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What You Need to Know About Mitochondrial Disease

New to the world of mitochondrial disease (“mito” for short)? Continue reading for key facts and figures about what this disease is, its symptoms, and how it works.  

  • It is estimated that one in every 5,000 individuals have mitochondrial disease — a chronic, and typically genetic disorder that occurs when the mitochondria cannot produce enough energy (ATP) to keep the cell alive and healthy (NCBI).   
  • Mitochondrial disease is classified as both rare and progressive. 
  • It is also considered a metabolic disorder – meaning that the body cannot effectively turn food into energy and get rid of waste. 
  • Iarguably isn’t a single disease but more like a collection of conditions that can negatively impact a person’s perception, motor skills, organ function, and energy over time. 
  • Symptoms of mitochondrial diseases depend on which cells of the body are affected. They can range from mild to severe, involve one or more organs, and can occur at any age. Even patients within the same family who have the same mitochondrial disease can have differences in symptoms, severity, and age of onset (Cleveland Clinic) 
  • Symptoms may include:  
    • Muscle weakness or muscle pain 
    • Movement disorders 
    • Neurological problems
    • Vision and/or hearing problems 
    • Learning disabilities 
    • Unexplained vomiting, cramping, reflux 
    • Increased risk of infection 
    • Thyroid problems 
    • Respiratory (breathing) problems 
    • Dementia
  • With the number and type of symptoms and organ systems involved, mitochondrial diseases are often mistaken for other, more common, diseases (Cleveland Clinic). 
  • Here is a list of symptoms that are associated with specific organs that are affected by mito. 
  • Mitochondrial Disease should be suspected when three or more organ systems are involved (UMDF). 
  • Having mito can be like having a cell phone that is very close to running out of battery. Some apps may run for just a short amount of time before the phone turns off completely. 
  • Mitochondrial disorders are typically caused by mutations (acquired or inherited) in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Mitochondrial dysfunction may also be acquired as a result of drug use, infections, or other environmental causes (NIH). 
  • The first pathogenic mutation in mitochondrial DNA was identified in 1988. There have since been 275 other disease-causing mutations identified (National Academy of Sciences). 
  • Mito is very difficult to diagnose because it’s often invisible. It can take over 7 years to reach a proper diagnosis (Mito Action). 
  • Mitochondria are known as the “powerhouse of the cell”, and they are responsible for producing about 90% of cellular energy. 
  • When a cell requires more energy, the mitochondria inside of that cell can reproduce by growing larger, and then dividing themselves. When cells require less energy, mitochondria can become dormant and inactive. Mitochondria can also die due to lack of use. 
  • There are secondary illnesses that have been linked to mitochondrial diseases, including: 
    • Diabetes 
    • Autism 
    • Parkinson’s disease 
    • Alzheimer’s disease 
    • Heart, liver, or kidney diseases 
  • Your mitochondria become weaker and decline in number as you age. Ultimately, all the things we associate with aging – fatigue, excess fat, and a decrease in muscle mass and cognitive ability – are all symptoms of weakening mitochondria (Bulletproof). 
  • There are currently no known cures for mitochondrial disease. 
  • Supportive therapy is one treatment option that can be used to help delay the progression of mitochondrial dysfunction. This therapy may include nutritional management, exercise and/or vitamin or amino acid supplements. 
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What are Mitochondria, and Why Do They Matter?

Every living thing is comprised of cells, which are the building blocks of life. Inside of these cells are a series of organelles – sub-compartment-like entities that perform various but specific functions. Different cells throughout your body notably have different shapes and sizes, and thus, different purposes.  Similar cells (ones that do the same job) form body tissues, such as muscle, skin, or bone tissue. Groups of different types of cells make up the organs in your body, such as your heart, liver, or lungs. Collectively, all organs work together as a system to keep you alive and healthy (Science NetLinks). 

 

What are mitochondria? 

“The powerhouse of the cell”that’s how most people think of and remember the mitochondrion (plural: mitochondria) from their high school biology class. They are organelles that function like microscopic, yet super complex factories, producing energy and disposing of waste that is detrimental to the body. Mitochondria are critical for cell survival, and ATP (energy) that your mitrochondria help produce is vital for metabolic processes and keeping you healthy. 

 

The Structure of Mitochondria 

Mitochondria are designed to maximize their productivity. They contain two membranes – the outer membrane functions like a skin, and the inner membrane makes it possible for more reactions to occur. This means that your cells can get more work done.

Illustration by Alyssa Garwood

Outer membrane: This is a phospholipid bilayer that includes protein-based structures called porins, which enable molecules (ions, ATP, ADP, etc.) to cross.  

 

Inner membrane: This membrane is highly complex and it is where most ATP is created. It includes all the complexes of the electron transport system, the ATP synthetase complex, and transport proteins. The inner membrane does not have porins like the outer membrane, so it is impermeable to most molecules. 

 

Cristae: These are the folds of the inner membrane, which increase the surface area and the space available for chemical reactions to occur. This is also where the electron transport chain and enzymes are located.  The number of cristae in the mitochondria correlates with the given cell’s demand for ATP. For example, heart muscle cells contain up to three times more cristae than other cells due to the greater need for ATP (Biology Dictionary).  

 

Matrix: This is the space within the inner membrane where the citric acid cycle, or Krebs cycle, takes place. This is an important part of cellular respiration and ATP production.  Mitochondrial DNA is also housed here. 

