In The Zone

For the last six years, I have been studying human physiology and disease pathology. As a survivor of cancer, I found myself wanting to learn everything I could about how that happened and how I could avoid ever hearing that word again. Disease(cancer) has been an incredible motivator to improve all areas of my life. Diet, exercise, sleep, you name it. Nothing stands in my way of doing everything I can to improve my odds of making my way to 120 years of age with a body that functions like a healthy middle-aged me. I don’t want to grow old or infirmed, and I surely don’t want to be physically burdensome. I want full functionality of all my physical and cognitive resources until the day I breathe my last breath.

What this means is that I have embarked in all manner of self-experimentation over the last six-plus years to figure out how to achieve my goals best.

Back in June, I added daily sauna use to my long list of self-experiment projects. Within a week, I was up to thirty(30) minutes per day, sweating profusely. Literally wringing, like a sponge, the hydration and toxins out of my body so that I could make room for new, fresh, clean, hydrating water. My goal is to do this every single day for nine months straight to simply see what there is to see, considering sauna bathing has emerged as a probable means of extending healthspan, based on compelling data from observational, interventional, and mechanistic studies. All this to improve not only my physical fitness but also the overall appearance of age in my skin through the act of sweating profusely.

What I discovered is that this is not an easy thing to do. Fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes. Easy peasy. But Thirty minutes is hard, and it takes some serious meditative focus. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to start focusing a LOT more on my breathing to see if that would help me better be able to withstand the self-imposed torture. Sure enough, it has, but still, I have struggled. And then, on Wednesday, I found it. The Zone. To my surprise, the thirty minutes actually flew by like it was fifteen. Blew me away.

I thought I had arrived and that it would be smooth sailing from here on out. But alas, one experience of finding myself in the zone did not mean that I had mastered it, and yesterday’s trip to the sauna whooped my posterior. Fortunately, though, it did teach me that I may, through practice, be able to find myself spending more time in the zone as the future unfolds. And I really hope so because thirty minutes of sauna is torture.

Three Pillars of My Life

1. Sleep
2. Nutriment
3. Movement(Yoga & QiGong)

Our body is an energy storage unit. Just like a battery, we store energy that can be used to power our bodily functions. This energy comes from the food we eat, and it’s stored in our cells. When we need a boost of energy, our cells release this stored energy to help us out. And, just like a battery, if we don’t recharge ourselves properly and regularly, we’ll eventually run out of energy and juice.

Did you know that the average person spends one-third of their life sleeping? That means that if you live to be 90 years old, you will have spent 30 of those years asleep!

It’s no wonder, then, that getting a good night’s sleep is so important.

Not only does it help your body to recover from the day’s activities, but it also gives your brain a chance to rest and rejuvenate.

Without enough sleep, you’ll start to feel irritable and run down, and you won’t be able to think as clearly as you need to.

So next time you’re feeling tired, take a break and give yourself a chance to catch some Zs. Your body and mind will thank you for it!

As well, I cannot understate the importance of nutrient-dense foods. They are the foundation of good health and well-being. Nutritionists recommend them for a variety of important reasons: they help with weight management, reducing the risk of chronic diseases while providing essential nutrients for vital body functions.

That said, it’s not always easy to get enough nutrient-dense foods in our diets. Many of us lead busy lives and don’t have the time to cook healthy meals from scratch every day. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of easy and delicious recipes that are packed with nutrients.

Being active is essential for overall health and wellness. Regular exercise has been shown to improve mental health, increase health span and lifespan, protect against obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and cognitive decline.

Flexibility and range of motion are two key factors that are important for greater longevity and healthspan, leading to a greater overall lifespan. The ability to move your body freely and without restrictions can have a profound impact on your overall health and well-being.

A lack of flexibility and range of motion can lead to joint pain, stiffness, and poor posture. It can also make it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as reaching for a shelf, bending down to pick up a child, or even preventing a fall that could land you in the hospital or, if you’re lucky, just bruised in body and ego.

Increasing your flexibility and range of motion at any point in your life can help relieve pain, improve your posture, and make everyday activities easier throughout your life. There are a variety of stretching and exercise programs available that can help you achieve these goals. Two of my favorites are Yoga and Qigong.

