Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is Milk the Perfect Food/Drink?

You have to be careful about equating water with milk -- because more than half the world's population (particularly of adults), are lactose intolerant, or simply, "allergic to milk," which can be the cause of a multitude of dysfunctions.

My first job coming out of college in the Vietnam era as a "conscientious objector," was as a medical metabolic (nutritional) research subject conducted by the military, which up to that point, derived most of their conclusions based on the study of Mennonites, or Amish, who were the major groups of COs at that time.

They used a milk-based formula as their basic (control) diet -- to which they would add or omit whatever they wanted to test, since milk was regarded as the "perfect food," and none of their subjects seemed to have a problem with it, because the Mennonites and Amish are one of the most inbred groups on the planet -- all favorable to the diet of milk.

So when I had problems tolerating the diet, I became the subject of exhaustive tests to find out what was wrong with me, because everybody "knew" that milk was the perfect food. After a few months of virtual constant distress, and not being able to find anything wrong with me, we mutually agreed to part company, and I needed to find another "alternative service."

Twenty years later, I ran into a book claiming to be the first written about the unknown, undiscussed and even suppressed phenomenon of "lactose intolerance" -- that was recognized throughout most of the world, and documented in the writings of cultural misunderstandings that caused distrust of American foreign aid that included powdered milk -- that the natives used to whitewash their huts.

Some drug companies addressed this lactase deficiency so that many can digest milk, but while they can, milk is also implicated in thickening the mucus, which produces problems of its own, often noted as the "phlegmatic" condition of the aged and those with autoimmune diseases, for which products that thin or liquefy the mucus, most notably guaifenesin -- the standard remedy for bronchial congestion as experienced in colds and flus, and their accompanying (arthritis-like) body pains -- have been suggested as a "cure."

And even beyond that, the Ayurvedic East Indians, made sacred in their diet, seeds that had the same essential properties of liquefying the mucus -- such as fennel and fenugreek seeds, still used as the base for "herbal" cough medicines in health food stores. The world conqueror Alexander the Great, seems to be the link in passing that information on to the Romans (Legion), who also carried fennel as their standard provision to maintain their health and vitality -- as they conquered the world.

Fennel tea remains one of the standards of that designation of recommended "herbal teas," and there is renewed interest in its consumption for the multitude of ailments, as one of the world's oldest known health elixirs and cure-alls. It is sometimes eaten as a vegetable that looks a lot like celery. Most people are familiar with it as the plant often seen growing in empty lots and untended areas as the peculiar plant whose string-like leaves taste like licorice -- which seems to have been a popular syrup of those peddling patent medicine remedies as their trade before the modern drug industry took over -- with their specialized drugs specific to each condition.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Is Walking the Best Exercise?

Actually, the best exercise one can do, is just after getting out of bed, or even while still in bed -- trying to get up and started.

A considerable number of people have this problem of achieving optimal operating functioning -- including those with fibro-fog, stress, anxieties, depression, dementias, and other "hopeless" conditions, because of inadequate (constricted) blood flow to the brain, for which there is the simple remedy/movement, of just turning the head all the way to the left and right, to produce the full muscle contractions that dictate the flow.

These same movements can be done with the other extremities of the body -- at the hands and feet, as the essential movements that have to be maintained but are ignored in most fitness/conditioning programs, resulting in the well-known deterioration that invariably begins at the extremities of the head (face, neck), hands and feet, typically called "normal aging," but should make sense as the most important areas to keep vital and optimize fullest capabilities -- throughout one's life.

One doesn't need to exercise to get the heart pumping -- because the heart is always pumping. But the voluntary muscles of the body are frequently ignored and unexercised, yet the curious thing is that the primary function of the smallest muscles, is to get the larger supporting muscle to aid it -- often called "cheating" by exercise instructors because they don't isolate the movement to one large muscle -- instead of the more proper and natural integrative movement, that begins at the furthest extremity (insertion).

So while it is advised that people should walk, often as the "best" exercise because it is cheap and doesn't require equipment, it does require one to walk in adverse conditions, or drive to a mall -- even in a fibro-fog and suboptimal condition, while again ignoring the exercise and fullest articulation at the extremities, that imply, ensure and express the fulfillment and health of the body and mind that is the greater objective of all one's activities.

