You wake up in the middle of the night, relieved it’s only 3 a.m. and that you still have a few hours of solid shut-eye before you have to get up. Only, you can’t fall back to sleep. So what’s your solution? Here are seven strategies you can use to drift back into dreamland—fast.
1. Turn on as few lights as possible.
Don’t flick every switch on your way to the bathroom. “Light is stimulating because our brains and bodies interpret any light—whether it comes from the sun or a lamp—as a signal to be alert,” says W. Christopher Winter, MD, director of the Martha Jefferson Sleep Medicine Center. So you should do your best to avoid it by only turning on the lights you absolutely need. Finding your way in the dark is best, but using a small lamp for just a few minutes won’t set you back much. “The brighter the light and the longer you’re exposed to it, the more alerting it will be,” Winter says.
2. Read to make your eyes tired.
Remember fighting to stay awake during reading assignments in school? Take a cue from college: If you’re struggling to fall back asleep, thumb through a nearby book or magazine, suggests Winter. But try to avoid an exciting thriller that gets your heart racing—it will stimulate instead of sedate you. Again, make sure to keep your light exposure to a minimum. Winter recommends attaching a small reading light to your book.
3. Use your brain.
If you want to occupy yourself instead of just tossing and turning, forego using your phone, tablet, TV, or computer. “Electronic devices emit light that can keep you up—especially the ones you hold closer to your face, like a mobile device,” says Winter. Instead, perform a mental exercise: For example, cyclists could imagine prepping a bike for a ride, step by step.
4. Stay on your back.
Or your side or stomach—whichever position you prefer. Just don’t keep fumbling around. If you stand or sit up straight for long periods of time, your body is more likely to interpret that as a reason to stay awake, suggests Winter. If you’re going to keep busy while you’re up, make sure you’re lying down.
5. Don’t eat anything.
You might think having a bite to eat could put you back to sleep, but midnight munching actually hurts your chances of dozing off again, Winter says. In fact, a mid-slumber snack could trigger more sleep interruptions in the future. “You can easily start to condition your brain and body to expect food at that time of night, which can reinforce the habit of waking up,” says Winter. If you absolutely need to nosh, go ahead, but try to channel your strongest sense of willpower to resist your stomach rumbles. It will help to keep from establishing a standing date with your refrigerator.
6. Try progressive relaxation.
It’s a technique developed by physicians to reduce muscle tension by focusing on releasing one specific muscle group at a time. “Relaxing your body can also relax your mind,” says Winter. Holding tension in your muscles signals to your brain that it needs to remain alert. Consciously reducing stress in your muscles, on the other hand, signals that it’s time to fall asleep. Taking long, deep breaths, begin with your largest muscles groups—like your thighs and back—and slowly work your way to smaller muscles in your hands and face.
7. Don’t make up the sleep you missed.
If you’re extra tired after falling short on rest, it’s important not to sleep in or take a nap the next day. “You essentially want to penalize your brain to avoid this happening regularly,” says Winter. If you indulge yourself in a few extra hits of the snooze button or a long mid-afternoon siesta, you’re just creating a template for your brain and body to stay awake in the middle of the night.
A favorite childhood snack for many, sunflower seeds are also incredibly nutritious. Plus, since they require a lot of chewing and take a bit of time to eat, they tend to be more satisfying than other crunchy snacks. Sunflower seeds are typically thought of as the alternative for people with peanut and tree nut allergies. Perhaps it’s time you give this perfect seed a chance.
A serving of sunflower seeds contains 82% of your suggested daily vitamin E. Hello better skin and hair! They’re also rich in three B vitamins – which are necessary for keeping your brain in mint condition. Sunflower seeds are a good source of minerals like copper, phosphorus and magnesium. They also contain compounds known as phytosterols, which help reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood – keeping your cardiovascular system healthy.
In addition to all that – a ¼ cup serving clocks in at 190 calories with a whopping 6 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat and 4 grams of fiber. Add a fresh, seasonal fruit and you’ve got a great afternoon snack for 300 calories or less that will keep you full for hours.
Known as the “bonding hormone”, oxytocin plays an important role in the neuroanatomy of wellbeing and intimacy. It is associated with various behaviors, including social recognition, pair bonding, orgasm, anxiety, and parental behaviors.
The endocrine system produces and regulates our body’s hormonal activity. The gland known as the hypothalamus creates oxytocin, and it is stored in the pituitary gland, which then releases it to the rest of the body.
Like all systems, this works in complex feedback loop; One hormonal function in one gland then triggers the function of other glands in the system. So for example, when we activate the hypothalamus it then activates the pituitary gland, which then sends signals to other glands within the body – the adrenals, the thyroid, and the gonads – which in turn, are also connected via feedback loops.