 

How the Mighty Mitochondria Work 

Mitochondria are found in the cells of animals, humans, plants and fungi. While they are primarily known for converting energy from food to energy for biological processes, mitochondria are deeply involved in several other activities that enable cells to function efficiently to help you keep your body healthy. Here are the five key roles that mitochondria play in cellular health, and what can happen when these functions are disturbed: 

  1.  Production of ATPMitochondria produce 90% of the energy our body needs to function by converting chemical energy from nutrients to ATP. During cellular respiration, another chemical called NADH is produced, which is then used by enzymes to generate ATP in the form of chemical bonds.The production of ATP is essential to help the body function properly. Without energy, your cells and your body suffer. Dysfunction from lack of ATP can contribute to a variety of health concerns, including but not limited to: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, diabetes, cancer, and several types of mitochondrial disease.
  2.  Calcium Homeostasis This is the flow of calcium in and out of a cell’s mitochondria. This process is an important part of metabolic regulation and killing off unhealthy cells.  When mitochondrial calcium homeostasis is compromised, different pathological conditions can occur, depending on the cell type involved (NCBI).
  3. Cell MigrationThis refers to the orchestrated movement of cells to specific locations in response to chemical signals.  Regulation of cell migration can help terminate unhealthy cells and speed up wound-healing; conversely, if this process is not well-managed, there may be serious health consequences, including but not limited to: tumor formation and cancer formation, vascular disease, tumor formation and metastasis.
  4. Apoptosis – This is essentially programmed cell death which involves maintaining the health of the body by eliminating old cells, unnecessary cells, and unhealthy cells. Without appropriate apoptosis (either too little or too much), there is a greater risk of experiencing health conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases, ischemic damage, autoimmune disorders and many types of cancer (NCBI).
  5. Innate Immunity This refers to nonspecific defense mechanisms – such as skin, chemicals in the blood, and cells within your immune system that attack foreign cells — that basically come to the rescue immediately or within hours of an antigen’s appearance in the body. In addition to regulating antiviral signaling, mitochondria also contribute to innate immune activation following cellular damage and stress (NCBI).  
Illustration by Alyssa Garwood

To recap, ATP is energy currency for your cells, and your mitochondria are the primary sources for producing more of it to help keep you alive and healthy. These organelles are also responsible for surveilling and eliminating the growth of unhealthy cells. If any deficiency in your mitochondria are present, then you are more likely to experience health issues 

 

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Responsive Kinetics: Not Just For Elite Athletes

By Matt McFall, Founder of FasTwitch Kinetics

I’m excited to introduce responsive kinetics training modality and its efficacy to all of you. We are all on a quest in life and for each the depth of that quest will change, morph as we discover ways to enhance our lives and have a positive effect on our wellbeing and longevity. Sometimes the impact is such that we find we cannot just keep it to ourselves! That’s what Responsive Kinetics is for me and others, but it’s still not well known by the general public. My “why” for bringing this to this forum is simply this, “Increasing the quality of life through increasing mobility”. This is a fundamental component of quality of life. People must be able to move to have access to everything from regular daily activity to high level athletic pursuits. At any level in that spectrum we engage in a variety of physical activities. Exercise or training are activities that give us access to many other activities. Often, this may be seen as applying primarily to athletics, but it is applicable to every level of life. Responsive kinetics training is a performance enhancer that works wonders at every level of the activity/exercise/training range. It is particularly suited for some populations who are missing out or underserved by traditional modes, including but not limited to:

  • The aging population who experience diminishing muscle and bone mass
  • Those with chronic injuries aka wear and tear
  • Those who are on the rehabilitation track from catastrophic injury
  • Those with progressive nerve and muscle disease

There is of course those of every age who are interested in reaching a higher level of fitness and increasing abilities in their recreational pursuits. We are naturally designed to move. It is important and necessary to address movement outside of what is required for our functioning. There is no shortage of evidence as to the effect of forfeiting our options to move. It is difficult and sometimes impossible to return and restore once that capacity is lost.

Introducing you to responsive kinetics will have in mind all of this spectrum of activity and its pursuits and the populations alluded to above. I will endeavor to stay away from technical jargon and the science that defines the topic, but it is impossible to leave it out completely. With that said a bit of groundwork must be laid to paint the picture as clearly as possible.

All training, whether physical or mental, revolves around one universal principle known as the SAID principle.

Spelled out as the Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand, it points the way to mapping out a training regime to achieve a certain goal. Everyone who has worked with a trainer knows the starting point is to evaluate your:

  • perspective
  • readiness to engage
  • what level (of mobility) currently defines you
  • what your expectations are

It is well documented how any given method of training, be it flexibility, aerobic, anaerobic, resistance and the myriad of “blended” versions will affect the physical body over time.  Changing up the parameters of your training can help you continue to make “gains”.  There are of course limits when it comes to the mode of training and pushing your body, but with consistency you will reach and set new goals over time. This is when it’s important to narrow your focus on modes of resistance training, but it must be pointed out that there is resistance involved in all physical training. This is a systemic resistance that relates to the elasticity of the mechanism as well as to the sensory information that affects system management.

Resistance training has certain limitations that are due to the parameters of training environment. 

An important aspect of this is seen in free weights and, to a lesser extent, in weight machines.  That is that the weight must be controlled back to its resting position.  In the case of free weights, the performer is carrying the full burden of that safe return as well as their safe completion of the movement. If something is amiss, that is, there is some functional miscue via an injury or some weakness that causes form to be compromised, or a distraction that causes a lapse in focus there is opportunity for injury. If we are talking about someone between the ages of 50 – 70 years old, and/or who are experiencing declines in muscle mass and activation, then the occurrence and significance of this type of training set back is a much larger issue. Conditions that promote possible injury are not age-specific though, and some people do not engage in important resistance training as a result. Of course machines help mitigate this problem somewhat but do not completely remove the possibility of injuries taking place.  Likewise, this can hold true for injured athletes, and for individuals with varying degrees of neuromuscular challenges.

Contrasted with these forms of training we consider the training environment of responsive kinetics. In this category there are very few options so far which is something we certainly look to change. There is equipment that is referred to as isokinetic, there are kinetic accelerometers as well. The type of machine discussed here is known properly as a multi-joint iso kinetic dynamometer. These are machines which read performer input force and respond with an output force that remains constant with the preset controls throughout the full range of motion. To paint the picture further, imagine performing a squat where the resistance remains the same through the full movement in both directions. This means the performer is doing work through full range of motion whereas other forms of resistance training the highest percentage of work is only being done through the sticking point. This difference cannot be overstated.

