Red Light Therapy; The new fountain of youth!

In my constant search for anti-ageing hacks, I frequently listen to the Ben Greenfield podcast. For me, he is a reference, a wealth of knowledge, and a constant source of inspiration for my research into the art of living to 100. In one of them, he talks about his daily use of the red light therapy device and all the benefits derived from this relatively new technology. It made sense to me and the idea of using the non-harmful wavelengths of the natural light did intrigue me. So I had to dig a little bit deeper and share it with you.

natural sun light
“Some people seemed to get all sunshine, and some all shadow…” ― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

What is red light therapy?

Red light therapy ( RLT) is a safe and non-invasive way to deliver red low-level wavelengths of light to your skin and cells. A high-quality home device uses medical-grade LEDs to shine natural red and near-infrared light on your body, from the comfort of your home, without the heat and UV rays that can cause damage. Red light therapy is quick and easy: all you have to do is sit or stand in the light for 5 to 15 minutes, ideally every day. This gives the mitochondria in your cells the natural light they need to make the energy that powers your body.  Red light therapy has been shown to produce a wide range of natural health benefits, such as inflammation reduction and pain relief, fitness gains, muscle recovery, anti-ageing, improved sleep, weight loss, hair growth stimulation and many more.

How does red light therapy work?

All living things need to make ATP (adenosine triphosphate) cellular energy to function and survive, and nearly all living things rely on natural light to power this process in our cells every day. Red and near-infrared wavelengths of natural light stimulate the mitochondria in our cells. The mitochondria are responsible for taking light, oxygen, and the food we eat and turning it into usable energy for our bodies through the process of cellular respiration. By stimulating the mitochondria using RLT, a cell can make more ATP, and subsequently produce more energy. With more energy, cells can function more efficiently, rejuvenate themselves, and repair damage. The light emitted by RLT penetrates roughly 5 millimetres below the skin’s surface.

It’s not just any red light that delivers optimal health benefits, the best and safest biological response is obtained with two wavelengths of red light in the mid 600 nanometers and the near-infrared in the mid 800 nanometers, explains Michael Hamblin, M.D., an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. The former, 650 nanometers, is more quickly absorbed by the skin, making it ideal for a more skin deep treatments, while 850-nanometer wavelengths penetrate deeper into your body to help with muscle recovery, joint pain, and full-body health.

 Benefits of Red Light Therapy

  • Muscle repair, recovery and improved physical performance.

The increased ATP energy production from red light therapy helps your body function more efficiently, with more energy, and better circulation. Red light therapy is used pre or post-workout and is popular in professional sports and the training & fitness world because it’s been proven again and again to enhance physical performance, build muscle, and speed up recovery.

workout
Red light helps your muscle recovery after a heavy Crossfit workout..

A 2014 study found that the therapeutic technique led to reduced muscle strength loss, less muscle soreness, and fewer range-of-motion impairments for up to four days after exercise. A more recent 2018 study also proved that RLT both before and after exercise reduces knee muscle fatigue.

Natural light enhances activity within the lymph system, which has been shown to reduce swelling and inflammation and to have positive effects on arthritis and joint pain. R

Researchers in Brazil published a study in late 2018 and concluded that: “Results indicate that red light therapy could change the inflammatory course of arthritis, tending to accelerate its resolution through immune cells photobiostimulation.”

RLT also helps in wound healing and there’s no shortage of research to confirm it really does help you heal faster. A 2014 study found red light therapy promoted “increased tissue repair and healing… with added beneficial effects on wrinkles, acne scars, hypertrophic scars, and general skin ageing.

  • Pain relief

At the core of many of these benefits is RLT’s potential to reduce inflammation and pain. It can improve the range of motion of joints which is a common problem for those who are experiencing arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other forms of joint pains. It helps reduce pain for those who suffer fibromyalgia too.

Researchers have found that RLT exposure can also help reduce pain for osteoarthritis knee pain, meniscus tears, general knee pain, rheumatoid arthritis and back pain. The data on red light therapy for pain relief is so convincing the FDA has approved it as a therapy for treating minor pains and arthritis.

  • Anti Aging/ More collagen for the skin is crucial

Red Light Therapy is 100% natural, chemical-free and drug-free medium to combat signs of ageing. Unlike chemical solutions or toners that you apply on your skin, the natural red light used in the LED lamp penetrates the skin to activate cellular activity. Red light therapy has sometimes been labelled as “the next fountain of youth”. “Science shows that red light therapy protects existing collagen and boosts new production,” says Dr Lamb. “Plus it helps with texture, tone, pore size and wrinkles.”

Collagen is a long-chain amino acid and the most abundant protein in the body. It’s responsible for giving the skin its elasticity, hair its strength, and connective tissue its ability to hold everything in place. In fact, collagen protein makes up 30% of the total protein in the body, and 70% of the protein in the skin! While collagen is beneficial to the entire body, it’s most noticeably beneficial to skin rejuvenation.

With age, the outer layer of the skin ( epidermis)  becomes thinner and loses its elasticity and that’s when wrinkles and skin sagging starts appearing.

Red light therapy restores more healthy cellular function, stimulating the production of collagen.

The skin-clearing secret lies in RLT’s anti-inflammatory effects, and the reduction of naturally produced oil and bacterial levels in your skin.

Skin care
Skin care is enhanced with red light therapy

Because Red light therapy can help speed up the skin’s ability to heal, it can be used to address numerous problems including the following:

  • Acne reduction. Although Red Light is not used to kill acne-causing bacteria, it will help reduce the inflammation brought about by acne. Red and Infrared lights penetrate the skin at different levels and power up the cells to repair the skin from within. 
  • Bites. Because of the red light’s ability to speed up healing, bite wounds or punctures to the skin will be healed faster because of increased blood flow to the area.
  • Minor Burns. Red Light Therapy does not give off heat so it will not add to the damage that burns cause. However, it will increase the blood supply to the area so that our body’s natural defences and repair mechanism will be able to get to work faster.
  • Cuts, Scrapes and Wound Care. Increasing blood flow to the area will help speed up the body’s ability to repair itself naturally.
  • Dry Skin and Psoriasis. The Red Light penetrates the thickened skin and powers up the skin cells. Once more, because of the increased blood flow to the surface of the skin that is being treated, more nutrients and oxygen-rich blood are delivered to that area. This will stimulate rehydration to the treated area.
  • Scars and Stretch marks. Stretch marks are brought about by saggy skin either from weight loss or ageing. Collagen depletion from the body results in having loose, stretchy and saggy skin. Red light therapy helps stimulate collagen production thus preventing further development of stretch marks.
  • Sun Damage. Red light uses UV-free LED bulbs to safely and effectively deliver red light therapy. The red light wavelength spurs cellular activity to help reverse sun damage. It can lighten age spots.
  • Wrinkles. As we age our collagen production reduces and wrinkles start to creep up on our face (or neck). Red light therapy helps boost collagen and fibroblasts production to help correct these signs of ageing. 
  • Healthier sleep

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone your body produces to regulate the sleep/wake cycle. Melatonin is made by your body’s pineal gland.  When the sun goes down and it gets dark, the pineal is “turned on” and begins to actively produce melatonin, which is released into the blood. Usually, this occurs at around 9 pm. As a result, melatonin levels in the blood rise sharply and you begin to feel more and more sleepy.

Exposure to artificial light after dark inhibits the body’s ability to release melatonin, increasing the time it takes you to fall asleep. If you use a high-quality red light therapy device during the day, it’s been clinically shown to increase your natural melatonin output, which helps you get to sleep and stay asleep. 

Sleeping
Sleep what a wonderful gift…
  • Red light therapy helps lose weight

Although it sounds impossible to lose weight by just shining red lights on fatty areas of the body, it is backed by science. Red Light makes it easier for people to lose weight because it causes fat cells to dump their contents, therefore the body can easily discard it.

When red light is used on fat tissues, it causes the fats to break down. Fats are then converted to carbon dioxide which we remove from our body through urinating, defecating and exhaling. In other words, red light therapy helps the body wash away fat cells.

