Archive | July, 2012

If this is the Future, then Where’s my Damn Hovercraft!?! (and other lies about blood pressure…)

26 Jul

I’m not here to pick a fight with your general health practitioner. This is not Corey vs. Your Doctor, although it may seem as such sometimes…. BUT! When I see a load of bullcrap I cannot help myself but to call it as such and it just so happens that the modern medical establishments seems to be full of it! It really gets my blood pressure up which in turn, would make my doctor want to medicate me. And THAT, is what this is all about.

1 in 3 U.S. adults have high blood pressure (hypertension). 75% of these people are controlling their hypertension with medication costing around 93,5 billion dollars per year. An additional 1 in 3 Americans are considered pre-hypertensive, meaning that they have higher than normal blood pressure and are at an increased risk of developing hypertension later in life. What is normal? The AHA says that 115/75 mmHG is ideal. 12o-139/ 80-89 puts you into the pre-hypertensive category and anything 140/90 and up tags you as hypertensive. Good luck qualifying for a half million dollars of life insurance for only $9.99/ month!

“Yeah, that’s great and all, but what the heck do all those numbers mean?”

Great question, glad you asked. Well, here is the West Virginia Community College Blood Pressure 101 explanation:

The top number of the blood pressure equation is your systolic pressure. This is the amount of pressure that blood exacts on the vessels when your heart pumps. Between beats your blood pressure drops. This pressure is represented by the bottom number and is called diastolic pressure. Factors that effect blood pressure include: emotional state, alcohol and caffeine consumption, ambient temperature, having to pee ( I’m not making this stuff up! Systolic blood pressure can increase up to 15mmHG when you have a full bladder), smoking, not getting good sleep, nutrition, attractive members of the opposite ( or same?…) gender, being overweight, your activity level… So, pretty much anything and everything. Your blood pressure fluctuates wildly throughout the day depending on these factors and others.

Awesome! Class dismissed. Graduation is Thursday night at the Waffle House.

“Wow, with that much variability, how can they truly be sure if someone has high blood pressure or not?”

Dude, its like you just read my mind. It is not out of the realm of possibilities for someone who is young and healthy with a blood pressure of 115/75 to walk into a doctor’s office, lightly caffeinated and having to pee, perhaps with a little anxiety over the dude hacking up a lung in the waiting room, or maybe needles, or nurses and doctors in general, and get a blood pressure reading of 140/90. Bam! Hypertension. “Gee, son. Your blood pressure looks a little high” says the Doc,  planting the seed of concern and creating anxiety for our healthy youngster the next time a blood pressure reading is taken. Guess what? High again.

Hopefully our fine medical community would exhaust all other options before placing this person on a prescription drug with a host of nasty side effects for the rest of his/her life. I once heard a saying, “Hope in one hand and crap in the other. Let me know which one fills up the fastest” or something slightly more poetic….

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!! (spoken in my best 3am infomercial voice)

Doctors, nurses and the AHA will  tell you that for every 20 point increase in systolic pressure, your risk of dying from a cardiac event doubles. Wow! That is amazing! Good thing we’ve got all of these pharmaceutical companies around to save us! This “information” is drawn from the extensive research done in the Framingham study. The same Framingham study that I used to blow up the establishments unwarranted vilification of our good friend bacon. Here is the data in a nice, neat little graph.

Well, that sure looks convincing. I guess I should go hide in the closet and give up on the pro-pork belly crusade. Oh wait, this is a blog about calling *cough* bullshit* cough* cough* on the medical establishment.  Okay, ready? Check out this graph. It is the raw data that was used to create the previous. Only this time without “computer smoothing” (a.k.a. distorting the real data).

“Gee whiz. That looks a lot different.”

Yes it does. Remember the whole “every 20 point increase in systolic pressure doubles your risk of dying from a cardiac event”. Complete and utter crap. Someone with a systolic pressure of 120 has virtual the same risk as someone at 155. In fact everything from 100-160 looks fairly benign. But… pretty benign doesn’t sell pills very well, does it? I’ll leave you with a quote from Thomas Edison:

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

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The Definitive Guide to Surviving the Impending Zombie Apocalypse

16 Jul

The December 22nd deadline for the end of life as we know it is fast approaching. Will you be prepared for life without government, law, electricity, petroleum, food, clean water? What about the ravenous hordes of undead intent on devouring your face? Get yourself prepared for the fall of civilization by learning a few lessons from someone who survived for  a hundred thousand generations without civilization. That’s right, none other than Paleolithic Man!