The next parameter of this training environment is that the system is balanced. For the performer this means they are never responsible for management of the “load”. If they stop anywhere in the movement the system neutralizes. The risk of injury is negated. The only weight is their own body weight.

These unique parameters of training environment allow the performer to go significantly farther and achieve entirely different outcomes in a considerably shorter time frame. The unique training conditions allow the performer to move through the multi-joint movements at full effort through the entire range of motion in both directions. Read this again. This is why it is completely different and produces completely different outcomes or performance level. As a researcher at the College at Brockport under the direction of Dr. Christopher Williams, we utilized one of these machines to train and collect data on Rate of Force Development. Over the course of three years that part of the study of responsive kinetics involved several hundred participants. The only common denominator was no one had ever trained on this equipment. Data collection evaluated were from numerous pre and post tests done around a conservative training program of 8 sessions over 4 weeks. These tests included vertical jump, long jump T-test agility test and several balance tests performed on force plates, and Biodex balance platform. Electromyography was also part of pre and post test collection and done on the responsive kinetic machine.

So, what does happen when you train on this equipment? It is no exaggeration to say that you are igniting untapped resources of explosive power! Explosive power means the high use of the muscle fiber type referred to as fast twitch muscles. You may think that fast twitch muscles or “explosive power” are reserved primarily for athletes, but everyone is using them every day. Any movement you make that is deemed automatic is using this musculature. Movement that requires reflex or balance is accessing this musculature and nervous system pathways. It is easy to understand when speaking of athletes, but how many times have you put a foot wrong and had a “recovery” to remain stable? Often, we don’t recognize the availability of resources until they diminish. Training on responsive kinetic equipment places a demand on the neuromuscular chain (central nervous system, spinal cord, peripheral nervous system, skeletal muscles) it has not “seen” before. The response in the central nervous system is to map a solution to keep up with this new demand. That response is to fire fast twitch muscle first and to recruit transitive muscle fiber to respond more like fast witch muscle.  Other adaptations in the chain include changes in myelination, changes to proprioceptive apparatus (sensors in joints and muscle fiber that tell the body where it is) and changes to synaptic gaps and pathways.

What you notice depends on what you do for activities. If you are tracking any measurements of your activities, you will know somethings up quickly. Recall from the earlier peek into the study I had the privilege to work on we normally got feedback by the fourth session about something they sensed in their activities. An example of gains seen in the  study, vertical jump increases of 2 to 6 inches were recorded frequently.

There have been many sports stars who have used this equipment which has resulted in great achievements. Michael Jordan, Shaq, Lenny Kryzelburg, Holly McPeak, Jeff Henderson, Tori Bowie, and many others. Tim Grover uses one of these machines as a secret weapon in producing explosive power in short time frames because it is so effective. This is important at the elite level of sports since time equals significant amounts of money. Everyone wants results though and they would like to see results reasonably quickly. Since data is captured for every rep of every set on these machines, (se Fig 2) the practitioner can tailor the progression of work very effectively. Our experience in training athletes and in research has shown that results, that is physiological adaptations begin to be felt by the performer in 3 or 4 sessions. When we set up training blocks, we generally use a 10-session format with two sessions per week. Since there is very little eccentric loading there is very little muscle soreness. Generally, after 2 sessions there is none. In some cases, we have trained athletes in a more compact time span training every other day for a few weeks.  As stated earlier the populations where this is extremely valuable tool is much more far reaching than simply athletic pursuits. I believe that the aging population and those with neuro muscular challenges are the most needing of this technology. Hence our desire to scale our efforts. Significant changes occur in lives where real results in a reasonable time frame make a very big difference in quality of life through increased mobility. This affects the mindset as well and they work together to perpetuate a strengthening of the whole person.

For more information visit fastwitchkinetics.com or write us with your inquiry at ftkinetic@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you!

– Matt Mcfall, Founder of FasTwitch Kinetics

References

Pette, D., & Staron, R. S. (1997). Mammalian Skeletal Muscle Fiber Type Transitions. International Review of Cytology, 170, 143-223. doi:10.1016/s0074-7696(08)61622-8

Enoka, R. (2015). Neuromechanics of human movement. 5th ed. Champaign: Human Kinetics, pp.P255 – 267 Neural Control of movement; P205 – 251 Muscle and Motor Units.

Murray, D., Brown, L., Zinder, S., Noffal, G., Bera, S. and Garrett, N. (2007) Effects of Velocity-Specific Training on Rate of Velocity Development, Peak Torque, and Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(3), pp.870-874

 Kawamori, N. and Haff, G. (2004). The Optimal Training Load for the Development of Muscular Power. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 18(3), pp.675-684.

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The Most Important Takeaways From #mbgrevitalize 2019

This past weekend, mindbodygreen held its 6th annual #mbgrevitalize event, and we were there to capture the magic!  This year’s theme was Longevity, Consciousness, and Community – in which hundreds of wellness leaders gathered in Dove Mountain, Arizona, to discuss what it really means to be conscious, to form meaningful connections, and to inspire lasting change in our communities.

Some of this weekend’s conversations were admittedly tough, but undeniably enlightening. And it’s doing the difficult work that helps us be and create the change we wish to see in the world.  Continue reading to learn some of the biggest takeaways from this year’s #mgbrevitalize.

For the first time since World War I, life expectancy in the United States has declined for 3 years in a row.

On average, life expectancy across the globe has been steadily increasing over the past several decades; however, reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that life expectancy in the United States has actually dropped for three consecutive years. This has largely been in part because of the country’s ongoing drug crisis and climbing suicide rates. This is notably the first time that researchers have seen this disturbing result in the U.S. since the 1915-1918 timeframe, during which World War I and a flu pandemic took place.

