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Why block blue light

Many people watch Netflix (or similar services) in the evening to relax and wind down. Unfortunately watching late night TV does not help us sleep better. In a recent post about the miracles of sleep (here) and the techniques on how to improve sleep I wrote that we need to avoid blue light and there were a few questions so as to why is this. Blue light has very important functions but it is also very disruptive so let me try to clarify some of the questions and hopefully you understand how important it is to block blue lights. Knowledge is power!

The basics

Blue light is a one of the colours on the visible light spectrum that makes up about one third of all visible light and is found in 450 to 495 nanometer range.

 

The blue light colour range is found emitted in both natural sunlight and also in man-made artificial light sources. 

Blue light from the sun

The light that comes from the sun contains a wide spectrum of colours of light. When combined this range of colours form what we call white light, also known as sunlight. Blue light that comes from sunlight is a beneficial for our natural circadian rhythms.

Although excessive sun exposure can be harmful, the blue light in sunlight is balanced with red light and invisible infrared (IR) light, which has been shown to heal and repair cellular damage.

Artificial blue light

On the other hand, blue light that comes from artificial sources is a disruptor of circadian rhythms thus leading to health issues.

This is because the light that comes from light bulbs doesn’t contain the same desired distribution of colours in the short and long wavelengths like sunlight does. LED light typically produces more light in the blue light spectrum and is not balanced out with other colour wavelengths as found in sunlight. Blue light is able to pass through the cornea and lens and reach the retina. This is why excessive blue light exposure from  lightbulbs can be damaging to the eyes.

Examples of sources of artificial blue light include LED, incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs. So, artificial blue light is emitted by indoor and outdoor light bulbs and digital screens from computers, laptops, tablet computers, cellphones and gaming devices.This is in contrast to blue light that comes from artificial light sources that is not balanced out by red light and infra-red light wavelengths.

Fake light everywhere!

Summary

  • Vitamin-D is a critical co-factor in many processes in our body

Light is energy!

Each type of colour of light contains different amounts of energy. The warmer colours such as red, orange and yellows are low energy and the cooler colours like purple, blue and green all contain high amounts of energy. The highest energy visible light is often called blue-violet light or blue light.

This is why we want to wake up and get plenty of sun. It resets our circadian rythm by giving us the right amount of energy from the blue light spectrum.

On the other hand too much unbalanced blue light at the wrong time of the day has many negative effects as you will see below.

Impacts and what to do

Too much blue-light either during the day and especially in the evening is very disturbing and it can lead to some serious issues such as

  • Strain on the eyes
  • Disturbed sleep 
  • Possible damage to the retina cells at the back of the eye
  • Headaches
  • Possible contribution to forming cataracts

Today I would like to focus on the first two points as I believe most people have sleep issues and tired eyes because of too much blue light.

Digital eye strain

Digital eye strain is also referred to as computer vision syndrome and is a set of vision related problems that result from extensive use of a computer, smart phone, or tablet. The majority of people that use a computer will at some point experience digital eye strain.

Digital eyestrain has symptoms such as dry eyes, watery eyes, headaches, stiff neck or fatigue. The symptoms of digital eyestrain typically occur after using a computer for long periods of time. What causes digital eyestrain is high energy visible light (HEV) which is another name of blue light and is emitted in large quantities from your computer or laptop screens. This blue light can cause stress to the cells in our eyes, causing us to strain to see. The blue light also flickers which causes our brains to work harder which can result in headaches or migraines.

By wearing computer glasses during the day, when working on a computer, we can reduce the amount of blue light that passes through our eyes which leads to a reduction in the symptoms of digital eyestrain, fatigue and headaches.

  • The best computer glasses are ones that filter down only a small amount of blue light. We do not want to block blue light during the day as we need some blue light to function properly. This is why a good quality pair of computer glasses are great at protecting your eyes from digital eyestrain throughout the day.
  • The worst computer glasses are ones which filter down violet or green light, these are not good for during the daytime as the damaging light found in computer screens is blue light. 
  • During the daytime you do not want to block completely blue light. Blue light is essential during the day. What colour is the sky? Blue! What we want to block is the excess artificial blue-light when we are working in an office under artificial blue light or using our digital devices and computers we are bombarding our eyes!
  • In order to reduce the strain on our eyes we must also reduce flickering blue light by LED lights in our office and home. Aim for light bulbs with zero flicker and no blue light.

Summary

  • Computer glasses help relieve symptoms of digital eyestrain. 
  • Get a pair of computer glasses to filter down, but not block, some of the blue-light.

Disturbed Sleep ( due to melatonin secretion)

It is important to understand that melatonin starts to be secreted in a human with optimal circadian rhythms. 

That time starts typically around 6pm, steadily rises to around 1am when it peaks and then starts to decrease until it bottoms out around 7am. When melatonin bottoms out, cortisol peaks. Under the correct light and dark cycles melatonin release can last for about 12 hours. 

However in our modern world we are exposed to artificial light which causes a shortening of the dark circadian period. What this means is less melatonin and less less quality sleep. Those that we not wearing the blue light blocking glasses experience up-to 63% less melatonin secretion and wake up feeling tired. Has this happened to you?!

