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The Underground Guide To Planning Your Exercise Around Your Menstruation Cycle.

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Last week, in the podcast episode “#310: The Menstrual Cycle And Athletic Performance, How To Get Kids To Grow Taller, Fueling For Soccer Matches & More!”, I answered many questions about the mysteries of the menstrual cycle and athletic performance.

But just in case you need more, or you want to read up on the nitty-gritty details of how exercise is affected by hormones (and vice versa), in today’s guest post, Austin Whisler – a coach in training at SuperhumanCoach.com – is going to dive in and enlighten you on every complexity you need for planning your exercise around your menstrual cycle.

Whether you’re a personal trainer or coach who works with female athletes, or you’re a woman who likes to exercise, consider this a crucial article to read if you want to plan your physical activity around your menstruation cycle…and leave any of your questions, comments or feedback below!

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Introduction

With adult women making up such a large percentage of people at the gym and out pounding the pavement, coaches and trainers (regardless of their sport) must educate themselves on the complexities of the menstrual cycle.

Ever heard of the pregnenolone steal?

That the luteal phase of menstruation lowers your insulin sensitivity while at the same time giving you an increase in metabolism?

Progesterone depletion?

You may not be familiar with all these terms, or how to use knowledge of them to your advantage or your clients’ advantage for exercise, so continue reading to figure out how you can help educate yourself or your clients on factors to track during menstruation.

And trust me, don’t stop reading if you’re a guy! Us men will benefit greatly from knowing how our partners, spouses, mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and clients can plan their exercise more intelligently. But before learning ways to plan training during menstruation, let’s dive into the basics of the menstrual cycle.

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The Start Of Menstruation

The menstruation cycle starts at Day 1 after the unfertilized egg causes the uterus lining to break down.  A menstrual cycle lasts around 28 days but can vary depending on many factors.  For simplicity, in this article I will use a 28 day cycle as the example to cover the phase variances. Body-wide fluctuations occur during this time, but we’ll pay extra attention to levels of estrogen, progesterone, and insulin sensitivity.

BG Fitness

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Follicular Phase

The follicular phase comes first (lasting roughly from Day 1 to Day 14) and occurs when the ovary releases an egg. At this point, estrogen increases, while progesterone and body temperature stays the same (See diagram below).  This first phase is a time where the female body is primed to hit intense workouts that are of an anaerobic nature.  Increased insulin sensitivity, along with an increase in pain tolerance, can explain this capability.

An article from The Globe and Mail by Alex Hutchinson stated that carbohydrate loading the day before an endurance competition is more important during this phase.  Later in the article, Hutchinson interviewed a scientist that stated that the metabolic effects during each phase can be negated with purposeful nutrition.  For example, if competition falls on this phase, carb loading during this phase is more important than other periods of the menstruation cycle. Hutchinson also found that performance during menstruation is highly variable. Supposedly, this whole carbohydrate need is due to the body’s ability to better dip into intense glycolytic efforts during the follicular phase, although it would be interesting to see if women who follow a high-fat diet have quite as high a need for carbohydrates during this phase. Regardless, you may want to try to adjust carb intake slightly up during your follicular phase, while at the same time planning your more intense, glycolytic workouts during this phase.

Some women perform unaffected, and others have phases that hinder performance if left unattended.  During training in the follicular phase, coupling intense workouts with refeed meals should be utilized, preferably including carbohydrate sources such as sweet potatoes, yams, rice, or starchy vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and beets.

The American Journal of Nutrition stated that basal metabolic rate decreases at the beginning of menstruation and reaches the lowest point a week before ovulation.  Doing more intense workouts and including metabolism-boosting post-workout meals in the follicular phase will help counteract this slower metabolism, says Shannon Clark in this T-nation article.

BG Article

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Ovulation

Ovulation occurs around Day 14.  Estrogen has peaked and begins a decline, while progesterone surges.  It is normal during ovulation for a woman to feel warmer for the remainder of the cycle. Clark stated in her T-nation article cited earlier that metabolism will start to climb, while insulin sensitivity will begin to decline.

As progesterone surges, a slight decrease in serotonin can happen, and since carbs can boost serotonin, food cravings can often occur at this time. You can use some of these tips to avoid giving into the serotonin boosting carbohydrate gluttony. During ovulation, estrogen and overall strength is peaked, so heavier weight training can be appropriate during this phase (rather than the more difficult cardiovascular anaerobic efforts of the follicular phase) – however, the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that due to joint laxity and estrogen-induced changes in collagen structure, ACL tears are four to eight times more likely to happen during this phase.

Consider supplementing with a tablespoon of collagen in your morning smoothie, place more emphasis on your warm-up, include recovery sessions, and be aware of fatigue and proper form.  More applicable recommendations that you can use for yourself or female clients will be listed below, but let’s finish the details of the menstruation cycle, shall we?

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Luteal Phase

Next is the luteal phase, which begins on ovulation day, for which we will say is happening on approximately Day 14.  During this phase, your body is not primed to workout at very high intensities, the body will prefer fat as its primary fuel source instead of glycogen, and you might retain more water at this time due to PMS symptoms. This might cause discomfort during short burst exercise – plan for lack of motivation here, and stick to aerobic activities as your primary exercise.

Fat burning workouts should be emphasized during the luteal phase.  If you are doing a workout that is strength or glycolytic, note that the luteal phase is not ideal for these domains and you may not perform to your usual capabilities. This is the time of the phase to plan things like aerobic trail runs, flat bike rides, easy swims and other aerobic activities that are at a slightly conversational pace.

After the luteal phase, the transition back to he menstrual phase, will bring metabolism, insulin sensitivity, body temperature, and water retention back to a slightly more “normal” feeling.  For a graphic representation, you can reference the first picture posted under “The Start of Menstruation” above to better understand phases.

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Eight Recommendations For Planning Exercise Around Your Menstrual Cycle

So now that you have your head wrapped around the menstrual cycles, let’s jump into even more practical advice. What considerations should you take for programming for females? Here are some of my top tips.

1) Achieve Nervous System Balance.

Every week must include a slow, long distance workout of around an one hour of conversational paced work.  This will help women have smoother cycles because their body won’t feel as much stress in the sympathetic nervous system.  Not only will this help increase your heart stroke volume, stimulate parasympathetic nervous system growth, but it will also provide a nice active recovery for your body allowing your body to flush out lactic acid from muscle tissue. Going for an unplugged trek can be therapeutic and help build a more robust cardiovascular system.  Mothers and wives – this is also a good chance to bring your family along!

2) Know Where You’re At.

Begin tracking performance during each phase for your entire menstruation cycle.  Take notes on sleep, macronutrient consumption, and exercise intensity.  Communicate these notes with your coach. Try the “Flow” app to make tracking your cycle easier.

3) Moderate Stimulants.

Another important stressor to monitor includes avoiding dependence on caffeine as a stimulant. Allow your sensitization to caffeine to recover after drinking caffeinated coffee by following Ben Greenfield’s habit of alternating three weeks of caffeine with at least one week of decaf, including a variety of nourishing teas, guayausa, chinese adaptogenic herbs, etc.

4) Eliminate Soy.

Along with regulating caffeine intake, eliminating commercial soy sources such as tofu and soy milk can help some women avoid estrogen dominance, which can lead to menstrual cycle irregularities.

5) Use Supplements.

To reverse the effects of estrogen dominance, Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield asks you to consider drinking 2-3 cups of organic green tea powder, consuming more fiber, supplementing with a Vitamin B/antioxidant complex, and many more found in Chapter 14 of his book.

6) Keep Moving No Matter What.

Movement (not necessarily a daily Crossfit WOD!) will help relieve cramping and headaches.  The release of endorphins will help reduce crankiness.  Movement can also help put you to sleep and resist cravings, as long as macronutrient needs are met depending on exercise intensity and the given phase of menstruation. But if you have cramps, excessive flow, or have a poor reading on your HRV that morning, take that day off from structured exercise or hard workouts.  Now, this is not an excuse to sit on the couch all day, so don’t get too excited!  Instead, try techniques like ‘greasing the groove’*, using a standing desk, reading a book, working on your mobility (especially your lower body mobility), spending some time on a rumble roller, and ensure you have proper foods prepared for the next couple days.

