Most people go through each day without giving their gastrointestinal system, often called the gut, much thought at all. However, if they knew that this part of the body had so much power over their physical, emotional and mental health and well-being, they may pay more attention. If you have yet to get familiar with your gut, consider these facts you may find surprising as well as methods for boosting a healthy GI tract.
It Holds Majority of Immune System
Did you know that 80 percent of the body’s immune system is found within your gastrointestinal tract? As Well + Good explained, the root cause of catching a cold can be traced back to digestion. Though it may be surprising, the answer to boosting your immunity begins by taking care of your digestive system and keeping bacteria levels in the gut healthy.
Author and certified nutritional consultant Brenda Watson explained to the source that when your gut is healthy, it informs the immune system, which translates to you feeling nourished, energized and relatively good overall. On the other hand however, when the microbes in your gut are unable to rid the body of toxins and pathogens, it signals a warning to the immune system – which can leave you feeling under the weather.
It’s Called “The Second Brain”
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the common phrase about going with your gut instinct may have more of a literal meaning that one may think. Researchers have observed a connection between gastrointestinal complications and conditions such as depression and anxiety, leading them to believe that the gut within our digestive system is actually acting as a second brain. This means that there is much more to mental health and digestion than is commonly thought.
“The gut is considered your second brain.”
Though it cannot think for itself, this second brain interacts and exchanges information with the brain in our heads on a regular basis, Dr. Jay Pasricha, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology and one of the leading researchers on the concept, explained.
As our Hallelujah Diet health experts have previously reported, your gut has a big impact on how you’re feeling emotionally. In fact, it provides the body with more than 95 percent of its serotonin – a chemical known to improve moods. A number of hormones are managed from the second brain as well.
It Can Influence Fat Storage
Your gut plays a role in nearly all areas of your health, which is why it may not be all that surprising to learn it can also impact your weight – though perhaps not in the way you may think. According to Nutritious Life, the GI tract needs to manage a healthy balance of both good and bad bacteria at all times. When the bad bacteria starts to overpower the good, it can cause excess fat to be stored. This can be extremely frustrating for those trying yet unable to understand why they can’t shake the last few pounds.
It Loves Probiotics
As our health experts explained, most regularly functioning guts hold close to 3 1/2 pounds of bacteria at one time. Most Americans, especially those following the Standard American Diet, do not get enough probiotics on a regular basis. One of the best ways to include more probiotics into your diet is with fermented foods such as tempeh, sauerkraut and kefir. As Nutritious Life explained, you may also consider adding prebiotics to your diet. Non-digestible or partially digestible fibers that fuel the good bacteria, prebiotics can be found in bananas, garlic and sunchokes.
When you take care of your gut, you take care of your entire health.
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Mark Rippetoe answers questions from Starting Strength Radio fans on specializing in the bench, the trap bar and its use in the Army CFT, old school strongman lifts, and other topics.
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Daniel DeBrocke is a strength and conditioning coach who primarily works with powerlifters and is an educator who works hard to share his knowledge without asking for anything in return. As a competitive powerlifter, he holds a 1700 lbs raw total. DeBrocke has also written Is Lifting Heavy Weight Important For Building Muscle Size? among other great articles on Breaking Muscle.
In this episode we discuss:
- How he took himself from 165 to 286 pounds
- How beginners can gain muscle most efficiently
- How advanced lifters should sequence their training for optimal progress
- Pivot blocks, strategic variation, developing work capacity, and a whole lot more
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All that you have ever experienced, will ever experience, all the exercises or personal bests you have ever pulled off have started and ended in your brain.
All movement, skill, thought, and everything that makes you, you is encompassed in this 3lb organ.
- How does your brain know what to do at any given moment?
- How does your brain gather information?
- And of the information it gathers, how does it decide what to do with it?
- More importantly, does the way your brain gathers information and what it does with it have an effect on your training, performance or recovery?
You bet your arse it does!
Now, this isn’t a neurology lecture but before we get into how important the way your brain gathers information is and how to improve it, we need to, in a very basic way understand how the brain works.
Your brain uses sensory inputs to gather information. These sensors receive input and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and the central nervous system (CNS) sends these signals to the brain which then basically decides the action and then creates motor output relevant to whatever was decided.