To correct this issue we mean to remove the blue and green light from 400-550nm to allow melatonin secrition. This will allow for a correct circadian clock.  Note that green light (between 500-550nm) also suppresses melatonin so we need to remove that.

  • After sunset you must block 100% of blue light and also most green light. The range of light you need to block is 100% between 400-550nm. This means the glasses need to be dark amber, orange or red in colour. 
  • Clear lenses, will not block blue light. There is a big misconception that people can wear clear computer glasses and block all blue light and sleep better. A clear lens cannot block 100% of blue and green light between 400-550nm.

For geeks

  • For optimal sleep you must block 100% of the green light found between 500-550nm. 
  • Green light runs from 500-570nm. The green light found between 551-570nm does not impact melatonin levels to the same extent than lower green light. Therefore, its best to leave that light present and not ruin your vision experience post sunset. 
  • In the presence of yellow, amber and red light as they do not impact melatonin secretion.

Summary

  • For a good night sleep buy a pair of blue light blocking glasses that block all light from 400-550nm.
  • Blue-light glasses are either orange or red

Final Thoughts

  • Blue light is essential in the morning to wake us up and give us energy but we need to manage it carefully later in the day.
  • Artificial blue can be very harmful and it is not balanced in the way the light from the sun is.
  • Aim to filter during the day some of the blue light by wearing a pair of computer glasses.
  • In they evening try to block all blue and green light between 400-550nm why wearing a pair of orange or red glasses. This way you can still enjoy your favourite Netflix series and still have a good night sleep.

Further Reading





How to get more Vitamin-D

Vitamin-D is associated with so many issues that it is probably at the top of my list for the most important vitamins. I recently wrote an article about Vitamin-D (here) but it is so essential to get enough that I wanted to follow-up on the topic.

You see there is a lot of mis-information around sun exposure and we need to set it right in the context of getting enough Vitamin-D. To make matter more complicated, during certain parts of the year, you will produce no vitamin D from the sun. Sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation in winter (October to early March) for our skin to be able to make vitamin D.  And if you live above 37 degrees north or south latitude you never receive enough sunlight to adequately produce vitamin D from the sun outside of summer months.

Let’s see how we can get more Vitamin-D to stay healthy.

Why is Vitamin-D important

The effects of even mild vitamin D deficiency needs looked into. Vitamin D has so many health benefits, protecting against or improving symptoms in such a wide range of health conditions Consider the rates of osteoporosis, tooth decay, or digestive issues peole have we can directly assume that we are not connecting to light enough.

  • You can’t absorb or use calcium : People who are even partly deficient absorb only about 10 to 15 percent of their dietary calcium and 60 percent of their dietary phosphorus. When vitamin D deficiency is corrected, intestinal calcium absorption increases to about 30-40 percent and phosphorus absorption is increased to about 80 percent.
  • Builds Stronger Bones : This is related to calcium but worth mentioning. If deficient in calcium the body will use the reserves in the bones which will weaken them.
  • The gut microbiome is effected by UVB light. Chronic digestive disorders associate with vitamin D deficiency and may be related to calcium absorption in the digestive tract. Sunlight freezes and directs calcium and minerals into our bone systems.
  • Lowers Hashimoto’s Antibodies. If your TPO antibodies are elevated, vitamin D will help.
  • May Help Inhibit Growth of Breast Cancer : Checking for Vitamin D levels is one of the first things even traditional oncologists do in the treatment of breast cancers, and it’s a baseline protocol for integrative breast cancer treatment plans.
  • Balances Blood Sugar Levels  : Healthy levels of vitamin D help make sure we’re producing adequate levels of insulin, one of our blood sugar regulating hormones. Low vitamin D levels are associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
  • Has Anti-inflammatory Effects : Vitamin-D is correleted to C-Reactive Protein levels. CRP is used as an indication of inflammation which is the underlying cause of most chronic conditions, including autoimmunity.
  • Reverses and Prevents Anemia : Until recently we mostly thought of anemia as a result of low iron and/or vitamin B12. We now know vitamin D can also play a role!

  And let’s not forget the COVID connection.

Summary

  • Vitamin-D is a critical co-factor in many processes in our body

How much do we need

Sometimes the amount of vitamin D is expressed as International Units (IU). 1 microgram of vitamin D is equal to 40 IU. So 100 micrograms of vitamin D is equal to 4000 IU. 

Babies and Children

Babies up to the age of 1 year need 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. Children from the age of 1 year and adults need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. 

Adults

Healthy blood levels of vitamin-D are considered from 30 to 60 ng/ml, but even up-to 100ng/ml is considered fine.

If you are below 10, pretty much everyone agrees that you are severely deficient, and if you are below 30, you are not getting enough. 

Too much

Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia). This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart. Ths is because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, and is not so easily excreted from the body as water-soluble vitamins, the B’s and C. It’s possible to end up with toxicity, so don’t go over the recommended range for supplementation.