*Popular movements to ‘grease the groove’ include: jumping jacks, band pull-aparts, strict pull-ups, bodyweight squats, lunges, or something as simple as going up and down the stairs a few times, refilling your water bottle, and holding a few stretches.  Movement throughout the day is very important for overall health because GLUT-4 will shuttle more glucose into the body and lipoprotein lipase will be produced by muscle tissue when leg muscles are being flexed.  A lack of lipoprotein lipase is associated with many heart problems, including heart disease, so please get an adjustable standing desk.

7) Know Your Fat Burning Zone.

Know your fat burning zone for that luteal phase! Superhuman-approved example fat burning workouts, most especially for the luteal phase of a cycle, are a great way to shred fat at a time where your body is primed to do just that.  For example, you can perform 8 sets of 5 minutes at 60-70% of your VO2 max of running, biking, swimming, rowing, hiking, brisk walking or elliptical, with 3 minutes of easy movement between each bout (as opposed to a follicular phase workout, which might be something like 20 sets of 1 minute bursts at the same pace with 30 seconds of recovery in between, or an ovulatory phase workout, which might be a 5×5 style weight training routine).

How do you find your fat burning zone? Many tests exist to approximate your VO2 max, but the one Superhuman Network coaches use is a 20-30 minute run at a maximum sustainable pace while wearing a heart rate monitor and taking the average heart rate that you had, then subtracting 20 beats for your fat burning zone (more details here). Even though these are easy, fat-burnign workouts, you should not perform these or any workouts without following up with proper post workout nutrition if you have a history of missing your period.

8) Go Beyond Training.

A few more lifestyle basic tips from Ben’s book would include: do not skip meals, consume a high protein breakfast on your harder workout days, eat a diet high in ancestral meats such as liver and bone broth, consume a high amount of healthy fats, get proper quantity and quality of sleep, and track your HRV. These are all small ways to enhance your performance and can also lead to a more consistent menstrual cycle, along with better exercise sessions and better recovery. Maintaining low energy movements throughout the day, eating enough carbohydrate to fuel workouts as well as support menstruation (e.g. timing your carbohydrates to happen in conjunction with your workouts – here are some good post workout nutrition ideas for endurance and strength athletes.),  consuming fat from healthy nut butters or MCT oil, and performing no more than three very intense workouts (like Crossfit wods, Tabata sets, longer track sessions, etc.) per week can also be helpful, especially if you tend to miss periods.

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Summary

If you’re reading this and you’re an exercising female, it’s possible that you simply are not regular. Your periods are on and off. You’re amenorrheic.

Spencer Nadolski from Precision Nutrition cites in Fitness & Menstrual Health: How to Stay Lean, Healthy, and Fit without Losing your Period states that women need to avoid excessively restricting calories, daily intense exercise causing an overstress on the sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ nervous system, losing too much body fat, and other factors that lead women to miss a menstruation cycle called hypothalamic amenorrhea.  In short, your body responds to this state of deprivation and physiological stress by deeming your period as unnecessary and not vital for its own survival. Fertility goes out the window. As I’ve heard Ben Greenfield say in many a podcast, our ancestors didn’t run from a lion every day – and neither should we.

If you’ve dug yourself into this type of hole, research clearly has shown the fix: eat more and exercise less. It really is that simple. This is tough for many women to hear, but it simply works. This is also important for hormone balance and aesthetics. Women need to avoid excessive training and overall stress from everyday life. The hormone precursor, pregnenolone, can be shuttled into cortisol production instead of progesterone production.  This causes disruption of your body’s naturally-occurring anabolism and fat utilization for energy production. Excessive cortisol, pregnenolone steal and estrogen dominance are factors that coaches, personal trainers, and women need to understand not only due to their effect on performance, but also because they can indeed make women gain body fat.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that planning exercise around a 28 day menstrual cycle is still meticulously being researched, and exercising around and during your period is very individualized depending on your sport, symptoms, stress, and nutrition.  Micronutrient deficiencies, thyroid problems, and the mystery of how important carbohydrates are still being researched but the recommendations above and the insight gained from this article will be a great start for you.

If you want even more reading on this topic, one of the more comprehensive books out there is “Running For Women” by Jason Karp, the article “What Really Causes Irregular Menstrual Cycles In Female Athletes” and Ben’s recent podcast on the topic. Leave your questions, comments or feedback below!

4 Things Your Saliva Can Tell You About Your Hormones.

salivatest

If you want to know if you have a hormonal imbalance, test your hormones, or fix your hormones, you’ll definitely want to tune into this episode!

Let’s start here: I get tons of questions from listeners down under (that’s Australia for those of you who flunked geography) about where to get things like blood, gut and hormone testing done. So after a bunch of searching and talking to a some of my trusted Australian friends, I discovered Dr. Michael Smith from PlanetNaturopath.com.

Dr. Smith is a Naturopath and Kalish Method Functional Medicine Practitioner who specializes in hormonal disorders, adrenal, thyroid and digestive function. He works with clients from the chronically ill to athletes wanting to improve performance and does consultations face-to-face in Australia, and also via Skype or phone.

During our discussion, you’ll find out:

-What exactly a Kalish practitioner…

-The 4 different hormone imbalances in seemingly healthy people…

-Why having normal progesterone could not be enough if your cortisol is also high…

-Why you don’t have to be the stereotypical “fat” woman to have estrogen excess…

-How low estrogen can be just as big a problem as high estrogen, and what type of soy products you should be eating for low estrogen…

-Why you can have normal hormone levels for most hormones, but low DHEA…

-When high testosterone can be an problem…

Resources Michael and I discuss in this episode:

-KalishInstitute.com

-Michael’s website PlanetNaturopath.com – mention this podcast episode and you get $50 off a “Hormone Package”, which includes a one hour consult, an adrenal test and saliva sex hormone test.

-Progesterone drops for increasing progesterone.

-Mountain Rose Herbs – (look for Vitex or Chastetree for increasing progesterone).

-Calcium d-glucarate for estrogen excess.

-Curcumin, transdermal magnesium and adaptogenic herbs like TianChi.

-Peony, licorice and inositol for high testosterone.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about salivary hormone testing or the 4 hormonal balances that we discussed? Leave your thoughts below!

The Hidden Truth Behind Toxins, Detoxification & Detox Diets.

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Dr. Tim Jackson – a medical ninja when it comes to nutritional biochemistry, digestive health, methylation and genetic testing and functional endocrinology – is no stranger to BenGreenfieldFitness.com.

He penned the article that first appeared here entitled “Blame the Bugs: How Stealth Pathogens Are Making You Fat, Tired, and Brain Dead.“, and also “Broken Gut to Big Butt: How A Busted Digestive System Can Make You Hormonally Fat.

And now Dr. Tim is back with a vengeance. Just when I thought I knew everything there was to know about detoxification and detox diets, Tim began dropping knowledge bombs like xenobiotics, depuration, miasm, emunctory, and even drainage (yuk!). I had to get him on the podcast to open your eyes about what’s really happening inside your body when you detox…or when you don’t.

So when it comes to detox, what you’re about to hear is like no other podcast I’ve ever done on the topic, so strap on your earphones and prepare to learn:

-Why the pH of your blood is just ONE part of proper acid/alkaline balance…

-Why detoxification can destroy you if you don’t do a few other important things first…

-The three different ways to truly test your body and see if you even need to detox…

-Which organs detox your body (it’s not just your liver and kidney!)…

-Where homeopathic medicine fits in…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-Dr. Tim’s Website

-Dr. Tim’s Professional Facebook Page

-ZytoScan

-Asyra Testing

-EAV Screening

-Autonomic Response Testing

-Seroyal’s “UNDA” homeopathic remedies and supplements

-Seroyal’s Dr. Dixon Thom

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Tim or me? Leave your thoughts below.

