Mammalian Dive Reflex

The Mammalian Dive Reflex: A Fascinating Evolutionary Adaptation

The Mammalian Dive Reflex and How It Helps Feedivers

I’ve always been fascinated by the ‘mammalian dive reflex’ and have enjoyed experiencing it’s benefits in courses I have run training surfers to hold their breath longer under water, and to breathe more efficiently. Despite experiencing the obvious discomfort of holding your breath, I have always found the under water breath hold work extremely relaxing. Most people doing courses leave feeling super relaxed.

So, I thought I’d share an article on it from www.deeperblue.com.

Enjoy.

 

In this article we’ll looking at the mammalian dive reflex and how this helps us dive deeper for longer.

What Is The Mammalian Dive Reflex?

The mammalian dive reflex, or MDR, is a reflex hard wired into our genetic makeup and is brought on by immersion in water (particularly the face) and holding your breath.

It is seen in all kinds of mammals and is very strong in children. In the middle part of the twentieth century, when people started setting freediving records for the first time, the mammalian dive reflex in humans had not been recognized and it was believed that a dive to 30m would crush the lungs. Experiments on freedivers, particularly with Jacques Mayol and Bob Croft, demonstrated the extraordinary effects of the mammalian dive reflex and research is still being performed today to further investigate the incredible adaptations of the human body to breath holding.

The main characteristics of the mammalian dive reflex are bradycardia, peripheral vasoconstriction, blood shift, the spleen effect and immersion diuresis, and we’re going to look at each in turn to see the benefits and some drawbacks for freedivers..

1. Bradycardia

This is translated as ‘heart slowing’ and refers to the fact that when we hold our breath, our heart rate decreases, all the better to conserve oxygen. Jacques Mayol’s heart rate slowed to 27 beats per minute when he dived to 101m and a study in 1985 of cold water facial immersion showed that five people out of 27 experienced bradycardia of less than 15 bpm – one individual’s heart rate dropped to an incredible 5.6 bpm. The same study discovered that the effects of bradycardia are enhanced as the temperature of the water in which the subject is immersed decreases.

The effect of bradycardia on breath holding can be seen even when a person is nowhere near water. If you strap on a heart rate monitor and do an apnea ‘dry walk’, you will see your heart rate rapidly drop, even though you’re physically active. I have advanced students perform this to see how pronounced their dive reflex is. They sit on a chair breathing gently, then take a last full breath in, hold their breath seated for 30 seconds, and then stand up and walk (still breath holding). Responses vary by individual, but all experience a drop in heart rate whilst walking, some to less than half their resting heart rate.

Freedivers can even train to increase the effects of bradycardia, such as beginning a static session with a period of facial immersion while breathing through a snorkel, while others train by doing breath holds in bowls of ice water, varying the temperature to see different results.

2. Peripheral Vasoconstriction and Blood Shift

Peripheral vasoconstriction and blood shift are linked. Peripheral vasoconstriction is where the blood vessels in the extremities (your hands, feet, arms and legs) begin to constrict, shifting more blood to the core of the body. By moving blood from areas where the body needs it least, the vital organs are prioritized. This can be observed out of the water, too. One of my students relaxed in a seated position and performed minute-long breath holds repeatedly, with only one breath in between the breath holds. After a few minutes, his hands and feet went white and this started spreading up his arms and legs.

Blood shift, meanwhile, explains why freedivers can exceed the residual volume of their lungs when diving, all without their lungs collapsing, and what happens to some of the blood from peripheral vasoconstriction. As the lungs compress, the blood vessels around the alveoli expand with blood to compensate for the reduced volume of the lungs. Blood shift goes hand in hand with diaphragm and rib cage flexibility, because without those two ameliorating factors lung barotrauma can occur, when blood can actually enters the lung cavities.

