Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Make Clean Your Business Webinar

MAKE CLEAN BEAUTY YOUR BUSINESS!
Join me along with Arsy Vartanian (Managing Director) and Gina Harney (Director) to learn how Beautycounter can be an additional source of revenue while educating and empowering consumers about choosing clean beauty. Join the free webinar here
BONUS! Join a community of driven and passionate women, creating life on their terms!

*If you are a blogger, we will also talk about why it is such a great opportunity for bloggers too.

Monday, May 11th at 4:00 PM EST 

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Floor Sitting: Do You Spend Enough Time on the Ground?

sitting on the floorA while back, I developed an interest in the “archetypal postures” of ground-based sitting, squatting, and kneeling. My interest persisted, and I thought a full-on post about the potential benefits and logistics of floor sitting would be fun and helpful.

I’ve found that there aren’t very many studies examining the effects of floor sitting, kneeling, and squatting on health, posture, or pain. You’ve got the “stability ball literature” (long story short: sitting on a stability ball tends to “increase the level of discomfort”), 7but sitting on an inflated unstable sphere is more physiologically novel than a regular chair. I’m not sure there’s much benefit and it looks pretty silly. There’s also a brief study8 that showed sitting in a backless chair improved levels of consciousness in patients with prolonged consciousness disturbance. For the most part, though, it’s a pretty barren landscape of research.

I think that’s okay. I’m not entirely convinced we always need research to confirm what we already (should) implicitly know.

As Babies, We Start on the Floor

Sometimes hard data isn’t really needed, especially when you consider two unassailable facts about our relationship with the floor. First, individually, we all start out on the floor. As babies, we lie there, essentially kicking things off as eating, pooping sacks of wiggling, basically immobile flesh. Then, we graduate to flipping over onto our stomachs, lolling our heads around (once we develop sufficient neck strength), crawling toward vacant electrical sockets, hesitantly standing, and finally walking. It’s on the floor that we learn to move. We may not be doing terribly complex or impressive stuff down there, but that first year or two is incredibly formative for the rest of our movement lives. We’re building a foundation made primarily of contralateral crawling and “tummy time.” Graduating beyond the floor to full on bipedalism doesn’t mean we should totally ignore where we came from.

Chairs are a Recent Invention

Second, chairs only recently became part of our lives. Folks as early as the ancient Egyptians had them, but they were a luxury item reserved for the upper classes. Your average Neolithic human sat on chests or benches until chairs became a mass-produced staple that everyone could afford. Earlier than that, for most of human history, formal-sitting furniture simply didn’t exist. Paleolithic posteriors surely rested upon rocks and logs and stumps when the opportunity arose, but those aren’t the same as having permanent fixtures that allow you to take a load off whenever you want. Human bodies were not designed with chairs in mind. We did do a lot of lounging around – I’m not arguing we never stopped moving or anything – but we did so on the ground, rather than on a bunch of folding chairs.

Sitting down in a chair does funny things to our bodies. It stretches out our glutes, making them inactive, loose, and weak. People by and large no longer know how to activate their butt muscles due to excessive amounts of chair sitting. Sitting in a chair also keeps the hip flexors in a short, tight, contracted position for extended amounts of time, which can inhibit full hip extension and lead to that hunched over position you often see older folks shuffling around with. And that’s not even mentioning the extensive (and growing) literature showing how sitting for too long increases mortality and degenerative disease, which I’ve covered in plenty of posts and Weekend Link Loves. This post isn’t really about that, anyway.

What might be most important, though, is what sitting in a chair doesn’t do. It doesn’t allow us to rest in the full squat position, an ability we’re born with but quickly forget how to do. It doesn’t let us do much of anything. Sitting becomes a totally passive act, where we’re slumped over, shoulders rounded, feet twisted up and resting on the chair legs, totally dependent on the structure of the chair to support our weight – rather than using our musculature and arranging our skeletal system in such a way that we support ourselves. Doesn’t it seem inconceivable that an animal – any animal – would evolve to require furniture in order to rest comfortably without incurring a disability?

That’s partly why it makes some sense to hang out on the floor more.