What Happens To Your Body & Blood When You Race Back-To-Back Spartan Races?

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Two years ago I did back-to-back triathlons at one of the most difficult triathlons in the world, and tested my blood before and after to see what happened. You can see the results at “What Kind Of Damage Happens To Your Body After You Do A Hard Workout, Triathlon or Marathon?

And now, the crazy blood-testing experiment is back, this time to see what happens inside your body when you do back-to-back Spartan races. Watch the video below to see what happens to everything from cholesterols to testosterone to Vitamin D and more, and leave your questions in the comments section.

Resources I discuss in video:

-Click here to download my WellnessFX lab results for yourself!

-Click here to check out the Estrogen Control supplement I talk about in the video.

-My recommended Vitamin D supplement.

-My recommended liver detox blend.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about the back-to-back Spartan bloodwork, or about WellnessFX? Just leave your thoughts below, and click here to get a 15% discount on your own before/after lab testing to see what your own crazy adventures are doing to do your internal biology. 

8 Natural Sweetener Alternatives That Won’t Take You Out Of Fat Burning Mode (And 4 That Will!)

8 Sweet Alternatives

When it comes to not packing on extra pounds this Valentine’s Day, what are some sweet hacks that will tickle you or your Valentine’s sweet tooth, yet not take you out of that fat burning mode (or ketosis) sweet spot?

Which sweeteners can be used to sweeten life without throwing you into a blood sugar level roller coaster ride?

Which sweeteners will spice up your sex life?

Which sweeteners can be used to minimize muscle cramps?

And since we’re not shy when it comes to talking about poop, which sweet fruit can relieve constipation naturally?

You’re about to find out all that and more in this guest post from Danielle Brooks, nutritional therapist, clinical herbalist, author of the new book “Good Decisions Most of the Time: Because life is too short not to eat chocolate“, and owner of Good Decisions Inc.!

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The 6 Sweet Spices That Won’t Spike Your Blood Sugar

Discovering all the health benefits your spice cabinet may hold is quite fun and, in times of upset tummy, gas, or other uncomfortable health conditions, you can often find relief as close as your spice cabinet. Spicing up a dish with sweet spices adds distinct flavors and lessens your temptation to add sugar. These spices also have many health-giving properties as well.

1. Allspice

Allspice has a taste similar to a mix of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. You can use allspice when preparing ham, Swedish meatballs, baked goods, and desserts to add a nice touch of spicy sweetness. Medicinally, allspice has been used throughout history in the treatment of toothaches, muscle aches, and for its blood sugar-regulating effects.

So if you feel like reaching for a sweet fruit or special treat, and want to decrease the impact on your blood sugar levels, sprinkle it with cloves! Like many spices, allspice is a digestive aid, and consuming allspice with meals can result in stronger digestion, reduced gas and bloating, and decreased nausea. Not a bad spice to have in your back pocket for emergencies.

2. Cinnamon

Cinnamon has a wonderful sweet flavor and can be used as a ground powder or dried stick. This spice can be used in just about anything. From sweet dishes to stews and curries, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that a small amount of cinnamon goes a long way. Two teaspoons of cinnamon can change a tart, tongue-puckering apple pie to a sweet one. It can replace brown sugar in any dish or be sprinkled on fruit to liven up a simple dessert.

One of cinnamon’s best attributes is its ability to lessen the impact of sugar on your blood sugar levels. Cinnamon also slows the rate at which your stomach empties after meals, which also reduces the rise in blood sugar after eating. This little spice packs a powerful punch and can be added to any dish or beverage as a substitute for, or in addition to sugar, to lessen sugar’s impact.

3. Cloves

Cloves have a sweet or bittersweet taste and can be used when ground or dried. Cloves are great when used to sweeten dishes or in curries and stews. And who can’t visualize a glorious clove-studded ham? Cloves go well with chicken, can spice up an otherwise plain piece of fruit. Clove oil can even be applied to a cavity in a decayed tooth, to relieve a toothache, making this spice very valuable if you can’t get in to see your dentist right away.

4. Mace and Nutmeg

Mace and nutmeg are two slightly different flavored spices, both originating from the fruit of the nutmeg tree. This “nutmeg apple” looks similar to an apricot. When the mature fruit splits open, the nutmeg (a seed surrounded by a red, slightly fleshy covering, or aril) is exposed. The dried aril alone is called mace. The nut is removed and dried to produce nutmeg. Both have a warm, sweet, spicy flavor and are best when freshly ground.

Studies have found that nutmeg may be useful in enhancing libido. But use caution since nutmeg can also be added to milk as a sleep aid, and the last thing you want when trying to enhance libido is to fall asleep!

5. Cardamom

Cardamom is used in Scandinavian bakeries, German and Russian pastries, and in the Middle East and India. This spice can be used instead of sugar when making baked goods and with creams to make cardamom-flavored ice cream, which is mouthwateringly delicious.

You can steep the seeds in milk, water, or almond milk for use as a digestive aid to relieve gas and bloating. “Really?” you say. If you feel gassy and bloated—absolutely!

6. Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans are more of a fruit than a spice; one inch of vanilla bean is roughly equal to one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Sweet and fragrant, vanilla is best when used from whole or dried beans. Vanilla is a great sugar substitute and can be added to breakfast grains, coffee, and desserts such as ice cream, pudding, and cake.

The active compound in vanilla is vanillin. Vanillin is a polyphenol with strong antioxidant activity. Some neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are associated with formation of a chemical called peroxynitrite, which causes damage to brain cells. Because vanillin has such strong antioxidant activity, it may offset some of this oxidative damage, keeping brain cells healthy and preventing the devastating effects of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

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The 2 Sweet Herbs That Won’t Spike Your Blood Sugar 

You can also use the following sweet herbs to sweeten and add flavor to a dish.

Vegetables are especially good with these herbs added. If you’re trying to make vegetables taste better, you can reach for an herb or spice to take your mind off the fact that you’re eating vegetables.

1. Anise Seed

Anise seed smells like black licorice and can be used whole or ground. These delicious seeds are often used as a flavoring in some cookies, candies, pastries, and even in poultry dishes. Chewing on a teaspoon of anise seeds after a meal can relieve uncomfortable gas and bloating within minutes. Also, one teaspoon of the seeds can be steeped in one cup of boiling water as a delicious sweet tea for similar results.

2. Sweet Basil

This herb is somewhat pungent and sweet. It’s a bit odd to think of this herb for use as a sweetener, but you’ll be hooked after you try it. Use fresh basil to get the best results.

Add it to dishes at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavor. You can use sweet basil with eggplant, tomato dishes, pesto, Vietnamese and Thai dishes, and salads, as well as when cooking vegetables to make them more interesting. Corn, tomato, peppers, and eggplant are divine when served with a dusting of fresh basil. Scientific studies have established that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties and potential for use in treating cancer.

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4 Natural Sweeteners That Are Healthier Than Sugar

If all this talk of sweet herbs and spices is leaving you longing for something sweeter that will stimulate your dopamine center, roll your eyes into the back of your head, and cause an euphoric moan of delight to escapes your lips, you are now in the right category. Please note that these natural sweeteners will take you out of fat burning mode or ketosis, but at least they’re more nutrient dense than sugar or high fructose corn syrup!

Natural unrefined sweeteners give food certain qualities, tangible qualities that ooze deliciousness, as if the food you are eating contains life within it that will enhance your own life. And it does. There’s nothing like enjoying a honey-roasted pear with a touch of cinnamon. It doesn’t just feed your craving for something sweet; it feeds the body as well as your senses.

1. Raw Unfiltered Honey

Honey is made when the nectar from a flower mixes with the saliva of a bee. (Sounds delicious, no?) Depending on the quality of honey, it contains anti-microbial, and antioxidant compounds, as well as probiotic bacteria. It also contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. So, while you are moaning with delight, you can think of the nourishing properties of this sweetener as well.

