Author Archives: mat

The Benefits Of Skipping Breakfast

I am currently writing a talk to give about minimal efforts for optimum wellbeing. One of the key strategies I recommend is to skip breakfast. I would say that after getting good sleep, this is the biggest benefit approach with the lowest time/money/stress cost that one can take (other contenders for this, to me, currently, would be replacing missing minerals and balancing macros…).

Going from teatime to lunchtime without eating is a very natural, evolved state. It is a state in which the body changes how it does things. It is the very minimal start of the fasting state that brings such benefits, especially in our over-consuming world.

To personify the human body, it says to itself:

“OK, potential promlemmo, there might be low nutrient and low energy times ahead. I have evolved for this over hundreds of millions of years (some of these kind of “fasting systems” seem to exist in all vertebrate life, other, higher-order, ones are very mammalian). I need to perform better mentally and physically to solve this problem, and I need to start using my stored energy (fat) and nutrients (stored in fat and old cells) to facilitate this.”.

It is generally accepted that sixteen hours without energy is the minimal fast. If you last eat at seven PM and have nothing until lunch at one, that’s an eighteen hour fast, right there. Thus it begins…

It is easy to think that surely just the start of a fast cannot bring anything like the benefits of a more “complete” fast. This kind of thinking overlooks the fact that nature seems to optimise at the start (eg Pareto principle, square laws and evolutionary jumps) and so we should expect the benefit to be disproportionately significant at the start of the fasting process. Which I think it is: I belive you will get more fasting benefit from the first 16 hours than the last sixteen hours of any fast.

There is dispute and disclarity about the gradient of benefit from fasting. Is it best to have one five day fast once a year or one day fast once a month or a minimum fast every day? There is much to be debated there, for sure. Where there is little dispute is about the benefits of fasting in itself. All who know agree, they are many, and many are very potent.

I believe that these are the key benefits, the reasons why, by far, most adults should fast. Before I list and briefly discuss them let me say that these are what I consider to be root, systemic benefits. Together these will lead on to the many observed benefits, such as better cardiovascular efficiency, insulin sensitivity or concentration.

Fasting changes things at a systemic level:

Metabolism shifts down.

Hormones balance and readjust. Insulin drops. Grehlin and Leptin (Hunger hormones) responses begin to reset.

The immune system ramps up; because it no longer needs to be involved in digestion, via the lymphatic system. Especially true with movement.

The liver and kidneys and other organs have a chance for respite, to heal the damage of the oxidative stress, and the waste, of metabolism.

The microbiome tends towards a more stable balance.

Fasting changes things at a cellular level:

Autophagy ramps up dramatically (and more than by any other influence). Every cell checks itself and, if it is damaged, it eats itself, recycling its parts as new nutrients for new cells.

Stem-cell production, even in the elderly, increases naturally (especially when combined with exercise).

Mictochondrial efficiency is directly improved by fasting. The tiny, tiny engines of our lives become more efficient at energy production. They also become more efficient at fat utilisation.

Fasting increases neurogenesis, the process by which new brain cells and connections are created, boosting neuroplasticity and reducing cognitive decline. Until fairly recently it was not known that this occurred. Now it is known, and it is accelerated by fasting, more than by any other cofactor.

Fasting changes things at a personal level

I expect we all know this common behavioral pattern in the Western world:

“I am hungry, therefore, I must eat something”  #justcheckingthefridge

Even the shortest fast forces us to make a choice about this, and I believe, this is of tremendous benefit to mental Fortitude. You also quickly learn that often what you thought was hunger was craving, especially for carbs. You learn that hunger never stays around that long on a fast. It comes in waves and the peak is not lasting.

One thing about the mental aspect of fasting is that you have to be prepared for defeat and not let defeat stop you fasting. This is the practicing Resolve. Just last week I started the day thinking I would do a 24 hour fast. It was soon dropped down to no morning eating (NoAm/16 hour). By eleven I had eaten a glutinous amount of crisps. Salt And Vinegar. Human Fail. You get back on the horse, innit.

