from the world's big
Thankfully, there are ways to combat mental and physical fatigue, even in isolation.
- With tens of millions of Americans sheltering at home, many people feel exhausted.
- Reasons range from a lack of routine, emotional uncertainty, poor nutrition, and alcohol abuse.
- Keeping your daily habits in place as much as possible is important for combating lethargy.
Optimize Your Brain: The Science of Smarter Eating | Dr. Drew Ramsey<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a5fc406dabd4e2acb818f68be3378bb5"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/J8BnvIku0kw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h3>Here Comes the Sun</h3><p>While many cities have promoted outdoor exercise, some have shut down parks, trails, and beaches (as is the case here in Los Angeles). While there is an <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/backlash-coronavirus-simulation-medium-said-runners-need-32-feet-distance-2020-4" target="_blank">ongoing debate</a> over safe distance protocols continues, we know that a <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651" target="_blank">lack of sunlight can cause depression</a>. It might be Spring, but if you don't have access to outdoor space to walk and exercise, you might be negatively impacted. Reduced activity slows your metabolism, adding to the sluggishness; less daylight also reduces melatonin and serotonin production in your brain, which could further provoke anxiety and depression. </p><p><strong>Cure</strong>: If you can get outside once a day, even for a walk around the block, do so. As for movement, streaming classes have never been more popular. You can find just about any format you desire on Instagram Live or YouTube. Plenty of world-class instructors are selling classes on Zoom. A little movement goes a long way. (With Equinox being closed, I've been teaching t<a href="https://www.derekberes.com/yoga" target="_blank">hree live-stream yoga classes</a> a week, which are all <a href="https://www.youtube.com/derekberes" target="_blank">archived on my YouTube channel</a>.)</p><h3>Routine</h3><p>Humans are habitual animals. We feel out of our element when our schedules are thrown off. Adjusting to a new routine sometimes bring a sense of refreshment, but given the stress many of us are feeling financially—22 million Americans have <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/16/economy/unemployment-benefits-coronavirus/index.html" target="_blank">filed for employment</a> in just four weeks—it can seem hard to muster the energy to stick to a routine. Still, maintaining a routine is important, and when it's thrown off, time assumes a new meaning. </p><p><strong>Cure</strong>: Try to institute as many habitual practices as possible. You've likely heard to shower and dress every day, and those are important. Setting a regular sleep schedule and alarm is helpful. Stick to what you can but also try to find new ways of creating healthy habits along the way. It's amazing how quickly new routines become habitual as well. </p><h3>Sustenance</h3><p>Speaking of health, it appears that the most dangerous underlying condition for experiencing the worst COVID-19 symptoms, besides old age, is obesity. As the <em>NY Times</em> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/16/us/coronavirus-cases-live-updates.html" target="_blank">reports</a>, "New studies point to obesity as the most significant risk factor, after only older age, for patients being hospitalized with Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus." Sales of processed foods, pretzels, and popcorn <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-21/americans-drop-kale-and-quinoa-to-lock-down-with-chips-and-oreos" target="_blank">are all up</a> while <a href="https://calmatters.org/california-divide/2020/04/california-farmers-coronavirus-food-supply-food-bank/" target="_blank">produce is rotting</a>. Overeating and eating processed, sugary foods both negatively impact our energy levels, creating a feeling of lethargy. </p><p><strong>Cure</strong>: <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/calorie-restriction" target="_self">Restricting calories</a> and <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/intermittent-fasting" target="_self">closing your feeding window</a> are two important means for losing weight and gaining energy. We all need to keep our immune systems <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/coronavirus-immune-system" target="_self">as strong as possible</a> right now. As Dr. Drew Ramsey, who practices nutritional psychiatry, <a href="https://bigthink.com/videos/drew-ramsey-on-brain-health-and-nutrition" target="_self">says</a>, the food categories he recommends include leafy greens, colorful vegetables, and small fish, especially sardines and anchovies. He likes to see a "rainbow of colors" on every plate. And if you need a quick start to this process, one that will also help you deal with emotional eating, might I suggest the <a href="https://bigthink.com/personal-growth/scott-carney-the-wedge" target="_self">Potato Hack</a>? </p>
Signs at a bar thank medical workers and advertises liquor to go on April 15, 2020, in New York City.
Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images<h3>Alcohol</h3><p>In the immediate aftermath of sheltering at home orders, <a href="https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2020/4/15/21219860/alcohol-delivery-coronavirus-liquor-store" target="_blank">alcohol sales</a> shot up 55 percent, with liquor and spirits up 75 percent, wine up 66 percent, and beer up 42 percent. Overall, online alcohol sales saw an increase of 243 percent. While that trend has slowed somewhat, we're still imbibing: One in three Americans <a href="https://www.alcohol.org/guides/work-from-home-drinking/" target="_blank">report</a> drinking more while in isolation. Since alcohol <a href="https://www.thrillist.com/health/nation/why-am-i-so-tired-all-the-time-fatigue-symptoms" target="_blank">destroys your REM cycles</a>, you won't get that deep and restful sleep your body needs. </p><p><strong>Cure</strong>: Don't drink. At least not as much, and not every day. An old friend of mine told me that in Jamaica, whenever her family or friends have a craving for food or alcohol, they drink tea. Amazingly, it seems to work, at least in my own experiences. Keeping yourself mentally occupied with a crossword puzzle or Sodoku (or a game of chess, if you have someone to play against) is a useful distraction. Exercise is also a wonderful way to get your mind focused on a healthier endeavor. </p><h3>Screen time</h3><p>Sure, we're all plugged in right now, but it doesn't mean that the blue light is doing us any good. Constantly checking the news is a double whammy: <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/31/technology/coronavirus-screen-time.html" target="_blank">the medium</a> <em>and</em> <a href="https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/annehelenpetersen/social-media-shaming-policing-behavior" target="_blank">the message</a> are both exhausting us. </p><p><strong>Cure</strong>: We're not giving up our screens. As the <em>NY Times</em> suggests, a "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/13/parenting/manage-screen-time-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">three Cs</a>" approach could work. Sure, not everyone has Children, but Content and Context are applicable. Stay up to date with credible news sources. You just don't have to log on every hour, or even every day. Don't drop off, however. Civic engagement has never been more important. Just make sure to give your eyes a break. </p><h3>Bill Gates and the 5G Cartel</h3><p>Conspiracy theories are <a href="https://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/local/better-understanding-covid-19-and-your-mental-health/article_1fb65caf-207b-5abe-bab1-55421b992d7c.html" target="_blank">tiring</a>. The Bill Gates created 5G to depopulate the world so that survivors would have to be microchipped when getting his vaccine thread just exhausted me to write. The rabbit hole these theories lead down is doing no one any good. </p><p><strong>Cure</strong>: Not everything you don't agree with is part of the "mainstream" media. We (rightfully) applaud health care workers putting their lives at risk. Reporters might not be as close to the virus, but they're still putting their health on the line to keep us informed. A <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/topics/news-sources/" target="_blank">tiny bit of research</a> does wonders for your mental health—and that of everyone on your social media feeds. Question everything, sure, including yourself. </p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is</em> "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</p>
In his new book, "The Wedge," Scott Carney tests the boundaries of human resilience.
- NY Times bestselling author, Scott Carney, returns with his new book on resilience, "The Wedge."
- Carney's previous book on Wim Hof helped pushed ice baths into the mainstream.
- In "The Wedge" Carney tests his boundaries with the Potato Hack diet, kettlebell passing, and ayahuasca.
