Discover the Forgotten Power of Adaptogens

A secret pill to battle stress, increase performance and focus surely is too good to be true. Yet, adaptogens have been used for thousands of years in the Americas, and especially in eastern cultures. They “could be the most important class of plants that we are going to find in the 21st century,” according to Tieraona Low Dog, who’s exploration of natural medicine began more than 35 years ago. [1] [3]

There are a few well known adaptogens commonly used today. Ginseng, Maca and the Reishi Mushroom for example might have caught your attention at some point. They are called adaptogens because they adapt their effects according to the specific needs of your body. They can be relaxing and stimulating [2]. These guys are pretty smart ey?

Cartoon drawings of popular adaptogen herbs
Source

Adaptogens can be compared to working out. Just that you are not working out your body but your adrenal gland. They act on the hypothalamic – pituritary axis (HPA) curbing the production of hormones and physiological responses to ensure optimal body functions. [9]

Former Russian scientist Dr. Ben Tabachnik shared information which was long considered as state secrets, “when the body is subjected to stress, adaptogens help the adrenal glands mount immediate hormonal response.” Dr. Christopher Hobbs, who developed over 50 herbal formulas used worldwide and founded the school of natural healing in Utah said,” the roots of American Ginseng were considered sacred herbs by Native Americans. [10]

In modern history, the Soviet Union has been leading with the research on Adaptogens during the Cold War when the two Superpowers were constantly on the search for methods to stay ahead of each other.

Studies on Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus) showed a 40% decrease in high blood pressure and heart disease, improved productivity and reduced risk in developing influenza among long distance truck drivers.[7]

Rhodiola

Rhodiola Plant

A second adaptogen already used by the vikings in was Rhodiola Rosea. Zakir Ramazanov, was banned of mentioning any research findings on the effects of adaptogens. But after the fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’, much of his research has come to light, much of it through the book Rhodiola Revolution.

Source

Rhodiola grows in cold mountainous regions of Europe, Asia and high altitudes in the arctic. Nordic from people have used rhodiola for anxiety, fatigue, anemia, impotence, headache and depression.

The herb has also been used to increase work performance, physical endurance and longevity. Studies from 2011, 2012 and 2015 [4] [5] [6] showed effective treatment of rhodiola for improving physical performance, easing mental fatigue and reduction of depressive symptoms.

Schizandra

Schizandra Berries

Another interesting Adaptogen is Schizandra, which has been long used in Chinese medicine to treat liver conditions and stomach disorder. It is called the five flavored fruit to point to all the five flavours the fruit has: bitter, sweet, salty sour and pungent.

But, Schizandra seems to be more versatile in its healing capabilities than expected. A study carried out in 2017 found that it had a positive effect on Alzheimer’s disease. It was concluded that it inhibited the formation of amyloid beta peptides in the brain. The peptides responsible for forming amyloid plaque, a substance found in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease. A more recent study from 2019 found that Schizandra has anti-cancer effect, anti-aging potential, anti-obesity activity and supports anti-diabetic actions in the body. [8]

Even though Adaptogens are available in many different forms auch as drinks like Metta, pills and powders, they are not used in mainstream medicine. Mostly due to the lack of research, they are dismissed as ineffective.

There is enough research clearly supports what our ancestors have known for centuries. How can adaptogens be incorporated into ones diet? The best way to do it is to find out what you personally need and get advice from naturopaths, herablists or chiropractors. Act with caution when purchasing adaptogens yourself from the web. Swedish Researchers that examined 60 ginseng products sold in 11 countries found that six samples contained no active ingredient and others had very low percentages of active ingredients. Some even contained ephedrine. Make sure to do your research to be on the safe side.

These forgotten herbs could be your best shot during times of isolation to boost your immune system. Will you use adaptogens for your own benefits too or are you already using them? Leave a comment below.

Sources:

1 https://time.com/5025278/adaptogens-herbs-stress-anxiety/

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/

3 https://drlowdog.com/

4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21036578

5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25837277

6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22643043

7 https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/eleutherococcus-senticosus

8 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28891753

9 https://drinkmetta.com/blogs/the-elevated-life/the-ultimate-guide-to-adaptogens

10 https://www.christopherhobbs.com/webdocs/class-handouts/various/Herbal_Adaptogens.pdf

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How to stay sane during the COVID-19 crisis

Since a few days the buzzing city of Amsterdam is quiet. The world seems to be in chaos. Italy is in full quarantine and other countries are following the same approach. Borders are being shut and people are stuck in foreign countries. There is no doubt that many people are scared about their own health and the health of their friends and family. The economic consequences are also visible, people are losing their jobs and have no more income.

How can you keep going in such a situation?

Well, despite the obvious of not going out to slow the spread of the virus, washing your hands and keeping distance to people, there are many things you can do to deal with the situation and even benefit from it.

Here are 8 quick tips on how you can deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Enjoy and stay safe!

1. Stop spreading fear

Fear is more contagious than any virus. By now everybody that hasn’t been in a silent retreat or lives in the caves of Siberia is aware of the situation. The last thing you want people to do is panic. In uncertain situations like these, anxiety can quickly turn into panic. In a state of fear, very bad and irrational decisions are made. Avoid posting death rates and worst case scenarios that might happen. You saw what happened when people panic, they think toilet paper will save their lives. Spread support and love and focus on solutions.

