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To explore the human potential is the driving force behind Wim Hof (aka: The Iceman). Though not alone in his quest to master the mind and body, Wim’s approach to tapping into our ability is breaking new scientific ground. Thermoregulation and the effects of extreme cold on our immune system, cellular health and longevity are being investigated with exciting results, thank’s to one Dutch man and his ice endeavours.

“We Can Do More Than We Think We Can”, says Hof. And if his 21 Guinness World Records are anything to go by—he is right, the limits of human potential are unwritten.

I interviewed The Iceman on his method, discussing how a deeper connection to nature can unlock the human potential and where he hopes the discoveries will lead.

What drew you to the cold and is it the temperature or the wilderness that fortifies you?

My curiosity drew me to the cold, like many other disciplines. Subconsciously, I was looking for a deeper understanding. Only when I came in contact with the cold, did I begin to feel this. It is such a direct, deep sensation that it goes beyond imagination. Both the wilderness and the cold are elements of nature—we are nature we just need to get back to that sense of being. 

Who seeks out your methods—and how diverse are there reasons?

People from all walks of life from doctors to carpenters, phycologists and postmen. People who seek more energy, fight burnouts, treat auto immune diseases, enhance sports performance, improve mood disorders.

How does your workshop expand on your online course?

It is like listening to music via record vs a live concert. The online video course has been composed to enable the practitioner to master the techniques however the workshop is an experience with many people sharing deep sensations—a unique and life changing event!

How do you teach people in hot climates about the benefits of ice/cold immersion?
People in hot climates benefit most from the breathing techniques as well as the mindset created by insights derived from scientific non-speculative research.

Can conditioning in hot environments produce efficacious results to the body and mind—or is this a unique virtue of the cold?

In both hot and cold conditions the body needs to work in its physiology to maintain core body temperature. I did a marathon without drinking in the desert and still maintained core body temperature. Learned by going into the cold, thermoregulation done by both the hypothalamus (brainstem) and the vascular system.

You have established a method for universal application but are there any caveats to this (don’t try this if you….)?

In general there are no conditions to not do this method, what we clearly communicate or want to communicate is to not force but to follow the feeling.

What science are you currently focused on exploring (the next experiment/challenge to expand our knowledge of human potential)?

We are currently doing research on the brainstem, inflammation, pain, depression and anxiety with multiple universities. The scientific community is embracing this method more and more and we love to go past scientific scrutiny as to get rid of any speculation. We believe and see it works with thousands of people and therefore want to prove it scientifically.

If you could advise people on one technique or action that they can do today for better health and performance, what would that be?

I would recommend the breathing techniques and mindset, realising that we as humans are all capable of connecting with our physiological as well as our mental systems and have the ability to regulate when we feel necessary.

In his new book ‘What Doesn’t Kill Us’, Scott Carney posits that your ability to suppress the immune response and generate heat in extreme cold is achieved through willpower. Do you agree with this, and how would you describe your thoughts when you are testing these parameters (controlling the physiology to resist infection and elevate core temperature)?

One learns to create and/or generate more energy (aerobic dissimilation) enabling a person to stay longer in cold environments. My method has also been proven to suppress inflammatory markers in the blood. Both these results benefit training, health, strength and mood, that is the aim.

What are your hopes for the future of human potential?

I challenge any university to do more research cause there is a lot more for humankind than has been shown with this method.

Photo Credit: © Henny Boogert / boogertfotografie.nl / imagesconnect.org

During expeditions to high altitudes, the effect of the environment on the state of your heart and blood vessels, greatly determines your health and vitality during your journey. In order to make your way pain free through a hike in high and yielding vistas, you must first make sure your heart and blood vessels are able to cope with the extra strain placed upon this system, when forced into conditions that challenge its ability to cope with stress.

When there is a change in altitude, two major issues arise – a change in the chemical make up of the air and a marked change in environmental temperature. Air is made up of a number of gases, the most important of which to us is oxygen. Oxygen stokes the fire of the body by providing resources to each and every cell, to help in the creation and conduction of energy. Without oxygen, there is no life.