When getting a dose of vitamin D3 in the range of 5,000 to 8,000 UI per day, it may still take 3 to 4 months to get into a healthy range. You can then switch to a maintenance dose of 2,000 UI per day. 

Summary

  • Aim for your Vitamin-D levels to be around 40 ng/ml.
  • Aim to get around 5000 UI per day if you are deficient and around 2000 UI as a maintenance level.

Get enough Vitamin-D from sun

You will want to calculate the time that you can produce vitamin D depending on various parameters. But dont’ worry about making too much vitamin D from the sun because your body self-regulates by stopping production when it has reached its limit.

Check the UV index :  If the sunlight isn’t strong enough for your skin to be able to make any Vitamin-D.  The strength of UV radiation being emitted by the sun varies by time of day, time of year, and day of the week. You generally want an UV index greater than 5. A great app for this is DMinder which tracks sunlight and vitamin D production to maximize your body’s vitamin D generation while helping to prevent burning.

The Shadow Rule : While you are outside in the sunshine, look at your shadow. Is it shorter than you are? If your shadow is shorter than your height, the sun is high enough in the sky to let UVB rays shine through and reach the ground, and your skin!

Latitude and season : Those closer to the equator, where the midday sun is high in the sky throughout the year, have the ability to produce vitamin D year-round, where as those north of about 37 degrees latitude experience a “vitamin D winter” for some period of time between fall and early spring when the sun never gets high enough in the sky to enable vitamin D production.

Clothing and sunscreen : If you want more Vitamin-D expose more skin!

Time in the sun : Under the right conditions, the body can produce 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D with full body exposure in just under the time it takes for your skin to turn pink, but not on your first day out in the sun after a long winter. Increase your exposure time gradually as this allows your skin to adapt to the sun’s intensity. 

Skin color : If you have a dark skin you need more time in the sun compared to a lighter skinned individual to produce the same amount of vitamin D. It is important to be mindful of your skin type and avoid burning.

Time of day : Vitamin-D production is strongest mid-day between 10am and 2pm. Follow the Shadow Rule.

Sun and cancer

  • Sun and skin cancer have been correlated for many year. There are however, also studies that show a strong association with certain gene mutations (the p53 gene).
  • Try to avoid getting burnt by staying longer than what you can tolerate.

Get enough Vitamin-D from food

During the winter months, we rely on getting our vitamin D from food sources and supplements. 

The sources include:

  • Oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel 
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks

However usually food is not enough so you should consider supllementing with Cod Liver Oil or a Vitamin-D3 supplement. You should aim to get 5000 UI per day (The product I use is from NuviHealth)

Final Thoughts

  • Since Vitamin-D is critical for our health it is important that we all make a consious effort to increase our levels.
  • Healthy levels are considered around 40 ng/ml
  • Sun is the best source of Vitamin-D but since getting adequate Vitamin-D from sun throughout the year is difficult most people should consider supplementing.

Further Reading




The miracle of sleep

Sleep is one of those things most people take for granted – they shrug it off as not important, a waste of time, boring, procrastination, lack of discipline or just dull. Let that not be you!

The majority of society is suffering from poor sleeping patterns and deprivation. This kind of attitude and behavior has many short- and long-term consequences on health and longevity.  Sleep is the state of rest and rejuvenation. It recharges our batteries and allows us to keep living. Sleep is more than just lying in bed. You might think being unconscious but we are actually very active in many other aspects. The brain undergoes intense neurological activity, such as memory consolidation, neurochemical cleansing, and cognitive maintenance, muscle recovery, and enhancement.

Quote

“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”

Matthew Walker, PhD

Why Sleep?

Simply put, prolonged sleep is essential for optimum health. Sleep has survived millions of years of evolution and every living being sleeps even in the risk of it’s own existence.

Across the 24 hours there is normally a balance between catabolism (degradation) and anabolism (renewal). The activities of wakefulness enhance catabolism, while sleep shifts the balance in favour of anabolism and regeneration. This is a critical balance that we need to achieve every single day. 

Sleep is part of our physiologoy. Here is an example.

Infections, stress, inflammation or injuries increase the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and increases secretion of catabolic hormones (such as cortisol, glucagon, and catecholamines) while inhibiting anabolic hormones (such as insulin and testosterone), leading to the loss of body nitrogen, indicative of a net loss of protein. It is not only that cortisol concentrations are low during most of a normal night. 

Deep sleep is the normal stimulus for the release of most of our growth hormone, an anabolic hormone that increases the synthesis of protein and mobilises free fatty acids to provide energy, thereby saving amino acids from catabolism. Growth hormone acts, for example, directly to enhance the synthesis of bone, and to enhance the formation of red blood cells. Growth hormone improves nitrogen balance and while getting naturally during sleep we diminish the release of the catabolic hormones.”

Did you know?

  • Birds, similar to many mammals,  sleep while flying with half their brain off.  The corresponding eye stays also awake. When one part of the brain get the NREM sleep it needs they switch.
  • Even interesting is that when birds fly in flock many of them will sleep with both halves of the brain at the same time!

What happens during sleep?

