End Political Contributions

A lot of political problems in the U.S. can be traced to a single source: That politicians are legally allowed to accept money for their campaigns, and then they owe those contributors a favor. But this problem can be solved, and there are already effective organizations working on solving it. This episode explains the ideas behind the movement.

Click on the link below to listen on your favorite podcast platform:

The Secret of Rudy's Persistence

I love the movie, Rudy. It's a true story about a boy who wants to play football for Notre Dame even though he’s small, not very strong, not very quick, doesn’t have the money for college (and neither do his parents), and gets lousy grades in high school.

But because of his formidable persistence and consistently great attitude, because of his willingness to keep moving toward his goal no matter what obstacles barred his way, he actually achieved his goal. It is truly inspiring to watch.

The real Rudy Ruettiger was a consultant for the movie, and made sure the movie was an accurate depiction of his life. But it leaves out some interesting facts. You can’t put a whole life into one movie without omitting something.

One of the things the movie left out is what I consider to be a vital part of the story: How he became so incredibly persistent. Luckily, he wrote about his experience in more detail, so we know the answer. A particular event changed his life.

In the movie, only one person supported Rudy's dream to play football for Notre Dame — his best friend, Pete. When Pete died in a tragic accident, something happened to Rudy, and he realized if he was going to make his dream happen, he’d better get on with it because life is short.

A few days later he was in a bookstore and found a paperback copy of Psycho-Cybernetics. “I took the book home and read it cover to cover,” says Rudy, “and then I started again at the beginning.”

The book made a profound impression on Rudy, and he immediately started acting on his newfound understanding of how to accomplish goals.

“Although I was already 23, I immediately headed for Notre Dame with the attitude, ‘I'm going to do this, period, end of sentence,’ and new opportunities were created just by me showing up.”

I’ve had similar experiences where my commitment to a goal — all by itself — seemed to make things happen, almost like magic. You probably have too.

“Maltz said if you take action, the plan will unfold in front of you,” wrote Rudy. “You can develop your game plan as you move toward your goal. Sometimes it’s better not to have everything all laid out; focusing too much on how you think it should go can cause you to miss opportunities.”

According to Rudy, the book changed his life.

If you have important goals (and I’ll bet you do) find yourself a copy of Psycho-Cybernetics and read it. It’s one of the best self-help books ever written.

Two things make the book exceptional: First, it’s easy to read. Second, it is complete. It talks about the value of setting goals and how to set goals, and how to visualize your goals to make them real. But it also talks about one of the most important barriers to achievement: Your self-image.

If you have a goal but believe you’re a loser, no matter how hard you try, you will not be able to accomplish your goal. Something will always cause you to fail before you reach it.

If this has been happening to you, dig into the self-image psychology in Maltz’s book and follow the practical suggestions for eliminating the internal barriers to your success. Rudy said, “I learned from Psycho-Cybernetics that it’s all in what you think.”

But that doesn’t mean “just think positive thoughts and everything will turn out well.” There is more to it. Maltz goes into detail about exactly how to use your mind effectively to overcome the psychological obstacles to achievement. Read a summary of Psycho-Cybernetics.

Rudy wrote, “Every one of us uses our mind to create our life. My story can be your story — if you are willing to swim against the stream, fight against the odds, and believe you can be whatever you want to be.

Adam Khan is the author of Slotralogy, Direct Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of What Difference Does It Make?: How the Sexes Differ and What You Can Do About It. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

All In Your Head

In 1914, a small ship sailed into the icy Weddell Sea, on its way to the South Pole. It carried a crew of twenty-seven men, and their leader, Ernest Shackleton. But unseasonable gales shoved the floating ice together and the temperature sank below zero, freezing more than a million square miles of ice into a solid mass. And they were stuck in the middle of it. They had no radio transmitter. They were alone.

For ten months the pressure increased until it crushed the ship, stranding them in the middle of an icy wasteland which could, at any time, break up and become a sea of floating ice chunks. They had to get off this ice while it was still solid, so they headed for the nearest known land, 346 miles away, dragging their two lifeboats over the ice. But every few hundred yards they ran into a pressure ridge, sometimes two stories high, caused by the ice compacting. They had to chop through it. At the end of two backbreaking days in subzero weather, they were exhausted. After all their hacking and dragging, they had traveled only two miles.

