I'm constantly tweaking, guinea-pigging, experimenting with, quantifying and designing new biohacks, tips, tricks, tools and toys that can make your life better.
But honestly, I only get a chance to talk about perhaps 25% of what I actually mess around with and discover in my constant quest to learn techniques for a better body, brain and spirit.
So in today's short and sweet article, I'm going to give you the skinny on five recent health discoveries from near and far, including the fermented cod liver oil scam, a Finnish super smoothie, kettlebell walks, infrared brain therapy and how to reboot your fascia. If you like these kind of quick tips, let me know in the comments section below and I'll keep 'em coming!
The Finnish Super-Smoothie
Remember Veli-Jussi Jalkanen, known by his nickname “Vessi”? I interviewed this eccentric Finnish businessman, biohacker and health advocate in the episode “An Anti-Aging Chat With A 65-Year-Old Finnish Businessman Who Plays Tennis Left & Right Handed, Defies Modern “Unhealthy” Clothing Fashion & Invented The Most Unique Chair In The World.“
I'm always fascinated by the personal habits and daily protocols of healthy old people like Vessi, so much so that tomorrow I will be flying to the Finland Biohackers' Summit and tacking on a two day trip to Vessi's farm near Helsinki. Anyways, I was overjoyed when he e-mailed me after our podcast with three detailed spreadsheets that spelled out his entire daily protocol for his “Super Smoothie”, his extensive record-keeping of every herb and spice he's experimented with, and his detailed supplement protocol. Now the files are yours for free download. Enjoy.
-Vessi's full “Super Smoothie” recipe: click here to download full recipe in Excel format. My favorite part of this is his footnote (read all his entertaining footnotes, by the way) which reads: “…most noticeable impact is that your intestyne starts to empthy itself 2-3 times a day which is very sound. The peristaltic motion shall activate. You also get huge amounts of nutrients…”
-Vessi's extremely detailed spices and herb effects chart: click here to download. Pay close attention to the ones he has marked “S”, which means “Strong Effect”.
-Vessi's full supplement routine with detailed notes: click here to download. From his daily protocol for everything from parasites to psychopharmacology, it's all there. I find it quite interesting that most of the very robust, long-living, anti-aging enthusiasts who I know, from Mark Sisson to Laird Hamilton to Dave Asprey, take copious amounts of supplements each day, and one could argue our healthy ancestors, in the absence of encapsulation and tablet technologies, did the same thing, albeit from teas, oils, tinctures, powders and extracts.
A huge thanks to Vessi for supplying us with these. Vessi was also a significant contributor and source of knowledge for the Biohackers' Handbook on Nutrition, so if you like these tips, then go read my review of that groundbreaking book at “21 Unfamiliar Nutrition Tricks I Discovered In The Biohackers’ Handbook.”
This is a new invention of mine, sparked by an evening on which I was stressed from a long day of work, hadn't yet done a workout, and, wanting a dose of fresh air, didn't really feel like an indoor workout at a gym.
So I shouted at my wife that I was going to head out for a walk, and on my way out the door, I noticed the kettlebell sitting by the garage door.
Then I thought, “What the heck?”, and I grabbed the 1 pood (~36 pound) kettlebell – with a plan to warm-up for my walk with a few kettlebell swings, carry the kettlebell for the first few minutes of my walk and then set it down at the end of the driveway.
An hour later, I found myself dripping in sweat with very activated glutes, an exhausted core, and bulging veins on both arms from an intensive grip workout. So what exactly did I do on my “kettlebell walk”?
-Walk 100 steps with the kettlebell in the right hand.
-Walk 100 steps with the kettlebell in the left hand.
–Stop and do 30 kettlebell swings.
-Walk 100 steps with the kettlebell held to your chest.
-Stop and do 30 kettlebell rows for each arm.
-Walk 100 steps with the kettlebell held overhead.
-Stop and do 30 kettlebell squats.
-Repeat this sequence for entire length of walk (I recommend shooting for 60 minutes).
Finally, follow this simple rule: never, never, ever set the kettlebell down. No matter what. Your neighbors are going to give you funny looks, but screw 'em – try this workout out and let me know what you think in the comments section below.
