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Cool New Research On Cold Thermogenesis.

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If you read “A Day In The Life Of The Ultimate Fat Burning Weapon Inventor“, then you may be familiar with this guy named Eric Grove. One could say that Eric is mildly obsessed with the use of cold exposure to burn massive amounts of calories and in that fat burning weapon article, Eric describes a vest he invented call the “Cool Fat Burner” vest, then goes on to describe in great detail the results of his groundbreaking indirect calorimetry experiment, which shows that high intensity cold stress can boost your metabolism by over 300%.

Since then, Eric has also shown that wearing a Cool Fat Burner vest can boost adiponectin (a protein involved in regulating glucose levels as well as fatty acid breakdown) by 60%, and keep brown fat active for hours after removing the cooling vest. I also reported on the impressive research behind body cooling gear in my own article at T-Nation entitled “Cold Temps For A Hot Body“.

So how does this vest work, exactly?

You simply place the vest (which is filled with cold packs) over your shoulders, where your body carries the majority of your rapid calorie burning brown adipose tissue, and then you just sit there.

So anyways, you may be scratching your head, you may think all this is woo-woo, you may already know about “cold thermogenesis” but you’re not quite sure how practically to do it, you don’t like getting wet in cold showers or jumping into frigid lakes, or you may simply want an easy way to nudge any extra holiday calories off your waistline and instead use them to generate pure, clean body heat.

Either way, keep reading, because Eric is today’s guest author, and he’s going to give you a glimpse inside the nefarious, shivering mind of the ultimate fat burning weapon inventor, and a very interesting group experiment he just conducted on the Cool Fat Burner combined with the newest addition to his line-up: the Cool Gut Buster…*

…specifically, you’re going to learn about recent randomized group experiment that once again confirms the ability of the cold thermogenesis “gear” to cause a huge boost to metabolism and calorie burning, as well as positively effect hormones related to health and longevity.

*There is special a discount coupon code on any of the Cool Fat Burner products for the 2016 holiday season at the bottom of this article.


A Cold Thermogenesis Refresher

Cold thermogenesis is the practice of intentionally exposing parts of the body to specific levels of cold stress. Years of research now shows this can cause significant increases in metabolism and calorie burning, can increase insulin sensitivity and help control blood glucose levels, reduce systemic inflammation, help with sleep and recovery, and potentially fight certain types of cancer as well as promote overall longevity.

How can cold thermogenesis do all this?  

Think about it this way: human beings are probably not meant to be in environments constantly at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, our average modern temperature in which we live, work, play and exercise.  Constant temperature control is a modern, technological contrivance. Whether it was an asteroid that blocked out the sun and wiped out the dinosaurs, to reports of a flood that left the planet underwater, our ancestors at some point experienced a dark, cold world, some form of an ice age, and a very likely necessity to evolve and even thrive in cold temperatures.  Some researchers have even correlated the increase and control of indoor heating to the rise in obesity (and yes, you must keep in mind, correlations should be taken with a grain of salt)

The point here is that we’re arguably not meant to be at a constant, comfortable temperature, and that true, optimal health requires at least occasional cold thermogenesis practices.


The Problem With Cold Thermogenesis

The problem with cold thermogenesis is that most people will not stick to ice baths as a regular practice, cold showers only last for a few minutes, and simply having a cooler room, office or house has little significant impact on metabolism.

That’s why I’m a fan of making long-term, habitual cold thermogenesis quick, easy, and hassle-free, and that’s why I’ve run a series of independent third party experiments showing the following:

Metabolic Boost & Calorie Burning Effect

There was the original groundbreaking indirect calorimetry experiment, where CFB inventor Eric Grove was shown to reach a 300% boost to metabolism, burning 500 calories in two hours, tested at the University of CA, San Diego.  This had never been done before, not in this manner, nor recorded for all to see. Check out the video below.

Activation of Brown Fat

Then there was the unprecedented PET scan experiment – showing “brown adipose tissue” (BAT) activity from the Cool Fat Burner:

  1. BAT still active for hours after removing the vest, in a 70’F room
  2. High BAT levels even at the end of summer; most people otherwise lose their BAT during summer
  3. High intensity cold thermogenesis does not turn off BAT, contrary to what others had claimed

Remember – brown fat or “brown adipose tissue” (BAT) is good.  It’s a metabolically active fat. BAT is found around major vessels so that it can help to heat the blood.  BAT turns on and burns calories when you get cold.  If a person is subjected to cold on a regular basis, they will increase their levels of brown fat.  BAT is also inversely correlated to obesity, meaning the fatter you are, the less BAT you tend to have.  Most mammals have high amounts of BAT to keep them warm. For example, farmers know that cold exposure is a major factor in animals losing weight, so they have to increase their feed over winter to keep their weight up.

BAT doesn’t store calories, it burns them.  Human babies are born with plenty of BAT to help keep them warm, but humans tend to lose our brown fat as we get older.  Seasonal workers have been shown to have increased BAT levels during the winter, but then lose that brown fat as summer rolls around.

Now compare this energy-burning BAT to regular subcutaneous white adipose tissue, which is what most people typically think of as fat (the fat on their stomachs, hips, and legs) that stores calories and is the result of obesity and related to metabolic disorder and all manner of disease.

So brown fat, or BAT, burns calories and is good.  Regular white fat (white adipose tissue, or WAT) that makes up the subcutaneous fat is not completely bad, but can be bad, especially when it grows to the point that one becomes obese. Interestingly, brown fat can burn white fat when we get cold.  Thus it can help with weight loss.

The image of the Cool Fat Burner vest below shows how the vest covers major areas of BAT on the upper body.*

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*Note: researchers have recently identified “beige” fat, which starts out as regular white fat, but that is somewhat converted to have properties of brown fat, meaning that it can burn more calories than regular white fat.  So there is white fat, beige fat, and full brown fat. Beige has properties of both. Why is this important? The hormone irisin, released during high intensity cold thermogenesis, is involved in the browning of white fat.  Merely holding cold packs against the skin above the fat can alter the white fat underneath the packs, causing the white fat to transform into beige fat, and causing your body to burn far more calories than usual.

Increased Insulin Sensitivity

We’d also seen that the Cool Fat Burner could massively increase insulin sensitivity, drastically lowering blood glucose levels in a manner comparable to running, and this is after a single session of wearing the vet.  Keep in mind that chronically elevated blood glucose levels are tied to diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and obesity in general.  Anything that can help lower and control blood glucose levels can probably help combat those disorders.

Spot Reduction of Stomach Fat

While not endorsed for this use, we even showed that the Cool Gut Buster could replicate the conditions necessary to induce fat cell apoptosis, allowing for the spot-reduction of stomach fat, similar to the expensive surgical process of “cool sculpting”. Currently, targeted cold exposure is the only known way to significantly spot reduce fat.

Apoptosis is the intentional, programmed death of a cell.  It happens all the time in the body when a cell is supposed to die and be replaced by another newer cell.  It has been shown that when the skin is held at a specific cold temperature that apoptosis occurs in the fat cells underneath.  But unlike fat loss from exercise (in which fat cells shrink or are replaced), when those fat cells are gone, they are not automatically replaced.  They’re gone for good (admittedly, if a person undergoes a period of over-eating, they could theoretically create new fat cells over time.)

Increased Adiponectin

As you can see in the video below, we have also demonstrated a 60% boost to the hormone adiponectin after a 2 hour CFB & CGB session.

Adiponectin is being studied for its role in insulin sensitivity and diabetes, cardiovascular and heart health, its ability to kill certain types of cancer, and its role in longevity.

 

The Synergistic Effect

Once you put all these biochemical variables that occur as response to cold thermogenesis, you experience the same type of synergistic fat-burning effect I demonstrate in the video below*:

*The full plan I use for this video can be found at www.CoolFatBurnerGuides.com, and is free to all CoolFatBurner vest owners.


A Few Practical Ways To Make Cold Thermogenesis Pleasant

But wait…isn’t cold thermogenesis unpleasant?  

Don’t most folks hate teeth-chattering, skin-burning cold?

No, and there are several reasons why.

First, when you do cold thermogenesis properly, only your torso (where all that BAT is) needs to be cold.  You can keep your fingers, toes, ears, and nose warm.  Since these areas have a high percentage of cold-sensors, you can make yourself feel warm by keeping them warm.  Ever get too hot lying in bed, then you stick your feet out from under the covers, and it cools you off?  That’s the same concept, in reverse.

So keeping your fingers, toes, ears, and nose warm makes you feel warm, even as your torso is cooling.

Second, wearing gear that has ice packs in it allows you to move around or engage in other activities while you wear it. Television, typing at the computer, working around the house, whatever.  I’ve had quite a few users report back that they wear their vests in their morning driving commutes to work.

 

Third, there is the obvious phenomenon of “cold adaptation.” As your physiology transforms, you get more efficient at cold thermogenesis.  You’ll be comfortable at temperatures that you used to feel cold in, and be burning far more calories per session than you used to. Cold temps often won’t even cause goosebumps in a cold-adapted person.  They’re burning so many calories, they’re like an efficient heat-generating human furnace.


The Randomized University Group Experiment

So up to this point, all Cool Fat Burner experiments have been done on a few individuals.  This newest experiment was to be the first time ever that a cooling vest was tested in this manner on both metabolic calorie burning and also on the hormonal response of cold thermogenesis.

Let’s delve into what we planned to study.

There would be 16 subjects, 8 male, 8 female. All subjects were non-smokers with a BMI between 25-35kg/m2 and confirmed to be classified as overweight. None were cold adapted and none had experience with cold exposure. All testing was done in the mornings, in a fasted state, and the subjects would wear the Cool Fat Burner and Cool Gut Buster for 90 minutes total.

The first 30 minutes would be at low intensity cold thermogenesis (CT), meaning not approaching shivering.  The last 60 minutes would be higher intensity CT, approaching or even entering shivering level intensity. Subjects were allowed to drink ice water between the low and higher intensity portions, to help push up the CT intensity.

Blood samples would be taken before putting on the cooling vests, then again at the 30 minute mark (between low and higher intensity cold thermogenesis) and again at the end, after the 60 minutes of high intensity CT, thus yielding 3 total blood samples per subject.  Indirect calorimetry would be used on the subjects to monitor calorie burning and metabolic boost. The blood samples would each be tested in triplicate (3 tests per each blood draw, then take the average), for each of adiponectin and irisin.  This gives 9 total tests per each of the two hormones per the 16 subjects.

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So what happened?

All subjects experienced a small metabolic boost during non-shivering thermogenesis, and around a 200% boost during higher intensity cold thermogenesis.   That level would yield nearly 300 calories burned in a two hours session at their average body composition!

However, this 200% boost is lower than the previous tests we’ve run, which have shown a 280% and a 300% boost in earlier subjects. So the subjects did not go to as high an intensity as previous trials on the Cool Fat Burner.  There are several possible reasons why this could be:

  1. The subjects simply didn’t try to go as hard with cold thermogenesis because they weren’t as motivated as previous experiments with cold-adapted individuals.
  2. Since subjects were new, unpracticed, and not yet cold-adapted, it’s established that more experience with cold thermogenesis would allow them to reach higher calorie burning numbers
  3. The subjects carried much more white fat than previous subjects and their fat may have acted as “insulation” against the cold.

In this respect, I suppose using cold thermogenesis as a fat loss strategy can be likened to going to the gym. If you’re overweight, out of shape, and are going to the gym or to exercise for the very first time, your workout will not yet be very productive when it comes to actually increasing fitness parameters like lactate threshold or maximum oxygen utilization. But as you put in the time exercising, building muscle, losing fat, increasing conditioning and even simply learning how to properly do the exercises, your workouts can get better and more productive and yield better results over time when it comes to increasing fitness.

Thus a new, overweight and out-of-shape person should not judge exercise based off their first workout, and this concept is exactly the same for cold thermogenesis.

If someone starts out overweight and carrying some fat, it may be tricky to induce the highest intensity levels on the very first cold thermogenesis session. Like all things, cold training takes practice.  One has to learn about their own tolerance levels, slowly increase cold adaptation and build up brown fat, learn how to relax during sessions, and so on.  As they lose fat (and ideally, build muscle) it gets easier to get better results during sessions.

Let’s now take a look at what happened not just to calorie burn in these subjects, but also to fatty acid and blood sugar regulating adiponectin levels.

Half the subjects saw around a 10% boost in adiponectin levels from the beginning to the end of the session.  The other half saw minimal changes.  Compare this to a previous study that showed that after 10 weeks of a lycopene-rich diet (tomatoes), women subjects saw a 9% increase.

So the Cool Fat Burner reproduced in 90 minutes what it took those other subjects 9 weeks to do.

It’s been shown over the last few years that adiponectin levels can vary for different demographics and populations.  Not everyone starts at the same levels, nor responds to activities such as diet, exercise, and cold thermogenesis in the same way. For example, a recent published study showed that when testing children, different ethnicities have different adiponectin levels, and those levels can often predict how well they will respond to diabetes treatments (remember, adiponectin is involved in – amongst other things – insulin sensitivity and metabolism).

Also, bear in mind that adiponectin is inversely related to obesity, meaning that the more obese you are, the lower your adiponectin levels tend to be.  So already half of the subjects (all of which were already classified as overweight) saw an increase during the session, and it is reasonable to assume as they lose weight and get in shape, their adiponectin levels will increase across the board for all subjects.

Next there’s irisin, which can help with the “browning” of white fat, can help build muscle, can probably kill certain types of cancer, and may promote longevity.  Unfortunately, the irisin results were problematic.  One third of the subjects saw increases, but others did not.  But the problem here is certainly due to the testing method.

During the initial stages of our experiment setup, a controversy arose over the testing accuracy of irisin.  Some critics were saying all testing methods were flawed, and doubted humans could even produce the irisin hormone.  The debate went back and forth, and eventually they used “mass spectrometry” to prove that humans do in fact product irisin.  However, it was then acknowledged that many of the methods used to test irisin may be flawed and inaccurate.

So at the last minute, we changed testing methods, and used one that was supposed to be “up to date” with the new findings.  However the lab reported to us that the first testing kit was not working right, so none of the findings were valid.  They purchased several more kits, and re-tested everything and those were the results we were eventually given.

Then another problem was revealed with the irisin testing. It has been postulated that freezing blood samples can damage the irisin in the sample.  What’s more, the longer it stays frozen, the lower the irisin scores.  All of our samples were frozen, and most were frozen for months and months before testing even began!

So at this point, I’m not real confident about the irisin results.  The reality is that all subjects surely had an increase in irisin, and all were larger than the tests showed.

But we already know high intensity cold exposure can increase irisin.  For example, a mere 15 minutes at high intensity cold thermogenesis (shivering) increases irisin as much as an hour of HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercise.  However as mentioned above, in regards to the metabolic boost and calorie burning, there’s a good chance the test subjects simply weren’t motivated to reach a higher level of intensity (evidenced by their huge, but still lower overall metabolic boost).  That may also have contributed to lower irisin levels, which is released during high intensity exercise and cold thermogenesis.


Summary

So that’s it folks!  Despite handicapping ourselves with a few of the tests, we still got great results. Huge calorie burning, an extremely significant hormonal response, and proof that yet again the Cool Fat Burner can work as well (but with more convenience) as jumping into an icy cold lake or taking a very long cold shower.

And please bear in mind that this test was performed on a randomized group of slightly obese subjects in a tightly controlled university exercise lab.  This is just further proof of the benefits of the Cool Fat Burner and cold thermogenesis!

In celebration of these test results, I am giving any Ben Greenfield Fitness reader a 12% Cool Fat Burner discount code on the vest or the gut burner (or you can get both). It’s good until New Year’s Day 2017, so it’s perfect timing for buying a Christmas gift or simply giving yourself the ability to decimate holiday fat fast.

The code is Ben12CFB and you can click here to use it now. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll also get full access to my Cool Fat Burner guide download along with your cold thermogenesis gear. Happy holidays, and leave your questions, comments and feedback below.

What Is The Best Workout To Rock A Man’s Suit With Style & Confidence?

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I’ll admit it: until recently, I had the impression that a suit is a suit. Sportcoat, pants, maybe a special vest. Some shiny shoes. And a tie if things get really monumental. You get the idea.

Then I discovered the difference between any random suit from an off-the-rack sale at your local department store and an actual real suit that fits like a glove and looks like a million bucks thanks to NASA inspired technology and salespeople and tailors who know their product inside and out.

Fact is, if you’re serious about showing up confident to a wedding, a job interview, a hot date or any other situation where you could literally be judged by the clothes on your back, then you better know not only how to wear a suit, but you also better know which workout routines will give you a body that cuts an impressive figure in a suit, which suit fabric will make or break your luck, and how to ensure a suit doesn’t turn into a giant, stinky, sweaty full-body sauna.

You’re about to discover exactly how to rock your suit in style and confidence. Let’s jump right in.


Suit Confidence Tip #1: Mind Your Back

Back when I was a bodybuilder posing on stage, it was tempting to simply pay attention the front of my body: the shoulders, the chest, the abs, and the front of the arms. These areas don’t involve rocket science to tackle with efficacy. But I quickly learned that to look good, you also need to pay attention to your backside, which can be a tougher nut to crack.

When you’re wearing a suit, the most important part of your back to target is the part that literally gives you “wings” under each armpit: your lattissumus dorsi, AKA your “lats”. Two of my favorite exercises for the lats that spark an enormous amount of muscle fiber recruitment in your back include:

Deadlifts: Most people know how to pick a heavy object like a barbell off the ground, and that movement, called a deadlift, is great for the butt and hamstrings (your primary hip extensors). But to really get your lats involved, you must squeeze the shoulder blades back and do a slight “mini-shrug” at the top of each deadlift.

Pull-ups: Do copious amounts. Seriously. I have a pull-up bar installed in the door of my office and follow a special rule that I must perform 3-5 pull-ups every time I walk under it. The best style of pull-up for your lats is thumbs-off, wide grip, fingernails facing forward.


Suit Confidence Tip #2: Work On Your “V”

Even if your lats are suit ready, you simply won’t look good in a suit if it’s not hugging your waistline nicely, if you are sporting muffin tops or a beer belly, or if you aren’t working your full spectrum of stomach muscles.

If you really want a tighter tummy, you need to incorporate exercises that create a “belt” of muscle that encompasses your entire mid-section. This belt serves to draw in the waist, keep the stomach flat, and keep your stomach looking good in suit.

To work on all the stomach muscles, you need to include the following four movements:

  • Abdominal flexion, which will tighten the “rectus abdomonis”, or sheet of muscle tissue that is directly on the front of your stomach.
  • Rotation, which will work the internal and external oblique muscles that are on the sides of your stomach
  • Waist extension,which will incorporate the low back muscles to improve posture and allow you to keep your stomach sucked in
  • A planking exercise, which will allow you to tone each of the muscles listed above in one all-encompassing exercise.

For a stomach workout that suits a suit, try to put together exercises from each category as a circuit that you repeat 3-4x through with minimal rest, such as a crunch variation to a twisting variation to a low back extension to a plank, with 10-30 repetitions for each.


Suit Confidence Tip #3: Target Your Traps

Even if the rest of your body looks good, it can still be unflattering and asymmetric if you have a skinny neck that sticks up out of your suit. But if you have a skinny neck, the trick to get a muscular defined neck is not to work the neck muscles, but rather to target your trapezius, or “traps”. The traps are primarily responsible for “shrugging the shoulders”, so you’ll want to include exercises such as dumbbell shoulder shrugs, dumbbell or barbell deadliftsfarmer’s walks, or walking lunges. When you perform these exercises, make sure that you are allowing your shoulders to drop, but instead imagine the tops of your shoulders touching the bottom of your ear lobes, which will help you to keep your traps contracted.


Suit Confidence Tip #4: Squeeze Your Shoulders

If your shoulders are slouched or slumped forward, you might look just fine from the front, but a side shot of you in your suit may look more like a hunchback. If you sit at your computer for long periods of time, ride a bicycle in a hunched over position, swim frequently, or have a combination of tight chest muscles and weak shoulder muscles, then you probably already have at least a slight upper back hump, also known as “kyphosis”.

To address this issue, you need to include exercises that make you squeeze your shoulders back, such as seated rowsstanding rowspull-upspull-downs, and super-slow pushups (drop down for a 1-2-3 count, then push-up for a 1-2-3 count).

When you perform these exercises focus on keeping the shoulder blades aligned and the shoulder blade muscles contracted, the abs tight and “sucked in”, and the back straight. You can also improve posture by breathing in as you do the weight lifting portion of the exercise and then breathing out as you return the weight to the starting position.


Suit Confidence Tip #5: Fix Your Posture

This is a biggie. No one wants to look like Quasimodo in a fancy suit. Curious if your posture sucks? Try this 30 second wall test to check your posture:

-Stand with your feet flat on the ground, with your heels about 6 inches away from the wall.

Put your back flat against the wall.

-Then place your head against the wall as well, and tuck in your chin.

-Raise your arms out to shoulder height and bend your elbows. The tips of your fingers will be pointing forward, and your elbows will be straight out from your shoulders.

-Now rotate your arms upward at the elbows, keeping them bent, and try to touch the back of your wrists to the wall.

-If your back arches, or you can’t get your wrists to touch the wall, that indicates poor posture.

OK, so let’s say you discover you have poor posture. What can you do about it?

First, in the excellent book Deskbound, CrossFit San Francisco Founder Kelly Starrett teaches how quickly get into good posture while on your smartphone or computer. This is accomplished by extending your arms to the sides and then rotating your palms upward. This rolls your shoulders back. Then you can bend your elbows to type at the keyboard or hold your phone up in front of your face. When you’re sitting, pull in your abs to about 20 percent of full strength, so that sitting becomes an active activity, apparently.

Second, start doing 5-10 minutes of “Foundation Training” every morning. This form of training, which I describe in detail in my article “How To Turn On Your Butt, Activate Deep Breathing & Decompress Your Spine (And Why I’ve Completely Changed My Morning Routine).” helps improve posture, alleviate back pain, and enhance biomechanics by engaging the major muscle chains in your body and helping you identify and utilize proper movement patterns that pull you out of poor posture or slouching. I swear by my daily Foundation practice.

Finally, to put the icing on the posture cake, learn a special form of myofascial stretching called “ELDOA”. ELDOA normalizes disc bulges, reduces scoliosis, delays disc degeneration, increases disc hydration, relieves chronic neck and back pain and tension, and massively improves head, neck, back and full body posture. ELDOA myofascial stretches are very specific and complex techniques that require strong attention to form and correct progressions, and you will likely need to learn from a certified ELDOA instructor. Once you learn it, you can squeeze in throughout your workday quick myofascial full body stretches that 30 seconds to 5 minutes. You’ll instantly feel half a foot taller, and also feel proud, tall and confident in any suit. Want to see what ELDOA looks like? Here a recent Instagram post showcasing me learning the ropes from an ELDOA instructor.


Suit Confidence Tip #6: Get The Right Suit

The final key to looking good in a suit is to choose a style of suit that actually looks good on you and that breathes and moves the way it should. Most people wear suits that are either too large, or made of material that doesn’t breathe, and that leaves you instead pitting sweat out the pits and emanating some serious body odor after a day in your suit.

If you want to get the right suit, I’d highly recommend the new Kenneth Cole AWEAR-TECH garment technology, which is available exclusively at Men’s Wearhouse stores or online at menswearhouse.com

So why do I like the AWEAR-TECH technology so much? In a nutshell, the patented “37.5” fabric maintains an optimum microclimate for your body, and removes moisture at the vapor stage, before sweat can form. It acts like a thermostat by removing moisture when you’re hot and retaining warmth when you’re cold, it absorbs and traps odor molecules that are washed away when cleaned, and, from liner to mesh to exterior, it easily layers with other 37.5 pieces to work as a system that allows for movement and comfort.

So basically, the fabric in this suit has the same stuff that’s used in athletic gear, which means it can help control your core temperature and sweat. I recently started wearing this new fabric in a suit from Men’s Wearhouse, and trust me, it makes a night and day difference in suit comfort when your suit breathes and moves the right way (even when you’re swinging a yellow kettlebell in your front driveway).

Plus, 1% contribution from every single one of these suits purchased is donated to Hire Heroes USA, which helps veterans find jobs, and Help USA, an organization that supplies housing to those in need. So you can look good and feel good about looking good. 


Summary

So that’s it…

…mind your back, work on your “V” shape, target your traps, squeeze your shoulders, you’re your posture and choose the right suit, and you’re guaranteed to rock your suit with style and confidence.

As for the tie? Well, that’s your choice. Just remember: the fact that your favorite aunt gifted you with a Christmas elf tie does not require you to add it to your suit setup.

But perhaps that’s a topic for a future post. In the meantime, check out the AWEAR-TECH technology and to learn more about the Kenneth Cole suit garment technology, and leave your questions, comments and feedback below.

Ben Greenfield’s 2016 Cyber Monday Specials – All The Deals, All In One Place.

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Happy Cyber Monday. I figured I’d slap a few of my favorite keyboard-slobbering deals up for you.

Enjoy.

Actually, some of these deals are quite significant. Deep down inside, I think some businesses simply put items on a huge sale because of societal pressure to have big, fat, slightly insane discounts on Cyber Monday. Of course, this wipes out margins and profits for a business, but it does get them a new customer and it makes you happy. So either way, it’s a win for them and a win for you.

Anyways, have fun shopping, and I’ll try add more deals as I they get sent my way. ;)


Greenfield Fitness Systems

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Cyber Monday would not be complete with a sale at Greenfield Fitness Systems – my personal collection of all that enhances your brain and body. Use discount code CYBER20 at check out to get 20% off supplements and books. Click here to start shopping now.


Delta Sleeper SR1

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Read this “A Tiny, 1/2 Ounce Piece Of Game-Changing Sleep Technology (And How To Use PEMF For Sleep)” and then you tell me if you could benefit from the SR1 for a killer night’s sleep. Until midnight Monday only you can enjoy  30% ($150.00) off the price of the SR1 sleep device, and yes, that’s only for Cyber Monday. Click here and discount code greenfit10 at checkout.


Keto//OS

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Have you been thinking of trying an exogenous ketones supplement? Well, thanks to this sale available from Pruvit, you can get 25% off any one-time product purchase using coupon code PROMO1041 at checkout when you visit. Promo is still good for Monday! Not sure how this can help you? Then check this out, and then you can order your own personal supply of ketones here.


Oura Ring

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Get 20% off, plus free shipping, on the mighty ŌURA ring when you use code: “BlackFriday” at checkout. This deal ends Monday at midnight. Click here to get yours now. Want to learn more about the ring and why I swear by this ring as the best self-quantification device that exists? Read my post here.


Examine.com Research Digest

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Looking for the all the science in one place? There is simply no better resource than Examine Research Digest – my go to source for the best unbiased supplement and fitness research on the face of the planet. Here are the slammin’ deals they have going until midnight Cyber Monday:

Supplement Goals Reference Guide – $29.99 (instead of $49.99)
Supplement Stack Guides – $119 (instead of $149) // $35 Each (instead of $49)
Monthly Examine Research Digest (ERD) – $24.99
Yearly ERD – $249.90
Lifetime ERD – $599


Have questions about how I use any of the resources above? Leave your comments below and I’ll reply!

Decoding The Science Behind The Best Tasting Bone Broth On The Face Of The Planet.

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There’s much more to bone broth than meets the eye.

Take the bones for example. Killer bones make killer bone broth, but not all bones are created equal. Knuckle, patella, femur, and feet bones actually make the best broth, because these bones have been proven to contain the highest concentration of white and red stem-cell marrow, as well as the highest levels of collagen – one of the major benefits of drinking bone broth.

The ingredients matter too. For example, you can achieve one of the most nourishing bone broths on the face of the planet when you combine marrow bones like those listed above (from pasture raised, grass-fed cows) with organic carrots, organic onions, organic celery, organic bay leaves, organic parsley, apple cider vinegar, a pinch of black peppercorn, sea salt, thyme and rosemary extract.

Bone broth packaging matters too. Most bone broth companies aren’t USDA approved and require their bone broth to be frozen. This makes shipping a hassle (not to mention expensive!) makes the bone broth hard to store, and requires the heavy addition of preservatives, nasty additives and extra sodium or worse yet, packaging that is chock full of pathogens and germs.

But this kind of information flies under the radar, so in today’s podcast, my guest Justin Mares and I pull back the curtain on all things bone broth.  Justin is the founder of Kettle & Fire bone broth, the first ever fresh, never frozen organic bone broth company, and during our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why bone broth is supposed to form a gelatin when it’s in your fridge, and why you shouldn’t eat it if it doesn’t “gel”…[9:52]

-Whether there’s any actual research on bone broth, or just on the individual components of it, like glycine or glucosamine or collagen…[14:50]

-Which is the best type of broth: cow, chicken or fish…[22:37]

What the best kind of bones are for bone broth[29:45]

-The difference between red-cell marrow and white-cell marrow, and which you should consume…[31:45]

-Why Kettle & Fire adds to their bone broth 100% grass-fed cows, organic carrots, organic celery, organic onions, organic bay leaves, organic apple cider vinegar, and reverse osmosis purified water…[34:10]

-The best temperature for bone broth to keep nutrients from degrading…[36:50]

-How can you actually get a packaged and shipped bone broth sent to your house without having a bunch of preservatives and artificial crap in it…[39:18]

-Why you should stay far away from any grocery store bone broths[43:00]

-How bone broth can be used to lose weight, stay in ketosis, heal a leaky gut, fix constipation, and much more…[46:55]

Resources from this episode:

Kettle & Fire Bone Broth (that link gets you $10 off any order, and additional discounts if you add more bone broth cartons to your cart).

The study Justin mentioned about glycine attenuating the insulin spike that comes with glucose ingestion.

Ben’s bark tea recipe

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Justin or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

Does A “God Pill” Exist?

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Veins on both biceps bulging like pythons, the ripped kid in the t-shirt extended one arm towards me. He opened his clenched fist to reveal a tiny black ziplock bag. He grinned, displaying a perfect set of ivory white teeth and nodded, “Go ahead. Try it!”

I stepped back and raised an eyebrow. This guy had just finished completely destroying my “REALFit” test score at the ever-popular PaleoFX conference. The conference, a global gathering of biohackers, foodies, physicians, exercise freaks and bacon-and-egg-infused-coffee chugging Crossfitters, features the annual REALFit test to discover the fittest person alive. The fittest person alive at their conference, that is.

Anyways, I thought I had achieved a pretty respectable score on a host of tests including a forearm-destroying two minute maximum pull-ups test, deadlifting body weight as many times as possible in two minutes test (try that one sometime and just try to beat at least sixty, I dare you),  a shuttle run, a medicine ball hurl, a vertical leap: you get the idea. This wasn’t any walk in the park.

But this guy had just blown my score out of the water, and he now seemed to be extending to me some semblance of a peace offering. That or he was attempting to pull off an illegal drug deal at a health conference.

“What…is it?” I leaned forward and peered into his hand. Emblazoned in tiny gold foiling on the front of black bag was a logo: Neurohacker Collective.

nhc_logo_gld

“It’s basically like a God Pill.”

“A God Pill?” Somewhere deep in the back of my self-quantifying, self-experimentation obsessed lizard brain, I felt a twinge of interest. Now don’t get me wrong – as a Christian, I would never believe that a mere man or woman can truly possess the superpowers of God. But at this point – just two days into the conference and after having been offered copious amounts of kombucha, kefir and other little-known fermented beverages, cannabidiol-infused dark chocolates, bacon-flavored mints, kale-powdered beef jerky and all other manner of potentially explosive diarrhea inducing samples – the mention of a supplement that could potentially transform one into even a fraction of a deity was a proposition I hadn’t yet heard.

I kept staring at the bag. “Um…what does it do?”

“Dude, just try it.” He reached forward, grabbed my forearm with a vice-like gorilla grip, and shoved the black bag into the palm of my hand. As if driven by an invisible, curious-infused force, my fingers closed hard around the tiny bag as though it were a handful of precious diamonds.

The guy grinned ear-to-ear one more time, winked at me, and as he sauntered away, seemingly unfazed by having just thrown down a shuttle run time that made me look like a arthritic sloth, he stopped and looked back over his shoulder. “Oh, and follow the instructions very, very carefully. Enjoy the experience, man.”