They tried again. In five days they went a total of nine miles, but the ice was becoming softer and the pressure ridges were becoming larger. They could go no further. So they had to wait...for several months. Finally the ice opened up and they launched the boats into the churning mass of giant chunks of ice and made it out. But now they were sailing across a treacherous sea. They landed on a tiny, barren, ice-covered, lifeless island in the middle of nowhere.

To save themselves, they needed to reach the nearest outpost of civilization: South Georgia, 870 miles away! Shackleton and five men took the best lifeboat and sailed across the Drake Passage at the tip of South America, the most formidable piece of ocean in the world. Gales blow nonstop — up to 200 miles an hour (that’s as hard as a hurricane) — and waves get as high as ninety feet. Their chances of making it were very close to zero.

But determination can change the odds.

They made it. But they landed on the wrong side of the island, and their boat was pounded into the rocks and rendered useless. The whaling port they needed to reach was on the other side of the island, which has peaks 10,000 feet high and had never been crossed. They were the first. They didn’t have much choice.

When they staggered into the little whaling port on the other side of the island, everyone who saw them stopped dead in their tracks. The three men had coal-black skin from the seal oil they had been burning as fuel. They had long, black dreadlocks. Their clothing was shredded, filthy rags, and they had come from the direction of the mountains. Nobody in the history of the whaling port had ever been known to enter the town from that direction.

Although all the men at that whaling port had known about Shackleton’s expedition, his ship had been gone for seventeen months and was assumed to have sunk, and the crew with it. The whalers knew how deadly and unforgiving the ice could be.

The three ragged men made their way to the home of a man Shackleton knew, followed in silence by a growing crowd of people. When the man came to the door, he stepped back and stared in silence. Then he said, “Who the hell are you?”

The man in the center took a step forward and said, “My name is Shackleton.”

According to some witnesses, the hard-faced man at the door turned away and wept.

This story is incredible, and if it weren’t for the extensive verification and corroboration of the diaries and interviews with the men on the crew in Alfred Lansing’s account, Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, it might easily be disbelieved. The story is true, and as incredible as what I’ve told you seems, I’ve only given you some highlights.

Shackleton went back and rescued his friends on the other side of the island first, and then after many attempts to get through the ice, on August 30th — almost two years since they’d embarked — he made it back to that barren island and rescued the rest of his men. Every man in Shackleton’s crew made it home alive.

Fifteen years earlier, a different ship got stuck in the ice in the Weddell Sea — the Belgica, led by Adrien de Gerlache — but they didn’t do so well. During the winter in the Antarctic, the sun completely disappears below the horizon for seventy-nine days. Shackleton’s crew endured it. But the crew of the Belgica grew depressed, gave up hope, and succumbed to negative thinking. Some of them couldn’t eat. Mental illness took over. One man had a heart attack from a terror of darkness. Paranoia and hysteria ran rampant.

None of this happened to Shackleton’s men because he insisted they keep a good attitude, and he did the same. He once said that the most important quality for an explorer was not courage or patience, but optimism. He said, “Optimism nullifies disappointment and makes one more ready than ever to go on.”

Shackleton also knew that attitudes are contagious. He was fully aware of the fact that if anyone lost hope they wouldn’t be able to put forth that last ounce of energy which may make the difference. And they did get pushed to the limits of human endurance. But he had convinced himself and his men they would make it out alive. His determination to remain optimistic ultimately saved their lives.

And it can achieve great things for you too. It comes down to what you say: Either you say it’s hopeless or you say it can be done. You can never look into the future to find the answer. It’s in your head.

This article was excerpted from the book, Principles For Personal Growth by Adam Khan. Buy it now here.

Paracelsus

Have you ever heard of a man named Paracelsus? He did a very good thing for you and me. In the year 1500 AD, the doctors in Europe studied the work of a man named Galen. His works had been respected for 1300 years. That's an incredibly long time. You talk about well established! What he wrote became like sacred doctrine. If Galen wrote it, it was so, and that's all there was to say about it.

