Hacking Your Health with Heads Up: How Alcohol Impacts HRV and Oura Sleep Scores

Hacking Your Health with Heads Up: How Alcohol Impacts HRV and Oura Sleep Scores

Many people often forget that their everyday lifestyle choices can impact their overall health. Daily choices we make in life about food, alcohol, exercise and stress management  — they all add up to inform our health in one way or another.

Of course, you don’t need to be 100% perfect. (Who is?)

But with Heads Up, you can quantify just how your lifestyle choices are affecting you. You can then begin to take action on your lifestyle data, make adjustments as needed to steer your ship back on-course so you can optimize your health. 

For example, when TJ Anderson, health hacker and author of The Art of Health Hacking, attended this past weekend’s Metabolic Health Conference in Long Beach, CA, he used Heads Up’s Analyzer graphing feature to see how alcohol impacted his HRV, Oura sleep and readiness scores. 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

It’s easy to see from TJ’s graph that alcohol consumption had an inverse relationship to his HRV and readiness score. Once his drinks went down to zero, his HRV and Oura scores shot back up again.⠀

Try the Analyzer yourself with the numbers you care about. Whether it’s your HRV, readiness and sleep scores synced automatically via the Oura ring or how many glasses of wine or beer imbibed (entered manually), you can make actionable insights to hack your health. 

How to Use the Analyzer to Track What Matters to You:

  1. Choose Analyzer to bring up the graphing feature within your Heads Up web app
  2. Search the markers you want to trend (e.g., HRV and AM Readiness via Oura, Alcohol Intake), up to six markers if you want!
  3. Choose a time horizon you want to track (e.g., “Last 7 Days”, “This month”, “This year”, or custom dates of your own choosing).

Note: Click the ‘Connect Data’ button to connect to Devices and Apps such as Oura, Keto-Mojo, Biostrap, MyFitnessPal and/or medical records.

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18 Extraordinary Health Benefits of Cryotherapy

18 Extraordinary Health Benefits of Cryotherapy

The History of Cold Water and Cold Air Therapies

Although the health benefits of cryotherapy are reemerging, cryotherapy treatments – and it’s distant relatives – have a long history of use in medicine. As far back as 460 BC, the Greek physician Hippocrates was the first figure in medical history to document the benefits of hydrotherapy, or using water to trigger healing and/or general wellness. By the 19th century, Benedictine monks were using nearby springs for therapeutic use, and throughout the ages since, cold and hot water therapies have been used by the medical community for healing ailments, athletic performance recovery, and overall health and wellness.

Cold Water Submersion (Cold Plunge) vs. Cryotherapy

Cold therapies, whether in an air chamber or a submersion tank, use the application of extreme cold to activate the body’s natural healing powers. Cold water submersion (or cold plunge) is the practice of entering an ice bath, typically for 15 to 20 minutes at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Whole-body cryotherapy is the practice of entering a temperature-controlled room at -155 to -184 degrees Fahrenheit, typically only for three minutes. 

So What’s the Science?

Today, there is a lot of science behind cold therapies (wet and dry). These therapies allow your body to access and release naturally-occurring biochemicals that are active in reducing pain and inflammation, speeding metabolism, and detoxifying the body and blood of harmful toxins. 

In a nutshell, here’s what’s happening: your body goes into a state of ‘cold shock,’ dropping the skin temperature around core nerve ending neurons. This triggers two reactions in your brain: one that releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) in vast amounts very quickly, and one that releases norepinephrine (anti-inflammatory protein) in the brain at approximately three times the normal rate. That’s the brain sending survival signals to your body. This also triggers the constriction of your vascular and muscular systems to begin transporting blood, nutrients, and resources from your extremities to core organs. Additionally, blood detox and enrichment begin in preparation for the ‘survival’ period. 

The Health Benefits of Cryotherapy

The resulting health benefits of cryotherapy are increasingly well-documented in the medical community, so let’s dive into the range of outcomes you may experience. 

