Thursday, May 2, 2013

Heed Your Plimsoll Line or Become a Coffin Ship

In the 1870's Britain had a problem. 
Merchants were sending ships out to sea unworthy and overloaded.  Inevitably, when rough seas ensued, the ships sank.  A member of Parliament at the time, Samuel Plimsoll, tackled the problem by submitting legislation that would require ships be inspected and marked with a load line that showed their upper limit to carry cargo and yet maintain buoyancy.  Ships could be loaded with freight until the line and the water met, and then allowed no more.  This line became known as the Plimsoll Line, and is now standard in international shipping.

The reality is we all have a "Plimsoll Line" - a limit in which we maintain buoyancy and float, and if we overload our "vessel", rough seas will sink us.  And just like ships on the seas, there are two variables within your control: 1) the seaworthiness of your vessel, and 2) the load upon it.


Your body has an inherent strength and the ability to self regulate, heal, adapt, and grow.  This ability is called your Innate Intelligence, and (Thank God!) it's always on the job and always working in your best interest.  Your Innate Intelligence works through your material body, however, and thus there are limitations.  What have you  done to improve or maintain the "seaworthiness" of your vessel lately?  Are you feeding your body good nutritious fuel? Are you exercising to keep your body strong?  Do you get adjusted?  Do you get enough rest?


All the strength in the world can be overcome with enough force.  You can do all those things above, but if your load is too much, you're still going to sink.  In chiropractic, we recognize that our bodies are constantly encountering stresses.  These stresses can be grouped into 3 categories: physical, chemical, and mental/ emotional, and anyone of them alone have the ability sink your ship, but they're also cumulative. 

Your Plimsoll Line

We all have a unique stress threshold.  Yours is not the same as mine, and mine is not the same as Bob's or Sue's.  But we all have one, and if that threshold is met or exceeded, our vessel is in serious danger.  Ships that went out of port having illegally surpassed the Plimsoll Line were called "Coffin Ships".  Appropriate for us, too.  It begins with tissue breakdown and injury, progresses to disease, and it ends in death.

Somedays it seems like a ripple is all it would take to sink the ship.  Other days, a hurricane wouldn't stop us.

Stop living on that edge of disaster.  Strengthen your ship.  Limit the load.  Watch how far you can sail!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Carb Load of Bull: Paleo Running (part 1)

Today I tried something new.  I ran my half marathon on an empty stomach.  After my mostly paleo, wheat free week, all I had this morning before the race was a small cup of coffee and a pint of kombucha.  The result:  the easiest half marathon I've run yet, and a personal record (1:43), plus the knowledge that I could have gone a little faster and quite a bit farther with this plan.  What's the key?  Getting out of the carb/glucose/insulin cycle and getting into a mild state of ketosis, harnessing all the energy I needed for distance running.

If you've done any amount of running, I'm sure you've heard of the phrase 'carb loading' before.  You know... the pre-race ritual of eating as much starchy, white, pasty, calorie rich, nutrient poor crap as you can in the hopes of packing away enough energy to survive your race tomorrow.  Instead of carb loading, it should be called 'bull loading' or better yet, 'bull ony'... bologna.  If you're still carb loading before distance races, you're being duped into a slower than you could be, harder than it needs to, more painful method of running.  I'm going to use this time to persuade you to try a more natural alternative.  Here's why:

