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The-Bright-Sun-Blue-Sky-Clouds (Copy)I am one lucky mother…I love the sun, and I live in Southern California. But like many people, believe it or not, I sometimes neglect my sun needs. Nothing is crazier, I know, when so many regions are sun-deprived for much of the year. It’s the equivalent of “starving children…” in the guilt-trip-you-for-not-doing-something-you’re-supposed-to-category. But, believe me, we pay the price for our negligence.

I had been feeling not so great recently, and frankly I was perplexed. I had been working out regularly; in fact, it was first time in long time I have been completely injury-free. Shoulders felt good. Low back good…I was eating well. Lots of vegetables; good portions. Juicing. Quit coffee, so sleeping much better than…ugh months. On purpose professionally and within my dharma…but somehow, I was not feeling “myself”. I was starting to wonder if this aging thing really has something to it. I have never been an ageist. I just believe that you can be in the best shape of your life at any age. I really do. But I was tired, a little blue, and skin as white as some new veneers. I said to myself, “This year, I am going to channel Apollo.” I will commit to daily sun for the entire summer—beach, canyons, festivals, everything, bikes, stilts, pogo sticks, you name it. No more Mr. Pasty guy. Not this year.

Before

So I started last week at the local swimming pool with my kids. I actually wore sunscreen, cos my white-a** skin was extremely vulnerable. I felt immediately different. That night I had that good ol’ familiar sun-glow; you know the one, that buzz around your entire sun-exposed body. And I had a sort of refreshing tiredness, if you know what I mean. Then Sunday, Fathers Day, I took my girls to the beach. It was overcast, but hot and humid. I used sunscreen again. We sat in the sun for about two hours, which was perfect. While I got a teeny bit red (I’m not worried about it) that night, I felt really good—that, “I just did something real nice for my body,” good.

Then this week, I hit the hiking trail — evening hikes, diminishing sun, cooler temps — and really got my coconut stick legs some exposure. In exactly one week that saw me in the sun five of seven days, I already notice the difference. My energy levels have been boosted significantly, so both for physical exertion, and for mental work that comprises the bulk of what I do. Both are different in need and stamina; in other words, just because you have energy to go to the gym, doesn’t mean you have it to sit down and do your taxes for five hours, and vice versa, of course. My sleep has been deep and satisfying, which has me the most grateful because that area has been real wacky for some time. My mood is uplifted, light and enthusiastic, and I look ten years younger (no seriously…stop).

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And none of this is surprising to me. Like everybody, I sometimes forget how vital sufficient sun exposure is to health and well being, and thus how vital to the way I feel. It’s so easy to forget, especially since I take 5000 IU vitamin D every day. Supplementing is not the same as the real thing. Supplementing is only to fill in the gaps—the bulk of any nutrient must come from its source (write that down). Vitamin D, as we have seen over the last decade and more, is involved in so many processes that it truly is the wonder vitamin. Being sufficient in vitamin D is as empowering as being deficient is debilitating. From increased cancer risk, to immune dysfunction, to increased blood pressure, a lack of sufficient quantities of vitamin D3 in your blood leaves you susceptible to disease, while optimal levels can make you feel and operate at you highest.

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Duh to me…but I am happy to remember the basics when I stop feeling quite right (we all oscillate through high and low health constantly, within our own unique yet variable physiological range). That’s all it takes. Nobody has to feel the need for perfection—it’s up-and-down over and over again—just remain mindful. I challenge any fellow well-meaning hermits to get in the sun daily this summer, even if just for a walk on your lunch break. Eat lunch outside, do your paperwork in the park, drop beats in the heat—whatever you have to do to get your sun in this year. Me…I’ll be at the beach.


