Why Are We So Slow to Make Our Cities More Habitable?

If you keep an open mind when moving around cities, it doesn’t take long to identify their many contradictions.

For example, so much gridlock is generated by circumstances that are, to a large extent, we have come accept as inevitable: taxis looking for passengers, deliveries and maintenance being carried out during at peak times, cars and lorries sharing the same lanes as vulnerable bicycles and scooters… in short, an utterly irrational use of road space.

Why do we still allow taxis to drive around, polluting the air and contributing to traffic jams as they search for passengers? In a city like Madrid, there are some 15,000 taxis on the roads, just so we can enjoy the privilege of hailing one on the street, and every time we do, we create congestion as other vehicles have wait behind or maneuver out of their way. What’s more, these taxis use up space in a bus lane. Who really benefits from this?

What would happen if bus-taxi lanes were reserved only for buses? Or if micromobility vehicles such as bicycles or scooters were allowed to use them? The reason these vehicles cannot use these lanes is mainly because of taxis: but buses are more predictable and slower, so why not keep taxis out of them?

While we’re rethinking the role of the taxi, why not limit the time they are allowed to drive around empty? Obviously, if a trip ends, for example, in an area with low demand, they should be allowed to move to a busier part of the city, but why not limit that empty travel time? And while we’re at it, how about ending the practice of flagging a taxi down and instead we all start using apps, now that we all carry smartphones? Would it really be such a sacrifice?

Street parking is another egregious misuse of public space: huge parts of our cities are filled with endless rows of vehicles which instead should be left in garages. City dwellers who want a car should pay for a garage space.

Driving around in search of a parking space on the street contributes to pollution, traffic and road rage and makes no sense in a modern city. Removing parking spaces on the street would discourage people from bringing their cars into the city, which would be a good thing. All that freed up space could also be put to other uses, notably allowing micromobility vehicles to move around safely, as well as creating specific loading and unloading areas, another activity that requires urgent regulation, including strict time frames. How often do we still see two lanes occupied by taxis, vans and lorries unloading or picking up a passenger?

Adapting our cities, particularly those that are more than a century old, to automobiles has created unsustainable and frustrating practices. Why on earth have we just accepted turning our cities into a via crucis? We have to rethink many of the privileges we have give to certain types of transportation and many of the uses we make of huge areas of public space. With education and proper planning, we could make our cities more sustainable, more reasonable places to live. It’s just a question of making the decision and being creative. There is another way.

Originally published on Medium. Reprinted with permission and under this Creative Commons License.

Check out Enrique’s book Everything Is Going to Change.

 

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The post Why Are We So Slow to Make Our Cities More Habitable? appeared first on The Good Men Project.

from The Good Men Project http://bit.ly/2GrxVwR

“Excuse Me, Ma’am. Has Anyone Ever Told You That You Look Like Mick Jagger?”

I can’t say that I’ve ever really enjoyed flying. There’s something about being locked in a metal tube, 40,000 ft above solid ground, with more strangers than they would allow in that same confined space down on the earth, said tube being flown by a person I have not vetted for either skill or temperament, with negative four inches of legroom to accommodate my 6’1″ frame, for anywhere from two to six hours — that I find both uncomfortable and unsettling.

It’s not anything that a little Xanax can’t help, though.

So it was just me and Lil’ Xanny (not the delinquent, face-tattooed, rapper child) chillin’ on the jetway, waiting to board my flight home from a lovely long weekend with my siblings.

The line had been at a standstill for about, oh, five minutes — probably due to some ‘feces on a chair’ incident. Or maybe there was an inebriated man stopping to do pull-ups on the overhead compartment bin on his way to his seat— when I noticed the gentleman in front of me repeatedly turning around to look at me.

But not directly. It was like when your friend tells you not to look at someone but you do anyway, and then that someone catches you looking at them and you get embarrassed and you pretend to be looking at something else before you turn back around really quickly?

This wasn’t necessarily a new thing for me. I’m a tall chick and get more than my share of side eye. Like I mentioned before, in bare feet I’m 6’1″ so, with the heeled boots I was wearing that day, it was a real Brienne of Tarth situation.

Plus, I mean, let’s be honest…I was looking pretty cute right then. I mean, my hair was enjoying the increased local humidity and felt extra bouncy and shiny. My skin was aglow, having just spent the weekend basking in the love of my people.
I figured it was some combo of the height and the boots and just feeling myself that day. It was all good.

So when the look-er leaned over to his friend and whispered and the friend proceeded to turn around and look at me, too, I intentionally caught his eye and smiled. What are you gonna do? They seemed like nice guys and we were trapped in a confined aluminum hallway together. So I engaged the apparently interested gentlemen in polite conversation.

We proceeded with the customary introductions and were soon caught up in riveting discourse about the friend’s grandmother whom he was going to visit in Scottsdale and what the hell are those saguaro cactuses all about? The look-er stayed relatively quiet, contributing appropriate, “yeah”s and nods here and there.

That is, until he didn’t. He waited for a pause in the convo and finally spoke in a loud and determined baritone,

“Excuse me, ma’am. Has anyone ever told you that you look like Mick Jagger?”
If I had been drinking (which, in retrospect, I wish I had been) I would’ve spit my whiskey sour right out. On the floor, on the wall, on the look-er …

Ho-leee shit.

I did not see that one coming.

I didn’t see the “Ma’am”. I didn’t see the comparison. None of it.

There are times in your life when you feel like you are watching yourself from the outside; when your reaction is so on point and perfectly crafted that it defies what you thought yourself capable of. The world stands still and you feel like your whole life has been building toward that one moment in time.