Part of my daily practice includes self-massage over my whole body. More specifically, lymphatic massage, of which there are many benefits. This type of massage can help to reduce swelling, improve circulation, boost immunity by encouraging drainage of your lymph nodes, and even help reduce puffiness and swelling. It can also be incredibly relaxing, helping reduce stress while promoting overall well-being.

Regular strength training comes with a whole host of benefits, both physical and mental, and you don’t even need to use weights. Consider Yoga.

First and foremost, it can help to improve your overall musculoskeletal health. Stronger muscles and bones mean a lower risk of injuries while keeping you mobile and independent as you age. Strength training also boosts your metabolism and helps to regulate blood sugar levels, making it an essential tool in the fight against diabetes.

In addition to the physical benefits, strength training can also do wonders for your mental health. It helps to improve your mood and self-esteem and can even be used as a form of therapy for depression and anxiety. So if you’re looking for a way to feel happy and confident, strength training is a great place to start.

Taking care of our bodies is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. It’s so important to make sure we’re getting the energy we need to live our fullest and richest life.

Though it may be challenging to make some of these changes, they are essential for our overall health and well-being. Making minor tweaks to our daily routine can have a significant impact on how we feel physically and mentally.

Have you made any changes in your life recently to improve your health? How do you make sure you’re getting the energy you need every day? Share your tips with me in the comments, and thanks for reading.

Following The Equatorial Sun

A question from a friend. “I would like to improve my sleep. Are there any herbs you are taking?”

I’m still trying to figure that out. It is a work in progress. A journey of trial, error, and course correction. I am suspecting that quality of sleep is more about behavior and practices that ultimately affect our internal chemistry than what we are supplementally putting in our mouth to alter that chemistry. We really shouldn’t have to add something supplemental to our body to improve the quality of our sleep, but first, figure out what is going on in our immediate internal and external environment that is disturbing our sleep and then, make that correction. As I continue to grow in my knowledge about human physiology and disease pathology I am finding that our body’s own chemistry is what best determines how well we sleep; good or bad. Good chemistry leads to good sleep while bad chemistry results in bad sleep.

To me, it is abundantly clear that the way we are eating is ultimately determining or at least heavily influencing what kinds of bacterial populate our gut and ultimately determine our internal chemistry that affects our sleep. Whether it be related to our gut bacteria producing chemistry that overly stimulates us or by interfering with the signals that would normally tell us when to recline is irrelevant. Bad sleep is bad sleep and nobody needs that if they want to thrive.

And so it is because of these colonies of gut bacteria, yeast, fungi, virus, and archaea that we should be respecting that they also have a time and place to, in some sense, rule the roost we call ourselves. You see, we are not a simple single entity or intelligence but a whole host of intelligent activity that is called a holobiont.

“A holobiont is an assemblage of a host and the many other species living in or around it, which together form a discrete ecological unit, though there is controversy over this discreteness. The components of a holobiont are individual species or bionts, while the combined genome of all bionts is the hologenome.” –Wikipedia

All of these micro-organisms that live in, on, and about our being have rhythms that they follow regardless of when we decide as to the human part of the holobiont. They don’t change their waking and sleeping times simply because we want to work the night shift or be a commercial airline pilot that is constantly jogging across timezones in order to earn an income. They follow the equatorial sun and we should learn to follow their lead. If not, we may find that we will suffer because of their inability to function properly because of our shortsighted behaviors.

Regarding the times and amount of hours per day that we are putting our food into our bodies, we should be following the equatorial sun. 12 hours on and 12 hours off. We should only be letting food kiss our lips if it can first be kissed by the equatorial sun. That means only eating between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm. No matter what latitude one lives at. That in some sense, our body is beholden to a circadian rhythm, not only for sleep but also for eating.

I find that when I do this I sleep better. Give it a try for a couple of weeks and let me know what you think. I’m pretty sure it takes a couple of weeks because we ultimately have to allow time for our microbiome to shift in our gut to start properly synthesizing the right body chemistry as a result of this better practice.

Here’s to better sleep in both quality and quantity.

What Has Changed?

Since some of you asked, I thought I would answer like this.

What has your experience been since moving away from a raw vegan “fruitarian” lifestyle/diet?

Two BIG changes that I feel are a move in the right direction are…

  1. Better bowel movements
  2. No more trips mid-night trips to the bathroom

I really had no expectations that these two things would take place. But frankly, both are tremendously beneficial results in my book. My bowels appear to be much happier and I’m getting a better quality of sleep. There are a couple of reasons for this that I will explain below. My gut just feels more at peace. It’s kind of hard to explain.