2. Focus on yourself

We do not often get the chance to stay at home and use the time to develop skills that you can use when this is all over. Get inspired by people. If you are in complete quarantine and feel lonely, immerse yourself in a book, connect with the characters. Or write one yourself. If you have a pet, cuddle it and tell it how much you love it’s hairy ass.

If you have an internet connection (assuming you do), try out some online courses. There are dozens of free courses you can do and companies seem to be nice right now, offering free resources because of the crisis.

Learn a new language on Duolingo!

Whatever your choice of creative pursuit is, now is the time to shine.

3. Meditate

Maybe you can’t travel on the outside but you can always travel on the inside. Since everything is so quiet, try to practice some meditation. There are many ways you can practice meditation. Headspace is a great app or just search YouTube and find your favorite Guru.

4. Help others

No don’t go running outside and start giving away clothes, but connect with people digitally. Now may be the time to reconnect with people that you have neglected for a while or want to make amends with. Find out if any of your friends or acquaintances are in a very affected area and reach out to them. I am sure they will appreciate it.

5. Exercise

If sitting around get’s boring, go out for a run if you can. Wave to people and smile (from a distance). Spread some positive energy (from a distance). Find a 7 or 14 day workout challenge that you can do at home and invite others to join you in their homes. It is still highly possible that you will get the virus too and the fitter you are the lower the risk.

6. Create a meal plan

Since going outside should be avoided as much as possible, create a meal plan for the week. Decide what you want to do and start preparing your meals for the coming days or longer. Like this you avoid unnecessary journeys to the supermarket and have more power over what you eat.

7. Focus on the now

It is easy to make predictions and assumptions for the future. Try to zoom in and focus on today. If today seems overwhelming, focus on the next hour or next 15 minutes. Like this your mind doesn’t wander into the uncertain future. Are you breathing right now? This is how you focus on the now.

8. Set goals

By creating goals and writing them down, your mind will focus on something that is important to you. Wether they are future goals that you want to achieve in 10 years or just daily goals. I suggest you do both. Once you have written them down, sit and visualize them in as much detail as you can. This is super powerful and will make you feel very good.

That’s it, I hope you got some inspiration.

Much love from Amsterdam, stay sane and stay safe!

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An Interview about Coaching, Powerlifting and Life Long Learning

I interviewed Thomas Powell on his experience as a power-lifter, 2X national champion in the UK and his experience as a coach of Olympic teams and some of the best athletes in the world. As well as insight into his motivation and key points he has learned on his journey which he shares with you.

How did you get into powerlifting?

I played rugby from about 10 years of age. I got injured and messed up a few discs in my lower back. I lost the feeling in part of my left leg. So I needed to get my strength back. My coach helped me build that up again. I started squatting, benching and dead-lifting. He was the one who said that I was quite strong and steered me towards powerlifting.

What was in it for you?

I have always been quite competitive. Playing Rugby, my coach was probably one of the biggest influences towards playing. But it was alot about having fun too.

How did you get into Coaching ?

I got into coaching when i was still playing rugby and through my coach who offered me the opportunity to start teaching the younger kids. I didn’t really excel but I really enjoyed it. For 3-4 years I coached next to working a full time job, really got into power-lifting and got my personal training qualifications, and went on to be 2X British champion in power-lifting.

But it was really just recreational coaching and just started to build and build and build. I got the opportunity of coaching the Chinese Olympic team, in the development team for skiing.

This is really where the challenges came in for the language barrier. It was very different. It really made me evaluate about my coaching style. I needed to do just the smaller touches rather than showing the whole movement. It was fantastic.

The gym I was in was Powerbase. I think it might be one of the best gyms out there. I use the white board to demonstrate. “Do you see the hips, the shoulders the ankle”? This is how I want you to look like. Alright now pair up and I am going to walk around and see how you look like while doing it. My objective was really to make the athletes self sufficient.

For them to self-diagnose and self-correct instead of them relying on me to be around all the time. Sometimes I would just leave them but watch them from far keeping them in my sight.

Did you feel that giving them this distance was making them perform better?

Some really like this. they want to come in, get done and get gone. They just want simple instructions like, keep your chin up, keep your hips in place. Some like the small talk.

You kind of have to wear very different hats. It’s about managing their expectations. When working with Olympic teams, you have many more different roles, you have a technician who focuses more on the technique. Some of them you have to just make them aware of what they are doing. When they start swinging on the bars. Like “Hey I see what you are doing, get back to it.”

What is the performance analysis all about?

We look it at from two different aspects.

1. What sport are we in.

2. What are the different needs for that specific sport.

Do you need to have a really big back or do you need other features for that specific sport. How do you align the two of them? Whats the need of the athlete and whats the need of the sport?

For example, with an athletic thrower it is part of their rehab to go on a rower. All of a sudden they are cranking out rowing metrics on the same level as a professional rowers and are up there with some of the best in the country.

You then send the performance data to their coaches and compare them. So you see this data and their coaches know that potentially they could be one of the best in the country. But then the coaches say, “I do not really want to let go of my athlete.”