This was not one of those moments.
AJ’s Inner Voice:

AJ’s Actual Voice: “Uhhhhhhhhh…..No. No, no one has told me that.”

AJ’s Inner Voice:

Look-er’s Much Louder Voice: “Well, you do.”

AJ’s Inner Voice: <OMFG, he’s not done.>

— pause —

AJ’s Actual Voice: “I honestly don’t know what to do with that, man.”

His friend was long gone by that moment — not in body, but in spirit. Back turned to me, he was side glaring at his friend like, “W in the holy F was that, dude???”

(This leads me to believe that the man did not have Tourette’s Syndrome or some other condition which causes involuntary verbal outbursts. He simply committed a really unfortunate party foul.)

My friend, Lil’ Xanny, had bailed, too. Turns out, being a late 30’s woman publically compared to an 80-year old rock legend whom, let’s be frank, has been around the block more than a few times, has a real buzzkill effect on perfectly good benzos.

In fact, it might as well have been just me and look-er man alone on the jetway in some weird, verbal iteration of that one Matrix scene with the words “Mick Jagger” tracking toward my face in slow motion and me trying to do a back bend and dodge, because anyone within earshot had turned their back in equal parts horror and shame.

It was kind of like when you’re watching an embarrassing scene on TV and you have to either look away or skip ahead because it’s just too embarrassing? And you actually feel embarrassed for the character?

They all felt like that. It was stone cold silent — like we were in the tomb of my dignity.

Except no one could skip ahead because this, my friends, was real life and the onlookers were forced to physically recoil when they heard a very normal appearing man compare a perfectly polite woman to a 75-year-old rock star in open conversation.

No one would make eye contact with anyone else. Everyone wished they were somewhere else.

It was not the best.

And then it was just me standing there by myself, because the look-er turned his back, too.

Me, being of the good-natured Midwestern persuasion, laughed with feigned confidence and smiled sheepishly, more worried about bringing the people around me back from their personal hellscapes of awkwardness, than I was about my own wounded ego.

It was exactly that moment that the line started moving again and they had us in our seats within minutes.

And thank sweet little baby Jesus for that.

Found my seat. Buckled in. Ready to file that one under, “WTF.”

Oh no, my friends, it wasn’t over yet. People had started taking little glances at me, looking for the resemblance. They’d catch my eye and immediately look away. It was so fucking awkward and hilarious.

We ended up sitting on the runway for another 90 minutes because, well, Frontier Airlines, and after one gentleman took the initiative to lean over and reassure me that I do not look like Mick Jagger, what else was there for me to do except spend the next hour and a half of my life Google image searching Mick Jagger and copying then into side-by-side collages of myself in different poses and at different ages while texting my siblings?

How spectacularly bizarre does a conversation have to be for a stranger to feel like they are morally obligated to step in and save a poor woman from the notion that she looks like Mick Jagger?

I texted my brothers and sisters to gauge their reaction.

My sister’s was hilarious:

Sure. I can see the complement angle. Any relatively young woman would be flattered to be compared to a septuagenarian man.

My mom was delightfully mom-ish:

Yeah, maybe, Mom. Except that I’m pretty sure that Georgia Jagger would be in boarding group A, not C, for her economy class, Cleveland-to-Phoenix flight on a Tuesday morning.

Also, we can’t selectively ignore the fact that he said I look like the man himself, not his ethereal progeny.

Sweet, sweet mama.

Notice that no one in my family directly disputed the’s man’s assertion. It was as if someone had finally let the cat out of the bag.

 

Turns out, I learned something new that day, as I was racking up Framatic in-app purchases: I do actually resemble Mick Jagger. If not now, then definitely 50 years ago.

Which is a real fucking bummer for me, guys. A real fucking bummer.

The moral of the story is this: If you meet a woman on an airplane (or anywhere, really) whom you feel resembles any member of The Rolling Stones, she’d probably appreciate it if you keep it to yourself and just tell her you like her boots instead. You’ll spare yourself, your fellow flyers, the woman (and her Xanax) some pretty intense awkwardness and you can freely regale your friends with the tale of the uncanny resemblance when you get home.

She, like me, probably doesn’t need to know and it’s unlikely she’ll think the whole thing is as funny as I do.

Originally published on Medium

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from The Good Men Project http://bit.ly/2IxvY5D

My life revolved around the love of my life, how do I move on?

Question: I just lost the love of my life. I have been waiting to marry this woman for 10 years. I waited for her after her first marriage but we lost touch and she married again. I waited for her after she left her husband but he fought the divorce and we could never be together. Now she has passed away and I don’t know what to do with my life.  We made so many plans for the future, she was my sun and my entire life revolved around her. What do I do with myself now? How do I rebuild? I am so lost.