1.  Improved overall health and wellness. Medical studies are showing whole body cryotherapy eases a wide range of chronic medical conditions from osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia to auto-immune deficiencies, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, dermatitis, and more. Patients also report:

  • Improved sleep
  • More energy
  • Pain and inflammation relief
  • Accelerated weight loss
  • Improved circulation
  • Faster surgical recovery
  • Improved mood and reduced anxiety

2. Skin and beauty enhancement. The cold environment activates deep layer skin receptors telling the body to increase the production of collagen. The resulting collagen production helps with:

  • Firmer, tighter skin
  • Diminished appearance of cellulite, varicose and spider veins
  • Increased weight loss and caloric burn
  • Reduced blemishes
  • Stronger, fuller hair and nails

3. Improved athletic and sports performance. After a cryo session, higher concentrations of oxygen and nutrients in the body help muscles, ligaments, and tendons better absorb and utilize them. That, in turn, boosts metabolic activity. So for the athlete, both performance and recovery are improved including:

  • Improved overall athletic performance
  • Improved joint function
  • Faster recovery time
  • Increased energy
  • Reduced inflammation and muscle soreness
  • Reduced tendonitis and shin splints

    Who Should NOT Use Cryotherapy?

    Anyone who’s pregnant or has a heart condition should not use cold water submersion or cryotherapy as the risks simply outweigh the benefits. If you’re unsure if it’s right for you, check with your medical practitioner.

    How to Find the Right Cryotherapy Center

    No. It’s not just a simple Google search that includes keywords and your zip code. Finding the right cryotherapy center requires a little deeper dive. Here are some keys to finding a quality center to help on your cryo-journey, so don’t be shy and make sure you ask about the following:

    What kind of equipment do you have?
    Tip: look for facilities that offer whole body cryotherapy

    Does your customer service team measure skin temperature?
    Tip: look for facilities that measure your skin temperature before and after therapy to ensure you are getting the right effects 

    Is the cryo chamber located in a private area?
    Tip: You’ll be stripping down almost naked. Ensure the cryo chamber is located in a private area of the facility.

    Is It Working? Track It and See.

    It’s not uncommon for cryotherapy patients to feel immediate benefits after only one session, but often optimal results are found after just a few sessions. A recommended frequency is 2 to 3 times per week until the goals are met. We recommend tracking your sessions so you can see if other areas of your health are improving.

    The Heads Up app allows you to track your cryo sessions alongside all other vital health metrics including:

    • Heart rate variability
    • Sleep
    • Blood pressure
    • Inflammation (hs-crp)
    • ….and many more

    track cryotherapy sessions

    TRY HEADS UP FREE FOR 30 DAYS TO TRACK YOUR CRYOTHERAPY SESSIONS

    Try Heads Up Free for 30 Days

    Still want more info? Check out these useful resources.

    Knowledge is power, so here are a few more helpful resources to check out before you take the ‘plunge’ into the world of cryotherapy and cold water submersion:

    11 Remarkable Health Benefits of Fasting

    11 Remarkable Health Benefits of Fasting

    Fasting vs. Starvation

    Many people mistake the practice of fasting with starvation, especially in the United States where food abundance and the idea of being hungry is perceived as a negative state (or altogether inhumane, something only happening to the ‘less fortunate’). The truth is, fasting and starvation are two completely different things. That’s why we put together this list of 11 remarkable health benefits of fasting… but before we dive in, a few other background points.

    Starvation deprives you of nutrition and begins the process of breaking down your body, while the benefits of fasting on the other hand, are as long as they are deep. Fasting is a time-tested and controlled state that is not only beneficial to your health, it’s essential for creating optimal health, managing chronic diseases, reaching a healthy weight for your body type, reversing aging and much more. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the benefits of fasting… the healthy way, as recommended by Dr. John Limansky, the Keto Doctor… Heads Up friend and advisor. Thank you Dr. John!

