Wellness: Good Stress: Multi-day Fasting Reasons and Tips

I thought today would be a particularly good day to write this post because I’m currently 68 hours into a 3-day fast. It’s a good time to show that I’m still functioning normally after nearly 3 days without eating and to ensure that I remember all my tips and tricks, in case you’re interested in trying it. If you’re thinking that multi-day fasting seems impossible or ill-advised, I hope that I can dispel some of the myths.

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Wellness: Good Stress: Plants – Maximizing Benefits and Minimizing Inflammation

If you’re like me, you’d be surprised that eating plants is a contested topic in the wellness space. I grew up in an “eat your vegetables” house where there was no doubt that eating a variety of plants was the pinnacle of health. Of course, this is largely true. Plants contain micronutrients and feed our microbiome with fiber so that it creates byproducts, like serotonin, that we use. They also contain polyphenols, like resveratrol, that send epigenetic signals that improve our health by, for example, reducing inflammation or producing antioxidants. However, plants also can trigger sensitivities that cause more harm than good.

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Wellness: Good Stress: Exercise for Brain Health

Like many people, I used to struggle to keep a consistent exercise routine. Armed with nothing but a vague sense that it was good for me and usually extra motivation to lose weight, I’d start something only to discard it in a couple of days or weeks. This cycle changed when my vague sense developed into a concrete understanding of how exercise improves almost every aspect of my life. Now, I’ve been exercising consistently for 2.5 years, and it started when I found out how exercise benefits the brain.

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Wellness: Recovery: Dopamine – Recognizing Addiction and Good Hygiene

Many people have heard that dopamine is responsible for feelings of reward, but that’s only part of a highly complex system. The dopamine system developed to motivate us to seek things that have a cost or risk to attain. Evolutionarily, this included hunting for food, getting water, or gathering information. Dopamine motivates us to do things that we wouldn’t do for fun but are essential to survival. Because it works to motivate us, it is responsible for feelings of agitation (e.g., craving) as well as reward.

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Wellness: Recovery: Sleep – Disruptors and Making the Best of Bad Sleep

High-quality sleep might be the best thing you can do for your health, but you can’t always control how well you sleep. Disrupted sleep was actually one of my primary catalysts to pay attention to my health. During the pandemic, I lived next to a guy who would throw loud parties 3-4 times a week until 12-1am. Because of the moratorium on evictions, there was nothing anyone could do about it, so I lived in this environment for over a year. I learned that while sleep is important, it’s not so precious that you can’t make the best of bad sleep.

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Wellness: Recovery: Sleep – Routines

Getting your sleep right is perhaps the best thing you can do for your health, but it’s hard to get quality sleep. Not only does it take a long time, but it’s easily disrupted because we’re so vulnerable while sleeping. If we could’ve evolved away from sleeping, we would have. Instead, most adults require 7-9 hours of quality sleep to maximize their health, especially mental health like mood and focus. This post focuses on routines for quality sleep because sleep depends on the circadian rhythm and, thus, reliable patterns.

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Wellness: Recovery: Serotonin – Sunlight and Gratitude

Serotonin is a molecule that makes people feel satisfied with what they have. And it does much more than that. It interacts with many other systems throughout the body, which is highlighted by the fact that it acts as both a neurotransmitter (i.e., communicates locally in the synapses between nerve cells) and hormone (i.e., communicates distally by circulating in the blood). Its complex nature helps explain why habits that support its healthy functioning can have substantial downstream benefits.

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Wellness: Recovery: Nutrition – Protein

As a former vegan, protein is an area where I’ve made many changes. Like dietary fat, we have to get sufficient protein from our diet to optimize health, and quality matters. I no longer believe that I can reach my best health potential without consuming animal products. Thus, high-quality and ethically-sourced protein is where I spend the most on investing in my health. If cost or animal ethics are a concern for you, I’ll also discuss some alternatives.

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Wellness: Recovery: Nutrition – Carbohydrates

Don’t worry, it’s not bad to eat carbs. But, critically look at the carbs you eat. Western cultures, and those that have adopted our food culture, have a surging epidemic of chronic illnesses. There’s good reason to think many of these chronic illnesses — Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s (sometimes called Type 3 diabetes) — start with hyperinsulinemia, a chronic elevation of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that tells your cells to grow by storing fat, making new proteins, and replicating. These are all necessary processes. However, when insulin is chronically elevated, cells are consistently in growth mode and rarely in repair mode. Repair mode allows you to burn fat, clean up misfolded proteins, and repair regularly occurring DNA damage. These are also necessary processes. Thus, it is healthy to cycle between growth and repair.

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Wellness: Recovery: Nutrition – Quality Fats

First, fat isn’t bad for our health. It’s calorically dense, but many people under-consume essential fats in our fat-phobic society. Fat is essential because we use fat to make a lot of the tissue in our body, like cell membranes and hormones. Without it, you’re stuck recycling old fat or downregulating the repair of cells. Extra fat can also be used as a fuel, which burns with less oxidative stress than carbohydrates. Don’t worry, I’m not demonizing carbs. Carbs are useful, especially because most vegetables are primarily carbs. But we also need to not demonize fat.

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