This is when you see two sides of coaches. One says, “no they are my athlete, they are doing this sport and they are staying”. The other might have to admit that his/her athlete has been doing the wrong sport.

Australia does really well at avoiding this from happening.

They test kids at a certain age for, strength, power, endurance, speed etc. and tell them which are the nest sports for them according to the measurements. Then they tell them to go out and try different sports and see which one they enjoy. This is what the UK kind of misses out on.

I really hated PE as a kid actually.

Thomas Powell

If you have a newcomer as a coach, you do all kind of testing. How strong are they in general. Swimmers are tested for shoulder capacity as they use their shoulders a lot.

Would you like to travel again and work together with Olympic teams?

I would love to do it again. We love working with them. We have middle aged dads who just want to keep up with their kids playing football. But working with an Olympic team is different.

I have been really lucky with the coaches I have got to spend time around, they have been to world cups, been in Tokyo with the Olympic teams. But if you want to go to the Olympics its not like someone who you have been working with just says, I know a guy who is really good, why don’t you come around for the Olympics. You really need to prove yourself out there. They take care of all your expenses, it’s a real privilege.

But the big goal for me is to be there as an Olympic coach.

Integrity for me is very important. You can tell that I haven’t mentioned any of the names of my clients. I would never boast around and say that I have worked with this person and that person and so on. If we drop an athletes name on our social media pages with do it only with their permission.

I do not like coaches that brag about their achievements. When they say, yeah my client has been 2 times Olympic champion and has won 3 gold medals here and… I say congratulations, now do it with 40 other people.

We have a podium rate, such as our clients achieve 20% first place, 24% second place and 66% 3rd place as an example. But I would never get angry if an athlete would mess up and bring down those rankings. I would say, “dust it off and keep going.

From your experienced point of view, what advice you give people?

1. You got to be passionate about what you are doing.

Sometimes I started coaching at 4 a.m. and at midnight the same day I am on my laptop working. I have piles of paper that I must go through today, mostly analysis stuff.

2. You gotta commit to constant learning

I always try and spend time with people that are way smarter than me. Because then I can ask questions, why are we doing this? After the explanation i often have no idea what he just said.

3. Take notes

If you are volunteering with somebody, take a notebook with you. I see people just standing there without a notebook. No. Go and get a notebook. When someone says something and you think you know what they mean but you are not sure, either ask them or write it down.

I have a coach, he is one of my mentors, and one of the first things he said to me is to bring a notepad. I said i hae my ohone. But he said get a pen or pencil and make notes.

At this point Thomas pulls out his notbooks and says thats 3 of them and i got another pile of 7 notbooks right here and another 4 back there. He says, they look like shit but they are there for me to write notes in.

4. Find a mentor

Find someone who is not afraid to call you out on your bullshit. And thats the problem that so many people do not get real feedback. I got something form my mentors that i use in my feedback. He calls it a shit Sandwich: Pretty good, pretty bad, pretty good.

5. Find the stuff you are not good at

I have a lot of books. When somebody asks me about something that I do not know i admit it. But I learn. I got 3 degrees but i still go to seminars and read and take time out of my day and money out of the bank account to go and learn. I mark the whole book with pages that are important or where I have to look stuff up. My mentors tell me to think about a certain topic and then talk about it the next time we meet.

Image result for peak performance sports book
Example of Thomas’ readings

If you cant explain it to a 6 year old you can’t understand it yourself.

6. Give and take feedback from people in your field

What we do is that we have meetings with all kinds of different specialists, we sit down with nutritionists and biomchanist and exolain stuffto each other. We will also give each other feedback on the areas that we need to impprove on to point out each others flaws.

Being curious about what you are doing and what is going on around you. Some coaches are happy to share some might be a bit more protective about their stuff, but just ask. Coming back to seminars, when I am at the seminars I talk, to people. they might have the personality of a potato but are one of the smartest people in the industry and thats what counts.

What I do is, I turn and ask people, do you understand that? and they will say yes and I will ask if they want to have a coffee. As simple as that.

I went to a seminar last year and asked a guy, hey why did you do that exercise? and he said , yeah because it looks great on Instagram. So generally, don’t take stuff from social media.

7. Share your own knowledge

Finding people who are open to share their knowledge is what you need to do. Personally, I love sharing knowledge. Just recently my friend was in working on a velocity based training model and I shared everything I had on it.

When it comes to to training, 80% of what we teach is backed by science and proven. 15% works most of the time and 5% is stuff that you think is going to work, lets just try it. That’s how I try to coach and work.

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Have you heard about the Bungee workout?

I was on the lookout the other day, for a new type of workout I can add to my routine. I came across a unique type of workout that immediately caught my attention. Apparently it originated in a fitness studio in Bangkok, Thailand.

At first glance, it seems more like something you would do in an amusement park for your 12th birthday but it’s actually a type of workout used under different names and trademarks all over the world. It first made headlines in 2018 and now brands such as Super Fly® are expanding the idea internationally.

Bungee Super Fly® combines resistance training and a cardiovascular workout, while being attached to a bungee cord. It has a super high fun-factor while enjoying an effective workout.