Whereas we breathe in oxygen, we breathe out carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is our body’s waste material, produced as it uses oxygen to its greatest advantage. In cold temperatures, oxygen becomes less available to the body, and carbon dioxide spends too much time in the lungs and in the bloodstream. This state of being is known from a medical perspective as hypoxia.

What are the effects of low oxygen levels?

The risk with hypoxia occurring at high altitude, is the lack of oxygen flowing to tissues. When blood full of oxygen flows to tissues they stay pink, vital and full of energy. When hypoxic, or oxygen deplete blood, flows to tissues, cellular death occurs, leading to blueness and a loss of tissue known as gangrene. Internally, if enough oxygenated blood does not reach the brain, not only will the brain die, but its ability to control breathing will cease, leading to death.

On this basis, reducing the chance of hypoxia occurring is an adventurers number one priority. Though many experienced high altitude climbers do extended high altitude training, as well as monitoring and balancing their food intake, and hydration on expeditions; many forget the importance strengthening, preserving and protecting, the health of the heart.

Nutrients for heart health

The number one way you can preserve the health of the heart and blood vessels, is by the consumption of antioxidants. By definition, an antioxidant works to support the supply of oxygen to the tissue by removing the harmful effect of free radicals. Free radicals are produced by the body in response to toxins such as cigarette smoke, fog, chemicals and some drugs, and most markedly, hypoxia. Extremely beneficial to the health of the heart and blood vessels, antioxidants can be found in a range of foods and supplements.

Aged Garlic Extract

Now known to contain more than 200 natural chemicals, Garlic is among the most important of traditional remedies used for centuries for a range of common maladies. From its use as an antibacterial remedy for Roman soldiers, to its use in World War II to prevent the onsets of colds and flu’s on the battlefields, Garlic has long been regarded in culinary and medicinal terms, as a highly sort after and beneficial nutrient.

In post world war two Japan, famed German professor Dr Eugene Schnell was charged with the task of finding a nutrient to protect the health and vitality of the Japanese people. Known for their use of fermented foods in the protection of longevity and health, the doctor began working on a new process for ageing garlic. Following a partnership with businessman Manji Wakunaga, the resulting aged garlic extract has been used by the Japanese people since this time, and now with the publishing of over 700 clinical studies, has been found to show benefits in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as encouraging healthy immunity, due to the presence of a unique antioxidant compound known as S-Allyl-cysteine.

Not found in raw garlic, S-Allyl-Cysteine develops in the garlic cloves over an up to 20 month ageing process, and works as potent antioxidant to encourage heart and immune health. One other difference between raw garlic and aged garlic extract, is the ageing process changes the nature of sulfur containing nutrients in garlic, building their potency, but reducing their odour. This means with aged garlic extract, you do not get garlic breath (a definite benefit to bush walking and long hikes!).

Co-Enzyme Q10

Found in all tissues naturally, but especially concentrated in heart tissues, co-enzyme Q10 is best described as the ‘spark plug’ for each and every cell in your body. By working to ensure glucose and oxygen are converted into energy, CoQ10 is especially concentrated in the cells of the body that require the most energy to perform their function – namely, the cells that make up heart tissue. As you enter hypoxic, low oxygen environments, CoQ10 becomes quickly depleted as your body cannot keep up with the extra demands of the need for a highly functional heart and reduction in oxygen flow.

Although found in small quantities in red meat, including organ meat, supplementing with CoQ10 may be beneficial to improve oxygen perfusion at a cellular level, to reduce your chance of hypoxia when environmental oxygen levels are low.

Both aged garlic and co-enzyme Q10 can be found in supplemental forms in health food stores and pharmacies.

Our love affair with bacteria is growing with artisan brewers bottling batches of Kombucha and DIY ferment kits reintroducing the ancient art of home preserves, pickles and other cultured creations. Despite mounting interest in all things microbial there remains trepidation, especially around good and bad bacteria and how these effect our health. Separating the myths from the science we explore the facts of fermentation with bacteria boffins Hannah Crum & Alex Lagory.

