The Tarahumara Super Runners

Nestled in northern Mexico and the canyons of the Sierra Madre Occidental is a small tribe of indigenous people known as the Tarahumara. They call themselves Rarámuri, loosely translated as “running people,” “foot-runner,” “swift of foot,” or “he who walks well.” They are known for evading the Spanish conquerors in the sixteenth century and keeping their cave-dwelling culture alive and secluded. They are also known for their long distance running and their superior health, not displaying the common health issues of “modern” societies.

A recent National Geographic study (Nov. 2008) states: “When it comes to the top 10 health risks facing American men, the Tarahumara are practically immortal: Their incidence rate is at or near zero in just about every category, including diabetes, vascular disease, and colorectal cancer…Plus, their supernatural invulnerability isn’t just limited to their bodies; the Tarahumara have mastered the secret of happiness as well, living as benignly as bodhisattvas in a world free of theft, murder, suicide, and cruelty.”

So what is the Tarahumara story and what can we learn from them? How can we use their history as an example for our own primal living? For some they may not be an example of what is considered primal, but they are one of the closest we can find in today’s world.

13 Basic Foods To Solve Some of Your Problems

As university students, we have a lot of problems. We have those headaches that come from lack of sleep (we had to finish that term paper), and then we’re not able to sleep (counting sheep sucks), and we end up breaking out and feeling blah. So we rely on Advil. And coffee. Usually a combination of the two.

But what if I told you that you can solve a lot of these problems through what you eat?

It’s true.

No more stocking up on pills like you’re running a pharmacy out of your dorm room. This list of thirteen foods has you covered.

1. If you have a headache…

Photo by Torey Walsh

…look for foods with MAGNESIUM.

Magnesium is known to decrease blood pressure and relax blood vessels, both of which help to manage headaches. This element can be found in foods such as nuts (e.g. almonds), avocados, and natural yogurt. Still achy? Remember to drink plenty of water and fluids as well.

2. If you can’t sleep…

Photo by Jenny Georgieva

…try eating foods that boost MELATONIN.

For those people that struggle with insomnia (or just regular teenage sleep-deprivation), try eating foods that boost melatonin before bed. This is the hormone that your body releases to cause drowsiness prior to sleep. Foods that help boost melatonin include everything from pineapples, bananas, and oranges to oats and rice. Sleepless nights no longer.

3. If your throat is sore…

Photo by Sarah Silbiger

…try foods with ANTI-INFLAMMATORY properties.

When I was younger, my mom swore by lemon and honey tea to cure a sore throat. As per usual, Mom knew best. I still reach for tea before painkillers. Foods such aslemon and honey reduce swelling in the throat, making it easier for you to breathe. This is why chicken noodle soup is also a good option. Yes. It really works. Learn how to make it here.

4. If you have cold hands and feet…

Peanut Punch

…you could be low on IRON.

Iron is like a good pair of Gap jeans: a necessary staple in your life, but often overlooked for more glamorous options. We’re looking at you, Protein. That being said, a lack of iron can lead to complications, such as poor circulation and anemia. Sound scary? That’s because it is.

As a vegetarian, I am constantly monitoring my iron levels. Most iron is found in things like chicken liver and beef, both of which sound as appetizing to a vegetarian as bourbon with pickle juice (although apparently that’s a real thing). If you can eat meat, make sure to include these things as part of your day. If you can’t eat meat, check out pumpkin seeds, nuts, and dark greens (e.g. spinach) to get your daily iron intake.

5. If you feel sad…

Photo by Christin Urso

…Eat foods that stimulate DOPAMINE production.

If you need an excuse to eat chocolate, here it is. This treat is capable of increasing dopamine, a compound that lifts your mood and creates a sense of happiness. Trying to eat healthy? Foods such as eggs, turkey, kale, and apples contain tyrosine, an amino acid that is broken down to create dopamine. That’s right. An apple a day really will keep the doctor away.

6. If your stomach aches…

Photo by Joceyln Hsu

…then GINGER should be your new BFF.

Ginger has been known to cure everything from regular stomach aches to motion sickness. Whether you choose to gnaw on raw ginger or put it in your tea, this food promises to reduce stomach pain. Say goodbye to digestion problems and aches.

