Getting High On Your Own Supply (Matt)

The title of this article—“Getting ‘High’ On Your Own Supply”—is attractive enough in itself to get many young people’s attention. The author starts by saying that part of “runner’s high” (the euphoria one feels after running for a long period of time) comes from the effects of endocannabinoids: “the body’s counterpart to some of marijuana’s mood-enhancing chemicals.” For decades, researchers and runners alike have claimed that this feeling comes from endorphins. While endorphin molecules do work to numb muscles, its molecule is too large to be transferred from the blood to the brain in order to spur the “high” feeling. It is important to note, though, that endocannabinoids are not solely responsible for the high, it is rather a concoction of chemicals that work harmoniously to make you feel “stoned”.

Endocannabinoids

The first is of course, the endocannabinoid. It activates the same chemical receptors as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—one of the psychoactive drugs in cannabis (hence the name). The body produces endocannabinoids when nerves are activated by stress or pain. They travel to the source neuron that is sending out the signals and dampens its effects.

Endorphins

The second molecule is the endorphin. Just as the THC in marijuana affects the body’s cannabinoid receptors, heroin and morphine affect the body’s opioid receptors. Endorphins are the body’s natural chemical counterparts to these intoxicating drugs. “Endorphins” covers a very broad range of molecules that perform a wide variety of tasks such as respond to exercise, meditation, tattooing, or even eating spicy food (which actually causes a small amount of tissue damage to which endorphins work to dampen the effects of). Scientists have proven that endorphins are not the only culprit for the intoxicating effects, because when endorphin production is blocked with naloxone, the subject’s mood still improved. This has led scientists to believe that the feeling comes more from a “neurohormonal cocktail” as John Raglin of Indiana University Bloomington states.

Enkephalins

Next is the enkephalin, a chemical sometimes categorized under the broad dome of endorphins. These tend to bind to opioid receptors, but not the exact receptors that endorphins do. Enkephalins are usually only released in the presence of acute pain, not things like meditation or spicy food. It is believed that enkephalins merely numb the pain before endorphins go in for the kill and impose their intoxicating effects. Enkephalins simply take a small role in the complex process of the body’s pain-dampening processes.

Dopamine

Lastly is dopamine. Dopamine is a bit special in that its relation to pleasure-making is primarily centered around the reward of doing such an act, not the actually doing of the act. It makes you anticipate a reward and if the expected results precipitate, then it helps link the action with the reward. A surplus, although, does not mean high effects of pleasure, but rather can lead to paranoia and diseases such as schizophrenia. Subjects with an overactive dopamine system have been found to have many of these diseases. So in moderation, its work in the “runner’s high” equation is to link the feeling of pleasure (created by the mixture of all the other chemicals) with the act of exercising or working out.

“Long before we humans discovered the blissful effects of cannabis or the addictive sleep of morphine, our distant evolutionary ancestors were already evolving complex internal systems for regulating pain and managing mood. When we use, or abuse, drugs that activate these receptors, we’re tapping into systems that have already been humming along for millions of years, serving up relaxation and dampening agony when we need help the most. As we continue to learn more about our bodies’ diverse toolkit of endogenous pain relievers and psychoactive chemicals — many of which are still poorly understood — we gain a better understanding of the ways these systems work. That way, we can get better at turning on a natural high right when we need one, delivered for free by the cutting-edge manufacturing equipment in our own muscles, bones and brains.”

Simple, Healthy Eating

Today’s craze is some new version of the old diet & exercise. Paleo, Nutrisystem, Cross-Fit, running marathons–you name it and we’ve got it! But it’s just too hard these days with work, school, kids, family, and friends. It’s really easy though because you don’t have to eat a salad every day, you just have to eat consciously! Here are my key tips on tracking calories, balancing macronutrients, avoiding sodium & additives, and avoiding processing:


CALORIES

A lot of health conscious people use some kind of calorie tracker–this is the first step. If you can get comfortable with a set caloric amount each day, you’ll 1 – teach your body to adapt to a calorie deficit (therefore forcing it to burn fat) and 2 – learn how to eat in a way that fills you up on low-calorie foods which further helps to burn fat.

