Does Too Much News Overstimulate?

There is something I’ve noticed recently, and that is that news or a lot of material on the internet is highly addictive. When you read something controversial or scandalous or sensationalist, it is stimulating, and often in real life there are many moments of boredom, so I turn to the news on my phone in order to stimulate myself, but what ends up happening is that this stimulation is so overwhelming that it takes over my mind, and I find I cannot concentrate at all. When I am at work, I am distracted by my thoughts.

I’ve decided to implement a zero politics policy into my personal life whereby I block all political news. The only exception, of course, is political news as it relates to financial markets, so I need to keep track of financial news because I am a dividend investor. However, I am very selective. I tend of only read trusted dedicated financial news websites, such as Bloomberg or MarketWatch.

I am blocking political news because much of it nowadays, I believe, is fake, regardless of which side of politics you subscribe to. The individual also has little control over the political process, so knowledge of politics is of little use. Politics only serves to distract and stress you out.

There has been a trend lately of many people who manufacture drama and conspiracy on the internet in order to advertise ebooks that they are selling, so it is not just politics I am blocking but also manufactured drama and conspiracy. There is so much out there on the internet that I am blocking. In general, I am just more discriminatory now with what I look at because the internet is very vast. We cannot look at everything, and a lot that is on the internet is wasteful and harmful.

Social media apps such as Twitter are very useful because it’s very easy to unfollow and mute certain people. Something else I find is useful is to turn off notifications unless it is from someone you really trust. Too often social media apps recommend news to you. This should be turned off because it distracts you all day.

The Yerkes-Dodson Law

Lately I have discovered the Yerkes-Dodson law. Here is Wikipedia’s definition of the Yerkes-Dodson law:

The YerkesDodson law is an empirical relationship between arousal and performance, originally developed by psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson in 1908. The law dictates that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point.

screenshot-2016-12-17-at-9-45-09-am
Too little arousal leads to boredom but too much leads to strong anxiety, which impairs performance

I realize that I may be a victim of impaired performance due to overdosing on arousal on the internet, and this is having a crowding out effect because sensationalist contrived drama and conspiracy on the internet is taking over my brain and preventing me from dedicating my attention to the dull but important things in my life.

All this arousal from conspiracy, negativity, and drama is stealing time and energy from me, time and energy that I could use for more important things. I need to cut it out.

 

Should Vegans Take Vitamin B12 Supplements? Is it Natural?

image

I’ve been on a vegan diet now for a few months (no meat, dairy, or cheese). I’ve told some people but I haven’t told everyone that I eat a mostly plant-based diet. People generally don’t like knowing that you are a vegan for ethical reasons because automatically they feel they are being judged on their decision to eat animals, and they can be defensive about this. I find that unless you really know someone well, it’s better to simply order vegan/vegetarian meals at the restaurant and if asked by curious people if you are vegan/vegetarian, tell them that you are but you are doing so for health reasons as there is considerable scientific evidence that a diet optimal for longevity consists of about 95% to 99% plant food. However, it is possible to be on an omnivore diet and be very healthy if you don’t eat too much meat and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. The vegan diet looks good because it’s often compared to the standard American diet. However, compare a vegan diet against a healthy omnivore diet and I don’t think there are that many health benefits, so once you know someone well enough, I think it’s a good idea to switch from using health arguments to using ethical arguments. If someone is a true friend, they’ll accept your values.

While being a vegan, one person has asked me how I got vitamin B12 in my diet. For beginners, vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that cannot be found in any plant. But it can be found in meat.

My friend argued that because vitamin B12 cannot be found in plants it therefore means the vegan diet is unhealthy. I told him this was false because there is a lot of non-animal food available for consumers that is fortified with vitamin B12. For example, the yeast extract Marmite is a vegan/vegetarian product (see Marmite FAQ) that has vitamin B12 in it (see Marmite Nutritional Information). Here in Australia, Marmite is simply available in your local Coles supermarket. There are many other brands of yeast extract with vitamin B12 in it, e.g. Mightymite and Salt Reduced Vegemite. There are a lot of other food that is fortified with vitamin B12, such as Bragg Nutritional Yeast. Nutritional yeast is very popular in America among vegans but here in Australia there doesn’t seem to be too much of it.