 A 2012 study in the International Journal of Endocrinology showed that light can affect hunger levels, which could help prevent the buildup of extra fat before it even begins and helps control levels of the hunger-related hormones leptin and ghrelin.

So the use of RLT and changes in your lifestyle could be a sustainable and long term strategy to maintain your ideal weight.

  • Red light therapy stimulates hair growth

The most common type of hair growth therapy is by laser lights.  Well, the right kind of red light wavelength is enough to stimulate hair follicles too. Wavelengths between 630-670 nanometers are most effective in being absorbed and cause a natural biological reaction to stimulate hair growth.

Success in regrowing hair also relies on how early the treatment is started. The earlier that it is done, the better the results. Now, if the hair follicle has actually died, it cannot absorb the visible red light.  

Red light hair loss therapies are recommended for individuals who have temporary hair loss due to issues such as medication side effects, stress, surgery, or other hair loss conditions, such as male pattern baldness or menopause.

It takes about 2 to 3 months to see significant results in red light therapy for hair regrow. Be patient and do not forget to do your treatments daily for best results. 

The Verdict

Red light therapy is proven to have many anti-ageing benefits, such as improving your skin tone and texture, reducing inflammation, and helping all the cells exposed to better function. There is no magic behind it, just pure science and research, it will not give you superhuman powers, nor will it completely rejuvenate you to your 20’s. I would still classify it as a very important bio-hack that will help your overall cellular activity, and increase your longevity with no harmful side effects. It definitely has my full attention and I think I will be investing in one of those devices very soon. Until then, I will enjoy the natural light that is totally free, and if taken in moderation is equally beneficial.

Take care my friends, until next week for more news on” The art of living to 100″.

Smart Living To 100.

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

How to live longer! From a 105-year-old Japanese Doctor

Have you ever asked yourself this question… How long can I live for?

Well, this never crossed my mind, before I attended Granny Owens 100th birthday. Ever since then, I have been fascinated by the possibility of reaching that age in a happy, healthy and fulfilling way. It has become my passion and my daily commitment to practise the techniques I learn, to eat healthy food (or refrain from eating when I am fasting), to move as much as possible, and most importantly to keep acquiring new knowledge that relates to my longevity. In my research, I stumbled across an article from a Japanese doctor, Dr Shigeaki Hinohara, who practised medicine until a few months before passing at the age of 105. So I wanted to share the invaluable insight of a man who clearly practised what he preached and who gained much insight into his favourite question; what makes people live longer?

100 year birthday
Is living to 100 really possible?

His wisdom for longer life includes some fairly intuitive points and some not so obvious ones. 

Fun Is the Best Painkiller

Studies so far have shown that laughter can help relieve pain, bring greater happiness, and even increase immunity.

Hinohara didn’t want to subject other people to his complaints of aches and pains. Instead, he turned to the wisdom of children when it came to dealing with pain. They often forget their discomfort through the distraction of play, fun and laughter. In fact, one study suggests that healthy children may laugh as much as 400 times per day, but adults tend to laugh only 15 times per day. Laughter not only diverts your focus to the positive but also has physical benefits on your body. Here are a few:

  • Hormones: Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine, and also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones, like endorphins. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells we have working for us and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.
  • Emotional release:  Have you experienced that cleansed feeling after a good laugh? I have many times, and the feeling of happiness is so intense. I am sure you can also relate to that…
  • Physical workout: A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterwards. 
  • Perspective: If you are equipped with a good sense of humour you are able to see the challenges that life throws your way in a different light. Humour can give us a more lighthearted perspective and help us to see the more positive side of those challenges. 
  • Social benefits:   Laughter is so contagious, it connects you with others even if they are complete strangers. So, if you bring more smiles and laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you to laugh more. This will help them enjoy the benefits of laughter, reduce their stress levels and improve the quality of social interaction you experience with them.
heat-exposure-improves-longevity.jpeg
Laughter helps you to live longer and happier.

Don’t Place Too Much Importance on Material Possessions

Hinohara’s advice is to give less importance to all your material possessions and place your attention on experiences, especially the ones shared with other people. Often our best memories derive more from the feeling of happiness during those experiences than owning material goods.

With great sense of humour Hinohara says “ You never know when you’re going to kick the bucket and you can’t take any of your ‘stuff’ with you anyway”

Carry Your Own Shopping and Use the Stairs

Dr Hinohara stressed the importance of moderate everyday physical activity. Opting for little bits of activity like walking, using the stairs and carrying your own shopping will keep your muscles active (and therefore working), help create new brain cells (literally keeping you smart) and fight ageing. This regular exercise will also promote BDNF production in the brain; the main protein responsible for creating and developing new brain cells. In a relatively short amount of time, our lifestyle has changed from hunter-gatherer walking 10 miles a day, to sitting at a desk for 8 hours. Our bodies are not designed for such a sedentary life, and regular physical activity is one of the best ways we can stay healthy.

There is no need for any fancy equipment, or to spend hours on end in the pursuit of it.  Just 30 mins a day of physical activity can help you be healthy, feel more energetic, sleep better, make you sharper, be happier and make you live longer.

Start at whatever level you feel comfortable with, be consistent and keep gradually increasing the time or intensity of your physical activity.

Above all enjoy!!!  Endorphins are a powerful feel good by product !

Try Not to Overeat 

With supermarkets within walking distance of most homes, we’re not in danger of going hungry. In fact quite the opposite we are more in danger of eating too much. So it’s of the utmost importance to stick to small portions of low calorie, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, is the best way to avoid overeating without feeling hungry.

If you overeat unhealthy foods, such as high-fat fast foods or sugary desserts, you’ll get an initial rush of energy, but crash shortly after, leaving you feeling sluggish and fatigued. These unhealthy foods can also cause uncomfortable digestive problems such as bloating and gas. Overeating can also lead to bone and joint pain, because the excess weight can put additional pressure on your skeleton, which can lead to pain and discomfort, particularly in the lower back and hips.

healthy meal after fasting
Healthy meal after your fast

Chronic overeating can impact mental health. A large portion of your self-image and self-esteem is connected to how you feel about your looks and having a negative self-image could over time lead to depression, anxiety and intimacy-related difficulties.

Finally, overeating increases your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, gallbladder disease, high cholesterol and sleep apnea. 

On the other hand, shedding excess weight can boost self-image and improve overall mental health.

Hinohara’s message is a clear warning that carrying excess weight from overstuffing won’t do you any favours.

In my humble opinion, I would add some weekly or monthly fasting or intermittent fasting and acquire better control over your hunger pangs.

 Don’t Opt for Surgery

This point wasn’t an obvious one for me at first. I was brought up in the belief that doctors possessed the truth and knowledge about your health and well being, and that their opinion was not to be questioned. Although I have huge respect for the work that doctors do and for medicine, I now would rely on other alternatives like fasting, cold & heat therapy, breathwork, supplementation, meditation and exercise for my own good health. So I have regained control over my health, and that is such a wonderful feeling.

Despite being a doctor himself, Hinohara advised against always listening to your doctor and going under the knife without trying less intrusive methods first (like laughter or music therapy). He said many things can be cured without opting immediately for surgery, which is common wisdom in much eastern philosophy.

I don’t know about you but I totally agree with Dr Hinohara’s view.

Find your life purpose or Ikigai!

During your existence so far, how many times have you asked yourself the fundamental questions about why we are here on this planet…  such as, What is it all about?… , what is my mission in life ?…. what is my life plan… Was I born with a purpose or a divine path? etc…

Since my teenage years, I had these questions in my mind, I tried to ignore them at times, usually because I was not able to find the answers. These are, after all, pretty big questions!!

In Japan, they call it Ikigai, the Japanese secret to a long happy life. This word originates from the south Japanese islands of Okinawa.  Ikigai refers to an individual’s overarching motivator – something that injects joy into their days and can even add years to their life. In other words, it is what makes you get out of bed in the morning and gives purpose and meaning to your days and ultimately your life. This is one common tactic that characterizes the blue zones where people seriously increase their longevity and live to more than 100 years.