Here are the CDC’s most recent reports highlighting life expectancy and mortality rates in America:

Mortality in the United States, 2017

Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2017

Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2017

People feel lonely because of social constructs and conditioning.

Loneliness is a universal yet relatively complex human emotion. It is typically associated with anxious feelings due to lack of connection or communication with others, and it has been shown to lead to poorer physical and mental health over time (NCBI).

So, what causes us to feel lonely?

The first time that most people experience loneliness is when their parents leave them alone as infants.  As they age, they may experience temporary loneliness in different contexts, such as going through a divorce, losing someone important in their life, or being outcasted from a social circle. The cause and severity of loneliness really varies from one person to another, as there could be social, mental, emotional, and/or physical factors at play.

Deepak Chopra, co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, and a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, argues that people feel lonely because of social constructionism – the theory that much of what we perceive as reality depends on shared assumptions (ThoughtCo).  Examples of social constructs include things like the concept of currency, which people have collectively given importance and value, as well as the self/self-identity (gender, age, sexual orientation, race, social class), which can affect one’s self-esteem.

Chopra insists that reality doesn’t exist; we are all having an individual human-specific experience. For us humans, subjective experiences occur in the form of sensations, images, feelings and thoughts (Deepak Chopra). While we were sitting in the audience listening to Chopra share his wisdom on the mainstage at #mbgrevitalize, we could feel his calm demeanor and see his gentle smile as he spoke. Unlike us humans, Painted Lady Butterflies have 30,000 lenses in each eye; if one of these butterflies were looking at Chopra on stage, they would see a kaleidoscope of moving shapes but would not have the same emotional connection or experience that the people in the audience had. If you put this into the context of a romantic relationship, subjective experiences often contribute to why couples may see a situation or event in their relationship differently.

The mind is an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow and energy of relationships.

Mental Illness is defined as thinking locally and acting as a separate self.

Chopra says that when we are babies, we are filled with curiosity and wonder. But as we age, and we become conditioned by social constructs, we begin to build a separate self—one that can fill us with anxiety, pressure and fear. But this separate self is not who you truly are.

This is the foundation for a science of consciousness, as consciousness is total freedom from conditioning and constructs. By having more awareness of your loneliness when it comes, you can acknowledge it and let it go.

Mind-altering substances may have a place in the wellness space, but it’s still out for debate.

Hallucinogens (drugs that profoundly distort a person’s perceptions of reality) have been studied in the U.S. for their potential healing benefits since the discovery of LSD in the 1940s. However, research has mostly stagnated since psychedelics were outlawed in the late 1960s. (APA)  Given the current state of drug use in America, there is a lot of controversy over whether or not mind-altering substances can actually be harnessed for good.

According to Cristina L. Magalhaes, PhD, and co-chair of a symposium on psychedelics and psychotherapy, “Combined with psychotherapy, some psychedelic drugs like MDMA, psilocybin and ayahuasca may improve symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. More research and discussion are needed to understand the possible benefits of these drugs, and psychologists can help navigate the clinical, ethical and cultural issues related to their use.”

The “Mind-Altering Substances and Wellness” session at this year’s #mbgreviatlize discussed what role psychedelic drugs should play in wellness. The panel included Holistic Psychiatrist, Ellen Vora, M.D., Physician, Molly Aloof, M.D., Whole30 Co-Founder and CEO, Melissa Hartwig Urban, and Wellness Advocate, Rich Roll.  It’s worth nothing that both Urban and Roll have had their own downfalls at the hand of drugs and alcohol, which ultimately served as the catalysts for each of their health journeys. They have successfully used their experiences to find their purpose in life: to help others live healthier and sober.

From a psychological perspective, there are both potential pros and cons when it comes to the use of hallucinogens for healing. Some people may experience breakthroughs while using these drugs that allow them to get un-stuck, overcome depression, and/or come to powerful realizations.  On the flip side, all it takes is one bad trip (frightening hallucinations or delusions that can lead to accidents) to put a person in serious danger.  If someone is predisposed to mental health issues, they are more likely to experience bad trips.

Keeping the current drug-use problem in mind, many people are getting hallucinogenic drugs off of the street because of the ease of accessibility.  It’s nearly impossible to know the quality of these drugs and where they originally came from.  “These [hallucinogenic] drugs are essentially medicines, and they need to be approached with the same gravity as pharmaceuticals,” said Vora.  If you are thinking of experimenting with mind-altering substances like LSD, PCP, or ketamine, it is vital that you consult with a doctor.  Remember: this is your brain that we are talking about, and you only get one. So, you need to be mindful of the possible side effects of hallucinogens, and how they can affect your life after using them. These drugs are not meant to be taken in isolation; it’s recommended that you have someone you trust by your side so that they can monitor you and keep you safe while you’re using the drugs.

From an economic standpoint, there’s high interest in commercializing drugs – especially if they are considered illegal and in high demand. Fun fact: In today’s pharmaceutical market, it often takes more than a decade and an estimated $2.6 billion to bring a new drug to market (Booz Allen). So, between now and the time that hallucinogens are officially launched to the public, more research needs to be done on how different types of halogens affect the brain, overall health, and decision making.  We also need a better understanding of how different dosages can impact people that have varying biomarkers (e.g. PTSD, bipolar disorder, depression, etc).

The bottom line: there is so standard or single solution when it comes to using psychedelic drugs for healing. There is room for experimentation, but it needs to be done in controlled, safe settings so that researchers can continue to evaluate what dosages are appropriate for whom, and under what circumstances. Regulation that puts peoples’ health first, above simply making profit, will be of utmost importance. It will take conscious leadership of medical practitioners, as well as state and local governments to help make this happen.

Research shows that there are 9 key factors that affect one’s ability to heal from cancer.

There have been thousands of documented cases of “incurable diseases”, in which people have fully recovered from their diagnosis and reclaimed their lives.  Most of these case studies have revolved around people that have stage 4 cancer, but there have also been documented cases of healing from heart failure, autoimmune diseases, and HIV.

