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Your Vagus Nerve: What Is It, and Why Should You Care?

Article written by: Stefan Chmelik

As we come to understand ever more about mental health, it is becoming clearer that vast numbers of people in the modern world are affected by stress-related anxiety of one kind or another. Over time, this can hugely impact our mental and physical health, especially during the fearful times many of us are experiencing during this global pandemic. Primal fear is natural but being able to override it, and the anxiety that goes with it, can give you some control over body and mind, instead of being driven by evolutionary survival responses that are out of date in the modern world. So, how can we develop this ability? The answer lies in your own body – to be precise, in the vagus nerve.

The Vagus Nerve and Stress Responses

You may not know it, but the activity of your vagus nerve can have a bigger effect on how you feel than the total reasoning powers of your frontal brain.”

Many of you may already know about the vagus nerve, but there’s never any harm in a recap. Your vagus nerve runs from the base of your brain down through your torso, interfacing with heart, lungs and digestive system along the way. It plays a crucial role in your autonomic nervous system (ANS), which regulates your body’s unconscious processes. You may not know it, but the activity of your vagus nerve can have a bigger effect on how you feel than the total reasoning powers of your frontal brain.

Human beings, like most animals, have evolved to react reflexively to the perception of threat. These reflexes are automatic responses that occur in the lower brain and ANS (Autonomic Nervous System – your Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nerves), flooding your body with the inflammatory hormones and chemicals it needs to fight the threat, flee from it, or even freeze (something we see a lot with shock and trauma). Reflexes do not require the involvement of your higher brain – in fact, they often inhibit those functions. This inflammation and inhibition is one of the primary biological processes that cause the feelings we experience as stress.

Unfortunately, this primitive response has become more of a hindrance than a help. In simpler times, when existential threats tended to mean you were about to actually die, mobilizing your resources to find safety made a lot of sense. In the modern world, however, pausing to evaluate risk and threat is a much more effective option in the vast majority of circumstances. Our physical responses to stressful circumstances not only limit our ability to make the best decisions, but are also harmful in the long run. Constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time elevates stress hormone levels and blood pressure, increasing the risk of hypertension, heart attack or stroke [1].

Vagal Tone And Why It Matters

Not all vagus nerves are created equal – some people have stronger vagal activity than others. One of the primary functions of the vagus nerve is to calm the body after other parts of the ANS have hyper stimulated it in response to perceived threat – and repeated stimulation leads to chronic inflammation. Someone with stronger vagus activity is usually able to relax faster after experiencing stress than other people might. The strength of your vagus response is known as your ‘vagal tone’, and it can be determined by measuring heart rate, specifically your HRV (Heart Rate Variability).

Every time you breathe in, your heart beats faster in order to speed the flow of oxygenated blood around your body. When you breathe out, your heart rate slows back down. This variability is one of many things regulated by the vagus nerve, which is active when you breathe out but suppressed when you breathe in. The bigger your difference in heart rate variability when breathing in and out, the higher your vagal tone. It’s pretty difficult to exert conscious control over your heart rate, which is why breathing is the gateway to HRV and, in turn, vagal tone.

It is possible to control your own vagal tone and build personal resiliency, either through extended periods of hard work or the use of clever technology. Personal vagal tone improvement is a recommended treatment for some heart rate related conditions, such as supraventricular tachycardia [2]. Work with patients suffering these conditions has discovered a number of ‘vagal maneuvers’, which anyone can use to reliably increase their vagal tone for short periods. Holding the breath for 20-60 seconds, dipping the face in cold water, coughing, and tensing the stomach muscles are the most commonly recommended vagal maneuvers. Fans of the Wim Hof Method will recognize some of this.