Holy Hormones Honey! Interview with @DrNickCampos - Applying Universal Principles to WellnessI spent last Wednesday evening being interviewed by the fascinating Leslie Carol Botha for her radio show, Holy Hormones Honey! The Greatest Story Never Told. The show’s topic was Applying Universal Principles to Health and Wellness (listen to archived show here). While I have written previously on The Four Dietary Principles, I thought I would touch on some more universal principles as they pertain to physical health and wellness here. As a quick review, the four dietary universals are:

  • Food as an energy source
  • Food as a vital nutrient source
  • Food as a source of hydration
  • Food as a source of body composition

Remember that universal health principles are true for everybody no matter what age, gender, creed or color, while health nuances may be true for some people, or more exaggerated than true, as many cases tend to be. Take for instance the above universals—these dietary needs are true for everyone and all living things, no exceptions. Some associated nuances, however, might relate to a way of eating, like vegetarianism, or Paleo, or raw food diets, and so forth. While some people thrive on each of these diets, none is correct for all people.

So what are some other universal health principles? In no particular order:

  •  hydrationHydration — all living things need water; life cannot exist with out the good ol’ H2O. The universal solvent is a must and so getting sufficient amounts (two liters per day minimum) is imperative.
  • Movement — we live in a dimension of movement; movement is the hallmark of the physical universe. If you are not moving, you are stagnating, collecting cobwebs, degenerating, and your time in this plane will neither be long nor pleasant. Get moving regularly—stretching, contracting, and aerobically—and more than half of your physical problems will be solved.
  • Touch — all living things need to exchange energy with other living things; touch is the most effective form of this energy exchange (as well as a source of comfort and security). What would happen to a plant, a pet or a child if it were rarely or never touched? We know that children deprived of touch have different levels of circulating hormones, which has major affects on brain development.
  • Rhythm — this pertains mostly to cycles, although it can also refer to the universal sound (also cycles or oscillations) within space, the oceans, and of course, music. The universe has a multitude of cycles including the orbiting of planets, solar systems and galaxies. Our seasons are cyclical (sun), as are our months (moon) and days (earth). Being mindful of the changes that occur in accordance with these cycles is paramount, and operating within these cycles — sleeping more during winter months, planting seeds (goals) during spring, and so forth — will lead to the greatest growth, fulfillment and wellness.Touch is love
  • Rest — one such rhythmic cycle is the sleep/wake cycle. Getting sufficient rest is of utmost importance, and while everyone is different, we all need both REM and non-REM deep sleep. There was a movement some years back on conscious sleep deprivation, and I must say I have heard of nothing stupider. Many regenerative and storage/sorting processes occur during sleep. Consistent lack of sleep is one of the most damaging acts one can carry out. It is bad enough when one has trouble sleeping, but to deprive oneself when one actually can sleep is pure foolishness.
  • Moderation — which can also be thought of as balance. This is the true essence of a harmonious cycle—fluctuating calmly between two poles, around the center, avoiding the extremes. Extremes are body, mind and soul disrupting, while smooth and small fluctuations are more rhythmically enhancing and growth inducing. We can apply this principle to diet, movement, touch, sex, mind-altering substances, medications, herbs, teas, tinctures, caffeine and other foreign or toxic substances. And most crucially, balance is necessary with regard to the mind.
  • Balanced mindBalanced Mind — The Buddha said, “Whatever an enemy might do to an enemy, or a foe to a foe, the ill-directed mind can do to you even worse.” A chaotic mind is the foundation for all other “problems” and human suffering. We cannot control the circumstances of life but only our perception of those circumstances. A balanced mind is adept at being still. In stillness lies awakened perspective, insight and wholeness. All other aspects of wellness are enhanced by this most powerful of universal principles.

I am certain that these universal principles will get you farther than any particular diet, extreme fitness regimen, supplements, special pH water, or any other nuance you’ve been sold as the answer. Take it from me — I’ve studied health and wellness for going on three decades; I’ve met many of the masters. These universal principles are the common themes of all great teachings as they apply to wellness; they also happen to be common themes present throughout the entire universe in various forms. Apply these principles and forget about the fads. If you find a nuance that works for you, it is because it fits in a greater universal scheme as applied to your unique individuality; but in the end it is the universal aspect that nuance falls within that is bringing the most benefit. Think about it, and I believe you will see the truth behind this statement.