Honey is usually sold over the counter in most grocery stores, and it is usually pasteurized, clarified, or filtered so it’s important to read the label and know what to look for. I recommend raw honey. This is honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling, or straining without adding heat (caution: some honey that has been “minimally processed” is often labeled as “raw honey”). Raw honey contains some pollen and may contain small particles of wax.

2. Grade B Maple Syrup

Maple syrup, made from the sap of black or red maple trees, is a good source of manganese and zinc and, to a lesser degree, potassium and calcium. I recommend Grade B maple syrup because it contains more nutrients than Grade A and has a thicker, richer flavor.

Manganese, known for its ability to maintain blood sugar levels, is the highlight of this sweetener. Manganese is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in muscle energy production and antioxidant defenses.

Maple syrup is low on the glycemic index and can be used to sweeten salad dressing, replace honey for a different taste, or be used instead of table sugar in some baking. Maple syrup contains zinc and potassium, with calcium, magnesium, and sodium chloride electrolytes occurring in their natural ratios, making this sweetener more valuable than any GU in your back pocket.

3. Dried Dates

Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree. They are raw and unprocessed (but read the ingredient list just to make sure), and they have lots of nutrients such as potassium, iron, and vitamin A. It’s easy to use dates to sweeten smoothies, baked goods, sauces, and more by making a paste with the dates. To make a paste, simply use dried dates and soak them in warm water overnight. Then blend the dates with some of the water used to soak them to a consistency similar to honey. (When I make my own almond milk, I add some dried dates to sweeten the batch.)

I was playing around with dates and developed the following recipe from which the featured image for this blog post was dervied. I had no idea it would turn out to be the snickers bar for the health conscious. A warning really should come with this recipe as it has the perfect combination of sweet, salt and fat, which can be a deliciously addictive combination.

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Coconut Pecan Stuffed Chocolate Covered Dates, Oh My!

Makes: 30 dates

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the Stuffed Dates:

¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus extra for topping)

¼ cup toasted pecans

¼ teaspoon unrefined sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

30 large Medjool dates

For the Dipping Chocolate

2 (4oz) bars Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate

Directions

  1. Place the shredded coconut, pecans, salt, vanilla and cinnamon in a food processor. Process until mixtures begins to clump together, set aside.
  2.  Cut the dates in half lengthwise on one side and remove the pit. Stuff a small amount of coconut pecan mixture into each date and press to close. Place dates in the refrigerator.
  3.  In a small double boiler melt chocolate. Remove dates from the fridge and using two spoons, dip the cold dates in the chocolate. Roll each to cover completely and then lift out letting the excess chocolate drip off before placing on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top of each date. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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4. Fruit

If you need to sweeten a dish, fruit is another healthy option. Fruits, such as crushed pineapple, applesauce, strawberries, cherries, or blueberries can naturally sweeten almost any dish. You can even customize your diet by reaching for a fruit to provide your body with certain nutrients. For Instance:

  • If constipation is an issue, reach for the sweet apple. It contains sorbitol, a substance that attracts water. Apples also contain fiber and pectins, which increase the volume and viscosity of the stool. These substances make for one of the most enjoyable bowel movements ever!
  •  If you are looking for an antioxidant rich, heart healthy hit of sweet goodness reach for some sweet berries.
  • If younger skin is something you would like to nurture, cantaloupes can deliver some skin supporting nutrients and tickle your sweet fancy at the same time.

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Life Is Too Short

When we make what I call “Good Decisions” most of the time, our bodies are well equipped to handle the occasional indulgence and sweet treat. Life is too short not to have chocolate, but life is also too short to feel sick and tired all the time. Reaching for natural sweeteners instead of refined sugar, artificial sugar, or high fructose corn syrup will not only please the palate, but provide the body with nutrients as well, and are definitely very good decisions.

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Need even more blood sugar controlling solutions? Click here to check out the brand new Diabetes Summit. And leave your questions, comments or feedback for Danielle below!

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The Obstacle Dominator Giveaway Just Went Live.

obstacle dominator giveaway

This is your chance to get the craziest, most amazing and challenging blend of workouts, fueling, and training and racing advice I’ve ever created…

…for FREE.

That’s right – we top Spartan athlete Hunter McIntyre and I are giving away three of our world-famous Obstacle Dominator Packages to anyone, anywhere in the world, and you can easily get in on the madness.

Even if you’ve never done an obstacle race before, you’ve now got the opportunity to tap into the fastest growing sport on the face of the planet with zero guesswork, and challenge your body and mind like never before while experiencing life on a completely new level – down and dirty (and yes, we are constantly updating this thing with new workouts, updates and when even planning how-to videos for new obstacles)!

Just click here to enter the contest, and then you’ll get a lucky URL sent straight to your email inbox. Every time you share your lucky URL on Twitter or Facebook, you get THREE extra entries into the contest*. Pretty cool, eh?

*And yes, we are only giving away 3 Obstacle Dominator Packages. So you’ll definitely want to share to increase your chances of winning. Leave any questions below.

The Shocking Truth About Vaccinations: Everything You Need To Know About Vaccines And Your Health.

vaccines

In Podcast #305, I broached the controversial topic of vaccines by discussing alternative vaccination schedules. That set off a firestorm of discussion on the Facebook page and my Twitter feed, so in today’s episode I’ve decided to revisit the topic, and you’re about to take a deep dive into the world of vaccines, learn the shocking truth about vaccinations, and get everything you need to know to make an educated choice about vaccines.

My guest on today’s show is Stephanie Seneff, who is a Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. For over three decades, her research interests have always been at the intersection of biology and computation: developing a computational model for the human auditory system, understanding human language so as to develop algorithms and systems for human computer interactions, as well as applying natural language processing (NLP) techniques to gene predictions.

But in recent years, Dr. Seneff has focused her research interests back towards biology. She is concentrating mainly on the relationship between nutrition and health. Since 2011, she has written over a dozen papers (7 as first author) in various medical and health-related journals on topics such as modern day diseases (e.g., Alzheimer, autism, cardiovascular diseases), analysis and search of databases of drug side effects using NLP techniques, and the impact of nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins on human health.

-How the history of vaccinations is much, much different than what we’ve been led to believe…

-Why kids actually need to get measles, mumps and rubella…

-How vaccines can cause a sulfate deficiency and why that’s a problem…

-The truth about the Andrew Wakefield, vaccines and autism scandal…

-Why mercury and aluminum aren’t really a problem when it comes to MMR vaccines, and what really is the problem…

-What you need to know about ingredients like thimerosal and formaldehyde…

-Alternatives to vaccines for yourself, for children and for babies…

Resources from this episode:

-Suzanne Humphries – Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and The Forgotten History (book)

-List of foods that contain glyphosate, including corn, soy, canola and sugar beets (article)

-VAERs database of adverse reactions to vaccinates (website)

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about vaccines? Leave your thoughts below, and either Stephanie or I will reply.

Everything You Need To Know About Hair Mineral Analysis.

Hair Mineral Analysis

I’m all about testing and quantifying what’s going on inside my body, so when Certified Holistic Health Coach Wendy Myers approached me at a biohacking conference and asked me if I wanted to have my hair tested with a hair mineral analysis test…

…I made a stop at my local barber…

…got a few strands snipped off…

…sent my hair off to Wendy’s lab…

…and was absolutely shocked at the results I got in my e-mail inbox a couple weeks later. In this episode, we talk about about the results of my hair mineral analysis, and you’ll also learn:

-Exactly what hair mineral analysis is and how it works…

-How you can discover things like adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues and nutrient and mineral deficits from your hair…

-What to do about heavy metal toxicities, and why some heavy metal chelators can actually be dangerous…

-How to tell if you’re undereating or overeating carbohydrates…

-Where natural remedies like infrared saunas and coffee enemas fit in…

-Why even pristine well water can have some serious issues…

-And much more!

Resources:

-Click here to download the results of Ben Greenfield’s hair mineral analysis.