Now a lot of the things he wrote were accurate. But a lot of it was garbage. For example, supposedly inside each person were what were called the Four Cardinal Humors. Humor comes from the Latin umor meaning fluid or moisture.

The four Humors were Phlegm, Choler, Blood, and Melancholy. In order to be in good health, so the theory went, a person had to have a proper balance between these humors. The whole thing sounds pretty humorous, don't you think? But if you didn't have enough of one of these humors, or if you had too much of one, then you were sick. That's what disease was. So to make you well, the doctor's job was to restore the balance.

Galen also believed that each person had a certain balance that was just right for that particular individual. Therefore, each illness in each person was unique.

So the doctor, with his special knowledge, might find you had, say, too much of one of your humors, like blood for example. And he would treat you by making you bleed for awhile. One of their techniques was to attach leaches to your body to suck out some of your blood. And then you would be well. Now this sounds like a good Monty Python gag, but here were well-respected authorities, diligently studying for years to get their "Doctor of Physic" degree so they could go out and make people sweat and purge and bleed and vomit, and thereby supposedly make them healthy. A lot of the time, as you can probably imagine, the treatment killed the patient. But after 1300 years, this was a very well-established status quo.

Then along comes a rebel by the name of Paracelsus, who came up with the scandalous idea that something from outside your body, like smoke or germs, could make you sick. What a radical! He was viciously attacked by the medical profession so he never stayed in one place very long, and he lived his life in poverty.

But he never gave up. He felt pretty sure he was right, and he knew if he was right, it would have an enormous impact on the health of everyone.

Since he had no Doctor of Physic degree, he was never allowed to publish his ideas — including his studies of people who worked in mines who all seemed to die of the same thing (now called Miner's Disease) which seriously put in question one of Galen's "sacred" ideas that all diseases were unique.

It wasn't until a couple of decades after Paracelsus died that his work became known and published. He turned out to have been right, and although he never knew what he did, he opened up the way for a whole new approach toward disease, and doctors dramatically increased their effectiveness because of that persistent rebel.

Now some people might consider themselves a failure if they lived a life like Paracelsus — in poverty and scorned and all. But there are more important things in life than just winning or getting everyone's admiration, or collecting and spending a lot of money. Nothing wrong with these things. Not at all. But there's at least one thing that's more important: Being true to your own aspiration.

If it stirs you, if that vision captivates you, if the ideas for that invention haunt you and won't leave you alone, if you have a goal that may even seem petty to others, but it's something you feel is good and right, and you want to try...then do it, no matter how long it takes or who thinks you're a fool. Never give up on something that matters to you.

Adam Khan is the author of Slotralogy, Direct Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of What Difference Does It Make?: How the Sexes Differ and What You Can Do About It. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

The Fate We Make

If you decide your fate is in your own hands, it is. If you decide you are pushed around by circumstances beyond your control, you are.

The truth is, our fate is in our own hands to some degree, and also there are a lot of things that influence us and are out of our control or have been preordained (like where we were born).

But if you decide your fate is in your hands, your fate becomes more in your hands, and as time goes on, it becomes more and more true, like a small wave catching more of the wind and becoming an ever larger wave.

It is only a matter of where you put your attention. For example, if you pay attention to the forces that influence you beyond your control, you'll feel helpless, at least a little. Depression, or some degree of it, follows like thunder after the flash. When people feel helpless, they don't take actions they could take that would make their situation better. A belief in one's helplessness actually makes one more helpless.

Put your attention on what you can effect, however, and your life will go more the way you want it to. You're concentrating your attention where it counts. This makes you more likely to take action, and makes your actions more effective. Optimism follows. And as numerous studies have shown, including the thorough work of Martin Seligman, PhD, Kogod Professor and Director of Clinical Training in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the side-effects of optimism are better health, more success, higher self-esteem, and a greater feeling of control. You'll have a greater feeling of control because you actually have more control. Your decision that your fate is in your own hands has given you more control of your life.

Your fate is, to a considerable degree, what you make it.

