The Breath

Most of us taking breathing for granted. It just..happens. We don’t need to think about it, right? But our breath is important. Despite the fact that we waste it in arguments, hold it while waiting for something, and struggle to catch it when busy or exhausted.

The breath, breathing can be a very powerful tool. Controlling your breathing is a very useful skill to develop and use. Proper breathing is key in most forms of exercise, in meditation, sleep, and more. My first exposure to manipulating the breath for actual results was in yoga. Pranayama, which is the practice of controlling the breath, is the first thing you do in hot/bikram yoga. It facilitates what comes after.

Want to see how powerful the breath is? Take 6 slow, deep breaths. Inhale for about 5 seconds, exhale for about 5 seconds. Repeat. Six deep breaths. Feel better? You just: lowered your blood pressure, calmed your sympathetic(fight-or-flight) nervous system, and increased blood flow to your heart and tissues. And that only took about 30 seconds.

If this interests you, look into:

-Box breathing

-Holotropic breathwork

-Wim Hof method

-Valsalva/Frenzel maneuvers

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Mouth Tape

So this whole time I thought I was “good” at sleep. Turns out, not so much. When I finally got my Oura ring, I learned that my sleep is not as restful as it could be. Despite other sleep-enhancing habits- bedtime routine, no screens, red light, blue-light blocking glasses, last meal hours before bed, etc.- I still could not remain asleep through the night. After some research, the lowest hanging fruit of possible solutions seemed to be mouth breathing.

Mouth breathing is, well, exactly that. When you breathe through your mouth instead of your nose, all kinds of problems can occur. These problems are worse when they occur during sleep.

“During mouth breathing, air is forced through the airway at a larger volume than when you breathe through your nose. And when you breathe in air at such a high volume, the collapsible airway tends to collapse.”

There are other problems associated with mouth breathing, such as allergies, asthma, snoring, dental health, and more. But my target was improving my sleep. So I came upon mouth taping. Read a few articles (linked below) and decided to give it a shot. I ordered surgical tape, but didn’t want to wait for it to arrive, so I used regular ol’ scotch tape. I taped vertically, and left the tiniest gaps on the outer edges of my mouth. My goal was to keep my mouth closed, not necessarily to seal it closed.

The results: according to oura, my best night of sleep so far. I’ve had my oura ring for a little over a month, and my first night with my mouth taped resulted in my highest sleep score to date. I can also state that I felt more rested and woke up before my alarm clock. So, if you are having difficulty sleeping, or even if you’re sleeping well (or think you are) I would give mouth taping a shot.

Links:

https://goo.gl/yTdCTx

https://goo.gl/5QD3Ek

https://goo.gl/WrBKwM

https://goo.gl/o34VGN

New Study Links Low-Carb Diet to Earlier Death: Here’s What It Gets Wrong

People who follow low-carb and high-carb diets have a higher risk of death than those who eat a moderate amount of carbs, according to a new study. Here’s what it gets wrong.

Source: New Study Links Low-Carb Diet to Earlier Death: Here’s What It Gets Wrong New Study Links Low-Carb Diet to Earlier Death: Here’s What It Gets Wrong

Is Grass-Fed Really Necessary?

When buying beef, there are many different labels these days. Grass fed, organic, grass finished. What does it all mean? What are the differences? Which is best?

 

Terminology

First, let’s clear up the different terms and what they mean.

  • Grass-fed: Unregulated claim. Any animal that was fed grass at any point.
  • Grass-finished: Regulated. For animals that were fed only grass and plants for their entire lives. Usually grass-finished animals are pasture raised, not kept in pens.
  • Grain-fed: Animals fed grains, usually corn and soy, but also distiller grains. Almost always kept in pens throughout their lives. Remaining stationary speeds up the weight gain process.
  • Organic: Doesn’t refer to the diet of the animal, only that no hormones or antibiotics were used.
grass grain fed organic
Cows in pens

 

Nutrition

Now that you know which is which, let’s cover what the benefits are. Beef, in general, is a staple of a healthy diet. Full of vitamins and minerals, protein, and saturated fat, beef is good for you. The different types of beef have very different health benefits. Grain-fed animals, will more often than not, need antibiotics and/or hormones at some point. These are not good for your health. So organic is a remedy for that. To take it a step further though, grass fed and finished beef is your best bet.

Grass fed and finished beef contains more:

  • Beta-carotene
  • Vitamins E, D, B (several B vitamins), K
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Niacin
  • Zinc
  • Folate
  • CLA: Up to 5x more than grain-fed. Conjugated linoleic acid. A naturally occurring fatty acid that improves brain function, weight, and reduces cancer risk
  • Better fatty acid profile: 2x-4x more omega-3  and less omega-6, which are inflammatory
  • Yellow fat: easier for the body to metabolize, due to the higher levels of beta-carotene

 

grass grain fed organic
Cow in a field

 

While organic and grass fed/finished meat does cost more, it is an investment in your health and longevity. If your health and well being isn’t worth extra money, I don’t know what is.