Quick – let’s play a word association game – when you see the word “fermented,” what comes to mind: single malt scotch or stinky cheese or sour pickles? Well, all of them are correct! From elegant and expensive to rustic and cheap, fermented foods span not only the entire gamut of taste profiles but also the entire world. From Asia to South America and everywhere in between, every human society throughout time has had it’s own ferments they love and share with the rest of the world.

From chemicals to antibiotics to natural cleaners to alcohol to vinegar to salami to cheese to bread to kimchi to Kombucha to dozens of other common examples, fermentation produces a wide range of critical items for our society. Yet most people have no idea how integral fermentation is to their everyday lives.

So what is fermentation? It is the conversion, via microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast, of organic materials into preserved, enriched, safer, and/or more useful substances. Often but not always foods, both controlled and “wild” fermentation are inextricably linked to human evolution and advancement.

Unfortunately, in the 20th century fermentation was mostly replaced with pasteurization and chemical preservation. That meant diets devoid of bacteria rich foods and drinks. While this created shelf stable and consistently flavored products, the unknowing trade-off in food quality has been one of the many factors leading to the decline in overall health around the world.

But fermented foods are back! Suddenly appearing on the menus of the trendiest restaurants, ferments have been part of the human diet for thousands of years, helping us survive long cold winters, boosting immunity, and reducing inflammation. Only over the last decade, via initiatives such as the Human Microbiome Project and the American Gut Project, have we begun to understand the scientific connection between those benefits and these foods we evolved to consume.

Scientists are hard at work properly cataloging and exploring the potential connections between our vast internal microbial landscape and the variety of disorders and diseases that may be potentially improved through an understanding and proper cultivation of those microbes. What’s really exciting about the Human microbiome research, is that it isn’t specific strains per se that are illuminated as being vital to health, rather it is a diversity of organisms – even some that we consider pathogenic, albeit in very small amounts – that leads to balance.

At Kombucha Kamp, we’ve shipped more than 100,000 cultures worldwide, and refer to ourselves as “Bacteria Farmers.” We also think of all humans as “Bacteriosapiens,” because not much goes right without help from our tiny buddies. It’s why we believe the key to human health now and in the future lies in each Bacteriosapien becoming bacteria farmers to create the right conditions in their own internal soil. A healthy serving and variety of fermented foods and drinks of all types is a great way to start.

From there, follow the KKamp motto and “Trust Your Gut” to continue eating the ones that work for you. It’s natural for preferences to evolve over time, and unlike drugs there is no “recommended dosage” per day, but adding a small amount to each meal as a side dish, condiment, or beverage is a good goal. Snacking on your favorite ferment is another option.

Or of course, with something like Kombucha that is so flexible, it works at any time of day and with any meal, even dessert! We hope you’ll decide to brew your own at home as it’s easy and fun. Kombucha is a “gateway ferment” which has helped many people try other ferments or even just make more fresh food at home.

Our book, The Big Book of Kombucha, delves deeply into the plethora of uses beyond sipping the brew. From SCOBY fruit leather, SCOBY face masks to upcycled tea potpourri, discover the many and novel uses of Kombucha and bacterial cellulose for health and beauty. Now that you know how important and common fermented foods are, we hope you’ll start fermenting something at home today!

Hannah Crum and Alex Lagory are the dynamic duo behind Kombucha Kamp, the top information site in the world. They are also the co-authors of “The Big Book of Kombucha” (Storey Publishing, 2016) and co-founders of Kombucha Brewers International, the trade association of the Kombucha industry. To learn more and find quality fermentation supplies, visit KombuchaKamp.com

Moms don’t fit a mold, they can be explorers, athletes, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists…but they all face the same challenge—making time for themselves.

Balancing roles of profession and parent is an art that moms must master, or at the very least embrace as a learning curve.

Melisa Deane-Casses, yoga instructor, author and proud mother of three, shares three secrets to creating mindful ‘mom’ moments.