Why Motivation Doesn't Last

For those who dislike or harbor suspicion about the motivational speakers of the world, a common expression is: "motivation doesn't last." In other words, you go to a motivational seminar and you feel enthused about your goals, but then after awhile, it somehow peters out.

Motivation doesn't last. I've always thought of this as a legitimate indictment of the motivational-seminar industry, but I heard something Zig Ziglar said about it that changed my mind.

Zig Ziglar is one of the most successful motivational speakers of all time. He's not my favorite, but he says something once in awhile that betrays his intelligence. He said the reason motivation doesn't last is that the world is full of demotivators.

Tell your dreams to your friends and family, for example, and you'll hear at least some of them tell you why it won't work. That is demotivating, or at least it can be.

On your way to any goal, you are bound to encounter obstacles. This can be demotivating too, especially if your usual way of explaining setbacks is somewhat pessimistic. Reality seems to be stacked against you for various reasons.

The movie, Pleasantville, had a great illustration of a world full of demotivators. It showed teachers from different classes, one after the other, saying things like this:

"For those of you going on to college next year, the chance of finding a good job will actually decrease by the time you graduate...the median income for those jobs will go down as well."

"By the year 2000, the chance of contacting HIV from a non-monogamous lifestyle will climb to 1 in 150."

"By the time you are 30 years old, average global temperature will have risen two and a half degrees, causing such catastrophic consequences as typhoons, floods, widespread drought, and famine."

The world is full of demotivators. Not because everybody is trying to bring you down, although some may be. But for many different reasons, your motivation and enthusiasm can be continually drained away.

If you're already well aware of the demotivational nature of the world and want some practical steps to do something about it, go here.

The world may be full of demotivators, but you can protect yourself from them if you know how. You can keep your motivation and enthusiasm. Let the good times roll.

Why You're Less Hungry Fasting Than Dieting

This episode is a short excerpt from a much longer podcast (What's So Great About Fasting?). This one touches on the counterintuitive biological reasons many people find fasting to be significantly easier than dieting.

Click on the link below to listen on your favorite podcast platform:

How Long Can Someone Fast Before They Die?

This is a new podcast episode. It's a short excerpt of a much longer podcast (called What's So Great About Fasting?). This excerpt looks at some of the recorded extremes of fasting duration.

Click on the link below to listen on your favorite podcast platform:

Literally Saving the Earth by Regenerating Grassland

This is about cows and sheep. And it's about something you can do to help save the earth. But let's begin at the beginning.

Grassland is the largest ecosystem on land, so what happens to grassland is important. And today, 70% of grasslands on earth have either turned into deserts or are in the process of turning into deserts. Why? What is happening?

Some areas of the earth don't get enough rainfall to grow trees but get enough to grow grass, like the Great Plains of North America, the Serengeti in Africa, or the vast Mongolian Steppe. Before the domestication of grazing animals, these grasslands were swarming with enormous herds of wild grazing animals. The grass plants and the grazing animals evolved together over millions of years. Believe it or not, they need each other like bees and flowers.

When the wild grazing herds were replaced with domesticated grazing animals, some big areas began turning into deserts. So people made the logical conclusion that domesticated animals make grasslands turn into deserts. Environmentalists decided the obvious solution is to stop domesticated animals from grazing some of these regions of land so the land could recover, but when they do it, the land doesn't recover. It continues to turn into desert.

It turns out, a desertified grassland actually needs grazing animals to thrive again.

The problem isn't the kind of animals grazing on the grass, it's the way the animals are grazing. Wild herds and domesticated herds behave differently. Do you know why?

You can answer the question yourself. What do wild grazing animals always have nearby? Predators! And the predators scare the grazers and make them crowd together in a bunch. So a herd intensively grazes one concentrated area. But of course it starts filling up with poop and piss, so the bunch moves on, and doesn't come back until the stink is gone and the grass has recovered. When a patch of land goes through this repeatedly, the grass grows in abundance. It is getting regularly fertilized and mowed. You know what the fertilizer does, but the mowing is important too.