Oh geez. Enjoy the experience? What had I gotten into? This was supposed to be a freaking health conference. Not an MDMA-infused rave. And now I was about to potentially go on a full public display of a crazy drug-infused mind-trip.

I looked around. Nobody seemed to be watching. I carefully opened the bag, only to find two additional bags.

I took Bag #1 out and held it up to the fluorescent indoor lights. There were perhaps half-a-dozen capsules inside. On the front, in tiny letters, was written, “Step 1: Upon Waking, Take Three On Empty Stomach.

Before I read the front of the Bag #2, I suspected what it would say. After all, I’m a nutritionist, a self-professed guinea pig, and an adviser to a host of companies in the supplement industry. This means I basically design and consume pills for a living.

I’ll betcha this will be the fat-soluble, take-it-with-food component.

Bingo. I was right. Bag #2 read: “Step 2: Take Six With Breakfast.”

I shoved Bag #2 into my pocket. Then I studied Bag #1 again. I hadn’t just woken. I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into. But my stomach was indeed empty.

So what the heck?

I glanced nervously towards my twin boys, who, oblivious to my suspicious dealings, were giggling and twirling around on a giant, elephant-sized Bulletproof Coffee mug. I looked at watch. I had two hours before I needed to be on stage as one of the keynote speakers for the event. I looked back at Bag#1, silently hoping that I wasn’t about to turn into an embarrassing father who inexplicably begins climbing into the rafters at a Paleo health conference or a raging carbaholic who is suddenly struck by intense cravings for gluten-powdered baguettes. Then I tipped back my head and swallowed half the contents of Bag #1.

The next 120 minutes were a blur. Like gears gradually grinding into faster and faster motion, my thoughts and word recall and verbal fluency seemed to double in speed within about twenty minutes, and kept getting comfortably faster. As I chased my two eight year old boys through the expanse of the PaleoFX expo, colors became more vibrant, sounds and light more intense. Allow me to point out that I have indeed micro-dosed with LSD, psilocybin and MDMA – all of which produced comparable effects. But not at a response time near as fast. Or with as “clean” of a thought pattern.

What the heck was this stuff?

Two hours later, with a belly full of bacon-flavored truffles, beet-powder-infused salmon jerky and raw camel’s milk, I looked down at my hand. My fingers were wrapped around Bag #2. I opened it, dumped six capsules into my mouth and swallowed. Then I clenched and unclenched my fists, took one deep breath, and stepped onto the massive PaleoFX stage to speak, ironically, about how to safely and effectively hack one’s brain.


Limitless & Lucy

Perhaps it was the combination of eighteen different primal fuels and kombucha fermenting in my stomach, perhaps it was the edgy death-like, I-hope-I-zipped-my-fly fear that accompanies stepping onto stage in front of hundreds of people, or perhaps it was Bag #2 kicking into action, but the effects became even more magnified the moment I stepped on stage.

Whatever it was, I didn’t complain. I just held on tight for the ride on stage as my mouth worked to catch up to my rapidly firing brain. My lucidity and clarity of thought became unparalleled. I wondered if someone had slipped a No-Doz caffeine pill into my camel’s milk, but realized I had none of the agitation or nervousness that accompanies copious such amounts of caffeine. I wondered if this was how Bradley Cooper’s character felt in the movie Limitless.

No, scratch that. Probably more like the way Scarlet Johansson’s character in the movie Lucy felt when Asian terrorists sewed a leaky bag full of smart drugs into her gut lining, but without any scalpels involved.

I had to find out where this stuff came from.

I had to hunt down this mysterious “Neurohacker Collective“.

So I did. And in this article you’ll discover exactly what I found about the most potent neurohacking compound I’ve ever used, and the actual ingredients packed into Bag #1 and Bag #2..


What Is “Neurohacker Collective”?

As you may have heard on the podcast that I just released two days ago entitled “42 Different Ways To Build A Better Brain, The Problem With Modern Smart Drugs, Hacking Your Neurons & More.”, I did indeed eventually connect with the brilliant minds at Neurohacker Collective – specifically a man named Daniel Schmachtenberger.

During that podcast episode, Daniel describes how he began seriously studying health and neurology when he became afflicted with neurological and autoimmune illnesses that had no known solutions in either allopathic or complementary medicine. The insights that lead to his healing came from developing a new model for understanding physiology and pathology, which he then applied to helping many people address various forms of complex illness and optimize their capabilities beyond their previous healthy baselines.

As he worked to create Neurohacker Collective, Daniel was simultaneously the academic dean for a college of mind-body medicine and consulted for a host of functional, integrative physicians and medical clinics to help find novel solutions for complex cases. He created and ran a think tank developing complex systems solutions for environmental and social issues, and directed a transdisciplinary group of scholars on a philosophy of mind project addressing core questions of mind-brain interface and what he calls “an axiomatic reformulation for the epistemology of neuroscience”.

And he’s guinea-pigged extensively with psychedelics, nootropics, meditation, depth psychology, and a plethora of other tools for evolving states and stages of consciousness and evolving the human experience.

Ultimately, Daniel focuses on bringing together scientific research on each individual mechanism and pathway supporting cognitive development, and integrating them into a whole systems view, a complex framework of integrative neuroscience that focused for many years on creating one of the most comprehensive nootropic smart-drug like stacks ever made.

During our podcast, Daniel describes how many “smart drugs” work by artificially increasing one chemical in the brain by overriding its natural function. Problem is, this can cause depletion or neglect of other things, causing imbalances and negative consequences like dependency or a post smart-drug “crash” (Modafinil, anyone?).

This is because cognitive capacity is a nuanced relationship that involves many variables. Optimizing for one variable of cognitive function at the expense of other critical ones doesn’t really bestow comprehensive enhancement of human capability. For instance, having cognitive drive without the ability to focus well could result in you leaping into your office in a post-smart-drug infused craze and churning out a hundred tiny multi-tasks like a keyboarded berserker…without actually accomplishing anything deep or meaningful or truly productive.

Or you could develop steely willpower without emotional resilience, resulting in you being the smartest guy or girl at the office who treats your co-workers like complete crap because you’ve suddenly become a robot-like, hard charging, high achiever with a complete loss of empathy. For that reason, Daniel’s goal was to design a formula that deliberately balances subjective effects to give meaningful enhancement in a comprehensive way – what he describes as “a whole system upgrade”.

In other words, as he designed the capsules that I swallowed in Bag #1 and Bag #2, Daniel’s goal was to support the body’s endogenous neurochemical production and regulatory processes, rather than creating fake, temporary, exogenous brain overrides.

Take IQ, for example – also known as “Intelligence Quotient”. Recent research suggests that notion of a single intelligence quotient vastly oversimplifies intelligence, which is in fact composed of various aspects of what are called “multiple intelligences”, such as verbal intelligence, problem solving, spatial reasoning, etc.

The studies on IQ were led by Adrian Owen of the Brain and Mind Institute at Western, and his studies included more than 100,000 participants from around the globe asking them to complete 12 cognitive tests looking at their memory, reasoning, attention and planning abilities. These findings were published in an article, “Fractioning Human Intelligence, in the Journal Neuron in December 2012, and a couple follow-up articles appeared on Science Daily: “Scientists debunk the IQ myth: Notion of measuring one’s intelligence quotient by singular, standardized test is highly misleading” and Western University: Canada: “Debunking the IQ myth“.

This is all based on a theory proposed by Howard Gardner, which states that intelligence is not unified, but rather multiple, consisting of a set of relatively independent intelligences including linguistic intelligence, mathematical intelligence, spatial intelligence, musical intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, naturalist intelligence, and even based on more recent research, the addition of spiritual intelligence and emotional intelligence. According to this theory, different intelligences can develop at different rates in individuals, and thus a single measure like IQ neglects within person variability across multiple kinds of intelligence.

So basically, if a smart drug or nootropic promises to increase IQ, you must ask yourself if it is increasing multiple intelligences, or just one factor of IQ, such as your ability to blast through multiplication tables, or progress through your Suzuki violin manual at lightning speed.

It’s an interesting theory indeed.

And a glance at the Neurohacker Collective website promises that they have fully researched this complex problem for years, and as a result have designed the most comprehensive, effective cognitive enhancement nootropic in the world today, contaning “42 scientifically researched ingredients” designed to amplify all the aspects that matter most for optimal cognitive and nervous system functioning.

Yep, that’s quite a claim.

But it’s one thing to wax flowery biohacking poetic on a website and quite another to produce a product that actually works. So leading up to my podcast interview with Daniel, and courtesy of Neurohacker Collective, I was able to get my hands on two full bottles of Bag #1 and Bag #2. which turned out to be Daniel’s creation, a super-special formulation he calls “Qualia“.

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It was time to find out whether my experience at PaleoFX was an isolated fluke, or if this Qualia stuff actually works when used with longer term dosage in one’s comfortable, familiar home and office environment. Let’s delve into my own experience, shall we?


How I Took Qualia

Morning one of Qualia experiment.

I wake up, groggy-eyed, and stumble down the wooden stairs of our home, deep in the forest of Spokane, Washington.

Barefoot and still shivering from the morning chill, I flip on the lights to the pantry. I take the bottle of Qualia Step One off the shelf, turn it around and inspect the label, which reads as follows:

qualiastep1

I swallow three capsules with a giant glass of water.

I delve into my admittedly elaborate morning routine of Core Foundation exercises, infrared sauna, a cryotherapy dip into the icy cold pool hidden in the trees behind my house, and thirty minutes of my latest cognitive hack, EEG neurofeedback training while I write in my work of fiction.

Morning routine complete and brain already humming, I go about making my enormous morning smoothie, which I describe in teeth-gritting detail – Pau d’ Arco bark tea, cacao nibs, ceylon cinnamon, Aztec salt and all – at “6 Crazy, Exotic Superfood Cocktails, Shakes & Mind-Bending Recipes.

Just before downing the smoothie, I grab the bottle of Qualia Step Two. I glance at the label:

qualiastep2

According to the Neurohacker Collective website, Qualia is to be taken in two steps as a total of nine pills – three pills from Step One bottle and six pills from the Step Two bottle, always maintaining a 1:2 ratio. So I dump six of the tablets into my hand and swallow.

Then I sit back and wait for the fireworks.


My Experience With Qualia

Now, I’m not going to kick a nootropic, smart-drug infused horse to death and dwell upon what you are probably already aware of when it comes to the claims behind these trendy cognitive enhancing compounds.

Sure, on my first morning (and for the next four days leading up to my podcast with Daniel), I certainly experienced a manifestation of all these claims.

Better focus.

Increased cognitive drive.

Faster reaction time.

Less distractibility.

Enhanced verbal fluency and memory recall.

Frankly, as I describe in my article on How To Make Your Own Smart Drugs, I’ve experimented with just about every nootropic that exists, and many psychedelic compounds and smart drugs to boot. I certainly get some semblance of the effects stated above with many, many of these supplements. So it would be unfair to claim that Qualia is isolated in it’s ability to deliver these type of effects.

But with Qualia – and I realize this is a bit nebulous – these effects seemed to just happen faster and cleaner. And in addition to increases in focus, drive and emotional resilience, I noticed a host of other subtle, less-expected, positive experiences.

Take procrastination, for example. Like most people I know, I tend to have a history of procrastinating on everything from doing my taxes to cleaning out my desk drawer to organizing the ever-growing collection of random tools in the garage. But by the end of my first day on Qualia, I had somehow discovered the willpower, focus and drive to organize my entire biohacking gym corner-to-corner, neatly placing kettlebells, monster bands, maces, stability training balls, balance pads, foam rollers, vibration therapy tools, electrostimulation devices and all other manner of other fitness geekery in tightly systematized sequences.

Hooray for me, and perhaps more importantly, the bonus points scored with my wife.

Next came the dreams. Seriously. I dreamt like crazy.

Perhaps part of this was my recent foray into red light therapy on my gonads to increase testosterone production, but it began with mostly sex dreams. Not bad, horny-clowns-chasing-me-down sex dreams but instead intense, lucid and very pleasant dreams that at one point had me waking up my wife at 2am for a very, very early morning “workout”. I also experienced the sensation of flying through the air like an NBA player dunking a basketball (every time I took a step in my dream), soaring through space like Superman, driving a car extremely high speeds with extreme precision, and simply staring off the edge of a cliff while watching wisps of clouds below and seeing the whole of planet Earth, as if I were some kind of – well – deity.

Daniel informed me later that within the first week of taking the product, many people do indeed report a reregulation of their sleep cycles – sometimes needing less sleep, and sometimes sleeping at different times. They notice they remember their dreams more, there’s more lucidity to them, and that they feel more meaningful. Since science suggests that dreaming is associated with memory consolidation and psychological processing of events, I’ll take this as a good sign.

The next phenomenon was one I didn’t notice until after four days. On my fourth morning of taking Qualia, I began to wake up in the morning with an almost lazy feeling that I possessed an “affluence of time”, which may seem ironic considering that a nootropic should actually speed up cognitive processing speed and task achievement. But despite experiencing an enormous boost in cognition, I still felt more patient, settled and relaxed as I connected my heart rate monitor and began my daily HRV measurement. I spent more time writing in my gratitude journal. I dwelt more heavily on the truth in my OurDailyBread devotions. Life seemed less hectic, less fast-paced.

On the fifth day I noticed something that Daniel mentioned during our podcast: the ability of a full-spectrum nootropic to allow one to respond gracefully to difficult things – specifically an increased sense of empowerment in how one deals with the difficult challenges that arise in life. Instead of going into overwhelm or hopelessness or devastation, Daniel describes that a Qualia user may feel capable of doing what needs to be done in the presence of challenge.

Now mind you, I hadn’t yet spoken to Daniel about this effect, and I didn’t notice this until after five days, but on that fifth day, when I finally turned on my computer to work and the e-mails came flying out of my inbox like a rabid chihuahua wielding a bullet-slinging uzi, I simply sat there, took a deep breath, and experienced an overwhelming wash of relief and a sensation that everything was going to be just fine.

In other words, the normal morning stress did not faze me. This was getting interesting.

Since recording the podcast with Daniel, I’ve noticed two more interesting phenomenon while continuing to take Qualia. First, I’m experiencing less internal emotion and drama, including feeling less concern about what other people think or about proving something to the world.

This manifested itself physically too. My voice has become just slightly more monotone, and a little bit more robotic, especially during business dealings. This had been a tendency for me already, as you may know if you listened to the podcast entitled “I Am A 98% Angry, No-Nonsense, Perfectionistic, Extremely Unconventional, Rule-Breaking, Fearless Assassin-Sniper“. But it became more pronounced, in a good way. meaning that I thought more quickly, had better verbal fluency, experienced superior memory recall, and became more like a well-oiled Ferrari engine, but without an actual loss of empathy for others.

The best way I can describe this is that I spoke and argued and debated and podcasted and had phone calls with far fewer vocal “ups and downs”. Sure, I suppose this could be a bad thing if I were, say, an opera singer, but pretty good for getting business done like a well-sharpened sushi knife – cutting straight through the flesh of a conversation or problem like butter.

The final unpredictable sensation I’m now experiencing while taking Qualia is that of epiphany, which I’d describe as a sense of “aha” or revelation about things that involve though synthesis. This was a pretty cool hidden gem that has led to breakthroughs in business and personal areas that I was originally stuck. I’ve actually been forced to begin carrying my Moleskin notebook around more religiously because thoughts and epiphanies have begun to strike me at any moment. Brainstorms. Big picture business insights. Sudden plot breakthroughs for my work of fiction. You get the idea. All good things.

So…

…dang.

What on earth is in this stuff? Let’s find out.


Ingredients and How This Stuff Works

Each ingredient included in Qualia is based on a whole system design methodology. This means that Daniel and his team have taken singular care to understand the specific effects of 42 different ingredients and how they combine with each other to effect the mind, brain and body interface.

They pulled this off by engaging in a rigorous examination of something called “neuropsychopharmacology“, an interdisciplinary science that combines psychopharmacology (which is the study of how chemicals affect the mind) and neuroscience (which is the study of the neural mechanisms that chemicals act upon to influence behavior).

The team at Neurohacker Collective performed a comprehensive analysis of neuroscience research to determine the underlying regulatory hardware responsible for mediating the desired subjective and performative effects they wanted to get out of a pill. Along the way, their goal stayed constant: to magnify all normal and healthy physiologic pathways and processes, with the goal of evolving a more robust and complex neural network and regulatory system functioning.

The end result was 42 different ingredients split into 7 different categories, and below you will find a full list of Qualia’s ingredients and categories. You can click here for very intense, nitty-gritty details about why they included these specific compounds in this stack and to read more of the research behind the formulation.

Category 1: Nootropic Compounds.

These are psychoactive and neuroactive chemicals that play key roles in modulating receptor sites, synaptic enzymes, membrane structures, cerebral perfusion, biogenic processes, neuroendocrine regulation and more.

Noopept (very similar to Racetam)
Huperzine A
Phenylethylamine
Uridine Monophosphate
Phosphatidylserine
Hordenine HCI
Vinpocetine
Theobromine
DHEA
Pure Energy (Pterostilbene bound to Caffeine)

Category 2: Choline Donors.

These are active forms of choline donors that work through different pathways in the peripheral and central nervous system to support acetylcholine levels, along with the other synergistically stacked cholinergics (acetyl donors, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, racetamic compounds, etc.)

Centrophenoxine
Citicoline (CDP Choline)
Alpha GPC

Category 3: Amino Acids

These are the building blocks for key neurotransmitters and hormones, and agents that are part of the processes of cellular energy production, osmoregulation, signaling, antioxidation, neurogenesis, and neuroprotection.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine
N-Acetyl Tyrosine
DL-Phenylalanine
Taurine
L-Theanine

Category 4: Neuro-Vitamins

These are key limiting factor vitamins in specific activated forms required for major neuroregulatory and neurodevelopmental processes.

Vit B1 as Benfotiamine
Vit B3 as Niacinamide
Vit B5 as Calcium Pantothenate
Vit B6 as Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate (P-5-P)
Vit B12 as Methylcobalamin
Vit C as Ascorbic Acid
Vit D3 as Microencapsulated Cholecalciferol

Category 5: Adaptogen Extracts

These herbal adaptogens are concentrating active compounds while maintaining complex synergistic co-factors – supporting Adrenal/ HPA regulation, Long Term Potentiation, AMPK activation, neurogenesis, catecholamine production, tissue regeneration, and many regulatory functions.

Bacopa Monnieri: 55% Bacosides
Mucuna Pruriens: 98% L-Dopa
Ginkgo Biloba: 24% glycosides, 6% terpene lactones
Coleus Forskohlii: 20% Forskolin
Artichoke Extract: 5% Cynarin
Rhodiola Rosea: 3% Rosavins, 1% Salidrosides
Lion’s Mane: 30% polysaccharides
ActivAMP Gynostemma

Category 6: Neuro-Minerals

These are limiting factor minerals required for major neurochemical regulatory processes in forms that are bioavailable and can cross the blood brain barrier.

Lithium Orotate
Magnesium Threonate
Zinc Picolinate

Category 7: Neuro-Anti-inflammatories and Antioxidants

These are synergist compounds that support nutrient transport and utilization, cytokine and eicosanoid modulation, neurotrophin factors, redox reactions, cholesterol regulation, and much more.

BioPQQ
Quercetin
Curcumin
Algal DHA
Green Tea Extract: 98% polyphenols, 45% EGCG
Bioperine

Whew.

And lest you think these raw ingredients are sourced from out-dated, giant wooden bins in China where they’re getting sprayed with ethylene oxide and other preservatives, then take heart.

These folks are using, for lack of a better phrase, high quality s&*t.

For example, all the Qualia ingredients are chosen based on the strong empirical basis of their safety and efficacy. They take into account several kinds of research: Phase II & III university and clinical trials, quantified self-research data, and over 40+ years international research on nootropic stack formulation.

All the ingredients are tested for heavy metals, mycotoxins, pesticides, and other forms of environmental toxin, and ensured to be at levels far lower than FDA GMPs requirements. No silica, magnesium stearate, animal, or toxic binders or fillers are used.

They use only high quality raw ingredients, many of which come from patented sources and are considered “best in class” in the supplements industry. (e.g. BioPerine piperine, pTeroPure pterostilbene, etc.)

They concentrate each ingredient to the highest potency and bioavailability currently commercially possible, and all their herbs and botanicals are standardized for potency and purity of active ingredients. Every single ingredient that Neurohacker Collective uses arrives from a supplier with a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) ensuring its purity and potency. Then they go a step further and batch test every ingredient coming in by using the most chromatography and spectrometry and the same spendy kind of lab analysis techniques I talked about in this behind-the-scenes supplement interview with the lead physician at Thorne, including, in addition to batch testing raw materials coming in, pulling bottles of market-ready product and verifying the formulation inside each capsule.

All their nutraceuticals are in the most biologically active form for the purpose intended (i.e. methylated, acetylated, phosphorylated, L-form, D-form, etc). The form of the nutrient makes orders of magnitude difference to its effectiveness (that’s why the $30,000 bottle of ketones I chugged in a recent Snapchat video beats the pants off other forms of ketone salts – because it’s in a certain molecular configuration I talk about here).

In addition to Neurohacker Collective‘s manufacturing lab, they also have a research & development lab where they produce and test dozens of iterations of their nootropic formulations. They have had over 2 years of internal testing demonstrating safety and efficacy, and have consulted dozens of doctors, researchers, and formulators in the development of Qualia.

Yes, it’s vegan.

And gluten-free, lest you not want bread with your smart drugs.

Non-GMO? Check.

No artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners.

Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (HPMC) vegetarian capsules. Fancy word for fiber, basically.

And here, in all its glory, is what Step One and Step Two actually look like, should you be concerned about branding and aesthetics and color.

shop_bottles1-400x400


Summary

If you’ve seen the surreal smart-drug movies I mentioned earlier (“Limitless” or “Lucy“) you probably have a sense of what may one day be possible, at least if you your friend gives you a secret drug while you’re facing unemployment and a girlfriend’s rejection, or you’re being captured by Japanese terrorists. Qualia isn’t quite like what you see in these thrilling movies, but it’s the closest thing to a “magic pill” movie experience that’s out there. Which is especially impressive considering that it is legal. And readily purchaseable.

A God pill?

Mmm…that’s a bit too potentially blasphemous and offensive for me to continue to label it as such.

But a “magic” pill?

I’ll take it.

And now you can too.

If you want to play it safe and just try a month’s supply, which is a single bottle of Step One and a single bottle of Step Two, then just click here and use 15% discount code ben15.

If you’re all in and ready to spring for a monthly subscription (which can be cancelled at any time) click here and use 15% discount code BEN15r (“r” as in “repeating” – and that code will only work for a repeating order which, by the way, is already discounted 20%. So you’re getting a pretty slammin’ deal).

Finally, should you be a soccer mom or college student or bartender scratching your head about whether this is something that no folks other than professional athletes or hard-charging CEO’s or insane biohackers would ever take, then please know that Qualia is not just some “natural” Modafinil or Adderall alternative for fringe rich people or self-quantifying guinea pigs. Scientists, artists, creators, entrepreneurs, activists, parents, and students of every kind are now using this stuff. Qualia is designed for anyone who wants to do meaningful things with their life, have deep and profound experiences, and fully optimize their capability towards those goals, even if it means lucid dreaming, late night sex sessions, and achieving zero e-mails in your inbox at an unfair rate of speed.

Anyways, if you have questions, thoughts or feedback about Qualia, about the concept of “neurohacking” in general, about nootropics, smart drugs, or anything else related to enhancing cognitive performance via nutrition, then leave your comments below and I will reply!

You can also click here to listen to my podcast with Qualia creator Daniel Schmachtenberger, and again, if you want to get your hands on this stuff now, just use code “BEN15” at the Neurohacker Collective website for a single order or code “BEN15r” for any recurring order.  And as that dude in the beginning of this story told me, enjoy the experience. ;)

42 Different Ways To Build A Better Brain, The Problem With Modern Smart Drugs, Hacking Your Neurons & More.

smatch-land

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

My guest on today’s podcast believes there’s a big problem in the field of nootropics, smart drugs and cognitive enhancement: namely that the entire movement has followed some pretty extreme reductionist tendencies.

When it comes to popping pills and using biohacks and self-quantification to make your body and brain smarter, research has indeed proliferated. There is a dizzying plethora of scientific findings focused on individual neurotransmitters, mechanisms, parts of the neurotransmission cycle, cell walls, receptor sites, brain/blood flow, and hundreds of other isolated variables.

In other words, there are lots of parts and plenty of “findings” and “mechanisms.” But to date, there exists no prevailing meta-theory of the complex interactions that make up the whole of cognitive enhancement. Many various disconnected insights have so far fallen short of addressing the complex dynamics of all the interacting parts. For this reason, most nootropic, smart drug and brain biohacking products are developed to narrowly optimize one aspect of cognitive capability, only to have unexpected drawbacks, deleterious side effects and impacts on other areas.

By performing a principled meta-analysis and synthesis of existing research, we can better understand the complex dynamics and emergent homeostatic relationships within the brain and from these kinds of insights we can yield a truly advanced complex meta-theory of cognitive enhancement. Daniel Schmachtenberger, my guest on this podcast, wants to do just this.

Daniel began seriously studying health and neurology when he became afflicted with neurological and autoimmune illnesses that had no known solutions in either allopathic or complementary medicine. The insights that lead to his healing came from developing a new model for understanding physiology and pathology, which he then applied to helping many people address various forms of complex illness and optimize their capabilities beyond their previous healthy baselines.

Daniel was the academic dean for a college of mind-body medicine and has consulted for many cutting edge integrative doctors and medical clinics to help find novel solutions for complex cases. He created and ran a cutting edge think tank developing complex systems solutions for environmental and social issues, and has directed a transdisciplinary group of scholars on a philosophy of mind project addressing core questions of mind / brain interface and developed what he calls “an axiomatic reformulation for the epistemology of neuroscience”. He has a significant background with and love for psychedelics, nootropics, meditation, depth psychology, and all effective tools for evolving states and stages of consciousness and evolving the human experience.

Daniel focuses in bringing together the best scientific research on each individual mechanism and pathway supporting cognitive development, and integrating them into a whole systems view, a complex framework of integrative neuroscience and one of the most comprehensive nootropic stacks ever made called “Qualia“.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-What a “dream nootropic” would look like if it were to target every single component of cognitive enhancement…[16:55 & 68:45]

-How nootropics can go beyond an acute effect and actually chronically change your brain structure or “wiring”, including neuron and synapse development, increased mitochondrial ATP, healthier cell structures and increased neural complexity…[21:00 & 49:30]

-How you can actually induce the creation of new brain stem cells to heal things like traumatic brain injury, excitotoxicity and oxidative damage to the brain…[24:54]

-Two easy ways to test how your central nervous system and memory recall is responding to certain compounds you consume…[27:45]

-My personal experience with the “God pill” that Daniel developed…[42:45]

-What makes something a “nootropic” compound vs. just a nutrient or a vitamin or a smart drug…[47:00 & 59:35]

-The little-known substance know as the “love drug” that can increase euphoria and empathy…[50:18]

-A compound that can be bound to caffeine to cause caffeine to last longer without a crash…[52:20]

-The little-known effects a nootropic can have that you may not know about, such as decreased tendency to procrastinate, increased stress resilience, lucid dreaming, and beyond…[55:20 ]

-How Vitamin D delivered in a form called “Microencapsulated Cholecalciferol” can act on specific brain targets…[61:25]

-Which form of magnesium is best for neural targeting…[74:55]

-Why it’s absolutely crucial that you include something called “choline donors” when you consume a nootropic…[78:00]

-The actual clinical research behind the Qualia formulation that Daniel helped to develop, and why it must be taken as a 1-2 combo…[82:25]

-Whether this stuff safe to take if you compete in sports sanctioned by organization such as WADA, USADA, the Olympics, etc…[86:35]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Qualia Nootropic Supplement

(use code ‘BEN15’ for 15% off any single purchase or code ‘BEN15r’ for 15% off any monthly subscription – and note that the subscriptions are already discounted 20%, so you get an additional 15% off if you spring for the subscription option!)

NeuroStem stem cell drugs

The Vielight Neuro device

The Muse meditation headband

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Daniel or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

How *Not* To Microwave Yourself In A Sauna, Cooking Turkeys With Infrared Rays, Low EMF Saunas, Heat Detox Protocols & More!

sauna-landscape

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

It’s no secret that I am obsessed with heat therapy, infrared sauna, heat shock proteins, infrared and just about anything that has to do with sitting in a sauna…

For example, in the article “Ben Greenfield’s Sauna Workout (The Exact Sauna Workout I Do Every Morning)“, I describe my elaborate morning routine that I perform each day in my sauna.

In “Ten Scientifically Proven Reasons I Am Addicted To A Daily Sauna“, I delve into the nitty-gritty science behind sauna use for everything from increasing growth hormone to maintaining muscle to enhancing skin health and more.

Then, in “Three Ways To Biohack A Sauna For More Heat, A Better Detox & Enhanced Fitness“, I show you how I biohacked my own home sauna to maximize the effects of daily sauna.

My first guest in today’s podcast, Dr. Raleigh Duncan, is a Chiropractor who recognized the health benefits of infrared saunas early on when he was using them with excellent results with his patients. In 1996, he decided to dedicate his efforts to designing, manufacturing and distributing infrared saunas, as a way to help people heal and live healthier lives. Dr. Duncan is recognized as an early pioneer in the infrared sauna industry and has numerous patents and patents pending for his unique sauna technologies. Prior to becoming a Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Duncan spent 20 years as a manufacturing consultant. He’s actively involved in the day-to-day operations of Sauna Works and Clearlight Saunas and he’s always discovering better ways to heal the human body through the power of infrared.

Andy Kaps is also on this show. He is the President / COO of Sauna Works, and has spent the last 25 years building and implementing management systems, networking and Internet systems to streamline businesses. Andy joined the Sauna Works team in 2004 and has worked closely with Raleigh to develop the new technologies and innovations used in Clearlight Saunas.

Together Raleigh and Andy have collaborated to take the infrared sauna to new heights of functionality and therapeutic value. Some of their firsts include combining carbon and ceramic into one ultra-powerful hybrid infrared heater, eliminating EMF and ELF exposure in the sauna, utilizing powerful 500 watt Full Spectrum heaters, and creating the world’s 1st full spectrum yoga sauna.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-How to cut through the confusion between near-infrared, mid-infrared and far-infrared…[11:20 & 17:55]

-Why your body produces infrared wavelengths…[14:45 & 16:05]

-How you can “lower EMF” in a sauna, and what happens to your body if you don’t do that…[20:55 & 23:00]

-Why you keep sweating for a long time after you get out of an infrared sauna…[26:48]

-Two easy ways to accelerate the detoxification effect that occurs in a sauna…[35:30]

-How you can use a sauna to maintain muscle mass…[43:50]

-How the use of a sauna can increase heart rate variability (HRV)…[46:40]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-For more information on getting yourself a Clearlight sauna, call 800.317.5070 or go to HealwithHeat.com. Use discount code “BEN” to get $450 off the regular Clearlight sauna prices for any sauna and a “Gift with Purchase” of a very cool ergonomic backrest.

Ben Greenfield’s Sauna Workout (The Exact Sauna Workout I Do Every Morning)

Ten Scientifically Proven Reasons I Am Addicted To A Daily Sauna.

Three Ways To Biohack A Sauna For More Heat, A Better Detox & Enhanced Fitness

Infrared turkey fryer

The YoungLiving Essential Oils Ben uses in his sauna (try the blend “Clarity”!)

The BenGreenfieldFitness Clearlight Sauna giveaway

Niasafe by Thorne as a non-flushing form of niacin

The Trace Liquid Minerals Ben uses in a sauna

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Raleigh, Andy or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

5 Recent Health Discoveries From Near & Far: Is Fermented Cod Liver Oil Is A Scam? The Finnish Super Smoothie, Kettlebell Walks, Infrared Brain Therapy & Fascial Reboots.

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I’m constantly tweaking, guinea-pigging, experimenting with, quantifying and designing new biohacks, tips, tricks, tools and toys that can make your life better.

