War on Sugar – Freakonomics

Anyone that knows me, knows I am a podcast junkie. One of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis is Freakonomics Radio.

One of their recent episodes on sugar had an interesting interchange between Steven Dubner and an MD with the FDA.  He asked he a few pointed question about the stance of the FDA on sugar and I almost choked on the response.

“I’m not going to answer your question because my attorneys aren’t present”

Why can a medical advisor for the FDA not answer a medical related question with out an attorney if this is not simply a political game being played with the publics health.

One step closer to recognizing sugar as the main cause of our populations health decline.

I recommend you listen for yourself.

Keto Cloud Bread

A friend sent a Pinterest article with this recipe and I had to try it.  The original blog post I read should win the award for the best photos and videography. They made it look simple and delicious.

I tried it, it was actually simple (once I got it right) and it was as delicious as I had hoped.

It is actually very simple.

First separate 3 eggs.

Whites in one bowl, yokes in another bowl.

Mix 1/4 teaspoon of Cream of Tarter with the egg yokes. This is where I failed the first time.
You must not get any yoke in this mixture. Also mix on high speed for about 4 minutes.  The first time I did this I mixed the whites for a bit, then I mixed the yokes for a bit and vice versa.

This is a no, no! Do not mix the ingredients until the whites are fully mixed and fluffed.

I continued to whip the whites and cream of tarter until the mixture was firm enough to spoon out of the bowl.

I had already mixed the yokes when I started over on the whites. Once the whites where ready I slowly mixed the two together with a spoon.

Mix the yokes with 3 tablespoons of softened cream cheese.  Mix until there are no more clumps of the cream cheese.

Once the two were mixed together I moved them to a cookie sheet that I had prepared with wax paper and olive oil.

Cook it for 20 minutes at 300.

Let it cool for a few minutes and then move to a cooling rack.

I made two dishes with this for my Sunday morning breakfast.

First I made a egg, cheese and bacon sandwich.  With a little mayonnaise this was delicious!

Then I made a sugar free jam treat.

This keto treat was fantastic.

Once again the level of success for me is measured by how much my kids like it. They love this and have eaten all of our first batch. We will need to make another batch for lunch and then probably more for lunches this coming week.

Exogenous Ketones

If you have been following the Keto lifestyle, you have heard the advertisements of Exogenous Ketones. If you believe the ads, these supplements are a magic cure to weight loss.

Exogenous ketone body supplements provide users with an instant supply of ketones. They raise blood ketones even if you’re not in a state of ketosis before ingestion.

It’s not fully understood what the long term effects are of combining a non ketogenic diet with exogenous ketone supplements.  Research is in its early stages and more data is needed.

Exogenous ketone bodies are just ketone bodies that are ingested through a nutritional supplement. Ketone bodies produced in the liver are more properly referred to as endogenous ketone bodies.Exogenous = Originates from a source external from the body.
Endogenous = Originates from a source internal to the body.

What are ketone bodies?

Our bodies use ketones via our mitochondria to generate energy. They are an alternative fuel source to glucose.

Ketones are simple compounds because of their small molecular structure and weight. Specifically, they are organic (carbon-based) compounds that contain a central carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom and two carbon-containing substituents, denoted by “R” (see chemical structure below).

In humans, there are 3 different ketones produced by the mitochondria of the liver. These are also often referred to as ketone bodies.

The three ketones are:

  1. Acetone
  2. Acetoacetic Acid
  3. Beta-Hydroxybutyric Acid (also known Beta Hydroxybuyrate or BHB). Other chemical names include 3-hydroxybutyric acid or 3-hydroxybutyrate.

BHB is not technically a ketone since it contains a reactive OH-group in place of where a double-bonded oxygen normally would be as you can see in the diagram above. Yet, BHB still functions like a ketone in the body and converts into energy.

What can we eat to help promote these Ketone Bodies?

The biggest question for most people will not be, what do they need to eat, but rather what they should avoid. If you are eating carbohydrates the liver will metabolize them first and the body will use the carbohydrates for energy. The fats will be stored for later. The process of converting a fat cell into a ketone body is more of a process than converting carbohydrates into glucose. The body is good at choosing the simplest activity. Therefore, cut down on the carbs and increase your fats.