In this interaction, the hypothalamus and the pituitary are the “master” glands; the holders of the crown frequency. The crown releases oxytocin, which ‘bonds’ all the rest of the systems in the body into one cohesive song. The natural state of the glands is interactive harmony – the unity consciousness of the crown frequency – and the individual harmonies of the body come together to help create the song of your life; how you are feeling, how your immune and digestive systems are working, what your sexual drives are saying in any given moment in time… This bond is the bond of love.
The Feedback Loop
If we know how to actively cultivate this sense of wellness and love and being that is hardwired within our bodies, we’re inevitably thrive. When we experience love – our own unique Bliss instinct – we gravitate more towards the things that make us feel more love, make us feel more beautiful, more healthy, more satisfied, more abundant. We make choices that are from a place of security and happiness, and safety, rather than from a place of mistrust, and fear, and insecurity about what’s going to happen – am I going to have enough money, is my partner is going to stick around, are my children going to be fine etc. We make a lot of decisions from fear when we don’t know how to actively that secrete the sensation of love.
Like our DNA, our consciousness play an active role in determining when and how our glandular system works. When we learn to activate the glands, the hormones, the sensations, we can activate the frequency of love in our being.
Whether we know it or not, we’re constantly in the process of a feedback loop. When we begin to understand and interact with our body with this awareness, we can go from chasing love to creating. When we understand the neurochemistry of love, we can learn to resonate with thecrown frequency and activate that “master hormone” within our own bodies. The feedback loop it creates goes beyond the endocrine system, positively impacting the brain and the immune, circulatory, nervous and digestive systems. The whole LumenOctave! So, by developing an intimacy with our body glandular functions, we can give ourselves access to the sensation of love and trigger an energetic feedback loop that creates more love, and supports our physical health.
As part of this feedback loop, other glands also receive the oxytocin hormone, and help to regulate levels in the body by communicating to the hypothalamus that it has had “enough”. What that means is that, through the innate intelligence of our body’s natural frequencies, we feel satiated and satisfied. We experience this love sustainably. We know when we have had enough. We are not trying to satisfy our cravings or addictions to foods, or sex, or emotional fulfilment; neediness of our emotions seem to disappear when we are able to find the feeling of love deep within ourselves. Physically and energetically. It ultimately comes back to the sensation of love.
Ancient Knowledge, Modern Suppression
So many problems in our lives come from not feeling the love that we desire – the love that we desire from our parents, from our peers, from our friends. We want to be in social interactions where we are really bonding, feeling the sense of compassion and support all around. And when we do, when we tune into that unity vibration, we really thrive, we don’t feel like we have as many cravings, we don’t feel lonely, and we don’t resort to addictions to fill that need for love.
Unfortunately, our ability to tune into the frequencies in our bodies has become largely dormant in today’s world. Toxins, chemicals, frequencies and other environmental pollutants have affected the function of our glands and we have lost access to their purest functions, which are intrinsically linked with our experience of emotions and feelings. Social programming teaches us that it is “adult” behavior to suppress our emotional state, and we end up replacing the “natural and native” functions of our glands with the “programmed version”. We expect our endocrine system to behave counter-intuitively, and as a result, our glands act up over time.
For example those who grow up in homes or cultures where suppressing one’s truth is rewarded (tall-poppy syndrome, for example) and those who have silently suffered from manipulation and trauma, often experience issues of the thyroid gland, which is linked to communication. The thyroid is also linked to metabolism, so unexpressed truth can often manifest in the body as as weight gain.
A lot of our power has been taken away from us. Although the ancients held this knowledge, today, we do not know how to use the body. We do not teach our children that we can influence our digestive process, our genetic expression, our immune system, with our intention. And, with the reductionist model still prevailing in modern medicine, we are not taught to know our bodies as a blissful, interactive whole.
Activating the Crown Frequency
The first step to cleansing the body’s frequencies is to learn how to activate the glands. It’s not only important to activate the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, it’s important to activate all the glands within the body so that they are all functioning in perfect harmony, and that feedback loop is in its best possible shape.
Initially, when you turn the focus of the lens into the physical body, you will develop a simple awareness of its sensations. As you go deeper into that experience, your relationship with the sensations becomes more sophisticated, and in turn, the mind becomes more intelligent at interpreting those sensations.
Within the body system is a full octave of glands and organs that resonate on a certain frequency. When the white light of consciousness enters the body, it refracts and travels through seven different organs and glands with seven different frequencies. Each frequency regulates the characteristics and color of light emitted. For example, when the consciousness light enters the pineal gland, the energy emitted is violet due to the specific vibration of the gland.
Our ‘bliss frequency’ – what we call The LumenOctave – is the light of consciousness experienced through the full octave of frequencies in the body: the seven frequencies, plus the origin of the octave (the high ‘C’). When your instrument is tuned to these frequency, amazing things happen. This is the state where we are most blissful, most beautiful, most thriving and most divine.