At a very basic level that’s it.
The brain has three ways to gather information or inputs:
- Exteroception: monitoring the outside world
- Interoception: bodily awareness and feelings
- Proprioception: awareness of the body and limbs in space
These inputs are then integrated together to build and update the brain’s map of everything. Of you, the world around you and how you are moving through it. The brain updates previous experiences, senses, and predictive processes to make decisions that drive the body’s actions.
Now that we broadly understand how the brain does things, we need to figure out why it does them.
Well, the answer to that one is easy: survival.
Your brain’s goal is to keep you alive. Full stop. Not keep you alive ten years from now but right now, today.
How it does this is through prediction. Our brains are masters at pattern recognition. Every second of every day the 120 billion neurons in the brain are processing information based on previous experience to predict outcomes to actions, this is your brain using pattern recognition to decide actions.
There is a hierarchy to the inputs your brain uses to move through the world:
If these sensory inputs match (i.e. there is clear information from all three systems and there is good integration in the brain) your brain will allow you to function well and perform when it matters. Whether that’s CrossFit, powerlifting, or just picking something up of the floor.
When there is a mismatch is when we run into problems. If there is bad information informing the brain maps and pattern recognition abilities, then I am afraid it is going to try to limit the chances of death—usually by generating pain to draw attention or inhibiting movement.
In this article, I am going to focus on exercises to improve your visual system as 70-90% of all sensory input is visual.
The Role of Vision
There are two classifications of vision in humans:
- Gaze stabilization: A foundational element of all other eye movements and allows us to see objects and to interpret the visual scene to create perception.
- Gaze shifting: This allows us to keep the focus on a moving target. Think that ball hurtling towards your face on the pitch.
There could be any number of things affecting these two patterns and hindering your visual system, which in turn could be dramatically holding your performance back without you even knowing it.
The key to training your visual system for performance is training the musculature of the eyes to function correctly. After all, poor muscular function will cause problems in gaze shifting and gaze stabilization.
We are going to cover one drill for stabilization and one for shifting. Reference my video for a demonstration of each drill.
I recommend you record yourself performing the drill and watch it back to see how you perform. That way, you can adjust accordingly.
Drill 1: Gaze Stabilization
- Stand in a neutral stance.
- Hold a target (pen) at arm’s length directly in front of you. Stare at the target for 30 seconds.
- You must remain focused on the target because an inability to do gaze stabilization usually means very small, fast movements of the eyes off the target and then back onto it.
- When watching yourself back try to notice excessive facial tension, eyelid flutter, excessive blinking, or watering of the eyes as you attempt to keep focus on the target.
- Once you have performed this assessment in a neutral position, you will then perform the same test in each of the other four positions. Up, right, left and down.
- Take special note, as it is highly likely that you will find one or more positions in which you struggle with your gaze stabilization.
- It is vital that the target remains in focus at all times. If it goes out of focus reduce the distance away from neutral, you hold it.
- Do this drill three times through each position.
Drill 2: Gaze Shifting
Stand in a neutral stance holding a pen out in front of you in a neutral position.
Try to smoothly follow the pen as you move it from neutral into one of the eight positions below and then back to neutral:
- Up and Right
- Up and Left
- Down and Right
- Down and Left
You should repeat this test three times in each of the eight positions. You will be looking for two things when you watch the drill back:
- Excessive body sway.
- Badly coordinated movement of the eyes. This will usually be seen as a ratcheting or jumping type of motion that stops them from smoothly following the target.
Each of these can indicate poor visual-motor control.
Get Your Vision Straight
The aim of these drills is to get your eyes functioning properly so the information your brain gets is as clear as possible. That way your brain won’t be afraid to let you move fully in all of your available ranges of motion.
Remember, when the brain can predict, you can perform.
1. Gaymard, B., & Pierrot-Deseilligny, C. (1999). Neurology of saccades and smooth pursuit. Current Opinion in Neurology.
2. Hughes, A. E. (2018). Dissociation between perception and smooth pursuit eye movements in speed judgments of moving Gabor targets. Journal of Vision.