OM with an M

As a working mum, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Here are three daily practices that I use to reconnect with what’s important and to ground myself in the present.

1) Reduce the number of things on your “to-do” list.

I used to have 20+ things on my to do list each day. Being pregnant with my third child has forced me to re-evaluate where I spend my energy. Now, 5-8 things make it onto my daily list. At the end of the day, I know I accomplished a few things, and I don’t beat myself up for not running myself into the ground trying to be Wonder Woman.

2) Practice 4-7-8 Breathwork, also called “Relaxing Breath”.

Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, where the roof of your mouth meets your teeth. Inhale, silently through your nose for four counts. Hold your breath for seven counts. Exhale, through your mouth with a whoosh sound (try pursing your lips) for eight counts. Do four rounds of this breath, twice a day for a month. After a month, increase to eight rounds. You’ll feel relaxed right away. This techniques helps reset the nervous system and acts like a natural relaxant.

3) Create a Ritual.

I have a collection of seashells my grandpa got deep sea diving when he was a kid. Every night, I take one of them and place it in my hand and pick one thing I am the most grateful for that day. I love this ritual because it makes me run through all the things that I have to be grateful for that day. One grateful thought spirals into another and the list multiplies. Many days can seem uneventful, but this nightly routine forces me to remember all wonderful things that happened during the day. The phone call with a friend, having money to fill my gas tank, five extra minutes of snuggle time with my daughter, my husband did the dishes, a warm shower, starting a good book, cooking with homegrown veggies. I pick the one thing I am the most grateful for, and hold my shell and say Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I fall asleep feeling connected to the people I love and grateful for the abundance in my life.

Melisa Deane Casses is a writer and yogini. She is passionate about the study of yoga and empowering others to be their best selves. She has been teaching yoga and fitness since 1999. She is the author of Yoga: A Manual for Teachers and Practitioners. Her work has been featured in SYLE Baltimore, Bare Essentials, Towson Patch, MidWeek Magazine and The Oahu Island News and other publications. Melisa teaches 200-hour and 300-hour teacher trainings in Yoga for Health & Fitness, based on Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga methodology. She lives in Towson, Maryland with her daughters and husband. E-RYT-500, MS Global Leadership. www.makamovement.com.

Did you know the world has almost 1000 varieties of banana? My grocery only stocks one, occasionally two when cooking shows inspire ‘specialty ingredients’. This mono-cultivation of food has lead to a loss of diversity in flavor, texture, color, and nutrients—a multitude of varieties simply forgotten. Our guest post is by food author Rebecca Wood, her seminal book The New Whole Foods Encyclopaedia is a mighty tome of original superfoods. Humble, mostly forgotten foods which are under-utilised on today’s table, here are a few of her favourites.

Three Energizing Foods to Forage or Grow

Simply put our nearly forgotten foods have greater biodiversity, flavor, medicinal properties and nutrients than cultivated varieties.* They impart more oomph! Foraging for freely given food, humanities oldest profession, is satisfying. Look close and you’ll find a multiplicity of edibles such as dandelion greens from a grassy area, wild rose hips along a trail or mussels from a clean beach. There’s the intrigue of the hunt, the thrill of the find and the pleasure of returning home with booty. Plus there’s the feasting.

Foraging with my grandparents was always an adventure and we’d haul in ample meadow mushrooms, elderberries or asparagus to feed the clan. Seventy years later, I’m still at it and often with my grandchildren. Wild blackberries are a given in Oregon, miners lettuce features in our first spring salads and we collect sea lettuce from the coast. We also know which alleys have mulberry branches extending over a fence and into our fingertips.

I’ll detail three forageable foods that you may also grow in your garden. Either buy the seed or, better yet, transplant it from the wild. But here are rules for foraging our overlooked foodstuffs.

Identify plants carefully, since some varieties—especially mushrooms—are toxic. There are numerous regional guides available that help not only with identification but also, in rare cases, have local ordinances regarding harvest restrictions.

Gather only in areas that you are confident are free from chemical contamination. Do not gather along heavily traveled roadsides. Do not over forage. Always leave enough healthy specimens to assure their propagation.