There are different types of fats, some quickly promote the production of ketone bodies, while others take the slow route.  Choosing fats that can get to the liver quickly and be converted to ketone bodies can be helpful.  Dr Jockers.com does a fantastic job of explaining this process. Rather then putting it in my own words, head over there for a minute. Don’t forget to come right back and finish up here.

A great blog describing why MCT oil should be used for elevated Ketone Bodies.

MCT Oil vs Exogenous Ketones

After reading this post I hope you have a better understanding of what a ketone body is, how we produce them and how they benefit our bodies.  Our liver is going to use exogenous ketones or it will create ketones endogenously from the stored fat.

What I am interested in is helping people effectively produce energy from ketone creation in the liver. Once adapted to ketones, the liver will turn more to the endogenous fuel source, i.e . your love handles.

In short, you can purchase and consume a very cost effective MCT oil and the liver will quickly create ketones and use them as fuel. Or, you can purchase expensive exogenous ketone supplements and your liver will take them and use them as fuel.

Either way I recommend you consume them when on a low carb diet.  Best of luck to you in your health journey.

Do you trip up the stairs?

You may have never heard the word proprioceptors but they play a big role in your life. From brushing your hair, eating your breakfast, to walking down the sidewalk.  You would not be able to move effectively without well functioning proprioceptors.  Proprioceptors are sensors that provide information about the joints, their angle, muscle length and tension, which in return gives the brain the information about the position of limbs in relationship to the body and the surrounding environment.

Definition:

Proprioception (PRO-pree-o-SEP-shən), from Latin proprius, meaning “one’s own”, “individual”, and capio, capere, to take or grasp, is the sense of the relative position of one’s own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.

Ok, I know what you are saying at this point. Thanks for the lecture professor Hess, but why are you telling me this? Well, have you ever fallen up the stairs? How often do you stub your toes? Would you consider yourself a bit of a klutz? If you answered yes to any of these you may want to pay attention.

Even if you believe you have the grace and elegance of a gazelle you may still want to pay attention.

Types of Exercises to Enhance Proprioception

There are a number of exercises that can be performed to help train your proprioception. It is always best to work with a physical therapist or licensed trainer to ensure that you are selecting the right exercises to help enhance your desired performance.

Balancing Exercises

Good exercises for proprioception development would be activities that challenge balance and equilibrium. Balance exercises help teach your body and brain to control the position of a deficient or an injured joint. A common example of a balance exercise that can help improve proprioception is the use of a balance board. You may need to begin holding onto the wall until you have gained a stronger sense of the intended use of the muscles in order to balance on the board.

Exercises While Closing the Eyes

As you become stronger, you can gain the ability to inform and trust your muscles to perform standing activities with the eyes closed. This enhances the communication between the brain and the muscles so that you are able to perform activities properly without watching the movement take place.

Strengthening Exercises

Knee strengthening exercises like leg presses, squats and lateral movements with the arms are examples of ways that you can help establish the connection between muscle fibers by building strength. As you build strength in the muscles, the brain begins to understand the request of this strength more and more. As strength builds, it helps improve proprioception awareness with the mind and body and also allows you to continue/hold a movement or action in place far longer with proper form.

Plyometric Movements and Drills

Exercise involving coordination and movement patterns can greatly enhance the kinesthetic awareness. Vertical jumps, running figure-eight patterns, change of direction drills and crossover walking are other routines that help establish the connection between muscles and nerves. As you are asking the body to perform certain movements, it trains the brain to respond to these movements. Over time, it becomes easier to perform these exercises without much thought as a natural connection becomes a part of the routine.

Proprioception Training Routine

Table Top

Using a mat to protect your knees, get on all fours on the floor in table top position. Make sure the back is flat and the neck is aligned with the spine.

While looking at the floor, raise and extend your right arm and your left leg at the same time. Keep a tight core. Hold for 3–5 seconds and repeat on the other side. Do 10 reps on each side.

Advanced: Hold for 20 seconds with eyes closed. Really focus on a tight core and perfect balance keeping the arm and leg parallel to the floor.

Single Leg

Stand with feet hip distance apart. Raise your right knee to a 90-degree angle and hold for 3–5 seconds. Return foot to the floor and repeat 5 times on each leg. You may need to hold onto the wall or a chair at first. Work towards not needing the extra support.

Advanced: Perform this exercise with eyes closed, no support and holding for 10 seconds, 10 times on each leg.