To do this we have to expose each gland to its native frequency. When we start to reintroduce it to its natural frequency, it starts to re-program itself back to its healthy, natural state. With your energy centers balanced, everything becomes harmonized. This happens when we allow ourselves to experience the natural bond of love; the frequency of our bliss. It guides us to what supports our being, and to what needs to be healed. For example, if you take a heart that doesn’t know how to experience love. If you give it love from all different directions, it is reminded of its natural frequency and (as science has proven) the body responds by releasing dis-ease and returning to its natural state.
The crown frequency is associated with the unity consciousness; it is the vibration that allows you to see your true nature as a part of the universe. To reintroduce it to its natural frequency, give it the experience of unity and bonding, from all directions. Give it the experience of your bliss.
Sound simple? It is. When you are aligned with your bliss instinct, you feel good. When you feel good, there is no confusion. This is only your yes response: that sense of calmness, relaxation, peace, euphoria, and clarity. As your inner and outer worlds align, your emotions harmonize, your glands harmonize, and you can feel it on all levels of your being. And what may surprise you, especially if you have difficulty trusting yourself at first, is how quickly you will feel your bliss instinct take over as your guide, as the universe begins to conspire to move you in this direction.
Remember; focusing your attention to activate glands is the most powerful tool out there. You can activate the glands by giving it frequencies from medicine, homeopathy, herbs, all sorts of things, but it is not until we take control of our consciousness at all levels, and learn to communicate using sensations, that we see the game really change. Consciously identify and engage the glands. Engage your bliss. It’s about taking the power back into your hands, and learning to activate your body, heal your body, communicate with your glands, and explore the sensations and vibrations that make up your existence.
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have succeeded in an experiment where they get an artificial atom to survive ten times longer than normal by positioning the atom in front of a mirror. The findings were recently published in the journal Nature Physics.
The lifetime of an atom can be extended up to ten times by placing it in front of a short circuit that acts as a mirror. The artificial atom consists of a superconducting circuit on a silicon chip. The interaction between the atom and its mirror image modifies the vacuum fluctuations seen by the atom and thus its lifetime.
If one adds energy to an atom – one says that the atom is excited—it normally takes some time before the atom loses energy and returns to its original state. This time is called the lifetime of the atom. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have placed an artificial atom at a specific distance in front of a short circuit that acts as a mirror. By changing the distance to the mirror, they can get the atom to live longer, up to ten times as long as if the mirror had not been there.
The artificial atom is actually a superconducting electrical circuit that the researchers make behave as an atom. Just like a natural atom, you can charge it with energy; excite the atom; which it then emits in the form of light particles. In this case, the light has a much lower frequency than ordinary light and in reality is microwaves.
“We have demonstrated how we can control the lifetime of an atom in a very simple way,” says Per Delsing, Professor of Physics and leader of the research team. “We can vary the lifetime of the atom by changing the distance between the atom and the mirror. If we place the atom at a certain distance from the mirror the atom’s lifetime is extended by such a length that we are not even able to observe the atom. Consequently, we can hide the atom in front of a mirror,” he continues.
The experiment is a collaboration between experimental and theoretical physicists at Chalmers, the latter have developed the theory for how the atom’s lifetime varies depending on the distance to the mirror.
“The reason why the atom “dies”, that is it returns to its original ground state, is that it sees the very small variations in the electromagnetic field which must exist due to quantum theory, known as vacuum fluctuations,” says Göran Johansson, Professor of Theoretical and Applied Quantum Physics and leader of the theory group.
When the atom is placed in front of the mirror it interacts with its mirror image, which changes the amount of vacuum
You must be used to getting rid of avocado seeds after eating the fruit itself, but what you probably don’t know is that the seeds are in fact the most beneficial piece of the avocado fruit.
Avocado seeds contain valuable nutrients and higher amount of antioxidants than the majority of other fruits and vegetables! Below are listed the main health benefits of avocado seeds:
They are filled with healthful oil rich in antioxidants. Just to remind you, antioxidants are beneficial when it comes to heart conditions and they can help lower the level of cholesterol.
They can be used to deal with diarrhea, but also toease constipation!
They can diminish the inflammatory processes inside your organism.
They can help ease patients with gastric ulcers.
Since flavanol is one of the components of avocado seeds, they can be used for the treatment or prevention of tumors!
Avocado seeds can boost your immune system and prevent you from catching a cold or flu.
They are effective in reducing the level of glucose in your organism.
Avocado seeds can make you feel and look youngerthan ever by relieving pains, energizing your organism and making your skin appear firm and young.
What are you waiting for? Start exploiting the beneficial effects of avocado seeds now. Just cut an avocado in half and take out the seed, smash it and put the parcels into a blender that will make a nice paste out of it. Incorporate this paste into your meals and enjoy your healthy treat.
