or if you’re an athlete looking to ensure that your metabolism is running as efficiently as possible you’re going to love this test. It’s funny, people spend all kinds of money on equipment. You think of that like the chassis of a race car. But what use is that if the engine is not running right? My advice is to spend less time waxing the bodywork and take a peek under the hood.

  ———————————

Q. Is it a standalone test, or is it used in conjunction with other tests?

A. You can think of this test as a whole bunch of pieces of a large jigsaw puzzle. It’s important, but it’s not a standalone solution. I analyze these results for a living now and in a way my work hasn’t changed. I’m still debugging. I’m still asking why.

The hormonal component is the foundation, that’s still the best place to start. And sometimes stool testing to detect smoldering gut infections can be really important too. I routinely ask people to track their blood glucose, basal morning temperature and heart rate variability which can also give tremendous insight. That which gets measured gets managed.

   ———————————

Q. What are the optimal ranges for each of the biomarkers, and why?

A. There’s two ways you can interpret this test. The first is to look at each individual marker and notice that’s it’s high or low. The second way is to look at the big picture. Take orotate for example. That could be elevated due to excessive protein intake, or it could be the result of bacterial overgrowth.

   ———————————

Q. How can I implement what I learn from this test ‘in real life’?

A. Sometimes there’s a very specific reason why something is going wrong, like an infection or too much stress. Or it could also be because you’re doing too much training. Finally, you might have some genetic abnormality. Either way, it allows you supplement with confidence. Sometimes the test pays for itself in this way, supplements get expensive really fast.

  ———————————

Q. What are a few common markers that are ‘way off’ for a lot of people (i.e. athletes, health-conscious, workaholics)? Why?

  • Kyurinate tryptophan pathway.
  • Carnitine and fat burning.
  • Neurotransmitters and stress.

(Chris explains each of this in more detail in the podcast.)

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As he mentions in the audio, you can book a half-price phone or Skype consult with Chris by using the code GREENFIELD at the NourishBalanceThrive website. If you have questions, comments or feedback about the organic acids test, then leave your thoughts below!

The Extreme Sport You’ve Probably Never Heard Of, And How You Can Use It’s Renegade Techniques To Become Superhuman.

how to freedive

While on assignment in Greece, journalist James Nestor witnessed something that confounded him: a man diving 300 feet below the ocean’s surface on a single breath of air and returning four minutes later, totally unharmed…

…and smiling.

This man was a “freediver”, and his superhuman abilities inspired James to seek out the secrets of the little-known discipline of free diving, and to write the new book, Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves.

In the book, he embeds with a gang of extreme athletes and renegade researchers who are transforming not only our knowledge of the planet and its creatures, but also our understanding of the human body and mind. He finds whales that communicate with other whales hundreds of miles away through sonar, sharks that swim in straight lines through pitch-black waters using built-in, natural electromagnetic sensors, and seals who dive to depths below 2,400 feet for up to eighty minutes.

From each of these strange phenomena are, James shows how humans themselves could be capable of these remarkable feats such as extreme breath-holding, echolocation, and alternate forms of communication.

James has written for Outside Magazine, Dwell Magazine, National Public Radio, The New York Times, Men’s Journal, The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, and more, and in today’s interview with James, you’ll learn:

-Why Olympic athletes are learning to hold their breath for more than 5 minutes

-How you can use something called “the Master Switch of Life” to enhance your heart and lung function…

-What you can train your body to do to survive as you dive to greater depths…

-A new form of air pressure equalization that allows you to go to incredible depths, and how to learn it…

-How to use breath-hold walks and other forms of dry land breath training to increase your oxygen capacity…

-Why WiFi routers and cell phones may actually be destroying your innate ability to sense your physical location on the planet…

-How you can learn to navigate without seeing and instead by using a built-in ability called echolocation…

-How you can learn to freedive…

Resources From This Episode

-The book Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves.

-Ted Hardy from Immersion Freediving who can teach you the Frenzel Technique on Skype.

-This Frenzel technique .pdf if you want to teach yourself.

-Performance Freediving International to learn how to freedive.

If you have questions, comments or feedback about how to start freediving, the book Deep, or anything else James and I discuss in the podcast, then leave them below.

A Little Known Nutrient That Can Heal Your Gut And Blast Your Immunity Through The Roof.

NatureColostrum

It was way back in 2009 that I first discovered goat’s milk.

I had just finished interviewing Joe Stout – a food scientist at a small local goat farm called “Mt. Capra”. During our podcast (which you can listen to here), Joe filled me on some very interesting properties of goat’s milk that make it much, much different than cow’s milk, including…

…the difference in allergic reactions between goat’s milk and cow’s milk, and why the difference exists…

….what happens to cow’s milk during homogenization that makes it especially dangerous for athletes and people worried about cancer…

…why the body absorbs goat’s milk protein at a much, much faster rate than cow’s milk protein…

…how cow’s milk can cause lactose intolerance, and why this rarely happens with goat’s milk…

…and why goat’s milk “matches up” to the human body better than cow’s milk.

Over at Mark’s Daily Apple  just last week, this was recently confirmed, in an article that says:

“Lots of people seem to fare better with goat milk than cow milk, and several studies support these anecdotes:

-Goat milk is both anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory, regulating the intestinal immune response at the cellular level.

-Goat milk possesses immunomodulatory effects and even helps the body release nitric oxide, a vasodilator that improves vascular function.

-Goat milk glycans (carbohydrates that support the healthy gut bacteria and can help the immune system) are more similar to human milk glycans than cow milk glycans; goat milk also contains novel glycans with further health benefits.”

Anyways, after that original podcast with Joe, I asked him what to do if I wanted to get all the beneficial properties of goat’s milk (and as I later discovered) much more, without actually drinking milk every day, because frankly, I’m just not a milk-guzzling kind of guy.

Joe’s response changed my life, and you’re about to discover why.

————————————-

What Is Colostrum?

Joe told me, “Simple. Colostrum.”

At this point, colostrum was kind of woo-woo for me. My wife grew up on a sheep farm so I knew colostrum had something to do with sheep’s milk, but wasn’t really sure what it really, truly was.

Joe explained to me that colostrum is produced by not just goats and sheep, but by all mammals (including humans) in the first few days after giving birth. Also known as “first milk”, it is produced in the mammary glands of females just prior to giving birth, and serves as a concentrated source of proteins, growth factors, and antibodies that are essential for early development of newborns.

Its properties have been revered for thousands of years across many cultures: in ancient Chinese medicine it was regarded as a potent health tonic, and for the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania it has long been regarded as a crucial part of a warrior’s diet. In Britain, dairy farmers refer to colostrum as beestings, and they used any surplus colostrum to make an extra-creamy, and very healthy, pudding.

So you can literally think of colostrum as a powerhouse of nutritional ammunition designed to get a newborn through the critical first few days of life.

Now let’s move on to a slightly more scientific definition of colostrum for you nerds out there, straight from the underbellies of the Wiki definition of colostrum:

“Newborns have very immature digestive systems, and colostrum delivers its nutrients in a very concentrated low-volume form. It has a mild laxative effect, encouraging the passing of the baby’s first stool, which is called meconium. This clears excess bilirubin, a waste-product of dead red blood cells, which is produced in large quantities at birth due to blood volume reduction, from the infant’s body and helps prevent jaundice. Colostrum is known to contain immune cells (as lymphocytes)[4] and many antibodies such as IgA, IgG, and IgM. These are the major components of the adaptive immune system. Inter alia IgA is absorbed through the intestinal epithelium, travels through the blood, and is secreted onto other Type 1 mucosal surfaces[citation needed]. Other immune components of colostrum include the major components of the innate immune system, such as lactoferrin,[5] lysozyme,[6] lactoperoxidase,[7] complement,[8] and proline-rich polypeptides (PRP).[9] A number of cytokines (small messenger peptides that control the functioning of the immune system) are found in colostrum as well,[10] including interleukins,[10] tumor necrosis factor,[11] chemokines,[12] and others. Colostrum also contains a number of growth factors, such as insulin-like growth factors I (IGF-1),[13] and II,[14] transforming growth factors alpha,[15] beta 1 and beta 2,[16][17] fibroblast growth factors,[18] epidermal growth factor,[19] granulocyte-macrophage-stimulating growth factor,[20] platelet-derived growth factor,[20] vascular endothelial growth factor,[21] and colony-stimulating factor-1.[22]

Colostrum is very rich in proteins, vitamin A, and sodium chloride, but contains lower amounts of carbohydrates, lipids, and potassium than mature milk. The most pertinent bioactive components in colostrum are growth factors and antimicrobial factors. The antibodies in colostrum provide passive immunity, while growth factors stimulate the development of the gut. They are passed to the neonate and provide the first protection against pathogens.”

Whew. I know that was a propellor-hat friendly mouthful, so let’s dig into the more practical aspects of how you can use colostrum if you happen to be one of my readers that is not a newborn or 2 day old mammal.

———————————

Colostrum As An Alternative To Antibiotics

The immunoglobulins in colostrum have specific immune system activity against many common human pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Cryptosporidium parvum, Shigella flexneri, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and rotavirus (yes, that nasty diarrhea disease).

Interestingly, prior to the development of antibiotics, colostrum was the primary source of immunoglobulins used to fight infections. When Albert Sabin made his first oral vaccine against polio, the immunoglobulin he used actually came from colostrum. When antibiotics began to appear, interest in colostrum waned, but, now that antibiotic-resistant strains of pathogens have developed, interest is once again returning to natural alternatives to antibiotics like colostrum.

I personally don’t take colostrum year-round (later in this article I’ll tell you why I don’t take colostrum all the time), but prior to travel or during cold and flu season I “load” with colostrum for several weeks.

———————————

Colostrum For Immunity

Perhaps you have heard of “Proline-Rich Polypeptides” or PRP. These things have been making the news all over scholarly medical research articles lately due to their huge potential for boosting the immune system. So in addition to the infection-fighting immunoglobulins you’ve already learned about, these PRP’s offer a second level of protection.

