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WHAT WE LEARNED IN 2020: LEADING EDGE HEALTH

biohacking body composition brain health cardiovascular health diabetes hormones light longevity nutrition sleep stress weight loss Mar 19, 2021
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Here are some of the most broadly applicable health research findings from 2020, distilled from popular articles and blogs in the (reputable) end of the health and wellness space.

Some findings below are new, while others have garnered more support as “best practices.”

 

 

  1. AVOID INDUSTRIAL SEED AND VEGETABLE OILS:

  • Canola (AKA “Rapeseed”), Corn, Cottonseed Soy, Sunflower, Safflower, Grapeseed, Rice bran, Vegetable -> all high in Omega-6, which we get generally more than enough of in our diets before adding these oils. Too much Omega-6 is highly inflammatory - now thought to be worse for us than sugar!


    Healthy Alternatives:

    • Oils that come from fruits as opposed to seeds:

      • Olive*, Avocado, Coconut are energy-giving fats

    • Peanut oil is an exception (peanuts are technically seeds) and Dr. Cate Shanahan sometimes recommends it

      • Peanuts are “extremely generous” in giving off oil, so they don’t require harsh processing to extract the oil

        • Beneficial antioxidants in peanuts can be retained in the oil

        • Antioxidants also help stabilize the oil so that it doesn’t break down and damage our microbiome

        • Some peanut oils are still refined and you’d want to avoid them: when a product is refined it tends to have no taste, therefore a full, “peanutty” taste can be a good indicator that oil is not refined

        • Peanut oil still contains harmful polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) but not nearly as much as the seed oils listed at the top of this page

      [*BE CAREFUL of olive oil sources! Cheap olive oil is ALWAYS fake or mixed with nasty seed oils in North America - a huge scandal emerged around the mafia controlling the supply chain emerged a few years ago. Make sure the oil has ‘pressed on’ and ‘expiry’ dates, and is in a dark bottle. Read this for wisdom on how to pick quality olive oil.]

       

2. CONSUME ORGANIC BONE BROTH OR A COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENT:

  • Without it, you’re probably not getting your essential amino acid needs

  • ~30% of your entire body is derived from collagen: skin, hair, nails, bones, gut lining, arterial walls, etc

  • This is one of the best anti-aging supplements for the body:

    • “Once you reach the age of 25, your body produces less collagen every single year. By the time you’re in your 50s, your body’s producing 75% less collagen, which is why your skin sags, because now your body has less collagen and it’s producing less collagen.” – Dr. Josh Axe

  • “I do think collagen is one of those things – foods, supplements, whatever you want to call it – that people should be taking every day. In terms of what people have seen the biggest results from of all the supplements I’ve recommended over the years, I would put collagen number one.” – Dr. Josh Axe


3. GET YOUR VITAMIN D

  • Vitamin D is a hormone, impacting 5% of the human genome and crucial for lung and respiratory functions

  • A recent study that looked at COVID-19 patients observed an inverse relationship between vitamin D levels and COVID-19 symptoms: the lower the vitamin D levels, the higher the severity of COVID-19. In Indonesia, almost all patients that died from COVID-19 were vitamin D deficient.

  • Vitamin D deficiency

    • 70% of US population has insufficient Vitamin D levels; 28% are deficient

    • Body can generate naturally when exposed to sun daily

    • Elderly people are more deficient

    • Obese people in US are also more likely to be vitamin D deficient

  • What is happening in the body that’s causing people to be vitamin D deficient?

    • Genetic polymorphisms: people that have variations in genes that cause them to have less vitamin D

      • These people are more likely to die from respiratory infection

    • African Americans in the US are 28x more deficient in vitamin D than Caucasians

    • Melanin blocks the ability to produce Vitamin D

      • In the US and Europe, African Americans and black people are more likely to die from COVID-19

      • Even when adjusting for SES and lifestyle factors, this was still true so something else must be happening

  • Vitamin D dosing:

    • Tolerable (regular) upper intake is 5000 IUs per day but it’s best to get vitamin D blood levels tested, as different people respond differently to supplementing, sunlight, etc.