I use an app called “Lose it!”, which is available on Android and iPhone, that can track calories and macros easily.

MACRONUTRIENTS

Balancing “macros”, as it’s abbreviated, is crucial to taking the next step. There are a lot of macro-balancing charts out there, but I’ll simplify it for you. If you can balance all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) at about one third (33%) each of your daily diet, you’ll be doing well. For those who have a faster metabolism, you can afford a few more carbs; and for those who are a little on the heavy side, try to avoid carbs–this balancing will help you lose some extra fat.

An important note on this balancing is understanding what foods are what. Meats, eggs, and beans are common proteins. Nuts and plant oils are great, healthy (unsaturated) fats, while beef and eggs provide common animal fats. Basically everything else is a carbohydrate: bread, potatoes, rice, chips, oats, grains, brownies, cookies, etc.

The biggest evil in all the macros are the copious amounts of sugar in soft drinks and sweets around today–watch these because one single bottle of coca-cola can be upwards of 60-70 grams of sugar/carbs. This can ruin your macro balancing, but also there are some notes on this kind of sugar–see below.

SODIUM & ADDITIVES

The next thing is unnecessarily added ingredients. We are supposed to eat natural ingredients, not things that were cooked up in the lab (listen I’m the first one to push science further, but unnatural food will make you unnatural).

Firstly, sodium. The American Heart Association’s daily recommended amount of sodium for a healthy human being is 2,300 milligrams (mg). Keep in mind sodium is found in salt, artificial spices, and in lots of prepared meats (as preservatives). Some might think 2,300 mg of sodium would be easy to keep, but this amount is equivalent to just one teaspoon of table salt (which is about 40% sodium). So really try to avoid salt, extra spices, and unneeded processing, which I’ll come to in just a minute. If you can get reduced sodium, always get it–we know all the heart problems with excess sodium (high blood pressure and heart disease. Also, consuming a lot of potassium can counteract the sodium.

Secondly, artificial sweeteners and such. All kinds of artificial additives can make otherwise healthy food ruined. Aspartame and other “artificial sweeteners” 1 – can cause cancer and 2 – are treated by your body just the same as sugar, but it doesn’t count towards sugars or carbohydrates on the nutrition label. Diet & zero-calorie drinks have these, which are actually worse than regular sugar. Other additives like nitrates and nitrites are horrible for your body–try not to buy foods that include these.

PROCESSING

Lastly, we will discuss something more abstract than limiting sodium, balancing macros, or counting calories. Avoiding processing requires understanding what processing is: apples are unprocessed, apple pie is more processed, apple sauce is even more processed. Think of processing like middlemen in retail–a product starts out at $4, then the middle man sells it for $7.50, then the final retail store sells the product (that only costs $4 originally) for $10. Each step in the processing process adds sugars, sodium, preservatives, and additives to keep it “good” by the next sell. Always think to yourself, what was this food originally? When you eat an apple, you can tell it was picked from a tree. When you eat queso cheese dip, you think this is cheese, made from milk, that came from a cow–that’s processing.

Universal Civil and Social Rights (Matt)

The Christian faith is often considered controversial for its doctrines and their political applications.

To supplement that, the Christian faith is very divided between its many denominations, which each describe its own set of beliefs. These multiple sets of beliefs, as a whole religion, encompass nearly every viewpoint available, which leads to its dispute: how can one faith have so many beliefs?

Catholicism

Derived from millennia of tradition, the Catholic Church has a long history based on fundamentals dotted with tribulations. Its history begins with the early Christian community following the teachings and fulfilled prophecies of Christ himself.

Since then, the church has assumed very powerful positions sprinkled with evil and corruption, but equally love and compassion.

