Hopped up on Cough Medicine

I’ve had this little small annoying problem with my throat recently where swallowing pills is harder than it really should be. I figured it was probably just a cold so I let it go for 5-6 weeks but then I decided “hmmm, maybe I should see someone”.

Well I took the first step and setup a meeting and immediately was hit by a whopper of a cold. Bloody jesus I wouldn’t wish this on my own enemies. Sore throat, ear ache, hot and cold spells, soreness and tiredness throughout my body.

The only silver lining is cough drops and syrup are my friends. And I’ve been hanging out with my friends … well … a lot.

Glucose and Sleep

I’ve was surprised and then excited to understand how important my glucose levels relate to cognitive focus and overall energy level. Low glucose is an important way to lower cardiovascular, cancer, and dimentia risk but these lofty long term aspirations don’t help one build a pattern of measuring and changing behaviour. To change behaviour it’s the short term feedback loops like “how do I feel right now”, “how productive am I being”, even “am I loosing weight” and “how is my athletic performance effecting my sense of wellbeing?”. All of these short term questions are related to your glucose levels too and provide a basis for establishing the motivation needed for change. Better yet, it’s a variable that you can have an immediate and long lasting impact on without too much effort.

For me the control of glucose levels has come through diet and to a lessor degree exercise. Over the past three years I have learned to manage this marker to an optimal level and whenever I slip up a little I can see the impact immediately in both my glucometer and in how I feel. Recently, however, I have hit a patch of “volatility” which I’m not used to and am wondering if I should try to look at sleep as a variable in this game too.

To me food, exercise, and sleep are the holy trinity when it comes to bio-hacking. Why not look at sleep? For me the reason for delaying comes down to a few factors:

  • I get to bed easily, I can sleep without interruption, sleep duration is simply a function of how much time I can afford to sleep … aka, why fix something that isn’t broken?
  • My success in diet and exercise felt like I was comfortably achieving my optimisation goals
  • I always theorised (i.e., guessed) that this was the least influential of the three major variables

That said, I’ve always been intellectually interested in knowing more about sleep. How much do I need? How important is regularity in duration and to-bed timing? Intellectual interest alone, however, has it’s limits in terms of prioritisation and effectiveness.

So will my new found motivation to track sleep result in bahaviour change?  We’ll see but I’ve done two things to improve my chances:

  • Google research has convinced me that — medically speaking — there is a clear association between glucose and sleep:
    • the body’s reaction to sleep loss can resemble insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Insulin’s job is to help the body use glucose for energy. In insulin resistance, cells fail to use the hormone efficiently, resulting in high blood sugar.

    • Short or long sleep durations were associated with higher A1C levels, regardless of physical activity, diet, obesity, or depressive symptoms. – See more at: link

  • I have bought a better sleep sensor to track my sleep

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The Beddit sensor attaches to your bed and it uses movement, heart-rate and your phone’s microphone to track your sleep characteristics. So far I’m happy with the device as it “just works” without needing to press buttons, strap on equipment, etc. The data it produces is interesting and demonstrates yet again how your “gut feel” and “actuals” tend to vary quite a bit. In my limited testing so far, one aspect of my sleep that has been validated is that I am extremely irregular in when I go to bed and how much sleep I get.

So does it impact my glucose level? Stay tuned and you’ll find out.

Un-Supplemented

I go through phases with regard to how many (if any) supplements I use. My one all-rounder — that I can’t say enough positive things about — is Magnesium. I know effects vary by individual considerably but for me it has an immediate and very obvious effect on my sleep quality and stress response.

But anyway, I digress, I was not meaning to yet again sing the praises of my lovely Magnesium supplements but instead mention that I got back a blood test last week which had some not-so-good news in it. I am very low in Vitamin D and B-12 which in turn has led to me having very low red-blood cell count. Damn! I’m used to my blood tests being a subject for bragging rights not a list of action items.

Well in this case though I think the test will actually turn out to be very helpful and I’m super glad I got it done. For the past 6 months my energy levels haven’t been what they typically were and no I don’t think it’s because I’m getting old (I hate how quickly most people assume that this “out of my control” reasoning/excuse is the culprit).  What surprised me the most was that after buying some B-12 and D supplements is how quickly I started to see improvements. Might it be the placebo effect? Possibly and I guess who cares but I’m starting to doubt it as the improvements are quantifiable in both my running and lifting; beyond that I also have a conscious, albeit subjective, feeling of good health that’s been missing for some time.

Undue Absence

Been bad at posting regularly so this will be a short one to get back in the flow … sick as a dog at the moment so using it as an excuse to watch more movies than normal (normally I do not watch movies). So far I’ve seen Divergent (Insurgent is next), and the first three Hunger Games movies. Liked them all. Hate this cold.

Over and out.  

The Flu

My ass has been kicked by the flu and I’m left with two thoughts

  1. Wow. How much does this suck? 
  2. When was the last time this happened to me?

The second question comes from my observation that I don’t remember flu’s being “all that much”. Sure swine flu was tough but it was so hyped that you expected it to be. I can’t remember, actually, any other flu that I’ve gotten. Is that unusual? Well my google search came back with this stat:

People over 30 will get the flu twice every decade

Ok so I guess this is my second time this decade (the famous swine flu being the first). Maybe that means — statistically speaking — that I’m done for a few more years but I still am debating about my history with flu because besides these last two bouts I am not sure I’ve ever had flu before. That’s probably not the case but considering the inconvenience and general suffereing involved you’d think I would remember. 

I guess this is just one more reminder to myself that having some way to easily chronical events such as this so that late I can look back on my personal history and answer more definitively what my history truely is is valuable. Valuable to me anyway. 

Ok all this typing is hurting. Going to go lie down again.

Understanding Heart Risk

I’ve paid attention to my lipid markers (aka, cholesterol) for a long time as I’ve often peaked too high but I’ve always been able to make small lifestyle changes to bring it back down to good enough on LDL (aka, “bad cholesterol”) and I have my Triglycerides down to healthy levels for a year or two. It’s with this background that I’ve watched in amazement at the dramatic changes in what these markers are meant to mean and what is considered good. Admittedly I don’t think everyone’s on board with the new thinking but it does feel like a very strong case that we’ve been misreading the numbers for years. At the very least I think everyone should be aware that there are some VERY alternative interpretations of Lipid levels.

Here’s my quick summary of the current thinking:

  1. Triglycerides are bad (no change from before); the good news is they are very sensitive to diet (no need to throw Statins at them)
  2. HDL is good … the only change is that there’s effectively no “ceiling” to how high you can or should go (within reason)
  3. LDL is largely good! Huh? Turns out the “bad cholesterol” got a bad rap but now has a better PR agent. In a large majority of cases LDL is good, the exception is high density LDL particles. These are not called out separately in most reports but typically if you have low triglycerides then you likely don’t have any of these bad guys lurking around.
  4. Total Cholesterol is completely worthless. It just means nothing. Pretend you never saw it

There’s lots more to be aware; this is a quick summary only. Two books I found useful recently are:

Grain BrainCholesterol Clarity