The existence of water on Mars has been one of the most compelling mysteries in the history of human space exploration, and new clues are now being discovered on a regular basis. A new report published by NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory team points to evidence that the surface of the planet was indeed covered by huge lakes a few billion years ago – lakes that have since disappeared, possibly evaporating into the atmosphere and the deep space beyond.
The idea that large bodies of water covered the surface of Mars is not a new one, but looking so far back into the past with a great degree of accuracy is incredibly difficult – so any fresh piece of evidence is a useful addition to NASA’s theories. This particular paper, published in the journal Science, uses data gathered from the Curiosity rover currently trundling across the surface of the Red Planet.
As Curiosity has explored the Gale Crater on Mars, it’s found evidence of many layers of sediment – sediment that was left behind by lakes and now forms the base of Mount Sharp (or Aeolis Mons). The crater and the mountain at the centre of it are judged to be around 3.8 to 3.6 billion years old.
“What we thought we knew about water on Mars is constantly being put to the test,”said Michael Meyer, one of NASA’s lead scientists. “It’s clear that the Mars of billions of years ago more closely resembled Earth than it does today. Our challenge is to figure out how this more clement Mars was even possible, and what happened to that wetter Mars.”
While we’ve known about the sediments in the Gale Crater for some time, some scientists hypothesised that they were created by dust and sand blown by the wind. As Curiosity has looked closer, it seems that rivers and lakes were actually the cause – at least for the lower levels of Mount Sharp, which is as far as the rover has got. The finely laminated mudstones that Curiosity has discovered match the types of rocks that would be left behind by large bodies of water.
It’s possible that those lakes expanded and contracted over hundreds of millions of years. What still puzzles scientists is where all this water came from in the first place.
“Paradoxically, where there is a mountain today there was once a basin, and it was sometimes filled with water,” said John Grotzinger, the lead author of the new report. “We see evidence of about 250 feet (75 metres) of sedimentary fill, and based on mapping data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and images from Curiosity’s camera, it appears that the water-transported sedimentary deposition could have extended at least 500 to 650 feet (150 to 200 metres) above the crater floor.”
A team of researchers with Lehigh University in the U.S. has found via experimentation with fruit flies that optogenetic pacing might one day be a viable alternative to electrical pacemakers in humans. In their paper uploaded to the open access site Science Advances, the team describes how the procedure works and why they believe it is superior to traditional pacemakers.
Pacemakers are cigarette pack-sized devices that are implanted under the skin of heart patients to assist or take over the process by which the heart constricts to cause blood to pump. Several ailments can cause erratic heart rates which can lead to poor health or death if not treated properly. Traditional pacemakers send small electrical shocks straight to the heart, causing it to constrict in a regular fashion. But this approach also has its drawbacks, e.g. the need for surgery to implant a device, damage to non-heart tissue, etc. For that reason, scientists continue to look for a better way to get the job done. In this new effort, the team in Pennsylvania looked to using optogenetic pacing, which is where genes in heart muscle cells are modified to cause tissue to react to light and then a laser is used to stimulate the heart into beating at a regular pace.
In their experiments, the researchers used Drosophila melanogaster (the common fruit fly) as a stand in for humans, because prior research has shown that approximately 75 percent of heart disease related genes are shared between the two species, and because they have been used in a wide array of heart related research efforts, which means their anatomy and behavior are reasonably well understood.
The team began by developing transgenic flies that expressed the cation channeled protein channelrhodopsin-2 in just their hearts and then used a laser to cause light pulses to pass through the thin walls of the body and to the heart, causing it to beat at a specified regular interval. The team tested the technique on larva, pupa and adults and report that the device worked as envisioned for all stages of a fly’s life and did not cause any damage to heart or other tissue. To make sure the device was working as intended the team monitored the heart using a high speed camera.
The technique cannot yet be tested on humans of course because of the need for gene modification—also there is the problem of light reaching through a much thicker chest cavity. Still the team is optimistic that one day a way will be found to use the technique (perhaps using infrared light) providing heart patients with a better option.
More information: Optogenetic pacing in Drosophila melanogaster, Science Advances 09 Oct 2015: Vol. 1, no. 9, e1500639 , DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500639
Electrical stimulation is currently the gold standard for cardiac pacing. However, it is invasive and nonspecific for cardiac tissues. We recently developed a noninvasive cardiac pacing technique using optogenetic tools, which are widely used in neuroscience. Optogenetic pacing of the heart provides high spatial and temporal precisions, is specific for cardiac tissues, avoids artifacts associated with electrical stimulation, and therefore promises to be a powerful tool in basic cardiac research. We demonstrated optogenetic control of heart rhythm in a well-established model organism, Drosophila melanogaster. We developed transgenic flies expressing a light-gated cation channel, channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), specifically in their hearts and demonstrated successful optogenetic pacing of ChR2-expressing Drosophila at different developmental stages, including the larva, pupa, and adult stages. A high-speed and ultrahigh-resolution optical coherence microscopy imaging system that is capable of providing images at a rate of 130 frames/s with axial and transverse resolutions of 1.5 and 3.9 μm, respectively, was used to noninvasively monitor Drosophila cardiac function and its response to pacing stimulation. The development of a noninvasive integrated optical pacing and imaging system provides a novel platform for performing research studies in developmental cardiology.