-Click here to download the results of Ben Greenfield’s hair mineral ratios.

-Want your own Hair Mineral Analysis? Click here to go to Wendy’s website and get started.

-Copper Dysregulation podcast

-Transdermal magnesium

-APSWater.com

-Infrared Biomat

-Trace Liquid Minerals

Do you have questions, comments or feedback or hair mineral analysis? Leave your thoughts below!

5 Must-Read Books For 5 Important Areas Of Your Life.

books

I’m writing this to you while I’m on a flight from LAX to Seattle.

See, while coming back from a series of Spartan races in Southern California (for which I’m working on a very interesting “before-after” blood testing experiment), I found out my tiny hometown airport in Spokane, Washington was immersed in freezing fog, which resulted in over 24 hours of flight delays for me, and some very spotty internet connections or writing opportunities.

But rather than skipping a post altogether, I still wanted to get you some helpful content in my usual Monday ramblings, and what better than to give you some fantastic book recommendations? Between audiobooks, my Kindle Fire and physical books, I typically read 2-5 books each week and without further ado, here are five that I consider to be “must-reads” for 5 important areas of your life: fitness, diet, money, happiness and business.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

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1. Fitness: 8 Weeks to SEALFIT: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Unconventional Training for Physical and Mental Toughness

I’ve been through some pretty harrowing crucibles with Mark Divine’s SEALFIT organization (just read about my hellish “Kokoro” experience to see what I mean). SEALFIT is a style of training developed by retired Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine for the unique and specialized needs of professionals seeking to reach their fullest potential. But this book’s physical and mental training isn’t just for the armed forces. Instead, I recommend that anyone who wants to get to extreme levels of brain and body toughness try the 8 week program in the book.

The workouts are massive and intimidating and they take 2-3 hours a pop. When I did this program, I split them into morning and evening routines to break up the time load, but they are still going to take up a great deal of your hours and your focus as you go through the program. You’re going to find yourself eating dinner at night while looking ahead and shuddering about the next day’s workout, which might involve 90 minutes of hardcore weightlifting, followed by a 1 mile running time trial and then a hike in the hills with a 50 pound weighted pack.

But if you want to carve yourself into a true warrior, and you’re willing to take 8 weeks of your life to do it, this book is a must-read, as long as you’re not just reading it for the pretty pictures, but also doing it.

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2. Diet: The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know that there are some nutritional nazis out there screaming that this book by Tim Ferriss leaves out all the important considerations of gut integrity, digestibility, nutrient density and true blah-blah geekery of diet science.

But I don’t care.

See, some people just need to learn to freaking cook before they start to examine whether the legume they’re eating have been properly soaked, fermented or sprouted. And that’s why I like 4 Hour Chef: it not only teaches you how to cook a handful of meals that you could pretty much rely on for the rest of your life to feed yourself or to impress friends at a dinner party, but it also leaves you feeling not afraid to learn pretty much anything else – from memorizing a deck of cards to hunting, skinning and butchering a deer.

Plus, this book is just fun to read, with colorful pictures, plenty of mind-bending activities, and things you never would have thought to do: like pulverizing steamed broccoli in a food processor, tossing in some cubed avocado, laying the entire mix over a bed of white rice, and then topping the tantalizing green layers with a broiled eel. That’s a 15 minute meal that fooled my kids into thinking I was some kind a culinary god.

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3. Money: Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths That Are Destroying Your Prosperity

The first time I read this book in 2009, it absolutely rocked my world. For most of my life, I had been under the impression that a well-balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds, a solid 401K, and shopping for the best prices on insurance were smart and savvy financial decisions. I was a total eTrade guy who was slowly building a portfolio and retirement fund online, and got most of my financial advice from the Wall Street Journal and Money magazine.

But sadly, our culture is riddled with destructive myths about money and prosperity, and in Killing Sacred Cows, Garrett Gunderson exposes the fallacies and misguided traditions in the world of personal finance, and gives a pretty revolutionary perspective on how to set up your finances in a way that minimizes your taxes and maximizes your ability to protect what you’ve worked so hard to earn.

Since reading the book, I’ve done things like set-up a family trust, insured myself to the absolute maximum, started investing in my own business and other passion projects rather than the stock market, and completely gotten rid of my retirement plan.

It’s nice knowing that if I die tomorrow, my family is completely taken care of, and it’s also nice to know that I’m building my own legacy, and not leaving it in the hands of a fickle stock market. I recommend you give this one a read and kill a few of your own sacred cows.

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4. Happiness: The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day

Until I stumbled across The Five Minute Journal, I was never a journal guy, and threw away most of the diaries and journals people gave me. But now I journal almost every day, and it’s simple because this book just walks me through the process of journaling by asking me a few easy questions, like “What are 3 things you’re grateful for this morning?” or “How could you have made today better?”.

Science has proven that being grateful and shifting your focus to the positive can dramatically improve your happiness. But the key is consistency, and with a positive quote every day and a daily structure that helps you focus on what’s good, The Five Minute Journal gives you just that.

This journal basically combines all the practical elements that can make the difference in your life, and spares you the hours and weeks of moving through dense academic jargon. It’s all here. And it’s been made easy. As a matter of fact, I hack my morning productivity by doing my journaling for 5 minutes every morning while I’m testing my heart rate variability and nervous system strength.

If you’re the kind of person who always wanted to write a journal, but life, excuses and checking your email, Twitter and Facebook every morning took precedence, then this one is for you. Kind of like the 8 Weeks To SEALFIT book, don’t just read this book – do it.

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5. Business: The BookStrapper Guide to Marketing Your Book

I’ll admit that this is kind of a weird one to throw into the mix, but I just finished reading this Bookstrapper Guide on my Kindle and it’s unique approach is fresh on my mind, so I couldn’t leave it out.

Here’s the deal: I’ve always loved to write, and if I’m sitting next to a stranger on an airplane and they ask what I do, I usually just tell them “I’m a health author” (vs. telling them I’m a consultant who uses a combination of biohacking, science and ancestral living to empower people to achieve peak levels of physical and mental performance and live life at as fast a pace as possible without destroying their bodies).

Writing gets me incredibly excited, and books about the writing process, the publishing industry and how to be a better author get me excited too. If that describes you, then by all means, keep reading. If not, stop now and go read one of the other books I recommended.

Anyways, the Bookstrapper Guide is to the writing world what Killing Sacred Cows is to the money world. It shatters book marketing paradigms and both clarifies and shows you how to take the confusing process of publishing into your own hands. It’s the book I wish I had read when I first started down the road to becoming an author, because it would have saved me a lot of time, a lot of heartache, and a lot of living on thin shreds of minuscule royalties from books I published through the traditional marketplace.

If you’ve always wanted to write a book, but you also need to pay the bills, this book is for you. You’ll learn how to take charge of your own marketing and sell thousands and thousands of books without having to navigate the traditional, slow-as-molasses publishing industry. Plus, it’s written by Tucker Max and Ryan Holiday, two intriguing guys to follow.

Incidentally, if you clicked on the book link above, you may have noticed that it’s a free download of this book. That’s because it’s not for sale anymore. Tucker had another side project take off (namely, a done-for-you book publishing service), and he shut everything else down to work on that. So free book for you, I guess.

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The overhead announcement just came. My flight is landing. So I gotta wrap up with this quick review:

Want to become a beast? Get 8 Weeks to SEALFIT.

Learn to cook anything? The 4-Hour Chef.

Crack the code on wealth? Killing Sacred Cows.

Get happier, instantly? The Five Minute Journal.

Write your own book and make money doing it? The BookStrapper Guide to Marketing Your Book.

One last thing before ending: I’m curious to know which three to five books you’ve read recently that you would recommend. Leave your comments below, along with any other questions on things like how I select books, speed-reading, where I get my books or anything else!

Is Bluetooth Radiation Dangerous?

ondes_danger-650x523

Do you use a wearable like a FitBit or Jawbone? How about a bluetooth headset? A bluetooth enabled appliance? A car that has bluetooth technology? Some other bluetooth-enabled self quantification device?

