Cold’s are Old

Hello Everyone,

it has been way too long since i have last posted, the game of life has kept me somewhat preoccupied over  the past several weeks/months. I struggled to find something worth discussing in the few moments that i did muse about this blog. However i have decided to discuss something relevant given the fact that summer is over and cold season is upon us. This blog post will discuss ways in which you can prevent and heal colds (and the general feeling of being  “under the weather”).

Consumers’ are bombarded with advertisements around fall and winter time that seem to only focus on relieving symptoms not fixing problems. Most of us might think that nasal sprays, cough syrups and Tylenol pills are the safe and effective choice in beating sickness. This again is big industry, paying big money to influence consumers to buy their products. I do not pay much attention to companies that put more dollars and focus in advertising than they do on creating a better planet through methods such as: community relations, reducing carbon footprint, conserving wildlife/forests, fighting for transparent labels, or in gist helping out people and/or the environment. While advertising is effective, the line remains fine between subtle advertising to help companies build and remain stable and advertising that is only meant for increasing profit of five or six big shots at the top. Those ‘big shots’ often show little concern for the REAL CONSUMER but i digress.

Some methods that have worked for me over the past several years in preventing and recovering from common colds and more severe sickness are as follows in no specific order:

1- Oil Pulling(using coconut oil): Oil pulling is a great way to quickly remove toxins from the body, loads of bacteria are present in the mouth therefore it is great to scrub the bacteria out with properties from nature. Check out a quick overview on the benefits of oil pulling here

2- More  Zinc, Zinc is an essential nutrient however it is hard to get enough given the highly processed nature of American food. Zinc is great at boosting the immune system as well as T Cells which help fight off infection by increasing immune system power (in short). There are several types of Zinc, some more absorbent than others. I take Zinc Picolinate, Check out this link for a description on other forms of zinc.

3- Probiotics: Probiotics seem to be all the rage in the mainstream media today, however these friendly bacteria are not a new development in the alternative health world. Our body produces good bacteria in our gut which helps us to remove unwanted toxins and keep us healthy by preventing unwanted disease. We run into trouble though when we consistently eat foods and  take certain medications (antibiotics) that harm the good bacteria. If you have ever been on an antibiotic, not only does the antibiotic kill the bad bacteria, but also the good bacteria. As we age, our system produces less good bacteria. Since the majority of the immune system is located in our intestines i suggest it is important we start protecting and replenishing the good bacteria to further fight off infections. Check out the benefits of probiotics here

4- Lemon/Apple Cider Vinegar shots: This next remedy is a do-it-yourself concoction that i use all the time, cold season or not. I simply  squeeze one lemon and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of warm water and drink on an empty stomach in the morning. Lemon juice is great at keeping the body alkaline (more alkaline, less sick). Lemons are packed with vitamin C and help rid the body of toxins. Apple Cider Vinegar is filled with probiotics and enzymes that help protect and fortify the immune system, rid the body of toxins and kick-start the metabolism. I use Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, the brand is one of the most trusted in the alternative health/medicine community. I cannot say enough about the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, it should be in EVERYONE’S daily routine. Check out some amazing benefits here

5- Garlic: Garlic? Yes, Garlic. This herb is so powerful at fighting colds and killing bad bacteria, ask any alternative medicine enthusiast and they will sure tell you the same. Check out this credible study if you do not want to take my word for it.

These are my top five remedies to rid myself (and Friends) of colds. While these are not the only options, they are the ones i find most effective (herbal teas are another great way to loosen sinuses and feel better from colds).

the next time you get sick consider using therapies such as these because they FIX THE PROBLEM. These methods do not need fancy advertising campaigns,  but yet they are highly popular despite little to no advertising, safer and more effective at preventing and curing the common cold, as compared to the “junk medicine” sold at local drugstores.

Stay healthy,

Until next time

Stronger core, back pain no more

What’s up everyone. I took a week off from blogging (will most likely do that sporadically). I am back and this post will focus on injury prevention, specifically the spine.

As some may know I have had a pretty ridiculous and random spurt of injuries over the past 18 months, which started with poor posture while spending hours upon hours doing academic work compounded with my necessity to lift big or go home without proper warmup dynamic stretching. Now most people who workout will likely say “ya bro I stretch” and then proceed to just do some leg kicks and arm circles. I am here to tell you that is not nearly enough. I stretch for around 10-15 minutes prior to workout and hit every part of my body with controlled movements. I also warm up on the elliptical or bike at moderate intensity for 5-10 minutes. I wish I was doing that all of my life, but one often doesn’t consider prevention until injury occurs. Someone once told me that an ounce of prevention protects from pounds of injuries. This is 100% correct, I understand when we get to the gym or wherever we workout we want to get in, get started, kill it and leave. I promise you though if you go in with this mentality without properly warming up your MIND AND BODY you will succumb to the injury bug at some point. If you love working out and exercise and cant imagine not doing it, well, forever than I suggest you read the following sections seriously.