    The Health Benefits of Fasting

    1. Achieve your optimal weight. Different than starvation, fasting gives your body a chance to burn the energy from food instead of storing it as glycogen or fat. During longer fasting periods your body will burn through the glycogen stores and then begin burning fat stores.
    2. Overcome insulin resistance and balance blood sugar levels. Fasting gives your cells an overdue break from insulin so that they can ‘rediscover’ their sensitivity, overcome insulin resistance, and use glucose more effectively. That means blood sugar crashes along with your sugar cravings, taking the strain off of your overworked pancreas while significantly reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 
    3. Increase metabolism by as much as 18%. It’s been long-believed that fasting will bring your metabolism and weight loss efforts to a grinding halt. The good news is that’s no longer true. Research now shows that a stress hormone called norepinephrine increases during fasting, releasing fatty acids from the fat cells. This in turn makes it faster and easier for your body to use its fat stores. 
    4. Keep cortisol levels in check and better manage stress.
      Remember the research that suggested that your cortisol response depends on having glucose in the blood? In those same studies, participants who fasted and drank water had a much lower cortisol response than their peers who drank glucose solution. This indicates that fasting keeps cortisol levels low, helps us to respond to stressful situations in a much healthier manner, and protects us from the harmful effects of chronic stress.
    5. Reduce inflammation by inhibiting the immune response.
      Inflammation occurs in response to pain, injury and/or disease, and in some cases, your immune system continues releasing inflammatory chemicals even after the original state is gone. Such sustained exposure to those chemicals can create other chronic disease states, but fasting helps inhibit that prolonged immune response and blocks the continuing release of inflammatory chemicals
    6. Regenerate your immune system from the inside out. When you fast, your body saves energy by recycling old or damaged white blood cells. This drop in white blood cells flips a ‘regenerative switch’ in the body, stimulating the production of new stem cells. These stem cells then go on to develop into new, healthy immune cells, meaning you’re essentially regenerating a whole new immune system.
    7. Improve heart health by reducing blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.
      Fasting is shown to reduce blood pressure and harmful LDL cholesterol, and it also helps to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of diabetes. It also reduces heart disease risk by protecting your vascular system. 
    8. Improve brain health by stimulating the production of new neurons.
      Fasting stimulates the growth of new neurons and increases production of a hormone called brain- derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Altogether, this helps to protect against depression, improve brain function and memory, slow cognitive decline, and reduce the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s.
    9. Protect against cancer.
      Cancer is characterized by the rapid and uncontrollable growth of cells. Although further studies are needed to confirm this, fasting is believed to help prevent cancer by depriving cancerous cells of the essential hormones they need to grow. Insulin Growth Factor, or IGF-1, is one such hormone, which goes into decline as soon as you stop eating. 
    10. Increase cellular turnover and regeneration.
      Fasting sends your body into cell recycling, a process of self-digestion at the cellular level called autophagy. But you’re not just digesting your fat to fuel yourself while fasting. Your body also targets malfunctioning cells and old tissues to optimize resources for survival.
    11. Improve sleep quality.
      New studies show that routine intermittent fasting in many ways helps the body stay well aligned for sleep and strengthens the circadian clock. That means it’s easier to fall asleep and stay asleep so you can wake feeling more rested.

    Is it working? Track it and see.

    The best way to understand how your body is responding to fasting, no matter what plan you’re on, is with hard data. Getting an app that collects your key health metrics along with tracking your fasting cycles is not only an easy way to track progress and see how you’re changing, it’s also a fun and motivating method to stay on track. 

    The Heads Up app, for example, offers a fasting timer, along with a dashboard to track weight, body fat percentage, sleep, blood sugar, ketones and other vital health metrics, giving you a holistic view of your health before, during and after fasting. Start with their 30-day free trial to connect your other health data, then select an affordable monthly plan to continue tracking your metrics over time.

    Should you fast?

    With so many metabolic health benefits that are now research backed, it’s hard to say fasting doesn’t have some benefit to most people, however, it’s important that certain demographics should not fast at all, such as those with diabetes or other chronic disease, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the elderly and children. Most importantly, check with your doctor before starting any new diet regimen. 

    Once you decide to give fasting a try, check out all the various fasting routines to get a sense of what type may be right for you. Not all fasting plans are right for everyone. The other key will be to find a useful tool (e.g. web or mobile application) that you can use to track your fasting plan as you go, and as importantly, to track your key health stats during the fasting state. 

    This will be a good indication of how fasting will work for you, and how it impacts your health day to day. It will also be the perfect data to offer to your doctor as you work to achieve your personal health goals over time. 

