Three Ways to Improve Your Sleep

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Ultramind Solution, here are his tips on how to improve your sleep:

  1. Avoid stimulants like caffeine, sugar, alcohol, nicotine before bed.
  2. Try to go to bed at the same time everyday, ideally before midnight.
  3. Don’t watch TV or use your phone or laptop two hours before sleep.

Melatonin is a sleep hormone which is excreted by the pituitary gland when it is dark.

This hormone makes you sleepy, especially when you’re chilling in a dimly lit room.

However, if you watch TV or use your phone or laptop, you’re stopping the natural melatonin secretion from happening.

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The Truth About Sauna & Magnesium Supplements

Sauna

Chilling in the sauna is such a beneficial pastime.

It relaxes, detoxifies, and rejuvenates. It works wonders for your skin.

But perhaps most importantly, the sauna can activate two genetic pathways that curtail the stress of ageing, according to Dr. Rhona Patrick, ph.D in biomedical science and expert on nutritional health.

One of these pathways includes heat shock proteins which are activated by heat stress. These proteins decrease the rate of cell degeneration.

Interestingly, the effects of these proteins can extend for up to 2 weeks after going to the sauna.

It also activates a gene called Fox03 which is a gene that creates proteins that protect cells from inflammation and oxidative stress.

What this translates to is this: the more you go to the sauna, the lesser your risk of developing any form of cancer.

Magnesium supplements

It’s interesting how you want to do the best for your health and well-being by taking supplements, but if you’re just blindly taking them, you may as well stop and save yourself the time and effort.

Case in point.

I made the mistake of buying the wrong magnesium not once, but twice.

I’ll tell you where the mistake lies.

Both of my magnesium supplements had Magnesium Oxide (i.e. MgO), which is poorly absorbed by the body.

MgO supplements contain 60% magnesium but they’re less bioavailable and for this reason are poorly absorbed by the body.

On the other hand though, magnesium citrate supplements, which have 15% magnesium, are much more bioavailable that MgO and are a better choice for magnesium supplementation, according to a 1990 study published in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition.”

Basically, using the better absorbed magnesium citrate is a better bang for your buck than supplementing on MgO.

Magnesium lactate and magnesium chloride are also more bioavailable and hence better absorbed than magnesium oxide.

Just goes to show that with anything, you have to get a deep understanding of what you’re doing and immerse yourself in the subject at hand.

Taking supplements blindly isn’t good enough, you’ll spend your money, spend the time taking them, but if you’re doing it wrong – nothing’s going to come of it.

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Why Caffeine is a Poison

It’s interesting how fruits and flowers have evolved to increase their chances of survival.

You know how roses have thorns at their sides?

Well, it’s a defensive survival mechanism to keep animals from eating them.

And the seeds in apples?

Apparently, just one apple seed has enough toxins in it to kill ants on an exponential scale (harmless for humans, though.)

And coffee beans?

The survival mechanism in coffee beans is caffeine.

To insects, caffeine is poisonous whereas for humans it gives us a nice buzz.

In fact, coffee mimics the same effects as dopamine, which explains that sense of euphoria we’ve come to know and love.

Is caffeine really harmless for us?

I love caffeine but short answer: it can be.

It’s a diuretic which means it flushes out water from your body, along with essential minerals like magnesium. Which is why if you drink too much coffee, you might notice that you’re eye or pinky finger might start twitching.

So replenish that magnesium init. Cause magnesium deficiency prevents your body from making serotonin.

It dehydrates you so replenish that water init.

But also, it causes your body to release stress hormones in your body.

When you ingest caffeine, it stimulates your nervous system in the same way that a lion charging at you to eat you would stimulate your nervous system (just on a smaller scale…)

If you’re an avid coffee-drinker, you might not feel the effects of caffeine but your body definitely does because it’s still producing stress hormones to fuel your body.

Caffeine also contributes to the premature ageing and damaging of the brain if not consumed in moderation.

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Why Recycling Isn’t Good for the Environment

Remember what Mr Miyagi said about balance?

Mr. Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance?
Daniel: Yeah.
Mr. Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?

The Karate Kid (1984)

Life is all about balance.

Perfect balance is what you find in the exact middle of the spectrum, in between one extreme and another.

Between work and play.

Homeostasis.

This lesson about balance can inform us why recycling might not be the best solution to our environmental woes.