3. The Spleen Effect

The spleen effect is another way your body can maximize oxygen efficiency. After repeated freediving, the spleen contracts, releasing more red blood cells into the blood. This increases the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, enabling longer dives or breath holds. There is inconclusive evidence of when this occurs in the dive session, but at least one dive or breath hold has to have taken place before the spleen effect occurs. It is thought that the effects are only temporary, however anecdotal evidence has shown that active and deep freedivers have managed to sustain a higher than normal haematocrit level (the amount of hemoglobin in the blood) for many days after their last dive.

4. Immersion Diuresis (aka “the need to pee”)

One side effect of the mammalian dive reflex is immersion diuresis, whereby the freediver’s body increases urine production. This is brought on by pressure caused by full body immersion in water, peripheral vasoconstriction and a reduction in body temperature.

Water draws heat away from the body, leading to vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in order to conserve heat. The mammalian dive reflex also causes peripheral vasoconstriction which has the same effect. In response to the resultant increase in blood pressure, the body inhibits the release of the anti-diuretic hormone ADH, also known as vasopressin, causing increased urination.

Increased water pressure on the body also increases blood pressure, no matter the water temperature, again increasing urination. All of which means it’s incredibly easy for freedivers to rapidly become dehydrated. Consequently it is important to keep your fluid levels up during a long dive session. A headache and bad breath are both indicators of dehydration.I need to go to bathroom!

5. Muscle Fatigue

Another side effect of the mammalian dive reflex is the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. As blood moves away from the limbs, the muscles rely more heavily on anaerobic respiration, which produces lactic acid. This causes a feeling of heaviness, or lactic acid ‘burn’ in the muscles and, in extreme cases, the muscles can simply stop functioning.

The mammalian dive reflex is a fascinating series of adaptations that the body has developed to aid breath holding and immersion in water. It enables the freedivers to better handle pressure and depth, enhances the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity and enables more efficient use of that oxygen in the body. In order to fully benefit from these advantages, however, freedivers need to be aware – and plan to prevent – the associated disadvantages. Keeping hydrated is vital and the better your physical fitness, the faster your body will recover from the buildup of lactic acid.

Breathing Man Running

Video: How To Breathe When Exercising Part 1 – The Nose

Most Of Us Were Incorrectly Taught How To Breathe When Exercising…

A video from my Youtube channel discussing how to correctly breathe when exercising.

Based on the structure of the nose, lungs and the dynamics of how we deliver oxygen from the air in our lungs to our cells via the blood stream for energy production (these dynamics are explained by ‘The Bohr Effect’ which which Danish biochemist, Christian Bohr won a Nobel Prize, and is studied in all mainstream medicine, physiology and biochemistry courses), most of us breathe incorrectly. We certainly do not meet what are the accepted medical diagnostic norms for functional breathing – see also my video ‘Breathing Is Life’ linked here for more information on this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zulIZxuEUvw&index=31&list=UUGq51Ggda2H9na1z01KA5zQ

We were also taught incorrectly how to breathe when exercising.

This  video will explain why, and will start to explain how to correct it. Stay tuned for part 2 (The Diaphragm) soon.

If you like this video, subscribe to my Youtube channel, my website, or book in for an appointment.

Or if you are a coach, or trainer, I’d be happy to come and train you and your group/team – tim@timaltman.com.au or 0425 739 918

 

Sacha Test Results

Case Study – Weight Loss with Intermittent Fasting

Case Study Using Bio-Impedance Testing and Intermittent Fasting to Find an Ideal and Individual Nutrition/Weight Loss Program for Clients

The featured image for this post shows the Bio-Impedance test results of a client I have worked with recently on weight loss.

Whilst I have worked with weight loss for over 15 years since I began clinical work, and have seen some wonderful results, the challenge for clients has always been not necessarily in losing weight (I have some great programs that achieve that extremely well), it is in keeping it off or continuing to lose weight (if necessary) once they assimilate back into their normal lives.

