Posts tagged sleep
Your Daily Detox
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Detox programs abound left and right.  All over social media you’ll find celebrity endorsed juice cleanses and diets suggesting they are THE answer to those last, stubborn 5 pounds stuck to you like an over-jealous boyfriend or the remedy to that feeling of endless exhaustion no matter how much sleep you seem to get.  Want the real deal?  Keep reading!


Ilfede / istockphoto

Ilfede / istockphoto

True, we are living in a toxin-saturated world.  Think of the pesticide-sprayed lawns we walk by every day, the chemical-laden products we use on our skin and hair, the chemicals leached from the plastic container last-night’s take out was delivered in and the seat on the airplane (or your child’s pj’s for that matter) drenched in flame retardant.  These are only a few examples.  We are currently estimated by scientists to have over 700 contaminants rummaging around in our bodies.  As we accumulate these toxins such as heavy metals (ex. lead and mercury), chemicals (ex. parabens and pesticides), air-borne pollutants, they lovingly embed themselves in our tissues, primarily fat, as well as in our brains and bones.  What happens when we couple all of this with the ever-persistent onslaught of stress of modern day living, the lack of proper sleep and full-range, frequent movement?  Our bodies internal detoxification mechanisms - the liver, the kidneys, the gallbladder, the skin and even the respiratory system - don’t stand much of a chance.


Do juices and detox diets work? 

True, detox juices usually contain several herbs and vegetables such as cilantro, milk thistle, dandelion, garlic, and chlorella that do indeed work to gently pull toxins from the body – same for many of these detoxing diets and can be wonderful as part of a maintenance protocol.  However, they fall short of a full, true detox protocol.  Why?  While they help your body to release toxins from tissues, they generally do not contain any binding agents to properly flush them from your body.  These toxins end up circulating the body and getting reabsorbed.  This often exacerbate the situation, sometimes making the symptoms much worse.  Examples of some binding agents are charcoal and various types of clay. 


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If you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to move the needle in the right direction or you feel worse after a juice cleanse or detox diet, there are a handful of comprehensive detox systems in the market today that might be more effective.  They usually need to be supervised by an experienced physician (usually a functional medicine, naturopathic or alternative medicine practitioner).  If you want more info on this, send us an email.  

Some signs you may need a deeper detox include: brain fog, hormone imbalances, thyroid issues, diabetes, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, weight-loss resistance, autism, autoimmune diseases and even cancer. 


On the sunnier side of things, there are ways to minimize exposure to toxins – and they are simple and inexpensive (mostly).  Here are our top 13 detox tips:

1.  CHOOSE YOUR FOOD WISELY.  Whenever possible, choose organically grown and locally grown food, high quality grass-fed meats, and wild, well sourced seafood.  Avoid inflammatory seed and vegetable oils at all costs.  Gut nourishing foods such as cleanly sourced collagen and fermented foods also help fortify good gut bacteria which in turn will down-regulate inflammation and help heal the gut which will help protect you from toxic elements. 

2.  DON’T CHOOSE FOOD AT ALL.  I am talking about water fasts, and not necessarily prolonged ones.  Periods of not eating allow for the body’s own cell-cleaning mechanism, known as autophagy, to take place.  Studies have shown that the magic number of hours to fast seems to be 16 hours.  In other words, eat your last bite of the night at 8pm and don’t ingest any calories until 12pm the next day.  Another option would be to eat 2-3 meals, breakfast, lunch and even dinner if you choose and simply make sure to finish your last bite 16 hours before the next meal.  For example, be done by 4pm and eat breakfast at 8am.  Water, black coffee and tea are fine while fasting.  The key is to avoid any calories, including supplements.  

3.  WATER.  Drink lots of water and always be sure that is filtered from fluoride, a known neuro-toxin, pesticides, chlorine and other harmful, potential endocrine disruptors.  Solid block carbon filters or reverse osmosis filters work well, although they can be costly.  Alternatively, and even better if you have access, opt for a clean source of natural spring water.  Here is a link to find one near you.  Avoid water bottled in plastic!

4.  AIR.  Invest in a high quality air filter with the ability to remove chemicals and allergens.  We use a Molekule filter and love it.  It destroys air pollutants such as VOCs, allergens, mold spores, bacteria and viruses and looks pretty snazzy to boot.