We are still discovering the benefits of sleep, but one thing is for sure. Sleep has the most potent healing powers. Why?

Healing : As we fall into the deeper stages of sleep, our muscles will see an increase in blood flow, which brings along oxygen and nutrients that that help recover and repair muscles and regenerate cells. Bodily tissues are continuously degraded and continuously renewed. Wounds heal through the same processes as make possible the normal renewal, by cell division and protein synthesis, and these do appear to be aided by rest and sleep.

Additionally, when the body enters its deep sleep stage known as non-REM sleep, the pituitary gland releases growth hormones that stimulate muscle repair and growth. When the body doesn’t get enough rest, the secretion of this growth hormone declines, and it can become harder for your body to recover from injuries.  There are also hormones released which helps regulate inflammation. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to experience inflammation in the body, which can make injury recovery more difficult while also putting you at risk of further injury.

Detoxification :  You probably  heard about the glymphatic system. It controls the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and it’s main purpose is detoxification. When we sleep, this system “opens” allowing more rapid flow of fluid throughout the brain and thus detox toxic proteins such as amyloids which is strongly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. As we sleep, another detox activity is hormone release. Hormones released during sleep lead to slow breathing and muscle relaxation resulting in reduced inflammation.  Lack of sleep raises levels of inflammation and makes it harder for the body to detox.

By flushing out these toxins, we are allowing the free flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to parts of the body that need them.  Studies have shown a clear link between sleep and tissue regeneration following injury or illness. Exercise changes our body’s tissues such that they need repair. For instance, resistance training causes muscle damage to proteins that make up muscle fibers. The detox process aids in this repair. Hormones are released that encourage repair processes in the body, including muscle repair. 

Memory consolidation : Sleep plays an essential role in the consolidation of memory and the selection of important information and stimuli received throughout the day. Naturally, individuals don’t remember every detail but tend to prioritize certain information, due to an emotional or other connection.

Sleeping and dreaming help in the process of sorting through experiences and memories to isolate and store the gist or specific detail of the memory hence the quote “When we dream, we get the pieces. When we wake, we can know the whole.” This is what NREM does!

Summary

  • When tissues have been damaged, the rate of healing is greater during sleep, whatever the time of the injury. Cell division and protein synthesis reach their maximum during the hours of sleep and are minimal during wakefulness. This is even when in an increased food intake!!!
  •  Ensuring you get a good night’s sleep every night will help you function more effectively the next day and will allow your body to detox its way to optimal health behind the scenes.
  • Deep sleep and NREM sleep are helping with creativity, memory sorting and memory consolidation.

What can you do

It may sound strange but respecting our sleep, means following the sleep patterns our ancestors have been following for million of years. As this may be a challenging task in the modern society here are some tips on how to biohack your bedroom environment.

Block blue light

Blue light does not exist on its own in nature. We did not evolve having exposure to fake / junk (or blue light on it’s own) after sunset (with the exception on fire). It messes up our daily biological clock  which throws our hormones out, and that means we get hungry at the wrong time of day, tired too late, have energy crashes. All this because of blue light.

  • Wear a pair of blue light blocking glasses 2-3 hours before going to bed.
  • Replace all your light bulbs with Incandescent bulbs that operate at the full light spectrum.

Block EMF

Unfortunately EMF is everywhere. Power lines, wireless communication, microwaves. And even if I think there can’t be ever a study published to state the harmful effects of EMF (for obvious reasons) you need to read between the lines and listen to the concerns.

These concerns are shared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), while the results of recent studies not only clearly demonstrate that EMF exposure triggers oxidative stress in various tissues, but also that it causes significant changes in levels of blood antioxidant markers. Fatigue, headache, decreased learning ability, and cognitive impairment are among the symptoms caused by EMF. The human body should therefore be protected against exposure to EMF because of the risks this can entail.

More importantly, research has shown that EMF at night has more severe effects on health in comparision to EMF radiation in day time.

  • Purchase a EMF blocking device
  • Turn-off the Wi-Fi every night
  • Ionize your bedroom with air-purifying devices , Himalyan rock salt lamps, and plants

Keep your bedroom dark

Darkness is essential to sleep. The absence of light sends a critical signal to the body that it is time to rest. 

Light exposure at the wrong times alters the body’s internal “sleep clock”—the biological mechanism that regulates sleep-wake cycles—in ways that interfere with both the quantity and quality of sleep. Melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain’s pineal glad, is often known as the “sleep hormone” or the “darkness hormone.” Melatonin influences sleep by sending a signal to the brain that it is time for rest. This signal helps initiate the body’s physiological preparations for sleep—muscles begin to relax, feelings of drowsiness increase, body temperature drops. Melatonin levels naturally rise during the early evening as darkness falls and continue to climb throughout most of the night, before peaking at approximately 3 a.m. Levels of melatonin then fall during the early morning and remain low during much of the day. Evening light exposure inhibits the naturally timed rise of melatonin, which delays the onset of the body’s transition to sleep and sleep itself.