Meanwhile, most people's idea of walking, is to merely shuffle their feet along without much foot articulation -- either going up on their toes as high as possible, and alternately, rolling back on their heels as far as possible to lift their toes as high as possible off the ground -- which action alone, far exceeds the range of motion normally achieved in every other daily activity -- and so just a few movements of each (25 repetitions), is enough to attain results far superior to any amount of what is usually regarded as the conventional prescriptions for that development.

Then that being done, one can proceed to walk, run, bike without the apprehensions and risk of injury from not preconditioning those vulnerable areas preparatory to their normal, or extraordinary use. That should be the meaning and function of a truly useful conditioning program -- to precondition and predispose one for doing all the things one cannot foresee doing, and not only as an end in itself.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Exercise For Couch Potatoes (and Other Sedentary Beings)

Like it or not, most people these days live a sedentary life -- which most prefer to being on their feet (toes) all day -- and that is true the older and wiser one gets in life. The downside of course, as with many good things, is that a few and then many, overdo too much of a good thing -- which is the relief from the needless wear and tear on the body and mind, which are not infinite resources, but have to be managed prudently, efficiently and intelligently, to maximize one's best life.

That is best expressed through peak moments in life and activities -- which is not simply an average effort (experience) sustained for as long as possible (state), but the ability to focus one's energies to peak with an effort, and then relaxing and recovering for the next peak effort (dynamism) -- and that is how "peak performance" is achieved, and not simply the mediocre, or average, sustained for as long as possible.

However, many so-called exercise studies, determine the "average" performance, as though that was the meaningful measure, while being totally oblivious to the concept of range and peak (optimal) performance -- as though the objective was to achieve the average rather than the peak, which more accurately determines the difference between the best and the worst, of the meaningful range of individual actualizations.

Then when all are actually doing their best, it then becomes meaningful to determine ranking in abilities, rather than the average, which implies (necessitates) randomness -- and not a directed effort or outcome. Unfortunately, that misunderstanding leads to a lot of poorly designed studies, of which it is then possible to "prove" exactly what the researcher wanted to prove from the very inception -- rather than what would actually be the most significant to observe, measure, and maximize. And in fact, in such a design, every other factor but what the researcher wanted to study, would in fact, be eliminated, so that the only thing possible to arrive at, was one's preconceived idea -- and how they would rig the results to achieve precisely that effect.

And then those results (knowledge), would supplant one's actual experiences, or the truth of one's own results as what one should believe -- although it doesn't work for them, or for that matter, anybody else -- but it is supposedly true, somewhere, somehow -- but it is a top secret that only those way at the very top, are privy to.

So that is the first thing one should know, when a presenter's only argument, is the claim that studies show (say), but nothing in real life experience can corroborate and verify that independently, and "experts" are not so because they've tried everything, and know first hand, everything that doesn't work but knowing that it should.

The true test of anything, is whether any individual, can actually verify and validate the truth of any observation, for themselves, in the actuality -- and not as a belief based merely on authority, or credentials overriding actual experiences.

Human beings, like most other animals, were designed for sedentary activities and life, and not being on the go constantly, working tirelessly like machines. They pick the time and place, to be at their best -- and so the lasting distinction, is who runs the fastest marathon, and not simply who runs the most marathons -- though that is also possible to note. In most events, they are quite happy to have as many participants as possible, subject to individuals determining for themselves, what is a suitable schedule by which they can peak appropriately, to achieve their maximum performance, which is what they'll be known for, and judged by -- and not by the average of how they spend their day.

Champion athletes are notable for how composed and calm they are when they are not "onstage," invariably trying to become as relaxed as possible preparatory to their greatest effort (moment). That is the paradigm, or prototype of conditioning one hopes to achieve, which does not preclude those who spend substantial time seated or even lying throughout much of their day -- as long as they can briefly, still attain the peak.

Once that can be attained, it is less significant, how long that can be maintained -- because that peak, defines the range. If one can do one somersault, one doesn't have to do fifty, to be determined "capable." That also means that performing a treadmill for an hour each day, doesn't imply one could do one somersault -- which would indicate a level of mastery sufficient to have life saving value, in an emergency situation requiring extraordinary agility.