It has also been shown that the vagus nerve can be stimulated by the vibrations of sound. Humming can be a particularly convenient way of increasing vagal tone, as you can easily hum a tune while performing other tasks. More focused humming, such as chanting ‘OM’ – with its long, sonorous vibrations – has been shown to correlate with a significant deactivation in areas of the brain associated with depression [3]. Researchers found that the vibrations from ‘OM’ chanting stimulate the vagus nerve, which then sends out neurotransmitters and electrical signals that reduce activity to key areas of the brain like the amygdala, associated with our fight/flight/freeze response. In addition, the increased oxygenation of the blood from this vibration facilitates feelings of relaxation and release in the muscles and structure of the body. The more accurately you are able to reproduce specific frequencies, the great and quicker the positive outcomes.

Managing Stress Through The Ages

In the past, humans across the world developed a variety of ways to reliably reproduce feelings of awe, wonder and peacefulness. From music to meditation, ritualized exercise to the use of mind-altering substances, a number of activities practiced in many different spiritual contexts can be understood in part as mechanisms for stress management. The broad trend of the past few hundred years has been towards the erosion of community and the fading of many of these traditions. Although there has been some movement against this trend in recent times with the growth of interest in practices such as mindfulness and yoga, in the 21st century we are living through a stress epidemic [4]. And at the current moment of enforced isolation we are more disconnected than ever from our social safeguards against stress.

It has been well established that regular relaxation and meditation are the most effective ways to self-manage stress. Meditation of many kinds have become very widely adopted, as many as 40% of adults in the US meditate regularly [5], and this has been linked to reduction in depression and anxiety, improvement in attention and also in sleep [6]. However, meditation practice is not the right solution for everyone. For some people, developing their practice to the point where they can enjoy tangible health benefits would mean a time commitment that they are simply unable to make. The always-on culture of the digitally enhanced workplace makes it difficult to leave stress behind at the office door, and it eats around the edges of the downtime of an already time-poor generation. Some employers have started running meditation programs for their people, but those who don’t benefit from such a luxury, or who find it difficult regardless of time, need a different solution.

Modern Problems, Modern Solutions

 In 1997, researchers developed a Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) therapy to treat epileptic seizures by implanting a neurostimulator in the patient’s chest. Over the years, many of these patients reported other benefits, including mood. In 2005, the FDA approved the use of VNS implants as a treatment for depression as well as epilepsy.

Following the success of this technique, there have been a number of attempts made to develop less non-invasive VNS medical devices. Some follow the epilepsy treatments by using electrical stimulation. GammaCoreTM, a small device designed for personal use in the treatment of migraine and available by prescription in a number of countries, has been the most successful of these [7]. Devices like these are extremely valuable therapeutic innovations, and the discomfort of using electrical stimulation can outweigh the pain caused by the condition itself.

Other approaches have drawn on pioneering research into the effects of sound on the vagus nerve. A number of studies have shown that binaural sound played through headphones can affect brain activity, positively altering mood and improving performance at some tasks [8][9]. These discoveries, in combination with the research that confirms the beneficial effects on vagal tone of centuries-old humming and chanting practices, have revealed some exciting new possibilities for VNS.

I’ve spent most of my career in medicine obsessed with the idea of finding ‘the single thing’ that will work equally for all people, that has the potential to target the inflammation and stress-based issues most people are made ill by today. From this research and my own extensive clinical experience with thousands of patients, it’s clear that your level of personal resiliency is the key to staying well and leading a long and happy life and that the best way to measure and increase resilience is through Vagal Nerve Tone.

But it became more and more apparent to me over the last decade that the traditional methods, such as breathing exercises, meditation and being in nature, were becoming less effective or unavailable to most people. As I am also a huge technology fan, I realized my mission was to create a technology that made vagal training available for anyone. So, in 2015 I created and Patented the Sensate technology.

Sensate is a world-first wearable device from BioSelf Technology, which uses the potential of sub-audible sound to stimulate the vagus nerve and reduce the physical symptoms of stress [10]. Sensate uses novel infrasonic technology which I have used in my Harley Street clinic for the past seven years, with extraordinary results. Placed on the chest, the portable Sensate device produces engineered tones that are felt rather than heard, enabling users to experience digital music as whole-body 3D vibrotactile sound. As well as being deeply relaxing in itself, this conditions the vagus nerve, increasing vagal tone and providing many of the same benefits as extended meditation practice bypassing the need for endless practice while also enabling people that find meditation impossible to experience the benefits.