In this day and age of runaway consumption, we are bombarded with consumption cues (tanha) that we either chose to resist or we give in to. Practicing that resistance and resilience is a key aspect of stoic training, dharma practice and virtuous living, in general. Good skills backed by good smarts. That is what we want, I think.

Why would you not skip breakfast?

Skipping Breakfast, a sixteen hour fast, is demonstrably of immense benefit to you. If you believe that you need breakfast because you have been told so, that is a belief worth testing for yourself. Fast has huge benefits and sixteen hours is going to be the very begging of these processes. Processes that are increasing en mass, and system-wide. After a day or two they will be functioning at capacity for healing and system optimisation and this will continue for at least a few more days (3 days is my max). Of course,  there a clear benefit in taking the fast past sixteen hours, but this does not mean there won’t be huge benefits to regular breakfast skipping.

In my opinion, and this is not something I can back up as it is my own conclusion, but given that biological systems optimise in parreto/square-law/step-evolutionary ways, we should expect for the first sixteen hours of any fast to be more beneficial than the last sixteen hours. That seems reasonable and plausible.

Why would you not?

There are, in fact, only three reasons why skipping breakfast might be unwise. One is personal weakness due to conditioned (from self and others/media/etc) expectations, the next is a critical human weakness to mouth-pleasure and the third is a medical reason, though I cannot think of any that could really prevent skipping breakfast.

Bloat, Faff and Pantomime

I think that there are three common distortions that affect non emerged/evolved systems, such as public institutions, businesses and information systems.

  • Bloat – This is where the system expands in multiple inefficient ways which, in combination, produce a holistic inefficiency that is often both hidden and immense.
  • Faff – This is where the time cost of processing information is greater than the comparative benefit of the actual information.
  • Pantomime – This is where the system adopts behaviours that bring no benefit to the system other than to make other systems perceive the system as being beneficial.

So, there you have it: avoid, prevent and extinguish.

SayNoNay

 

One thing I have been practicing with myself for a few weeks is the practice of  not being a naysayer. A naysayer is not someone who says “no”, it is someone who says “no” without good thought.
Dialogs normally go like this:
Offspring: “Dad can I please borrow your…”
Me:(Interrupting): “No.”
That, right there, is me being a naysayer.
I am trying to change that by not saying “nay,” in accordance with the ancient practice of “Saynonay”. To practice Saynonay just keep in your mind not to say “nay” in any way unless it seems, after good thought, to be the right thing to say.
If you ask someone if they are playing Saynonay, and they say “no”, they are probably not practicing Saynonay.
In the weeks I have been doing it I do think it has a positive benefit on my life, and I would expect my kids – all four of whom now have metabolic syndrome and are in prison for gang related offences. I jest.
Interestingly, nobody knows the etymology of “Saynonay”. Some think it traces back to the Great First Language, others think it comes from the PreprotoPalli form “sa su ka” which means “talk outwardly sweetly”. I don’t think it matters, what is important about practicing Saynonay is simply not to say “nay” unless it really is OK to say nay.

NoAM Eating

Not eating in the morning.
I am a pretty big believer that there are fundamental differences between proper fasting and intermittent fasting, even when the proper fasting is but a mere day. It seems plausible, and I think the evidence suggests, that the magic happens with no consumption.
I often go two proper days, I have been three. Some people go for many days but just a few times or once a year. I don’t know what is wellbeing optimal, but my opinion is currently with the smaller, regular, fasts.
Anyhoo’s… this does not mean that I am at all against intermittent fasting.
Quite the contrary. One simple, and I think ancient, fasting routine is just to not eat in the morning. Break fast. Before the PM. I do it two or three times a week. It is very easy, and most of us will have done it without wanting or trying.
In these 16 hours, your body will change state.
Perhaps not into the full-on FAST state with autophagy and stem-cells,  that is the aim of informed fasting, but still, goodness will be happening, even if it is just giving your metabolic organs a bit of a rest from their normal 247mustprocessthis mode.
Some people will find that NoAM fasting is good for calorie reduction, if just because you are going to be missing a meal and eating less. This makes sense.
But this doesn’t work for me because, as happened today, after a NoAM Fasting, my car swerved into Tescos and I rinsed of five packets of Square crisps as I drove home.
The wrappers are in the glove compartment.