Throughout the northern hemisphere, beekeepers have struggled to maintain adequate numbers of honey bee colonies for crop pollination and honey production due to dramatic increases in colony deaths each year. Recent surveys of beekeepers suggest that poor queen health is an important reason for these losses, but why queen health is now being affected is not understood.
A marked honey bee queen used during the study. She is shown on a wax comb with adult workers, capped cells containing maturing workers, and open cells containing eggs that will develop into workers.
Credit: Geoffrey Williams, University of Bern
Throughout the northern hemisphere beekeepers have struggled to maintain adequate numbers of honey bee colonies for crop pollination and honey production due to dramatic increases in colony deaths each year. Recent surveys of beekeepers suggest that poor queen health is an important reason for these losses, but why queen health is now being affected is not understood.
A research team from Bern, Switzerland and Wolfville, Canada has found that honey bee queens, which are crucial to colony functioning, are severely affected by two neonicotinoid insecticides. In 2013, governments in Europe moved to partially restrict the use of these neonicotinoids while further risks assessments could be performed. The province of Ontario, Canada followed suit in 2015.
This is the first study to investigate the effects of neonicotinoids on honey bee queens. Its findings suggest that these insecticides may be contributing to bee colony mortality by affecting queen health, and it further strengthens calls for more thorough environmental risk assessments of these pesticides to protect bees and other beneficial organisms.
In recent years beekeepers have had difficulties maintaining honey bee colonies throughout North America and Europe, and often experience dramatic winter mortalities. ‘Alongside introduced parasites, it is believed that agricultural chemicals may play a role in these issues’, says lead author Geoff Williams of the University of Bern.
In 2013 governments in Europe took a precautionary approach by partially restricting the application of the widely used neonicotinoid pesticides thiamethoxam, clothianidin, and imidacloprid, with the mandate to perform further environmental risk assessments. A new inter-governmental review will take place in the coming months. Previous research suggests that these chemicals cause both lethal and sub-lethal effects on honey bee workers from exposure, but nothing is known about how they may affect queens.
A research team from the Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern (Switzerland), from Agroscope at the Swiss Confederation (Switzerland), and from the Department of Biology at Acadia University (Canada), recently demonstrated in an article in the open-access journal SCIENTIFIC REPORTS (Nature Publishing Group) that honey bee queens are extremely vulnerable to the neonicotinoid pesticides thiamethoxam and clothianidin.
Diverse physiological and anatomical effects
The observation that honey bee queens are highly vulnerable to these common neonicotinoid pesticides is worrisome, but not surprising, says senior author Laurent Gauthier from the Swiss Confederation’s Agroscope: ‘Beekeepers frequently cite poor queen health as a major cause of colony death each year.’ The study shows profound effects on queen physiology, anatomy, and overall reproductive success.
The queen, as the sole egg-layer and the primary source of colony cohesion, is the most important individual in the colony; without her the colony will eventually fail to function. Co-author Peter Neumann from Bern states ‘this study, along with other recently published ones, supports calls for more thorough environmental risk assessments of agricultural chemicals to protect biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.’
Bees, pollination, and honey — a background
Honey bees are complex social organisms that demonstrate female reproductive division of labor between the queen and workers within a colony. Queens release chemical pheromones essential for colony social organization and usually monopolize female reproduction, while workers carry out all other tasks necessary for colony maintenance.
Since there is only a single queen in each colony, queen health is crucial to colony survival. Soon after birth, each queen will embark on a series of mating flights to collect sperm from males called drones. Afterwards, she will return to her colony to lay eggs and be cared for by workers.
Honey bees, like all insect pollinators, provide crucial ecosystem and economic services. Annually in Europe and North America, millions of honey bee colonies produce honey and contribute to the pollination of a range of agricultural crops — from carrots to almonds to oilseed rape — that is valued at billions of Euros.
When men ate a junk-food diet, their muscles’ ability to oxidize glucose was disrupted in just five days’ time
If you lose this key player in glucose metabolism it could pave the way for insulin resistance, diabetes, and other health problems
If you overdo it on pizza, macaroni and cheese, chips, and ice cream, you might worry about what it’s going to do to your thighs or mid-section. But binging on junk food isn’t only a matter of weight gain. It might have far more serious repercussions than that.
People who ate a diet focused on macaroni and cheese, processed lunchmeat, sausage biscuits, mayonnaise, and microwavable meals with unhealthy fats, for example, showed serious negative changes to their metabolism after just five days.
