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How To Make Your Penis Stronger With A Private Gym

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OK, let’s start here: the article that you may be about to read is a bit explicit. If you are an astute reader, you have already gathered this by reading the freaking title.

I’m really, really not kidding.

In this article, I acknowledge the existence of your pelvic floor muscles, I discuss Kegel exercises, I use many different words to describe the male anatomy, I talk about why I think pornography can destroy your brain, and I even discuss the sexual relationship between me and my wife.

If these topics make you uncomfortable or make you upset or make you turn red in the face, or if you are reading this article at a public place such as your office, I would recommend you either stop reading now or you wait until you are in a more private place.

At the same time, we’re mostly all adults here, and considering the popularity of my “How To Get Fit For Sex” podcast episode, and just about every other article and podcast I’ve done on libido, sex, etc., I’m not going to shy away from a topic like the one I discuss below.

Here is a very, very brief synopsis: I experimented for 30 days with a magnet resistance device for the male anatomy called the “Private Gym” (the same device my dog Blitzen is suspiciously sniffing in the photo above), and I give you the full, nitty-gritty details below.

You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll blush.

Enjoy.

P.S. Yes ladies, there’s plenty of good advice for you in here too.

P.S.S. Full disclaimer: I got my Private Gym for free. They gave me a trial version. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it was not a refurbished model.

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Day 1, Part 1:

OK, I’ll embarrassingly admit that prior to unboxing my Private Gym, I hadn’t realized that the thing is literally a gym. For your privates. Duh.

Up until this point, as I held the Private Gym box in my hands and walked up the driveway from my mailbox, I was envisioning some kind of highly portable, fold-out, mildly clandestine contraption designed for a quick, cutting-edge full-body workout. You know. My own private gym. Chest, abs, biceps, calves, quads, hammies…the works.

Ahh…such a cute and innocent expectation, Ben.

Instead, as I stand in my kitchen holding a resistance ring and weighted magnet in my hands, I realize that the Private Gym is indeed, as advertised, “a patented, FDA registered weighted penis ring and magnetic weight to maximize pelvic muscle growth and strength”.

Woo, boy. So much for 7-minute abs. I now have the promise of 7-minute gonads.

Well…

…I’m a reasonable guy. I test out a lot of fitness devices for their efficacy, ease-of-use, and efficiency, so I might as well treat this the same way. Yet another muscle training device. A very, very potentially awkward muscle training device.

What the heck, I figure I’ll give it a shot.

The instructions are as follows:

“The resistance ring is easy to use and ergonomically designed for men of all sizes. To start, simply place the adjustable ring around your erect penis and follow the guided Private Gym Program exercises. The weight is lifted up and down by squeezing and releasing your pelvic muscles. This movement places resistance on your pelvic muscles, resulting in full muscle growth and strength.”

OK, this seems straightforward enough. Considering myself a pretty intuitive guy, I toss aside the accompanying DVD. I never watch DVD instructions anyways, and this is no exception. After all, it can’t be rocket science (pun.) to wrap something around your dick and then contract, right?

The Private Gym instructions also strictly warn that “the resistance ring should only be used after completing the first four weeks of basic training, which is included with this program”. That means I’m not supposed to use the resistance ring for the first four weeks. I also ignore these instructions.

See, ever since I interviewed my friend Jordan Gray on the podcast “How To Get Fit For Sex”, I’ve included things like kegel exercises when I’m sitting in a car or airplane, front planks and side planks with a focus on deep abdominal contractions, and even the occasional “wet towel” lift workout (listen to the podcast episode to hear what I mean, or just use your imagination).

Plus, the thing weighs only 2.5 ounces. According to the Private Gym website: “Placed on the erect penis and lifted up and down, the super-soft, “resistance ring” weighs only 2.5 oz, not a lot but enough weight to dramatically strengthen and grow the pelvic muscles.”

So yeah, I can crawl under freaking barbwire in a front plank position for 10 minutes. I can swim for hours at a breakneck pace. I can flip really heavy tires. So I figure I can strip off the training wheels and jump straight into using this resistance ring with the special weighted magnet thingy.

Based on that, the following is to be my workout for the first week:

IMG_5326

Easy enough. Compared to burpees and squats, this should be a cinch. Not only that, but maybe if I do this three times per week as directed, I can achieve all the testosterone boosting benefits of sexual stimulation in the absence orgasm (another thing Jordan talked about in our episode).

OK, let’s do this. Day 1, Step 1…deep breath…and…get an erection! Go!

Fail.

Now here’s the deal fellas. I’m not a “porn guy”. Moral oppositions aside, I’m convinced that frequent exposure to erotic imagery of an unlimited number of ready-to-mate females is a fast track to short-circuit your dopamine production. You can read all more about how you can totally screw yourself (heh.) biologically with porn by visiting YourBrainOnPorn.com. So I’m not going to use porn for my Private Gym training.

And my attempt to close my eyes and use sheer will to force myself into a giant erection? Well, any hot-blooded male knows how well that works.

So I go to my secret weapon: erotic, sexy, mouth-drooling photos of…my wife. Yeah, she doesn’t read my articles, or else she’d probably be red in the face right now. If you do read this, then sorry babe. It’s for the sake of science. I won’t publish the photos.

OK, photos ready. Boom. Erection complete. Resistance band with weight attached. Ready for lift-off.

Woo-hoo! Contract, release…contract, release. Yeah, cowboy.

Damn.

My erection is quickly fading.

It’s actually much, much harder than I thought to focus on reading workout instructions, contracting and relaxing my pelvic floor, attempting to ignore the fact that there’s a miniature weighted vest on my penis, maintaining an erection, and staring at photos that are supposed to maintain my erection all at the same time. And as you can imagine, the resistance band doesn’t really jive well with flaccidity. It’s like trying to keep a straw on a wet noodle.

So I need another plan.

Sure, I’ll ask “the experts” during my introductory educational call with the good folks at Private Gym next week, but time is not to be wasted. So I hatch a plan…

…let’s just say I could rope my wife into helping me for 10 minutes, three times a week, to “maintain” an erection during my Private Gym training . I’m literally thinking something like: foreplay, then stop to do the exercises, start again, stop again, and so on. Kind of like tantric sex combined with Rocky Balboa-style grunting and lifting. What woman could resist such a proposal? I can’t guarantee a “no orgasm” approach with this technique, as I’m not sure I have that amount of willpower, but there’s my idea. Don’t laugh.

So tonight, I shall propose to my wife over a glass of wine, and a tiny weighted band. Romantic.

——————–

Day 1, Part 2:

She said yes.

And things progressed pretty quick from there, really.

We finish our wine.

We get kids to bed, fast. Done. Night kids, here’s your earplugs.

Run to bedroom, with about the same amount of excitedly teenager-like anticipation as the last time we tried something new (*cough* handcuffs and whipped cream *cough*).

Music, check. Disrobe, check. And from there, you can pretty much use your imagination.

Actually, don’t. I don’t want you imagining me and my wife doing a Private Gym workout together. That’s not comfortable for me.

Instead, I’ll give you the basics.

First we get all hot and heavy, then stop to put on resistance band. Next I start round one of my training: contract, relax, contract, relax, five rounds done. 20 rapid flexes, done. 20 second hold, done. My penis quivers (oh geez, did I just write that?) under the weight towards the end, but it’s totally doable. We make out while I’m doing the workout round. Then back to more hot and heavy foreplay during my one minute rest.

We repeat for another round. And then one final round. This is kinda fun actually. In a “I’m working out while we have sex” kind of fun way.

Then, after my three rounds of Private Gym training are complete, we finish love-making in our traditional way, with the giant clown-suits, leather balls, and dwarf goats. Heh, kidding. We finish with an orgasm. The no-orgasm approach isn’t something I’m quite sold on yet.

So anyways, that’s the end of Day 1 of my Private Gym training. I collapse into deep sleep, the first of the next 30 days of my manly exercise complete.

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Day 2:

I wake up.

Penis mildly sore? I can’t tell. Maybe just placebo. Pelvic floor feels good. Maybe a little fatigued, but not like I’m uncontrollably incontinent and peeing my underwear or anything like that.

The resistance ring is still sitting on the nightstand. It’s supposedly “body safe, hypoallergenic, DEHP-free, completely waterproof and compatible with all body safe lubricants”. Whatever. I clean the heck out of the thing with soapy water. Twice.

Of course, I have no Private Gym training today. I don’t want to get overtraining and adrenal fatigue, you know. I’ll stick to three training sessions per week. My wife is on board. Fist-pump for that. Pun.

——————–

Day 3:

I was supposed to do Private Gym training tonight. My wife knew about it because I “warned” her. But instead, I fell asleep. Long day.

However, on a more helpful note, I did get a chance to talk to one of the head honchos at Private Gym, a guy named David. So I asked David my one burning question: how does one maintain an erection in between the “rest periods” during the training?

In a nutshell, “self-stimulate” is the politically correct answer that he gave me. Makes sense, and it’s kinda what I figured. Interestingly, David also brought up the topic that if you have a hard time getting an erection in the first place (heh), then you can “work backwards” into the Private Gym training by using something like Cialis or Viagra to get an erection, then do your training with a little help from pill chemistry – with the end goal (of course) of not needing the erectile dysfunction pill once you’ve finished your month of training.

Interesting idea. But I’ll personally stick to beet juice.

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Day 4:

Got another training session in tonight, and I must admit that it’s mildly awkward to stop in the middle of sex to do my special workout, and then keep going. At least I think so. My wife, on the other hand, seems incredibly excited about the whole thing and the tantric anticipation of starting, then stopping, then starting, then getting close to climax, then stopping again.

So if anything, this whole Private Gym thing is at least: A) enhancing my love life; and B) tricking me into tantric sex. Sneaky.

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Day 5:

I’ve realized that there could be a slight hiccup in my Private Gym training: today I’m headed off to a 5 day wilderness survival course. We’re talking grunting men gathered around a campfire chewing on charcoal-encrusted chunks of elk meat. I can’t exactly sneak my wife into camp, and there’s no way I’m going to get a boner in a tent in the middle of the wilderness, especially considering I’m sharing said tent with a bunch of other dudes.

So for the next 5 days, I’m shifting to my backup plan, a plan endorsed by the folks at Private Gym as an option for when you want to do your training without an erection and without the weighted magnet attached to your little guy. It’s really just a fancy, structured version of Kegel exercises (again, without the weighted penis magnet), and here’s how it goes:

-Squeeze pelvic muscles as hard as I can and hold the contraction for 3-5 seconds

-Release slowly and relax for 1-2 seconds

-Perform 50 repetitions

-Next, perform 20 “Rapid Flexes”

-At the end of each set, hold the contraction for 20 seconds.

-Rest 1 minute.

-Perform 3 sets.

Rapid Flex? OK, I realize some of the terminology may be confusing, so here’s a snapshot of a page in the Private Gym instruction manual:

IMG_5397

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Day 6:

Wilderness penis training complete.

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Day 7:

Off day.

I’m wondering if they make tiny foam rollers I can use to enhance recovery of my pelvic muscles. I’m also curious if a post-workout protein shake could enhance results. Blood doping perhaps? There’s got to be all sorts of ways you can biohack your Private Gym training. Maybe even one of those elevation training masks to make breathing more difficult.

Just wondering.

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Day 8:

As I lay in my sleeping bag before drifting off to sleep, I do another set of Private Gym exercises. I’m sure that with my dedication to these Kegel-style moves, I would be a great pregnant mother. After all, physicians frequently prescribe these things to women for childbirth preparation.

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Day 9:

Last day in the wilderness, and another recovery day.

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Day 10:

Back home to my lovely wife. After a glass of wine, I jump right back into my weighted training.

And here’s the deal: both orgasm and ejaculation are significantly stronger and better today. It could be the fact that I’ve spent the past 5 days getting blue-balled in the wilderness while hanging out with seven other guys in a macho sausage-fest completely devoid of sex opportunities, or it could be that this whole Private Gym thing is actually working.

Either way, I’m not complaining.

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Day 11:

Well, it has happened: yet another disruption in my Private Gym training. In retrospect, I probably should have planned out a period of my life containing one unbroken period of 30 days to truly devote to making my penis stronger.

Instead, I hopped on a plane today to fly to a 4 day speaking gig, once again wifeless, but still just as devoted as ever to completing some semblance of Private Gym training.

So I decided to join the mile-high Kegel exercise club during a Spokane to Phoenix flight by completing my entire training session quietly in my airplane seat, squeezing and releasing, squeezing and releasing over and over again, as the lady sitting next to me sat blissfully unaware that her seat mate was engaged in a hard and heavy reproductive muscle training session. Aside from a very small bead of sweat that formed on my brow, I managed to covertly finish up my training at 30,000 feet elevation (sans erection and sans magnet, of course).

delta

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Day 12:

I’ve had a breakthrough. Today I combined my Private Gym training with grip training. No, no, no…it’s not what you think. I’m not going to go blind or get hairy palms.

Instead, here’s what I did: I own a bad-ass, super difficult 150 pound steel grip trainer called “Captains Of Crush”. And what I’ve discovered is that if I combine each pelvic muscle contraction with a hard and heavy squeeze on my grip trainer, and I can not only squeeze my pelvic muscles even harder, but I can also train my fingers, hands and forearms at the same time I train my penis (yeah, yeah, that was an awkward sentence to write).

As a self-proclaimed biohacker obsessed with efficiency and getting the most out of every workout I do, this is an appealing concept: now I can train two body parts simultaneously. Sure, this method probably won’t work during my Private Gym training with my wife, but for my solo, erection-less and magnet-less efforts, this is pretty dang cool.

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Day 13:

I am breaking the rules and perhaps overtraining my genitalia, but since I’m still at this conference, I did another session of grip training combined with Kegels today. I will keep very close note if anything turns blue and falls off, or if I come down with some strange case of penile rhabdomyolysis…

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Day 14:

Long flight home today.

After two hardcore days of training, I’m taking the day off of Private Gym, even though I’ll still admit that I have yet to experience any pelvic floor muscle soreness. Rather, it’s as if I have a greater sense of awareness of everything “down there” because I’ve been contracting it so much. It feels as though I’m building some kind of mind-muscle connection or an enhanced neuronal network connection into my crotch.

I’m pretty sure this is a good thing.

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Day 15:

Hooray. After being away from my wife for most of the week, I get to have sex tonight, with *real* Private Gym training, erection and all.

Mayday, mayday…there seems to be a problem. I’m having a hard time getting it up. Seriously. This hasn’t happened since the days of Ironman triathlon training when I used to spend 3-4 hours in a bike saddle. But for some odd reason, I’m a little…flaccid. My wife is pretty good-natured about the whole thing, and even though I eventually get it up enough to have a little fun, my poor little guy can barely support the Private Gym magnet weight.

What’s going on? Have I overtrained my pelvic floor? Did I ruin something?

This is exactly the opposite of what’s supposed to happen with this new training regimen. I’m supposed to be getting stronger, not weaker. Not that I expect to turn into some kind of sex god, but at the same time, I’m going to throw the towel in on this whole Kegel thing if the final result is erectile dysfunction.

I fall asleep, a little disappointed.

——————–

Day 16:

I’m taking the day off of training. I’m a bit nervous. Perhaps my muscles just need some recovery after last night’s disappointing performance. Maybe it was just a fluke, and totally unrelated to the Private Gym training. Maybe it was just all the airline travel. Who knows. Either way, I don’t feel like training.

——————–

Day 17:

I’m back, jack.

I made it halfway through the day today, and just couldn’t take it any longer. I had to find out if day 15 was a fluke.

And herein lies the advantage of having a home office. Day 17 was a definite highlight of the entire Private Gym experience. Most of you gentleman have probably used this strategy at some point in your life, and if you haven’t, I highly recommend it: I hunted down my wife while she was taking a shower, and used the sneak, surprise strategy. An average, hot-blooded American woman just can’t seem to turn down a naked, wet, soapy, lathered-up dude, and I took full advantage of the fact. Absolutely no cold shower was involved for me on this one .

I was fast. I was furious. I was definitely not flaccid. And while I didn’t take my magnet in the shower for an actual training session, I didn’t really care. My crotch most definitely got a workout.

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Day 18:

So yet another new development has occurred and yet another valuable Private Gym learning experience could be right around the corner. I’m hopping on a plane to head across the country to speak, but this time, I’m bringing the whole family with me, wife and all.

Yep, that means I’m packing a penis magnet.

What will TSA think? Will it trigger an explosive alarm as pass through security? Will I be branded as a national security threat due to the mysterious object in my carry-on bag. I mean, I obviously won’t be *wearing* the thing, but at the same time, I can’t imagine that genital exercise devices go through the security scanner all too often.

I’m happy to report that no alarms sounded. My Private Gym workout equipment made it safe and sound on the plane. Now, let’s just hope we don’t have a noisy, squeaky bed at our lodging.

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Day 19:

Nothing notable to report. I made it safely across the country and settled into a rented home with the family, and no chance yet for a Private Gym training session, but I am of course, every day, continuing with the hand gripper + Kegel exercise routine

…getting strong like bull…

captains of crush

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Day 20:

Here’s an interesting observation: I noticed that the PrivateGym website discusses the concept of how your pelvic muscles power “everything below the belt”.

So technically, all this pelvic floor training should:

1. Make me a better pooper.

2. Make me a better runner.

3. Make me a better lover.

So based on this, I believe that “Poop, Run, Love.” would be a great tagline for a Private Gym promotional campaign. But seriously, I actually have noticed what seems to be better “control” of my bathroom muscles when I’m squatting on the toilet. Since I never before peed myself while running, I can’t say that has improved, but I would imagine for someone who has any type of running incontinence, this could come in handy.

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Day 21:

This was the one day of our vacation on which I actually was able to attach the magnet to myself and get in training during an actual lovemaking session. I’m very, very proud of myself for transporting a weighted penis trainer across the entire country, and then actually using it. Hooray for me.

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Day 22:

Now that I’ve trained for 3 weeks with the Private Gym, I’m finding myself subconsciously doing Kegel exercises and pelvic contractions at completely random occasions, including standing in line at the grocery store, typing e-mails, making a smoothie, and reading books.

You could say that randomly contracting my pelvis has become as natural as breathing.

Whether this is a good habit or a bad habit, I’m not quite sure, but unlike the natural act of breathing, I have become consciously self aware during my pelvic contractions that curious bystanders may be able to see my butt muscles contracting through my shorts or jeans, or worse yet, see my pelvis quietly rocking back and forth, like some kind of Elvis wannabe.

Oh well, you know what? If you have nothing better to do that stare at my twitching crotch, then fine. Do your thing. I’m confident with my Kegels.

——————–

Day 23:

My wife made my day today.

We had sex (which, as a fun byproduct of this whole Private Gym thing, has been a very regularly occurring theme of the month), and as we finished, sweating, breathing hard, and collapsing into each other’s arms, she commented:

“You know, I can actually feel that you’re doing those exercises.”

Really?

“You feel kind of bigger. It’s like your muscles grew down there.”

Cool. I fall asleep smiling. It’s working. I was never too worried about incontinence, prolapse, pelvic floor disorder, or any of those other medical-ly things – I just wanted to get into this Private Gym training to perform better in the bedroom. And so far, the experiment is working fantastically.

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Day 24:

Today I published an article about Kegel exercises at QuickAndDirtyTips.com. If you’re this far into reading and still scratching your head about how the heck Kegel exercises work, why to do them, the research behind them, the myths about them causing pelvic floor disorder, and even the skinny on special barbells, weights, springs, or cones designed to be held in a woman’s anatomy, then read it.

And of course, inspired by my wife’s compliments last night, I Kegel-ed the heck out of myself today.

getfitguy

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Day 25:

I delved into studying something interesting today (that I alluded to a bit earlier when I mentioned that the Private Gym could potentially make you a better pooper): Kegel training can actually help with constipation.

Here’s how: people with a weakened anal sphincter (the muscle around the anus) or people with certain nerve problems in their pelvic floor muscles may not recognize the sensation that their rectum is filling and they need to have a bowel movement. Other people can actually sense that they need to have a bowel movement, but no matter how long a time they spend on the toilet or how hard they push, they just can’t seem to be able to relax their internal sphincters to “let go”. In the latter situation, this is kind of a big deal, since it can cause a rectal prolapse. Google that. It’s not cool.

Biofeedback, also known as neurofeedback, is a training technique in which you squeeze and hold the muscles in the pelvic area as hard as you can (for example, for 30 seconds), then you *completely* relax those muscles while gently breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth (for another 30 seconds). This type of biofeedback helps you to recognize and and control the function of your sphincter.

I was inspired to look into this after realizing that 25 days into Private Gym training, my pooping function seemed to be enhanced. Now I’m not saying that Kegels are the only thing you should be doing if you’re constipated (I have plenty more pooping tips here), but they’re definitely worth it for learning how to train your anal sphincter muscles.

Anyways, kind of a rabbit hole, or more appropriately, a human hole, but it’s still pretty interesting, isn’t it?

——————–

Day 26:

I had another weighted workout tonight, and this time I noticed that the 2.5 ounce weight is definitely getting lighter. I guess this makes sense. After all, I’m turning into a seasoned penis weightlifter. My body is morphing. Perhaps I need to wear an elevation training mask or something to make this more difficult.

However, upon inspecting the Private Gym website, I see that I can actually enhance my workout by ordering additional weights. There’s an add-on package that includes 2 additional magnetic weights that each weigh 2.5 ounces. Turns out I can even choose “orange” or “charcoal gray”. True to my hunches, the website says “you will need these additional weights as you continue to strengthen your pelvic muscles and maximize pelvic muscle growth and strength”.

I didn’t actually order the extra weights. Yet. I think I’ll finish my 30 day trial before I decide if I really want to turn my pelvic floor into the incredible hulk.

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Day 27:

As I get closer and closer to the end of my 30 day experiment, I’ve found myself more frequently on The Private Gym website, especially the FAQ section.

One of the claims they make is that…

“The Private Gym is specifically designed to work in conjunction with erectile dysfunction medications. The Private Gym exercises are designed to help reverse the onset of erectile dysfunction resulting from pelvic muscle weakness, which may ultimately reduce the need for future medication.”

So if I understand correctly, one could enhance results by popping Viagra prior to their training session? I guess since weightlifters take nitric oxide, beta-alanine, niacin and other blood flow enhancers prior to workouts, it does kind of make sense.

Problem is, as I outline in the article Four Natural, Pill-Free Alternatives To Spending $9.52 On A Viagra Pill (And One Potent Libido Tip For Ladies), there are some serious problems with Viagra, including priapism (click here to see what that very unpleasant thing is), severe drop in blood pressure, myocardial infarction (heart attack), abnormal heart rhythms, stroke, and sudden hearing loss – resulting in a complete lack of ability to enjoy that Barry Manilow you have piping through the bedroom. In clinical trials, common adverse effects of Viagra include headache, flushing, heartburn, nasal congestion, loss of peripheral vision, extreme visual blurriness and impaired eyesight, ironically including seeing tinted blue colors (also known as cyanopsia).

Yikes.

But tomorrow night, I plan on trying the following natural alternatives to Viagra (I discuss these and many more in the article I mention above):

-Pre-dinner: Red Wine (the good stuff of course)
-Main dish: Buttered oysters over a bed of ice, with Fresh Watermelon (add sea salt and cayenne pepper to the watermelon)
-Side dish: Roasted Red Peppers with Black Pepper & Garlic
-Dessert: Dark Chocolate

Everything listed above acts very similarly to Viagra, but is of course entirely natural. And of course, I’ll throw in my usual testosterone booster “Aggressive Strength” that I take every day anyways.

I’ll keep you posted on the results.

oysters

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Day 28:

OK, another important Private Gym FAQ, and a potentially sensitive questions:

Q. Does the Private Gym Resistance Training Equipment fit all penis sizes?

A. Yes. The Private Gym Resistance equipment is expertly designed to fit all penis sizes. The flexible ultra-soft silicone band opens and closes to gently grip the shaft of the penis.

So there you have it. All sizes welcome.

By the way, I’m sure you’re wondering if my nutrition hack worked tonight.

Despite having to fight away my children so that I could at least harvest a few tiny shreds of leftover watermelon, and despite being forced to share half my dark chocolate with my wife, I consumed more than my fair share of oysters and roasted red peppers.

And yes, throbbing vascularity ensued.

I have been waiting this entire article to write that phrase. I may never get a chance to include that in my writing again, so I’m savoring every moment. Throbbing vascularity. There, I did it again.

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Day 29:

My wife, my neighbors and my housekeeper are all accustomed to me getting very strange packages in the mail, and half the time, they’re the ones opening the packages, not me.

So I’m pretty used to getting raised eyebrows when I receive everything from coffee enema equipment to EMF blocking underwear.

But your life may not as embarrassingly and shameless public as mine, so if you’re concerned about everything from what appears on credit card statements to what shows up on the doorstep of your house, then have no fear, because the Private Gym FAQ boldly states:

Q. Is the Private Gym shipped in discreet packaging?

A. Your privacy is guaranteed. The Private Gym is shipped in discreet packaging and appears as “gym fee” on your credit card statement. More importantly, any personal information provided to The Private Gym is kept confidential and is never shared or sold.

And I will admit, the box actually is pretty discreet. It is not a giant penis shaped, guitar-case size contraption that will arrive on your doorstep. And that part about “gym fee” is pretty sneaky, if you ask me. But I suppose it will generate fewer raised eyebrows from your accountant compared to “penis magnet”.

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Day 30:

Wow. I have arrived at Day 30.

I made it through four grueling weeks of hardcore training (possibly the most appropriate use of hardcore I’ve ever written).

I may celebrate today by Kegel-ing myself into a pile of sweaty exhaustion. Or perhaps I’ll just take the wife out for a bit of wining, dining, and one more Private Gym training session.

But this does actually have me thinking…what’s next?

Do I need to continue this protocol multiple times per week? Do I need to Kegel on every airplane flight and whip out the magnet on every lovemaking session?

So I contacted Andrew, my special concierge helper at Private Gym and the guy who sent me the magnet in the first place, and I asked him:

“So after 4 weeks of time on the resistance program, what’s next? Do I go into some kind of maintenance mode? How fast will I “lose it”?”

Here is his reply:

“Use it or lose it. The pelvic floor muscles-like all skeletal muscles-are highly adaptive to the stresses and resistances placed upon them…or not. Once the adaptive process has resulted in increased strength and endurance, maintenance training should be pursued. This requires the same level of intensity, but practiced less frequently, once or twice weekly usually being sufficient. In the absence of continued resistance, there will be a slow, but inevitable loss of strength and tone.”

So what’s my plan?

I’ll continue to do Kegels at least once every couple days, since I can do them anytime, anyplace, and they work well with the whole hand grip training thing. And I think a full-on Private Gym weighted magnet lovemaking session is something I (and my wife) could continue to handle every week or two.

So I’ll keep the special little magnet in it’s designated place in the nightstand drawer, waiting for action.

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Summary:

So there you have it.

I’ve managed to shamelessly reveal the results of one of the more embarrassing self-experiments I’ve conducted, and hopefully you’ve learned a few valuable things in the process.

Ultimately, my personal observation is that the Private Gym works, and it’s not a gimmick.

My erections have gotten better, my orgasms have gotten stronger, I’ve dramatically increased my ability to “control” my pelvic muscles and ejaculation during sex, and apparently, although it was never an issue before, I’ve bulletproofed myself against incontinence and pelvic floor disorder. Perhaps I’ll appreciate that last one when I’m 80 years old and saving money on diapers.

