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What’s Your Signature Drink?

By Wieke von Scheidt

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Photo Credit: invitojazz via Compfight cc

 

It’s 9pm, you just arrived at your local bar, when the bartender doesn’t even give you a second to think about your drink choice. You don’t want to tell him that you are not sure yet because who knows when he is going to come back to you, so the usual happens; you order the same old drink that you have, every time you go out. Everybody has their personal signature drink, whether it is because they love it so much, they are rushed to order every time they go out, or they just don’t know what else to order because they are afraid to try something new.

I have to say the choices of alcoholic beverages are endless and sometimes a bit overwhelming. Personally, I am a fan of cocktails and I fit into any of the three categories above to why I order the same old drink every time I go out. In fact, I actually have two signature drinks; one I love to drink when I am out and just want to have a relaxing evening, and one for the quick buzz. Before I tell you my personal favorites, I would like to talk a little bit more about the so called signature drinks.

The unique beverages have been around for a long time and are often developed after the spirit produced. Some drinks even have stories of their origin. The martini is the most famous cocktail and many variations have been created since its origin. The first Martini poured, was in the 19th century and was called Martinez, after a small Californian town. At that time it was a sweeter version and contained sweet vermouth, gin, bitters and was garnished with a maraschino cherry. In the 20th century the martini changed closer to our known dry variation, only containing gin, bitters, and vermouth. James Bond and its famous line “shaken not stirred”, often comes to peoples mind when speaking of a Martini. The Bond version however, is made with vodka and was born much later than the original. Whichever way Martini Lovers will drink it, the traditional Martini will not go away and remain a signature drink.

Today signature drinks keep gaining in popularity because they represent the unique culture and atmosphere of a place. Therefore many bars and restaurants create their own signature drink that they offer on their menu. My personal favorite for a quiet, relaxed evening is the Mojito, and the one I drink when I need a quick buzz is the Incredible Hulk, because it is very strong.

If you have any signature drinks, and even a story behind it, please tell us about it.

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How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

By Wieke von Scheidt

Summer is almost here, or at least we hope it is. This is the time of year when many take vacation to travel, and relax. Kids have long breaks and parents can use up some of their vacation days. If you are traveling this summer it’s a good thing to know some ways to stay fit. Health is something that is often forgotten while traveling. On your next trip try to keep some of these tips in mind.

Explore the Area

Before you travel, plan your trip. Buy a map or a travel guide with interesting places to visit. Once you get to your destination be sure to get out of your accommodation at least once a day and walk around outside. Going for a long walk, whether you are exploring the city, or strolling along the beach is a great way to relax the mind and keep your body going. If it’s raining you can visit museums, shopping centers, or other indoor places that allow you to walk around.

Eat Healthy

While on vacation it is always easy to just get a quick meal from any fast food restaurant, but it is better to take an extra five minutes to bring your own meal. It will also be better for your wallet. For the little hunger in-between you can pack snacks like apples, bananas, and my personal favorite, granola bars. If you still decide to go out to eat choose a restaurant that serves a variety of good foods and make sure to get some vegetables with your meals.

Be Active

Many hotels have amenities such as gyms, swimming pools, tennis courts, and so on. Even if the place you stay at does not offer any of these services, get creative. If the weather is nice, plug your headphones in and go out for a run, hike, or rent a bike. This is also a great way to explore the area.

Take the Stairs

If you stay in a room that is a couple floors up, and not all the way in the sky consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Have you been sitting all day, or spent a lazy day lounging by the beach? It will feel good to walk some stairs and maybe stretch. Anywhere you go you will probably find stairs, so make it a habit to use them.

Bring a Workout DVD

In case your hotel does not have any amenities you can always bring some workout DVDs and exercise in your room. Many hotel rooms have DVD players, or you can just bring your own laptop. This is a great way to get a quick workout in, especially if you don’t like exercising around people.

Vacations are a wonderful time to disconnect from our busy lives and truly relax. This does not mean you should take a break from your healthy lifestyle you normally follow. If you are used to working out and staying fit, don’t blow all that hard work by skipping it completely during your vacation. And if you love staying active it should not be a hard task to keep it up while traveling. Do you have any tips on how to stay fit and healthy while traveling? Share your tips and tell us how you stay active below, on our Facebook, or Tweet us.

CLAREX in the Classroom

By Stephanie Slicis

As any student or former student knows, it can be difficult to stay on task in class. Distractions could be caused by learning a hard topic, monotone teacher, or even the pretty bird right outside the window. We’ve all been there, don’t deny it.

