Book Summary of Super Human: The Bulletproof Plan to Age Backward and Maybe Even Live Forever by Dave Asprey
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What Is the Book About?
Super Human has a lot of tips in it to maximize your health, reverse aging, and stay young. In this book, Dave Asprey puts together his thinking on how we can improve our longevity. It is basically put into three parts:
– Part 1: Don’t Die – This is where he describes the four main killers – Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and Cancer. He discussed his 7 pillars of ageing and discusses food sleep and light.
– Part 2: Age Backwards – This is where he discusses several ideas around Brain health, Heavy metals, Ozone, Fertility, Teeth and Biome
– Part 3: Heal like a Deity – He finishes off by talking about the latest research around Stem Cells and supplements for skin. The last chapter is all about Performance Enhancing Drugs and this is where there is lots of controversy in what he says.
Each part has easy to read chapters and it finishes with a summary he calls- Bottom Line. This outlines the key recommendations and Hacks. The recommendations are for supplements, Strategies (e.g. lighting, sleep) or devices. There is a comprehensive set of notes citing his references.
About the Author
Dave Asprey is a Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur, a professional biohacker, the New York Times bestselling author of Game Changers, Head Strong and The Bulletproof Diet, the creator of Bulletproof Coffee, and the host of Bulletproof Radio, the Webby Award-winning, number one–ranked podcast. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia.
Summary of Super Human
In his late twenties, author Dave Asprey began to suffer from the countless signs of aging, so he sought to feel and look younger as each birthday passed. For more than twenty years, Asprey researched how to find ways to improve his body, mind, and spirit from science-backed therapies to maintaining proper diet and exercise. Now in his forties, Asprey is healthier, smarter, and more fit than he’s ever been before. While the average person believes middle-age begins our body’s decline, Asprey’s research reveals that aging is simply optional. Using simple interventions like diet, sleep, light, and exercise in addition to more powerful hacks like stem cell and hormone therapy, you can decelerate the signs of aging and unleash the power of your body’s ability to heal and rejuvenate from the inside out.
As a self-proclaimed guinea pig, Doug Asprey recounts his journey and proven methods that work to stop aging. He believes that getting older no longer means a decline in your body’s function, in fact, it’s possible to reverse the signs of aging and become what he considers, Super Human.
Mitochondria and The Four Killers
Before you begin your journey on becoming superhuman, you should first understand how the body works. You’re familiar that as you age your daily habits and genetics can lead to one of the four killers: heart diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. The four killers, unfortunately, lead to death. All four are produced by damage to your cells which have accumulated over your lifetime; however, Asprey argues that these four killers can be avoided by treating our bodies right and understanding how aging works on a cellular level, regardless of your genes and predisposing conditions.
Aging is related to the mitochondria, which are tiny bacteria inside our cells that extract energy from the food we digest and power our energy production. As we age, our mitochondria function begins to steadily decline and causes an increase in reactive oxygen species known as free radicals. An increase in free radicals leads to chronic inflammation which makes us more susceptible to suffering from one of the four killers, like heart disease.
When it comes to heart disease, inflammation is one of the main causes. You see, when the tissue that lines the inside of your arteries becomes damaged, the body allows fats in the blood to reach the wall in our arteries, forming plaques. This process triggers an immune response in which cytokines are released, but the bad part? Cytokines are inflammatory and cause those plaques to rupture and form blood clots. Of course, blood clots then lead to stroke and heart attacks.
Luckily, there is a way to reduce the number of free radicals in our bodies. So, if you’re looking to remain young, you should increase the number of antioxidants you consume to eliminate free radicals. Good sources include berries, dark chocolate, coffee, tea, herbs, and spices. Additionally, many cities offer antioxidant therapy via IV to help curb the free radicals in your body. Of course, it will take more work than just consuming more antioxidants through your diet or therapy; furthermore, you’ll need to create new habits that will stop aging from the inside out.