Simply put, (as I’ve said many times) we have created a mismatch between the bodies we inherited from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and the culture we have created. So we do not eat the way ‘we are built to’ which makes us fat and sick, deprives us of energy, we sleep poorly and die from chronic, lifestyle preventable, illnesses.

I have been looking for a solution for this for many years – the ‘so-called’ ideal eating plan. And intermittent fasting plays a significant role in this. Whilst no culture in evolutionary history has ever been exposed to the high levels of sugar and carbohydrates we now consume, every culture in evolutionary history was forced to adapt to famine, and therefore, fasting.

Ironically, when I was introduced to fasting over 20 years ago by the fantastic Russian doctor (who I now work with and learn from in my Sth Melbourne clinic) as a part of my recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome, CFS, I was told by many in the medical and wider community that fasting was dangerous and irresponsible. Yet when I recovered completely not long afterwards, they were either lost for words or denied that I was even sick in the first place. Grrrr…

Back to intermittent fasting. I believe it provides the perfect counterfoil for the hiccups we encounter when trying to eat well and lean in the modern world – the odd freedom meal/junk food meal, night out with a few drinks, business lunch, craving for sweet/savoury etc. The challenge lies in finding the program that works for each individual, as a program might have you lose weight, but you end up losing more muscle and water (or as much as) than fat, which is counterproductive in the long term.

Enter bio-impedance testing – a simple and quick, yet based on extensive research done, an accurate and objective measurement of body composition (muscle, fat and water levels), cellular health, biological age, and inflammation/toxicity status.

By comparing the results from bio-impedance testing to previous tests we are able to determine over time, the ideal nutrition program for each individual that provides a counterfoil to the challenges of the modern world, yet it suits the individuals lifestyle so it is more likely to continue long term.

The body composition results of the client in the featured image show that he made positive, yet very slow progress for the first month whilst we were determining a program that suited, whereas his progress in the second month has been fantastic. He lost roughly 2.3kg of fat whilst only losing 0.7kg of muscle (ATM). And in that time he did very little exercise due to work commitments, so increasing his resistance training again will increase his muscle mass. So his fat:muscle ratio dropped significantly, and that is the key body composition indicator we are looking at as research has found it is the number one body marker that contributes to ageing. For example, the average westerner will halve in muscle mass and double in fat mass between the ages of 20-60. Not good!!

I won’t go into too many other factors from the test today for the sake of time, however in the period of testing his biological age went from 37 down to 32 and, more importantly, in the last month it dropped from 36 to 32. So his nutrition is helping him feel younger inside, and he has more energy, sleeps better, improved mental clarity and feels better about himself and food in general.

In addition, via the Mickel Therapy and breathing work I do, I have learned a great deal about techniques we can use, including balancing our lifestyle more effectively, to reduce the negative impact stress has on ideal nutrition and weight loss. As such, I work with these techniques and a client’s lifestyle to support the program. These play a huge role in contributing to the results similar to above I have started to see more regularly in clients over a more sustained time frame.

If you would like to lose weight or explore intermittent fasting and bio-impedance testing further for weight loss or optimal living and performance, contact me at tim@timaltman.com.au or call 0425 739 918. Or go to the booking calendar on this site. I am in Torquay on Monday and Fridays, South Melbourne on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I offer consultations online via Skype or over he

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free

Video: The Dangers of a Gluten Free Diet by Dr John Douillard

Dr John Douillard Attempts to Debunk Some Myths About Wheat and Gluten

Further to a blog I shared recently (see below) questioning whether gluten and/or wheat is as evil as it is now suggested, I thought I’d share this video by Dr John Douillard as some further food for thought – http://timaltman.com.au/opinion-article-myth-big-bad-gluten/

I like this guy’s work. He’s also done some great work on breathing.

Dr Douillard offers a different perspective on the gluten/wheat subject and attempts to debunk some of the current myths about wheat and gluten – that wheat has only been available for 10,000 years; that there is more gluten in modern wheat; that wheat is indigestible; phytic acids in grain are toxins etc. etc.

