In my constant quest to discover new techniques for recovery, nourishment, and movement optimization, I'm frequently stumbling across methods for the slightly geeky (but cutting-edge) active people to quench the insatiable thirst for the best methods, no matter how wacky or hard-to-pronounce, to biohack or improve the human body.
So here are seven of the latest enchanting, strange and new gifts for active people I've discovered. If you have a birthday or holiday coming up for a friend, family or loved one who is a triathlete, weekend warrior, Crossfitter or recreational sports enthusiast, you're sure to find something on this list to keep them happy. Or alternatively, you can just grab any of the items below for your own selfish and nefarious needs.
By the way, right after I publish this post, I'm off to race in the Wildflower Triathlon Squared event, which is two, brutal, back-to-back triathlons! Stay tuned to my Facebook page to predict my combined race times, win cool prizes, see my pre and post-bloodwork results and much more!
I've owned an Intellskin short sleev shirt for about a year, and recently added a long sleeve version to my wardrobe. Consider these shirts to be compression gear “on steroids”. IntelliSkin garments are designed to stimulate muscle memory and improve postural awareness by maintaining improved alignment and balance.
Think about this way: Your skin provides you contact with the outside world, and depending on the location on your body, you have 20,000 to 80,000 nerve receptors per square inch of skin that allow you to instantly sense and react to such stimuli as pressure, touch, stretch and temperature. These nerve endings then send specific cues to your brain, which cause tight muscles to relax and opposing under-used or weak muscles to simultaneously contract and become stronger.
IntelliSkin garments help to enhance this constant flow of information back and forth from the nerve receptors in the skin to the brain by providing subconscious “coaching” based on areas of tight fabric and not-so-tight fabric within the Intelliskin design, instructing muscles to work together, or to function and protect more efficiently. This helps to improve performance, reduce injury and improve recovery.
You'd think these things would be uncomfortable, but they're really more comfortable than regular compression gear. Recently, IntelliSkin ambassador Dr. Eric Goodman spoke at a TEDx conference, explaining the unexpected physical consequences of technology and how to improve these consequences by using proper movement and posture. The model at the end of the talk is wearing an IntelliSkin t-shirt. Here's the clip (which is an excellent lesson on posture, by the way).
If you've been a triathlete for any period of time, you've no doubt heard about using frozen peas as an alternative to ice or gel packs. And this isn’t just an old wive’s tale. Frozen peas are recommended by medical professionals to treat swelling and joint pain – primarily due to their unique ability to mold to the contours of various body parts (check out this Mayo Clinic article on muscle pain, in which frozen veggies fall among the recommendations).
But let’s face it, a bag of frozen vegetables wasn’t meant for repeat use, and it's never too appetizing to eat peas that have been thawing themselves on your body. However, I recently got my hands on something called “FrozenPeaz”. FrozenPeaz are flexible ice packs full of special, patented pea size beads that are both re-usable and can also be used for hot or cold therapy.
I've even been using them for “cold thermogenesis”, which you can read about in my article “Tips For Burning More Fat With Cold Thermogenesis (And Why Icing Really Does Work).”
Kvass is a traditional “fermented beverage” (falling into the category of kombucha, kefir or any of these other fermented foods) that has been recognized for thousands of years as being highly valuable for its medicinal qualities, and also as a potent digestive aid. Most Kvass is made with beets, and beets are just loaded with nutrients. In one of my favorite cookbooks, “Nourishing Traditions“, it is reported that just a single 4-ounce glass of Kvass, consumed morning and night, is an excellent blood tonic, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.
Beet Kvass has long been revered in Eastern Europe for its purported blood and liver-cleansing properties (and there's even a lot of research around the humble beet’s large nitrate content, which have been found to help your body utilize oxygen better and therefore enable you to workout better) – but let's face it: this isn't something you see at your average grocery store.
However, there's a new brand of Kvass hitting the streets, and it's called Zukay. It has the beets, the rich dark purple color, and all the antioxidants that are packed into this delicious, often overlooked beverage. Now you can enjoy this bit of ancestral wisdom from the small villages of Eastern Europe.
The ingredients are safe too. Here's the “Beet” version: Water, Organic Beets, Celtic Sea Salt, Hand-Batched Live Active Culture, Organic Raw Green Stevia. Zukay also has flavors such as Beet Ginger, Carrot Ginger, Super Green and others. I'd highly recommend you grab a bottle and try it over ice.
Surf over to Wild Mountain Paleo here to get Zukay and use 5% discount code BEN&ZUKAY.