“The biggest game changer here is eating foods that boost the efficiency of your mitochondria so they can make more energy and your body has the raw goods it needs to manufacture all the proteins, hormones, and fatty acids they require to function.”
How to Eat To Avoid Disease and Aging
While eating foods rich in antioxidants will certainly help you eliminate the free radicals in your body, you’ll need to further transform your diet to become superhuman and stop the aging process. First, avoid grains like wheat and gluten. Wheat produces gastrointestinal distress, or inflammation, which contributes to many autoimmune diseases. Additionally, wheat produces an excess of zonulin in our bodies which causes undigested food, bacteria, and toxins to enter our bloodstream. These bacterial toxins are called LPSs and they cause inflammation throughout the entire body.
Even worse, many of our grains are sprayed with the herbicide Roundup, which contains glyphosate. Glyphosate has many negative effects, but most importantly, it triggers inflammation and increases the aging process. In the United States, it is usual for produce to be sprayed with Roundup in addition to grains. Therefore, glyphosate is present in most products that are made from corn, grains, meat, and many animal products including milk and cheese. To avoid glyphosate, avoid eating grains and buy organic products.
Next, avoiding a vegan diet is essential for staying young. In the long run, vegan diets are only detrimental to our health. Simply put, switching from animal fats to plant fats affects our thyroid function and over time, your metabolism will begin to slow. Slow metabolism leads to weight gain, but even worse, it slows down your energy, your brain, and everything else. However, the type of meat you consume is equally important.
For instance, charred or deep-fried meat will increase your risk of heart disease and should be avoided. Additionally, you should avoid industrially-raised animals that are treated with antibiotics. When shopping, you should look for proteins from grass-fed animals and wild fish. Furthermore, you should not only be eating fat but eating the right fats. We need fats for a myriad of reasons including reproductive health, brain function, temperature regulation, and shock absorption. Eating poly-unsaturated omega-3 fats is essential for anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits. You can find the best omega-3 fats in cold-water fish like mackerel and salmon as well as in walnuts and olive oil.
On the other hand, omega-6 fats are highly inflammatory and should not be consumed in excess. Some common sources of omega-6s include poultry and refined oils like canola, corn, sunflower, soybean, and vegetable oils which will increase our risks of many health issues. Instead, use an alternative like coconut and olive oils for cooking and making salad dressings.
― Dave Asprey #superhuman
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The Benefits of Producing Ketones
Watching what you eat is important, but you can increase your likelihood of becoming superhuman by regulating when you eat as well. To obtain the energy your brain needs to function, your body burns food to use as fuel. That food is typically glucose, but your body can also use chemical compounds called ketones. Your body goes into a state of ketosis when there isn’t much blood sugar available to burn, so it becomes forced to break down its stores of fat for energy.
At the end of every fasting cycle, your body naturally produces ketones. This usually occurs in the morning as people have typically gone 7-8 hours of not eating. However, most people don’t fast long enough to take full advantage of ketosis. By extending your daily fast, you can reduce your inflammation levels, triglyceride levels, and cancer risk. Many people adopt intermittent fasting in their routine which means restricting your eating to a six to eight hour period each day. There are many benefits to fasting including a boost to your brain’s neuroplasticity, your brain’s ability to grow and adapt. But perhaps one of the best benefits is an increase in metabolites, substances that help boost antioxidant levels in your body.
While ketones burn more efficiently than glucose, keeping your body in ketosis can lead to insulin resistance. Therefore, it’s important to practice ketosis intermittently and maintain your metabolic flexibility which enables you to burn both glucose and ketones.
To achieve cyclical ketosis, you should cycle in and out of ketosis periodically, ideally every week. The key is to eat a high-fat diet and limit yourself to eating 150 grams of low-sugar carbs just one or two days a week. You’ll also want to add “energy fats” such as the author’s Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil, an oil made of up fatty acids that introduce ketones into your body even in the presence of carbs.
