Archive for tag: health

Education is Not Always the Answer to Obesity

Hey National, 

Check this out: Lack of education is not the reason people are overweight! GAAASSPPP! What did I say? What? Controversy!

If you haven't noticed, the amount of overweight people in the United States has dramatically increased in the last two decades. Hmm. Why? Is it because they haven't gotten on the bandwagon of the paleo diet because they're still scared of the high fat and cholesterol consumption? Do they just have bad information about diets? Or is it something more? 

Most people assume people just need to be more "educated" to become healthy or lose fat or build muscle--a belief that's so deeply held, it's become an invisible script in society. "Ah, if we just educate these fat people and show them a calorie chart, they'll wake up from their uncontrolled and overzealous binging and realize the critical importance of eating less!"

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

As Clotaire Rapaille wrote in his terrific book, The Culture Code: "Years ago, Tufts University invited me to lecture during a symposium on obesity… Lecturer after lecturer offered solutions for America's obesity problem, all of which revolved around education. Americans would be thinner if only they knew about good nutrition and the benefits of exercise, they told us. Slimming down the entire country was possible through an aggressive public awareness campaign…

"When it was my turn to speak, I couldn't help beginning with an observation. 'I think it is fascinating that the other speakers today have suggested that education is the answer to our country's obesity problem,' I said. I slowly gestured around the room. 'If education is the answer, then why hasn't it helped more of you?'

"There were audible gasps in the auditorium when I said this, quite a few snickers, and five times as many sneers. Unsurprisingly, Tufts never invited me to lecture again."

We already "know" we need to exercise more, eat healthier, control our sugar intake, and maintain our hydration. So why don't we?

That matrix--the difference between what we KNOW and what we actually DO--is where I think the true questions of change need to be asked and answered. 

Short answer: When it comes to changing human behavior and getting results, implementation trumps information.

Stay tuned for next week's blog as we explore topics I've coined: Age of Implementation and Habitual Evolution and how they can help us change our health care problems in the country.

I propose a goal for myself: By the time I graduate to interview extremely healthy and successful people and study what habits they implemented into their lives to 'build in' health without even thinking about it.


How to Read Every Health Book in Barnes and Noble in 5 Minutes

Lose 14 lbs. in 10 days. Lose that Waist. Burn the Fat. The Fat Loss Secret. The Fat Miracle, Bla Bla Bla...Don't they sound ridiculous? Granted, they aren't real titles (well maybe) but nearly every month there's a new 'DIET' promising the new 'SECRET / DISCOVERY / INNOVATION' to those stuffed white adipocytes (fat cells). Melt Fat Away! Get those Sexy Abs! Tone that Beautiful Booty! 

What the heck? And the weirdest thing, PEOPLE BUY THESE. Seriously, look at the top 100 best sellers. Why do people fall for this stuff? First guess, they need to lose weight and the other books didn't work. Second guess, because they have BAD information/education on how/why weight gain happens.

I've read A LOT of health books, a scary number of them, which is why I can make a claim like, "How to read all of B&N in 5 minutes."

So... how do you reduce the irreducible? First, start compiling the similarities. Cut out the hundreds of pages that are basically retold in a different enlightening voice. (Note: you should read a couple, but after the first few you realize most of the new books are rehashing the same stuff in a new way--in order to sell books. They don't call it best writers or best researchers; they call them best SELLERS.) Then, test out what works and what doesn't. This last option is tricky if you haven't self-experimented or researched as much as I have, but that's why I'm here!