  • Buy a sleep mask
  • Have dark, heavy curtains

Summary

  • There are simple techniques but very important techniques to improve your sleep. 
  • Try to block blue-light, EMF and light from your bedroom.

Final Thoughts

  • Sleep serves many critical function for our health far beyond making us feel fresh in the morning. 
  • During sleep we heal, learn, detoxify so it is important to create an environment which allows us to get into deep sleep through the night
  • If you are interested for more tips and to deep dive into how to improve your sleep check out the ketOntrack Sleep Series

Further Reading




Inflammation steals your energy

Your energy levels are the best indicator of health. Energy to do the things you seek out in life. Energy also translates to clarity of mind and focus. If on the other hand you feel sluggish, sleepy during the day this can be an indication that something is not working right and stealing your energy. And in most cases what hurts your energy status is inflammation. Inflammation is stealing your energy. And sugar might be main reason for inflammation.

Why energy?

Let’s consider the car analogy. All cars  need fuel of-course or they can’t function. It might be diesel, petrol, gas, electricity, but it doesn’t really matter. As long as each model has the right fuel, and enough fuel in the tank you expect that they run as per their specification. If they don’t run as fast you expect or they make strange noises you know something is wrong and you call your mechanic right? And every cars needs to product a steady energy. Not running as expected or producing the right output is obviously a malfunction. 

I really hope you never had car problem. They cause problems, they cost money and we would be all better off without them.

 If you can relate to the above example, you should not be surprised if I tell you that humans are exactly the same. When we have the right nutrients and the right amount of them we should be producing a steady amount of energy to fuel all the function we need in an optimal way. This energy is produced in every single cell that has mitochondria which is the energy factory of the cell and is called ATP. The process is very complex but at the end everything should work as expected. You have the right amount of energy throughout the day!!

This is the single indicator that your body is well tuned machine. That everything is working well and no parts are falling. If there are parts that need fixing you can’t really perform optimally. 

Inflammation steals your energy

We mostly connect inflammation with skin wounds caused by injuries or with sport accidents like twisting an ankle. These injuries all require an inflammatory response, like a swelling for example, in order to support the healing process. Inflammation in these cases is required and healthy and as long as the wound heals this is called acute inflammation.

On the other hand however we can very well have inflammation in various parts or organs within our body which we might never relate to as inflammation. However these are the most deadly ones as they can be going on for years and can increase our risk of various diseases such as cardiovascular disease or even cancer. This is know as chronic inflammation.

When any type of inflammation is occuring in our body, this is treated as an emergency state which needs to be addressed. More blood flows to the inflamed area to carry nutrients, while the fire brigade (see your immune white blood cells) is sent there to put out the fire. This state of alert means that many resources that should be doing other jobs have left their position. You can’t run if your gut is messed-up. Maybe only till the toilet! 

And there are many types of inflammation. Here we will consider the below

  • Cellular inflammation : Taking place inside a cell. This can be very dangerous and is called by many as the silent killer. A damaged cell might alter it’s DNA structure, replicate without control all of which is very tightly coupled with cancer.
  • Joint inflammation : Taking place in areas around the joints where there is a lot of intersticial fluid. This leads to arthritis which are the main reason of a reduced quality of life in the elderly.
  • Intestinal inflammation : Taking place in the gut, and impacting us in so many ways. Triggering auto-immune conditions, SIBO and celiac just to name a few
  • Vascular inflammation : Taking place in our veins and arteries and the main cause of clotting, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.

Summary

  • Inflammation is a process that injures your tissues, joints, and blood vessels, and you often do not notice it until significant damage is done.
  • Inflammation is an emergency state for the body which can turn into chronic inflammation if not treated.
  • Inflammation of any sort diverts energy to the inflamed area and human performance can be severely decreased.

Sugar and inflammation

Let me come directly to the point. Sugar is at the heart of each of the mentioned inflammations. Sugar can cause global  chronic inflammation! And let me give you a clear real life example which you are probably not aware of.

The effect of glucose – TPN

During some surgeries patients are provided nutrition in the form of intervenous (IV) glucose. This is called TPN. What is interesting is the this IV is only placed in one of the large veins closed to the heart. The reason? 

To avoid damaging the smaller periphelar veins causing clotting due to higher concentration of glucose! You heard it right. It is well know that high glucose concentration are damaging to the arteries.And TPN is generally controlled to be below 180mg/dl, which is the glucose you typically have when eating cakes and sweets! Read it again please!!!

Now that you know what the effect of sugar can be let’s take a closer look.

1. Sugar and instestinal inflammation

  • Sugar can cause chaos already upon chewing it starting from the mouth where excess sugar causes issues at the gums.
  • Going furhter down, when sugar is overeaten there is a relaxation of the esophagus sphincter, which causes this acid reflex in our esophagus. This can be very toxic and dangerous. 
  • In the small intestine the high concentration of sugar affects the lining of the cells, changes the PH of the intestine due to the sugar fermentation process. This can lead to IBS, Celiac, Chrome’s disease to name only a few of some of the most inflammatory conditions that lead to many auto-immune issues.