Juicing for Health

Juicing for Health

Last year I wrote a couple pieces on nutrition in which I discussed the details around food sensitivities (and here). I have also explained the dietary universals—the aspects of nutrition applicable to all people; not just the nuances so often discussed by proponents of one dietary system over another. And while I do not discount the validity of many of these systems (vegan, raw food, Paleo and so forth), no one system is right for every person. So when I discuss universals, I mean, what you need to survive and thrive as a human being—nutritionally, hydrationally and environmentally (internal).

In this post I am going to discuss a powerful health practice from the context of maintaining and maximizing one of these universals—nutrition. The practice is juicing, and the benefit, in a nutshell, is receiving the maximal amount of nutrients in smallest quantity of food. I will tell you my personal experience with juicing—both as a youth and an adult—what I think is happening physiologically when we consume a high-nutrient food source, and why I think juicing as a practice is such a powerhouse for maintaining and optimizing nutritional health.

Child and Teen Nutrition

Child and Teen Nutrition

I have been juicing, in a sense, since I was a preteen. My mom did the juicing, but I was the recipient of the health benefits during my most formative developmental years. My mom would make many different blends, but carrot juice was always a staple. My teen years had the typical moments of poor food choices, and sometimes far more than I had been used to at a younger age. My mom was convinced that the juice would give me the “necessary nutrients,” and that she could feel at ease about my health, knowing full well how I was challenging it on my own accord. We ate well at home always: With my mom, it was top quality foods all the time—hearty, healthy and full of love. But I was drinking (booze), smoking (everything), and eating junk food on a regular basis, and so she just sensed that it would be the most protective health practice against the lifestyle I was leading.

As I entered adulthood, I would continue to have fresh juice occasionally, usually from a health food store (Erewhon Juice Bar, baby!), which can be expensive, and thus limited…but always when I was with my mom. She always had juicers at her place, multiple kinds at times, and it was simply a staple that she had gotten used to. However, my habit never picked up on its own until just recently.

It is no secret that I have had a number of digestive challenges over the last few years, and as a result, I have had to find the diet that works best for me. Again when I speak of diet, I am not speaking of the fad variety, but of a way of eating. I have already explained the certain food sensitivities I have, so I actually have a limited pool of foods that I can eat from comfortably. For this reason, I must have a way to get the maximal nutrients, otherwise I risk malnutrition.

Healthy Nutrition and Juicing Machines

Healthy Nutrition and Juicing Machines

Regular readers of this blog will remember that, three years ago last week, I purchased my first personal juicer—the Omega J8003 Juice Machine. I have been drinking fresh juice 4-6 times per week consistently ever since, and my experiences have been amazing! Because of the big bang of nutrients I get with each juicing, I have had to eat far less than what I’ve needed in the past, which has actually led to significant weight loss. Did I need to lose weight? No! But as a result of this habit, I have morphed into a new ‘healthy weight,’ shape and size…really impressive for a man whose age is considered the typical time of decline by conventional wisdom. But more importantly, my energy levels are at their tip-top, and here is what I think is happening:

As I discuss in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, poor nutrient intake is a very likely factor in overeating, weight gain and obesity. When the body needs nutrients it will do what it knows best: create the hunger response to ensure that more nutrients are brought in. It does not know which foods will actually be consumed, but the Innate Intelligence of the body will always work toward getting what it needs through its physiology, so the hunger response is an obvious tool it has to increase the chances of getting the necessary nutrients. I really started thinking about this concept when I had considered how many times I have eaten pizza in far larger quantities than I normally eat as a whole. I am sure many of you have had a similar experience: Three large slices of pizza consumed, yet three more could easily be put away, while that overfull, but still hungry feeling, persists. C’mon, you’ve done it, or you’ve seen someone else do it. And when it happens you think…how the heck did I just put away that entire large pizza?

Nutrition Education (explains why I could probably eat this whole thing)

Nutrition Education (explains why I could probably eat this whole thing)

I believe it is because the pizza, being high in calories—from dough to cheese to meats—yet low in nutrients (tomato sauce is not an adequate source of calories, nor are the multitudes of vegetables one can put on their pizza, although I am certain the more produce the better) that the body can go through hunger pangs despite the quantity of food consumed being large. And it doesn’t have to be pizza either—it can be any nutrient-poor meal, including some of the ones people regularly prepare at home. But of course this is all purely speculation, and as such I would need more information to solidify my suspicions about this physiological phenomenon.