PRP’s are tiny immune signaling peptides that have been discovered in colostrum (and also in other sources, such as blood plasma). Also known as “Colostrinin”, “CLN”, and “transfer factor”, they function as signal transducing molecules that have the unique effect of making microadjustments to your immune system, turning your immunity up when the body comes under attack from pathogens or other disease agents, and damping your immune system down when the danger is eliminated or neutralized. This is called cell-mediated immunity, and is basically a process of keeping your immune system finely tuned.

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Colostrum For Enhancing The Effectiveness of Probiotics

Because colostrum helps to heal leaky gut and make the tight junctions in your gut less permeable to foreign invaders, without colostrum, probiotics will not be as effective long term because they will pass through your GI tract and not “stick around” in your gut the way they are supposed to. In this way, clostrum is like soil for the seeds of probiotics. It gives friendly bacteria a place to grow by keeping leaky junctions in your gut more “closed”. This has to do with a protein called Zonulin.

In his recent Digestion Session Summit, Sean Croxton interviewed Dr. Datis Kharrazian and in the transcript of the interview, Dr. Kharrazian explained it this way:

what is zonulin

So basically, colostrum keeps zonulin protein from opening up your intestinal cells and keeps leaky gut from developing. Hence, your probiotics become more effective.

In addition, since colostrum also contains a large concentration of immune system factors like white blood cells (leukocytes) and antibodies, the combination of probiotics and colostrum together boost your immune system tremendously.

In addition, if you are trying to re-colonize your GI tract (raise the levels of friendly bacteria in your gut) then you should also combine colostrum with probiotics. When you have a healthy population of friendly bacteria combined with colostrum for the probiotics to cultivate, a more hostile environment is created for harmful microorganisms and there is less space for digestion disruptors to proliferate. So colostrum combined with probiotics is a very powerful one-two gut-healing combo for gas, bloasting, diarrhea, constipation.

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Colostrum For Athletic Performance

For me, athletic performance enhancement and the prevention of gas, nausea, cramps or diarrhea during hard workouts and races was a big reason to begin using colostrum, and I particularly achieve this by “loading” with 8 colostrum capsules per day for 2 weeks before hard races – especially races in hot conditions, such as Ironman Hawaii.

A gastroenterologist professor named Raymond Playford, of Plymouth University, has done some very interesting research on the gut benefits of colostrum for athletes, and has published one study entitled: “The nutriceutical, bovine colostrum, truncates the increase in gut permeability caused by heavy exercise in athletes.

When we are in intense periods of training, us athletes and exercise enthusiasts (you know who you are) often develop gut problems, also known as  “runners’ trots”. If you’ve ever had to pull over on the side of the road during a run with your head between your knees because of gastric distress, or you’ve ever had to interrupt a set in the weight room to quickly duck into the locker room, then you know what I mean.

In the video below, Dr. Playford explains how this is caused by a combination of stress and the simultaneous raising of your body’s core temperature by about two degrees, which increases the permeability of your gut wall, allows toxins into the bloodstream that wouldn’t normally be there, and is the primary reason you get gut distress during stressful exercise, especially stressful exercise in the heat. This is because heat raises the permeability of your gut wall even more.

In this video, Dr. Playfored also talks about his fascinating research on colostrum, its role in protecting this gut leakage that happens during strenuous exercise, and the fact that if you take colostrum for two weeks prior to exercise, the change in gut leakiness is almost completely prevented.

This all makes sense, since colostrum contains growth factors designed to strengthen the gut lining, which is crucial for a newborn mammal, who has a very permeable gut that needs to toughen up fast (and this is why babies or children raised on soy milk – or anyone who has ever been on a bout of gut disrupting antibiotics – should undoubtedly be considering colostrum).

Of course, it’s not just gut problems that colostrum helps to address in athletes. Other studies show that athletes who take it are as much as 20% less likely to get infections of the upper respiratory tract, for reasons you’ve already learned.fs

In this article from the Guardian, Playford expounds on the other benefits that active people can derive from colostrum, “It could be really useful to people who have to do physical exercise in hot conditions, such as soldiers in Afghanistan,” he says. “They are susceptible to heatstroke because of all the gear they have to wear and carry, and taking colostrum could reduce that very serious risk. Another group who could benefit are older people with arthritis who develop serious gut problems because of the strong painkillers they use, and those with ulcerative colitis. These patients are at risk of damage to their gut lining and the colostrum helps it to heal and reduces its permeability.”

As a final boost for athletes, colostrum also has antioxidant components, such as lactoferrin, which assists with iron absorption, bone density and has been shown to have anti-microbial characteristics and hemopexin, which scavenges the heme released or lost by the turnover of heme proteins such as hemoglobin and thus protects the body from the oxidative damage that free heme can cause. This is especially important for endurance athletes, who have high hemoglobin use and red blood cell turnover.

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Colostrum For Growth Hormone (And A Strict Warning!)

Finally colostrum also contains Insulin Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1). Low IGF-1 levels are not only associated with dementia in the elderly, but people with eating disorders also have low levels of IGF-1 due to malnutrition, as do obese individuals.

The growth-promoting effects most people associate with growth hormone are actually caused by IGF-1, which has characteristics of both growth hormone and growth factor since it stimulates the growth, proliferation, and survival of cells such as gut tissue cells and muscle tissue cells. This is why both IGF-1 and growth hormone are often promoted for muscle building, anabolism, recovery and anti-aging.

IGF-1 also acts as a neurotrophic factor in the brain, which means that it contributes to neurogenesis (growth of new brain cells) and survival of existing neurons (known as a neuroprotective effect).

Now here’s the important part: overexpression of growth hormone by 100 to 1,000-fold in mice causes a 50% shorter lifespan, mainly due to kidney and liver dysfunction. In addition, since IGF-1 and growth hormone are “pro-growth”, excessive long-term use could eventually cause some pretty rapid cell division – which is also known as…cancer.

Author Tim Ferriss calls this a trade-off or a “faustian bargain” between longevity and performance, and you can learn more about it in this excellent WellnessFX article by Dr. Rhonda Patrick entitled “The IGF-1 Trade-Off: Performance vs. Longevity”.

So for the same reason I don’t guzzle a gallon milk a day, eat grass-fed steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or take massive doses of whey protein after a workout, I don’t “overuse” colostrum. I simply load with colostrum for 2 weeks prior to big workouts and races, take it when I know I’ve been exposed to the cold or flu, and then also take it (as 4 capsules in the morning and 4 capsules in the evening) during most of the winter (about November through February) when I know my immune system is more likely to become compromised.

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Summary

Of course, as I alluded to at the beginning of this post, if you’re going to use colostrum as an alternative to antibiotics, as a boost for your immune system, as a way to make your gut feel bulletproof during exercise, to enhance the effectiveness of probiotics, or as a method for increasing growth hormone and iron absorption, then I highly recommend that you use the most biocompatible form of colostrum you can get.

You guessed it: you should get your colostrum from goats.

Because of this, I’ve just put the finishing touches on designing NatureColostrum, which is human gut-friendly goat’s colostrum harvested from organic, pastured goats straight from Joe’s farm, just a few hours from my house. You can click here to grab it now.

This is literally the most biocompatible colostrum on the face of the planet, and is of course from grass-fed, free-range goats that graze on pesticide-free and chemical-free pasture 365 days a year. No pesticides, no antibiotics and no hormones are used. Ever.

Enjoy your discovery of this little known compound, and leave your questions, comments or feedback below!

Why You Get Cancer And What You Can Do About It.

doran sheffer

A couple weeks ago, I caught a lot of online flak for publishing a controversial article about how professional basketball player Lebron James’ constant use of a cell phone held up to his head probably contributed heavily to his recent development of mouth cancer.

And then, just yesterday, here on my wellness visit to Israel, I visited the home of another professional basketball player – Doron Sheffer (the photo above is of me and Doron in his backyard garden as I interview him).

Doron was an amazing basketball player.

He was an achiever. A hard-charger. A professional person.

As a guard for the dominant college basketball team UConn, he fed the ball to star teammates like Ray Allen (recently with the NBA’s Miami Heat) and played for legendary coach Jim Calhoun. Sheffer averaged five assists and thirteen points per game, he hit 40 percent of his three-point attempts and he led the Uconn Huskies to a brilliant 89-13 record, along with NCAA tournament appearances in each of his three seasons.

He was the first Israeli ever drafted by the NBA (the Los Angeles Clippers selected him in the second round in 1996), but he instead signed a lucrative contract with the Israeli professional basketball team, Maccabi Tel Aviv – which he then led to four consecutive national championships.

But then Doron got cancer. Testicular cancer. All the tremendous pressure, tension, difficulties, frustrations pent-up emotions and stress from the life of a hard-charging professional athlete eventually built up inside him and culminated in disease.

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Stress Causes Cancer

Indeed, scientists have actually discovered that emotional stress similar to what Doron experienced can be a trigger for the growth of tumors. As a matter of fact, any sort of trauma, emotional or physical stress, can act as a literal pathway between cancerous mutations, bringing them together in a potentially fatal combination.

In other words, your risk for developing cancer can be positively or negatively affected by your emotional environment, including everyday work, physical, emotional and relationship stress.

Now here’s the deal: I’m personally a very hard-charging guy focused on personal and professional excellence in everything I do.

And as I noted to Doron in the audio that accompanies this article, I truly believe that unless you are able to relax, to breathe, to de-stress and to simply stop and smell the roses, you’re going to be the kind of person who eventually develops a disease that puts your fast-forward life into slow-motion.

So you have to put the brakes on before your body puts the brakes on and forces you to stop, perhaps with the flu, perhaps with back pain, or perhaps with cancer.

Make sense?

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How To Slow Down Before Your Body Forces You To Slow Down (Audio And Video)

The ultimate question is: how can you do this?

How can you slow down before your body forces you to slow down?

How can you somehow dig yourself out of a hole of a constant barrage of e-mails, text messages, phone calls, over-exercising, eating to train and training to eat, going to bed late, 24-7 self-quantified biohacking, trying to “have everything”, getting up early and still somehow managing to squeeze in some semblance of quality in your friend and family relationships?

