Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Myopia: a modern yet reversible disease

Posted 09 Aug 2014 — by Todd
Category Uncategorized

Here is the video and slide set from my presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium, August 9, 2014, in Berkeley, California. I enjoyed meeting many of you who were at the conference.  I’d recommend watching the video first, and perhaps follow along with the uploaded slide set in a separate window, since it is  more convenient for viewing references and other details.

(Note: You’ll notice some minor differences in the video and slide versions, as the AV team inadvertently projected an earlier draft rather then the final slides I had provided).

Video:

 

Slides:

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 8.45.47 PM

 

Overview of the talk.  For ease of reference, here is slide-by-slide “table-of-contents” summary of the presentation. People are always asking to provide a detailed explanation of exactly what steps to take to improve their vision.  You’ll find this bottom line “practical advice” in Slides 23-36

  1. Title: Myopia: a modern yet reversible disease
  2. My story:   I wore glasses from Grade 10 until 15 years ago. I don’t wear glasses any more!
  3. To reverse myopia, we need to first understand the causes.
  4. Myopia defined.   Myopia can lead to serious problems like cataracts and macular degeneration
  5. The prevalence of myopia has increased by 50-100% since 1970, across all age groups in the U.S.
  6. There is evidence for both genetic and environmental causes.
  7. An 1883 study of military recruits found myopia was much higher in students and merchants than farmers
  8. A 1969 study of Eskimos found that myopia had increased dramatically since Western schooling was introduced
  9. A 2012 study of German students found more than 50% of university graduates had myopia vs. 25% for dropouts
  10. In countries like Singapore and Taiwan, myopia is common among even young school children
  11. There is evidence that certain genes predispose to severe myopia. Copper deficiency induces myopia due to increased scleral wall elasticity.
  12. Cordain found that a high carbohydrate diet and deficiency of EFAs and minerals promote myopia
  13. It appears that a myopiagenic environment (near work) is needed to activate  genetic predisposition to myopia
  14. What is the biological mechanism?
  15. The normal lens changes shape to focus
  16. Myopia progresses in two stages: (1) near work induces lens spasm, causing pseudo-myopia; (2) use of minus lenses temporarily improves distance vision, but leads to eye elongation and axial myopia.  The result of elongation is a need to prescribe stronger minus lenses, in a vicious cycle of ever stronger lenses.
  17. Eye elongation is explained by the incremental retinal defocus theory.  Retinal defocus causes release of neuromodulators that lead to decreased scleral tissue integrity, and axial growth
  18. The IRD theory has been proven empirically in chicks, monkeys and humans using optical reflectometry
  19. How can myopia be reversed?
  20. First, it is useful to understand the framework of hormesis — the beneficial response to low dose stress
  21. Weight lifting is a good example of hormesis and the principle of Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand
  22. What if gyms had the same business model as optometrists?  They would prescribe exoskeletons to help us walk, but these “crutches” would make us weaker, not stronger.  Lenses are crutches
  23. To reverse myopia with hormesis, we need to use active focus.  That means print pushing and plus lenses while reading, and progressively weaker minus lenses and image fusing for distance activities
  24. To embark on this journey, you must first determine how myopic you are, using a Snellen chart
  25. For print pushing, you need plus lenses only if your myopia is less than -2D. Otherwise use your naked eye
  26. Find the distance (D1) where print is at the edge of focus and (D2) where it starts to blur.  Read between D1 and D2
  27. Move back from your computer or book to stay between D1 and D2. Do this for 2-4 hours a day, taking frequent breaks.  Graduate to stronger plus lenses when you drop below 2D, and continue until you achieve 20/20 vision!
  28. For distance (walking, TV, movies, meetings) buy glasses with a 0.5D reduced prescription
  29. Once your vision gets better, you may notice “double vision” or ghosting.  This is a good sign and something you can use to improve your vision!
  30. Find distant objects with sharp contrasting edges: telephone wires, tree branches, edges of buildings or signs
  31. Focus on the darker of the double image and away from the fainter image.  With time, the darker image will become darker, and the fainter image will fade away
  32. Eventually the double image with fuse into a single crisp image — very exciting!
  33. Most people have a weak eye and a stronger eye with less myopia.  The stronger eye will dominate, so strengthen the weaker eye by patching, shielding or winking shut the stronger eye…until the two eyes are roughly even.
  34. Frequently asked questions
  35. How much time should I spend on print pushing?  Spend 2-4 hours a day while doing routine computer work or reading. This is not a separate exercise, but something you build into daily activity
  36. How long before my vision improves?  Be patient — it’s like exercise or diet and won’t work overnight.  Expect some improvement within a few weeks, but it may take a year or more to clear your vision
  37. Is this the same as the Bates method?  Bates had some incorrect ideas about focusing, but his relaxation techniques can help reduce ciliary strain on the lens (pseduomyopia).  However, his method does not help if you have axial myopia and spend a lot of time at the computer or reading.  Print pushing specifically helps with that.
  38. Does active focus really work?  Check out my blog and forum for success stories
  39. And for the skeptical, here is a page of references on the epidemiology and causation of myopia
  40. And more references on methods and websites that provide a similar approach to mine
  41. Your eyes are adaptive organs which allowed them to become myopic, but you can use that same adaptability to reverse the process using active focus for both near and far activities
  42. Rediscover your natural vision — make it fun, make it a habit, make it a game.  You only have your glasses to lose!