Dr Hinohara observed that when many people retire they slowly stop being busy. Their diaries suddenly go from being full to almost empty and they find themselves feeling lost and with no sense of purpose. The doctor had his schedule as full as he ever did when he was young, with hospital engagements, conferences and social events, even past the age of 100. Hinohara claimed that to stay active by planning your daily activities, your hobbies, your social calendar and your next travels is key to longevity. When a person stops planning they tend to stop living as fully. “If you must retire, do it well after 65″. People who work after retirement often remain more active and socially connected, which can mean living longer in better overall health, having more fulfilling lives and fewer medical issues. Working part-time can give you a sense of being part of something without being tied to a career and long hours.

turning 50
Turning 65 and embracing this new digital era…

In fact, a recent study by the University of Oregon found that working after age 65 may actually add more years to your life. They found that working just one year past 65 can lower your risk of death by 11%.

Retirement can be the start of a whole new career, a chance to learn new skills. You can begin a volunteering project that lets you give back to the community or start an online business around your passion or expertise.

There’s an important distinction though; to carry on working in a stressful or unfulfilling role will probably shorten your lifespan, not lengthen it. On the contrary, having a job, a role or hobbies you enjoy will keep your brain active, provide you with social contact will most probably make you live longer and maintain a sense of purpose. Purpose ties it all together. Purpose is a reason to keep going, especially when it involves responsibilities and other people. So my question to you is this… Have you found your Ikigai? What will make you live to 100?

Hinohara’s Conclusion!

Simply put, to live longer give yourself a reason to live!

I personally have nothing else to add, he is spot on, and all you have to do now is find your reason to live!

Take care my friends, until next week!

Smart living to 100.

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

5 Breathing tips to better your health!

We have always been taught that in order to breathe efficiently we need to take a huge lung full of air and a massive exhale. This would support the common belief to get rid of as much carbon dioxide CO2 as possible. If you breathe through your mouth (now classed as over-breathing), you bypass many important stages in the breathing process. However, with slow, silent-like nasal breathing, you can oxygenate the body far more efficiently than with mouth breathing. The health benefits of nose breathing range from improving sleep, eliminating snoring and sleep apnea, to reducing inflammation, enhancing memory and an overall increase in your immune system function. As newborn babies, we all use nasal breathing almost exclusively.  So I wonder why only 30 % of adults are still nose breathers. This is time to retrain these forgotten skills. These next 5 tips will retrain them, improve your health, dampen your stress levels and make a massive difference to your sleep quality. 

Breathing Deep
Learn to engage in…slow, deep, whisper-like nasal breathing.

So let’s start now, close your mouth, breathe through your nose as you read these next paragraphs.

These following tips are based on the Buteyko Breathing Concept,

 Tip 1 – Buteyko Breathing:

 According to its creator, a Russian physician, when you stop breathing from your mouth and instead engage in slow, deep, almost silent nasal breathing, you oxygenate your tissues and organs far more efficiently. This breathing keeps you from excessive oxygen ( O2) consumption and also excessive carbon dioxide (CO2) exhalation. When you breathe in through your nose, the air is warmed, moistened, conditioned and mixed with nitric oxide (NO). This NO neutralises germs, bacteria and works as a vasodilator on your airways, arteries and capillaries. 

I know you are probably thinking this is counter-intuitive, I did too at the beginning. I was always told that efficient breathing was lungs full of air and a big exhale. After listening to Patrick Mckeown, author of the book “ The Oxygen Advantage “, I realised I was over-breathing. But after more research and more practice of the Buteyko Breathing, I realised what a powerful yet gentle tool this technique is.

We were intended to breathe through our nose.
Reconnect with nasal breathing…

How to do the Buteyko Breathing? 

The control-pause technique (CP):

  • Rest for ten minutes prior to this technique. 
  • Next start gently breathing through your nose. 
  • Then after a normal exhale, squeeze the tip of your nose, and time yourself.
  • When you are feeling the slightest need to take a breath, inhale, and check the time.
  • If you were able to hold for more than 10 seconds, for example, your CP is 10. A good CP is 30 seconds and Buteyko claimed that with a CP of sixty seconds, “ he/she is insured against illness”. Mine is at 35 seconds now so although it’s not bad there is room for improvement. Hence why I consciously nasal breath throughout the day, and when I do some exercise, I maintain it as much as possible. My goal is to be able to engage in any type of moderate to high-intensity workout whilst nasal breathing.
  • Mouth Taping: Just tape your mouth before going to sleep so you oblige your body to learn nasal breathing. Test it first during the day by putting some tape on your mouth and start nasal breathing. No air should be able to go through your mouth. Once tested, you can simply fall asleep confident that all through the night you will continue nasal breathing. There is a tape called Somnifix that uses a hypoallergenic adhesive with fewer chemicals. Some people apply a thin layer of olive oil on their lips so the tape removal process is easy and less painful.

Tip 2- Nostril breathing:

  • If you want to activate the left side of the body for example, just breathe in through the right nostril (keeping in mind that the right side of the brain is associated with the left side of the body and vice versa). So, in a practical sense, if you need to engage in a creative/ artistic task (right brain), you will need to breathe for 1 to 2 minutes from your left nostril only. The opposite would be if you have a more logical, analytical or mathematical task to achieve (left brain) you will prepare for it by breathing for 1 to 2 minutes with your right nostril.
  • Another application of this breathing would be prior to going to sleep, breathe through your left nostril for a few minutes. This is an effective way of activating the parasympathetic nervous system and further deepening your relaxation.
  • Alternate nostril breathing is also used in Kundalini Yoga as a potent stress-reducing tactic.
  •  Press your thumb on the left nostril and gently breath out through the right nostril. 

      –     Then gently breathe in through the right nostril, press the right nostril with a different finger.

      –      Remove the thumb from your left nostril and exhale.

      –      Finally, breathe in through the left nostril, press the thumb on it again and repeat.

Nasal breathing for a quick and easy relaxation.
A few minutes of nasal breathing…and you are totally chilled.

Tip 3- Box Breathing:

This technique is part of the Navy Seal training, it helps to stay calm and focused even in the most stressful of situations. This technique is easy and effective; close your mouth and slowly inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds, then hold for 4 seconds and repeat. This will quickly put you back in a state of calm and control.

Tip 4 – Belly Breathing:

I learnt this tip from Paul Chek, he calls it inverted breathing. Simply tie a string around your waist and focus on consciously expanding it, in and out,with abdominal breaths. When used properly,  this will make you more aware of your belly breathing, and seriously decrease your levels of stress. Taking 3 deep abdominal breaths when you sit down prior to a meal will centre your body and improve your nutrient intake.

This is particularly important as most of us use shallow chest breathing, which activates pressure receptors in our chest, and stimulates the stress hormone cortisol by raising your heart rate and blood pressure.

Tip 5 – Breath hold walks;

Walking in nature is one of my favourite basic longevity hacks to do after work or during my weekends. Living in Mallorca I can walk along the seafront or in the countryside, or engage in more challenging hills walks. Now I have added a breath-holding activity to my walks. On the seafront for example, when I pass a lamp post, I  take a deep belly breath and hold it for as long as possible. When I feel the need to breathe I exhale slowly and then inhale through my nose. At the next lamp post, I repeat the same procedure. After a few months of playing with this exercise, I can almost hold my breath for a distance of the space between 2 lamp posts. With a bit of practice, you can almost get into a slight meditative state.

Nasal breathing improve sleep
Nasal breathing will improve your sleep quality!

What’s my take on this :

Breathing is one of my number one longevity hacks. So for me, the Buteyko Breathing has become as important as my daily Wim Hof practice. After a few months of nasal breathing, it has become more natural to me. I can go about my daily activities without taking air through my mouth.  However, It will take longer to achieve the same level of ease whilst engaging in moderate to high-intensity physical activities. I have experienced massive improvements in my freediving capacity, a general sense of calm and more mental focus throughout the day. Most importantly I have reconnected with the way nature intended me to breathe.

In conclusion, nasal breathing is one of my non-negotiable skills to master, to optimize my health and propel me along my journey to 100.