Isn’t food fortified with vitamin B12 unnatural?

Some people argue that because vitamin B12-fortified food has vitamin B12 added to it, it is therefore unnatural and therefore unhealthy. These people typically argue that meat is a natural source of vitamin B12. This is false. Firstly, vitamin B12 does not come from animals. Vitamin B12 comes from bacteria. The bacteria is then added to the animal (either by feeding the animal vitamin B12 fortified food or by injecting the animal with vitamin B12) and then we humans eat the animal. About 90% of the vitamin B12 supplements made in the world is fed to livestock, not humans.

Another issue is that just because a food is natural, it doesn’t mean it is healthy. For example, the death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) is a completely raw and natural food, but as you can tell from the name, it is poisonous. However, a multivitamin is highly processed and most brands contains various synthetic chemicals, yet the Harvard School of Public Health recommends that individuals take a daily multivitamin. To simply say that natural = healthy and unnatural = unhealthy is illogical. Something is healthy if it is healthy, regardless of whether it is natural or unnatural.

Another problem with assessing food based on whether it is natural is that a diet consisting only of raw, natural, unprocessed food is not healthy. The most natural diet is a raw food diet consisting of raw vegetables, raw fruit, raw nuts and seeds, and raw meat. This diet can have major problems. Cooking food, although it is human processing, can have many benefits. Firstly, it concentrates calories and makes nutrients more digestible (see Raw Food Not Enough to Feed Big Brains). Of course, it is not the case that cooking is always best. Overcooking food can create carcinogens, e.g. in crispy french fries and overcooked meat. Once again, this goes back to my point that human processing is not necessarily bad and not necessarily good. It depends on what the processing is, and we need to assess the toxicology of each food on a case-by-case basis rather than make assumptions or generalizations about whether a food is natural or unnatural.

Another major issue is that it’s hard to really know what is natural. The fruits, vegetables, and animals we eat today are completely different to what was found millions of years ago. The major problem is that man has destroyed nature. A good example is fish. Fish contains omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D. However, our oceans are now heavily contaminated with heavy metals. The USFDA recommends that we limit our fish to those lower on the food chain and to also limit our intake to about two meals per week. The USFDA states that although some fish contain more mercury than others, mercury is found in all fish. I’d rather trust getting my vitamin D and omega 3 from a trusted supplement company that tests its products for mercury and synthesizes its products under controlled laboratory conditions rather than trust Mother Nature to provide me with clean fish from an ocean that has been polluted by man.

Isn’t supplemented vitamin B12 hard to absorb?

No. In fact, vitamin B12 in supplement form is easier to absorb than vitamin B12 bound to animal protein.

According to Dr Jennifer Rooke (Do Carnivores Need Vitamin B12 Supplements?): “Even if you only eat grass-fed organic meat you may not be able to absorb the B12 attached to animal protein. It may be more efficient to just skip the animals and get B12 directly from supplements. B12 attaches very tightly to animal protein. Strong stomach acids are needed to break down the protein so that B12 can get into your blood.”

According to Harvard University (Nutrition Insurance Policy: A Daily Multivitamin): “Many older people have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from food; the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, in fact, recommends that people over the age of 50 eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 or take vitamin B12 supplements.”

Do you take vitamin B12 supplements?

To cover me in case I am deficient in an important nutrient, I take a multivitamin. If you are a vegan, I recommend looking specifically for vegan multivitamins with non-animal ingredients. Just read the label. Two examples are below:

Taking a vegan multivitamin in the morning everyday ensures you can eat without worrying about nutritional deficiencies. There is a chance that you may have, for example, a hereditary disease that prevents certain nutrients from being absorbed. To hedge your bets, it is best to not only take a daily multivitamin but to go to your doctor every so often and get a complete blood test. In fact, regardless of whether you are vegan or not, you should take a daily multivitamin and get a blood test every now and then.