However long you are distracted for, you will miss something that could be fundamental. One second off task could create one confusing hour of trying to catch up. Here are some tips that will help you stay focused no matter how many birds are outside your window.

  1. Be Well Rested

I know, I know, you have heard this advice countless times, but it needs to be reiterated. Our schedules are constantly busy and it seems like sleep is the first thing we sacrifice to get our other tasks done.

Planning your day ahead of time will allow you to arrange making time for sleep. If some of the things on your agenda do not get accomplished, evaluate how crucial it is to get them done that day. Can it be done tomorrow? If so, pour yourself a relaxing cup of decaf tea and then head off to bed.

  1. Be Energized

Yes, this can be done by getting more sleep, but it also involves preparing your body for the day. Make sure to have a full breakfast or lunch before your classes to ensure that you are storing energy.

I would not recommend going to the local coffee shop on or off campus before class. The caffeine can become addictive, which will cause you to consume more just to get you through the day. Another negative about coffee is the countless bathroom trips you might have to take. More trips outside the classroom create more important information missed.

I would however recommend finding an alternative method to get energy through vitamins and dietary supplements. CLAREX is the perfect choice in this case because it is an all-natural supplement that sustains your energy all day. It also formulated to keep your brain focused in alert.

  1. Be Engaged

Remaining involved in the discussion will not only increase your understanding, but it will keep you focused.  Answer or asking questions, reading along, and even just nodding your head toward your instructor will increase your productivity.

Idle time is when your mind can wander and lead you off course.  One minute your are listening attentively, and then you begin to think about your other work you have due, or what you are going to wear this weekend. Remain in the conversation and the topic at hand, so you don’t allow idol time.

  1. Be Prepared

Every class length is different, and some might be over two hours long. A lot can happen in a two hour span, and you need to be prepared so that you can stay focused. I always make sure that I have a snack in my bag in case I get hungry. There is nothing worse than being hungry in class and being insanely jealous of the girl two rows in front of you that happily snacks away on her various treats. Packing your own snack will ensure that you stay active in class, instead of imagining what her food tastes like.

Your bag also needs to be appropriately packed for class. I always recommend to bring more than one writing utensil and to always have highlighters. Notes are fundamental to doing well in a class, and you do not want to miss any because your pen broke, or you forgot to highlight the important section.

Why Is It Always the Same New Year’s Resolutions?

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By Eugene Y. Chan, MD

First, Happy New Year!  But what is it about our New Year’s Resolutions?

Are we always stuck on this endless treadmill of making the same ones?

How can it be the same one as last year?

Weight loss, exercise, love, friendship, success, money.  We seem to yearn for the same things, that gives us hope.  To hope is to be human.  We may never seem to reach them, they are ideals that we hold in our heads.  That is what is so powerful about it.

Size 2, no size 0 is better.  Grade A, no A+.  2000 sq. ft, no 3000.  Part of this is an inner thirst for the betterment of ourselves.  It  is what makes us build cities, send rockets to Mars, and to understand DNA.  But what is it that makes some of us able to do it and other not?

Someone once said to me, “Your life is made up of the sum of all the little decisions that you make from day to day.”  Likewise, the amount of willpower and mental focus that you give each minute, of each meal, each rep, or each hug, creates who you are.  A businessman who greets someone with a half-hearted smile will not be as successful as the one who remembers your name, dog, and the color of your tie.  An artist who paints only when told to will only see his works on his desk.  Don’t be that.

Send your spaceship to Mars,

See your art in the MoMA,

Find your inner DNA,

Live each minute of your life with gusto.

Be well and stay focused.

Happy 2014.

The CLAREX EFFECT (Concise)

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The CLAREX Effect

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By Eugene Y. Chan, MD

What is the CLAREX Effect?  We often get asked this question.  I initially formulated CLAREX based on my experiences at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where I saw a significant number of patients needed a boost after spending too much time in the hospital.  Some of these were from alcohol intoxication, malaise, and general deconditioning.  I wanted to create something that did not require an IV, but was able to help people bounce back quickly and be productive.  For me, especially after long shifts at the hospital.  

The CLAREX Effect has several uses:

1.  Mental Clarity Recovery.  After a late night or long night, CLAREX helps you bounce back and be productive.  We have received a lot of great feedback from different people about this aspect of CLAREX.  The effects are most noticeable after long, stressful days or even for post-celebration recovery.