I hope this helps you too, and somehow ignites your interest and practise of the Buteyko Breathing… 

Take care my friends, until next week.

Smart Living To 100.

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

Wim Hof guided breathing! Just try it!!

This week I wanted to share with you this powerful guided Wim Hof guided breathing. This is one of my so-called “non-negotiables” that I include every single day in my routine. I call it non-negotiable as I consider this practice to be a pillar in my quest for reaching 100 in a happy, healthy, and fulfilling way. It is easy to use, and in less than 12 mins allows you to recharge with tons of O2, makes your entire body more alkaline and propels your mind ” into Outerspace” to quote Wim Hof himself.

This is the very same youtube video I use when I want to practice the Wim Hof breathing as well as slipping into a meditative state. You don’t have to worry about timing yourself, just follow the instructions given by Wim Hof and immerse yourself in the breathing sensations. Whether you are a beginner or more advanced in this breathing practice, this amazing tools allows you to progress at your own rhythm by pausing the video whenever you want.

Before practising the breathing exercises please watch this Safety Video first – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFSL_…

I hope you enjoy it and are able to include it in your routine. If you want to know more about the Wim Hof Method check the following posts that I have on my website.

Amazing benefits of the Wim Hof method after 2 years of practice!

Myth or reality? Does the Wim Hof method work?

Boost your immune system with the Wim Hof method.

If you find value in my posts, please leave your comments and share them with friends and loved ones . Take care my friends.

Smart living to 100.

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

What is Blood Flow Restriction Training?

By now all my readers know that I am hell-bent on living to 100, in a happy, healthy and fulfilling way. Needless to say that during this natural ageing process the body is going to undergo some changes. One of them is muscle wastage, also called Sarcopenia. The older you get, the more important your muscle mass becomes. Not only are strong muscles a requirement for mobility, balance and the ability to live independently, but in the long run, having a muscle mass reserve will also increase your chances of survival during illness and hospitalization.

BFR band while swimming
My next challenge is to use the BFR bands while swimming…

Six months ago I came across a Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training article from Ben Greenfield. I subsequently did more digging and became fascinated by the subject. Multiple studies have shown that BFR training, done properly, can not only maintain but also increase your muscle mass and strength with very little or no risk of injury. 

Warning; It is advisable to check with your doctor before embarking in this type of training.

How does BFR work

I will start by sharing the history of BFR. It was developed by the pioneering professor Yoshiaki Sato of Japan over 50 years ago. In Japan, where it is widely practised, the technique is called KAATSU, meaning “additional pressure” and was generically defined as BFM (blood flow moderation) by Dr Sato. It involves the application of additional pressure via a cuff proximally to the upper or lower limb, with the aim of obtaining partial arterial pressure and complete venous occlusion.  This, in turn, creates a relatively hypoxic environment or low oxygen pressure in the exercising muscle. With very light weights, and in about 15-20 minutes, you get an exhaustive workout that sends a signal to your brain that you have been lifting heavier than you actually did. This activates a wide variety of powerful hormonal responses that cause your muscles and blood vessels to grow. Studies show that after only 12 weeks, you can expect a 40% increase in muscle strength, depending on your load and health.

Choose a weight that is light enough to enable you to do 30 repetitions without rest. Then a short rest interval of 15 to 20 seconds and repeat 2 more times… Simple and effective !! As part of a long term strategy, BFR training 2 to 3 times a week is sufficient.

BFR training at home
During Lockdown it was so handy to train from home with the BFR bands.

I engage in BFR training 3 times a week, for 15 mins, 3 sets of 30 reps for the arms, and then swap the bands to my legs and do the same for 20 mins. On both, I rest no longer than 15 secs between sets. During the 15 mins for the upper limbs I can hit various muscle groups biceps, triceps, shoulders, dorsal, etc, and then switch the bands to my lower limbs for 20 mins and work on the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. This is a very effective way to train and in less than 40 mins I have given my body a complete workout.

BFR can be applied during aerobic exercise, such as during walking, swimming or cycling.

How BFR increases muscle strength and size

In order to increase muscle mass and strength, it is important to activate fast-twitch Type II muscle fibres during training, since these fibres have been shown to be more responsive to increasing muscle size than Type I fibres. This type II muscle fibre activation can be achieved with high-intensity training such as sprints and heavyweight training. Training with low weights and no resistance bands will not create a hypoxic environment and therefore not activate type II fibres.

On the other hand, when using BFR bands, the type I fibres become hypoxic very quickly, exhausting themselves, kick-starting the activation of type II fibre and generating high levels of lactates. BFR is the type of training that will not only add solid muscle mass to your frame but also significantly increase your strength and endurance whilst reducing your body fat.

With age, there is a loss of microcirculation. The magic lies in the fact that BFR increases your microcirculation, involving your capillaries, venules and arterioles because your muscles are working in a hypoxic (low oxygen) environment. This low oxygen tension causes the release of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1 alpha), that then increases the hormone vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Essentially VEGF acts as “fertilizer” for growing new blood vessels and capillaries to your muscle stem cells.

So for an ageing population, BFR training goes beyond what conventional strength training with heavyweights can do. It increases microcirculation and reduces your risk of injury.

But it gets even better as VEGF not only increases microcirculation in your muscle stem cells but also in your brain and heart. 

BFR and lactate production.

BFR also downregulates a hormone called myostatin, which is an inhibitor of muscle growth and mass. This is particularly important as you age because myostatin levels can double those of a young person and it becomes significantly more difficult to increase muscle size and strength.  Amazingly, BFR can decrease your myostatin levels by 50% which has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis. When you apply the bands and engorge the working muscle, the Type I muscle fibres get quickly fatigued with the lack of oxygen and rapidly switch to Type II fibres. Glycolysis, where lactate is produced, is the pathway that allows the Type II fibres to run on burning glucose without oxygen. In the past, lactate was traditionally viewed as a metabolic waste product, but today it is understood that lactate is an important and beneficial molecule. Once you release the bands, the lactate travels from your muscles and is released into your bloodstream to make its way to your brain, where it is used for fuel. Once the lactate reaches your brain it increases a powerful hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a member of brain growth factors that contribute to neuroplasticity, which greatly enhances cognitive performance.

BFR elastic bands
These BFR training bands are very economical and so easy use.

How to use the BFR bands

I have so far only used the elasticated band (5 cm wide) that you apply manually so my knowledge with KAATSU or other inflatable cuffs is only theoretical.

Remember, whatever bands you use, KAATSU or less expensive BFR bands, the pressure that the cuff is inflated or tightened to should not be painful or cause any numbness or tingling. They are not supposed to shut down your arterial supply. If it is too tight you need to lower the pressure or loosen the bands.

  • When manually applying the bands, tighten them so your skin colour becomes more pink or red compared to your normal skin tone.
  • They should not feel uncomfortable and your skin colour must not become whiter or have a bluish or greyish tone; this means that arterial flow is being restricted
  • A simple way to determine good “base pressure” is to have the bands tight enough that you cannot fit two fingers under the band, but loose enough that you CAN squeeze one finger under the band. 
  • Recent studies suggest that the ideal range is about 60% of AOP (Arterial Oxygen Pressure) and below 40% would not qualify as BFR training as it would not occlude your veins.
  • If the bands are too tight you can actually cause damage to your muscle.  When checking proper band pressure on your arm, it is most easily determined by pressing your index finger firmly into the palm of the opposite hand (on the arm that is under restriction) into the area just under your thumb, then quickly releasing and seeing how long the white area takes to turn pink. If it takes longer than three seconds, the bands are too tight.  Release the pressure and try again.
  • You must not conduct simultaneous BFR on both your arms and legs, as this could decrease your blood pressure.
  • Start using weights that are no more than 20% of your 1 Rep max.
  • With this weight, you should be able to do 30 reps x 3, with no more than 15 seconds rest between sets.
  • Just remember to remove the bands after 15 minutes on your arms and 20 minutes on your legs. 
  • Sweating profusely and a noticeable increase in heart and breathing rate is normal.
BFR training with kettelbells
BFR training with kettlebells

I am hooked on BFR training.