When you are doing the workout, you are attached to a harness, bungee, carbineres, swivel, daisy chain ropes. You are basically ready jump off a bridge, but instead you stay in the studio and get going.

A mixture of acrobatics, dance and resistance training is what you experience ones you are attached to the equipment. The main benefits are getting your heart rate up and burning calories, while you are not on the ground as usual.

If you are in Amsterdam, you can try it out at three different locations. However, they are also expanding World Wide and can be found in many European cities. If you want, you can join their 4-day course and become a teacher. It’s definitely something unique to have on your CV.

Source

It is kind of hard to imagine how it would feel flying around on the bungee rope. Samantha Duff, the owner of Samyoga says, “When you think about a normal squat, it’s harder to come back up. But with the bungee, it’s harder to go down into the squat so you are really using your core muscles to push down so you can spring back up.” 

Can you find the “flying workout” close to your too? Maybe you can use it to change up your routine too.

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Stainless Steel vs. Plastic – Pros and Cons

If you look around today, there are many choices when it comes to reusable water bottles. Some well known brands include Camelbak, Nalgene or Dopper, here in the Netherlands. Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision with which bottle to go.

Let’s take a look at some of the bottles that are out there, and what the differences are between them. We will focus on three areas of comparison here:

  1. Material
  2. Functionality
  3. Price

Let’s start with the material, there is a lot of concern today about plastic. Is it safe to drink from? Where does it end up afterwards? How long will it really last? These are all important questions to address about plastic. But there is also an alternative, stainless steel. SIGG, Klean Kanteen and Chilly’s have been providing stainless steel bottles for some time now.

#1 Material

Stainless Steel

There is one big battle here: Stainless Steel v.s Plastic. At first sight it may seem obvious. Plastic pollutes our oceans and takes up to 700 years to deposit. Stainless Steel is the clear choice. But wait, let’s dig a little bit deeper. How is stainless steel manufactured?

Stainless steel is derived from Iron Ore, this means the ore has to be mined, shipped and processed until the precious stainless steel is derived from it. The production of stainless steel is very energy extensive. From mining the ore to having a finished product is a long process. Stainless steel is also heavier, it can be 6 times heavier than thermoplastics, meaning transporting stainless steel bottles adds to more fuel being burned. However, stainless steel is way lighter than glass on the other hand.

What type of stainless steel is there?

The quality stainless steel you are looking for is Food grade 304 or 18/8 stainless steel. The 18/8 meaning 18% chromium and 8% nickel. The biggest benefit of stainless steel is it’s ability to heal itself. Yes, you heard right. The other one is 316 stainless steel is similar to 304 stainless steel but with the addition of 2 to 3 percent molybdenum to increase resilience against chlorides, making it more suitable for meat products and foods with mild salt contents.

What does stainless steel have to offer?

It has X-men like abilities. In a process called passivation. When a chromium surface is scratched, in the presence of oxygen the surface rebuilds itself. This also prevents chemicals from leaching into your water. This is something that no other material can compete with.

Stainless steel is also 100% recyclable. Although there are very few stainless steel recycling plants. This is due to the fact the stainless steel is used for too long that usually it does not end up in the trash for a very long time. If it does, nothing to worry about.

How sustainable is it really?

As mentioned earlier, the manufacturing of stainless steel is much more energy extensive than stainless steel. However, if you use a stainless steel bottle about 500 times, it beats plastic in terms of energy consumption.

Plastic

Plastic is a great option if you want a durable and relatively durable water bottle. It is not a secret that plastic is causing many problems in our environment. About 14 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, 40% of which is single-use plastic. We are producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year and 150 million tons (half) of it is single-use plastic. 100.7 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in the U.S. in 2014, or 315 bottles per person.

What is actually recyclable?

Many people think that plastic is recycled but, according to the EPA, about 30% of recyclable plastic bottles and jars were actually recycled in 2015.

Tritan [TM] bottles for example, have the recycling code 7. This means that it’s a non-recyclable plastic. This means that although you might stop using single-use plastics, where does your reusable plastic bottle end up after it breaks or you replace it? Yes, that is correct.

BPA, BPF and BPS

Another factor to keep in mind is that plastic bottles do not repair themselves and when they are scratched or cracked, they leach out chemicals into your water. Even though most reusable bottles do not contain BPA anymore, some studies found that replacement chemicals could be just as dangerous as BPA. However, too little research has been done on this. BPA, an abreviation for Bispenol A is a chemical used to manufacture plastics. BPA is an endocrine disruptor. It can imitate the hormones such as estrogen and can interfere with the production, secretion, transport, action, function, and elimination of natural hormones.

Bisphenol S (BPS) and Bisphenol F (BPF) are now replacing BPA. Unfortunately studies have shown that BPS and BPF are related to obesity and weight gain. The results were published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society in 2019 [0].

#2 Functionality

When it comes to functionality, plastics can be molded into many different forms and are easier to work with than stainless steel. In that sense, you might find that plastic bottles are more functional than stainless steel bottles.

Even though some plastics such as Tritan are very durable, the average lifespan of a stainless steel bottle is 12 years. Stainless steel also has great insulating properties, keeping your water hot or cold for much longer than plastic.

