Wash Away Your Inflammation

 

Well, this is definitely just an introduction.

Inflammation in the body is sort of complicated. But I’m here to suggest that maybe we’ve been looking at it from the wrong perspective. Looking at the word itself we see that if something is inflamed it’s probably hot. Now, physicists and scientists, in particular, Gerald Pollack, have been showing some very curious distinctions between heat, temperature and higher energetic charge, but for the sake of my argument let’s stick with the existing consensus that these three things are relatively interchangeable. So back to the word inflammation, we can infer that if something’s inflamed it might be hotter, have a higher temperature, and transitively, have a higher positive charge.

What’s a higher positive charge look like? Cellular charge is, in my opinion, the beginning of biophysics. Higher positive charges equate to there being an excess of protons in the atoms of a cell. This is exactly what the new science of biophysics is showing us: inflamed cells have a higher positive charge than healthy cells.

Protons have a positive charge – electrons have a negative charge.

That’s literally all the physics you need to understand for this. While from a biochemical perspective, the human body is a closed system (calories in=calories out) it really leaves out a big part of the picture. Calories simply aren’t the only form of energy we absorb or expend. As it turns out, we really aren’t closed systems. From a physics perspective, or specifically, a biophysical perspective, we are quite open – open to our environments. Our bodies absorb radiant energy from the sun in particular, but all spectrum’s of light, as well as exchanging energy through our bare feet in contact with the earth. All it takes is those rubber soled insulators you stuff your feet in to close your system off from the ground. Ask any electrician how important it is to safely ground the wiring in your house and you’ll get a quick yes, it’s important. If too much positive charge builds up in an electrical system, problems arise quickly. Inflammatory conditions fall into perspective much more neatly when we recognize that our body’s are indeed open electrical systems. Taking this electrical energy into account through a perspective educated with simple physics, it becomes evident that no matter how much curcumin and bone broth you swallow, if your body doesn’t have access to a ground, eventually you’re going to build up a positive charge that it can’t balance.

Biochemistry is super complicated science. I’ve put in my time studying nutritional and digestive health, and believe me, it’s murky water. Biophysics isn’t much easier, and it’s unfortunately not getting the attention or funding it warrants. What is simple and abundantly clear to me is that we are indeed open systems. We collect positive charge (too many protons) from things like stress, light, exercise, or inflammatory foods, and because of the way we live our lives (disconnected from the earth) we accumulate this positive charge. If you’re reading between the lines, you’ll know that the point of this article is to showcase the electron. The electron is the negatively charged particle that you’re starving for. Think of it as the superfood of all superfoods if you will. Where are you getting electrons? Well, in part, from the food you eat, but more importantly, from the ground itself. Take your shoes off and put your barefeet on the ground, take maybe five minutes to breath, and you’ve radically changed the charge inside your whole body. Stuck inside? Moving water, in particular, cold moving water, carries an exceptionally strong negative charge (electrons). While anybody who knows me knows I love cold showers, you can reap the benefits of these balancing electrons simply by running cold water on your wrists. Yep, you can wash away inflammation.

If any of this peaks your interest, I couldn’t more strongly recommend you examine this meta analysis of “grounding” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/, followed by basically any podcast featuring Dr. Jack Kruse, or his website https://jackkruse.com/. Lastly, if you think the idea that water is electrically conductive and 99% of the molecules in your body are water is worth examining, read the Fourth Phase of Water by Gerald Pollack.

Welcome to biophysics.

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How often do you workout?

tired-gym-promoIn my experience there are essentially two types of people – those working out too much – and those who workout too little. “Too much” and “too little” however, deserve definitions. Nearly everything we do adds stress to our body’s which must be cleared during sleep. Exercise is stressful. Working out is particularly stressful because it’s a concentrated amount of movement in a short period of time. As I mentioned in a previous article – the autonomic nervous system (subconscious) works in two gears – sympathetic (expressing energy) – and parasympathetic (receiving energy). So what I really find in the majority of the athletes I work with is a sympathetic dominance – they express too much energy too often and therefore show signs of burnout, overtraining, under-recovering, etc. On the other side of the spectrum are those struggling to lose weight – their musculatures and nervous systems have forgotten how to express energy as quickly as they receive energy, and so they carry that energy as fat. While it’s possible that they exist in a parasympathetic state more often than not – simply being fat does not mean that you have no stress. Fat storage is actually a very common stress response – as the body enters shock mode it tries to meet that stressor with additional energy. The trouble here being that often times our stressors are not physical and do not require more calories. Enough about stress for now.