Is recycling actually a bad idea?

The environmentalist will say that recycling is good for the environment. You reuse resources such as paper and that means that less trees will get cut down.

On the other hand, the office that hasn’t gone green and isn’t recycling is wasting resources.

S. Landsberg says that if you recycle too much paper, trees won’t get chopped down, and forests will shrink.

“Environmentalists can quote reams of statistics on the importance of trees and then jump to the conclusion that recycling paper is a good idea. But the opposite conclusion makes equal sense. I am sure that if we found a way to recycle beef, the population of cattle would go down, not up. If you want ranchers to keep a lot of cattle, you should eat a lot of beef. Recycling paper eliminates the incentive for paper companies to plant more trees and can cause forests to shrink. If you want large forests, your best strategy might be to use paper as wastefully as possible-or lobby for subsidies to the logging industry.” 

Following the logic of the above statement, if everybody was an environmentalist, we’d all go green and that would be a problem.

Conversely, if everybody wasted paper, that would also be a problem.

It looks like there has to be a balance between recycling paper and wasting paper.

In actuality, the ongoing tension between environmentalists and anti-environmentalists is wherein the nugget of wisdom lies.

Paper conservers are the yin to the yang of paper wasters.

Without either side passionately fighting for their ideology – there would be no balance.

What pesticides can teach us about balance

Turns out that pesticides can have harmful effects on our health.

But if we were to stop using pesticides on fruit, for example, then there’d be less fruit for people to eat which would also be bad for our health.

Landsberg credits this observation to biologist Bruce Ames:

“Environmentalists call on us to ban carcinogenic pesticides. They choose to overlook the consequence that when pesticides are banned, fruits and vegetables become more expensive, people eat fewer of them, and cancer rate consequently rise.”

You have to strike a fine balance between using pesticides and refraining from using them.

If you’re really bothered about pesticides on food, going organic is a great option. No point cutting corners on the food you eat to fuel your most precious asset – your body.

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Habits Built Are Not Habits Lost

Over and over and over again I find that consistency, a little and often, goes a long long way.

Whatever project you might have going on at the moment – whether it’s a passion project or working on your fitness – just keep at it a little and often.

There will be doubts along the way (i.e. this might not work, this is sh!t, what’s the point, I not seeing any immediate returns/success) but doing something consistently will ALWAYS yield great results over time.

ALWAYS.

And just having faith in that conclusion is what should carry you to achieving it in the end.

Doing something consistently is the reward in of itself

Framing the fact that you’re able to do something consistently is the reward in of itself.

That a huge part of your overall success.

Essentially, that is success.

If you don’t see results in the short-term, keep at it and you’ll reach that point where a sudden influx of results will start coming your way.

Reference experiences

If you managed to go to the gym 3x a week, every week, for 3months in a row, you’ve got a reference experience to back up your routine-building abilities.

But say you were to be suddenly sidelined due to injury, you’d be confident in yourself to be able to easily slip back into your gym routine once fully recovered simply because you’ve done it before and you’d be able to do it again.

It’s only when you don’t have this sort of reference experience to instil that sort of confidence that you run into self-doubt and uncertainty.

You might be thinking how do I know that if I put in the effort, I will definitely gain a reward later?

Well, in the very beginning you simply don’t – you can’t because you have no previous experience that would substantiate this idea that ‘consistency yields good results’. There is no evidence.

But as you accumulate experiences and make habits, these habits will be a testament to you’re ability of building new habits and sustaining them.

Habit memory

So even if you’ve built a good habit but for some reason or another you’ve dropped off – you stopped going to the gym or stopped cycling or stopped flossing – you’ll have the confidence in yourself to be able to get back on in because you’ve done it before.

A habit built is not a habit lost.

Because you have the reference experience, there’s a lot of confidence that stems from that, confidence in the fact that you could easily fall right back into the habit.

This is what you could refer to as habit memory.

Similar to muscle memory (i.e. your muscles getting used to certain exercises), your body remembers your habits and repetitive behaviours.

Because the more you do something, the more automatic the process/behaviour becomes and you don’t have to consciously think about it when you’re doing it.

It becomes a habit.

Discipline is the bridge between a ‘want’ and a ‘have’ and habits are the vehicle which will allow for sustained growth and consistent progress.