Paleo Man, despite having an awesome super-hero-esque name, did not have any actual super human powers. Yet in a world fraught with many dangers he was not only able to survive but to thrive, spreading to every corner of the globe and setting up the framework for modern humans to become THE most dominant creature on the planet. How did he accomplish this feat? Using modern scientific techniques (conjecture and pseudoscience…) we can determine that Paleo Man had a few distinct advantages over us modern, more “sophisticated” humans. Knowing these advantages very well could make the difference between escaping the horde or becoming zombie chow!

Advantage #1: Paleo Man was lean:

If Paleo Man was built like the average American, he would have tripped over his giant spare-tire gut and most assuredly been a tasty ( and large) snack for a saber tooth tiger. Much to the disappointment of the saber tooth tigers the world over, Paleo Man maintained body fat percentages in the single digits. Perhaps during the fall months he would carb up a bit and pack on a few extra pounds for the leaner winter months ahead but still never exceeded 12% -14% for any length of time. How did he achieve this chiseled physique? Hours on the treadmill or stationary bike? Calorie counting? Jenny Craig? Perhaps the” Special K Challenge”?

Americans spend $43 billion dollars a year on fad diets and exercise equipment. At any given moment an estimated 49 million Americans are following some sort of “diet” regiment. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that the majority of these people are doing some form of calorie restriction and steady state cardio because “that’s the best way to lose weight”. Despite all of this, 68.4% of Americans are obese or significantly overweight and this number is steadily climbing. Is there something wrong with us? Or does the problem lie in the American diet and fitness model? (hint: it’s not us)

Calorie restriction as a weight loss solution does not work…. sort of. As any emaciated horse on those Animal Planet tv shows will tell you (that is, if emaciated horses could talk) starvation does indeed lead to weight reduction BUT a slight decrease in caloric intake, short of all out starvation, leads to excessive production of the stress hormone cortisol. Excessive cortisol causes your body to store fat (along with doing alot of other really bad things…) particularly in the mid section. Weight loss will be hard to come by and the majority will be from your body cannibalizing your own muscle to supply necessary fuel. Muscle is metabolically active, so the less muscle you have, the fewer calories you require to exist ( also the fewer calories you burn just to survive, known as your “resting metabolic rate”).  Am I making any sense? Keep in mind the human body is not a steam engine. Digestion/ weight loss is not as simple as calorie in/ calorie out. I could yammer on for days about this but I would actually like for you to finish reading this….so…. The question remains. What did Paleo Man do to maintain his lean, powerful physique?

He ate real food: low carb, high fat, high protein Ancestral diet as outlined here. He ate as much as he wanted, as often as he wanted and never gained a pound. He did not “diet”, he did not restrict calories. Good genes? Well yeah! But his genes are your genes! Contrary to what you may believe about inheriting your Uncle Joe’s lard ass, your genes do not want you to be fat (your jeans don’t either). You are genetically wired to be lean and strong, capable of survival in even the darkest, most dire circumstances.

Advantage #2: Paleo Man was strong and athletic

Apparently, people (much more intelligent than myself) have studied the bones of ancient humans and determined that the average pre-agriculture human was much larger and more muscular than their relatives that lived after the advent of agriculture. Grains not only made us dumber, they also made us smaller and weaker! Paleo Man was as strong and athletic as our most elite athletes today. A lifetime of climbing, carrying, digging, sprinting after prey, sprinting to avoid becoming prey, gave our ancestors a body that puts Magic Mike to shame!