This is exactly what Doron figured out, and this man’s new approach to life, his answers, and his new aura of peace and calm spoke heavily to me, which is why I’m now sharing his story with you. He defied conventional medicine and naturally healed his body of cancer, and his approach to life is now refreshing, relaxed and incredibly peaceful.

Myself and the team from Vibe Israel visited Doron at his peaceful home and private health resort “Hyuli” in Amirim, in the mountains of Northern Israel. Amirim was founded in 1958 as a retreat for vegetarians, and it now serves as a residence and hotspot for a community of aromatherapists, massage therapists, herb gardens, spas, a health food shop, an organic olive oil shop, art galleries, restaurants and wellness bed and breakfasts.

These mountains are where Doron reinvigorated his body and underwent his own “spiritual cleanse” after winning his battle against testicular cancer.

These mountains are also where Doron talked to us for 30 minutes about his new perspective on life – 30 minutes of some of the most valuable content you’ll ever listen to or watch (if you’re serious about living happy and disease-free).

Just do me a favor: don’t listen to or watch this one while you’re out pounding the pavement, punishing the gym, or doing hardcore intervals on your bicycle.

Instead, go sit in your backyard, or at the park, or in a comfortable chair in your living room and just breathe and soak in the message.

Ready?

Click here to listen to the audio of our talk with Doron, which was recorded in his backyard garden looking over the beautiful hills of Amirim, and eating organic figs, goji berries and sweet local almonds.

Click here for the video version, or watch below (video may not yet be fully uploaded as there is quite slow internet here in the northern mountains).

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Summary

So that’s it. 

What do you think after listening to the audio or watching the video?

What can you change in your own hard-charging life so that you can slow down before you’re forced to?

Leave your questions, comments and feedback below.

Click here to check out Doron’s private health resort, which is actually open for visitations and retreats for people who want to find the same kind of peace that Doron found, and engage in therapies like Tai Chi, Yoga, Qigong, farming, water treatment, solar healing and simply…playing.

5 Things You Can Learn From The Burgeoning Health, Wellness And Nutrition Scene In Israel.

Ben Greenfield Israel Dead Sea

Welcome to the official report from Israel, where my wife Jessa and I are touring with Vibe Israel, who have brought international on- and offline opinion leaders in health and nutrition on a weeklong personalized experience of the burgeoning wellness scene Israel, including us, Lee from FitFoodieFinds.com, Emily from ThisRawesomVeganLife.com and Kate from CookieAndKate.com.

If you haven’t yet discovered Israel as a country to add to your “must-visit” bucket list, you need to do it. Just check out Part 1: The Israman Triathlon and Ben Greenfield’s Fifteen Fun Facts About IsraelPart 2: Ben Greenfield Engages In Potent Anti-Aging Mediterranean Cuisine Face-Stuffing, and Part 3: Top 10 Tips For Racing Israman Triathlon for my reports from last year, during which I toured the fitness and exercise scene in Israel.

As you read, you’ll definitely want to click here tune in to the audio podcast episode that accompanies this episode, which has includes an audio version of the article you’re about to read, along with a bonus interview from the folks at Scio, the pocket molecular sensor I write about later in this article.

The audio is brought to you by Onnit, which is where I buy crazy equipment for my home gym like Zombie kettlebells, battle ropes and sandbags, along with tasty functional foods like Pink Himalayan Sea Salt and Organic Raw Walnut Butter. Click here to check out Onnit and save 10%

OK, let’s jump into the top 5 things you can learn from the burgeoning health, wellness and nutrition scene in Israel (and by the way, the photo above is me covered in mud at the Dead Sea).

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1. Vegan Food Can Be Damn Tasty

On our very first evening in Tel Aviv, we stumbled upon “Mezze“, a unique vegan restaurant located in the heart of Tel Aviv. From roasted mushroom pate to organic rye and spelt bread to a “sabha” of hot black-eyed peas sautéed with tomatoes, garlic and cilantro on organic tahini (a rich and thick eggplant paste), we dined in style after a long day on the airplane.

But the highlight of the meal – by far – was the Mezze spin on “moussaka”- a traditional Greek dish made with layers of eggplant and potatoes with lentil and vegetable stuffing. This stuff literally melts in your mouth.

So I twisted the arm of chef Gal Barzilai, a vegetarian and wild plan expert since the age of 13, to hook us up with his custom recipe for moussaka. Here it is. Bon appetit, baby (or as they say here, “be’te-avon”).

Mezze Mussaka (as translated from Hebrew to English by Adi Kaplan). Click here to convert from metric to common.

Ingredients:

-700g chopped onion
-2 garlic cloves, crushed
-600g orange lentils (soaked/sprouted) – weight after straining and soaking
-1 kg mushrooms torn hand into small pieces
-100g walnuts + 50g cashew nuts soaked for 30 min in boiled water
-1/2 kg sweet potato peeled and thinly sliced
-30g sweet paprika
-1/4t hot paprika
-60g beets
-olive oil

Vegetables (for layering):
-1kg large potatoes, peeled and sliced lengthwise
-1 eggplant peeled “zebra” style, sliced thickly (1.5 cm)
-handful small tomatoes sliced pretty thick (1 cm)

Tahini (put all ingredients in a blender/hand blender; can also mix by hand):
-125g raw tahini
-150ml cold water
-1 garlic clove, crushed
-1T wine vinegar
-40ml lemon juice
-1/2t salt

Preparation:
1. Saute 600g onions in white oil (canola, grape seed) when starts to brown, add mushrooms and continue to sauté until nicely browned. Grind in a grinder (thickly, leaving small clump – if needed, add vegetable stock or water), then put aside to chill.
2. Put lentils, cashew and walnuts with the soaking water, final 100g raw onions, beets, 150ml water and both types of paprika in a food processor.
3. Brush potato and eggplant slices with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and put in the oven on very high heat

Putting it all together:
1. Brush a pan with a lot of olive oil
2. Layer very densely: eggplant slices, the mushroom/lentil mixture, potatoes, mushroom/lentil mixture, very little tahini, eggplant, thin layer of tahini and top it off with a very dense layer of tomatoes. Brush with olive oil

Bake in oven on 190 degrees Celsius for an hour. It is suggested to let the mussaka “rest” for an hour before serving.

moussaka

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 2. Dates Aren’t Just For Eating

The morning after our dinner at Mezze, we headed to the Dead Sea – an area well known for it’s extremely mineral-rich water – so mineral-rich, in fact, that it is nearly impossible to get your head under the water. You just…float. Here’s a video to show you what I mean:

Anyways, while at the Dead Sea, we visited The Synergy Spa at the Ein-Gedi Hotel. The spa is built on a hillside overlooking a the Dead Sea, and the spa facilities not only contain air saturated with oxygen, but also a bromine treated pool (which I’m floating in on the video above) filled with Dead Sea water.

My chosen treatment at Synergy was a “Date Wrap”, done with Ein Gedi date mud cream. Apparently, the same polyphenols and flavonoids that make dates such a dark and flavorful fruit also have anti-aging and nourishing properties for the skin. As I lay wrapped up and smelling like a giant human date, I was treated to a head and neck massage.

Time will tell if I actually look younger, but apparently this is one of the only places in the world where one can get rubbed down with dates. Eat your heart out, Robert Lustig.

Anyways, even though I couldn’t seem to find date mud cream for you anywhere, this spa did get me thinking about how you can saturate the air in your own house with oxygen, even if you can’t smear fruit on your own body. Here’s what I found:

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has looked into specific houseplants that can improve indoor air quality by absorbing environmental toxins and increasing oxygen levels.

Ferns, particularly the Japanese royal fern, not only release oxygen into the air but also absorb formaldehyde. The Boston fern adds both oxygen and humidity to indoor air. Gerbera daisy purifies and boosts the oxygen level of the air of your home while you sleep at night, making this a good choice for bedrooms. Other indoor plants considered highly efficient in oxygen production and air purification include heartleaf philodendron, snake plant, spider plant, Chinese evergreen and golden pothos.

So there you have it. NASA studies indicate that 15 to 18 plants in 6- to 8-inch-diameter pots will adequately increase the oxygen in the air in an 1,800-square-foot residential home. This translates to approximately one large potted plant or two smaller potted plants about every 100 square feet.

Now your home can be just like this fancy Dead Sea spa (and here’s a photo of me inside this gorgeous spa).

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3. You Can Put Coconut Milk In Your Cocktails

Yes, you simply must drink some alcohol while in Israel.

I of course, have been, every night.

Here’s an idea of the crazy cocktail concoctions I was served just last night at the famous Taizu Asian Fusion restaurant (this is an advantage of being a blogger – they just brought me a sample platter of cocktails).

-Hendrix Masala: Gin Hendrix, Campari, Sake, Red Vermouth, Masala Tea

-Lady Gin: Gin, Chartreuse, Cucumber, Fresh Lime, Ginger

-Red Old Sage: Sage, Stolichnoya, Pomegranate, Ginger

-Green Tai: Stoli, Sake, Litchi, Cream, Green Tea

-Sharp Satori: Pineapple, Stolichnoya ginger, Remy Martin, Wasabi, Lemongrass

And my favorite…

-Punducherry: Strawberry Vodka, Vermouth, Coconut Milk, Lemongrass, Herbal Berries

With a mix of herbs, fresh muddled fruits and a few goodies thrown in like coconut milk and green tea, I actually wasn’t too guilty after indulging in this alcohol-infused sampling. Go ahead and try one of these recipes for yourself this holiday season (just be sure to detox afterwards).

This may come as no surprise to you if you listened to Podcast #267, in which we had the following conversation about the olive oil club I’m a member of and the olive oil martinis I make (read full transcript here):

Ben: …now, I actually I’m part of this club called the Fresh Pressed Olive Oil Club. They send 3 bottles of olive oil to my house every quarter from like a different area in the world like Australia or Chile or this last one is from Italy.

Brock: You really know how to party, don’t you?