Were these people just lucky? Or did they play some kind of active role in their own recovery?

Kelly A. Turner, PhD, studies people who have experienced what she calls “radical remissions.” She’s written a book about them, and is currently working on a docuseries. What Kelly discovered is that the people who have achieved radical remissions don’t just sit in misery or wait for a miracle to cure them. During their healing process, they proactively made nine distinct conscious changes in their lives – only two of which are considered physical while the remaining seven are classified as emotional changes.

Here are the 9 key factors that Turner has identified as aiding forces behind radical remissions:

  1. Radically changing your diet.
  2. Taking control of your health.
  3. Following your intuition.
  4. Using herbs and supplements.
  5. Releasing suppressed emotions.
  6. Increasing positive emotions.
  7. Embracing social support.
  8. Deepening your spiritual connection.
  9. Having strong reasons for living.

Though there are no promises that following these tips will absolutely cure cancers or other illnesses, there is very interesting research that indicates cancer treatments may have better outcomes if they take a more holistic approach rather than just relying on surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation.

While recovery is important, prevention is also key to living a life of longevity.  Did you know: people on average go into a stressful state as much as 50 times a day?  This causes us to miss out on dopamine (an important brain chemical that influences your mood and feelings), and increases our cortisol levels. Often called the “stress hormone,” cortisol triggers the natural “flight or fight” response that has kept humans alive for thousands of years. The danger of having high levels of cortisol too often is that it means you are constantly in high-stress mode. If your body experiences chronic stress, then it will begin to break down over time (Premier Health).

“Chi” is a Chinese word meaning “life force energy”.  Some alternative medical practitioners believe that having low chi means that you’re too low on your life force, and that you’re more susceptible to being affected by illness and disease.  Turner says that having a strong sense of purpose in life can help draw more chi into the body. This may also help you prevent your body from becoming more susceptible to disease.

To live a long life, you should be like a gorilla that eats in Italy.

Ok, not literally, but eating lots and lots of plants is really good for you, and nutrition is directly related to longevity. Here are the top myths about longevity that you should be aware of:

Myth: The Mediterranean Diet is 100% healthy for you.

Fact:  More research needs to be done, but here’s what we know. This particular diet is based on the habits of people from Italy, Greece, and Spain. This part of the world is considered a blue zone area — blue zones are regions of the world where people appear to live much longer than average.  It includes the consumption of things like legumes, fish, fruit, vegetables, and olive oil. It’s that last ingredient that researchers think may be the key health-promoting part of the diet.

Steven Gundry, M.D. argues that the Mediterranean Diet is pretty healthy for most people to adopt, except that it includes foods that have lectins.  Lectins are a type of plant protein that can be found in almost all foods, but the foods that are believed to be highest in lectins include whole grains and legumes, and nightshade vegetables, like tomatoes, peppers and potatoes (Genuine Health). The problem is that our bodies have not adapted to the lectins found in these foods. They can be difficult to digest, toxic even (if not cooked properly), which negatively affects the microbiome and puts you at greater risk of disease.  Gundry says that you should focus on consuming plants that don’t have these lectins, as well as foods with high omegas, and olive oil. Lots and lots of olive oil! (People in Italy, Greece and Spain regularly consume an average of 1 liter of olive oil per week (12-14 tablespoons per day).

Myth: Animal protein is essential for strength and longevity.

Fact: Simply put, gorillas and horses disprove this. They only eat plants, and they are both strong and HUGE!

Myth: Growth hormones produce youthfulness and vitality.

Fact: Being smaller in size may actually help promote vitality, not being bigger. Gundry points out that most of the people who live in the Blue Zones are far shorter than average height. Women are also typically shorter than men. Research shows that they have lower rates of coronary heart disease than men and on average live about seven years longer (MindBodyGreen).

Myth: It’s important to consume iron as you age.

Fact: Iron is an essential metal for the body, but excessive iron consumption is dangerous for mitochondrial function and causes organ dysfunction through the production of reactive oxygen species (NCBI).

Myth: Milk does the body good.

Fact: Milk has huge amounts of insulin growth factor in it, which mother cows give to their babies to help them grow. Humans are the only species that consumes other animals’ milk, and humans on average are much bigger than they were decades ago. But humans are not baby cows!

Aging can’t be stopped, but the process can be slowed.

For the average person, genes account for 25% of longevity, and environment accounts for 75%.  As we age, we experience more “wear and tear”. Examples of wear and tear include, but are not limited to: exposure to and consumption of toxins, injuries, and sun exposure – all of which lead to instability of the genome (the genetic material present in a cell or organism) and DNA damage.  The problem is that our body’s repair mechanisms slow down over time.

Anti-aging facts you should be aware of:

  • The insulin-signaling pathways are responsible for blood sugar regulation, which is at the core of anti-aging.
  • Autophagy is like your body’s garbage disposal, it allows the cells in your body to cleanse themselves by removing unnecessary or dysfunctional components.
  • There are pathways that stimulate growth and other pathways that stimulate autophagy.
  • As you age, there should be a shift in habits from growth to preservation. In other words, it might be more important to focus on your diet as you get older, whereas working out the way you used to could be excessive strain on your body that adds more wear and tear.
  • NAD+ is crucial for cellular repair and mitochondrial maintenance.
  • According to Frank Lipman, “There isn’t really a magic bullet for anti-aging, but if there were one, it would be sleep.”

When it comes to preserving the body, remember this: our daily habits have the opportunity to have extraordinary effects on our health and longevity.

 

“Get more sleep, eat less, and love more.” – Robert Roundtree

Humanity is evolving.