A friend just asked me: “What evidence is there that EMF damages our cells on a permanent level?”

You should do your own research on that if you are skeptical, and why not be sceptical?:)

But my understanding, which is not totally naieve, is that there are many mechanisms of disruption.

I am not going to use any research to answer your question here, and I am not one for details, but here goes, my attempt to pursued you, via answering it.

The first thing that you need to understand is that of all the millions or billions of variables that constitute our bodies: Oxygen, Water, salts, amino-acids… there is only one that is totally biologically ubiquitous. This is electricity: Within, and between, every living are electrochemical processes that operate on tiny, tiny voltages.

The second thing that you need to understand is that wirelessly connected devices gain their connection via electromagnetic energy.

The third thing you need to understand is that connected devices operate at energy levels thousands and thousands of times higher than, both the natural background EMF energy (As the earth was 200 years ago, or so) and the biological levels found in every living cell in our bodies.

You need to understand and accept these three things before proceeding really Alexs. They are just science fact, which you should be able to easily disprove or accept.

Once you agree with the three understandings above then you can start to extrapolate from those premises.

Does it seem plausible that connected devices could cause biological change?

I think it does, why would it not. There is nothing special about the electrical energies involved here, over and above say, an electrical motor.

Would such changes be unnatural?

I think clearly yes. Three hundred years ago no human had expected anything like the levels of even measly Bluetooth4. (This is one point I am not convinced about without further researching. #cosmicblasts etc).

Would such changes be disruptive?

I would imagine that if you were to be able to take a person with a magic wand just randomly change the nano-voltages in the electrical systems in their bodies then those changes would have a point at which they would become noticeably negative. This seems totally reasonable to me as an assumption. And it is a case analogous to EMF, except with EMF it is more point of  source dependent.

So where we are now, I think, without any science evidence, just thinking,  is an understanding that, because of the nature of connected devices and biological systems, it is plausible that there could be negative effects from connected devices.

I accept that, it seems very sensible to me as a conclusion. There is no WooWoo in what I have said and I challenge anyone to refute any of the above:)

The next stage in my answering your question is to look at evidence. Is there evidence that supports the above plausible hypothesis?

I think there is lots.

The newest (2016?), most-compelling, evidence is to do with their system which decides on whether or not to allow calcium into our cells. Every cell needs calcium. Any cell can be damaged by too much calcium. This system that governs the calcium flow is called a “Voltage Gated Calcium Channel” and it is shown to be heavily susceptible to disruption from non-natural EMF. The effects of this are emerging to be many, but one that seems accepted is that this calcium imbalance, caused by your phone etc, causes sever oxidative stress. This is the cell ageing…rusting… corroding that is the cause of most modern diseases (It’s the thing that antioxidants are touted to reduce.)

So there we go…

I hope that answers your question!

Vegan Oysters. Again.

I am a committed Vegan, but I am totally missing oysters.

Every day this mini-battle goes on in my head.

I am a Vegan for two prime reasons.

Reason One

I think, for reasons of woo woo, that the following is a supreme teaching:

“Do Not Eat Animals”.

Reason Two

Like most people, I do not want to be an increaser of negativity in the world. That is, I don’t want to choose to cultivate and propagate or in any sense be responsible for or supportive or endorsing negativity production in any way.

The “choice” aspect is important here, I think:

When I eat a salad, beings may have died to get that salad before me. A shrew in a field. Two badgers in a pile up on the M4. All is possible, even with kale.

But when I eat meat, I am necessarily choosing that an animal was imprisoned, tortured, exploited and slaughtered for me.

Vegans choose not to cause suffering in their choices, this does not mean that their choices will never cause suffering. #quornpocalypse

Once I accept this principle (Ahimsa and Sukka) it is just a no-brainer to me that if I eat cheese or chicken, then I am causing suffering. Often in massive ways that, as the end consumer, I see myself as ultimately responsible for. I pay the assassin via the teller or waiter or jolly vendor at the farmer’s market.