BFR training has been a godsend during the 2 and half months hard lockdown we had here in Spain. I was wearing the bands going up and down my staircase, running round and round in circles on the very small terrace rooftop, and exercising all my muscle groups with limited weights and space. I have seen noticeable improvements in muscle size, especially my biceps. My grip strength has also increased and according to recent studies, longevity and grip strength are closely related. Now on phase 2 of the lockdown, we are allowed to go and exercise outdoors, so I shall try the bands during my swimming sessions ( as per Dr Mercola recommendation)

It has tremendously helped my recovery from an old shoulder injury as well as a more recent one on my biceps.

I am 54 and this is one hack I want to carry on using to maintain my muscle size/strength for many years to come, at least until my 100th birthday.

My wife has bought a set as well and she wears them for her daily power walk.

To learn more check the following links

Dr Mercola’s pdf here.

Medical publication here.

More on grip strength study.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

Mallorca Lockdown phase 2! A return to snorkelling!

As Mallorca enters phase 2 of this COVID 19 lockdown, life is slowly returning to a new normality.  We can move freely around the island, we can go into shops and restaurants and we can sit at a bar terrace to sip a cold drink, being mindful of social distancing of course!

For me, the most exciting thing is being able to go to the beach again and to swim in the beautiful Mediterranean sea… 

I headed to Cala San Vicente, close to Pollensa in the north of Mallorca. This small beach was almost empty, no sunbeds yet, no parasols, some seaweed clumped at the water’s edge, piles of driftwood stacked against the rocks, almost as if I had stepped back in time.

This is my favourite beach, as it has easy access to some of the most amazing snorkelling ground, ranging from white undulating sand to rocks and seaweed, to sheer

drops along the mountain’s edge. The water is spectacularly clear with a visibility in excess of 30 metres, and although a bit cold, without hesitation I was straight in.

Here, in my liquid element, I feel at peace, in awe of such enchanting surroundings. This is what I had been missing, my connection with the sea.  Although floating, I am grounded.  Although swimming, I am still. 

snorkelling-mallorca-2020
It’s great to be snorkelling again…roll on summer 2020.

Marine life seems to have moved closer to shore during this lockdown period.  I am surrounded by hundreds of small barracudas, tiny silver arrows darting through the water. Sea bream and Saupe fish almost close enough to touch.  An elegant stingray, an octopus curled in his rocky lair and an angry-looking moray eel retreating to her hiding place under the rocks. I carry on snorkelling alongside the cliff face dodging a few jellyfish that carelessly stray into my path… I am happy….

As I lie on the beach, letting the sun warm my body, I am profoundly thankful. If these past 2 and half months of confinement have taught me one thing, it is not to take for granted all the wonderful and simple pleasures that Mallorca has in abundance. I am already planning my next visit to Cala Varques, calas de Mallorca, from Alcudia head towards coll baix , and much more.

I hope we can swiftly move through the last phase in order to get back to a new normality. Then tourists from all over Europe will return to our shores, enjoy its beauty and spend their precious 2020 holidays in Mallorca.

Until then take care, my friends, and feel free to leave any comment and get in touch.

Smart Living to 100.

5 tips to implement when turning 50!

Turning 18 is one of those milestones everybody makes a big deal over. I did too! I could legally drink alcohol, I could drive, do anything I wanted without my parent’s consent, I could apply for any job, I could stay up late, go to work or not, go to uni or stay in bed, it was all up to me. I had become a grown-up. Pretty big deal I thought…

Then time goes by, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and another huge milestone for me was turning 50.

Turning 50
Turning 50…

This one had a completely different meaning or connotation to me. All the things that made my 18th birthday so special and important, had become meaningless and almost boring.

This mid-life milestone was more of a worrying one, a time of reflection, on what I had achieved until now, on the opportunities that I had let slip through my fingers, on the present but more so on the uncertain future that lay ahead. Turning 50 in our modern society has never been regarded as a joyful, happy and enriching stage but more like a slow decline in cognitive ability, in our health, in our capacity to travel far and be adventurous, a time where you have to rely on limited funds to survive for the rest of your days. My 50th birthday had left me with a mild disenchantment in some aspects of life and a deep sense of worry for the future.

So that’s it, I am done with the bad part…. the good news is that it is totally within our power to change our mindset and chase these evil thoughts away or, at least, diminish their hold on us.

Let me introduce you to my plan. Think of it as a cake, all the ingredients are good on their own, but it is their combination in the right amounts that produce the best results ( or cake…)

1- Exercise or Move as much as possible!

You don’t see people in Blue zones ( areas in the world with a high number of centenarians) going to the gym. However if you do live in town or have limited time to exercise, gyms, cross-fit boxes, swimming pools and other modern activities centres offer an amazing alternative to satisfy our primal urge to move. If used in moderation they can add years, if not decades, to our lives.  In the blue zones, the natural way to be strong is to be outside all day.. building fences, lifting rocks, working the land, walking for miles to another village, feeding the animals, dealing with cold or heat, and any other activity that demands a continuous body adaptation.

Our modern lives are far from this model, however, we can incorporate some low-level activity in our daily routine.  If you are working at a computer all day, try a standing workstation, carry around your office something weighty like a 5-litre bottle of water, a barbel, a  kettlebell, maybe you can even fit a pull-up bar, take frequent breaks outside, stretch, etc. In fact, anything that will get you up and make you move.  Before and after work, walk as much as you can, to the office, to the supermarket, walk with the dog or with your friends. 

Regular activity is necessary to stay healthy and will prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and will also encourage strong muscles, joints and bones. If you have never exercised before, start slow by walking 30 mins a day, be constant, come rain or shine. It’s important to add at least 2 strength training routines a week. I used to go to the gym, but now I prefer to workout at home whenever suits me, with my kettlebells. My home gym equipment is very simple, it’s composed of 2 kettlebells, a barbell set and a total of 40 kg in plates, an agility ladder, a TRX, several elastics, a pull-up bar, a yoga mat, a sandbag and an ab roller. No matter what you pick, try a vast array of activities until you find one or more that stick, vary your workouts, mix endurance training (running, swimming, cycling) with strength training and flexibility exercises, be constant, warm up well, and most importantly enjoy it.  Muscle strength is linked to just about every physiological system, so strength training is critical to well-being. This is not a quick fix to shed a few extra pounds, but more a lifetime way of life, for you to be healthy, move better, give you more energy and keep up with your kids or grandkids.

Outdoor workout is my best.

 In other words, structure your life to be moving as much as possible!!

A Man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life. ”     

Muhammad Ali

2- Always keep learning!

Memory lapses occur at any age. Somehow we get more upset with those lapses as we get older because we fear they could be early signs of Alzheimer’s or loss of intellectual function. So forgetting where you left your keys, or why you went into the kitchen in the first place, is totally normal. As we age normal changes in structure and function of the brain occur, and these may be the reason why we have those annoying memory lapses and also why learning new things becomes a bit harder or even daunting. Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them.

Here are a few suggestions,

  • enjoy a daily puzzle, the crossword or sudoku
  • opt for mental arithmetic rather than use the calculator
  • engage in more reading, paperback, on a kindle, on your phone or tablet or perhaps by joining or starting a book club. If you are very busy some apps like audible or Blinkist can make it easier for you to go through books in less time.  
  • play mind-stretching games, like bingo, bridge, chess or computer games. You can also play chess on your mobile device or use some brain training apps, like Peak Performance or Luminosity
  • stay socially active – join a local choir or gardening club (although more challenging after COVID 19), or start a Facebook group or Twitter account so that you can stay in touch with long-distance friends and relatives
  • take up a new interest – learn to cook or to do some basic DIY, gardening, photography, self-defence, even juggling is good for the brain.
  • Start learning Spanish in preparation for your next holiday.
  • start a day or evening class, or an online course that can easily fit with your daily schedule.
  • go out more with a friend ( while social distancing) – enjoy the cinema, theatre, galleries etc
  • continue working or do voluntary work – social contact helps your memory and concentration and gives you a sense of purpose.
  • learn how to play a new instrument, one you always wanted to play but never found the time.
  • even trying out a new physical activity will stimulate the brain…
    All these activities ( and this list is non-exhaustive) are good to activate the process that helps maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them.