These next few paragraphs will focus on the importance of protecting from spinal injuries by working your core (which is vastly different from “abs”). In fact if you wok your core hard you will get abs (but keep in mind, abs are made from the food you put in your body).

When I first injured my spine and therapists’ and specialists told me I need to strengthen  my core, I looked at them like they were crazy. I was in the best shape of my life, I was strong and proportioned, and I had “abs”. I figured my core was strong enough how could it possibly get stronger? I was mistaken, your core muscles are in the front AND back, the stronger your core muscles are the better they can protect your back and spine in general from injury.

We live in a society where we sit at work, school, driving, eating and the list goes on. We sit far too much. When we sit for extended periods the discs in our spine start to compress and when they compress you are at high risk for an array of disc injuries and other spinal problems. Let me tell you from first-hand experience, YOU DONT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN TO YOU, if you can do anything for prevention, start right now and strengthen your core. If you do any type of exercise and cant imagine a day without it start taking stretching seriously and hit your core hard. If your spine is healthy you can lift and workout for a long time consistently and pain free, however it starts with paying attention to core and posture.

I do a ton of core exercises like pelvic tilt (this exercise works other body parts to), a variation of planks, supermans V-Ups and cat cow. Click those links for directions on how to do the exercises, these are not the only exercises that help strengthen the core but are some very popular, easy and effective ones. Also to loosen up your low back make sure you stretch your hamstrings, tight hamstrings can cause a tight low back and the problems will compound on each other. The cool thing about the body is that it is truly all connected,  every part works in some correlation with other parts. Failure to identify weakness and neglect all parts will create imbalances leading to minor to serious injuries.

Posture is extremely important to protect not just your back but your neck. Like I previously stated, we sit too much and we are always staring downward at our phones or awkwardly looking at a television or computer screen. Poor posture leads to rounded, slumping shoulders which will shorten your bicep head and not only cause shoulder problems but potentially bicep problems (see how the body is all connected!). When sitting try to keep your core tight, tighten it up as if you are fitting into some tight jeans. Keep your neck in a neutral position and pull it back slightly creating what might resemble a double chin. It is important to remember here though that your not bringing your neck down, but rather bringing it straight back. (this ensures that the neck is sitting properly on the spine, getting used to this is a bit cumbersome but easy once you get the hang). Keep your shoulders back pay attention to how they hang from your sides. Many lifters create shoulder imbalances and postural imbalances by focusing too much on pressing movements like flat barbell and dumbbell while neglecting the part of the body you cannot see easily in a mirror…the back and rear parts of the shoulders. It is important to train all parts equally to ensure all muscles are equally contributing, warding off other muscles compensating and creating injury. Once you have one injury more seem to all fall like dominos, injuries are your body’s way of saying “ahhh too many imbalances” (one way at least).

A strong core and correct posture will ensure health for life. Don’t skimp on core and stretching. If you are addicted to exercising like me, than it will be difficult to imagine life without it for an extended period of time. DONT LET THAT HAPPEN. Take posture, core strength and nutrition seriously. Not just for people who exercise, but for everyone. Pain isn’t fun do what you can to avoid it.

Why i decided to ditch animal products

well what can I say? Yes, I totally ditched meat and most animal products. Most of my friends think I am crazy for doing so especially given the lifestyle that I lived up until I ditched the meat (I was the stereotypical “bro”). I ate a ton of protein, took a bunch of supplements, and spent more time in the gym than I did my home. So why the huge change in lifestyle?

…Injuries and research.

I mentioned in a past blog post about the absurd injuries that seem to happen all at once to my back, neck and shoulders. My back injury was a pretty standard injury to those in the lifting community. I had a bulge disc in L5 and a protruded disc in L4 (it still pains me to discuss today). My neck injury occurred randomly non-lifting related and my shoulder injuries occurred because I stopped lifting to heal my back and because I didn’t exercise for months my shoulders got weaker and I developed some atrophy (what a mess).