If get a Private Gym and you don’t like it, you can return it at any time within 60 days of purchase for a full refund. You can click here to get one, and yes, that’s an affiliate link. I went through a great deal of heartache and hard work with this experiment so you might as well put a few nickels in my hat if you get one of these bad boys for yourself.

Leave any questions, comments or feedback below, and happy training (heh, phone not included as you can see).

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How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance.

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I just finished reading what I consider to be one of the best books of 2015: Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance.

In the book, best-selling author Christopher McDougall, today’s podcast guest and a guy who you may recognize as the same author of Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen travels to the Mediterranean, where he discovers that the secrets of ancient Greek heroes are still alive and well in the razor-sharp mountains on the island of Crete – ready to be unleashed in the muscles and minds of casual athletes and aspiring heroes everywhere.

In the story, Chris recreates an amazing true tale of a band of Resistance fighters in World War II who plotted the daring abduction of a German general from the heart of the Nazi occupation. He  makes his way to the island to experience firsthand the extreme physical challenges the Resistance fighters and their local allies faced, and on Crete, the birthplace of the classical Greek heroism that spawned the likes of amazing physical specimens such as Herakles and Odysseus, McDougall discovers the tools of the heroes, including skills such as natural movement, extraordinary endurance, and efficient nutrition, skills that are still practiced in far-flung pockets throughout the world today.

If you want to be a modern-day athlete who can hone ancient skills to be ready for anything, then this podcast episode is for you. Prepare to get inspired to leave the gym and take your fitness routine to nature—to climb, swim, skip, throw, and jump their way to your own heroic feats.

So who is Christopher McDougall ?

Trained as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press, Chris covered wars in Rwanda and Angola before writing the international bestseller, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. His fascination with the limits of human potential also led him to create the Outside magazine web series, “Art of the Hero”, and then most recently, the book Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance.

During this audio interview with Chris, you’ll discover:

-How Chris combines a life of immersive journalism and juggling family life with a study of extreme sports…

-Why the tiny island of Crete was such an important part of World War II, and how the Cretans developed such amazing athleticism…

-How to manipulate your body’s own fascia to generate huge amounts of force, to run faster and to master natural movement…

-The only form of hand-to-hand combat that you should learn if you really want to learn to fight as efficiently as possible…

-Why Chris studied Parkour to prepare for his trip to Crete…

-How the mighty Cretan runners ran dozens and dozens of miles on virtually no calories, and how you can learn to do it too…

Why it’s a myth that running a marathon killed the first person that did it…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

ParkourGenerations.com

Wing Chun

My podcast with Barry Murray on becoming fat-adapted

Chris Mcdougall’s Amazon author page

ChrisMcDougall.com

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for me or Chris? Leave your thoughts below and one of us with reply.

What I Eat: 19 Of My Go-To Foods For Stocking A Healthy Pantry.

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My buddy Mark Sisson recently published his top 50 essential healthy pantry foods for establishing a shelf-stable pantry that will stand the test of time, dozens of recipes, and course, a zombie apocalypse. From cricket bars to kombu, here’s his list.

Darn it, Mark.

50?

OK, granted – despite looking like a Greek god, Mark is a touch older than me (twice as old?), but nonetheless, I’ve obviously got some catching up to do, because when I venture into my pantry it’s difficult to hunt down 50 different items.

However, I recently spoke at Nourish Vermont’s Traditional Food And Health Gathering about “Fueling The Ancestral Athlete”, and during that talk, I was at least able to identify 19 foods that do indeed appear as staples in my diet.

So enjoy these 19 discoveries…and stay tuned, because…

…at the end of this post, I’m going to give you a link to another article that I wrote which shows you how to use these foods to make quick and easy recipes, and also, because I know that quality ingredients and products like this aren’t always affordable (especially if you’ve ever shopped at markets like Whole Foods AKA “Whole Paycheck”), I’ll show you exactly how to stock your pantry with all these things (and more) at 25%-50% off retail prices you’d pay at a normal grocery store or fancy market.

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bone broth1. Bone Broth

Nearly every traditional society boiled bones of meat-giving animals to make a nutritive broth. Bone broth is an extraordinarily inexpensive food, especially for its nutritive value. Beyond its culinary uses and economic benefits, bone broth is remarkably healthful, deeply flavorful, incredibly versatile and can provide a handy base for soups, sauces, gravies, as well as providing a cooking medium for grains and vegetables.

As the bones from bone broth cook in water, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals and nutrients leach from the bones into the water. The minerals in broth are easily absorbed by your body. Bone broth even contains glucosamine and chondroiton, which may help mitigate the deleterious effects of arthritis and joint pain. Bone broths are also rich in gelatin, which is an inexpensive source of supplementary protein that helps to support the connective tissue in your body, and also helps the skin, fingernails and hair to grow well and strong.

You can knock yourself out with just about everything else you need to know about bone broth in this bone broth podcast episode I recorded with chef Lance Roll.

My top tip for bone broth: I drink a cup of bone broth (I drink it hot or cold, and don’t really care which) as a nourishing, nutrient-dense low-calorie substitute for a meal when I’m in a hurry or watching my calories. It can also be used a healthy substitute for a sports drink, as I discuss with my podcast guest here

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eggs2. Free Range Eggs

Free-range eggs are eggs produced from birds that are permitted outdoors for at least part of the day. The term “free-range” may be used differently depending on the country and the relevant laws. Eggs from hens that are only indoors might also be labelled Cage-free, Barn, Barn-roaming or Aviary. I’d personally prefer to eat eggs from chickens who have only eaten organically and who have been allowed to roam as much as possible.

Egg protein is classified as a complete protein. For a protein source to be considered complete, it has to have all the nine essential amino acids present. The amino acid content of eggs is well studied and their value as an excellent source of protein is pretty widely known. Beyond the nine essential amino acids, there are other kinds of proteins in eggs that are considerably beneficial. Ovalbumin, for example, is one type most abundant in the egg white (interestingly, it has been used as a treatment for heavy metal poisoning).

There is also a wide range of B vitamins and adequate amounts of vitamins A, D and E found in eggs. One of exceptional abundance is the B-complex vitamin choline. This nutrient plays important roles in maintaining cell membranes, transmitting nerve signals, and protecting your liver from fat accumulation. Some of the B vitamins, such as niacin, are mostly found in the egg white. The fat soluble A, D and E vitamins and most of the beneficial cholesterols are all in the yolk. There are also about 109 milligrams of omega-3 essential fatty acids for every 100 grams of eggs (essential because they’re crucial to normal physiology but the human body doesn’t produce them)

The advantage of raising poultry in a free range organic way is that the eggs produced have more of these benefits. For example, a free range chicken with access to clean pasture is likely to lay eggs with better nutritional quality. Free range eggs have been found to have higher A and E vitamin content, and double the amount of omega-3 fatty acids compared to eggs from conventionally raised poultry.

My top tip for eggs: for an impressive, citrusy surprise, cut an orange in half, remove the flesh, then cook the egg inside the orange peel “bowl” by baking, broiling or grilling until the egg is bubbling. Serve with sea salt, black pepper and olive oil.

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sweet potatoes3. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes, despite their name, are only distantly related to white potatoes. In the United States, this vegetable is known for its starchy and sweet-tasting flavor, although its shoots and leaves are eaten as greens in other parts of the world. Americans’ consumption of sweet potatoes used to be significant. However, in the mid-twentieth century, this habit waned because the sweet potato got associated with “hard times” and a “poverty food” as it was used as one of the go-to crops during war and famine. Though sweet potatoes are also viewed rather negatively due to their carb content, this vegetable is actually one of the healthiest ones out there, and a big staple in my diet.

Sweet potatoes contain anthocyanins, pigments responsible for the array of colors in crops. Sweet potatoes, specifically the variety with purple flesh, have been studied extensively and it has been found that the purple pigments have hepatoprotective properties that reduce inflammation and induce antioxidant enzymes in liver. The purple anthocyanins also act as scavengers of free radicals in the body and guard against acetaminophen toxicity as well.

The purple pigments have been found to alleviate brain inflammation in rats, and this may prove instrumental in the creation of therapeutic approaches to inflammatory brain diseases. Rats on a controlled high-cholesterol diet and fed purple sweet potato flakes showed increased glutathione levels in the liver, leading researchers to conclude that purple anthocyanins minimize oxidative damage to the liver caused by a high-cholesterol diet.

The purple variety of sweet potatoes aren’t the only ones packed with goodness. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are touted for the potent vitamin A content as well, with one cup of this tuberous vegetable capable of providing more than four times the RDA for Vitamin A. In fact, orange sweet potatoes have been used to address the vitamin A and serum retinol deficiency in young children in Africa.

Also, type 2 diabetes patients fed the extract of white-skinned sweet potatoes showed increased levels of the anti-diabetic protein hormone adiponectin in their blood. So ironically, despite their carbohydrate content, eating sweet potatoes may be beneficial for managing type 2 diabetes as well.

My top tip for sweet potatoes: Boil ’em. According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, this method of cooking sweet potatoes influences it glycemic index (GI). Boiled sweet potatoes had the lowest GI, while baked, fried, or roasted ones had comparitively high glycemic indeces. Boiling aids in the removal of oxalates as well. When boiling sweet potatoes, fill the cooking pot with water enough to cover the thoroughly washed sweet potatoes and boil until the tubers are tender. Adding healthy fats to your boiled sweet potatoes boosts vitamin A bioavailability and uptake as well, so for a mashed sweet potatoes recipe, you can add a tablespoon of olive oil for every cup of this boiled vegetable.

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avocado4. Avocadoes

The avocado is quite known for its high fat content. This is perhaps the reason many weight-conscious and fat-phobic individuals steer clear of this fruit. And sure, avocado does have considerable amounts of fat, but these fats do some pretty cool things. For example, monounsaturated fats, which the avocado has in great abundance at as high as 30 grams per fruit, are actually hailed for their ability to lower the levels of triglycerides. People such as diabetics who have high triglyceride levels in the body may see their triglyceride levels fall by as much as 20% by eating a serving or two of avocado daily.

Avocado is a potent source of folate as well, with one avocado providing as much as 28% of the daily recommended intake. Aside from ensuring optimum brain function and health of the nerve endings, folate is also hailed as very important for pregnant women, since the vitamin helps prevent abnormalities to the brain and spine of a developing fetus.

Potassium is another nutrient that’s abundant in avocado. Functioning as an electrolyte in the body, potassium is essential for optimal muscle contraction, and properly balanced potassium in the body helps prevent high blood pressure as well as osteoporosis, especially in elderly women.

Avocado has shown potential for preventing or alleviating depression as well. In a study conducted by the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry, it was found that patients suffering from depression showed improvements after being fed a diet high in tryptophan, a type of amino acid. Avocado is certainly rich in tryptophan, much like organic cottage cheese, bananas, and seafood like wild salmon, trout, tilapia or flounder.

Research has shown that nutrients are mostly abundant in the dark green portion of the avocado meat near the skin, so to maximize your intake of the fruit’s healthful goodness, first slice the avocado lengthwise with a fruit knife and then separate the halves to take out the seed. Slice each of the halves afterwards and peel the skin like you would a banana.

Also, it’s always best to immediately use all the avocados that you slice and peel. If this is not possible, squeeze some lemon juice onto the avocado and put it in an airtight food container or zipper storage bag before putting in the refrigerator to minimize discoloration.

My top tip for avocado: make a fast, go-to avocado bowl snack by chopping an avocado in half, filling the pit with olive oil, sprinkling with sea salt, and…eating.

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nori5. Nori

Nori is a type of seaweed that is most popular for it’s use in making sushi. Made from porphyra and/or enteromorpha species of algae, this seaweed variety grow in shallow and cold water. Nori often comes in thin sheet form and has a black-purple color which turns a deep green when toasted.  Though nori’s popularity in the United States is only fairly recently, this seaweed has been eaten for centuries in Asia, specifically in China and Japan.

This unassuming seaweed packs a big nutritional punch. Nori appears to be the only vegetable that has been studied and confirmed to contain Cobalamin, a type of vitamin B12, in the form that’s actually bioavailable to humans. In a study conducted by the Sapporo Medical University in Japan, nori made from the Porphyra tenera algae has been found to contain biologically active Cobalamin. In a subsequent study done by Kochi Women’s University, the research was expanded to include green and purple nori from the enteromorpha and porphyra species, respectively, and it was established that the Cobalamin in nori can indeed be absorbed by humans. It is crucial to note that animal products like meat and eggs are the traditional sources of bioavailable Cobalamin, so these findings prove especially beneficial for vegans and vegetarians.

In the same study, it was also found that nori has the lowest dietary iodine among all seaweed products. This makes nori a more suitable choice for those who need to watch excessive intake of this mineral, such as individuals who have thyroid conditions.

Nori made from the porphyra species of algae contain porphyran, a type of sulfated carbohydrate that appears to have cancer-preventive properties. In a Korean study on gastric cancer cells, porphyran was found to induce cancer cell death, as well as inhibit the spread of malignant cells.

The porphyran in nori has been found in another Japanese study to have anti-allergenic properties as well. This capacity of porphyran to inhibit contact hypersensitivity in laboratory rats may prove useful in finding therapeutic approaches for allergies later on, or for downregulating autoimmune issues in folks with lots of food allergies.

Nori can be added to soups to provide a salty and tangy taste. You can toast nori to bring out its flavor before sprinkling it on soup or other dishes. To toast, turn a gas burner to low or find another source of fire/heat, and holding the nori with tongs, pass the sheet back and forth atop the flame for about 30 seconds or until it becomes crispy.

My top tip for nori: Fold a nori sheet in half, then gently unfold, and brush the inside half sheet lightly with olive oil or avocado oil using a pastry brush. Sprinkle some salt on the inside half. Fold, press, and cut into bite size strips. Place in a baking sheet, making sure the strips are arranged with intervals so as to avoid sticking. Put the baking sheet inside the oven preheated to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and toast the strips for 15 minutes or until crisp. Take out and place the crispy strips in a cooling rack and repeat the process for the remaining nori sheets. To store, place in an airtight glass jar

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brazil-nut6. Brazil Nuts

Amazon’s dense forest contains several unique plant species such as Brazil nuts and acai berry, plants that can be found tough to find anywhere else on the planet earth. Native Amazonians cherished the delicious Brazil nuts for ages, because the nuts provided them with much-needed protein, fats, and other essential nutrients. Some of the common names in local dialects are castanha-do-pará, castania, para-nut, cream-nut, and Castaña-de-Brazil (chestnuts of Brazil).

100g of Brazil nuts provide about 656 calories. But their high caloric content chiefly comes from their high levels of fats, and much of this fat content is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like palmitoleic acid (16:1) and oleic acid (18:1), which helps raise HDL levels in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet that is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids offers protection from coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

The nuts are also a very good source of vitamin E, and contain about 7.87 mg per 100 g (about 52% of RDA). Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucosa and skin by protecting it from free radical damage.

Brazil nuts also have exceptionally high levels of selenium, with 100g of nuts providing about 1917 µg or 3485% recommended daily intake of selenium, rating them as the highest natural source of this mineral. Selenium is an important cofactor for anti-oxidant enzyme, glutathione-peroxidase. Just 1-2 nuts a day provides enough of this trace element. Adequate selenium in the diet help prevent coronary artery disease, liver cirrhosis, and cancers.

Additionally, these creamy nuts are an excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin (51% of RDA per 100 g), riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and folates. Altogether, these vitamins work as co-factors for enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism inside the body.

In addition to selenium, Brazil nuts have very high levels of other minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Copper helps prevent anemia and bone weakness (osteoporosis). Manganese is an important co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.

Brazil nuts can be available raw (unshelled or shelled), roasted, and salted in most stores. Since the nuts are high in polyunsaturated fats, they may turn rancid and deteriorate rather early if they get exposed to air, humidity, and sunlight. So I recommend you purchase unshelled nuts, keep them in the freezer or refrigerator, and shell them as and when required to enjoy their edible meaty kernel. Buy whole, brown color nuts that feature full, compact, and heavy in hand. Avoid shriveled and damaged Brazil nuts, as they may be affected by fungal mold.

My top tip for Brazil nuts: At the very, very end of making a smoothie, I toss in 3-5 brazil nuts and blend for about 5-10 seconds with the other smoothie ingredients to get a chunky, nutty flavor.

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oyster-426796_6407. Oysters

Oysters are unusual and delicious mollusks that provide your body with a number of unique nutrients and minerals. The nutrients in oysters can help with weight loss attempts, boost metabolic activity, increase tissue repair and growth, balance healthy cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, improve your immune functions, aid in wound healing, and promote healthy growth. Furthermore, they are considered a powerful aphrodisiac, can improve blood circulation, and increase bone strength to reduce osteoporosis.

Edible oysters have been a part of the human diet for at least 700 years, but have likely been eaten in raw or cooked forms for much longer. The edible components are the meat inside the oyster, and once the shells have been cracked, you can cook this meat in a variety of ways, but they can also be eaten raw, and is often preferred in that way.

The impressive health benefits of oysters come from their vast stockpiles of minerals, vitamins, and organic compounds. In fact, some minerals, such as zinc, are in their highest content in oysters. Oysters also include very high levels of protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, copper, manganese, and selenium, along with high levels of niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. Finally, oysters are a huge source of beneficial cholesterol, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and water. These elements of oysters make them an extremely healthy food that can seriously boost your body’s overall function and health.

As an aphrodisiac, oysters can help increase sexual performance and libido, primarily in men. Like I mentioned, the zinc content of oysters is unbelievable, and oysters contains more than 1500% of the daily requirements of this essential mineral in a single serving. Zinc has also been closely linked to sexual dysfunction in men, while impotence and erectile dysfunction are closely associated with zinc deficiency. Therefore, eating oysters can give men their sexual edge back and increase feelings of masculinity.

Oysters represent one of the most nutrient packed foods, with very low calories versus the volume of serving size. This means that people trying to lose weight can keep their body packed with the nutrients it needs, without adding too much weight on their frame. Compared to an equal serving size of chicken, oysters have nearly half the calories (pretty cool, considering chicken breasts are often turned to for low-calorie, protein-rich meals). A single serving of oysters provides nearly 1/3 of the daily requirements for protein.

Oysters can positively impact heart health in a variety of ways, primarily via the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids versus omega-6 fatty acids. This ca help reduce the content of oxidized cholesterol in the blood stream and inhibit cholesterol from binding to blood vessel and artery walls. In this way, oysters can reduce the chances of plaque accumulation and a variety of health complications, including cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the high potassium and magnesium content of oysters can help to lower blood pressure and relax the blood vessels, thereby increasing circulation and oxygenation of the blood and reducing strain on the cardiovascular system. Finally, the vitamin E in oysters increases the strength and flexibility of cellular membranes, which is a third level of protection against heart disease.

Oysters are also a very impressive source of iron, with more than 90% of our daily requirements in each serving. Iron is a key component in the formation of red blood cells in the body, and is the primary defense against anemia, also known as iron deficiency, which can lead to fatigue, cognitive malfunction, stomach disorders, and general muscle weakness.

The mineral content is also quite impressive in oysters, and this can be a major contributor to the strength of your bones. The high levels of calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, copper, and selenium all contribute in their own way to increasing bone mineral density and durability, thereby protecting you from developing conditions like osteoporosis.

Boosting the immune system is yet another health benefit of eating oysters. The vitamin C and vitamin E content in oysters, as well as various other minerals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, helps you defend your body form free radicals that are byproducts of cellular metabolism which can attack healthy cells and mutate DNA into cancerous cells. These free radicals can also cause heart disease, premature aging, and general body disrepair wherever they lodge themselves, but the antioxidants and various vitamins in oysters can help control free radicals and boost immunity.

My top tip for oysters: Since oysters do absorb much of the nutrients from the areas where they grow, it is possible that some oysters contain pollutants and certain toxins, so only eat oysters from a trusted source. These smoked ones are really quite good and importantly, BPA-free.

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fermented soy8. Fermented Soy

Every region’s traditional cuisine has its own set of fermented food. Miso, tempeh, tamari and natto are examples of the various ways Asians have traditionally fermented soybeans, allowing a food that can traditionally wreak some health havoc to instead be a dense source of nutrients. Fermented soy sources are quite diverse in flavor, form, texture and culinary properties. This is due to the particular methods or stages of fermentation each of these products undergo.

Miso and tamari are used as sauce or as flavoring in the preparation of other dishes. Tamari is actually a byproduct in the manufacture of miso, and is the liquid that accumulates as the miso continues to mature. There are various types of miso, depending on which types of soybeans or grains are used, and tamari is derived from miso made almost exclusively from soy.

Then there’s tempeh and natto. To make tempeh, the soybeans are ground and formed into large patties. But for natto, the individual soybeans are used, albeit in a quite soggy and sticky form that resembles snot, and natto also has a very pungent odor that makes this dish an “acquired taste”.(but hey, I still like it with some mustard and nori and sushi rice!).  Tempeh is actually of Indonesian origin, while natto as well as miso and tamari are part of Japanese cuisine.

Like most beans and legumes, soy is an excellent non-meat source of protein. The bacteria introduced during soy fermentation helps break down these proteins into constituent amino acids. This results in easier absorption during digestion. Here is a list of the total proteins per 100 grams for each of these four types of fermented soy food:

Miso – 11.69g

Tempeh – 18.50g

Tamari – 10.50g

Natto – 17.70g

Leucine and glutamic acid are two amino acids that are consistently abundant in all four forms of fermented soy. Leucine helps build muscles while glutamic acid is used by your body for neurotransmission, especially in the cognitive areas of the brain. Tempeh and natto are notable for having high amounts of proline and serine amino acids. Proline is crucial in the production of collagen for connective tissues and skin, and serine is a structural component of various parts of the nervous system.

Proteins aren’t the only compounds broken down by fermentation. Soy’s oligosaccharides, known to cause gas and indigestion, are also reduced via fermentation. Another thing that is lowered is phytic acid, a phytochemical that tends to be higher in grains but also contained in some legumes like soy. It can block some absorption of minerals and nutrients, but fortunately fermentation eliminates most of the phytic acid in soy, enabling you to absorb the iron, calcium and other minerals found in these soy products.

Miso soup is the most popular Japanese dish for the miso form of soy. The other necessary ingredient for a good miso soup is dashi or fish soup stock. Typically you only need 1.5 tablespoons of miso paste to flavor 13-14oz of soup. The paste and soup stock form the essential base, and then additional vegetables or spices added really depend on your preference. Usually dried seaweed, mushrooms and tofu are included.

But since tofu isn’t usually fermented, tempeh can work as a substitute for tofu. Take note, there are differences in texture, as the latter is made by curdling soymilk. Tofu is soft and spongy while tempeh is firm and chewy, which usually makes tempeh more appropriate for frying. Traditionally, before it’s fried, sliced tempeh pieces are soaked in brine.

If you care to have some soy with your soy, you can use tamari as a dipping sauce for your fried tempeh. Tamari is almost like soy sauce, only a little thicker and less salty. Another advantage tamari has over conventional soy sauce is that no wheat is included in the fermentation process. So it’s safe for people sensitive to gluten.

The slimy fermented soy product natto is usually eaten as is, after you take it out of the packaging. Typically, it is topped on a hot bowl of steamed rice. In Japanese cuisine, natto is also sometimes used in other dishes. It can be added in miso soup, prepared as sushi (natto sushi), or used as one of several ingredients in okonomiyaki, a type of Japanese pancake.

And in case you’re still totally freaking out about even going near any form of soy at all, you should read this truth about soy.

My top tip for fermented soy: serve a few heaping tablespoons of natto over sushi rice, wrap in a nori wrap with your favorite kind of mustard (I prefer Dijon).


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coconut oil9. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a type of edible oil made from either the meat or kernel of matured coconuts. Long included in the diets of populations living in the tropical regions of the world, coconut oil has extensively been introduced in other cultures as a home remedy for a manifold of health maladies.

Coconut oil has been for decades incorrectly viewed as an unhealthy type of edible fat. But a growing body of research continues to establish the goodness that coconut oil offers to human health. For instance, it shows potential as a dietary therapy for abdominal obesity in women and men if included in a high-fat, low-carbohydrate, and low-protein diet. It appears that the fatty acids, specifically the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil, helps curb appetite and subsequent food intake as well. MCTs have also been found to improve energy expenditure and to help the body become more efficient at burning fat.

The MCTs in coconut oil encourage the increase of ketone body levels as well. Ketone bodies have been noted as a promising substitute energy substrate for the brain. It is crucial to note that the brain utilizes some amounts of glucose as “food” to function normally. But especially in individuals with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), the brain’s glucose metabolizing function is impaired, starving the organ of nourishment and subsequently resulting in typical AD symptoms like memory loss. Increasing ketone bodies by implementing an MCT-rich, low-carbohydrate, and low-protein diet has shown potential for treating cognitive disorders, as evidenced by studies published in 2004 and 2008.

Coconut oil appears to have heart-protective properties as well. Coconut oil’s phytosterols, polyphenols, and vitamin A and vitamin E have been found to be responsible for potent anti-oxidant activity by preventing the oxidation of LDL.

As a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent, coconut oil can be used as a topical beauty product. For instance, coconut oil can be applied directly onto the armpits to serve as a deodorant. It can be used as an all-around moisturizer to prevent skin chafing or to manage the skin condition called xerosis as well.

Coconut oil can be utilized as a mouthwash to treat halitosis and gingivitis, or just to improve or maintain overall oral health, too. It has been proven useful for preventing hair damage and so can be used as a pre-wash or post-wash hair grooming product as well.

My top tip for coconut oil: need a quick, satiating bedtime snack that doesn’t spike glucose and insulin levels? Just put a tablespoon of coconut oil onto a spoon, top it with a touch of almond or nut butter and lick this “fat bomb” off the spoon.

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coconut milk10. Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is the thick white liquid extracted from mature coconut meat. Known for its characteristic creamy texture and sweet taste, coconut milk has gained popularity as a wholesome, appetite-satiating drink among health enthusiasts and athletes alike.

Coconut milk and other products from coconut (like coconut oilhave long been villified for their high saturated fat content. While indeed true, it’s crucial to note, as I mentioned earlier in the section on coconut oil, that the type of fats present in majority in coconut milk and other coconut products are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), and not long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). Unlike the latter, MCTs have a simpler molecular structure, making them more soluble in water and easier to transport from the small intestines to the liver for conversion to ketones, which your muscles (and diaphragm, liver, heart and more) then utilize for energy. Because this is the case, your body’s energy expenditure is improved, and because the MCTs get pretty much used up, very little is left to deposit in fat tissues.

Just like coconut oil, coconut milk consumption may be beneficial for individuals with cognitive disorders as well, since providing the brain with an alternative energy substrate in the form of ketones has shown preventive and therapeutic effects.

One problem is that the majority of coconut milk brands are packaged in cans. These cans are lined with the synthetic compound bisphenol A (BPA) to prevent corrosion. BPA then leaches into the packaged food. The more acidic or fatty the packaged food (the latter being the case with coconut milk) the higher the levels of leached BPA.

It’s scary that 93% of US adults have been found to have measurable levels of BPA in the urine, since BPA has been associated with the development and subsequent worsening of hormone-dependent cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.

High urinary BPA levels in American adults have been consistently linked to peripheral arterial disease, too. Continued exposure may also lead to type 2 diabetes mellitus because of its capability to bring about insulin resistance. BPA is also associated with childhood obesity as well as early onset of menstruation in American girls.