Also be sure to check out these related posts and discussions:

What cold showers and exercise have in common

Posted 17 Feb 2014 — by Todd
Category Diet, Fitness, Hormesis, Uncategorized

lewisgordonpugh2PA1307_468xCan cold showers, winter plunges, and brisk walks in the chilly outdoors provide some of the same benefits as intense exercise—including weight loss and increased energy levels?  Such a link has been suspected, because cold exposure is known to convert metabolically docile white adipose tissue (WAT) into metabolically active brown adipose tissue (BAT). This “brown fat” helps you stay warmer and burn more energy.  But now there is some evidence that cold exposure doesn’t merely help you turn up your inner furnace, and burn off a little fat in the short term.  It may actually lower your body’s weight set point by activating a hormone that is also released during intense exercise.

That hormone is irisin (pronounced “EYE-rissin”), a cytokine produced in skeletal muscle.  From the initial evidence, irisin and its partner hormone FGF21 may provide lasting benefits by boosting your metabolism and inducing you to shed excess pounds. Read More

Getting Stronger now on Facebook

Posted 04 Jan 2014 — by Todd
Category Uncategorized

facebook iconMuch of the traffic to this blog comes from followers who have linked to blog articles that they like here.  So I’ve just launched a Facebook page where I’ll frequently add links to interesting articles, post comments and questions, and generally encourage discussion on topics related to hormesis, such as diet, fitness, vision improvement, immune enhancement, psychology and even Stoicism.

The first linked article on the Facebook page relates to cold exposure and improve immunity.  Check it out!

Let me know what you think about this…and please follow on Facebook using the link in the right margin, or just by clicking this hyperlink:

Click here for Facebook page

The case against nutritional supplements

Posted 17 Aug 2013 — by Todd
Category Diet, Health, Hormesis, Uncategorized

Here is a hyperlink with slides from the talk I gave today at the Ancestral Health Symposium 2013 in Atlanta.  I will upload a video of the talk once the organizers make it available.  Until then, you can click on the “Link to audio recording”  to listen to a recording that one of the conference attendees made and posted on YouTube.   The sound is a bit faint, but still audible, and should make the slides more intelligible.

Todd question AHS2013 - Copy

This presentation is based on material from several previous blog posts

The talk includes some new material not covered in those previous posts, in particular addressing antioxidant recycling, supplementation of calcium and the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA.  I have also provided a list of references of supporting studies and literature in the final 3 slides.