Ben: Well, that’s what I’m getting at. You can do olive oil tasting, it’s actually kinda interesting. It’s somewhere a wine and that you start to recognize the flavors and the aromas and whether an olive oil is herbaceous or sweet or smoky, etc. but you can also make drinks out of olive oil and what I’ll do is take a shot of olive oil and put that like in a martini shaker and then I’ll take a really nice vodka and put 1-2 shots of that in there, squeeze a lemon, do a little bit of olive juice, so it’s kind of like a dirty martini with a splash of olive oil and then I’ll just strain that into a martini glass, sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on there, garnish with an olive and it’s olive oil vodka martini and it taste fantastic like the olive oil adds this splash of flavor that you don’t get in a regular martini and the mouth feel, like you’d think it be like oily but it’s actually got this really cool kinda mouth feel, it’s a very enjoyable drink. Anyone who hasn’t tried an olive oil martini before should try one.

So there you have it. Now you can add coconut milk into your cocktails too. L’chaim! (photo below is me with the other bloggers and my wife, washing down our cocktails with a tasty glass of Jordanian merlot)

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4. You Can Exercise Anywhere

When I’m traveling, I have standby workouts, and this trip to Israel is no exception.

For example, if I find a gym, I’ll often do my twist on a 5×5 workout – which is basically 5 sets of 5 repetitions of 5 different heavy lifting exercises. But I throw mobility and movement exercises in the 90 second to 2 minute recovery periods between each 5 rep lift, like this:

-5×5 Bench – Walking lunges while reaching for the sky (10 per leg) for recovery

-5×5 Barbell Back Squat – Bird Dog Opposite Arm-Opposite Leg Extensions (10/side) for recovery

-5×5 Power Clean – Ab Hollowing With Back On Ground With Deep Breathing (10 breaths) for recovery

-5×5 Deadlift – “Quiet” Box Jumps With Silent Landing (10 reps) for recovery

-5×5 Push Press – Bicycle Crunches (10/side) for recovery

If I’m limited to a hotel room workout, I’ll often strap on a Training Mask (use 20% discount code GREEN1) and do a body weight workout for 4-6 rounds like this:

-20x burpees

-10x lunge jumps for each leg

-20x MostFit suspension strap rows

-20x mountain climbers per leg

-60 second handstand hold against wall during recovery

And of course, just like Venice Beach and Miami, they have gyms along the beach here in Tel Aviv, so you can throw down a weight workout with the locals while you’re cycling or jogging on the boardwalk along the Mediterranean Sea. Incidentally, whether I’m traveling or I’m at home, I log every workout I do, 365 days a year, for all members of my Inner Circle (if you’re already an Inner Circle member, just visit the forum and click “Life Of Ben”).

DSC_2036

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5. You Can Measure Anything. Really.

As you listen to the audio version of this article, you’re going to hear a special interview with a start-up located right here in the heart of Tel Aviv: SCiO.

SCiO is the world’s first portable molecular sensor that literally fits in the palm of your hand. It contains a tiny spectrometer and allows you to get instant information about the chemical make-up of just about anything around you, sent directly to your phone.

SCiO is based on near-IR spectroscopy analysis method. The physical basis for this method is that each type of molecule vibrates in its own unique way, and these vibrations interact with light to create its own unique optical signature.

The device includes a light source that illuminates the sample and an optical sensor (the spectrometer) that collects the light reflected from the sample. The spectrometer breaks down the light to its spectrum, which includes all the information required to detect the result of this interaction between the illuminated light and the molecules in the sample.

Normal spectrometers are big (about the size of a laptop) and expensive (tens of thousands of dollars). SCiO is unique as it is based on a tiny spectrometer, designed from the ground up to be mass-produced with low cost optics – with minimal compromise on the analysis capabilities.

So based on this technology, SCiO can actually read the chemical make-up of any materials around you, including food, plants, medication, oil and fuels, plastics and wood. For example, you can:

-Get nutritional facts about different kinds of food: salad dressings, sauces, fruits, cheeses, and much more.

-See how ripe an avocado is, through the peel.

-Find out the quality of your cooking oil.

-Know the well being of your plants.

-Analyze soil or hydroponic solutions.

-Authenticate medications or supplements.

-Upload and tag the spectrum of any material on earth to our database (including your own body).

Every time you use SCiO you actually help to build a database of knowledge about the stuff around us. The bigger the SCiO community gets, the more data SCiO will have about different materials and this goes right back to the community of users.

Check out the SCio Kickstarter project here, and listen to my podcast interview with the inventors here.

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Alright, that’s it for now…but more to come later, including information about a brand new startup that can analyze and give you instant nutritional facts on any recipe you find on any food blog or website, anywhere, and another startup that allows you to instantly check how polluted the air is where you’re at, and the “cleanest air” routes for running, hiking, or cycling. Stay tuned.

Shalom – and be sure to check out Onnit if you need killer fitness gear or functional foods that optimize performance, stay tuned for more on what you can learn from the wellness and nutrition scene in Israel, extra entertaining videos from this trip, and tips on taking your own to health and fitness vacation to Israel. In the meantime, leave your question, comments and feedback below!

photos by Or Kaplan

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How To Turn Your Desk Into A Calorie-Decimating Workstation.

best treadmill desk

Just two days ago, I spoke to a group of young executives in London.

And I told that despite the entire “sitting is the new smoking” movement, it’s still a bad idea to stand all day.

That’s right: it’s a bad idea to stand all day.

As a matter of fact, as I highlighted in my article “The 5 Sitting Mistakes That Fit People Make“, it’s a bad idea to be in any single position all day. When you sit all day long, you get low back pain; when you stand all day long you get foot, knee and hip pain; and when you sit on an exercise ball all day long, you get slouchy upper back and neck pain.

This is why I personally shift into a variety of positions throughout the entire workday, from standing at my standing desk, to lying on the floor on a yoga mat, to getting into a lunge position with either leg, to kneeling on a pillow…

…to walking at a slow pace, walking at a brisk pace, jogging, and now, running at an all-out sprint.

Yes, I am now interjecting brief spurts of all-out, metabolism-boosting sprints throughout my work day, without even stepping away from the office. This is because I’ve converted my entire desk into a calorie-decimating treadmill workstation, and in this article you’re going to discover exactly how I did it, which treadmill I’m using and which desk is best.

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The Two Problems With Most Treadmills

When I set about to modify my standing workstation into a treadmill desk, I ran into a two big problems, namely:

1. Treadmills Have Motors.

Treadmills with motors – the kind you’d normally need for running, and the kind typically used at treadmill workstations – are not only big and bulky, but produce enormous amounts of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and “dirty electricity”, which has been linked to brain fog, altered cellular metabolism, cancer risk, and much more.

In addition, a treadmill belt that runs on a motor allows you to walk and run while leaning slightly backwards and engaging in a full-on heel strike, which alters your running and walking gait, destroys your biomechanics and can actually turn you into a worse runner or a sloppy walker.

2. Manual Treadmills Are Too Slow For Running.

So a non-motorized treadmill (also known as a manual treadmill) is  a good solution compared to a motorized treadmill. But the problem is that most manual treadmills only reach a maximum speed of 3.5-4.0 miles per hour, and this means that you can never use a manual treadmill for running. Since I wanted to intersperse short fitness and metabolism boosting sprints into my walking workday, (e.g. stopping every hour to do a brief 2 minute sprint, or doing a bit of jogging in between consults and phone calls) this means I’d have to buy and find space for two separate treadmills – one for walking and one for running!

So over several months, I searched high and low for a treadmill that is A) a manual treadmill without a motor; B) compact enough to fit under my standing desk; and C) didn’t produce electrical pollution and D) could operate at both casual walking paces, light jogs and high running speeds.

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What Is The Best Treadmill For A Standing Desk?

The solution that I eventually found is something called a “TrueForm treadmill” made by Samsara Fitness. The unique looking TrueForm has several extremely unique characteristics that set it apart from any treadmill on the face of the planet, and is unlike any treadmill you’ve ever tried.

First, there is no motor and there are no buttons. The treadmill is entirely manual and is powered by you, which means that you are not only exposing yourself to zero electrical pollution and saving 100% on electrical costs, but also moving far more naturally due to the non-motorized belt design.

When you walk on a TrueForm treadmill, you burn more calories, get better balance (especially if you don’t use the rails) and build stronger leg and core muscles, since you’re doing the work instead of a treadmill motor. And the faster you move, the faster the treadmill goes, just like when you walk, jog or sprint outside.

But it gets even better, because the TrueForm treadmill is the first and only treadmill to actually teach you the skill of running. This is because the only way to really get the belt moving is to lean slightly forward, strike with your mid to front-forefoot, and maintain a high cadence, which means your body learns to run exactly like the most elite runners on the face of the planet run. This honestly took me a little bit of getting used to, because I’m used to being able to “lean back” and be lazy on a treadmill, and frankly, this treadmill instead forces you to move with pristine form.

Finally, the rails are removable. And although they are legally required to send you the treadmill with the rails attached, you can take them off for the ultimate balance-enhancing experience as you walk, jog and run.

So…let’s review:

-100% dirty-electricity free manual treadmill powered by your body…

-Small footprint for easy integration into an office or home work or gym setting…

-Automatically goes from a slow walking pace all the way up to an all-out sprint, with no buttons or adjustments…

-Teaches you how to walk and run with flawless biomechanics, using your own muscles and calories…

-Easy to use, with removable rails should you want to go “rail-free”…

Now in a moment I’ll show you the desk that I’m using with the Trueform treadmill, but first you need to know that the good folks at Samsara Fitness are offering all the BenGreenfieldFitness readers a 10% discount on this treadmill when you click here and use code BEN10.  

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Which Standing Desk Should You Use With A Treadmill?

For my standing desk, I chose to use something called a “Rebel Desk”, which is an adjustable-height desk is a desk that can be moved to different heights.

Like the treadmill (and unlike most other standing desks), the Rebel Desk uses a smoothly designed hand crank to move the desk up and down, once again removing the need for any desk-adjusting motor and any electrical pollution in your office. The desk moves up or down half an inch with each turn of the crank, and it takes about 10-15 seconds to move the desk from sitting to standing height (turning the actual crank is a simple motion that requires little effort, so unfortunately, no extra calorie burn there).