So be sure to opt for coconut milk brands packaged in cartons or BPA free cans to minimize your exposure to BPA, or use a BPA-free canned variety. Alternatively, you can extract coconut milk from coconut flakes with the use of your trusty blender and some cheese cloth.

Also, coconut milk contains specific carbohydrates or sugars that may cause stomach upset. I’d advise individuals suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or fructose malabsorption and who follow a Low FODMAP Diet to steer clear of coconut milk consumption.

My top tip for coconut milk: I blend it with chocolate stevia, stir in unsweetened coconut flakes or shredded coconut, then freeze to make a low-sugar ice cream.

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chia seeds11. Chia Seeds

Fuzzy green novelty Chia Pets may be the first thing you think of when you hear the word chia, but these tiny superfood seeds are the reason Chia Pets get their lush coating. Nowadays, chia is becoming better known as a great source of healthy omega-3 fats and fiber, and fortunately, it’s an easy food to add to your diet.

Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family that’s native to Mexico and Guatemala, and history suggests it was a very important food crop for the Aztecs. Chia remained in regular use in its native countries, but was largely unknown in North America until researcher Wayne Coates began studying chia as an alternative crop for farmers in northern Argentina nearly three decades ago.

Human trials on chia are limited, but the anecdotal evidence of chia’s positive health effects include boosting energy, stabilizing blood sugar, aiding digestion, and lowering cholesterol. The tiny seed, which comes in either white or a dark brown and black color, also has a powerful nutritional profile. It contains calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, and is a great source of healthy omega-3 fats. As an added benefit, chia seeds can be eaten whole or milled, while flax seeds have to be ground before consumption in order to access their health benefits.

Chia is being studied as a potential natural treatment for type-2 diabetes because of its ability to slow down digestion, probably due to the gelatinous coating chia seeds develops when exposed to liquids, and the ability of this gel to help prevent blood sugar spikes. Chia’s stabilizing effect on blood sugar also fights insulin resistance, which can be tied to an increase in belly fat

Just a 28-gram or one-ounce serving of chia has 11 grams of dietary fiber – about a third of the recommended daily intake for adults. Adding some chia to your diet is an easy way to make sure you’re getting a good amount of fiber, which is important for digestive health.

Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, with nearly five grams in a one-ounce serving. These fats are important for brain health. With chia seeds, there’s a little better conversion of omega-3 fatty acids into the plasma or into the food than with flax seed.

A serving of chia seeds has 18% of the recommended daily intake for calcium, which puts your well on your way to maintaining bone and oral health, and preventing osteoporosis. 

Manganese isn’t a well-known nutrient, but it’s important for your health: it’s good for your bones and helps your body use other essential nutrients like biotin and thiamin. One serving of chia seeds, or 28 grams, has 30% of your recommended intake of this mineral. With 27% of your daily value for phosphorus, chia seeds also helps you maintain healthy bones and teeth. Phosphorus is also used by the body to synthesize protein for cell and tissue growth and repair.

Chia seeds also make a great source of protein for vegans and vegetarians. One 28-gram serving of these super seeds has 4.4 grams of protein, nearly 10 per cent of the daily value. Tryptophan, one amino acid found in turkey, is also found in chia seeds. While tryptophan is blamed for that strong urge to nap after a big Thanksgiving dinner, it also helps regulate appetite, sleep and improve mood.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, chia seeds have been shown to improve blood pressure in diabetics, and may also increase healthy cholesterol while improving your triglyceride to LDL cholesterol ratio…all good news for your ticker!

When you’re buying chia, both the white and black seeds are good choices, but be sure you’re getting a good quality product by avoiding red seeds (immature chia seeds), or black seeds that are smaller than regular chia seeds (these are called “weed seeds”).

You can add chia seeds to everything and anything. The seeds are relatively tasteless so they won’t significantly affect the flavor profile of your food. They can be sprinkled whole on top of salads or toast or added milled to smoothies, and you can even sprout and eat them that way too!)

My top tip for chia seeds: put 3-4 tablespoons in an 8oz glass of water, soak for 1-10 hours in the refigerator.

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quinoa, amaranth and millet12. Quinoa, Amaranth & Millet

While these three grasses and grains are known for having an almost complete array of proteins, a fact that sets them apart from other more common grains, they also provide a host other nutrients and benefits.

Manganese is one mineral that these three grains all contain in relatively high amounts.The body may need only trace amounts of this mineral but it plays several important roles. As support against oxidative stress, it’s one of the substances that compose the antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD). In the area of physical growth, it’s needed in the production of connective tissues and bones. Other roles include normal nerve function and fat and carbohydrate metabolism. One cup of cooked millet can supply about 23% of the body’s daily need for this nutrient. Quinoa is even higher with a 58% daily value. The really abundant source is amaranth, providing more than a 100% per serving.

As whole grains, quinoa, amaranth and millet are naturally rich in dietary fiber. In 100 grams of either quinoa or amaranth, there are 7 grams of fiber available. Millet is a bit more variable and depends on the type. Barnyard millet seems to be highest, with 10 grams fiber for every 100 grams of millet. Whole grains, including these three, are typically considered as heart-protective because of the significant presence of soluble fiber in them. This is the kind of dietary fiber that can regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol, and packs way, way less of a sugar-spiking wallop compared to something like whole wheat bread or pasta.

Sprouting is a highly recommended preparation for grains and legumes, including these three. The process of germination at the initial stages of sprouting is able to reduce the amount of antinutrients inherent in these types of grains and grasses and thus improve their nutritional profile. Sprouts have more of many vitamins compared to seeds, and minerals become more bioavailable too.

Soaking grains such as organic quinoa, amaranth or millet is a middle ground, a compromise between sprouting and cooking the grains unprepared. Soaking is less effective in making the grains more nutritious and safer but at least you don’t have to plan your meal days in advance (depending on the grain and other environmental factors, sprouting can take more than 24 hours) Then, there’s the periodic draining and rinsing involved with sprouting. Yeah, it can be a little bit of a pain.

Soaked grains are still nutritious but they don’t have all the advantages of sprouts. However, soaking mitigates (but to a lesser degree than sprouting) some inherent substances in grains that prevent the body from fully absorbing nutrients or are potentially harmful. Lectins are on example. Lectins are found everywhere in various forms: plants, animals and the human body. In plants, they’re found in significant amounts in the seeds or grains and serve the purpose of keeping them intact even when consumed by animals. The danger to the human digestive system lies in the fact that lectin can irritate the intestinal lining and hinder the natural repair mechanism of the gut mucosal cells.

The negative effects of lectins can range from irritable bowels to a full-on autoimmune response that results in brain fog and organ damage. For some individuals who are highly sensitive to grains and the lectins they contain, soaking them might not be a good enough safety measure compared to sprouting.

After soaking and rinsing, (and if desired, sprouting) properly cooking organic quinoa, amaranth or millet can further reduce the harmful substances in them. To make things more convenient, you can always use a rice cooker, but just make sure you use the appropriate water-to-grain ratio, with 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa, 2 – 3 cups water to 1 cup amaranth and 2 cups water to 1 cup millet.

My top tip for quinoa, amaranth and millet: in South Asian cuisine, millet is often ground to flour and used to make several types of flatbread, a staple in that region. To turn soaked millet grains (quinoa and amaranth work for this too) into flour, you need to dry them. Just stick them into a dehydrator or in the oven after rinsing them from the soak. Once dry, ground the dried grains into a fine powder through a coffee grinder or food processor. From there, you can proceed to make bread, waffles, pancakes or any other relatively gluten-free but nutrient-dense and protein-packed baked or grilled goodie. 

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sushi rice13. Sushi Rice

The short-grain rice used to make sushi is of course called sushi rice and sometimes also called Pearl rice, Glutinous rice or Japanese rice. It is available now in many markets, not just Asian grocers. Only sushi rice has the right balance of starches (amylose and amylopectin) to allow the rice to stick together and keep the final product intact from plate to mouth. Try to eat medium or long-grain rice with chopsticks and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

I’ll admit that brown rice, wild rice, black rice, etc. can be more nutrient dense, but sushi rice just burns very, very clean and is tolerated by most people’s guts. When first picked, all rice is brown. Then, following the removal of the outer husk and the top germ layer of the grain, rice becomes white. The grains are then polished before they are packaged and sold as white rice. Brown rice has had the husk removed but retains its germ, which is the nutrient-rich layer that white rice has had “scrubbed off”. Wild rice grains are kept in their entirety, with both the germ and the husk intact.

For sushi rice, it is best to use the instructions on the package of rice when cooking it, but generally you use equal parts rice and water. Prior to cooking, the rice should be rinsed in cold water until the water runs clear, a step now becoming less necessary as talc (used to prevent the rice from absorbing water and sticking together during storage) is slowly being replaced with another type of starch, which is fine to cook with. But you never know and the package often won’t tell you what the company used as a coating. Remember that one cup of uncooked rice will yield approximately two cups of cooked rice. Store your sushi rice at room temperature covered with a damp towel. This will keep it from drying out.

Exercise physiologist and Feed Zone Portables author Allen Lim swears by a rice very much like sushi rice as clean-burning source of fuel for athletes, and you can check out a few of his go-to recipes in my article “What To Eat Before, During & After Workouts“. In their books and videos, Allen Lim and his co-author Biju Thomas actually use “Calrose” rice. It is a medium grain, only a little longer than a true sushi rice, but plenty sticky. It’s also cheaper and widely available, and what you usually get in Japanese restaurants (the brands Nishiki and Botan are easy to find in any grocery store and make great rice cakes and onigiri, or Japanese rice balls). Take a handful of rice, put a dab of miso or umeboshi plum paste in the center and wrap with nori. Stuff ’em in your jersey pockets and train hard!

My top tip for sushi rice: I make “lazy sushi” by preparing my sushi rice per package instructions, cooling, then wrapping in a nori wrap with a few sliced avocados and sardines.

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cacao nibs14. Cacao Nibs

The cacao tree produces seeds that can be dried, dehulled, roasted and minimally processed into what is essentially raw chocolate, AKA, raw cacao nibs. The nibs can be used to produce different grades of commercial chocolate, and they are often used as snacks. They are slightly bitter and may be sweetened with honey or used in baked goods. Cacao nibs and the dark grades of chocolate they produce can provide important benefits to your intestinal regularity, heart and blood vessels and blood sugar level.

For example, cacao may help to keep your bowel movements regular. A single ounce serving of raw cacao nibs contains 36 percent of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber, or 9 grams. Adding as little as 6.6 grams of cacao fiber per day to your diet may improve your bowel habits, according to a clinical study appearing in “Nutrition and Metabolism.” Subjects in this study were given cocoa powder supplemented with high-fiber cocoa bran in a semi-skimmed milk drink twice daily for two four-week periods, separated by a three-week period in which cocoa was not consumed. The frequency of bowel movements increased and feelings of constipation decreased during the periods when cocoa powder was consumed.

Cacao nibs appear to be heart-healthy as well. One of the main health benefits of cacao is for the arteries in your heart and brain. Eating cacao foods such as chocolate several times per day may decrease your likelihood of having a stroke or heart attack, according to clinical studies published in the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology” and the “Journal of Internal Medicine.” In both studies, the frequency of stroke and heart attack in human subjects declined with an increase in chocolate intake.

Many of the health benefits, including cardiovascular benefits, of cacao nibs are believed to be due to compounds called polyphenols. The cacao polyphenols are made of 37 percent catechins, 4 percent anthocyanins and 58 percent proanthocyanidins. Cacao polyphenols may improve the health of your heart and brain arteries by serving as antioxidants and inhibiting blood platelets from forming a clot. If your blood cholesterol is somewhat elevated, cacao polyphenols may also lower your low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol, and raise your high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol levels.

The fiber and polyphenols in cacao may work together to help control your blood pressure and blood glucose levels.  Blood pressure and blood glucose have been shown to be lowered by a cocoa-fiber-rich product providing 12 grams of dietary fiber and 283 milligrams of polyphenols per day during the eight-week study period. At least part of the beneficial effect of cacao on your blood sugar level may be due to slowing of starch digestive enzymes by polyphenol procyanidins in your small intestine.

My top tip for cacao nibs: after you finish making a smoothie, sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of these on top for a satisfying, nourishing crunch.

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sardines15. Sardines & Anchovies

When thinking of sardines or anchovies, you’re likely to picture small fish packed in a can or bottle. It’s said that sardines were actually the first type of fish to be canned. This happened in France during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. It was also during this period that the canning process was first developed as a food security solution for both the military and the general populace.

But these types of fish have long been part of the human diet, even before the advent of canning or bottling. During the time of the Roman Empire, for example, citizens enjoyed a kind of fermented fish sauce made from anchovies called garum. This is not really surprising, as fish in general are an cheap and readily attainable source of fatty-acid rich protein (as opposed to the type of protein that makes me cringe when I hear recommended by fitness professionals: “lean proteins”). A 1 ounce serving of sardines (around 2-3 small pieces) provides almost 7 grams of protein. This is actually comparable to a similar serving of beef steak. Tryptophan is one of the more abundant essential amino acids found in sardines. Your body needs this substance to synthesize serotonin, a neurotransmitter substance that regulates sleep and mood.

Compared to sardines, the same serving amount of anchovies contains even a little more protein at about 8 grams of protein. Besides also having lots of tryptophan, anchovies are also an excellent supply of glutamic acid, a non-essential amino acid. The body uses this to create what are known as glutamates, a class of neurotransmitter compounds that play a very crucial role in cognitive functions such as learning and memory.

Sardines and anchovies are commonly canned or bottled. Avoid eating versions that are contaminated with bisphenol A (BPA) which is present in many canned goods, as it is one of the compounds used to make the inner resin lining of cans. You should also avoid the added sodium and other artificial preservatives that come with canned fish products that use brine or tomato sauce.

Canned sardines and anchovies are pre-cooked and ready to eat. This makes them an easy ingredient for salads or sauces. For salads, just add and toss the fish along with the fresh vegetables and spices. Vinaigrette is probably one of the more compatible dressings you can use for such a salad dish. For sauces, you can simply ground the sardines or anchovies into a sauce while it’s simmering on the stove, or add the fish afterwards whole.

My top tip for sardines and anchovies: easy. When I need protein on my lunchtime salad, about 95% of the time I’m grabbing a can of fish and dumping it over a bed of vegetables, often using a nori wrap like a burrito to shove the veggies and fish into my gaping maw.

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Turmeric16. Turmeric

Turmeric is a rhizome. That means the part of the plant we mainly consume are its rootstocks, so some big ol’ ugly roots of turmeric have a place in my pantry, along with powdered orange turmeric.

Turmeric is really a type of ginger. The roots of turmeric, however, are more elongated and the color can range from yellow to deep yellow-orange. The plant is native to the South Asian region and thrives only in tropical climates with a lot of rainfall.

Those who like curry have no doubt tasted this spice as it is a main ingredient in most curry mixes. As I mentioned in my article on CBD oil, turmeric also has significant medicinal value, as it has long been utilized in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.

Most studies attribute the spice’s medicinal value to the active component curcumin, which is the major phytochemical compound in turmeric. This substance also gives turmeric its particular yellowish color.

Research has shown that turmeric as an anti-inflammatory can be almost as effective as pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories. But the spice has the added advantage of not producing any toxic effects like NSAID’s and other drugs. It can alleviate bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis, and researchers think that this is because curcumin can inhibit inflammatory agents in cells.

Turmeric has also been found to help reduce joint pains such as those caused by rheumatoid arthritis. This is due to turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics. Antioxidant substances can capture free radicals in the body, and inhibit cell damage, pain and inflammation, including that associated with arthritis.

The list of turmeric benefits goes on. Turmeric can also increase some detoxifying enzymes in the liver and enhance detox pathways in this organ. It can prevent cholesterol from oxidizing and as a result reduce plaque build-up in veins and arteries. It can correct the genetic defects that causes cystic fibrosis. It can inhibit the mechanism in genes that triggers the growth of cancer cells. There are studies that show curcumin combined with the phytochemical quercetin from onions can be effective against colon cancer. While in combination with phenethyl isothiocyanates, another type of plant substance abundant in cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, curcumin can stop prostate cancer cells from growing.

But setting aside its medicinal value, turmeric is a nutritious root too. Vitamin B6, potassium, fiber, manganese, and iron are some of the nutrients you can acquire from this root.

There are actually curcumin capsules available which you can take as concentrated supplements in order to take advantage of turmeric’s  health benefits. But if you have an adventurous or curious palate, you should also turmeric powder or fresh rootstocks of the spice. Here are just a few ways to prepare turmeric:

-Chop the rootstocks just like ginger and add it to stir fry, soup or salad dishes.

-Also, just like ginger, you can run fresh turmeric through a juicer and get a concentrate. Use this juice to cook an Asian rice recipe like java rice or knock it back like a tonic drink. If the latter, mix in some raw honey and lemon juice, because it really has a strong taste.

-Make your own stock by boiling, drying and then finally grinding fresh turmeric. From there you can concoct your own curry mixes or use it in any curry-based recipe.

-Mix the ground or powdered form in virgin coconut oil to make a paste. This can then be topically applied to areas with inflammation.

One thing to keep in mind when dealing with fresh turmeric is that the juice can quickly stain surfaces and it gets quite sticky as it dries. Turmeric is in fact also used as textile dye. So quickly wash any kitchen utensils with water and detergent if you don’t want them to have yellow colored spots and smudges, and careful not to get this stuff on your clothes.

My top tip for turmeric: for a muscle anti-inflammatory and general health tonic, juice turmeric with lemon, ginger, and carrots, then add to the finished juice a splash of olive oil and sea salt. Add stevia to take some of the bite away, and add garlic too if you’re brave.

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ginger17. Ginger

As I mentioned in the section on turmeric, ginger has been traditionally used for its anti-inflammatory properties. Many studies have looked into it and reveal how certain compounds found in the spice are able to do this.

For example, gingerol is the main volatile oil that gives fresh ginger its pungent aroma and spicy flavor. This substance makes ginger an effective anti-inflammatory because it can stop the formation of nitric oxide into peroxynitrite which is a harmful free radical.

Another pain-relieving action that ginger provides is to inhibit inflammatory substances internally produced by your body, specifically cytokines and chemokines made by the cells in the joints and joint cartilage. So ginger can successfully alleviate much of the pain that comes with arthritis and other types of muscle pain and soreness.

Other studies on gingerol have also identified antipyretic (fever reducing) and antibacterial qualities. One exceptional research on cancer has shown the volatile ginger oil to be able to wipe out ovarian cancer cells, and these cancer cells went into cell death when exposed to ginger extract. Tumors associated with colorectal cancer are another set of cells that ginger was able to successfully eradicate.

Ginger is also commonly known to prevent nausea, vomiting and dizziness. It is in fact often used as herbal remedy for morning sickness by pregnant women and by those who are susceptible to motion sickness. Similarly, gastrointestinal relief is an additional benefit to taking some ginger. The spice is said to stimulate the production of saliva, which facilitates easier swallowing. The digestion process is improved because the spice enhances gut motility in a process called peristalsis. So ginger doesn’t just calm down a stressed stomach and alleviate indigestion but it can also treat constipation.

To get your ginger, you can turn to conveniently prepared ginger powder or to raw ginger. The former tends to have a stronger aroma and taste because drying and heat converts the gingerol into another volatile compound called shogaol. Which of the two common forms of the spice you use depends on how you plan to use your ginger.

For medicinal purposes, fresh raw ginger will likely give you the most benefit.  The simplest preparation is turn it into tea or juice. To do this, peel the skin off the ginger root, cut thin slices, and boil in water to make ginger tea. Then run the peeled root, cut into appropriate sizes, through a juicer to make ginger juice. You can drink the juice (or ginger tea) after meals, or take the juice after a particularly grueling exercise to ease some of the joint and muscle pain.

Here are other ways to prepare ginger:

Ginger herbal tincture – Soak ½ cup of chopped fresh ginger in 1 cup of vodka for two weeks. Use a tightly sealed glass jar. After the 2-week period, strain the ginger and store the remaining tincture. Just a few drops in water will do for therapeutic relief.

Powdered ginger – After peeling the fresh root use a grater to cut it into small thin pieces. Place these on a baking sheet lined with wax paper on the bottom then cover up the pieces with more wax paper to keep it from getting contaminated. Let the grated ginger dry up on its own in a cool and clean area of the kitchen. Once dry, run the pieces through a coffee grinder.

My top tip for ginger: lazy man’s ginger tea for everything from nausea to muscle pain – just chop up a crap-load of ginger, put in a pot, bring to a boil, then let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

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olive oil18. Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the most versatile oils because of its function as food, beauty aid, as well as home remedy for a host of physical maladies. Olive oil used to mostly come from Mediterranean Europe. However, even the United States now has its own olive oil production (but you gotta be careful with some hoaxes behind that).

Olive oil has long been known as a potent antioxidant, and that’s not just because of its high vitamin E content. As it turns out, olive oil’s polyphenols protect against oxidative damage, and olive oil appears to be effective at guarding against stroke and heart disease as well. A diet rich in olive oil has been found to help promote healthier blood pressure in men. Olive oil also protects the heart from metabolic changes brought about by obesity, according to one animal study.

Olive oil may be a suitable cancer-preventive food as well. In one Belgian study, it was found that those with moderate to significant intake of olive oil had lesser odds of developing bladder cancer, compared to those whose source of dietary fats were primarily comprised of animal products.

Olive oil has been proven effective at managing weight too. In a study published on the Journal of Women’s Health, overweight breast cancer survivors were made to follow a standard lower-fat diet and then also a diet rich in olive oil. Results showed greater and more sustainable weight loss in the olive oil-rich diet compared to the traditional lower-fat diet, signifying a promising weight management potential from consuming this fat.

Olive oil, much like coconut oil, appears to also have a profound effect on cognition. In a French study, elderly subjects who were given moderate to significant amounts of olive oil, and during the entire course of the research showed improved visual memory as well as verbal fluency. Further studies have to be conducted, though it’s great to know that olive oil may just be a healthy preventive and possibly therapeutic alternative to addressing the cognitive deficit and decline characteristic of Alzheimer’s.

As one of the most versatile oils out there, it comes as no surprise how olive oil can have so many uses. It is of course a popular ingredient in salad dressings. Homemade pizzas can be made healthier by substituting the usual oil you use to grease the pizza pan with olive oil instead. You can also add olive oil to smoothies or vegetable juices for a healthy fat addition to your drink.

Olive oil as a beauty aid has manifold applications as well. You can dab a few drops directly to your skin for a chemical-free moisturizer. You can concoct your own lip gloss by combining organic beeswax with olive oil as well. Olive oil can treat gingivitis and halitosis or be used as an agent for maintaining oral health by using olive oil daily for oil pulling. It can also be used as a base or carrier oil for any essential oils you use for therapeutic massages.

My top tip for olive oil: when I’m traveling and don’t want to use the nasty hotel lotion, I call down to the hotel restaurant and have them deliver olive oil to my room (make sure it’s extra virgin). I then smear it on my face as a moisturizer during the rest of my travels.

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stevia19. Stevia

The stevia plant is a shrub, and there are actually more than 200 species of it. The particular one that’s frequently utilized as a sweetener is Stevia rebaudiana. Not surprisingly, some common names for this species of stevia are sweetleaf and sugarleaf.

Stevia leaves have been used as both food and medicine by indigenous peoples in South America for around more than a millennia. The Western world first encountered it in the 16th century through Spanish physician Pedro Jaime Esteve (the genus Stevia was in fact derived from the Latinized form of his surname).

Setting aside the phytonutrients that naturally come from any food or root taken from a plant, the one very apparent quality of stevia is that it has all the sugary goodness you may desire, but none of the health risks of elevated blood sugar.

The fresh whole leaves of this plant are 10 to 15 times sweeter than ordinary table sugar. This is also true for herbal powdered stevia, which is the most commercially available form. If that isn’t enough sweetness for you, the refined and concentrated extracts can actually be up to 300 times sweeter. But despite it’s exceptional sweetness, stevia has very little effect on blood glucose levels. So this plant is probably the best news any diabetic or anyone on a low-carbohydrate diet can receive.

Steviol glycosides are the sugar compounds found in stevia leaves. The two major types identified are stevioside and rebaudioside A. Studies on these compounds have shown that it is the latter type that is sweeter and exhibits less of this plant’s characteristic bitter aftertaste (the aftertaste is comparable to that of licorice and because of genetics, tends to be more noticed by some people, usually people who don’t like the taste of stevia for this reason).

Studies have also revealed that stevia adds zero calories, but doesn’t cause digestive problems like other artificial sweeteners such as sugar alcohols. The metabolic byproduct steviol passes through your system completely undigested, without leaving any toxic residues in the kidneys or liver.

If you’re gifted with a green thumb, you can simply purchase stevia seeds and start growing them in the garden. You can then cut leaves as needed and put them in teas and other beverages for flavoring. With a thriving stevia shrub in your yard, you can go further and harvest more leaves to make your own supply of stevia herbal powder. You can either sun-dry them for around 12 hours or use a small home dehydrator. Then the dried leaves can be ground either with mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder.

There is also a way to make home-made liquid stevia extract. Allow a portion of fresh crushed leaves to soak in water or in pure USP grain alcohol for 24 hours. Afterwards, simply filter the leaves out of the liquid and use that resulting syrup as a sweetener. The alcohol method is able to extract more of the glycosides, but to remove the alcoholic taste the liquid extract will have to be slowly heated (do not boil) until most of the alcohol evaporates.

Stevia can basically be used as a substitute for most recipes that use sugar. Just be aware of the extreme sweetness of stevia. A single tablespoon of powdered stevia is more or less equivalent to a cup of ordinary table sugar. Another thing to note is that this sweetener doesn’t caramelize, so it won’t work for recipes that call for such an effect.

My top tip for stevia: I make my kids lemonade by adding a squeeze of half a fresh lemon, a pinch of sea salt and a touch of stevia to a glass of ice water. They dig this (and so do I) on a hot summer day.

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More Tips On How To Use All This Stuff

Now I realize that this list is by no means “comprehensive”, but if you were to go out and at least get the 19 items listed above into your pantry, and then supplement those foods with some healthy, organic meat and some fresh plant matter, herbs and vegetables, you’ll have a cooking and meal prep arsenal that is more rock solid than 99% of the population in this country, guaranteed.

If you want to see how I actually craft many of these foods and ingredients into actual meals, you should take a look at my article 40 Easy Meals For Busy Athletes: How To Fuel Your Body With The Thousands Of Calories Necessary For Endurance and Extreme Exercise Without Completely Destroying Your Metabolism, or go delve into the BenGreenfieldFitness Inner Circle, in which my wife and I share many more family recipes and go-to meals (and also check out the free cookbook I’m giving you at the end of this article).

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How To Get Healthy Pantry Items Cheap

OK, now let’s jump into the part where you save boatloads of money on all this stuff, and many other natural, healthy products (yes, if you really don’t want to step outside your house, Amazon Prime works for some of the fresh stuff like sweet potatoes and avocadoes, but for the packaged stuff, even Amazon is far less comprehensive and affordable than what I’m about to show to you).

It’s called “Thrive Market“.

Growing up with a single mom and seeing how hard she worked to make healthy choices, my friend Gunnar Lovelace vowed to find a way to make wholesome food affordable. So when when his mother remarried a man who ran a health food buying club from an organic farm in Ojai, California, he saw a way forward: a modern, online version of a health-food co-op. And this is where the idea for Thrive Market was born.