Crossover Walk (Karoake)

Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Begin walking to your right crossing your left leg over the right, then back to starting position. Continue stepping sideways in a constant motion for about 15 yards. Repeat in the other direction, 5 times each direction.

Advanced: The advanced option is the same but much faster and with a high knee raise as you cross over the leg, naturally twisting the hips back and forth while moving and crossing over in the same direction. Repeat in the other direction for 25 yards, 5–10 times each side.

Squat Jump

Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor by pushing hips back, keeping back flat and head facing forward — with weight on heels rather than the balls of your feet.

Immediately explode upwards, reaching as high as you can with your hands as your feet leave the floor.  Land in the same position you started in. Swing your arms back and jump again right away. Repeat 5–10 times on each side. (source)
Types of Proprioceptors

A system of receptor nerves, or proprioceptors, located within the muscles, joints and ligaments. These receptors function similar to how other receptors monitor pressure, sound, heat and light. These receptors pass this information along to the brain very quickly. So quickly it is referred to as a reflex rather than a reaction.

 Kinesthetic Awareness

Proprioception and kinesthetic awareness are often used interchangeably; however, it is important to note the difference. Kinesthetic awareness is a conscious effort to react to the situation, while proprioception is an unconscious or subconscious process. Ultimately, the brain sends the signal so fast that it is an automatic response.

However, the two work together to allow a smooth efficient and safe platform for everyday movement and athletic performance. A great example is when a skier acts subconsciously, through proprioception, to stay vertical yet the person’s mind, their kinesthetic awareness, processes what needs to happen in order to ski over slopes, moguls, around trees and anything else needed to make necessary adjustments to the body to successfully accomplish the motion at hand. Proprioception is an inner sense, the central nervous system, while kinesthetic awareness is an external sense, the body in space and time.(source)

Golgi Tendon Organ

Another type of proprioceptor is the Golgi tendon organ, which provides information about changes in muscles tension. When the muscle contracts, the collagen fibrils are pulled tight, and this activates the Golgi tendon organ. Because changes in muscle tension will provide different degrees of pull on the tendon, the Golgi tendon organ provides information about muscle tension to better assist the muscle in performing an action.

Muscle Spindle

The muscle spindle is also a type of proprioceptor that provides information about changes in muscle length. When the muscle lengthens, the muscle spindle is stretched triggering specific actions within the muscle fibers.
(source)

The “true” meaning for the season and who hijacked it

You don’t have to look far to see someone complaining about how Christmas has become too commercialized; or how Santa Clause has taken over the meaning of the season. I agree with this sentiment, I believe many people focus too much on “stuff” and getting/giving of material gifts.

In an effort to bring the actual reason for the season back into the lives of our family my wife and I decided to start a tradition of celebrating the winter solstice. The actual reason for the season.

From the earliest writing to present, people have been celebrating the life-giving properties of the sun. With the natural rotation of the earth around the sun, the length of the night differs depending on the time of year. In the northern hemisphere, December 21st is the longest night of the year. With each night thereafter getting just a touch shorter until the summer solstice (the shortest night of the year) on June 21st. Then again, each night thereafter gets a little longer until once again the winter solstice.

There are written records of people having gatherings and feasts in celebration of this return of the sun. Life- death-rebirth myths are plentiful in history, most of which originate due to this natural cycle of the sun. The sun, the provider of light, warmth and giver of life dying and being reborn every year. Traditions and stories abound of people bringing evergreen bows, holly and mistletoe into their homes as a sign of life to come in the spring. The spring, when the sun returns and brings its life-giving properties. Many people participate in long held traditions of giving gifts at the end of the year as a gesture of gratitude for the blessing of the past and hope for the future. As well, many people participate in traditions of lighting lights during this time of year as a symbol of the coming light in the spring.

With the significance of this natural occurring event, one may think it would be more celebrated. Sadly, this event has been hijacked and I believe there are two major individuals to blame. Santa Clause and Jesus Christ.
Let me take a moment and break the stories of each of these two transgressors down.

Santa Clause is presumably a personification of Father Christmas; Father Christmas a figure who most likely originated from a combination of many different pagan figure(s) who represented the coming of spring. The early British people(s) celebrated by decorating with evergreen, holy and mistletoe. This Father Christmas character became even more significant when the Vikings invaded Britain and brought with them their winter traditions and superstitions. Odin (a Germanic god representing all types of characteristics like, wisdom, giving, health, love, battle and sorcery) would take on a human form and come and celebrate with the people between the 20th and 31st of December. This time of year, referred to by the Vikings as Yultid, lives on today as Yuletide.

