Friday, June 13, 2014

Experivida: The next chapter in my Journey...

My journey so far has taken me from discovering the Best Local Organic Produce to experimenting with deliciously effervescent Kombucha, from the forgotten/ health benefits of Raw Milk to my extensive testing of Pre/Post Workout Nutritional Cocktails... it's been a great ride, and I'd like to continue this journey without the restrictions of Primal or Paleo; they were good starting points but I've found lately that my interests go far beyond this limited construct. Question everything.

So, without further ado I bring you! Going forward this will be my new hangout; a place to post about things I've read, projects I'm working on and experiments I've done. Check it out, I'll hopefully be posting more frequently than I've been doing here! Ha. Plus, I've joined forces with the creative genius and eco-visionary Shaina Deciryan to help bring even more content to light! Real Life Experiments. Real Life Experience.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Red Meat Kills... Again... or Does it?

Just to put the NY Times article on Red Meat, TMAO and Atherosclerosis into perspective... I'd suggest avoiding seafood, not red meat, if you're overly concerned with TMAO at all (the actual clinical "danger" of TMAO is debatable). For instance, Halibut produces 107 times as much TMAO in urine samples as beef after ingestion, and in general seafood as a group is significantly higher than red meat, Figure 1 and 2.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

HealThy Mouth Seminar... Thoughts on Fluoride?

This post is based on the HealThy Mouth Seminar series (, which is unfortunately only available for free for 24 hrs but I believe can still be purchased if you're interested. I'm not affiliated with the seminar, but many of the presentations brought up good points, particularly one by Dr. David Kennedy regarding fluoride and fluoridation of public water. Putting fluoride in our water doesn't really seem like the best idea for cognitive or overall health in general (less than 6% of the world's population drinks fluoridated water), but I'll let you be the judge of that... I personally had mild perioral dermatitis from using fluoridated toothpaste, and it can even cause discoloration of your teeth (among other things). However, it's the less noticeable and cumulative (a lifetime of exposure) internal effects that I think are the most cause for concern.

I haven't made any drastic changes, mainly just removed the biggest sources of artificial fluoride. I think that's a reasonable change, you can read more about fluoridation on Wikipedia. I don't think anyone would argue that fluoride can reduce the occurrence of cavities, the question is really whether it's worth putting a toxic reactive chemical in your body to accomplish the minimal 15% reduction... or if maybe a better diet (Primal?) and cleaning are the real solution? Check out Weston A. Price's research on diet and cavities, look at the pictures in "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" and tell me that what we eat has nothing to do with the health of out teeth...?

I looked into various water filtration systems and found out that the standard pitcher/faucet filters DON'T remove fluoride; so the Brita, PUR and ZeroWater filters are great at removing particulates, heavy metals and chlorine, but don't significantly reduce the fluoride content of your water. Distillation only removes about 60% (and leaves behind many Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's)). Activated alumina filters can remove up to 80%, but they pose unknown health risks from aluminum exposure (not widely available) and leave high Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). The only way I found to efficiently remove most of the fluoride and also remove particulates, heavy metals and VOCs was a reverse osmosis (RO) system... At first I thought they'd be too expensive, but Amazon has a good system (5-stage, 75 gallon/day, NSF Certified) for $170 that I've been using for a while now and works great. It's a big investment, but the filters last 6 months to a year (depending on use), and over the long run you're saving money over buying RO bottled water elsewhere. Plus, no more Brita filters (which are pretty expensive already!). Problem solved... [link to City of Cocoa's Water Quality Report, 2011; Fluoride is added to our local water along with Chlorine!]

RO System: iSpring 75GPD 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System - Comparing to Watts Premier, Crystal Clear, GE, APEC

There are a lot of fluoride free toothpastes out there, so I'd try a few and see what you like. Personally, I'd recommend one with Neem in it. Neem has been used medicinally in India for over 2 millennia  and is known for it's antibacterial properties and used in oral cleaning (among other things). I use a combination of tooth paste and then add a little of the tooth powder to it... the tooth powder is also really nice for traveling (no liquids).