Answer: First and foremost I’m so very sorry you just lost the love of your life. The grief must be devastating and I send you my deep compassion and condolences.
I’m inspired by your commitment to rebuild your life. Thank you for vulnerable bravery to reveal that you feel lost.
What I believe is going on is that you are more than just grieving, you are out of balance with where you find happiness and fulfillment.
I sense you’ve put too much of the source of your happiness outside of you, and not enough of the source of your happiness internally.
It seems like your feeling of being lost is more than just the recent loss due to her death. This seems to have been going on for a decade where you’ve been waiting to be happy until she’s with you.
I am sure she was amazing. Yet happiness is a choice moment-to-moment that is always found within us that we share with another but it is not sourced in another.
So in a way she has given you a gift. This can be seen as a beautiful albeit raw time of evolution for your soul, a time of spiritual growth to begin taking actions moving forward towards more joy in your life based on your internal Soul’s guidance.
Another way of saying that it is time for you to harness your vision and mission and live your purpose as a man, as a human on the planet… which will bring you great satisfaction enjoy. And then in time when you’re ready and if you choose, you will be your authentic self and your vibration will attract an ideal partner with whom to share your life.
Have you ever heard the saying, A man is not a plan? Same for you 😉 SHE is not your purpose.
In all transparency when I truly believe someone’s question can be solved in a book or a home study program, I recommend that.
However given this has been a decade-long pattern and given your heart is so wounded that you feel lost, I do believe a mentor would be the perfect healthy professional partnership you require to do the deep inner work so that you you find your SELF. You will no longer feel broken like you need to rebuild… instead you feel home in your heart and capable of creating anything you choose.
If this kind of coaching partnership resonates with you as well, I invite you to register for a discounted $97 introductory coaching session with me at www.AllanaPratt.com/connect and let’s confirm indeed if you’re a fit for me to invite you to work with me.
This way her memory can be wind in your sales of your ship, yet you’re willing to leave the harbor for new lands and limitless possibilities embracing your own noble masculine grandeur.
All my love and blessings, Allana
Ready to Manifest your Beloved While Staying True to Yourself?
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In service to your intimate relationships thriving,
Deliciously yours, Allana xoxo

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from The Good Men Project http://bit.ly/2IN7HaV

It’s Going to Get Hungry in Here

My age and my health mean this discussion takes place from the cheap seats in the sense that I do not personally have to live with my errors. My four kids and nine grandkids, however, give me a sense of urgency. They do not give me scientific competence. Like Will Rogers, all I know is what I read in the papers, so if you think it’s all fake news, you should place your bets accordingly.

My grandkids should see the planet’s population top ten billion souls. This means we would need 50 percent more food even before climate change is factored in.

First, the good news. I think North America is the very best place on the planet to ride out the coming crises. We should have enough water in spite of the amounts wasted on tar sands oil and fracking with no requirement that the water be recycled. There will come a point when the water will be more valuable than the oil the water is used to produce.

I think most of us will look back on disposing of fracking water in injection wells like most of us look back on flaring off natural gas. We are already at a point where one captured regulatory agency after another has had to give up denying that the injection wells cause earthquakes.

I do hope I live to see the day when “it’s not economically feasible to recycle this water” translates to “this method of production is not economically feasible.” Similarly, the price of natural gas is always too low to support capture of the gas rather than burning it to get at the oil. The greenhouse effect is not priced in.

We can survive these errors if the water holds up because we have the highest tech agriculture in the world, with smart tractors controlled by GPS, irrigation systems with sensors in the soil sending real time reports to the cloud, and algorithms that calculate what to plant and when. The land grant colleges that researched us out of the Dust Bowl still exist. The county ag agent is an endangered species but she’s been replaced by the internet.

Growing seasons will change and crops will change but North America will be able to feed itself. Other continents have hazards caused by the melting of glaciers and other land ice. As the Greenland ice shelf falls into the sea, it disrupts both of the drivers of the thermohaline converter — temperature and salinity. Should that current quit warming Western Europe, agriculture there could be just about shut down.

European farmers face a dire “maybe,” but Asian farmers face certain doom. The shrinking Himalayan glaciers feed the great rivers that water the rice crops for both China and India. With less fresh water coming downstream, salt water begins to creep up the deltas and destroy another source of food crops.

Most of the oceans are already overfished and as agriculture offers less food the feeble attempts to control overfishing are unlikely to become more effective quickly enough.

Africa is already ravaged by famines driven by drought. Several Middle Eastern countries are already coming to the edge of temperatures human life can survive.

Australia exports all kinds of meat and fruit and vegetables. Agriculture is about 12 percent of GDP, and China is a major trading partner. Australia is also the smallest continent, with the habitable areas on the coastlines. The weather already — before the climate begins to change — exists around the monsoons. Droughts alternate with floods, something parts of North America are just beginning to discover.

It’s unclear whether the swings between wet and dry will come more often or the extremes will become more extreme. But even in the unlikely event that production is unaffected by climate change, the coastal areas of Australia where food plants grow and the grazing land between the farms and the central desert are insufficient to feed the population of China.

Latin America may be able to feed itself if leadership improves but the world will not be saved by Argentine beef and Chilean grapes. Latin America has potential to export a little food and North America may be able to export a lot of food as we improve yields.

I have a homework assignment for you, my suffering readers. Understanding that wars are often disguised contests over scarce resources, discuss the probability of war.

Originally published on Medium. Republished with permission.

◊♦◊The Good Men Project is different from most media companies. We are a “participatory media company”—which means we don’t just have content you read and share and comment on but it means we have multiple ways you can actively be a part of the conversation. As you become a deeper part of the conversation—The Conversation No One Else is Having—you will learn all of the ways we support our Writers’ Community—community FB groups, weekly conference calls, classes in writing, editing platform building and How to Create Social Change.

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The post It’s Going to Get Hungry in Here appeared first on The Good Men Project.

from The Good Men Project http://bit.ly/2IJOGpQ

Policing in Black and White

I’ve changed how I think about the police.

When I was younger, I used to think that the police were there to protect us from crimes, and to keep the peace. Now, my thoughts are more complicated than that.

I still think the police are there to protect me from crimes. But that’s because I’m white, and that’s not a privilege I take lightly.

◊♦◊

paul-hartzer-blue-boxAbout 95% of the residents of my neighborhood are black. I live on a quiet street, quiet in part because half the houses that used to be here have been torn down and replaced with empty lots. This is the first time since I moved here, almost two decades ago, that all of the houses (seven right now) have residents.

Last week, for four days, there was an event going on at one of the other houses. I didn’t know what the event was, but for four days, our normally quiet street was congested. Cars were parked on both sides of the street, and there were cars parked in the empty lots as well. Nobody was being particularly rude (even the loud music only ran for a few hours in the evening), but I was concerned that this was going to be a regular thing now.