Emperor Constantine’s decision to expand Christianity to the Roman Empire around A.D. 300 (Matthews, “Constantine I…”) catalyzed the Catholic Empowerment, which made the Pope one of the highest political officials in the world. He has held this position with much influence until the 1800s when political powers began to be reserved for national officials instead of religious sovereigns.

This power, though thought to offer a conduit to worldwide evangelization, has corrupted the church in many instances (Miller, “Power Struggles of…”). Such escapades as the Crusades, the Inquisition, tithing, and indulgences turned the Pope into a sort of political authoritarian.

The Church’s excuse for these was the name of God and His desire to convert the entire world to Catholicism—I believe such oppression is a disgrace to Christ’s ministry.

But, learning from that, the Church’s recent popes have grown its mission into one that is based on love and compassion for all. This liberalized mission of the church has attracted socially conscious millennials as well as formerly non-believing atheists (Fradd, “15 Surprising Things…”).

Beginning with Pope John Paul II’s call for social justice and continuing with radical changes under Pope Francis, Catholics all around the world are facing a new, progressive church that might just bring the Christian world together.

Episcopalianism

My personal faith-walk has left me with the Episcopal Church, which was either amazing luck or extraordinary grace from God.

I was baptized into the Episcopal faith on the day of the Epiphany, just a few months after I was born. In the Episcopal Church, Confirmation isn’t solely reserved for young adulthood so I received it when I was only twelve.

Despite this (and regretfully), I never really understood what my faith professed until my senior year of high school. Regardless, I was lucky to have it happen to me with the Episcopal Church because it almost exactly matches my political stance on a variety of issues.

Both it and I deductively apply a simple set of fundamental beliefs to all political matters.

For example, we believe in protecting and nurturing the rights and dignity of every human being on earth. This basic belief can apply to political positions such as abortion, gay marriage, and poverty.

The Episcopal Church stands for the rights of the unborn child as well as the rights of the pregnant woman. The choice side of our pro-choice stance is to choose to prevent a conception—and thus the need for abortion—with contraceptives, birth control, and simple family planning. We say that the question is not “Is abortion ok?” but rather “How do we make abortion unnecessary?”

The abortion process is permitted “in cases of rape or incest, cases in which a mother’s physical or mental health is at risk, or cases involving fetal abnormalities,” but not “as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection or any reason of mere convenience,” (Pew Research, “Religious Groups’ Official…”).

We profess a blending of beliefs, because we understand one-sidedness never resolves a problem. Gay marriage and homosexuality is fully permitted in the Episcopal Church—we even have the first and only openly gay cleric of any Christian denomination. We see homosexuals as children of God, just as every other human being on the face of this earth.

Poverty is also addressed as something we must counteract with all that we can do, both socially and politically.

Rights

Now, how do these standpoints apply to civil and social rights? Firstly, we must address their political relevance.

I strongly believe that religion and its ideologies should stay out of politics. We assume a separation of church and state to avoid such dictatorships as the Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East or the Catholic Holy Roman Empire of the Middle Ages.

Corruption can run rampant in such dictatorial states due to a single ruler’s “infallibility” (Brom, “Papal Infallibility.”). His—and sparsely her—ideas and opinions can progress to unchallenged dogmas.

The political application of such corruption can be detrimental, leading an entire nation on ideology, not democratic common sense.

Despite this, I believe government officials should have some kind of moral basis on which to make decisions…

The unprecedented precedent of the Supreme Court case “Citizens United”, which allowed big money into politics, is one of the greatest atrocities of the modern age. Huge corporations—I mean people—have assumed the role of the pig “Napoleon” of Orwell’s Animal Farm being “more equal than others.”

(Now I should preface this assertion with a stance on the economy: I do not condemn big business, but I do not condone their money becoming a conduit to extreme political power. The Supreme Court case was niche to the appellant’s situation, not generally applicable to big money donors.)

This “free speech” (“Citizens United…”), though, has corrupted politicians and businessmen alike. This is the basis on which I emphasize that morals, possibly derived from religion, must be utilized in the course of politics.