But honestly, I only get a chance to talk about perhaps 25% of what I actually mess around with and discover in my constant quest to learn techniques for a better body, brain and spirit.

So in today’s short and sweet article, I’m going to give you the skinny on five recent health discoveries from near and far, including the fermented cod liver oil scam, a Finnish super smoothie, kettlebell walks, infrared brain therapy and how to reboot your fascia. If you like these kind of quick tips, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll keep ’em coming!


The Finnish Super-Smoothie

Remember Veli-Jussi Jalkanen, known by his nickname “Vessi”? I interviewed this eccentric Finnish businessman, biohacker and health advocate in the episode “An Anti-Aging Chat With A 65-Year-Old Finnish Businessman Who Plays Tennis Left & Right Handed, Defies Modern “Unhealthy” Clothing Fashion & Invented The Most Unique Chair In The World.

I’m always fascinated by the personal habits and daily protocols of healthy old people like Vessi, so much so that tomorrow I will be flying to the Finland Biohackers’ Summit and tacking on a two day trip to Vessi’s farm near Helsinki. Anyways, I was overjoyed when he e-mailed me after our podcast with three detailed spreadsheets that spelled out his entire daily protocol for his “Super Smoothie”, his extensive record-keeping of every herb and spice he’s experimented with, and his detailed supplement protocol. Now the files are yours for free download. Enjoy.

-Vessi’s full “Super Smoothie” recipe: click here to download full recipe in Excel format. My favorite part of this is his footnote (read all his entertaining footnotes, by the way) which reads: “…most noticeable impact is that your intestyne starts to empthy itself 2-3 times a day which is very sound. The peristaltic motion shall activate. You also get huge amounts of nutrients…”

-Vessi’s extremely detailed spices and herb effects chart: click here to download. Pay close attention to the ones he has marked “S”, which means “Strong Effect”.

-Vessi’s full supplement routine with detailed notes: click here to download. From his daily protocol for everything from parasites to psychopharmacology, it’s all there. I find it quite interesting that most of the very robust, long-living, anti-aging enthusiasts who I know, from Mark Sisson to Laird Hamilton to Dave Asprey, take copious amounts of supplements each day, and one could argue our healthy ancestors, in the absence of encapsulation and tablet technologies, did the same thing, albeit from teas, oils, tinctures, powders and extracts.

A huge thanks to Vessi for supplying us with these. Vessi was also a significant contributor and source of knowledge for the Biohackers’ Handbook on Nutrition, so if you like these tips, then go read my review of that groundbreaking book at “21 Unfamiliar Nutrition Tricks I Discovered In The Biohackers’ Handbook.


Kettlebell Walk

This is a new invention of mine, sparked by an evening on which I was stressed from a long day of work, hadn’t yet done a workout, and, wanting a dose of fresh air, didn’t really feel like an indoor workout at a gym.

So I shouted at my wife that I was going to head out for a walk, and on my way out the door, I noticed the kettlebell sitting by the garage door.

Then I thought, “What the heck?”, and I grabbed the 1 pood (~36 pound) kettlebell – with a plan to warm-up for my walk with a few kettlebell swings, carry the kettlebell for the first few minutes of my walk and then set it down at the end of the driveway.

An hour later, I found myself dripping in sweat with very activated glutes, an exhausted core, and bulging veins on both arms from an intensive grip workout. So what exactly did I do on my “kettlebell walk”?

-Walk 100 steps with the kettlebell in the right hand.

-Walk 100 steps with the kettlebell in the left hand.

Stop and do 30 kettlebell swings.

-Walk 100 steps with the kettlebell held to your chest.

-Stop and do 30 kettlebell rows for each arm.

-Walk 100 steps with the kettlebell held overhead.

-Stop and do 30 kettlebell squats.

-Repeat this sequence for entire length of walk (I recommend shooting for 60 minutes).

Finally, follow this simple rule: never, never, ever set the kettlebell down. No matter what. Your neighbors are going to give you funny looks, but screw ’em – try this workout out and let me know what you think in the comments section below.

If you want crazy, one-of-a-kind kettlebell carved with images of things like zombies and chimps, I’d recommend you grab akettlebell or two using my Onnit discount code, which gives you 5% off of any piece of fitness gear. Just click here and the discount will automatically apply.


Full Head Infrared Therapy

Last week, I released the podcast “Probiotic Enemas, Digestive Enzyme Myths, Breathing 10 Kilograms of Oxygen, Low-Protein Diets & More!“. During that episode, my crazy smart guest Matt Gallant made me feel like a complete slacker when he informed me that intranasal light therapy I’ve been using to shut down inflammation in neural tissue and to stimulate my brain into alpha-brain wave production was inferior.

It’s such a first world problem to find out that the light you’ve been sticking up your nose is indeed not the ultimate brain biohack. Instead, Matt described to me the “Vielight Neuro”, which is a transcranial-intranasal near infrared (NIR) headset, engineered for domestic use. It delivers a hefty dose of intranasal light therapy along with transcranial photobiomodulation for whole-brain stimulation and targeting of the brain’s “Default Mode Network (DMN)”, which translates to better sleep, more relaxation, more focused brain wave production and according to the podcast I recorded with the inventor (How To Use Low Level Light Therapy and Intranasal Light Therapy For Athletic Performance, Cognitive Enhancement & More.) significantly reduced risk of cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

So (no surprise here, and please don’t tell my wife), I ponied up the one-thousand-dollar-plus investment and bought one. I’ve been experimenting with it for focus by using it in the morning for 20 minutes, and also experimenting with it for sleep by using it in the evening for 20 minutes (not on the same day, because excessive stimulation of mitochondria with infrared light can cause too much free radical production).

Holy moly. The thing works. I’ll admit it’s a spendy biohack but in my opinion, if you want your brain to keep up with your body for the long haul, or just want memory and verbal fluency that makes you as sharp as a tack, it’s well worth it. And if you’re wearing a white lab coat sitting in your mom’s basement stroking your neck beard and curious about the biochemistry behind this, here, in all it’s glory, is the explanation from researcher Lew Lim at Vielight:

“The current widely accepted proposal is that low level visible red to near infrared light energy is absorbed by mitochondria and converted into ATP for cellular use. In addition, the process creates mild oxidants (ROS) that leads to gene transcription and then to cellular repair and healing. The process also unclogs the chain that has been clogged by nitric oxide (NO).[1] The nitric oxide is then released back into the system. Nitric oxide is a molecule that our body produces to help its 50 trillion cells communicate with each other by transmitting signals throughout the entire body. Additionally, nitric oxide helps to dilate the blood vessels and improve blood circulation…

Near-infrared light stimulates mitochondrial respiration in neurons by donating photons that are absorbed by cytochrome oxidase, a bioenergetics process called photoneuromodulation in nervous tissue.[5]The absorption of luminous energy by the enzyme results in increased brain cytochrome oxidase enzymatic activity and oxygen consumption. Since the enzymatic reaction catalyzed by cytochrome oxidase is the reduction of oxygen to water, acceleration of cytochrome oxidase catalytic activity directly causes an increase in cellular oxygen consumption. [6]Increased oxygen consumption by nerve cells is coupled to oxidative phosphorylation, ATP production increases as a consequence of the metabolic action of near-infrared light. This type of luminous energy can enter brain mitochondria transcranially, and—independently of the electrons derived from food substrates—it can directly photostimulate cytochrome oxidase activity…

…[1] – “Biphasic Dose Response in Low Level Light Therapy”; Sulbha K. Sharma (PhD), Ying-Ying Huang (MD), James Carroll, Michael R. Hamblin (PhD)

[2, 3, 4] – “Is light-emitting diode phototherapy (LED-LLLT) really effective?”; Won-Serk Kim (PhD, MD), R Glen Calderhead (PhD)

[5, 6, 7] – “Augmentation of cognitive brain functions with transcranial infrared light”; Francisco Gonzalez-Lima (PhD), Douglas W Barrett (MD)

So…basically it’s like Viagra for your brain.

You can check the Neuro out at Vielight and I’ve negotiated a 10% discount code for you: “GREENFIELD”. And yes, you will get even more strange looks from your neighbors.


Fascial Rebooting

I recently had a young man fly all the way from Alabama to Washington state, knock on my front door, and train me for a solid eight hours in a special form of myofascial release called “ELDOA”. His name is not-yet-to-be-released – as he’s one of those brilliant practitioners who flies under the radar – but I’m trying to wrangle him down for a podcast that I promise to release soon.

In the meantime, I must admit that this was one of the best (and most difficult) forms of stretching I’ve ever found. You can learn more and find an instructor (recommended to take a course) at ELDOAMethod.com, but in a nutshell, doing just a few minutes of these stretches each day is one of the best ways to eliminate low back pain, heal the spine, hydrate tissue and joints, and get a full body myofascial stretch.

But don’t have to hire a private instructor.  Just watch the videos below, which my instructor informed me was the “80/20” (the 20% of ELDOA that will yield 80% of the results) and then find a time every day to hold each of the following stretches for sixty seconds to 120 seconds. Hold each stretch as hard as you can with as extreme an attention to form and deep breathing as possible.

ELDOA T6-T7 video

ELDOA T8-T9 video

ELDOA L5-S1 video

The videos above are ones that I simply found via YouTube searches and I don’t necessarily endorse the perfection of the instructors, but they give you a very, very good idea of the basic moves.

You do not need to do these all at once, and can break them up throughout day, but I guarantee that if you learn these and make them a daily “movement snack”, you’re going to feel about two inches taller, and any back or joint pain will significantly diminish. They’re especially effective after car rides, airplane trips, meetings or any other situation in which you’ve been sitting for extended periods of time.


Is Fermented Cod Liver Oil A Scam?

In last week’s podcast, in response to a listener question about whether kids should use nootropics or smart drugs, I mentioned that one supplement my twin eight year old boys take on a nightly basis is Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil. And I am currently at the Weston A. Price conference, where fermented cod liver oil is getting handed out like candy (and where I shot the featured image for this blog post). But after releasing that podcast, I received a notice from my friend Dr. Mercola informing me about a shocking expose of cod liver oil authored by “Naughty Nutritionist” Kaalya Daniels and entitled “Hook, Line & Stinker: The Truth About Cod Liver Oil“. Here’s an anecdote from the report:

“Lab tests indicate the Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil is rancid; putrid; low in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K; apparently diluted with a trans-fat containing vegetable oil — and not even from cod. We have reliable reports that the X-Factor Gold Butter Oil comes from Argentina, not the Great Plains, and it tests rancid as well. And contrary to Green Pasture’s advertising, Dr. Weston A. Price’s own words make it clear that these are not products he would ever have endorsed.”

Yikes.

Anyways, you can click here to download and read the full, free .pdf report, but suffice it to say, I have decided that until I see concrete evidence proving that fermented cod liver oil is indeed safe, I am going to play it prudent and put a pause on feeding fermented cod liver oil to my kids. As a replacement, I’m shifting to organic, grass-fed ghee, which costs substantially less, but is just as high (or higher) in fat soluble vitamins, without these potential concerns associated with fermented cod liver oil.*

As far as ghee goes, I’m honestly not to picky on ghee brands, but here are a few of the better organic options from Amazon (or if you have a membership to Thrive Market, you can find really good, organic stuff for up to 50% off).

*After writing this statement, I had dinner with Chris Masterjohn, who informed me he wrote this extensive blog post addressing the fermented cod liver oil concern. The following morning, I had brunch with Sally Fallon, who informed me of this nuclear magnetic resonance testing and an extensive rebuttal regarding fermented cod liver oil.

This all happened over the weekend. Egads. Now I’m confused. Ah…first world problems.

So, currently, I am still planning to err on the safe side and don’t plan on fermented cod liver oil retaining a hallowed place in my refrigerator until I have done pre-and-post blood and biomarker testing on myself after supplementing with it for one to two months. I’ll particularly look at my lipid panel, cholesterol particles, inflammatory markers, glucose, insulin and omega fatty-acid ratios. So stay tuned.


Summary

So that’s it.

Short and sweet, I know, but if you dig these type of quick reviews, just let me know in the comments section below and I’ll keep publishing them!

And leave your questions, comments and feedback about cod liver oil, kettlebell walks, Finnish super smoothies, infrared brain therapy, and fascial reboots below, and I promise to reply.

An Anti-Aging Chat With A 65-Year-Old Finnish Businessman Who Plays Tennis Left & Right Handed, Defies Modern “Unhealthy” Clothing Fashion & Invented The Most Unique Chair In The World.

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

At last year’s Biohackers’ Summit in London, I met an intriguing 65 year old man named Veli-Jussi Jalkanen.

This guy goes by the nickname “Vessi”, and he is one of the most physically talented older men I’ve ever met in my life. He competes in several sports on a national and competitive level, including shooting, military 3-skill sport, diving and sprinting. He also rides horses, plays tennis both left-handed and right-handed, swims, skis, skin-dives, walks extremely long distances and swing dances. The guy can crank out 25 pullups, speaks multiple languages, owns several multinational corporations and looks like he’s about 40 years old.

Vessi’s primary business is the Finnish company “Salli Systems” which develops ergonomically friendly furniture based on some very unique sitting concepts, like his “Salli Saddle Chair” (a unique seat modeled after horse-riding techniques) and electrically adjustable tables with elbow and wrist support.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why Vessi only spends about 10% of his day in a standing position, and what he does the rest of the time…[7:45]

-How a desk can automatically detect whether you’re typing or reading…[8:50]

-How a saddle chair allows you to sit but “fools” your body into thinking you are standing…[10:50]

-Why clothing is an unfriendly nuisance to your body (and the sitting-friendly clothing that Vessi uses)…[16:30]

-How Vessi gets away with not wearing underwear all day long…[18:45]

-Why you really don’t need a backrest behind your chair…[23:10]

-How Vessi taught himself to play tennis with both his right and left hands…[27:20]

-The 6 toys that Vessi keeps in his office to stay fit…[35:30]

-Why Vessi eats so many berries, and only one specific type of grain…[43:00]

-How Vessi healed himself of osteoarthritis…[50:25]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-Salli’s website BackDesigns.com (use code BGF2016)

-The November 18 Biohackers’ Summit in Helsinki, Finland (use 10% discount code BEN)

-The Luxe Bidet Ben uses

-The JOOVV light Ben now uses to “shine on his balls” for testosterone

-The MOGO Upright stool Ben mentions

-The JABRA 930 headset

Vessi Super Smoothie

Health Spices Effects

Vessi Supplements

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Veli or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

The Weekly Roundup: Your Go-To Guide For Everything You May Have Missed This Week & More!

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Welcome to my new Weekly Roundup!

In one convenient post, you’re about to discover the most important things I’ve noticed this week, including the latest news from the fronts of fitness, nutrition, health, wellness, biohacking and anti-aging research, the top photos, videos and stories from this week, upcoming events and speaking appearances, giveaways, specials and a host of other things you may have missed.

Let’s do this!


Podcasts I Recorded This Week:

Futuristic Inventions That Could Save Your Life, The Best Way To Purify Your Water, How To Fight Food Cravings & More!

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Blood Oxygenation Tips, Negative Calorie Foods, Self-Testing Your Adrenals & More: Yuri Elkaim’s 7 Commandments Of Energy

yuri-podcast

Podcasts I Was On This Week:

The Total Human Optimization Podcast #115: Ben Greenfield. On this live streamed Total Human Optimization podcast episode, brought to you by the Onnit Academy, Aubrey Marcus and I discuss the cognitive and recovery benefits of creatine, bcaas, digestion, and what I use to optimize my own health.

Obstacle Dominator #67: The Best World’s Toughest Mudder Wetsuits, How To Stretch Your Fascia, Top Obstacle Tackling Tips & Much More! In this episode of the Obstacle Dominator podcast, Hunter and I discuss how he has been training for the World’s Toughest Mudder, his full clothing kit for racing, the new Obstacle Dominator 2.0 program, the ELDOA training method, and much more!

Wise Traditions “Fuel For Athletes” podcast. On this Weston A. Price Wise Traditions podcast episode, I contrast popular sports drinks, gels, and bars with real fuel, discuss the science of how various proteins, fats, and carbs work in our bodies, and reveal my own sweet spot of carb, protein, and fat percentages.

Articles I Published This Week:

Do Training Masks Really Work?

How To Turn Yourself Into A Complete Beast Who Is Prepared To Take On Any Challenge Life Throws At You.

Rewriting The Fat Burning Textbook – Part 2: Why You’ve Been Lied To About Carbs And How To Turn Yourself Into A Fat Burning Machine.

New Chapter In My Work Of Fiction:

Yep, I write fiction, and my entire work of fantasy adventure fiction is now free to read online using a very handy, free, interactive website/app called “Wattpad”. Click here to check out the latest chapter of my book “The Forest” on Wattpad...and if you like the story, you can even vote, leave messages, etc.

The-Forest

This Week’s Inner Circle News:

-Inside the Ben Greenfield Fitness Inner Circle, my private forum for personal interaction with me and my family, my amazing wife, Jessa Greenfield, releases her Inner Circle Healthy Home Workshop every month. Check out the cover below to see the topics, and click here to learn how to live a more creative, natural, and simplified life!

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Upcoming Events:

November’s calendar is filling up quick, and here’s a snapshot of what’s to come:

-Meet me this weekend for the Las Vegas Tough Mudder meetup. I’ll be running the race with Matthew Oliphant and hosting a sushi meetup that you won’t want to miss. You can click here to RSVP and join me on October 29th.

Join me at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s annual conference in Montgomery, Alabama from November 11-13.

I’m one of the keynote speakers at the Biohacker Summit – November 18, Helsinki, Finland.

-I’ll also be speaking at Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine’s “The Unbeatable Mind Retreat” -December 2-4, Carlsbad, California.

Finally, you can click here to view the full Ben Greenfield Fitness calendar and all the events I will be at, including where you can join me for fun meetups, future events, conferences, races and more!

This Week’s Most Popular Instagram Pic:

-Get to know the ELDOA method…

This Week’s Most Popular Tweet:

This Week’s Most Popular Facebook Post:

This Week’s Most Popular Snapchat Story:

I gave you a sneak peek into what my daily neurofeedback based brain training looks like these days…but, as you may know, Snapchat deletes stories after 24 hours of going live – so you will have to follow me on Snapchat to get these goodies.

This Week’s Most Popular Pin from Pinterest:

This guy drags firetrucks with his hair. Not kidding. Check it out.

 

Cool New Products:

-The world’s top obstacle course racer, Hunter McIntyre, and me launched our new Obstacle Dominator – Obstacle Racing and Spartan Race Training Plan 2.0 (Full Digital Package).

“This is the groundbreaking, done-for-you obstacle training program designed by Greenfield Fitness Systems head coach Ben Greenfield and top Spartan athlete Hunter McIntyre. You can click here to go to the official page for this training package, or you can simply keep reading below to get details on all nine components of this complete obstacle racing and Spartan race training plan!”

…and, we’re running a $20 discount – the $97 Full Digital Package is only $77 until Oct 31st.

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Click here for everything else I have created, including supplements, books, gear, and more.

And…This Week’s Big Giveaway:

We’re still giving away a sauna. Yep, a full-on, giant infrared sauna…

…and you can click here to enter to win a Clearlight Saunctuary Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna!

Only Clearlight Saunas have no EMF or ELF exposure, a 100% Lifetime Warranty and 500w Full Spectrum heaters with near, mid and far infrared.

Free shipping to the Grand Prize Winner is included! (total value $5995) Winner will be announced on Ben’s mid-November upcoming sauna podcast.

Leave any questions, comments, or feedback below – or any news of the week that you think I should have added – and I will be sure to reply.

Cheers,

Ben

What Big Pharma Doesn’t Want You To Know About An Ancient Oil Invented By Four Robbers (And 10 Modern Ways To Use It).

Essential Oils

Check out this clip from a new film about essential oils…

The film, called “Ancient Secrets of Essential Oils“, delves into the world of essential oils and the fascinating history of where they come from, from ancient Egypt to the times of Christ to how they were used during the World Wars and how their resurgence is changing the way people view healthcare.

You learn how peppermint oil can be used to increase tolerance to lactic acid, to how frankincense can destroy cancer cells to why essential oils can never be classified as a drug by the FDA to why big pharma is definitely not a fan of these natural oils and much more.

As a matter of fact, even before this film came out, I myself have become a bit of an essential oil freak. Each day, without fail, I use at least three different essential oils (usually relaxing lavender, rose or bergamot in my bedroom and awakening peppermint, pine or rosemary in my office) and I always (and I mean always) have one particular “blend” of essentials oil in my travel bag which I’ll talk about later in this article.

When it comes to essential oils, I consider Dr. Sarah LoBisco – a naturopathic medical practitioner certified in functional medicine – to be my go-to source for all things essential oil related. When she was on my podcast episode “Everything You Need To Know About Essential Oils For Fat Loss, Performance, Smart Drugs, Scar Healing, Detoxing And More” she discussed the scientific principles and research behind the anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties that specific essential oils have, and how these oils can be used to treat various conditions such as inflammation and immune system disorders, and also improve physical and cognitive performance.

Dr. Sarah knows more about how to intelligently use essential oils than any other person I know. And because of this ability to tap into natural plant-based extracts, she’s able to pull off healing for patients, huge improvements in immune function, and even a competitive edge in athletes without turning to big pharma drugs.

In her practice, she uses specific essential oil blends to balance the body and mind of all her clients and patients. From Sarah’s point of view, every person (extreme athlete to soccer mom to CEO) who wants to dial-in focus, amp the mind up for competitive edge, or even experience the crazy phenomenon that happens with something as simple as sniffing peppermint oil should be using essential oils as part of their daily routine.

During our last conversation, Dr. Sarah explained to me 10 ways I could practically use one specific essential oils blends and gave me the entire how-to guide on everything related to this oil – from the science (and what the heck essential oils are), to the ancient history of this one particular oil, to why I should always keep it around the house, in my car and travel with to keep me from being susceptible to any viruses, bugs, or funky airport flus – whether used orally, topically or diffused into the air.

In this article, you’re going to learn exactly what Dr. Sarah has to say on the matter. Enjoy, leave your questions, comments and feedback in the comments section below and either Dr. Sarah or I will reply. If you click here, you can take a look at the actual brand and type of essential oils I use every day (there are many good brands out there, but I use one called “Young Living”).

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What Are Essential Oils?

What if you were a science-geek aspiring to become a medical practitioner or pharmacist and got side-tracked by what you initially thought was “airy-fairy snack oil?” Not soon after, you found yourself in naturopathic medical school and becoming certified in functional medicine. You’d need to swallow a little bit of humble pie, right? Welcome to my world.

I started using essential oils over fifteen years ago. Even with my skepticism, these volatile constituents surprisingly produced results. I was impressed, I waived my acceptance letters into the conventional healthcare world and headed to the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine. I wanted to learn the science beyond natural medicine while still embracing the strengths of mainstream medicine. In other words, I wanted to feed my brain all there was to know about the pharmacology and phytochemistry of herbal plants as therapeutic agents.

Since graduating, essential oils have been one of my most powerful health tools in my practice to balance the body, mind, and spirit. They also offer a competitive edge in athletes, not just in their ability to enhance focus and performance, but because they can keep someone in peak health.

Ben and I have been working together with essential oils for a few years. He’s asked me to share about one of our favorite essential oils blends to demonstrate the power and versatility that can be found in one 15ml bottle. So, let’s get to it…

After reading this article, you will have a better understanding of:

  • The science of essential oils
  • Their ancient history- turned modern vindication
  • 10 powerful ways one essential oils blend can become your best biohacking tool

A little disclaimer before I get started. The FDA has not smiled about correlating specific brands to independent research on individual oils. To keep the Feds happy, this overview will describe a formulation Ben and I use based on ancient tradition, references found in peer-reviewed journal, and my clinical experience.

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The Science: Introduction to Essential Oils and Their Biochemistry

So what exactly are essential oils?

Essential oils are volatile secondary plant metabolites extracted from aromatic plant material by steam distillation or mechanical expression.1-10 Oils which are produced with the use of chemical solvents are not considered true essential oils due to the resulting alteration of chemical constituents from the solvent residues.1,10

These powerful compounds are produced by plants in order to provide defense from infestations, modulate immune function, and to stimulate various molecular pathways need for thriving.1-10 Their constituents can interact with cellular pathways to alter biochemical responses and optimize physiological function.1-14 Essential oils have been demonstrated to: inhibit microbe growth,3-5, 8-10 act as antioxidants,4-5, 8,10,13 support hormones,8,10 and calm inflammation. 2-6, 8,10,14

These plant substances not only exert modulation of molecular pathways and cellular receptor interaction,1-14 but also provide a profound impact on our bodies and mind through their aromatic qualities alone.15-24 For example, it has been demonstrated that odor can act as a stimulus producing changes in physiology independent of, and in connection to, psychological and memory-based associations of the smell.15-18, 21-25 These effects include modulation of skin conduction, heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and regional cerebral blood flow.20-24 Furthermore, the psychological and memory-enhanced associations with odor can impact mood, stress, and emotional state.15-25

Essential oils are absorbed easily into our system through skin application, inhalation, or ingestion and excreted quickly, mostly through the kidneys.8,10,26-29 They have a low toxicity profile, when used in their proper, pure form.8,10

Finally, let’s delive into a bit of essential oils biochemistry 101, shall we? As Ben would say, “get your propeller hats on.” Here goes…

The major chemical constituents of essential oils include terpenes, esters, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, phenols, and oxides. 2,10,14 These secondary metabolites can be classified on the basis of their structure (terpenes, terpenoids, phenylpropenes, or degradation products), solubility, or synthesis. One common way to group the volatile components is to organize them as either terpenoids or phenylpropanoids, or alternatively, into hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds. 10

Different plants exhibit varying amounts of each of these compounds providing a unique fragrance and physical signature of each species. Furthermore, the secondary metabolites produced within each species will vary based on raw materials, harvesting methods, location and climate, manufacturing, and distillation techniques.1,10,30-32 (I did a pretty comprehensive review of standardization and quality in previous blogs if you want to learn more details.)

Alrighty, now that your propeller hats are all warmed up as far as the science of essential oils, let’s get to the history of essential oils in general and regarding the formulation of this little known ancient remedy.

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History of Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

Let’s start at the beginning…

The history of the use of aromatics dates back thousands of years. A search through the literature, desk references, and the internet details various applications of the use of volatile plant medicines across cultures all throughout ancient times. The general consensus of the birth of aromatherapy is estimated to be between 6,000-3,500 years ago. According to some of the more cited websites, references, and authorities, essential oils used for various treatments has been recorded in early civilizations of Mesopotamia, China, India, Persia and ancient Egypt.10, 30-45 China may have been the first to use odorants for well-being.33 I have found several references stating their applications are found in translations of The Yellow Emperor’s Book of Internal Medicine.35-37 Still, other texts and blogs believe that usage began with Egypt civilizations.10,41,43

The modern technological advances that allow us to enjoy the more concentrated and precise distillation of essential oil’s medicinal and therapeutic constituents obviously did not exist in these times; however elemental techniques for isolating the fragrant and volatile components were employed. For instance, ancient Egypt is credited for extracting oils by infusion using rudimentary distillation techniques. Others believe distillation originates within Persia and India’s earliest history. Later on the Greeks, Romans, and Islamic extraction and distillation techniques refined crude methods.10,33 10, 30-42 The “Smell Report” from the Social Issues Research Centre states:

The process by which a flower’s scent is extracted and preserved using alcohol distillation is believed to have been discovered by Avicenna, the 11th century Arabian alchemist and physician, who stumbled on it while trying to isolate for Islam the soul of its holy rose. Before this, perfumes consisted only of thick resins and gums and gooey unguents.37

Perhaps the most quoted use of ancient times is during the Roman Empire within the New Testament. Hundreds of citations exist in the Holy Text of frankincense, cedarwood, hyssop, fir, and spikenard to heal physical ailments and enhance spiritual communion. The gifts to the Christ Child of gold, frankincense, and myrrh highlight the prized value of fragrance at the time.38-40

During the Renaissance period, Europeans continued the task.30-45 Recently, science has been able to study and document the composition of natural plants with the resurgence of modern usage dating to 1910 by Dr. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist. He discovered lavender’s skin-regenerating properties when his severely-burned arm healed without a scar after he immersed it in a pure lavender oil, thinking it was water. As a result of his lab discovery, lavender is still listed in the British Pharmacopoeia for its healing properties in the skin.44-45

Now, onto the story beyond this specific Thieves blend

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It Starts with Ancient Wisdom: The Story Behind Thieves

“Four thieves” remedy is based on an ancient herbal formulation originating somewhere-in Europe with time spanning from 1413-1722. Due to its touted protective benefits, herbalists have passed along its recipe for hundreds of years.46-49

The legend states that a combination of various herbs, most often cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, clove, and lemon as protecting four robbers from contracting the plague in France while rummaging through the houses of the infected sufferers. Their freedom was won by revealing to the King that the herbal vinegar, which they drank and sprinkled on themselves every two hours, had been their saving grace.46,49

There have been several variations of this formulation passed down through the years. Thomas Jefferson was said to have fancied a version that consisted of vinegar spiked with lavender, rosemary, sage, wormwood, rue, mint, garlic to keep his Presidential body infection free.47

The Scientific American Encyclopedia of Formulas: partly based upon the 28th ed. of Scientific American cyclopedia of receipts, notes and queries cites the formula of this herbal preparation as follows:

  • 4 oz dried rosemary tops
  • 4 oz dried sage
  • 2 oz dried lavender
  • 5 oz fresh rue
  • 1 oz camphor dissolved in vinegar
  • ¼ oz sliced garlic
  • 1 dr bruised cloves
  • 1 gallon strongly distilled wine vinegar

“Digest for 7 or 8 days, with occasional agitation: pour off liquor: press out the remainder, and filter the mixed liquids.”48

As stated in the Smell Report, the value of a wide range of aromatics for keeping the body healthy was widely utilized:

The plague was not the only malady to be treated with fragrances. In the 17th, 18th and even into the 19th century, perfumes were widely used as remedies for almost any physical or mental disorder – including hysteria, amenorrhea, melancholia, hypochondria, headaches and the common cold-37

I don’t know about you, but I like the ease of one bottle, pre-blended, and easily packed for on-the-go. Furthermore, I love the science beyond the individual essential oils and the synergism.

So, now, it’s time for the main event…the unveiling of the power of a blend of some of the most common aromatics found in “Four Thieves Vinegar.”

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10 Modern Day Applications of Ancient Wisdom

  1. Diffusing- Cleaning the Air of Germs and Molds

An experiment was done to see if the aerosol use of essential oils could alleviate some of the microbial causes of sick-building syndrome. The researchers used the actual proprietary blend that Ben and I use of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary. The method employed for measurement was deposition sampling. It was found that this blend did exhibit inhibition of certain microbes at various percentages. Reductions in critters initially increased with time of diffusion, though after certain time frames for specific bugs, the decreased level remained constant. The abstract states:

Thieves, a commercial blend of five essential oils, was tested for its antibacterial activity against Micrococcus luteus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus bioaerosols. An aerosol suspension of each bacterial culture was sprayed into a 0.4 m3 enclosed fume hood previously sterilized by ultraviolet light. Thieves essential oil blend was then diffused into the hood for a given time. Depositional sampling results showed a significant reduction (P<0.0001) in the aerosol-borne bacterial load after diffusion of the oil blend. Controls showed no inhibitory effect of oil that may have settled on the exposed plate surfaces during bacterial depositional sampling. Inhibition levels appear to be organism specific. There was an 82% reduction in M. luteus bioaerosol, a 96% reduction in the P. aeruginosa bioaerosol, and a 44% reduction in the S. aureus bioaerosol following 10 min of exposure. Results for the time exposure threshold of diffused oil showed that after only six min a 90% reduction in M. luteus viability occurred. Diffusion of the oil blend, Thieves, can significantly reduce the number of aerosol-borne bacteria and may have application in treating air for enclosed environments and preventing transmission of aerosol-borne bacterial pathogens.50

Here’s a link to the full study that explains the three parts of the experiment, the results, and the conclusion.50 This is a link to explain deposition sampling, which as mentioned, was used to measure results.51

A 2005 field study was with Dr. Close also found diffusing this same blend of essential oils decreased “black mold.”52  (If you’re interested in learning how essential oils can affect mold exposure, I wrote a blog about it here with scientific references.)