And, frankly, it was both illegal and a safety risk: There’s only supposed to be parking on one side of the road because then it’s not wide enough for emergency vehicles. As it was, when UPS came to deliver a package for me, the driver had to creep his way down the road at less than five miles an hour as people shouted, “UPS! Yeah! Give me a package!”

I’d been sitting on the porch hoping to wave the driver down as he passed on a side street, so he wouldn’t have to run the gauntlet. Unfortunately for him, he chose to go around the other way.

In another world, in another neighborhood, I would have called the local police. The police would have come by with the spirit of keeping the peace and found out what was causing the congestion. Everything would have been settled amicably.

But this is not that world, not for our black citizens. This is a world where a call to the police for assistance can turn violent, even deadly, quickly.

◊♦◊

Last month, Dyma Loving called the police after a man pointed a gun at here during an argument. Video shows Loving getting upset but not aggressive towards the officers, who proceed to assault her, ending in her arrest.

In February, Chicago Police threw a 16-year-old girl down a flight of stairs before dragging her down to the next floor and tasing her repeatedly. Her “crime”? She had refused to put her cell phone away in class. She was initially arrested for assaulting the officers before school security footage was released. The footage clearly shows that she was attacked first. Her father, who had come to the school to pick her up, watched the assault, worried that his daughter would lose consciousness, or worse, in front of him.

Not all victims of police over-reaction and abuse of power are black. Last year, for instance, Justine Damond was killed by police responding to her 911 call. In testimony Thursday, officer Matthew Harrity (white) testified that while he was scared by Damond apparently thumping on the police car, he felt his partner Mohamed Noor (black) was not justified in using lethal force in shooting her.

This is a stark contrast to how police act far too often when one of their own are on trial: Circle the wagons. Deny wrong-doing, even when there’s video evidence. Claim the victim did something wrong, that the officers were scared, that they were justified in their reaction.

If an officer hears a random noise outside their vehicle and shoots into the darkness, why is their fear reaction justified when the victim turns out to be a black man but unjustified when it’s a white woman?

◊♦◊

I had a nightmare last night, just before I woke up. Police came to my house to tell me about ghosts that lived in it. I told them I didn’t know anything about it, and that they needed to get off my property. Things escalated until I threatened to report them and asked for their badge numbers, and they physically restrained me and told me to calm down. In the dream, they didn’t beat me, they just held me and yelled at me.

The dream continued to the next day, when a group of black women from my neighborhood worked with the prosecutor to get me a week in county jail for assault and obstruction. I was cussing up a storm about police, but even in the dream I realized how different my reality was from theirs: For yelling at the police, my biggest risk is what had happened. Their biggest risk is being shot dead in the street.

Even so, I woke up scared of my own worst case scenario: A week in jail for trying to get the police to stop trespassing. It was only when I calmed down that I realize what my subconscious was really processing. If that worst case scenario was frightening for me, how must it be to live with that as a best case scenario?

◊♦◊

So I’ve stopped thinking about calling the police in my neighborhood for something as mild as too many cars parked on my street. The risk that things will turn out wrong is too high.

I realize, naturally, that in yet another world, I would have just walked down to my neighbor’s house and asked them what was going on, or asked someone passing by. I blame my social anxiety, my conditioning, and my still-fading expectation that that’s one of the things police are supposed to be for. I’m still adjusting to a new world where people resolve conflict by talking to each other.

The parking problem has gone away. It turns out that it was apparently a wake. I’m glad that I didn’t interrupt their mourning space to complain about the parking, and I’m certainly glad that I didn’t involve the police. It might have turned out fine but… it might not have.

And it’s that “might not have” that hovers over me now whenever I think of the police. When I see a police car pass by in my neighborhood, I wonder: Are they one of the good ones? Are there any good ones, or are they all capable of having a bad day turn into grief and a national headline?

This is only one product of a racist system. Police officers, with their tasers and their itchy trigger fingers, are a real danger in themselves, but they’re also part of a much larger system. A system that desperately needs to be dismantled.

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Bio X4 Probiotics: Do They Really Work? A Scientific Review

Please Note: This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person.

With everyone talking about probiotics nowadays, there seems to be an infinite amount available to purchase.

One of these probiotic supplements is Bio X4, which claims to assist with weight loss by reducing appetite, curbing food cravings, enhancing digestion and boosting metabolism.

Here, we examine the scientific evidence behind the ingredients of Bio X4 to see if these claims hold up.

What is Bio X4?

Bio X4 is a probiotic supplement designed to help you lose weight.

It was created by Nucific, a California-based company that develops and manufactures a range of nutritional supplements that they say are “100% natural and contain no preservatives, colorings, or synthetic fillers.”

Bio X4 was designed by Dr. Amy Lee, a board-certified bariatric physician in internal medicine. She created Bio X4 to assist people in their weight loss goals alongside long-term lifestyle and dietary changes.

Nucific state on their website that Bio X4 contains a unique blend of ingredients that will:

  • Control food cravings and suppress appetite
  • Boost the metabolism and burn more fat
  • Enhance the digestive process
  • Reduce symptoms such as gas and bloating after eating

 

The manufacturers of Bio X4 suggest taking one capsule with each meal (based on three meals per day), but say you can take up to two capsules per meal.

Bio X4 is available to purchase from Nucific’s website, with a 30-day supply of 90 capsules costing $99 (equating to $1.10 per capsule).

Nucific offer a 90-day money-back guarantee on the product, as this is the length of time they say it will take for users to notice an effect. Bio X4 can also be purchased on Amazon and eBay.