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The Truth about Hemp Seeds and Brazil Nuts

Hemp seeds

I bought hemp seeds recently cause I heard they were extremely healthy for you, boasting a very good protein profile as well as being rich in omega-3 acids.

Hemp seeds are known as the little heart-shaped seeds but actually they come in shells that are high in nutritional value like insoluble fibre that is becoming less common in the over-processed modern diet.

What’s shocking is that people de-shell hemp seeds and throw away the shells.

Sure, it’s a bit annoying to chew on the seeds, can get stuck in your teeth, or scratch your throat even, but it’s such a waste to throw away so much nutritional value rather than just eat it and reap the immense health benefits.

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are regarded as a super food of sorts because of the inflammatory, mood-boosting, and anti-cancerous potential.

It’s a good source of magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and above all else – selenium.

In fact, brazil nuts contain extremely high levels of selenium.

That’s why it’s best you limit yourself to 1-2 Brazil nuts daily.

If you eat more, you risk selenium toxicity which can lead to diarrhoea, nausea, brittle hair as well as hair loss, and a metallic taste in your mouth to name a few effects.

The realisation I had that blew my mind was that even a superfood that has all these health benefits can actually have dangerous health consequences if misused.

Nuts in general (and hemp seeds…again)

Turns out that because nuts and hemp seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, they can go rancid if not stored properly.

For instance, Brazil nuts have a high amount of polyunsaturated fats in them so they can go rancid fairly quickly if not stored properly.

I read somewhere that hemp seeds can be stored for up to a year if refrigerated.

Bottom line: it’s important to store nuts and hemp seeds in the fridge or at the very least in a dry, airtight container that is hidden from direct light (as light can cause a chemical reaction that could in turn lead to rancidity).

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Live Your Life Fully – Embrace the Highs and the Lows

One of you got in touch with me via whatmybrosaid@gmail.com and asked something along the lines of this:

“I feel caught in a perpetual battle between what I want and what others want for me, between contentment and angst. I try to live my life in two separate modalities at once. But, if I live in two opposing modalities at once, how can I expect to ever feel satisfied, and how on earth can I be authentic?”

Ultimately that’s what life is – living in two or more modalities.

Being aware of the good while it happens but having the sobering knowledge that it won’t last.

It’s the beauty of life.

Rather than be blind to it or constantly struggling to be in control, think of it like a rollercoaster or a river. You go with the flow and gently direct the way you go.

If you fight it by trying to swim upstream, that’s when you suffer. So when you have a high – enjoy it and make the most of it. And when it’s down, do what you can and it will pick up.

There are societal pressures but if you rise up, you’ll see it all for what it is. I was reading an interesting article by Bret Easton Ellis about Charlie Sheen and this is what he had to say about mid-life crisis:

“The mid-life crisis is the moment in a man’s life when you realize you can’t (won’t) maintain the pose that you thought was required of you any longer—you’re older and you have a different view of life and this is when the bitterness and acceptance blooms.”
I wouldn’t worry about it.

Don’t look for meaning or order in it. Because there is none.

The key is being able to detach from what you can control and what you cannot.

You make your choices and go with them regardless.

You can play two games, one of the career and the back-up and one of what you really want in your life.

You won’t know what you want and, in actual fact, the two things end up merging into one. You do certain things to get other things. As long as you have an over-arching strategy for where you want your life to be or go, you’ll be fine. It’s all lessons and experiences.

Life is up and down and high and low.

But the lows teach you about yourself and whether you’ve grown since the last low and give you context and comparison for the highs.

The trick is to be ok with yourself throughout those because those are external to you.

Meditation and all that stuff is good at entering yourself, seeing within.

Also living life and hardening yourself with life experience will show you the true nature of things. People cling on to deeply held beliefs for comfort.

Expose yourself to the grit of the world and things don’t seem to harsh. It seems ordered. Weak characters will say the jungle and the wild are barbaric. But there is beauty in it.

Beauty that a coddled person will never truly understand.

The adrenaline of a chase of a lion vs the fear of standing over the ledge of a tall building.

That’s the up and down of life.

It’s feeling.

It’s what’s being alive is.

Go be alive.

Test your limits and test your personal boundaries. There is a Polish saying: “Your ass will always go numb in cotton.”

If you do that, very quickly the existential woes and all that nonsense will go away because you’ll be busy living.

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