The Importance of Sleep and Light Exposure
You hear the consequences of not getting enough sleep all the time, but it’s true, a lack of good sleep directly increases your risk of dying from one of the four killers. Quality sleep not only helps prevent cognitive decline but also promotes skin health and controls insulin secretion which reduces your risk of diabetes. So what’s the ideal amount of sleep? Well, anything less than six hours causes an imbalance of hormones and increases the amyloid proteins in your brain, which are directly associated with Alzheimer’s. Additionally, conditions like sleep apnea, which are caused by dysfunctional mitochondria, increase your risk of diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. So, how can you sleep better?
The first step is to avoid blue lights. With the amount of time we spend looking at our smartphones, laptops, and television screens, we are subjecting ourselves to more harm than we realize. Blue light suppresses your ability to produce melatonin, the hormone that signals your brain that it’s time to sleep. As we continue looking at screens, our bodies think it’s daytime all the time. Additionally, blue light creates excess free radicals in our eye cells which damage our eyesight over time and even triggers a spike in glucose levels which can lead to high blood sugar and diabetes.
While these risks may seem scary, there are ways to reduce your exposure to blue light without isolating yourself from the modern world. Two hours before bed, turn off all your screens. Use blackout curtains and switch to amber or red bulbs at night, or simply dim your existing lights with a dimmer switch. You can also use blue blocker glasses and utilize night mode on your smartphone to filter the white light from your screen. Being exposed to artificial light 24/7 is just as harmful as looking at our phones all day, so step outside and try to get twenty minutes of sunlight each day to balance your exposure to artificial lights.
Next, exposing yourself to red or infrared lights through light therapy can help you restore, repair, and protect damaged, old tissue. Red light therapy activates stem cells while also improving mitochondrial function, which increases the amount of energy your mitochondria produce. Additionally, red light therapy increases levels of nitric oxide which increases your body’s circulation and ensures that the cells in your body are nourished with blood, oxygen, and nutrients. Lastly, this light therapy can also help treat muscle fatigue and injuries.
There are a few ways to access red/infrared light therapy, you can either see a doctor who specializes in light therapy or you can try an infrared sauna to help detoxify your body and improve your mitochondrial function.
― Dave Asprey #superhuman
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Reverse Aging By Removing Toxic Metals
Did you know that our bodies are filled with toxic metals? Metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury are all present in the foods we eat. Additionally, metals such as aluminum, thallium, nickel, and even uranium appear frequently in our bodies in high concentrations. Having an excess of metals in our bodies can become toxic and prevent our bodies from functioning at the optimal level. For instance, an excess amount of lead hardens our arteries and increases our blood pressure which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
So how do these metals become present in our bodies? Thallium is everywhere in U.S. soil and fuel which means we consume thallium when we eat vegetables like kale and cabbage. Mercury is found in fish from the ocean, and while we need fish for omega-3 fats, eating too much fish can cause excess mercury in our bodies. Mercury can also be present in fillings that you get from the dentist as well as the fluorescent bulbs used in many public places. Mercury causes high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and neurotoxicity so learning how to detox your body of harmful metals is important for preventing premature aging and staying healthy.
The first detox method is through consuming glutathione, one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants. With the ability to protect your body from heavy metal damage, glutathione also keeps mercury from entering cells, boosts immunity, reinforces your mitochondria, and contributes to optimal brain function. But glutathione isn’t the only powerful antioxidant, in fact, vitamin C is perhaps the wold’s best-known antioxidant. Vitamin C raises antioxidant levels in red blood cells by recycling used glutathiones and helps detox the body of lead.
Next, consuming activated charcoal in capsule form allows your body to detox from metals through a process called binding. When charcoal is consumed, it binds to chemicals in the body which have a positive charge. Naturally, your body will dispose of these chemicals after the charcoal attaches to them. For instance, when you eat foods that contain cadmium, nickel, copper, and lead, activated charcoal binds to these toxic metals before they have the opportunity to adhere to your cells. However, because charcoal binds to many substances, it will also bind to prescriptions and vitamins; therefore, activated charcoal should only be consumed an hour or more before other medications and supplements.