Once I started juicing, however, I noticed that I needed less food overall. My hunger levels diminished, so that even the portions I consume at my regular (non-juice) meals have decreased significantly. Again, because of my diet, I have a somewhat narrower pool of food items from which to choose, those which my body responds to positively in vibrancy and smooth (functional) digestion. This parameter ends up making me a creature of habit, even more so than my natural tendencies. I am fortunate as well that I only eat when I feel hungry—no snacking or nervous/bored eating for me—which may seem like a no-brainer, but it is habit many people pick up, and consequently have a hard time shaking. So because of my habits of eating only when hungry and choosing from a small group of food items, I pretty much eat the same things every day—same breakfast and same basic lunch. And for dinner…well it’s a pint or two of fresh juice for me.

I only drink two different mixes of juice, which I alternate on successive juicing days. I make a carrot, apple, and ginger concoction, as well as something I call the Citrus Blast—orange, grapefruit and lemon. For my personal physiology—my nuanced physical body—the carrot concoction aids in my digestion, and gives me a quick burst of energy, while the Citrus Blast is a load of energy that might actually keep me up at night if I end up drinking it too late. This burst of energy is not a wiry caffeine-type of energy, but a pure, clean and unmistakable feeling within me. My body thrives on these juices.

Juicing Benefits

Juicing Benefits

I have noticed that when I am hungry at night a juice will usually satisfy it. Rarely do I require more food. Can you understand what this does for my calorie intake? It has been reduced significantly. So I get this blast of nutrients—vitamins C, A and some Bs from the citrus, while the carrot concoction provides vitamins A, C, K as well as potassium from the carrots, apples and ginger—which seems to be what my body loves, and this keeps me from having to eat larger quantities of food to provide the same amount of nutrients. As it turns out, the calories I receive from breakfast and lunch, along with those provided by the juice, is enough to power me through the night (most often spent doing mental work, which requires a higher carbohydrate load to power the brain. The carbohydrate dominant juice, then, balances the higher protein of my earlier meals).

Just think about what I get from each glass of juice:

Juicing Recipes:

Campos’ Carrot Concoction

  • 12-14 carrots (depending upon size)
  • 2 apples
  • ~ 4 oz ginger(maybe the size of a medium adult fist)

Campos’ Citrus Blast

  • 4 oranges
  • 2 grapefruits
  • 1 whole lemon
Juice Diet—more for less

Juice Diet—more for less

Look at how many fruits I would have to eat for an equivalence of nutrients. Granted, there are other benefits to eating the whole fruit, as proponents of eating whole fruits and vegetables so rightly point out—from fiber to bioflavonoids—but as far as getting optimal nutrients is concerned…well I am sure you can see where the advantage lies.

This is the power of juicing: A blast of nutrients, low calories, and a high propensity for curbing hunger make juicing a super-activity when it comes to nutritional health. Yes some in the health sciences try to refute many nutritional claims, citing lack of evidence as the rationale; and as I said in the beginning of this piece, I can only speculate because truth be told, the studies haven’t been done to answer some of these claims (although plenty of supportive evidence exists to the benefits of good nutrition in health and wellbeing). But I can assert confidently that neither is there evidence showing the harm of certain nutritional practices, and of which I am certain none will be found to implicate the practice of juicing as a detriment to anyone’s health. What this means for you, then, is that the proof is in the pudding. For a few pennies a day (in comparison to meals eaten outside of the home, including juices made at juice bars the cost of juicing at home is nominal), you can prove to yourself the power of juicing.

Juice: healthy food choices

Juice: healthy food choices

You are not bound by my nuances either—if you can handle greens, by all means, green it up. Berries, bananas, flax seed, you name it—juice whatever you’d like.  Just remember that the produce must be clean and fresh. You cannot be harmed by drinking fresh juices (unless you are diabetic). So for the cost…well, it’s a no-brainer to me: it’s so worth the try. A good juicer will run you about $200 (US). That’s a big fat “Duh!” from a middle-aged fart who has lost weight and increased his energy levels just by juicing.

