I speed read.
As I discuss in the podcast episode “Unlocking The Superpowers Of Speed Reading, Memory Enhancement, Learning Skills Faster & More With Jim Kwik.“, I’ve naturally “sped-read” since I was a little kid, and I typically read 4-8 books each week.
Here’s my system: I begin by glancing at the table-of-contents to get an idea of what the book contains. Then, I flip through the book very quickly to see what the layout of the book is like. How much of it is references or appendices at the end? Where are the special sections, diagrams, graphs, photos or in-laid content that might take extra time or be critical or interesting sections? How much of it is simply “fluff”?
Then I begin reading, page-by-page. I don’t track down-and-up or side-to-side with a finger or pen. I just…read.
And I find anything especially notable or groundbreaking in the book, I underline that section (or, if a Kindle, highlight that section), then fold over that page so I can go back later and read my underlined sections.
Finally, when I’m all finished, I photograph the underlined sections with my phone and upload those to Evernote so I have the most important notes digitally stored forever. That’s it. Anyways, this week I attended a private health summit and had the opportunity to read eight new health books published in 2016.
In today’s article, I’m going to give you my biggest takeaways and lessons learned from those eight books. When it comes to optimizing your body and brain, I think you’ll find some handy gems. Enjoy.
Quick Summary of Kale and Coffee:
“Four years ago, when I was something of a YouTube health celebrity, I was on top of the world [and] . . . the diet pyramid. I ate the cleanest, most nutritious diet on the planet (or so I thought). A raw-food vegan diet . . . not only pure in its contents but also pure in its intention. With this type of diet, you eat straight from the earth, only as nature intended. I ate kale salad, raw nut butters, goji berries, raw chocolate, and dehydrated flax crackers. I drank green smoothies, green juice, wheatgrass, and hemp milk. I even tried a fruitarian diet . . . I thought about food from the moment I woke up until the second I fell asleep . . . I was an addict in search of the purest dope: raw, vegan, organic food . . . I was headed down a path of self-destruction. So it’s not surprising that, like any hardcore addict, I eventually hit rock bottom.”
So begins the saga of health blogger Kevin Gianni and his wife, Annmarie, as they travel the world to learn as much as they can about health and nutrition. Along the way they meet unlikely people in unlikely places as Kevin seeks an answer to his burning question: What—and how much—should we eat?
Gianni’s lighthearted debunking of the hype and nonsense surrounding much of the health and nutrition world today should be encouraging to anyone who’s ever tried a fad diet and failed. Kale and Coffee is packed with research—delivered in Gianni’s warm and humorous voice—but the aim throughout is to empower you to create the diet and lifestyle best suited to you alone.
Kale and Coffee offers practical tips for wellness, from testing your body—and pantry—for toxic metals to selecting the healthiest coffee, wines, and green drinks to consume.
Biggest Lessons I Learned From Kale and Coffee:
-Many long-lived, ancestral, healthy populations don’t eat blueberry and kale superfoods. Take the Q’ero tribe in the Peruvian Andes. Their diet is pretty simple: potatoes, corn, alpaca meat, trout and coca leaves. The Nicoyans in Costa Rica, another longevity prone population, eat a staple diet of bean, corn and squash. That’s pretty much it. Think about that before you blow a whole paycheck at Whole Foods.
-“Holy basil” supplementation popped up in this book and several others I read as an excellent short-term stress solution. I plan to try it. My friend Roger Drummer, an adaptogenic herb specialist, recommended to me this Gaia herb stuff.
-Y0ur gut only heals from inflammation and stress when you’re not eating. Period. This mantra was repeated in several other books as well. So I stand by my recommendation that you should engage in a 12-16 hour intermittent fast (also known as an 8-12 hour “compressed feeding window”) as many days of the year as possible, and on a couple days of the month, you should go for 24 hours without eating. During these times, water, minerals, a multi-vitamin and amino acids are fine.