The desk includes for two organizer trays that attach to the side of the desk, and also a charging station that has USB ports and electrical outlets should you need extra places to plug things into your computer. I take care of any electrical surges in this area by plugging the charging station of my Rebel Desk into a Greenwave dirty electricity filter.

Ultimately, the Rebel Desk is a beautiful, functional desk that offer a perfect amount of height and space for a TrueForm treadmill, and allow you to sit, stand, walk or run whenever you’d like during the day. It also includes the option for a chair that adjust up and down with the desk, and I own the chair too, which I’ll use when I do actually sit, and also if I need something to lean against while I stand.

You can click here to get a RebelDesk to accompany your treadmill. The good folks at RebelDesk are giving all BenGreenfieldFitness readers a discount. You can use the code BEN to save $40 on the desk and code GREENFIELD to save $20 on the adjustable height chair that comes with the desk.

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More Resources

Of course, if you want to take a deep dive into making your office (and your entire home) as healthy as can be, I’ve got plenty more resources for you:

-Click here to watch my video on 7 more ways to reduce electrical pollution and dirty electricity in your office.

-Click here for my book on “How To Biohack A Healthy Home”.

-Click here to get inside the Inner Circle, where I have a 30 minute video that walks you through exactly how I have this treadmill and desk set up inside my personal office.

-Click here to get a TrueForm treadmill now and turn your ho-hum, sedentary desk (or your standing workstation) into a calorie-decimating machine. Use code BEN10 to save 10%!

-Click here to get a stylish, hand-crank RebelDesk to accompany your treadmill, and use code BEN to save $40 on the desk and code GREENFIELD to save $20 on the adjustable height chair that comes with the desk.

-Click here for a Whole House Protection Package, which includes a filter for your water line, a cartridge for your electrical panel, a cartridge to put next to your WiFi router, a cartridge for your vehicle, two wrist wraps for personal use, and a bed mat. Use code “friendofben” to save 15%.

Questions, comments or feedback on treadmill desks, standing workstations, or making your home and office the ultimate nourishing environment for your body? Leave your thoughts below.

The Little Known Truth About Smart Drugs And Nootropics (Audio & Article)

smart drugs vs. nootropics

The following is a guest post by Dr. Andrew Hill, Lead Neuroscientist at truBrain. Click here for a fascinating audio podcast that accompanies this article. featuring Ben Greenfield and Dr. Hill.

Dr. Hill received his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from UCLA in 2012, studying how attention operates in the brain. He has been employed as a Lecturer at UCLA over the past few years, teaching multidisciplinary courses on both Healthy Brain Aging and courses in Neuroscience and Psychology. Dr. Hill has published chapters on measuring and modulating human attention, and continues to research self regulation.

Prior to UCLA, Dr. Hill obtained extensive experience working with both psychiatric and developmental populations as well as gaining experience in high technology areas. He received his B.S. in Psychology/Neuroscience from UMass Amherst, and is a key adviser in the formulation of the truBrain’s cognitive blend (get 20% off on your purchase with the code BEN20).

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The Limitless Pill

In the 2011 movie Limitless, Bradley Cooper’s character gets his hands on a smart drug (NZT-48) that enables him to be cognitively super human.  

The only known side effect is that his eyes change color while he is on the drug, but that changes over the course of the movie as side effects, including withdrawal symptoms, begin to get worse and worse.  It’s a sci-fi thriller with a not-so-feel-good message about addiction and performance enhancing substances.  And goons chasing you.

Makes smart drugs sound dangerous, right?

Like any good sci-fi , this movie questions our assumption on the limits of science.  And some of what it is suggesting is not science fiction today. Smart drugs and nootropics are a current reality, being used more and more not to treat or remediate any active condition or complaint but towards boosting already typical or superior performance, in colleges, board rooms, military theatres, and by forward thinking gerontologists.

With the wide variety of compounds available today that have some research support for cognitive effects, it is important for you to understand the risks and benefits associated with usage, or at least how to choose smarter, when choosing things that affect your brain.

For example, one of the most popular misconceptions about smart drugs is that they are the same as nootropics.  This may be due to similar benefits that people use them for, but ultimately they do not share the same range of effects, mechanisms of action, safety and side effects.

So – what are smart drugs?  What are nootropics?  How do we know if something is safe or effective?  What are these drugs actually doing to my brain?  Why am I asking so many questions without answering them?  Keep reading to get this and more information you need to understand these questions, and start formulating your own answers – and your own strategies for selecting nootropics. 

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Smart Drugs vs. Nootropics

A smart drug is generally a prescribed medication or off-label drug used primarily to treat some kind of mental or cognitive disorder.

The most common are drugs such as Adderall (dextroamphetamine) or Ritalin (methylphenidate) in the stimulant class used to treat symptoms related to ADHD – although legal and illegal off-label use is rampant.  And while they may promote focus and energy in some people, others have dramatic side effect, to body and brain.  Smart drugs in the stimulant class also tend to be reinforcing, producing spikes in dopamine and norepinephrine.

This leads to tolerance and habit formation, including adverse effects on appetite, mood stability, cardiac function, stress levels and possibly many other unwanted effects – especially on younger brains such as teens and young adults.  Irritability and mood swings, anxiety, sleep issues, and other forms of emotional or cognitive regulation problems can crop up over time with stimulant use, as well.

A popular atypical stimulant “smart drug” includes the narcolepsy agents Modafinil / Adrafinil, although their effects on cognition beyond wakefulness are unproven, and side effects – while rare – can be life threatening.  If attention problems are already present the side effect risk appears to be significant increased, as well. (Kumar, (2008), Approved and Investigational Uses, Drugs. 68(13):1803-39.).

In contrast to a smart drug, a nootropic is generally a non-prescribed compound, including vitamins, herb, other supplements, natural or synthetic compound that may increase or protect cognition in some way.  The preponderance of research in the past 40 years shows some effects on focus, attention, effects on aging, and possibly cellular metabolism.

To paraphrase the definition of “nootropic” as initially coined in this article by the researcher Girugea in 1972, it is something that improves cognition without appreciable side effects, or provides from protection to the brain.

In a modern context we think of nootropics as something used not to treat any mental condition or pathology directly, but instead to provide support to peak function, protect against long term risk, and provide daily boost.  Across the field, true nootropic ingredients and full blends can now be found largely sourced from natural ingredients.  Nootropic blends are designed to leverage synergy effects suggested in the research and subjective experiences.   The goals with nootropics should always be to allow for greater and more consistent cognitive effort and flow, without the side effects of a stimulant or other harsh substance.

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How Do I Know If A Smart Drug Is Safe?

As a rule of thumb, it is the nature of science to be wrong at times.  

We’ve come a long way since we accepted that the theory behind the Earth being the center of the universe was wrong.  We understand that new research may overturn old knowledge.  So how can we truly know the risks and benefits of long term use of nootropics or smart drugs?

A red flag in understanding the harm of a substance is the body’s ability to handle an overabundance of this substance.  Small amounts of toxic substances may be beneficial in the short term, but the magic happens when we look at what is happening in the body when we get too much.  Something as simple as a cup of coffee may seem harmless, but caffeine in high amounts can cause dizziness, anxiety, and even cardiac arrest or death.  Caffeine mimics the action of the neuromodulator adenosine in the body.  This leads to higher adrenaline and cortisol levels.

Even in typical doses caffeine can deeply affect our sleep and cause heart arrhythmias for some people.   Alcohol has even worse short and long term toxicity symptoms at non-moderate doses, and some people struggle to keep their dosing moderate.  In better doses – perhaps a couple cups of coffee a day (without sugar) and a drink or so per day on average, these substance are actively health promoting, and reduce risk for many brain and cardiac diseases.  When you are picking substances and compounds, dosing should be cautious at first.

From this, a couple rules come out –

1) don’t take any compounds, substance, or blends of substances that don’t list all their ingredients out in plain amounts.  

Proprietary blends with lump-sum amount hiding buzzword-compliant list of magical ingredients known as “fairy dusting” in the supplement industry.

Don’t be fooled.

Read the ingredients.

Figure out why and what is in there, and if you want it.

2) don’t chase suspicious research chemicals without much history of use or safety profile.  

Experiment on yourself if you like, but you only have one brain – make rational and cautious choices.  There are nootropic, smart drug, and cognitive enhancers that have been around for decades – something released last week as a “Research Chemical” with a bunch of numbers and letters for a name and no human studies isn’t worth the risk to you.  Not for years.

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What About Adderall & Modafinil Safety?

Smart drugs such as Adderall can cause dangerous lows, psychosis with extreme use, rebound fatigue, and depression, even at lower use levels.  As an amphetamine, Adderall can act as a reuptake inhibitor, meaning that it can compete with other neurotransmitters for reuptake.

Specifically it is thought to block the uptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are associated with reward behaviors and our nervous system functions, respectively.  This causes a flood of these neurotransmitters onto multiple receptors, causing neurotransmitter depletion and overexcited receiving neurons.  This large “signal” is the reason for the focus, but also responsible for some of the side effects that go along with this class of prescription drugs.  Existing research is also a bit weak on any improvement that Adderall or other stimulants may have on short term memory or cognitive function, and some actually may impair function.

Modafinil, also known as Provigil, is an example of a smart drug that has been used like a nootropic.  Modafinil is prescribed to treat sleep disorders, but when combined with a normal functioning brain, can potentially cause increases in cognition and awareness.

Just like Adderall, the use of these drugs outside the medical field does not make them a nootropic.  Modafinil is also a reuptake inhibitor for dopamine, causing the same type of neurotrasmitter flood as Adderall.  However, Modafinil may also affect the histaminergic pathway, which deals with wakefulness and the delicate immune response of the body.  Histaminergic neurons in the brain are more active during wakefulness and slow their firing pattern as we rest or sleep.