In not so dissimilar of a way should politicians embody the Episcopal Church by applying a simple and structured set of fundamental beliefs to issues pertaining to our republic (note: I am not claiming the Episcopal Church to be perfect or infallible, just appropriate in this sense).

This action of implementing religious bases is not a usurpation of the political stage. The fine line between implementation and usurpation falls at passion.

Passion

Passion for one’s religion, though not always a bad thing, can spur bickering and chaos; whereas passion for one’s religious bases can actually achieve the desirable and formidable goals of civil and social rights.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., did not fight for African American rights because he was Baptist, he used his Baptist beliefs to recognize that “Negroes” were and are equal, human beings.

He did not say that Jesus Christ fought for Civil Rights, he understood that Jesus Christ fought for love of fellow man, which in King’s day included African Americans.

This, I believe, is how we can unite the world’s peacemakers, by each implementing his or her own set of beliefs to come to a unanimous solution. Regardless of race, ethnicity, stature, sex, religion, sexuality, or ideology, the solution is in coalescing as one human species to fight injustice and oppression.

As King said himself from Birmingham City Jail,

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.”


Works Cited

“Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.” Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Jan 26, 2016. <https://www.oyez.org/cases/2008/08-205>.

Brom, Bishop Robert H. “Papal Infallibility.” Catholic.com. 10 Aug. 2004. Web. 26 Jan. 2016. <http://www.catholic.com/tracts/papal-infallibility>.

Fradd, Matt. “15 Surprising Things Atheists Are Saying about Pope Francis.” Matt Fradd RSS. 2016. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <http://mattfradd.com/15-things-atheists-are-saying-about-pope-francis/>.

Matthews, J.F. “Constantine I | Roman Emperor.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 12 May 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <http://www.britannica.com/biography/Constantine-I-Roman-emperor>.

Miller, Jessica Elam. “Power Struggles of the Holy Roman Empire: Popes vs. Emperors.” Study.com. 2016. Web. 26 Jan. 2016. <http://study.com/academy/lesson/power-struggles-of-the-holy-roman-empire-popes-vs-emperors.html>.

Pew Research Center. “Religious Groups’ Official Positions on Abortion.” Pew Research Centers Religion Public Life Project RSS. 16 Jan. 2013. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <http://www.pewforum.org/2013/01/16/religious-groups-official-positions-on-abortion/>.

Ep. 203 Part 2 – This Is Going To Be An Adventure…

Brendon and Matt went on a once in a lifetime sailing trip to the Bahamas! Join them and their colleagues as they experience amazingness in the flesh, while slipping in a few philosophical discussions here or there!

iTunes link here.

YouTube channel here.

Social media here.

Business contact: lunchtalksphilosophy@gmail.com

PODCAST AUDIO:

Ep. 203 Part 1 – This Is Going To Be An Adventure…

Brendon and Matt went on a once in a lifetime sailing trip to the Bahamas! Join them and their colleagues as they experience amazingness in the flesh, while slipping in a few philosophical discussions here or there!

iTunes link here.

YouTube channel here.

Social media here.

Business contact: lunchtalksphilosophy@gmail.com

PODCAST AUDIO:

Ep. 202 Part 3 – Brendon’s Post-Klagetoh Interview!!

Welcome back for Season 2!!! Brendon is leaving for a mission trip to Klagetoh, Arizona—a trip that Matt made over last Thanksgiving. We interview Brendon to see what all is to come!

iTunes is linked here.

YouTube channel is linked here.

Social Media is linked here.

Business Contact: lunchtalksphilosophy@gmail.com

PODCAST AUDIO:

Ep. 202 Part 2 – Brendon’s Post-Klagetoh Interview!!

Welcome back for Season 2!!! Brendon is leaving for a mission trip to Klagetoh, Arizona—a trip that Matt made over last Thanksgiving. We interview Brendon to see what all is to come!

iTunes is linked here.

YouTube channel is linked here.

Social Media is linked here.

Business Contact: lunchtalksphilosophy@gmail.com