3. Ingster-Moati, I., Vaivre-Douret, L., Bui Quoc, E., Albuisson, E., Dufier, J. L., & Golse, B. (2009). Vertical and horizontal smooth pursuit eye movements in children: A neuro-developmental study. European Journal of Paediatric Neurology.
4. Krauzlis, R. J., Goffart, L., & Hafed, Z. M. (2017). Neuronal control of fixation and fixational eye movements. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
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Q: I want to lose as much weight as possible as fast as I can, but I’ve heard that can be bad for your health or even dangerous. How much weight loss is too much, too fast?
Losing weight is hard and requires patience, so it’s understandable that people in our society are obsessed with losing weight as fast as possible, even at the expense of their own health in some instances. And the dramatic weight-loss stories on popular shows like “Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Weight Loss” don’t help, falling well short of teaching average people about healthy weight loss.
For healthy, lasting weight loss, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) recommends losing 1-2 pounds per week, max. Anything significantly more than that is considered too fast and can lead to all sorts of negative health issues. Some people need to go even slower, aiming for a pound or two a month.
The only exception is during the first 7-10 days of a new diet and exercise program, when it’s common to see rapid weight loss. Much of that is water weight, though, not necessarily body-fat loss.
What Happens When You Lose Weight Too Fast?
Several things, actually, and none of them good:
- Weight loss actually becomes harder. You’ll lose lean muscle mass, lowering your metabolism and calorie-burning ability. Meanwhile, you’ll be crazy hungry, making sticking to your diet extra hard.
- You’ll potentially rack up nutritional deficiencies such as a lack of iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, leading to hair loss, weak and brittle bones, and impaired immune function. You’ll be more susceptible to injuries and illnesses that keep you out of the gym.
- Other symptoms you can experience include extreme fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, severe irritability, poor sleep, and diarrhea.
In short, trying to fast-track weight loss makes it harder than it needs to be, sets you up for failure, and damages your health in the process. This is why most crash or fad diets result in an initial dramatic weight loss followed by gaining the weight back and more.
Most “Biggest Loser” contestants who lost an extreme amount of weight didn’t keep it off a year later, but it’s not their fault! Many of them ended up heavier than they started and are still experiencing serious health issues because of it.
Anybody who is trying to lose weight should avoid extreme weight-loss programs and focus instead on exercise and eating habits that produce gradual, steady weight loss. You will get there. Yes, it will take longer, but it will be much easier to maintain long term. Think in terms of habits, not diet plans, and follow these weight-loss tips to keep a sustainable pace.
How to Lose Weight the Healthy Way
- Follow a balanced diet that includes carbs, proteins, and fat. I like the 40/40/20 rule: 40 percent carbs, 40 percent protein, and 20 percent fat.
- Eat plenty of high-protein foods to build and maintain lean muscle, helping to preserve your resting metabolic rate, which reflects your ability to burn calories. Shoot for close to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.
- Incorporate some form of cardio, whether it is walking, running, sprinting, cardio machines, or sports, for at least 30 minutes, 4 days a week.
- Incorporate resistance training at least 3 days a week, which will help maintain fat-burning muscle mass and prevent your metabolism from dropping.
- Cut back on sugar and refined starches.
- Incorporate vegetables and fruits daily. The fiber helps you stay full and not overeat, and also improves your digestion.
- Keep in mind that weight loss isn’t linear. You might lose two pounds one week, then nothing the next. Look at long-term trends and don’t get hung up on your daily or weekly weight.
You only want to lose weight once—not keep gaining it back and repeating the process. If you focus on the slow, gradual route while following sensible (and totally doable) diet and exercise habits, you’ll be able to reach a healthy body weight and stay there permanently. Remember, your weight-loss journey is a marathon, not a sprint.
Transform your body online with Obi Obadike’s Perfect Anatomy Online Coaching/Training Program.
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Think fasting is just for dieters or skinny hipsters? Think again. Here’s what one coach and meathead discovered by giving up his traditional eating schedule and embracing the hunger!
There are many things that happen to the body with age. We were not meant to live forever and aging is just another part of God's beautiful plan. As we get older, it is common for things like vision to fade. However, there are also a number of eye-related diseases to be aware of, one of which is age-related macular degeneration.