What foods I have changed.

  1. Sweet Potatoes
  2. Vegetable Soup
  3. Daily Green Boost

What else I have changed.

I start my day with my largest caloric intake so that by the end of the day my body is better able to find rest before I go to sleep at night. I start heavier at breakfast(break fast) and then I go lighter as the day goes on. I am currently on a rotation where I have a large salad one day, a big bowl of vegetable soup the next day, and a big bowl of sweet potatoes on the third day. This makes the most amount of sense to me. It’s also easier.

On the days I eat my salads and soups, I supplement Daily Green Boost with bananas mashed up along with shelled hemp seeds and chia seeds. It’s like a deep dark green banana-flavored tapioca pudding. I know some will decry foul with my combining fruits with fats, but I would disagree on a physiological level. Our body in its infinite wisdom combines both lingual lipase and alpha-amylase in our salivary glands together precisely for the digestion of both starches and fats. And nature wouldn’t create a perfect fruit like an avocado which contains both fats and carbohydrates if they weren’t supposed to be consumed at the same time. But alas there will be some that suggest we shouldn’t be eating avocados. I disagree with them on this point as well. Just don’t eat too much avocado in one sitting. Go easy on this wonderful fruit.

On the days I eat sweet potatoes, I will have a large and hydrating banana and berry smoothie for lunch with coconut water and coconut milk combined with Daily Green Boost.

I still eat fruit throughout the day, but just not as much. I also have changed my eating window to something called Time-Restricted Feeding. Some of you may call it Intermittent Fasting, but I believe the former is a better way of understanding what it is that is happening physiologically. Because until someone stops putting calories into their body, they are not fasting. And I believe that even the use of the word fasting implies some greater benefit or inflated sense of reality that in the long run will hinder its adherents down a path that is of limited success and possibly other systemic failures including gallstone formation, which I will address later.

Therefore, I suggest that we would best be served to use the most accurate terminology, not only in this endeavor but in all things we do, because it is our own internal dialogue that ultimately matters the most.

Intermittent Fasting as most are calling it has gained much popularity as a mode of beneficial lifestyle change, but I believe that there is still much confusion out there about how to properly execute it as a program.

Once again, I want to stress the importance of calling it what it really is. Time-Restricted feeding.

One teacher, Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard University, whom I highly respect for his hard work in helping people not only overcome disease but also live longer lives practices an extreme version of this by limiting their eating to one meal per day. Most, however, limit their eating window to somewhere between 6 and 8 hours. And it is reported that this method produces favorable results. I on the other hand tend to agree with Dr. Valter Longo of the University of Southern California(USC), that the optimal feeding window is something more along the lines of 12 hours per day, and that it be held to consistently for the greatest outcome.

Though I don’t remember the exact reasoning from his fabulous book, The Longevity Diet, I do remember that he had one especially good reason for 12 hours per day being the optimal feeding window. Preventing gallstone formation.

How does gallstone formation happen?

Our bodies are very conservative and seem to be rather fond of the fruits of their labor. Bile(gall) is one of them. Bile is a yellowish-brown to a dark-green solution that is continually produced in the liver that serves to digest fats in the small intestine. And it’s as if our body refuses to waste this product, bile, that is created by storing and concentrating it in our gallbladder until the next time we partake in a meal. While being stored in the gallbladder, the bile is further concentrated by the removal of water. Hence, the formation of gallstones if it is stored for too long before being used again.

The solution is simple and should be quite obvious. Eating even a small amount of food that contains fat sends a message to the gallbladder to release bile so that it can do the work it was created for. If you are not eating for 18 hours a day or eating a diet that consists of little or no fat, you are just asking for gallstones and a strong possibility of surgical intervention to have your gallbladder removed according to Dr. Longo. A course of action that further hinders our body’s ability to attain its fullest potential of 120 healthy years.

As well, though researchers haven’t figured out exactly why studies do indicate that there is a correlation between those that forego breakfast having a much greater incidence of disease and overall mortality.

So to wrap this up, there are clear problems related to shortened feeding windows of 6 to 8 hours that can lead to gallstone formation and a possible need for surgical intervention. And on the other end of the spectrum for those eating 15 hours a day or more, other metabolic problems begin to arise along with sleeping disorders related to the practice.