Summary: Bio X4 is a probiotic supplement designed by US company Nucific to aid weight loss. The company recommends taking one capsule of Bio X4 three times a day. A 30-day supply costs $99.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria) that have been linked to various health benefits.

Studies of probiotics have shown promising results in the treatment of intestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and lactose intolerance. They’ve also been found to improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels (123).

There are trillions of live bacteria living within the human intestine. Together these form the gut microbiota.

To prevent ill-health, it’s important that the gut bacteria maintain a natural balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria. Probiotics are believed to maintain and restore this balance (4).

Nucific claims that Bio X4’s blend of probiotics helps fight off the “bad” bacteria that “cause digestive problems and make you crave sugars, carbs, and other unhealthy foods.”

Summary: Probiotics are live bacteria that are consumed in order to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut.

Bio X4 Ingredients

Bio X4 contains four ingredient blends:

  1. Probiotic Blend: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium lactis and Bifidobacterium animalis
  2. Digestive Enzyme Blend: Amylase, bromelain and lipase
  3. Weight Management Blend: EGCG green tea extract
  4. Craving Control Blend: Caralluma fimbriata extract

 

We will look at the ingredients in each of these blends in more detail below.

Probiotic Blend

From the limited research available, it seems that probiotics may only have a small impact on weight loss.

Two studies showed that the use of probiotics may result in a loss of half a kilo (about one pound), but only if the probiotics were taken for at least two months. Another review found no effect on body weight (567).

As of now, the data is still weak and it’s still unclear which strains of probiotics may be most effective when it comes to weight loss.

Studies have shown that two strains of probiotics; lactobacillus rhamnosusand bifidobacterium lactis when taken in combination have also been associated with weight loss.

A review of randomized clinical trials demonstrated that the probiotic strainslactobacillus plantarum and lactobacillus rhamnosus have also been associated with weight loss, but only when used in conjunction with a calorie-restricted diet. All of these strains are in Bio X4 probiotics. (89).

When a low-calorie diet was not adhered to, two of the five strains in Bio X4 probiotics (lactobacillus rhamnosus and lactobacillus acidophilus) were actually associated with weight gain. (10).

Overall, most of the research on these probiotic strains is limited due to small participant numbers, animal studies and short intervention timescales. Additionally, much of the current evidence is contradictory.

Since research into probiotics and weight loss is still in its infancy, further research is needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

For now, we know that successful weight loss comes down to energy balance. You need to take in less energy (calories) than you are burning to create a negative energy balance and therefore lose weight.

Digestive Enzyme Blend

Enzymes are protein molecules that accelerate chemical reactions within the body.

Digestive enzymes are responsible for breaking down food into nutrients that can be absorbed by the body.

Bio X4 contains the following enzymes:

  • Amylase: breaks down sugars
  • Lipase: breaks down fats
  • Bromelain: breaks down proteins

 

The human digestive system naturally produces these and other digestive enzymes. In some cases (such as pancreatic insufficiency), the amount produced by the body may not be sufficient and can lead to uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and bloating.

In these cases, people can be prescribed enzyme medications. The enzymes in these medications are coated in a special material to ensure that they will survive the acidic conditions of the stomach in order to have any effect.

Nucific do not specify whether the enzymes in Bio X4 have such a coating, so it’s unclear whether they would be effective in aiding the digestive process.

Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that artificial digestive enzymes assist with weight loss.

Weight Management Blend

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is an antioxidant compound that naturally occurs in green tea.

It’s used in Bio X4 due to its alleged ability to boost the body’s fat-burning activity.

Some animal studies have demonstrated that EGCG helps prevent against obesity. However, a recent and thorough review of the research suggests that the effect of green tea extract on fat loss is inconsistent and there aren’t any high-quality human studies. We can’t be sure it has any weight-loss effect in humans (1112).

A further review of the existing evidence from human trials found no clinically or statistically significant weight loss benefits from consuming green tea (13).

Craving Control Blend

Caralluma fimbriata is an Indian plant extract that supposedly suppresses appetite.

On their website, Nucific refer to a 2007 study demonstrating that people who took the extract had a significantly reduced appetite and waist circumference compared to a group of people who did not.

However, in this same study, the extract didn’t have a significant effect on body weight or body fat, so the reduction in waist circumference was probably due to fluid loss as a result of diarrhea, which is a common side effect for Caralluma fimbriata, or duet to human error in measurements (14).

A much stronger clinical trial looking at the effect of Caralluma fimbriata extract over three months found it had no significant effect on weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, hip circumference or waist hip ratio in overweight and obese individuals (15).

The studies that suggest that Caralluma fimbriata has an effect on weight loss have only been conducted on animals, and therefore cannot be directly applied to humans (16).

Summary: Research into probiotics supplementation and weight loss is in its infancy, so it’s difficult to draw reliable conclusions at this point. Some strains present in Bio X4 have been associated with small weight loss, however this is provided you are also following a calorie-restricted diet. Meanwhile, there’s little evidence to suggest that the other ingredients in Bio X4 will have any positive effect on appetite suppression, metabolism, fat loss or digestion.

Bio X4 Side Effects

Probiotics are generally considered to be safe with minimal side effects in healthy people (17).

Any side effects that are experienced tend to be fairly mild, with bloating and flatulence being the most common. Ironically, these are the same side effects that are claimed to be reduced when taking Bio X4 (18).

Probiotics may not be suitable for people who have existing medical conditions, such as short bowel syndrome or those who are immunocompromised, since more serious complications like infections can occur.