Your Vagus, Your Health

VNS therapies of various kinds have been shown to have beneficial effects for patients suffering from a wide variety of problems and symptoms, including:

  • Adrenal or chronic fatigue
  • Anxiety/panic disorder and OCD
  • Asthma and Breathing Pattern Disorder (BPD)
  • Chronic Prostatitis and Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CP/CPPS)
  • Depression
  • Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS)
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Fibromyalgia (unexplained body pain)
  • Food intolerances/allergies and chemical sensitivities
  • Irregular heartbeat conditions
  • Irritable Bowel/Bladder Syndrome (IBS)
  • Migraines and tension headaches
  • Insomnia, sleep disturbance and sleep apnea

Whether you suffer from any of these conditions or just feel overwhelmed by the stress of modern life, learning to increase vagal nerve tone could be the solution. If implants or prescription devices are not appropriate or available, try practicing some simple vagal maneuvers, like those described above. If these have positive results, then Sensate should offer deeper and longer-lasting treatment. In a time when so many of us are living through stressful uncertainty, looking after your vagus nerve has never been a more important part of effective self-care.

Stefan Chmelik is the founder of The New Medicine Group, the UK’s leading integrated healthcare clinic in Harley Street, London. Identifying that more people than ever are suffering from stress-related health issues, as a medical practitioner of 30 years, Stefan founded BioSelf Technology to develop pioneering, clinically validated, wearable technology, that offers a solution to the growing stress pandemic.

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Coronavirus By The Numbers And How To Prevent Infection

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A Letter From Dave Asprey

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Dear Fellow Biohackers,

I write this letter with some mixed emotions. Spring is typically a time for awakening, energy, and renewal.  Instead, this year we find ourselves in a time of social distancing, fear of the coronavirus, and anxiety created by economic uncertainty throughout the world.  For many, this has caused our amygdala (the fear center of our brain) to go into overdrive.

Despite what’s happening around us, there are reasons to feel encouraged and even grateful.  (I would argue that finding peace of mind is even more critical during times of isolation.)

Here are just a few things to be grateful for right now:

  • More time with your loved ones at home. It’s safe to say that we are all incredibly busy balancing work, family and self-care. As we navigate how to spend our days for at least the next couple weeks, we can also take advantage of the extra time that has been gifted to us — time that we can appreciate and share with our family members (including pets too!).
  • The Internet is awesome.  With just a few finger swipes or clicks, you can get access to virtually anything and still stay connected to extended family and friends — even if you can’t physically be near them. (Next time you Skype Grandma, tell her I said hi!)
  • In this golden age of digital content, you have the time to actually enjoy it. Okay, this is an extension of the bullet point above, but I really want to emphasize it. There is an abundance of television shows, movies, audio books, e-books, podcasts, games, and YouTube videos available for you online right now.  I’m not saying that you should become a couch potato, (you can also do home workouts with guided instructions via various digital programs), but this is a great opportunity to embrace the (extra) time that you have and distract yourself from the news. Why not catch up on a book that you never got to read, or watch a documentary that might challenge your perspective?
  • You can be part of the change and make a difference.  It is pretty bizarre seeing grocery store shelves completely emptied, schools closed, and the explosion of mass hysteria on social media.  Amidst the pessimistic news reports, it’s important to remember: look for the helpers — or become one!  This could mean offering to get groceries for an elderly neighbor if they are vulnerable to contracting respiratory illnesses.  Or if you have extra food or household items, even a small donation could bring a smile to someone’s face. Thanks to the handy-dandy Internet, it’s also super easy to send money via various apps (which would be especially helpful for those that are currently put out of work during this time of social distancing and quarantines happening all over the world).