“fine-grade charcoal is twice as effective as normal grade. In fact, finer particles are proved to bind to the most carcinogenic substance known to man, the mold toxin aflatoxin.27 I take these capsules almost every day on an empty stomach as part of my overall anti-aging strategy and as a way to continuously detox from chemicals, pesticides, and some heavy metals.”
In addition to taking supplements to detox your body of harmful metals, sweating also helps you get rid of heavy metals. Sweating through exercise is the preferred method of detox because it also helps break down fat tissue that heavy metals are stored in. High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves intense bursts of exercise followed by periods of rest, is recommended one to two times per week to boost fat break down. Be sure to allow your body to recover a few days in between your HIIT workouts.
“If you have lots of mercury fillings, there is a 100 percent chance you will not perform at your potential or live as long as possible.”
Improve Your Hormone Levels
Western society has been trying to solve the “hormone problem” for years. In fact, Kellogg and Graham invented cornflakes as a way to curb masturbation and suppress the male libido. While the cereal itself hasn’t solved any problems, the prevalence of low-fat grains in today’s Western diet has likely contributed to a decline in testosterone across the country. Additionally, as we age our body produces fewer pre-hormones which convert into testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. In other words, our diets and aging greatly contribute to a hormonal imbalance that causes aging, weight gain, poor sleep, and even sexual dysfunction.
Post-menopausal women experience a decline in hormones like estrogen. Estrogen is important for preventing cancer, bone loss, and heart disease which is why it’s important for both men and women to have healthy amounts of this hormone in their bodies. In addition to estrogen, the presence of testosterone helps both men and women burn fat, build muscle, and maintain a healthy sex drive. When testosterone levels are too low, people can begin to experience osteoporosis, mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s, and even heart attacks. So how can you maintain proper hormone levels to prevent some of these major killers?
One way to get your hormones back on track is through hormone replacement therapy or HRT. Unlike synthetic hormones, bioidentical hormones are preferable because they are molecularly identical to your own body’s hormones. While bioidentical hormones are preferred, they, unfortunately, don’t receive as much funding for research as synthetic hormones. This simply means that synthetic hormones are more readily available, so if you decide to undergo any form of HRT, it’s best to do so under the supervision of a specialist.
If hormone replacement therapy isn’t available for you, you can try to regain control of your hormones at home through diet and exercise. For instance, your body uses cholesterol to produce all your sex hormones. This is why it’s important to avoid low-fat, low-cholesterol diets. Studies show that men who eat cholesterol, monounsaturated fat, and saturated fats have higher levels of testosterone versus men who follow a low-fat diet. On the other hand, foods high in carbohydrates deplete your hormones, specifically testosterone. You can naturally boost your testosterone by eating the right fats, getting enough vitamin D, and by taking a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement.
In addition to diet, you should also be aware of the types of products you use at home. For instance, popular shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, lotions, shaving creams, and many other personal care products contain chemicals that disrupt our hormones and interfere with how our hormones function. The worst offenders are phthalates and parabens. By avoiding products with these chemicals, you can help control your hormones and get them back on track.
Finally, proper exercise should also be implemented to maintain healthy hormone levels. In addition to strength training sessions, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is most effective when increasing testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) levels in both men and women.
― Dave Asprey #superhuman
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Stay Young With Stem Cell Treatments
Stem cell research began as early as the 1980s, but because it was deemed unethical for many reasons, the practice was halted. However, scientists would soon discover the power of stem cells. Stem cells have the ability to maintain and repair tissues, so when you suffer an injury, stem cells help heal the damaged tissue. But as you age, your stem cell reserve becomes depleted and your remaining cells become less efficient. Therefore, people who wish to stop the aging process believe stem cell treatment is critical for longevity.