I enjoyed meeting many new faces and recognizing old ones at this year’s AHS.

 

Why I don’t take vitamin D supplements

Posted 11 Nov 2012 — by Todd
Category Uncategorized

Vitamin D has been associated with numerous health benefits, including cardiovascular and immune health, bone strength, and prevention of cancer. However, studies claim that most of us are deficient in vitamin D, and thereby unnecessarily vulnerable to increased heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, infection and autoimmune disorders. According to a review of recent studies in Natural News, there is a woldwide epidemic of vitamin D deficiency:  59% of the population is “vitamin D deficient”.  The article goes onto to speculate that “What’s becoming increasingly clear from all the new research is that vitamin D deficiency may be the common denominator behind our most devastating modern degenerative diseases.”

Supplementation with vitamin D capsules is advocated even by “primal” advocate  Mark Sisson, normally one to take inspiration from our paleolithic ancestors, shunning medication and embracing a lifestyle of eating whole foods and engaging in moderately stressful, playful exercise:

We can’t all bask in the midday sun.. For those of us unable to run shirtless and shoeless through a sun kissed meadow…our option is oral intake… food will help, but it won’t suffice. You need something stronger. ..take a good D3 supplement if you can’t get real sunlight. As long as you don’t go overboard on the dosage, you’re good to go. If it’s not in an oil-based capsule, just take it with a bit of fatty food (not a stretch for an Primal eater). It travels the same pathway and results in the same benefits. It’s always easier to just let nature take its course, but it’s not always realistic. A good general rule is 4000 IU per day.

Therefore, we should supplement with vitamin D.  Right?

Not so fast.  A closer examination shows that low vitamin D levels may be a consequence, not a cause, of poor health.  And that supplementation with Vitamin D may actually be counterproductive.  Let me explain.

Read More

AHS 2012

Posted 13 Aug 2012 — by Todd
Category Uncategorized

What a great conference!  I had heard such high praise for the inaugural meeting of the Ancestral Health Symposium last August, but I was too late to register in 2011.  This year I submitted an abstract that was accepted as a poster presentation.   For those who missed it, I’ve attached a copy of my presentation below.

What an edifying and uplifting experience! We just wrapped up three days of excellent talks, panels, poster presentations and plenty of informal networking and socializing. This conference is really the hub of the Paleo movement. The emphasis was on the most recent developments in the scientific, cultural, political, and practical approaches to overcoming the contemporary health epidemics that derive from a mismatch between contemporary lifestyles and the biology of our evolutionary heritage.  The talks and panels were diverse, covering nutrition, cholesterol, cancer, immune health, farming, exercise, and many other topics.

Read More

See you at the Ancestral Health Symposium

Posted 15 Jul 2012 — by Todd
Category Uncategorized

I’m excited to be poster presenter at AHS 2012, meeting August 9-11 at Harvard University:

 

My presentation at AHS 2012 will be about the role of hormesis in optimal health

UPDATE:  Here is a link to the poster sessions – scroll down to see the full abstracts and biographies.  You’ll see my talk and abstract listed there:

AHS 2012 Poster Sessions

 

The Ancestral Health Symposium is considered by many to be the “Woodstock of Evolutionary Medicine”.  According to the Ancestral Health Society website, this annual event “fosters collaboration among scientists, healthcare professionals and laypersons who study and communicate about health from an evolutionary perspective to develop solutions to our modern health challenges.”

This year’s Ancestral Health Symposium will be only their second annual meeting.  Last year’s inaugural meeting was the buzz of the paleosphere, featuring a long list of paleo luminaries familiar to readers of this blog, including:  Loren Cordain, Mark Sisson, Robert Lustig, Gary Taubes, Seth Roberts, Robb Wolf, Stephan Guyenet, Michael Eades, Denise Minger, Chris Masterjohn, Doug McGuff, Erwan LaCorre, Tom Naughton, Richard Nikoley, J. Stanton, Emily Deans and others.  AHS 2011 was informative, exciting and featured both formal and informal debate and even controversy.  For a great synopsis of last year’s meeting, here are a few good review posts:

Nora Gedgadaus and Denise Minger

This year’s roundup promises to be equally impressive.  Take a few minutes to look at the program,  speakers, and poster presenters, as well as details on how to attend:

If you are interested in attending, my understanding is that tickets are moving fast and are likely to sell out.