A pessimistic view of the world narrowly focuses on the problems that exist, but despite what the news may say, the world isn’t all bad.  In fact, history shows that humans have taken great strides to improve social and economic conditions over the past couple of centuries, as well as access to greater technology, people, and experiences. For reference, check out this timeline of U.S. history:

  • 200 years ago (early 1800s), 90% of people lived on $2/day.
  • In 1865, slavery was abolished.
  • Nearly 100 years ago (1920), women could finally vote.
  • In 1964, Jim Crow Laws were abolished.
  • In 1983, the internet was invented. The World Wide Web was later developed in 1990. This meant that people now had access to information from all over the globe.
  • Smartphones were created in 1992, which resulted an entirely new and fast way to help people stay connected.
  • Since the early 2000’s, many businesses with a shared-economy model (such as Uber and Airbnb) have empowered more people to travel and share experiences with others on their own terms.

Here’s the now. Though there have been times of war and corruption, history shows that humankind has collectively been moving toward greater connection. There is undoubtedly a greater sense of what is morally right and wrong, and what defines conscious leadership.

According to John Mackey, Cofounder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, and coauthor of Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, conscious leaders:

  • Are passionate
  • Are service oriented
  • Are authentic
  • Have integrity
  • Hold themselves accountable
  • Have a high level of emotional intelligence
  • Inspire people
  • Mobilize energy
  • Cultivate self-awareness
  • Encourage growth in others and build confidence

Business is about people working together to create value for others.  In order to be a conscious leader, one must create a shared purpose (Whole Food Market’s is to nourish people on the planet), and always strive to find the win-win-win solution in any given business situation.

“Can you build a business based on love?” – John Mackey

Business clichés are notably often centered around sports, battle, or the ego – all of which reinforce the idea of focusing on the competition and contracting oneself instead of leading with an open heart and consciousness. When we lead with fear, we are at greater risk of destroying opportunities, relationships, sales, product launches, and employee morale.  That’s why it is essential to eliminate fear in business – in order to minimize the risk of short-circuiting love. The many faces of love include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Gratitude
  • Care
  • Compassion
  • Appreciation
  • Forgiveness
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What You Need to Know About Algae, Bacteria, and Your Health

By now, you may have heard of the powerhouses that are spirulina and chlorella. These trendy superfoods are often called “blue-green algae” and used interchangeably in context; however, there are notable key differences between the two that you should know about. For starters, only one of these are actually a type of algae, meanwhile the other is actually a form of bacteria. Can you guess which is which?! Keep reading to find out!

What is Algae?

Seaweed, giant kelp, and pond moss are all examples of algae — protists with plant-like characteristics, that are capable of performing photosynthesis (the process of using sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water). Unlike terrestrial plants, algae lack vascular tissue and do not possess roots, stems, leaves, or flowers.

Algae notably play an important role in maintaining the oxygen supply on our planet. As primary producers, algae are also the foundation of the food chain in various aquatic environments (including saltwater, freshwater, wet soil, and on moist rocks) that in turn help feed the entire ecosystem.

The History Behind Algae as a Superfood

Algae is one of the most nutrient dense, high protein, plant-based, sustainable, safe, and organic foods in the world. It’s been shown to:

  • quickly and safely satisfy hunger
  • supplement many daily nutritional needs
  • improve energy, focus and even athletic performance
  • provide natural detoxification and chelation
  • improve cardiovascular, neurological, immune, and mental health
  • boost longevity and wellness

For all of these reasons, humans have been consuming algae as both food and medicine throughout history.

What is chlorella?

Chlorella is a “true” plant, and is easily the most cultivated algae today since it is widely used as a supplement or a food source. It’s also commonly found in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. There are actually over 30 different species within the Chlorella family, but two types — Chlorella vulgaris and Chlorella pyrenoidosa — are most commonly used in research (1).

In terms of it’s biology, chlorella has a hard cell wall that humans cannot digest. That’s why it must be consumed as a supplement (in capsule, tablet, powder and extract form) in order to reap its health benefits.

Key Benefits of Chlorella

  • It is a complete protein, meaning that it has all the essential amino acids the body needs in order to produce feel-good neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin), and help your muscles grow. To put this into perspective, chlorella algae powder has a higher protein content by weight than almost any other food( 60% protein by mass compared to meat, eggs, and beans, are typically between 20%-40% protein). (2)
  • Chlorella has the highest amount of chlorophyll found in any known plant. Chlorophyll, of course, is what makes plants appear green; but more importantly, it acts as an antioxidant that helps detoxify the liver and digestive tract.
  • It can be a good source of iron, as well as vitamin C, which also helps you absorb iron.
  • It contains Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF), which is a potent phytonutrient comprised of amino acids, beta glucans, nucleic acids, peptides, and polysaccharides. Together, these micronutrients work together to help regenerate cells at a faster rate (3).
  • It has been shown to help combat oxidative stress damage, which can make signs of aging more apparent.
(Source: Gizmodo)

What is Cyanobacteria?

Cyanobacteria are a type of bacteria that are aquatic and photosynthetic, meaning that they live in water and produce their own food. Their name derives from phycocyanin, the pigment which they use to capture light for photosynthesis. This pigment is typically bluish-green in color (with wavelengths from 450 nm to 660 nm), but reddish-brown variations also exist.

Another fun fact: cyanobacteria are more than 3.5 billion years old and are responsible for creating atmospheric oxygen at the very beginning of life on Earth! The oxygen atmosphere that we depend on was generated by cyanobacteria during the Archaean and Proterozoic Eras. Prior to these time periods,  the atmosphere had a very different chemistry that would be unsuitable for life as we know it today.

Source: Research Gate

What is Spirulina?

Spirulina is a member of the cyanobacteria family and has a spiral-like appearance (hence the name that derives from the Latin word “helix”, meaning spiral). It is extremely digestible and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Spirulina is also rich in vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and perhaps most importantly for those who are malnourished — protein. In fact, Spirulina consists of 70% protein content, yielding 20 times more protein per unit area than soybeans, 40 times more than corn, and over 200 times more than beef (4).