Thrive Market is a socially conscious (more details on that in a moment) online marketplace that gives you access to over 4000 organic, non-toxic and natural products ranging from food, to supplements, to home cleaning and laundry supplies, to bath and beauty products, all at 25%-50% off the regular retail prices you’d find elsewhere.

As my friend and Paleo author Robb Wolf  says…

… “if Costco and Wholefoods got all liquored up at a rave and had a kid, it would look a lot like Thrive Market.

Or as Chris Kresser says…

….”think Whole Foods products at Costco prices, with the convenience of Amazon“.

Shopping at Thrive is not only cheaper than fancy upscale markets like Whole Foods, but it often matches or even beats prices at discount online retailers like Amazon and Vitacost. Check out this comparison chart:

comparison chart

So not only are the Thrive Market products cheaper, but if you’re stuck in an urban oasis, working in a big city, or don’t have access to fresh food from a garden or farmer’s market, you don’t need to spend gas, time and money to hunt down quality ingredients.

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How Thrive Works

Here’s how Thrive works: you sign up for a membership that is less than $5/month ($59.95 annually) and you can then can shop the thousands of products offered at Thrive, place an order, and receive that order right to your front door. Orders larger than $49 receive completely free shipping. Currently that free shipping applies only to the continental US, but Thrive is now working on adding international orders too.

If you’re not sure if this type of online healthy food ordering platform is for you, no problem. Thrive offers a one-month trial membership for those interested in experiencing the ease of healthy shopping before making a monthly commitment.

But the beauty of Thrive doesn’t stop there, especially if you’re a socially conscious, sustainably-minded, dirt-worshipping healthy hippie.

First, every paid membership to Thrive is matched with a free membership for a low income American family. That means your neighbor down the street who you know needs healthy food but simply can’t afford it now has an outlet to be able to conveniently get it. Getting low income families access to discounted healthy food and natural products is going to be a huge game-changer for reversing chronic disease and obesity in our country and beyond.

Second, Thrive Market is a 100% environmentally responsible and sustainable business. All their packaging, boxes, and inserts are made from recycled paper and are recyclable. They are also committed to supporting other sustainable businesses by working with eco-friendly vendors and suppliers who share their values. They are 100% carbon neutral through carbonfund.org. I have even spoken on the phone with Gunnar in detail about Thrive, and gone so far as to invest my own money in the company because what he’s doing is so darn impressive.

Third, the CDC estimates that over 90 percent of chronic disease is caused by diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors. This means that eating fresh, organic, nutrient-dense food and using green, non-toxic cleaning and personal care products is absolutely crucial for maintaining your health, maximizing your physical and mental performance, and extending your lifespan.

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How To Get A $1000 Healthy Pantry Shopping Spree

So here’s the deal: from June 15 to June 21 (that’s this Monday through Sunday), Thrive Market is generously giving away a Grand Prize of $1000 of cold, hard cash to spend at Thrive, along with twenty place prizes of a 1 year membership ($59.95 value) to Thrive. All you need to do is click here anytime between now and June 21 at midnight to check out Thrive and get in on the giveaways.

The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm PST on June 21, so don’t miss out!

And if you really are keen on this whole “stocking a healthy pantry” thing, you’re going to find that you save more in your first, single purchase than the cost of an entire year’s membership to Thrive.

In the meantime, thanks for reading, leave your questions, comments and feedback below, and click here to check out Thrive Market as a convenient, trustworthy one-stop shop to stock your healthy pantry.

Dark & Dirty Secrets Of The Wine Industry, Four Ways To Make Wine Healthier, and What Kind Of Wine Fit People Should Drink.

sulfites

I’m a big wine guy.

I’ve actually discussed this habit before on podcasts, but nearly seven days a week I finish up my afternoon or early evening workout with a glass of red wine.

Why?

Three main reasons, really.

First, I love the taste of wine, but I’m also well aware that alcoholic drinks and the fructose and other sugars therein can make you fat if you consume them in a fed state, so I instead consume my daily glass of wine in a “fasted” state post-workout (vs., say, having a big glass of wine during dinner or after stuffing my face with dinner). In this post-workout situation, the fructose sugars in the wine simply help to replenish my liver glycogen stores (muscles do not contain the enzyme to store fructose as glycogen, but the liver does), and the glucose and sucrose sugars are far less likely to spend significant amounts of time in my blood stream. You can read up more on sugar content of wine here. Finding out how much sugar you’re consuming is hard to tell, since most countries don’t indicate sugar content on the label, but here’s a basic breakdown of wine types and how much sugar they contain:

Dry: 4 grams per liter.
Medium dry: 4-12 grams of sugar per liter – or about 0.5 to 2 grams per glass.
Sweet: More than 45 grams of sugar per liter – or about 6 grams per glass or more.

Second, wine is actually only “heart healthy” if combined with physical activity. In a study called In Vino Veritas (In Wine, Truth), researchers introduced wine into people’s lives and tracked the effects on their bodies. By itself, drinking wine did not significantly affect cholesterol, blood glucose, triglycerides, or levels of inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein. But among those who worked out twice per week and also drank wine, there was significant improvement in health variables after a year of wine consumption, no matter whether it was red or white.

And third, I’ll readily admit that post-workout with an empty stomach, I’m a complete cheap date. That single glass of wine serves to spin a few dials in my brain, chill me out, and serve as a relaxing way to end a day’s hard work.

So yeah, I drink wine and I drink my fair share. But before you rush out to buy that fancy Bordeaux or the cheapo box of Franzia, you should know a few very important things about wine, including some dark and dirty secrets of the wine industry, four ways to ensure the healthy habit of regular wine consumption doesn’t elevate your body fat or destroy your metabolism, and the kind of wine fit and healthy people should be drinking.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

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Why You Should Choose Your Wine Carefully

You may have seen last month’s headlines including “California Winemakers Sued Over High Levels of Arsenic in Wines” and “Bad News for Those of You Who, Like Us, Drank Cheap Wine Each and Every Night of Your 20s”.

Basically, a class action lawsuit that was filed in California against some of the country’s top winemakers over the high levels of arsenic in wine. The lawsuit claims that some of the most popular wines have “up to four and five times the maximum amount of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows for drinking water.”

The fact is, there are basically no federal requirements to tell you what’s really in the wine you’re drinking, and one big reason for this is that the wine lobby is constantly fighting government action to require alcohol companies to label what’s in their wine. But in this recent arsenic wine scandal, a Denver laboratory called BeverageGrades started running tests to uncover the calorie counts in bottles of wine.

While the tests were simply setup to investigate calorie count, the actual results of the tests on 1,300 bottles of wine were a bit shocking.  Nearly a quarter of the bottles had levels of arsenic higher than the EPA’s maximum for drinking water. The lower the price of the wine, the higher the levels of arsenic were. For example, Trader Joe’s famous Two-Buck Chuck wine had three times the EPA’s limit, and that affordable box of Franzia Blush wine had five times the limit. The lawsuit alleges that the contaminated wines are cheaper because their producers don’t implement the proper methods and processes to reduce inorganic arsenic.

Since arsenic is highly toxic even at a parts per billion level, this is pretty disturbing. Some of the wines contained levels of arsenic up to 500% or more than what is what is considered the maximum acceptable safe daily intake limit. Put differently, this means that just a glass or two of an arsenic-contaminated wine a day over time could result in dangerous arsenic toxicity.

Curious if you’re drinking any of these arsenic contaminated beverages? Here’s a list of the wines that are included in the lawsuit:

Acronym GR8RW Red Blend 2011
Almaden Heritage White Zinfandel
Almaden Heritage Moscato
Almaden Heritage White Zinfandel
Almaden Heritage Chardonnay
Almaden Mountain Burgundy
Almaden Mountain Rhine
Almaden Mountain Chablis
Arrow Creek Coastal Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Bandit Pinot Grigio
Bandit Chardonnay
Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon
Bay Bridge Chardonnay
Beringer White Merlot 2011
Beringer White Zinfandel 2011
Beringer Red Moscato
Beringer Refreshingly Sweet Moscato
Charles Shaw White Zinfandel 2012
Colores del Sol Malbec 2010
Glen Ellen by Concannon’s Glen Ellen Reserve Pinot Grigio 2012
Concannon Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir 2011
Glen Ellen by Concannon’s Glen Ellen Reserve Merlot 2010
Cook Spumante
Corbett Canyon Pinot Grigio
Corbett Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon
Cupcake Malbec 2011
Fetzer Moscato 2010
Fetzer Pinot Grigio 2011
Fisheye Pinot Grigio 2012
Flipflop Pinot Grigio 2012
Flipflop Moscato
Flipflop Cabernet Sauvignon
Foxhorn White Zinfandel
Franzia Vintner Select White Grenache
Franzia Vintner Select White Zinfandel
Franzia Vintner Select White Merlot
Franzia Vintner Select Burgundy
Hawkstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
HRM Rex Goliath’s Moscato
Korbel Sweet Rose Sparkling Wine
Korbel Extra Dry Sparkling Wine
Menage a Trois Pinot Grigio 2011
Menage a Trois Moscato 2010
Menage a Trois White Blend 2011
Menage a Trois Chardonnay 2011
Menage a Trois Rose 2011
Menage a Trois Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Menage a Trois California Red Wine 2011
Mogen David Concord
Mogen David Blackberry Wine
Oak Leaf White Zinfandel
Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc 2011
R Collection by Raymond’s Chardonnay 2012
Richards Wild Irish Rose Red Wine
Seaglass Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Simply Naked Moscato 2011
Smoking Loon Viognier 2011
Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Sutter Home Gewurztraminer 2011
Sutter Home Pink Moscato
Sutter Home Pinot Grigio 2011
Sutter Home Moscato
Sutter Home Chenin Blanc 2011
Sutter Home Sweet Red 2010
Sutter Home Riesling 2011
Sutter Home White Merlot 2011
Sutter Home Merlot 2011
Sutter Home White Zinfandel 2011
Sutter Home White Zinfandel 2012
Sutter Home Zinfandel 2010
Trapiche Malbec 2012
Tribuno Sweet Vermouth
Vendange Merlot
Vendange White Zinfandel
Wine Cube Moscato
Wine Cube Pink Moscato 2011
Wine Cube Pinot Grigio 2011
Wine Cube Pinot Grigio
Wine Cube Chardonnay 2011
Wine Cube Chardonnay
Wine Cube Red Sangria
Wine Cube Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Wine Cube Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2011

If any of these look familiar as staples in your pantry or cellar, I’d go ahead and gift them to someone you don’t like.

But the problems with wine don’t stop with arsenic.

For example, the article “Why You Shouldn’t Drink Cheap Wine” was written in response to an article on Slate arguing in favor of not being one of those “expensive wine snobs”. Here’s a very interesting anecdote from the Cheap Wine article:

“…I too am disgusted by the salesperson who steers you towards a $30 bottle when a $10 bottle of Cabernet would suffice, and I am still slightly intimidated by the salesperson who suggests three wines that are all in the $20 plus price range when I really just want a glass of wine not an education. But I refuse to fill my store with wines based on price alone.

Wine is an agricultural product and just like carrots, milk, or meat, it costs money to grow grapes, especially if you are interested in growing your grapes organically or even sustainably. To paraphrase Michael Pollan; if you are concerned about the environment, or the workers health, or your own, you should be drinking wine made by winemakers, not corporations.

When you see a $4 bottle of wine at Trader Joe’s or Costco, think about it for a minute. Is it really possible to grow grapes, ferment them, bottle them – often in glass bottles with corks – ship them to various parts of the world, and then have them retail for $4? Yes, if you are spraying your vines with chemicals, yes, if you are underpaying your vineyard workers, and yes, if you are unconcerned about the end product and only concerned about your bottom line.

Wine is a luxury item, as much as I hate to remind you of that fact, and as such I think you should be interested in buying the best possible luxury item. We buy organic cotton t-shirts, organic chocolate bars, locally grown apples and meat with a verifiable chain of production, not to mention Heritage Turkeys and glass baby bottles, so why should you buy crap mass produced wine? So, yes you are often shown bottles of wine that are almost $15 when you are shopping at Vine, and yes, I don’t blame you if you cannot stomach spending more than $8 per bottle , if I am invited to your house for dinner I will in no way judge you. Instead, I will either bring my own wine to share with you, or abstain from drinking any of yours.”

The article “The False Promise Of Cheap Wine” expounds on the chemicals, underpaid vineyard workers and lack of sustainability in commercial wine production:

“…there are many other low-end bargain brands, including Gallo’s Barefoot, which at around $7 a bottle has become America’s biggest wine brand. Typically, any wine like this is sourced from industrially farmed, inland vineyards that grow grapes worth just a few hundred dollars per ton, a price that’s barely breakeven for most farmers. It is no surprise that many San Joaquin vineyards have come under corporate control, just as the only way for much of the Midwest’s corn industry to survive has been consolidation under companies like Cargill and ADM.

Whether that sort of farming is sustainable is a matter of debate, although the occasional hint appears about the unintended costs of growing cheap wine grapes, not the least of which is a potentially diminishing San Joaquin water supply. Seeing a similar trend, the Australian government encouraged growers to pull out their crops rather than continue draining water supplies to make cheap wines that, it’s now widely accepted, cost Australia much of its reputation as a producer of fine wine.

At best, the result from vineyards that produce 10 or 15 tons per acre of grapes is neutral wine that requires significant manufacturing (wood chips, Mega Purple and so on) to approximate flavors that wine drinkers claim to like. And that, ultimately, is what the “Drink Cheap Wine” brigade is advocating: industrial wine that is the equivalent of a Big Mac or Velveeta. When you reach for the $1.99 (or $2.99, or $3.99) shelf, that’s what you’re getting.

If the farming can be done sustainably, there is nothing wrong with cheap wine. But ultimately the wine industry has hurt itself by portraying cheap wine as fancier than it is. It has created the illusion that $5 wine is fancy enough that you don’t need to spend a cent more.”

So from extremely toxic levels of arsenic, to an irresponsible lack of sustainability, to underpaid vineyard workers, to drained water supplies, it’s looking like crap, cheap, mass-produced wine is not going to do your body or the environment any favors.

Now I’ll fully admit that this is all recent news to me, and up until this point in my life, all I’ve really paid attention to when drinking wine is whether or not the wine is organic. But even organic wine can have issues not just limited to those listed above, but also headaches from the sulfites in wine, boatloads of sugars, high pH levels that increase the possibility of contamination by unwanted organisms, a less than stellar taste, and the plastic polyethylenes present in the organic boxed wine I’ve been chugging until recently.

So what’s a wino to do?

Below are my four top tactics for ensuring that your wine is actually healthy, including how to reduce sulfites in wine, a method to make just about any wine taste better, why I’m OK with boxed wine, a trick to limit the portion size of wine you drink, and the exact brand of wine I’m now drinking,

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Four Ways To Make Your Wine Tastier And Healthier

#1. Purify Your Wine To Get Rid of Sulphites

Purifying your wine is especially good idea if you get headaches from the sulphites in wine, and this trick can be a lifesaver if wine consumption results in headaches, migraines, or brain fog for you, especially the day after. If you pay attention to #4 below, you probably won’t need to use the purification method, but nonetheless, it’s a good strategy to have on hand.

Purification is necessary because preservatives have been used in the production of wine for many decades, for three primary purposes:

1. To control undesirable microbial growth;

2. To inhibit browning enzymes;

3. To serve as an anti-oxidant (grape juice behaves like any other fruit in that when it is exposed to air, it begins to deteriorate due to oxidation).

So to preserve the fresh fruity flavor of the grape (and hence the wine), winemakers add preservatives immediately after the grape skin is broken in the making of the wine, and these preservatives are continuously used throughout the winemaking process until the final bottling. The most commonly used  preservative is added either as a sulphur salt such as potassium metabisulphate (which releases sulphur dioxide gas) or sulphur dioxide gas itself, which unfortunately is well known as an undesirable pollutant.

Exposure to sulphur dioxide gas is very unpleasant even at quite low concentrations, and typical reactions to exposure to sulphur dioxide are headaches, shortness of breath, sneezing, watery eyes, weezing, sinus congestion and dizziness. Asthmatics are particularly susceptible to sulphur dioxide, and the level of free sulphur dioxide in most wines at bottling is definitely high enough to trigger a reaction.

Unfortunately, the use of preservatives (particularly sulphites) has been a concern for food consumers for many years and many producers have removed them from their products. But it is nearly impossible to produce high quality wine without their use.

Enter purification. A few years ago when I was competing in a triathlon in Thailand, one of my Australian friends introduced me to Pure Wine, which is available mostly in Australia, but something you could get shipped anywhere. After you add five drops of Pure Wine to a glass of wine, the level is sulphites is dramatically reduced, but the wine stays nice and fresh for up to 24 hours after opening. Pure Wine basically produces a blast of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) that eliminates the active wine preservative of sulphur dioxide gas, without sacrificing the taste and quality of the wine.

And by the way, I do indeed realize that there are sulphites in other things too, such as broccoli, prunes and other vegetables, but as this article from Lifehacker points out, it’s really a combination of the sulphites, the sugar, and another addition called “amines” in wine that make sulphites in wine such a particularly big problem for many folks compared to sulphites in vegetables.

#2. Beat the Sh*t Out Of Your Wine To Improve The Flavor

Let’s say you use some of the tips in this article to get healthy wine, but you just want more freaking flavor. Then read on. Full credit for this trick goes to Tim Ferriss, who introduced this method in the article “Age Your Wine 5 Years In 20 Seconds”. Tim learned it from Nathan Myhrvold, former CTO of Microsoft, French chef, and creator of the iconic cooking encyclopedia, Modernist Cuisine.

You may be familiar with decanting wine, and beating your wine is essentially based on a similar concept, specifically the idea that exposing your wine to more air than the wine gets exposed to in the bottle with improve the flavor of the wine. But decanting can take hours and hours.

Pour 1–2 glasses of the wine into a large mixing bowl, a wine glass, or a carafe. Leave plenty of room at the top. The first time you do this, take a sip so you can see what the wine tastes like before. Then, lower an immersion blender or a latte frother into the bowl and blend the wine for 20-30 seconds. Tip the bowl, glass or carafe or move the blender in circles to enhance the foaming effect.

This aeration exposes more of a liquid surface area to air, and increases the number of flavorful molecules that reach your palate and your smell receptors. If you do this correctly, your wine should now have a nice heady froth on it, just like Guinness beer. The froth will disappear in about 1-2 minutes.

If you have kids, they’ll love this trick. These days, I actually have my twin boys pour and froth my wine for me. Yet another useful reason to keep children around.

#3: Use A Small Glass

I have to admit that the video below, which comes from my article “5 Powerful Calorie Control Tricks To Help You Eat Less Food” makes me feel a little old. When I watch it, I realize that I’ve been podcasting, producing videos and writing articles for nearly eight years, and the video is certainly dated. Notice the cool, green-screen background effect. But it’s still chock full of good advice.

In the video, I show you how the size of the bowl, plate, or spoon that you use can significantly influence how much food and how many calories you consume. In the study “Ice cream illusions bowls, spoons, and self-served portion sizes”, 85 nutrition experts who were attending an ice cream social were randomly given either a smaller (17 oz) or a larger (34 oz) bowl and either a smaller (2 oz) or larger (3 oz) ice cream scoop. After serving themselves, they completed a brief survey as their ice cream was weighed.

Even when nutrition experts were given a larger bowl, they served themselves 31% more without being aware of it. In addition, their servings increased by over 14% when they were given a larger serving spoon.

In another study from University of Pennsylvania, psychologists conducted an experiment in an upscale apartment building in which they left out a bowl of the chocolate candies with a small scoop.The next day they refilled the bowl with M&M’s, but used a much larger scoop – and when the scoop size was increased, people took 66 percent more M&M’s!

And then there’s the infamous bottomless bowl of soup study. In this study, using special self-refilling soup bowls, researchers examined whether visual cues related to portion size can influence intake volume without altering either estimated intake or satiation. Participants who were unknowingly eating from magical, self-refilling bowls ate way more soup than those eating from normal soup bowls. However, despite consuming 73% more, they did not believe they had consumed more, nor did they perceive themselves as more sated than those eating from normal bowls. The takeaway message is of course to use smaller plates, bowls and utensils, even if somebody laughs at you for eating your soup with a teaspoon.

As a matter of fact, my wife often gives me a hard time when I grab a small plate for dinner and awkwardly try to place just the right amount of food on my tiny plate. Of course, for the same reason, I typically grab a very, very large bowl for vegetables and salad, and – you guessed it – a reasonably sized glass for my wine (although for special few-and-far-between occasions I will still employ my fancy, fish-bowl size wine glass).

#4: Drink Biohacked Wine

This is something I’ve never written about before, but is a very recent development in my wine chugging career: biohacked wine.

There are actually steps that a winemaker can take to make wine “fit”.

The first wine biohack is elevation.

When grapes are grown at a high elevation, specifically at 2000 feet or higher elevation, the grapes get a deeper exposure to the sun, while still at cooler temperatures, which helps elevate the resveratrol and polyphenols in the grapes.

The second wine biohack is extended fermentation.

To further concentrate these antioxidants, a winemaker can do an extended fermentation of 10-15 days, versus the standard 1-2 days fermentation that most wine companies use. With this one-two combo of high elevation and long fermentation, a wine can be concentrated to have up to 10x higher levels of resveratrol and polyphenols.

The third wine biohack is to appropriately adjust the pH of the wine.

The acid-alkaline balance, or pH of the wine, dictates the taste, texture, body and color of the wine. If the pH isn’t balanced, the taste of the wine can be just a bit skunky, but rather than adjusting pH, many wine companies simply add sugar to sweeten and balance out an improper pH. We make sure our pH levels are at optimal levels. For example, the optimum pH for a Cabernet (red) is 3.4. The optimal pH for a Chardonnay (white) is 3.2. If this pH can be achieved during the winemaking process, the end result is a great tasting wine that doesn’t need additional sugar added. A winemaker can do this via a process called malolactic, secondary fermentation, which not only lowers pH, but also helps keep bugs out of the wine. Lower pH levels in wine also reduce the possibility of contamination by unwanted organisms, and give the wine greater stability to retain flavor and color.

Next comes filtration.

A proper filtration process can significantly reduce the sulfites in wine, especially if the starting grape is a pesticide-free grape. Most wines have sulfites that range at around 50 parts per million (ppm). But if a wine is cold stabilized and chilled to drop out impurities prior to filtration, then filtered with extremely tight filters like diatomaceous earth and micron pads, sulfites can be cut significantly, down to as low as 35ppm. With lower sugar and lower sulfites, the risk of blood sugar swings and headaches goes way down when this kind of filtration process is used.

The final biohack is to reduce both calorie and carbohydrate levels without lowering alcohol content.

A typical cabernet ranges from 130-170 calories per 5oz glass, and a typical chardonnay ranges from 130-200 calories. But by avoiding the addition of residual sugars to the completed wine, then using a Brix scale, which is a special scale for measuring the amount of sugar in a solution at a given temperature, the sugar content of the wine can be significantly decreased. For example, a cabernet without added residual sugars is just 95 calories and 12.55g of carbohydrates, and a chardonnay just 90 calories and 5.9g of carbohydrates.

In summary, by using grapes raised at elevation, lowering sulfite levels, using optimum pH levels, using a malolactic, secondary fermentation along with tighter filtration, and avoiding the addition of any residual sugars, the end result is a clean, tasty wine with lower sugar, lower sulfites, lower impurities, superior taste, and just as much alcohol.

That’s the exact wine that I’m now drinking and endorsing. It’s called “FitVineWine”, and it satisfies all of the criteria above, from pesticide-free grapes grown at a high altitude, to superior filtration, to a secondary fermentation, to lower residual sugars.

CabernetDoubleThe good folks over at FitVineWine sent me one bottle of Cabernet and one bottle of Chardonnay to try, and both absolutely explode with flavor (even without the latte frothing trick).

The Cabernet is described as:

Classic Cabernet nose of cassis, lavender, black licorice and a hint of new oak. Rich but soft tannins wrap around flavors of cedar, boysenberry and coffee, chocolate with a hint of leather. Beautifully balanced in a light style.

And the Chardonnay:

Aromas of pears and lemon custard, citrus swirls and a hint of vanilla. A full bodied dry wine with a long crisp finish. Pairs well with fruit and cheese, seafood and pasta in creamy sauces or roast chicken with a little jerk seasoning.

Better yet, my wife has been able to drink FitVine with none of her normal post-wine headaches, I dig the fact that I can get just as much alcohol with far fewer sugars, and you click here to get a bottle of red or a bottle of white at FitVineWine.com with 10% discount code BEN10 (assuming you’re 21 years of age or older).

ChardonnayDouble

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So that’s it!

Since it was only a week ago that I told you how to use weed to get healthy, I figured why not dive right in and get you all equipped to throw some wine into the mix, too! I hope you enjoyed this article, and I also hope that you’ll think twice before pouring a typical cheapo bottle of non-organic wine into a giant glass.

If you want more, then you’ll be pleased to know that when it comes to alcohol, hangovers and striking the ideal balance between healthy living and booze consumption, I’ve covered this topic before in other articles including:

Why You Get A Hangover, And How To Get Rid Of A Hangover As Fast As Possible With The Best Natural Hangover Cures

Three Semi-Healthy Drinks to Have If You’re Partying and Want To Do As Little Damage As Possible to Your Body

How To Fix Your Gut

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

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

What kind of wine do you drink? Would you try FitVineWine? Do you have other tricks that you use to make your wine healthier or tastier? If you have questions, comments or feedback about wine, then leave your thoughts below!

2014-11-08 06.10.15

Unlocking The Mysteries Of Strength Training For Endurance Athletes.

cycling

A quick discussion at the starting line of a triathlon or other endurance race, a review of any forum devoted to endurance sports, or an article in any running, cycling or triathlon magazine tends to expose you to the same standard strength training advice over and over again…

sport-specificity dictates that endurance athletes don’t need to be lifting heavy stuff…

do high reps, low resistance for endurance and low reps, high resistance for strength…

…strength training will make an endurance athlete bulky…

…there’s no evidence that strength training makes you faster…

…show me one professional endurance athlete who lifts heavy weights and is successful…

…and a host of other comments that my podcast guests and I delve into on today’s show.

My first guest, Caleb Bazyler is one of the lead authors of the article Strength Training For Endurance Athletes: Theory To Practice. This up-to-date treatise of the latest, well, theories and practices, inspired me to get Caleb on the show, along with his sidekick Jacob Goodin, who helped create the plan in the article and edited some of the manuscript.

Caleb is currently completing his PhD at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science in conjunction with the Center of Excellence for Sport Science and Coach Education. Jacob designs and implements programs for middle and long distance runners and is finishing his master’s degree at ETSU. Finally, my third guest on this show is Chris Taber, who is the strength and conditioning coach at ETSU.

In our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why there’s so much conflict among coaches about the role of strength training for endurance athletes…

-The exact mechanisms via which strength training could theoretically lead to enhanced endurance performance…

-Was the length of endurance performance taken into account in the studies you found (e.g. Ironman vs. a 5K run)…

-The important difference between two different types of strength training for endurance: HFLV and LFHV, and the effects of each on endurance training…

-The kind of strength training that you should do if you don’t want to get bulky or gain too much muscle mass…

-What the ideal strength training workout scenario for an endurance athlete should look like…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Weight Training For Triathlon: The Ultimate Guide (book by Ben Greenfield)

Center of Excellence for Sport Science and Coach Education Facebook page – a non-profit organization committed to service, research and coach education. We are also a designated Olympic Training Site.