If you plan to be there, I’d like to meet you; send me a note using the contact form at the right of the blog page.

Todd

 

 

How one person improved his vision

Posted 21 Apr 2012 — by Todd
Category Uncategorized

One of the articles on this blog that has garnered the most interest and generated the most comments–both here and on the Discussion Forum–concerns the use of plus lenses and threshold focusing in order to reverse myopia. In my post “Improve eyesight— and throw away your glasses“, and the accompanying page on “Rehabilitation“, I showed how the principles of Hormetism can be applied to restore visual acuity and eliminate the need to wear glasses — without the need for laser surgery or other artificial measures. In essence, reading or viewing “at the edge of focus” for extended intervals over a period of about a year will stimulate the eye to physically shorten, substantially reducing or eliminating myopia. In my post, I cited research supporting research for the Incremental Retinal Defocus Theory of myopia and its reversal.

The article has generated a lot of interest, but also some skepticism.  People who otherwise recognize that weight lifting can remodel muscles and diet can change metabolism fail to appreciate how the same principle of gradually applied stimulus can change the focal range of the eye. Since I wrote the article, many contributors to the Discussion Forum have chimed in with their progress, their questions, and their success stories.  Quite a few individuals have been able to significantly reduce the strength of their optical prescriptions.  In a few cases, they have been able to return to 20/20 vision, or better.

Sometimes real success stories can inspire us to try a new approach.  So I invited one of our Forum members, who goes by the screen name “Shadowfoot”, to share his story with you.

Read More

Willpower: How to get it

Posted 16 Dec 2010 — by Todd
Category Diet, Psychology, Uncategorized

This week I wrote a guest post about willpower for Julien Smith’s blog.  It synthesizes a number of the ideas on this blog about deconditioning urges and emotions that tend to undermine our resolve to make significant changes in life.

Getting started

Posted 10 Jan 2010 — by Todd
Category Uncategorized

Well I’m just getting started on “Getting Stronger”.  This blog is a project I’ve had in mind for over a year.  I’ve been seeing connections across many different areas of self-improvement, and collecting thoughts on a mind map.  I didn’t know what I would do with them. My first motivation was pure intellectual curiosity — trying to make sense of the world. My second motivation was to actually get healthier and stronger by the most efficient means possible. But it’s hard to contain these thoughts — they just have to be shared with others. I’ve worn out a few close friends with long discussions.  They’ve helped me to refine these ideas, and I appreciate their feedback.

I thought about writing a book, and perhaps I will some day. But that is such a big project, and one that I’m not sure I could fit into my busy schedule with work and family right now. Then I started thinking about a blog, because so much of the research I’ve done for Getting Stronger comes from information gleaned over the Internet.  Some of it is primary research, but a lot of it is in digested form, on blogs and other websites. Then, my friend Carl suggested WordPress as a platform for instant blogging.  It is indeed easy to use, so that lowered the energy barrier.  And here you have it, my first posting.

I’m very interested in feedback, so please add your comments, suggestions, personal experiences, and links to related research. You can do that either on the blog pages and posts, or in the discussion Forum that is linked to this blog.  I would like to urge that any postings be kept “on topic”.  I will exercise editorial discretion to eliminate tangential or irrelevant topics, or posting which I deem to be uninteresting, rude, too personal…in short, whatever doesn’t fit. I will do my best to read and respond to comments in a timely fashion.  I have no idea where this thing is ultimately going, so…

Here goes!

Todd