With the colonialization of the Americans and the piecemeal beliefs which came over from Saint Nicholas to Father Christmas, Santa Clause was born; Santa Clause an imaginary figure whose origins come from pagan, Germanic and Viking gods.

So, what’s the harm of celebrating Santa Clause anyway? In my opinion there is very little harm in celebrating this jolly character. An admitted fictitious character created to make the cold, long, winter nights more comfortable.
I feel you can celebrate the arrival of Santa Clause down your chimney bringing gifts to good little girls and boys without infringing on the Winter Solstice celebrations, a hijacker of the true meaning of the season, but possibly still in the spirit of the season.

Now on to our next hijacker, Jesus Christ; a story of a god being born of man on the 25th of December to a virgin mother. First, it needs to be said, there is NO evidence in any Christian writings of Jesus being born on December 25th, not even in the Bible. Why, then does the entire Christian world celebrate the birth of Christ on this day?
Actually, if we consult the bible we get differing stories of who the father of Jesus was. Mathew says it was the holy ghost, John states God was made flesh, Mark makes no mention of it. Then there is Luke, who many biblical scholars claim was a Roman citizen to begin with. It makes sense why he would want to introduce the virgin birth and the humble beginnings of a god/man. This would align with many of the Roman god stories and help assimilate the two worlds.

These biblical discrepancies will need to be a topic for another day.
Back on point, the question. Why do Christians celebrate the birth of their savior on the winter solstice? Even if we grant Christians their virgin birth story told in Luke chapter 2, it was NOT on the 25th of December. So, why on the 25th of December?

Is there harm in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th of December? I would like to make the argument that yes, there is harm in doing so. First, those that believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ are not believing this as a mythical story. They believe this happened, God really did come down and have an intimate moment with Mary. Mary did have a baby as a virgin. But did it happen on the 25th of December?

The birth of Christ was NOT on the 25th of December. Therefore, if you want me to believe this actually did take place (Jesus was born from god and Mary as a virgin), then you may want to fess up to the fact that it did not take place on the 25th. Therein lies the problem. If you confess that it did not take place on the 25th of December, then you need to confess you do not know when it took place. Then you may need to be even more honest and confess you do not know if it actually took place at all. In the spirit of honesty, can we all just admit that Jesus Christ has hijacked the real reason for the season?

While Christians contemplate which day they will pick as the new date to celebrate the birth of Jesus, let’s celebrate the Winter Solstice. Take a moment and appreciate the wonder of the solar system and how the earth rotates around the sun. Bring the pines into the home to celebrate the hope for new life. Light a candle (or put up modern Christmas lights, less of a fire hazard) as a symbol of the light that is coming back. Give gifts, not because there may have been three wise men. Give gifts as people have for millennia at the end of the year as a sign of prosperity and hope for the new year.

I hope once you have read this you will understand why I prefer not to say Merry Christmas, I prefer to say Happy Winter Solstice or Happy Holidays. Not because I am being politically correct, but because I feel we should give respect to the real reason for the season, not the hijacker’s.

On that note, I wish you all a very Merry Winter Solstice and hope you will enjoy it now with a new light. Take a moment to do some further research on the origins of the holiday. I think it will help you enjoy them even more, and have gratitude that the sun will come back up and continue to give us warmth and life.

Happy Winter Solstice from me to you!

Moral behavior as currency

I walk into a café and order a meal; the meal is prepared and I enjoy it. I clean up my space, thank the café owner and leave without pulling out my credit or debit card. This café participates in the moral behavior method of payment. I gave the café a positive review and the café owner likewise reviewed my behavior.

Depending on how I treated the staff, cleaned my space and acted towards the others in the café I would get a positive or negative review. Each and every interaction I have with others is rated. In a life time there will be trillions of interactions each of them contributing to your moral bank account.

The next morning the café owner goes to the market and picks up supplies. There is no need to bring a check book, the café owner has built his own moral bank account. The customers of the café are pleased with the food, service and have given many positive reviews.

In each of these interactions the supplier was able to identify the moral account and debit the respective amount needed for such a transaction. This moral account is something that each individual has, and can debit or credit. I can credit my moral account by being kind, having good reviews from others as well as volunteering to help folks in need.