Virtue Fuelled by Sin

According to my phone, it is 34 degrees celcius right now. Now that it’s summer, I’ve been wearing t-shirts a lot, and one of the benefits of wearing the t-shirt is that it accentuates your muscles. I can see it in the mirror when I look at myself, but I am much bigger than I used to be pre-gym. Many other people are also commenting on my better looks. Especially with the girls, if they are not directly verbalising it, I can tell by their behaviour around me that they definitely notice my skyrocketing attractiveness.

For the last few months I have been going to the gym religiously. Whenever I go to the gym, I spend about forty minutes there. I do about five minutes of cardio on the exercise bike, but the rest of the workout involves weight training. I now try to do a bit of stretching afterwards.

Of course, it feels good to be admired by girls, but all this makes me wonder about vanity, sin, and virtue. You see, one of my friends thinks that going to the gym is an act of vanity, and that the only purpose of going to the gym is to look good. According to him, rather than going to the gym, I should play competitive sports like tennis or soccer because it is more social and it is easier to motivate yourself to do something when other people are involved.

I told my friend that I respectfully disagreed. What may work for one person may not work for another. The benefit of the gym is that you have everything you need in one place. When you play tennis or soccer, you are really only getting a cardio workout, which is equivalent to riding on the exercise bike or running on the treadmill at the gym. Tennis might provide some resistance or strength training, but it is mild, probably equivalent to working out with light dumbbells. Sports normally only provide one specific type of workout and that is it. The gym provides everything. You can mix your workout with cardio and strength training, and then with strength training you can increase the intensity easily. You can start with light weights and then as you improve you move to heavier and heavier weights.

Another benefit of the gym is that it is indoors. This means you can go there when it is sunny and not get skin cancer from getting sunburnt. On cold days, you are warm. On wet days, you are dry. Going to the gym, in my opinion, is better than having a home gym, and the reason why is price and convenience. I pay $6 per week to go to the gym, but if I tried to buy all of the machines and weights available at my gym and put them in a room in my house, I’m sure I’d spend more than $1000 (or more), and although in the very long run it may be cheaper to buy your own stuff, do you have the motivation to maintain the machines and fix them when they don’t work? Where I live, it’s not easy to find a spare room, and some of these machines are massive, so how in the world would I move them in there? I’d rather just pay the $6 per week and be done with it.

Another big plus with the gym is that you get a personal trainer (at least mine comes with one). If you do it yourself, you’re on your own, and you don’t know if you are doing it right, which could result in injury. If you have a personal trainer, he or she will watch you and will correct you. The personal trainer will also prescribe for you an exercise program that matches your needs. You don’t have to think too hard. You just do what you’re told.

Now, let’s get back to the vanity argument. Yes, indeed many people go to the gym to look good, but is that really a bad thing? For many people, it seems, vanity is looked down upon but is practised obsessively. Who knows where the roots of vanity phobia come from. Perhaps it is religious. Regardless, society seems to look down upon vanity as sinful but everyone acknowledges good health as virtuous. While working out at the gym satiates the desires of the vain, it also makes you healthy in the long-term. If you burn fat and increase muscle mass, you are not just looking good but you are also improving your health. You don’t need to be a scientist to know that obesity causes heart disease and all sort of other problems.

Furthermore, having muscle increases your metabolism and allows you to burn more fat. Having muscle also slows down sarcopenia and keeps you functioning even when you get old. Old people whose muscles have totally deteriorated need to be kept in a nursing home where other people need to assist them with moving because they do not have the muscles necessary to move themselves. Muscle naturally increases up until the age of thirty after which muscle mass naturally declines, which results in lower metabolism, massive weight gain (especially around the waist), and decreasing strength.