Quick Summary of No Grain, No Pain:
“In the tradition of Wheat Belly and Grain Brain; No Grain, No Pain demonstrates the proven link between a gluten-heavy diet and chronic pain and discomfort—and offers a groundbreaking, 30-day, grain-free diet plan to help you heal yourself from the inside out.
More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain according to an Institute of Medicine report released in 2011. For many, chronic pain is part of an autoimmune disease, but all too often doctors turn to the same solution: painkilling drugs.
But all of this medication simply isn’t helping, and as Dr. Peter Osborne, the leading authority on gluten sensitivity and food allergies has found, the real solution often lies in what you eat. In No Grain, No Pain, Dr. Osborne shows how grains wreak havoc on the body by causing tissue inflammation, creating vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies, and triggering an autoimmune response that causes the body to attack itself. But he also offers practical steps to find relief. Using his drug-free, easy-to-implement plan, you will be able to eliminate all sources of gluten and gluten-like substances, experience significant improvement in fifteen days, and eliminate pain within thirty days.
No Grain, No Pain is the first book to identify diet—specifically, grain—as a leading cause of chronic suffering, and provides you with the knowledge you need to improve your health. Based on extensive research and examples culled from thousands of his satisfied patients, Dr. Osborne recommends changing your diet to achieve the relief that millions of Americans have been seeking once and for all, leading to a healthier, happier life.”
Biggest Lessons I Learned From No Pain, No Grain:
-There are over four hundred different forms of gluten, forty of which can be more damaging to the gut than the form of gluten for which most doctors commonly test. There is no lab test for all these forms of gluten. Grains also contain something called amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATI’s), which can inhibit your pancreas from producing digestive enzymes. Many of these glutens and enzyme inhibitors can be pre-digested or de-activated by fermenting, soaking and sprouting grains but most people don’t do that.
-Corn and rice and oats (popular on gluten-free diets), as well as vegetable oils, all contain gluten and can produce numerous intestinal and health problems for the gluten sensitive. Since a gluten-free diet that relies on gluten-free packaged foods contains plenty of this corn and rice, many people switch to a gluten-free diet and unfortunately, the inflammation that gluten can cause never actually goes away. Instead, they should be eating “natural” non-packaged foods like sweet potatoes, yams, beets, greens, parsnips, carrots, soaked and sprouted seeds and nuts, etc. – not packaged gluten-free foods.
-Stevia, if it’s the “Truvia” brand, contains corn, and thus gluten.
-If you’re healing your gut, you should have a sixteen-hour food-free zone for every 24 hour cycle.
-Milk “looks” like gluten to your immune system, so if you’re gluten sensitive your immune system may react to it. Soy can often do the same thing.
-There are some *excellent* tips in this boook on sandwich substitutes. Check this out:
-Bad water can aggravate the gut, and for removing metals and other chemical compounds, the author is a fan of KDF (kinetic degradation fluxion), a copper-zinc alloy that is often found in whole house reverse osmosis filtration systems. So for filtering the water in your entire home, look for a KDF filter that includes RO (Reverse Osmosis) like this.
Quick Summary of The Urban Monk:
“We all struggle to discover satisfaction and contentment in the modern world and yet the more technology we use, the more things seem to get worse. What are we all missing? What will it take for us to find our centers? Pedram Shojai shares how the calmness of Zen masters is attainable in today’s fast-paced world, and with practice, you too can stop time, refuel, and focus on the things that really matter.
The Urban Monk, a New York Times bestseller, reveals the secrets to finding an open heart, sharp mind, and grounded sense of well-being, even in the most demanding circumstances. Shojai’s no-nonsense life mastery program brings together clear tools and exercises that can elevate your existence. Learn to honor your body with nutrition and shake free from addictions to toxic substances and experiences. Let your body and mind unwind each day with evening meditations, loosening exercises, and resting rituals that will keep any stress or unfinished business out of the bedroom, helping you sleep better so that your body can rejuvenate.