 

 

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Studies: Huntington, Crohn’s, Eggs, and Aging

Vol. 10

Eating Schedule and Huntington Disease

Huntington disease (HD) is an inherited progressive disease that can cause involuntary movements and psychological problems. Symptoms of HD appear in adulthood and worsen over time. Children with at least one parent with HD have a 50% chance of developing HD. As of now, HD is thought to be caused by the buildup of mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT) and there is no known cure. HD is linked to a problem with autophagy (cell death). The University of British Columbia (UBC) published research involving a mouse model of HD. Mice were restricted to a 6 hour eating windown, which prompted autophagy in the mice. There are practical applications for humans utilizing intermittent fasting, or a fasting mimetic diet.

https://goo.gl/wZNs8x

 

Eggs and Infants

Eggs. They are good for you, this much is made more and more obvious every day. Recently though, the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, published research stating that eggs are beneficial for infants as well.

Starting at 6 months of age, infants were fed eggs (whole eggs) as part of their diet. The infants, aged 6-9 months, were fed 1 egg per day. Eggs, being high in choline precursors, DHA, vitamins A, B12, selenium and other fatty acids, are vital for brain development.

https://goo.gl/QoNTZd

 

Artificial Sweeteners and Crohn’s

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University found artificial sweeteners (splenda, maltodextrin, and sucralose) worsened the symptoms of people with Crohn’s disease. Accorfding to the research, the artificial sweeteners increased the presence of proteobacteria and myeloperoxidase. Both of these are involved in inflammatory and autoimmune responses in people with Crohn’s. Researchers did not find the same reaction in people that do not suffer from Crohn’s.

https://goo.gl/HMuTPs

 

Exercise Slows Aging

Yet another reason to regularly exercise. The University of Birmingham and Kings College, London conducted research regarding exercise and aging. The study consisted of 125 participants, aged 55-79, 84 males and 41 females. Excluded from the study were smokers, heavy drinkers, and those who had high blood pressure. A control group of 75 non-exercisers was measured as well. The treatment group, the exercisers, had no loss of muscle mass or strength, no increase in body fat or cholesterol and their testosterone levels remained stable. The immune systems of the exercisers was also comparable to a younger person. One reason for this, according to the researchers, was that exercise prevented the shrinking of the thymus, which normally begins around age 20.

https://goo.gl/AfRLa5

 

30 in 30

I’ve mentioned the Slow-Carb diet (SCD) before. It’s a great way to lose fat, feel and look better, and it’s pretty simple. One of the key components of the SCD is 30 in 30. The goal is to ingest 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up.

slow carb diet
Woman sleeping

30 in 30

Aiming for 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up is not an arbitrary thing. Achieving this, or as close as possible, will promote fat loss, boost energy and metabolism, increase satiation, suppress appetite, improve BMI longterm, and help to reduce craving for carbs (junk food).

 

How

When it comes to actually ingesting the 30 grams, there are plenty of ways to do it. Seeing the number “30” might seem like a lot of protein, but it’s really not. With real, whole foods you can eat:

  • 5 eggs
  • 150 grams of sausage
  • ¾ C of beans/lentils
  • 1 C cottage cheese
  • 3-4 oz. of tuna

You can also mix and match some of these. The goal is to get the 30 grams of protein, so whatever method is easiest for you and allows for success is the way to go. For example, instead of eating 5 eggs, you could have 3 eggs, 50 grams of sausage, and a fibrous veggie (spinach, broccoli, cauliflower).

eggs slow carb protein
Eggs are a great source of protein, fat, and more

Another method is to use drinks/shakes to get your 30 grams. While not the best way, as drinking calories is not as effective or satiating; if it’s the only way, it’s better than nothing. Some drinks that will get you to or near the 30 grams of protein are:

  • Protein shake- High quality shake will be between 15 to 30 grams. Make sure it doesn’t contain any sugar or soy, and as few carbs as possible
  • Protein bar- Same as above, high quality. Avoid, sugar and carbs
  • Protein coffee- Make your own or buy some
  • Smoothie with added protein or collagen powder

 

Ideal Uses

The SCD and the 30 in 30 protocol is not best for everyone. It is an optimal way of eating for those who:

  • Are not regularly eating well
  • Have a slower metabolism
  • Frequently crave carbs/sweets
  • Have low energy
  • Do not eat enough protein
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