NEWSLETTER #6
EVO.TEE
EVOLUTIONARY THINKING, EATING AND EXERCISING

13th November 2015
Reading time: 8 minutes

Thinking: Selfishness 

Eating: "Eat your greens!"

Exercising: Physical Activity and health


The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.”
— Harry Emerson Fosdick

Thinking - Just go first

Earlier this year I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts, The Tim Ferriss Show. Tim was interviewing Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reece, two world class performers.

  http://www.lairdhamilton.com/tag/gabby-reece/

 

http://www.lairdhamilton.com/tag/gabby-reece/

Laird Hamilton is one of the world’s greatest big wave surfers and innovator. And if I’m honest, I have a bit of a man crush on him!

Gabrielle Reece, is a professional volleyball player, sports announcer, fashion model and actress. She was also the first female athlete to design a shoe for Nike!

Tim asked them what’s the best advice you've ever received. Gabrielle's answer struck a chord with me. Her answer was simple but profound:

“Just go first.”

It struck a chord because I'd spent the last few years trying hard not to be a selfish git! The results were speaking for themselves but I'd never heard it phrased this way.

Here are a few examples of going first:

  • smile and say hello to a friend or a stranger
  • hold a door open
  • help someone in need
  • offer out something you’re eating
  • offer to do something no one else wants to do
  • let someone out in traffic
  • offer to pay for something
  • get up in the morning
  • make breakfast for our family
  • cook a healthy lunch or dinner
  • do something nobody else has done
  • plan a weekend away with family or friends
  • organise a holiday or career break
  • hand our notice in if we don’t like our job
  • pursue a new career or passion
  • go somewhere nobody else has been

 

Selfishness

The world is full of selfish people. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, makes this point in his book ‘The Selfish Gene’. Being selfish is in our nature, it's in our genes. People who are selfish and greedy tend to out survive their altruistic rivals. As a result, they mate more and pass on their genes.

It's wise to accept that everyone on this planet is programmed to be selfish. We shouldn't expect everyone to be selfless and kind. We lose a lot of energy complaining about the selfishness of others. And mainstream media is excellent at stirring our emotions in this direction. Instead we should focus our energy on setting a better example to others. Being the first in as many ways possible is a great place to start.

Modern day living can make it difficult to act selflessly. It’s in our nature to be suspicious of strangers. Especially if they look, act or smell differently to us. But what I have learnt from travelling the world is that we are all the same. We all eat, sleep and shit. We all crave love and admiration. And we all want the best for those we love.

To go first, is to lead. Leading by example is the best way to lead. When we lead with our actions our words are not necessary. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said so well:

"What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying."

When you take care of others they want to be around you. When you help others they want to help you in return. Let’s face it, who doesn't want to be taken care of? That’s why I love my mum so much! She always puts me first, even when I didn't deserve it!

If we want good things to come our way, I can think of no better way than going first. For the health and happiness of one and all!


Links:

Click here the link to listen to the interview with Tim, Laird and Gabby.

And here's a link to see Laird take on mother nature!


Eating - Eat your greens

Would you like more energy? I thought so, who doesn't! Like many before me I'm going to try and convince you to eat your greens.

We all know that vegetables are good for us. Recently kale and spinach have gone from Z list to A list celebs in the vegetable world! But only when I found Dr Rhonda Patrick did I understand why.



Some of our most intelligent people work in universities across the world. They work hard to make new discoveries to help humanity. Unfortunately it takes way too long for their work to become common knowledge.


Dr Rhonda Patrick is reducing this gap! She works hard to disseminate health-related information in a way that the general public can understand. She has done extensive research on aging, cancer, and nutrition. She investigates the effects of vitamin and mineral inadequacies on metabolism, inflammation, DNA damage and ageing. To learn more about her and her work click here.


Mitochondria

If we want to understand how to get more energy we have to start with the powerhouse, the mitochondria.

Blausen_0644_Mitochondria.png

 

Hidden inside most cells are these special organelles called mitochondria. Mitochondria use sugar, fat and oxygen to make energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

The more mitochondria we have the more energy we create to perform work. An easy way to maximise our mitochondria is to exercise at high intensities. But making new mitochondria requires magnesium.

Mitochondria have their own DNA. To make new mitochondria, our existing mitochondria must make a copy of their DNA. This requires enzymes that need magnesium as a co-factor. So if our magnesium levels are low we’re going to have a hard time making new mitochondria. If we can’t make new mitochondria our cells won’t fire on all cylinders. Magnesium also helps dampen the oxidative stress of energy production. In essence it helps mitochondria be more efficient.


Magnesium deficiency

Dr Rhonda Patrick quotes that 56% of the American population are deficient in magnesium. In the UK we are recommended to consume 300 mg/day. The NHS says we can get this from a balanced diet. But this figure only represents the required magnesium to avoid ill-health.