If you want crazy, one-of-a-kind kettlebell carved with images of things like zombies and chimps, I'd recommend you grab akettlebell or two using my Onnit discount code, which gives you 5% off of any piece of fitness gear. Just click here and the discount will automatically apply.
Full Head Infrared Therapy
Last week, I released the podcast “Probiotic Enemas, Digestive Enzyme Myths, Breathing 10 Kilograms of Oxygen, Low-Protein Diets & More!“. During that episode, my crazy smart guest Matt Gallant made me feel like a complete slacker when he informed me that intranasal light therapy I've been using to shut down inflammation in neural tissue and to stimulate my brain into alpha-brain wave production was inferior.
It's such a first world problem to find out that the light you've been sticking up your nose is indeed not the ultimate brain biohack. Instead, Matt described to me the “Vielight Neuro”, which is a transcranial-intranasal near infrared (NIR) headset, engineered for domestic use. It delivers a hefty dose of intranasal light therapy along with transcranial photobiomodulation for whole-brain stimulation and targeting of the brain's “Default Mode Network (DMN)”, which translates to better sleep, more relaxation, more focused brain wave production and according to the podcast I recorded with the inventor (How To Use Low Level Light Therapy and Intranasal Light Therapy For Athletic Performance, Cognitive Enhancement & More.) significantly reduced risk of cognitive issues like Alzheimer's and dementia.
So (no surprise here, and please don't tell my wife), I ponied up the one-thousand-dollar-plus investment and bought one. I've been experimenting with it for focus by using it in the morning for 20 minutes, and also experimenting with it for sleep by using it in the evening for 20 minutes (not on the same day, because excessive stimulation of mitochondria with infrared light can cause too much free radical production).
Holy moly. The thing works. I'll admit it's a spendy biohack but in my opinion, if you want your brain to keep up with your body for the long haul, or just want memory and verbal fluency that makes you as sharp as a tack, it's well worth it. And if you're wearing a white lab coat sitting in your mom's basement stroking your neck beard and curious about the biochemistry behind this, here, in all it's glory, is the explanation from researcher Lew Lim at Vielight:
“The current widely accepted proposal is that low level visible red to near infrared light energy is absorbed by mitochondria and converted into ATP for cellular use. In addition, the process creates mild oxidants (ROS) that leads to gene transcription and then to cellular repair and healing. The process also unclogs the chain that has been clogged by nitric oxide (NO). The nitric oxide is then released back into the system. Nitric oxide is a molecule that our body produces to help its 50 trillion cells communicate with each other by transmitting signals throughout the entire body. Additionally, nitric oxide helps to dilate the blood vessels and improve blood circulation…
Near-infrared light stimulates mitochondrial respiration in neurons by donating photons that are absorbed by cytochrome oxidase, a bioenergetics process called photoneuromodulation in nervous tissue.The absorption of luminous energy by the enzyme results in increased brain cytochrome oxidase enzymatic activity and oxygen consumption. Since the enzymatic reaction catalyzed by cytochrome oxidase is the reduction of oxygen to water, acceleration of cytochrome oxidase catalytic activity directly causes an increase in cellular oxygen consumption. Increased oxygen consumption by nerve cells is coupled to oxidative phosphorylation, ATP production increases as a consequence of the metabolic action of near-infrared light. This type of luminous energy can enter brain mitochondria transcranially, and—independently of the electrons derived from food substrates—it can directly photostimulate cytochrome oxidase activity…
… – “Biphasic Dose Response in Low Level Light Therapy”; Sulbha K. Sharma (PhD), Ying-Ying Huang (MD), James Carroll, Michael R. Hamblin (PhD)
[2, 3, 4] – “Is light-emitting diode phototherapy (LED-LLLT) really effective?”; Won-Serk Kim (PhD, MD), R Glen Calderhead (PhD)
[5, 6, 7] – “Augmentation of cognitive brain functions with transcranial infrared light”; Francisco Gonzalez-Lima (PhD), Douglas W Barrett (MD)“
So…basically it's like Viagra for your brain.
You can check the Neuro out at Vielight and I've negotiated a 10% discount code for you: “GREENFIELD”. And yes, you will get even more strange looks from your neighbors.