The Top 5 Health Tips

  1. STOP EATING JUNK FOOD. Stop the sugars, cereals, candies, sodas, pastries, donuts, cakes, and otherwise anything else that could stay on the grocery shelves for a few decades.
  2. EAT MORE VEGETABLES. Captain Obvious and Dr. No Brainer agree. Vegetables are not only good for you (vitamins, minerals, fiber), but also are low in calories. One cup of veggies is 25 calories. One cup of rice is 300. You do the math.
  3. UPGRADE YOUR FATS. Here's a mind blower - fat doesn't make you fat! Fat with carbs makes you fat. So the hamburger and bun probably makes you fat; but without the bun, the hamburger itself won't make you fat. Mind blown. Cook with olive oil, butter and coconut oil. Stop using vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, corn, etc. NEVER eat hydrogenated fats. No margarine ever. They all lead to heart disease. Eat nuts occasionally. No peanuts (ultra high omega 6's). Include a fish oil for increased Omega 3's.
  4. EAT LESS GRAINS. Here's another widely accepted fact. Eat your whole grains sunny! Mark Twain once said, "When you find yourself on the side of the majority, stop and reassess." In this case, reassess. Don't eat grains. They are loaded in omega 6's, which increase systemic inflammation in the body that can lead to weight gain and heart disease among many others. Trust me, the extra 'fiber' doesn't make you 'healthier' in this food group.
  5. SHIFT MACRONUTRIENTS. Eat Less Carbs, More Protein and Fats. Most people have blood sugar handling issues that wear down their adrenals and pancreas and set them up for metabolic syndrome X and more serious diseases later in life. By eating lower glycemic foods, adequate proteins, and healthy fats you assure your body has the building blocks for optimal function.

Pretty standard, huh? I saved you 1,000 hours of reading. You're Welcome. Of course, if you're interested in learning more I would be remiss in not telling you the biggest book bang for your reading dollar.

Biggest Book Bang

  1. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Literally Life Changing. Buy this book. Part Cookbook, Part Awesome Research on Traditional Diets.
  2. 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. Finally, someone took the research about dieting and TESTED IT on real populations of people and TRACKED the simple changes that people could actually IMPLEMENT into their lives for optimizing fat loss and lean muscle gain. Very Entertaining. 

Those will cost you about 30 bucks and will give you more information per page/time invested than any nutrition class I've taken.

From National: Not too much on the class front this week as we enjoy that awkward week between the end of midterms and the start of finals.

Peace Out Cub Scout,

Diaphragmatic Breathing and the Buteyko Method

Hello, everyone! 

Recently, I attended a seminar given by a DC and a PhD who specializes in behavioral breathing therapy. The seminar was ultra cheap ($25) so my friends and I thought it would be good info.

The first hour and a half was great as we learned about hypocapnia and its many "hidden" clinical manifestations. Essentially, it's a fancy word for over-breathing or hyperventilation and the physiologic ramifications of not having enough CO2 in your blood.

Not enough CO2? But oxygen is the gas of life and carbon dioxide is poison! Why would you want MORE? Well, for all our sakes I'm going to skip the lung physiology because it's both dry and boring. What you need to know is that not having enough CO2 in the blood can alter the pH balance of the blood and actually DECREASE the amount of oxygen that gets to the tissues. Despite commonly held wisdom, the number of breaths you take has nothing to do with the CO2 levels in your blood. In fact, at the seminar we measured all sorts of people on this special CO2 machine and found that sometimes 20 breaths per minute can be better than 5 breaths per minute--it all depends on the person.

So how do you know if you're doing it correctly? More often than not, you'll feel like you can't get enough air, you get headaches easily, feel dizzy or nauseous, and fatigue easily. Those are the most common complaints. Other clinical complaints that have ties with hyperventilation are chronic asthma, migraines, allergies. 

So what does this have to do with chiropractic? To be honest, a little more than I had thought. However, we probably won't have one of those machines in our office and we probably won't be doing breathing behavioral assessments but when it comes to restoring proper breathing mechanics we can do a world of good. Activating proper diaphragmatic breathing will greatly improve your breathing habits so that you breathe more into your core (belly breathing), instead of using your secondary breathing muscles (SCM, scalene, upper trap), and breathe into your chest.