Without mowing, grass grows tall, goes to seed, and then dies out. That is a grass plant's life cycle. And in the spring, new grass has to grow in the shade of all the dead grass from last season. The old dead grass smothers the new grass, blocking out its sunlight, so not as much grass grows the next year. The bare patches of land harden into a crust, and when rain falls on it, the water doesn't soak in as well. It runs off, taking topsoil with it, and evaporates quickly. So there's less water and nutrients in the soil, causing even less grass to grow the next season. The grassland has begun to turn to desert.

The biologist, Allan Savory, and other pioneers have found a way to mimic the effect of natural grazing animals (with their predators) – but without the predators, using domesticated animals. All a rancher has to do is bunch the animals together, either by herding them carefully or with the use of paddocks, and then move them frequently, and make sure they don't come back to the same plot of ground until the grass has recovered.

You can see some good before and after pictures in Allan Savory's TED talk called How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change. His talk is about how to manage grazing animals effectively. His method is called Holistic Management.

When ranchers begin to use Holistic Management, they have to increase the number of animals every year for a while to keep up with the increase in the amount of grass that grows. It makes the land so much more productive that it produces more food for humans, but it produces more food for the wild animals too. It turns more of the falling sunlight into grass.

In other words, Holistic Management means more of the sunlight is converted into plant material, more of the rain goes into the soil, into the plants, and into the aquifers. Less runs off and evaporates. Floods become less of a problem when they happen, and they happen less often. And the land suffers less from drought, because the more soil life, the more water it can hold. And because more of the water gets absorbed into the ground, the plants are more resilient and more able to survive drought conditions for longer. Thriving grass also cools the atmosphere and prevents soil erosion.

One of the more interesting and important effects of desertification of the largest ecosystem on earth is that when land turns to desert, it releases an enormous amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. And when this process reverses, it pulls that CO2 out of the atmosphere and puts it into the ground. That's because the life in the soil is made of carbon.

Soil life is made up of organisms ranging in size from one-celled bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoa, to more complex arthropods and nematodes, to earthworms, insects, small vertebrates, and of course, plants. One teaspoon of healthy soil contains millions of beneficial soil microorganisms that include thousands of species of bacteria and fungi. All of this is made of carbon. The carbon comes from the CO2 in the air, brought into the soil by plants.

Experts have estimated that using Holistic Management on only half of our barren or semi-barren grasslands would remove so much carbon from the air that our atmosphere would be like it was before the industrial age began.

Not only does Holistic Management reverse desertification, it produces food without the need for chemical fertilizers or pesticides or fungicides, so it prevents the contamination of groundwater and surface-water.

Over 40 million acres of land are now being managed using Holistic Management, and the results are really quite impressive. Look at the before and after pictures in the links at the end of this article. I think you will be surprised at the results. This method is ending poverty for people who rely on these desertifying lands for their sustenance because it makes the land so much more productive.

This can help solve other problems too. There is no reason to burn the Amazon rain forest to create grasslands for cattle. There are already-existing grasslands all over the world in desperate need of grazing animals right now.

By now it should be clear that the title of this article is not an exaggeration. Holistic Management could literally save the earth in more ways than one. But what can you do about it? You can help get it adopted on a larger scale. The more ranchers who use it, the better. Here's where to start: Sign up for updates at the Savory Institute and Holistic Management International. Like them on Facebook (Savory Institute here, HMI here) and share their posts. You'll find plenty of opportunities to get involved. At the very least you can help make this information more widely known, and that will make a difference. You can do the same for our web site updates (near the top of the sidebar) and our Regenerating Grassland Facebook page (here).

And of course one simple and physical thing you can begin immediately is to buy beef and lamb that has been managed using Holistic Management. Support that industry. There are a few ways to find out if your meat has been grazed regeneratively: A New Choice For Consumers: Regenerative Organic. Also check out Applegate Farms. They sell sausages made from meat raised regeneratively. You can also ask your butcher. Sometimes they know. My local butcher, for example, sells a whole line of meat from a ranch in Montana that employs Holistic Management.

The Savory Institute also has a certification program (certifying that the land that produced the meat was managed Holistically), and more and more companies are getting certified all the time. You can track it here: Land to Market.