2. Sugar and vascular inflammation

From the gut the sugar needs to travel through the blood to be distributed. This is a long and dangerous journey.

  • Sugar decreases the elasticity of blood vessels and causes them to narrow, impeding blood flow. This can lead to a reduced supply of blood and oxygen, increasing the risk of high blood pressure and damage to large and small blood vessels. 
  • Sugar also detroys the structures of structure of the blood vessels, creating clotting. This is why the most predictable test for the risk of heart disease is a corony CT scan. This is where we typically have the highest concentration of glucose.
  •  And you can’t exercise that sugar off. This sugar will hit your blood vessels whether you want it or not!

3. Sugar and interstitial fluid inflammation

Interstitial fluid are found in the space between the blood vessels and the cells. It comes from substances that  travel from the blood capillaries (the smallest type of blood vessel). It helps bring oxygen and nutrients to cells and to remove waste products from them. Interstitial fluid consists of a water solvent containing sugars, salts, collagen, fatty acids, amino acids, coenzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, white blood cells and cell waste-products.

You might know that sugar is retaining a lot of water. It really acts like a spunge. As sugar crosses the blood stream towards the cells it sucks up even more water from that space. When eventually sugar is absorbed by the various cells you are now left with all that excess water which builds up in the interstitial space.  This will 

  • Cause swelling of the joints that so many people are suffering from
  • Cause concusion in the brain which is swelling of the interstitial space
  • Increase the blood pressure

Further to the above sugar attaches itself to collagen and can cause inflammation in every joint of the body. If you wake-up every day very stiff, this is interstitial fluid inflammation around the joints. This is called glycosolation.

4. Sugar and cellular inflammation

When we eat, the cells are supposed to take up the glucose they need for their necessary function. If we eat too much sugar though we can overwelm the cells with many side effects. 

  • Mitochondria damage
  • Reduction of O3 fatty acids, which are the anti-inflammatory agents in our cells.
  • Damage to the cellular skeleton.
  • Damages of the cellular proteins and communication pathways.
  • Damages to the DNA structure and function of genes. 

If there are DNA damages, you run the risk the altering the behaviour of the genes. You might turn-on genes which should be off. This might very well lead to cancer. 

It is important to note that the intestines and blood vessels are the first to be affected by excess consumption of sugar since sugar needs to travel every time both through the gut and the blood stream before reaching the cells. Even that one ice-cream creates some of those effects. The good thing is that the liver can store some glucose in the form of glycogen and minimise the damage.

Summary

  • Sugar has very inflammatory effects as it travels through the body.

What should you do

All carbs have sugar. It doesn’t matter if it is an apple or an ice-cream. Both will turn into glucose into your body.

This does not make them all equal but you have to consider your own individuality.  One approach is to know if you can handle carbs well and what is your carb threshold. You can then choose how to integrate sugar into your lifestyle.

Here are some simple tips.

  • Avoid Refine Sugar : There are some red lines when it comes to sugar. I don’t think there is any place, in any diet, for sweets, cookies, breads, ice-creams or any refined products, 
  • Limit starches : Most starches should be limited, to small portions and once in a while. I would say that once a week is plenty. That goes for potatoes and rice. 
  • Eat fruit seasonally : Some fruit, if they are tolerated, can be included during some period of the year. In the past, druit were only found seasonally and mostly during summer. If you want a guide so as to what to eat for this simple tip. Seasonal, fresh and local. Try also to stick to low glycemic load fruit (<7)
  • Wear a CGM : Wearing a continious glucose monitor can give your a great insight to your carb tolerance levels.
  • Follow keto : A ketogenic diet is sustainable, healthy and delicious diet which avoids all the pitfalls of high sugar diets. It is shown in various studies that keto, when done correctly, helps lower inflammation levels.
  • Eat vegetables : Fiberous carbs help minimise the effect of glucose as they will slow down the digestion and distribution of glucose into the blood stream. Most vegetables usually have moderate carbs and come with some fiber which make them the best option when it comes to carbs.

Final Thoughts

  • Your energy levels can be a very good indicator of your health and inflammation levels. 
  • Most health problems are manifested from some sort of chronic inflammation issue. 
  • High sugar consumption is at the core of most inflammatory conditions as these food are not found in nature and we are not able to handle them.
  • High sugar consumption is lethal. Avoid refined sugar at all costs, while being smart with your carbs.
  • Follow a health ketogenic diet to reduce inflammation and feel better.

Further Reading




Red light therapy

Nature provides everything we need to be healthy, heal and regenerate. This is not by accident in any way. Humans have evolved on this planet for millions of years, thriving through pretty harsh conditions without fancy technologies but living off what was already available.

There is one technology though that provides benefits far above what nature can provide. This is called photobiomodulation or more commonly known as red light therapy!

The natural red from the Sun

Unfortunately, we are constantly growing distant from nature and the benefits it provides. Do you remember when was the last time you sat in-front of the sun during the sunrise or sunset? Do you remember that warm red colour?

This wonderful red is part of the light spectrum and is emitted at a specific light frequency of around 600-700nM which is visible by the eye.