He suggests that sugars and processed foods are a poison to the brain and body, not wheat or gluten as such, and that eliminating wheat maybe be going too far. We need to look at the bigger picture around this topic rather than focusing on the negatives about wheat and gluten.

For example, a lot of the foreign chemicals in modern wheat (pesticides, toxins in the environment etc) kill the microbes in our digestive system that are involved in breaking down wheat.

Also, whilst wheat is harder to digest that many vegetables and fruit etc., this may be beneficial, even necessary to our immune systems; and it this many of the other additives in processed foods (of which wheat is a major constituent) that make them so hard to digest. These include indigestible olis and fats that make the bread etc. stick together and not go off so quickly. These additives are indigestible and accumulate in our liver and arteries, so it is so often these that are the poisons or the toxins rather than wheat per se. The solution being not to eat processed wheat and grains, but to source high quality, whole grain, non-processed, even sour dough products that are as natural and low in chemicals as possible.

My 20 cents on this is that Dr Douillard’s point is definitely worth considering, and we have perhaps become far too hard line on wheat and gluten (unless you have Coeliac’s disease), however I still stick to my long held belief that the more wheat one eats, especially wheat in processed foods, the less vegetables and fruit one eats. And these are jam packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre etc. So, whilst I’m happy to include some good quality wheat and grain in my diet, I still focus on trying to eat as many vegetables and fruit (fruit in season for the climate I live) as I can – aiming for at least 9 whole handfuls per day of vegetables and fruit. That is where you will get bang for your buck in terms of nutrient value….

If you’d like to improve how you can optimise your nutrition, book an appointment via the calendar on this website or email me at tim@timaltman.com.au or call 0425 739 918.

 

 

 

 

 

The Diaphragm

The Role of the Diaphragm Extends Far Beyond Breathing

Article: Anatomic connections of the diaphragm: influence of respiration on the body system.

The article linked at the bottom of this blog, by Bruno Bordoni and Emiliano Zanier from the Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, outlines the multiple roles the diaphragm plays in addition to being the primary breathing muscle.

It is quite technical, so if you enjoy that, then jump on. However, I’ve included the conclusion here, which summarises things quite simply.

“The diaphragm muscle not only plays a role in respiration but also has many roles affecting the health of the body. It is important for posture, for proper organ function, and for the pelvis and floor of the mouth. It is important for the cervical spine and trigeminal system, as well as for the thoracic outlet. It is also of vital importance in the vascular and lymphatic systems. The diaphragm muscle should not be seen as a segment but as part of a body system. To arrive at correct therapeutic strategies, we must see the whole and all the links highlighted in this paper. In presenting this review, we hope to have made a small contribution towards perceiving the patient as a whole and to have spurred new thinking.”

It is clear that breathing plays a role far greater than just sucking in air for energy!! And this goes a long way to explaining why breathing retraining works so potently in treatment of a vast range of ailments, including; asthma and difficulty breathing; chest tightness; anxiety and depression, IBS, reflux and other gastro-intestinal disturbances; headaches and migraines; fatigue; hypertension and high BP; poor peripheral circulation; sinusitis; dental issues and many more.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731110/

 

 

 

Anxiety and Chronic Fatigue

Testimonial: CFS and Anxiety Recovery

Natural Recovery From Anxiety and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Below is a testimonial from a lovely client of mine who made a full or complete recovery from a long term case of debilitating anxiety and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

She sent me a letter and some amazing chocolates also as thanks which was very nice – and yummy.

I’ve included part of the letter also as it gives a bit of an idea of the process we follow and the guiding and supporting relationship I play as clients navigate their way back to health. We worked initially via a one on one consultation in person, and then mostly via phone due to simplicity and to eliminate the need for Em to drive too far to consultations. At that stage I worked only in Torquay and Em lived in Melbourne. Nowadays I work both in Torquay and Melbourne.