-This episode is brought to you by Sheer Strength Labs, where you can get everything you need to enhance performance in both the bedroom and the gym – from nitric oxide, to creatine, to testosterone booster. Click here and get an automatic discount.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about strength training for endurance athletes? Leave your thoughts below!

Diving With Giant Squid, Slaying Dragons & Becoming A Starved Savage With Adventurer Monty Halls

Monty Halls

Monty Halls is a former Royal Marine BBC TV presenter, marine biologist, travel writer, public speaker and diver, Monty also conducts courses & trips from his shop in Dartmouth. Exploring the local environment.

PICTURE BY MATT AUSTIN

07519 647890
maustinpics@gmail.com
www.mattaustinimages.photoshelter.com

copyright Matt Austin.

I’ll always been a fan of gritty adventure, survival, wilderness exploring and even TV shows like Bear Grylls, Survivor Man, and yes, occasionally even Naked & Afraid.

So after I returned from a week long wilderness survival immersion at Twin Eagles Wilderness School, I jumped at the chance to get adventurer Monty Halls on the podcast.

Monty is a broadcaster, speaker, naturalist, formal Royal Marine, marine biologist, travel writer and leadership specialist with experience covering over two decades of leading teams in some of the most remote environments on earth for wildlife and adventure documentaries like Great Ocean Adventures and Lost Worlds (which is currently a new series on the Discovery Channel). He’s also written adventure books like Dive: The Ultimate Guide to 60 of the World’s Top Dive Locations (Ultimate Sports Guide), The Fisherman’s Apprentice, Adventures On The Wild West Coast and Adventures On The Atlantic Coast.

In today’s episode you’ll discover:

-What Monty’s life was like leading up to that point that got him head-hunted as a competitor in the flagship show Superhumans, a test of elite performers, competing in a series of challenges devised by the QinetiQ testing centre in the UK

-What it was like to dive with a giant squid…

-Monty’s philosophy on combining sleep with adventure…

-What it means to be “seven meals away from a savage”…

-When you first encounter a strange or new environment, how you can accelerate your learning process or chances of survival…

-How Monty manages combining adventuring and survival trips with managing a family life…

-Monty’s take on exercise, dieting and biohacks…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Diving and adventure books by Monty Halls

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about Monty Halls’s adventures or anything else in this episode? Leave your thoughts below!

A 100% Legal Way To Get All The Health Benefits Of Smoking Weed Without Actually Smoking Weed.

muliti-use

Allow me to begin by clarifying a very important thing: I am not a pothead, a stoner, or a recreational drug enthusiast.

Never was.

Growing up, I was originally a fantasy-fiction writing, World Of Warcraft dominating geek in my early years, and later in high school and college was a clean-living, well-shaven jock athlete with a substance abuse problem that consisted primarily of copious amounts of creatine, caffeine and canned protein shakes.

Until recently, unless you count smoking a very small number of joints at a few random parties in college, about the closest I’ve come to what might be considered “fringe” substance use has been via occasional use of nootropics and herbal extracts like packets of concentrated Chinese herbs, smart drugs like piracetam, anirecatam and alpha-GPC combinations (see my white powder on a kitchen scale video here) and vaporizing nighttime sleep extracts of melatonin and L-theanine (yet another creepy video here).

Of course, if you’re a regular podcast listener or you read my recent article on the “The Effect Of Weed On Exercise: Is Marijuana A Performance-Enhancing Drug?“, then you already know that subsequent to the legalization of weed in my home state of Washington, I’ve been experimenting with edible tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for exercise performance, and also experimenting with vaporizing indica-rich strains of marijuana for creativity, relaxation and sleep.

So there: now I’m a bonified druggie. But let’s move on, because in this article, we’re going to delve into a 100% legal derivative of the cannabis plant family that has some pretty massive payoffs for balancing your endocrine system, relieving anxiety, modulating chronic stress, shutting down inflammation and chronic pain, decreasing blood sugar, decreasing appetite and lowering abdominal obesity.

In other words, you’re going to learn about a form of cannabis you can get anywhere, order via mail, and use 100% legally in all 50 states and most countries in the world, with none of the psycho-active, paranoia inducing effects of regular weed, and all of the benefits.

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Weed 101

So let’s say you didn’t grow up in the 60’s, never had stoner parents, have lived a relatively clean life, or simply smoke joints without ever thinking too hard about what’s happening chemically. Here’s a bit of “Weed 101″.  

When people talk about marijuana or use marijuana, they’re usually referring to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). What’s THC? It’s the part of the hemp plant (AKA the cannabis plant) that induces a euphoric state. Or an annoying state, mildly schizophrenic state, depending on your perspective. We can at least say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it makes Family Guy episodes way, way more funny.

And of course, THC is what most recreational weed users are looking for, which is probably why botanists have figured out since the 1960’s how to increase the amount of THC from around 3% to 5% in the 1960s to as much as 28% in our current decade. So yes, it’s true that we’re not smoking the weed our parents smoked, and one draw on a typical joint these days would probably knock your mom on her ass.

As you learned a little about in my article on the effects of THC on exercise performance, THC fits into a site called the CB1 receptor in the cerebral cortex of your brain, and this is what causes you to experience a cerebral high, and if you fill in too many of those CB1 receptors, a very, very long time sitting on your couch.

512px-Cannabidiol.svgAnd then there’s cannabidiol (CBD), pictured right, which is one of at least 85 active cannabinoids identified in cannabis, but is a major part of the cannabis plant, accounting for up to 40% of the plant’s total cannabinoid extract. Due mostly to its safety and legality, CBD has long been researched for a much wider scope of medical applications than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). We’ll get into the most relevant of those medical applications later.

But first more Weed 101 – specifically, how the CBD is actually separated from the THC. And to understand this, you need to put on your straw hat and for the next 60 seconds become a hemp field farmer.

See, hemp fields are simply fields of cannabis plants that grow under conditions in which the male plants have been allowed to fertilize the female plants. When you separate the male and female plants, the females can’t be pollinated, so they produce lots of THC (in what is known as “resinous THC form”) as a result. But when the female is allowed to get pollinated, she barely produces any THC. In fact, the happily sexed up female produces less than 1% THC.

So to gain a higher production of THC in a field of cannabis plants, you simply take away the male plants so the females can’t be pollinated, and to lower THC production, you keep the male and female plants together. Plants used for CBD oil or CBD capsules or hemp oil or hemp protein or your hippie neighbor’s tie-dyed hemp headwear meet the international standards of less than 1% THC. And this CBD is totally legal and available for you to order by mail just about anywhere in the world.

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The Wonderful World Of CBD Chemistry

Screech.

Back it up!

Why on earth would you want to dump a bunch of CBD into your body with none of the fun, psychoactive properties of THC? Don’t worry, we’ll get to that. There are some very, very good reasons.

But first, it’s important for you to understand what’s going on inside your body when you consume this CBD stuff from those happily mating male and female plants.

You already learned that THC attaches mostly to CB1 receptors. On the other hand, most people will tell you that CBD fits into a different receptor, the (…drumroll please…) CB2 receptor, thus magically minimizing the effects from the CB1 receptor and providing all the medical benefits without the psychoactive high from THC.

Sigh. I wish it were that easy.

CBD actually has a very low affinity for both CB1 and CB2 receptors but acts as an indirect antagonist of their agonists. Woo-boy. Head spinning? All this means is the following: all the things that would normally activate the CB1 or the CB2 receptors are turned off or turned down by CBD.

For example, CBD can increase CB1 receptor density so that there’s just too many CB1 receptors for THC to bind to, thus taking the edge off the potential psychoactivity of weed, while still retaining all the opioid-like painkilling effects. In case you are concerned about this meaning you have to buy more weed or take more hits if you’re using CBD oil, you should also know that CBD can extend the duration of the effects of THC by inhibiting the cytochrome P-450 enzymes that would cause you to more rapidly metabolize THC.

So your plasma concentrations of THC increase when you’re using CBD, resulting in a greater amount of THC available to receptors and increasing the effect of THC in a dose-dependent manner (which means the more CBD you use, the more THC becomes available). But along with this increase, CBD also acts as an antagonist at the a cannabinoid receptor called GPR55 in the caudate nucleus and putamen sections of your brain, reducing paranoia-like effects or heart-beat racing from weed.

Yes, I know. Eyes glazing over.

Blah, blah, insert Ben Greenfield geek-speak drone sounds here. Place propellor hat on head. Tuck in shirt and gently put pocket protector in its place.

Wake up!

Here’s what I’m getting at: the magic of CBD is not really based on its action on CB1 or CB2 receptors, unless you’re using CBD to specifically elongate the effects of THC or to take any unpleasant psychoactive edge off THC. Which works just fine, by the way.

As a matter of fact, if CBD did indeed attach to CB1 and CB2 receptors it would have the same addictive potential of THC. But since its mechanism of action is not dependent on receptors associated with addiction, CBD is not addictive or habit-forming in any way. So while the receptor explanation is conveniently simple, it’s not quite accurate.

Instead, CBD acts as an agonist on an entirely different receptor called the 5-HT1A receptor, and this is how CBD actually works as an antidepressant with anti-anxiety and neuroprotective effects. It also serves as what is called an “allosteric modulator” of your opioid receptors, which is how it works to remove pain and reduce the effects of chronic inflammation. Other positive medical effects of CBD (there’s over 60 of them, if you care to read up on them here) are due to increased intracellular calcium release and agonism of another receptor called the PPAR-γ receptor.

So let’s put this into real world context.

As you may know or as you may have forgotten (ha!) short term memory problems are really common with THC. That’s why the extremely funny, laugh-snorting joke you told last night is impossible to remember the next morning. Don’t worry, it probably wasn’t as funny as you thought it was last night. But a 2010 study found that CBD eliminates any memory loss problem from weed. In the study, researchers used plants bred for high CBD and low THC plants, and attributed this attenuation of memory loss to CBD’s role as a CB1 antagonist.

Here’s another interesting fact for you: CBD has really strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, due primarily to its effects on your adenosine receptors and cytochrome P-450 and 2C enzymes. When this was first discovered, the US government insisted that cannabis had no medical benefits, but at the same time, they took out patent 6,630,507, which gave them rights to the antioxidant properties of cannabis (which they ironically still claim don’t exist). Incidentally, that patent was not extended to actual oil or capsule extracts of cannabis, so the good ol’ US gummint missed out on some pretty good business opportunities, if you ask me.

It’s also nearly impossible to overdose on CBD. Kind of like water, dark chocolate, and steamed kale, it has an unusually low level of toxicity. In the last 6,000 years, CBD hasn’t killed anyone via overdose, which is particularly impressive when you compare it to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, advil and tylenol, which can wreak havoc on your gut lining, liver and kidneys. Or aspirin (salicylic acid) which kills over 1,000 people every year. Or alcohol, which kills over 110,000 people a year. No one’s ever died from CBD.

As a matter of fact, leading up to this article, I’ve used very high amounts of CBD (100+mg) with no ill effect, aside from extreme feelings of relaxation, calm and the impression that if my home caught on fire I probably wouldn’t care (OK, so maybe that’s an ill effect).

CBD

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A Very Brief History of CBD

Now of course, you could stop reading here and scroll down to fill yourself in on all the benefits of CBD oil, and the specific conditions for which it can come in handy. But I actually find the history of cannabis quite fascinating, especially given America’s persistent widespread disapproval and/or fear of its use. It’s not like this stuff just popped up like Red Bull energy drinks, ecstasy, lunesta, or adderall. Instead I’d kinda clump cannabis right in with organic vegetables and essential oils.

About 2,700 years ago, in Persia, a spiritual teacher named Zoroaster penned a sacred text of about 10,000 plants. As you can read about in this more incredibly detailed history of cannabis, Zoraster interestingly included hemp at the tippy-top of his compendium. Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, also recommended cannabis extracts.

Cannabis also has links to Christianity – specifically through the Ethiopian Coptic Church, which is held to have been established by St. Mark (the guy in the New Testament of The Bible) in AD 45. The Copts claim that the use of marijuana as a sacrament descended from a Jewish sect called the Essenes (the folks who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls). According to the Coptic Church, cannabis played an important role in early Christian and Judaic rituals, specifically as a sacrament burned in tabernacles, to commemorate important occasions such as communication with God on Mount Sinai by Moses, and the transfiguration of Christ.

Tell that to your Sunday School teacher.

Later, Queen Victoria’s physician and one of the world’s leading doctors of that era, Sir Russell Reynolds, prescribed medicinal cannabis for the Queen’s menstrual cramps, for which CBD still works fantastically for today. When writing about medical marijuana in the first edition of the British medical journal The Lancet, Reynolds proclaimed that cannabis is “one of the most valuable medicines we possess.” Another widely hailed physician at the time, Sir William Osler, used CBD for migraines with excellent results.

The father of French psycho-pharmacology, Dr. Jean-Jacques Moreau de Tours, used the cannabis plant to treat depression, another condition still widely treated with cannabis in the modern era. Later, during the Revolutionary War, soldiers were paid with cannabis, and presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson encouraged farmers to grow more hemp to produce more rope and paper, as well as clothing and ship sails (which dates back to the Egyptians using hemp sails on their Nile boats 3,000-4,000 years ago). During WWII, American farmers were also asked to grow as much hemp as possible. Last time I checked, the US government isn’t politely asking farmers to grow hemp anymore, although corn and grain subsidies are booming.

Anything that can be made of plastic can also be made from hemp, which can reduce exposure to phytoestrogens and other chemicals in plastic and other synthetic compounds. Hemp plant fibers are long and tough, and can be woven into a soft cloth that wears well and has fewer of the herbicides and pesticides associated with other modern cloths like cotton. Even copies of the Declaration of Independence used to be written on cannabis paper, since it doesn’t yellow with age like other papers do.

As you’ve probably already heard, the hemp plant itself is is a highly useful plant, and every part of it has been used to make a wide variety of products, including biofuel and medicine. Biofuel made from hemp seeds is far less expensive and more effective than ethanol derived from corn. If there weren’t so many federal restrictions, growing hemp would highly benefit any agricultural state, but unfortunately most states must pay an absurdly high premium to import hemp seeds. And of course, as you’re probably aware, both THC and CBD seem to be immersed in a constant struggle of medical legality that I simply don’t have the time to address in this post.

Nonetheless, when it comes to CBD oil and cannabidiol, people seem be getting more aware of the fact that you don’t need to be a pothead to get all the medical, relaxing, hormone and metabolism-balancing properties of weed. Not that the image below is based on hard scientific epidemiological data, but a quick glance at a Google trends profile of searches for “CBD Oil” speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

screenshot_1120

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Is CBD Addictive, Unsafe or Illegal?

So if CBD oil is so freaking magical, there must be a downside right? Addictive potential, perhaps? Toxicity and lack of proven safety? Illegal? Although I touched on the absence of CB1 and CB2 receptor binding earlier in this article, let’s delve into the addictive or unsafe potential of CBD just a bit more.

First, there is zero evidence anywhere that CBD is addictive. This is because CBD does not act on any receptors in the brain that would produce addiction. You already learned about the science behind that whole receptor thing.

There, that was easy, huh?

But if you want more details then click here to read some of the writings of Dr. Tod Mikuriya, former national administrator of the US government’s marijuana research programs, was quite outspoken on the subject of addiction. The late Dr. Mikuriya stated that no other single drug or substance has as many therapeutic benefits as cannabis, and he never discovered any evidence of cannabis addiction.

Now don’t get me wrong – some will indeed claim that cannabis is addictive. For example, the Boggs Act of 1951 established mandatory sentences for drug users and also claimed that cannabis was addictive. But since then, testimony given by Dr. Harris Isbell, Director of Research at the Public Health Service hospital in Lexington, Kentucky exposed this as false, explaining how cannabidiols from marijuana are not physically addictive.

But Dr. Isbell’s research was mostly ignored, and instead overshadowed by the argument that the plant inevitably is the stepping stone to heroin addiction, and the calling for harsh penalties against offenders of the marijuana laws. But the concept of marijuana as a “gateway drug” remains completely unproven.

In over 6,000 years of usage in Oriental Medicine, there have been no cases of addiction reported (although Emperor Fu Hsi referred to cannabis as a popular remedy as early as 2,900 BC).

In the early 1900s, as part of the Prohibition movement, cannabis was claimed by many to be addictive. But this was not based on research, and ironically the recommended treatment for cannabis “addiction” in most cases was the use of heroin.

An actual long term study, Ganja in Jamaica: A Medical Anthropological Study of Chronic Marijuana Use, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1975, showed zero concerns with addiction, even after patients who had used cannabis for decades had stopped. The 1980 study Cannabis in Costa Rica: A Study in Chronic Marijuana Use backed this up. Most interestingly, studies like this are not finding any addictive potential even in the presence of THC along with the CBD!

In the early 1990’s, rehabilitation facilities did indeed experience a significant surge of patients who were “addicted” to cannabis. But a survey done at that time noted that nearly all of them had come from the court system, where judges gave convicted criminals the choice between entering into treatment for addiction or entering prison, which was probably a pretty simple choice for most.

Later in the 1990’s, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded research that had the goal of proving that cannabis is addictive. But instead of identifying any biochemical pathway that could cause addiction, any research defined addiction by the presence or absence of some degree of withdrawal, with no specific parameters for withdrawal actually defined. In other words, if you’re thirsty, this NIDA-funded research could argue that this means you are addicted to water.

As a matter of fact, here’s what this article reported about NIDA.

The ugly truth is that the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the agency that oversees 85 percent of the world’s research on controlled substances, is on record stating that its institutional policy is to reject any and all medical marijuana research. “As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use,” a NIDA spokesperson told The New York Times in 2010. “We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”

Bummer.

And how about the safety of cannabis?

Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Medical School, spent the majority of his professional life studying cannabis, from the 1960’s to 2000’s. The result was “Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine“. As you can see, Dr. Grinspoon didn’t find one single case of death, stating that

“There are no deaths from cannabis use. Anywhere. You can’t find one.”

There are dozens of other doctors and similar studies, too many to list here – but you can certainly delve in at ProjectCBD website. On September 6, 1988 Francis Young, an administrative DEA judge, took medical testimony for over two weeks, and at the end of it, he said,

“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

Once again, even when talking about the THC combined with the CBD, and not the isolated, non-psychoactive CBD component, marijuana is shown to be both non-addictive and safe.

But when it comes to pain management, one of the primary uses for CBD oil, deaths from drug overdoses and drug poisoning continue to rise. Deaths from opioid analgesics – one of the most universally prescribed pain management drugs – increased from 4,030 in 1999 to 15,597 in 2009 and 16,651 in 2010. In 2010, 60 percent of all drug overdose deaths (22,134) involved pharmaceutical drugs, and opioid analgesics showed up in about 3 of every 4 of those pharmaceutical overdose deaths. That confirms the predominant role that research has shown opioid analgesics to play in drug-related mortality. Opioids are nasty, brutal drugs with side effects nearly as bad as the conditions they’re taken for, and although deaths from opiods are common, they’re still one of the most turned to bandaids in modern medicine.

CBD in proper dosages gives nearly the same pain reduction compared to opioid prescription drugs such as morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone are examples, and when combined with these drugs, allows you to use far less of the actual prescription, thus reducing the toxic load on your liver and kidneys. And of course, as you already know, these benefits come without the proven addictive or unsafe nature of opioid drugs.

Considering the complete non-addictiveness and safety of cannabis, Dr. James Hudson, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine, has said that pharmaceutical companies have an enormous incentive to chemically recreate the natural compounds in marijuana and somehow sell a drug from it. You probably already know this, but pharmaceutical companies can’t patent a natural compound, but if they can make a synthetic compound that mimics ingredient from cannabis, they can formulate that as a drug and potentially make a lot more money off of it.

To get an idea of the medical benefits of CBD (again, I need to emphasize to you that this is not medical marijuana or anything illegal, just the completely natural form of CBD that you can buy anywhere and have mailed to you), just take a look at video of CBD oil helping with a form of childhood epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. The first use of CBD for Dravet’s syndrome was given to a patient who was having 300 seizures a week. I first talked about this video last year Is Weed Healthy? The Controversial Truth About The Science Of Marijuana

Do you see that? The form of epilepsy in that video usually kills the child.

Here’s a nearly identical video of a patient with multiple sclerosis (MS) who was given CBD…

…and cerebral palsy. When you watch the video below, it becomes even more ironic that the government once created a prohibition of cannabis, declaring that it “has no medical usage”.

You get the idea, and now you probably also have a pretty good idea of why pharmaceutical companies would want to patent some chemical-ized version of this. So I’d suspect that we’re not too far away from an enormously overpriced cannabis-like chemical produced in a pharmaceutical factory. But in the meantime, you can get the identical effects, 100% legally, from entirely natural sources of CBD. Let’s take a look at what some of those most relevant effects would be.

As for the legality, here’s the skinny for my home country of the USA (original source here):

“The drug Schedules list “Tetrahydrocannabinols” and “marijuana” both as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, however cannabidiol is unlikely to be considered as a Schedule I drug on the basis of being covered by the listing of “Marijuana” or by the listing of “Tetrahydrocannabinols” under Schedule I of the CSA.

  • “Marijuana” has a DEA Drug Code of 7360 (distinct from cannabidiol’s Drug Code of 7372) and is defined by the CSA as “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.” Exempted from regulation under the definition are “the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.”
  • A DEA Interpretive Rule published in 2001 states that the “definition of marijuana was intended to include those parts of marijuana which contain THC and to exclude those parts which do not. … The legislative history is absolutely clear that Congress meant to outlaw all plants popularly known as marijuana to the extent those plants possessed THC”. Cannabidiol isolated by extraction from marijuana sources does not contain THC, and synthetically produced cannabidiol does not contain THC either. It therefore stands to reason that cannabidiol is not covered under the prohibition on marijuana.
  • “Tetrahydrocannabinols” listed under Schedule I of the CSA are unlikely to include cannabidiol. Tetrahydrocannabinols are defined as follows:

Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation, which contains any quantity of the following hallucinogenic substances, or which contains any of its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designation (for purposes of this paragraph only, the term “isomer” includes the optical, position and geometric isomers):

  • (31) Tetrahydrocannabinols (DEA Drug Code: 7370)
    • Meaning tetrahydrocannabinols naturally contained in a plant of the genus Cannabis (cannabis plant), as well as synthetic equivalents of the substances contained in the cannabis plant, or in the resinous extractives of such plant, and/or synthetic substances, derivatives, and their isomers with similar chemical structure and pharmacological activity to those substances contained in the plant, such as the following:

Furthermore, cannabidiol was not placed into Schedule I when The Controlled Substances Act was amended in July 2012 with the US Congress‘ passing of the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 (SDAPA) (which came into effect on January 4, 2013) to ban various cannabinoids, cathinones, and phenethylamines. The part adding to Schedule I various “cannabimimetic agents” which include molecules more closely resembling so-called “classically” structured cannabinoids reads as follows: Since cannabidiol is chemically not a tetrahydrocannabinol (nor indeed a “cannabinol” of any kind) and cannabidiol has a DEA Drug Code of 7372 (distinct from Tetrahydrocannabinols’ designated Drug Code of 7370), it stands to reason that cannabidiol is not considered one of the drugs placed into Schedule I under the listing of “Tetrahydrocannabinols” in the CSA.

(d)(1) Unless specifically exempted or unless listed in another schedule, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of cannabimimetic agents, or which contains their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designation.

(2) In paragraph (1):
(A) The term “cannabimimetic agents” means any substance that is a cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1 receptor) agonist as demonstrated by binding studies and functional assays within any of the following structural classes:
(i) 2-(3-hydroxycyclohexyl)phenol with substitution at the 5-position of the phenolic ring by alkyl or alkenyl, whether or not substituted on the cyclohexyl ring to any extent.

Cannabidiol, while being a more “classically structured” cannabinoid (not like the much more recently discovered cannabinoid receport agonists with indole rings such as many of the JWH- and AM- named series), was not on the list of specifically newly banned cannabinoids (even among those with a more so-called “classic structure”) and it does not fall into the category of unlisted cannabinoids which are caught by the definition above for several reasons. Primarily, CBD is not a CB1 agonist; it is a CB1 antagonist. Also, unlike CP 47,497‘s homologues and similar synthetic “classical structured cannabinoids” which the above definition was written carefully to include, the cannabidiol molecule has a cyclohexene ring where the amended law requires a cyclohexane ring, and further cannabidiol does not have the required 3-hydroxyl moiety bonded to its cyclohexenyl functional group where the law requires a hydroxyl moiety bonded to the 3- position of a cyclohexyl functional group.”

OK, yes I’ll admit. That part hurts my head. But in a nutshell it simply means that cannabidiol, aka CBD, is a far different chemical than cannabinol or THC, and because of that, can’t fall into the class of being a controlled drug.

Of course, it’s extremely important to draw a distinction between cannabidiol from medical marijuana vs. cannabidiol from industrial hemp. The first form of cannabidiol is extracted from medical marijuana plants grown to be high in CBD and low in THC. It’s often sold under the title “Charlotte’s Web” and is a Schedule I controlled substance. It is only sold to licensed dispensaries and prescribed by doctors for particular conditions in places where marijuana is regulated, such as the USA. Marijuana-based CBD oil like this is only legal in states such as Colorado and Washington that have enacted medical marijuana laws.

While medical marijuana is grown to be high in CBD for the treatment of specific ailments, the THC content can vary dramatically, sometimes getting as high as the CBD content. The other problem with medical marijuana (besides the possibility of getting a strain that is high in THC) is that it’s not currently legal everywhere. In the United States, you must be living in certain states and obtain a prescription from a doctor to receive medical marijuana.

On the other hand cannabidiol oil that comes from industrial hemp plants are a different story. The FDA considers hemp oil (and it’s derivative CBD) to be a dietary supplement (not a medication), since it is made from industrial hemp plants. If you live in the US, this means you don’t need a prescription and can legally purchase and consume hemp-based cannabidiol in any state. The water soluble CBD I use called “BioCBD” contains less than 0.001% THC, which is far below the legal threshold of 0.3% set by the DEA. Because of this unusually low amount of THC, this also means that a CBD source like BioCBD will not cause a positive drug test.

Unfortunately, outside of the United States the legal status can be confusing. Since regulations can vary for each country, I’d recommend that if you want bulletproof confidence that you are completely within the bounds of legality, you reach out to your specific country’s customs department. Ask if you can import dietary supplements from the USA. If you are allowed to do this, then you can order CBD from hemp-based products.

Now…how about if you’re an athlete concerned about CBD use being considered “doping”?

No search of CBD Oil or Cannabidiol turns up any results on the World Anti Doping Association’s (WADA) prohibited substances list, and the article “Why should Cannabis be Considered Doping in Sports?” explains why:

“The WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency, 2013) establishes a 15 ng/mL urinary 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THCCOOH) threshold; urine analyses involves THCCOOH-glucuronide conjugates cleavage, which significantly increases free THCCOOH concentrations and detection time. Urinary THCCOOH concentrations above the 15 ng/mL threshold are considered Adverse Analytical Findings and may be interpreted as a violation of anti-doping rules (World Anti-Doping Agency, 2009). Studies showed that even occasional and single cannabis smoking might yield a THCCOOH positive result (≥15 ng/mL) for up to 5 days (Huestis et al., 1996). Thus, consuming cannabis even weeks before a match may imply a considerable risk of being detected in a doping test. In light of this considerable risk, some users started using a new preparation of herbal smoking blends named “Spice.” Such substances are highly potent cannabinoid analogs, with unknown and potentially harmful toxicological properties that may cause prolonged intoxication. These substances mimic or worsen cannabis’ toxic effects provoking cognitive and motor impairment (UNODC, 2011).