After eating the junk-food diet, the study participants (12 healthy college-aged men) muscles’ lost the ability to oxidize glucose after a meal, which could lead to insulin resistance down the road.1
What Happens to Your Metabolism After Five Days of Junk Food
Even though their caloric intake remained unchanged, when men ate a junk-food diet their muscles’ ability to oxidize glucose was disrupted in just five days’ time. This is a significant change, because muscle plays an important role in clearing glucose from your body after a meal.
Under normal circumstances, your muscles will either break down the glucose or store it for later use. Your muscles make up about 30 percent of your body weight, so if you lose this key player in glucose metabolism it could pave the way for diabetes and other health problems.2 As reported by TIME:3
“‘The normal response to a meal was essentially either blunted or just not there after five days of high-fat feeding,’ [Matthew] Hulver, [PhD, department head of Human Nutrition, Food, and Exercise at Virginia Tech Hulver] says.
Before going on a work-week’s worth of a fatty diet, when the men ate a normal meal they saw big increases in oxidative targets four hours after eating.
That response was obliterated after the five-day fat infusion. And under normal eating conditions, the biopsied muscle used glucose as an energy source by oxidizing glucose. ‘That was essentially wiped out after,’ he says. ‘We were surprised how robust the effects were just with five days.'”
Just One Bad Meal Can Mess with Your Health
Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Super Size Me was one of the first to vividly demonstrate the consequences of trying to sustain yourself on a diet of fast food. After just four weeks, Spurlock’s health had deteriorated to the point that his physician warned him he was putting his life in serious jeopardy if he continued the experiment.
But as the featured study showed, it doesn’t take a virtual month to experience the health effects of a poor diet. In fact, the changes happen after just one meal, according to research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.4
When you eat a meal high in unhealthy fats and sugar, the sugar causes a large spike in your blood-sugar levels called “post-prandial hyperglycemia.” In the long term this can lead to an increased risk of heart attack, but there are short-term effects as well, such as:
Your tissue becomes inflamed (as occurs when it is infected)
Your blood vessels constrict
Damaging free radicals are generated
Your blood pressure may rise higher than normal
A surge and drop in insulin may leave you feeling hungry soon after your meal
The good news is that eating a healthy meal helps your body return to its normal, optimal state, even after just one. Study author James O’Keefe of the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri told TIME:5
“Your health and vigor, at a very basic level, are as good as your last meal.”
Dr. Braden Kuo of Massachusetts General Hospital used a pill-sized camera to see what happens inside your stomach and digestive tract after you eat ramen noodles, one common type of instant noodles. The results were astonishing…
In the video above, you can see ramen noodles inside a stomach. Even after two hours, they are remarkably intact, much more so than the homemade ramen noodles, which were used as a comparison. This is concerning for a number of reasons.
For starters, it could be putting a strain on your digestive system, which is forced to work for hours to break down this highly processed food (ironically, most processed food is so devoid of fiber that it gets broken down very quickly, interfering with your blood sugar levels and insulin release).
When food remains in your digestive tract for such a long time, it will also impact nutrient absorption, but, in the case of processed ramen noodles, there isn’t much nutrition to be had. Instead, there is a long list of additives, including the toxic preservative tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ).
This additive will likely remain in your stomach along with the seemingly invincible noodles, and no one knows what this extended exposure time may do to your health. Common sense suggests it’s not going to be good…
Eating Processed Foods Linked to Chronic Disease
Research published in the Journal of Nutrition found that women who consumed more instant noodles had a significantly greater risk of metabolic syndrome than those who ate less, regardless of their overall diet or exercise habits.6
Past research also analyzed overall nutrient intake between instant-noodle consumers and non-consumers, and found, as you might suspect, that eating instant noodles contributes little value to a healthy diet.
The instant-noodle consumers had a significantly lower intake of important nutrients like protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, vitamin A, niacin, and vitamin C compared with non-consumers.7 Those who ate instant noodles also had an excessive intake of energy, unhealthy fats, and sodium (just one package may contain 2,700 milligrams of sodium).8
Not to mention, refined carbohydrates like breakfast cereals, bagels, waffles, pretzels, and most other processed foods quickly break down to sugar in your body. This increases your insulin and leptin levels, and contributes to insulin resistance, which is the primary underlying factor of nearly every chronic disease and condition known to man, including weight gain.
Not only that, but remember… when you eat junk food you are not just feeding yourself… you’re feeding your microbiome, too, and in so doing altering its construction for better or worse. Your body’s diverse army of microbes is responsible for many crucial biological processes, from immunity to memory to mental health, so feeding it wisely, with fresh unprocessed and naturally fermented foods, is crucial to your overall health and well-being.
Is Junk Food as Dangerous as Cigarettes?