These all happened sporadically over the past 18 months and during my initial back injury I started looking at ways to heal the body naturally (because pharmaceuticals don’t HEAL THE PROBLEM they simply mask the problem). Upon my research I came across a “plant based diet”. I watched documentaries on this lifestyle, I did loads of research, talked to numerous people who have already adopted this plant based lifestyle and finally decided this lifestyle was best for me (and the planet if anyone still cares about that).

so why would a typical “bro” give  up his beloved chicken, red meat, turkey burgers etc. etc.? Easy. Meat and other animal products are highly  processed foods. To keep it simple the more processed foods you put inside your body the more acidic your body becomes (your body works hard to keep a balance of alkaline vs. acidity). Most processed animal products will increase the acidity levels in your body. The more acidic your body is there is an increased risk of inflammation. Animal products have the ability to “wear down” our gut and intestinal health. Our gut helps remove toxins and only fully digested food can pass through however if the gut is damaged more “gunk” can get through and it becomes harder to filter out. If the body cannot filter out “gunk” effectively then that puts us at an increased risk for auto-immune disorders (which are attributed to leaky gut syndrome i.e. damaged intestines/gut through toxins, diet, stress etc). There are a slew of auto immune disorders, these disorders are essentially your immune system turning on itself and attacking the body from the inside. After realizing my diet consisted of mostly animal products, well forever, I figured my susceptibility to all sorts of health problems down the road were greater. I also wanted to do whatever I could to heal my injuries faster so I could get back to doing what I loved (working out) and I realized I would have to make some large changes both to my workouts and my diet to help prevent future injuries down the line…and just live a healthier life. Therefore I adopted a diet that is mostly plant based (soon I hope I can say fully).

That is just a minor glimpse into theories on animal products…however in the early stages of my injury I was probably consuming 6-8 chicken breasts a week, 4 turkey burgers a week, and 5 or 6 pieces of fish per week. I was highly skeptical about this plant based diet. I was raised on meat! How would I build muscle and get stronger without it? Meat and bodybuilding the terms are synonymous–my world was indeed shaken.

It took me several months after my injury to make the switch. I watched documentaries like Food Inc and saw how bad the quality of our chicken really is. I watched without bias other documentaries on plant based nutrition such as “Forks over Knives” and I read  documents on the Gerson method (curing disease, specifically cancer with proper diet) and other documents on  plant based nutrition by T. Colin Campbell* (who is probably the most widely recognized and respected figure in the evidence based medicine community on plant based nutrition). I finally made up my mind, I cut animal products in an attempt to heal my body faster in the present moment and protect my body in the future.

Most people ask me, what about protein? I get plenty of protein, vitamins and minerals via a plant based diet. The key is to just find out other types of foods that can accommodate your protein needs. For example, lentils, a type of bean usually pack around 10 grams of protein per 1/4 cup serving. Now, I don’t just sit and eat lentils all day there are a variety of foods that can give you a ton of protein on a plant based diet, you just have to get creative and expand your boundaries.

Since switching to a plant based diet my recovery time from my workouts has increased dramatically compared to when I was eating mostly animal products. I also have all day energy, rarely do I feel run down by 3pm anymore. The whites of my eyes have really cleared up (a cool trick to see if your body’s PH levels are off is to look at the whites of your eyes, if they always look red there is a good chance you are more acidic than alkaline…although if you wear contacts it might be hard to decipher if you find your contacts are always irritating your eyes). Most importantly since switching to a mostly plant based diet in April my injuries have healed so much faster and my body feels so much better in the 4 months I have been practicing this lifestyle than in the previous 14 months when I was injured and was not practicing this lifestyle.

is it easy? absolutely not. Change is never easy especially when it revolves around ones diet. I have my days where I ask myself why I am doing this? However never once have I had the slightest thought or temptation about giving it up. I am working out just fine on a plant based diet and it is not impossible to build muscle or make gains on this diet. The point is you can still reach whatever goals you have on this diet (and diet in the sense of way of eating, not the “calorie restricted” association that many people confuse the term diet with). Many athletes and professional bodybuilders have already adopted this plant based lifestyle to improve their performance. Check some out here.

Right now the only animal products I eat are cage free eggs and wild salmon. Eventually I will stop consuming those products when I get a bit more comfortable into plant based meals and lifestyle. I am still in the early stages of adopting this lifestyle but as I previously mentioned am already seeing a large difference.

Going plant based also helps the environment out tremendously by reducing our carbon footprint.

No matter what type of diet you choose, choose it because you want to and for nobody else. I never thought in my lifetime that I would give up meat and other animal products. I did it to help heal from an injury. After all the research and questions answered by people who have already adopted this type of lifestyle, I made my decision and it just seemed right, for me. This post is not meant to degrade those who eat animal products (I still eat salmon and eggs once a week when I am in a pinch). The point of this post is to give people an option if they are looking for a diet change or are looking for a way to recover faster. This lifestyle has helped me tremendously and I hope it makes readers curious enough to do some research and decide for themselves on what diet is right for them. Eat what you want–just make sure you know why you are doing it and are happy doing it. That’s all that matters.