Toothpaste: Himalaya Herbal Healthcare Neem & Pomegranate Toothpaste

Powder: Peppermint Toothpowder - 2.5 oz - Powder

All-in-One Tooth Powder: Eco-Dent Extra Brite Tooth Whitener, Without Fluoride, Dazzling Mint

After I eat I like to chew gum to remove food from between teeth, and this gum has Neem and peppermint for fresh breath (both have antibacterial properties) and to help polish teeth as well. The only downside is that the mint flavor doesn't last very long, but at least the gum doesn't dissolve in your mouth like many other's do after chewing for an hour. It's also sugar free (xylitol; cavity protection) and soy free, which is hard to find with gum!

Gum: Peelu Co. Chewing Gum, Peppermint

That's it... these small changes have reduced my exposure to fluoride significantly and have kept me cavity free for 27+ years, and hopefully for many more to come!

Monday, January 14, 2013

What's in the American Gut?

I just wanted to help get the word out about the American Gut project on Indiegogo. This project is the first crowd sourced effort to map the microbiome of the gut, and this could shed light on a very little understood but very important aspect of human physiology. Sign up and provide a sample, you'll not only find out what's in your own gut (good or bad?), but you'll also be part of an international study that could possibly be the start to a significant change in our views about the Gut and it's role in our health!

Direct link:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

LED Lighting Revolution: It's About Time!

LED lights have been around for a while now (first practical use in 1962!), but with the falling prices of CFLs and the dirt cheap incandescent lights still available its been pretty hard to make a good case for a $50 LED bulb... especially with the cost of electricity at 0.12 $/kWh on average...

Things are changing though; current generation LED lights have fixed the problems with color/dispersion/dimming that plagued earlier bulbs, and LEDs are available at large retailers like Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes (and online at Amazon) which are helping to drive down costs. Right now, you can buy your standard 60 W equivalent LED bulb for around $20-30, which is a huge improvement from the past but still a large investment to make in a product with uncertain longevity. After all, my experience with CFLs has been pretty bad... they might save energy now, but in a year or two when they burn out it's hard to justify the price. I mean, they're suppose to last 5-7 years under normal use (theoretically resulting in substantial savings), but at least in my experience, that's far from the truth (judging by online reviews, it seems like I'm not alone). So, when it comes to LEDs I can see how people might be hesitant, especially with manufacturers touting 20+ year lifespans. Although in my experience, LEDs tend to last longer than the electronics their in! I'm still left thinking, if I buy one of these for 2-3 times the price of a CFL is it really going to last anywhere near 20 years or will it die 5 years from now, after the warranty runs out (and I've lost my receipt)  and with no option but to buy another one? Plus, they always make a big deal about the pay-back period for their LED bulb vs the standard incandescent... but I've never seen it compared to their real competition, the CFL bulb which would be much longer! 

Test Case (Kitchen Lighting, assuming 8 hrs/day, 0.12 $/kWh): Cost Per Year

65 W BR30 Incandescent [$4] - 0.065 kW * 2920 h/year * 0.12 $/kWh = 22.78 $/year

16 W BR30 CFL [$10] - 0.016 kW * 2920 h/year * 0.12 $/kWh = 5.61 $/year

13 W BR30 LED [$25] - 0.013 kW * 2920 h/year * 0.12 $/kWh = 4.56 $/year

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Superstarch: Optimum Intra-exercise Nutrition?

This is an interesting presentation on how our body's energy systems (glucose vs. fat metabolism sources) work to fuel our body during exercise, and how to optimally re-fuel the body during intense/long duration workouts... Superstarch... helps you maintain your blood glucose levels without spiking insulin and decreasing the utilization of fatty acids for energy during exercise. Seems like interesting stuff, what do you guys think? All hype or is this something that could be the next big thing for optimizing performance, especially in longer duration events.