I worked with my intern a couple of trimesters ago on engaging more belly breathing and activating my diaphragm (often overlooked) and I totally changed my breathing pattern and mechanics. I didn't have a quantitative way to measure it until this seminar. After watching doctor after doctor hook up to this machine and continually register below normal physiologic CO2 levels (35-45) with most hovering right at or under the 35 level, I registered at a consistent 42-44. It was the highest by far in the seminar and I was told that was extremely good.

I do believe I owe my exceptional levels to one other Russian breathing technique I had learned long ago called the Buteyko Method, originally developed in the 1950s by physiologist Konstantin Buteyko in Russia. I stumbled upon it years ago and it basically trains your body to get used to higher levels of CO2 that improve human physiology and oxygen to the tissues. The basic premise being: without CO2, hemoglobin doesn't release O2. So if your carbon dioxide levels are low, your tissues won't get as much O2 as you might think. What were the results? Well, I felt less tired and apparently my numbers were off the charts!

Christian -Buteyko
Dr. Buteyko

So moral of the story? The Russians had it right. And if you have any symptoms of hypocapnia, you should Google "Buteyko Method" and see if it's worth a try. All you need is a timer.


What Can Teenage Boys Teach Us about Body Building?

I'll admit this title is a bit outrageous but will become clearer as I go along. One day I was researching for any evidence of people who had achieved outstanding increases in lean muscle mass when it dawned on me...the local high school!

You: WHAT??

Me: Who puts on more muscle and size faster than a teenager going through puberty? Think about it! Nobody!

So, I ask the ridiculous follow-up question, "What can teenage boys teach us about getting huge fast?" The answers will surprise you since they can't tell you a single thing about hypertrophy 1, rep maxes, burnout sets, or how to isolate a given muscle group.

So, why the heck do I mention them? Well, It isn't uncommon for teenagers to put on the same amount of muscle in a summer that it takes an adult male 2-4 consistent years to achieve. See where I'm going with this? If we can pick out some of the things they do differently than the rest of the world, then we might be able to replicate their once in a lifetime growth spurt phenomenon.

2011-07-26_Tri GamesPlaying at Tri Games on campus.

Case Study Time!

So what do they do differently?

  1. They eat like MACHINES.
  2. They have favorable increases in 'male hormones.'
  3. They are usually active.

I know what you're thinking... DUH! But, last time I checked my 'goods' already dropped and my voice doesn't squeak like a mouse! So this case study warrants a further breakdown on how to grow like a teenager...again!

Observation 1: Eat Like Machines

There's a reason why every mother of a teenage boy has a story about doubling her food bills, mysteriously 'disappearing' food items from the pantry, and never having any milk left in the fridge. Teenagers are growing and that growth is accompanied by lots of food.

Guiding Teenager Principle To Body Building:
If you want to get bigger you have to EAT for a BIGGER YOU. Want to Gain 10 lbs? Eat for a person 10lbs bigger than you! 

My Twist on Optimizing this Principle:
While increasing your food sounds easy, it's not. It takes a few days (on average 5) of feeling 'uncomfortably' full before your digestive enzymes, stomach acid, and gut flora adapt to the increase in caloric intake. Once they do, you will become a food-processing machine. However, make sure you keep it low carb, higher fat/protein to optimize how much insulin your body secretes and therefore how much muscle/fat you pack on.

When I gained 20 lbs of muscle and lost 7 lbs of fat during my one-month experiment, I ate 60% fat, 23% protein, 17% carbs. While the ratios don't have to be exact, the simple rule is the more carbs, the fatter you'll get. The more protein and fat, the more muscle you'll put on. It's not much more complicated than that.

Observation 2: Favorable Increases in 'Male Hormones'

When teenagers go through puberty their hypothalamus produces GnRH (gonadotrophin-releasing hormones), which triggers the anterior pituitary to release LH (luteinizing hormone), which then travels in the blood and tells the cells in the testes (males) to produce testosterone via the Leydig cells. In some studies they've recorded puberty levels of testosterone surge 50x higher than the minute amounts pre-puberty. The effects of testosterone, such as increased lean muscle mass, increased bone density and decreased fat mass are largely responsible for the incredible growth many male teenagers experience. Other hormones such as growth hormone, IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor 1), and DHEA also elevate in this phase of development and no doubt play a role as well.