In the US, about one-quarter to one-third of adults fall into the obese category. A staggering two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and poor diet is in large part to blame. Last year, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, said that “obesity is a bigger global health threat than tobacco use,” and that this fact isn’t taken as seriously as it should be. His statements were delivered at the opening of the 2014 World Health Organization’s annual summit. De Schutter ultimately wants nations to join forces to place stricter regulations on unhealthy foods:9
“Just as the world came together to regulate the risks of tobacco, a bold framework convention on adequate diets must now be agreed,” he said. ‘The Special Rapporteur has previously agitated for greater governmental action on junk foods, including taxing unhealthy products, regulating fats and sugars, cracking down on advertising for junk food, and rethinking agricultural subsidies that make unhealthy food cheaper,’ Time Magazine noted. ‘Governments have been focusing on increasing calorie availability,’ he said, ‘but they have often been indifferent to what kind of calories are offered, at what price, to whom they are made available, and how they are marketed.'”
The idea that being overweight can be more harmful than smoking is likely to make many balk, considering how “normal” it has become to carry around extra pounds, but in terms of overall health effects and subsequent health care costs, it’s likely true. For example, data collected from over 60,000 Canadians show that obesity leads to more doctor visits than smoking.10
Further, according to a report by The McKinsey Global Institute, the global cost of obesity is now $2 trillion annually, which is nearly as much as the global cost of smoking ($2.1 trillion) and armed violence (including war and terrorism, which also has a global cost of $2.1 trillion).11 For comparison, alcoholism costs are $1.4 trillion annually, road accidents cost $700 billion, and unsafe sex costs $300 billion. What’s more, if current trends continue, the McKinsey report estimates that nearly half of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese by 2030.
Junk Food Is Incredibly Addictive
Your body is designed to naturally regulate how much you eat and the energy you burn. But food manufacturers have figured out how to over-ride these intrinsic regulators, designing processed foods that are engineered to be “hyper-rewarding.” According to the “food reward hypothesis of obesity,” processed foods stimulate such a strong reward response in our brains that it becomes very easy to overeat. One of the guiding principles for the processed food industry is known as “sensory-specific satiety.”
Investigative reporter Michael Moss describes this as “the tendency for big, distinct flavors to overwhelm your brain.”12 The greatest successes, whether beverages or foods, owe their “craveability” to complex formulas that pique your taste buds just enough, without overwhelming them, thereby overriding your brain’s inclination to say “enough.” In all, potato chips are among the most addictive junk foods on the market, containing all three “bliss-inducing” ingredients: sugar (from the potato), salt, and fat. Further, as reported by TIME:13
“Studies suggest that fatty, sugary foods promote excretion of the stress hormone cortisol, which seems to further stimulate appetite for calorie-dense foods. And the big post-meal spikes in blood sugar are more likely in people who don’t exercise or those who carry weight around their abdomen. All of it makes it tough for people to stop eating junk food once they’re in the habit. ‘The more you eat it the more you crave it. It becomes a vicious cycle,’ says O’Keefe.”
And while food companies abhor the word “addiction” in reference to their products, scientists have discovered that sugar, in particular, is just that. In fact, sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Research published in 2007 showed that 94 percent of rats that were allowed to choose mutually-exclusively between sugar water and cocaine, majority chose sugar.14 Even rats that were addicted to cocaine quickly switched their preference to sugar, once it was offered as a choice. The rats were also more willing to work for sugar than for cocaine.
The researchers speculate that the sweet receptors (two protein receptors located on the tongue), which evolved in ancestral times when the diet was very low in sugar, have not adapted to modern times’ high-sugar consumption. Therefore, the abnormally high stimulation of these receptors by sugar-rich diets generates excessive reward signals in your brain, which have the potential to override normal self-control mechanisms and thus lead to addiction.
Does Junk Food Have a Hold on You? How to Break Free
Replacing processed foods with homemade meals made from scratch using whole ingredients is an ideal and important way to ensure optimal nutrition. This will automatically cut out the vast majority of refined sugars, processed fructose, preservatives, dyes, other nasty chemicals, and many addictive ingredients from your diet. This will allow your body to depend less on sugar and more on fat as its primary fuel—provided you eat enough healthy fat, that is.
As a result, you will no longer crave sugar to keep you going. The key elements for a healthy diet that can help kick your junk food cravings to the curb are the following. For a comprehensive guide, please see my free optimized nutrition plan:
Avoiding refined sugar, processed fructose, grains, and processed foods
Eating a healthy diet of whole foods, ideally organic, and replacing the carbs you eliminate with:
As much high-quality healthy fat as you want (saturated and monounsaturated). Many would benefit from getting as much as 50-85 percent of their daily calories from healthy fats. While this may sound like a lot, consider that, in terms of volume, the largest portion of your plate would be vegetables, since they contain so few calories.