  1. You're not getting as much out of carb loading as you think:  Your body cannot and will not keep glucose in your bloodstream long.  Why?  Because it's too damaging.  Chronic high blood glucose levels damage blood vessels and nerves.  Therefore your body will go to great lengths to get glucose out of your blood stream fast.  Some of that glucose will be stored in your muscles, which you will be able to use for race day, but much of it is transformed by your liver into triglycerides (fat) and transported to fat stores in your body.
  2. Your muscle stores of glucose are finite... there is only so much to go around, and once it's gone you've put yourself in bad situation.  If you don't replace the glucose, your body will try to create it through a process called gluconeogenesis, where your body creates glucose to burn out of other molecules like body fat or muscle protein.  Now, obviously body fat would be nice, but here's the problem.  The night before you ate enough carbohydrates to feed a small army, so your fat cells are busy storing fat from all the extra calories you ate (your body is uber efficient... if you consume too many calories, it's going to bank them for later and the deposit box is your waistline and hips).  With all that depositing happening, there's no time for withdrawal.  That means, your muscle is the next target for creating glucose... not ideal while your running.
  3. But, if you went down the carb loading path, you've probably planned for this.  You've got some fast absorbing glucose to get fuel to your muscles quickly.  Blood glucose levels up... uptake to the muscles... more energy.  Well, at least for a few minutes, until you use all that glucose and have to do it all over again.  Burn all the glucose, resupply with more calories, absorb, burn all the glucose.  An endless cycle of physiologically living paycheck to paycheck.
But what if I told you there was a better way? A more natural way.  More efficient.  Easier.  What if I told you all the energy you needed was already in your body?  You just need to learn how to tap into it.  How to harness it.  Seemingly endless supplies of energy without the highs and lows of the carb/glucose/insulin cycle.  The key is creating a mild state of ketosis in your body.  How do you do that?  Watch for part two of this article soon.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Intermittent Fasting

It's 9am on a Thursday and I'm finishing up a weekly intermittent fast (IF).  What is intermittent fasting you ask?  I'd say "it the greatest thing since sliced bread", but since sliced bread isn't so great for you... I won't.  How about, it's the greatest thing since low carb diets.  Truly, it is.  Many of us put a negative connotation on fasting, think it's hard, inconvenient, or even unhealthy for the average "gym rat".  But quite frankly, nothing could be further from the truth.  With that being said, let's dispel some myths.
  1. Fasting is Hard.  For your body, fasting is not hard.  In fact, it's quite easy.  Your body knows exactly how to deal with a period of time when no food is entering your mouth.  The hard part is the mental aspect of fasting and your current addiction to carbohydrates (especially wheat).  Too often in America, we look at food as a drug... something that makes us feel good, pass the time, prevent boredom, sometimes even exalt.  The truth is, FOOD IS NOURISHMENT.  That's it.  Food is there to nourish you.  If you rely on food for anything more than that, you've created an idol of it.  You've put it in place of prominence where it doesn't rightfully belong. (Of course we do this for many basic needs:  shelter, money, etc.)  Now that being said, there are foods that make fasting harder.  Wheat, for example reeks such havoc on your metabolism and brain chemistry that eating it before a fast is a ticket to failure.  If  you truly want to try Intermittent Fasting (IF), try eliminating wheat from your diet first.  Trust me, it will go a whole lot better than you think.
  2. Fasting is Inconvenient.  No it's not.  Being uncomfortable is inconvenient.  You can find time to not eat.  With IF, it doesn't matter what time of day you choose to fast, and it's not required to fast for an entire day.  You need a minimum of 12 hours; ideally 14-18 hours; no need for more than 24 hrs.  If you eat Dinner at 6pm, you could feasibly consider fasting until 7am.  Not hard nor inconvenient.  Wait until noon, and you'll really see the benefits.  However, If your lunch is a giant plate of pasta after your fast... well, you missed the point.  Which brings me to...
  3. Fasting is Unhealthy.  I usually hear this from the gym rats who have been sold on the idea that we need to eat every three hours or graze all day in order to keep our metabolisms up.  Not true.  Now, you can graze all day, and your metabolism will stay up because of it (because you're having to metabolize food into energy ALL DAY LONG).  Unfortunately, as fun as grazing is, our bodies aren't designed for it.  We're designed to go long period of time without food.  I mean, really do you think our ancestors sat on their bums and just ate all day?  (Actually, Egyptian royalty did, and thanks to their mummification process, we can see they were chock full of heart disease and other chronic lifestyle diseases that plague our nation).  We get plenty of calories in our Standard American Diet (SAD).  Taking a break from it for 18 hours isn't going to hurt anyone... I promise.  In fact if you eat a nutrient dense/ calorie rich diet full of fruits, veggies, fats, and proteins with little to no calorie rich/ nutrient poor grains, you won't even see a drop in energy when fasting.
Try it... You won't regret it.  Want more info, find it here. And if you're new to fasting, there's one rule.  Water, water, and more water.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Your Destination Please?