Though not found in this Thieves blend essential oil, another study with thyme oil demonstrated its use against moulds formation in damp dwellings. The authors concluded:

The thyme essential oil possesses a wide range spectrum of fungicidal activity. The vaporous phase of the oil exhibited long-lasting suppressive activity on moulds from damp dwellings.53

Bottom line: This blend can help to inhibit microbes in your surrounding environment.

  1. Respiratory Support

You’ve got to get oxygen to perform, right?

A key ingredient in Thieves, Eucalyptus Oil (EO), is well known for its respiratory support via inhalation or oral route. A review article in Alternative Medicine Review states:

Application by either vapor inhalation or oral route provides benefit for both purulent and non-purulent respiratory problems, such as bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There is a long history of folk usage with a good safety record. More recently, the biochemical details behind these effects have been clarified. Although other plant oils may be more microbiologically active, the safety of moderate doses of EO and its broad-spectrum antimicrobial action make it an attractive alternative to pharmaceuticals. 54

In another study, another species of eucalyptus, eucalyptus globulus was tested for cytotoxicity and antibacterial activity against common pathogens linked to respiratory infections. The study demonstrated that that the following bacteria were most susceptible to EO: H. influenza, parinfluenzae, and S. maltophila followed by S. puneumonia. Eucalyptus globulus also had a mild inhibitory activity against a strain of the mumps virus. Researchers used clinical specimens of patients with upper respiratory infections to determine these results:

The activity of Eucalyptus globulus essential oil was determined for 120 isolates of Streptococcus pyogenes, 20 isolates of S. pneumoniae, 40 isolates of S. agalactiae, 20 isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, 40 isolates of Haemophilus influenzae, 30 isolates of H. parainfluenzae, 10 isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae, 10 isolates of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and two viruses, a strain of adenovirus and a strain of mumps virus, all obtained from clinical specimens of patients with respiratory tract infections. The cytotoxicity was evaluated on VERO cells by the MTT test. The antibacterial activity was evaluated by the Kirby Bauer paper method, minimum inhibitory concentration, and minimum bactericidal concentration. H. influenzae, parainfluenzae, and S. maltophilia were the most susceptible, followed by S. pneumoniae. The antiviral activity, assessed by means of virus yield experiments titered by the end-point dilution method for adenovirus, and by plaque reduction assay for mumps virus, disclosed only a mild activity on mumps virus.55

1,8-cineole, a monoterpene found in EO species56 is known for supporting the respiratory tract. This recent abstract reported on its potential use in those with respiratory issues beyond even killing bugs- through inhibiting inflammation and due to its antioxidant properties:

1,8-cineole is a natural monoterpene, also known as eucalyptol. It is a major compound of many plant essential oils, mainly extracted from Eucalyptus globulus oil. As an isolated compound, 1,8-cineole is known for its mucolytic and spasmolytic action on the respiratory tract, with proven clinical efficacy. 1,8-cineole has also shown therapeutic benefits in inflammatory airway diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This clinical evidence refers to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant mode of action, which has been proven in numerous pre-clinical studies. In vitro studies found strong evidence that 1,8-cineole controls inflammatory processes and mediator production of infection- or inflammation-induced mucus hypersecretion by its action as anti-inflammatory modifier rather than a simple mucolytic agent. The aim of this review is to present these preclinical studies performed with the pure monoterpene, and to summarize the current knowledge on the mode of action of 1,8-cineole. The actual understanding of the pure 1,8-cineole compared to mixtures of natural volatile oils containing 1,8-cineole as a major compound and to mixtures of natural terpenes, known as essential oils, will be discussed. Based on the anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, recent clinical trials with 1,8-cineole have shown first evidence for the beneficial use of 1,8-cineole as long-term therapy in the prevention of COPD-exacerbations and to improve asthma control.57

Cinnamon bark oil, has also been shown to inhibit gram positive and gram negative bacteria associated with various infections58-62 as well “fungitoxic” to various fungi related to respiratory tract mycoses. The abstract on cinnamon reads:

 Cinnamic aldehyde has been identified as the active fungitoxic constituent of cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) bark oil. The fungitoxic properties of the vapours of the oil/active constituent against fungi involved in respiratory tract mycoses, i.e., Aspergillus niger, A. fumigatus, A. nidulans A. flavus, Candida albicans, C. tropicalis, C. pseudotropicalis, and Histoplasma capsulatum, were determined in vitro as minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), minimum lethal concentration (MLC), inoculum density sustained, and exposure duration for fungicidal action at MIC and higher doses, as well as effect of incubation temperatures on fungitoxicity. It is concluded that these inhalable vapours appear to approach the ideal chemotherapy for respiratory tract mycoses.59

Bottom line: This blend contains single oils that support the respiratory system and inhibit unwanted bugs in your own body.

3 and 4. Food Spoilage and Cooking

No one likes it when the power goes out for many reasons. One is the stress that their recent grocery shop trip with its good packed tightly in the warming fridge could become a financial wash. Essential oils, including clove and cinnamon, have been tested for and used to prevent common food spoilage of various pathogens.63-66 The Food and Drug Administration has an exhaustive list of essential oils listed generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for ingestion here. 67 Essential oils can be used in cooking as flavorings with more powerful benefits than herbs due to their concentration.

Still make sure you are using essential oil that safe for ingestion. Many reports of toxicity are due to improper use, overdose, media hype, and nontherapeutic or toxic oils. If the bottle says “do not ingest,” do not ingest. that should not be ingested. Therefore, be sure to be an educated consumer and remember that one drop will do ya.’

Bottom line: A drop of Thieves blend on questionable food or taken internally (with a teaspoon of coconut oil) may help prevent symptoms from contaminated foods. It can also be a great addition to a winter recipe of your favorite warm drink. (Tastes like spicy cinnamon)

  1. Stopping Unwanted Microbes and Superbugs

Probably one of the most famous uses, besides their aromatic applications, are essential oils ability to work against microbes. Essential oils antimicrobial effects are vast.68-74 The Journal of Biological Chemistry explain one mechanism of the toxicity of cyclic hydrocarbons such as aromatics, terpenes, and alicyclics on bugs. The authors report, “The impairment of microbial activity by the cyclic hydrocarbons most likely results from hydrophobic interaction with the membrane, which affects the functioning of the membrane and membrane-embedded proteins.”68

It has been stated that the vast constituents and resultant actions found within one oil, and the synergism of blends, may be key components to why they are effective against multiple “resistant” microorganisms.77-82 In fact, some believe they have the potential to be a welcome alternative to medications which have potential toxic side effects on patients.

In simple terms, essential oils may be able outsmart “resistant” organisms with more than one mechanism of action. For instance, several studies have demonstrated oregano’s potential to prevent resistance by inhibiting biofilms.

For example, one study tested the antimicrobial activity of the essential oils from clove (Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. et Perry) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) alone and in combination. The authors reported the results as follows:

Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) against three Gram-positive bacteria, three Gram-negative bacteria and two fungi were determined for the essential oils and their mixtures. Furthermore, time-kill dynamic processes of clove and rosemary essential oils against Staphylococcus epidermidis, Escherichia coli and Candida albicans were tested. Both essential oils possessed significant antimicrobial effects against all microorganisms tested. The MICs of clove oil ranged from 0.062% to 0.500% (v/v), while the MICs of rosemary oil ranged from 0.125% to 1.000% (v/v). The antimicrobial activity of combinations of the two essential oils indicated their additive, synergistic or antagonistic effects against individual microorganism tests. The time-kill curves of clove and rosemary essential oils towards three strains showed clearly bactericidal and fungicidal processes of (1)/(2) x MIC, MIC, MBC and 2 x MIC.83

An another in vitro study that tested the anti-bacterial activity of twenty-one selected essential oils against six bacterial species (Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris, Bacillus subtilis, and Staphylococcus aureus), the authors found that 19 of the oils showed antibacterial activity against one or more strains of the microbes tested. They reported:

Cinnamon, clove, geranium, lemon, lime, orange and rosemary oils exhibited significant inhibitory effect. Cinnamon oil showed promising inhibitory activity even at low concentration, whereas aniseed, eucalyptus and camphor oils were least active against the tested bacteria. In general, B. subtilis was the most susceptible. On the other hand, K. pneumoniae exhibited low degree of sensitivity.84

There are a few caveats to this study. The oils were deemed “pure” but methods weren’t given. Furthermore, the authors reported only analyzing cinnamon oil with the GC/MS analysis. Interesting, right? When the quality was verified, that essential oil was deemed one of the most powerful. (Just sayin.’)

Some essential oils may also have an additive effect with certain antibiotics. An in vitro study using Cinnamon and lemon explored their antimicrobial activity against Acinetobacter, which has been linked to serious infections and antimicrobial resistance. The authors found:

Results of combining antibiotics and essential oils had shown us a synergistic effect with both essential oils/amikacin combinations. An additive effect was observed with the combinations of both essential oils and gentamicin. The results of this study suggest that essential oil of C. limon and C. zeylanicum may suppress the growth of Acinetobacter species and could be a source of metabolites with antibacterial modifying activity.85

Bottom Line: Essential oils in this blend are potent microbe inhibitors for a variety of critters. They may also have a synergistic effect when used with other immune support measures. Still, be smart and know there are potential oil-medication interactions.

  1. Antioxidant

Several studies have demonstrated essential oils ability to act as antioxidants. 4-5, 8,10,13,86 Importantly, these secondary metabolites act to stimulate our own endogenous antioxidants. One in vivo study with rats explored how rosemary essential oil (REO) protected their livers from oxidative damage and reported:

In summary, the present results demonstrate that administration of REO, exhibiting free radical scavenging activity determined by DPPH assay, exerts beneficial effects on preventing CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in rats by limiting the extent of lipid peroxidation and hence cell membranes injuries. Considering the significant impact on activities of examined antioxidant enzymes, it is clear that REO mediates its hepatoprotective effects not only through scavenging of harmful free radicals, but also through activation of physiological defense mechanisms. It should be emphasized that there have been considerable variations in the chemical composition of essential oils obtained from rosemary, and for this reason, the use of REO in preventing and/or treatment of various liver diseases requires the identification of active ingredients and further investigations on their mechanisms of action.86

Here’s a blog I wrote on some studies with the cognitive benefits of antioxidant protection using lavender and rosemary.

Bottom Line: Essential oils can modulate oxidative stress, a big problem with excess exercise. This can be through modulating our own production of antioxidants as well as supplying secondary metabolites that protect cells from injury.

  1. Oral Health

One of the most famous oils for dental health is clove.87-88 I have actually experienced personally an application of straight clove or Thieves oil for preventing cavities. Interestingly, one in vitro study showed clove may in fact prevent decalcification caused by apple juice.88

You can read more about essential oils for applications in dental health here and how they can be used with oil pulling here.

Bottom Line: Due to the downstream and harmful systemic effects of an unbalanced oral microbiome, I instruct most of my clients to put a drop of Thieves oil on their toothbrush a few times a week.

  1. Digestion

This article gives a comprehensive overview of essential oils for digestion. A 2012 review article provided support that essential oils can work in synergism with probiotics to have “complementary antimicrobial effects with practically no side effects.”89

Bottom Line: The oils in the Thieves blend have been shown in many studies to prevent microbial infections of the gut and there is evidence that disturbance of the microbiome is unlikely due to their immune modulating effects.

  1. Discomfort

In a systematic review of essential oils, the authors analyzed ten common essential oils were for their actions, based on their constituents and the whole oils. The following oils were reported by the authors to modulate pain that are found in Thieves:

  • Eucalyptus- regulation of the nervous system relating to neuralgia, headache, and debility, treatment for joint and muscle pains (rheumatoid arthritis), and for muscle and joint pains and aches90-91
  • Lemon- may help with labor pain, nausea, vomiting, and ulcers90-92
  • Rosemary- soothes menstrual cramps, contains the anti-inflammatory constituent 1-8 cineole

In regards to direct pain management, the authors listed the following oils:

  • Eucalyptus smithii (gully gum)
  • Lavandula angustifolia (lavender)
  • Matricaria recutita (German chamomile)
  • Leptospermum scoparium (manuka)
  • Origanum majorana (sweet marjoram)
  • Pinus mugo pumilio (dwarf pine)
  • Rosmarinus officinalis camphor (rosemary)
  • Zingiber officinale (ginger)90 

Bottom line: Well, one to two drops of Thieves applied with a carrier oil on the bottom of your feet or on location of discomfort could produce a cooling, comforting relief.

  1. The Aroma- More Than a Smell

Besides all the powerful benefits above based on essential oils composition, their aroma alone can combine to produce powerful emotional and physiological effects. You can read more about this here.

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Conclusion

Phew, see why this blend, and essential oils in general, are the most underused and ancient biohack around? To get the benefits of this essential oil, you can apply one drop to the bottom of your feet daily with a carrier oil or take a drop internally if you feel the sniffles coming on. The possibilities are endless.

To learn more about applications and uses of essential oils, listen to the podcast Ben and I did a few years back. You can also access my reviews of essential oils single, the science, and clinical uses of these powerful secondary metabolites on my Essential Oils Database here.

Here’s the link to order the Thieves blend Ben and I use.

Happy oiling!

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Summary From Ben

Big pharma tends to patent chemicals and turn them into expensive drugs.

As you’ve just learned, essential oils – particularly Thieves – can achieve the same effects, but are natural derivates of plants that can’t be patented. So they get underplayed by modern medicine, and fly under the radar.

But if you open my bathroom cabinet (or the kitchen and bathroom cabinets of some of the smartest physicians, healers and athletes I know), the shelves are not lined with drugs and prescriptions. They’re lined with herbs, natural supplements and – you guessed it – essential oils.

To learn more about the applications and uses of essential oils, listen to this podcast I recorded with Dr. Sarah. You can also access her reviews of essential oils, the science, and clinical uses of these powerful secondary metabolites on her Essential Oils Database by clicking here.

Finally, because you are now a relative master of all things essential oils, start using them. Grab a few and play around. On this page, you can find the top oils that I personally use and recommend. Unlike many other “science-y” wellness tools or biohacks, essential oils are easy to apply to your routine and are relatively inexpensive.

I recommend you start by getting your hands on a few bottles of Four Thieves. Click here to get the Young Living Thieves blend that I personally use, and stash a few bottles around the house, in the car, and in your travel bag. You can use Thieves orally (especially when diluted with coconut oil), use it topically, or just diffuse in your house in whichever room you want. If you were to start with just one oil, Thieves would be the one I’d recommend.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Dr. Sarah or me about any of these essential oil tips and tricks? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

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References

  1. PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. Aromatherapy and Essential Oils (PDQ®). PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet]: Health Professional Version. April 21, 2016. Created October 24, 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0032645/
  2. Wang, D. Secondary Metabolites from Plants. Department of Forestry, NCHU. Available at: http://web.nchu.edu.tw/pweb/users/taiwanfir/lesson/1146.pdf. Accessed July 2, 2016.
  3. Iason, G. Symposium on ‘Plants as animal foods: a case of catch 22?’: Antimicrobial properties of plant secondary metabolites. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2004; 63: 621–629.
  4. Korkina L, Kostyuk V, De Luca C, Pastore S. Plant phenylpropanoids as emerging anti-inflammatory agents. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2011; 11(10):823-35.
  5. Demain AL, Fang A. The natural functions of secondary metabolites. Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol. 2000;69:1-39
  6. List of constituents: Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2011;163(7):1344-1364. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x.
  7. Figueired AC, Barroso JG, Pedro LG, J. C. Scheffer J. Factors affecting secondary metabolite production in plants: volatile components and essential oils. Flavour Fragr. J. 2008; 23: 213–226.
  8. Ali B, Al-Wabel NA, Sham S, Ahamad A, Khan SA, Anwar F. Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. August 2015; 5(8): 601-611. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2221169115001033.
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A “Healthy Soda” Super-Special: Is Diet Soda Good For You, Stevia DeMystified, Sugar Alcohols, Natural Flavors & More.

PODCAST- PADDY SPENCE

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

If you happened to watch the most recent Crossfit Games, you may have noticed they were brought to you by…soda.

That’s right: a soda company was sponsor of the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games, the worldwide competition to find the Fittest On Earth. Not exactly something you’d associate with Coke or Pepsi or Mountain Dew (or my all-time favorite Dr. Pepper), is it?

The name of the soda company is “Zevia“, and my guest on today’s show is Paddy Spence, who is a 23-year veteran of the natural and organic foods industry – a guy who completely cut sugar out from his diet 14 years ago, and a guy who then purchased Zevia, a line of stevia-sweetened sodas that is now the world’s top-selling zero-calorie, natural diet soda.

He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters and is an avid athlete, having completed over 40 triathlons and trained in martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, Shotokan Karate and boxing.

During our discussion, you’ll discover: 

-How one can make the argument that “caveman drank soda”, and the fascinating history of fermented beverages and soda-like compounds…[12:00]

-How did the name Zevia come to be…[17:30]

-What causes “keto flu” and how to avoid getting it…[21:50]

-Why stevia tastes bitter to some people…[28:05]

-Why Coke’s “TruVia” and Pepsi’s “PureVia” can actually be very bad for you (and why not all stevia is created equal)…[32:30]

-How sugar alcohols are processed by your body, and the one form of sugar alcohol that won’t make you fart…[40:15]

-The little-known fruit grown in the foothills of China that actually does not spike your blood sugar…[42:25]

-Why many natural flavors come from pretty nasty sources, including the anal gland of a beaver…[50:00]

-The big reason you need to avoid anything that lists “caramel color”…[56:45]

-My own personal vodka cocktail mix I use with Creme Soda flavored Zevia, and how my kids make Root Beer Floats with Root Beer flavored Zevia…[59:00]

-Paddy’s amazing recipe for a Zevia custard dessert…[61:10]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Zevia soda

Simply Gum

-Here’s the recipe for Banana Swirl, created by Paddy’s amazing wife Jerra Spence: 2 frozen bananas, a pinch of cinnamon, and a couple of splashes of Zevia Cream Soda. Combine all of these in a high-powered blender and mix until the bananas are smooth & creamy. Place in freezer for 30-60 minutes. Serve in a dish, possibly with some stevia-sweetened chocolate chips on top!

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Paddy or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

A Simple Method To Trick Your Body Into Flawless Barefoot Running Form (Even If You’ve Never Run Barefoot).

barefoot-running-dare-to-go-bare

Our ancestors ran in bare feet or very thin shoes with little padding. It’s undeniable, it’s been proven over and over again in historical research, and probably the best guy on the face of the planet to give insight into this fact is Dr. Daniel Lieberman from Harvard (with whom I had the pleasure of running 8 miles barefoot through Boston a couple years ago).

In today’s article, you’re going to learn why you need to learn to run barefoot or in minimalist shoes (if you’re not already), how train your feet to withstand the rigors of barefoot running, and a simple method to trick your body into flawless barefoot running form, even if you’ve never run barefoot.


What The Research Says About Barefoot or Minimalist Shoe Running

It wasn’t until the 1970’s when conventional running shoes with thick cushioning soles became widely available.  It was thought that the cushioning effect of the padded heel would decrease loading on the legs and therefore prevent injury while at the same time increasing efficiency. But since then, there has been a big shift in thinking for many runners, and many are now removing their shoes in order to return to what they believe is a more natural gait.

Why?

Cushioned running shoes promote a rear-foot strike (RFS) running pattern in which the heel touches down first, then the foot rolls forward for toe off.   Habitually barefoot runners, on the other hand, tend to land on the forefoot or mid-foot.  These differences in stride mechanics drastically affect injuries, as well as running efficiency.

For the purposes of this article – and to make me sound much smarter than I am – when I refer to running in cushioned shoes, I will use the term “shod” (this is also a great word to impress any runners at cocktail parties). Furthermore, when I refer to barefoot running, this would also include running in shoes such as Vibrams or extremely minimalist, relatively uncushioned shoes. 

Oh yeah, one other thing: if your eyes glaze over from research and nitty-gritty science, or if reading time is tight for you, feel free to skip this section and scroll down to the next section. 

There are many mechanical differences seen during barefoot running when compared to shod running – the most obvious being foot strike position.  When shod, runners tend to land on their heel in a rear-foot strike (RFS).  Without shoes, the foot is in a much different environment and this same heel landing can be painful and damaging to the foot and leg. For this reason, barefoot runners often adopt a forefoot strike (FFS), in which the front of the foot contacts the ground first and the supporting soft tissue of the foot and lower leg absorb some of the impact force before the heel even touches down.  A mid-foot strike is also seen in many barefoot runners, in which the foot lands relatively flat on the ground.  This change in foot strike pattern is absolutely correlated with a lower impact force upon foot strike.

In the article “Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners“, Daniel Lieberman studied impact forces and stride mechanics of habitually barefoot and shod runners running in both bare feet and shoes.  The purpose was to see how the shoe directly affected impact forces and stride, and also to see how habitual shoe use changes running patterns and get an idea of how man ran before the advent of the cushioned shoe.

There were five test groups in this study:

(1) Kenyan competitive runners who grew up barefoot and recently started wearing running shoes.

(2) habitually shod American adults.

(3) American adults who grew up wearing shoes but are now habitually barefoot runners.

(4) habitually shod Kenyan children.

(5) barefoot Kenyan children. 

Foot strike kinematics were assessed using video analysis as test subjects ran at an endurance running pace (4-6 m/s) on a short track.  All the adults sampled ran at least 20 km per week.  It was found that American habitually shod runners ran exclusively with a rear foot strike while wearing shoes and nearly all (87%) ran with a rear foot strike when barefoot.

During the barefoot test, the subjects in this group, while still landing with a RFS, had less dorsiflexion (7-10%) upon ground contact (meaning their forefoot was closer to the ground).  The recently shod Kenyan competitive runners (1) had a 91% rate of FFS when running barefoot and 54% while wearing shoes, many who didn’t FFS were landing with a MFS.

The last group of adults tested was Americans, who grew up shod but switched to and are now habitually barefoot runners (3) in which 75% FFS when barefoot, but when shod 50% ran with a RFS.  They also tested Kenyan children who were habitually shod (4) and who have never worn shoes (5).  The children’s running habits were consistent with what was found for adults, mainly that the use of running shoes significantly changes the gait pattern both immediately and also habitually.

The study also analyzed strike force characteristics, comparing habitually barefoot and shod adults from the US in both shoes and bare feet.  It was shown that RFS causes a large impact force transient upon ground contact in both the shod and barefoot condition, but it was even larger when barefoot.  FFS on the other hand showed a steady force loading with no impact transient.  The barefoot FFS runners had a lower vertical force magnitude during impact, as well as a lower loading rate – which was very significant when compared with barefoot RFS runners.

In sum…wearing cushioned running shoes automatically causes you (even if you’re used to running barefoot) to engage in a high impact heel strike. 

There are a few reasons why running shoes promote this type of RFS.  First, they have a thick heel padding that orients the sole of the foot to have about 5o less dorsiflexion than the outsole of the shoe, encouraging RFS.  This means that in order to FFS while wearing a thick heeled shoe, you would have to plantar flex (point) the foot significantly. The shoe also affects foot strike, due to the cushioning properties which help absorb the impact force from running. Finally, shoes actually decrease neural sensory stimulation that promote a softer FFS.

The study above shows that habitual running patterns are influenced by footwear use, but just how these adaptations occur and their effect on injuries is unclear from the study.  However, the article “Running Related Injury Prevention through Barefoot Adaption” looks into the foot musculature and how it responds to barefoot conditions.  The authors of the article state that many people believe the high injury rates involved with running are because the foot is fragile and cannot take the strain that activities such as running puts on it without injury, and therefore that foot needs protective support.

Problem is, this theory not only goes against natural selection, but also has been proven wrong based on the lower running injury rate seen among barefoot populations.

In countries where both barefoot and shod population live, such as Haiti, high rates of lower extremity injuries are only seen in the shod population. Likewise, in countries where people go barefoot part or all of the year, such as the West Indies, and sections of Europe and Asia, there is shockingly little report or evidence of impact related lower leg injuries.

Because of this, Robbins and Hanna, authors of the article above, hypothesize that the weak arch and foot musculature seen in habitually shod feet can be strengthened given the right conditions.  The human foot has a large arch in the middle that can act as a spring which absorbs and restitutes mechanical energy.  The arch is supported by the plantar fascia and several ligaments and muscles.  The arch works almost like a bowstring, and if it is shorter in the longitudinal length of the foot, it will be higher and able to absorb more energy.  These muscles controlling the arch are not stimulated properly in shoes, but can be strengthened by barefoot activity, therefore increasing the arch height.

To test this hypothesis, Robbins and Hanna recruited recreational runners and examined the length of their medial longitudinal arch with x-ray analysis and a foot imprint during weight bearing, monthly over the four month test period. Subjects gave a detailed running history that included footwear, injuries, and previous barefoot weight bearing activities. During the experiment, subjects kept a detailed training log that recorded all barefoot weight bearing activity – including running, walking, and standing, as well as the surface it was performed on –  and they were instructed to perform as much barefoot activity as possible.

The study reported a positive change as a 1mm shortening of the medial longitudinal arch length.  It was found that of the 18 subjects in the barefoot group, 13 had a positive result, 2 had no change, and 3 had a negative result, with an average arch shortening (meaning a stronger arch) of 4.7mm.  In the control group that continued normal activity, 1 changed positively and 10 negatively with an average arch lengthening (meaning a weaker arch) of 4.9mm.  The results had no correlation with the starting height of the arch. The positive result on the arch of the barefoot group can be explained by an increase in the supporting musculature, which clearly shows that adaptive abilities of the foot to change and strengthen to accompany its environment.  Strengthening of the arch and shortening of its length could also reduce injuries like plantar fasciitis, which is common in shod populations. This is because the plantar fascia would be stretched and therefore stressed less, as some of the load would be diverted to the musculature.

It was found that the best arch change results happened with high total weight bearing activity (i.e. standing), walking outside barefoot, and running outside barefoot. It makes sense for results to show this with an increase in total load bearing activity because the muscles simply got more use.  The reason outdoor (compared to indoor) barefoot activity had a positive effect is because of the irregular surface, which would increase plantar sensory feedback.  Interestingly, the skin on the top of the arch has a much lower pain threshold than that of the heel or toe area and if this area is stimulated, the arch muscles could contract to make barefoot running (or other activity) more comfortable, while at the same time activating the foot’s shock absorbing system.

The skin on the plantar surface of the foot has one of the highest density of neuroreceptors in the body.  The receptors respond to small discrete displacements, shear forces, and vibrations, all of which are reduced by footwear, specifically running shoes.  Running shoes block the transition of sensory information to the foot which tells the runner to lower ground impact forces by flexing the arch muscles and changing stride mechanics.  This would not be a problem if the shoe reduced the injury producing ground impact forces as much as it reduced plantar sensation, but that is not the case as shown by the Lieberman, and the increased running injuries seen in the shod populations compared to barefoot.

So far, we’ve seen that research shows barefoot or minimalist shoe running causes some pretty useful adaptations in terms of foot strike pattern, “feel for the ground”, and reduced risk of lower extremity injuries.

And there’s plenty more…especially when it comes to reduced injury risk from the avoidance of cushioned shoes. study called “The effect of running shoe on lower extremity joint torque” examined the effects that shoes have on the leg joints when compared to running barefoot.  The subjects in this study were 68 young healthy adults who ran at least 15 miles per week.  Markers were placed on various spots on the subjects’ legs, and data was collect by 3 dimensional video analyses, as well as a force place on the treadmill they were asked to run on.

For shod running, there was a 54% increase in hip internal rotation torque, 36% increase in knee flexion torque (which acts on the main bending motion of the knee), and a 38% increase in knee varus torque (which is a lateral bending force at the knee). The relevance of this data is how it relates to joint degeneration and osteoarthritis risk, as well as overuse.  Osteoarthritis is joint cartilage degeneration and ossification and is correlated with long term excessive loading.  It has been shown that competitive running may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the hip, therefore producing over 50% more load on the joint with each stride.  The increase in knee flexion torque would increase the load on the quadriceps, thus increasing strain on the patellar tendon and pressure on the patellofemoral joint, which can lead to overuse injuries of all these structures.  The increase in varus torque on the knee would increase the compressive force on the medial tibiofemoral compartment, which is more prone to degeneration than the lateral compartment.  Similar yet less dramatic increase in knee loading were seen when comparing women’s dress high heeled shoes when walking with barefoot walking.  Because of the higher rate of knee osteoarthritis in women and the fact that loading is much higher during running than walking, this increase in knee force could easily lead to osteoarthritis.  The increased loads were thought to be due to the elevated heel and material under the medial aspect of the foot, which changed running mechanics.  These increases in loading seen in shod running could all over time contribute to the onset of osteoarthritis.

Yep, as ironic as it may seem, wearing giant pillows around your feet actually increases your risk of things like arthritis later in life.

Along with reducing injuries, barefoot running is also thought to be a more metabolically efficient way to run, and the very recent study “Barefoot Running Reduces the Submaximal Oxygen Cost in Female Distance Runners” definitely backs this up. It has also been shown that an increase in of 100g of mass per foot increase metabolic cost by 1%.  This mass effect can be an especially big factor in racing, because if a typical 250g shoe was worn, it would add 5% to the metabolic cost, therefore slowing a runner by 5%.  This means a 4 hour marathon could see a change of around 12 minutes just from the weight of footwear.  It is clear that mass has a large effect on energy use while running, but it is theorized that the elastic properties of the arch and lower leg musculature also have an effect.

The article “Barefoot-Shod Running Differences: Shoe or Mass Effect?”  looked to determine if it was just the weight of wearing a shoe that made it less efficient, or if it was the shoe itself and the effects on stride mechanics. In this article, 12 healthy adult males with competitive running experience ran on a treadmill barefoot, in 50g, 150g, and 350g socks, as well as 150g and 350g shoes for 4 minutes at 13 km/h.  The mass on the sock was distributed in the same manner as that of the comparable weight shoe.  It was found that the bare sock (50g) produced no significant difference in running pattern compared to fully barefoot, showing that the results will not be altered by the effect of the material of the sock.  The treadmill had a force plate to measure vertical and anterior-posterior ground reaction force.  During the trials, the subjects exhaled gas was collected to determine the volume of oxygen (VO2) consumption relative to total mass, which tells how hard their body was working to maintain their running pace.

While un-shod, 9 of the 12 runners switched to a forefoot strike pattern.  It was found that VO2 consumption increased as shoe mass increased, but was not affected by the mechanical properties of the shoe.  It was also shown that total work increased in the barefoot condition.  As a result of the increased work, but no increase in VO2 consumption, it was concluded that the net mechanical efficiency of barefoot running was greater than shod running.  This agrees with the hypothesis that barefoot running, and subsequent FFS, allows the foot and leg to use their natural elastic properties to absorb and restitute mechanical energy from ground contact.

The previous study had two variables – shoe padding and foot strike – which made it difficult to interpret the results.  To account for this, the study “Metabolic cost of running barefoot versus shod: Is lighter better?”  was similar, but it controlled foot strike pattern as well as weight, so that the cushioned shoe was the only variable.  The test subjects were 12 runners with extensive barefoot experience who had a mid-foot strike not only when running barefoot, but also when shod.  The subjects all ran at least 25 km/week, with at least 8km barefoot or in minimalist footwear.  The participants ran on a treadmill with a force plate at 3.35 m/s.  Oxygen consumption (VO2) data was collected.  The shoes used only added cushioning and had no arch support.

It was found that in both shod and barefoot conditions, oxygen consumption increased by 1% per 100g added per foot.  Also, on average a 3-4% increase in VO2 consumption was found during barefoot running compared to shod running of equal weight and foot strike pattern.  This shows that factors other than shoe mass play an important role in the metabolic power used during barefoot versus shod running.  This difference can be due to shock absorbing characteristics of the shoe and a difference in stride length, which was found to be 3.3% greater during shod running.  It was estimated that the 3.3% increase in stride length would only account for less than 0.4% increase in metabolic savings. Because of this, the researchers concluded that of equal mass, the cushioning properties of the shoe account for the majority of difference in VO2 consumption.  This is because during barefoot running, all the cushioning is done by the action of the leg, which is accomplished through muscle contraction, thus expending energy.  By wearing a cushioned shoe but not changing general stride mechanics, the runner was essentially running on a softer surface while keeping the beneficial forefoot stride, which turned out to easier on the leg muscles and more efficient for the body.  The study also found that a light weight (about 130g) cushioned shoe is equally as efficient as fully barefoot running when stride is constant, which means minimalist running shoes could be a good alternative for barefoot runner while running on very hard surfaces or during a long race.