Fat, on the other hand, tends to be very high in calories. For example, just one tablespoon of coconut oil is about 130 calories—all of it from healthy fat. Good sources include:
Large amounts of high-quality organic, locally grown vegetables, fermented vegetables, and ideally sprouts grown at your home
Low-to-moderate amount of high-quality protein (think organically raised, pastured animals, or eggs)
Planning Your Meals Is Key
Ditching processed foods requires that you plan your meals in advance, but if you take it step-by-step as described in mynutrition plan, it’s quite possible, and manageable, to painlessly remove processed foods from your diet. You can try scouting out your local farmer’s markets for in-season produce that is priced to sell, and planning your meals accordingly, but you can also use this same premise with supermarket sales. You can generally plan a week of meals at a time, making sure you have all ingredients necessary on hand, and then do any prep work you can ahead of time so that dinner is easy to prepare if you’re short on time (and you can use leftovers for lunches the next day).
Finally, if you’re an emotional eater, I highly recommend using the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT is simple and effective, and can rapidly help you eliminate your food cravings naturally.
THERE’S A GOOD chance that the most often-heard global warming joke in the US is some version of the following: [Point to an empty lot somewhere far from the ocean] “In 100 years, this is going to be beach front property!” Not funny, but kind of true.
Rising tides are already lapping away at shorelines from Bellingham to Biscayne Bay. And with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels steadily rising, many of the country’s coastal cities and towns will someday be under water.
That’s even if the December Paris climate talks lead to significant global emissions cuts. A new map from Climate Central shows how the water will flow into hundreds of US cities under the best and worst global warming scenarios. It uses data from an accompanying study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that links CO2 to sea level rise to the topographic contours of the coastal US.
A lot of this inundation is already on the books. Called locked in rise, it comes from energy banked in atmospheric CO2. Carbon molecules will eventually release that energy as heat, which will raise the global mean temperature. Seasons will cycle, years will pass, and weather patterns will fluctuate. And after some time—could be decades, could be centuries—the atmosphere will settle its thermodynamic debt, and a bunch of ice will melt.
It’s not just the volume of added ice that makes the oceans rise. The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are so massive that they exert gravitational pull on the ocean. “So sea level is higher right next to those places because of that pull,” Ben Strauss, co-author author of the study, and climate scientist at Climate Central (Disclosure: I was a Climate Central data visualization intern for a few months in 2013). Warmer water is also less dense. Higher and higher those waters will climb.
But how far depends on how much carbon humans continue to emit. “For a long time I’ve wanted to be able to show a map that very clearly contrasts the future under high carbon emissions or low carbon emissions,” says Strauss.
Not an easy task. The research began by linking a historical data set showing how temperature affects peak sea level rise with another data set showing the relationship between carbon emissions and temperature. After millions of computer experiments, they had some usable ratios of between carbon emissions to sea level rise. “One of the most astonishing things to me was finding that burning one gallon of gasoline translates to adding 400 gallons of water volume to the ocean in the long run,” he says.
Coastal topography maps accurate down to a few inches showed where the water would rise. “Local, state, and federal agencies have been flying lidar missions over coastal areas for 15 years now,” says Strauss. Finally they added the 2010 census, and used the historic high tide lines to measure which pixels (each representing about 15 feet per side on the ground) would be drowned in the inundated future.
Or at least, some version of the future. They projected their data using four future emissions scenarios, ranging from extreme carbon cuts to emissions-heavy business as usual.
Here’s the result (You can pan around to other cities):
“They’ve effectively tied human behavior to different outcomes, quantified by the inundation of various coastal population centers,” says Steve Nerem, a sea level rise expert at the University of Colorado.
For example, when the global atmospheric CO2 level reaches 930 gigatons, Boston will be due for about 9 feet of sea level rise. That’s enough water to cover 25 percent of the city during high tide. In the extreme cuts scenario, atmospheric CO2 never reaches that level. Under business as usual fossil emissions however, a quarter of Boston is locked into a future under water by 2045.
Existential nihilists however, can relax: Nobody’s doomed yet. Future Americans are going to deal with the flooded basements and foregone civilization. “Those generations could know lower Manhattan as a place to visit, or as a place to go diving for ruins,” says Strauss.
The study, in other words, isn’t about how much see level rise happens this century, but whether this century’s emissions bank enough carbon for total ice melt down—or some less drastic version. “Our analysis really looks at a 2000 year envelope,” says Strauss.
Why the long horizon? “It turns out it’s a lot easier to project how much the sea level will rise than how quickly the sea level will rise,” says Strauss. Blame geology for the uncertainty. “We do not know much about the bedrock on which the ice lies,” says Anders Levermann, study co-author and climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. Under the ice, Greenland and Antarctica are uncharted territories. In order to calculate the rate at which those massive ice sheets slough off, Levermann says he would need to know more about the texture of the underlying rock.
Linking CO2 to sea level rise isn’t exactly novel, but it’s not often you get to look at how the emissions decisions our species make today will affect the seaside legacy left for future generations. If you’ll pardon the pun, this map really brings climate change home.