*Also I should mention this is what I am currently doing, five years ago I couldn’t imagine giving up meat and I did, five years from now I cant imagine giving up plant based nutrition but I also cant predict the future. This is a personal decision I made and I don’t see it changing but who knows, life is interesting. The point? Just do what makes you happy but always research and be curious and not close-minded.

For more info on plant based nutrition check out:

  1. T. Colin Campbell (respected and cited in all fields of medicine)
  2. The China Study
  3. Robert Cheeke (vegan bodybuilder)
  4. Brandon Brazier (triathlete)
  5. Forks Over Knives (documentary)
  6. The Gerson Method
  7. http://www.nomeatathlete.com/

There is Nothing Natural about the Term “Natural” Used in Food Labeling

Hey Everyone!

As of now I think I am going to try to put one post a week out and aim for Monday’s. This blog post will discuss the importance of being able to read food labels effectively. No matter what your goal is we all need to eat, this post is aimed at making grocery shopping a bit easier in the long term (although it might be challenging right off the bat for the inexperienced, and that’s okay)! This post will cover popular phrases used on a variety of food labels today such as: “natural”. “organic”, and “non-gmo”.

I am sure at one point or another we have all seen a commercial on television or stopped and picked up a product with the claims “all natural” on it. We might associate the term “natural” with pure, healthy or wholesome therefore we might not read the nutrition label and automatically assume the product is healthy. So what does the term “natural” really mean?….

well, there really isn’t a strict definition given by the FDA. The FDA does state “it is difficult to define a food product as natural because the food product has been processed and is NO LONGER a product of the earth. The FDA does go on to suggest that “(we) do not object to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances” (FDA.gov). If the FDA isn’t clear on the term, than the manufacturers that produce our food sure will not be clear either. It honestly comes down to education of the consumer (since the United States annually ranks as the top or close to the top on major stats such as obesity and disease I suggest we can no longer rely on our food industry to inform us. The major players in the food industry have one goal TO SELL MORE FOOD!! Like any other business if there is an opportunity to cut costs and save money it will most likely be done, even if that means putting harmful ingredients in our food. Check out this link natural foods that aren’t . Someone told me years ago when I entered into the world of healthy living “if you cannot pronounce it don’t eat it” meaning if the ingredient names look odd, confusing or are just plan hard to pronounce it is probably not a good idea to put it in your body.

What about Organic food? Organic food doesn’t use any herbicide, pesticide or any other “..cide”  in the production and processing of our foods. Organic really is a consumers best bet in the quest for long term health because the production methods used to produce the food is how nature intended it to be. Organic food also will usually have all the vitamins and minerals intact….or the STUFF THAT MAKES FOOD, FOOD! Organic food is a bit more expensive but there is much more that goes into that higher markup price than just the name organic. Organic farmers/producers have loads more costs compared to their non-sustainable counterparts (farmers who using “unconventional methods”) which makes the price a bit higher. check out this link for foods that you should consider buying organic and foods that it is likely okay to not buy organic Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen

Lastly Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s). I am a huge advocate for labeling of GMO’s and also would love to see them stop infiltrating our food supply. GMO’s started appearing in our food in the early 1990’s. When scientists take a gene or “part” from one organism and insert it into another organism they can create “new organisms”. GMO’s give the ability for farmers to create bacteria resistant crops thus seasonal weather effecting crops is mitigated. This sounds great but these “super genes” can and do stay inside of us and can alter our DNA. It sounds crazy but if you really sit back and think about it objectively the less crazy you might think it seems. Essentially GMO’s are too new to know the long term effects plain and simple. Since they have been introduced to our diet correlating statistics involving the rise of autism, food allergies and chronic disease have increased (check out this site for more info).Are those effects directly related? I say yes, others might say no and that’s okay. Right now there are heated debates about whether labeling GMO’s is right or wrong–most major food industry giants are against the labeling of GMO’s (if they don’t pose a risk what is the big deal if its labeled or not?–seems sketchy many companies don’t want labeling).

We are getting to a point in history where our food is no longer food on the inside, just processed junk.

the point is pay attention to what’s in your food no matter what side of the fence you are on and make your decisions accordingly. On my side of the fence there is no room for chemicals and questionable ingredients in our food.

Stop paying attention to fad diets and gimmicks and  pay more attention to what you put inside your body! Proper diet really is the best medicine

Make your own decisions, ask questions and be curious!

Until next time..

*check out Marion Nestlé’s book Food Politics (she was a former nutritionist that worked directly with the FDA and what she discusses in her text is truly mind-blowing)