Simply buying the food and convincing others to buy it will make a difference. The same has already been done with organically grown grains, fruits and vegetables. There are a lot more farmers growing organic food because people voluntarily choose to buy it, even though it's often more expensive. This greater market creates more incentive for farmers to grow organically. The market for organically grown foods has been steadily growing for decades. And the greater the supply, the lower the cost, generally speaking, and as the cost to the consumer drops, more people will be willing to buy it. We can do the same thing with Holistically produced meat.

The bottom line is: The desertification of grasslands can be reversed and you can help get it done. It can happen fairly quickly. Land starts to noticeably recover within two years.

Listen to a podcast about this: Literally Saving the Earth by Regenerating Grassland

Now look at some good before and after images of what Holistic Management can do:

Getting Results on the Land with Holistic Management

Comparison Photos of Holistically Managed Land Versus Conventionally Managed Land

The Power Of Holistic Management, In Pictures

Why Write About Fasting?

The world could be said to be having several important conversations. We’ve got a conversation underway about the “obesity epidemic” and about the “diabetes epidemic” and about the number one killer in the developed world: heart disease. But fasting — going without food for awhile — is rarely a part of these conversations.

In newspapers, magazines, scientific papers, personal trainers, doctors, and in ordinary conversations between people, the pros and cons of diet and exercise are hotly debated, but fasting is almost never even a consideration, and if it is, it is portrayed in a negative light. Most people never mention it or even think of it. But given the research on the benefits of fasting, this is a monumental oversight.

These discussions often go into minute detail about fats and cholesterol and antioxidants, about cardio workouts and strength training and yoga, about medications and surgical interventions — but almost nothing about fasting.

We hope to change that. Fasting should be an important part of any consideration of long-term health. The intelligent use of occasional hunger can and should be given at least as much airtime as diet and exercise. It should be the subject of an avalanche of studies, it should be the topic of articles in health magazines and mainstream newspapers. It should be talked about everywhere.

The studies already done on fasting are intriguing enough to arrest any rational person’s attention. We should all be talking about fasting and investigating its many fascinating effects on the human body. Let’s get the conversation started.

Adam Khan is the author of Self-Help Stuff That Works and Cultivating Fire: How to Keep Your Motivation White Hot. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

My Assumptions Were Wrong

All my assumptions and all the things I've heard about fasting have turned out to be wrong.

It's easier than I thought it would be.

I don't gorge afterward and "gain it all back."

My metabolism is not slowed afterward. I don't become obsessed with food.

I haven't become a binge eater.

I don't know where these rumors or hearsay come from, but none of it has turned out to be true in my experience or for anyone I know who fasts.

Effects of Fasting on the Body

The image below is a slide from Mark Mattson's talk, which you can see here: Why Fasting is so Good for Your Brain. Click on the image to see it larger.

What Does Fasting Tell Your Body?

When you stress your muscles lifting weights by lifting more weight than you have before or doing more reps than you have before, the stress tells your body that it isn’t strong enough. Your body responds by getting stronger.

In the same way, the chemical changes your body undergoes when you’re fasting are telling your brain it isn’t smart enough. If you were smart enough, you would have enough food. The chemical changes in your body that result from the fact that you don’t have enough food stimulates your brain to grow new brain cells in a desperate attempt to help you survive. Think about it. If your condition continues for too much longer, you would be dead. So the brain is taking the data very seriously and will do anything it can to keep you alive.

Or at least that is a valid way to explain the finding that fasting causes new brain cells to form.

Here is Mark Mattson talking about how fasting stimulates the brain to generate new brain cells: Why Fasting Is So Good For Your Brain.

Why Fasting is so Good for Your Brain

Mark Mattson describes his research in the following TEDx talk. Mattson is the current Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging. He is also a professor of Neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University. Mattson is one of the foremost researchers in the area of cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.



Arjun Walia, in an article in Collective Evolution, describes and comments on some of the points Mattson makes in the video above. Excerpts from Walia's article are below.