Modafinil’s “beneficial” side effects may come from this heightened histaminergic neuronal activation, but too much activation can cause apoptosis, or cell death.  In addition, this has been shown to cause adverse skin reactions that required hospitalization since the histamine pathway also deals with our immune system.  Modafinil may increase your intelligence, but can be extremely dangerous to the health of your brain and body.

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Enter Nootropics

Nootropics, like truBrain’s cognitive blend, and a few other products on the market, have dose-toxicity levels much lower than salt, caffeine, and especially Adderall.  

There doesn’t seem to be any neurotransmitter depletion, tolerance or habit forming potential, adverse body side effects, or impaired brain function, from most true nootropics, by Girugea’s definition.  The mechanisms for nootropics lie within the structural connectivity of the brain, the optimization of blood flow and oxygenation, and the fortification of brain regions over long term consistency.  Nootropics act more as a super supplement to protecting the brain.  Girugea’s own first synthesized nootropic (in 1964) is still in use today and has been shown to have effects on mitochondrial metabolism, cell membrane fluidity, and functional connectivity in the brain.

Piracetam is this poster child for nootropics, and one of the main ingredients in truBrain nootropic blends. It is one of the only compounds used in that formulation that can not be found in nature, however it was originally derived from – and has structural similarities to – the neurotransmitter GABA.

Since Girugea bought piracetam to light in 1964, there has been lots of research to support the benefits of piracetam.  It has been shown to positively affect our cell membranes and to have neuroprotective and pro-metabolism effects on cells.  The fluidity in our membranes changes with stress and old age, as well as moment to moment as one method of regulating receptor activity. By keeping our membranes healthy we can promote the cells ability to communicate.

For example, truBrain combines other membrane oriented supplements – including choline. The cell membrane – especially in the brain – relays ongoing control signals and messages from other cells to the inner processes of the cell.  Neurons’ membranes in the axon (wiring) and soma (cell body) help generate and propagate electrical signals, sum distant signals, and even have computational and complex learning functions related to changes in membrane function.  Healthier and more active cell membranes bring us increased activity and cell communication, and hopefully better cognition.

Piracetam along with other truBrain ingredients such as magnesium, choline, and DHA, increases in brain plasticity and are designed to improve cognition and efficiency under processing load – or peak performance, versus remediation.  Nootropics may support increased cognitive potential as well as long term protection.  The truBrain team added L-Theanine and L-Tyrosine to support neurotransmitters of GABA and Dopamine, respectively.

You can use a similar or different strategy when building your own nootropic regimen, but use a strategy.  Know why you are putting an ingredient in, know how it might interact with the others, and be sure that dosing is safe.

When you are planning your nootropic or nutraceutical regimen, think in terms of nutrition support to cell metabolism and function, amino acids, natural or near-natural compounds, and avoid bad fats and harsh chemicals that give a momentary boost at the cost of later crashing or having other more serious side effects, such as excess sugars and caffeine.

And don’t forget what else you put in your mouth – additional DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids (in grass fed meats, deep sea fish) are excellent for brain health. Craft your diet like you craft your brain supplement regimen – or have both catered / curated for you in a high end product.  If you do create your own blend, think precise selection, not shotgun approach, and add slowly to your regimen.

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The Problem With Instant Gratification

As a culture, we often hear false marketing claims or create mindsets about what is possible with our health.  

We see ads that advertise a pill that gets rid of “stomach fat fast”.  Truthfully, fat is lost uniformly in the body and the fastest and healthiest way to lose weight it about 1-2 pounds uniformly a week.  So we eat poorly and don’t exercise for 2 years and then criticize our healthy workout plans and diet 1 month in when we don’t get the results we want.

The healthiest and most effective things in life are often the ones that we do routinely.  Consistency is key.  This is true if you are talking about athletic performance, academic or intellectual training, or nutrition and supplement support.  While not “necessary” like supplements or medicines, nootropic use follows this principle as well.  There is another rule, emerging.

If something is strongly “felt” dose to dose – if it gets you high, or wired, or sedated…it’s a smart drug, recreational drug, or something that may enhancing some aspect of performance (perhaps at the expense of another), but is definitely not a nootropic.  And finally, nootropics should be sustainable.

With some nootropics there is an initial loading phase followed by a maintenance phase, and while subtle, results can be felt fairly quickly on the timescale of a few days.  The contrasting quick highs / crashes of coffee, alcohol, smart drugs, and even quickly digesting carbs are definitely experienced more immediately, but have consequences that make them unsustainable for many people.

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Summary

So in summary – here are a few initial rules to help select your own nootropic or cognitive enhancing blend:

  • Know your ingredients, and their amounts.
  • Don’t spend your money on obfuscate fairy dusting or expensive blends that are full of caffeine or random research chemicals.
  • It’s not a nootropic if it has side effects.
  • Your nootropic solutions should focus on mild nutritive and metabolic support, for long term gains and protection.  Break the cycle peak and crash that you get with too many stimulants, and avoid the more serious side effects that you risk with smart drugs.
  • Nootropics don’t get you high, altered, or wired.

And don’t forget the other accessible and evidence-based brain and cognition improving methodologies we have at our disposal today: meditation, yoga, and other contemplative (attention training) practices, biofeedback and neurofeedback, diets high in good fats, and other modifiable behaviors you can implement to take control of your brain health and performance.

So take care of your brain – the tools are out there, to support health and shift performance.

Leave your questions, comments and feedback below. Also, if you want to try the nootropic that Dr. Hill helped design, grab truBrain and get 20% off on your purchase with the code BEN20.

Part 2: 67 Steps to Getting Anything You Want Out of Life Health, Wealth, Love, & Happiness with Tai Lopez

MeetTai

Welcome to Part 2 of this special podcast series, in which you get to sit in and listen to Tai Lopez coach Ben Greenfield (and you!) using the strategies from Tai’s online video series “67 Steps to Getting Anything You Want Out of Life Health, Wealth, Love, & Happiness“.

You can listen to Part 1 here.

In this episode, Ben and Tai talk about how to know when you’re actually making enough money, and when you can stop focusing on income, start focusing more on life, love and happiness, and how to strike the ideal balance between being overambitious and underambitious.

Books and resources Tai and Ben discuss in this podcast:

Finding your strengths/personality tests:

1. If you’re an Entrepreneur or are thinking of becoming one, this book and psychology test is best fitted.

2. If you’re a leader or an active member in a team, this book and psychology test is best fitted.

3. If you work a regular job or you want to know how to apply your personal strengths in your everyday life, this is the book and test for you.

 

-The online Meyers-Briggs personality analysis

-Joel Salatin’s books and resources

-Book: The Snowball: Warren Buffet and The Business Of Life

-Book: A Few Lessons for Investors and Managers From Warren Buffett

-Book: The Five Love Languages

-Tai’s Millionaire Mentor program

-Tai’s online video series: 67 Steps to Getting Anything You Want Out of Life Health, Wealth, Love, & Happiness

Do you have question, comments or feedback? Leave your thoughts below.

The Five Best Supplements and Foods to Increase Sexual Performance.

pine-pollen

If your reproductive system is working at top-notch capacity, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re fit on the outside and fit on the inside.

So a good sex life and strong sex drive is very intimately (pun intended, of course) tied to your fitness levels.

And that is why we sometimes feature articles about sex, libido and relationships.

The following such article is written by my friend Jordan Gray, bestselling author of multiple relationship, sex and dating books, and a guy who drastically improved my own married sex life. Enjoy, leave your comments and questions below the post, and be sure to check out Jordan’s books on Amazon.

By the way, if you don’t like frank and explicit talk about sex, then you may just want to skip this article.

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I did an interview called “How To Get Fit For Sex” with Ben Greenfield a few months ago – and he asked me something that rattled around in my head for a while after our call.

At the end of our bad-ass hour long interview about how to get fit for sex, he asked me if I had experimented with any foods, supplements, or other magic potions to increase sexual performance. And up until that point, I hadn’t.

This set me on a three-month-long test to see how much I could dial up my libido, sexual performance, and erectile strength for the better.

Basically, I became a human guinea pig… for sex. Okay, I’ll admit – that sounded stranger than I intended it to.

I have certainly written in the past on how to last longer, how to dial up the sexual polarity in your relationship, how to sexually strengthen yourself, and how ejaculating too much can drain you… but this was the first time that I had tested the idea that slightly shifting your diet could positively affect your sex life.

The results, at times, were pretty intense (read: extremely, overwhelmingly intense).

Now – keep in mind that I did not have my testosterone levels checked out by a doctor at any point in this process. This was not a scientific method. I was going strictly by how sexually voracious I felt (a fancy way to say horny), how often I woke up with nocturnal penile tumescence (aka NPT, aka morning wood), and how intense and long lasting my erections were throughout the day when I wasn’t engaging in any sexual activity.

With that in mind, I did control my exposure to each substance/dietary change by only doing one thing at a time. And then at the end I did all of the things all at once (it gets pretty funny… you’ll see soon).

I’m giddy writing this article right now. Over the past three months, my sex drive (and presumed testosterone levels) had a gradual and steady increase, which then culminated in a couple weeks where it was absolutely TOO much.

With a higher sex drive, you can open your woman sexually with more ease, and have more confidence in your sexual abilities.

So without further delay, here are the biggest lessons that I learned from three months of biohacking my sex life with supplements and minor dietary changes.

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1. Remove toxins from your home environment and self-care regimen

One of the first things that I learned the importance of was removing toxins from my home and self-care regimen.

In my off-call conversation with Ben Greenfield, he told me about the importance of removing harmful chemicals from my household. Any unnatural cleaning products (whether I cleaned my stove or my face with them) would harm my sleep and therefore interfere with my testosterone production. And remember, testosterone is the sex and aggressions hormone and is absolutely critical in increasing your sex drive.

Ben’s article How To Detox Your Home deep-dives into the details and science of the matter.

So I got rid of all of the soaps, moisturizers, and others things that had parabens, aluminum, and other harmful chemicals in them that plugged up my body and interfered with my natural hormonal process. I also turned off my WiFi router and cell phone at night so that the EMF waves weren’t dancing around in my bedroom/home.