Unlike most plants, Spirulina is able to withstand extreme temperature variations and still thrive.  Spirulina is also an incredibly sustainable food source that, according to the World Health Organization, has the potential to end world hunger and malnutrition.  Even NASA and The European Space Agency have begun researching the benefits of incorporating it into astronauts’ diets both in spaceships and on Mars (5).

The Key Differences Between Algae and Cyanobacteria

Algae are eukaryotic (typically multi-cellular, but can also be single-celled) organisms that contain a nucleus, mitochondria, and chloroplasts within each cell. They also have a sensor that is similar to the one in the human eye, which helps them detect and identify light sources that they can use to produce energy.

Cyanobacteria are prokaryotic (unicellular) organisms and are the only form of oxygenic photosynthetic bacteria known to date. Unlike algae, cyanobacteria lack a nucleus, mitochondria and chloroplasts; instead they have chlorophylls dispersed throughout their cytoplasm and perform photosynthesis by using water as an electron donor to generate oxygen.

Cyanobacteria are often called “blue-green algae” because they live in water and make their own food, but this name is actually a little misleading because it does not reflect any real relationship between the cyanobacteria and other organisms called algae. Cyanobacteria are not directly related to eukaryotes, but they do share extremely similar  characteristics to chloroplasts that are found in eukaryotic algae. (6)

The Key Similarities Between Spirulina and Chlorella

Many health professionals consider both forms of cyanobacteria to be wonderfully healthy and effective superfood supplements. When combined, they provide vital amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. More specifically, they:

  • Are great sources of protein.
  • Are extremely nutrient dense, and therefore have antioxidant effects.
  • Can help regulate and improve your mood, cognitive function, as well as the functionality of your nervous system, reproductive system, and immune system.
  • Can help lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and prevent heart disease.
  • Can help with anti-aging by maintaining the appearance of smoother, hydrated skin.

The Key Differences Between Spirulina and Chlorella

Though these two superfoods do look, smell and even taste similar, here’s a quick recap of their differences:

  • Structure: Chlorella is a true single-cell algae with a nucleus. Spirulina is a multi-celled form of bacteria with no nucleus, and it is much bigger than chlorella in size.
  • Color: Chlorella is a green due to chlorophyll; however, there are red and brown variations of algae that exist. Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria, and is bluish-green in color.
  • Where they grow: Spirulina grows naturally in warm, mineral-rich alkaline lakes, rivers, ponds. and saltwater. Chlorella are only found in freshwater.
  • Digestibility: Spirulina can be consumed easily because they do not have cellulose in their cell wall, but chlorella needs to be broken down into pill or powder form before the body can consume it and reap health benefits.
  • Nutrient Density: Both are high in protein, but spirulina still has a higher protein content (about 60 to 70% of its dry weight.) Both superfoods are also packed with minerals, antioxidants and iron. Chlorella is actually one of the few plant sources of vitamin B-12, as confirmed by a 2002 study. According to the FDA, Spirulina contains significant amounts of calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
  • Detoxification: Chlorella is recognized as one of the most effective detoxifiers of chemicals and heavy metals. It has unique properties in its cell walls that make it bind to heavy metals and other contaminants in the gastrointestinal tract, which prevents them from being absorbed into the body’s tissues. Spirulina conversely does not have a tough cell wall, but has been shown to still aid in eliminating heavy metals and toxins from the body.
Source: Bio2go

Products We Think You’ll Love

ENERGYbits makes plant-based nutrition tablets to support your health and well-being naturally and sustainably. They offer a few different variations of their tablets for different purposes:

  • ENERGYbits (100% Spirulina) make for an easy, healthy, high-protein snack before physical activity. They are also ideal for people who do not have access to healthy food while at work.
  • RECOVERYbits (100% Chlorella) contain 40 different micronutrients and chlorophyll to help you detox and slow down aging. These tablets are like recovery gold for athletes and people that need to boost their immune system.
  • VITALITYbits (50% Spirulina/50% Chlorella) give you the best of both superfoods and are your answer for raw energy and optimized health! With over 40 micronutrients and plenty of protein, VITALITYbits will stop your cravings, improve your focus and give you a steady stream of physical energy throughout the day.

ENERGYbits tablets are organic, keto and vegan! Unlike energy drinks, protein bars, and other sports nutrition products, these tablets use entirely natural products as opposed to sugar and artificial ingredients.

Use coupon code “Biohacked” at checkout to save 20% off of your order!

Final Note: Cautions to be Weary of

Though generally considered safe, chlorella and spirulina each have their own potential risks and side effects to consider.

Possible side effects of consuming chlorella include:

  • Allergic reactions,
  • Skin sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity)
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Oral blisters
  • Liver damage
  • Diarrhea
  • An increase in Vitamin K will likely increase clotting, which may not be ideal if you have a clotting disorder
  • Nausea
  • Green discoloration of the stools
  • Stomach cramps
  • Iodine levels are moderate and have negative impacts if you have a thyroid condition

According to the EPA, “Continuous sublethal or low-level exposures to cyanotoxins can potentially lead to the development of gastrointestinal, neurological, and liver disorders.”

Possible side effects of consuming chlorella include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Green discoloration of the stools

Disclaimer: We like to help people live healthier, and in doing so, we may provide information about specific health products in order to help the public make educated health decisions for themselves. Please note that we may earn a commission if you click on the links in this article. With that being said, we only promote the products we truly believe in! We appreciate your support of Biohacked and the biohacking community.

References

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Healthy Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

Get Mom something that will make her feel appreciated, and healthy too!

Moms sacrifice a lot — sleep, time, money, and clean carpets. What’s the best way to say thanks? Give her a gift that lets her know that her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed and that you care about her well-being.

Here are some of our top picks for Mother’s Day gifts that we think your mom will love:

Midnight Shift Overnight Facial Oil
By Moonlit Skincare

This facial oil uses powerful ingredients — including ginseng and jojoba — to moisturize, plump, soften, and smoothen uneven skin tones. It also has a calming lavender scent that helps induce calming and rejuvenating beauty sleep!