I have had a lot of people ask me if they should be worried about contracting the coronavirus. Truthfully, it’s inevitable that many of us (yes, myself included) will become infected at some point in time.  But if you’re healthy, your immune system will fight off the infection like it’s supposed to.  Think about how a typical cold plays out — there are some people who don’t recover from colds very well because their bodies aren’t as resilient, while others may not even realize that they are sick because their immune system has stepped in to fight off the unhealthy cells within the body.

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Death Rates: A Look at the Numbers

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News reports of coronavirus-induced deaths has fueled the hysteria happening (and the carts full of toilet paper).  There is absolutely merit to being aware and proactive about the current public health concern; however, it’s worth looking closely at the data to get a better idea of what the coronavirus landscape really looks like.

According to a recent publication by my good friend, Peter  Diamandis, on one of the worst days for Coronavirus in China (February 10, 2020), 108 people died. But on any given day, globally:

  • 26,283 people die of cancer;
  • 49,041 people die of cardiovascular diseases;
  • 4,383 people die of diabetes.

If you’ve read my latest book, Super Human, you’ll remember that Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are the primary four killers for humans worldwide.  To put the numbers above into context, the chances of dying from the coronavirus are extremely low.

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How YOU Can Help Slow the Surge of Coronavirus

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  • Delay getting an infection so that there is more space in hospitals for those that really need it. That means taking social distancing seriously and following the protocols set out by the CDC and WHO.
  • Honor our elders and be kind to those who may have a weaker immune system. Think about what you can do to support them during this difficult time — even the simplest of gestures could mean a LOT.
  • Focus on becoming more resilient by:
    • not smoking
    • avoiding alcohol
    • not eating sugar or fried foods
    • getting adequate sleep
    • getting 20-30 minutes of natural sunlight every day (standing by your window or stepping out onto your balcony could help here; if you’re itching to go for a walk or run, opt to go around the block at a safe distance from other people rather than running on the treadmill at your local gym where germs and bacteria could make you more vulnerable to illness)
    • maintaining a positive outlook and being gentle with yourself

Ultimately, you can become immune to the coronavirus by getting it, and then getting through it with a resilient immune system!

I know that this is a strange time, and there’s a lot of information swirling out there…but don’t let the hysteria deter you from finding/creating peace of mind. This journey may get a little bumpy before it gets better, but we are all in this together. Let’s make sure that we are all doing what we can to keep our immune systems strong and get through this thing!

In Good Health & Gratitude,

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The Ultimate Gift Guide for Biohackers

When shopping for a biohacker, it’s important to think about where they currently are in their health journey, and where they want to be. Some biohackers are extremely experienced and devoted to pushing their bodies further; these are the people that want access to the latest and greatest technology, and that feel excited to be one of the first to see how it impacts their mind, body and/or performance. Other subsets of biohackers might not be as adventurous, but they are fully committed to things like losing weight, sleeping better, ridding themselves of illnesses that doctors couldn’t, or making simple lifestyle changes that ultimately make them feel better.  

The one thing that unifies biohackers is their relentless passion for improving all aspects of their well-being so that they can function at their best. That’s why we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of gifts for biohackers of all levels and interests. So, whether you’re celebrating a birthday, Christmas, or you simply want to express your gratitude, here are some gift ideas to show your biohacking friends or family members that you care about their health and well-being as much as they do 🙂 

For years, there was a resounding attitude towards sleeping that suggested not doing it made you some sort of sex symbol. This #TeamNoSleep culture has not only reinforced the notion that doing more on less sleep is better, but it’s led to sever burnout. Fortunately, we are now seeing a “Sleep Revolution” in which more sleep researchers are stepping up and sharing the science behind sleep deprivation, as well as how disruption to our circadian health can lead to several serious health issues, including but not limited to: heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, mood disorders, and even cancer. There has also been an explosion in sleep apps, trackers and wearables since more people are looking to improve the quality and quantity of their slumber each night. The following products can help: 