Mattson and his team have published several papers that discuss how fasting twice a week could significantly lower the risk of developing both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Dietary changes have long been known to have an effect on the brain. Children who suffer from epileptic seizures have fewer of them when placed on caloric restriction or fasts. It is believed that fasting helps kick-start protective measures that help counteract the overexcited signals that epileptic brains often exhibit. (Some children with epilepsy have also benefited from a specific high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.) Normal brains, when overfed, can experience another kind of uncontrolled excitation, impairing the brain’s function, Mattson and another researcher reported in January in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience.”(source)

Basically, when you take a look at caloric restriction studies, many of them show a prolonged lifespan as well as an increased ability to fight chronic disease.

“Calorie restriction (CR) extends life span and retards age-related chronic diseases in a variety of species, including rats, mice, fish, flies, worms, and yeast. The mechanism or mechanisms through which this occurs are unclear.”

The quote above is from a review of the literature that is more than 10 years old. The work presented here is now showing some of these mechanisms that were previously unclear.

Fasting does good things for the brain, and this is evident by all of the beneficial neurochemical changes that happen in the brain when we fast. It also improves cognitive function, increases neurotrophic factors, increases stress resistance, and reduces inflammation.

Fasting is a challenge to your brain, and your brain responds to that challenge by adapting stress response pathways which help your brain cope with stress and risk for disease. The same changes that occur in the brain during fasting mimic the changes that occur with regular exercise. They both increase the production of protein in the brain (neurotrophic factors), which in turn promotes the growth of neurons, the connection between neurons, and the strength of synapses.

“Challenges to your brain, whether it’s intermittent fasting [or] vigorous exercise . . . is cognitive challenges. When this happens neuro-circuits are activated, levels of neurotrophic factors increase, that promotes the growth of neurons [and] the formation and strengthening of synapses. . . .”

Fasting can also stimulate the production of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus. He also mentions ketones (an energy source for neurons), and how fasting stimulates the production of ketones and that it may also increase the number of mitochondria in neurons. Fasting also increases the number of mitochondria in nerve cells; this comes as a result of the neurons adapting to the stress of fasting (by producing more mitochondria).

By increasing the number of mitochondria in the neurons, the ability for nerons to form and maintain the connections between each other also increases, thereby improving learning and memory ability.

“Intermittent fasting enhances the ability of nerve cells to repair DNA.”

He also goes into the evolutionary aspect of this theory – how our ancestors adapted and were built for going long periods of time without food.

A study published in the June 5 issue of Cell Stem Cell by researchers from the University of Southern California showed that cycles of prolonged fasting protect against immune system damage and, moreover, induce immune system regeneration. They concluded that fasting shifts stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal. It triggers stem cell based regeneration of an organ or system. (source)

Human clinical trials were conducted using patients who were receiving chemotherapy. For long periods of time, patients did not eat, which significantly lowered their white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles “flipped a regenerative switch, changing the signalling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems.”

This means that fasting kills off old and damaged immune cells, and when the body rebounds it uses stem cells to create brand new, completely healthy cells.

“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the heatopoietic system. . . . When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. ” – Valter Longo, corresponding author (source)

A scientific review of multiple scientific studies regarding fasting was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007. It examined a multitude of both human and animal studies and determined that fasting is an effective way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. It also showed significant potential in treating diabetes. (source)

Fasting Reboots Your Immune System

A recent study shows fasting causes many of your white blood cells to die, especially damaged cells. Then after the fast is over, the body uses stem cells to generate new white blood cells.

Quoting from an article about the study:
The researchers say fasting "flips a regenerative switch" which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system.

"It gives the 'OK' for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system," said Prof Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of California.

"And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting.

In trials humans were asked to regularly fast for between two and four days over a six-month period.

Scientists found that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA, which is linked to ageing and a hormone which increases cancer risk and tumour growth.

"We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system," added Prof Longo.

"When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged," Dr Longo said.

"What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So we started thinking, well, where does it come from?"

Read the whole article here: Fasting for three days can regenerate entire immune system, study finds.

Benefits Compared to Difficulty

Yes, when you fast, you get hungry at times. And sometimes you might feel weak or at least unenergetic. But that's a minor amount of "suffering" compared to what you get for it.