6 Floor Sitting Positions to Better Align Your Body

We need the “stress” of supporting our own body weight and making sure our structures are in alignment. Here are a few positions to try out:

  • Squat
  • Seiza
  • Half kneel
  • Crossed legs
  • Crossed legs variation
  • Make up your own

Resting Squat
sitting on the floor squat

Squats are the default resting position of humans. Kids can do this easily, but once they start going to school and sitting in a chair for six hours a day, they lose it. The goal here is to get your heels on the ground. Resting on the balls of your feet is easier, but it’s harder on your knees and thighs. The heels-down squat, which requires more flexibility but distributes the pressure across your hips, is far more sustainable.

 

Seiza

sitting on the floor seiza

Seiza is the formal way to sit in Japan, resting on the lower legs, butt on heels. Placing a small pillow or rolled up towel under your knees can make the transition easier, especially if you have a bad knee or two.

 

 

Half Kneel

floor sitting half kneel

 

Like seiza, except one of your feet is on the ground, heel down, in front of you in a squat position. Like these guys.

 

 

Crossed Legs

sitting on the floor cross leggedFor many people, this is the most comfortable, natural way to sit on the floor. You can place your feet flat against each other, cross at the ankles, or place your calves against each other. You can even go full lotus.

 

 

Crossed Leg Variation

 

This is one my favorite ways to sit. From the basic crossed leg position, place one hand flat on the floor and lean on it. Bring the opposite leg up and place the foot flat on the floor. Your opposite leg will be in a squat position. Switch hands and legs if it gets uncomfortable.

 

 

Make Up Your Own

Human limbs are funny, bendy things. We can contort ourselves into lots of positions, and as long as you’re on the floor, supporting your own weight and feel comfortable doing it, it’s difficult to hurt yourself. Our bodies are good at giving feedback before things go really wrong. If your arm starts to go numb or your toes get tingly, switch it up! Try coming up with some of your own variations for sitting on the ground and report back.

Floor Activities for Improved Body Alignment

  • CrawlContralateral crawling is one of the most fundamental ways to move. It’s a strong developer of shoulder and hip mobility and strength, and it’s simply a fun way to see and experience the world.
  • Watch TV on the floor. There’s nothing inherently wrong with TV. Sure, it can be taken to the extreme and crowd out active living, but it’s arguably a golden age of television as far as quality goes. The couch sitting, though, is what gets you.
  • Eat dinner on the floor. This isn’t something I created out of thin air; plenty of cultures eat dinner on the ground.
  • Try different positions. You’ll probably find that floor living is a constantly shifting existence, where instead of remaining in the same position for hours at a time, you’re moving around all the time without even trying. You’re switching from the right arm to the left arm to the right elbow to the full lotus position to the half kneel to the full kneel to the full squat just in the first two hours.
  • Practice moving between positions. Go from standing to a half kneel to a kneel to a seiza to a kneel to a half kneel to standing.
  • Practice standing up. We can’t live on the floor all the time. Sometimes, we need to stand up and get on with our lives. A smooth transition between floor living and standing is key to health and mobility. For an example transition, check out one of my buddy Erwan’s (of MovNat) methods.

Spend at least an hour a day sitting on the ground and another fifteen minutes practicing different ways to move between positions and another fifteen practicing how to stand up and sit back down. Shoot for ten minutes of crawling, too. You can do most of these things while doing other things, like watching TV or reading or talking, so it’s not like you’re wasting time. My guess is that you’ll take to this like a fish to water.

Why is this so important?

The way we sit, and where we do it, changes the function of our bodies. It even alters the length of musculature.9 In countries where squatting and other forms of floor living are seamlessly weaved into everyday life, people still retain the mobility to do all that stuff into old age. I’ve got a buddy from Thailand who moved over to Hollywood as a teenager in the late sixties and still retains the ability to sit in a full squat, painlessly and effortlessly. This guy is an avid user of chairs and everything Western. He’s not a gymgoer at all, and he’s never even heard of a foam roller or Mobility WOD, but because he got the right floor living experience during the formative years, he can still squat and move around on the floor. Unfortunately, for many of us in Western countries who stopped floor living right around age four or five, we may never quite get there – but we can certainly do a lot better than we are now.

Now that you have some idea of what to do when you’re on the ground, I’d like you to spend the next week doing as much floor living as possible. I don’t expect you to ditch the office chair and roll around the ground while at work, but I do expect you to get in some quality floor time when you’re at home.