Oura Ring 
Biohackers are research-driven, and they love using data to inform their decisions. When it comes to sleep, wearable technology empowers the user to have a better understanding of what is happening to his or her body at night.  
The Oura Ring specifically provides the following metrics: 
 
Bedtime, Deep sleep, REM sleep, Heart rate, Heart Rate Variability (stress levels), Sleep efficiency, Wake time, Sleep score, Body temperature, Sleep stages, Breathing rates, Total bedtime, Total sleep time 
 
The benefit of tracking how long you slept, and how restorative your slumber was the night before, is that you can begin to draw connections between those numbers and your daily activities. For example, if you work out later in the day, or continue to consume caffeine past 2pm, you might notice that it takes you longer to fall asleep at night. Compared to other wearables that are often bulky or inconvenient, the Oura Ring is a barely-there accessory that is stylish for men and women. It’s also worth noting that this product is a Bluetooth Smart class 2 device; according to their website, the ring’s Bluetooth is active for less than 1% of the day and emits a very minimal amount of EMFs.

Compatibility: iOS, Android 

Cost: From $299 (up to $999 if you want some extra bling in your ring!) 

TrueDark Sleep-Hacking Glasses 
Light directly influences your natural circadian rhythm (your 24-hour sleep/wake cycle(. The problem is that humans have evolved from solely relying on natural sunlight and fire; we now live in an ”always-on” culture that keeps artificial (LED and fluorescent) lights on all the time.  Overexposure to this ”junk” light throws off the body’s circadian rhythm, which makes it extremely difficult to get adequate sleep at night and perform well during the day. The key to keeping your circadian rhythm on track is to take more control of the light around you. Society probably won’t go back to strictly sunlight and fire, but you can proactively prevent overexposure to junk light. 
 
TrueDark Sleep-Hacking Glasses (designed by Dave Asprey, ”The Father of Biohacking” himself) block out up to 100% of blue, green and violet light. The moment you put them on, they signal to your brain that it’s dark outside and put you into an alpha (meditative) state so that you can fall and stay asleep. Everybody can benefit from better sleep, but these may be especially useful for people who use LED screens for extended periods of time, for shift workers, frequent travelers (especially across time zones), and new parents (because they get as much sleep as their newborn!). Even if you aren’t able to get a full eight hours of sleep, TrueDark Sleep-Hacking Glasses can help you improve the quality of your sleep — so that you feel and perform better the next day. 
 
Cost: $79-99 for any single pair of adult glasses, or $139 for any two pairs 
$59 for any single pair of TrueDark Kids glasses, or $99 for any two pairs
(suitable for ages 3-7)

chiliPAD Sleep System 
In addition to light, temperature also directly impacts the body’s circadian rhythm. In order to fall into a deep sleep, your core body temperature needs to drop a few degrees. Ideally, your bedroom should be between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep; but everyone’s body is different, and if you sleep in bed with a partner, you might be most comfortable at different temperatures.  
 
The chiliPAD Sleep System consists of a a hydro-powered mattress pad, thermal regulating cube(s) and a remote to control the mattress temperature for one or two sleepers. This product is notably at a higher price point, and understandably so. With it, you can either heat or cool your bed from 55-115°F (13-46°C) in just a few clicks of a button! 
 
Compatibility: full, queen, king, and California king beds 
 
Cost: from $499

Sleep Crown Over-the-Head Pillow 
For those that experience anxiety, stress, or tension – especially before bedtime – it might be helpful to invest in an all-natural over-the-head pillow. The Sleep Crown is handmade with premium Bamboo Jersey and Vegan Down, and it contours gently around the face to help block out light and ambient noise. The gentle pressure from the pillow instantly calms the nervous system so that you’re relaxed enough to fall and stay asleep. 
 
When you purchase a Sleep Crown Pillow, you also have the option to add Pillow Mist – a light blend of Lavender, Sandalwood, Roman Chamomile and Lime. Aromatherapy notably helps promotes calmness and is another simple step that you can add to your bedtime routine. 
 