  

4. SPEND TIME IN SAUNAS

  • Sauna use (4-7x per week at a temperature of 175 °F for 20 minutes):

    • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease

    • Reduces the risk of stroke

    • Reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death

    • Improves arterial compliance

    • Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

    • Enhances mood

  • Saunas mimic moderate physical activity

    • Heart rate variability improves, blood pressure goes down, cardiovascular health improves, all-cause mortality decreases

  • Sauna use also improves immune system and makes you more resilient against infection

  • Brain-derived neurotropic factors (BDNF) increases with exercise and heat stress (sauna)

    • BDNF regulates neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt to changing environment

  • For people who don’t have access to a sauna, a hot bath works to induce heat shock proteins as long you sweat for at least 5 minutes

 

5. HOW TO PREVENT DIABETES:

  • Limit your starch and sugar intake (PS - “gluten-free” cakes and cookies are still cakes and cookies); if you eat a high-carb meal or sugary treat, precede that meal with a blood glucose-mediating herb like berberine or a product like Kion Lean (10% off: Innatewellness).

  • Eat good fats: avocado, nuts, extra virgin olive, coconut, MCT, flax, fish oil

  • Eat a ton of vegetables…but avoid starchy ones like potatoes

  • MOVE after eating to avoid excess sugars hanging around the blood stream. Even a brisk 10 minute walk will suffice.

  • You cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet” – Dr. Mark Hyman


 
6. HOW TO LIVE LONGER:


 

7. MORE PLANTS = LESS MENSTRUAL CRAMPING

  • Women with high levels of estrogen develop a thicker uterine lining. As the lining disintegrates during menstrual flow, it releases prostaglandins that cause cramping.

    • The thicker the lining, the more the painful menstrual cramps

  • When women don’t consume enough fiber, estrogen enters back into circulation, causing blood levels to elevate

    • Neal once recommended a plant-based diet to a woman experiencing severe menstrual pain. After following the diet for a brief period, all menstrual cramps disappeared.

  • Neal once conducted a study with several women who experienced moderate to severe menstrual cramps, putting half of them on a vegan diet. The results?

    • The vegan group showed reductions in PMS symptoms, bloating, and mood fluctuations

  • Takeaway: A high-fiber diet flushes away excess estrogen, resulting in less menstrual cramping

    • Diets high in animal fat and vegetable oils increase estrogen





OTHER INDISPUTABLE HEALTH TIPS (NOT NEW, BUT BOLSTERED BY RESEARCH IN 2020):

  • Move throughout the day as much as possible. Don’t just work out for an hour in the morning and call it good sitting at a desk the rest of the day. (Physiologists actually say you undo the benefits of morning exercise by sitting all day.) Shorter bouts of activity throughout the day are preferable. Ideally, you mix one session of high-intensity training with several bouts of low intensity (walking, yoga, etc) throughout the day.

  • Every day, make an effort to walk in nature barefoot or ground yourself on the earth or with earthing sheets/mats.

  • Expose your body to both heat and cold

  • Drink clean water

  • Mind the “Dirty dozen” when grocery shopping. If you eat dairy and meat, go organic.

  • Ensure your body has enough high-quality minerals

SLEEPING TIPS

  • If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, try reducing your caffeine intake

    • People eliminate caffeine from their bodies at different rates (i.e., caffeine has a different half-life for different people – for most, it’s 6 hours)

      • If caffeine is still floating around in your system come 2 AM (ie. any consumed after 2 PM given an average half-life of 6 hours) it’ll affect the quality of your sleep. In self-quantification data (ie. from the Oura ring), this will show up as an elevated heart rate.

  • Another sleep tip: Before laying down, stretch out your arms and let out a huge yawn, just like a dog or cat would. Repeat four times.

  • A high-carbohydrate meal allows serotonin to become active in the brain and improve sleep

    • Tip: If you’re having trouble falling asleep, eat a slice of bread (organic sourdough is best)

  • Glycine (found in gelatin, collagen, and bone broth) will also help sleep-boosting signals. I keep gelatin that I make with stevia and vanilla in the fridge and eat a big square before going to bed if I eat unusually early so I can sleep through the night.

 

Let’s work together and do better at helping you feel better.

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