Just because working out is stressful doesn’t mean it’s going to have a negative effect on our health. Working out is a luxury – an expression of energy we have acquired because we are fortunate enough to live in a state of relatively strong food security. We train to acquire physical ability not yet possessed. This process is simple: work hard, rest, grow, repeat. Seeing it in this light, there are two pieces of advice I have for the two majorities I’ve found in the population. To all the gym goers and athletes, people already exercising consistently: if you’re training even just three times a week, but don’t look forward to your next workout, take more days off. If you don’t feel energized, chances are, you’re not done recovering. If the goal of your training is ultimately to improve your health, shouldn’t you be feeling healthier day to day?

To all the people who’ve done less than three intense workouts in the past two weeks: walk more. Walking is the activity which humans have evolved to spend the most time doing. While walking, neither your heart nor your muscles are taxed – but both are in motion. Body’s in motion stay in motion. Chances are if you consistently walk for an hour every evening, you’ll be feeling much more energized and fight less internal resistance on the way to the gym next time.

Finally, some general guidelines in terms of exercise frequency, assuming all outside life stressors are accounted for. High intensity cardiovascular exercise, or HIIT sessions are roughly on equal ground with a lower body weight training session. They tax your respiratory systems and musculatures, respectively, but both leave the nervous system shocked. For 90% of the population: make the days before and after such intense sessions considerably less demanding. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t remain in motion. If you’re looking to workout on these days, keep things less taxing in general. Think a low heart rate cardio session lasting no more than an hour. For the weight lifters: target your small muscle groups (arms and calves). Weekly, this means most people can recover from 3-4 intense sessions, and 2-3 gentler workouts. Keep energy balanced – keep growing stronger.

Making the Most of Your Meals

Have you ever wondered what determines your energy swings throughout the day? Our bodies do not and cannot stay in one gear all the time. While it is somewhat simplified, your has two primary states – and it wouldn’t be an oversimplification to call them yin and yang. The nervous system is sort of a transmission system for the body, and determines whether you will be in sympathetic or parasympathetic p. To put it simply, the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for all yang energy in the body – reaction to stress, physical movement, mental acuity, all are channelled through the sympathetic. This is the gear we want to be in when we exercise, when we focus on mental tasks – such as me writing this article – when we engage in sexual activity, more broadly – when we express ourselves. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the body’s yin energy. It is restorative, digestive, and receptive. You cannot actively be parasympathetic aside from one activity, meditation, and even then you might find your mind naturally arriving in a sympathetic state. Just because digesting is a trigger of parasympathetic hormones and processes does not mean that putting food in your mouth will start this response. So understanding this, here’s some tips to make sure that your meals are maximally restorative, and best digested.

 

  1. Calm down. I don’t care how hungry you are, food is nearly guaranteed to us here in the first world, your muscles will not disappear, your stomach will not eat itself. If something else is stressing you out, try taking a brisk stroll before sitting down to eat.
  2. Move more. Aside from sitting to eat, and resting to digest, we are meant to be bodies in motion, more hours out of the day than not. Moving more will increase your daily caloric expenditure, improve your hormonal profile, and trigger a greater restorative response from food. You’ve gotta spend some time expressing yourself, burning energy, in order to create a demand for restoration.
  3. Stay hydrated. Both movement and a lack of movement, in and around meals, demands more water. Exercise, aerobic and anaerobic, disturbs homeostasis, and water is the only thing which can wash you back to baseline. Things which claim to alkalize your digestive system or your cells will never compare to the healing properties of water, it’s the solvent of the whole planet.
  4. Sit down. Sitting allows more blood to return to the abdomen and relaxes the muscles of the low back, which are primary signallers of stress response. It is difficult to enter a parasympathetic state while your muscles are still working against gravity.
  5. Breathe deeply, and exhale your stress. Putting your conscious thought behind nothing but breathing has been well studied to promote restfulness, lower all markers of stress, and in short, trigger the parasympathetic. Deep breathing before a meal will help stimulate the contraction of smooth muscle in the intestines, clearing the way to absorb more nutrients.
  6. Chew your food. This one shouldn’t require much explanation – your stomach doesn’t have teeth!  Digestion begins in the mouth with enzymes released in your saliva.
  7. Don’t drink anything! Drinking stimulates gastric emptying, and blood, along with water in your body, is pulled away from the digestive system – think of it as a flushing signal. Drinking water with a meal or while food remains in your stomach cuts short the time your stomach needs to break down food into workable pieces for the small intestine to absorb. With food in your stomach, you want to maximize abdominal blood flow and minimize muscular exertion – think conserving energy. Make sure you give your stomach at least 15 minutes after the last bite before you start sipping anything.
  8. Watch out for coffee. Coffee is really amazing stuff, and the only pre-workout I’ll ever use. That being said, it has the potential to absolutely wreak havoc on your digestive system. Caffeine is a stimulant, and stimulants stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, draw blood away from the digestive system, and put tension in the muscles of the low back and legs. Bottom line – drink coffee on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, or with small quantities of the lightest foods – think light vegan eating with coffee. Fresh fruit, honey, or coconut oil mixed right into your java are all acceptable, but of course add calories which will need to be burnt before you start mining those fat stores. Is it ok to drink coffee after a meal? Yes, but wait 3 hours at least.
  9. Eat significant meals. Nobody lost weight eating like a bird. The metabolism slows to a crawl and the body starts turning muscle protein into vital organ tissue. When you do sit down to eat, make sure you’re getting at least a third of your daily protein, along with some carbohydrates or fat. All three together do have some drawbacks, but nothing significant. You’re eating now with an intent to rest and repair, make sure you’re supplying a good portion of necessary materials to fuel this recovery.
  10. Always stop before you feel full. You don’t want a meal to be so large that it expands your stomach so much that it puts pressure on the other internal organs. Also, you only really have so much stomach acid, meaning there is a maximum amount of food your stomach can actually break down and make available at any given time. Lunch is indisputably when will be able to digest the most.