5.  AVOID PLASTICS.  Bring your own glass or stainless steel containers to restaurants if you normally bring home leftovers.  Replace any straws with glass or stainless steel ones.  Stay away from plastic bottles and storage containers.  In a pinch, plastics #2, 4 and 5 are the best options.

6.  MOVE MOVE MOVE.  Movement helps keep moving toxins out of the body.  HIIT training, bouncing on a mini-trampoline (or rebounding) are ideal.  As a bonus, quick and intense movement first thing in the morning for about 3-5 minutes helps move the toxins that have built up in your body while lying still and will reset your circadian clock…which leads to the next tip!

7.  SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP.  This could be one of the most important tips of the bunch!  This is the body’s processing and detoxing time in the spotlight.  The brain uses this opportunity to clean house, create memories, and un-gunk the mind of any plaque build-up.  In addition, it improves mood, immune function and mental and physical performance.

8.  DRY SAUNA and PHOTOBIOMODULATION (infrared light) THERAPY.  These are the priciest suggestions of the bunch, but well worth looking into.  Just a few times a week in a sauna for a mere 11 minutes will have a tremendous impact on the mobilization of toxins through the skin.  While not usually thought of as such, the skin has a high fat content, and as mentioned above, fat is a prime hiding location for toxins.  Photobiomodulation is a therapy involving specific wavelengths of light applied to areas of the body to improve functioning of that particular tissue.  This type of therapy has a profound effect on energy metabolism.  We use the Joovv.

9.  STRESS-LESS.  Meditate, get outside and balance your circadian rhythm, laugh, and hug someone.  Hemp oil, adaptogenic herbs, medicinal mushrooms are examples of things that can be helpful.  (We've written much more about hemp oil in the past, so we won't go into it here).   Stress inhibits our ability to detox.  When we are in fight-or-flight mode, our energies go towards surviving.  As an example, you wouldn’t worry about cleaning the house if it were on fire. 

10.  COVER your skin as much as possible when on an airplane to avoid contact with the flame retardant-ridden seat.

11.  DRESS CLEANLY.  Be aware of clothing sprayed with flame retardant and/or other toxic chemicals.  Children's pajamas are notorious for this.  While we do not want our children catching on fire in their beds, what are the chances?  The risk of exposure to noxious chemicals is much worse in our opinion.

12.  UNCOVER your skin.  Allow your skin to receive regular doses of sun before applying a non-chemical laden sunscreen.  The benefits of sunlight reach far beyond vitamin D…benefits a supplement cannot possibly capture! 

13.  POOP.  Our bodies are designed to get rid of wastes and pooping at least once a day is critical for eliminating toxins.  If you have trouble, take a look at your fiber intake and make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day.  Stress can also get in the way.  If you are looking for a supplement, magnesium helps with both stress and to loosen the bowels!

Bonus Tip:  Learn some breathing exercises to help with detoxification.  The Wim Hof Method is one of our favorites. 

Incorporate these strategies in your daily life, keep your body as free of toxins as possible and live an overall much happier and healthier life! 

(Full disclosure:  We are affiliates of a few of these brands listed above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  Rest assured, we honestly wouldn't be recommending them if we didn't believe in them)!

Why Sleep Matters
 
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At the risk of boring you into a gaping, wide-mouth yawn (pun intended) with all our talk of sleep, it's extremely underrated ability to heal and maintain overall health compels us...obligates us to share more.  

Why is it so important?  

  1. Sleep supports healthy brain function including memory, cognition, concentration, productivity and performance.  It also decreases the chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.
  2. Proper sleep helps manage blood sugar and blood pressure.
  3. It regulates appetite and could help with weight loss.  A University of Chicago study compared two groups of people on the same calorie-restricted diet and exercise regimen.  The adequate sleep group experienced a 55% increase in weight loss when compared to the sleep deprived.
  4. Sleep is a massively underutilized anti-aging strategy.  We all know the phrase "beauty sleep".  Well, it is real.  Our bodies (including the skin - our largest organ) recover during sleep.  It is when new collagen is made and when the skin repairs itself from environmental stressors from products and polluted air and over sun exposure.
  5. Lack of sleep can precipitate a long list of diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few.