Working out at the gym then is one of those activities that provide you with a virtuous outcome (good health) that is fuelled by sin (vanity). A defining feature of sinful behaviour is that it provides you with much pleasure. Like all animals, we tend to seek out those activities that provide us with pleasure, but many things in life have a tradeoff between reward and pleasure. The more pleasure something gives, the less rewarding it is. For example, eating junk food is gluttonous and pleasurable but bad for your health. However, this tradeoff does not apply to everything, and different people react to different things differently. Many people may hate going to the gym, and they skip it all the time. I know a colleague who has been a member of the same gym I go to for almost half a decade and he has only been there about three times. For me, going to the gym is something that I do because I love it. I know it provides long-term health benefits, and if it also makes me look better, then that is only going to motivate me to be healthier, and there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes virtue can be fuelled by sin, and this, I think is an ideal situation to be in because virtue fuelled by internal willpower and sacrifice is not as sustainable as virtue fuelled by sin.

What is the Best Diet for a Recovering Beta Male?

What is the best diet for a recovering beta male? Dieting is a controversial topic. I can only tell you what my diet is. I am a male, about six feet tall, and reasonably skinny, weighing in at around 75kg (165lb). I joined the gym about a month ago and have been going every second day. Each time I go to the gym, I spend about 20 to 30 minutes there mainly lifting weights. I aim to lift heavier and heavier weights. I started off lifting 25kg but now I find I can do double that, around 50kg. This may be little for some but I am just a beginner, and I have noticed a difference not only in my appearance but also my mood and levels of energy. I recommend the gym for anyone. Just google around, find the cheapest place, and sign up. Read the contract to make sure there is nothing dodgy, like an exit fee.

Dieting for someone who is lifting weights is very simple. Just eat a lot. I don’t bother with counting calories. I figure that if the goal is to develop muscle then it is important to eat as much as possible because food is necessary to build muscle. I aim to get protein, so I tend towards eating meat, cheese, and milk, which is helpful since I already love eating these things. For the sake of the animals (as well as my health), I tend towards grass-fed animals like grass-fed meat (and milk and cheese) rather than conventional meat that is fed with soy, corn, and hormones. In terms of what I avoid, I avoid refined sugars and salt. Refined sugars (e.g. in sweets, chocolate, cakes, and so forth) causes obesity and likely causes diabetes as well. Too much salt causes high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular diseases. I don’t mind eating carbs, but I feel low GI food is better than high GI food, i.e. complex sugars is better than simple sugars because fluctuations in blood sugar levels can overwork the pancreas, which can lead to diabetes. Bottom line is to eat everything, aim for protein-dense food from animals that are fed grass, and avoid sugar and salt.

I don’t eat six meals a day, not because it is not healthy but because it is too hard because I work nine till five (or more). I have three meals: a quick breakfast, a medium lunch, and a fairly massive dinner. There are many moments in between when I am hungry. When it comes to snacking, I prefer to drink red tea with milk. Red tea (called rooibos tea or African tea) is caffeine free, which means I can drink it at night and afternoon without fear. Furthermore, red tea is free of oxalic acid, which means you don’t need to worry about kidney stones. The milk in the tea provides protein.

Some people have suggested I try protein supplements. I have been recommended isowhey. I haven’t followed through with the recommendation. The idea is that, after a workout, you drink protein shakes to provide your body with the necessary ingredients to build muscle. The reason why I don’t take protein supplements is the same reason why I don’t eat six meals a day: because I work. I gym where I work, so if I wanted to take protein supplements after a workout, I’d need to bring in a giant tub of protein supplement to work and then prepare it in the office kitchen after a workout. It is too much hassle and frankly it’s a little embarrassing and weird. Studies show that drinking milk after a workout is great for building muscle, and given most workplaces provide milk to their employees for free, it’s an easy decision.