Guiding Teenager Principle To Body Building:

To get bigger, you should optimize (and likely increase) your testosterone levels. Think that's impossible? Read on.

My Twist on Optimizing this Principle:
DISCLAIMER: First of all you should to go to your doctor and get your blood tested. Messing with hormone levels can be a serious thing and if you have a medical condition you should discuss it with your doctor.

Luckily, I don't recommend doing anything crazy like steroid injections or topical creams. My testosterone levels started at 615 and after a month plummeted to 298. Hardly someone you should take advice from! However, I was overeating flax seed oil, thinking the omega 3s would increase protein synthesis and decrease recovery time as a number of reputable studies suggest. Little did I realize the estrogenic effects of flax have been grossly under reported. Three weeks of no flax and the recommendations below later: I doubled my testosterone back to 612. Happy days for my manhood.

  • DIET: I recommend getting off your low fat diet and getting onto a high fat diet. Grossly oversimplifying that recommendation, remember hormones are made from fat and cholesterol and without exogenous intake of them it's harder to increase your endogenous production of vital hormones. Does that mean you'll get heart disease chasing increased muscle tone? As long as you aren't eating high-sugar/starch junk the whole time... no.
  • SLEEP: A number of studies have shown getting good sleep and more importantly falling asleep before midnight as ways of increasing growth hormone production.
  • SUPPLEMENTS: I took cod liver oil (vitamin A & D), grass fed butter (vitamin K), almonds (vitamin E), zinc, and selenium. Zinc and Selenium are instrumental in their co-factor responsibilities for biosynthesis of hormones. Also, the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K taken together have been shown to have favorable anabolic effects on the body. Vitamin D, many people don't realize, is actually a hormone - a cancer-preventive one at that.

Observation 3: They are Usually Active

This is the easiest of all of the principles to understand. Teenagers are usually extremely active despite numerous eyewitness accounts of Mountain Dew fueled Halo 2 all-nighters. Between sports, friends, and chasing girls without a game plan, teenage boys get enough exercise to support their growth spurts. 

Guiding Teenager Principle To Body Building:
Get exercise. Duh! 

My Twist on Optimizing this Principle:
After reading plenty of research, 'broscience,' and my own experiences, I can confidently conclude that you can do more to optimize your lean mass growth than simply exercising.

What is the best type of exercise for inducing teenager-like growth? High Intensity, Short Duration Workouts. This will increase both a hormonal and neurologic adaptation that studies have shown to increase testosterone levels and muscle mass better than longer duration 75% of max type workouts. In other words, do 1-2 sets of 4 multi-joint exercises (squat, bench, etc.) with the heaviest weights you can lift. After that go home, eat, rest, and repeat.

Hope you enjoyed it!
- CC

Self Experimentation + Part of My Story

What is Self-Experimentation?

Self-Experimentation is the unique act of single-subject scientific experimentation where the experimenter hypothesizes and performs the experiment on him or herself. In this article I want to show the value of self-experimentation as a tool to improve your life, without sacrificing your safety. One of my long-term goals is to level the playing field of well-funded modern research and speed up the time it takes the average person to get cutting-edge information that will meaningfully impact their lives. 

Story Time

Take John Paul Stapp. He was known by many as the fastest man on earth. When John started his research back in 1947, most physicians believed that the body could withstand 18g of thrust before suffering fatal trauma. John Stapp shattered this belief and proved the body could withstand 40g of thrust--in one daring test. 

How did he do it? Like any reasonable man would. Jumped in a rocket sled, revved it up to 421 mph, and preceded to slam on the brakes! (Johnny Knoxville would have been proud!) Remarkably, he survived and through his continued testing and research he suffered two broken wrists, retinal hemorrhaging, and broken ribs. Was he sent to the loony bin? No. He changed his field and helped science understand how the body reacts to extreme forces--research that has undoubtedly saved human lives.