Of course, you don’t get results like this on a treadmill, not on the bowflex, or the Ab Rocker Xtreme. It takes a smart fitness program that closely imitates movements and activities that our ancestors performed everyday. Activities that we are genetically wired to perform and therefore can reap maximum benefit with seemingly little effort. Sound to good to be true? Well, I promise I’ll never ask you for any money (unlike your good-fer-nuthin, lard-ass Uncle Joe….). So what might this look like? I plan on devoting a future blog specifically on the topic ( as soon as I can find a way to monetarily benefit…) but here’s the nutshell version:

Carrying firewood, butchering a mammoth, setting a deadfall trap:

Pick up something heavy. And I don’t mean using some type of “weight lifting-gym-machine-contraption”. Free weights, barbels, sand bag, dumbbells, kettlebell, whatever. The more awkward and hard to handle, the better. Woolly Mammoth hind quarters didn’t come perfectly balanced and equipped with handles. What is heavy? It depends on your fitness level. As long as it’s really hard to pick up, it’s working. Trust me. And I’m not talking about biceps curls or other lame isolation exercises. We want full body, compound movements ( performed barefoot) such as the deadlift, overhead press, squat thrusters, pull ups and the like. Sound like Spanish? Google up some You Tube videos and some jackass will be thrilled to show you how to do all of these with some of the worst technique imaginable. Be sure to leave him a comment telling him just how much you appreciate him taking the time to sacrifice his spine in the name of fitness.

Charge in for the kill, Avoid the Short Face Bear, Oh shit! my errant spear throw just knocked down that bee’s nest:

Sprinting! This one doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Your body expects to run like hell. Zombies and Short Face Bears are fast. You need to be faster. Take off your shoes, find some grass and get to it.

Digging for tubers, building a shelter, climbing for fruit and nuts:

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This is caveman “cardio”. Trust me, an hour on the treadmill will seem like a leisurely walk in the park compared to 10 minutes of this. Fullbody movements, light to medium weights, at a blistering pace. This is the only “training” I did for 3 months and managed to knock 10 minutes off my 10k time. Without EVER running. Check out this ugly bald-headed guy showing you what its all about.

Advantage #3: A Fat based Metabolism

Zombies won’t get tired of chasing, so you better not get tired of running!

“But I didn’t get a chance to carb load the night before the apocalypse!?!”If your relying on carbs to meet your energy demands, you’ll be zombie brunch by 10:30am December 22nd. Fat is the prefered fuel of the human body.

“Fat!?! That stuff clogs my arteries and gives me thunder thighs!”If you still believe that I will first refer you here. Now, consider this…

We are taught that carbohydrates are our bodies main source of energy . Athletes that skimp on carbs leading up to a competition will surely evaporate and die or something like that…. Your body can store up to around 500g of carbs. Jumping, running, stiff arming the undead all work to deplete these stored carbs. The more intense the movement, the faster the stores are depleted.  1 gram of carbs = 4 calories of energy so we can store about 2,000 calories of carb energy ( 500g x 4).

A fit, healthy, lean man with 8% body fat has about 15 pounds or 6795g of stored fat without “looking fat”. Fat is far more energy dense than carbs. 1 gram of fat = 9 calories of energy. Our shredded example above carries 61,155 calories of fat energy ( 6795g x 9).

Which one makes more sense to utilize as the primary energy source? Think about it. Your body isn’t conspiring against you by packing pounds around your thighs! Your spare tire isn’t its way of making sure you never get laid! Your body wants you to get laid! (continuation of the species, Man!) Fat is your body’s favorite energy source and its storing it for when it’s needed. The problem is that a diet high in carbohydrates impairs your body’s ability to access this stored fat and instead encourages your body to add to it.

Carbohydrates are sugar (as far as your bodies digestion is concerned). There is no difference between a banana, a bagel, a potato, honey, wonder bread, maple syrup, an apple, sweet tea, snickers bar, table sugar, you get the idea… When it hits your gut, it’s all sugar. Quick, easy fuel that doesn’t stick around long. After just a few hours, your left ravenous hungry. Skip a meal and your head is throbbing, you’re getting weak and shaky, your focus is off and you’re getting lethargic. Paleo Man often hunted on an empty stomach with boundless energy and keen focus. A fat based metabolism allowed him this advantage. Think that whole wheat bagel will be enough to keep you one step in front of the horde?

There you have it! The definitive guide to surviving the impending zombie apocalypse. I, for one, will be ready to jump down a couple notches on the food chain. How about you? I’ll leave you with this video of some courageous African tribesmen stealing a meal from about a dozen hungry lions. Never for a moment doubt our species’ ability to overcome.

99% of the Earth’s Surface is Covered in Broken Glass! (… and 101 other myths about training barefoot)

5 Jul

 

Logic such as this has had your over protective mother shoving your feet into some variation of a shoe since probably before you could even walk (where’s the logic in that!) Add in the social stigma that feet are nasty, disgusting things that should be hidden from sight and your pups may never be freed from their dreaded synthetic leather and polyurethane prison.