What about cleaning? Stainless steel bottles are also completely dishwasher safe. Plastics may loose their shape over time and may leach more chemicals when heated to high temperatures.

#3 Price

Here is where a lot of people step back a little bit when they face the choice between plastic and stainless steel.

Some plastic bottles are sold for less than 5 Euros whereas the cheapest stainless steel bottles usually start at about 10 Euros. Clearly stainless steel bottles are more expensive. However, if you keep it for 12 years, an investment of double the amount is definitely worth it given all the health benefits and environmental benefits it offers.

So what would be your choice of bottles: stainless steel or plastic? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below, we would love to get to know what would be your end choice in terms of materials.

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My Journey from Germany to Kenya

Part 1

When I was 11 years old, an event was about to happen that changed the course of my life forever. The day was just another dull day in Germany. Sitting in the school bus on the way home I had already forgotten every single word that the teacher’s had spoken to me. I sucked at math and would again fail my next test making me hate life even more. Little did I know what I would be told by my parents in less than 20 minutes.

I walked into my house, my mum was home asking me: “How was school today”? The standard, kind of robotic and thoughtless response came out of my mouth, “Good”, while I was praying that she wouldn’t ask about my math homework. Suprise! She did not and said: We have thought about leaving Germany and moving to Kenya for two years for work. I knew she was serious. Kenya?, I thought, what is that? A country in Africa?

Later that day, my parents sat me down on the couch and started showing me all kinds of flyers and pictures of the hotel resort where we would be staying at. While they were pretty worried that I would not like it and would feel like I am leaving my home, my friends and my comfortable environment. I was sitting there and thinking:” Alright, please… I don’t want to wake up right now. Just let me dream for a little longer. To me it felt like we were going on holiday. My father said, “You will be going to an English speaking school”, with a serious tone. I was thinking to myself, I would learn Chinese to be going to school in a place like this.

In 2007 on Christmas eve, the 24th December, we left for Kenya. Arriving at the hotel resort was really strange. I was wearing shorts and T-shirt while it was 30 degrees Celsius outside. In the hotel lobby when we entered, soft Christmas music was coming from the speakers. A plastic Christmas tree with fake snow and lots of presents around it stood in the corner of the lobby. The next months were like paradise for a 12 year old, animators, swimming pools, buffet with unlimited pancakes and pizzas. Other kids to play with all the time. Music shows and performances. I was even allowed into the casino once and mad some big money at the slot machine (about 10 Euros).

It gets better…

After living in the hotel for a while, we were moved to the private residence of the owners of the hotel. We were to live in the guest house on the same plot. At that time I did not know how an owner of more than 10 hotels, one of the first Europeans do start in the tourism business in East Africa and Switzerland’s 4th richest man lived.

After a 10 minute drive from the hotel through pitch black dirt road with potholes as big as Africa itself, we arrive at the gate. As a kid I think, right behind this gate must be the house. No, the security guard opened that gate, did a small security check, and we drove on. But, there was no house. We get to yet another dirt road, without all the potholes though, and for another 200 meters we are in deep jungle area. It felt like the insects and animals were playing a welcome orchestra for us.

Suddenly, we stop. And I was freaking out a little, thinking Mufasa will come and attack us any second from the left or right. No, it was another gate. The driver said, do not step outside the car. There is a dog called Chilli guarding this property at night. Chilli turned out to be way worse than any Mufasa could ever be.

So we had now passed the double security check, drive on the property, and the next thing I hear is a loud ‘eeeeeeeeeeeeeooooooooooooooooooooooo’. There were 8 donkeys living there too. We keep driving down a little hill, when on the left I see something running in the bush, really fast. It was not Chilli, it was a full grown Ostrich. The feet the size of my whole body. Maybe the driver misunderstood and thought we were going to a zoo?

Later on I found out that the hotel tycoon who owned this property would drive with his lion on shotgun through the streets of Mombasa when he was younger. Then the Ostriches did not even seem so impressive anymore.

At this exact plot, we would stay in the guest house. We lived with 8 donkeys, 2 Ostriches, 15 normal dogs to guard the property at night…and Chilli. To be honest, Chilli would have been enough to guard to whole of Kenya! She was the devil put in a dogs body. Chilli was a Rodveiler, pitch black and big. My father had the honor to release her at night from her cage because her cage was right next to the guest house. But there was a whole procedure to that. If you would go to her cage it was very clear if you would simply open the door, you would be no more. Did I mention that she had killed one of the security guards before?

The procedure started like this: He had to go to her cage, with some special dog treats and make peace with her for about 5 minutes until she would even start to consider not to kill him. He would throw her food and when she was preoccupied eating, he would silently open her cage door, trying not to make the squeaking noise. If he moved too fast she would be hanging of the cage trying to consume his soul.

When the gate was open there was about a 20 meter walk to the backdoor of the house. It was like a horror movie every night watching that scene of my father walking those 20 meters.

This was my beginning in Kenya, and until today I still feel home there but after 2009, there were a lot of changes that happend in the country. The elections came and there was violence and unrest in parts of the country which would lead to a collapse of the economy and the hotel tycoon going bankrupt, my parents splitting up and me staying in Kenya with my mum until 2014.