The Urban Monk is filled with priceless practices that you can use in your daily life, right here and now. It is designed to be your companion in this crazy world we live in. Get it dirty, mark it up, and take it around with you on your journey to becoming an Urban Monk. There’s no need to move or drastically change your current life. You can find peace within, and The Urban Monk will teach you how to calm the chaos in your head.”
Biggest Lessons I Learned From The Urban Monk:
–Xiao Yao San is a Chinese herb complex that, in tea or pill form, apparently works wonders for calming stress.
-Check out this handy chart that shows how your organs and energy systems work during the day:
-Pedram is a huge fan of something called the “Prague School” as a fitness and movement modality. I plan on researching this more and potentially getting these Prague folks on a podcast because it looks intriguing.
Quick Summary of Smart Fat:
“The innovative guide that reveals how eating more fat—the smart kind—is the key to health, longevity, and permanent weight loss.
For years experts have told us that eating fat is bad. But by banning fat from our diets, we’ve deprived ourselves of considerable health benefits—and have actually sabotaged our own efforts to lose weight.
Though they originally came from vastly different schools of thought about diet and weight loss, renowned nutritionist Jonny Bowden and well-respected physician Steven Masley independently came to the same conclusion about why so many people continually fail to shed pounds and get healthy. It all comes back to a distinction far more important than calories vs. carbs or paleo vs. plant-based: smart fat vs. dumb fat.
In Smart Fat, they explain the amazing properties of healthy fat, including its ability to balance hormones for increased energy and appetite control, and its incredible anti-inflammatory benefits. The solution for slimming down—and keeping the pounds off for life—is to “smart-fat” your meals, incorporating smart fats with fiber, protein, and most importantly, flavor. Bowden and Masley identify smart fats, explain what not to eat, and provide a thirty-day meal plan and fifty recipes based on the magic formula of fat, fiber, protein, and flavor.“
Biggest Lessons I Learned From Smart Fat:
-If you’re looking at the quality of your supplement, there are some very important considerations to check for on the ingredient label. Look at this:
–Coconut oil will raise your LDL cholesterol levels, but actually shifts the distribution of your LDL particles so that your have more LDLa (harmless, fluffy) particles and fewer LDLb (small, dense, harmful) particles.
Quick Summary of The Bone Broth Diet:
“In her new book, Dr. Kellyann couples delicious bone broth with powerful fat-burning foods and a groundbreaking “mini-fasting” plan that empowers you to achieve spectacular weight loss and more youthful-looking skin in just 21 days.
With more than 100 recipes—as well as state-of-the-art fitness and lifestyle tips—this book is the ideal tool for taking off your extra pounds and staying slim, sexy, and healthy forever.”
Biggest Lessons I Learned From The Bone Broth Diet:
-I’m skeptical, but Dr. Kellyann swears for a multi-day fast in which you mostly have bone broth. Here’s what it looks like: –
-You must add vinegar to bone broth as it helps to dissolve the bones so that you get the maximum amount of nutrients from them.
Quick Summary of The Sound Of Healing:
“Wholetones: The Sound of Healing is 174 pages of life changing personal revelation… a virtual key to unlock your hidden potential.
This book is the perfect companion to accompany the music as it demystifies the science behind the frequencies and explains how to get the most out of your listening experience.
There is even a chapter that shows musicians how to recalibrate their instruments to play in the 7 healing frequencies. And of course, plenty of historical information concerning the healing tones I believe were given to King David by God Himself! Truly an inspirational journey into the spiritual realm of healing and much, much more…”
Biggest Lessons I Learned From The Sound Of Healing:
-I thought this book was going to be way too “woo-woo”, but it actually turned out to be incredibly fascinating, especially when it comes to the science of sound frequencies and how they affect the human body. I plan on getting the author on a podcast soon to discuss this stuff in greater depth, and I also plan on listening to his WholeTones CD’s to see how they affect my body in certain situations.