“But what on Earth does this have to do with health and well-being?”. Probably a lot more than you’ve ever considered.

Someone much more eloquent  than myself once said, “ You can’t build a tower without a strong foundation”… except much more eloquently…. Did you know that 25% of the bones in your body are in your feet? This network of bones, tendons, and ligaments is one of the most complex in the body. Millions of nerve ending send feedback to the brain which makes fine adjustments for balance, propulsion, etc. It’s really quite impressive. That is, until you put on your sneakers.

Ah, the wonderful, magnificent shoe. Without this glorious invention humans would not be capable of venturing into the great outdoors for fear of its beer bottle tops and the glass shards. We would be forever confined to the plush carpet prison known as our living room. Shoes provide “support” for the foot, act to cushion the impact of movement ( which can exceed 500lbs. per foot when running!), create a barrier to prevent accidental penetration when kicking ass, not to mention protect the tender soles of your feet from hot sand, rusty nails and gravel parking lots. Those shoe things sure are fantastic!

Yeah, but not really….

Modern Humans have been walking this planet barefoot for nearly 2 million years and many still do so to this day. Strapping your foot into restrictive, over padded, inflexible foot wear is essentially placing your foot in a cast. Remember that ridiculous song someone forced you to sing in order to learn basic human anatomy? “ The shin bones connected to the knee bone, the knee bones connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bones connected to the hip bone….” So on and so forth….Well, it turns out it’s a little more than just a goofy song, it is the perfect analogy for understanding how wearing shoes can really get you out of sorts. Wearing shoes forces you to walk and run with an unnatural gait. Observe.

As the rather boring gentlemen pointed out in the video, running with shoes causes you to strike the ground incorrectly with the heel landing first. This stresses the joints and ligaments and really can create a whole mess of problems. Feet ache? Knees hurt? Hip pain? Lower back pain? These ailments are virtually unknown to barefoot cultures. As are knee replacements, hip replacements and degenerative vertebrae in the lower back. Your body is designed to operate without shoes. Take a minute to parade around in your shoes and take note of how you are walking. Now take off your shoes and walk a bit. Feel the difference? When walking barefoot you should be “reaching out” for the ground with the ball and middle area of the foot. This acts as a shock absorber for your stride. Running makes the difference painfully obvious. Try land heel first running barefoot and your body will immediately let you know that this is NOT how things are supposed to work! Perhaps the most compelling evidence to ditch the kicks comes from a 1905 study on barefoot walking cultures. This link will take you to the Abstract. The study is available as a PDF download at the bottom of the page. A must read as far as I’m concerned.The images are absolutely shocking! Hobbit feet anyone?

Ok, so maybe I’ve been successful in convincing you that shoes are not in fact the savior of our species, now what? I’ve been training barefoot for nearly six months now and I still have a way to go before I will be completely comfortable barefoot. It takes time to undo a lifetime of atrophy! There are lots of muscle fibers down there that haven’t been recruited for many, many years or perhaps even a lifetime! When is the last time you’ve sprinted on an uneven surface barefoot? Probably been a while. If you want to join in on the barefoot madness, definitely take it slow. The first day I got my Vibrams (awesome barefoot running shoes), I went for a 6 mile run. Well, a planned 6 mile run…. after 1.5 miles I was cramping so bad I nearly had to crawl back to the car! I could barely walk for a week! Learn from my stupidity. Start with walking around inside barefoot. When your ready, take it outside (but don’t tell your mom it was my idea or she won’t let us be friends anymore) Start in the grass or on a sidewalk and gradually work your way up to walking on uneven ground, in the woods (pinecones suck at first), and eventually on gravel.

For those awkward moments when society requires shoes (or in public restrooms, yuck), invest in something minimalist such as a pair of Vibrams. Anything flexible, loose fitting, with a flat bottom will work. You’ll get all the benefits of walking barefoot (minus the bio feedback) without actually walking around barefoot (imagine that). Heres some tips on picking the right pair of shoes. And while training barefoot may kick ass, barefoot ass kicking is NOT recommended. You have been warned.

 

 

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem! (How Sunscreen and Shoes Could Be Wrecking Your Health).