I have philosophised these kinds of points so much over the last few years, more than most, I would wager. Still my conclusions remain: it is water-tight, a no-brainer, a comestible cogito: We should not eat animals.

Of course I would eat meat in a survival situation.

Of course honey is not the same as ham.

Of course milk is worse than flesh, because it is flesh, plus more suffering. If B contains X and C contains B then C contains X.

I belive that if you want to be one of those people, like most people, one of the… “I-dont-wanna-be-cruels”, then, in no sense, can your meat eating be justified. You are being irrational, alongside your cruelty. (Please, please prove me wrong on this, for I would so love it not to be so true.)

The Mammalian end of the spectrum, and even the birds and the fish, those little fellas, I am close to done with them in my philosophical enumerations and ruminations, but Oysters, they are still in the mirky penumbra, somewhere between figs and accidental cod roe.

Of oysters I cannot say, “I should not eat that.”

I don’t currently eat them, and haven’t for many many months, but by gosh, they are almost on the tip of my tongue.

I cannot yet justify their exclusion for reasons a bit like, but not limited to, the following:

I cannot really make sense of an oyster experincing suffering, in much the same way that I cannot imagine yeast suffering. I could torture a goose, but an oyster? That does not yet make sense to me.

I don’t think it experiences anything. It has no brain, as such. It has a strewn out clumps of proto-neurons. It will respond to stimulus, but feel pain or in any sense be, in any point in anything that can be considered a mental space?

Is it a being?

When I think “Do Not Eat Animals” that last term expands out into something like “sentient beings”. “Sentience” means able to experience. “Being” means able to be. I don’t know really what either of those terms really mean. Nobody really does. Especially not the oysters. But I am sure a dog is sentient, as I know I am. Oysters, profoundly lack this sureness, to me, right now.

We think fish can feel pain, they respond as such, they can be anaesthetised, they have similar pain biologies to mammals. But these arguments and understands do not apply to oysters. Oysters may move away from toxic environments but that does not mean they experience the environment. Singled celled organisms can do the same, and vegans eat those. #youpeople!

There is another point, I will make this my last, which is that oysters are jam-packed with nutrients that vegans find very hard to get without chemical supplementation (Which is what I do).

Is that wise? The vegan definition on the society website centres around the term “practicable”. I like that definition, it gives room for reasonableness. I am forced, by reason, to ask, is it not practicable to eat oysters given that, being human, I need B12?

Is it really better that I get it from some industrial process in pill form?

I do not know the answers to these questions and so I just trundle along, not eating oysters, yada yada, “have another bit of cress, Mat”.

Thanks for reading!

Hard Cheese

First  one realises, just by thought, that they are a cause, enabler, endorser, supporter, antecedent (temporal or not) and well… a fan of the causing of  unacceptable suffering.

Then one realises that, ultimately, the reason that they cause this suffering is to satisfy their  own momentary mouth pleasure.

When these two simple realisations are acknowledged I belive it would be ignoble of me not to then ask myself,  “What should I do?”

If I consume meat, then am I an accomplice in the murder of a baby animal, just for fun?

What should I do?

It took me a while to get to answer this question. There were lapses and cognitive dissonances and a guilty goat curry that was “going to waste”.

But the answer came, a nobrainer it seems to me now, “I do not eat animals.”

And that is almost that, except that  it get’s worse than the worseness of meat and the obvious butchery/epiphany of that equation:

If I eat dairy, then I cause greater and wider suffering than the suffering I cause from just eating meat.

This is startling, when you let it settle.

The dairy industry is the meat industry.

But it is the meat industry with extra layers of humiliation and exploitation.

It has enforced breeding, unnatural confinement, torture, antibiotic recklessness and on and on…

Is it not is even more repugnant and brutal than the meat farming?

Cheese is literally addictive.

I miss it so much.

Should I salute magpies?

One of the key advantages of practicing CHE is the ability to quickly sift through life’s mundane choices, enjoying them and knowing that, by and large, you have made what for you were the right choices when it comes to Home Economical issues. How should one clean their clothes, house, self and mind. Is Amazon Prime is justified? Which vitamins should I supplement? How much is optimum salt?

Consider the CHE equation: Should I wear my seatbelt?