2.  The Intelligent Workout.  How many times have you wished you crammed an hour of workout into 30 minutes?  CLAREX helps you stay focused while you are in the gym, obstacle course, or playing field.

3.  Increase Studying Performance.  Studying, or any mental activity requires active neurons.  Caffeine has a short-lasting effect and wears off quickly.  CLAREX is designed to help you stay focused for long periods of time, days, or even weeks at a time to achieve the best possible performance.

Essentially, CLAREX is a productivity supplement that works on your natural biochemical pathways and it does not contain any caffeine and is completely stimulant-free so you can feel good that you are using it.

 

 

Quick Ways to Improve Your Attention

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by Eugene Y. Chan, MD

Ever wonder why you can’t sit still and finish your work?  This is a general problem with the population at large these days.  The quick answer is that there are too many distractions:  smart phones, the internet, kids, and television.  Yes, these are things that can ultimately cause you to be unfocused, unproductive, and unnerved.  This decrease in attention has indeed been studied by numerous groups out there.  For instance, Higginbotham et al. 1993 showed that both normal and diagnosed children with ADHD, when subject to active and passive distractions, led to decrease in performance.  It is no question that distractions, especially sensory ones related to visual and auditory, are undesirable.  On the other hand, this is not the only reason.  For instance, Booth et al., 2005 demonstrated that there is a decreased inhibitory network in those with ADHD, suggesting that there is an underlying physical basis for decreased attention. What should you do about it?

  • Unplug!  Have dedicated periods of time in your day where you are free from your phone, TV, internet, and any electronics.
  • Practice focusing.  This can be done by reading, writing, or some other active form of concentration.  This forces your mind to exercise its inhibitory neurons.
  • Eat carefully.  See previous post, avoid any refined sugars, avoid stimulants, go for small meals, and wisely supplement.

Take care and stay focused.   Booth, JR et al.  Larger deficits in brain networks for response inhibition than for visual selective attention in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  2005.  J. of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.  46:1, pp 94-111. Higginbotham, P. and Bartling, C.  1993.  The effects of sensory distractions on short-term recall of children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder versus normally achieving children.  Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, Vol 31(6), Nov 1993, 507-510.

Energy Drinks Can Affect Your Heart

Image By Eugene Y. Chan, MD

Just recently, presented at the Radiological Society of North America, German researchers were able to image increased cardiac motility 1 hour after test subjects consumed popular energy drinks.  The drinks contained 400 mg taurine and as much as caffeine as up to two cups of coffee.  The increased cardiac motility is not surprising, given that caffeine itself can lead to irregular heartbeats and palpitations.  What this does confirm however, is that physically, the heart works harder, specifically 6% harder after drinking energy drinks, according to Dr. Jonas Doerner with the University of Bonn, Germany.  Increased heart contractility in those with underlying cardiac issues would be more prone to potentially adverse effects.  In recent years, there has been a series of deaths and emergency events associated with the consumption of these caffeine and taurine-based energy drinks.  What is surprising from this study is that a control group, just utilizing caffeine at the same dose, did not show increased cardiac contractility.  This potentially shows that the potential synergistic effects of caffeine, taurine, and potentially sugar can lead to amplified effects, which can affect heart function.

Here’s my advice on how to stay focused without energy drinks:

  • First, minimize your sugar intake.  Refine sugar can have a deleterious effect on your body.
  • Second, stay up to date on the latest studies of what you eat or drink.  Science and medicine have a certain truth to it.  If more than a few research studies have shown certain things, it is starting to look like it may be real.
  • Third, go stimulant-free.  Caffeine acts on your neuroreceptors, which get saturated over time.  That is why over time you need more of it for it to work.  Going stimulant free and choosing a judicious supplement program allows you to go for the long haul.

Stay focused and be well.

The Post-Workout Protein Window

A Collaboration between Captain Clarex AKA Eric Ballenger and Dr. Eugene Y. Chan M.D.

Why is it, that so many people put such an enormous amount of thought into what they eat all day long, and not immediately post-workout? Everyone training muscle, regardless of their chosen mode of exercise, must take their post-exercise nutrition seriously in order to provide their muscle with the required raw materials. Since all types of exercise use carbohydrates for energy, it is inevitable that muscles require carbohydrates afterwards. Therefore, post-workout carbohydrates are important to refill this key ingredient in your muscles.