My advice is similar to Dr. Valter Longo’s. Simply follow the rhythm of the equatorial sun as balance is always found in the middle. If it cannot be kissed by the sun before entering your mouth, don’t let it kiss your lips. Just remember 12 and 12.

As I promised above my thoughts on why my urinary and bowel movements have improved as I have implemented these changes.

As I mentioned in my prior two short essays, “Why Am I No Longer a Raw Vegan?” & “Fruit, Soups and Salads“, there is a proper balance of electrolytes that ultimately keep our body in a state of euhydration(sufficient hydration).

If you have ENOUGH of ALL of the electrolytes that the body requires, it will remain in a greater state of ease and homeostasis. Our bowels will move like they are supposed to and when they are supposed to because our hydration levels will be optimized. Our urinary frequency will be reduced because our kidneys will not be having to work overtime to constantly be reducing the amounts of some electrolytes to balance out ALL of them. No more insignificant visits to the bathroom and especially the ones in the middle of the night. Why? Because our body will be in a state of homeostasis where it can find rest and work on its healing and restorative processes.

Finally, Time-Restricted Feeding isn’t a quick fix as much as it is a long-term lifestyle that is part of why the Blue Zones even exist and why those in these demographics are living longer more robust lives. Not only are they eating more of the right things, but their eating patterns are inherently more aligned with what nature intended for a body with a potential to live an active 120 years.

And if you need to lose weight, don’t change the foods you eat or restrict the window by which you feed; simply eat less over the same 12-hour span.

Zzz Best Sleep EVER

Where do you place sleep in your life? For me I have learned to place it at the top of the pile of important things to do. A little over a year ago I really started focussing on sleep as thee most important 8-9 hours of my day. Everything else took a back seat. Boy what a trip it has been. Here’s a few things I’ve observed.

Sleep has 2 shifts or phases. Without fail I always wake up about 1/2 way through my full nights sleep. It’s not always a full 8 hours but I do allow for up to 9 hours and 36 minutes. I usually get up and use the restroom for good measure, make sure I drink a good amount of water and take my systemic enzymes. Always falling back to sleep immediately.

1:36 before sunrise. Through additional research I discovered some who believe that there is what is called a/the creators hour that starts 1 hour and 36 minutes before sunrise. I don’t personally know of any science behind it, but I have noticed that I am much more creative at that time in the morning and flow state is much easier to achieve at that time.

Bedtime…9:36 before sunrise. What I decided to do is put myself in bed at about this time every night. I’m not very precise because it is an ever moving target by about 6 minutes per day. This has been absolute magic for quality of sleep and it always provides for a solid 8 hours of darkness for sleep.

Sun down; fork down. If it were always possible I would only ever eat during daylight hours. When the sun goes down so does my fork, knife and spoon. This allows for your food to clear the stomach before bedtime. It will also allow for supplements you need to take on an empty stomach before bed.

Sleeping on the job. That is our job. On the other hand we have a whole legion of microbial life living in and on our body that have work to do. And they tend towards nocturnal behavior. In other words, they work the night shift. In contrast the human part of us tends toward life under the sun. All those other living things that make up our existence and wellbeing work while we sleep.

Shift work. It would seem that our best work as a human and legion of microbial life is done in shifts. And that when we observe this obediently our overall health and wealth in life is filled to the top and overflowing. Yup, that human aspect of us has a responsibility to the other 99% of the DNA on this body to simply get out of their way and let them to their job, on their shift.

A cocktail for the ageless. As a benefit our night shift, or microbial partners graciously provide us with a bio-chemical cocktail that helps us fall asleep quickly. It’s hard not to notice if you are observant. For years I just blew past all the signs while looking for my second wind. All the while ignoring my bodies cue’s. My feeling is that this is our body’s window for falling asleep that we have ignored since modern electric and artificial lighting. And that once we blow past that bio-chemical cocktails effects our ability to fall asleep is diminished. I’ve come to appreciate it and almost enjoy it.

These are just some of what I have observed I look forward to learning more over the years. I’ve found that my body repairs and heals at a much more advanced rate when I play by these rules. Once I started seeing the benefits of simply sleeping smarter it became much more difficult to find good reasons to stay awake much later than 8 or 9. I am personally convinced that there is magic to be found in a perfected sleep.