4. Pluggz Shoes
In a report from a biohacking conference I attended in San Francisco, I mentioned the concept of “earthing” or “grounding” as an emerging trend in both health, and also sports performance (Tour de France cyclists have been doing using this technique for decades).
It all comes down to this: have you ever wondered why it feels so good to walk barefoot on grass or sand? It's because we are all standing on a natural energy source – the earth. The idea behind grounding or earthing is that when we walk barefoot on the earth we absorb the earth's energy in the form of electrons. These electrons enable us to get grounded, and this makes us feel better – and is beneficial for our bodies.
Here's how Pluggz shoes work. Each pair contains black plugs made from a custom carbon and rubber compound that sit under a weight bearing part of our feet, ensuring electrical contact between us and the earth. These plugs are designed to conduct a flow of free electrons from the earth to our bodies. This technology allows us to get grounded when we walk on grass, sand, soil – or even concrete (such as when standing inside our office or home).
I've been wearing my Pluggz around the house, while driving, and when hanging out by the pool. The first time you wear Pluggz you might feel a small sensation coming from the ball of your foot. That's the plug going to work. As you wear them, you're likely to start feeling more balanced, more energized, with a higher a sense of well-being, or calmer with fewer aches and pains. Slip some on and see what I mean.
Getting tired of funny-named items with propensities for consonants such as “Z” or “K” yet? Well, here's another.
A small, colored square with two round sensors, the Tinke, made by a company called Zensorium, is designed to measure heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen level, and heart rate variability over time. Every time you measure, it gives you your “Zen” score and your “Vita” score, and I've personally been using one every morning to see how ready my body is for the rigors of training.
All you need to do is attach the Tinke to your iPhone, and then place your thumb over the sensors so the Tinke can measure cardiorespiratory levels. Tinke captures blood volume changes from the fingertip using optical sensing and signal processing. It takes about sixty seconds to measure all the parameters you need, from you stress level to your breathing and more.
You can use Tinke anytime, anywhere, and it's designed primarily to encourage deep breathing exercises in order to promote relaxation and alleviate stress levels. While it's not a medical device, it can assist in stress relief through regular deep breathing exercises, and I'll admit that as a self-proclaimed biohacker I am addicted to playing with my Tinke every morning (which sounds a bit strange to say).
ENERGYbits are 100% organically grown spirulina algae. This type of algae not only has the highest concentration of protein in the world in the world (64% protein), which is three times that of steak, but is the only protein in the world that also contains:
1. Antioxidants (which reduces inflammation and speeds healing from workouts)
2. Omega 3 fatty acids (which protect the heart and the brain)
3. Chlorophyll (which is highly alkalinic and builds your immune system)
4. Electrolytes (to restore the chemical balance of your body, and lost minerals from stuff like sweating)
It has all this and 40 vitamins and minerals too. That's pretty good for just one calorie per tab. They're crunchy like popcorn, they are definitely an “acquired taste” and they'll dye your mouth green (you can rinse with water afterwards), but they're certainly a valuable addition to a nutrient dense diet.
You can read more about why algae works in my article: “How To Use Algae To Slow Aging, Decrease Cravings And Recover Faster”
Get ENERGYBits.com and use 10% discount code BEN.
Yes, I said “wasp extract”. The Asian Mandarin Wasp (Vespa mandarina) is one of nature’s most potent endurance animals. It flies between 70-100 kilometers per day in search of food, then carries half its body weight to its entire body weight in food back to the colony to feed to the larvae. The adult wasp does not eat this solid food, but rather, it receives a liquid secreted by the larvae. In turn, the adult wasp feeds the larvae a food ball – usually composed of other insects the wasp has preyed upon and subsequently chewed into a food ball using its powerful mandibles.
VESPA’s key ingredient is this all-natural amino acid complex derived from the Asian Mandarin Wasp and it works by shifting the muscles to metabolize a higher level of fat during physical activity – thus stabilizing and conserving precious carbohydrate stores. By shifting the muscles to metabolize a higher percentage of fat as the primary energy source, blood glucose levels are stabilized and conserved, so the brain and nervous system can function optimally. When using VESPA during long rides and runs, I've found this results in greater mental clarity and focus, along with no loss of motor skills and coordination (AKA “bonking”) over a long workout.
I'll admit – it does feel a bit strange consuming something that supposedly came out the backside of a wasp, but the stuff really does work, and I recommend you give a try during your next long workout or race.
So what do you think? Have you tried any of the items above? If so, what did you think? Which ones do you want to try? Have YOU tried something new lately that you want to share? Leave your comments below!