What exactly happened ? I will write another part about my journey next week. Stay tuned.

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7 Great Alternatives to Whey Protein

The global plant-based protein market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.1% from 2019 to reach $14.32 billion by 2025. [1] The demand for alternative protein sources is increasing all over the world. Companies are now responding, putting all kinds of plant based products on the market. Maybe you have heard about hemp protein or pea protein? Or are using an alternative to dairy sourced whey protein already?

Let’s dive into some alternatives to whey protein and take into consideration what expert have to say about them.

#1 Hemp Protein

Cannabis seeds are turned into protein powder. This is known as hemp protein. The non-potent part of cannabis is almost a wonder material. Hemp can be used for dozens of different things, clothes and even houses.

It’ s a great source of fiber, iron, zinc and alphalinolenic acid, the Omega-3 fatty acid found in plants.

Some research suggests that hemp protein can lower your blood pressure. One serving (20grams) contain about 6.3 grams of protein, 111 calories and also 9.75 grams of fat. Hemp protein is also a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids that we need from food. It is relatively low in lysine which is an important amino acid vital for the immune system and collagen production in the body.[2]

Hemp protein is also very easy to digest, research proves that it’s digestibility lies between 91-98%. This is because hemp contains the proteins edestin and albumin which are easily broken down. [3]

#2 Pea Protein

This high-quality protein also has all the 9 essenial amino acids. Although it is a little low in methione , it delivers great nutritional value. Just because it is low in one essetial amino acid does not mean that you will starve your body. You can easily get all essential amino acids from other sources. [3]

Pea protein is also an easy to digest protein. It has non of the allergens. It is lower in phytic acid, an anti-nutrient found in many other legumes. Phytic acid inhibits absorption of nutrients such as zinc iron and magnesium. If consumed with Vitamin C, these negative effects are reduced. [4]

Nutritional facts can vary but pea protein powder has about 80 calories per 20g serving, a high protein content of 15grams and a low fat content of only 1.5 grams.

#3 Brown Rice Protein

Brown rice is part of the whole grain family, unlike white rice, brown rice is not polished, it contains all parts of the grain, fiber (outer bran layer), the core and the middle layer made up of starch named germ. The protein is extracted by treating the rice with specific enzymes.

Just like pea protein, brown rice protein is a hypoallergenic, containing non of the allergens. Just like any other plant protein, it is easier to digest and not as tough on your gut compared to whey protein. Whereas pea protein has a rather strong taste, brown rice protein is also more neutral in it’s flavour, making it easier to work with. [5]

Brown rice may improve liver function with the peptides it contains. Per 30 gram serving, brown rice protein powder has about 110 calories, 0% fat, 2g of fiber, 24g of protein. It is nearly a complete protein, with a little low lysine content. [6]

#4 Soy Protein


Soy has been very torn by many experts and nutritionists. Some see it as a healthy option, others see it as an enemy to a healthy lifestyle. Soy protein powder does contian phytates whicch decrease mineral absorption. Unlike most plant proteins, soy is a complete protein with all essential amino acids.

Soy protein is not the most efficient source of protein when it comes to muscle synthesis [7].Other advantages of soy protein is the effect it has on cholesterol. Multiple studies have proven that soy protein reduces LDL cholesterol [8]. However, most studies regarding the effects of soy focus on soy foods rather than soy protein powder. Therefore, they should not be taken into consideration here.

#5 Collagen Protein

To clarify, collagen protein is not a plant protein. Nevertheless, it is a very potent type of protein with many benefits. It is a structural protein, important for healthy skin, bones, joints and connective tissue. Your body produces collagen naturally but that already slows down in your 20s [9]. There are 28 different types of collagen but type 1,2 and 3 form the majority.

One huge benefit fitness enthusiasts get form the consumption of collagen protein is the strengtening of your joints. Hydrolyzed collagen reduced joint pain and made joints more flexible. [10]

One huge plus for collagen protein is the effect that it has on the delivery of amino acids throughout your body. Because it is hydrolyzed, collagen is broken down into very fine powder, making it easier to digest and absorb. [11]

#6 Sacha Inchi Protein

A type of protein that is derived from a vine called the Schaa Inchi. It grows in the Peruvian Amazon. The star shaped fruits that it carries have a little hidden treasure inside them, also known as the Inca peanut. It has been used for traditionally for thousands of years. The seeds are dried and crushed and bear a powder rich in protein.

Like soy protein, Sachaa Inchi is a complete protein. The vegan protein powder is also easily digestible has high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acid. In addition, it contains high amounts of vitamin A and e, calcium, zinc, potassium and fiber. [12]

#7 Chia Protein

Chia! Usually sprinkled on top of breakfast bowls to make them Instagram worthy. Yes, these little seeds can be found as a protein powder too. With a lower protein content of about 5g per 30g, serving, they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus and zinc. [13]

They have 140 calories per 30 gram serving to offer, 11 grams of fiber. They are also a complete protein. They are one of the richest plant foods in omega-3 fatty acids. Their high fiber content on the other hand, proves valuable for improving digestion. [14]


Which one of the whey alternative sounds most promising to you? Let us know about your experience per email or just leave a comment below.