During this lockdown period, many people around the globe have turned to online learning. It is the future of our general learning process, as entire industries are being affected by this COVID 19 pandemic and many of us have lost our jobs. Hence why continuing to learn after you leave school is as much about growing as it is about acquiring facts and skills. So whether you pick up a book, watch a Tedx talk, start an online course, listen to a podcast or join a self-defence class, it’s important to never stop learning.

I started learning about how to start an online business from home only last year, with very little to no computer experience, and I have to say I am glad I did as I learnt how to build a website and about affiliate marketing, I found my passion and with time will generate an income. Find out here, and receive for FREE the same video series that got me started.

3- Low-stress levels. 

When it comes to destressing, we rely too much on external tools such as relaxation music, binaural beats, meditation apps, etc. Although these tools are great and will provide some good results in time, we have a must quicker way of regaining a state of calmness. In less than a minute calmness can be restored with our breath! With these next three techniques, you can regain almost instant control over your levels of stress. 

 Box breathing is the first one – slowly breathe in, to the count of 4, hold that breath to the count of 4, exhale to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 4 and then repeat until your feel yourself calmer and your heartbeat slows down.

  Alternate nostril breathing is our second hack to control stress, long and slow breath in through the right nostril, long and slow breath out through the left one. Then in again through the left nostril and long exhale through the right, and so on.

  Finally in third position the  4, 7, 8 technique. Breathing in, to the count of 4, 7 count hold and 8 count exhale. And repeat.

 So if you practice these techniques you will find it to be second nature and you will be able to take control of your stress levels in an instant !!

Although these breathing techniques work a treat, I would recommend introducing some kind of breathwork in your daily routine. The one I have been practising for the past 2 and half years is the Wim Hof Method. The 3 pillars of this method are breathwork, adaptation to the cold and concentration/ focus.

I find Meditation and yoga also work for me, and assist me in my daily stress management.

By the time we hit 50, we have learned our hardest lessons. We have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life seriously, but never ourselves”.     

Marie Dressler

4- Look after your diet!

The older we get, the more likely we are to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) because our blood vessels become less elastic as we age. Having high blood pressure puts us at risk for stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease and early death.

When researchers looked at the populations in the blue zones, they noticed these individuals shared a few common themes in their lives. The most prevalent commonality was their consumption of a Mediterranean diet. A 2000 study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a diet that adheres to the principles of the traditional Mediterranean diet (which includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, moderate wine consumption and olive oil) was associated with longer survival. Further, a 2004 study in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention found that a Mediterranean diet was associated with lower risks of cancer and heart disease. And a 2010 review of studies in the American Journal of Clinical Research affirmed the diet’s powers to protect against major chronic diseases.

 Changing just a few of our food habits can go a long way toward enhancing vitality and longevity.

mediterranean diet
Eat like a Greek!

Here’s how:

  • Opt for a Mediterranean diet that emphasizes olive oil, fish, legumes, fruits, vegetables and unrefined grains.(about 2,200 to 2,400 calories a day for men; 1,600 to 1,800 per day for women)
  • Try intermittent fasting or fasting.
  • Limiting foods high in added sugar, including sweetened beverages, candy, cakes, cookies, ice cream, sweetened yoghurts, and sugary cereals. This is critical for weight loss at any age. Look for “added sugars” on the nutrition facts label or search the ingredient list for common sweeteners such as cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and agave.
  • Look after your gut microbiome, learn more here.
  •  B12 is primarily found in fish and meat. It is needed to make DNA and support healthy nerve and blood cells. Older adults are at a greater risk for B12 deficiency, but it can be added to your diet in a supplemental form (either by pill or shot).
  • It’s also a good strategy to supplement in calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin E, Q10, Ginkgo biloba, fish oils, curcumin, coconut oil, green tea, resveratrol (found in the skin of purple and red fruits and also in red wine, chocolate and peanuts. Fabulously delicious sources of calcium include sardines (a double dose of omega 3 through the fish and calcium through the bones), spinach, broccoli, kale, and low-fat or fat-free milk and yoghurt. 

5- Start securing your financial future now!

Many are counting on their ability to continue to work well into older age, yet they will need to sustain good health and secure employment despite the known difficulties of landing a job after the age of 50.

Planning your financial future has never been an easy task, and the spread of COVID-19 has made it even more difficult.  Finance professionals are used to accuracy, consistency and relative predictability, not the uncertain economic horizons that lie ahead. However, even in these difficult times, it is particularly important to adapt and modify our behaviour when it comes to money.

In the beginning, it is important to make savings a habit. The amount is not very important as once you have acquired this habit you will be able to apply this principle to any of your expenses. A couple of years ago I discovered intermittent fasting and I decided to skip breakfast. It’s healthy and it saves me 3 to 5 euros per day. I’ll let you do the maths but over a year it is a lot of money. If this Lockdown has taught me one thing, it is that you can live on very little money when you are forced to stay at home.

Aim at saving at least 10% of your monthly income.  As the economic effects of lockdown become more real, many have come to realise the value of performing a review of their finances, especially when it comes to cost-cutting. So go through all your expenses, check your telephone, electricity and water consumption and reduce them, review your gym membership,  monthly subscriptions or insurances, sell your car, car share, or cycle to work, downsize housing, etc. Anything you manage to save, place it in a retirement fund or other savings account.

Pay off remaining debts as fast as possible and don’t acquire any new debt if at all possible. Debt is expensive and paying the interest on the debt could be money that’s saved instead. So aim to pay off expensive debts like credit cards, store cards, car loans and overdrafts before you start to save.

 If at all possible weigh up whether or not you should make extra payments on your mortgage.

 Invest properly. Properly means that you have the appropriate asset mix depending on your anticipated retirement date. How you save can be as important as how much you save. Inflation and the type of investments you make play an important role in how much you’ll have saved at retirement. Know how your savings or pension plan are invested. Put your savings in different types of investments. By diversifying this way, you are more likely to reduce risk and improve return. Your investment mix may change over time depending on a number of factors such as your age, goals, financial circumstances and future pandemics. Financial security and knowledge go hand in hand. So it’s time to get informed.

 Run a calculation to figure out how much money you’ll need to retire. Keep doing this calculation as time goes by, because your idea of a comfortable retirement may evolve over the years.

 Inform yourself about medical health options.  Medical bills could be one of your biggest expenses, so check out all the various health insurances available in your country and be prepared.

 Check out your private and public pension. In many European countries, the state pensions are struggling and are on the decline but it is still a sizable amount to be checked. This will also give you a good estimate of how much money you need from your private pension to reach your monthly expenses.

 Leave your retirement savings untouched. If you cash in your retirement savings before time you may have to pay withdrawal penalties, lose tax benefits, and lose accumulated interests.

Start saving now!
Look after your savings!

My Take on turning 50

If you are turning 50 this year, well “ Happy birthday “. Remember how excited you are when you turned 5 years old. You should be 10 times that excited.

If you have children, they have probably left the house and are beginning the long process of building their own lives. Maybe you are thinking about your retirement, or perhaps on a deeper level, you are thinking of your present purpose in life. What do you dream of and what will your legacy be? For me, turning 50 has become an opportunity. I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but it has taken me several years to come to this conclusion and it’s only now at the age of 54 that I am fully embracing my midlife turning point with passion, energy and hope. This revelation, this light bulb moment, came to me after celebrating my wife’s grandmother’s 100th birthday. Granny Owen had reached 100 years of age, with amazing health, a good sense of humour and an impeccable sense of style. On that day I decided I could live to 100 too… And just like that, all the sombre views about turning 50 that society had drummed into my brain, all the fears I carried from my charismatic father (who tragically passed away at the age of 49), they all vanished in an instant. My mindset was now turned towards the future and no longer the past. So I started thinking of all the beautiful adventures still to come… with my darling wife Jane, with my two amazing kids Yannick and Matilda, and hopefully one day, with my future grandchildren. 