    The big picture? Fasting can become a steady and ongoing part of your healthy lifestyle plan for the long haul, rather than just a diet fad. 

    As with any healthy lifestyle plans, consult with your health practitioner first.

     

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    Which Keto Tracker App is Right for You?

    Which Keto Tracker App is Right for You?

    The ketogenic diet has gone mainstream, and with it, so have the number of apps available to efficiently track your progress. But finding the right keto tracker app can get complicated and confusing quickly. There are big differences between free tracking apps with basic functionality and premium apps offering a broader range of keto diet tracking plus other useful features that help you more easily monitor and manage your overall health, no matter what your goals.

    So here are some useful tips to help determine if a free keto tracker app is right for you, or if you may want a little more ‘spice’ in your ‘keto app sauce.’

    The Freebie Options

    MyFitnessPal

    MyFitnessPal is a popular calorie counter web and mobile app for tracking fitness and food intake. This keto tracker app diary feature couples with the calorie counter to help track every calorie, nutrient and vitamin you consume. The macros feature helps you analyze eating patterns to determine where you may be out of balance so you can make necessary adjustments to stay on track with your goals.

    • The Pros: MyFitnessPal is convenient to use with easy access to a huge database of foods and information, offering instant feedback and flexible diet plans. It also integrates with other health dashboards as well as a host of other activity, fitness and lifestyle apps as well as wearables (see all integrations). 
    • The Cons: The food database has many listings that are not verified, which can make it hard to find the right food in their system. There is also more emphasis on calories versus macros, and for some, not having net carbs displayed without running a script can make it less keto-friendly than other keto tracker apps. The app also requires an internet connection to access the database in real-time. It may be best suited for those who are steadfast in their dedication to calorie counting as the best method to reach their goals. 
    • Cost: Free; in-app purchases on Apple watch
    • Platforms: Web app and mobile app on Apple & Android
    MyFitnessPal Diary
    Carb Manager App
    Carb Manager App

    Carb Manager

    The Carb Manager Low-Carb Diet Tracker is a great option to track your keto diet macros. You can log meals using photos, search, voice input or barcode scanners, making it flexible and user-friendly no matter what method(s) you prefer. The database of foods, although size is uncertain, seems large enough to accommodate most dieters, and you have access to meal planners, diet forums, recipes, eBooks and more. Total and net carbs are verified instantly and the user interface is simple.

    • The Pros: As another free keto tracker app option, this one is full-featured and easy to use, and lets you enter your own carb limits and track water intake. The database of foods is plenty big, you have access to a plethora of relevant diet resources, and it’s applicable for Keto, Atkins, Paleo and other diet plan preferences that espouse a similar low-carb lifestyle approach. You can also chart your body mass index (BMI), weight and progress against your personalized goals, access via the web or mobile device and use unlimited logging for taking food pics. 
    • The Cons: Although free, you may reach a food limit on what you enter before being required to upgrade, and is sometimes challenging to search for and upload their own food items from a personalized meal plan. The user interface is also a bit lacking compared with some of the other nutrition apps covered here.
    • Cost: Free with in-app purchases
    • Platforms: Web app, mobile app on Apple and Android

    Lifesum 

    Lifesum is another food and fitness tracking app available on mobile devices only (no web app) that offers calorie tracking, recipes and nutrition tips. This keto tracker app offers some recipes along with social media integration and gamification that allows users to connect with friends to challenge, motivate and inspire each other. The app’s food rating guide also makes it easy to quickly assess the foods with the best nutritional value versus those that are high in calories, saturated fats, sodium or sugar.

    • The Pros: Track meals and physical activity through an easy user interface and select your health goals from three simple options, “be healthier,” “lose weight,” or “gain weight.” It includes some recipes and a filter to find and track foods based on what’s popular in your area.
    • The Cons: The food database is much smaller than MyFitnessPal and some of the nutrient information is inaccurate. Significant features such as the full food database and the larger catalog of recipes also require a paid upgrade. 
    • Cost: Free with in-app purchases for additional foods and recipes
    • Platforms: Mobile app available on Apple and Android
    Lifesum App

    Try a Health & Keto Tracker App Free

    Total Keto Diet App

    Total Keto Diet

    The Total Keto Diet app offers a wide variety of healthy recipes for people on the keto diet plan, as well as a host of educational articles on the ketogenic lifestyle in general. You can select and save your favorite meals and recipes and from that, create a personalized shopping list. Users can share recipe ideas with other users. The keto tracker app also includes a macronutrient tracker, helping you log carb intake and overall diet macros.