Among the hundreds of nearly forgotten foods, here are three that are easily foraged and/or will thrive in your own garden.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica)

That angelica is called “women’s ginseng” in Asia gives some indication of its oomph. In the west, it’s equally valued. As the medieval story goes, when the Archangel Raphael saw the suffering caused by the Black Plague, he revealed angelica’s effectiveness as an antidote, and so it was named on his behalf.

Though plague prevention may not be your concern, the odds are that many of us can use immune, energy, heart and digestive support. Angelica is a go to tonic for these concerns. While it’s especially good for women, children and the elderly and it’s also beneficial for men.

This carrot relative is a common weed found in moist ground throughout temperate and subarctic regions of the world. You can easily spot large and dense stretches of angelica towering among other weeds. It reaches a majestic 10 feet tall in mid-summer and its large, sparkling, starburst flowers are greenish white.

Despite its remarkable medicinal properties, there is not much culinary use of angelica outside of Asia. I invite you to be among the first of us to change that. For an early spring tonic, peel the young stems and cook like asparagus. Or use the stems and fronds as a flavoring agent for liquor. In the fall or the following spring, harvest the thick root for use in soups and stir-fries. Include the seeds and leaves in your herbal repertory (but discard the spent leaves as you would a bay leaf).

Nettles (Urtica dioica)

As I write this, our third snow of the year has cloaked my yard save for a vibrantly green stand of nettles. Unless there’s a hard freeze, all winter long I’ll be harvesting them and adding them to sautéed dishes, soups and teas. Nettles are that resilient. It’s no wonder that throughout temperate regions of the world nettles are valued for building vitality. They’re also tasty and—if you’re in a moist area—free for the grabbing. But grab with a gloved hand!

Stiff, bristly hairs protrude from the leaves and stems of nettles that can inject a stinging fluid into your skin causing temporary burning and irritation. This injection, which, like an ant’s bite, contains formic acid, increases circulation and provides external treatment for arthritic pain, gout, sciatica and neuralgia. Heat and drying destroy nettles’ sting. Nettles are a great tonic food that dispel toxins and have diuretic properties. They afford allergy relief, enrich the blood, and ameliorate high blood pressure.

Although nettles at first glance look similar to spearmint, they’re not related and are essentially the best known plant of their genus. This herbaceous perennial can reach waist high. Collect young shoots before they flower and set seed. Or dig a spadesful of their shallow roots and transplant to a moist, but confined, area of your garden, as they can be invasive.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

A near relative of the garden flower portulaca, or moss rose, purslane is valued throughout temperate regions of the world both as a potherb and as a medicinal herb. Give it room to expand and this annual herb with numerous branches and plump succulent leaves will quickly cover the ground. For my father, this “water weed” was the bane of his garden; it’s never reached weed status in my garden, as my and my chickens’ appetite for purslane keeps it well-trimmed.

It is an excellent source (and the highest vegetable source) of omega-3 fatty acids. Purslane supports digestive function and helps disperse toxins. It is a kitchen remedy for dysentery, constipation, urinary infections, hemorrhoids, and postpartum bleeding.

Purslane leaves and their stems have a slightly sour and salty taste. I add their flower buds, leaves, and stems—raw or blanched—to salads or simmer or stir-fry them in any vegetable dish. Their mucilaginous quality makes them an excellent addition to a soup or stew. Or pickle purslane seeds in vinegar or brine for “poor woman’s capers.”

Dandelion Greens (1 cup raw)
Vit A 2712 IU (54%), Vit K 151 mcg (188%), Calcium 103 mg (10%), Iron 1.7 mg (9%)

Broccoli (1 cup raw)
Vit A 581 IU (
12%), Vit K 89.4
1 mcg (12%), Calcium 41.4 mg (
4%), Iron 0.6 mg (4%)

Rebecca Wood lives and forages in the mountains near Ashland, Oregon. Author of The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, she hosts a popular blog, RebeccaWood.com.