If we want optimal performance we need to consume more than this. Over three hundred biological functions are magnesium dependant. That’s a lot that go wrong if we are magnesium deficient.

Three common reasons for magnesium deficiency are:

  1. Over reliance on calorie rich nutrient poor foods. We don’t eat enough nutrient dense foods that contain magnesium.
  2. Poor magnesium absorption. Some foods high in magnesium like legumes, nuts and grains are also high in phytates. Phytates bind to minerals such as magnesium making it impossible to absorb. Soaking nuts, seeds and grains can help
  3. Alcohol can double to rate of magnesium excretion in the kidneys.

So if you want your body to functioning optimally I suggest you keep an eye out for magnesium rich foods. Check out the list below for some ideas:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Oysters and shellfish
  • Fish
  • Cruciferous and dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbages etc.)
  • Beans and lentils
  • Wholegrain brown rice
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Dark chocolate (hurray!!!)

Now go eat your greens, or dark chocolate! :)


Exercising - Physical activity, fitness and health

Physical activity and fitness have been linked to health and longevity since ancient times. To be healthy the body needs to be moved. Just like we wouldn't drink water from a stagnant pond we can’t expect to be healthy in a stagnant body.

The Science

Observational studies have consistently shown that physical activity and fitness are inversely related to all-cause mortality risk. This trend is true for adult men and women of all ages.

Increased physical activity significantly reduces the incidence of many chronic diseases. Diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic conditions, insulin resistance, cancer, skeletal disease and mental illness.

Physical activity also plays a significant role in treatment and management of disease.

The volume of evidence is irrefutable but for those interested here's a great resource. Hardman and Stensel’s book Physical Activity and Health: The Evidence Explained.

 

Recommendations for health

The basic scientific literature suggests we aim to:

"...accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week."

Evidence suggests that greater amounts of activity yield greater benefits. And vigorous exercise is likely to be more effective than non vigorous activity.

Physical activity could be structured in the form of recreation pursuits (swimming, cycling or dancing). Or based on lifestyle activities (brisk walking, gardening, housework). Either way physical activity should be habitual and life long.

The NHS suggest doing 150 minutes a week and adding in some strength based activity. Click here for more information.

Interesting points on physical activity

  • Physical activity does not need to result in a training effect to elicit a health benefit.
  • If you are obese or overweight panic not. Physical activity will benefit you just as much as those who are lean and fit.

How to increase your physical activity?

When it comes to following guidelines/ restrictions we can be successful or dismally unsuccessful. Behavioural psychologists identify two types of restriction. One is binary and the other is quantitative. Binary thinking comes naturally. But we are pathetic at quantitative thinking.

If I were to ask you how many calories you ate this morning for breakfast, the chances are you wouldn't have a clue. Likewise if I asked you how far you'd walked today!

Binary thinking much more simple. It is this or that thinking. Did you eat breakfast today? Kale is good and sugar is bad, so eat kale and don’t eat sugar. Binary advice is easier to follow and stick to. Quantitative advice is up for interpretation and much harder to adhere to. This is why calorie counting fails and perhaps why we don't get enough physical activity.

Religion has worked for many years because their laws are binary. Thou shalt not kill, steal and commit adultery. Sticking to the rules makes you saint, failure to do so makes you a sinner. Imagine a law: thou shalt not commit adultery more than 5 times per month. People would have a much harder time sticking to that.

Change your Identity

One way to get around this is to change our identity. Resisting alcohol is much easier if we are teetotal. Vegetarians don’t eat meat. We can train ourselves to become active. We become the type of person who always takes the stairs instead of the lift. We can become the type of person who goes on walks at the weekend. This will require some time and commitment. But with some positive self talk it’s possible to reinforce the change. Fake it till you make it, as they say!

 

If faking it doesn't work then tap into a much more powerful source of motivation. A vision of an unpleasant future. Use your imagination to think what life might be like in the future if you don't take care of yourself. If you're like me and your imagination sucks. Try spending the day in a old peoples nursing home. It's a simple way to work out what you don’t want!

Suffering might be inevitable but nobody wants to suffer more than necessary. And nobody wants to leave their loved ones early.


Start today, by making a little time or effort to be more active. If you want to know some simple ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily life click here

If you already get enough physical activity then why not get together with a friend who currently isn't getting enough. You could tell them all about the benefits of physical activity and tick the box for a selfless task! Or just share my content with them!

Be well

James


If you are still after some more health education then below are a few of my recent blogs. If you want to know how to climb up Everest in your shorts or fight disease with your mind then The Wim Hof article is fascinating.
 

I hope these tips are useful, if there is anything else you would like me to talk about don't hesitate to get in touch at james@evotee.co.uk

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