Yeah, that’s a mouthful, but basically it means that a minimalist shoe, or some other method of causing one to engage in a front foot strike, could be just as good as running barefoot when it comes to running efficiency and economy.

Overall, it’s very obvious that barefoot running seems to be beneficial in many aspects of running. The majority of benefits of barefoot running come with adopting a better running stride, which is characterized by a forefoot strike.  This reduces the load and loading rate during foot impact, which can lead to many running injuries, including plantar fasciitis, patellofemoral joint pain syndrome and osteoarthritis.  But the benefits of switching to barefoot running are not all immediate.  The muscles of the foot and lower leg become very weak from underuse when constantly shod, and it takes time for them to regain their strength, as well as for the body to change running technique.

However, once the transition is made, the stride will become more efficient with a reduced risk of injury. With regards to running efficiency, the cushioning from the shoe is beneficial, as well as the elastic properties of the forefoot strike. For best efficiency, a runner would want to become proficient with barefoot running, which will improve forefoot strike and cause a strengthened arch, and then wear a very lightweight moderately cushioned shoe for a race.

Although barefoot running has been shown to reduce injuries, injuries are also very common among new barefoot runners.  People hear about the benefits of barefoot running, then jump into barefoot or minimalist running much too quickly, without proper adaption.  As shown from the studies above, the muscles and soft tissue take months to strengthen, so increasing volume too fast is very likely to cause a problem.  Also, even though the loading is lower during barefoot running, metatarsal stress fractures are common. Because the bones in the foot don’t get the same loading pattern during shod rear-foot strike, they will take time to adapt to this new running style as well.

Finally, there are reports of injuries from barefoot and minimalist runner who do not adopt a forefoot strike.  As discussed above, rear-foot strike without a cushioned shoe causes very high force loading rates of the foot and leg, which could quickly result in injury.  In conclusion, more research still need to be done on the topic, but it seems clear that there are a multitude of benefits to barefoot running, and they should not be ignored.

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Heel Striking Isn’t Always Bad

Even though an RFS (remember, that’s a “rear foot strike) and a heel striking motion is associated with higher risk of injury, if you’re landing softly (as barefoot running trains you to do) even heel striking motion that isn’t necessarily always a bad thing.

A New York Times article from a couple months ago entitled “Why We Get Running Injuries (and How to Prevent Them)” delves into this idea in greater detail. Among other clues that the human body was meant to run minimalist, the article states that…

“…The never-injured runners, as a group, landed far more lightly than those who had been seriously hurt, the scientists found, even when the researchers controlled for running mileage, body weight and other variables. That finding refutes the widely held belief that a runner cannot land lightly on her heels.”

The article goes on to describe one of the runners studied, a woman who has run multiple marathons and never been hurt, showing some of the lowest rates of foot loading the researchers had ever seen, pounding far less than many runners who land near the front of their feet, with a beautiful running motion that was like seeing “an insect running across water”.

It’s important to note that this woman was running with a heel strike but she was running softly even with that heel strike, which she was able to do because she had trained minimalist and trained barefoot, which teaches your body how to (even if you’re not engaged in a mid to front foot strike) run with far less impact to any part of the foot that hits the ground.

In other words, once you swear off the cushioned shoes, you run more softly and with reduced risk of injury, even if a fancy high-speed video camera shows your running form doesn’t significantly change with regards to a front vs. mid vs. rear foot strike.

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How To Train Your Body To Run Barefoot

Convinced that you may want to start moving away from cushioned shoes and ready to start training to run barefoot?

In the article, “How To Start Running Barefoot“, I get into the nitty-gritty details of how both my wife and I transitioned to minimalist shoes and barefoot running. Some of the biggest takeaways from that article – aside from not simply rushing out and beginning to run oodles of miles in a brand new set of Vibrams – include the following five tips:

  1. Do Drills. As part of the short runs that you start doing barefoot, also train your body how to run with good form by including running form drills, such as playground style skipping, the toe-up drill or the lean drill. These drills will help ensure that you’re running efficiently and striking the ground properly as you learn barefoot running, and are a good idea to incorporate whether or not you’re running barefoot. Here is an overview of even more drills from my friend and Australian running guru Graeme Turner.
  2. Feel The Ground. If you’ve been wearing big, bulky, protective shoes for a long time, then your foot may have difficulty properly sensing the ground when you run barefoot. So try incorporating “feel-for-the-ground” activities like standing on one leg when you’re brushing your teeth, standing on one leg while on a balance disc or balance pillow at the gym, standing on one leg for exercises like overhead presses, or even bouncing on one leg on a mini-trampoline a few times a week.
  3. Get Flexible. One of the most common complaints among people who transition to barefoot or minimalist running is that their calf muscles and Achilles tendon feel tight or painful, and that was certainly the case when I made the transition to barefoot running. So as you make the transition to barefoot running, also work on the flexibility of the back of your legs by doing calf stretches and foam rolling for the back of your legs.
  4. Get Strong Feet. If you’re worn shoes your whole life, it’s likely that you have weak feet muscles, since one of the primary functions of a shoe is to provide your foot with extra “muscle”, or support. While some of the balance activities mentioned earlier will help to strengthen your foot, I also recommend standing on one leg and practicing rolling your entire body weight from the outside of your foot to the inside of the foot and back, until your foot is tired. When at the gym, it can also be helpful to do cable kick forwards and cable kick back exercises while standing on one foot. If your tiny foot muscles start to burn and fatigue with these movements, you’ll know you’re conditioning your foot muscles.
  5. Include Plyometrics. Your feet need to be conditioned to withstand the impact of the ground, since the cushioning of a normal shoe provides significant impact reduction benefits. Plyometrics are explosive exercises in which hop, bound or skip with one leg or two legs, and good choices for barefoot running preparation are side-to-side hops and single leg jumps onto a box.

For more details, you can click here to read that article in full.

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The Best Barefoot Running Orthotic & A Simple Method To Teach Yourself How To Have Flawless Barefoot Running Form

Lately, I’ve been using a new method to get “the best of both worlds”: meaning getting the front to mid foot strike that I automatically shift to when barefoot running, while still getting the protection afforded by actually wearing shoes, which comes in handy when I’m doing Spartan races, TrainToHunt competitions, triathlons or other events where I actually do need protection for my feet.

The method is something called a “ShoeCue”.

The Cue inserts into your shoe just like an orthotic, and it uses a textured, thermoplastic heel-plate that reconnects your feet to the ground. With vibration and texture, it “wakes up” the soles of your feet and reconnects them to your brain. Closing this neural loop allows for enhanced control and understanding of how you are connected to the world, and in real-time it improve self awareness and proprioception, whether you’re walking or running.

Here are a couple videos that show how the ShoeCue works (and yeah, that’s Brian Mackenzie in the first video, the guy I interviewed here about advanced breathing techniques):

 

Basically, the Cue restores sensory feedback to your foot, which you’ve learned is usually diminished when you wear your shoes. The soles of your feet are one of the most sensitive areas in your body, and your brain relies on the sensory perception to control everything about about the way you move. By increasing sensation to your feet with these Cues in your shoes you will:

-Be more aware of your running technique and run with a softer foot-strike.
-Have greater positional awareness while lifting and exercising.
-Walk and stand with better posture.

The nerve receptors in skin on the soles of the feet pick up sensation in three main ways:

-Indentation
-Shearing force
-Vibration

All of these mechanics your body relies on to feel the ground are blocked by a traditional shoe when compared to being barefoot, but ShoeCue is able to restore this sensation, in virtually any shoe.

So what should you expect to feel when wearing these things?

You will certainly notice the Cue, but it is in no way painful. It feels like a gentle massage on the bottom of your foot. The goal is not to create pain when you are moving poorly. The goal of the Cue is to simply increase your bodies positional awareness and subtly encourage better biomechanics over time. When you put them in your shoes, you’ll notice an immediate reduction in over-striding and heavy heel strike (which you now know are major contributors to running injury and joint wear). Every time I run in these, my stride feels softer, smoother, and more efficient. Also, as fatigue sets in on a hard run, I’m a bit more aware of any breakdown in running form and able to self correct in real-time.

And these are definitely a bit different than traditional arch support orthotics. Arch support works to lift your arch and hold it in a static position. This may be better than walking around with collapsed arches and flat feet, but it does not address the underlying strength and motor control issues, which are the root cause of the problem. By increasing sensation to your feet, ShoeCue encourages the small muscles in your feet and ankles to be active, just like when you run barefoot, and when your arch does collapse, you will feel it and be able to consciously turn on those muscles and move better.

I’ll warn you that ShoeCue encourages you to favor the ball of your foot as opposed to the heel. When this happens, you will be stressing muscles and tissues in the lower leg that have been underused, and you may experience soreness after your first few runs – so start with shorter runs, give it time, and progress slowly, but in my opinion, it’s well worth it to add these to your running, walking and standing repertoire as a very cool biohack to get you to begin running with the same flawless form you’d develop from barefoot running, but with the actual protection of shoes.

You can try these new running orthotics here, and use 10% discount code Greenfield10. I’ve got a set in all my own running shoes now, and it’s a perfect way to start running “barefoot”, without actually running barefoot.


Summary

So what do you think?

Do you run barefoot or in minimalist shoes, or do you have yet to be convinced of the benefits?

Do you have questions about “barefoot running orthotics” like the ShoeCue?

Do you think I’m completely wrong and that big, built up cushioned shoes are the way to go?

Leave your comments, thoughts and feedback below and I’ll reply! Finally, you can click here to get yourself a set of ShoeCues, and use 10% discount code “Greenfield10”.

shoecue

 

11 Crucial Health Questions & Mighty Self-Quantification Ring To Rule Them All: The Official Oura Ring Q&A.

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I’m on a constant quest to determine how elements such as air, light, electricity, water, food, movement and more affect important variables such as a performance, fat loss, recovery, digestion, brain, sleep and hormones.

So I was understandably a bit excited when I discovered the ŌURA ring at a biohacking conference in Finland. This small, stylish ring promised to use state-of-the-art miniaturized electronics to track and measure a host of parameters, including sleep, heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), activity, body temperature, movement, respiration, and more.

I decided to find out more about this thing, so in the podcast “Could This New Ring Be The Final Frontier In Self Quantification, Biohacking, Sleep Tracking, HRV, Respiration & More?“, I interviewed the Co-Founder and CEO of ŌURA ring: Petteri Lahtela. During our discussion, we talked about:

-How the ŌURA ring identifies deep sleep, REM sleep, light sleep, and periods of wakefulness, and how accurate this data is compared to actual sleep lab measurements…

-Why the ŌURA ring is designed to allow you to completely disable the bluetooth function, and why the ring is specifically designed to not constantly transmit a signal (very important if you are concerned about electrical pollution)…

-The infrared measurement used to analyze HRV, and why it is just as accurate at measuring HRV as wearing a chest strap…

-How the Readiness Score you get from the ŌURA ring helps you identify days that are ideal for challenging yourself, and those that are better for taking it easy…

-How something called your interbeat interval and pulse waveform can be used to accurately calculate your respiration rate…

-The important data that you can collect about your body using the built-in accelerometer inside the ring…

-How the ŌURA measures temperature, and what kind of health information you can discover by monitoring your body’s temperature…

-Why the ring was designed to withstand extremes of environment and temperature, such as hot saunas, cold water, etc.

-How you can use the ring to track daily consumption (caffeine, alcohol, sugar), sleep aids you might be trying (valerian, melatonin, acupuncture) or other factors in your environment (barometric pressure, CO2, pollen count) using something called the Curious platform…

-And much more.

Anyways, you can click here to listen to that podcast

…but since releasing that episode and subsequently getting myself an ŌURA ring, spending oodles and oodles of hours testing it, putting it through ringer (yes, a pun) and pouring over the data, I’ve generated a big list of my own questions and also received plenty of questions from listeners and readers like you about how to interpret and make sense of data generated by self-quantification devices.

So in this article, I’m answering 11 of the most crucial questions I’ve received, and you’re going find out everything you need to know about parameters that drastically affect the way you look, feel and perform, but parameters you don’t see talked about much these days, things like…

…”lowest resting heart rate during sleep”…”activity readiness score”…”brain pulsations” and beyond. Even if you don’t own a self-quantification device, this article is going to be an information-rich resource for you to read, bookmark and use in your own pursuit of a perfect combination of sleep, activity and full body readiness for anything life throws at you.

Leave any additional comments below the post and I’ll ensure you get your question answered. Also mention my name in the comments section of any order for an ŌURA ring and they’ll knock $10 off after you order, whether USA or International.

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Q. What is a “Sleep Score” and what kind of things contribute to it?

A. Ranging from 0-100%, your Sleep Score is simply an overall measure of how well you slept. That’s it. A Sleep Score of 85% usually means that all contributors are in balance, and you meet the typical sleep needs of a person your age. Of course, sleep needs vary from person to person, so it’s good to evaluate and interpret your Sleep Score in relation to your feelings and performance level. If you feel refreshed in the morning and energetic throughout the day, your Sleep Score is most likely at a good level.

So what are the most important variables that affect this Sleep Score?

-Total sleep: Total sleep refers to the total amount of time you spend in light, REM and deep sleep. The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person. As a general rule, the younger you are, the more sleep you need. Most adults need 7-9 hours to perform well and stay healthy. Getting a good amount of sleep for your age will keep your Total Sleep time in balance, approximately at 80%. If you’re using the ŌURA ring to measure your sleep, you will see a full bar when your Total Sleep time reaches 9 hours.

-Efficiency: Sleep efficiency is a measurement of your sleep quality. It’s the percentage of time you actually spend asleep after going to bed. For adults, a generally accepted cut-off score for good Sleep Efficiency is 85%. It’s common for Sleep Efficiency to slightly decrease with age. For a maximum positive contribution to your Sleep Score, your Sleep Efficiency needs to be 95%. You’ll see a lowered Sleep Score if it has taken more than 20 minutes for you to fall asleep, or if you experience one long or multiple shorter wake-ups during the night.

-Disturbances: Sleep Disturbances caused by wake-ups, get-ups and restless time during your sleep can have a big impact on your sleep quality and daytime cognitive performance. Restless sleep is less restorative than uninterrupted sleep, and it’s usually the cause of daytime sleepiness. Disturbances can be caused by various different factors, such as stress, noise, partners, pets or different foods. To improve your chances of getting restful sleep, read my article on 4 ways to hack your sleep cycles.

-REM Sleep: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep plays an essential role in re-energizing your mind and your body, making it an important contributor to your sleep quality. REM is associated with dreaming, memory consolidation, learning and creativity. Making up anywhere between 5-50% of your total sleep time, the amount of REM can vary significantly between nights and individuals. On average REM counts for 20-25% (1,5h – 2h) of total sleep time for adults, and it usually decreases with age. REM is regulated by circadian rhythms, i.e. your body clock. Getting a full night’s sleep, sticking to a regular sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine, alcohol or other stimulants in the evening may increase your chances of getting more REM.

-Deep Sleep: Deep Sleep is the most restorative and rejuvenating sleep stage, enabling muscle growth and repair. When you’re in deep sleep, your blood pressure drops, heart and breathing rates are regular, arm and leg muscles are relaxed and you’re very difficult to awaken. Varying significantly between nights and individuals, Deep Sleep can make up anywhere between 0-35% of your total sleep time. On average adults spend 15-20% of their total sleep time in Deep Sleep, the percentage usually decreasing with age. Regular physical activity, avoiding heavy meals and alcohol before bed and long naps and caffeine in the afternoon can improve your chances of getting more Deep Sleep.

-Sleep Latency: Sleep Latency is the time it takes for you to fall asleep. Ideally falling asleep shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes. Falling asleep immediately (in less than 5 minutes) could be a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep for your needs. If you have trouble falling asleep, try getting out of bed and doing something relaxing, ideally in low light conditions, until you feel sleepy again.

-Sleep Timing: Your Sleep Timing is an important contributor to your sleep quality and daytime performance. Most of your body’s essential processes such as your body temperature, hormone release and hunger run in 24-hour cycles called circadian rhythms. Sleeping during the night and staying awake and active during the day can help keep these internal rhythms in balance, and helps you perform better throughout the day. For example, the ŌURA ring algorithm considers your Sleep Timing to be optimal and aligned with the sun when the midpoint of your sleep falls between midnight and 3 am, allowing some variability for morning and evening types. A timing significantly earlier or later can lower your Sleep Score.

And then there’s my personal favorite: the lowest resting heart rate during the night. More on that below…

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Q. Why should I know when my lowest resting heart rate occurs during the night?

A. As you probably already know, your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you’re at rest. It’s a good measurement of your sleep quality, recovery and overall health. But ŌURA measures your heart rate throughout the night and displays the lowest 10-minute average it has detected. Normal RHR during the night for adults can range anywhere from 40-100 BPM (mine is 35, but I’m an endurance freak, and if you’re a swimmer, cyclist, runner, triathlete, etc. then this may be the case for you too). The best way to determine your normal level is by looking at your own data history.

This lowest RHR during the night is affected by various factors, such as physical activity, nutrition, body position, and environment. A low RHR is often associated with good fitness and overall health. An exceptionally high or low RHR is usually a sign of increased need for recovery, and here’s the important thing: if your lowest resting heart rate occurs during the night at a later time than usual, that can be a sign of an increased need for recovery or that you are sleeping at too high a temperature in your room.

Good to know, eh?

Your RHR can be elevated after a late night workout, a heavy meal in the evening, or when your body temperature is higher than your average. For women, the menstrual cycle can cause a small increase in RHR during the second half of the cycle (ovulatory and luteal phases).

It’s also normal for your RHR to be higher than usual when recovering from an intense training day. As you increase your training volumes and your fitness improves, your RHR and your lowest RHR during the night should start to decline over time.

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Q. What kind of things should I think about tracking in terms of what affects my sleep in a good or bad way?

A. Exercise is a good first place to start. Data suggests not only that exercising during the day will help you fall asleep more quickly and plunge you into deeper sleep for a longer period of time, but also that exercising causes your body to produce growth hormones, which help it to repair and revitalize itself. Many people report that based on sleep tracking results they sleep better with regular exercise and that they feel more alert and rejuvenated the following day.

 

Diet is of course another key variable to track. Check out this excellent article to see the findings of sleep studies in relation to diet. For example, one study states:

“The midpoint of sleep is significantly associated with dietary intake of certain nutrients and foods and other dietary behaviors in young Japanese women. This finding may contribute to consider the relationships between chronotype and dietary intakes and behaviors.” 

This is especially true for those who are sensitive to gluten (like I am) or some other foods without knowing it will have big effect on sleep and restorativeness of sleep. Also soft drinks and other drinks sweetened with fructose and/or artificial sweeteners extensively affect liver function and therefore disturb sleep, especially between 1am and 3am.

Then there is caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants and depressants. The “half-life” of a compound, which is the level at which the effect of these type of stimulants or depressants is somewhat reduced tends to vary widely based on genetics, metabolism, etc.. Many of them prevent you from either falling asleep or having good quality sleep. For example, alcohol induces sympathetic activity of autonomic nervous system, increases resting heart rate, delays the reaching of the lowest resting heart rate, increases body temperature, blood pressure, insulin levels, dehydrates the body and for any of those reason awakens you some time in the middle of the night. In general, many stimulants taken too near to sleep time practically limit the restorativeness of sleep and cause sleep debt (deprivation). It can actually take several nights of sleep and balancing daily behavior to recover both mentally and physically from one poorly slept night.

As you track these kind of variables in relation to your sleep quality, try the following:

-First, stick to a regular bedtime and wake-up time before starting other hacking experiments – this needs to be preferably a week or longer and the the time when you reach the lowest resting heart rate (RHR) during the night should not change too much.

-If the lowest RHR happens late in the night or more in the morning then you have not recovered well from either having too intensive activity late in the evening or you have had too full meal late in the evening or taken stimulants or spent too much time too late on blue light (screen time), for example. All of these mess up the sleep pattern and sleep becomes lighter.

-Pay attention to wake-sleep cycle and circadian alignment (reflected in skin temperature being clearly higher during the night than the day – which can also be checked from the ŌURA report)

-Pay attention to not only the amount of deep sleep but overall sleep architecture and sleep score that ŌURA gives you, since the overall picture is more important. Also, the balance of activity, timing and intensity in relation to sleep timing is very important. If the timing of lowest RHR varies continuously then there is something in your lifestyle, diet or rhythms that challenges your sleep.

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Q. What is Sleep Timing?

A. Your Sleep Timing is an incredibly important contributor to your sleep quality and daytime performance. Most of your body’s essential processes such as your body temperature, hormone release and hunger run in 24-hour cycles called circadian rhythms. Sleeping during the night and staying awake and active during the day can help keep these internal rhythms in balance, and helps you perform better throughout the day.

The ŌURA ring considers your Sleep Timing to be optimal and aligned with the sun when the midpoint of your sleep falls between midnight and 3 am, allowing some variability for morning and evening types. A timing significantly earlier or later can lower your Sleep Score.

So what kind of things can affect Sleep Timing (AKA circadian rhythms)? 

One big factor is “social jetlag”. Millions of people today force their bodies to adjust to artificial sleep schedules, negatively affecting both their sleep and their health. Sleep jetlag is actually a new term for this, as you can see from the anecdote below taken from this study:

“Humans show large differences in the preferred timing of their sleep and activity. This so‐called “chronotype” is largely regulated by the circadian clock. Both genetic variations in clock genes and environmental influences contribute to the distribution of chronotypes in a given population, ranging from extreme early types to extreme late types with the majority falling between these extremes. Social (e.g., school and work) schedules interfere considerably with individual sleep preferences in the majority of the population. Late chronotypes show the largest differences in sleep timing between work and free days leading to a considerable sleep debt on work days, for which they compensate on free days. The discrepancy between work and free days, between social and biological time, can be described as ‘social jetlag.’”

Sleeping and waking time also has effect on circadian rhythm. For example, your drive for sleep increases as a function of time elapsed since your awakening. A normal, regular sleep-wake time works as regulator for circadian drive for alertness, balancing and improving your sleep quality. Circadian drive for alertness peaks at the end of circadian day and reaches its peak at the end of circadian night, and this means that in an ideal situation, you should go to bed and wake up at similar times each night and day.

Meal time is another huge cue for your circadian rhythm. Clocks in your peripheral tissues are actually governed by feeding cycles. Thus, diurnal feeding imposes diurnal rhythms upon all these tissues in your body (Mohawk et al., 2012. Central and peripheral circadian clocks in mammals, Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 35 (2012) 445e462.). That study shows that chronic advances in light-dark cycles imitate jet lag and shift work, increase body weight and alter the expression of metabolic genes, whereas time-defined feeding prevents obesity without affecting caloric intake.

Yes, these results suggest that the major factor involved in obesity induced by jet-lag or shift work is fluctuating meal timing and not a shift in light-dark cycles1

Typical methods used to measure circadian rhythm are melatonin levels and core body temperature. According to several studies the skin temperature is actually an accurate marker of the circadian rhythm. [Corbalan-Tutau et al., 2011; Ortiz-Tudela et al., 2010; Sarabia et al., 2009], and your sleep midpoint is good parameter for measuring your circadian rhythm too.

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Q. How much time in each sleep phase should I get?

A. Let’s start with the first: REM sleep…

REM sleep is a unique phase of mammalian sleep characterized by random movement of the eyes, low muscle tone throughout the body, and the propensity of a sleeper to have vivid or lucid dreams. This phase is also known as paradoxical sleep (PS) and sometimes “desynchronized sleep” because of its physiological similarities to a waking state, including rapid, low-voltage desynchronized brain waves – basically a combination of alpha brain waves and beta brain waves.

During a typical night of sleep, you usually experience about four or five periods of REM sleep, which are quite short at the beginning of the night and longer toward the end. The first REM episode typically occurs about 70 minutes after falling asleep. Cycles of about 90 minutes each follow, with each cycle including a larger proportion of REM sleep. REM sleep typically occupies 20-25% of total sleep in adult humans, or about 90–120 minutes of a night’s sleep.

Here’s the important thing to look for when evaluating the “sleep percentage” your sleep-tracking device of choice gives you: REM sleep typically occupies 20-25% of total sleep in adult humans, or about 90–120 minutes of a night’s sleep. That’s the number you should be shooting for.

Next comes non-REM (NREM) sleep, which is best defined as any sleep not recognizable as REM sleep. NREM consists of three separate stages: stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3, also known as N1, N2 and N3 – with N1+N2 typically being classified as light sleep, and N3 being classified as deep sleep.

Stage 1 (NREM1 or N1) is the stage between wakefulness and sleep, sometimes referred to as “drowsy” sleep, in which your muscles are still quite active and your eyes roll around slowly, and may open and close from time to time. In more scientific terms, stage 1 is the period of transition from relatively unsynchronized beta and gamma brain waves (with a frequency of 12-30 Hz and 25-100 Hz), which is the normal range for the awake state, to more synchronized but slower alpha waves with a frequency of 8-13 Hz, and then to theta waves with a frequency of 4-7 Hz.

During N1 sleep, your breathing gradually becomes more regular and your heart rate begins to slow. Dreaming is relatively rare during this stage, but sudden twitches or jerks (sudden short micro-awakenings) are quite common, and these are simply the last gasps of waking control before sleep fully takes over. During this short period of very light, easily disrupted sleep, which usually lasts less than 10 minutes, you can be aware of sounds and conversations, but you feel unwilling to respond to them.

Typically, this stage should represent only about 5% of your total sleep time.

Stage 2 (NREM2 or N2) is the stage of sleep in which muscle activity decreases still further and conscious awareness of the outside world begins to fade completely. Brain waves during stage 2 are mainly in the theta wave range (just like N1 sleep), but N2 sleep is also characterized by two distinguishing characteristics: sleep spindles (short bursts of brain activity in the region of 12-14 Hz, lasting maybe half a second each, also known as “sigma” waves) and K-complexes (short negative high voltage peaks, followed by a slower positive complex, and then a final negative peak, with each complex lasting 1-2 minutes). Together, these two waves  protect sleep and suppress response to outside stimuli, as well aid in sleep-based memory consolidation and information processing.

Because you pass through this stage several times during the night, more time is spent in stage 2 sleep than in any other single stage, and N2 should typically constitutes about 45%-50% of total sleep time. If you add up N1 (ideally 5%) and N2 (ideally 45-50%), that is what something like the ŌURA will quantify as total light sleep, so now you know that total light sleep should be around 50-55% on a sleep quantification reading.

Finally, stage 3 (NREM3 or N3) occurs, and this known as deep or delta or slow-wave sleep (SWS), characterized by delta brain waves with a frequency of around 0.5-4 Hz. During this stage, you are even less responsive to the outside environment, essentially cut off from the world and unaware of any sounds or other stimuli. Neuronal activity, brain temperature, breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure are all at their lowest levels during stage 3 sleep. Dreaming is more common during this stage than in the other non-REM sleep stages, and this is also the stage during which “parasomnias” such as night terrors, sleep-walking, sleep-talking and bedwetting occur. Information processing and memory consolidation also take place during this stage.

Interestingtly, it is much more difficult to wake a person during stage 3 sleep, and if awakened at this stage, you will often feel very groggy. It can take up to 30 minutes before they attain normal mental performance (known as sleep inertia). Hence the advent of many new alarm clocks and self-quantification devices that sync to your phone or cause a vibration or alarm to occur during the point in the morning when you are not in this stage of sleep (I think that’s a quite handy feature).

This stage 3 sleep (AKA “deep sleep”) should ideally represent around 15%-20% of  your total sleep time.

OK, so let’s review what kind of percentages you should be looking for when analyzing your sleep data:

-Awake time should be 1-5%

-REM sleep should be 20-25%

-Light sleep should be 50-55%

-Deep sleep should be 15-20%

As you learn in my podcast with sleep expert Nick Littlehales, you should ideally go through four to five of these sleep cycles from REM to NREM during any 24 hour period, or about 35 sleep cycles every week.

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Q. What if my sleep tracking device shows I get really low levels of deep sleep?

A. Surprisingly, your sleep can be good even if you don’t get very much N3 (=deep) sleep. Even in brain wave signals, deep sleep can be deeper or lighter in one person over the course of the night, and between people. In the sleep lab, depending on the low frequency brain wave signals at certain cut-point sleep is determined as N2 (light) instead of N3 (deep). By the way, the term “light sleep” (as N2 has been called historically together with N1) is actually not the best word to describe N2, because stage 2 N-REM sleep is actually the very “base” sleep stage and restorative as well.

There is certainly some inter-individual variability in how breathing and HRV characteristics and the exact number of motions allowed for the point where N3 starts and N2 ends. Now, assuming somebody makes behavioral adjustments and wishes to see if they start getting more deep sleep, can they be sure that something like the ŌURA ring will show the changes? The answer is yes, because the ŌURA will react to changes when more N3 starts to accumulate. There is some quantification challenge if sleep only deepens a little (doesn’t reach the criteria set for deep).

It seems that many people who see they are getting low levels of deep sleep tend to start doing some extensive hacking for getting more deep sleep but many times the most powerful hacks are actually very simple. For example, you can see some interesting stats by plotting bedtime start times against amount of deep sleep as well as the stability of your bedtime starts over past few days against your deep sleep. This indicates that the regular bedtimes and wake up times help keeping the circadian alignment and help the body learn the rhythm over the time. That leads to more stable sleep patterns and eventually to adequate amounts of deep and REM sleep as well. Your body tends to keep the rhythms and if they vary a lot, the sleep becomes lighter.

Then there’s Heart Rate Variability (HRV), and how that relates to various sleep stages. I asked ŌURA if they planned on releasing much data regarding HRV during the night, and here was their reply:

“We will soon have great data about HRV in different sleep stages, which is reflecting the overall restorativeness better than morning HRV (http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/91/7/1918). Morning HRV mostly reflects the overall restorativeness of sleep and state of recovery but in the context of sleep stages it correlates more with the amount of REM. The HRV characteristics varies a lot in relation to sleep stages and therefore also measuring HRV “randomly” overnight does not provide much meaning….”

Which brings me to another point: I am constantly in touch with the folks at ŌURA, giving them feedback about the ring, the need for even more HRV functionality and “geeked out info” for nerds like me who want to tear into every shred of data, more napping sleep cycle info, etc. It’s actually quite cool to see the app continue to evolve based on my own personal feedback.

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Q. What are sleep pulsations, and why are they important with regards to sleep and recovery?

A. Recently scientists have developed a means to to monitor the actual pulsation of the blood vessels in the brain. These pulsations are how your brain “cleanses” itself while you sleep. Researchers have developed a specific MRI in which the brain is photographed 10 times per second, from which it is possible to see any disruptions in the cleansing system.

They detected three types of physiological mechanisms affecting cerebral cerebrospinal fluid pulsations: cardiac, respiratory, and very low frequency pulsations. Since glymphatic system failure may precede protein accumulations in diseases such as Alzheimer’s dementia, this methodological advance offers a novel approach to image brain fluid dynamics that potentially can enable early detection and intervention in neurodegenerative diseases. The changes may appear years before the first symptoms of a memory and behavioural diseases and it may be possible in future to prevent diseases or treat them before any long-lasting effects on the brain.

The ŌURA ring accurately detects the characteristics in body signals that associate with different sleep stages, like the regularity of breathing, restfulness, characteristic patterns in blood volume pulse wave, pulse amplitude variation, resting heart rate and variation of the heart rate. Additionally ŌURA measures and provides long term trends of multiple body signals and parameters that indicate how your body responds to your daily life choices, rhythms and activities, among others. So, in addition to holistic view on sleep ŌURA provides a view on autonomic nervous system balance. ŌURA can be used 24/7 continuously and therefore enables longitudinal access to such sleep related insights in the context of normal daily life. This has not been possible before in this level of comfort and accuracy as a longitudinal view.