It is simple to see on a three-space Risk/Cost/Benefit vector graph that, yes, of course you should wear your seatbelt. It is irrational not to, if you value self preservation. What is interesting is that such indubitable Cartesian conclusions map into the same kind of epistemic grid as things that on the whole seem woo, irrational or nonsensical.

Consider the CHE equation:  Should I salute magpies?

This one, when you flesh it out, has a few more nexi than the seatbelt one, but the structure is almost the same; where the two equations differ is in the two driving assumptions.

  1. Wearing Seatbelts: It is possible that wearing a seatbelt could save the wearer’s life.
  2. Saluting Magpies: It possible that saluting a magpie could increase the saluter’s  Luck.

In the case of 2, once we accept the possibility of Luck then it is no difference of kind to move on and reason something like:

  1. There is something special called Luck.
  2. It is possible this Luck can be increased by agency.
    1. I’m assuming that if there is a supernatural (“nonprobabalistic”?) reality to luck then it can be something that can be in some sense accumulated or bestowed on.
      1. If this assumption is not accepted then you seem forced to accept that there is Luck but it is distributed stochastically/probabilistically.
        1. Luck would be real but its distribution chanced, which seems absurd.
  3. It is possible saluting magpies could entail 2 (Luck increase).
  4. Saluting magpies is an extremely low risk activity.
  5. Saluting magpies is an extremely low cost activity.
  6. It is rational to solute magpies.

But if we don’t accept the reality of Luck, we cannot go with Assumption 1 in the CHE reasoning above. It all boils down to the reality of Luck.

With anything abstract and potentially magical in a CHE equation, it needs to be weighted. Is there evidence? Is there mechanism? Is there equivalence? Even then, unless there is a refutation, all we can ultimately say is IDK.

  1. I cannot be certain that there is Luck.
  2. I cannot be certain that there is no Luck.

The Reality of Luck

I haven’t researched what others have said on Luck, I assume it has been spoken about lots. One thing that seems clear is that people who believe in Luck are believing in something that’s up there with ghosts and deities. For example, for there to be a reality to  Luck there needs to be some kind of external agent, some Intelligence, that says “Bob is going to be more likely to win this coin toss.”

That’s a huge new guest to one’s ontological buffet, and I think you cannot have Luck without that. So, if you think your rabbit foot brings you luck, you are tacitly assuming, and please CMV, that there is/might be a deciding and intelligent agent affecting your life.

Luck also has implications to do with temporal logic. The kind of arguments against the logical possibility of changing the past might apply in the case of Luck.

  1. At t1 x was not going to happen to P at t3.
  2. At t2 P has luck bestowed on them.
  3. At t1 x was going to happen to P at t3.

Is that right? I don’t know, it seems so to me.

The point is that accepting Luck is not a small thing, it is a huge thing that brings with it the world being profoundly different to the world without it. But as skeptics, that is no reason to deny the possibility of it.

What about evidence and mechanism? Is there any?

The Physical Argument For Real Luck

We cannot get evidence for Luck. Even if 1000 times out of 1000 I do better with my lucky charm than without it, that could always just be a coincidence.

What about a mechanism for how luck could work? Suppose you were a creator being and you made a universe with individuals in and you wanted to be able to bestow Luck upon them.

How would you do that? What mechanism, in this world, could you use. You would need to use a mechanism that was compatible with this world, or else there would be risk of contradiction. You would need a way to change the outcome of events while the changes being nomologically compatible with reality.

In fact, it seems our universe does have such a mechanism, built in at the bolts,  which would allow consistent changes to be made to outcomes – this is quantum indeterminateness. True randomness exists and it could be used to facilitate the bestowing of luck.  It is not against the laws of the universe that a bullet could suddenly veer off course. It could happen. If you wanted to bestow Luck upon your creations, you could use the indeterminateness built into your creation.

The reality of Luck has no possible evidence, has a huge ontological payload and has a plausible mechanism in this universe. If I had to choose I would say I do not not belive in the reality of Luck – but I do not have to choose; uncertainty is certain in my world view.

Conclusion: Should I salute magpies?