You can read the full article here: Peter Attia's Website

I might have to give this "Superstarch" a try (10% off code: "UCANPA")... I've been hesitant because of the price, but maybe the performance benefits are worth it. I'll let you know how it goes, feel free to leave your feedback in the comments if you've tried this yourself!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Post Workout Nutrition: Self Experimentation

To optimize my Post Workout (PWO) nutrition I've been experimenting with a few things lately (UPDATED: Post Workout Nutrition: Self Experimentation Redux)... it's a little bit of a departure from purely eating "real food", although I look at my PWO stack as a supplement and still eat a huge re-feed meal (real food) of grass-fed beef/salmon/eggs and sweet potatoes. This is also still a trial and error process, I'm experimenting with the various nutrient stacks to find what really works and doesn't for me, and I'd recommend you do the same if you're interested in a little biohacking! I'd personally stay away from the "Extreme Power Protein" type mixes out there, it's much better to make your own and know exactly what goes into it.

Research strongly shows that glucose helps with the body's absorption of nutrients after intense exercise, effectively "shuttling" the nutrients into the muscle tissue. Therefore, I think it's essential for a PWO stack to include a moderate (<20g, dose depends on intensity/duration) amount of natural sugars (roughly 70% glucose, 30% fructose optimal absorption) to aid in delivering any nutrients you have in your stack to the tissue/muscle. To blunt the blood sugar spike from the glucose, I add a natural whey protein concentrate (non-denatured, whole protein) to my stack (slows digestion), which also provides essential amino acids (whey protein concentrate is one of the most complete protein supplements) for muscle growth. Additionally, I've been adding Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) along with the whey as well (BCAAs essential for building muscle).

Alright, so here's the current stack I use in my PWO protein shake (11.2 oz ONE Coconut water w/ Whey Factors Chocolate). Coconut water has electrolytes (potassium, sodium, etc), it's good for hydration, and the sugar is approximately 70% glucose, 30% fructose:

  • Creatine: ON Micronized Creatine Monohydrate (CM), muscle building staple and increased IQ (research, 2, 3). This is undoubtedly the supplement with the most impact on strength, recovery and performance, hands down. If I had to choose just one supplement out of the stack, this would be it! Recently, I've been experimenting with different forms of creatine to improve absorption (theres's creatine HCL, creatine kre-alkalyn, creatine ethyl ester, creatine malate, etc.), since I seem to be a CM non-responder. Although a little pricey, I think Creatine HCL is the best alternative form, and I've seen a big difference since switching from CM (research). 
  • Beta Alanine: NOW Beta Alanine, increases blood flow/circulation and increases endurance. The tingling sensation also blunts the PWO soreness, which can be nice after a long brutal ride (or lifting session).
  • Citrulline Malate: Primaforce Citrulline Malate, Precursor to L-Arginine and provides prolonged NO production, Malic acid aids in ammonia disposal from increased protein metabolism (research2).
  • L-Glutamine: NOW Glutamine, there's not much scientific evidence that Glutamine is really effective at improving strength/power directly, but it's good for your gut and with all the PWO food and other supplements I like to add it in too (After-all, you are what you "digest", not necessarily what you "eat").
  • BCAAs:  ON BCAA Unflavored, essential amino acids... UPDATE: Whey protein concentrate contains BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine) and so does whole food (meats), so it's not essential to supplement with this. Some people swear by BCAAs, but personally I haven't noticed much of a difference with adequate protein intake. TL;DR - Won't hurt but might not be worth the money.
  • L-Arginine: NOW L-Arginine, gives your muscles the PUMP (increases circulation), NO (nitric oxide) precursor in you body. UPDATE: I've tried this for a while and I haven't notice any difference at all. Maybe it makes a bigger difference pre-workout, but for me I'll just use citrulline malate in the future.

I use the suggested serving of each (for the most part, adjust to personal preference), mixed with the coconut water protein shake described above... Like I mentioned, I'd mess around with dosage and timing and see what works best for you! Personally, I work out fasted/semi-fasted (because of this) and just use the stack PWO. Many people take these supplements before working out for the PUMP/endurance gains, ymmv. Be careful with the Beta Alanine at first, the "tingling" effects are quit noticeable (I'm up to 1 level tsp now). Let me know if there are any additional suggestions in the comments... Good Luck!