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Q. What is a “Readiness Score”?

A. Ranging from 0-100%, the Readiness Score given by the ŌURA helps you identify the days that are ideal for challenging yourself, and those that are better for taking it easy. The Readiness Score is affected by a variety of “Readiness Contributors”, which help you to evaluate how well your recent and cumulative sleep, activity and recovery are in balance.

A Readiness Score above 85% indicates that you’re well recovered. A score below 70% usually means that an essential Readiness Contributor, such as your body temperature or previous night’s sleep, falls outside your normal range, or clearly differs from recommended, science-based values.

So what are the most important variables that affect readiness?

-Previous Night’s Sleep: How you slept last night can have a significant impact on your readiness to perform during the day. Getting enough good quality sleep is necessary for physical recovery, memory and learning, all part of your readiness to perform. For a maximum positive contribution to your Readiness Score, your Sleep Score needs to be above 88%, and at the high end of your normal range.

-Sleep Balance: Sleep Balance shows if the sleep you’ve been getting over the past two weeks is in balance with your needs. Sleep Balance is based on a long-term view on your sleep patterns. It’s measured by comparing your total sleep time from the past two weeks to your long-term sleep history and the amount of sleep recommended for your age. Typically adults need 7-9 hours of sleep to stay healthy, alert, and to perform at their best both mentally and physically. Insufficient sleep can eventually lead to sleep debt. Paying back sleep debt and rebuilding sleep balance takes several nights of good sleep.

-Previous Day: our level of physical activity yesterday is one of the key contributors to your Readiness Score. When Previous Day is in balance and the contributor bar is at 100%, you’ll know you’ve balanced your need for activity and rest, and substituted a nice amount of inactive time with low activity. An exceptionally high amount of inactivity or activity leads to a drop in your Readiness Score. If your readiness is low due to intense training and increased Activity Burn, taking time to recover can pay off as improved fitness.

-Activity Balance: Activity Balance measures how your activity level over the past days is affecting your readiness to perform. A full bar indicates that you’ve been active, but kept from training at your maximum capacity. This has boosted your recovery and helped build up your energy levels. While easier days can have a positive effect on your readiness level, challenging your body every now and then by increasing your training volumes helps maintain and develop your physical capacity in the long run.

-Body Temperature: ŌURA tracks the variations of your body temperature by measuring your skin temperature each night. Body temperature is a well-regulated vital parameter. When you sleep, ŌURA compares your skin temperature to similar measures from your earlier nights to estimate your normal range. A full contributor bar indicates that your estimated Body Temperature is within normal variation. You’ll see a lowered Readiness Score when your Body Temperature is outside your normal range.

-Resting Heart Rate: Resting Heart Rate (RHR) is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you’re at rest. It’s a reliable measurement of your recovery status, and an important contributor to your readiness. ŌURA evaluates the optimal level for your RHR by studying your data after active days and recovery days for a couple of weeks. Once it knows your normal range, your Readiness Score will start to become more accurate. ŌURA interprets a RHR slightly below your average as a sign of good readiness, whereas an exceptionally high or low RHR is a sign of increased need for recovery. An intense training day, a late night workout, elevated body temperature, or a heavy meal just before bed can keep your RHR elevated during the night, often resulting to a lowered Readiness Score.

-Recovery Index: Recovery Index measures how long it takes for your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) to stabilize and to reach its lowest point during the night. A sign of very good recovery is that your RHR reaches its lowest point during the first half of the night, at least 6 hours before you wake up. Alcohol, a heavy meal before bed or late exercise speed up your metabolism and keep your RHR elevated, delaying your recovery and increasing your sleep needs.

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Q. What is an “Activity Score”?

A. Ranging from 0-100%, your Activity Score is an overall measure of how active you’ve been today, and over the past seven days. The Activity Score is affected by Activity Contributors. Before ŌURA starts collecting your personal activity data, the score is set by default at 75%. An Activity Score above 85% indicates that you’re getting health and fitness benefits associated with increased physical activity.

For higher scores you need to reach your daily Activity Targets regularly, do medium and high intensity level training (Medium+) 3-5 times weekly, avoid long periods of inactivity and have 1-2 easy or recovery days weekly.

So what affects the Activity Score?

-Activity Burn. Activity Burn shows the kilocalories you’ve burned by daily movement and exercise. Activity Burn is an estimate of your net calorie burn. This means that it doesn’t include your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), i.e. the calories your body would burn while resting. Activity Burn shows the additional calories burned by walking, training or doing other activities (the portion that exceeds 1.5 MET level). Tracking your Activity Burn can help you to balance out your current activity level and your calorie intake, which is key to good recovery and maintaining a healthy weight.

By the way, if you have no clue what a MET is, then read this for the nitty gritty details, but basically MET (or Metabolic Equivalent) is a common measure used to express the energy expenditure and intensity of different physical activities. If the MET value of a specific activity is 4, it means that you’re burning 4 times as many calories as you would burn while resting. The time engaged in different activities can be expressed as MET minutes. For example:

-30 min x 5 METs = 150 MET min
-30 min x 7 METs = 210 MET min

OK, let’s keep going…

-Activity Frequency. Moving around and avoiding long periods of inactivity helps you stay healthy, and keeps your metabolism active throughout the day. ŌURA measures the time you’ve spent sitting, standing or otherwise inactive during the past 24 hours. Inactive time doesn’t include resting or sleep. Having 5-7 hours or less of inactive time per day has a positive effect on your Activity Score. ŌURA actually tracks the time you spend sitting, standing or otherwise passive, and guides you to break up long periods of inactivity. The number of continuous one-hour periods is displayed above the sitting icon in the Activity view. An hour of inactivity will only have a small effect on the contributor, but staying still for several hours will start to lower your Activity Score.

-Daily Targets: Each day ŌURA gives you daily Activity Target based on your age, gender and readiness level. Your daily activity is measured from 4 am to 4 am. Whether it’s everyday activities or intense training, all daily movement measured during this 24-hour period moves you closer to your daily target. Meet Daily Targets will be at 100% when you’ve met your target on 6-7 days. Falling short of your target on 3 or more days starts to lower your Activity Score.

-Training Frequency: Training frequency measures how often you’ve gotten Medium+ activity over the past 7 days. Optimal Training Frequency is key to maintaining and developing your cardiovascular fitness. ŌURA recommends getting at least 100 MET minutes of medium+ activity a day. This is equivalent to 20 minutes of jogging or 30 minutes of brisk walking. Yep, that’s not much. As you can read about here, I personally go way above and beyond that and target 15,000 steps per day, and the ŌURA algorithm is constantly being updated to allow for fancy “exceptions” to the activity score based on super active people like me.

-Training Volume: Training Volume measures the amount of Medium+ Activity you’ve gotten over the past 7 days. Like Training Frequency, Training Volume is an essential aspect of maintaining and improving your fitness level. For your Training Volume to have a maximum positive contribution to your Activity Score, you need to get 2000 MET minutes of Medium+ Activity per week (2000-3000 kcal, depending on your body weight). When your activity level goes below 750 MET minutes a week (750-1500 kcal), your Activity Score will start to decline.

-Recovery Time. As you probably know, having a sufficient amount of easier days in your training program boosts your performance and helps speed up your recovery. No matter how much you train, the actual fitness progress takes place during Recovery Time, when your muscles have time to repair and grow. For ŌURA, an easy day means keeping the amount of medium intensity level activity below 200 MET minutes (200-300 kcal/day depending on body weight), and high intensity activity below 100 MET minutes (100-150 kcal/day depending on body weight). In practice this can mean doing lots of low intensity activities, getting healthy amounts of medium intensity activity (e.g. 30-60 min), but only a small amount of high intensity activity (e.g. below 10 min).

The ŌURA ring gives you a minimum daily Activity Target based on your age, gender and daily readiness. When your Readiness Score is above 90%, your Activity Target is usually high. Days like these are usually optimal for taking your training to the next level and developing your physical performance. On days when your readiness drops below 70%, your Activity Target is lowered, and avoiding or reducing intensive training might be in order.

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Q. Can I do weight training workouts and water workouts while wearing the ring?

A. Yes. For example, I do a huge number of pull-ups, swings, deadlifts, cleans, presses, etc. while wearing my ring, and for about the first 30 days of this, my inner pinky and inner middle finger went through the normal period of developing callouses on my finger skin from the ring rubbing. Now, just like any calloused area, there are zero skin issues on the finger.

The ring is also completely resistant and functional up to 50m deep in the water.

When you first order the ŌURA, you receive a sizing kit that ensures you get a ring that fits your finger perfectly. However, for situations such as Spartan races or triathlons that involve slippery mud, cold water, etc., I remove the ring so that I don’t lose it.

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Q. Is there a quick “cheat sheet” on these terms I can use for a reference?

A. Yep, here you go:

Term Description Automatically detected by OURA
Sleep Sleep helps to recover from accumulated mental and physical load. It is an active and dynamic state characterized by changes in brain activity and physiological function including breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, autonomic nervous system and body temperature. YES
Sleep Stages Sleep is divided into rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep types. NREM sleep is composed of three different stages ranging from very light to deep. Oura detects both NREM –  light and deep –  and REM sleep, as well as awakenings during the sleep. YES,

very light (N1) and light sleep (N2) are combined

Sleep Architecture Normal sleep architecture follows a cyclic pattern of sleep stages. A sleep cycle proceeds from lightest to deeper stages of NREM to the REM sleep and repeats itself about every 90 minutes. Sleep patterns can be affected by factors like age, the amount of recent sleep or wakefulness, the time of sleep, behaviors prior to sleep such as exercise, stress, jet lag, as well as environmental conditions such as temperature and light, and various chemicals. YES
Light Sleep During light sleep person becomes disengaged from surroundings, eyes moves slowly or stop moving, muscles relax with occasional twitches, heart rate and breathing rate are lowered, and body temperature drops. During light sleep person is easily awakened by noises and other disturbances. About 50-60% of the sleep time is spent in the light sleep stage. YES
Deep Sleep Deep sleep is the deepest and most restorative sleeps stage. Blood pressure drops, heart and respiratory rates are low and regular, muscles are relaxed, energy is restored and essential hormones are released enabling tissue growth and repair. During deep sleep person is very difficult to awaken. Deep sleep is necessary for feeling well rested and energetic during the next day. Longest periods of deep sleep occur during the first half of the night. About 15-20% of sleep time is spent in deep sleep, and the amount declines with age. YES
REM Sleep REM sleep is associated with dreaming. A short period of REM may occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep, and longer periods of REM typically occur during the second half of the night. During REM, eyes move rapidly, breathing becomes rapid, shallow and irregular, heart rate and blood pressure increase and arm and leg muscles are temporarily paralysed. Typically 20-25% of the sleep is spent in REM sleep, and the amount slightly decreases with age. YES
Time in Bed Time in bed starts when “the head hits the pillow” and ends at rise-up including awakening periods before falling asleep and during the sleep. YES
Total Sleep Time Sleep duration, or total sleep time, is the amount of time spent in light, deep and REM sleep stages during the night. YES
Sleep Efficiency Sleep efficiency is the ratio between sleep duration and time in bed. Sleep efficiency over 85% can be regarded as normal, while a number below 70% can be considered to be very low. Difficulties in initiating or maintaining sleep diminish sleep efficiency. YES
Sleep Onset Delay Sleep onset delay, or sleep latency, is the amount of time that elapses between the time the person’s head hits the pillow and the time person eventually falls asleep. Normal sleep onset delay is around 15 minutes. Very short sleep onset delay can be indirect indicator of sleep deprivation, while extended sleep onset delay is indicating difficulties of initiating sleep. YES
Wake after Sleep Onset (WASO) WASO means time spent awake in bed after sleep has started, and before final awakening. It can be used to indicate the difficulties in maintaining sleep. The amount of awakenings increases the likelihood of feeling tired during the day,  even though the tolerance for sleep disruptions varies. Sleep fragmentation seems to increases with age. YES
Sleep Debt Feeling drowsy during a day is a sign of not having enough sleep. If sleep is too short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of the processes needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and the release of the essential hormones. Sleep deprivation compromises cognitive, mental and physical performance. The sleep deprivation accumulated over several nights creates sleep debt. It may require several good nights to pay back sleep debt. For chronically sleep deprived it can take months to get back into the normal sleep pattern. Sleep debt that has been accumulated over extended periods of time may have irreversible negative consequences. YES
Sleep Score Sleep Score is the parameter that shows your sleep quality at a glance. Oura Sleep score takes into account the positive and negative contributors for sleep quality such as total sleep time, REM and deep sleep duration, sleep onset delay and awakenings. Maximum Oura sleep score is 100% while 85% represents a level supposed to be adequate for normal daily performance. Individual tolerance to lower sleep scores may vary, but in general, lower sleep scores can be linked with impaired mental and cognitive performance and daytime sleepiness. YES
Readiness Score Oura Readiness Score indicates the ability to perform in daily life.  Most essential parameters contributing to the Readiness Score are preceding sleep and physical activity, accumulated sleep debt, nocturnal heart rate and body temperature.    YES
Chronotype Chronotype refers to person´s typical time of sleep and ability to perform at different times of day. Morning type person wakes up early and is most active in the morning, whereas evening type person has later bed and wake-up times and  is most energetic during afternoon and evening. Oura will utilize your daily rhythms and sleep related parameters in order to automatically learn about your chronotype characteristics. YES
Circadian Rhythm Several essential physiological and behavioral processes such as sleep-wake cycle, body temperature and hormone secretion follow circadian rhythms. An endogenous timing system generate and maintain circadian rhythms and is synchronized to solar rhythm mainly by external light stimuli. In addition, eating, sleeping, social behavior and physical activity synchronize the endogenous circadian rhythm. Misalignment between circadian  and solar rhythms results in adverse consequences in many aspects of human health, including mental and physical performance, sleep, cardiovascular system, metabolic homeostasis and immune system. The target of Oura is to optimally align the endogenous and solar rhythms. YES
Sleep Wake Cycle The sleep-wake cycle is regulated by an interaction and balance between two separate biological mechanisms in the body, homeostatic and circadian process. Homeostatic drive for sleep increases as a function of amount of time elapsed since last sleep episode and declines during sleep. The accumulation of sleep-inducing substances such as adenosine generates a pressure for sleep. The circadian drive for sleep peaks at the end of the biological night and reaches the lowest level at the end of the biological day. Adequate alignment between the homeostatic and circadian processes is crucial in obtaining optimal sleep and performance. Sleep-wake processes are influenced by the genes and several external factors such as medication, naps, mental and physiological strain and daily schedules. YES

I’d also highly recommend you listen to “Could This New Ring Be The Final Frontier In Self Quantification, Biohacking, Sleep Tracking, HRV, Respiration & More?“, if you want to learn more about the hardware in the ring, why it doesn’t produce any electrical pollution, why it’s drastically different than any other self-quantification device on the face of the planet and much more.

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Summary

What do you think?

Do you already track or plan on tracking your sleep, readiness and activity?

Do you have questions about sleep cycles, activity readiness, or anything else I discussed in this article? Leave your comments and questions below, and I’ll reply. In the meantime, if you want to begin the process of self-quantification for yourself, you can…

Click here to get an ŌURA ring and if you mention my name in the comments section of any order they’ll knock $10 off instantly after you order, whether USA or International..

Click here to get the NatureBeat app I use to track my morning heart rate variability (HRV) in conjunction with the ŌURA

Thanks for reading and happy tracking!

26 Little-Known Health-Hacking Lessons Learned From 8 Books I Read This Week.

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I speed read.

As I discuss in the podcast episode “Unlocking The Superpowers Of Speed Reading, Memory Enhancement, Learning Skills Faster & More With Jim Kwik.“, I’ve naturally “sped-read” since I was a little kid, and I typically read 4-8 books each week.

Here’s my system: I begin by glancing at the table-of-contents to get an idea of what the book contains. Then, I flip through the book very quickly to see what the layout of the book is like. How much of it is references or appendices at the end? Where are the special sections, diagrams, graphs, photos or in-laid content that might take extra time or be critical or interesting sections? How much of it is simply “fluff”?

Then I begin reading, page-by-page. I don’t track down-and-up or side-to-side with a finger or pen. I just…read.

And I find anything especially notable or groundbreaking in the book, I underline that section (or, if a Kindle, highlight that section), then fold over that page so I can go back later and read my underlined sections.

Finally, when I’m all finished, I photograph the underlined sections with my phone and upload those to Evernote so I have the most important notes digitally stored forever. That’s it. Anyways, this week I attended a private health summit and had the opportunity to read eight new health books published in 2016.

In today’s article, I’m going to give you my biggest takeaways and lessons learned from those eight books. When it comes to optimizing your body and brain, I think you’ll find some handy gems. Enjoy.


Kale and Coffee: A Renegade’s Guide to Health, Happiness, and Longevity by Kevin Gianni

IMG_7867 Quick Summary of Kale and Coffee:

“Four years ago, when I was something of a YouTube health celebrity, I was on top of the world [and] . . . the diet pyramid. I ate the cleanest, most nutritious diet on the planet (or so I thought). A raw-food vegan diet . . . not only pure in its contents but also pure in its intention. With this type of diet, you eat straight from the earth, only as nature intended. I ate kale salad, raw nut butters, goji berries, raw chocolate, and dehydrated flax crackers. I drank green smoothies, green juice, wheatgrass, and hemp milk. I even tried a fruitarian diet . . . I thought about food from the moment I woke up until the second I fell asleep . . . I was an addict in search of the purest dope: raw, vegan, organic food . . . I was headed down a path of self-destruction. So it’s not surprising that, like any hardcore addict, I eventually hit rock bottom.”

So begins the saga of health blogger Kevin Gianni and his wife, Annmarie, as they travel the world to learn as much as they can about health and nutrition. Along the way they meet unlikely people in unlikely places as Kevin seeks an answer to his burning question: What—and how much—should we eat?

Gianni’s lighthearted debunking of the hype and nonsense surrounding much of the health and nutrition world today should be encouraging to anyone who’s ever tried a fad diet and failed. Kale and Coffee is packed with research—delivered in Gianni’s warm and humorous voice—but the aim throughout is to empower you to create the diet and lifestyle best suited to you alone.

Kale and Coffee offers practical tips for wellness, from testing your body—and pantry—for toxic metals to selecting the healthiest coffee, wines, and green drinks to consume. 

Biggest Lessons I Learned From Kale and Coffee:

-Many long-lived, ancestral, healthy populations don’t eat blueberry and kale superfoods. Take the Q’ero tribe in the Peruvian Andes. Their diet is pretty simple: potatoes, corn, alpaca meat, trout and coca leaves. The Nicoyans in Costa Rica, another longevity prone population, eat a staple diet of bean, corn and squash. That’s pretty much it. Think about that before you blow a whole paycheck at Whole Foods.

-“Holy basil” supplementation popped up in this book and several others I read as an excellent short-term stress solution. I plan to try it. My friend Roger Drummer, an adaptogenic herb specialist, recommended to me this Gaia herb stuff.

-Y0ur gut only heals from inflammation and stress when you’re not eating. Period. This mantra was repeated in several other books as well. So I stand by my recommendation that you should engage in a 12-16 hour intermittent fast (also known as an 8-12 hour “compressed feeding window”) as many days of the year as possible, and on a couple days of the month, you should go for 24 hours without eating. During these times, water, minerals, a multi-vitamin and amino acids are fine.


No Grain, No Pain by Dr. Peter Osborne

IMG_7872Quick Summary of No Grain, No Pain:

“In the tradition of Wheat Belly and Grain Brain; No Grain, No Pain demonstrates the proven link between a gluten-heavy diet and chronic pain and discomfort—and offers a groundbreaking, 30-day, grain-free diet plan to help you heal yourself from the inside out.

More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain according to an Institute of Medicine report released in 2011. For many, chronic pain is part of an autoimmune disease, but all too often doctors turn to the same solution: painkilling drugs.

But all of this medication simply isn’t helping, and as Dr. Peter Osborne, the leading authority on gluten sensitivity and food allergies has found, the real solution often lies in what you eat. In No Grain, No Pain, Dr. Osborne shows how grains wreak havoc on the body by causing tissue inflammation, creating vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies, and triggering an autoimmune response that causes the body to attack itself. But he also offers practical steps to find relief. Using his drug-free, easy-to-implement plan, you will be able to eliminate all sources of gluten and gluten-like substances, experience significant improvement in fifteen days, and eliminate pain within thirty days.

No Grain, No Pain is the first book to identify diet—specifically, grain—as a leading cause of chronic suffering, and provides you with the knowledge you need to improve your health. Based on extensive research and examples culled from thousands of his satisfied patients, Dr. Osborne recommends changing your diet to achieve the relief that millions of Americans have been seeking once and for all, leading to a healthier, happier life.”

Biggest Lessons I Learned From No Pain, No Grain:

-There are over four hundred different forms of gluten, forty of which can be more damaging to the gut than the form of gluten for which most doctors commonly test. There is no lab test for all these forms of gluten. Grains also contain something called amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATI’s), which can inhibit your pancreas from producing digestive enzymes. Many of these glutens and enzyme inhibitors can be pre-digested or de-activated by fermenting, soaking and sprouting grains but most people don’t do that.

-Corn and rice and oats (popular on gluten-free diets), as well as vegetable oils, all contain gluten and can produce numerous intestinal and health problems for the gluten sensitive. Since a gluten-free diet that relies on gluten-free packaged foods contains plenty of this corn and rice, many people switch to a gluten-free diet and unfortunately, the inflammation that gluten can cause never actually goes away. Instead, they should be eating “natural” non-packaged foods like sweet potatoes, yams, beets, greens, parsnips, carrots, soaked and sprouted seeds and nuts, etc. – not packaged gluten-free foods.

-Stevia, if it’s the “Truvia” brand, contains corn, and thus gluten.

-If you’re healing your gut, you should have a sixteen-hour food-free zone for every 24 hour cycle.

-Milk “looks” like gluten to your immune system, so if you’re gluten sensitive your immune system may react to it. Soy can often do the same thing.

-There are some *excellent* tips in this boook on sandwich substitutes. Check this out:

IMG_7914

-Bad water can aggravate the gut, and for removing metals and other chemical compounds, the author is a fan of KDF (kinetic degradation fluxion), a copper-zinc alloy that is often found in whole house reverse osmosis filtration systems. So for filtering the water in your entire home, look for a KDF filter that includes RO (Reverse Osmosis) like this. 


The Urban Monk

Quick Summary of The Urban Monk:

“We all struggle to discover satisfaction and contentment in the modern world and yet the more technology we use, the more things seem to get worse. What are we all missing? What will it take for us to find our centers? Pedram Shojai shares how the calmness of Zen masters is attainable in today’s fast-paced world, and with practice, you too can stop time, refuel, and focus on the things that really matter.

The Urban Monk, a New York Times bestseller, reveals the secrets to finding an open heart, sharp mind, and grounded sense of well-being, even in the most demanding circumstances. Shojai’s no-nonsense life mastery program brings together clear tools and exercises that can elevate your existence. Learn to honor your body with nutrition and shake free from addictions to toxic substances and experiences. Let your body and mind unwind each day with evening meditations, loosening exercises, and resting rituals that will keep any stress or unfinished business out of the bedroom, helping you sleep better so that your body can rejuvenate.

The Urban Monk is filled with priceless practices that you can use in your daily life, right here and now. It is designed to be your companion in this crazy world we live in. Get it dirty, mark it up, and take it around with you on your journey to becoming an Urban Monk. There’s no need to move or drastically change your current life. You can find peace within, and The Urban Monk will teach you how to calm the chaos in your head.”

Biggest Lessons I Learned From The Urban Monk:

Xiao Yao San is a Chinese herb complex that, in tea or pill form, apparently works wonders for calming stress.

-Check out this handy chart that shows how your organs and energy systems work during the day:

IMG_7915

-Pedram is a huge fan of something called the “Prague School” as a fitness and movement modality. I plan on researching this more and potentially getting these Prague folks on a podcast because it looks intriguing.


Smart Fat

Quick Summary of Smart Fat:

“The innovative guide that reveals how eating more fat—the smart kind—is the key to health, longevity, and permanent weight loss.

For years experts have told us that eating fat is bad. But by banning fat from our diets, we’ve deprived ourselves of considerable health benefits—and have actually sabotaged our own efforts to lose weight.

Though they originally came from vastly different schools of thought about diet and weight loss, renowned nutritionist Jonny Bowden and well-respected physician Steven Masley independently came to the same conclusion about why so many people continually fail to shed pounds and get healthy. It all comes back to a distinction far more important than calories vs. carbs or paleo vs. plant-based: smart fat vs. dumb fat.

In Smart Fat, they explain the amazing properties of healthy fat, including its ability to balance hormones for increased energy and appetite control, and its incredible anti-inflammatory benefits. The solution for slimming down—and keeping the pounds off for life—is to “smart-fat” your meals, incorporating smart fats with fiber, protein, and most importantly, flavor. Bowden and Masley identify smart fats, explain what not to eat, and provide a thirty-day meal plan and fifty recipes based on the magic formula of fat, fiber, protein, and flavor.

Biggest Lessons I Learned From Smart Fat:

-If you’re looking at the quality of your supplement, there are some very important considerations to check for on the ingredient label. Look at this: IMG_7916

-Coconut oil will raise your LDL cholesterol levels, but actually shifts the distribution of your LDL particles so that your have more LDLa (harmless, fluffy) particles and fewer LDLb (small, dense, harmful) particles.


The Bone Broth Diet

Quick Summary of The Bone Broth Diet:

“In her new book, Dr. Kellyann couples delicious bone broth with powerful fat-burning foods and a groundbreaking “mini-fasting” plan that empowers you to achieve spectacular weight loss and more youthful-looking skin in just 21 days.

With more than 100 recipes—as well as state-of-the-art fitness and lifestyle tips—this book is the ideal tool for taking off your extra pounds and staying slim, sexy, and healthy forever.”

Biggest Lessons I Learned From The Bone Broth Diet:

-I’m skeptical, but Dr. Kellyann swears for a multi-day fast in which you mostly have bone broth. Here’s what it looks like: IMG_7917

-You must add vinegar to bone broth as it helps to dissolve the bones so that you get the maximum amount of nutrients from them.

-For beef broth, roasting the bones at 350F in the oven for 45-60 minutes before throwing them into bone broth can also maximize nutrients that wind up in the broth.


The Sound Of Healing

Quick Summary of The Sound Of Healing:

“Wholetones: The Sound of Healing is 174 pages of life changing personal revelation… a virtual key to unlock your hidden potential.

This book is the perfect companion to accompany the music as it demystifies the science behind the frequencies and explains how to get the most out of your listening experience.

There is even a chapter that shows musicians how to recalibrate their instruments to play in the 7 healing frequencies. And of course, plenty of historical information concerning the healing tones I believe were given to King David by God Himself! Truly an inspirational journey into the spiritual realm of healing and much, much more…”

Biggest Lessons I Learned From The Sound Of Healing:

-I thought this book was going to be way too “woo-woo”, but it actually turned out to be incredibly fascinating, especially when it comes to the science of sound frequencies and how they affect the human body. I plan on getting the author on a podcast soon to discuss this stuff in greater depth, and I also plan on listening to his WholeTones CD’s to see how they affect my body in certain situations.

-Most modern instruments A notes are tuned to 440Hz. This is actually a frequency that can disrupt cellular activity and cause cortisol release and stress within the human body. Instead, the instrument’s A note should be tuned up to 444Hz. You actually need a digital tuner to pull off this type of retuning. The author recommends a Korg-CA-30 digital tuner for this. I plan on personally retuning my ukelele and guitar. -Different frequencies affect the body in different ways. For example, 396Hz affects kidney function, 417Hz affects your digestive system, 528Hz affects hormonal balance and the endocrine system, 741Hz soothes an upset stomach, etc. Author Michael Tyrrell produces special analog CD’s that have mixes of these different frequencies.

-Most music and audio we listen to these days is digital, but a digital signal is a discontinuous wave that causes us to “miss out” on many of the healing frequencies and positive properties of music. Instead, listening to music via analog sound waves such as vinyl records and cassette tapes is superior for sound healing. So break out those old-school vinyl records, baby. I plan on experimenting with that this year at some point and will keep you posted.


The Hormone Reset Diet

Quick Summary of The Hormone Reset Diet:

“The Harvard-educated physician and New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure shows you how to grow new receptors for your seven metabolic hormones, making you lose weight and feel great fast!

When it comes to weight loss, most people don’t think about hormones. But when you develop resistance to your seven major metabolic hormones—cortisol, thyroid, testosterone, growth hormone, leptin, insulin, and estrogen—your body adjusts by increasingly raising your hormone levels and ultimately slowing down your metabolism. And a slower metabolism leads to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. The solution, Dr. Sara Gottfried contends, is to reset the efficiency of your hormones by repairing and growing new hormone receptors.”

Biggest Lessons I Learned From The Hormone Reset Diet:

-I’ve had Dr. Sara on my podcast before. Worth a listen: “The Cost Of Being A Bad Ass – How To Cure Your Hormones

-For hydrating during the day, she drinks “hydrosols”, which means she combines sparkling or still water with small amounts of plant extracts and essentials oils like lavender, mint and rose.

-A  Paleo diet is different for women than it is for men. In women, excess meat consumption can result in quite a bit of weight gain and “estrogen dominance”, which is less likely to occur in men. Dr. Sara actually recommends a “meatless reset” or period of a few weeks eating primarily vegan, non-meat, low-dairy foods for women who need to reset their hormones or lower estrogen levels.


Change Your Brain, Change Your Life

Quick Summary of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life:

“In this completely revised and updated edition of the breakthrough bestseller, you’ll see scientific evidence that your anxiety, depression, anger, obsessiveness, or impulsiveness could be related to how specific structures in your brain work. You’re not stuck with the brain you’re born with.

Renowned neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen includes cutting-edge research and the latest surprising, effective “brain prescriptions” that can help heal your brain and change your life:

To quell anxiety and panic: Use simple breathing techniques to immediately calm inner turmoil

To fight depression: Learn how to kill ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)

To curb anger: Follow the Amen anti-anger diet and learn the nutrients that calm rage

To conquer impulsiveness and learn to focus: Develop total focus with the One-Page Miracle

To stop obsessive worrying: Follow the “get unstuck” writing exercise and learn other problem-solving exercises.”

Biggest Lessons I Learned From Change Your Brain, Change Your Life:

-Cinnamon is a natural aphrodisiac, especially in essential oil form. Warning to my wife: I plan on testing this out soon.

-There are many meditations in the book, but one is something I already do as part of my custom yoga routine. You chant the sounds “saa”, “taa”, “naa”, “maa” while doing repetitive finger movements with each hand. It’s actually incredibly calming. Here’s what it looks like:

IMG_7918

-Even if you can’t get the fancy SPECT scan Dr. Amen discusses in the book, you can assess your brain using a free, computerized neuro-psychological assessment on the website “MyBrainFitLife.com”. -Different activities affect different areas of your brain, so you can’t just do, say, Sudoku or just do crossword puzzles. You need variety. Check this out: IMG_7919


Summary

What do you think? Do you plan on reading any of these books? If so, which ones? Have you already read them and have your own thoughts to add?

Do you like these type of book notes and do you want me to write more of these type of posts for you?

Leave your thoughts below and I promise to read and reply!

You’ll Be Blown Away By How Easy It Is To Keep Your Skin Young With These 12 Natural Compounds.

Mastermind Talks 2014 in Toronto, Ontario.

©2014 Mark Adams
www.MarkAdamsPhoto.com

In last week’s article, I told you how to detox your home…so now, let’s continue to your skin shall we?

I’ll unabashedly admit it.

Despite getting plenty of compliments on my ability to pull off a youthful, Zoolander-esque Blue Steel model pose (as pictured above), I have officially quit my daily habit of smearing extra virgin olive oil on my skin.

Huh? Olive oil?

OK, allow me to back things up a bit. For several years now, I’ve been simply smearing extra virgin olive oil on my face as a daily skin tonic and moisturizer. Not only that, but (as I’ve mentioned on a few podcasts before) when I’m traveling and staying a hotel, I’ll actually call down to the restaurant and have them hand-deliver olive oil to my room. If they ask “why”, I tell them I’m allergic to the lotion in the room, and then proceed to smear my face and neck in the stuff.

