Blog Archives

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.

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The CLAREX EFFECT (Concise)

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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.

Studying for Exams

by Eugene Y. Chan, MD

The rigors of academics can take a toll on the mind and focus.  What to do when you have stayed up for that all night cram session?  There are a few ways that you can clear your mind:

  • Avoid caffeine, this tends to last only for a short period of time and then the crash will come and you will feel more tired than before you took it.
  • Avoid foods with excess carbohydrates or refined sugar.  These high glycemic index foods lead to significant swings in your mental state.  The insulin response from these foods can also cause reactive low sugar levels that can cause drowsiness.  Instead, reach for something else like nuts which stabilize your sugar levels better.
  • Go work out.  There is no better way to keep up mental fitness by exercising your body.  Sound mind and body.  There is no exaggerating here.
  • Take a supplement that helps you recover and maintain focus.  On this end, you should try to find something that works on entire metabolic pathways (like CLAREX or a like product).  You have to find what works for you and sometimes trying out a few may work well for you.  Regardless of the product, you should look for something that is stimulant-free and does not act on your neuroreceptors like caffeine.

Be well and stay focused.

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.

A Lethal Dose of Caffeine

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By Eugene Y. Chan, M.D.

Recent news about tragic death of Anais Fournier hit the web.  She was 14 and she died after consuming two 24-ounce Monster Energy drinks over a 24-hour period.  She had an underlying heart arrhythmia that may have predisposed her to the adverse effects of caffeine.

Caffeine is a small molecule alkaloid that is found in many different types of plants.  It has a receptor-based mechanism of action that antagonizes the action of adenosine.  In clinical medicine, adenosine is sometimes utilized to treat certain irregular heartbeats, including some supraventricular tachycardias.  Decreasing the action of adenosine can therefore lead to a faster heart rate and can also predispose the heart to irregular heartbeats.  In the case of the very unfortunate 14-year old, she consumed caffeine which decreased action of the adenosine, thus increasing her likelihood of a fatal arrhythmia.

How much is too much?  One may say, “Let us calculate the lethal dose.”  The LD50, or lethal dose for killing 50% of tested animals, for rats is 192 mg/kg.  Extrapolating this to a 14-year old weighing 50 kg, this LD50 is 9.6 grams of caffeine.  Of course, these studies were not conducted in humans so this is only a ballpark estimate.  In a typical energy drink, there is approximately 200 – 300 mg of caffeine, although in some energy drinks, the actual amount is unclear, based on how the products are labeled.  We can assume that Anais probably consumed < 1 gram of caffeine from her two energy drinks, yet this was a fatal dose for her.  What the LD50 calculation is missing is both an understanding of both statistics as well as pharmacogenomics.  Statistics tells us that some individuals may very well have adverse events at a much lower dose of caffeine.  Part of this is based on a genetic makeup and how we react to certain molecules.  This is called pharmacogenomics.  In the case of Anais, she likely had a genetic cause of her underlying cardiac arrhythmia.  She may very well have been a slow metabolizer of caffeine, also based on her genetic makeup, leading this molecule to linger in her system much longer than that of her counterparts.  Without a whole genome study, of course, we would never know.

Overall, the lesson here is that receptor-based molecules, such as caffeine, can be extremely dangerous, depending on the specifics of your medical and genetic background.  For most people it may be fine, for others, it can unfortunately take push you over the threshold of safety.

Why you need mental clarity

By Eugene Y. Chan, MD

Somewhere around 3 AM in the morning at the Massachusetts General Hospital one day, I remember a particular instance of having to draw blood from a very ill patient.  By that time, I had already worked for 20 hours straight, with my beeper ringing every few minutes.  What is so urgent that requires a blood draw at this hour?  I looked at the patient’s medical record and saw a history of HIV and HCV.  This patient was in renal and liver failure.  I looked for a suitable vein in the antecubital fossa but could not find any.  I look elsewhere on the arm, but still no.  My eyes were feeling heavy from my day and also staring closely in the dark to look for a thin blue vein that I could target.  Finally, I found a potential vein, on the dorsal surface of the foot.  It was so thin and collapsed, but it was my only hope.  I knew that if I were not careful, I could indeed inadvertently stick myself, which could put me at risk for both HIV and HCV.  I also knew that I did not draw the patient’s blood, she would have a high likelihood of not making it through the night.  It is in times like this, where if your mind wanders, even for a brief moment, the outcome would be highly undesirable.  This is when you need mental clarity, this is when you need that moment of unwavering focus.  Have you been in a circumstance like this?  Maybe not treating a patient, but interviewing for a most coveted job, giving the most important sales presentation, or pushing yourself to win that race?  Fortunately, the outcome that morning was positive, the important medical tests were highly informative for the course of her care and the patient made it through the night.  There are situations like that that arise often, and often unexpected, and you have to be prepared to make those yours.  Stay focused and be at your best, always.

Welcome to the Clarity Corner!

Here at Clarex, we are all about eliminating mental limits. With no caffeine or side effects, our all natural product promotes “the intelligent workout” or the perfect hangover relief.

 

Our blog will be featuring posts from Dr. Eugene Chan, Harvard MD and scientific innovator. Dr. Chan was voted one of the top 10 minds under 35 in the world by Esquire magazine. He is the innovative mind behind Clarex. There will also be posts from Eric Ballenger, fitness enthusiast and former competitor bodybuilder. They will both have weekly posts discussing their areas of expertise, and how Clarex should become a part of your daily routine.

Check back often, there’s always new content being posted.

You can reach us online at  www.clarexonline.com.

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Our next post will introduce each team member and allow you to ask questions about how Clarex can help you in your daily life.

Have a day filled with focus, and eliminate mental limits with Clarex!

-Team CLAREX

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