Identifying the Wedge and Wim Hof Method at Aspen Brain Lab<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2cfdd1e4d931028a917b0832566d55ac"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8gYoFGQ9pVU?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>For Carney, eating nothing but potatoes—no oil or fancy preparation, just a sprinkle of salt and pepper—seems to be the least of his concerns. He traveled around with people who sell <a href="https://www.scottcarney.com/the-red-market" target="_blank">organs on the black market</a>. He investigated <a href="https://www.scottcarney.com/the-enlightenment-trap" target="_blank">one particularly troublesome cult</a> (which, amazingly, persists to this day). Most famously, he <a href="https://www.scottcarney.com/what-doesnt-kill-us" target="_blank">climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with Wim Hof</a> in 28 hours, mostly shirtless. Potatoes seem like a luxury.</p><p><span></span>Only they aren't. Food is at the emotional core of our being. Alongside sex and shelter, it's a basic animal need. On a nutritional level, potatoes (which should only be done for three to five days) offer enough calories to subsist while making you feel full. What's missing are those habits you develop, your relationship to fatty and sugary foods that are always available. Deprivation is the key to understanding yourself.</p><p><span></span>Which in many ways describes "The Wedge." Carney considers it a sort of follow-up to "What Doesn't Kill Us," his NY Times bestseller on the "Ice Man," Wim Hof. For that book, Carney sat in ice baths and devoted himself to Hof's breathing protocols, both of which are claimed to help boost your immune system as well as help you push beyond mental and emotional hurdles. For "The Wedge," he wanted to know how else he could test his boundaries.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"When you're in ice water, you're trying to relax in this very stressful environment. At that time, I thought, 'you're using your mind as a wedge between stimulus and response.' You're trying to open up space between that very difficult environment and what your body does in that environment. I wanted to use that basic concept separating stimulus and response and apply it to everything." </p>
Scott Carney in Peru.
Photo: Jake Holschuh<p>Carney says that our nervous systems are not designed for comfort. Our ancestors lived in radically different environments. Humans were somewhere in the middle of the food chain for most of history. How could he recreate challenges that wouldn't kill him but that would prod this ancestral response system into action? And could he use that response for good? </p><p>Sensory deprivation tanks do not involve climbing mountains in shorts, yet they can provoke anxiety (<a href="https://bigthink.com/scotty-hendricks/turn-off-your-mind-relax-and-float-sensory-deprivation-and-what-it-can-do-for-you" target="_self">as I've written about previously</a>). By shutting out external stimulation you're effectively left, as Blaise Pascal famously said, sitting (in this case, floating) in a room alone with nothing but your thoughts. Carney returned to ice baths, yet he tried the other extreme, reporting on the benefits of saunas. He threw <a href="https://www.kppass.com/" target="_blank">iron balls back and forth</a> and didn't lose any toes. Potatoes aren't the only root he dug up, as he visited a Peruvian rainforest to partake in ayahuasca ceremonies (following an encounter with MDMA). That last experience certainly left an imprint.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The shaman is singing, he's playing these songs, so it's already a psychedelic experience. You add a psychedelic and it creates this internal chaos that you're essentially trying to manage. They'll tell you that the messages you're getting are from the plant—the spirit of the plant is speaking to you. I don't know if that's true; that may just be a very good analogy for someone who grew up in the Amazon. But I will say it's showing me things about my psyche and my past, where I get to look at those things from a perspective outside of myself and gain lessons that are really useful and very personal. Some of it is really hard to deal with."</p><p>The essence of resilience: the ability to deal with your emotions. Whether you're digging up root vegetables or brewing vines that dig up the root of who you are, you test yourself every time you're faced with dangers great or small. To do that, you have to push past your comfort zone, even a little. </p><p>Carney could not have foreseen the timeliness of his exceptional new book. The world has run right up into its own wedge. There's a ton of stimulation right now, mostly in the forms of uncertainty and sadness, and all of it will require a response. How we reply determines who we are on the other side. </p><p>If ever we needed a key to resilience, here we are. If there's one takeaway from "The Wedge" it's that you never really know your limits until you test them. Carney has done the legwork. Now it's our turn.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is</em> "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</p>
A new study from Singapore found that intermittent fasting increases neurogenesis.
- Rats that fasted for 16 hours a day showed the greatest increase in hippocampal neurogenesis.
- If true in humans, intermittent fasting could be a method for fighting off dementia as you age.
- Intermittent fasting has previously been shown to have positive effects on your liver, immune system, heart, and brain, as well as your body's ability to fight cancer.
A new study shows the benefits of calorie restriction. Never has such advice been more needed.
- A new study based at Salk Institute has discovered the cellular mechanisms behind calorie restriction.