Getting sufficient (if not optimal) nutrients at the most efficient calorie intake necessary for survival is a metabolic universal. Obviously the activity and lifestyle of the organism will dictate the most efficient levels. But in today’s modern world, where the ever-growing number of conveniences decreases our energy expenditures greatly, we would all benefit from packing the most nutrient-rich punch in the smallest amount of food possible…and for my money it’s fresh juices all the way. Try juicing—you’ll see soon enough.


earth2 (Copy)When I talk about health, I generally like to focus on universals–that is, what is true for everybody across the board, and not just the nuances of one diet or another. For example, drinking the juice of an açaía berry is not universal. It may be rich in antioxidants (although there is no scientific evidence to support this marketing claim), but it is not an essential food consumed by people all over the world. Having a diet rich in antioxidants, however, is a universal. Drinking water from a hole in Costa Rica is also not a universal, although maintaining sufficient hydration most certainly is. To pound the point home, there isn’t one person reading this that wouldn’t suffer the same fate were he or she to swan dive off a ten-story building. That’s because everybody is subject to the law of gravity–it’s universal, get it?

Okay so when it comes to dietary health, then, only four universals exist. The human diet must fulfill all four of the following:

  • Act as an energy source—food provides us with energy, measured in calories; energy not immediately used is stored as fat.
  • Act as a nutrient source—in the form of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for metabolism, regulation and tissue repair.
  • bigstock-close-up-view-of-bacteria-12354305 (Copy)Provide water for proper hydration—some “experts” believe that we get all the fluids we need from our food, but I am not one of them; no doubt, though, that diets high in plant-based sources get a good portion of their daily water replenishment from food.
  • Maintain a beneficial gut environment—we now know that the foods we eat directly influence our gut microbiota: the organisms that inhabit our intestines and, among other things, help the digestive process.

That’s it. A healthy diet should fulfill these four universal requirements in the most efficient way. This is a point worth elaborating: While many diets (and I’m speaking of a way of eating here, not a fad diet, per se) may fulfill all four universals, they may not do so efficiently. This is likely the case for the majority of people on the typical western diet (some whole foods, lots of processed foods), which is high in calories and low in nutrients. These people often get their necessary nutrients, but at the expense of having to eat more food to do so. They are not malnourished, but instead over-nourished. Think about it, a diet low in essential nutrients will cause the body to communicate, “More nutrients, please!” in the only way it knows how: By increasing the appetite.

malnourished (Copy)Other diets, like those based on junk food, candy, and/or near-starvation (anorexia) lead to none of the universal being fulfilled, which causes malnutrition, and eventually the breakdown of the body.

So, again, the healthiest diets fulfill the four universals most efficiently. But what’s the best diet for you?  The one that fulfills all four universals with the least amount of food.

Now to say there is one diet that can fulfill this requirement for all people would be lie…because everybody is different. My body type is such that I need lots of protein. When I eat carbohydrate-rich meals, regardless of the source, I get weak and shaky within an hour. Thus, I need protein in every meal. Because of this personal nuance, I find that concentrated sources (meat, eggs, dairy) work best for me. This is NOT a universal; it is a nuance of my dietary needs. Believe me, I know plenty of people that thrive on a predominantly plant-based diet. Physiological variability I tell you.

That’s why I say stick to the universals. If veganism gets you there, then groovy, man. If it’s raw foodism—rock out. All that matters is that the four universals are most efficiently met.

Don’t get caught up into dietary nuances. Eat the widest variety of whole, natural foods that your body likes and craves, and try to get everything you need nutritionally with the least amount of food possible. I promise that you’ll get closer to achieving optimal nutrition by following these principles. It’s the human variability that throws the monkey-wrench into most popular diets, but universal is universal, so keep that in mind every time you eat. And if your way of eating already fulfills all four dietary universals, then you’re doing just fine.

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