 

“This is just a little something to show you my gratitude for having you as a guide over the last year. Your phone calls were often a light at the end of the tunnel for me. Not only did your support and insight get me through some rough days, but the tools you have taught me have become part of my everyday routine and have permanently transformed the way I live my life.”

“Looking back to where I was before I started sessions with you, I can’t believe how much has changed. My energy levels are sustained throughout the day, my anxiety attacks have subsided and I deal with my emotions in a much more healthy way. My life has reached a new level of balance that I did not see possible. Using this holistic approach and working from the root level has enabled me to resolve deep issues and create new habits and pathways for myself that I will use for life. For this, I can’t thank you enough Tim.”

Whilst it is very flattering to receive such kind words, I am constantly humbled by both the potency of the techniques I use with clients, and the openness, courage and persistence of many clients in implementing them. It is clients such as Em who deserve the most praise. It is so rewarding to see the transformation in them, and their recovery.

I won’t be falsely modest and say that I don’t need or enjoy some kind words occasionally however 🙂 And chocolates of course!!

If you suffer from anxiety and/or CFS, or know anyone who does, and would like to explore a natural, and permanent recovery, then contact me at tim@timaltman.com.au or 0425 739 918.

Breathing Man Diaphragm

Video: How To Breathe Using Your Diaphragm

Diaphragm Breathing Explained

I often get asked by clients, “how do I breathe using my diaphragm?”

Or, “I can’t feel my diaphragm move during breathing.”

Watch this video to see how I answer this common question…..

If you would like to learn more, contact me via tim@timaltman.com.au or 0425 739 918.

And if you like the video, feel free to subscribe to my Youtube Channel (Tim Altman).

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The Great CFS or M.E. Debate Continues. Yet Highly Effective Solutions Already Exist

Article: Why are doctors and patients still at war over M.E.? How the best treatment for the debilitating condition is one of the most bitterly contested areas in medicine.

Linked below is an article by Jerome Burn for the Daily Mail in the UK discussing the ongoing battles between doctors and patients over the cause and treatment for M.E., or CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).

Finally the highly controversial PACE (a combination of cognitive behavioral and graded exercise therapies) recommended by many medical boards has been seriously questioned due to what has now been revealed as a lack of supportive data compared to what was originally claimed. Whilst this is no surprise to anyone who has suffered from CFS/M.E. and has tried this technique, it took years and many law suits to get the doctors invested in the use of this technique to reveal the data to the public. In doing so, serious discrepancies were revealed. It doesn’t actually work that well. Well, most who have tried this technique would suggest that this is stating the obvious.

It is however, a win for those wishing to have CFS, M.E. fibromyalgia etc. recognised as an actual physical condition as well as a psychological condition.

Yet, the debate as to the causes and the most effective treatment still wages. All this reveals is that they still don’t have the answers.

The medical community, that is your local doctor, and the fatigue specialists, still can’t provide solutions for CFS. And I’m sure we all implore them to continue the research.

However I believe their search is guided by the wrong paradigm.

Their education and ongoing research is largely bound by the current medical/pharmacological paradigm that looks at individual chemicals and imbalances, and the site of symptoms and putting out spot fires, rather that focusing on whole systems and the whole organism. This is the pharmacological approach that works great for acute illnesses, infectious diseases and trauma. But not for chronic, insidious onset illnesses.

There are effective solutions out there yielding fantastic results – and most of them have been found by thinking outside the square.

The approach of evolutionary biology or medicine would suggest we predominantly suffer and die from chronic illnesses because we have created a huge mismatch between the bodies we have inherited from our hunter gatherer ancestors, and the culture we have created.

We get sick from chronic diseases by doing what we evolved to do but under conditions for which our bodies are poorly adapted, and we then pass on those same conditions to our children, who also then get sick. If we wish to halt this vicious circle then we need to figure out how to respectfully and sensibly nudge, push and sometimes oblige ourselves to eat foods that promote health and to be more physically active. That too, is what we evolved to do.” Daniel Lieberman, ‘The Story of the Human Body. Evolution, Health & Disease’.