Then this episode is for you, because it’s important to know exactly how bluetooth technology is affecting your sleep, your circadian rhythms, your health, your gut barrier, your blood-brain barrier and your performance.

In Part 1 of this episode, I talk to Christian Johan Smith, who is founder at Phone Halo, which creates technology that helps you track devices that you might lose. In this discussion Christian and I talk frankly about what he knows as the CEO of a company that relies on Bluetooth technology, and what I know from my research in the health space.

Resources Christian and I discuss during Part 1 of this episode:

-Trackr app for iOs/iPhone

-Trackr bluetooth tracking apps on Amazon

-The research study that Ben cites relating bluetooth to the blood-brain barrier

-Good synopsis of health effects of EMF

-Bluetooth airtube headset

-The anti-radiation Pong case for iPhone

In Part 2, I talk with Dr. Jack Kruse, a respected neurosurgeon and CEO of Optimized Life, a health and wellness company dedicated to helping patients avoid the healthcare burdens we typically encounter as we age. He is currently in private practice in the Gulf South and his research has been published in respected dental and medical journals. Jack’s previous episodes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com include “Jack Kruse Tells You How To Live Like A Polar Bear And Eat Like A Great White Shark“, “How You Can Use Cold Thermogenesis To Perform Like Lance Armstrong And Michael Phelps”, and his “How To Beat Jet Lag Naturally“.

Resources Dr. Kruse and I discuss during Part 2 of this episode:

-The “Google Glasses cause headaches” CNet article

-“Bluetooth Radiation May Be More Harmful Than Cell Phone Radiation” article

-Pulsed microwave induced light, sound, and electrical discharge enhanced by a biopolymer study

-EMF and fertility study

-Proposed exposure levels of pulse-modulated electromagnetic fields study

-Microwave pulses health effect paper

-Blood brain permeability in rats from EMF paper

-EMF and cars article

-Radiofrequency, radiation and cancer paper from cancer.org

-Cross Currents: Perils of Electropollution book by Robert O Becker

-Electromagnetism and Life book by Andrew Marino

Questions, comments or feedback about whether bluetooth radiation is dangerous? Leave your thoughts for me, Christian or Jack below!

Update: after recording this two-part series, I contacted Timex about the MoveX20 activity and sleep that I’ve used. They were very helpful, and informed me that it is a “Class 3″ bluetooth device (listen to the podcast to see what that means), that it has a power of 1Mw (0 dBm) and that it transmits every 1 second. I’d encourage you to do the same research for any devices that you wear!

“What To Do With Your Money” – Part 3 of 67 Steps to Getting Anything You Want Out of Life Health, Wealth, Love, & Happiness with Tai Lopez

MeetTai

Welcome to Part 3 of this special podcast series, in which you get to sit in and listen to Tai Lopez coach me (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“.

In this premium subscriber episode, Tai and I discuss personal finances – particularly in the huge wake Tony Robbins is leaving with his new book “Money”, and how Tai feels we should protect and grow our wealth, and exactly what Tai’s personal investment philosophy is.

Want more of Tai?

You can listen to Part 1 of this series here, in which Tai and I talk about multi-tasking, reprogramming your genetics and checking your e-mail less.

You can listen to Part 2 here, in which Tai and I 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:

-Tai’s retreats and public seminars in Hollywood, London and New York

-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 about what to do with your money? Leave your thoughts below.

The Ultimate DIY Guide To Growing Your Own Food And Living Green.

Alik Pelman

Last month, my wife and I traveled to Israel with Vibe Israel, an organization that brings international on- and offline opinion leaders in health and nutrition on a weeklong personalized experience of the burgeoning wellness scene in Israel.

I’ve already released three valuable lessons I learned on that Israel journey: “5 Things You Can Learn From The Burgeoning Health, Wellness And Nutrition Scene In Israel“, “Why You Get Cancer And What You Can Do About It“, and “The Problem With Paleo: Why It’s OK To Eat Bread, Grains, Legumes, Cheese & Milk.”.

Today, you get to listen in as I interview one of the most amazing individuals I met on the Israel trip – a man named Alik Pelman (pictured above with myself and others at his property, photo courtesy Or Kaplan). Alik completed his PhD in philosophy at the University of London and then took a break from academic life and went to learn how to grow food, becoming a professional organic farmer for two years.

Alik then set up his own self-sufficient home in the small village of Clil, in Western Galilee. I had the pleasure of visiting him in his small hut, built almost entirely from local, natural materials. This is where he grows virtually all of his food, and spends most of his working hours doing farm chores, reading, writing and hosting curious visitors like me.

In this show, you’ll discover:

-How to grow food on your roof…

-How to use sheep’s wool for insulation…

-How to make walls out of completely edible corn flour porridge…

-How to use natural oils to protect your floor and furniture…

-How to build an efficient, composting toilet that uses no water…

-How to easily rotate your garden crops for maximum yield…

-How to grow and make your own bread, from seed to loaf…

Resources from this episode:

-Alik’s video that documents all stages of growing your own bread – from seed to loaf

-Israel Homestead. pdf handout that walks you step-by-step through how he built his eco-friendly hut

-My How To Biohack Ultimate Healthy Home book

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about Alik, his life, his hut, and how to grown your own food? Leave your thoughts below!

How Three Raw Vegan Brothers Got Immersed In Underwater Swim Torture, Polar Plunging, And Moonlight Paddleboard Rides.

tmango

The RawBrahs describe themselves as three life-hacking brothers who host holistic health retreats around the world, showing you how to “lose your mind and come to your senses”.

At Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Biohacking Conference, I met Daniel, AKA “Danimal” (one of the RawBrahs), and he described to me some of the crazy adventures and retreats that he and his two brothers have around the world.

Since I’m a big fan of living life as fully as possible, I thought it would be fun to have a member of the RawBrahs on a video to find out what some of their most amazing adventures have been, and how you can join in the fun. In this episode, I interview Timothy, AKA “TMango” (pictured above) and in addition to his abs, we talk about…

-The RawBrah’s youngest brother who swam for a very short time but become one of the fastest sprinters in the nation pretty quickly…

-The underwater torture the RawBrahs got from Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece…

-What the RawBrahs learned about Polar Plunging with Paul Chek..

-Other crazy adventures they’ve been on that you may want to go do yourself…

-And much more! Just click the video below to play.

Some RawBrahs videos that you may want to check out include:

-An interview RawBrahs did with Ido Portal

-RawBrahs with FUNctional Fitness

-RawBrahs getting an underwater ‘torture’ from Laird Hamilton & Gabby Reece

-RawBrahs interviewing strength expert Elliott Hulse

-RawBrahs Polar Plunging with Paul Chek

-An emotional release at one of the RawBrah retreats

Leave your questions and comments below and either myself or one of the RawBrahs will reply!

Kombucha: Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask.

kombucha

I drink Kombucha almost every day. My wife usually ferments a batch with a home Kombucha fermenting kit, then adds things like blueberries and ginger to it. But there are a lot of myths and mistruths out there when it comes to Kombucha.

Call it “Kombucha confusion” if you will…

Is Kombucha alcoholic?

Is Kombucha dangerous to make yourself, and if not, how do you do it?

Does Kombucha cause Candida or bacterial overgrowth to occur in your gut?

Are all brands of Kombucha at the grocery store created equal?

How should you feel after you drink Kombucha?

We’re going to answer all these questions and more on today’s special podcast interview with The Kombucha Mamma herself: Hannah Crum.

Hannah is the founder of Kombucha Kamp, the most visited website in the world for Kombucha information, recipes and advice, and her mission is to “heal the world, one gut at a time.” Hannah is also an industry journalist & Master Brewer, directly mentoring thousands of new and experienced Kombucha brewers and providing consultation services for Kombucha start-ups since 2007.