The hotel staff probably thinks I’m some strange, olive-oil fetished creep, and the rest of the folks around me simply think I smell like a giant, walking pizza.

But in this article you’re going to discover why I have recently quit slathering olive oil on my skin, the other compounds that I now completely avoid getting anywhere near my skin, and twelve natural ingredients proven to remove wrinkles, shrink cellulite, nourish connective tissue, heal scars, kill bad bacteria, rejuvenate damaged skin, give you a smooth, glowing complexion and much, much more.

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The Dirty Dozen Of Cosmetics

Ever heard of the “dirty dozen of cosmetics”?

That’s right…just like there’s a dirty dozen for produce, there are a plethora of ingredients in beauty products that aren’t exactly beautiful. In the US, research has shown that a significant portion of the over 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors – including plasticizers, degreasers, and surfactants.

And I’m constantly shocked at the number of health-conscious folks who are unknowingly slapping, slathering, rubbing, spraying, spritzing and massaging these chemicals onto the skin, which readily soak up these chemicals. You’d probably be surprised too if you flung open your bathroom cupboard and learned what was really inside that skin tonic, shampoo or soap you bought at your local health foods store.

For more detailed information on the dirty dozen of cosmetics, you can check out this helpful Cosmetic Dirty Dozen background report, but in the meantime, I recommend you head to your bathroom cupboard, inspect the labels of your personal care products and toss out anything that contains the following twelve ingredients:

1. BHA or BHT: Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer.

2. Coal tar dyes: Indicated by the word “p-phenylenediamine”, colors listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number, or colors such as “FD&C Blue No. 1” or “Blue 1”. These have potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.

3. DEA, MEA or TEA-related ingredients: Used in creamy and foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos, these can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer. 

4. Dibutyl phthalate: Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant. 

5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer. 

6. Parabens: Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions. 

7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance): Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics – even in products advertised as “unscented.” Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. 

8. PEG compounds: Used in many cosmetic cream bases. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Also look for propylene glycol and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., polyethylene glycol).

9. Petrolatum: Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers. This is a petroleum product that can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.

10. Siloxanes: Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). 

11. Sodium laureth sulfate: Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look also for related chemical sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate). 

12. Triclosan: Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants. Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. 

Whew!

When I first heard about the dirty dozen, I was tempted to simply shrug and just make sure I continued to do things like use natural deodorant, keep avoiding fluoride in my toothpaste, and continue to avoid using sunscreen unless absolutely necessary.

But last year, I read new research – specifically, the first peer-reviewed assessment of a large number of hormone disruptors and dangerous chemicals in a variety of household products (20). The research is quite shocking, because it reveals consumer products commonly labeled “green”, “non-toxic” and “healthy” are actually laden with dangerous chemicals. And these are products that health-conscious consumers commonly buy, bring into our homes, and proceed to soak in, rub into our hair, smother into our armpits and teeth and slather on our skin.

So I’ve personally switched to following a basic rule that may seem silly at first glance, but that seems pretty safe to me:

If you can’t eat it without getting seriously sick, don’t use it as a personal care product.

That’s right – your skin is a mouth, and slathering chemicals on it is pretty dang close to the equivalent of swallowing the stuff.

Your skin is a mouth?

Yes, that’s not woo-woo, alternative health quack speak. Do keep reading.

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How Your Skin Absorbs Toxins

Skin absorption, also known as “dermal absorption” is a known route by which substances can enter your body and blood through your skin. Along with inhalation, ingestion and injection, dermal absorption is not only a route of exposure for toxic substances, but can also be a route of administration for medication.

To be absorbed through your skin, a chemical must pass through the a few layers: particularly your epidermis, glands, or hair follicles. But since sweat glands and hair follicles make up only about 0.1 to 1.0 percent of the total skin surface, only small amounts of chemicals enter the body rapidly through the glands or hair follicles, and most of the absorption happens through what you probably know as your skin: your epidermis.

Now, take heart: it’s not as though you’re some weak, defenseless, blob of goo and bones covered by a tiny, thin layer of cellophane-like material. Instead, chemicals must pass through seven different cell layers of your epidermis before finally entering the dermis, where they can then enter your bloodstream or lymph fluid and proceed circulate to other areas of the body, like your liver, brain, etc.

Toxins and toxicants move through this seven-layer dip your skin via a process known as “passive diffusion”, and your stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of your epidermis, is the rate-limiting barrier in absorption of any agent. So, how quickly something passes through this thicker outer layer of your skin determines the overall absorption.

skinlayers

So why am I show-and-telling you all this? Well, your stratum corneum is primarily composed of lipophilic cholesterol, cholesterol esters and ceramides. These are all basically types of fats. This means that although nearly all molecules penetrate your skin to some  degree, lipid-soluble (AKA fat-soluble) chemicals make it through this outer skin layer and into the circulation faster.

And unfortunately, most beauty products and skin cosmetics are chock-full of fat-soluble compounds that your stratus corneum readily soaks up…that’s right: just like a mouth.

What kind of fat-soluble compounds am I talking about here? Just take a look at this screenshot of a list of dangerous ingredients in the “average” skin care and skin moisturizing product (you know, the one at the health food store that advertises itself as chocolate-mango bliss for your skin:

skincarelabel

The fact is, because the majority of the skin cosmetic ingredients listed above can easily pass through your stratus corneum, and then proceed through the rest of your skin, along with your passing through your sweat glands and hair follicles, it winds up in your bloodstream and then moves on to your precious organs.

Just think about nicotine and birth control patches. Many people administer potent and effective doses of these agents through the skin to the bloodstream, enabling them to forgo a daily oral pill in lieu of a patch that

Many people administer potent and effective doses of these agents through the skin to the bloodstream, enabling them to forgo a daily oral pill in lieu of a patch that weans one off smoking or prevents pregnancy.

Sadly, via respiration, oral consumption and, yes, skin absorption, many of these chemicals are winding up in babies. In 2005, the Environmental Working Group published a combination of two studies that found toxic chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies born in the U.S.They screened for more than 400 chemicals, and an astounding 287 toxins were detected within the umbilical cord blood of these newborns. Of these 287 chemicals, 217 were neurotoxins, and 208 were known to damage growth development or cause birth defects. These toxins included mercury, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polybrominated and polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and furans (PBCD/F and PBDD/F), perflorinated chemicals (PFCs), organochlorine pesticides like DDT and chlordane, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated napthalenes (PCNs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and many others.

These study results have been largely ignored by the media, and conveniently shoved under the radar by the commercial cosmetics industry. And so, for a few years now, I have simply been smearing olive oil on my skin.

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Why I Used To Smear My Face With Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Olive oil?

Yep, and here’s why:

Olive oil contains three major antioxidants: vitamin E, polyphenols, and phytosterols. These antioxidants can help protect the skin from premature skin aging. Vitamin E partly accounts for the anti-aging benefits of olive oil, because it helps restore skin smoothness and protects against ultraviolet light. Hydroxytyrosol, a rather rare compound found in olive oil, also prevents free radical damage to the skin, particularly sunlight damage.

Olive oil doesn’t clog the pores, doesn’t give the annoying sheen on the skin that something like coconut oil (another natural moisturizer and skin protectant) does, and the color in a good extra virgin olive oil can actually add tone and glow to the skin.

But yet, I don’t use olive oil anymore. I quit.

There are several reasons why.

First, I’ve been studying the skin microbiome quite a bit lately, and, as a matter of fact, just a couple months ago sent my stool, skin and mouth microbiome samples off to the Human Microbiome Project to get analyzed.

The long and short of it is this:

The skin is the human body’s largest organ, and is colonized by a diverse milieu of microorganisms. This colonization is driven by the ecology of the skin surface, which is highly variable, and dependent on, among other things, geographic location, health of the “host” (you!) exogenous environmental factors (e.g. whichever skin product you happen to be using).

This skin microbiota actually functions in “educating” your immune system, passing information from the environment and into your body, allowing you to better thrive in whichever geographical location you happen to be in and allowing you to build a healthy and robust immune system. Yep – your skin microbiome actually changes as you travel. Fascinating, eh?

skinmicrobiome

In research, the human microbiome, including the virus, bacterium, fungus and mites pictured above, paired with the skin has even been referred to as a “super-organism”. Of course, none of the positive, immune-boosting, complexion-enhancing effects of a healthy skin microbiome will happen if you are:

A) constantly bathing yourself in antibacterial soaps and cosmetic toxins;

or perhaps less well-known;

B) not “feeding” your skin with compounds that allow your good skin bacteria to flourish.

Unfortunately, olive oil – while rich in skin antioxidants – doesn’t really feed the skin microbiome.

There’s also very little evidence that olive oil can help produce youthful collagen and elastin, remove wrinkles, shrink cellulite, nourish connective tissue, heal scars, kill bad bacteria, or rejuvenate damaged skin. One of the reasons you age and get wrinkles is because your body’s cellular defense systems deteriorate over time, and the free radicals that are produced as part of your normal metabolic processes can overwhelm your skin’s own natural antioxidant defenses. Olive oil can help a little bit with this, but isn’t really a complete panacea.

So, especially as I age, I’ve been searching for a better solution.

I’ve been looking for other natural oils and ingredients that provide not only antioxidants and “glow”, but also have an anti-aging, wrinkle-reducing, cellulite-shrinking, scar-removing and, of course, microbiome-feeding effect.

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The Best Twelve Ingredients To Get Rid Of Wrinkles & Keep Your Skin Young

But some ingredients can actually help replenish and support your skin’s antioxidant defenses, help your skin cells return to optimal function by helping produce new youthful collagen and elastin, which are the key building blocks of healthy skin, feed your skin’s microbiome and more.

So for the past year – my wife Jessa (who has extremely sensitive skin and can only handle the most hypo-allergenic of substances on her skin), my aunt Cynthia Greenfield (a former attorney and the formulator of the Wild Mediterranean Oil of Oregano I use), and I (a formerly olive-oil obsessesed giant walking pizza) – have been searching and sourcing the four corners of the planet for the best, most organic, most hypo-allergenic ingredients that have been actually proven and tested to remove wrinkles, shrink cellulite, nourish connective tissue, heal scars, kill bad bacteria, rejuvenate damaged skin, give you a smooth, glowing complexion, feed your skin microbiome and much, much more.

We have been receiving strange bottles of oils, tonics and tinctures in the mail from all over the face of the planet, and over the course of our year-long quest, we’ve narrowed our choice down to twelve natural skin-care compounds (and you’ll be blown away by how easy it is to keep your skin young with these).

So (drumroll please), in no particular order of importance, here are the ingredients we’ve identified as the top tonics to smother on our skin each day:

1. Organic Aloe Vera

This stuff absorbs into human skin up to four times faster than water and provides a natural barrier that shields the cells from toxins. Naturally rich in vitamins A, C, D, E, and B12, Aloe Vera has soothing and cooling properties that relieve redness, irritation and itchiness, while nourishing your skin and tissues. Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, it works to speed the healing of cuts, bruises and sunburns, as well as minimize scarring. More research here.

2. Organic Jojoba Oil

Very similar to the composition of human sebum, making it extremely compatible with your skin. Rich in vitamin E and antioxidant properties, leaves skin smooth, supple and balanced. As a “humectant”, it also draws water to the skin’s surface, creating a protective barrier that seals in moisture. More research here.

3. Organic Amla

Also referred as Indian Gooseberry, amla (which grows just 50 feet from my front door here in the forest in Washington state!) is an antioxidant that contains the richest and highest natural source of vitamin C, with antibacterial and astringent properties that help prevent infection and promote the healing of skin. It is referred to in ancient text as the best medicine to prevent aging and also as a rasayana (a promoter of health, longevity and great complexion). Amla contains a high concentration of minerals, amino acids and high density of tannins and polyophenols and flavonoids, as well as strong immune boosting properties. Promotes glow on the skin and delays wrinkles. More research here.

4. Organic Triphala

Translating as ‘three fruit’, triphala contains the herbs Amalaki, Bibhitaki and Haritaki and is one of the best natural sources of vitamin C. Highly anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral, it helps in the production of collagen, keeps skin supple and thick and enhances the skin’s natural resistance to free radical damage and photo-sensitivity. In Ayurvedic medicine, triphala works to balances all three Doshas, is highly rejuvenating, and based on high molecular weight polyphenols (which many of these other ingredients also contain), helps to activate skin microbiome bacteria. More research here.

5. Organic Lavender

Has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and analgesic properties. Extremely healing and valuable in the treatment of many skin disorders and injuries, disinfects scalp and skin and enhances blood circulation. Also has cognitive-boosting properties and was used by medieval knights and ladies as a precious fragrance. More research (and an excellent article on lavender) here.

6. Organic Wild Oregano Oil

Most of the health benefits of oregano oil can be attributed to the presence of carvacrol and thymol compounds, as they have the ability to kill harmful microbes in the body, while allowing good, natural bacteria to thrive and flourish. These powerful phenols have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal properties, all without killing the good bacteria on your skin. Good podcast and research here.

7. Organic Geranium

Invigorates complexion, improves elasticity and has a tremendous balancing effect on every skin type. A natural astringent, it promotes proper blood flow, helps minimize scar tissue and rapidly heals wounds. Contains strong antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. On an aroma-therapeutic level, it promotes stability and balance. More research here.

8. Organic Palmarosa

A tropical grass that is antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial and hydrating. Helps stimulate cell reproduction, moisturize skin and speed healing. More research here.

9. Organic Turmeric

Considered one of the greatest skin healers, turmeric is antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antiallergenic. Rich in antioxidants, it effectively protects the skin cells from damage, rejuvenates cellular tissue, helps reduce pigmentation and provides smooth and glowing skin. More research here.

10. Organic Juniper Berry

Well known for its stimulating and cleansing properties, juniper helps treat a variety of ailments, from skin irritations to arthritis. With high levels of astringent and antiseptic properties, it is great in treating cellulite by stimulating the skin’s connective tissue and encouraging circulation to help fat cells dissolve and make skin firmer. Also helps prevent tissue degeneration, calms redness and inflammation and excellent for treating aches and pains. More research here.

11. Organic Lemon

With natural nutrients and a rich content of vitamin C, lemon is detoxifying, astringent, antiseptic, disinfectant, anti-infection, antifungal, carminative and stimulating. Lemon increases the luster of dull skin, aids in purification and rejuvenates the skin. Its antiseptic properties treat blemishes and various skin disorders. It’s also an effective hair tonic (and yes, you can put lemon oil in your hair for a bit of added shine and shimmer!). More research here.

12. Organic Patchouli

An excellent skin tonic used to promote and stimulate new cell growth, prevent the formation of scar tissue and help to calm inflamed skin. Also regulates combination and oily skin conditions and helps rejuvenate chapped, cracked, mature or sensitive skin types. Patchouli is astringent and anti-septic, and when used in balanced, sane amounts it does not, contrary to popular belief, actually make you smell like a hairy hippie. More research here.

So that’s it: aloe, jojoba, amla, triphala, lavender, oregano, geranium, palmarosa, turmeric, juniper berry, lemon and patchouli.

You figure out a way to combine all these in proper ratios, package them, get them all on your skin in one fell swoop, and you’ve got yourself one potent, anti-aging skin serum.

 

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The New Anti-Aging Skin Serum

The problem is, none of the ingredients above and that before now these never existed in one spot.

You’d have to get a bit of this on Amazon, a bit of that at your local health food store, some of another on a random oils website, figure out a way to package it all in your home, and then keep your fingers crossed that the final product is actually not just organic, but non-GMO, sustainably sourced, all-natural, toxin-free and, if you’re super sensitive like my wife Jessa, hypo-allergenic, meaning free of traces of things like gluten and soy.

Until now.

Through meticulous research and a passion to develop healthy, high-quality natural body care products, I’m proud to introduce the new Greenfield Anti-Aging Serum, an innovative beauty product for men and women that is guilt-free, organic, nourishing, and leaves your skin young and glowing.

anti-aging-serum

The new serum is vegan, non-GMO, sustainable, gluten-free, soy-free, all-natural, toxin-free and contains each and every one of the ingredients above, mixed in a perfect ratio and meticulously tested by the team at GreenfieldFitnessSystems.

The result is an easy-to-use skin treatment that contains incredibly effective anti-wrinkle components which reduce the appearance of crow’s feet, fine lines, wrinkles, scars, stretch marks, brown spots, and skin discoloration. It also reduces the thinning of skin that occurs with aging. Within just a few weeks of daily use, you’ll find that your skin becomes denser and more firm, and your age spots fade. And if you don’t yet have skin “issues”, then this serum will guarantee that you keep them at bay.

Because it is a completely natural and hypo-allergenic formula, the Greenfield anti-aging serum can be used on all skin types, including hypersensitive skin. You can use it to completely replace your moisturizer, or you can use it alongside your other skincare products for extra effect. It also combines perfectly with sunscreens and any other moisturizers for all-day skin repair and protection.

We made a decision to package it in durable, dark glass (not plastic!), and this protects the precious ingredients from sunlight, heat and oxidation. There are absolutely no toxic preservatives, endocrine disruptors or chemicals in the formulation, and in designing the ingredients, we’ve followed closely my personal rule that I wouldn’t put anything onto my body or skin that I couldn’t actually eat.

And of course, it even feeds your skin microbiome and heals damaged hair.

I’ll admit: it was tough to actually get all this stuff in it’s certified organic form, but we managed to pull it off, and the Greenfield Anti-Aging Serum contains, in balanced ratios that we personally tested over and over again to achieve the right balance for skin absorption, completely organic aloe, jojoba, amla, triphala, lavender, oregano, geranium, palmarosa, turmeric, juniper berry, lemon and patchouli.

My wife and I now swear by this stuff. Every person we’ve given a bottle to has been completely blown away by the fragrance (which works perfectly for men and women), the ease-of-use, and the youthful look and feel their skin gets within just a couple applications.

As a matter of fact, aside from the twin boys I helped make eight years ago, this skin serum is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever created. Can you tell I’m excited?

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Summary

So yeah, it’s true. Your skin is a mouth.

It’s also a living microbiome.

To be a complete skin, it also needs more than simply, say, olive oil or coconut oil.

And your skin definitely doesn’t need the dozens of chemicals you find in the average skin cosmetic, even the cosmetic you get at your local health food store.

But I’ll vouch for and give you a 100% guarantee that, when combined and used daily, every ingredient you just discovered and that I’ve packed into the new anti-aging serum will actually work when it comes to giving you the anti-aging, wrinkle-reducing, cellulite-shrinking, scar-removing and microbiome-feeding effect your skin deserves.

That’s why every morning and evening, I now simply give a bottle of Greenfield Anti-Aging Serum a good shake, and then apply a small amount (2-3 pumps) to my face. Every week, to keep my lovely locks nourished, I put 10 pumps into my hair. Since it smells so nice and works so fast, I can simply waltz out of my bathroom with no other products on my skin or hair whatsoever (and I’m definitely no longer calling down to the hotel restaurant for olive oil to smear on my face).

Here’s the deal: you can get this new anti-aging skin serum now, but we’re only starting with a limited number of bottles available, and they’re probably going to disappear fast…

…especially since every single bottle comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

You can click here to get the new Greenfield Anti-Aging Serum now.  Enjoy. I’m super proud of this new formulation and guarantee you’re going to love this stuff.

Questions, comments or feedback? Leave them below! Me, my wife Jessa, my aunt Cynthia will jump in and answer any questions you have on this new anti-aging skin serum, and remember, you can click here and get the new Greenfield Anti-Aging Serum now (includes a 30-day money back guarantee(. 

anti-aging-serum

Q&A

The following is a list of answers to questions received since first publishing this post…
 
Q: Are there any other or non-active ingredients in this? Any natural preservatives, etc.? 

The only ingredients are those on the label. Zero preservatives, zero additives, zero fillers.

Q. How do you keep the Vitamin C and other antioxidants in this serum from degrading?

The serum is packaged in a glass amber bottle, which limits oxidation. You can also keep your serum in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator to slow oxidation even further.

Q. I cannot tolerate the strong smell of patchouli oil. How strong does this serum smell?

Patchouli is listed as the last ingredient, as it is the least plentiful ingredient in the serum. There is definitely not a strong patchouli scent in the serum.

Q. Is this something to use all over or primarily the face? 

Due to the presence of and potent nature of essential oils, 2-3 pumps actually go a long way, and is enough for the entire face and neck, although the serum can be used anywhere on the body, including the hair, on cuts/scraps/bruises, dry skin on arms and legs, etc.

Q. Serums are often used in addition to a “toner” and “moisturizer”. Should I use this on it’s own, or with other product?

Most use it all on it’s own, but some people like to add a natural moisturizer such as coconut oil afterwards. Try on it’s own first though.

Q. How long should I expect a bottle to last with normal use?

With normal use, your serum will last 30-45 days.

Q. What would be the best thing to use to cleanse your skin before applying the serum? 

Frequent use of soap can be harsh on the face, and you can simply cleanse with warm water, or the occasional use of a good, clean soap such as Dr. Bronners.

Q. When should this serum be applied? AM/PM? After I cleanse my face?

We recommend you use once a day, ideally in the morning if you want the added benefit of the pleasant scent on your skin during the day.

Q. You mention the ingredients listed in a perfect ratio for the anti-aging serum. Does this mean all parts are in equal amounts? If not, is it possible to have the exact number or ratio of each ingredient?

Here’s the deal: we can’t give out the nitty-gritty details on the exact ratios because, frankly, it’s proprietary and we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot! But we guarantee that we did a ton of experimentation with getting the ratios just right, and you’re going to love the final result.

Q. Does this serum work as well as something like Retin-A for anti-aging and acne/eczema prevention?

The serum is far safer, far more natural and completely absent of hormonal disruptors and dangerous ingredients like many of the Retin-A or other acne/eczema products.

How to Protect Your Body from the Ten Hidden Killers in Your Home (Fully Updated Version).

detoxhome

Home is where your heart is.

And if you’re anything like me, your home is also one place – aside from gyms, roads and parks – where you probably spend a significant amount of time sweating and sculpting your body. But wouldn’t it be a real pity if you were turning your body into a chemical wasteland in the process?

The fact is, you can’t do much about the diesel exhaust getting piped out the backside of the trucks that drive besides the roads you run or bicycle on, the chemical-laden disinfectants that gets sprayed on the treadmills and, sadly enough as I write about in my article on Four Scary Facts About Gyms, even the exercise equipment at the gym, or the pesticides and herbicides that litter the grass at a public park.

However, in the same way that you have complete control of what kind of foods and chemicals you put into your body, you do have control over how healthy – or unhealthy – your home is. You also have control over how well equipped your body is to handle potentially toxic environments, such as gyms, roads and parks. And in today’s article, fully updated and adapted from the original chapter I wrote in my book Beyond Training, you’re going to learn exactly how…

As usual, leave your questions, comments and feedback below this article – and also let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see addressed that I may have left out!

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household chemicalsWhy You Need To Protect Your Body

How much consideration have you given to the toxins, pollutants, chemicals, heavy metals and hidden killers that aren’t inside your body, but are outside your body?

In other words…

When you’re cranking out push-ups in your living room, have you ever thought about what kind of carpet you’re shoving your nose into?

When you’re doing the cold thermogenesis showers (or the 21 Day Cold Shower Challenge I’m organizing), have you ever considered what compounds your skin might be soaking up from the water?

And as you’re sitting here right now reading this article, do you know how many spectrums of electromagnetic frequencies are bombarding and radiating your body from smartphones, e-readers, and computers?

The fact is, the average home contains 500-1,000 chemicals, ten times more electrical pollution than 40 years ago and an untold number of mold, mites, fungi, spores, pollen and other “bioaerosols”. Most of this stuff you are completely unable to see, smell or taste, but just because you can’t sense it doesn’t mean it won’t leave you struggling with brain fog, an afternoon headache, a crappy night’s sleep, or a horrible workout.

So let’s learn what you can do about it.

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moldcorn1) Mold and Mycotoxins

Mycotoxins are toxic compounds produced by various species of mold.  Among a variety of other health issues, they can cause asthma and breathing issues, cancer, cardiovascular disease, altered kidney and liver function, disrupted sleep, stunted muscle recovery, miscarriage, and a bad case of “fuzzy brain”(27). At my “Become Superhuman” event several years ago, a guy named Dave Asprey stepped onto stage and revealed a host of mycotoxins and molds in foods that are commonly perceived to be healthy, citing the website Mycotoxins.com as a fantastic tool for discovering whether or not a food you commonly eat may be tainted with dead organic matter that is deleteriously affecting your health and performance.

In a nutshell, unless you completely trust the source, I’d seriously reconsider blue cheese and other “moldy” foods in your diet. Here’s a few biggies: sour cream, buttermilk and sour milk; cured, pickled and smoked meats and fish; prepackaged meats, like lunch meats, salami, smoked fish and some sardines; commercial, store-bought pickles, olives, capers, salad dressing or ketchup; vinegar and soy sauce; the average hotel room coffee and yes, even leftovers that have been in your refrigerator for several days. I’m not saying you can live your life with complete abstinence from these food groups, but you should go out of your way to avoid them whenever possible.

But mycotoxins aren’t just found in food.  By getting a test such an ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) from a licensed contractor (I don’t recommend this as a DIY project), you may find that your house has toxic mold which produces bacteria which can often be more deadly than that you find in food.

Within 24-48 hours of development of moisture in an area of your house, mold can form, chomp down and multiply on just about any part of your home which mold considers to be a food source, including dust, wood, paint, paper, cotton or oil, and modern building materials like drywall.

To avoid mold formation and exposure, I recommend you:

-Keep house dust to a minimum. Mop all surfaces at least once a week. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter (listen to this to get the one I use) for your carpets. HEPA-filter vacuums capture the widest range of particles and and potential allergens. Also consider installing a Hepa air filter in your home and office (I use AllerAir)

-Use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in mold-prone rooms such as basement bathrooms low.

-Operate an oscillating fan in the bathroom after showering and fix or caulk any leaks as soon as possible.

-Regularly clean surfaces where mold usually grows – around showers and tubs and beneath sinks. 

-Be conscious of toxins in carpeting, especially in products made from synthetic materials. Use natural fiber wool & cotton rugs. If you really want to take things to the next level, replace your wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors, all natural linoleum or ceramic tiles, using nontoxic glues, adhesives, stains or sealers for installation.

-Seal or replace particleboard walls, floors or cabinets, which often contain formaldehyde, which emits unhealthy fumes. Avoid any synthetic, strong-smelling plywood, fiberglass, fiberboard and paneling.

So let’s say you want to know if you actually have been exposed to mold?

In the US, you can get tests from a company called “EHAP Labs“, and similar tests exist internationally. Or you can simply pay attention to symptoms. If you move into a new house or apartment or you don’t change anything in your diet but you suddenly begin to experience allergy-like symptoms such as asthma and congestion, frequent sickness, headaches, joint pain, brain fog and other issues, you should suspect mold (18).

You can also get tested for mold allergies to everything from candida to penicillin using a skin prick test, which uses watered-down extracts of mold allergens to check your reactions. A little drop of the allergen-containing liquid is applied to the skin of your arm or back and is then pushed into your skin with a little puncture or scratch. If a bump develops on any of the spots, it indicates a likely allergy to that substance.

One simple test you can order at home from a company such as DirectLabs is a blood mold profile. For this test, blood and sends it to the lab where it’s exposed to various mold allergens. Then the blood is checked for the presence of the antibody immunoglobulin E, which is what your immune system produces in an allergic reaction. If it’s there, you could be allergic to the mold you’re being tested for. Below are sample results of what a blood mold profile test looks like:

moldIf you do get exposed, suspect you have a mold issue, or take a blood mold test and discover high levels of mold allergens in your bloodstream, I’d recommend you go back to detox article and follow the detox instructions there (two especially potent supplements in the case of mold exposure are liposomal glutathione and oil of oregano), but to really get to the best resources on symptoms, treatment and remediation, I’d visit the website SurvivingMold.com.

Finally, if the laundry list of potentially mold-containing foods makes you take a big gulp and get extremely nervous or stressed about your diet, I’d recommend you do something as simple as a “Coca pulse test” after you eat a suspect meal that is a frequent staple in your diet. I discuss this test in detail in a podcast on heart rate variability testing, but it basically involves using a phone app such as the NatureBeat to track your foods, and record an increased heart rate of 5 or more beats in response to a food you’ve consumed which may be damaging to your nervous system. A positive Coca pulse test can indicate an allergy, or it can also indicate a potential mycotoxin on the food you’ve consumed. In plain terms, it indicates whether your body goes into “fight-and-flight mode” after eating – which would not be a good sign!

Need more resources? Two good books for discovering how to “de-mold” your house are My House Is Killing Me! and The Mold Survival Guide.

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2) EMF

There’s a reason I unplug my wireless router at night before I go to bed or whenever I’m doing a home workout anywhere near my office, never bring my cell phone near my ear, don’t use or touch a microwave and even avoid heading out on long bike rides or runs with my phone in anything except airplane mode. 

The United State alone is wired with half a million miles of high voltage power lines, and for wireless communication we depend on over a half million microwave links. We also have tens of millions of broadcasting transmitters flood our airwaves, use over 35 million electromagnetic devices (increasing at an exponential rate) and plant ourselves in front of hundreds of millions of video and television screens.

ku-xlargeEMF (electromagnetic frequency) radiation is the by-product of this explosion of electronic technology, and is basically a form of environmental pollution from this radiation emitted by millions of domestic appliances, military installations, industrial machines, computers, broadcast and communications transmitters and all other electrically powered devices (28). This radiation can cause headaches, vision problems, anxiety, irritability, depression, nausea, fatigue, disturbed sleep, poor physical performance and loss of libido.

Even worse, all metallic objects, including electrical circuits, telephone wiring, water and gas pipes, and even the metal objects we carry on our bodies such as keys, watches, and  jewelry can act as antennae which collect and magnify these energy waves, creating a compounding effect that significantly alters the natural balance of our body’s biochemical energy patterns.

When you’re constantly bombarded in this manner by by EMF waves, it can not only distort your internal cellular communications, but it can also “entrain” your body.  Entrainment, also known as sympathetic resonance, is the tendency of an object to vibrate at the same frequency as an external stimulus. It’s why earthing and grounding discussed in the recovery and stress-fighting chapters works so well. But although the frequencies used in earthing or grounding take advantage of the natural frequency of the planet earth, when you become entrained to any disruptive external frequency – such as the frequency emitted by your wireless router – you can lose the integrity of your intrinsic frequencies (e.g. the natural vibration of your cells), which can degrade physical and mental performance and create huge potential for some serious downstream health issues (15).

I’ll admit that a direct cause:effect relationship between electromagnetic radiation and illness has been difficult to prove, but the number of supportive studies continues to increase. To jumpstart your grasp of the seriousness of this issue, and to get the nitty-gritty details on protecting your home and body against the ravages of EMF, I recommend you read the book  ”Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution” and the book ”Disconnect: Truth About Cell Phone Radiation“.

In the meantime, here’s a quick, practical guide to jump-start your EMF radiation protection.

-Watch my video on 7 ways to get rid of electrical pollution in your office.

-Unplug your wireless router or switch it off wireless mode when you’re not using it.

-Limit artificial light radiation by installing low blue light bulbs in your home (I use the sleepy time bulbs by the company “Lighting Science“), putting a blue light blocker screen on your computer and using blue-light blocking glasses such as Swannies.

-Use dirty electricity filters in main rooms of house. I personally use and recommend Greenwave filters.

-Use an airtube headset on phone (I recommend the “airtubes” by Aircom) and/or only use the speaker setting when talking on your phone.

-Keep your cell phone or laptop several inches away from your skin whenever possible, and put your cell phone on airplane mode if you need to put it in your pocket or near your head while sleeping or exercising.

-If you need to place an electronic device in your lap, use an EMF blocking pad such as a Harapad to block radiation.

-Avoid using your cell phone when the signal is weak (this amplifies EMF) and use an anti-EMF case for your smartphone.

If you do everything listed above, you’ll be well on your way to a very high amount of EMF protection, but if you really want to geek out on EMF protection or do a thorough test of EMF levels in your home, then visit the website LessEMF.com, where you’ll find a ton of additional equipment for EMF-proofing your home. Another excellent resource is EMFCenter.com, where you can actually hire a consultant to help you “de-radiate” your home (I interview Dr. Michael Neuert from EMFCenter in my Biohack A Health Home book).