Do you think a true understanding of your current health is important to reach your goals?  Think of it as driving directions for you health.  What if Google Maps could chart a course for your health?  Just like driving directions, the program would need a current location and destination.  With both, the program can chart the fastest course, the one with the least amount of mileage, and even a few alternates.  But without a "current location", there is no course... no direction.  The program still knows where you want to end up, but it doesn't know how to get you there.  It has no idea where you are, and if you don't know where you are, it's a whole lot more difficult, if not impossible to get where you want to go!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Why Do You Run?

A year ago I started running.  Didn't like it before. Thought it was pointless.  But something has changed over these twelve months.  I've come to realize some truths about running, and because of them, some truths about me.
First, I have a strong will to win.  I like to win... like to be a 'winner'.  I've played competetive sports my entire life.  Loved the competetion.  Thrived on it, on winning, and beating the other guy.
Then a good friend asked me to run a half-marathon with him.  After much hesitation (did I mention I didn't like running) I accepted.  Come to find out, I love running.  Here's why:
  • Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. -1Corinthians 9:24-29
    • That strong will to win is more that just a will to win.  Really it's just a strong will.  Sometimes that equals stubborness ("eg. "strong willed child"), but other times its a great advantage.  It's especially advantageous when purposeful.  It allows me to practice discipline and perseverence.  
  • Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. - Ephesians 4:17-24
    • In running, there is no "other guy". No one to beat, and in these races no first prize. The opponent is me. Last year's me. Yesterday's me.  A number of years ago I chose a different way to live.  I placed my life in the hands of our Lord, Jesus.  Asked him for forgiveness, renewal, and a new direction.  I put an end to the old me and became a new creation in Him.  Running reminds me of that.   My distance or time or pace from yesterday or last month or last year are the old me.  Today is a new creation.  Possibilites are endless. 
My will is strong, but in reality I am weak.  My strength comes from the Lord, and in Him I am a new creation.  I don't run aimlessly.  My aim is to honor and glorify, and worship the Lord in all I do.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to make Kombucha

Last week I posted a picture of some of my recently completed kombucha brews on FB, and received a few inquiries about it.  Some were wanting to know how to make the flavored brews I had created, others were wanting to know how to  start brewing it themselves, but most people simply asked "what in the world is kombucha?"  I thought a quick blog post could sum it up for all.

First, a quick history and overview of kombucha. 

Kombucha is a fermented sweet tea used for centuries as a healing elixir, having claims of almost miraculous properties that cure a myriad of ailments from arthritis to cancer.  The fermentation process happens due to the presence of a "kombucha mushroom" which is added to the tea and allowed to 'brew' for a short period of time.  This 'mushroom' isn't really a mushroom at all, but a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY).  The SCOBY itself looks more like a pancake, and along with 'mushroom' and 'SCOBY' may be called a 'mother', 'pancake', 'disc', and others.  The healing properties do have some validity, but very little research has been done on it.  What we do know is this:

1) It's a probiotic.  As a culture that contains apparently ancient strains of bacteria and yeast, the brew itself even after being filtered and ready to drink contains significant amounts of probiotic organisms, and therefore seems to be a great source of good bacteria.  Our digestive system was, is, and always will be full of bacteria.  It's how our gut is designed to work.  There are good bacteria that are supposed to be there, that help us maintain health, help us digest food, absorb nutrients, and fend of invaders.  However, with a poor diet, radiation, or antibiotic use, those good bacteria fail to thrive and bad bacteria can take over and can reek havoc on our bodies and our health.  Drinking kombucha can help keep our gut populated with good bacteria.

2) It's a detoxifier.  Kombucha has been shown to contain glucuronic acid, which is an amino acid naturally produced in the liver and used for detoxification in our body.  Specifically, glucuronic acid binds toxins in the blood stream and allows for them to easily pass through the kidneys and out of the body.  Of most importance, glucuronic acid is one of only a few binding agents that effectively removes estrogen metabolites and estrogen like environmental toxins (think BPA and pesticides).  Given that fact alone, the cancer fighting claims of kombucha may have some validity.