7. If you’re breaking out…

Photo by Christin Urso

…switch to VEGETABLES.

There’s no specific food that fights breakouts, but you can help prevent them by switching to a healthy diet of vegetables, fish, and whole grains. Foods to avoid include too much dairy and fatty foods. Ditch the weekly McDonald’s run and opt for this Grapefruit Shrimp Salad instead. Yum.

8. If you feel weak and scattered…

Photo by Christin Urso

…you could be low in PROTEIN.

With all of the fad diets promoting protein consumption (hi, Paleo diet), most people consume an adequate amount of protein. Foods such as fish, eggs, and chickenare all good sources of this macro-nutrient. However, vegetarians are at risk for not consuming enough protein. If you’re feeling tired and foggy, try and introduce morequinoa, beans, and chia seeds into your diet.

Read all 13 tips at SpoonUniversity 

Study: Breathing Rhythms and Emotions

Department of Physiology, Showa University School of Medicine, Hatanodai 1-5-8, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 142-8555, Japan

Respiration is primarily regulated for metabolic and homeostatic purposes in the brainstem. However, breathing can also change in response to changes in emotions, such as sadness, happiness, anxiety or fear. Final respiratory output is influenced by a complex interaction between the brainstem and higher centres, including the limbic system and cortical structures. Respiration is important in maintaining physiological homeostasis and co-exists with emotions. In this review, we focus on the relationship between respiration and emotions by discussing previous animal and human studies, including studies of olfactory function in relation to respiration and the piriform–amygdala in relation to respiration. In particular, we discuss oscillations of piriform–amygdala complex activity and respiratory rhythm.

Behavioural breathing

Respiratory chest wall movement is performed by the intermittent contraction of inspiratory and expiratory respiratory muscles. Motor commands for the contraction of these muscles are generated in complex neuronal networks in the brain. Various afferent inputs are integrated to produce respiratory rhythm and tidal activity, primarily in response to metabolic demands. The most important inputs for the regulation of breathing involve chemoreceptors that form reflex feedback mechanisms for respiratory motor activities. However, respiratory motor output is also influenced by internal and external environmental changes. This is called behavioural breathing and is generally considered to have a different mechanism from metabolic breathing.

Final motor outputs for breathing are generated by motoneurons in the spinal cord. Descending autonomic (metabolic) and voluntary breathing pathways to spinal motoneurons from higher centres are essentially and functionaly different. The origin of the voluntary control of breathing is in the cerebral cortex; stimulation of the primary motor cortex induces contraction of the diaphragm and intercostal muscles in humans (Gandevia & Rothwell, 1987; Gandevia & Plassman, 1988). This primary motor area has been shown by transcranial magnetic stimulation to coincide with the middle cortex 1 cm posterior to the vertex (Maskill et al. 1991). Aminoff & Sears (1971) reported in cats that electrical stimulation of the cerebral cortex at the vertex induces short-latency activation of contralateral motoneurons of the intercostal muscles. Transection of the dorsolateral columns of the spinal cord abolishes responses to electrical stimulation. However, transection does not affect the spontaneous rhythmic activities of the intercostal muscles.

The medulla oblongata and pons comprise the centre for metabolic breathing; this pathway descends along the spinal ventrolateral column as the bulbospinal pathway. The descending tract for autonomic inspiration is located laterally in the ventrolateral column, whereas the tract for expiration is located ventrally. Transection of the tract abolishes autonomic rhythmic breathing but has no effect on responses of the respiratory muscles to cortical stimulation.

Beside these studies that show the different pathways for metabolic and behavioural breathing, studies of Orem and Trotter show the cortical projections to brainstem respiratory neurons (Orem, 1989; Orem & Trotter, 1994), indicating that behavioural influences arising from higher centres modify metabolic breathing patterns.

Autonomic breathing is not only controlled by metabolic demands but also constantly responds to changes in emotions, such as sadness, happiness, anxiety and fear. Final respiratory output involves a complex interaction between the brainstem and higher centres, including the limbic system and cortical structures. It is interesting that respiration, which is important in maintaining physiological homeostasis, and emotions co-exist. In this review, we focus on the relationship between respiration and emotions by discussing previous studies of olfactory function and respiration.