 

How it works:

  • Ginseng: tones and brightens
  • Papaya: maximizes cell turnover
  • Green Tea: neutralizes free radicals
  • Jojoba: antibacterial, moisturizing, softens skin
  • Lavender: calms the nervous system

Why Mom will love it: The lavender helps induce a calming effect before bedtime. And who doesn’t want to wake up with smoother, moisturized skin in the morning?!


Sleep Crown Over-The-Head Pillow, Pillow Mist

By Sleep Crown

This is the world’s first over-the-head relaxation pillow, designed to block light and disruptive ambient noise while sleeping. This pillow is handmade with premium Bamboo Jersey and Vegan Down. It gently hugs the face with just the right amount of pressure, making you feel super cozy in bed.

The Pillow Mist that pairs with the Over-The-Head Pillow is comprised of Lavender, Sandalwood, Roman Chamomile and Lime. Ther aromatherapy blend will cue your systems to prepare for sleep.

How it Works:

  • Bamboo jersey knit is a super-soft, natural, sustainable fabric with wicking and cooling capabilities
  • Hypo-allergenic and Vegan
  • Aromatherapy promotes a sense of calm

Why Mom will love it: The Over-The-Head Sleep Crown Pillow is made out of premium ingredients that are sourced in the United States. Better rest at night means a better, more refreshed mood during the day.


Blue Light-Blocking and Sleep-Hacking Glasses

By TrueDark

Overexposure to artificial blue light can seriously disrupt your mom’s circadian rhythm. By blocking the proper amount of “junk” light at different times of day, your mom will be able to prevent eye strain, improve sleep, and maintain peak energy levels.

How they work:

TrueDark Daywalkers come in two flavors: clear or yellow lenses. The clear lenses block 40% of blue light, and the yellow lenses block 75% of blue light. These glasses are intended to be worn while using digital devices and, or while exposed to artificial light (think: fluorescents and LEDs) for extended periods of time during the day. If your mom works in an office setting and sits in front of the computer for 8-10 hours a day, help her protect her eyes, mind and body!


TrueDark Sleep-Hacking Glasses have red lenses and comparatively block 98-100% of blue, green and violet light, depending on which style you get. They are designed to help induce deep sleep quickly at night — even if you are staring at screens on digital devices in bed 🙂

Why Mom will love it: By taking more control over the light in her environment, your mom will be able to better align her natural body clock to the rise and fall of the sun, and subsequently live healthier. Better sleep at night will help her feel better and have a more productive day tomorrow!


Instant Radiant Package

By Alitura

Not enough time to schedule a spa day? Bring the spa to Mom! Alitura offers a full line of natural skincare products that help nourish and rejuvenate skin.

 

The Instant Radiant Package includes a Derma Roller,  Gold Serum, and a Clay Mask.

How It Works:

  • The Alitura Derma Roller helps:
    • boost collagen production
    • reduce the visibility of scarring & premature skin aging
    • combat stretch marks & cellulite
    • reduce the appearance of large pores
    • minimize the appearance of bags & dark circles under eyes
  • The Alitura Gold serum includes:
    • Vitanol to combat fine lines and wrinkles
    • Copper Tripeptide-1 to improve skin elasticity and density
    • Astaxanthin (an antioxidant) to reduce inflammation and wrinkles
    • Marine Collagen to reduce fine lines
    • Co Q10 to improve the health of your skin at a cellular level
  • The Alitura Clay Mask includes:
    • Freshwater Pearl Powder to reduce redness and irritation
    • 6-hour Grass-fed Colostrum to help regenerate skin cells
    • American Ginseng to eliminate blood impurities
    • 10% L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) to brighten the appearance of skin
    • Rhassoul Clay to detoxify the skin
    • Calcium Bentonite Clay (Green Desert Clay) to extract acne-producing toxins and metals
    • Kaolin Clay to help purify, nourish and heal the skin
    • Organic Kelp Powder to promote a radiant complexion

Why Mom will love it: This ‘all-in-one’ spa-day treatment can be used in the comfort of her own home and for a fraction of the cost of going to a real spa!  Visit them at alituranaturals.com and use code BIOHACKED20 at checkout!


TrueLight Energy Square

By TrueDark

There is scientific evidence that shows Yellow, Red, and Near-Infrared light spectrums have a biological impact on our bodies.  The red and near-infrared spectrums have a much deeper penetration level than other light spectrums, which allows them to reach the hypodermis and have benefits that are so far-reaching.

The TrueLight Energy Square uses a patent-pending combination of light, including deep red, red, near-infrared and yellow light to help the skin and body heal better and faster.

How it works:

  • Red 660nm and 630nm wavelengths can:
    • enhance blood circulation
    • have anti-inflammatory effects
    • quick muscle recovery
    • increased collagen production
    • Improve the appearance of skin
    • reduces scars, wrinkles, & fine lines
    • Speed up wound healing
    • decreases pain
  • NIR 850nm wavelength can:
    • penetrate all the way through skin and bone
    • helps prompt tissue and deep wound healing
  • Yellow 580nm wavelength can:
    • be a drug-free alternative for skin redness and flushing
    • reduce skin irritation and rosacea
    • heal UV damage
    • help flush waste from the skin
    • boost lymphatic flow
    • reduce the appearance of tiny blood vessels on the nose/face
  • Steady or Pulsating modes can be used:
    • Steady for help reducing pain
    • Pulsating to assist with cellular healing

Why Mom will love it: The TrueLight product line is designed with cost, size, and transportability in mind. Compared to most light therapy products on the market, TrueLight is extremely affordable, and the Energy Square, in particular, is a great solution for targeted healing (e.g. the face, shoulder, knee, etc.)

From our family to yours, Happy Mother’s Day!

    –  Your Biohacked Team