Of course, stem cell treatments don’t come cheap. In an operation that currently costs thousands of dollars, professionals can harvest the stem cells that are concentrated in your body’s bone marrow and subcutaneous fat. By extracting the stem cells and re-injecting them into your body, you can reduce inflammation and begin healing from the inside out. Asprey underwent his first stem cell treatment in 2015 when his doctor injected stem cells into his shoulder and upper back, areas which he injured as a teenager. Additionally, he also had stem cells injected into his face to boost collagen as well as into his reproductive organs to increase blood flow and nerve endings. According to Asprey, the procedure was worth the investment as he saw an overall improvement in his health and quality of sleep.
Once, Asprey’s mother fell and suffered injuries from cutting her face with her glasses. Asprey decided to help his mother by gifting her with a stem cell treatment to treat her injuries. Miraculously, what once was a giant scar on his mother’s face was now a barely visible mark. Of course, this type of treatment is not widely available throughout the United States which is why you may have never heard of it before. Regulations in the country are incredibly strict, but while it may not be readily available for everyone to undergo such treatments, it is legal to freeze your own stem cells to use for a later date. By freezing them at a younger age, you preserve your young stem cells and can use them to remain youthful as you age.
Heal Your Skin and Hair
Suffering from gray hair, balding, and wrinkles is a natural part of aging, but you can prevent these natural signs through proper treatment. Who doesn’t want to look young forever? The best part is many of these treatments start from the inside out and don’t require anything too invasive.
As you get older, collagen production slows down, which leads to many signs of aging including fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and acts as a building block for your teeth, bones, muscles, skin, and all other connective tissues; therefore, it’s more efficient to work from the inside out. In other words, buying those expensive eye creams won’t help much when you’re ignoring the collagen inside your body. By supplementing collagen with grass-fed or pastured collagen protein powder, about 10 grams a day, you can help your skin look younger, reduce joint pain, boost cartilage density, and decrease spinal pain.
Additionally, cryotherapy can increase collagen production and protect the collagen that you have. By exposing your skin to steep temperature drops, you can increase the production of antioxidants that fight the free radicals that age your skin. By getting cryo facials, you can boost collagen production and give yourself a more youthful appearance. If professional therapies are out of the budget, simply taking more cold showers can help too. Exposure to cold temperatures stimulates mitochondria and circulation in your skin. Shower your face and neck with the coldest water coming out of your shower for one minute. While uncomfortable at first, your body will get used to it after just three days because your mitochondria will adapt and produce more heat and energy.
In addition to boosting collagen, your diet can help combat wrinkles as well. By consuming foods that are high in antioxidants and polyphenols like vegetables, dark chocolate, and coffee, you can fight the signs of aging. In fact, one of the body’s most potent antioxidants, catalase, helps fight the graying of your hair. Catalase breaks down hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water which affects the production of melanin in your hair follicles that give your hair its color. The more catalase, the more melanin in your hair. On the other hand, the less melanin you have, the less color you retain which leads to graying hair. You can eat catalase-rich foods like celery, cucumbers, broccoli, and radishes or increase catalase production by taking antioxidants like ashwagandha, vitamin E, curcumin, and saw palmetto.
Perhaps you suffer from balding in addition to graying hair, if that’s the case, then you should look into shampoos that block DHT. DHT is a sex hormone that causes hair follicles to shrink, which ultimately leads to baldness. DHT-blocking shampoos are preferable to pharmaceutical drugs because of their lack of side effects. Hair loss is also linked to stress which can be managed by exercise and meditation, or it can be a result of hormonal imbalance. By having a doctor take a look at your T3 and RT3 thyroid hormones, you can begin to regain control of your body and your hair loss.
― Dave Asprey #superhuman
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The secret to staying young forever is understanding your mitochondria and making lifestyle choices that help increase their production and efficiency. Through proper diet, exercise, supplements, and therapies, you can find what works for you and begin aging backward. Not only that, you can even reverse cellular damage, remove toxic metals, and balance your hormones which all contribute to the aging process. Begin by practicing a cyclical ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting, track your hormone levels, and implement proper diet and exercise to improve your overall quality of life. Eventually, you’ll not only feel younger, but you’ll look younger as well!
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