To read the full article/study view it at Wiley Online Library 

China Pollution Effecting Rice Crops?

Waste and industrialization has had a major impact on China’s rice crops, and not many people know about it. Have you ever thrown away a phone or computer? Me too. So there’s this town in Guangdong Province, China, called Guiyu. Guiyu is similar to a lot of other very small rural towns in China, where many of the citizens who live there have the job to take apart your thrown away phone or computer or i-Pod, and save the parts like copper wires and gold bits so that they can be reused. Sound sustainable? Not really.


Photo Courtesy of

The skeletons and other pieces of the tech that the workers take apart (usually without any mouth or hand protection) usually end up just in big piles on the streets, or in waterways. Guiyu is now no longer functioning as an e-waste town, but it definitely isn’t the rice production hub that it was until the 2000’s. They’re now having water shipped in from 30k away, and extremely high levels of cadmium have been found in rice up to 400 kilometers away.

That’s where the big issue comes in. Not only is rice a major business for China, but it’s also many people’s main food group. People aren’t going to stop eating or farming rice because its often the main employment option, and it’s not just around Guiyu. High levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead, have been found in rice all over China. All of these metals, when consumed, can have extremely detrimental health effects, and when I asked one of my professors in China what people were doing with the rice, he said, “In the South, they’re shipping it to the North. In the North, they’re shipping it to the South.”

Photo courtesy of

According to the Beijing Environmental department, about 60% of Chinas waterways are “unfit for human contact”. Who here has seen a picture of the huge-ass bogs that rice grow in? Yeah, rice grows in big pools of water. Yikes. This contamination is not only due to e-waste, but the rapid industrialization in China and mining industries.

Photo courtesy of

I’m definitely not saying that we should be freaking out, because we shouldn’t. Only about 7% of the rice in the U.S. is imported, so unless you’re eating foreign rice for three meals per day you probably won’t be affected. But that’s exactly why we should be thinking about this anyway, because while we may not need to worry, millions of people globally are being affected by this food crisis that nobody is talking about, a food crisis caused by man-made pollution.

And this is just one case. Droughts and forest fires have had extreme effects on California and Latin America, decimating crops, and studies have proven that coal-burning world-wide can cause injury to crops and vegetation. All that this means is something that we already know. Eating local means you know where your food is coming from and what’s going into it, and besides that, it’s our job to do our part to help with the rest.

You may feel like you have no affect on the environment as just one person, but taking a shorter shower, starting to compost, and carpooling with a friend is the difference that matters. Because the more measures we take now to prevent and counter pollution and climate change, the less weather, food, and health crises we’ll face coming up.


Whole Foods Cashing in on Organic Sticker System?

The unthinkable has happened. Whole Foods’ organicity is being called into question. The point at issue: Whole Foods’ produce rating system, Responsibly Grown.

Organic farmers are POed because Whole Foods’ Responsibly Grown is giving ratings like “Best” to non-organic produce probably grown with standard fertilizers and pesticides. Meanwhile, organic produce is only receiving grades like “Good” or just “Unrated.”

This is my face rn.

Gif courtesy of

Kinda weird for organic farmers to diss Whole Foods, too, since WF has been one of organic farming’s biggest investors. That’s how you know this is sum’n surrrious.

Why is this happening? Well, to get a rating by “Responsibly Grown” suppliers must pay a fee and answer a long questionnaire about topics like their farm’s soil and how they conserve energy. Between the fees, paperwork, and product tracking equipment required by WF, farmers are paying thousands of dollars.

Sounds like the only type of “green” that Whole Foods has in mind is $$.

The “Responsibly Grown” label puts conventional produce in the same league as the organic stuff— and the conventional sh*t is obviously easier and cheaper to grow. Imagine the FIELD DAY going on at these non-organic farms.

Gif courtesy of

The wooooorssstttt part: the “Responsibly Grown” tag is a brightly colored sticker that small organic farmers say outshines the organic label. Vernon Peterson, an organic farmer in Kingsburg, California, says that organic certification is harder to get and means more than the new ratings from Whole Foods.

Apparently following the organic rules is wicked pricey, and there are third-party inspectors making sure that rules are followed. There are no such outside auditors in the Whole Foods system.


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