She co-founded Kombucha Brewers International, a non-profit trade association dedicated to promoting bottled Kombucha around the world, and her Kombucha instructional video series with E-How/Expert Village has racked up over 1 million views. Hannah is also a leader and featured speaker in the Southern California Real Food movement, using the “Kombucha Lifestyle” as an introduction to other fermented foods, gut health, the human microbiome, “bacteriosapiens” and more.

Hannah ships freshly grown, full-size Kombucha starter cultures to more than 10,000 people worldwide and offers kits and Continuous Brew Packages, the ultimate in convenient homebrewed Kombucha, via her webstore. She also has a Free “Do-It-Yourself” Kombucha Guide with brewing, bottling & flavoring tips you can click here to grab.

During our discussion, you’ll learn what exactly Kombucha is, how to make Kombucha, what kind of Kombucha is best, which Kombucha to avoid, when you should and shouldn’t drink Kombucha and much more.

Click here to get Kombucha or a Kombucha Starter Kit on Amazon, and leave your questions, comments and feedback about Kombucha below!

The 30 Days No Alcohol Experiment: Part 2 (What Happens When You Quit Alcohol Cold Turkey).

30 days no alcohol

Alright folks, this is officially it. Sit back, grab a bottle of booze and get ready to be entertained. Exactly 30 days ago, I told you all about one lucky guy named Jason Sissel, who volunteered to guinea pig himself by quitting alcohol cold turkey and doing before and after blood tests with WellnessFX.

You can click here to read Part 1, in which you get to see how messed up Jason was from his daily habit of a few glasses of wine, mixed in with some beer and hard alcohol here and there. You can also click here to read Jason’s blog post “30 Days, No Alcohol Biohack–Thoughts at the Midpoint”.

And now, in Part 2, I’m going to reveal exactly what happened to Jason’s internal biology over the past 30 days. Enjoy, and leave your questions, comments and feedback below the article!

Finally, if you’d like to run your own 30 Days No Alcohol Experiment then you’ll be pleased to know that WellnessFX has arranged a 15% discount on two Baseline blood testing packages (exactly what Jason got), along with a download of a free copy of my REV Yourself ebook. That’s a huge value, and at checkout, you can even include a 20-minute nutritionist consultation for personalized recommendations you can implement immediately. Click here to get this enormously discounted blood testing package now.

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I knew these results weren’t going to be a yawner when I saw this Facebook post from Jason Sissel on December 23, exactly 30 days after he quit his daily alcohol intake:

sissellresults

Wow!

Now, let’s jump into the nitty-gritty screenshots from Jason’s WellnessFX lab dashboard (click here to download Jason’s full WellnessFX blood results).

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We’ll start with triglycerides. Before, I noted that:

“…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 check out the results below. Jason’s triglycerides plummeted from 386 to 113, with absolutely no dietary changes other than the elimination of alcohol.

Trigs

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Next, let’s look at Jason’s ApoB, a protein that can help LDL cholesterol bind to and clog blood vessels. Jason saw a significant drop in ApoB (142 to 118), indicating a significant improvement in cardiovascular health.

ApoB

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Next, let’s look at blood sugar. Before, I noted 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.”

However, now look at Jasons HbA1c values! They dropped from 5.7 to 5.4, another significant improvement in an important metabolic marker.

HbA1C

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Now comes a big one: thyroid.

I had noted before that:

“…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.”

Jason’s TSH drop was shocking. He went from a clinically concerning 4.73 down to a 2.44, indicating a huge shift in his thyroid hormone production capabilities. This alone has influenced me personally to be careful to limit myself to the “one glass of wine” rule as a consistent habit, and if you’re concerned about your own thyroid, you should definitely pay attention to this one.

TSH

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The changes in Jason’s liver enzymes should come as no surprise. Before, I said:

….”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.”

Now check out the charts below. His enzymes dropped significantly across the board. Jason’s liver is shouting an enormous thank-you. It’s amazing how your body’s primary filters can bounce back when you just give them a chance.

AspartaeAmnotransferase AlkalinePhosphatase AlanineAminotransferase

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Before, I noted on Jason’s White Blood Cell (WBC) results that

“…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…”

You can see that Jason’s eosinophil count dropped from 8.1 to 7.3, possibly indicating less autoimmune activity (a good thing!). I’m not entirely convinced that this drop in WBC’s is extremely significant, or related to the drop in alcohol intake, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Eosinophils

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Regarding Jason’s Vitamin D levels, I originally wrote that Jason’s…

“…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.”

As you can see below, despite no supplementation with Vitamin D, Jason’s Vitamin D climbed from 11 to 18 in just 30 days – which is extremely significant.

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Before & After Photos

You probably noticed above that Jason lost 8.8 pounds of body weight. If you’d like to see what that amount of weight loss looks like qualitatively in photo form, then behold the before and after photos below.

Before…

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After….

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Summary

Finally, here is Jason’s own post with his thoughts on the experience and his feelings on the highlights of cutting alcohol for 30 days.

After reviewing Jason’s results, I’m personally inspired to back off my alcohol intake a bit. While I enjoy my nightly glass of red wine, and see no issues with the “glass a day” habit, I am certainly going to think twice before pouring myself a second glass, and although in the past, I’d go out and have two to five drinks every few weeks or so, I am also going to be limiting that amount of partying or binging I do in 2015.

After all, I think you can have quite a bit of fun without going on a bender, and without deleteriously affecting your blood glucose, liver health, thyroid, metabolism and immune system in the way that we’ve learned by looking at Jason’s results.

Then, as I always do, I’m also going to spend the first 30 days of January doing a simple, mild detox. For me personally, this means one or two 20-24 hour fasts, along with very limited amounts of alcohol, 30 days of Metal-Free heavy metal detox spray, and finally 2 NatureCleanse Detox & Gut Cleanser each morning with 2 NatureCleanse Detox & Gut Cleanser each evening.

If you want to peruse my other detoxing articles and materials, and the rationale behind my personal yearly detox, here are the best resources I’ve created on the topic:

-Is Detoxing Really A Myth? (article)

-How To Detox For Active People (article)

-How To Detox – A Quick Primer On How To Cleanse Your Body For The New Year (Without Going To Some Expensive Resort On A Mountaintop (article)

-How To Fix Your Gut: 9 Bad Things That Happen When Your Digestion Goes Wrong, How To Hit The Reboot Button & The Best Way To Detox Your Body (article)

-Detox Special Podcast: The 8 Most Popular Detox Diets, How To Detox, A Detox Q&A, And Much More! (podcast)

-What Is Detoxification and How Can You Detox Your Body? (podcast)

Feel free to include any detox questions below this post. I’m happy to help walk you through the details, and a detox protocol would be perfect to include along with limited alcohol intake for at least one month out of every year.

And like I mentioned earlier, if you’d like to run your own 30 Days No Alcohol Experiment then you’ll be pleased to know that WellnessFX has arranged a 15% discount on two Baseline blood testing packages (exactly what Jason got), along with a download of a free copy of my REV Yourself ebook. That’s a huge value, and at checkout, you can even include a 20-minute nutritionist consultation for personalized recommendations you can implement immediately. Click here to get this enormously discounted blood testing package now.

So what do you think? Would YOU quit alcohol for 30 days? Have you done it before and if so, what happened? Leave your questions, comments and feedback below!

Are Hunters The Fittest People In The World?

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Is the ultimate functional blend of fitness the “hunter-athlete”?

Could a guy who trudges through mountains for days and shoots 700 pound animals with a bow be more fit than a Crossfitter, Spartan athlete, or Ironman?

Could training to hunt and hunting fitness competitions finally be the way that you can scratch that primal itch to provide food for yourself and your family, while also building amazing cardiovascular and muscular fitness?

In this podcast, recorded live from the Greenfield barnhouse in Spokane, Washington, you’ll find out – as I interview bowhunter Kenton Clairmont from TrainToHunt.com. You’re going to learn about the gnarliest hunting workouts, how hunting can get you to the extreme edge of fitness, Kenton’s go-to hunting workouts, and much more.