-Most modern instruments A notes are tuned to 440Hz. This is actually a frequency that can disrupt cellular activity and cause cortisol release and stress within the human body. Instead, the instrument’s A note should be tuned up to 444Hz. You actually need a digital tuner to pull off this type of retuning. The author recommends a Korg-CA-30 digital tuner for this. I plan on personally retuning my ukelele and guitar. -Different frequencies affect the body in different ways. For example, 396Hz affects kidney function, 417Hz affects your digestive system, 528Hz affects hormonal balance and the endocrine system, 741Hz soothes an upset stomach, etc. Author Michael Tyrrell produces special analog CD’s that have mixes of these different frequencies.
-Most music and audio we listen to these days is digital, but a digital signal is a discontinuous wave that causes us to “miss out” on many of the healing frequencies and positive properties of music. Instead, listening to music via analog sound waves such as vinyl records and cassette tapes is superior for sound healing. So break out those old-school vinyl records, baby. I plan on experimenting with that this year at some point and will keep you posted.
Quick Summary of The Hormone Reset Diet:
“The Harvard-educated physician and New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure shows you how to grow new receptors for your seven metabolic hormones, making you lose weight and feel great fast!
When it comes to weight loss, most people don’t think about hormones. But when you develop resistance to your seven major metabolic hormones—cortisol, thyroid, testosterone, growth hormone, leptin, insulin, and estrogen—your body adjusts by increasingly raising your hormone levels and ultimately slowing down your metabolism. And a slower metabolism leads to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. The solution, Dr. Sara Gottfried contends, is to reset the efficiency of your hormones by repairing and growing new hormone receptors.”
Biggest Lessons I Learned From The Hormone Reset Diet:
-I’ve had Dr. Sara on my podcast before. Worth a listen: “The Cost Of Being A Bad Ass – How To Cure Your Hormones”
-For hydrating during the day, she drinks “hydrosols”, which means she combines sparkling or still water with small amounts of plant extracts and essentials oils like lavender, mint and rose.
-A Paleo diet is different for women than it is for men. In women, excess meat consumption can result in quite a bit of weight gain and “estrogen dominance”, which is less likely to occur in men. Dr. Sara actually recommends a “meatless reset” or period of a few weeks eating primarily vegan, non-meat, low-dairy foods for women who need to reset their hormones or lower estrogen levels.
Quick Summary of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life:
“In this completely revised and updated edition of the breakthrough bestseller, you’ll see scientific evidence that your anxiety, depression, anger, obsessiveness, or impulsiveness could be related to how specific structures in your brain work. You’re not stuck with the brain you’re born with.
Renowned neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen includes cutting-edge research and the latest surprising, effective “brain prescriptions” that can help heal your brain and change your life:
To quell anxiety and panic: Use simple breathing techniques to immediately calm inner turmoil
To fight depression: Learn how to kill ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)
To curb anger: Follow the Amen anti-anger diet and learn the nutrients that calm rage
To conquer impulsiveness and learn to focus: Develop total focus with the One-Page Miracle
To stop obsessive worrying: Follow the “get unstuck” writing exercise and learn other problem-solving exercises.”
Biggest Lessons I Learned From Change Your Brain, Change Your Life:
-Cinnamon is a natural aphrodisiac, especially in essential oil form. Warning to my wife: I plan on testing this out soon.
-There are many meditations in the book, but one is something I already do as part of my custom yoga routine. You chant the sounds “saa”, “taa”, “naa”, “maa” while doing repetitive finger movements with each hand. It’s actually incredibly calming. Here’s what it looks like:
-Even if you can’t get the fancy SPECT scan Dr. Amen discusses in the book, you can assess your brain using a free, computerized neuro-psychological assessment on the website “MyBrainFitLife.com”. -Different activities affect different areas of your brain, so you can’t just do, say, Sudoku or just do crossword puzzles. You need variety. Check this out:
What do you think? Do you plan on reading any of these books? If so, which ones? Have you already read them and have your own thoughts to add?
Do you like these type of book notes and do you want me to write more of these type of posts for you?
Leave your thoughts below and I promise to read and reply!