- Rats on a higher-calorie diet experienced more inflammation and immune problems than rats that ate less.
- This research is especially relevant right now, as immunodeficient patients are at high risk of complications from COVID-19.
Salk scientists show how caloric restriction prevents negative effects of aging in cells<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3a74c4724d72fa84d1f8657873539c11"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ypAdKPq6MD4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>I've covered health for Big Think since 2012 and have read hundreds of studies concerning diet and fitness. Time and again, two methods appear to work best: closing your feeding window and calorie restriction. The former is usually packaged with the title "<a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/is-fasting-the-key-to-a-healthy-diet" target="_blank">intermittent fasting</a>," but really it's just about not eating from the moment you wake up until right before bed. Restricting your feeding window to 10 hours a day or less seems to bestow the greatest benefits; even 12 hours is beneficial. The majority of Americans eat over the course of <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/dopamine-snacking" target="_blank">14 hours per day</a>.</p><p>Calorie restriction is usually associated with the <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2016/03/03/the-singularity-is-never-coming-but-its-already-here/" target="_blank">Singularity set</a> as an anti-aging protocol, but don't be dissuaded by that crowd. Plenty of research has backed up the health benefits of reducing your caloric load. A <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867420301525?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">new study</a> from a team of collaborators from the US and China discusses why that is. </p><p>Published in the journal <em>Cell</em>, a team at Salk Institute's Gene Expression Laboratory in La Jolla (along with former Salk alumni now based in China) tested 56 rats over the course of nine months, age 18 months to 27 months. For comparison sake, that is the equivalent of tracking human diets from age 50 to 70. </p><p>The parameters are pretty simple: one group was given one caloric load, while the other was fed 30 percent fewer calories. The team then analyzed 168,703 cells from 40 different cell types, including cells from bone marrow, skin, brain, and muscle tissue. </p><p>Cells from rats on the calorie-restricted diet resembled young rats by the end of the study. A total of 57 percent of the aging changes in the non-restricted rats were not prevalent in the dieting group. Co-corresponding author Guang-Hui Liu (at the Chinese Academy of Sciences) <a href="https://www.salk.edu/news-release/eat-less-live-longer/" target="_blank">breaks it down</a>: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This approach not only told us the effect of calorie restriction on these cell types, but also provided the most complete and detailed study of what happens at a single-cell level during aging."</p>
Photo: Getty Images<p>The cells most affected by higher calorie intake include those linked to lipid metabolism as well as immunity and inflammation response. In fact, inflammation kept increasing in rat bingers. Chronic inflammation is one of the biggest consequences of the "Western diet," which negatively impacts a range of cancers and metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. </p><p>Even more urgent at this moment are the <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30628-0/fulltext" target="_blank">cytokine storms</a> caused by COVID-19. While the virus is hitting elderly and immune-suppressed populations hardest, victims of every age group are experiencing this deadly inflammatory response. Whether or not diet is specifically related to COVID-19 is unknown, but we do know that two consequences of obesity are immune problems and inflammation. If you prime your body by eating foods that promote inflammation, you're going to have trouble fighting off disease. </p><p>Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, also a co-corresponding author on this paper, is hopeful that this research will open up new avenues of treatment. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We already knew that calorie restriction increases life span, but now we've shown all the changes that occur at a single-cell level to cause that. This gives us targets that we may eventually be able to act on with drugs to treat aging in humans."</p><p>Never in history has it been so apparent that we're all in this together. Social media keeps us dialed in for constant updates. If a greater emphasis on our health care system (as well as individual health) is an outcome of this pandemic, we can at least chalk that up as one small victory. </p><p>Right now, of course, we need to focus on the most vulnerable populations. While we live through this, however, don't put yourself at risk of being in that population. Eat smarter, and eat less. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is</em> "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</p>
The keto diet can help with weight loss, but at what cost?
- In addition to weight loss, there are a few well-known side effects of the keto diet, some of which can be unpleasant.
- Some side effects of the keto diet are bound to occur, though others only happen when the diet is implemented poorly.
- The keto diet doesn't have to lead to a host of negative side effects, but anyone considering undertaking the diet over the long term should be especially careful.