The other ingredients in Bio X4 are also unlikely to cause any serious side effects. Caralluma fimbriata has been shown to be well-tolerated in trials lasting up to 12 weeks, with only some mild and brief side effects, such as nausea, palpitations and constipation (1920).

Similarly, high doses of EGCG have been shown to be well-tolerated (21).

In general, it’s recommended that you speak with your doctor before taking any dietary supplement, even probiotics.

Summary: Probiotics are considered safe for healthy individuals, and any side effects are likely to be mild. The other ingredients in Bio X4 have been shown to be well-tolerated in trials. However, people with certain medical conditions should speak to their doctor before taking any nutritional supplement.

Bio X4 Reviews

The reviews for Bio X4 on the Nucific website are all very positive, but they may also be biased.

Here are a few examples of what those reviews look like:

  • “I lost 7 pounds in the first 2 months… the probiotics have made a huge difference.”
  • “After just one week of consistently taking Bio X4 I feel better than before and I’ve noticed quite a few changes in my body… 1. I really do not crave sugar or sweeteners…. 2. My bathroom visits are more consistent and definitely different than before… 3. I feel like I sweat more easily, and burn calories and fat nearly all day.”

In comparison, the reviews on neutral sites like Amazon are mixed. Some people noticed beneficial effects on their digestion and weight, but others saw no benefit:

  • “I tried one whole bottle and saw no results at all no weight loss, no change in digestion, no change in appetite.”

In some people with pre-existing conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Bio X4 appeared to worsen their condition, while others felt it helped them better manage their symptoms:

  • “These pills killed my stomach. My IBS worsened. I gave it a good try over a couple months and it only worsened my issues.”
  • “I rarely write reviews but I had to share for those suffering IBS. This supplement has really helped regulate me! I take it as instructed and my stomach is less bloated. During the first week you may experience some bloating and some gas.”

 

Overall, the proportion of positive and negative reviews on Amazon were equal, suggesting that some people respond positively to Bio X4 and others don’t.

Summary: Independent online reviews for Bio X4 are mixed, with some users reporting beneficial effects on their body weight and digestive experience, and others reporting negative effects.

Are Bio X4 Probiotics Worth Taking?

Bio X4 is one of many probiotic supplements available.

Its manufacturer, Nucific, claims it will help with weight loss, metabolism, digestion and appetite.

However, there’s little scientific evidence available to suggest that the ingredients used in Bio X4 will have any of these effects.

Research on probiotics and weight loss is still in its early stages. As of now, there’s limited evidence to suggest that probiotic supplements may lead to a small amount of weight loss, but only by about one pound.

Some people claim to have experienced weight loss and other positive effects while using Bio X4. However, these may not be due to the supplement itself.

After all, Nucific and the supplement’s designer, Dr. Lee, advocate the use of Bio X4 alongside lifestyle and dietary changes to promote weight loss.

Ultimately, successful weight loss requires a negative energy balance, which means you’re consuming less energy than what your body is burning.

Any lifestyle or dietary change is more likely to cause this than a probiotic supplement.

Overall, using Bio X4 is an expensive way to go about weight loss at $99 a month, and there’s no guaranteed results.

You’ll likely see more effective weight loss (and more money in your wallet!) by making small and sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle—not by purchasing another supplement.

Previously published on dietvsdisease.org

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MANifesto

Below is the philosophical essence of my upcoming book. My intention through this work is to continue a conversation that has already been started by many great men, about what it means to be a Man on Earth Today.

A layer deeper, I am exploring why this is more than just a “how to,” but a “must.” It is nothing short of our destiny to embody our fullest potential, and it is nothing short of our responsibility to answer the call to that destiny, for ourselves, everybody else on this planet, and the planet itself.


“Manifesto”

This is a declaration to you, MAN. You are worthy of love, you are worthy of community, you are worthy of wisdom, you are worthy of ecstatic bliss, you are worthy of sexual fulfillment, you are worthy of abundance BUT:

The cards are stacked against you and you are going to have to work for it. To work for it means to embody a conscious and compassionate masculinity. But what IS that actually?

Right now in America and throughout the world there are billions of men just like you who are at a loss about what it means to actually be a man. Deep within, they know they are being shorted a chance to have authentic masculine wisdom and power—and yet they have no idea what masculinity even is. They don’t know who THEY are.

As men living in this modern world, it’s so easy to hear phrases like “toxic masculinity” and “patriarchy” and suppress ourselves for fear of being offensive toward women and oppressively upholding the societal structures that maintain the paradigm of domination. The truth that must become clear is that “toxic masculinity” is not authentic masculinity at all. Even further, we must make clear that patriarchy, as it is referred to in our broader culture, is damaging to both women AND men.

We want a better world, and yet the only way to come home to a better world, is to become a better version of ourselves. Authentic masculinity is characterized by a radical and owned responsibility for our own embodiment. For men, this means integrating into our identities a balanced and virtuous manhood, deeply rooted in compassion for self and for others.

There is no lack of hardness or softness in this authentically masculine man. He is what he needs to be in the moment because he is conscious of the moment. He is the lover whose soul becomes entwined with his beloved. He is the warrior that defends his homestead. He is the mystic that alchemizes anger and hatred into acts of love and compassion. He is balanced with his own feminine energies, giving and receiving in time and turn. He is capable and willing to become his own father and connect with his inner king. He dares to connect with others and share intimacy.

So “radical” right?!

But this is not new. We are deprived now of the community villages, initiation rites, and mythological stories that shaped the psychological landscape of our ancestors and it IS our job to reclaim them. This is the only way to fully serve ourselves and women. This is of the highest importance because, without ending the war between men and women, there will be no end to war on Planet Earth. To do our part in creating peace in the collective, we must do the necessary inner work to create and find peace WITHIN OURSELVES first.