However, any amount of carbohydrates will not do. You need to consume enough carbohydrates to promote a substantial insulin release. Insulin is the hormone responsible for shuttling glucose into muscle cells. Furthermore, insulin leads to increased glycogen synthesis in liver and muscle cells. Insulin has overall anabolic, or “building up,” effects on the body. The addition of protein to this post-workout carbohydrate routine adds the basic building blocks for this overall anabolic process (Miller et al., 2003; Volek, 2004). There many recommended ratios out there concentrating on the glycemic index and the carbohydrate to protein ratio, including a 4:1 or 5:1 ratio (Cordain, 2010). Researchers have utilized a 0.8 g of carbohydrates per kg of body weight as a recommended amount for stimulating anabolic effects of insulin (van Loon et al., 2000). At a 4:1 ratio, this is 0.2 g protein per kg of body weight. An increased consumption of essential amino acids may lead to a more positive protein balance. For instance a 0.4 g/kg may by better. A protein intake range of 0.2 g/kg to 0.4 g/kg is therefore appropriate.

While your post-workout feeding should be rich protein and carbohydrate, this meal should be fat free. The consumption of essential fats is one of the most overlooked areas of daily nutritional intake but during the post workout period, eating fat can actually decrease the effectiveness of your post-workout beverage. Since fat slows down transit through the stomach, eating fat during the post workout period may slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and proteins.

 

 

Cordain, L. The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance. December 16, 2010.

Miller, S.L., K.D. Tipton, D.L. Chinkes, S.E. Wolf, and R.R. Wolfe. Independent and combined effects of amino acids and glucose after resistance exercise. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 34:449-55, 2003

Van Loon, L., Saris, W.H., Kruijshoop, M., and Wagenmakers, A.J. Maximizing postexercise muscle glycogen synthesis: carbohydrate supplementation and the application of amino acid or protein hydrolysate mixtures. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 72(1):106-111, 2000.

Volek, J.S. Influence of nutrition on responses to resistance training. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 36:689-96,2004.

Food for Thought for the Holidays

By Eugene Y. Chan, MD

The holidays are approaching us fast and typically there are two big fears that confront us:  (1) how do I not gain weight? and (2) how do I survive my holiday party?  Thanksgiving and the holidays are synonymous with gluttony, binge eating, and over indulgence.  Furthermore, there are numerous holiday parties that you need to attend, whether out of obligation or for fun.  Given the joyous time of year, there is plenty of opportunity to get carried away.  Fortunately, there is time to prepare.  

First, regarding weight gain, there are several key realizations.  The first is that the stomach has unique properties.  It is an expandable container, made of smooth muscle.  If it is in a compact state for weeks prior to your binge eating episode, you will feel full faster and will not consume as much.  On the flip side, if you occasionally have large meals, you stomach will have lost its elasticity, very much like a balloon that has been inflated and deflated multiple times, and you will be able to consume a lot more.  Second, your stomach and digestive tract secrete enzymes that require a certain time of upregulation, through gene expression and protein translation.  Without certain key enzymes, the nutrients of certain foods do not make it into the body.  So you could utilize this to your advantage.  If you avoid fatty foods routinely, it is unlikely that a single meal of fatty foods will lead to significant weight gain.  The lesson here in understanding the anatomy of your stomach as well as the molecular response of it to food is simple:  if you eat healthy and in small portions on a routine basis, the impact of a single large meal is unlikely to have significant impact on your daily trip to the scale.  Of course, it all goes without saying that you should continue to remain active and exercise often.

Ok, what should you do about those holiday parties?  Holiday parties tend to be a great time to network, build camaraderie with your colleagues, all through a relaxed atmosphere.  Part of this is a liberal amount of beer, wine, and cocktails that loosen up even your stiffest co-worker.  The key here is moderation for you.  Since you don’t want to be the individual that gets talked about the day after, setting a drink limit and goal for yourself prior to the party is most important.  Discussing your goals with a colleague of similar professional mindset would help you solidify your resolve.  In the event you did have one too many, how do you make it to work?  The answer is simple:  drink plenty of water and take a product designed for post-celebration recovery.  The key is to get your Kreb’s cycle back up and running since an excess of ethanol builds up NADH, which signals the Kreb’s cycle to slow down.  As you know the Kreb’s cycle is central to generating ATP, your body’s main form of energy.  By supplementing key cofactors for enzymes in your Kreb’s cycle, you can get it back up and running in no time, and feel great in the process.  

With that, good cheers for the holidays and be well.

 

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