This has become a passion of mine, I have started a website to share with others how we can live to 100 in a happy, healthy and fulfilling way. So if you are interested in living to 100, join me on this wonderful journey and I would love to know what turning 50 means or meant to you. Thanks for leaving your comments below.

Take care my friends

Smart Living to 100

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

My first swim! After 2 months in Lockdown in Mallorca.

After 2 months of hard lockdown, we are finally allowed to go out of our homes to do sports outdoors. I have been missing the sea so much…But as from today, we can swim… so here I am. The water is still a bit cold with no suit but It feels so good. We are slowly getting back to normal, it will take some time here in Mallorca. I hope very soon we can all enjoy again this beautiful island.

Take care.

Smart Living To 100.

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Music by; Track Title: Motivational Upbeat. Music by AShamaluevMusic. Music Link: https://youtu.be/j1wjM-hqnv0

Boost your immune system with the Wim Hof Method.

After many weeks of lockdown, sitting around my house, reading, eating, drinking, occasionally engaging in some moderate and limited physical activity, I have come to realise all the precious things I was taking for granted. One of them is my health especially at a time where so many people in the world are fighting illness and diseases.

My pre 20’s were plagued by frequent colds, touches of flu, earaches, sore throats, and many other non-threatening but debilitating illnesses. But when I literally threw myself into diving, it all changed. Although I was exposed to all kinds of weather conditions, extreme temperature fluctuations, physical activity and demands on my body, I had none of the illnesses of my youth…

Diving helped boost my immune system
Diving helped boost my immune system.

It was like I had gone through a total transformation, I had developed a completely different mindset towards my body and my immune system. Since then I have been fortunate enough to always be aware of my immunity and have developed a very special relationship with my immune system. This Boost to my immune system was the result of obvious changes in my diet, lifestyle, outdoor activity, constant physical activity, social interaction and a change in my breathing awareness.

How to boost your immune system?

Here are a number of different ways to naturally boost your immune system.

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables to help boost your immune system. Find here some of the most potent ones.
  • Almost all citrus fruits like grapefruit, limes, lemons, oranges are high in vitamin C. With such a variety to choose from, it’s easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal.- Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain almost 3 times as much vitamin C.

Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fibre and many other antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your plate.

Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.

Ginger is another ingredient many turns to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce sore throat and inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may help with nausea as well.

Spinach is rich in vitamin C — it’s also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may both increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems.

–  Curcumin; This bright yellow bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and is showing promising results as an immune booster.

– Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), another powerful antioxidant, shown to enhance immune function.

– Look for yoghurts that have “live and active cultures” printed on the label, like Greek yoghurt. These cultures may stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases.

Papayas and kiwis are naturally full of a ton of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts the white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwi’s other nutrients keep the rest of your body functioning properly.

– Nuts such as almonds and walnuts are packed with vitamin E and healthy fats. This powerful antioxidant is essential to a strong immune system.

citrus fruit will boost your immune system.
A daily intake of citrus fruits will boost your immune system.
  • Exercise regularly.  Just like a healthy diet, exercise is one of the natural pillars when it comes to boosting your immune system. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases, contributes to your general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It also promotes good circulation of the lymph fluid packed with infection-fighting white cells.
  • Drink plenty of water and If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get adequate sleep. If you need yet another reason that good night sleep is good for you, some researchers from Germany have found that sound sleep improves your T Cells count. “T cells are a type of… immune cells that fight against intracellular pathogens, for example, virus-infected cells such as flu, HIV, herpes, and cancer cells,”  says Stoyan Dimitrov, PhD, a researcher at the University of Tübingen and an author of the study.
  • Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
  • Try to minimize stress. Modern medicine has come to appreciate the closely linked relationship between mind and body. Stress occurs when life events surpass your abilities to cope. Short bursts of stress are considered to be acceptable but it’s the long term effects of chronic stress that are damaging to your health. It causes your body to produce greater levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It also reduces the body’s lymphocyte count, lowering your ability to fight off infection.

Other factors to consider in boosting your immune system.

  • Vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D are related to a higher susceptibility to infection and autoimmune diseases. Our body produces vitamin D via exposure to sunlight. Supplementing vitamin D is advised in autumn and winter when relatively little sunshine reaches our skin. 
  • Supply good bacteria to your gut. Many important processes that are related to your immune system take place in your gut. By consuming probiotic foods, you can stimulate the digestion of nutrients that support your immune system. Inside the gut are about 100 trillion live microorganisms that promote normal GI function, protect the body from infection, and regulate metabolism and the mucosal immune system. Chronic inflammation has been linked to your gut microbiome is out of balance. More than 70% of our immune system is packed behind your stomach lining. What we eat is what feeds our microbiome and that actually trains our immune system to respond efficiently. So if your microbiome is out of balance so is your immune system and this can result in your entire body being out of sync.
  • Get more micronutrients; Some form of ” micronutrient malnutrition” is surprisingly common in the elderly population. This is when a person is deficient in some essential vitamins and trace minerals like zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E. Older people tend to eat less and often have less variety in their diets. One important question is whether dietary supplements may help older people maintain a healthier immune system. If you suspect your diet is not providing you with all your micronutrient needs, taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement may have beneficial effects on the immune system.   Older people should discuss this question with their doctor.
  • Attempting to boost the cells of your immune system is especially complicated because there are so many different kinds of cells in the immune system. The body is continually generating immune cells, it produces many more lymphocytes than it can possibly use. The extra cells remove themselves through a natural process of cell death called apoptosis. No one knows how many cells or what the best mix of cells the immune system needs to function at its optimum level.
  • While some people age healthily, compared with younger people the elderly are more likely to contract infectious diseases. Respiratory infections, influenza, the COVID-19 virus and particularly pneumonia are a leading cause of death in people over 65 worldwide.  Some scientists observe that this increased risk correlates with a decrease in T cells, possibly from the thymus atrophying with age and producing fewer T cells to fight off infection. Others are interested in whether the bone marrow becomes less efficient at producing the stem cells that give rise to the cells of the immune system.
  • Echinacea.  Certain species have been shown to improve immune health and may have antiviral effects against several respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus and rhinoviruses.
  • Propolis. Propolis is a resin-like material produced by honeybees for use as a sealant in hives. Though it has impressive immune-enhancing effects and may have antiviral properties as well.
wim hof breathing
Wim Hof breathing in nature…

How I started the wim hof method!

With all the lifestyle and dietary changes I mentioned above, I went from a poor/ average health to good health. Literally jumping in feet first into my full-time diving career promoted all these changes. My research into breath control and breathwork led me to practise yoga, freediving and the Wim hof method. The Wim hof method is based upon 3 pillars: cold therapy, breathing and commitment.  I started practising with his guided breathing, then swiftly followed by his popular 10 week Fundamental course.

 Upon starting the Wim hof method my general state of health jumped from good to never being sick, fully energised all day long, feeling happy and strong most of the time.  Both cold exposure and conscious breathing require patience and dedication in order to be fully mastered. Armed with focus and determination you are ready to explore and deepen your body & mind connection and somehow intuitively connect with my immunity and further understand my immune system.

For those that don’t know about Wim Hof or “The Iceman “ and his method here is a brief introduction;

Wim Hof is famous for his incredible stunts like running a half marathon on his bare feet in the snow, swimming under ice, and climbing Mount Everest in his shorts. Achievements like these require an enormous amount of focus and dedication. Over the years, Wim Hof has developed his own method that enables him to achieve extraordinary things.

I can still remember my first guided breathing, I lay on the sofa, listening to Wim hof’s instruction,…deeply in…and let it go, for 30 breaths and then held my breath. It was all a bit odd at first, not at all familiar. The second round felt better. Now the third round was such a memorable experience that it is still very vivid in my mind. It felt like I was experiencing an internal revolution, my hands were tingling, I could see flashing multicoloured lights coming and going behind my eyes and mini lightning bolts going through my brain, I noticed also that my entire body and especially my cells were gently electrified, finally, I experienced a pleasant light-headed floating sensation as if my mind was leaving my body and gliding above me. I did not panic at the time as I had been warned that I would experience some very unusual sensations, so I went along with it… 

Also on my first rounds, my breath-holding time was of 1, maximum 2 mins, but after a few sessions, I could easily reach 3 mins.