Scientists have been fascinated for hundred of years by the powers of sun and it’s benefits. You of-course know how important the sun is for Vitamin-D (see a recent post on Vitamin-D) but red light is equally important for it’s healing powers. Niels Ryberg Finsen in 1903 won the Nobel Price for his contribution to the treatment of diseases, especially lupus vulgaris, with concentrated light radiation. Finsen is best known for his theory of phototherapy, in which certain wavelengths of light can have beneficial medical effects. This research opened a new avenue for medical science which now is being backed-up with many studies!

Biohacking and red light

You probably heard the term biohacking. If not you should take note as it is a whole industry behind it, aiming to improve human performance (and health) by simulating to a large effect the benefits of nature which most of us don’t get due to our lifestyle. Getting the benefits of sun requires us to be outside and expose daily our skin. But this not how most of us live our lifes. 

So there many fancy technologies which  simulate what you would already get for free if only connected with the elements of nature on a daily basis. In the case of red-light the beneficial effects of the suns red light have a small impact. If though you concentrate the correct red light frequency you can get exponential benefits from what you get from the sun!

Summary

  • Bringing technology to aid our health and simulate the elements of nature when we are not connecting enough with them is what biohacking is all about. 

Red light devices

Red light devices expose the body to high powered red and/or near-infrared light. Infrared light produces a type of energy that your eyes can’t see, but your body can sense as heat. Red light is very similar to infrared light with the difference that your eyes can see it.

 Red-light devices involve exposing an area of the body for 5-15 minutes to natural red and near-infrared light from medical-grade LEDs. This variant of light lacks the heat or harmful UV rays that can cause sun damage. These wavelengths of light penetrate the skin and are absorbed by cells, where they boost the powerhouse of the cell (called mitochondria). This creates  more energy, which in turn gets the cells busily working on repairing and rejuvenating all kinds of tissues throughout your body. You probably heard beauty shops using red light devices for skin therapy, but Red light devices have a wide range of applications.

  • Acne 
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Joint Pain and Arthritis 
  • Brain Health
  • Depression and mood
  • Eye Health
  • Muscle Recovery and performance enhancement
  • Skin Rejuvenation
  • Wound Healing

It is important to highlight some finding to really appreciate the power of red light.

  • It was found that red light can reduced joint pain by 70% in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. In addition, they also saw reduction in morning stiffness and increased flexibility.
  • In a group of 50 elderly patients that followed a 10 day treatment, it was found that red and near infrared light therapy reduced osteoarthritis knee pain by 50%.

For the geeks

“Red light and near-infrared are able to induce significant physiological changes inside the tissue. According to modern knowledge, the red light inside the cells activates the mitochondrial enzyme cytochrome c-oxidase, improving the mitochondrial respiration and oxygen consumption (de Freitas & Hamblin 2016, Wang et al. 2017)

How does red light therapy work

The principle of red light therapy is quite simple. 

  • Every cell in our body functions based on the energy produced by the mitochondria inside it.
  • When you expose your naked skin to a Red light device, the mitochondria of your body’s cells  absorb it and turn it into more energy. These devices use very low levels of heat therefore it does not hurt or burn the skin.
  • This is because most wavelengths of light (ultraviolet, blue, green, infrared) do not penetrate the skin at all. Instead, they are absorbed in the outer layers of skin. On the other hand, red light and near-infrared are able to significantly penetrate through the skin up to 1 cm and powering-up our cells!

The optimal therapeutic range of most devices go from 660nm to 850mn and are distinguished into ranges.

  • Red light which goes from 630nm to 700nm
  • Near Infrared (NIR) goes from 700nm to 1100nm and is able to reach the deepest layers of the body. 

Most devices combine both frequencies in panels that share the LED lights and is a habit that one can do every single day.

Final Thoughts

  • Nature offers us naturally amazing tools to heal and rejuvenate us. Red light is one of them and has been an area of research  for many years for it’s healing powers. 
  • Red light therapy It is a natural, no touch and safe methos that has no side effects. A pleasant experience that will stimulate and heal your body from the inside out. 
  • It is quite surprising how little known the benefits of red and NIR light are for the general public. For me, a red light device is something that definetely you should consider. It can help everyone to live a healthier life and give our bodies what they are designed to have.

Further Reading




Learn how to relax

Is your mind racing away? Are thinking already of the tasks of the next day, or you can’t get over the events of the day that passed? Being able to slow down your mind and eventually your body will help you drift away to a good night sleep and overall well-being. Welcome to the world of meditation.

 

Constantly switched on

The pace of the current lives we lead is such that we don’t leave anytime to ourselves to relax. We are constantly switched on. Isf that is you, read on.

Our body does not distinguish working all day to running away from a wild animal. Both are states that require us to be alert and have plenty of energy. So it switches on the so called flight or fight system. 

The fight or flight response is an automatic physiological reaction to an event that is perceived as stressful. This perception activates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers an acute stress response that prepares the body to fight or flee. These responses are evolutionary adaptations to increase chances of survival in threatening situations. However overly frequent, intense, or inappropriate activation of the fight or flight response is implicated in a range of clinical conditions including most anxiety disorders. 