Human history is full of these jaw-dropping stories with everything from a doctor catheterizing his own right arm to men creating their own vaccines against snakebites by injecting themselves with pure venom from several species of mambas and cobras. While those examples are of the extreme variety, and I highly disapprove you trying those sorts of things, you don't in fact need to put your life on the line to self-experiment and improve your life. There are many examples, including my own, where you don't necessarily accept the 'status quo' and decide to modify things in a responsible, yet fun way.

My Experience

I was in middle school the first time I came home to my Mom complaining of horrible stomach aches. She thought I had a 'bug' and asked how long I had been having them. I replied, "for a while." Not one to settle for a vague answer from her children, Mom repeated, "How long is a while?" With a shrug I replied, "a couple months?" The answer caught her off-guard as she tried to hide her shocked face by going to the fridge to flatten some ginger ale, the only thing that seemed to settle my stomach those days. (I hated soda, so flat was the only way it was going down).

My mom, fortunately for my future career, was ahead of her time as far as nutritional awareness goes. Instead of giving me the nasty pink stomach syrup or chalky antacids or the usual modern medicine band-aid approach, she brainstormed much like any natural doctor would, "Why do you think that's happening?" "Are any of your friends getting sick?" "Did you eat something different?" The answers weren't so clear at first and thus a few weeks went by.

Given it was around 10 years ago, I couldn't recall how Mom arrived at the conclusion that I might be lactose intolerant. I think it was because I used to tell her I loved getting cheeseburgers for my school lunches! See, somehow she must have noticed a correlation between when she packed my lunch (no dairy / no stomach complaints) and when she gave me a special treat (let me buy school lunch / stomach aches). Sherlock Holmes would have been proud!

Given the nutritional status of school lunches (horrendous) we could not completely show I was lactose intolerant from that finding in my 'history.' Plus, when I went to my pediatrician he said it was normal to have stomach aches (whaaat?) and I was probably just working through a bug. (For months??)

Alas, there was only one thing left to do! Self-experiment! I cut out dairy (with help from mom of course) and any source of lactose from my diet and noticed an IMMEDIATE reduction in stomach aches from an average of once daily to once every other week. Not a perfect cure, but then again (when mom wasn't looking) my diet wasn't exactly perfect either! That, my friends, was my first real-life experience in how foods can affect human performance, and more importantly, taught me the valuable lesson of "you are what you eat."   

I quietly fostered a level of curiosity about the human body for years while tracking and completing self-experiments on noticeable changes in my weight, muscle, acne, sleep cycles, gallstones, digestive issues, energy levels, and immunity to name a few. I mainly did it by challenging commonly held belief systems and modified and attempted to optimize everything in my diet, lifestyle, sleeping habits, supplements, detoxing, etc.

While I've had plenty of setbacks--thinking whole grains were good for me (they're not), and believing multi-week juice fasting was the cure for anything (I turned orange for 2 days!)--I've also had plenty of successes (gained 20 lbs of muscle in 30 days, cleared most of my acne naturally, eliminated my gallstones without surgery, no longer have stomach aches, went a year without getting a cold).

Christian _friends _webEnjoying part of the weekend with NUHS friends.

Parting Words

My journey is still developing and while the story has a much longer (and sometimes comical) tale I will leave you with this: If there is something in your life that you'd like to change/improve/eliminate, I encourage you to do some research. The internet has allowed for the transaction of information in ways never known to the human race and has leveled the playing field for the average Joes unable to afford 'personal coaches,' 'expensive treatments' and the like. If you have a problem, there's always a solution, and usually someone has already figured it out. Find like-minded people and figure out how they got their results. You might just learn a neat trick that will help you change your body (and your life) for the better!

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." --Ralph Waldo Emerson