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Why are we (as a general population) sleep-deprived?

  1. Since the dawn of electricity, we've learned how to extend our waking hours drastically.  Back in the day, all we had in terms of lighting beyond dusk was fire.  Today, our options are limitless.  Our natural rhythms are highly sensitive to light, especially those that are bright and blue.  This has disrupted our innate ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. 
  2. We are ever-flooded with distractions ranging from the internet, 24 hour accessibility through text messages, and television.  Our nervous systems are in a constant state of stimulation, making it difficult to focus, calm our monkey minds and wind down in the evenings.
  3. Our sleeping environments are poor.  Our bedrooms are no longer just for sleep.  They are charging stations, work stations, movie theaters, etc, and are often lit by street lights, power lights and charger lights.  In the presence of these lights, the receptors in our skin signal our bodies to stay awake.
  4. Working out and eating too late in the day.  Our bodies are over-heated and revved up to get the unwind, relax and-sleep wheels in motion.  

How can we mimic the perfect sleep our ancestors experienced back when there was no artificial light and no electricity to disrupt our natural rhythms and allow us to keep going all night long?  

We are here to be the bridge between now and then.  

  1. Shawn Stevenson, sleep specialist and author of Sleep Smarter writes, "...a great night of sleep begins the moment you wake up in the morning.  Exposure to direct sunlight and 5-10 minute of early morning heart-rate elevating exercise with help you sleep better in the evening.   It increases sleep cycle efficiency and decreases nighttime cortisol.
  2. As soon as the sun sets, limit evening artificial light and especially blue-light from all screens, including television.  If you must be on your computer for work, download blue blocking software such as F.LUX or IRIS, and/or wear blue blocking glasses.  Definitely stay off social media.  The search-and-discovery effects of social media provide small hits of dopamine, putting your body in a more alert state.  Keep the lights dim and maybe even eat dinner over candlelight!   
  3. Consistency is key.  Whether weekday, weekend or holiday, preserve your circadian rhythm by maintaining the same bed and wake up time.  This has everything to do with your body's natural ability to produce melatonin.  Melatonin is one of the hormones responsible for helping you fall and stay asleep throughout the night.  
  4. Turn your bedroom into a cozy-bat-cave, cool and dark.  Our body temperature naturally lowers at night as a means of energy conservation.  It uses that energy to support sleep functions.  If you are too warm, the body redirects some of that energy to keeping you cool, thereby disrupting your sleep.  Scientists say somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees fahrenheit is the ideal sleeping temperature.  With regards to light, any tiny bit, even the tiny lights flashing from smoke detectors, can interfere with sleep.  It increases core temperature and effects melatonin release.  Our skin has light receptors, so while sleep masks help, but don't fully do the trick.  Ideally, there is zero light in the room.  
  5. Breathwork as you are falling asleep is often helpful to calm the nervous system.  Try box breathing (4 counts in, 4 counts hold, 4 counts out, 4 counts hold),  4-7-8 breathing (4 counts in, 7 counts hold, 8 counts out), or a 1:2 ratio inhale to exhale.
  6. Show your soft tissues some love to help increase parasympathetic nervous system dominance.  While we'd all love a pre-bedtime personal massage, a simple 5 minute foam rolling session or CARS (controlled articular rotations) also do the trick.  For more information about CARS, send Gregg a note!
  7. Avoid alcohol in the evening.  Alcohol raises core body temperature, again, causing the body to work extra hard to cool off instead of focusing on sleep functions.  This often causes disrupted, restless sleep.  It also interferes with REM sleep, which is crucial for memory consolidation and processing.
  8. Essential oils are often helpful to induce a sleep.  Diffuse calming scents such as lavender into your bedroom at bedtime.  Learn an aroma-accu-point calming protocol (send Fatima a note to learn more about this).
  9. Supplement with magnesium.  Magnesium is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body including the functioning of GABA receptors in the brain.  GABA is a neurotransmitter that allows the brain to transition to a state of rest.  For several reasons we won't get into right now, most of us are deficient in magnesium.  Ideas for supplementation include Natural Calm by Natural Vitality and Magnesium baths and body oils (we like the ones called Ancient Minerals by Enviromedica).
  10. Doc Parsley's Sleep Remedy, developed by a Navy Seal doctor, is wonderful help if you are truly having trouble sleeping.  (Use code cookbooks for a 10% discount)
  11. CBD, or cannabidiol is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant and is associated with several therapeutic benefits.  In addition to being an anti-inflammatory, it has the ability to calm and reduce pain.  CBD does not include the THC, or "high" inducing portion of the plant and is legal in all 50 states and for centuries has been used medicinally as a sleep aid.