3) It's a alkalizer.  We westerners have an acidic diet.  What kombucha does is help create a less acidic blood pH because even though the drink itself is "acidic" it leaves an alkaline ash.  To learn more about acid and alkaline ash click here.  There's certainly controversy on this topic, but in my opinion, it works.

From what I can gather, the origins of Kombucha are a mystery.  Some sources have it originating in China a few centuries before Christ.  Others claims put it first in Japan, Korea, and Russia.  It goes by a number of names (Kvas is Russia for example), but the name kombucha seems to originate in Japan where in the 4th Century Emperor Inyko was treated by a Korean physician called Kambu with the tea and it took his name, "Kombu" and "cha" meaning tea.

So, how do you make kombucha? 

First, you'll need to find a SCOBY.  Although you can find them as starter kits online, finding someone else who is already brewing it is the best solution.  SCOBYs continually grow and multiply while they're fermenting, and therefore anyone actively brewing tea will typically have extra SCOBYs as a result.  If you're fortunate enough to know someone who can give you a SCOBY, they'll give it to you in a container with some previously brewed tea in it already, and there you have your starter.

Second, you'll need to make some sweet tea and then the kombucha tea.  Here's the recipe I use:
  • Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Remove from heat. 
  • Add 1 cup raw organic sugar and stir into solution.
  • Add 5 organic Oolong tea bags (or an equivalent of black, green, or white tea)
    • NOTE:  many herbal teas will kill the SCOBY
  • Let the tea steep for 10-30 minutes and cool to room temperature.
  • Remove tea bags and pour sweet tea into GLASS storage vessel
    • a one gallon jar works well; I prefer a larger vessel
  • Add SCOBY 
  • Cover with a barrier to allow air exchange ("breathing") but prevent particle contamination
    • cheesecloth works well
  • Store at room temperature for 7-10 days
    • near the end of this time you should smell a vinegar like smell coming from the vessel.
    • the length of time will determine the flavor. Short time will make a sweeter tea; longer time more sour.
  • After 7-10 days pull out the SCOBY, filter the liquid (using cheese cloth or other filtering device) and store the finished product in a new vessel (preferably glass) in the refrigerator to prevent further growth.
  • Start the process all over again.  Drinking the kombucha during the week while the new batch is brewing.
If you want to flavor your tea, you'll want to ferment it a second time.  NEVER ADD ANYTHING ELSE TO THE ORIGINAL BREW.  You will contaminate the SCOBY and likely kill it. 

First of all, if you're new to brewing kombucha, don't worry about flavoring it until you've mastered the steps above.  Enjoy it without flavoring for a while.  I think you'll find it extremely refreshing.

To flavor you tea, follow these simple steps:
  • Once you have poured your tea into its final storage container (I typically use growlers and quart jars) leave enough room at the top to add your flavorings.
  • Add your flavoring (fruit etc.) of choice to ferment again for 1-2 days at room temperature, again covering to prevent contamination but allowing to breathe.
  • Once the time is up, filter off the mass of SCOBY and fruit and throw away. 
  • Refrigerate final product to prevent further growth.
  • Enjoy!
GingerBerry Kombucha
Strawberry (L) and Raspberry (R)
Some of my favorites are listed below.  The measurements are per quart of tea.  If you use a growler or half gallon jar double the amount, but of course you can change to your liking, add/subtract or experiment on your own.  What I did learn the hard way is that cinnamon will kill your SCOBY, eliminate the probiotic properties, and leave you with a tea possessing a funky after-taste.  Of course, I forgot that cinnamon has anti-microbial properties.  Anyway, here's a few good recipes:

Blueberry:  add 1/4 cup of organic blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Raspberry Lime: 1/4 cup fresh or frozen Raspberry and two lime slices
Ginger Pear:  1 tablespoon of fresh chopped ginger and 1/4 cup of chopped pear
Ginger Berry: 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped ginger and 1/4 cup of an organic berry of your choice
PeachBerry: 1/4 cup frozen peaches and 1/4 cup berry of your choice (I like blueberries)
Cran-Strawberry: 1/4 cup each of cranberries and strawberries (note* dice the cranberries to get the flavor out of their tough skin).
Anyone else have a favorite flavor?  Let us know!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What If We Have Autism All Wrong?