Are you looking for a better way to have your protein after your workout? Take a look at the Fusion Kinetic bottle.

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Animal Protein v.s Plant Protein

One of the hottest debates at the moment is about protein. Which one is ultimately better for us? It is understandable that with our current meat production and mass animal slaughter, a number of people have become vegan or vegetarian. I did too for a while, but now I eat meat again. Let’s take a closer look at some pros and cons of both, plant and animal protein, and see if we can reach a conclusion.

The difference between plant and animal protein

First of all, what is a protein? A protein is a chain of amino acids that our body needs for dozens of function such as repair and growth. In total there are 20 amino acids, essential and non-essential amino acids. 11 non-essential that can be produced by our body, 9 can not be produced by our bodies and those are the ones we get from food or supplements.

If a protein contains all 9 essential amino acids, it is named a complete protein. If it is missing one of the 9 essential amino acids it is called an incomplete protein.

Here we start to see some differences between the animal and plant proteins. All animal proteins are complete proteins. They contain all the 9 essential amino acids. Animal proteins being all types of meat as well as animal produce such as eggs and dairy. Plant proteins, including beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds are almost always incomplete proteins. Except soy products and quinoa.

While you can get all essential amino acids from animal protein, you can also get them all from plants by combining them. Grains are low in lysine while beans are low in methionine. This means, if you are eating only plants, you can easily get all your amino acids by combining different plants to balance each other out and make sure you get the full amino acid package.

Methionine on the other hand is also found plenty in meat. The overconsumption of methionin causes inflammation and aging when eaten in excess. When you eat a diet high in animal protein, you can expect a 75% increased risk of dying from all causes over 18 years, 400% increased risk dying of cancer, 500% increased risk of diabetes. [1]

The rate of body protein synthesis appears to be lower when plant-based proteins are consumed versus animal-based proteins

Whitney Linsenmeyer- Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

According to Linsenmeyer, animal protein might be aiding better with muscle repair and growth compared to plant protein. Animal protein also have a high amount of leucine, an amino acid essential for muscle protein synthesis.

What else do animal proteins offer? They offer the biggest natural sources of vitamin D, which is found plenty in fish and eggs. In addition. vitamin B12 is found only in animal proteins.

What do plants offer? They got fibre. Plants are a great source of fibre which you need for healthy digestion. Also, plants have some carbs to offer you. Most animal protein is almost carb free.

Animal proteins on the other hand contain saturated fats, the fat that can raise your bad LDL cholesterol and later cause problems, such as clogged arteries.

It also heavily depends on how you eat your meat, processed meat, fried meat and charred meat may give you animal proteins but also raise your chance of inflammation and cancer.

Sadly, there is a tendency to consume meat in a way that is causing more problems than good.

If you are getting your protein from animals, make sure you do not fry, grill or burn the meat. Processed meats should also be avoided as they contain many other additives that have been linked to cancer and other disease. Especially the consumption of red meat has been linked to disease. Read more about our post on Red Meat. If you consume your animal protein from gently cooked grass fed animals or wild caught fish.

When you get your proteins from plants, you do not face these problems too much. That is why it is easier to eat plant protein without worrying about all the different types of side effects related to how meat is prepared. When you read the China study, you will see what I mean.

Whereas plant proteins might be offering a healthier choice of protein intake, there are other factors to consider when eating plants.

What to keep in mind when consuming plant protein

Vegetable oils reduce thyroid function by preventing thyroid hormones from binding to receptors [2]. When you eat only plants, your thyroid hormones will start to increase at first to compensate, but that does not last forever. Eventually, it slows down your brain and your energy levels drop. When you are eating whole grains, watch out for gluten as it reduces blood flow to the brain, interferes with thyroid function and depletes vitamin D stores.

The other problem with grains, which is glyphosate. Crops are sprayed with glyhosate to kill weeds but it does more than just that. Glyphosate caused tumor growth and cancer according to the WHO. It is also highly toxic to mitochondria, as well as damaging proteins needed for kidney health. [3] [4] [5]

Cutting out animal proteins from your diet will not be sustainable in the long run, make sure you get enough but not too much protein as that is where the problems start. Try to avoid grains as a protein source as enough evidence suggest that gluten and glyphosate are causing multiple health problems.

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8 Reasons to add Brussels Sprouts to your meals forever

These weird looking little cabbages are an absolute winner when it comes to healthy meals. They are full of goodness and they taste absolutely delicious, especially when roasted with with some pancetta and olive oil, topped with some parmesan. Mine and my girlfriend’s absolute favorite.

Image result for brussel sprouts with pancetta
Recipe

Brussels Sprouts were first cultivated in ancient Rome, but now take the name of the Belgian city Brussels. There, they have been grown since the 13th century and became very popular in the South of the Netherlands in the 16th century.

Why should you have them on your plate? Probably they are the reason for Dutch prosperity. No, not really, but they are filled with numerous vitamins and minerals and their health benefits are almost godly. They are high in potassium, folate, vitamin C, calcium, fiber, and iron.