I recently had a young man fly all the way from Alabama to Washington state, knock on my front door, and train me for a solid eight hours in a special form of myofascial release called “ELDOA”. His name is not-yet-to-be-released – as he's one of those brilliant practitioners who flies under the radar – but I'm trying to wrangle him down for a podcast that I promise to release soon.
In the meantime, I must admit that this was one of the best (and most difficult) forms of stretching I've ever found. You can learn more and find an instructor (recommended to take a course) at ELDOAMethod.com, but in a nutshell, doing just a few minutes of these stretches each day is one of the best ways to eliminate low back pain, heal the spine, hydrate tissue and joints, and get a full body myofascial stretch.
But don't have to hire a private instructor. Just watch the videos below, which my instructor informed me was the “80/20” (the 20% of ELDOA that will yield 80% of the results) and then find a time every day to hold each of the following stretches for sixty seconds to 120 seconds. Hold each stretch as hard as you can with as extreme an attention to form and deep breathing as possible.
The videos above are ones that I simply found via YouTube searches and I don't necessarily endorse the perfection of the instructors, but they give you a very, very good idea of the basic moves.
You do not need to do these all at once, and can break them up throughout day, but I guarantee that if you learn these and make them a daily “movement snack”, you're going to feel about two inches taller, and any back or joint pain will significantly diminish. They're especially effective after car rides, airplane trips, meetings or any other situation in which you've been sitting for extended periods of time.
Is Fermented Cod Liver Oil A Scam?
In last week's podcast, in response to a listener question about whether kids should use nootropics or smart drugs, I mentioned that one supplement my twin eight year old boys take on a nightly basis is Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil. And I am currently at the Weston A. Price conference, where fermented cod liver oil is getting handed out like candy (and where I shot the featured image for this blog post). But after releasing that podcast, I received a notice from my friend Dr. Mercola informing me about a shocking expose of cod liver oil authored by “Naughty Nutritionist” Kaalya Daniels and entitled “Hook, Line & Stinker: The Truth About Cod Liver Oil“. Here's an anecdote from the report:
“Lab tests indicate the Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil is rancid; putrid; low in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K; apparently diluted with a trans-fat containing vegetable oil — and not even from cod. We have reliable reports that the X-Factor Gold Butter Oil comes from Argentina, not the Great Plains, and it tests rancid as well. And contrary to Green Pasture’s advertising, Dr. Weston A. Price’s own words make it clear that these are not products he would ever have endorsed.”
Anyways, you can click here to download and read the full, free .pdf report, but suffice it to say, I have decided that until I see concrete evidence proving that fermented cod liver oil is indeed safe, I am going to play it prudent and put a pause on feeding fermented cod liver oil to my kids. As a replacement, I'm shifting to organic, grass-fed ghee, which costs substantially less, but is just as high (or higher) in fat soluble vitamins, without these potential concerns associated with fermented cod liver oil.*
As far as ghee goes, I'm honestly not to picky on ghee brands, but here are a few of the better organic options from Amazon (or if you have a membership to Thrive Market, you can find really good, organic stuff for up to 50% off).
*After writing this statement, I had dinner with Chris Masterjohn, who informed me he wrote this extensive blog post addressing the fermented cod liver oil concern. The following morning, I had brunch with Sally Fallon, who informed me of this nuclear magnetic resonance testing and an extensive rebuttal regarding fermented cod liver oil.
This all happened over the weekend. Egads. Now I'm confused. Ah…first world problems.
So, currently, I am still planning to err on the safe side and don't plan on fermented cod liver oil retaining a hallowed place in my refrigerator until I have done pre-and-post blood and biomarker testing on myself after supplementing with it for one to two months. I'll particularly look at my lipid panel, cholesterol particles, inflammatory markers, glucose, insulin and omega fatty-acid ratios. So stay tuned.
So that's it.
Short and sweet, I know, but if you dig these type of quick reviews, just let me know in the comments section below and I'll keep publishing them!
And leave your questions, comments and feedback about cod liver oil, kettlebell walks, Finnish super smoothies, infrared brain therapy, and fascial reboots below, and I promise to reply.
Also published on Medium.