The non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) is anxiolytic in humans following a single dose (Zuardi et al., 1993; Bergamaschi et al., 2011); decreased anxiety and fear memories extinction after oral CBD intake may enhance sports performance with no “violation” of the Code, as no THCCOOH is detected in urine. One way to protect athletes’ health and to promote health, fairness, and equality in sports is to include any illicit drugs, their constituents and analogs in the anti-doping program. The sports may assist to create educational program for youth and athletes as an alternative to keep them away from drugs and to preserve the intrinsic value about the “spirit of sport.””

The US Anti Doping Association (USADA), is a bit more cautionary, and in the following statement sums up the fact that you should probably make sure you get any CBD you use from a “clean” source:

“Athletes need to be aware that while some papers show that the likelihood of testing positive from a hemp product (at least in workplace testing) is very low (1), there are at least two peer-reviewed articles that show it is possible to sometimes detect THC in the urine of people who have consumed hemp products (2,3). Athletes who choose to consume hemp products may be at risk for a positive anti-doping test, even though many of these products claim not to contain THC. Thus, the risk of testing positive from hemp is low, but nonetheless it may be possible. Because athletes are strictly liable for what is in their systems, irrespective of how it got there, it is very important to be aware of this possibility.”

And then there’s the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). To confirm a positive test for marijuana in NCAA testing, the level of THC in your urine would have to exceed 15 nanograms per milliliter. This is impossible to attain with a CBD oil derived from a hemp plant, and the only forms of cannabis that appear on the NCAA banned drugs list are marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and synthetic cannabinoids such as spice, K2, JWH-018, and JWH-073.

Finally, if you want to be 100% informed on legality of CBD or any other substance both in and out of competition, you simply cannot beat the Global Drug Reference Online (GlobalDRO) search engine, which allows you to search for any substance, in any sport, in any country, from any nation of purchase.

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The Effects Of CBD On Hormones

Anyways, now we’re about to get to the good stuff, specifically things that I figured health-minded readers like you would actually find helpful, such as hormone balancing, de-stressing, enhanced sleep, fat loss, etc. But if you want to simply stop reading now, and take a side-track to go peruse the more than 20,000 articles published in peer reviewed journals that show the medical efficacy of CBD for a variety of other conditions in addition to what I’ve listed here, then knock yourself out.

Let’s begin with your endocrine system and hormones. Here are the studies:

Your endocrine system consists of glands throughout your body which regulate everything from energy levels to metabolism to sex drive. One major function of this system is to produce excitation in response to stress, which is of course necessary for survival, but when it gets out of hand it can be a source of excess stress. One big effect of cannabidiol in the endocrine system seems to be to protect against excess stress by reducing susceptibility to stress-induced activation in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. CBD significantly decreases plasma cortisol levels, and this is actually why I started using CBD in the first place – to reduce my cortisol.

But CBD has other effects on your endocrine system, particularly your appetite. You may simply think that marijuana produces the munchies and therefore makes you fat, and although this makes logical sense, science has shown that it’s not the case that marijuana makes you fat, especially when CBD is present.

Here’s how it works…

Your pancreas secretes the hormones glucagon and insulin to regulate blood sugar by signaling your liver to break down fat into sugar (glucagon) or to store sugar as fat (insulin). These hormones work as a pair to maintain homeostasis, and they stimulate the release of each other through a complex feedback mechanism. While THC primarily increases glucagon and blood sugar, CBD lowers insulin levels, and it is this CBD action that helps to explain why marijuana users tend to eat more calories but do not gain any extra weight, have less obesity and have lower rates of type II diabetes than non-users, and is also why some diabetics find that marijuana makes it easier to manage their blood sugar.

Type II diabetics (whose pancreas still functions) tend to have very high levels of insulin, but the liver is unable to use that insulin, so blood sugar stays high, and the pancreas eventually damages itself by trying to continually produce more and more insulin, eventually leading to organ failure if the diabetes is unmanaged. By lowering pancreatic insulin release, CBD may alleviate or prevent the progression of type II diabetes and blood sugar disorders. Cannabinoid antagonists such as CBD have been shown to reduce obesity, and not only do rodents given these antagonists eat less, but they also lose more weight than their reduced feeding can account for.

So the summary of the biggest effects of CBD on the endocrine system? Lower cortisol and better blood sugar control. Let’s move on.

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The Effects Of CBD On Anxiety & Stress

You’ve already seen the data on the big cortisol-lowering effects of CBD. But when it comes to anxiety and paranoia in general, a THC-rich strain of marijuana will actually increase not decrease stress unless there is enough CBD present to balance out the stress-increasing effect of weed.

Studies in humans, including many of those cited below, have demonstrated that CBD dosage reduces anxiety (once again, compared to the increased levels of anxiety that THC produces), and that when you combine CBD with THC, it takes the anxiety edge off THC. This is due to the action of CBD on 5HT1A and TRPV1 receptors, both of which are involved in mitigating the anxiolytic, panic and fear responses to stress.

Here are the studies that have specifically investigated CBD’s role as an anti-anxiolytic:

When it comes to stress, which is of course significantly related to anxiety, the host of studies are just as impressive:

This is just a small sample of the research showing the role that CBD plays in reducing stress and reducing anxiety. I’ve found that as little as 10mg CBD vastly lowers my anxiety at the end of the day, and have dosed with as high as 100mg CBD to be as calm as a baby during trans-Atlantic plane flights, nights sleeping in hotel rooms, and other situations where I have difficulty sleeping or tend to be stressed out. The stuff works like a charm, and saves me from having to hunt down an unhealthy, addictive alternative like valium or diazepam.

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The Effects Of CBD On Inflammation

You can pretty much consider inflammation to be the freaking bane of our modern, fast-paced, industrialized lifestyles. Of the ten leading causes of mortality in the United States, chronic, low-level inflammation contributes to the pathogenesis of at least seven, specifically heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and nephritis.

But from joint pain to irritable bowel syndrome to diabetic retinopathy, CBD has been shown to modulate both acute and chronic inflammatory issues via several different mechanisms, and from the research I’ve seen and cited below, it’s even more powerful than many of the commonly recommend natural remedies for inflammation, such as curcumin, fish oil, resveratrol, anti-oxidants, protelytic enzymes, Vitamin C, etc.

For example, cytokines are the signaling proteins synthesized and secreted by immune cells upon stimulation. They are the modulating factors that balance initiation and resolution of inflammation. One of the mechanisms of immune control by CBD during inflammation is stopping cytokine production by immune cells and lowering cytokine production by the T-helper cells Th1 and Th2 (which are interestingly the same cells in which overactivity can contribute to autoimmune issues and food intolerances). The inflammatory compound interleukin-6 (IL-6) can also be decreased in the presence of CBD.

In one interesting study, researchers decided to test the effect of CBD on four cell signaling or mediating molecules associated with intestinal inflammation and oxidative damage to the gut. Their findings were as follows:

  1. Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) – CBD reduced the overexpression of iNOS in response to colitis. iNOS overexpression is well correlated with disease activity with colitis, and inhibitors of iNOS lead to improvement in experimental models of IBD. iNOS results in high-output production of NO, which results in oxidative damage to the intestine via reactive oxygen species (ROS).
  2. Interleukin-1β – levels significantly increased with experimental colitis. CBD was shown to decrease levels. IL-1β is shown to have potent pro-inflammatory activity and thus heightens the inflammatory response that leads to intestinal injury. IL-1β amplifies the production of inflammatory leukocytes (immune system cells), resulting in an increase of inflammation.
  3. Interleukin-10 – levels significantly decreased with experimental colitis. CBD was shown to restore levels. IL-10 has anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Restoration of IL-10 activity is critical to intestinal health.

The reduction of iNOS and reactive oxygen species by CBD, along with the reduction of lipid peroxidation, shows the important therapeutic action of CBD in reduction of colonic inflammation by indirect reduction of oxidative damage. In addition, the dysregulation of the interleukins IL-1B and IL-10 is a well-known disruption caused by irritable bowel disease (IBD). The restoration of these interleukins to normal behavior by CBD, although the specific pathway is unknown, is another important therapeutic action that CBD has on reduction of colonic inflammation.

Many of the folks I coach and do consults with have always struggled with a “sensitive gut”, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, gas, constipation and other signs of gut inflammation, and being able to use CBD to reduce gut inflammation could be a game-changer for these people. But from the joints to neural tissue, CBD has a variety of other natural anti-inflammatory effects. Here are just a smattering of the studies done on cannabidiols and inflammation.

Interestingly, the connection between CBD and inflammation can be highlighted using professional sports as an example. From MMA fighters to NBA basketball players, cannabis use is widespread among hard charging professional and a growing number of recreational athletes, specifically for shutting down the extreme amounts of joint inflammation and pain from constantly pounding the mat or the court and for helping the body relax and sleep at night after a day of stress combined with hard and heavy training. Many NFL athletes are now experimenting with cannabis extracts to manage post-head injury symptoms and to reduce the chronic mid and post-career aches and pains.

I’m sure that if these same athletes realized they could get all the same anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety and sleep effects from CBD, without having to worry about THC testing by their athlete’s federation, they’d likely leap at the chance.

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The Effects Of CBD On Metabolism & Body Fat

Bet you never thought you’d hear somebody recommending a weed derivative to lose weight, but it’s true. Earlier in this article, you learned how CBD can help to stabilize insulin levels, regulate appetite, and decrease cortisol – all of which can have a profound effect on your body fat levels.

As I mentioned earlier, cannabidiol is known to counteract some of the effects of THC like the “munchies.” Just as THC can significantly increase your appetite, CBD can suppress your appetite, which is ideal if you’re watching your figure. Here is a great two minute video that sums up how marijuana can help obesity and body fat:

In the video, you learn about one study in which researchers found that pot smokers had lower levels of obesity than people who do not smoke pot, and another study that found that a brain chemical with a structure similar to one of the active compounds found in cannabis might actually help people lose weight. The findings are just the latest addition to a growing body of evidence that marijuana may be useful in countering issues related to obesity.

The researchers leading many of the studies on marijuana extracts and obesity are affiliated with the UK’s GW Pharmaceuticals, which makes me cringe that pharmaceutical companies are going to make some kind of very expensive CBD-based weight loss drug.  But regardless of motive, in these studies, the researchers found that the two compounds, THCV and cannabidiol, boosted metabolism, and reduced levels of liver fat, and blood cholesterol. These same compounds also made mice more sensitive to insulin, protected the cells that produce insulin, and increasing metabolic rate – all while suppressing the appetite. Nice.

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The Effects Of CBD On Sleep

In the United States, approximately 70 million people suffer from insomnia, insufficient sleep or another sleep disorder. CBD extracts have been mistakenly described as sedating, but I haven’t found that to be the case with my own use and neither has research. Although it’s true that if you take a bunch of CBD (I’ve found 30g+ of a good, absorbable CBD will do it for me) you will fall asleep like a baby, in modest doses, CBD is mildly alerting, and simply provides a calm, relaxed focus.

Cannabidiol actually activates the same adenosine receptors as caffeine, which is technically a stimulant. But patients with sleep issues report that ingesting a CBD-rich tincture or extract a few hours before bedtime has a balancing effect that facilitates a good night’s sleep, and I’ve certainly found this to be the case.

Here are the studies on CBD and sleep.

In sum: smaller doses of CBD provide you with a calm and relaxed focus that comes in handy during everything from writing to music to parties to workouts – very similar to what you would experience with THC, but without the psychoactive or paranoia properties. And if you combine these smaller doses of CBD with common natural sleep-inducing compounds like melatonin, magnesium, or lemon balm, then you can get yourself into an even more relaxed state. But larger doses of CBD (which are going to range based on the actual absorption of whichever CBD blend you are using) can be used all by themselves to enhance sleep or combat insomnia.

Speaking of dosage, in most clinical trials, you’ll see CBD dosing ranges from 10-800 mg of CBD a day (although to treat schizophrenia, I’ve seen doses as high as 1,300mg). But as with everything from whey protein to creatine to magnesium, everyone is different and you’ll likely need to experiment with a dosage range that works for you. The CBD capsules I personally use contain 10mg in one capsule, but based on the absorption (an important variable which you’re going to learn about next), I need to use far less CBD, about 1/10 the amount, compared to other CBD tinctures, extracts and capsules I’ve tried.

Why Most CBD Isn’t Absorbed & What You Can Do About It

OK, so there must be a catch here, because at this point you’re probably under the impression that I think CBD is some kind of cure-all magical tonic that ranks right up there with Belgian chocolate, Bordeaux wine and kale smoothies.

But problem is, CBD oil, capsules, powders, etc. are not easily absorbed by your body. They can spoil and become contaminated. They smell bad. They often taste bad too. And they’re not water soluble.

The water soluble thing is a biggie.

Your body is composed of over 60% water, and this means that you’re going to either A) need to take way, way more of a non water-soluble CBD product if you actually want to feel the effects or B) smoke or vape your CBD, which is logistically annoying and not something your kid or your pet can do (and yes, both kids and pets can enormously benefit from CBD usage).

This is why most CBD hemp oil products have an extremely poor bioavailability and most people simply don’t experience or feel any of the effects of the CBD they take.

So how can you make CBD absorbable?

Enter turmeric, the same flavorful spice that I mix with black pepper on my salads every single day of the year.

Turmeric comes from the rhizome in the turmeric plant, and the rhizome can grow up to 3 inches in length. The rhizome is then harvested and dried before being ground into a yellow powder, the very concentrated form of which is also known as curcumin (yes, the same curcumin that is currently the darling of the “natural anti-inflammatory” industry).

Kind of like cannabis, humans have been cultivating turmeric for a long time – over 4,000 years. The Ayurvedic medicinal herb was originally used as a medicinal herb in Southeast Asia, where turmeric also carries significant religious significance. Turmeric was a highly sought after commodity in the ancient spice trades that swept across China and Africa, all before the end of the 9th century.

India is the main cultivator of all the world’s turmeric crops and consumes 80% of the world’s supply. Due to the high content of the main bioactive component in turmeric (curcumin) Indian turmeric is considered to be the best in the world for medicinal purposes. The Indian city of Erode, located in the South Indian State of Tamil Nadu, is the trading hub for turmeric in the Eastern hemisphere. Erode is so well known for its turmeric production that it is referred to as “Yellow City,” and “Turmeric City” (similar to the way that my living room couch is covered in yellow stains from my frequent turmeric sprinkling on most of the dinners I eat).

And here’s why turmeric plays such an important role in CBD absorption…

…when the cannabionids and terpenoids in CBD are mixed with the the isolated curcuminoids of a high-curcumin containing turmeric plant, the bioavailability of the CBD absolutely explodes. This means that if you’ve used CBD oil before in the absence of a curcuminoid blend from turmeric, you probably only felt about 1/5 to 1/10 of the actual effects of the CBD, since CBD by itself is very poorly absorbed.

For you aspiring Bulletproof Coffee drinkers out there, this is a similar concept to the idea that you simply never get to feel several of the bioactive, wakefulness and focus-enhancing terpenoids in coffee until you have actually introduced fats and triglycerides into the coffee to help these terpenes cross your blood-brain barrier – hence the butter and coconut oil blended with the coffee.

Using an extraction process called “hybrid-nanoengineering”, which basically involves a combination of CBD with turmeric herbal extracts, it is actually possible to get a completely bioavailable and absorbable form of CBD. The way that hybrid-nanoengineering works is that the cannabinoids and terpenoids are extracted from the cannabis herbs and then blended in a lab with curcuminoids to create CBD particles that are on the nano paricle size level. Nano particles (1/100 the width of a human hair) are easier for your body to absorb and transport to where they are needed within your body. This means that a hybrid-nanoengineered CBD is over 10x more bioavailable in the body than any other oil based CBD, CBD tincture or CBD capsule, and it means that just 10mg of a nano particle CBD is the equivalent of taking at least 100mg of oil based CBD.

The result of hybrid-nanoengineering with turmeric is a raw oil that is high in CBD, virtually free of THC (less than 0.001%,) and complete with a full spectrum of other cannabinoids and terpenes, which work synergistically to make CBD even more effective. The oil is then encapsulated, and…

…voila…

…you’ve got an extremely absorbable CBD capsule, along with all the benefits of curcumin. Here’s a video that demonstrates the absorption difference between water soluble CBD that’s been hybrid-nanoengineered, compared to regular, non-water soluble CBD.

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Summary

Whew. Congratulations, you made it.

You now know:

  • CBD is the 100% legal and non-psychoactive form of marijuana, and can actually combat unpleasant effects of smoking weed, such as paranoia or over-excitability…
  • CBD acts on completely different receptors and enzymes than THC, resulting in significant effects on anxiety, depression and stress…
  • CBD is completely safe and non-addictive…
  • Pharmaceutical companies can’t patent CBD unless they turn it into a synthetic chemical first…
  • There are shocking demonstrations of the potency of CBD for several serious neurological conditions such as epilepsy, MS and cerebral palsy…
  • CBD can also be used to balance hormones, reduce anxiety, lower inflammation and chronic pain, combat metabolic syndrome, and reduce obesity…
  • It is very difficult for your body to absorb CBD, unless the CBD has been blended with curcuminoids and made bioavailable in a nanoparticle size… …
  • You can legally purchase hemp-based CBD anywhere in America and in most countries of the world…

After spending the past year researching everything you’ve just read about and experimenting extensively with CBD oil, I am now (full disclosure folks) an investor and adviser to the only company in the world that has patented the nanoengineering of blending curcuminoids with the cannabidiols and terpenoids in CBD.

I would never endorse anything that I don’t use and benefit from myself, and I can honestly say that this is the most absorbable form of CBD I’ve ever used, it allows me to get all the benefits of smoking weed without actually smoking weed, and it is exact stuff that I personally purchase for myself and that now lives in a special place in my pantry.

In addition to my morning and evening multivitamin and fish oil, I’ve now added two of these CBD capsules to my early evening protocol, specifically to lower inflammation from exercise, to lower my stress and anxiety, to help me to have more creative focus for writing, and to cause me to fall asleep much, much faster at night. Since I travel frequently, I can – unlike weed – take this CBD through any airport, anywhere in the country, and also unlike weed, CBD is not banned by any governing bodies of sport like USADA, WADA or the NCAA.

Three other things…

The hemp used to make this CBD oil is extracted from a special variety of sustainably raised, organic hemp that is specifically bred to contain naturally high concentrations of CBD, while still containing all of the natural cannabinoids, terpenoids, and other compounds of the original plant. The resulting oil then is strictly tested for cleanliness, and has zero pesticides or heavy metals.

The starch “filler” is from non-GMO brown rice grown in the fields in India, which is also where the organic turmeric comes from. The hypromellose vegan capsules contain no soy, no nuts, no sugar, no yeast, no gluten, no dairy, no chemicals, no artificial flavors, no artificial coloring, and are lab tested to be free from toxins and other solvents.

And just to enhance the peaceful, calm, focus that NatureCBD gives you, I’ve also added to this unique custom formulation two big de-stressing and focus enhancing agents…

1. Ashwagandha

This is an exotic Indian herb with remarkable stress-relieving properties comparable to those of powerful drugs used to treat depression and anxiety. 

Scientific studies support ashwagandha’s ability not only to relieve stress, but also to protect brain cells against the deleterious effects of our modern lifestyles. For example, in validated models of anxiety and depression, ashwagandha has been demonstrated to be as effective as some tranquilizers and antidepressant drugs. Specifically, oral administration of ashwagandha for five days showed anxiety-relieving effects similar to those achieved by the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam (Ativan®), and antidepressant effects similar to those of the prescription antidepressant drug imipramine (Tofranil®).

Stress can cause increased peroxidation of lipids, while decreasing levels of the antioxidant enzymes catalase and glutathione peroxidase. When ashwagandha extract was administered by researchers one hour before a daily stress-inducing procedure, all of the these parameters of free radical damage normalized in a dose-dependent manner.

Premature aging associated with chronic nervous tension is also related to increased oxidative stress, For example, in a remarkable animal study, examination of the brains of sacrificed animals showed that 85% of the brain cells observed in the animals exposed to chronic stress showed signs of degeneration. It is this type of cellular degeneration that can lead to long-term cognitive difficulties. Amazingly, when ashwagandha was administered to chronically stressed animals, the number of degenerating brain cells was reduced by 80%.

In one of the most complete human clinical trials to date, researchers studied the effects of a standardized extract of ashwagandha on the negative effects of stress, including elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The results were impressive, with participants showing increased energy, reduced fatigue, better sleep, and an enhanced sense of well-being…

…along with a reduction of cortisol levels up to 26%!

Using a validated model of damaged nerve cells and impaired nerve-signaling pathways, researchers have that demonstrated that ashwagandha supports significant regeneration of the axons and dendrites of nerve cells along with the reconstruction of synapses, the junctions where nerve cells communicate with other cells. This means ashwagandha extract helps to reconstruct entire networks of your nervous system, and has huge implications for any athlete using CBD to manage head injuries or chronic pain.

Researchers have also found that ashwagandha helps support the growth of nerve cell dendrites, which allow these cells to receive communications from other cells, and that ashwagandha helps promote the growth of both normal and damaged nerve cells, suggesting that the herb may boost healthy brain cell function as well as benefit diseased nerve cells. So we’re talking a “nootropic” smart drug type effect. 

Most ashwaganda supplements have failed review by ConsumerLabs, so I opted for a 100% water-soluble bioavailable formulation of ashwaganda, using the same nanoengineering technique as the CBD… 

2. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm, AKA “Melissa Officinalis” was dedicated to the goddess Diana, and used medicinally by the Greeks some 2,000 years ago. In the Middle Ages, lemon balm was used to soothe tension, to dress wounds, and as a cure for toothache, skin eruptions, mad dog bites, crooked necks, and sickness during pregnancy, and as a medicinal plant, lemon balm has traditionally been employed against bronchial inflammation, earache, fever, flatulence, headaches, high blood pressure, influenza, mood disorders, palpitations, toothache and vomiting.

Because it provides the body with a calming effect, lemon balm is also used for nervous agitation, sleeping problems, functional gastrointestinal complaints, menstrual cramps and urinary spasms. It is thought that the volatile oils in lemon balm contain chemicals that relax muscles, particularly in the bladder, stomach, and uterus, thereby relieving cramps, gas, and nausea. Because of its calming effect without the potential to create the side effects of a sedative, lemon balm is also widely used to treat stress, anxiety and insomnia. This ability, along with lemon balm’s antiviral and anti-autoimmune characteristics have also made it useful for the treatment of thyroid issues chronic fatigue syndrome.

Recently, lemon balm produced an unexpected result: it greatly increased the ability to concentrate and perform word and picture tasks. In a study at Northumbria University in England, students were tested for weeks while using either lemon balm or a placebo. The students did significantly better on the tests after taking lemon balm and continued to post improved scores for up to six hours after taking the herb. The students taking lemon balm were noted to be calmer and less stressed during the tests.

Similar to the ashwaganda, the NatureCBD only contains lemon balm that is 100% bioavailable. Nanoengineered? Yeah, you guessed it.

So the total ingredients of NatureCBD are…

Hybrid-nanoengineered CBD – 10 mg
Curcumin 100 mg
Magnesium 100 mg
Lemon Balm 90 mg
Ashwagandha 100 mg

Pretty cool little formulation, huh?

To go along with with all my other hippie sounding stuff at Greenfield Fitness Systems, like NatureFlex, NatureColostrum and NatureCleanse, the name of this nanoengineered, turmeric blended, ashwaganda, lemon-balm blend is “NatureCBD“. Here’s a comparison of NatureCBD to other CBD products:

table

NatureCBD also comes with a “feel the difference” money-back guarantee.

That means I’m so confident this is going to be a game-changer for you if you’re stressed, anxious, have difficulty sleeping, need to lower inflammation, control appetite or get any of the other benefits of smoking weed without actually smoking weed, that NatureCBD has an unconditional 30-day money-back guarantee.

I get it.

Many people are (and should be!) skeptical when they hear what a new product might do for them, especially when it’s a politically charged, controversial plant extract like CBD. So with this guarantee, you have the opportunity to experience the same peace, calm, focus, relaxation and sleep benefits I’ve already enjoyed, with no worries.

If you don’t feel a difference after 30 days or you’re not happy with your results, simply notify me up to two full months after your purchase and I’ll make arrangements for you to receive a 100% refund (less shipping, if applicable). No questions asked. No annoying hoops to jump through.

Oh yeah, one other thing…

….I’m giving you a 10% discount on any NatureCBD autoship. You just sign up to get it automatically delivered to you, and you get killer savings. It’s that easy. You can click here to now to instantly save 10% on any autoship order of NatureCBD.

Do you have more questions, comments or feedback about how to use CBD oil? About the NatureCBD formulation? Do you have other questions about THC, cannabis or marijuana? Leave your thoughts below and I promise to get you an answer!

How To Get All The Health Benefits Of Weed Without Actually Using Weed.

weed

A few months ago, I had a party at my house, and one of the guys in attendance – my friend James Sol Radina – handed me two capsules of something called “CBD”, also known as cannabidiol. This was actually right before we left to go play a giant game of laser tag in America’s largest laser tag arena, in which he and I came in first and second place. 

But this podcast, in which I interview James, along with his Indian scientists sidekick Dr. Mewa about what CBD really is, isn’t really about how to get drugs at parties that help you win at laser tag.

Instead, it’s all about the science and the practical ways to use CBD, which is the completely legal extract of the cannabis plant that many, many people are now turning to for everything from enhanced focus, to decreased stress, to lower inflammation.

So what is CBD exactly?

CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, a prominent naturally-occurring cannabinoid component found in cannabis that comprises up to 40% of the plant. After THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) – which is the psychoactive component of cannabis most often associated with marijuana – CBD is by far the most studied natural cannabinoid, especially when it comes to medical benefits and addressing issues such as insomnia and anxiety. According to many researchers, CBD may be the single most important cannabinoid ever discovered.

Despite popular perceptions of marijuana, cannabidiol is a cannabinoid devoid of any type of strange psychoactive effect (although it can help with cognitive performance, memory, focus, etc.). In other words, unlike THC, CBD won’t get you “high”, CBD can actually help to counteract some of the psychoactive effects of THC (taking any paranoia edge off of marijuana) and it’s 100% legal everywhere in the world, which means you can order it online, you can carry it on airplanes, and you can use it anywhere you’d like.

In today’s episode, James, Dr. Mewa and I discuss:

-The difference between THC and CBD…

-Why you would want to use CBD by itself, without any THC…

-How you can use CBD to “take the edge” off THC…

-Whether CBD is addictive, unsafe or illegal…

-The role that CBD plays in both acute and chronic inflammation…

-How you can use CBD to decrease anxiety and stress and to improve sleep…

-Why most CBD oil and CBD capsules are not actually absorbed…

-How Dr. Mewa uses “hybrid nanotechnology” to make molecules more absorbable…

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Resources from this episode:

The Effects Of Weed On Exercise article

The Science Of Weed documentary

NatureCBD

** NO CBD10 OR BEN10 CODE REQUIRED FOR AUTOSHIP DISCOUNT. PRICE IS ALREADY 10% LOWER THAN SINGLE BOTTLE PURCHASE! **

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About the guests:

James Sol Radina, CEO & Chief Visionary Officer

As Chief Visionary Officer, James is the driving force behind Bio Hemp CBD’s socially responsible model of donating CBD products to those who cannot afford them, and he is the inspirational force behind the company’s beliefs and marketing strategy. After partnering with Dr. Mewa Singh, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Bio Hemp CBD, James has built the best team in the industry. James is passionate about improving the human experience and has been a long time contributor to a number of charitable organizations. James co-founded S.P.I.N. (Spreading Philanthropy Into Networking), and then went on to co-found another endeavor, SEVEN, which focused on bringing together leaders in the Greater San Diego Area focused on personal development and philanthropy. James acted as Marketing Director and an Advisor on the Strategic Partnerships Committee for the Jeans 4 Justice Charity, a nonprofit that provides education to raise awareness for the prevention of sexual assault.