Cost: $159 for the pillow, and $11 for the pillow mist

FOR A LIMITED TIME: save 10% off your purchase when you use coupon code “BIOHACKED” on sleepcrown.com 

When it comes to physical fitness, personal goals can vary widely. For example, some people may want to lose weight or gain muscle, while others may want to gain weight and/or improve their athletic performance. Adequate rest and recovery also play an important part in becoming more physically fit. Here are some gift ideas that support different goals:

Biostrap
This is the second wearable to make its way onto our list, and for good reason. Biostrap is really the first of its kind to offer full-body research-grade biometrics 24 hours a day with the use of both a wristband and a shoe clip. While Biostrap does offer sleep analysis, its fitness features are truly more prominent, as it’s capable of classifying more than 20 different physical activities (including but not limited to running, swimming, kettlebell swings, cycling, and bicep curls). You can also record any repetitious exercise once and Biostrap will automatically detect and analyze it for your future workouts. Tracking every move is something that biohackers can’t help but love 🙂

Cost: from $175

Egoscue Method 
Being mobile is a crucial aspect of being healthy, but for the millions of people in chronic pain, their conditions are often connected to the misalignment of major joints. They might lean to one side or have a shoulder or hip that is lower than the other. Any type of misalignment can lead to improper weight distribution and uneven load bearing on the lower extremities. This can eventually affect the entire body and negatively impact quality of life. The Egoscue Method helps you rediscover the body’s proper alignment and provides individualized exercises that help you eliminate structural dysfunctions and pain. It is particularly effective for alleviating: Back Pain, Shoulder, Elbow, and Wrist Pain, Hip Pain. Migraines, Knee Pain, Plantar Fasciitis, Ankle Pain, and Jaw Pain. 
 
What’s really cool about Egoscue’s programming is that you get to choose what kind of therapy works best for you and your lifestyle. They offer in-clinic sessions (available in 8 or 16 visit packages) in several cities across the U.S., as well as digital therapy via Skype or Facetime, or online therapy, which simply involves corresponding with a certified Egoscue therapist via email. (For the sake of accountability, we recommend the in-clinic sessions if there’s a clinic available nearby!) 
 
To learn more about Mastering Posture, Pain and Performance, check out this interview with Brian Bradley, VP of Egoscue, and Dave Asprey. And just because Brian is the VP, and he travels all over the world with Tony Robbins, that doesn’t mean that you can’t reach out to him for more info! If you or someone you know if suffering from chronic pain, please consider giving the gift of relief by setting up a consultation with Brian and the Egoscue Method team.  
 
Cost: dependent on location, form of therapy, and number of sessions

Either email Bbradley@egoscue.com, or call (800)995-8434 to set up a consultation.

Jym Protein 
As we mentioned earlier in this post, everyone has their own fitness goals. For those that specifically want to gain weight and increase muscle mass, the type and quantity of protein that you consume is key. Whey, casein, and egg are the best protein sources for growth, as they are derived directly from animals. (Collagen is a plant-based protein that is better suited for keeping joints strong, supporting strong bones, and keeping your skin hydrated.)

Jym offers pre- and post-workout protein powders that include whey, casein, and egg. These protein powders are especially effective because they are fast, medium, and slow metabolizing. In other words, they provide your body with 24 hours’ worth of fuel – especially if you’re drinking them to enhance regular meals in addition to consuming them before and after workouts. 
 
Cost: from $16.99

Aging is a universal phenomenon, and for centuries, people have experimented with many different beauty products (e.g. masks, oils, peels, treatments, and moisturizersand routines in the effort to find the so called “fountain of youth”.  But aging gracefully doesn’t come down to a single secret, ingredient, or practice; it typically multifaceted and involves eating a clean and healthy diet (first and foremost), and then being mindful about putting natural products directly on your skin (which is the largest organ of the human body). With that said, here are some of our favorite beauty and anti-aging products that can help protect, restore, and rejuvenate your skin: 

TrueLight™ Energy Square 
LED light therapy, also commonly referred to as photobiomodulationLLLT, or simply, light therapy, is a painless, non-invasive, and drug-free form of treatment that can be used to heal the skin and body. Different wavelengths of light notably have different penetration levels and capabilities. For example, near infrared (NIR) has a very deep penetration level; it can reach all the way down to the bone. This range of light is ideal for healing muscle tissue and bone. Red light doesn’t reach as far as NIR, but it works from the inside-out to enhance mitochondrial function in cells. So, red light not only assists with blood circulation and muscle recovery; it also has anti-inflammatory effects and can help reduce scars, wrinkles and fine lines. 