Real Luck could be real or not. It is fundamentally unknowable which is the case. Luck, if it was real would be something worth having – it would be irrational to think otherwise. Given this, and the minuscule cost and risk of saluting the magpies, in my opinion, the CHE solution to the equation is that yes, I should salute magpies. Why would I not?

MSM The Miracle Mineral?

My Cousin lives in LA and will only eat food that has been blessed by monks from at least three different Asian religions and then tested, by both mass spectrum analyzer and professional taster, that it is not just Organic but Kosher. He never eats sugar, except in tea and coffee and all other food and drinks. 

Even though he is like, really, into healthy living (The last time I stayed with him we spent over eighteen hours in West Hollywood’s biggest health food stores, subsisting just on wheatgrass and zen noodles. These are not a brand name, but a fad that only exists in this particular part of West Holywood and only for one summer in the late nineties. The idea was simple. Gluten was bad. Noodles tasted nice. Instead of being made with carbohydrate, they were made with Zen. They also had a bread made with sourdough) he had never ever once recommended me anything. Not once…

Until two months ago. On the phone he said that he had been taking this supplement and it had changed his life. I didn’t need more of a recommendation, I was all over that stuff within moments of getting off the Skype. I didn’t look into it like I normally do, I just went ahead and took a trip down the Amazon. A family pack for a month was a tenner.

Only then, once the order dispatched email was in, like a really bad scientist and skeptic, did I start to investigate it.

Now over the last decades online I have investigated many things using the power of the internet and books. In the crazy woowoo world of snake oil and superfoods, you have to really get skilled at operating the former from the latter. To think that all claims of benefit are snake oil is just ignorant and unreasonable. Equally to think that just because it had a webpage it has legitimacy is very poor think skills.

This is how I generally do it.

Firstly, the big question is cui bono, who benefits?

If its something that you cannot make at home or but freely then that’s a redflag to me. This doesn’t mean that that crazy hybrid amino acid transmogifer isn’t going to be amazing, it does mean that while it is proprietary, you should assume there is profit in the promotion, even without benefit.

Secondly, is it safe?

This is a real tricky one to get through and still today there are a bunch of things I just am not sure what to think of when it comes to their objective safety. MSG, Vitmin E…

Thirdly, is it worth it?

To me this is the great question that only you can ask, but there are some guidelines and, espeically if many are recomending if for no proffit, it is a good sign.

Forthly, is it open?

There are chemicals in, say, apples. which just seem to do us good. Anyone can access these chamiec

There is also a very proven strategy which is to repeaedly and occasionally stop taking X to see if you iss it. If you do it long enough I think you will get attunes to what is good for you and what is not.

I have been taking it for two months now and, so far, really rate it as a wellbeing optimiser, as something I can imagine I will continue to take; like D3 and Boocha.

  • MSM is very very low risk.
  • It is quite a low cost.
  • It is very high anecdote.
  • It has significant scientific evidence.
  • It has a plausible and demonstrable explanatory mechanism.

Have I found it works?

I do feel more energy. I have started running, at about the same time that I started taking it. So its a bit of a mishmash when it comes to isolating the cause. Did I get into running because of MSM or JMR?

I have suddenly started writing poems again like I haven’t for many years, is that MSM? (The point here is the action, not the quality).

Anything else?

Today, for the first time in my life I ran 5k. MSM? It felt like I was going to collapse in a cardiovascular blamache. MSM?

Tonight, it was a consensus that I played the best poker of my life. MSM? I still lost badly, MSM? I dunno!:)

Here are some links for your own perusal:

 

Chase The Butterflies

I have long been a collector of the various ways we humans have found to express that abstract goodness to life, and the singular, hopeful, response to that goodness; Seize the day. Play The Game. Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

My Uncle Andy died a few years ago, he was a great man; all thought. My older cousin, and Andy’s first male nephew, Yeof , he came to stay, from LA. Just the other day. He told me how Andy had been such a fertile influence on his life; as Andy was to many. He told me of the wise and pristine advise that his uncle had given him, without claim, many long, long years ago… .

“Chase The Butterflies”

Uncle Andy ’47’10