Whether it was strictly a placebo effect or not, I felt a noticeable difference in my sex drive within the first two weeks of cutting out all of the dyed/perfumed soaps and products from my house. And I was fully single during this time so I knew that the boost in libido wasn’t the rush of a new relationship that was giving me a surge in sex drive.

I truly believe that without detoxing my personal hygiene routine (I personally started using this soap and this deodorant to great effect and cut out every product from my self-care routine) the rest of the steps ahead wouldn’t have done nearly as much. The pathways to increased T-levels would have been blocked by the offending toxins and chemicals in my body.

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2. Your diet matters

Eating clean, real foods, getting regular exercise, and having a full night’s sleep all contribute to your hormonal balance and testosterone production.

I’m going to skip all of the science that I found in books like this (my favourite book on the subject), and this (my second favourite book on the subject), and give you the cliffs notes of the 30+ hours of private study that I did to find out exactly what foods lead to higher testosterone levels.

Specific foods/kinds of foods to limit your intake of: sugar, caffeine, white flour, excessive starchy carbohydrates.

Best foods to consume for testosterone production: zinc, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin B, flaxseed oil, nettle root, celery, cucumber, kale, spinach, radish, oatmeal (rolled oats/steel cut oats), garlic, pine nuts, eggs, broccoli, blackberries and blueberries (berries in limited amounts). Incidentally, the multivitamin that Ben now recommends does actually contain most of these compounds.

The more dark and colourful vegetables you consume, and the less processed crap you eat, the happier your body will be, and the healthier your sex drive will be.

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3. Increase Your Intake Of Healthy Fats

As an add-on to the limiting of sugars, white flour, and starchy carbs, ensuring that your diet has an ample amount of polyunsaturated and saturated fats will help in your testosterone production.

Examples of recommended foods containing healthy fats? Coconut oil, raw nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds), grass-fed lean meat, avocados, olives and olive oil, and organic butter.

In the most intense phase of my diet-focused testosterone boosting I drank an organic raw egg before bed every night for a week (testosterone is derived from cholesterol… which eggs have in spades) and I woke up with insane morning wood every morning without fail. From making sure that I consumed some cholesterol and healthy fat before bed I noticed that I recovered more quickly from my workouts and my sex drive had a big shot in the arm.

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4. Some books have much more useful information than others

There are a ton of resources out there on increasing testosterone naturally, and to be honest, they’re full of fluff stories and dry-sounding science. Stuff that I’m sure is all reputable and true, but it’s insanely boring (to me at least).

The three best books that I found on the subject (that were value dense, and also had a tone of voice that didn’t totally talk over my head) were The Natural Testosterone Plan, Testosterone For Life, and Clean. You can dig into those if you feel so compelled.

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5. Pine Pollen

Remember earlier in the article where I mentioned that there came a time where I had stacked so many things that my sex drive started to become unbearably high? Well this last step was the force multiplier that took everything in high gear.

So by this point I had cleaned out/detoxed my body and home environment, limited foods that I knew were bad for me, increased my overall vegetable and healthy fat intake, and was getting better sleep more regularly.

I consulted with one of my friends who just recently turned 40 and he could pass for a jacked 30 year old. The guy is buff… as in, you can always see his veins even when he’s sitting and calmly reading a book. But he’s a vegetarian/organic loving guy who would never touch any kind of pharmaceutical drugs (so he wasn’t taking steroids or anything artificial like that). I asked him what his secret was… and he told me “pine pollen.”

I’d never heard of pine pollen before embarking on this journey, but now that I have I’m never going back.

My friend informed me that pine pollen wouldn’t take my testosterone levels PAST what was a good baseline for what my body wanted to produce, but it would feel like I had a major boost in libido because my body was likely drastically below what it wanted to be (from general poor diet or chronic stress/poor sleep, etc.)

The science behind pine pollen is still shaky at best but apparently the story goes that it is a natural phyto-androgen (which is a fancy way of saying tree sperm). It is also a complete protein, and is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is available in tablet or tincture form, but the tincture form is recommended only for men middle-aged and older, while the tablet can be taken by younger men, women, children, and the aged. Of course, anyone with a pine pollen allergy should avoid both forms.

Long story short, I started taking pine pollen tablets three times a day. My reasoning went like this “This product is probably just a natural health product that does very little, so let’s see what happens when I start off by taking the full dose… probably nothing.”

And I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The next morning I woke up with a raging erection like someone had slipped Cialis into my mouth while I was asleep.

The effects compounded over the next ten days as I continued the dosage at the full level. I told myself that I would give each phase of my T-boosting tests two weeks each (to really see if each phase made a difference), and the pine pollen phase was the only one that I had to cut short because it was too intense.

I could barely concentrate on anything. Every woman that walked by me looked amazing. Sex was on my mind constantly (and I have a relatively low sex drive normally so this was totally out of the ordinary for me).

After ten days of the fourteen day test, I cut my dosage back to half of the recommend amount and I felt much more like a human being again (and less like an animal).

The happy medium that I have found throughout this process is that I have continued to limit simple sugars, alcohol, and caffeine, make sleep a priority, eat more healthy fats, and take the pine pollen dosage just a few days per week. My sex drive has never been more steady, strong, and balanced, and I have more drive and motivation day to day.

Summary

So to wrap things up – start by cutting out the parabens and heavy metals in your self-care products, stop eating food that you know is bad for you, eat more healthy fats, get a good sleep, and if you’re going to experiment with any supplements, try out pine pollen tablets.

Questions, comments or feedback about these five best supplements and foods to boost sexual performance? Leave your thoughts below!

P.S. I didn’t experiment with any prescription drugs (like Cialis, Viagra, Levitra, etc.) during this process because that wasn’t the point of the exercise. I wanted to see if I could naturally boost my sex drive and re-balance my hormones without using drugs. I wasn’t opposed to natural health products like pine pollen, but any drug that I had to get a prescription for was off limits.

How To Find Nutrient-Dense Wild Edibles And Medicinal Plants In Your Own Backyard.

wlld plants

Ever wished you knew if you had plants in your backyard that you could actually eat – plants that might even be good for you, save you money grocery shopping, heal you, provide you with nutrient density and more?

Or maybe you just want to know how to survive in the wilderness for a few days on your own.

The fact is, if you know what to look for, you can find a wealth of edible and medicinal plants all around you. You just need to know where to look, and which plants to avoid so that you don’t poison yourself.

Not only that, but you can also survive in the wilderness with just a few primitive skills – fewer than you’d think.

In this podcast, I interview Tim Corcoran, an expert on wilderness survival, permaculture, edible wild plants and more. Tim is co-director of Twin Eagles Wilderness School · Nature & Wilderness Survival School, an organization he co-founded with his wife, Jeannine Tidwell in Sandpoint, Idaho (located about an hour from my house. Tim is a certified Wilderness First Responder, a graduate of the Kamana Naturalist Training Program, and a graduate of the Vermont Wilderness School’s five-year Apprenticeship Program.

During this episode, we discuss:

-3 wild edibles you can find in your own backyard…

-Two crucial wilderness survival skills that everyone should know…

-How you can quickly die if you don’t have the right mindset going into a wilderness survival situation…

-Why we’ve lost our sense of tribe and community and what we can do about it…

-How to go through a rite of passage…

-Why you should know Gilbert Walking Bull’s “Seven Sacred Attributes“…

-And much more!

Click here for the YouTube videos that accompany this episode, click here to grab the free e-book that Tim is offering on “Top 10 Edible Wild Plants”, and leave your questions, comments and feedback about wild edibles and medicinal plants below!

Did Lebron James’ Cell Phone Give Him Mouth Cancer?

Le-Bron

A few weeks ago, I published the video “7 Ways To Reduce Electrical Pollution In Your Office“, and a couple weeks ago, the article “Is Your Mattress Killing You?”. Both addressed the concerning topic of what modern electronic signals are doing to our health.

Now i’s time to dig even deeper. The following guest post comes from Evan Brand, host of the “Not Just Paleo” podcast. Evan recently recorded a groundbreaking interview entitled “EMF Solutions And How To Mitigate Cell Phone And Home Risks“, and it was so compelling, I asked him if he could expound upon it in this article. This is indeed a controversial topic, so if you have your own thoughts, comments or feedback, them leave them below this post.

Take it away, Evan…

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Even if you aren’t an avid gossip magazine reader, surely you’ve heard about some of the extreme measures that celebrities are now taking for their health. Angelina Jolie and her breast removal surgery was the catalyst for me to dig deeper into the lives of celebrities and the things they promote.

Oftentimes, celebrity health issues simply don’t make sense. Their “random health problems” just seem so, well…random…and out of the blue to the general public.

But I am here to tell you these random health problems are not really random at all.

In this article, you’ll learn about why Lebron James’ salivary gland tumor really happened (Lebron recently underwent a 5 hour surgery to remove his tumor). While the consensus that most mouth tumors are benign, that didn’t seem to be the case for poor Lebron.

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Salivary Gland Tumors Entering the Mainstream

More celebrities than just Lebron James have been dealing with salivary or parotid gland tumors. For examle, John McCain and Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys are two more famous cases of salivary gland tumors. Unfortunately, Adam Yauch lost his life due to his tumor at the age of 47 years old.

So why are these tragedies happening? What is it that politicians, basketball players and musicians have in common?

Just think about it:

They frequently travel and expose themselves to radiation, both in the airport and on planes.

They are in high demand by others which often calls for extremely frequent cell phone use.

They are celebrities – there’s simply far less time to turn off and decompress, destress or detoxify.

So is their excessive cell phone use – along with these other damaging life variables – causing their tumors? Although a one study found that short-term use of cell phones did not lead to an increased risk of salivary gland tumors, the authors were unsure of the long-term risks. Another study found no increase in risk for brain tumors after short-term cell phone use, but said they are “waiting for long-term studies to surface”.

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Is Cell Phone Danger Just A Conspiracy Theory?

Do these studies sound a bit like the relaxed attitude towards leaded gasoline or cigarettes when they began? Scientist Clair Patterson was living in fear each day due to the mass poisoning that lead was causing in cities with cars and to the health of the ocean. The lead concentration levels in the oceans were rising and were directly correlated from leaded gasoline. The gasoline industry didn’t want to hear it. After all, it was big business, and big business is big money.