What inspired me to practice natural medicine, respiratory therapy and Mickel Therapy was a complete recovery from CFS. I had experienced the lack of belief and acknowledgement from many doctors, and the admission from those who did acknowledge as to their inability to help. As such, for a long time I also experienced the extreme helplessness, frustration and depression that all sufferers experience.

However I was fortunate to find a practitioner who, although he had a very esteemed scientific background, he did think outside the square. As a result, I experienced a level of health I had never felt even prior to my illness. My mission then became one of finding more effective solutions for this ailment. And to further explore the upper levels of optimal health.

Unlike many doctors, other than duty of care, I am not bound by expectations or guidelines that threaten to ridicule or cut me off should I stray beyond their boundaries.

Guided by the evolutionary biology approach, my approach over the last 20 years has been to explore any modalities that potentially offer solutions for CFS, M.E. etc. as I can find. Whilst I have seen many that did not work, or some that in no way met the bold claims made by it’s protagonists, I also found a few techniques that have offered fantastic and highly effective solutions for chronic illness – and performance for the same reasons, but used in reverse.

And these solutions are the ones I use in clinic now. Whilst the doctors and experts waged their debates, I, and some colleagues, started to see regular complete resolutions in clients suffering from CFS, M.E. fibromyalgia, IBS, anxiety, depression, auto-immune conditions and more.

If you suffer from any of these conditions and are sick of the bullshit, then feel free to contact me at tim@timaltman.com.au or 0425 739 918.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4790904/Why-doctors-patients-war-M-E.html

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Testimonial: Anxiety and PMS Success Naturally

A Natural and Complete Recovery From Anxiety and PMS

Below is a text message received from a client who came to me suffering from anxiety since she was 8 (in her 30’s now), and severe PMS since the birth of her son 3 years ago.

Her doctors tried to prescribe her antidepressants and the pill, but she decided against this path, coming to see me instead.

The treatment protocol I used was 3 fold:

  1. A combination of herbs for PMS to regulate her hormones, addressing relative oestrogen excess.
  2. Diaphragmatic breathing exercises to help regulate her nervous system allowing her to be more relaxed, more often. The carry on effect of this is that it will deal with anxiety as it arises and make it less likely to surface in the long run.
  3. Mickel Therapy to address certain lifestyle and behavioural factors that were putting her hypothalamus in overdrive, or leading her to internalise stress. Given that the hypothalamus regulates endocrine glands, and therefore hormone balance; as well as the automatic nervous system, and neurotransmitter production, the imbalance in this system will contribute to both the anxiety and the PMS at higher levels – in fact, one could argue that this is the ultimate cause and the symptoms are the end result.

Regardless, of what is higher, or the cause, and what are the results, or symptoms, to be more thorough, we addressed both.

I saw her in person the first time and then via Skype/phone from then on (it was easier for her due to having a young child).

The result was fantastic, and achieved in only 3 sessions. I think the text speaks for itself. She gave me permission to use this as a testimonial, so here it is:

“Hi Tim, I’m well thanks….I’m actually doing really good…I don’t have a lot to go over with you tomorrow. My anxiety is at an all time low, my PMS has disappeared, and I’m feeling the best I have in years!. So, would you mind if we touched base in 4 weeks for a catch up?….You’re doing you job too well”   Laura, Keilor

Well, I do say that my job is to ultimately make myself redundant by teaching skills for health and lifestyle that clients continue after treatment. It is a very thorough approach initially, but the rewards are worth it – more comprehensive results and the client is set free. So, I’m happy to have a client reschedule the session for this reason.

You might say that is a terrible business model for me, however it does create a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. And that makes one richer than any money can 🙂

Laura was an an absolute pleasure to work with, so she deserrved the results she earned.