Amazing as it may seem, the most telling areas for which one can determine the vibrancy of individuals, is their range of movement, at the head, hands, and feet -- which people with decidedly poor health and deteriorating prospects for recovery, as well as athletes of poor responsiveness do not articulate, is the range of movement at these junctures -- but people of vibrancy do. That is in fact, their distinguishing characteristic of full vitality -- regardless of their condition otherwise, which is also, not surprisingly, supportive of that dynamism (movement).

It doesn't matter that such people are not running around all day -- doing everything they can still think to do. But if they can keep in mind, while watching television or sitting long hours at a computer, to take a minute from time to time, to articulate the head, hands and feet for at least a minute at a time, they won't suffer from the debilitating effects of maintaining a constant state of muscular tension that constricts the blood flow to their extremities that result in the nerve damage that invariably results from the lack of oxygen and other nutrients that are impeded when there is a sustained constant tension, instead of the healthful alternation of full contraction relieved by full relaxation -- that if sustained for at least a minute (50 repetitions), is the very definition of what it means to be an aerobic movement (while breathing) -- because nothing else is possible, in effecting a fully relaxed phase, alternated by a fully contracted peak.

No amount of walking, running, or typically sustainable activities for indefinite periods of time, will achieve that significant effect, of a minute of conscious movement to express that flushing of the extremities, that allows health maintaining (bodybuilding) nutrients to enter because the space has been created for it to do so.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Is There An Easier (Better) Way?

The problem with making exercise hard -- and harder, is that most people won't do them, unless you force them to, or compel them in some other way. Usually it is the rationale that it is good for their heart, or good for their sex life, or prevents cancer -- and all such reasons but the sensibility and enjoyment of the movement itself, which in everything one does, should make perfectly good sense in itself, and in that, become self-reinforcing and self-validating, rather than simply going through the motions -- because some "authority" said it was good for them.

The unfortunate experience of contemporary life, is that many people will only learn what somebody else told and taught them, and never will it occur to them, that they can learn anything on their own, and for themselves. And so as they go through life, they're never clear on whether they are doing something for themselves, or merely for the benefit of another -- because they were never confident enough to question that authority, and the authority, never suggested that such a possibility should ever cross one's mind. They are fond of saying that "studies show" -- as though that lent credence to whatever they wanted the other to believe -- invoking even higher authorities than themselves. It seems to have the weight of authority -- but it is merely the coercion to conformity.

But a few in every field of inquiry, will rise above that unquestioning obedience, to discover the new, and the real, and not merely accept what has been passed on from one generation to another -- with no one asking, "Can there be a better way?" And that better way, is not simply more, or faster, or harder -- but the cessation of the problem entirely because it sees that all the actions to solve the problem merely continues it. And so the problem of education requires evermore education -- which surely must indicate that one is on the wrong path, for when one really has an answer, they stop looking for it. So the requirement and insistence on more, should be an indication that that is not the answer -- because any real answer, will require less, and even none at all.

It is like the quest for money -- and more money, to get what we don't have. If we had what we needed (wanted), then there would be no need for money, because money is what we hope to be able to trade it for. Many feel that they are dependent entirely on others to provide all their needs, and not that they could ever provide it for themselves, including and especially, their own health and well-being, and for which they expect to become increasingly reliant and dependent as they grow older. And so that is the great fear in many lives -- of never having enough money to provide for all those needs -- as they expect life to become even more beyond their own control -- and never have they thought, that their mastery of their own health and well-being can increase instead!

All they hear and see about, is the pattern of increasing loss of control over their health and lives -- requiring at least a million dollars now, to secure that peace of mind they become increasingly tormented by. And so no matter how much they have, they feel it is never enough; they are certain they need "more." But "more," never makes them any better off -- because they still need "more," and there is no end -- to that need, which is a conditioning and not the actuality of a healthy condition.

Even with those who do manage to obtain a remarkably healthy condition, most are undone by requiring "more," so that the result is injury, and exhaustion of recovery ability, which speeds the aging and deterioration process -- even as they think they are doing everything possible to avoid it. It is not enough for them to just have dramatic and impressive gains, but now they want to accelerate them with drugs and longer, more intense workouts to the limits of their tolerance and sanity -- as though that could be sustained for very long.

However, it might be possible to sustain a modest rate of improvement indefinitely -- if one were not so insistent that one had to get as much as possible, as soon as possible -- which distorts the equation greatly, making even the easy, difficult. Everyone thinks the answer is "more," and never that it could be, "less."