#1 They are full of antioxidants

There is hardly any vegetable that beats Brussels sprouts in this category. A study carried out in the Netherlands in 1995 found evidence that the consumption of Brussels sprouts reduced cell damage by 28%. In other words, Brussels sprouts slow the oxidation of your DNA. This means you age slower. Have you started cooking yet?

#2 They are full of diabetes fighting alpha-lipoic acid

Alpha lipoic-acid lowers your blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity. That’s not all, it also helps break down carbohydrates to make energy organs in the body. This makes Brussels sprouts a perfect food for diabetics or pre-diabetics who want to reverse their condition.

#3 They are overflowing with Vitamin C

You can forget lemons, one cup of Brussels sprouts is packed with more that 150 % of the daily recommended vitamin C intake, one of the most important vitamins the body needs for iron absorption, a strong immune system and the production of collagen.

Image result for nutritional table of brussel sprouts
Source

#4 They are full of inflammatory reducing compounds

Inflammation is what probably causes most disease. By reducing inflammation in your body, you are on a good path to staying healthy for a long time.

#5 They contain Omega-3 fatty acids

Most people associate Omega-3 with meat and fish. Fish especially is full of omega-3 fatty acids. Vegetables are too, though you will have to eat them in a higher dosage for a significant effect. Omega-3 fatty acids are supporting healthy cognitive function and help reduce your LDL cholesterol and increase your HDL cholesterol.

#6 They may prevent cancer

Brussels sprouts contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which your body uses to make isothiocyanates. This activates a cancer-fighting enzyme system in your body.

The Journal of Carcinogenesis

#7 They are also a good source of plant protein

If you are worried that you are getting no protein when eating plants, this does not apply to Brussels sprouts. About 25 % of their nutritional value comes from protein, adding up to approximately 4 grams of protein per cup.

#8 They are high in fiber

A key ingredient in a healthy diet is fiber. As we talked about in previous posts, your gut health is key for holistic health. Fiber aids your digestion and takes pressure of your gut. When your gut is happy you are happy. Another benefit of fiber is that it makes you feel full longer, which in turn keeps you from snacking throughout the day.

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Is Impossible Foods™ is making it possible?

The fourth fastest growing brand in the United States is not in the Silicon Valley, even though you might think it is. It is Impossible Foods™, a product that is changing the way we eat, even fast-food chain Burger King has had a trial with the Impossible Whopper in more than 7000 locations in the US. Will the public accept the new alternative?

The impossible burger made from plants is a new trend that has been seeing rapid growth in 2019. Soy and potato proteins are used to give the product its nutritional value. Its flavour comes from the heme molecule, which is the same molecule that is containing iron in meat, responsible for making meat taste so good for us humans. It is also the molecule that holds on to oxygen in your blood and carries it around your body. The heme is won through soy leghemoglobin, the iron-containing molecule made with a genetically engineered yeast.

Impossible Burger plant based meat.

Impossible Foods™ has applied for the right to sell their meatless meat in the European Union last year in October.

“Our intention is to sell plant-based meat in every single region of the world.”

Rachel Konrad, Spokeswoman at Impossible Foods ™

We need to keep in mind that even though it sounds like a complete breakthrough, Impossible Foods™ is selling a genetically modified product, a.k.a. GMO. GMO’s have been criticized a lot and multiple studies claim that GMO’s cause cancer and people independently reported toxic effects caused by them.

But is this something new? Since the 1990’s, GMO’s have been sitting in the shelf of supermarkets. More than 60 % of all processed foods on U.S. supermarket shelves—including pizza, chips, cookies, ice cream, salad dressing, corn syrup and baking powder—contain ingredients from engineered soybeans, corn, or canola. It’s everywhere.

A biochemist from the Michigan State University, Dean DellaPenna, believes that GMO’s are the saviour for the next generation. He envisions tomatoes and broccoli with cancer-fighting chemicals and vitamin-enhanced crops of rice, sweet potatoes, and cassava to help nourish the poor. So peanuts and wheat without allergens and food containing vaccines. Something that sounds like heaven for some, sounds quite scary for others.

Even though many studies claim that GMO’s are completely safe for consumption, there are still a lot of critics that swear that genetically modified food has not been studied for long enough to fully understand the long term effects on our biology.

Saving animals from a life in mass held shelters for the sake of human consumption is a clear positive aspect of GMO’s, but what about the crops that can be sprayed with pesticides much stronger due to their modified DNA leaving all other ‘normal’ species vulnerable to its effects?

If Impossible Foods ™ wants to expand to Europe, they are better off using a non-GMO alternative as the EU does not really favor genetically modified food products. Whether GMO’s will be proven safe in the future or not, it is the big corporations that control the research and most of the studies published about the effects are funded by companies like Monsanto.

GMO foods may be more resistant to pesticides and disease but what about the environment around it? Will we start genetically engineering everything to keep it alive or is there another alternative?

Is Impossible meat really the future or just another hype? I have not tried it yet but if it is available in Europe I will. For now I prefer to have organic meat, vegetables from the farmers market and a great cup of coffee. But who knows how long this will be possible.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Let me know in the comments or e-mail me: fusionamsterdam@gmail.com

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