2 Jul

We are taught from an early age that the sun is an evil celestial being hell-bent on destroying us. This orange ball of doom patrols the noon sky bombarding us with radiation and killing us via Melanoma inducing gamma death rays! AHHHH!

“Even if your only in the sun for a few minutes make sure to put on appropriate sun block (SPF 900?)! And wear your shoes out there!  99.9% of the earths surface is covered in broken glass and rusty nails!”

Sound about right? Yeah, pretty intense stuff. And while I’m sure there are some scientific type studies out there that may support this logic, I’d like to offer a slightly different perspective. One steeped not in science but in common sense.

PART 1: Maybe Nudists are on to Something?!?

Our ancestors spent a lot of time in the sun. While I’m sure they made every effort to avoid exposure during the most intense hours of the day, hunting, gathering, fetching water, traveling, playing, pooping…. all of these activities were done outside (and that’s where the sun lives to!). Evolutionists believe that our upright posture is a result of us trying to minimize sun exposure during the hottest parts of the day. Modern humans have existed outdoors, exposed to the sun, for nearly 2 million years and somehow we’ve managed not to be eradicated by the death orb.

Hmmmm….Maybe a little tan might not be all that bad? Let’s talk about Vitamin D.

“That’s the milk one right?”. Yep, good old Vitamin D. Responsible for maintaining a healthy immune system, digestive regulation, insulin sensitivity (i.e. whether or not that bagel turns to fat or gets burned off), bone growth, muscle growth, thyroid health (i.e your hormone factory), sleep regulation, the list goes on and on. Theres not a system in your body that doesn’t use Vitamin D in some facit.

Vitamin D= This stuff is pretty damn important.

As Americans we get most of our Vitamin D from dairy products ( because it is fortified a.k.a. added to it) and Wonderbread (also fortified… duh, grains suck but you already knew that, right?). The FDA recommends that you get 400IU of Vitamin D per day. That’s 4 servings of dairy or just 2 slices of Wonderbread (Hey! They don’t call it Wonder for nothin!) But what about us Ancestral Diet folks that don’t eat the “Wonder” bread or maybe don’t consume dairy because of lactose intolerance (or fear of all the crap that is injected into dairy cows to increase yield but that’s a tale for another day…)? The truth is, no foods contain sufficient Vitamin D in their natural state. So what’s a caveman to do?

Go outside and embrace that orange ball of joy we call the sun! Just 20 minutes of shirtless sun exposure will net you somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000IU of Vitamin D!

That’s right. Not a typo. 40,000IU. That puts our ancestral levels at 100,000IU+ per day. That’s the equivalent of 1,000 glasses of milk or 500 slices of Wonderbread. Still think 400IU per day is enough? My guess, not bloody likely. Now it begins to make sense why this vitamin would be responsible for so many vital functions. It can be obtained in abundance simply by stepping outside. Dietary sources are completely inadequate.

If your anything like me, your job probably makes you a slave to the indoors. I work a 12 hour rotating shift (days and nights). So there are stretches, sometimes 6-7 days, that I don’t even see the sun. It’s dark when I leave for work and it’s dark when I get off work. Nightshift has me sleeping for much of the daylight hours. Your situation may not be this extreme but probably similar. For the most part, we live, work, play, travel, and poop indoors(thank goodness for that last one). This is where supplementation comes in.

I take 4,000IU of Vitamin D3 per day, that way I’m covered if I don’t get outside much. Sound excessive? Scientists think that the current 400IU minimum needs to be changed to 8000IU minimum (impossible to obtain through dietary means), but don’t take my word for it. If I forget to take my D3 and get caged for the day I can absolutely feel the difference. my thoughts come slower, I’m cranky, low energy levels, and generally feel “off”. It makes itself pretty obvious. This one simple change probably has had the most profound effect on my well-being and how I feel day-to-day. Definitely worth tinkering with!

*Worth mentioning: Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. That means that you need some fat in your gut to absorb it (Wonderbread has very little if, any fat by the way…). So if you supplement, be sure to take it with a meal of protein and fat or you’ll just pass it straight through and get awesome neon yellow colored pee. Cool but it defeats the purpose.

Allright! Enough talk. Find a way to get outside and enjoy that big ball of orange goodness! (Nudity optional)