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Experiment this week with some early morning quick HIIT sessions and see how it affects your sleep.  Want some ideas?

  1. 10 kettlebell swings followed by 10 burpees, 3 x through.
  2. 10 jump squats, followed by 10 push ups, 3 x through.
  3. 4 30-second sprints with 30-seconds of rest between each on a stationary bike or rebounder.
  4. On a nice day, take a quick run around the block.  The exposure to early morning light gets you double points!

Let us know how you feel!


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Speaking of sleep...want to experience true restorative and restful sleep?  We've built it in to our retreat in Mallorca, Spain in September.  Join us.  There are only a few spots remaining!  For more information and to sign up, click HERE.

 

*Full disclosure:  While we make a small profit from the affiliate links above, these are products we personally use and have benefitted from.  We will never endorse anything we do not fully believe in.  

Sneak Peek into the Week #3

Hi All,

Here is our list of interests/learnings/ponderings for the week.  Enjoy, and as always, we love your feed back so let us know if you enjoyed this post.

 

 
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OUR OBSESSION:

Sleep - getting enough as well as good quality.  The more we learn, the more interested we become.  Why such a fascination?  Well...a short blurb directly out of the book Gregg has been reading, Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker, sums it up pretty well. 

"Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer.  It enhances your memory and makes you more creative.  It makes you look more attractive.  It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings.  It protects you from cancer and dementia.  It wards off colds and the flu.  It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes.  You'll feel happier, less depressed and less anxious.  Are you interested?"

He is referring to sleep, of course.

Six simple ways to help you get more and better sleep are:

  1. Keep your room on the cooler side.  
  2. Turn off all screens, ideally 2 hours before bedtime.  If you must use a screen, invest in blue blocking glasses.
  3. Create a sleep cave out of your room.  Cover up any and every light in your room, including small rays of light coming in from the streets, lights from alarm clocks, smoke alarms, etc.  (These tiny pre-cut light blocking stickers are really helpful).
  4. Avoid alcohol before bed.  It takes your body hours to process alcohol and get it out of your system and it WILL disrupt your sleep, so save drinking for special occasions.
  5. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it every day including weekends.
  6. Get outside in natural sunlight at least 30 minutes a day to help regulate daily sleep patterns.  If you can, make it first thing in the morning. 

FOOD EXPLORATION CONTINUED:

 
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Our Okinawan exploration continues.  (The soba noodle soup was AMAZING, by the way.  Sorry, it was gobbled up before I could snap any pictures.  Email us if you'd like the recipe we used (I made noodles from scratch but some good alternatives are available at Thrive Market or even Amazon).  

Next, we tried a little something to satisfy the sweet tooth, Imo Custard.  Though not very sweet at all, by "normal" standards, we really enjoyed this recipe.  We tried it as written below, and also substituting the sweetener completely with a bit of cinnamon, which changed the flavor profile, but was equally enjoyable...even by 9 year old taste buds.  

Imo Custard (Okinawan sweet potato dessert)

  • 4-6 Okinawan Sweet Potatoes or Purple Yams, peeled boiled and mashed
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar (we used maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • Milk (cow, coconut or nut milk) as needed

Blend all ingredients until creamy, adding milk to get to desired consistency.

Another helpful takeaway from the Okinawan culture is the concept of Hara hachi bun me (腹八分目/はらはちぶんめ), (or hara hachi bu).  As Okinawa has the highest proportion of centenarians in the world, its worth paying some attention to.  What exactly is hara hachi bu?  It is a Confucian teaching that translates to "belly 80 percent full".  Of course this is relative and difficult to quantify, but is simply a wonderful reminder to eat slowly and reap the benefits of chewing your food well, being present and expressing gratitude during mealtime.