Click here to download the audio version, or watch the video below.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about hunting for fitness? Leave your thoughts below, and if you liked this episode, you may also want to tune into “How To Build Primal Fitness And Endurance By Hunting: An Interview With A Bowhunting Triathlete” and “3 Ways Hunting Can Get You Ripped And 10 Ways To Get Fit For Hunting”.

The #1 Health App To Track Your Fitness And Diet In 2015.

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It seems like every day, someone asks me what I use for “self-quantification”. After all, wearable technology that can quantify everything from your steps to your sleep to your stress seems to be taking the world by storm.

And I’ve tried just about all of them. Whenever a new one gets released, I feed my fascination with health tracking and self-quantification by guinea-pigging it on myself. When the very first Fitbit came out, I used it, and from the Tinke to the Timex MoveX20 to the Jawbone UP3 (which the world-famous Dr. Mercola recently waxed positive about in my REV Yourself conference), I’ve found benefits in each.

But ultimately, the darling of self-quantification is heart rate variability, also known as HRV. Ever since the day I learned that professional European football teams (*ahem*, that’s soccer) relied upon HRV measurements to track the physical and psychological response to training, to plan the entire week’s workouts, and to predict injuries and illness before they happen, I started to dig into this technology.

The result has been over three years of HRV articles and podcasts on this website, including the most popular and useful:

-The Do-It-Yourself Guide To Using Heart Rate Variability Testing to Track Your Stress and Nervous System Health (podcast)

-Everything You Need To Know About Heart Rate Variability Testing (podcast)

-What Is The Best Way To Track Your Heart Rate Variability (HRV)? (podcast)

-25 Ways To Know With Laser-Like Accuracy If Your Body Is Truly Recovered And Ready To Train (article)

-Do Professional Sports Teams Have It All Wrong When It Comes To Optimizing Performance & Recovery? (article)

Peruse those links above if you know nothing about HRV. You’ll come out the other side as an HRV genius. But perhaps you’re impatient and you just want to start testing HRV, and throw in a few other forms of self-quantification too,such as respiration, energy, skin temperature, steps and calories burnt. If so, then keep reading, because I’m going to reveal the #1 health app to track your diet and fitness in 2015.*

*OK, OK, it’s an iOS app. Android should be available in next couple months. So you can still keep reading if you own an Android.

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Many of the HRV resources I just listed above included conversations with and information from SweetBeat, a company that I’ve always found to has been on the cutting edge of biohacking, and a company that is incredibly good at condensing all the “geekiness” of heart rate variability tracking into practical and easy-to-understand terms.

Earlier in 2014, I began working with SweetBeat to harness their technology into a new app, which I affectionately, appropriately and possibly even narcissistically have named the Greenfield NatureBeat phone app. I wanted an app that would not only allow me to understand the information presented in the data that I track every day, but also give me many valuable metrics all at once (such as HRV, stress, heart rate, weight, steps, calories, skin temperature, respiration, etc.).

Basically, the app uses either a bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor or a patch called a “HealthPatch” (which you can grab from inside the app) to provide real-time measurements of your recovery and nervous system health using skin sensors and data correlation algorithms. It is the exact system that I use every morning to track my own heart rate variability, recovery status and training readiness. It also integrates and correlates data with popular fitness platforms like Restwise, MapMyFitness, Fitbit and Withings.

stress monitorThe “Monitor” screen on the NatureBeat app allows you to choose which feature you would like to use (Stress Monitoring, HRV for Training, or Heart Rate Recovery). After starting a session, the your metrics will fill the screen, showing you heart rate, HRV, stress level, and current mood.

The EKG-like heart beat trace is the first window you see when you begin tracking on this Monitor screen. By flipping this window around, you can see several other real-time features, including the stats screen, which shows all the metrics used in the algorithm calculations and then some (I call this the “geek mode” screen). If you’re using the HealthPatch, which is literally a patch that you can stick on your body,  you can also monitor your respiration, energy, skin temperature, steps and activity.

chartsThe “Graph” screen shows a real-time building graph of your heart rate, using what are called “RR Intervals”. When you turn your phone 90 degrees counter-clockwise, it will bring up this graph in landscape, and gives you real-time feedback about your heart rate activity. This is really the future of noninvasive monitoring of cardiovascular and nervous system health and performance, because it can even give you information about whether your heart is “skipping beats” or experiencing other electrical abnormalities – information you’d normally have to pay big bucks to go do a stress electrocardiogram test to get.

correlationsThe “Correlation” screen uses an algorithm to correlate all of the data you collect about yourself, so you can see, for example, how you sleep correlates to your HRV, how your activity correlates to your food intake, etc. It’s just a cool way to see in graphical format what how different aspects of your life correlate together, whether it’s HRV, stress, weight, body fat or anything else you’re quantifying with any other device.

session summaryIf you look at the most elite athletes on the face of the planet, breakthrough performance is achieved by alternating periods of intensive training with periods of relative rest. Now you can do the same, but without playing a “guessing game” about whether you’re truly recovered. Instead, NatureBeat uses algorithms to create a personalized reference line for you based on a single daily 3 to 5 minute measurement (preferably taken in the morning while you’re lying in bed). Just like your own personal coach or physician, the app then recommends you to “train as usual”, have a “low exertion day”, or take a “rest day”.

And then there’s the food sensitivity feature, which is very useful if you’ve ever wondered whether a food affects you negatively, even if you don’t get a stark reaction to that food (e.g. do eggs or bread affect your nervous system, even if you don’t get a stomach ache from them?) . To use the food sensitivity feature, you first take a morning reading of your pulse to establish a baseline for the day. Before eating a meal, you then record the foods in that meal and then do a pulse test. After you have finished eating, the app will prompt you to record your heart rate every 30 minutes until 90 minutes have passed. Once that testing is complete, the meal will either pass or fail for food sensitivity based on how your heart rate responded to that meal.

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Need to know if you’re recovering properly? How a meal or food is affecting your nervous system and body? Whether your body is ready to go hard or whether it needs a break?

As you can see, this new app does all that for you.

Whether you wear it throughout the day, or simply do a 5 minute measurement each morning, the NatureBeat Heart Rate Variability Tracker app measures:

-Heart Rate
-Heart Rate Variability
-Respiration
-Energy
-Skin temperature
-Steps and activity
-Calories
-Food Sensitivity
-Anything else you want to feed into it from another app

Pretty cool, eh? Full disclosure: it ain’t free. It’s $9.99. So skip a couple lattes this week and try it out.

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Finally, you should know that I’m fully aware of the debate about whether or not having a Bluetooth signal constantly humming about your body is actually good thing.

I suspect that, despite there being no firm evidence of any deleterious health effects of Bluetooth (unlike the evidence that glaringly exists for cell phones), I’m still cautious.

So I don’t use the Greenfield NatureBeat app all day long. I simply use it for a 5 minute “check-in” each morning while I’m lying in bed, then whip it out every now and again when I want to see how stressful something is to the different branches of my nervous system (such as a food, an exercise or even a relationship).

For example, using this approach of only self-quantifying in the morning, then occasionally using the technology for other activities, I’ve discovered some really interesting data, such as:

-Barbell squats are the most stressful exercise you can do. Technically, as long as you don’t overdo them, this is a good thing, since your body bounces back stronger when you send it that signal that there’s a heavy lion jumping on your back.

-My heart rate variability actually drops (a bad thing) when I consume a whey protein isolate made from cows vs. a whey protein isolate made from goats. I suspect this is due to some kind of allergenic response to the larger protein size in cow whey.

-My morning resting heart rate variability gets amped up the very highest (indicating low stress and relaxation) if I’ve had sex the night before, and plummets through the floor if I’ve consumed an anti-histamine (such as Nyquil or Benadryl) the night before.

Anyways, I could go on and on, but I’m curious what you’ve discovered from testing your own heart rate variability, stress and health…

…so leave your comments below, and if you still haven’t tried this ultimate form of self-quantification, then what are you waiting for? Click here to grab the app now. Happy tracking.