Here is a succinct description of his breathing method.

Breathe in deep, moving the air flow from your belly, to your chest and into your head and let it go.

Do this 30/40/50 times, whatever feels comfortable for you.

 Then hold your breath for as long as is comfortable for you without forcing

.  At this stage you have raised your PH levels, so you can easily stay 1 min or more without air in your lungs.

When you feel the need to breathe

Take a deep breath in and hold it for 10/15 seconds. Then let go.

This is your first round!!   Repeat this for 2 more rounds.

Good luck!!

Cold water exposue.
Wim Hof always says…” The cold is my warm friend”.

 In starting the cold shower progressive training I immediately felt different and was almost looking forward to this challenge.  Once I realized that I was gradually changing my mindset from fearing the cold to enjoying it, there was no stopping me, I was gone like a rocket…. I literally understood that I had changed my perception of the cold and this all happened with the power of my mind.

Now 2 and half years down the line, no aches or pains, no flu or colds, no more allergies or eczema, no more fatigue.  All in fine working order and I have exceptional levels of energy.

In the last 10 years, I have also suffered from old sports induced injuries that kept dragging on and on.  Well, surprise surprise… with the cold exposure and the breathing techniques these old pains and aches have subsided tremendously and no longer stop me from any physical activity.

When you feel the cold or the heat and get out of your comfort zone with the Wim Hof Method (WHM) you learn to tap into that mind/body connection and regain control over it.  So by breathing deep and changing your focus you can willfully influence the bone marrow to activate T cell and B cell production and these, in turn, will fight any inflammation that is taking place in your body.

With this breathing method not only do you bring in more oxygen to your tissues to subside inflammation, but you also increase your adrenaline production which in turn will suppress inflammatory markers in your body.

How does the wim hof method benefit your immune system?

When you engage in the Wim hof breathing you increase your levels of adrenaline in your body. This increase in adrenaline coincides with higher production of interleukin 10 . Interleukin 10 (IL10) is a cytokine with potent anti-inflammatory properties that plays a central role in limiting host immune response to pathogens, thereby preventing damage to the host and maintaining normal tissue homeostasis. The anti-inflammatory element of IL 10 is that it inhibits the release of other cytokines that contribute to inflammation. So as a result of this breathing method your inflammatory response is lower than normal. In the case of a virus infection, your symptoms are barely noticeable and your recovery much faster than normal. Even though the inflammatory response is suppressed white blood cells are still being produced. So having high levels of adrenaline stirs leukocytosis which increases white blood cells in the blood.

Being able to dampen inflammation is fabulous news in itself, as it presents an alternative to medication for those suffering from chronic inflammation. 

 During one study, subjects that were trained in the Wim Hof Method and control subjects were injected with a pathogen and monitored for symptoms. Compared to the control group, followers of the Wim Hof Method showed a stronger immune response and fewer symptoms related to the pathogen. In 2011, the University Medical Center St. Radboud in Nijmegen couldn’t but admit that Wim and others trained with his method are able to voluntarily influence the Autonomic Nervous System. Despite what medical books suggest, this study clearly demonstrates that a human being can voluntarily influence his/ her autonomic nervous system and immune response.

My take on the wim hof method

This amazing technique has opened my understanding of the huge power that resides in my mind (and yours).  The benefits of the Wim Hof method are great, even if you never jump in icy waters, it will boost your immune system, increase your energy levels, reduce stress, decrease inflammation, improve your athletic performance and sharpen your focus and determination. It has given me a life long wish to discover and work on the mind & body connection.  So after 2 and a half years of Wim Hof method practice, I keep learning on a daily basis and enjoying it every single day.  I feel grateful and privileged to be able to take yet another breath.  It has made me so aware that breathing is our own and unique gift that we carry with us every single moment of our life.  I am only 54 and my aim is to live to 100. I haven’t counted them yet, but that’s many breaths left…  so join me on this trip of a lifetime.

www.instagram.com/smartlivingto.100

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DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

This wim hof breathing should be done laying down or sitting in a safe environment, not in water or close to water or whilst driving.

https://www.wimhofmethod.com/

The state of now ( by my wife Jane Gracia).

I wonder if during my lifetime to 100 years of age (and beyond, no intention of throwing in the towel at 100 !!) we shall once again be thrown into global chaos with another virulent virus that will, quite literally, bring us to our knees. I would like to say “oh no, surely not, with all we are learning now we will be able to contain/control any future outbreaks. The answer is not one anybody can confidently provide. So, I am starting to think, really think, about our future… Should something like this happen again I want to be sure I am prepared (to the best of my ability).

My future house
Lots of outdoor space..

When the State of Emergency was declared here in Spain, on the 13th March, it seemed that things were not too bad… I could continue my work as a primary teaching assistant, albeit in a virtual fashion. No more 5 am wake up, driving an hour, working out in the gym before arriving at school at 8 am… No more commute through bumper to bumper traffic on the way home. I could wake up at 8.30 am and go to “work” in a smart top, track pants and slippers !! I foolishly thought we would be allowed out of our homes during the day, as they have done in other European countries. We had permission to go to the supermarket, the pharmacy and the medical centre. We could take our rubbish to the communal bins, but we could not walk around the block.. unless we had a dog. I was sorely tempted to get one!

I love to exercise, to walk up the mountain that towers in front of our apartment, to run on the seafront, to workout in my gym, all things I had so taken for granted but now do not. I ran up and down the staircase in our apartment block, I paced the rooftop terrace, I jumped and skipped. Never have I enjoyed my prosling so much .. and my Ab roller.. oh my goodness it was a godsend. Then I began to think about what would we need to be more comfortable and liberated if a lockdown should occur in the future? Outdoor space was right there at the top of the list, a small house, comfortable but simple and lots of outdoor space. A vegetable garden, a lawn, trees and flowers, being close to the wonders of nature. So even if the future should bring another pandemic we would be still able to enjoy these things.

As all around us raged this insidious disease, creeping into all walks of life, quietly waiting around every corner.. we watched the news, we were horrified at the growing numbers of infected people around the world, horrified at the rising number of deaths every single day. But they were just that, numbers, so once again a surreal panorama.

I checked in daily with my kids in London, my parents in Ireland, feeling so far from them, but thankful for the wonders of technology that allow us to see each other and speak as if we are sitting across a table from each other. This will pass, we said, we will come out the other side, we said, patience.. keep safe everyone, wash your hands, wear your mask… Let’s wait it out…

My darling mum
My darling mum ❤

On the 10th of April, in the space of just 4 hours, my beloved Mum was snatched from us by this terrible disease. The horror, the disbelief, the raw screaming injustice that this gentle warrior who had battled for years with Parkinson’s disease, severe osteoporosis and the after-effects of a stroke in 2017, should be taken in this way. She was living in a residential care home, as her disability meant she needed the help of carers and nursing staff. They were so lovely to her, sweet and kind, but she didn’t want to be there. She desperately missed her home, her garden, her independence. We thought she would be safe there, how wrong we were. As, in many care homes in many countries, there were failings and a member of staff unwittingly brought this virus into my Mum’s room. My sister and I could not go to comfort my Dad and brother, we did not dare fly into Ireland for fear of bringing this virus to them. My Mum was cremated on April 13th with just my Dad and brother in attendance.

So, I carry on in this bubble of disbelief, I know she has gone but she is all around me. The day I can safely go back to where she was, to the home she loved, to walk around the garden she had spent many happy hours tending, to open her wardrobe and catch a whiff of her scent, then the grieving will begin. The tears will fall as I sit around the table with my Dad, my brother and my sister, as we talk about her, remember her, look at photos of happier times.

I hope to find a small house in the countryside, with a garden. I hope that my daughter and son will find a way to spend more time here, I miss them. I hope to have dogs and maybe even a little pig and some chickens roaming around. I want to breathe the fresh air, marvel at the beauty of simplicity, tend my garden and sit in the evenings on the porch with my darling husband.

My Mum would approve ❤🍀.