Oxygen is our most important nutrient and the delivery of it and release of carbon dioxide is frequently overlooked in healthcare discussions. Many American Cities now have oxygen levels in the high teens (18 percent while optimal is 21 percent oxygen in the air) due to pollution. When we
breath through our nose we get optimal levels of oxygen with some warming and filtering while activating our “rest digest and relax mode” (parasympathetic) and exchange 6 to 9 L per minute and thus keep our CO2 levels high enough in the blood to best release the oxygen to the cells. When we
breath through our mouth, we fail to activate parasympathetic but rather trigger the more stressful mode of sympathetic tone, and exchange 8 to 14 L per minute of air and lower our CO2 levels and make it more difficult to release oxygen at the cellular level. Optimal ATP energy production requires a ready supply of O2 so this is critical to keep our machine running smoothly. Keeping our nostrils clear and making them the default route for breathing while maintaining our room air clean and fresh cannot be ignored. When in doubt,
“Stay in your nose”.
This is our
second most important nutrient and I speak about it later as well. By now most of us have done a colonoscopy, and know how weak and frail we feel from the dehydration induced by the preparation and non-drinking period. Unfortunately, studies report that most of us spend
most of our time in a state of partial dehydration. We need to remember that all functions in the body work because of voltage differences between membranes managed by electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, and others. So replacement of pure water, may be inadequate and sometimes just carry good minerals out of the body to maintain balance. Unless one is a salt sensitive high blood pressure patient, start every day with high quality filtered tap-water and a good dose of added minerals/salts. Continue this hydration through the day and anytime you feel tired, mild headache or your urine looks too concentrated or dark yellow.
“I can sleep when I am dead!”. I regret that I said this many times in the past prior to “enlightenment”, and my lovely wife Lindsay reminds me of it. The argument I like is the anthropological one, namely; why would we spend 500 million years evolving to create an average of 8 hours sleep pattern if it wasn’t of high value. Humans risked predation, lost work or reproduction opportunities, to spend one-third of their 24 hour day in this sleep state. Sleep reduction
experiments show quickly how mental, physical, and immune function deteriorate quickly within a few days. The new book
“Why We Sleep” by Mathew Walker PHD clarifies why this passive practice is foundational to good health. Dr. Walker reports sleep is like a “ Swiss Army Knife that can fix most illness” and all “23 mental diagnosis have sleep disruption as a major symptom or possible cause”. One might even go as far to say: “Before one undergoes diagnosis for a mental or even physical disorder, and get labeled for life, attempt to fix the sleep first and see if the problem continues”. Sweet dreams.
More Information on Sleep >>
We need to
win in our head and heart and the body will follow. A growth oriented approach to life where curiosity is the baseline scores high on all happiness and longevity predictors. Many Buddhist traditions suggest we start to die when we lose our purpose and growth. I always tell the story on purpose and resiliency of the difference in tolerance to discomfort in the case of the man who is tied down and someone tortures him by burning his hands with a blow torch. How difficult this pain would be to manage verses the same man seeing his loved family member in a burning house and he responds by running in and carrying them out and burns his hands to the same level as the first scenario. In the second vignette the pain has meaning and he may not even of noticed it until his loved one was safe. We can grow and contribute at any age so make your list every morning and stay curious.
Fuel to create ready energy production without negative metabolic by-products (ROS-Reactive Oxidative Species) or long term mutational risk is the goal. The new term is “Metabolic Flexibility” or the ability to easily and efficiently burn stored fat and miss some meals while performing well and feeling good similar to our Paleolithic ancestors. There may be some truth to the concept that
one can eat or process only a certain amount of “food” in one’s life, and thus do it quickly in 45 years or stretch it out to 80 years. We will talk more about it later but remember it is more about the
quality or type of calories and the timing of intake of these products in our diurnal sleep-wake cycle than the total amount of calories. The crux to understanding nutrition and diet is paying attention to what impacts Insulin Growth Factor and thus Insulin and the down stream cascade that follows.
You cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet or poor sleep quality. The book
“Fit to Fat, Fat to Fit” by Drew Manning showed this principle well as a professional body builder who quit working out and ate poorly focusing on the Standard American Diet and witnessed all parameters of health fall apart and quickly developed depression and self doubt. After approximately 3 months he started working out hard again but he could not recover his prior fitness level until he started eating well again.
Exercise is not a tool to erase calories from our “intake bank” but rather an event to activate cellular messaging to trigger growth hormone, male sex hormones, brain growth factors ( Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) while elevating the metabolic rate. The good news is that we don’t need to spend too much time at the club or fitness center but need to make it “difficult" so the body or more granularly the mitochondria get the message to “get more efficient and stronger”. Even a
2-3 times per week 5-10 minute intense work-out before the morning shower blended with movement throughout the day will get one 80 percent of the results. Intensity trumps time exercising and mix it up with different machines and practices.
Body in motion stays in motion.