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The Epigenome, Qigong & The Fountain of Youth

Qigong Image - Classes held in Tempe, AZ

Qigong Image - Classes held in Tempe, AZ
Most Chinese martial arts, like the one I train and teach (I Liq Chuan) include some kind of qigong 氣功 practice.

The word qi (pronounced chee), is made up of two parts: the character for rice, and steam. The idea being the intrinsic energy that is in the breath (and food). Gong, in this case, means exercises, so qigong means something like “breathing exercises” (although movements that coordinate with the breath are also usually included).

For centuries, the old masters practiced various qigong methods to strengthen their bodies, improve their health and extend their lives.

Today, scientists are using technology to understand how these ancient practices work; the epigenome!

The epigenome is made up of chemical compounds and proteins that can attach to DNA and direct such actions as turning genes on or off, controlling the production of proteins in particular cells. That means that we’re not (entirely) victims of our DNA, doomed to whatever fate they have in store for us. Outside factors, like diet and lifestyle, can have a massive impact on how the switch gets flipped in certain genes.

Think of the genome (DNA) like a car, and the epigenome like the driver.  Both work together. You can’t change what kind of car you inherit from your parents, but you can steer the car in different directions, or whether or not it even gets started and taken out of the driveway to begin with.

So, back to qigong; a 2005 study by Li et. al. showed that regular practice can turn on genes that fight inflammation and help us stay young!

Remember that scientists are linking systemic inflammation to cardio vascular disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s, so it really does look like practicing things like meditation and qigong and tai chi, have very real, observable effects on our health and well-being.

Although the study was small (N:12), it’s a very exciting start to providing real, scientific evidence of the benefits of qigong, tai chi and other mind body interventions in human health.

There are five different major types of white blood cells. Neutriphils being the most plentiful, on average making up half to two thirds of your white blood cells, lead the assault in the body’s immune system response.

The study showed that practicing qigong can increase the lifespan of these cells, while pro-inflammatory neutraphils died earlier through increased apoptosis (basically cell death and recycling). Researchers currently suspect that when damaged cells don’t die off in a timely manner, they may play a role in the formation of cancer. So while it’s too early to tell for sure, that means that practicing qigong, tai chi, or other mind body interventions can possibly help prevent cancer from ever getting started to begin with!

Qigong is also a great tool for managing stress which is a key factor in helping to maintain a healthy weight, recovering from exercise and performing your best; which is why it’s a key factor in our coaching program here at Inner Strength Gym.

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How To Get Started With Walking Meditation [VIDEO]

Here is a quick tutorial video I put together on walking meditation for a fellow Precision Nutrition coach who was having trouble getting started with a mindfulness of the body kind of practice. If you have trouble hearing the audio, make sure you click the gear icon and select the captions!

A post shared by Ashe Higgs (@luoyegongfu) on

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Low Carb Pumpkin Pie Bites [Recipe]

Holiday waistline rescue! It’s coming up to that time of year when people are going to start thinking about what their New Year’s resolution is going to be, and lots of folks are going to think about taking up a martial arts class or joining a gym to lose some weight and get in shape. Don’t wait until January to get started! Start making those changes now!

In my house we call this time of year “pumpkin pie season”, but I’m in the process of slimming back down to my “fighting weight” so I don’t want to stuff my face with a whole bunch of sugary pie this Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I’m opting for these low carbohydrate “pumpkin pie bites”.

I based this recipe off one posted by Dani Shugart over at T-Nation for some low carb brownies, which I didn’t actually like that much. When they came out of the oven my daughter said the brownies “look like they tasted like sadness.” With a little tweaking though, the recipe works great for these little snacks!


Keep in mind, “low carb & sugar free” doesn’t mean “calorie free”! Two of these are still over 300 calories, closer to 500 if you add a dollop of whipped cream on top. After crunching the numbers for this blog post, I’m going to make sure to only eat one of these at a time myself.