Keeping all of this in mind, understand that eating might take more time than you previously allowed, and so I recommend you plan time for eating into your days. As stressful and overfilled our modern lifestyle tends to be, eating should be a break, enjoy it!

Quality and Consistency for Everybody

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My name is Liam Pinson, I’m a personal trainer at Optimal Self Community Health and Wellness Center on Congress Street. I work with clients specifically on correcting their movement patterns and creating a foundation for stronger, functional movement.

Depending on who you ask, and who you are – exercise can’t be too easily summed up. Within the industry, we love to debate the nitty gritty details of the “best” programming – what exercises, how many days per week, the duration of your rest intervals – but all of these factors inevitably will depend upon the personal goals of the client – and the personal opinion of the trainer. This isn’t an article like the one’s you’ve probably seen – “five new moves to a six pack” “ten diet mistakes you didn’t know you were making” because those articles (I’ve read almost every single one) can’t take into consideration your current position, your habits, and your body. Every good question I’m asked about exercise and nutrition inevitably turns into a small evaluation of the person’s current routines and program – because I can’t just give people a single answer without understanding the other factors involved. When I realized this problem that just about every exercise recommendation runs into – I began to wonder what things can apply across the board – to every human being – to every type of exercise – to every kind of athlete.

These are the two I’ve come across – Quality and Consistency. When I talk about quality I mean quality of movement – taking the time to make sure your form is flawless. Whether it’s the depth on your squat, the wobbly point in your transition between warrior two and three, or your footstrike while you jog – you owe it to your joints to make sure that you’re using your muscles the right way – every single time. Remember – one good rep is worth ten flailing ones – even if you have to use half the weight you normally do. This can mean a lot of work, unlearning flawed movement patterns (we all have them) asking for help and spotters, and maybe reevaluating your exercises entirely, but your joints will thank you. Your muscles are designed to move your body in movements which your joints can handle – if you’re experiencing joint pain – I’m willing to bet part of your musculature isn’t working right. Fix this, now.

When you take the time to really learn the most anatomically friendly movement patterns for your exercise, the second factor comes much more readily. The best program is worthless unless you keep showing up. By protecting your joints through mindful movement you significantly increase the chance you’re able to show up for your next workout. Don’t pick up a program and drop it after a week – don’t drop it after a month – drop it once you reached the goals you set for yourself at the beginning. Identify the things in your life which convince you not to workout – stressful jobs, relationships, children who keep you up, can all be serious obstacles. I’m not telling you to quit your job and abandon your families to get a pump – just identify the scenarios which add up to missing a workout and see what you can do about that. It might mean waking up earlier to dodge traffic, it might mean packing extra food to keep your energy up by the time 5:30 rolls around, just remember – if it were easy, you would have already done it.

So next time you’re wondering what your program is missing, why you aren’t seeing the results you want, take a moment and make sure you’ve really got your quality of movement and consistency locked down.