Let’s hear from you guys. How do you handle yourselves on the floor? What’s your favorite go-to position?

Mango_Jalapeno_and_Hawaiian-Style_BBQ_Sauces_640x80

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9 Signs You Aren’t Digesting Fats and What To Do About It

signs you aren't digesting fatsIf you’re on a high-fat ketogenic diet and running on a fat-based metabolism, you need access to fat. Some of it comes from your own body, but not all. A good portion of your body’s fuel will come from dietary fat, or the fat you eat. Especially if you are eating more fat than you’re accustomed to, you need to be able to absorb and then digest the fat you eat and turn it into useable energy. If  you aren’t digesting fats, you may be in for some discomfort.

What are the signs and symptoms of poor fat digestion?

Signs You Aren’t Digesting Fats: What Does Fat Malabsorption Look Like?

Running a fat-based metabolism just doesn’t work if you can’t digest fats. Here’s what it looks and feels like:

Abdominal Pain and Discomfort After Fat-rich Meals

What happens to fat—or anything, really—that goes down the “wrong pipe”? When you consume fat but aren’t able to effectively digest it, that fat has to go somewhere. That fat goes where it isn’t supposed to be, and sometimes that causes pain and pressure.

Greasy Stool

Some misbegotten fat loss plans involve the active inhibition of fat digestion, either by consuming artificial fat-like substances that feel and taste like fat without providing any calories or taking lipase inhibitors which deactivate the intestinal enzymes that digest and absorb dietary fat. In both cases, the fat or “fat” is excreted when you go to the bathroom. Yeah. That’s not a good look, but it is a sure sign that you aren’t digesting fats.


Instantly access your FREE download: Guide to a Healthy Gut


Floating Stool

Fat is buoyant. If your poop is festooned with the fat you ate but didn’t digest, it will float more readily.

“Leakage”

Passive leakage into your underwear is another common sign you aren’t digesting your fat. One of the most infamous processed “food” disasters was a line of “WOW” branded snacks that contained an indigestible fat substitute, which caused people to leak stool without warning. Same mechanism.

Productive Flatulence

Apologies for the visual, but there’s no easy way to say it. People with poor fat digestion will often produce tangible, lasting results when they fart.

Unexpected Weight Loss

Not absorbing or digesting dietary fat will reduce your calorie absorption, and it may very well cause weight loss. But if you don’t have weight to lose, or if the weight loss comes with unwanted side effects (one study found that Orlistat users indeed lost weight, but they also lost more lean mass), you may want to pay attention.

Low Energy Levels

Trying to run on fat without actually being able to access dietary fat is a miserable exercise in futility. The boundless energy, the steady even keel, the ability to go for hours without eating or crashing—all the promises of fat-adaptation will elude you if you can’t digest the fat you eat.

Oxalate Accumulation

Orlistat users are at an increased risk of oxalate-induced kidney damage.1 Normally, oxalates bind to calcium to form calcium oxalate, which we excrete in the stool. With impaired fat digestion, the undigested fat binds with calcium, leaving oxalate adrift and more readily absorbed and accumulated. Less lipase, less fat digestion, more oxalate accumulation, more kidney danger.

Fat-soluble Vitamin Deficiencies

This isn’t an easy “sign” to watch for. You can’t really “feel” it. But if you were to go to a lab and get tested for vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin A, having low levels despite a steady intake could indicate a problem with your fat digestion. Orlistat research confirms this.2

But it’s a real issue. You absorb fat-soluble vitamins alongside the dietary fat you eat. If you’re not absorbing the fat, you’re missing out on the nutrients. All those studies which find that eating fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E and vitamin K2 alongside dietary fat improves nutrient bioavailability assumes that you’re able to digest the fat. If you can’t digest the fat very well, you’re missing out on the rest of the stuff you eat.

Not all of these are individual markers of poor fat digestion. It’s normal to have some floaty stool now and again. You aren’t always going to digest every bit of fat you consume. Everyone can name a time they felt bloated and had a stomach ache after eating. There are many other reasons why you could be losing weight without trying. But if they are co-incident, you might be dealing with poor fat digestion.

And you should probably do something about it.

How to Improve Your Fat Digestion

Okay, so any, some, or all of those symptoms are signs of poor fat absorption and digestion. It’s always a good idea to rule out larger health problems with your doctor. Until then, what can you do about it?