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3) Water

In my particular hometown (Spokane, Washington) they don’t fluoridate the water, and boy, am I ever glad. 

Flouride is certainly a crucial compound…in pesticides.  That’s right: sodium fluoride is a registered insecticide and rodenticide that is used in rat and roach poisons. It is a toxic waste byproduct derived straight from the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers and from the aluminum refining industry, which means it also has a lot of lead as well as other toxic substances in it. But it’s cheaper to simply dump fluoride into our water supply than to pay toxic waste disposal fees (1). Unfortunately, this can cause cancer, hip fracture, dental fluorosis, stained teeth, neurological impairment, lower IQ in children, and learning disorders.

Sure, fluoride certainly has a good anti-decay effect when you  apply it directly to the tooth itself – but you don’t have to swallow the stuff, and frankly when it comes to tooth decay, there is little to no difference between  countries with fluoridated water and  countries with unfluoridated water.  If you really want to dig into the issue with fluoride, listen to this podcast I recorded with Paul Connett, author of the eye-opening book “The Fluoride Deception“, or read book “The Case Against Fluoride“.

fluoridebagOf course, fluoride isn’t the only issue. Since 2004, testing by water utilities has consistently found thousands of pollutants in the tap water we drink on a daily basis. More than half of the chemicals detected are not subject to health or safety regulations and can legally be present in any amount. Unfortunately, at least in America, the federal government has not set a single new drinking water standard since 2001 – and water utilities spend 19 times more on water treatment chemicals every year than the federal government invests in protecting lakes and rivers from water pollution in the first place (2).

So what can you do to ensure you’re protecting yourself from fluoride and other chemicals in your drinking water, shower water, bathing water and cooking water?

When it comes to filtering your water, there are a couple good options.

Water Filter Option #1: Install a reverse osmosis system for the drinking water in your home.  Make sure it has one or more charcoal filters in the system as that will help remove other unwanted substances like chlorine. Unfortunately, when you use a reverse osmosis system, the good minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium are filtered out along with the bad minerals like fluoride. Demineralized water is also more acidic. So to make your water healthy with good minerals once again, and to increase alkalinity, you can re-mineralize the water with or take a daily shot of a trace liquid minerals supplement.  You can also purchase reverse osmosis water filters that come with a built in remineralizer.

Water Filter Option #2: Use a whole house structured water system. You learned earlier about vibrational frequencies and how they can either be good for your body or bad for your body. A structured water system literally changes the frequency of the water, and allows it to envelop toxins and pollutants that will be able to pass through your body without harming you, while at the same time retaining the mineral quality of the water. I’ll admit that when it comes to structured water systems, the science is less sound and slightly more out-on-a-limb, but I personally have used the Greenfield Naturals water system for two years, have had urinary porphyrin tests and Spectracell analysis for metals, chemicals and other toxins and have been shown to be perfectly clean. Full disclosure: my father Gary Greenfield actually owns Greenfield Naturals, a domestic and international distributor of structured water filters, and sells these systems to large agricultural enterprises to improve the health of their livestock. He also offers any of my clients a 15% discount code “friendofben” at http://www.GreenfieldNaturals.com.

If whichever filter you choose is not a whole house filtration system, but simply an “under-the-kitchen-counter” unit or a simple drinking water filter like a Britta, then I highly recommend you also install a KDF showerhead/bathhead filter in your bath and shower. A single 20-minute shower will expose you to a greater absorption of chlorine, fluoride, and any other chemicals that are in your water than 5 days’ worth of your drinking water!

Finally, if you have been exposed to fluoride and unfiltered water for long periods of time and have been using fluoride filled toothpaste and other fluoride-filled personal care products, then pay attention to what you’ll learn in the next section on chlorine so that you can help your body recover, undo the damage, and rebuild itself. Dr. David Getoff also has an excellent presentation on fluoride detoxification.

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eye-irritation4) Chlorine

Of course, some of us don’t just drink chlorine in our water – we also soak it up through our skin during workouts while we also breathe in chloramines, the nasty byproducts that form when chlorine reacts with organic matter such as dead skin cells.

I don’t know about you, but I personally swim 2-4 times per week, and during the fall and winter, it’s not in the river or lake near my house, but instead in a chlorinated pool.

How much chlorine are you personally exposed to? If you’re a swimmer or triathlete or someone who hits the pool or hot tub at your gym often, then it’s probably quite a bit. If you’re not a swimmer, you’re still getting significant chlorination from simply showering or bathing in your city’s water if you’re not using the filtration methods I just described.

In the podcast “How To Reduce The Risk From Swimming in Chlorinated Pools and Drinking Chlorinated Water”, I interviewed the same Dr. David Getoff mentioned earlier. During the interview, which I’d highly recommend you listen to for good details, Dr. Getoff explains the cell wall damage and internal soft tissue damage that chlorine creates, along with the auto-immune and allergy issues that are commonly aggravated by breathing and soaking in chlorinated water (19).

The recommendations generated during the show to mitigate the damages of chlorine are (especially for days that you’re in a chlorinated pool or hot tub) to get the following into your body:

1) 2-5 daily grams of Vitamin C (for more on that listen to this audio Vitamin C Lecture Part 1 and Vitamin C Lecture Part 2)

2) 2000-4000IU of Vitamin D/Vitamin K blend

3) 10-20iu of a natural source of Vitamin E such as d-alpha-tocopherol (I recommend SuperEssentials fish oil for this)

4) a serving of a full spectrum antioxidant such as Life Shotz.

Unfortunately, most soaps and shampoos that are designed to strip chlorine from your skin and hair are laden with many of the endocrine disruptors and dangerous personal care product chemicals you’ll learn about later in this chapter. There is one product called SwimSpray, which is a natural, Vitamin-C based spray that will remove chlorine odor, but it’s not going to stop chlorine from getting absorbed into your body. So the best thing you can do is equip yourself internally to handle the ravages of chlorine. If you need to test your antioxidant levels to see how well-equipped your body is to fight chlorine damage, I recommend a Metametrix ION Panel at DirectLabs.

Finally, if you have the luxury of a home pool, then treat it with a healthy alternative to chlorine, such as a combination of natural pool minerals combined with structured water.

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5) Household Cleaning Chemicals

From toilet bowl cleaners to laundry detergent, synthetic, chemical-based cleaners are an enormous source of health issues and and environmental pollution (8). For example:

-Tide laundry detergent has high levels of 1,4-Dioxane, a carcinogenic contaminant…

-Most fabric softeners are filled with synthetic fragrances that cause acute effects such as respiratory irritation, headaches and auto-immune reactions…

-All-purpose cleaners contain the sudsing agents diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA). When these substances come into contact with nitrites in the environment or your body and mouth, they react to form nitrosamines carcinogens…

In contrast, take a look at the photo below. You’ll see three basic ingredients: lemons, baking soda and white vinegar. From disinfectants to window cleaners, in our house, these three ingredients form the crux of our household cleaning supplies.

There are many inexpensive, easy-to-use natural alternatives which can safely be used in place of commercial household products. Here’s list of common, natural and  safe products which can be used alone or in combination for a variety of household cleaning applications.

-Baking Soda – cleans and deodorizes.

-Soap – unscented natural soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. We get most of our soap-making goods from Mountain Rose Herbs

Lemon – a natural acid that is effective against most household bacteria.

Borax – Despite it’s “scary” name, Borax is simply sodium borate. It cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, and is good for cleaning painted walls and floors.

Washing Soda – also known as “SAL Soda”, this is sodium carbonate decahydrate, a natural mineral. It cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. 

White Vinegar – cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and removes wax build-up.

Cornstarch – can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs.

Essential oils – where do I start? There are dozens of options but we stick to three when we need to kill bacteria or clean our bodies or our kitchen counters: oregano, thieves and lemon. You can read up on them here. 

So how can you use the natural ingredients above? Here are a few examples (and you can find many more thorough instructions for anything you’d ever need at EarthEasy.com, which is an organic living website owned by a friend of mine):

-Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 cups hot water. 

-Carpet Stains: Carpet stains: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on stain, let sit for several minutes, and clean with a brush or sponge using warm soapy water.

-Laundry Detergent: Mix 1 cup Ivory soap, with 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax. 

Of course, if you don’t have time, you don’t have to create your own cleaning supplies. A growing number of commercial non-toxic home cleaning products are also available. From kitty litter to diapers (those are technically a cleaning supply, right?), I introduce some commonly found storebought resources in my blog post “How Safe Is Your House From Being A Chemical Wasteland?“, including:

 –Healthy Pet Foods Here’s the Scoop! Natural Unscented Clay Clumping Litter

Bon Ami Polishing Cleanser, No Chlorine, Perfume or Dye

Seventh Generation Free and Clear Dishwashing Detergent

Seventh Generation Free and Clear Natural Dish Liquid

Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Diapers

There are many other safe products you can find on websites such as OrganicConsumers.org. My wife and I have several webinars inside the BenGreenfieldFitness Inner Circle which teach you how to make your own cleaning products, but the information you’ve just learned will give you a very good start.

pushup-carpetNo discussion of cleaning chemicals would be complete without warning you about carpets, furniture, mattresses flooring, and other surfaces. When any of these items (especially carpet or area rugs) give off that new carpet smell, that means they’re off-gassing.

Off-gassing is the evaporation of chemicals from any material (23). Furniture, plastics, vinyl products, paint, new cars, clothing, cosmetics, water bottles, carpet, and mattresses do it. Off-gassing materials emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and small particulate substances throughout the entire life of the material – and carpet is a major offender.

Synthetic carpets are made from nylon fibers with a polypropylene backing. Of the chemicals released from carpet, most notable are styrene and 4-phenylcyclohexane (4-PC), both of which come from the latex backing used on 95% of all carpets. So that “new carpet” smell is the odor of 4-PC, which is an eye and respiratory-tract irritant that can seriously mess up your central nervous system. If that’s not bad enough, the adhesive used to attached the carpet to the floor typically contains benzene and toluene, some of the most harmful VOCs (29).

Ideally, a new carpet should be aired before installation, but if that’s not possible, keep any carpeted room extremely well ventilated. Besides headaches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, and asthmatic reactions, here’s how he tells if carpet is giving off gas:

1. Take a clean, fragrance-free paper towel and fold it in half twice.

2. Place it on a section on the carpet and cover it with aluminum foil secured with tape.

3. After 24 hours, fold the towel inside the foil quickly.

4. Then go outside and unwrap it just enough to take a whiff.

5. If it stinks, your carpet is giving off gas.

You should also avoid stain-guarded clothing, furniture and carpets and be conscious of toxins in carpeting and other flooring, especially anything made from synthetic materials. Use natural fiber wool & cotton carpets, rugs, mattresses and furniture when possible, and if you really want to take massive action, replace your wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors, all natural linoleum or ceramic tiles – using nontoxic glues, adhesives, stains or sealers for installation.

Click here for a full podcast I recorded on how your vacuum churns out toxins, what kind of carpet to use and how to clean your carpet the right way.

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6) Plastics

I go out of my way to avoid plastic by investing in items such as Pyrex BPA-free glass containers and glass canning jars. I also only use PCB-free water bottles when cycling or hydrating during a workout (I prefer the Specialized Purist) and avoid heating, microwaving or even letting sit in a hot car any type of plastic that I’ll potentially be eating food or drinking from, especially foods that contain oils or fats, which tend to be excellent “carriers” for many of the chemicals in plastic.

The chart below shows how plastics, even many society consider to be “safe plastics”, are not really that safe at all:

Plastic-coding-graphics-completed-PNG-1

In this post-industrial era, I understand it can be nearly impossible to completely eliminate plastic from your life. So I recommend you simply limit your exposure to the worse offenders, which are typically plastic numbers “3”, “6” and “7”, and follow these simple rules. 

1) Limit use of plastic bottles. Bottled water is not extremely harmful in small amounts, but BPA exposure can be an issue with frequent or prolonged use. BPA, or Bisphenol A, is linked to cancer and phtalates, both of which can cause hormonal and neural damage. One report from the CDC found BPA in 92.6% of adults (4), but the good news is that another study found that when you remove BPA containing items from your diet for just three days, you can reduce your BPA levels by around 66%. Use glass bottles, BPA-free bottles, or glass jars to transport and drink your water (21).

2) Be aware of other common sources of BPA. Besides plastic bottles, canned food and shopping receipts are also significant sources of BPA. You should also avoid plastic food packaging and plastic containers when you can – and never heat foods near these items.  Choose baby bottles made from glass or BPA-free plastic. If you have children, avoid vinyl pacifiers for your baby and especially stay away from children’s toys marked with a “3” or “PVC.”

3) Replace your plastic shower curtains. Use natural cotton or nylon curtains such as Bean Products Pure Cotton Shower Curtain or Excell Home Fashions Ultimate Nylon Shower Curtain or Liner.

4) You should avoid non stick pans, pots, bakeware and utensils, since the Teflon coating contains perfluorinated chemicals (PFC’s) very similar to the chemicals leached from plastic. Whatever you cook on, you wind up eating. We primarily use cast iron cookware

5) Rather than dry cleaning, use wet cleaning if that’s an option near your home. Tell your dry cleaner not to use the plastic wrap or remove it as soon as possible, since the plastic traps the dry cleaning chemicals on clothes and in your closet. Let your dry cleaning air out (preferably outside) before you put it away. 

Once you become aware of the dangers of plastics, you’ll begin to notice them all over your home. But through awareness and gradual removal, it can be simple to get most of them out of your life. Once again – if you have been exposed for a long time, educate yourself on detoxification.

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dirty-dozen

7) Pesticides & Herbicides

I admit: I don’t eat organic, 100% pesticide-free all the time.

Sometimes I mess up and end up with one of the “Dirty Dozen” pesticide-laden produce items (see right, or visit EWG.org for a constantly updated list). Usually it’s when I’m at a backyard barbecue or a friend’s home for dinner and that spinach salad or handful of cherries just looks so good.

In a situation like this, I simply pop some activated charcoal capsules and take liposomal glutathione when I get home.

But the majority of the time, I buy organic produce, and when I don’t, I use a simple vinegar-cleansing trick I’ll tell you about shortly.

Many people seem to feel just fine when they eat pesticide-laden produce. This is because unlike highly noticeable issues such as mold and carpet, you won’t necessarily feel like crap immediately after pesticide exposure. In fact, the biggest danger from pesticides is not from the immediate effects, but the harm that comes long after exposure or from repeated, low-dose exposure.

Recent data collected by the EPA reports that in the U.S. alone, approximately 5 billion pounds of active pesticide ingredients are applied to our foods annually. That’s a tremendous amount of poisons entering our bodies, and sure enough, a 2002 University of Washington study found that 109 out of 110 urban and suburban children had pesticides in their urine samples.

As you would probably guess, food grown on certified organic farms contains significantly less pesticide residue than food grown with synthetic pesticides. That may seem obvious, but the evidence for this fact has only been available since 2002, when research proved that children fed organic food have lower residues of certain pesticides in their bodies than children fed conventionally grown food.

So buy certified organic produce. And if you really want to make an educated decision and fill your body with the most nourishing and least damaging produce, I recommend you go buy the book Rich Food, Poor Food

In this grocery shopping guide, Mira and Jayson Calton have an excellent list of the “Fab 14” and the “Terrible 20” – which are simple resources to show which produce items tend to be most laden with not only harmful pesticides, but also GMOs, chemical fertilizers, various synthetic substances, sewage and irradiation.

I’d highly recommend you buy their book to get into the nitty-gritty details, or to get a handy wallet guide like the one below, which allows you to reduce your pesticide exposure by 80% and avoid GMO produce 100% of the time.

caltonnutrition

And for that simple vinegar trick I mentioned for non-organic produce? Any basic white vinegar will do, and you already plan on having that around for a natural cleaning supply, right? Simply mix a solution of 10 percent vinegar to 90 percent water as a bath in your kitchen sink, and then briefly place your non-organic vegetables or fruit in the solution, swish them around, and rinse thoroughly in plain water. 

Of course, you also need to watch out for the pesticides and herbicides hanging around in your yard. After all, the average suburban lawn soaks up 10 times as much chemical pesticide per acre than conventional farmland, with over 70 million tons of fertilizers and pesticides are applied to residential lawns and gardens annually!

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of lawns. At our previous house, we actually dug up nearly our entire 1.2 acre yard and just replaced it with one big muddy, dirty vegetable garden. But if you do want that classy expanse of green grass, the only way to reduce dependence on chemical lawn fertilizers is to develop a healthy lawn that is naturally resistant to weeds, insects and disease. You can do this by:

1. Improving the soil.

You can get a lawn pH tester for a few bucks on Amazon. When you test, it should read between 6.5 and 7.0, which is slightly acidic. Soil that is too acidic will need a sprinkling of lime and soil that is not acidic enough will need a sprinkling of sulfur

2. Choosing a local grass.

Grasses vary in the type of climate they prefer, the amount of water and nutrients required, shade tolerance and the degree of wear they can withstand. Ask your local garden center to recommend grass which is best adapted to your area.

3. Mowing often, but not too short.

Giving your lawn a “marine cut” is not the best idea because surface roots become exposed, the soil dries out faster and surface aeration is reduced. As a general rule, don’t cut off more than one-third of the grass at any one time and shoot for about 2.5-3.5 inches. In most growing conditions, this means a weekly mow (yes, I hire a guy off Craigslist to mow, as I hate mowing). When your lawn is finished growing for the season, cut it a bit shorter, to about 2 inches. This will minimize the risk of mold buildup during winter.

4. Watering deeply, but not too often

Regular watering encourages your lawn to develop deep root systems which make the lawn hardier and more drought-resistant. But you need to let the lawn dry out before re-watering. Most healthy lawns require only 1 inch of water per week, which is about 15-20 minutes worth of sprinkling once per day, such as the early morning, when less water will be lost to evaporation.

Finally, when you do fertilize use a natural lawn fertilizer. I recommend the Ringer brand, which is basically a mix of certified organic minerals. An excellent resource for more chemical-free yard recommendations is The Organic Lawn Care Manual: A Natural, Low-Maintenance System for a Beautiful, Safe Lawn.

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metals8) Metals

I step into a my basement infrared sauna at least once a week, and usually far more often than that, because saunas have been shown to be an excellent way to release metals through the skin, and because I know that the mere fact that I get exposed to everything from brake dust on the road to metals in airports and airplanes to the occasional sushi binge, I get my fair share of metals.

In the podcast episode “How Hidden Sources Of Heavy Metals Are Destroying Your Health, And What You Can Do About It.“, I talk to Dr. David Minkoff about how metal exposure can cause chronic fatigue, poor mood, disrupted sleep, headaches, low immune system,  low hormones, and brain fog.

The biggest culprit for metal exposure is modern dentistry. Even though about 50 percent of dentists in the U.S are now mercury-free, only an estimated 10% of dentists fully understand the health risks associated with dental amalgam – which is toxic mercury, despite what the misleading term “silver filling” might lead you to believe (13).

If you decide you want to pull metal out of your mouth, then you should know that via the process of removing and replacing amalgam “silver” fillings, you can risk acute toxicity from the mercury released during the removal process, and this can cause some serious damage to organs such as your liver and kidney.

Because of this, and other metals that float near and get absorbed into your mouth when you’re at the dentist, my family and I only use a holistic dentist. These type of dentists believe that your teeth are an integral part of your body and overall health and do things such as use a cold-water spray to minimize mercury vapors, put a dental dam in your mouth so you don’t swallow or inhale any toxins, use a high-volume evacuator near the tooth at all times to evacuate the mercury vapor, wash out your mouth out immediately after any fillings have been removed, and use powerful room air purifiers.

The following organizations can help you to find a holistic dentist:

For more education on this topic, read this article at Mercola.com

Unfortunately, you can get heavy  metal exposure in all sorts of sources that go way beyond metal in your mouth. These sources include:

-Smog…

-Car keys…

-Chinese toys…

-Second hand cigarette smoke…

-Pesticides and herbicides…

-Protein powders and dietary supplements…

-”Pristine” water (like my local Lake Coeur D’ Alene) that in fact has high amounts of mining runoff…

-Food stored in metal containers…

-Big fish like tuna and dolphin…

-Nuclear run-off from Japan…

The list goes on and on. You can get tested for heavy metals through a company like DirectLabs, but if you’ve been exposed to any of the above, you can assume you’d benefit from pulling metals out of your body.

Binding heavy metals and “pulling” them out of your body is called chelation, and many substances will bind heavy metals and remove them from your body (12). The metals generally exit your body via your stool, urine, hair, breath, and sweat. Some forms of chelation are accomplished with drugs such as DMPS, but the web site www.DMPSBackfire.com shows you some of the serious problems that can be caused by conventional chelating drugs.

Chelators bind by way of ionic bonds, which are the attractions between the plus charge of a heavy metal and the minus charge of the chelating molecule. Because of this, chelation has ability to extract precious minerals from your body, so if you want to get heavy metals out of your body, I do not recommend chelation drugs or natural chelation. Instead, I recommend you use natural compounds that can gently draw heavy metals out of your body.

Metal FreeFor optimum heavy metal protection, Dr. Minkoff  recommends using 6mg of iodine per daymagnesium in supplemental form (around 400-600mg/day, or until you get loose stool), and a algae supplement such as chlorella. But these don’t pull the metals out of your body.

For actually getting metals out of your body, I highly recommend Metal Free Heavy Metal Detoxification Formula, which is a sublingual spray composed of a unique short protein chain, called a peptide.  Peptides are very small and easily absorbed. The way they interact with a heavy metal is to wrap around it in a way that the heavy metal is not free to interfere with or block normal cellular processes (14). This interaction is called “cage binding”. So rather than chelating precious minerals from your body, the spray actually forms a surrounding cage around mercury, arsenic, lead, aluminum, uranium or cadmium. Your body then removes the metal by excreting it in your stool and out of your body.

Metal Free  is something I personally use for about 30 days out of each year to ensure that I’m regularly removing metal build-up from my body. 

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9) Radiation

From the Fukushima disaster in Japan to the average airport security line to radioactive compounds ingested during medical screens, we’re constantly bombarded by radiation – and it’s an unfortunate fact that a nuclear disaster which occurs thousands of miles away can have implications for you as you sit sipping iced tea in your own backyard.

One problem with radiation is that certain glands and tissues with high amounts of iodine receptors, including your thyroid, prostate, and breast tissue, are extremely sensitive to oxidation and cell damage from radiation, especially when these tissues are low in the nutrient iodine (24). When radioactive iodine (found in most forms of radiation, including all the stuff that gets blown into the atmosphere after a disaster such as Fukushima) gets into areas of your body which have numerous iodine receptors, if these receptors are lacking iodine, then the radioactive iodine latches on and begins ionizing, oxidizing, and harming these tissues. As you can imagine, if the receptors have had adequate dietary exposure to iodine then they are already filled with iodine and do not readily grab the radioactive version of iodine.

japan radiation

The other issue with radiation, as I alluded to above, is that it is highly capable of causing oxidation – in a similar manner that eating high levels of heated vegetable oils or sugars can cause free radical damage – but to a much greater extent.

And here is the basic fact: contrary to popular belief, you simply cannot stop ionizing radiation from entering or actually passing through your body by taking some special nutritional supplement or drug.

This is because radiation exposure is the equivalent of a bunch of tiny bullets passing through your tissues, so complete protection from radiation would basically involve you digging into an underground bunker and getting  lead or concrete walls between you and the source of the radiation. Good luck with that.

So rather than running from the radiation, I recommend you simply speed your body’s ability to repair damaged tissues and organs, and equip yourself with high amounts of the proper nutrients to counteract the effects of ionizing, oxidizing radiation.

As I discuss in the podcast episode “Natural Ways To Protect Yourself From Radiation“, different forms of anti-oxidants are going to protect you in different ways, so you can’t simply take something like high-dose vitamin C or high-dose iodine and call it good. In that particular podcast episode, I answer a question from a Japanese caller who was concerned about radiation exposure from Fukushima, and I recommended the following steps to counteract the effects of radiation (you’ll notice that many overlap with my recommendations for a healthy detox).

Daily radiation protection (things you should be doing for general health anyways):

-Oral magnesium in supplemental form (around 400-600mg/day, or until you get loose stool). You can read more here about how magnesium offers strong protective effects against small daily doses of radiation.

-Algae. I eat a handful of organic algae every day and I talk about why in this article. Eat 20-30 bits in the morning and evening, or put into daily smoothie.  Also, liberally include sea vegetables in your diet.

Full spectrum antioxidant such Lifeshotz. All ingredients of Lifeshotz are derived from wild plants, which are some of the most “stressed” biological compounds on the of the planet. When you consume the extract of those wild plants, they pass their natural anti-oxidant properties on to you.

-Additional anti-oxidants from a high quality omega 3, Vitamin D and Vitamin A containing supplement. I recommend  SuperEssentials fish oil combined with a good multivitamin.

If acute radiation exposure occurs or you’re traveling frequently:

-The Metal Free Heavy Metal Detoxification Formula discussed earlier.

-6mg of nascent iodine per day in a glass of water.

-1-2 servings edible clay per day. Clay can actually draw out stored radioactive compounds from your body, and yes, it literally tastes like eating dirt. I recommend this Edible Earth stuff.

Finally, to learn more about naturally protecting yourself from radiation and the huge problem with radiation exposure in our modern era, I highly recommend you read Dr. Mark Sircus’s book “Nuclear Toxicity Syndrome”.

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10. Personal Care Products

Ever heard of the “dirty dozen of cosmetics”?

That’s right…just like there’s a dirty dozen for produce, there are a plethora of ingredients in beauty products that aren’t exactly beautiful. In the US, research has shown that a significant portion of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors – including plasticizers, degreasers, and surfactants (10). And many folks are unknowingly slapping, slathering, rubbing, spraying, spritzing and massaging these chemicals onto their skin and hair – both of which readily soak up these chemicals.

For more detailed information on the dirty dozen of cosmetics, you can check out this helpful Cosmetic Dirty Dozen background report, but in the meantime, I recommend you head to your bathroom cupboard, inspect the labels of your personal care products and toss out anything that contains the following twelve ingredients:

1. BHA or BHT: Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer.

2. Coal tar dyes: Indicated by the word “p-phenylenediamine”, colors listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number, or colors such as “FD&C Blue No. 1” or “Blue 1”. These have potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.

3. DEA, MEA or TEA-related ingredients: Used in creamy and foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos, these can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer. 

4. Dibutyl phthalate: Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant. 

5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer. 

6. Parabens: Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions. 

7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance): Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics – even in products advertised as “unscented.” Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. 

8. PEG compounds: Used in many cosmetic cream bases. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Also look for propylene glycol and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., polyethylene glycol).

9. Petrolatum: Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers. This is a petroleum product that can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.

10. Siloxanes: Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). 

11. Sodium laureth sulfate: Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look also for related chemical sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate). 

12. Triclosan: Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants. Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. 

Whew!

When I first heard about the dirty dozen, I was tempted to simply shrug and just make sure I continued to do things like use natural deodorant, keep avoiding fluoride in my toothpaste, and continue to avoid using sunscreen unless absolutely necessary.

But last year, I read new research – specifically, the first peer-reviewed assessment of a large number of hormone disruptors and dangerous chemicals in a variety of household products (20).

The research is quite shocking, because it reveals consumer products commonly labeled “green”, “non-toxic” and “healthy” are actually laden with dangerous chemicals. And these are products that health-conscious consumers commonly buy and bring into our homes, our kitchens, our bathrooms, our beds, and our bodies – including air fresheners, dryer sheets, shampoo, bar soap, floor cleaner, sunscreen and toothpaste.

So I’ve personally switched to following a basic rule that may seem silly at first glance, but that seems pretty safe to me:

If you can’t eat it without getting seriously sick, don’t use it as a personal care product.

That’s right – your skin is a mouth, and slathering chemicals on it is pretty dang close to the equivalent of swallowing the stuff. Sure, you might get a slight tummy ache if you literally do eat some of the natural products below, but they’re not going to kill you or give you cancer like some of the items that may be in your cupboard right now.

Based on this rule, I’m going to tell you exactly what I use on my own skin next week, because I’ve been doing a ton of research on this lately…but in the meantime, for the rest of your body parts, like your hair and your teeth:

-Hair Styling: Nature’s Blessing Hair Pomade – ingredients are Nettle,Rosemary,Sage,Peppermint, Thyme, Alfalfa, Pure Virgin Olive Oil, Pure Coconut Oil, Sage Oil, Rosemary Oil, Bergamont Oil, Chlorophyll (from nettle and spinach), and Pure Mineral Jelly. Other good hair products for shampooing and styling include Acure Organics and Yarok Hair

-Soap: Dr. Bronners Magic Soaps Unscented Baby-Mild Pure Castile Soap – ingredients are Water, Saponified Organic Coconut, Organic Palm and Organic Olive Oil, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, and Vitamin E. Many of the same skin care product manufacturers I mentioned earlier also make soap.

-Toothpaste: Dental Herb Company Tooth and Gum Paste – ingredients are Oil of Red Thyme, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Peppermint, Echinachea, Gotu Kola and Green Tea Extract. I haven’t found anything that holds a candle to this stuff, although I do occasionally use activated charcoal tooth powder for whitening.

-Shaving gel: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Shaving Gel – ingredients are Organic Sucrose, Organic White Grape Juice, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Organic Olive Oil* Organic Shikakai Powder, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Corn Starch, Organic Lemongrass Oil, Organic Lemon Oil, Organic Lime Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol. Other good options are Pacific Natural Shaving Cream or natural shea butter bars.

-Sunscreen: Badger Balm – ingredients are Zinc Oxide, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Extra Virgin Olive oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Jojoba, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Cocoa Butter, natural Vitamin E and essential oils. Other good sunscreens are Raw Elements Eco FormulaKabana Skincare and Mexitan.

Cologne: Zen for Men Cypress Yuzu Spray Cologne by Enchanted Meadow – there are other good scents out there, but all Enchanted Meadow products are derived from safe ingredients and essential oils such as Vitamin E, Sweet Almond, Avocado, Jojoba & other Essential Oils, plus extracts of Aloe Vera, Rosemary & Chamomile. This way, you don’t always smell like a coconut, olive-oil slathered hippie. Or you can use my trick: all I use for cologne is lavender essential oil, just like the mideival knights used to do. If it’s good enough for a knight, it’s good enough for me.

natural_products
A few of my “safe enough to eat” products.

Of course, I realize that the personal needs of you ladies may go beyond the simple few items in my own bathroom cabinet. So I bugged my wife to throw in a few additional personal care product choices for you that are 100% natural and organic. Munch away.

Makeup: 100% PureBiteBeauty and  Josie Maran – these companies use healthy food-based or plant-derived ingredients, like Manuka honey and mango seed oil.

Nail Polish: Scotch Naturals. This is a 100 non-toxic nail polish.

Fragrance: Lavanila or Pacifica Perfume – similar to the men’s cologne I use, the bases are all healthy essential oils.

Go ahead and compare any of the items above to ingredients of personal care products that might currently be lying around your house. Notice a difference? I promise plenty more about this topic in next week’s article, along with exactly what I use for skin wrinkles, anti-aging, skin glow, etc.

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Summary

Perhaps your head is spinning with all your newfound knowledge about the dizzying array steps you can take to maximize your health and your performance. But don’t let that stress you out. Start with the small steps. Little things like:

-Replacing your regular water bottles with PCB-free bottles…

-Gradually shifting to more natural personal care products…

-Starting to become aware of when you’re exposing your body to EMF, and minimizing exposure when you can…

-Listening to your body and simply becoming aware of synthetic smelling or synthetic tasting items….

-Equipping your body with what it needs internally to fight external stressors…

Ultimately, you should think about how you can live in as simple and ancestral a manner while still taking advantage of post-industrial comforts such as computers, teeth whitening and swimming pools. You’re now well-equipped with the knowledge to make the right decisions.

Leave your questions, comments and feedback (or your own tips) below, and stay tuned next week for exactly what you should slather on your skin, and the new anti-aging strategies and serums I use for my own skin.

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References

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