Body System Physiological effect Consequence
Heart Increased heart rate
Dilation of coronary blood vessels
Increase in blood flow
Increased availability of oxygen and energy to the heart
Circulation Dilation of blood vessels serving muscles
Constriction of blood vessels serving digestion
Increased availability of oxygen to skeletal muscles
Blood shunted to skeletal muscles and brain
Lungs Dilation of bronchi
Increased respiration rate
Increased availability of oxygen in blood
     
Skin Skin becomes pale or flushed as blood flow is reduced Increased blood flow to muscles and away from non-essential parts of the body such as the periphery
Eyes Dilation of the pupils Allows in more light so that visual acuity is improved to scan nearby surroundings

Slowing down

To counteract stressful situations we also have the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the body’s rest and digestion response when the body is relaxed, resting, or feeding. It basically undoes the work of sympathetic division after a stressful situation. The parasympathetic nervous system decreases respiration and heart rate and increases digestion. 

As with everything in health, long stretches of having a system contstantly ON, creates imbalances which can have serious impacts on our health. 

Our unconscious mind makes our body run. It makes our organs work, it makes our digestion process food & our heart pump automatically & we don’t have to consciously think about it. When we meditate it gives our mind time to reset, to calm & not just to reflect (like most people think)

When we have a busy life or are stressed our bodies produce too much cortisol, which becomes harmful, as your body thinks it needs to “run away from a threat” then digestion shuts down diverting energy away from your digestion & various other processes to your muscles so you can run

There many ways to relax. A warm shower, a massage, or a day at your favourite Spa will all do wonders to your stress levels and your feeling of wellness. But I believe the simplest and most powerful tool available to us is meditation.

You probably hear the word meditation a lot. Something coming from the world of Yoga or Buddism. Meditation is very often connected with slowing your mind down and stopping your thoughts from wondering around. This act can be seen as simply being less active, staying still and allowing your brain to take a rest. 

This process goes far beyond the mind. It helps balance hormones, relieves stress, boosts the immune system, lowers the heart rate and more. Meditation might run deeper than most people realise. Part of meditating is it to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings, reduce stress & develop better concentration.

  • Reduces stress
  • Controls anxiety
  • Promotes emotional health
  • Enhances self-awareness
  • Lengthens attention span
  • May reduce age-related memory loss
  • Can improve positive feelings & kindness
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves digestive health
  • Helps control pain
  • Known to decrease blood pressure
  • Boosts the immune system

Summary

  • When stressed you are in a flight a fight response which is nessecary to avoid harmful situations but can be very dangerous when you in this state for a long periods of time.
  • Prioritise yourself by doing activities that help you relax and relieve your from the daily stress.
  • Meditation is the act of relax, switching off your over-active brain which has a lot of health benefits.

What is really meditation

Meditation is simpler (and harder) than most people think.

Think of your mind like a web browser. If you have too many tabs open, your computer slows down. Close some tabs & the computer runs smoothly again. Humans are similar. Too many thoughts & external stimulus means that our body can’t run as it should

We weren’t designed to be constantly stimulated by thousands of notifications, cars speeding past us, bills to pay etc.
⁣Do you get your best ideas or remember things the next day after waking-up or after shower? There is a good reason for that.

When I started meditating I realised how much space my mind had to stop & resolve issues in my life⁣. Nowdays 10 minutes a day provides hours of focus and productivity. Meditation can change you; your cells, your brain, your mood and even your life expectancy. In fact, there are so many benefits that the question should be: Why are you not meditating?

Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations. In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.

Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises.  When you meditate through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns. Over time, you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge an experience as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. With practice, an inner balance develops.

Summary

  • Whatever time of meditation you choose to practice, expect to have improved focus, become self-aware and more productive.

How to meditate

How do you learn to meditate? For starters simply pay attention to the breath as it goes in and out, and notice when the mind wanders from this task. This practice of returning to the breath builds the muscles of attention and mindfulness.

 

When we pay attention to our breath, we are learning how to return to, and remain in, the present moment—to anchor ourselves in the here and now on purpose, without judgement.

The idea behind mindfulness seems simple but it takes practice and patience. Very often your mind gets caught up in other tasks and your mind wonders around. I think the steps below will help you, as they have helped me.

  1. Find place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
  2. If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as five or 10 minutes.
  3. Try to sit loosely cross-legged. Make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
  4. Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out.
  5. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing that your mind has wandered—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath.
  6. Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.
  7. Return slowly to your environment and take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.

 

That’s it! That’s the practice!

Meditation for better sleep

Even if you usually fall asleep easily, meditating for 5-10 minutes will slow your heart rate down and you will naturally drift in a deeper, better sleep.

Final Thoughts

First step of any change is to become self-aware of your state. Anytime you realise you are overly stressed take 5 minutes off to close your eyes and empty your thoughts. Once you open your eyes again you will be a releaved person. Relaxed, calm and with a smile in your face. 

Make meditation part of your life.

Further Reading