Chew your Food Thoroughly

Most fat digestion occurs in the GI tract, but it starts in the mouth with something called lingual lipase, the oral form of the major fat-digesting enzyme. To produce lingual lipase, however, you have to chew. The simple presence of fat in the mouth isn’t enough—you have to get those teeth and that tongue going. In one study, eating almonds and coconut triggered the release of lingual lipase, while eating almond butter (the same amount of fat) did not.3 The only difference was chewing. Chew more to give your digestion a head start and improve your fat absorption, even if the food you’re eating doesn’t seem to require chewing. Do your best.

Check Your Gall Bladder

The primary role of the gall bladder is to collect bile from the liver, concentrate it into potent super-bile (my term), and release the concentrated bile to break up incoming dietary fat into smaller molecules that lipase (see above) can attack and digest.

If you gall bladder isn’t working properly, you still have bile—as that’s produced in the liver—but it’s not the concentrated stuff that’s really good at breaking up fat. You have “lesser” bile, bile that isn’t as strong or effective. Your dietary fat tolerance will drop unless you fix the gall bladder issue.

Address Your Gut Health

The gut is linked to just about everything in the body, and fat digestion is no exception. If you have an excessive amount of bacteria in your small intestine (remember, the bulk of your bacteria should reside in the colon), bile doesn’t work right. The bacteria start breaking it down, which inhibits the bile’s ability to break down the fats into the micelles that your lipase can digest.

I recently wrote a guide to fixing your gut health. Read that and employ some or all of the recommendations if they apply.

Take Extra Fat-soluble Vitamins

In studies where subjects have trouble digesting fats, they have to take extra fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin D, to avoid deficiency. This is a safe bet for the duration of your problem. I’d even throw in some vitamin K2 just to be safe—it’s really important but doesn’t get enough attention in typical studies.

Try Exogenous Digestive Enzymes and Bile Supplements

You can actually take exogenous lipase and bile supplements (like ox bile or bile salts). These aren’t as effective as the real thing (producing your own in-house), but they can give you a little help in that area.

If you have had your gall bladder removed, supplementing may be crucial to digesting fats. Run it by your doctor to see what he or she thinks.

Have Something Bitter After a Meal

Bitter flavors after a fat-rich meal enhance bile production.4 It doesn’t have to be some arcane bitter herb mix; even an espresso after a meal—that classic Italian custom—can improve fat digestion by increasing gastric acid production.5

Focus on Shorter Chained Fatty Acids

Shorter chained fatty acids like MCT oil and coconut oil are literally shorter and easier to disentangle for digestion. They don’t require as much bile to break apart as longer chained fatty acids. They are easily digested, head straight to the liver for oxidation or ketone generation without dealing with the lymphatic system, and can be utilized by cells for energy without the enzymatic processes needed to utilize longer chain fats.

Hydrate

I’m usually a proponent of listening to your body to tell you when you’re thirsty. “Drink when thirst ensures” works pretty well. But, since about 97% of bile is pure, unadulterated water, and one “silent” cause of fat malabsorption and trouble digesting fats is poor hydration status, this is something to consider. If you don’t have enough water, your bile production, texture, and function will suffer. It’ll be thick and sludgy, no good at all.

Drinking some water (perhaps with electrolytes) is an easy thing to try and it might actually be a missing piece.

Try Taurine

Taurine is a conditionally-essential amino acid. We make it, just not enough. One of the essential roles it plays is as substrate for bile production. Without adequate taurine levels, bile production—and, thus, fat digestion—suffers.6 Luckily, it’s an easy fix. Take a taurine supplement or eat more meat, especially hearts. Chicken, beef, lamb, turkey hearts are all great sources of taurine.

There you have it, folks. 9 signs and symptoms of poor fat digestion and 9 potential solutions to address the issue.

Do you have any problems digesting fat? Have you tried any of these recommendations? Do you have any recommendations of your own that weren’t listed here?

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What We’ve Been Eating

I’ve been doing a rough meal plan for each week and it’s been helpful to organize the fresh meals, frozen meals, ingredients we have on hand to use up, Plenty nights, and plan some takeout nights. All three weeks we have steered off course quite a bit for random reasons. In the above, for example,...

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