However, the gasoline companies later hired other scientists to attempt to disprove and convince the public that leaded gasoline was really safe. The full account of this story is shown in Neil Tyson’s TV series called Cosmos. In my opinion, it’s a must watch episode for every citizen of the planet.

But back to cell phones.

There are scientists, politicians and average everyday people like myself who are concerned about the billions of cell phones that are being produced and used each day on this planet. Why haven’t we questioned or paused for a moment to ask how these things may be affecting us on the cellular level? I forgot about the power of money, I suppose. The tech industry is one of the few industries that has boomed in the global recession. It would be catastrophic to the world economy if we were just to abandon the cell phone industry. And besides, we are far too addicted to our tech toys to leave them behind.

If we keep assuming everything is safe until proven dangerous (pesticides, GMO’s), we will lead ourselves into human extinction. Scientists have long documented the decline in life expectancy in the 21st century here. It’s no surprise to those of us that are aware of the multi-faceted toxic world we live in. Without the ability to detoxify or find nurturing foods, it’s no surprise when we look at the statistics. And when you add in cell phone towers every 200 yards throughout the city, along with WiFi centers spreading like some sort of bacteria, you can really begin to grasp the scale of this issue.

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Straying Away From Nature

There’s a reason you feel more at ease when you are immersed in nature. As someone who spent a lot of time building hiking trails and working in fields in an area with zero cell phone towers, I can tell you that my anxiety and breathing issues are much more relaxed when I’m in those natural environments. When it comes to stress, there are certainly many factors at play, but EMF is a big factore.

As Ben points out in the well-researched article “How To Detox Your Home“, exposure to EMF has been linked to headaches, fatigue, depression, hyperactivity, eye strain, muscle cramps or twitches, poor sleep quality due to reduced melatonin secretion (as stated by the Bioinitiative Report), anxiety, autism, blood-brain barrier permeability, blood sugar dysregulation and heart palpitations.

And this isn’t just cell phones we’re talking about. I must point out that there is more than just one type of damaging electromagnetic field (EMF), including:

-Radiation frequency, WiFi, cell phone and cell towers coming from your home, public transit, airplane, environment and anywhere where a large group of people with tech gadgets congregate.

-Dirty electricity coming from appliances near your bedroom, fuse boxes, smart meters, hair dryers, televisions, power lines, light fixtures, microwaves and other electronics. You can test anything with your Trifield meter. The safe limit is 1mG.

-Non-native magnetic fields from extension cords, power outlets, some electronics and metal bed frames.

Perhaps you’re getting the idea why the massive post-industrial surge in cancer rates is not just limited to mouth cancer. It’s affecting every cell in our entire body – above and beyond simply our heads.

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But WiFi Is Just So Cool!

Even if you’re not personally much of a “cell phone person”, the pervasiveness of WiFi should be concerning to you.

Here in Austin, Texas, the public transit sector has put a huge marketing campaign into promoting their new buses that contain the fastest WiFi. Companies are creating entire businesses based around in-flight WiFi to satisfy our need to conduct “important business” from the airplane.

But has no one realized that buses and airplanes are essentially metal, enclosed microwave boxes? We are simply stuffed inside of them like a TV dinner waiting to explode!

A recent story I overheard at the airport was about the number of tech gadgets each person was carrying. People now have a smartphone, tablet, laptop and usually a few more random electronic “toys”. Take those three gadgets – multiplied by a flight of 150 people who do not follow the “airplane mode” rule – and you have 400+ devices bouncing signals around an airplane cabin.

There should be an immediate requirement and stricter enforcement against devices not put in airplane mode until further studies can disprove the evidence against our health. But I doubt this will happen. Skeptics or people who have no clue about this subject simply want to conduct business and play with their toys – optimizing productivity or being plugged into the world over health. I personally make ever effort possible to travel on airplanes and transit systems that do not have these features available.

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Kids Are At Risk Too

When I was in school, cell phones and WiFi wasn’t pervasive in the school system. I was safe. But now, 5 year old kids are taking smart phones to school and are sitting in a WiFi bath throughout the enitre day. Almost anyone who has raised a child is aware that a child’s skulls is not as dense as an adults, so they have less protection against these invisible forces.

This article quoted The Council of Europe Parliament, who looked at evidence of these technologies and the potential harmful effects on humans and concluded that “immediate action is required to protect the children”.

The Council proposed putting the following measures into place:

Set thresholds for levels of long-term exposure to microwaves of the type emitted by mobile phones;

Introduce clear labeling on products indicating the presence of electromagnetic fields and any health risks associated with use;

Ban all mobile phones and wireless networks in classrooms and schools;

Run information campaigns aimed at children and young adults about the risks to human health;

Step up research on less-dangerous types of antennae and mobile phones.

Dang. Hopefully America catches up soon.

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What’s Next?

Although the World Health Organization still has a conservative stance on cell phones, cell towers and electromagnetic radiation, they too point to the fact that these 4G advanced technologies have not been around long enough to see the full effect on society. I personally expect their stance to begin to change as the evidence continues to pile up.

On episode 86 of my podcast, I’ve had one of the most respected EMF experts discuss some of the implications and clinical research on this topic in his career as an M.D. Dr. Samuel Milham also authored the book Dirty Electricity: Electrification and the Diseases of Civilization. I’ve also talked with Ann Louise Gittleman on episode 87. She is the author of Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution.

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What You Can Do

Fortunately, there are action steps you can take right now to ensure you’re not swimming in the same EMF filled soup that Lebron James’ head has been exposed to for so long. Ben has discussed many of these solutions in detail in his “How To Biohack The Ultimate Healthy Home” e-book, but here’s a quick list to get you started:

  1. Turn off at night or completely remove or disable WiFi from your home and hardwire your computer. I’ve noticed faster recovery, deeper and more restful sleep accompanied by an increase in dreams and dream recall.
  2. Use antennasearch.com when you’re moving to a new location or planning to build a home. Pick the location with minimal or no towers whenever possible.
  3. Avoid holding your cell phone right up to your head when talking. Use the speakerphone or hold the phone away from your head while turning up your volume.
  4. Avoid cell phone use in the car or put it on airplane mode.
  5. Do not use bluetooth headsets. Only use air-tube headsets (Ben discusses them in this article).
  6. Turn off the breaker to your bedroom at night if you’ve got access to the breaker box.
  7. Use a Trifield meter or even a Lapka device to survey your work area and home for unsafe levels of magnetic fields.
  8. Use Dirty Electricity Filters if your magnetic level readings are safe and below 1mG using the 0-3 feature.
  9. Do not bring any electronics into the bedroom.
  10. Get rid of your metal-containing mattress and bed frame as they act like an antenna. Many people report better sleep by switching to a wood frame and metal and toxin-free mattress.
  11. Use your laptop hooked up to an external display with wired (not wireless or bluetooth!) keyboard and mouse. My Macbook Air emits over 5mG from the keyboard.
  12. Keep the head of your bed away from the wall where wires or electrical outlets are present.
  13. Make an effort to immerse yourself in nature and other places where EMF exposure will be minimized.
  14. Ground yourself to the earth in a safe manner, such as by frequently getting barefoot outside.
  15. Drink more spring water, as EMF tends to dehydrate you.
  16. Don’t let children, preferably anyone under age 10, have long exposure to cell phones
  17. Deny and refuse smart meters at all costs. If your state prevents you from rejecting their installation, attempt to find a safer home and in the meantime, maximize your distance.
  18. Maintain adequate mineral status – including magnesium – as mineral deficiencies can allow heavy metal toxicity, further creating a “human antenna” effect.
  19. Engage in love, laughter and joy to maintain a light-hearted attitude and stress response.
  20. Do your best and take small steps each day to minimize exposure and risk.

Think about what you can do to mitigate some of these risks. Would you actually be able to live without your cell phone? Is this all a conspiracy? Do you think celebrities are destroying themselves with all their cell phone use, plane flights and stress? Leave your thoughts, comments and feedback below this post.

Sources

Everything You Need To Know About Essential Oils For Fat Loss, Performance, Smart Drugs, Scar Healing, Detoxing And More.

Essential Oils

Two years ago, I got a nasty staph infection.

It exploded into the flesh-eating bacteria MRSA, it took over both my arms and legs, it ate a golf-ball sized hole into my right thigh and I nearly lost my left arm.

The entire nasty story, along with shocking photos, is here.

After trying every natural remedy and topical creme on the face of the planet, I eventually got rid of the entire thing and healed myself with essential oils.

Over the past two years, I went from knowing nothing about essential oils to discovering an entire wealth of knowledge about these amazing natural remedies, and in today’s podcast episode with Dr. Sarah Lobisco, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about essential oils for fat loss, performance, cognitive enhancement, scar healing, detoxing and more, including:

What exactly an essential oil is and how an essential oil is actually made…

How essential oils work chemically within your body…

The three different ways you can apply and use essential oils…

The best essential oils for your immune system…

The best essential oil blends for stress and sleep…

The best essential oils for fat loss (and for stretch marks too!)…

Amazing ways you can use one essential oil as a smart drug and cognitive performance enhancer…

How essential oils can be used to enhance physical performance…

How essential oils can be used for cleansing and detox…

-Why not all essential oils are created equal, why some can do some serious damage to you if you’re not careful, and the exact brand that Dr. Sarah uses

My guest, Dr. Sarah Lobisco, is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport’s College of Naturopathic Medicine (UBCNM). She is licensed in Vermont as a naturopathic doctor and holds a Bachelor of Psychology from State University of New York at Geneseo. Dr. LoBisco speaks professionally on integrative medical topics, has several journal publications, and is a candidate for postdoctoral certification in functional medicine. She currently has a private integrative medicine consulting practice located in Ballston Spa, New York, where she incorporates her training in holistic medical practices with conventional medicine.

Do you have more questions about essential oil? Leave your comments and feedback below, and click here to peruse the Young Living Essential Oils we discuss in this episode.