To find this peace requires a commitment to embarking steadfastly on a journey of deep and thorough self-discovery. We realize while walking the path that we are making a commitment to an ideal that is fundamental to our very existence, resurrected from ages past. We must empower ourselves to empower others. We must become the men that dare to demonstrate the ways of a virtuously embodied masculine, one that loves fiercely and vulnerably. We must dare to evolve as sexual beings, taming and integrating our inner animal, rather than being devoured by it. We must recognize that WE ARE WILD and making the earth our home again is an everyday practice.

Maybe you have felt before that there is so much more to your destiny than what you currently see before you, but you were told before that your dreams were impossible. Perhaps you have felt the dismal dread of not having as much love and connection as you truly want and need. So many of us have felt utterly unseen, misunderstood, and dejected. Fear, anger, sadness, and frustration are tearing at the the seams of the individual masculine psyche, bleeding into a collective unrest that becomes more and more obvious every single day. That’s not just the news, that’s real life. But it doesn’t have to be yours.

What fuels your fire and makes you feel passionate with hot energy coursing throughout your body? What makes you so incredibly curious that you can’t help but stay up all night ruminating and wondering about? What is the one thing that the world HAS to hear before you die and your flesh is inevitably eaten by earthworms?

THAT is purpose and meaning. THAT FEELING is how you connect to it and connect to those whom it serves. THAT CONNECTION is why you are alive. And we are alive. We have a life. We might as well use it to lift each other up and to do some real good while we are here.

I know this sounds grandiose, but it’s actually much simpler than building a rocketship or winning a Nobel Prize. It’s as simple as showing up everyday connected to who you most deeply are in your essence. It’s wearing a smile for a stranger and inviting a little more lightness to their day. It’s a kind word and a receptive ear for someone who needs somebody to confide in. You don’t have to save the whole world to be someone else’s superman. You just have to be you. But you have to ACTUALLY BE YOU. Nobody else can do that for you, and it is your responsibility to claim that.

And if you are not the kind of man that treats strangers with kindness, women with respect, and your brothers as brothers, it’s in the best good of everybody to become the kind of man who does.

It’s easy to stay a boy forever. That’s what most men decide to do. The right thing to do is to create yourself anew, to become the man you most want to be, and to reclaim the throne of compassionate wisdom, loving power, and unshakable responsibility to preside over the kingdom of your own soul.

Who are YOU?

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Global Warming and Foodborne Illness


Dear EarthTalk: I read the federal government’s recently released climate change report, and was surprised to learn that global warming is even being blamed for an increase in foodborne illness. What’s the connection? — Jeremy Brotherton, Camden, ME

Yes, the new federal climate report (the “Fourth National Climate Assessment”) paints a dire picture of our future—including compromised food safety—if we don’t rein in greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the non-profit Stop Foodborne Illness (SFI), climate change is already starting to affect food safety as a result of increased bacterial adaptation to fast changing environmental conditions brought on by warming surface temperatures. In essence, the bacteria that rules the world is getting better at adapting to new environments. The stronger the bacteria, the better it can do colonizing new territory—and making more of us sick. One side effect of increased bacterial resistance is much more use of antibiotics by veterinarians, farmers and ranchers to keep animals healthy. But it’s a zero-sum game: The more antibiotics we use on ourselves and animals, the better bacteria get at developing resistance to them.

Additionally, global warming brings increased flooding, which spreads pathogens from misdirected waste streams across soils, including where children play and food crops grow. Meanwhile, warming-induced drought compromises overall soil health and brings new bacterial challenges to farmers and ranchers.

Another way global warming contributes to more foodborne illness is by increasing the incidence and severity of natural disasters where first responders may not prioritize food safety and many of the affected are left without power or running water that could help them sanitize food.

Likewise, agricultural experts worry that exaggerated “mycotoxin” growth in a warmer world could also contaminate food sources. “Mycotoxins are a group of highly toxic chemical substances that are produced by toxigenic molds that commonly grow on a number of crops,” reports SFI. High temperature, humidity and precipitation brought on by climate change can create optimal conditions for mold growth.

“At high doses, mycotoxins produce acute symptoms and deaths, and particular mycotoxins may possess carcinogenic, immunosuppressive, neurotoxic, estrogenic and teratogenic activity,” adds SFI. What’s scary is that we could already be ingesting these contaminants—and surely will be more so in the future—by eating inadvertently infected crops and/or meat derived from livestock raised on contaminated feed.

And then there’s “zoonosis,” the transmittal of diseases from pets and livestock to people through direct contact with infected animals, meat or wastes. Climate change will increase the susceptibility of animals to disease, says SFI, thus increasing the likelihood of our contracting illnesses from animals.

While we can try our best to eat responsibly grown foods and stay out of the way of potentially infected animals, the solution to global warming-induced increases in foodborne illness is to stop emitting greenhouse gases. But as we are finding, that’s much more easily said than done.

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. To donate, visit http://www.earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org.

 

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How One Small Step Back Backwards Is One Giant Leap Forwards

For me, this conjures up a scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail where the king is explaining about how he built his castle on a swamp, each castle sank into the swamp until the fourth one stood firm.

It’s so incredibly important to have solid foundations on which to build your life or business. There are times though where we think we have a rock-solid foundation and ignore the holes forming in it. Just like we think we’re invincible and nothing can hurt us or affect us, we think our foundations are too.

There are times when we need to fix those holes and cracks but that means taking a step backwards and many see it as a weakness. Their ego will tell them they’re going in the wrong direction. Their ego will tell them they’re letting themselves down and they’ve become as weak as a little field mouse. I disagree though. I see the act of taking a step backwards to be one of the strongest and most powerful things we can do!