The upshot is; if you factor them in to your overall food intake for the day, they’re pretty nutritious. Lot’s of good protein, fats, fiber and micronutrients from the pumpkin. They’re pretty dense so they tend to fill you up.


Ingredients

1 can pumpkin puree
2 eggs
4 scoops protein powder (I like True Nutrition, use code luoyegongfu to save 5%)
1 cup Stevia(the crystallized stuff for meant for baking)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Crust
~1 cup nuts
1/4 cup butter (use grass fed like Kerrygold)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix all the ingredients together in your mixing bowl until there’s no more lumps.
Grease your silicone muffin tray with butter.

Spoon the batter into the pan and evenly distribute it so that no cup is significantly shorter or higher than the other.

Blend nuts to a crumble along with the butter and spoon evenly over pumpkin to form crust.

Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on your oven.
Check for doneness by stabbing the center with a toothpick or knife. If it comes out clean it’s done; if it comes out with batter on it, bake it a little longer.

Macronutrients (per “muffin”, all values are rounded up to the nearest whole gram)
Fat 12g
Pro 11g
Carbs 8g
Fiber 5g
Calories 163g

Don’t forget to share this post and use the hashtag #EatRightToFight or #StartNow

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Nutrition Tip – Make A Super Shake

It can be tough to eat all high quality meals, all the time, especially when you’re in a hurry.  One solution is to make yourself what Precision Nutrition coaches like myself like to call “Super Shakes”.

The Super Shake is packed with good stuff like high-quality protein, fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants and more.

You generally want to build your shake with the following guidelines in mind:

  1. One to two “thumbs” worth of fat
  2. protein source (like silky tofu or powered protein)
  3. greens, or powder greens supplement
  4. frozen berries or fruit for some carbs / micronutrients
  5. water to make it a drinkable consistency.
  6. optional “topper” like yogurt

This is my recipe:

My favorite ingredients for a high quality, nutritious and time saving meal replacement! Great for losing weight and building muscle!
My favorite ingredients for a high quality, nutritious and time saving meal replacement!

1) I like the Fage brand geek yogurt. I go for the fat free version because of my gall bladder (I need to try to keep my fat low because gall bladder disease runs in my family 😥)

2) again, I have to keep my fat portion lower, so I go for just 1 “thumb” of fat here. Walnuts & macadamia nuts are great choices for fat. Another great product I found recently was Nutzo at Costco (you can buy it on Amazon as well but it’s more expensive). It’s a mix of higher end nuts and flax and chia, so it’s really high in omega-3s. I originally tried it out as a substitute for peanut butter because I can’t digest peanuts anymore (damn you gall bladder!). Avocado would also be a good choice to add fat and fiber to your super shake.

3) frozen mixed berries. Whatever you like. Frozen berries are way more cost effective than fresh and you don’t have to worry about the mold! Costco to the rescue again!

4) greens, or powdered greens supplement. One I REALLY like is “earth grown nutrients” by Onnit. One of the few greens supplements I’ve tried where you really notice an immediate lift in your sense of wellness.

5) vanilla protein powder. My brand is True Nutrition. Super high quality, very affordable. I use the micellar casein for the slow digesting quality with a boost of enzymes, essential amino acids and collegen. (You can customize your own blend, use the code luoyegongfu at checkout to save 5%)

6) water to mix. I’m currently making good use of Rudy’s gift of Sedona, Arizona spring water!
(Note: if you live here in the Tempe, AZ area you can order to Sedona Spring water direct from one of my students.  Contact me here if you’re interested.)

Hopefully this helped give you some ideas for making the best meal replacement shake for men and women! If you’re looking to lose fat and get in shape in 2018, but don’t have a lot of time to cook, get a head start and learn how to make your own, wholesome, nutritious meal replacement shake and stick to your weight loss goals for the new year! Getting the right mix of micro and macro nutrients can help you lose weight and build muscle. You need to get the right nutrients in your body to help you recover from exercise, but finding the time to prepare and eat multiple healthy, whole food meals every day can be tough. These super shakes will help you meet your fitness goals and save you time!