MOVEMENT OF THE WEEK:

Dead Hang Plus.  Add on to the dead hang from last week and try lifting your chest and squeezing your shoulder blades down and back while hanging.  Hold strongly for a few seconds before releasing and repeating.  Note that the movement should come from the shoulder girdle, not your arms.  Keep your elbows straight. 


FINAL WORDS:

Inspired by Gabby Reece, my super-hero role model, we, as a family, have declared February a No-Complaining Month.  According to research, less complaining = better mood + increased happiness and mindfulness.  It's only day 5, but the effects are REAL.  It's a great exercise in taking a pause before speaking, and also rethinking and perhaps editing the way we express ourselves.  We are each holding each other as accountability partners, just in case we begin to slide down the complaining rabbit hole.  Join us.  You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

Have a great week!

 

 

Sneak Peek into the Week #2
 
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Hello Evolutionaries!  We hope the weekend has been relaxing and fulfilling.  Here's what we're upto this week.

WHAT WE ARE READING:

  • Auggie and Me by R.J. Palacio.  We are fortunate enough to have a 9 year old daughter who reads like its going out of style.  This is her recommendation.  I haven't gotten to it yet, but if the first book, Wonder (now also a major motion picture), is any indication, it will be well worth the investment in time.  Heartfelt and well written book about empathy, kindness and being human.  
  • Farmocology: Total Health from the Ground Up by Daphne Miller (who wrote the book we were reading last week, Jungle Effect).  An interesting investigation into biodynamic farming and its relationship to health and medicine.  Definitely a fresh perspective.
  • Why We Sleep, Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker
  • Did anyone read this article in the NY Times this week?  It's an interesting look into friendship and its relationship to health and also offers up some tips on how to nurture our connections.

MOVEMENTS OF THE WEEK:

  • Dead Hang.  Why?  Several reasons.  Spinal decompression, decreasing the risk for back injury, posture correction, grip, rotator cuff, shoulder, forearm and wrist strength, core stability.  You can do this from any overhanging bar.  We keep a pull up bar in our doorway and hang throughout the day.  Start with 30 seconds at a time and gradually work your way up to 90-120 seconds.   Before attempting this, make sure you've nailed your form.  Here is a good reference.  
  • Post Dinner Dance Party.  Research shows that easy movement immediately after a meal has been shown to help lower blood glucose levels.  This could be a 20 minute walk or for us, a family post-meal dance party.  

FOOD EXPLORATION:

  • Okinawan Cuisine:  Taking a page from The Jungle Effect, we decided to experiment with traditional Okinawan fare this month.  We are starting with Soba Noodle Soup with homemade fermented sprouted einkorn noodles...a mouthful both literally and figuratively, and adventurous undertaking indeed!  We will post the recipe and pictures soon.  Know any recipes we should try next?  PLEASE SHARE!

The first month of 2018 is just about over.  How are you doing with your resolutions?  If you've fallen off the bandwagon or find your enthusiasm quickly waning, you are not alone.  Apparently, 80% of resolutions fail by February.  Habits are extremely difficult to change and our resolutions are often too grand to allow for any changes in neurological wiring and therefore have little staying power.  So, how can we make change happen and stick?  Let's look at a few effective habit changing strategies.

1. Think small.  Small changes are surmountable and sustainable.  Small successes are gratifying and can cultivate the path to more change.

2. Set up goals.  For example, if you're looking to incorporate more exercise into your day, instead of resolving to visit the gym 5 days a week, resolve to being able to increase the number of push ups you are able to do per day from say, 20-100 in six months.

3. Establish some type of accountability.  Depending on your tendency and whether you respond to inner or outer accountability, you may need to get a friend, join a club or invest in a program to help stick to your goals.

4. Create a morning routine.  We've talked a bit about the importance of morning routines, and their role in getting things done.  Our will power is strongest in the earlier par to the day and decreases throughout the day.  By harnessing will power in the morning and setting the day up properly, we are more likely to follow through on our commitments.

5. Lastly, consider hiring a coach!

Enjoy the week friends!  Findings from the books we've been reading coming up next.  We'll also be posting some Superbowl pre-game strategies and recipes later this week.  Stay tuned.