Here is what you need to know about this eye condition:
Defining Age-Related Macular Degeneration
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD, is a degenerative disease of the eye that happens when part of the retina becomes impaired. This part of the retina, called the macula, is what enables you to see things straight ahead. The macula is essential for clarity when it comes to things like driving, reading signs and seeing objects or people right in front of you.
"Age-related macular degeneration impacts 2.1 million people."
The condition is the No. 1 reason that people over the age of 50 end up losing their sight. Impacting 2.1 million people across the country, AMD can slowly begin to hinder the individual's ability to see clearly and thus, impacts day-to-day responsibilities. The rate at which the disease advances can differ from person to person. As the AAO explained, detecting the disease in its earliest stage is the most effective way to protect against it.
Detecting Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Unfortunately, AMD is often asymptomatic in its early stages, according to the National Eye Institute. Many patients may not even know they have the eye condition until it has already progressed. As such, preventative measures such as regular medical eye exams with an ophthalmologist are highly advised, especially with age.
Located behind the eye, the macula is the most delicate part of the retina, the NEI explained. Deposits that are yellow in color, known as drusen, are common in small amounts with age. However, larger deposits are a sign of AMD. Leaking blood vessels and changes in pigmentary beneath the retina can also indicate that an individual has or is developing the condition. Testing for all of these AMD symptoms can only be done with a thorough dilated eye exam. Further testing includes an optical coherence tomography, an amsler grid and Fluorescein angiogram.
Stages of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
According to AMDBlog.org, an eye health resource sponsored by MacuHealth, AMD has three general stages, though each case can progress differently. There is no pain related to the development of the disease of which the stages are early stage, intermediate and late stage dry AMD. There is also a wet AMD category, a severe case of the eye disease experienced only by 1 in 10 AMD patients.
With early stage dry AMD, drusen is only just detected. Many patients will even continue to have 20/20 vision at this stage. At the next stage, drusen appears larger and at times, misshapen, explained AMDBlog.org. Symptoms such as blurry sight and trouble reading may indicate the second stage. Late stage dry AMD, also called Geographic Atrophy, is when vision can really start to go. At this point, the macula cells begin to die completely. In some cases, this third stage can develop further to wet AMD, also known as neovascular AMD. However, there is no way to determine in advance whether or not the disease will progress to the wet stage.
Moreover, as the NEI explained, AMD can occur in just one eye, or, each eye can experience a different stage of the disease. Comprehensive testing is needed to determine this. For the early stages of the disease, there are no treatments currently available. The NEI has suggested supplements for intermediate stages of the disease and for anyone with late stage dry AMD, surgery, injections or therapy may be beneficial for reducing or slowing progress, but are not cures.
Reducing Your Risk
As mentioned above, prevention through regular eye exams is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of AMD. As the AAO advised, adults without any symptoms should receive a baseline eye disease exam when they turn 40. After the age of 65, biannual eye exams are recommended.
"Biannual eye exams are advised for those over age 65."
Smoking has been shown to have a significant impact on the risk of developing AMD. The academy also reported on a study that regular physical activity – at least three times per week – could drastically reduce your risk for getting the degenerative eye disease, by as much as 70 percent. A healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables was also stressed as an effective way to protect yourself from AMD. An eye-healthy diet focused primarily on raw, plant-based foods can really have a positive impact on not just disease progression but your overall lifestyle too.
Incorporating vitamins A, E and C and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin into your eating plan have also been shown to have a positive impact on eye health. In addition to fueling the body with nutrient-rich foods of the earth, you may also consider eye health supplements. At Hallelujah Diet, we've created a unique Total Eye Health supplement that effectively works to enhance the functioning of your eyes while reducing eye strain, fighting free radical damage and improving absorption. This eye health supplement is also known to promote central vision, a key factor for anyone experiencing stages of AMD.
Improve your eye health today by educating yourself, getting regular exams and eating the right fruits and vegetables. And don't forget supplementing!
The post Preventing Age-Related Macular Degeneration appeared first on Plant-Based Diet – Recipes & Weight Loss Supplements | Hallelujah Diet.
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Mark Rippetoe demonstrates a quick repair to the sole of a weight lifting shoe.
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Something about a medicine ball just begs to be hurled into the floor. But are you doing this explosive move correctly? Here’s everything you need to know, plus enough variations to keep you slamming all year!