Remember me?

Do you remember your first computer? Really cool, right? Big box, BIG monitor, little screen, but thanks to that "new" machine (and AL Gore of course) you could surf the "web", send a note to your friend across the country and expect a reply the next day, and have more resources and tools at your fingertips than you ever thought imaginable. You could use your phone line to access a vast network of information within minutes. Now what if you used that technology today?  Dial up Internet, UGH! Ridiculously slow computing speeds. ARG! How frustrating would that be in our world of IM'ing, iPads, and smart phones. We now have instant access to everything... everyone... everywhere. We live in a world where information is processed at amazing speeds, and we can only expect in the years to come for it all to get faster ... more efficient ... more useful.

April is Autism Awareness Month, and today I want to pose to you this question:  What if Autism is a processor upgrade?

We all know someone with Autism.  Whether it's your child, your nephew, or your neighbor, it seems there are more and more children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder each year.  The truth is there are.  In the 1990's autism rates in children were 1 in 350, but today in 2012 new data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that 1 in 88 children in America has autism, and even more frightening 1in 54 boys will develop it.  Now some of this is likely increased awareness and better diagnosis, but you'd have to be blind if you didn't believe we as a culture, a society, and even the human race didn't have a serious issue on our hand here.  That's a higher rate than cancer!

Why are so many children developing autism?  Why does it affect boys more than girls?  What's causing it?  How do we stop it?  These are all extremely important questions, and they ALL are unanswerable with our current level of understanding.  AND THERE MY FRIENDS LIES THE PROBLEM.

Do we have autism wrong?
Albert Einstein said, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them," and he's absolutely right. What if we have autism all wrong?  What if autism isn't a disease at all, but more a shift... a response to the environment that we've created in our culture... in our society... in humanity?

New research from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL in England found that those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) had a higher capacity than us "normal" adults to process information.  In fact it's that ability that helps those with ASD excel at video gaming as children and IT jobs as adults.  The leading researcher, professor Nilli Lavie says this:

"Our work on perceptual capacity in the typical adult brain suggests a clear explanation for the unique cognitive profile that people with autism show," she says. "People who have higher perceptual capacity are able to process more information from a scene, but this may also include some irrelevant information which they may find harder to ignore. Our research suggests autism does not involve a distractibility deficit but rather an information processing advantage."

What?!? Is this research saying those with ASD have an advantage?  Yes, it is.  Not only that those with autism have been shown to have a larger brain than the rest of the population.  However, other markers clearly show a problem among this population.  Children with autism have lower HDL (good cholesterol) levels and their essential fatty acid ratios are off.  They're typically overweight (BMIs are too high), and they are at higher risk for diseases like diabetes and heart disease.  No, most of us would not call autism an advantage... not in our world.

But wait!  What if that's the problem.  What if these children with amazing brains aren't able to use them because they don't have to tools.  It would be like plugging a new super fast computer processor into an old machine with old technology on an old dial-up Internet system.  Do you think that processor would be used to its full potential?  Do you think there would be frustration?  A break down in communication?  Inability to relate? 

What if this ASD processing capacity is a natural response to our fast paced technology world?  What if autism is a form of micro-evolution?  What if the true problem is that we aren't giving our children the building blocks and tools they need to effectively develop or what if the tools we are giving them are simply inadequate. The research already shows that Omega 3 fatty acid levels in autistic children are consistently low.  What if there's more?  Not enough pure and sufficient nutrients... too many toxic and deficient factors.  What if God created these children EXACTLY the way he wanted them and for a very specific purpose, but we've muddied the water with our lifestyle choices and expectations for what "normal" is?

What can we do about it?  Only a new level of thinking will bring about the answer.