Dr. Mewa Singh, Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer

As Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Singh is responsible for leading all research, product development, and product testing. Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Singh is the inventor of Hybrid-Nanoengineering™, the technology and process behind nano-ized CBD* and Ayurvedic herbs. The discovery of Hybrid-Nanoengineering™ is possibly the single biggest advancement in nutraceuticals. An expert in the biotechnology and product development, Dr. Singh has spent almost 30 years successfully developing and launching products for diagnostics, vaccines, nutraceuticals and nanomedicines. He has previously served as Director of Research & Development, Chief Scientific Officer, Chief of Operations and Chief Executive Officer for companies such as Chembio Diagnostics, Medical Services International, J N International and Meda Biotech, LLC. Dr. Singh holds a Master’s of Science in Biochemistry, a Master’s of Philosophy in Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, and a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology. Dr. Singh has worked to develop over 145 different nanomedicines for use as pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and agrochemicals.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about CBD or cannabidiol? Leave your thoughts below and either James, Dr. Mewa or myself will reply. You can click here to get NatureCBD.

THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THIS PRODUCT IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.

 

Behind The Scenes Of The Tim Ferriss Experiment: 15 Pounds Of Muscle, Turmeric Tea, Urban Evasion & More!

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Today I present to you a guy who is no stranger to the BenGreenfieldFitness podcast: Tim Ferriss.

Three years ago, Tim appeared on this show with Ray Cronise in the episode “Tim Ferriss and Ray Cronise Explain How To Manipulate Your Body’s Temperature To Burn More Fat”. Two years ago, he returned with the “Tim Ferriss Cold Thermogenesis Episode”.

And now Tim is back, because believe it or not, he knows how to do more than just freeze his balls off. As a matter of fact, the relentless self-experimenter, author and now TV star has just launched the highly entertaining Tim Ferriss Experiment, which you can get now on iTunes. So far, I’ve watched the tactical shooting episode and the rock n’ roll drumming episode, and I’ve queued up the urban escape and evasion episode next.

But Tim is also up to other things. Like eating copious amounts of cheese. And that’s where we start in this discussion with Tim, in which you’ll discover:

-Why Tim is experimenting with ketosis…

-How Tim recently put on 15 pounds of muscle…

-Why Tim isn’t tracking variables like sleep or heart rate variability…

-Which smart drugs Tim used to accelerate learning during the Tim Ferriss experiment…

-Why Tim ensures there is some kind of potentially embarrassing outcome when he is learning something new…

-Tim’s biggest tip to learn to run up a wall Parkour style…

-How to evade someone in an urban situation…

-Why tactical shooting was one of Tim’s favorite episodes…

-How Tim is using cold thermogenesis…

Resources from this episode:

The Tim Ferriss Experiment (TV Show on iTunes)

Tim Ferriss and Ray Cronise Explain How To Manipulate Your Body’s Temperature To Burn More Fat (podcast)

Tim Ferriss Cold Thermogenesis Episode (podcast)

Precision Xtra Blood Ketone Monitor (device)

CILTEP (smart drug)

Yerba Mate tea (drink)

Pue-r tea (drink)

Double Kong Parkour move (video)

OnPointTactical (urban escape and evasion course)

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about the Tim Ferriss Experiment? Leave your thoughts below!

High Protein Breakfast Myths, Genetic Testing For Exercise, Demystifying Brain Waves & More!

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A few weeks ago, I got an email from a podcast listener who said I had to get a guy named “Matt Riemann” on the show. I had never heard of Matt.

So as I often do, I had a brief Skype video conversation to “vet” Matt and see if he would be an informative guest for the show, or, as so often happens when some random person solicits a guest to me, a charlatan.

Turns out, Matt is the former.

Within the first 5 minutes of our Skype conversation, he could tell by my manner of speech and my facial expressions what my cognitive dominance and dominant frequency brain waves were (don’t worry, we delve into what that means in today’s show).

He also told me a high protein breakfast is really not the right thing for many people, and what he really thinks about genetic testing to determine the best exercise or nutrition.

We also address these topics on today’s show.

So who is Matt?

Matt describes himself as “a social entrepreneur” in the fields of personalized health and future medicine. He is specifically focused on changing the entire health trajectory of the human race. Seems like small beans, hey?

Matt has a masters degree in applied human sciences, is a lecturer and clinical educator at several universities in Australia, and has been recognized for his passion and excellence in educating doctors, health professionals and fitness experts globally over the past 10 years. In 2013, Matt founded the Ultimate Human Foundation, a non­profit with a mission to transform world health and assist in eliminating chronic pain and disease from the planet. Matt has founded 7 businesses in health and medicine over the past 10 years, most recently launching p​h360.me,​ a smart health app based on personalized epigenetics and gene expression.

In our podcast, you’ll discover:

-How you can use the field of anthropometry and body typing to determine your cognitive dominance and dominant frequency brain waves…

-The real reason why some people do very well on a vegan diet while some people do not…

-How to choose the correct diet based on whether you’re an overmethylator or undermethylator…

-How to plan vacations according to your body profile and circadian rhythm, including the time and place to go for rapid rejuvenation…

-How to use genetic testing to determine the best exercise or nutrition plan without actually getting a salivary test for genetics…

-How your genes influence the social interactions that will energize you, and those that will drain you…

-And much more!

Resources we discuss during this episode:

The ph360.me website

Matt’s TedX talk “Epigenetics & Personal Health: Can We Control Our Own Future?”

Get Fit Guy’s Guide To Achieving Your Ideal Body Type book

The previous podcast I did with the folks from DNAFit

Professor John Burn, who oversees genetic analysis for the royal family

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about personalized health and epigenetics? Leave your thoughts below and either myself or Matt will reply! You can also click here to check out the ph360.me site that Matt and I discuss.

How To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck From Recovery, Supplements, Nutrition, Mental Training & Race Prep.

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On any given morning, after I’ve finished my quintessential morning routine, I preview a good 40-50 health, fitness and nutrition articles and studies (I like to use a service called “Feedly” for this), and read the nitty-gritty details on at least 10 of them.

One of the authors and blogs I follow is Alex Hutchinson at RunnersWorld.com. I’ll admit that Alex and I have never met, but I like his level-headed approach to fitness and our mutual background in the geeky realm of endurance performance.

So when I saw that Alex had written an article entitled “Advice To A Young Athlete”, I gave it a thorough read. In the article, Alex delves into supplements, recovery, nutrition, mental training, and race prep for a young elite cyclist who had written to him asking for performance advice. And while you may not be young, elite or a cyclist, there are still some very helpful gems in the article. In this article, I’ve give you my thoughts and commentary on a few such gems.

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Supplements

When it comes to supplements, Alex highlights the proven performance enhancing effects of caffeine, the lactic acid buffering and muscle-burn reducing effect of baking soda (or beta-alanine) and the endurance enhancing effects of beet juice.

I agree with Alex about the effects of each of these supplements, but with a few caveats.

For example, when it comes to caffeine, many athletes who are overtrained tend to use coffee and energy drinks to mask fatigue, and often dig themselves into an adrenal fatigue, injury or illness hole that can be very difficult to climb out of. So I recommend that when using caffeine for it’s performance enhancing effects, you use the minimum recommended dosage, which is close to 3mg/kg (for an 80kg person, that’s 240mg of caffeine, or about 2 pretty big cups of coffee). Even 3mg/kg can be a hefty dose of caffeine, so this wouldn’t be prudent to use before a daily workout, but only in times when you need significant performance enhancing effects, such as a high priority race like a marathon or triathlon.

I also recommend “deloading” from caffeine every few weeks to ensure you don’t build tolerance to caffeine and so that you don’t build so many receptors (called “adenosine receptors”) for caffeine to bind to that you wind up disrupting  your sleep. This can be accomplished by switching every four weeks from caffeinated coffee to a good, tasty decaffeinated coffee (I use organic Swiss water process decaf) for one week.

One of the most proven performance enhancing supplements on the face of the planet is creatine, and I personally use 5g of this creatine per day. Creatine was left out of Alex’s article, but in fairness, his article was targeted to an endurance athlete who will probably benefit less from creatine compared to a strength or power athlete. Nonetheless, creatine has been shown to have performance enhancing effects for endurance, and also has a cognitive boosting effect.

Finally, we live in an era in which an athlete can affordably undergo blood, saliva and stool testing to identify specific hormone, neurotransmitter, micronutrient, bacterial and enzyme excess or deficiencies. Because of this, it is possible to create a customized exercise supplementation protocol based on your specific needs. For example, common deficiencies among athletes include red blood cell magnesium, Vitamin D, ferritin, thyroid hormone and testosterone. Once you identify deficiences like this, you can then use supplementation (along with lifestyle, exercise and diet modifications) to fill in the gaps – vs. a “shotgun” approach of using  something just because a competitor or someone else on your team or in your gym is using it.

Of course, speaking of filling in the gaps, here’s what I think is the most important consideration for supplements: I was recently speaking on a “supplement panel” at PaleoFX, and highlighted the fact that you can’t out-supplement poor lifestyle, exercise and diet choices, and that for everything from muscle gain to performance to fat loss, supplementation might give you the extra edge of 1% to a maximum of perhaps 10% (that’s why it’s called a “supplement”, not a “staple”). Just remember that before you decide to cut your workout short so that you can have time to go prepare your giant creatine, beta-alanine, perfectly formulated maltodextrin and whey protein infused smoothie.

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Recovery

For recovery, Alex highlights the importance on not spending too much time on recovery methods such as ice baths, since you don’t want to attenuate the body’s adaptations to training. This is probably prudent if you’re the type of exerciser who is observed in studies that show things like ice baths don’t work: an exerciser who exercising 20-60 minutes 5-7 days per week and is not necessarily doing a Crossfit WOD every day, throwing down 2-3 hour runs on the weekends and working out 60-90 minutes on multiple days per week. It’s probably also worth mentioning that there are “biohacks” such as compression gear that can making ice baths more effective.

However, many of the exercise enthusiasts I know definitely fall into the camp of folks who probably need more recovery, not less, and who are probably building up such a high amount of free radical and oxidation damage to the body from exercise that they need higher doses of recovery than what might be recommended to the average lab rat or person doing “minimal” exercise doses in a study.

Anyways, in his article Alex highlights the potential recovery enhancing benefits of ice baths, compression socks, massage, and sleep. But I’d throw in a few others that I’ve found to be practically effective, including:

1. Hot-Cold Contrast

This can include sitting in a warm sauna for 20-45 minutes on a recovery day, then finishing up with a cold shower, or alternating an ice bath dip followed by a hot tub soak or dry sauna several times through, or even simply switching the shower from warm water to cold water for a few cycles. Just before writing this article, I did 5 minute hot tub soaking and breath-hold practice to 5 minutes cold pool kettlebell swings. So obviously, the sky’s the limit for your creativity on this one.

2. Electrostimulation

Using an electrostimulation (EMS) unit to drive blood flow and to contract muscles when you’re unable to move (such as a long airplane or car ride) or when a joint is injured. EMS units are now relatively affordable, and don’t necessarily require you to visit a physical therapist’s office and shell out a co-pay every time you want access to recovery technology. I discuss EMS’s efficacy in more detail in this podcast.

3. Inversion

Just like compression, inversion can help move blood out of areas of the body where blood has pooled or where inflammatory fluids from metabolism and exercise have accumulated. From yoga inversion poses to inversion tables to hanging from ropes or pull-up bars, getting your recovering appendages higher than your heart can be easy and effective, and has the added advantage of “traction” – the pulling-apart of joints that can increase synovial fluid and lubrication moving in and out of joints such as knees, hips and shoulders.

That recovery list is my no means exhaustive, but includes just a few of my favorites. You can read more about my thoughts on a variety of recovery tools in my article “26 Ways To Recover With Lightning Speed“.

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Nutrition

When it comes to nutrition, the first piece of advice given by Alex is to increase whatever amount of vegetable and fruit you’re currently eating, with as much quantity and variety as possible. While I’m certainly fan of eating plants, I do have an issue with the “lumping” of fruits and vegetables into the same category.

In fact, fruits and vegetables are two entirely different food groups. Fruit is “nature’s dessert”, and while a great source of nutrients and fiber, is also relatively high in fructose sugar and calories compared to vegetables. For example, I personally eat what probably comes close to 20-25 servings of vegetables each day (yes, each day!), but only about one serving of fruit, max.

In addition, a diet of around 50 percent carbohydrate, 20 percent fat and 30 percent protein is recommended in the article. While this is indeed a macronutrient ratio that falls in line with conventional sports nutrition guidelines, it’s important to realize that conventional sports nutrition guidelines don’t necessarily take into account the fact that athletes and individuals who have been eating a slightly higher amount of healthy fats and lower amount of carbohydrates may actually have developed glycogen (storage carbohydrate) conservation and fat burning mechanisms that allow for lower carbohydrate intake, a concept which I delve into in great detail in my article about a high-fat diet and exercise study called “FASTER”, which I personally participated in.

Alex also recommends an advanced nutritional technique called “train low”, in which overall carb intake remains high, but certain workouts are performed with low carbohydrate stores, either by training before breakfast or by depleting carb stores with periods of low carb intake. This is actually a nutrition technique that I endorse and that I actually use nearly every day, and it’s very easy to implement: I simply save all my day’s carbohydrate intake for the very end of the day.

Up until that point eat almost zero carbohydrate, and instead opt for a high amount of healthy fat and a moderate amount of protein. Then, within 2-3 hours after my afternoon workout, I eat anywhere from 100-200g of carbohydrates from sources such as red wine, dark chocolate, sweet potato, yam, rice, etc. This is actually a technique known as carb backloading,  popularized by my friend John Kiefer, and you can read more about this approach here.

Finally, Alex cites some evidence that dehydration is a trigger that induces increases in plasma volume, which in turn boosts endurance performance, and that you may be able to take advantage of this by doing some of your training sessions in a slightly dehydrated state. While this may be a useful “biohack”, I’ve personally found that when doing a workout with a dry mouth or when feeling dehydrated, I’ve definitely experienced a dip in motivation and ability to reach a high rating of exertion, so this would be a strategy I’d reserve primarily for easier aerobic workouts, and not tough training sessions, since I suspect the cons outweigh the pros.

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Mental Training

Alex give two pieces of advice in his section on mental training – 1) see a sports psychologist and 2) avoid mental fatigue before competitions. If you’re a serious competitor or athlete with a paycheck on the line, I’d definitely agree with the former.

When it comes to the latter, it is certainly true that replying to a boatload of emails or engaging in highly cognitively demanding work can detract from subsequent physical performance – but this is mostly something to worry about prior to a key “big” workout or race, and not necessarily an issue before a typical day at the gym.

There are a few other tricks you may want to bear in mind when it comes to mental training and motivation – specifically 1) affirmation; 2) visualization; and 3) box breathing.

1. Affirmation.

What you dwell on each morning helps to shape you as a person and drives your personality, motivation level and priorities the rest of day. You can use this to your advantage by forming your own daily mantra, which can chance from day to day, or be the same all year long. For example, one of my daily affirmations of late (which I actually write down using a handy tool called a “5 Minute Journal”) is…

…“Every little win counts.

This reminds me that no matter how stressed I am or how much there is to do, that every little thing I do counts just a little bit towards my productivity or towards making me better – including replying to just one email, writing just one page of a book, or squeezing in just 5 minutes of a workout.

To understand the power of having some kind of daily purpose or affirmation like this, just look at this statement from Buster Douglas, who upset fighter Mike Tyson back when Tyson was a feared world champion:

“My sole purpose in life these last six months was to beat Tyson. That’s all I thought about. He was the first thing on my mind when I would wake up in the morning and the last thing on my mind when I went to bed. When I’d fall asleep, I would dream about beating him. If there was anything else going on in the world the last six months I didn’t know about it, because my mind had just one thing on it… beating Tyson.”

That’s powerful stuff.

So just stop for a moment and ask yourself: what is your personal “Tyson”? Is it those extra 20 pounds? That triathlon you signed up for? Your blood pressure? Begin to dwell on it and use affirmations in the process, such as “Every day, I’m getting just a little lighter…” or “I love to swim, to bike and to run….” or, “I am calm in the face of stress…”

2. Visualization.

When she was 16 years old, gymnast Mary Lou Retton won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. But just six weeks before, she had suffered a major knee injury that required surgery. The surgery was minimally invasive, and allowed her to walk immediately and begin training again a week later, and by the time she was to go off to the Olympics, Mary had fully recovered, was stronger than ever, and attributed much of her success to her ability to visualize her gold medal

“In the weeks before the Olympics, Mary Lou often lay in her bed with her eyes closed and let her imagination romp. She would visualize herself on each piece of equipment, performing her best routines and hitting every move perfectly…Retton even went as far as to imagine receiving the gold medal, while hearing the “Star Spangle Banner” booming in the background. Her creative visualization would prove to be prophetic.”

Michael Phelps is another perfect example of visualization.

“…each night before falling asleep and each morning after waking up, Phelps would imagine himself jumping off the blocks and, in slow motion, swimming flawlessly. He would imagine the wake behind his body, the water dripping off his lips as his mouth cleared the surface, what it would feel like to rip off his cap at the end. He would lie in bed with his eyes shut and watch the entire competition, the smallest details, again and again, until he knew each second by heart. During practices, when Bowman ordered Phelps to swim at race speed, he would shout, “Put in the videotape!” and Phelps would push himself, as hard as he could. He had done this so many times in his head that, by now, it felt rote. But it worked. He got faster and faster…”

How about you? Can you see yourself at the gym conquering that weight you’ve always struggled underneath during a barbell squat? Can you see yourself hitting the perfect tennis serve during a clutch point in the match, or running on the trail and feeling as though you’re flying through the air with feet as light as a feather? Can you see each individual drop of sweat coming off your nose? If so, then you’ve tapped into the power of visualization.

3. Box Breathing.

Box breathing, which I first mentioned in my series on SEALFit training, something I sit down and do for 3-5 minutes before intimidating workouts that I know are going to crush me, before stressful tennis matches, and even with my 7 year old twin boys when they’re nervous about something like a soccer game or they simply need a few minutes to calm down.

The breathing pattern is simply a “box” of four different section of a breath. You inhale to a count of 2 (or all the way up to 8 for a more advanced method), hold for a count of 2-8, exhale to the same count and hold again for the same count.  You can start at 2 if you find 4, 6 or 8 to be difficult, or you can take it up a notch if 2 is too easy.  How do you know how long to make each section of the box? You should be uncomfortable on the exhale hold, and be forced to fill the entirely of your lung capacity on the inhale hold.

The benefits of box breathing include reduction of performance anxiety, control of the arousal response, increased brain elasticity (through enhanced blood flow and reduced stressful mental stimulation), enhanced learning and skill development, and increased capacity for focused attention and long term concentration. That’s worth a try, huh?

There are even a variety of apps that you can use to help guide you through box breathing, including the Pranayama app (this is the one I personally use) and the Box Breathing app (that’s about as generic a name as it gets).

Want even more powerful “jedi mind-tricks” you can use for workouts, races or life in general? Some of my favorite resources include the books Psychocybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, Psych by Dr. Judd Biasiatoo, and Unbeatable Mind by Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine.

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Race Prep

Alex gives a wealth of advice in the section on race prep – and whether you’re prepping for a 5K or an Ironman triathlon, these are tips that really do work, including a taper, warm-up and heat training:

1. Taper.

The article recommends to gradually drop your exercise volume starting two weeks before your big event, with about 50 percent of normal volume in the last week, while maintaining intensity. I certainly agree with this concept, but with the caveat that I’ll often taper for just 4-5 days before many races, and only do an elongated multi-week taper before a very important event, like world championships. This is because multiple multi-week tapers spread out the year before multiple events can significantly detract from your fitness (this is why making every race a “high-priority” race that you perfectly taper for isn’t a great idea).

2. Warm-Up.

A hard effort prior to a short, intense race or competition increase your VO2 max during the event, and Alex recommends, for example, a moderately hard six-minute effort finishing 10 minutes before starting a cycling race, or two 60-second efforts a little quicker than tempo pace prior to starting a running race. I’m completely on board with this recommendation, and would also emphasize that for a warm-up, I’ve also found a great deal of benefit from both visualization and Wim Hof-style yperoxygenation “fire-breathing”.

3. Heat Training.

Alex recommends heat acclimation training (such as dry sauna) to boost performance, even in cool conditions. This can certainly be a good way to increase heat tolerance and also blood plasma volume, and I get into the science of heat acclimation in my interview with Dr. Rhonda Patrick. But in addition to heat training, I’d also emphasize the importance of cold training and cold thermogenesis for increasing cardiovascular efficiency and stress resilience, and for any given week, I typically do at least a couple 10-30 minute cold water immersion sessions and 30-45 minute dry sauna sessions (the latter of which, incidentally, is most effective post-workout to boost EPO levels).

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Summary

While there are plenty  more performance enhancing tips and tricks I could delve into, the takeaway message is this: by including just a few of the simple pieces of advice you’ve discovered in this article, you can experience a bigger boost in performance than you’d get by just “training hard”. And a big thanks to Alex Hutchinson and Runner’s World for the original article that inspired me to write this.

If you have questions, comments or feedback, simply leave your thoughts below.

A Hidden Sleep Killer That Flies Under The Radar (And What You Can Do About It).

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A few weeks ago, I received an interesting email from a podcast listener, who cryptically stated…

…”you could improve sleep also by a simple screening of oximetry to rule out OSA in your adrenal fatigue clients. 30% of OSA patients have OSA unrelated to obesity. Me included and I am 9% body fat. Just something to consider since you are doing a lot of cool but out of the box sleep recommendations. This coming from a fan and a board certified sleep specialist.

I have to admit that I did not, off the top of my head, even recall what OSA was, and that it had been some time since I’d personally used a little finger pulse oximeter to measure my blood oxygen saturation. I was also intrigued about the fact that many people who don’t sleep well, are constantly tired, or experience adrenal fatigue don’t seem to know about this issue, so I asked him what he meant.

He wrote back and clarified:

“Relating to OSA, I was referring to Obstructive Sleep Apnea Hypopnea Syndrome. I like a more accurate description “sleep suffocation”. The issue is totally ignored by Primary Care Physicians, let alone the guys that should be investigating it which should be the cardiologists. 30 percent of OSA patients have no obesity contributing to the problem but have craniofacial development deficiencies. The other 70 percent or so end up developing “sleep suffocation” as obesity sets in. Nearly 80 percent of moderate and severe OSA cases are undiagnosed. This is the lion’s share of what the sleep specialists deal with every day. The insomnia cases, ASPS, DSPS, jet lag, RLS, PLMD, narcolepsy and the other sleep disorders take a back seat to this OSA issue. You can’t address sleep issues thoroughly without thoughtful discussion regarding OSA.”

Wow. Now that’s something that needed some further digging, so I decided to get this guy on the podcast. His name is Dr. Joseph Zelk and he is the Medical Director of the Sleep Medicine Group, which you’ll learn more about in this show. In this episode, you’ll also discover:

-Why many sleep monitoring devices and wearables simply aren’t accurate, and how you should really be measuring your sleep…

-What a sleep cycle should really look like when it comes to deep sleep vs. light sleep…

-Why you should use a pulse oximeter upon waking, and what can it tell you…

-How you get OSA, especially if you’re a lean active person who eats healthy…

-Why more people don’t know about OSA, especially physicians…

-What you can do to fix OSA…

-Are there ways/technologies to measure pulse oximetry all night while you’re sleeping?

-Which nutrient deficiencies can cause this issue…

-And much more!

Resources we discuss in this episode:

The Sleep Medicine Group

The MyBasis watch

Pulse oximeters that can measure oximetry while you’re asleep

Superhuman Encoder bracelet

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about this hidden sleep killer that flies under the radar? Leave your thoughts below!

Finally, for customized, cutting-edge sleep tracking and testing, a one-on-one sleep consultation via Skype, screening for obstructive sleep apnea or any other your other sleep enhancement or insomnia fixing needs, visit www.sleepmedicinegroup.com. Mention “Ben Greenfield” on your e-mail intake form or when you speak to a representative, and get a $25-100 discount on any sleep testing or sleep consulting services.

How to Biohack Your Pasta.

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It’s no secret that most pasta slowly destroys your gut, your brain and your body.

I dive deep into the nitty-gritty of why pasta is such bad news in this podcast interview with Dr. William Davis, who also wrote a very good book that addresses this topic in detail (“Wheat Belly“), which along with David Perlmutter’s “Grain Brain” is a must-read if you’re still struggling to control your cravings when you saunter past an Italian restaurant or find yourself dreaming of spaghetti with marinara, but need just a bit more biological convincing.

But perhaps you’ve already “biohacked your pasta” and switched to zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash, two ever-popular non-grain alternatives to modern, commercial wheat and gluten-laden pasta, and you’re simply looking for a new way to experience pastas and stir-fries.

There is indeed another way that ancient, traditional societies biohacked their noodles – or at least, figured out a way to have tasty soups and noodle dishes without relying upon grains, soy or other allergenic triggers. For example, in Japan (one of my favorite countries, and a place I’ve visited many times to race triathlons) the indigenous population for centuries have used noodles made of shirataki and kanten. You’re about to discover exactly what these these noodle alternative are, and how you can use them to biohack your pasta.

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The first style of noodles in Japan is known as shirataki, and for centuries, Japanese monks have subsisted on these ultra low-calorie, low-carb noodles that are made out of vegetable fiber from a plant that’s very similar to a wild yam. The second style of noodles is a particular favorite of mine and one that I’ve been putting on my lunchtime salads every day. It’s called kanten, and is derived from a type of seaweed vegetable known as tengusa.

You’re probably familiar with the Okinawa region of Japan, made famous for (besides a U.S. Marines base) its extraordinarily high number of centenarians, people who live healthy, robust lives to 100 and beyond. Areas such as this are commonly called “blue zones”, and there’s actually a new book that is on my reading list called “Blue Zone Solutions” that delves into this topic.

Interestingly, researchers who have studied these Japanese centenarians believe that the health of these elderly Okinawan people partially stems from their inclusion of sea vegetables such as kanten in their diet. But when it comes to kanten noodles, you actually wouldn’t believe the complex process that it takes to transform agar-agar, the gelatin-like substance of the tengusa seaweed into a functional noodle that takes only 30 seconds of stirring in hot water to prepare for soups, stir-fries and pastas.

In order to get the texture of noodles from the agar, the seaweed needs to be put on the side of the mountain in the winter, where it freezes during the night and thaws during the day in the sunshine. Through careful maintenance by an artisan who constantly monitors meteorological conditions, especially temperature, a kanten product can be created that actually has noodle-like consistency (as opposed to being nasty, seaweed mush). This entire, painstaking process takes 3-4 weeks for just one batch, but kanten has been prepared in this traditional way for several generations.