    • The Pros: This is an easy and convenient way to keep track of your keto plan, weight-loss progress and offers an easy spot for keto education and logging of shopping lists.
    • The Cons: For users that may want to incorporate tracking other health metrics, through integration with other devices or apps, this may simply be too basic of an option to do everything on your wishlist. It’s also difficult to adjust the amount of specific food entered (i.e. entering ½ cup of cooked cauliflower).
    • Cost: Free 
    • Platforms: Mobile app available on Apple and Android

    When FREE Falls a Little Too Short

    Keto Diet App

    When you’re ready to step into the paid keto app world for more robust features, The Keto Diet app offers more to help users adopt a healthier lifestyle rather than just losing weight at any cost. For people interested in using the ketogenic plan to follow a low-carb eating plan with a high degree of accuracy, this is a great choice. Its intuitive diet planner lets you create a custom profile using options from hundreds of meals and snacks. Beyond calorie counting and carb monitoring, this keto tracker app helps you more easily track your ketogenic diet macros, and you can set your carb intake, pull from hundreds of free recipe ideas and use its built-in keto calculator. The virtual shopping basket also helps simplify grocery shopping.

    • The Pros: This app is big on both accuracy and data privacy, so your personal info is secure, and all of the tracker’s nutritional details are from verified sources. Its simple interface is user-friendly, and the diet guide is well-suited for beginners and advanced keto dieters, with thousands of delicious recipes that are formulated for keto via a whole-foods lens. 
    • The Cons: Although the app is user-friendly, it is sometimes considered time-consuming to use. Measuring options for some items are only in ounces or grams, not cups, tablespoons or teaspoons, so volume accuracy can be a challenge on-the-fly.
    • Price: $8.99 per month with in-app purchases
    • Platforms: Apple and Android
    Keto Diet App

    Heads Up (formerly Heads Up Health)

    Heads Up (formerly called Heads Up Health) takes ketogenic diet tracking to a different level and is a more robust personal health app designed to give users an easy way to see all of their important health metrics in one place, whether the goal is weight loss and changing body tape measurements, chronic disease management, athletic performance, biohacking or general health and well-being. 

    This keto tracker app integrates with a growing number of popular fitness apps, diet trackers and wearables, such as MyFitnessPal, MyMacros+, Fitbit, Apple Health, Cronometer, BioStrap, Oura Ring and KetoMojo, with more being added. In fact, whatever keto tracker app you decide to use, Heads Up is a great complement to seeing the big picture of your health.

    • The Pros: Heads Up lets users track a much broader range of health and medical data to monitor total lifestyles, while still tracking specific diet plans such as keto. A wide range of popular integrated apps and wearables automatically sync, and the dashboard can be customized to feature the most important stats you need to monitor most often. The Care Team Access feature allows users to share health data with loved ones and medical practitioners if desired, and remove access at any time. Data privacy practices are in place to make sure all your personal and medical information is secure.
    • The Cons: For users that only want to only track a specific diet or food plans such as Keto, Paleo or Low-Carb, the app may have more features than needed.
    • Price: Free 30-day trial / $8.99 per month 
    • Platforms: Web app, mobile for Apple and Android
    Heads Up Health App

    Try a Health & Keto Diet Tracker Free

    https://app.headsuphealth.com/users/sign_up

    The Bottom Line

    The list of keto diet tracking apps is wide and long, and clearly, there is a lot of overlap between options, especially when it comes to the free ones. The pack begins to separate when you get into the more robust paid options that offer a deeper, feature-rich experience. So the best way to choose…?  Start with the end in mind. If it’s a diet plan and you’re on a budget, free is the way to go. But if you want to monitor more health stats over the short and long term, then upgrading to a paid solution will be way worth the investment in monitoring your broader health metrics.