With our level of technology, we are not that far away from being able to track human interactions in this way. For all intents and purposes this would eliminate theft and most crime. No longer will people break into your home to take your valuables.

Every individual creates their own moral account and can spend it based on the kindness and moral behavior.

Lets do another thought experiment. An individual treats people poorly, eventually people will stop doing business with this person. Or maybe this person will have to pay twice or three times as much for their goods and services due to their bad behavior and negative reviews.

In short, the kinder and nicer you are to everyone the more “money” you will have in your moral bank account. The better your business does the bigger the moral bank account would be.

I am interested in your opinions. Is there a point this would break down? How difficult would it be to switch to a system like this?

The day my bike met the car

My knuckles turned white as I gripped the shaking handlebars of my pedal bike. The faster I went the more intense the shaking became. I could feel the air rushing through my short brown hair and whipping my shirt behind my back.  At this point I started praying my bike wouldn’t throw me off; it had been known to do that from time to time. Right then I started to regret the bet I had made with a good friend earlier that day. We were the toughest kids in the kindergarten class and, we had to prove it every chance we had. We wanted to see who could race down the main street hill in our little town the fastest.  Let me explain this was not just any hill; this hill was “HUGE”!  Not only was it steep, it also had several sharp turns. Everyone in town called it “Hospital Hill”. I always thought it was called that because after ridding your bike down it most kids ended up in the hospital. It wasn’t until later I found out it was because the hospital was at the top of the hill. That did make it convenient; after a wreck you only needed to be taken to the top of the hill.  Most of the other six year olds in town would walk their bikes down. Not us, we were too tough to be caught walking our bikes.

Of course the safest way to ride down the hill was to stay in your own lane the whole time, although that was not the fastest method. If you wanted the fastest time you would need to ride from your lane across the street to the inside of each turn.  This required you to try to stay in a straight line making a zigzag motion as you passed the different turns. This meant that for a moment during each left turn you ended up in the wrong lane and was unable to see what was coming up the hill towards you.  It was during one of these left hand turns that I happened to see the grill of a fast approaching car; or rather the car I was fast approaching.  The next thing I remember was opening my eyes in my bed the next day.

The rest of the story had to be told to me by my best friend Tom.  He had watched the entire thing from a little higher up the hill.  Once I hit the front end of the car, I flew over the car and through the air landing on the lawn of a nearby house and coming to rest at the base of a small pine tree.  The woman who hit me, or rather the woman who I hit, that’s neither here nor there, ran to the front door of the home whose lawn I lay in.  She and the women who lived there soon figured out who I was and called my Mom.  Fortunately the town was very small and everyone knew each other.

I was lucky; I had a pounding headache, a few bumps, bruises and scrapes but nothing major. When my mother arrived she loaded her knocked out son in the car and drove home. Whether this event gave me brain damage or not is still under review.

My mother believed that the solution to any illness was a warm washcloth and a good old fashion prayer. Believe it or not it works most of the time, and better than you might think.  Don’t get me wrong, my mother never withheld medical treatment from her children, she was had a lot of experienced when it came to childhood injuries. I was the fifth boy in our family of six boys and two girls. If she would have ran to the hospital every time there was an injury she would have lived there. She learned the difference between a hospital injury and a day in bed injury.

When I woke up the next day I didn’t remember a thing.  Although, my friend played the entire event back to me a hundred times, he kept telling me how cool it was to see me “superman” over the front end of the car, fly through the air and eat dirt next to the tree. I don’t know what got him more excited the fact that I almost died or that he won the race.  He had made it to the bottom of the hill, and I hadn’t therefore he claimed victory. This accident of course did not stop me from riding my bike; well it did for a little while due to the fact that my bike lost the battle between it and the car. This unfortunately was not the first near death bike accident and it as well would not be the last.

Unfortunately my mother had planned to have a big family picture taken the day following my superman experience.  You need to understand that getting our family ready for a portrait was not as easy as you might think.  There were eight of us… and not all of the boys were as well behaved and mannered as I.  Although even after my wreck there was no way I was getting out of the photo.  As my Mother said, “Come Hell or high water we will be there as a family”. I looked rather dazed, a little bruised, and had a few rocks and dried blood in my hair; but there I was in the happy family photo.