Below is a photograph of my friend Dr. Jonathan Carp, an MD who has visited Japan dozens of times to study the Okinawans and their special pasta-producing techniques. He is actually standing with one of these amazing artisans who lives at high altitudes in the mountains of Japan and works as part of a small, family-run kanten noodle production facility.

kanten

Jonathan recently sent me a few sample packs of these kanten noodles (he calls them “Miracle Noodles”) straight from his source in Japan, along with links to several medical studies that have proven agar-agar’s value as a health food. For example, one study published in Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism concluded that the agar diet resulted in marked weight loss due to the maintenance of reduced calorie intake and to an improvement in metabolic parameters. This is probably because the stuff has zero calories. Yes, zero.

In another study, cholesterol levels, insulin resistance and fasting blood glucose levels were significantly improved with regular consumption of agar (the terms ‘agar-agar’, ‘kanten,’ and ‘agar’ are synonymous). The 6 grams of fiber in one serving of kanten helps with meal satiety, and as agar-agar fills your gastrointestinal tract, it actually makes you stop eating earlier than usual. I’ve found that both my lunchtime salads as well as any stir fries or pastas I’ve made with the kanten noodles that Jonathan sent me (worry not, recipes are coming below!) have been incredibly filling, and kept me from craving carbohydrates or foods like red wine or dark chocolate after I’ve finished eating.

Finally in Japan, agar is also used as a gelatin substitute to help ease upset stomachs, in the same way that we would use bone broth here in the United States. To get these same stomach-soothing benefits, I’ve actually been not only eating the kanten noodles, but also drinking the water that I use to do the quick 30 second soak of the noodles.

OK, at this point, you’re probably ready to try these yourself in some recipes, and although kanten noodles can be used a substitute for any spaghetti or noodle based dish, I’m going to dive into two of my favorite recipes for you.

As you read these two recipes – one more complex, and one a bit easier – please remember that you should not add boiling water to the kanten noodles. They will become a gooey mess if you do. Instead, just add the kanten noodles to warm/hot water (about the temperature of tea that you could sip) and stir for 30 seconds until noodles are soft. You should also know that my twin 7 year old boys have gone absolutely nuts over the noodles, not only because they’re easy for the kids to help prepare, but also because they’re fun to twirl around a fork or eat with chopsticks.

If you click here to go the Miracle Noodle website, and choose kanten noodles, you’ll automatically get a 15% discount. You can also experiment with the shirataki noodles from that same website, but I have yet to use those myself, so can’t really comment on the taste or texture of the shirataki…yet.

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Miracle Noodle Crock Pot Chicken Stew

Crock Pot Chicken Stew

This is a more complex recipe, but is perfect for “batching” meals, entertaining a large group, or cooking for a family.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped, steamed, and drained
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 yellow onion sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 cups baby kale, chopped
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 2 bags kanten pasta

Instructions

  1. Place sliced onions, garlic, and chicken broth into a crock pot. Set it to low or to desired cook time.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet until shimmery. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add chicken thighs to skillet in batches of 4 and brown on both sides. (Can skip this step if short on time).
  3. Place chicken thighs in crock pot.
  4. Add remaining oil into skillet. Quickly saute and brown the cauliflower. Add to crock pot with skillet bits and the oil. Add cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Stir gently to coat chicken and vegetables.
  5. Allow to simmer for a few hours.
  6. An hour before serving, add cilantro, spinach, kale, and green chilies to crock pot. Stir gently.
  7. 10 minutes before serving, add kanten pasta. Stir.

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Big-Ass Kanten Noodle Salad (the easier recipe)

Every day for lunch I have what I call a “big-ass salad”. The ingredients often vary, but I’ll include one of my favorite examples below. Prior to discovering the kanten noodles, I used to simply wrap my salad in seaweed nori wraps and eat my salad like a burrito, but now I put noodles on top of my salad, and eat my salad through the noodles, so it’s a bit like eating a fresh vegetable stir-fry. This sounds weird, but it actually turns out quite well for helping my lunchtime salads to leave me incredibly full, for hours and hours.

The salad tends to vary quite a bit from day to day, but here’s the specs on one that I recently posted to my Instagram account.

Ingredients

  • Spinach
  • Parsely
  • Tomato
  • Celery
  • Purple Heirloom Carrot
  • Garlic Stuffed Olive
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Pecorino Cheese
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Tahini Sesame Paste
  • Homemade Sourdough Croutons
  • Avocado
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Turmeric

Instructions

Easy. Pile everything into a bowl, top with the kanten noodles (see noodle prep instructions in other recipe above), top off noodles with a little extra oil, salt and pepper if you’d like, then munch away – and never crave spaghetti or pasta again.

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So what do you think? Do you plan on trying kanten pasta yourself? Do you have your own recipes to add? Leave your comments below, and either myself or Dr. Jonathan Carp will reply. Finally if you click here to go the Miracle Noodle website, choose kanten noodles, and enter coupon code ben15, you’ll automatically get a 15% discount.

The Terrifying Condition Of Sleep And Why You’ll Die Earlier If You Don’t Experience It.

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I once heard a sleep researcher amusingly describing sleep as a “condition” that a physician describes to parents of a newborn child.

The story goes like this:

A pediatrician presents a brand new baby girl to her parents and reports to them that the child is healthy, but to please beware as new parents that…

…”frequently your baby will go unconscious and unresponsive to normal stimulation. The frequency of these attacks will gradually decrease to just one-a-day by the time she goes to school, but that will last throughout her life. Periodically once unconscious she will be paralyzed except for spastic muscle twitches, her eyes will dart back-and-forth, and her heart rate and breathing rate will get irregular. As she gets older she will have hallucinations during these episodes. She will hear voices and see things that aren’t there. Some of these things will be very strange and maybe even terrifying causing her to sit up and other times scream out in freight. But not a problem, because this condition is also characterized by total amnesia, so she won’t remember any of these terrifying experiences, including the loss of consciousness, paralysis, spastic muscle contractions, cardiorespiratory arrhythmia, or hallucinations.”

And then the physician reveals the exact “terrifying” condition he is describing. Did you guess it?

That’s right: it’s sleep.

The parents were of course relieved to learn that their baby’s condition was merely that of sleep. But hearing this description of sleep hopefully gives you insight into the fact that physicians and medical researchers actually know very little about why we actually sleep, and have little understanding of what really happens to us during sleep.

The phenomena of sleep is both loved and hated by the modern American. Look at many of the common catch phrases that have been indelibly etched in the modern psyche, including…

“Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation.”

“I can sleep when I am dead.”

“Sleep is a luxury I can’t afford.”

The CDC reports that 30 percent of adults admit to less than 6 hours of sleep a night. The myth of getting by with less sleep to get ahead has been around only a short time though, since the early 1900s. The graveyard shift was invented to ramp up manufacturing during World War II. Thomas Edison, a notorious short sleeper, famously described his optimal day as working for 18 hours a day and getting by with 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night. In comparison, in his era, the average American slept just over 8.5 hours a night.

It is amazing how quickly our priority for sleep has eroded. Some medical researchers have found a connection with increase in autoimmune disorders, in part due to the lack of opportunity to restore one’s health through sufficient sleep. But like autoimmune disorders, insufficient sleep is not considered a disease, but rather the body somehow “short-circuiting”, and some kind of a self-inflicted problem. The definition of insufficient sleep is succinct: a neurologic disorder in which individuals persistently fail to obtain enough sleep to support normal wakefulness, and perhaps one day it may include in the definition, fail to obtain enough sleep to optimally support the immune system as well.

Epidemiologists have graphically demonstrated the stark decline in average nightly sleep duration for Americans over the last few generations, in 1950 – 8.5 hours, in 1970 – 7.5 hours – in 2000 – 6.25 hours, and so on.

SleepLoss

So what does this mean to someone who wants to stay at their peak performance? What has research shown is the detriment of not getting enough sleep? How much does a healthy person, let alone an athlete need to be at their peak? Sure, the average adult may need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, but the answer is not that simple, and in an ideal world, you’d be able to quantify what is needed to function at your best.

So in this article, you’re going to discover what happens to your body when insufficient sleep occurs and new objective ways to quantify if that you’re truly getting enough sleep.

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Sleep Deprivation and Immunity

Animal studies have demonstrated a sleep-promoting factor contained in the cerebrospinal fluid. This factor is called adenosine. So I always ask my patients…

…what is the most commonly used medication in the world?

I preface by telling them it is neither over-the-counter nor a prescription. The medication is a blocker of adenosine and that medication is caffeine, often in a morning, mid-morning, afternoon, and perhaps mid-afternoon or evening cup of coffee.

But like any medication, caffeine has a toxic dose, and one big reason for this is because it can block adenosine. This is because adenosine is essentially the exhaust fuel of the brain’s metabolism.

Here’s how it works: when the glial cells of the brain are running low on ATP (adenosine is the “A” in this adenosine triphosphate) to breakdown from stored glycogen (glucose storage) that 2 ADP (adenosine diphosphate) can be used to make an extra ATP and a leftover adenosine molecule. So excess caffeine intake can actually strip the brain of necessary fuel, especially when glial cell ATP is already low from lack of sleep.

Let’s use the case of coffee, ATP depletion and lack of sleep to see how this has a profound effect on your immune system, the development of immunological memory and other inflammatory homeostatic functions.

The immune cascade in response to infection involves the activation of neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages (white blood cells are the soldiers of the immune system). These are the cells that produce inflammatory cytokines (proteins that serve as messengers between cells) such as IL-beta, IL-6, TNF-alpha, which stimulate hepatic production of C-reactive protein (hsCRP is an inflammatory marker used by doctors to predict the risk of heart disease or general inflammation). These cytokines are elevated the morning after as little as a single night of four hours of sleep restriction. Inflammatory mediators participate in the CNS (central nervous system) regulation of sleep. I am hopeful that with time there will be biohacks that may help mitigate the inflammation related to sleep deprivation. But for now the best medicine is simply choosing to avoid the inflammation in the first place.

During experimental sleep deprivation of healthy volunteers, blood pressure and other indicators of sympathetic output have been found to increase. This increase in sympathetic (the fight or flight nervous system) output results in increased pro-coagulatory (blood clotting factors) markers produced by stimulating vascular endothelium (the lining of the arterial wall which normally is extremely slippery when healthy). This alteration can increase shear stresses associated with increased blood pressure, and this can activate inflammatory mediators.

Other data supports a connection with increased pain perception and sleep loss. Inflammatory markers, including prostaglandins and pro-inflammatory cytokines, have been shown to sensitize nociceptors (pain receptors), contributing to the development of spontaneous pain and hyperalgesia (increased pain).

In addition, animal trials have noted reduced bone density in sleep deprived rats. Dr. Everson’s sleep research found rat hematopeotic stem cells are half as effective after 10 days of sleep deprivation. This decreased cell activity was related to impaired migration capability of the bone stem cells.

Human trials have demonstrated with vaccination experiments to assess antibody creation in response to flu vaccine a reduced immunity in sleep deprived subjects. These subjects had ½ the antibody response to vaccine after volunteers were sleep deprived to 4 hours a night for 6 days. This impairment persisted for a full month after recovery sleep was allowed. Natural killer cells attack viruses and tumor cells. Research has found that healthy volunteers subjected to a 4 hours of sleep loss were found to have a 73 percent reduction in natural killer cells.

So from stripped brain fuel, to increased pain perception, to lower bone density, to a reduction in natural killer cells, to an increase in blood pressure and an increase in inflammation, we now know that a lack of sleep has profound effects on your immune system – even if you’re able to be awake and function.

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Sleep Deprivation and Glucose Metabolism

Current data point to three pathways that link sleep restriction with diabetes risk and obesity:

1. alterations in glucose metabolism;

2. upregulation of appetite;

3. decreased energy expenditure.

The role of sleep in glucose regulation has been recognized for over a decade. Initial studies on sleep curtailment were experimentally testing short periods of total sleep restriction. These studies found that despite significant negative metabolic derangements in hormone and glucose utilization that given the opportunity to have recovery sleep, these derangements were quickly reversed. The human physiology tolerates one night of total sleep restriction well…given the opportunity to catch up. But the more relevant experiments are the ones that test the effect of partial sleep restriction over several days or longer.

The mechanisms affecting glucose metabolism following recurrent partial sleep restriction are believed to be multifactorial. The acute reduction in insulin release could be due to increased sympathetic nervous activity at the level of the pancreatic beta-cell. Cardiac sympatho-vagal (this is the balance between the rest/digest and the fight/or flight autonomic nervous system) balance is affected, as evidenced by reduced heart rate variability when sleep is restricted. Secretion of counter-regulatory hormones, Growth Hormone and cortisol, may contribute to the alterations in glucose regulation noted during sleep loss. Subjects tested during the peak of sleep loss were found to take 40 percent longer than normal to regulate blood glucose levels, and the ability to secrete insulin decreased by approximately 30 percent.

The imbalance of catabolic (biochemical reactions that break down molecules in metabolism) and anabolic  (biochemical reactions that stimulate protein synthesis and muscle growth, and insulin) hormones leads to a dysregulation of the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus where there is opposing sets of neurons, appetite stimulating and appetite inhibiting.

Epidemiological data show an association between short sleep and irregular eating habits, snacking between meals, excessive food seasoning and reduced consumption of vegetables. The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study found evidence that sleep loss may alter the ability of leptin and ghrelin to accurately signal caloric need. This imbalance produces an internal perception of insufficient energy availability despite an increase in caloric intake. Dr. Carol Everson found in rats that were subjected to sleep restriction for 10 days a persistent 20 percent increase in food intake, despite the opportunity for recovery sleep.

The Nurse’s Health Study followed 80,000 women observed an association between sleep duration and Body Mass Index (BMI) where the lowest mean BMI was observed among those nurses reporting sleep in 7-8 hours a night. Recent research was performed on healthy controls that comprised 12 months of 30 minutes of sleep restriction per night. This cumulative sleep debt resulted in increased adipose tissue and insulin resistance. The study results extrapolated that this mild sleep debt increased the risk of obesity by 72% [15].

It’s important to emphasize here that cumulative lack of sleep is the issue, and it’s a serious issue when it comes to blood sugar control, appetite and fat loss.

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Sleep Deprivation and Hormones

New Picture

There is little research on the effect of sleep loss on female sex hormones, but for male sex hormones there is some strong support. Recently, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute funded a sleep deprivation trial. This trial was performed on 24 year old males. When deprived of sleep their testosterone levels dropped by 10-15 %. The reason for this drop has been postulated to be related to changes in LH (luteinizing hormone – a hormone produced in the anterior pituitary gland). In light of this new information, one might plan on adding more sleep time to their health regimen and reassess testosterone levels a month later.

Don’t forget the power of melatonin (circadian – 24 hour cycle – sleep hormone) on overall health. Research on the effect of exogenous (supplement form of melatonin) may not have near the same effect as simply adding more sleep to one’s nightly habit. The natural secretion of this hormone initiates a cascade of biological processes. The general public is familiar with melatonin as a sleep related hormone, but many may not be aware of its impact on brain glutathione (a major endogenous antioxidant produced by the cells) and its powerful antioxidant effects. It is considered more powerful than vitamin C, E, A and the carotenoids.

Unfortunately, melatonin is a terminal antioxidant, meaning it does not undergo redox cycling, which is the repeated reduction and oxidation to regain its antioxidant properties. Thus, sleep is required to regenerate this master antioxidant. If sleep is a health promoting process in our 24 hour cycle, then it is logical that a major player in sleep promotion would be a powerful antioxidant.

Here is how it works: when melatonin is produced, it can work as an antioxidant to free up glutathione. Why is this important? When we are low in antioxidant in general or low in any one specific cofactors then glutathione takes on the role of eliminating free radicals. Once this happens, supplies of glutathione become depleted and slows down all the other roles that glutathione plays in the body, including detoxification, DNA repair, antioxidant recycling, mitochondrial energy support and immune system regulation.

The best way to promote sleep physiology relating to melatonin secretion is likely by avoiding light pollution experienced by most people in the evening hours. Avoiding bright light sources, especially blue wave length can support natural production of melatonin in the brain.

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Sleep Duration, Genetics and All-Cause Mortality

Finally, meta-analyses of population-based studies looking at the relationship between sleep duration and all-cause mortality reported a 10 and 12 percent increased all-cause-mortality in individuals with habitual short sleep duration.

But does everyone respond the same to sleep curtailment?

Recent twin studies have uncovered some genetic variations that may protect some people from sleep deprivation. The mutations that occur to the p.Tyr362His BHLHE41 gene appear to allow some to tolerate shorter sleep durations and maintain normal alertness and limited signs of inflammation.

Unfortunately, right now the average person is trying to function like Thomas Edison…which won’t end well for most of genetically. My feeling is that Edison is probably one of those folks who may have had the p.Tyr362His BHLHE41 mutation (only an educated guess).

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Sleep Tips From A Sleep Doctor

Believe it or not, the most powerful non-medication intervention for insomnia is using the naturally occurring soporific neurotransmitters and getting in tune with one’s natural sleep rhythms. The body is made to be awake for approximately 16 hours of the day. This rhythm is entrained to ebb and flow with the natural increase and decrease in hormones throughout the day. If the schedule is interrupted, then the natural cycle of hormones will be disrupted as well, so you ust maintain as normal of a wake time as possible. The reason for this is that if you go to sleep later and have an anchor of wake time, you will likely have more sleep pressure developing throughout the day, but you won’t disrupt the overall sleep/wake rhythm.

By using this strategy, the average sleeper will increase the sleep promoting neurotransmitter adenosine in the cerebrospinal fluid to allow for natural sleep onset. This will reduce the need to add in amino acid precursors for GABA neurotransmitter or add in exogenous melatonin.

You should also bock high lux of light (intensity of light source) to below 80 lux after 6pm on a normal schedule. This is harder than it sounds, since most internal lights are well over 100 lux. Many electronics have high lux and blue wave length of light, which suppresses melatonin production. Adding a blue wave length blocking screen protector, software application or glasses may improve natural melatonin production.

Avoid electromagnetic frequencies that will disrupt slow wave sleep (SWS) generation and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Don’t work up to the last minute. Integrate some form of relaxation to the hour before bed; less light, sleep induction mat with acupressure, heart rate variability training (NatureBeat), brain wave entrainment (Muse Headset), deep slow breathing and don’t go to bed until sleepy.

The worst thing someone with insomnia can do is to go to bed early and then lie there wide awake. One too many nights of this behavior and the unconscious brain will start associating the bed with being awake. The scary truth is that the brain will generate neurologic pathways that reflect our average sleep habits, and so 5, 10 or 20 years of ignoring our sleep needs may possibly hard wire us when we are older to be poor sleepers. This is not helpful for the average 50 year old or older person, since we tend to have less solid sleep and less deep (SWS) as we age, compounding the challenges we face with the aging brain.

The data is becoming overwhelming regarding the importance of adequate sleep time. Savvy minded folks who are looking to improve performance or simply stay at their optimal health just can’t afford to ignore sleep health. Most people need a minimum of 7 hours to 8 hours of sleep a night (not time in bed).

As you can see, the rising tide of inflammation, immune system problems, weight gain, high blood pressure and hormonal imbalances the general public is attempting to address may be avoided by tapping into our natural healing resource – sleep.

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How To Quantify Your Sleep

So how do you know you are getting adequate sleep?

New Picture (3)

The simplest answer is to monitor your vigilance during the day. If waking in the morning to an alarm clock is compulsory, or if you are falling asleep in the afternoon or during meetings or falling asleep in the evening in front of the television, you are not adequately rested. More quantified assessments of adequate sleep may include morning heart rate variability (HRV – the beat-to-beat alterations in heart rate) assessment. Blood testing showing elevated CRP may represent sleep curtailment as well. This measure would likely need to be assessed after a full week of recovery sleep, noting the long duration that CRP persists in the blood stream.

This guest post was written by Dr. Joseph Zelk, the Medical Director of the Sleep Medicine Group. In just 2 weeks, I’m releasing a podcast interview with Dr. Zelk. The interview is about a hidden sleep killer that flies under the radar, and what you can do about it. If you or a loved one struggle with sleep, you’ll want to stay tuned for that audio (click here to subscribe to the free podcast in iTunes), and in the meantime, leave your questions, comments and feedback for Dr. Zelk or myself below. 

Finally, for customized, cutting-edge sleep tracking and testing, a one-on-one sleep consultation via Skype, screening for obstructive sleep apnea or any other your other sleep enhancement or insomnia fixing needs, visit www.sleepmedicinegroup.com. Mention “Ben Greenfield” on your e-mail intake form or when you speak to a representative, and get a $25-100 discount on any sleep testing or sleep consulting services.

Wild Dieting, Fat Fasting, Scary Rice, The Worst Thing To Do When You Get Sick & How To Drop 25 Pounds In A Month.

Wild-Diet-Cover

Abel James, AKA “The Fat Burning Man”, joins me today to share some juicy gems from his new book “The Wild Diet: Get Back to Your Roots, Burn Fat, and Drop Up to 20 Pounds in 40 Days“.

Abel is a speaker, entertainer, and consultant, and he has presented keynotes for the Federal Government, lectured at Ivy League universities, and advised Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, Danaher, and Lockheed Martin. Also a musician and songwriter, Abel studied at the Royal College of Music and has toured internationally, jammed with country superstars, and won several awards for vocal performance.

As you can probably guess by the title, we go all over the place on this one, and you’ll discover:

-How “fat-fasting” works…

-The best piece of fitness advice Abel has ever gotten…

-Most people think rice is a pretty safe starch, but Abel disagrees and explains why…

-What you can learn from Pottenger’s cats…

-One trick to drop 25lbs in a month…

-How the wild diet for pets work (and the shocking ingredients in “healthy” pet food)…

-The absolute worst thing to do when you get sick…

-The mysterious contents of Abel’s Adventure Pack…

Resources we discuss in this episode:

Eat That Frog book

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about The Wild Diet and the variety of topics we chat about on today’s show? Leave your thoughts below!

How To Find A Doctor Wherever You Are.

doctor

Although for the past decade I’ve used a health savings account (HSA) combined with managing my own high deductible health insurance, the passage of Obamacare Affordable Health Care Act ironically tripled my private health insurance costs and left me forced to find a new plan. So this year, I went through the process of applying for health insurance through Washington Health Plan Finder. After dozens of hours of website crashes, tech support nightmares and nerve-wracking lapses in my health insurance coverage, I finally secured coverage.

So health insurance is something fresh on my mind.

And how about finding a physician? In the past, I’ve interviewed my own physicians here in the local Spokane, Washington area, including Dr. Todd Schlapfer and Dr. Toby Hallowitz, and I used the same two-step process to find these doctors as I typically recommend to most folks:

1) Ask around in your local community of like-minded folks about which doctor they recommend;

2) Use these directories that can help you find a good functional medicine or naturopathic practitioner in your area:

HealthProfs.com
FunctionalMedicine.org
Naturopathic.org
PrimalDocs.com
PaleoPhysiciansNetwork.com

But now, it appears that there is a new website and app for finding a doctor wherever you are. It’s called “BetterDoctor“, and in today’s interview, I speak with Ari Tulla, creator of BetterDoctor, about what BetterDoctor actually is, and how it may help you find a medical practitioner appropriate for your needs, find health insurance or find a specific procedure.

Click here to go premium and listen now. You’ll discover:

-Which specific algorithms go into how a doctor is rated…

-How to know which cities where big pharma pays doctors the most… 

-How you can differentiate between alternative medical practitioners such as naturopathic vs. Western allopathic medicine…

-How to locate a list of doctors who has done the highest number of the specific medical procedures that you need…

-How to know which health insurance plan is going to allow you access to the best doctors in your area….

-How to know whether you or your insurance are getting overcharged for specific medical procedures…

Do you have questions about where to find a doctor wherever you are? Your own doctor directory that you recommend? Leave your thoughts and comments below.

Are You Fit, Not Healthy? The Shocking Story Of What Happens When You Exercise Too Much, And What You Can Do About It.

Vanessa3-Jan-2011-my-last-race.-had-started-putting-on-weight

Exercise is supposed to be good for you. But for some people, exercise can become a deadly obsession.

My guest in this podcast episode is Vanessa Alford, author of the new book “Fit, Not Healthy“, which is a warning to all high achievers driven to extremes to excel.

As a young girl growing up in Melbourne, Australia, Alford loved sports: she began gymnastics at age six, netball at seven, and tennis at age ten. She was, in her words, “born to compete”, and both her gymnastics and netball teams won the state championships in her age group. During her early years of sports, she ran to train and to keep fit, but describes it as an obligation, not a pleasure.

After graduating college, Alford began to run regularly: she would set the alarm for 6am, jog for 8k (around an hour) along the beach and be home by 7am, which gave her time to eat breakfast before cycling 15k to work. But soon, her 8k runs became 10k runs, and 12k runs on the weekends.

Soon, both the runs and the ride became mandatory morning rituals, “just like a shot of coffee or booze”, that left her euphoric, floating for the rest of the day on dopamine and adrenaline. “This feeling of elation would sweep over me,” she says, “I just couldn’t get enough of it.”

Within months, she had dropped over 10 pounds and a dress size, and then she started running marathons. Nike and PowerBar sponsored her. Her runs became longer and more grueling, and were soon accompanied by a strict dietary protocol in which she counted every calorie, and monitored every morsel that entered her mouth.

Soon she was running up to 160k a week while surviving on a diet low in fat and low in carbohydrates too. Her body began wasting away, slowly cannibalizing itself, and shutting down non-essential physiological systems. She was exercising herself to death. People warned her, they told her to stop, and her boyfriend told her she had lost her mind. But she couldn’t stop.

Then finally, Vanessa’s body stopped for her, as she collapsed in the middle of a race after losing sensation in her legs.

In today’s podcast interview, you’re going to find out exactly what happened, how exercise addiction occurs, how you can recover from adrenal fatigue, how you can test your body to see if you’re exercising too much, and much more, including:

-The difference between exercise addiction and a runner’s high…

-What’s going on psychologically that makes some people feel like they need to go do things like triathlons, marathons or adventure races…

-Why you often need more and more exercise to achieve the same “high”… 

-What happens chemically that is making you feel so down, so lazy, or so depressed if you stop exercising at the same volume or frequency that you were at before…

-Why will rats run until they drop dead on an exercise wheel…

-And much more!

This episode is brought to you by EXOProtein, where you can use code “ben” for a 10% discount! Today, 80% of the world still eats over 1,600 species of insects, and insects are one of the solutions to humanity’s protein dilemma. Insects are actually as natural to eat as fruits and vegetables and are a more complete form of protein than many livestock alternatives. And even though they have just as much protein as other forms of meat, crickets are 20x more efficient to raise for protein than cattle, and produce 100x less greenhouse gases! Crickets are high in protein, contain all essential amino acids, over twice the iron of spinach, and plenty of B-vitamins, and the Exo bars made from cricket protein are all natural, dairy free, gluten free, grain free, soy-free and paleo friendly. Exo bars are crafted by Kyle Connaughton, formerly the Head of R&D at The Fat Duck, the former #1 restaurant in the world. They’re absolutely delicious, and include flavors like Cacao Nut, Blueberry Vanilla, Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Apple Cinnamon. Click here to try EXOProtein Cricket bars today, and use code “ben” for a 10% discount.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about Vanessa’s story, or being “fit not healthy”? Leave your thoughts below, and be sure to check out Vanessa’s book “Fit Not Healthy“.