It takes way less effort than, say, running a marathon, and it benefits you far more.

Fasting vs. Eating Less: What's the Difference? (Science of Fasting)

I just watched a video, 12 minutes, 49 seconds long, that explored what scientists have discovered about the difference between fasting and calorie restriction. Here's the video:

Fasting vs. Eating Less: What's the Difference?

The upshot is that it is much more difficult to just eat less, especially if what you're doing is eating primarily carbohydrates. The reason is interesting: Insulin tells your body not to burn fat. So if you're eating enough carbohydrates to stimulate a significant amount of insulin (as the volunteers did in the starvation experiment — around 1000 calories of carbs a day) it isn't enough fuel for your body, but it prevents your body from accessing your stores of fat, so you starve. If they had eaten no food, they would have been able to burn more calories and would have suffered less.

Interesting, no?

Science Behind Fasting Video Series

Below are two good videos about fasting. The first one compares fasting versus eating less (eleven and a half minutes long):



The second discusses common mistakes to avoid while fasting (ten minutes long).

Video: Can You Build Muscle or Do You Lose it If You Fast?

This video is 7 minutes and 10 seconds:

Will You Lose Muscle While Fasting?

In 2010, researchers looked at a group of subjects who underwent 70 days of alternate daily fasting. That is, they ate one day and fasted the next. What happened to their muscle mass?

Their fat free mass started off at 52.0 kg and ended at 51.9 kg. In other words, there was no loss of lean weight (bone, muscle etc.). There was, however, a significant amount of fat lost. So, no, you are not ‘burning muscle’, you are ‘burning fat’. This, of course, is only logical. After all, why would your body store excess energy as fat, if it meant to burn protein as soon as the chips were down? Protein is functional tissue and has many purposes other than energy storage, whereas fat is specialized for energy storage. Would it not make sense that you would use fat for energy instead of protein? Why would we think Mother Nature is some kind of crazy?

That is kind of like storing firewood for heat. But as soon as you need heat, you chop up your sofa and throw it into the fire. That is completely idiotic and that is not the way our bodies are designed to work.

How, exactly does the body retain lean tissue? This is likely related to the presence of growth hormone. In an interesting paper, researchers fasted subjects and then suppressed growth hormone with a drug to see what happened to muscle breakdown. In this paper, they already acknowledge that “Whole body protein decreases”. In other words, we have known for 50 years at least, that muscle breakdown decreases substantially during fasting.

By suppressing growth hormone during fasting, there is a 50% increase in muscle break down. This is highly suggestive that growth hormone plays a large role in maintenance of lean weight during fasting. The body already has mechanisms in place during fasting to preserve lean mass and to burn fat for fuel instead of protein.

The above is excerpted from a longer article. Read the whole thing here: Fasting and Muscle Mass.

The Adam Bomb

I'm doing podcasts now. They're available on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify, and more. Lately I've been talking about conspiracy theories and how to help someone you love be less conspiratorial in their thinking. Check out my podcasts here:

The Adam Bomb

When you click on that link, look in the sidebar if you want to subscribe to updates so you can be alerted whenever I post a new episode.

Leaded Gasoline Caused Violent Crime?

In an article entitled, America's Real Criminal Element: Lead, the author makes a convincing argument that the rise of violent crime in America was caused by the increase of the use of lead in gasoline, and that the subsequent drop in violent crime matches the discontinued use of lead as an anti-knock agent.

Way back in the early 1900's, ethanol was suggested as an anti-knock agent because it is naturally high in octane. The oil industry chose to use lead instead, from 1917 until 1987, when it was discontinued because, of course, lead is poisonous. And ethanol is not.

It is sobering to think it is likely that thousands of people were murdered in America because of the oil industry's fateful decision back in 1917.

Adding ethanol instead of lead to gasoline is an improvement, but it is even better to add a little gasoline to ethanol and burn that instead (E85). Or even better, as many do in Brazil, how about skipping the gasoline altogether and burning straight ethanol? It's an impressive fuel all by itself.