We begin these journeys whether in life or in business with big plans. We’re excited, our emotions are running high and just like a kid on Christmas day, we forget about most things because our focus is on the prize (or the presents). Maybe we forget to put the battery door back onto one of our gifts properly.

At first, everything is amazing. We spend hours playing with the new toy, it seems like only surgery will remove the smile from our face. Then it happens, the toy stops working because the batteries have fallen out (remember the door?), the smile weakens, the tears begin, the special day is filled with wails of sadness. All because you’d missed something at the beginning.

“When things go wrong, go back to the basics” –Urvi Mistry

Tame our ego

One of the most powerful things that stop us taking that step backwards is our ego. It would be like asking a NASA rocket scientist if they would like to read “Rocket Science for Dummies”, they just wouldn’t do it because they would see it as belittling their existing knowledge. I’ll be honest, I would have felt the same if someone had handed me an “Archery for Dummies” book just as I’d won my second British championship title.

These are the times when we have to suspend our ego. It can be difficult and many times we have to force ourselves to do it, but when we do we massively grow. It’s like when we go to a workshop or conference. The speaker lineup is awesome, you’re excited to see them. The event begins, the house lights dim and the stage is spotlit.

The first speaker comes on stage, begins talking and your first thoughts are “But I already know that”. The mental walls shoot up and you miss all of the golden nuggets available because your ego shut off your mind to any new information.

This is exactly the same process that happens when someone suggests to us that maybe we should take a few steps backwards to strengthen our foundation. The mental walls go up and our mind goes into lockdown. It’s like sticking fingers in our ears and loudly shouting “La La La La La La” so we don’t hear someone saying things.

So what can you do?

The first step is to slap your ego around the face with a wet trout. Your ego is used to being in control so doing something to disrupt that situation gives your conscious mind the control back long enough to jump in and begin reasoning and questioning the situation.

Start asking yourself “What do I REALLY need to do to fix things?”. The solution won’t be to stick a band-aid on, it’s to fix the core issues which can be anything from lack of systems/procedures, lack of academic knowledge or lack of experience. All of these fall into the realms of your foundations and that’s where your focus should be.

All too often we complicate things to the point where we stop seeing the solution. To stop your pizza from sticking to the box lid, you wouldn’t start to develop a non-stick cardboard coating so the cheese doesn’t stick to the lid when it gets dumped around by the delivery driver. You’d keep it simple and put the little plastic thing in the centre of the pizza instead.

“It’s very satisfying to take a problem we thought difficult and find a simple solution. The best solutions are always simple.” – Ivan Sutherland

When we complicate things, not only do we lose sight of the end goal, but we forget about the simple solutions. Those simple solutions reside in the realm of the basic, that place you get to when you take this valuable but sometimes difficult steps backwards. Yes, it’s going to be hard at first, yes it’s going to give you those feelings of failure and going back to school, but believe me when I tell you they will be the best, strongest and most powerful steps you take, on a par with Neil Armstrong’s small step for man.

source https://addicted2success.com/life/how-one-small-step-back-backwards-is-one-giant-leap-forwards/

Going Gray

I haven’t been “in the closet” for over two decades. I came out as gay when I was eighteen, and I’ve lived my adult life on the freer side of the closet door. And for most of that time, I’ve preached the gospel of being “out and proud”: what it does for you personally, its importance to other queer people, its value in slowly chipping away at the structural homophobia that’s baked into our culture, our politics, and our policies.

For the last six months, I’ve been sorting out something in myself that’s been a puzzle, a question mark. Something that I’ve always felt and experienced, but something I always ascribed to be a deficiency in me, a fault in my design, a failure. It’s a thing that’s caused me a lot of shame and insecurity. It’s complicated my romantic relationships and, because of the self-destructive ways I sort of “handled” this stuff, it stopped me from building solid friendships, too.

I’ve been in the closet. And the closet is a brutal place. And, thanks to an awesome therapist and a husband who provides me the safest of places to be who I am, I don’t want to be in the closet anymore.

I’m gray-ace.

Gray-asexual. It’s an identity on the asexual spectrum. It means different things to different people, but in a nutshell, I identify somewhere between being a sexual person and being asexual.

What does that mean for me? It means I only sometimes (not often) experience sexual attraction. It means I only sometimes (not often) want to have sex. It means when I do want to have sex with someone, there’s a limited range of things I’m wanting to do with them. It means sometimes, I enjoy sex. And sometimes, I don’t really feel much of anything when I have sex. I’m perfectly content to not have sex most of the time.

I spent most of my adult life thinking the way I felt about sex meant something was broken in me. Or that I was just lousy at it. I blamed my body for not being attractive enough. I blamed my brain for not being “normal” enough. I overcompensated by having sex with a lot of people I didn’t really want to have sex with, because I thought if I could just appear like a regular red-blooded gay dude, then I’d eventually be oneFake it ‘til you make it, you know? I tried to be what I thought people expected me to be, what I thought the community expected me to be, and it was sometimes fun, but mostly shameful, mostly anxious, mostly… not me.

I’m gray-ace. That’s me. No more closet.

I think there’s great value in letting people know who you are, a net good in allowing the people in your life to see you in totality. It was the visibility of out queer people that allowed me to take my own first steps out of the closet. I could be it, because I could see it.

But I don’t see a lot of asexual representation out there, in the world, on my timelines, in the way other queer men talk to me and to each other. I didn’t really see myself in the world that way.

That lack of visibility is what built my closet, what made me think I was somehow deficient. At 42 years old, I don’t want to think of myself as deficient anymore. I want to think of myself as enough.

 No more closets. No more shame. I’m going proudly wear my gray.

Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.

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