It’s worth highlighting these two specific ranges of light because they tend to be the most commonly used in light therapy devices. With that said, it’s important to choose a device that delivers the wavelengths that will give you the results you’re looking for. In a similar vein, the intensity (power) that your device emits toward the body also matters. According to Dr. Mercola and Michael Hamblin (a researcher and associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School) the ideal intensity of light is around 10-20 mW/cm2, depending on what you’re healing. More power is not necessarily better. In fact, it can product counteractive results that may actually do nothing for you. 

The TrueLight Energy Square is an attractive light therapy device for many reasons: 

  • Compared to most devices on the market, this one is affordable (especially when you look at the surface area that it covers)Instead of paying $60+ per session at a salon or doctor’s office, you can save money by purchasing this at-home device and using it at your convenience.
     
  • It uses a unique patent-pending combination of lights, including two different wavelengths of red (630nm and 660nm) for rejuvenation, NIR (850nm) for strengthening body tissues, and yellow light (580nm) for healing the skin. The yellow light is a key differentiator that works to help reduce redness (rosacea, irritationUV damage, and/or the appearance of blood vessels).  You can choose to either use all of these wavelengths simultaneously, or separately (Note that the NIR lights are always on while the device is on, but it won’t look like it because NIR is invisible to the human eye.)  As well as two different lighting modes: ?Steady for help in reducing pain and Pulsating to assist with cellular healing.
     
  • It also has two different light modes: steady and pulsed. It has been discovered that when LED lights are pulsed, body tissue can heal more rapidly. When it is given a continuous burst, it sedates the cell and stops the pain. When a single-frequency pulsed light hits the cell, it stimulates the cell to start producing more protein than it normally does, as a result, the cell heals faster. Even when the LED light source is taken away, the cell continues its healing. The continuous beam has a reverse effect that can remove/dull pain, reduce inflammation and allows muscle tissue to relax.
     
  • Biohackers will especially appreciate this point: This device was designed from the ground-up to minimize EMF radiation! For example, at a 6″ distance, the Energy Square emits absolutely no non-native EMF radiation; and even with direct contact, it only emits 0.6 milligaussThis amount is very negligible and considered safe. (For reference, every time your cell phone rings, it emits 9-15 milligauss.) Note that multiple design choices were taken into account during the design of all TrueLight devices to ensure their safety. One of the reasons they specifically don’t use fansfor instance, is because the EM coil in fans produce additional EMF radiation. 

Cost: from $389, or you can save on a full body solution for $1,550 (much more affordable compared to other full body light therapy solutions on the market today) 

Alitura Natural Skin Care Products 
Face creams, moisturizers, and clay masks have been used to heal skin for much longer than light therapy devices, but customers are often faced with a similar problem: there are so many options on the market that it becomes difficult to decipher which brand/products are best for them. When putting substances on your face, the key is to avoid toxic ingredients, as well as those that you might have an allergic reaction to. 
 
The top 10 ingredients that you should avoid when choosing skincare products include: parabens, phthalates, benzoyl peroxide, triclosan, petroleum, resorcinol, hydroqinone, oxybenzone, methylisothiazolinone, as well as artificial dyes and synthetic colors. Many of these chemicals have either been identified as skin irritants, carcinogens, or as hormone disrupters. Some of them may also lead to health concerns such as tumor growth, seizures, or thyroid disruption. When choosing a skin care product, it’s important to look for companies that are transparent about their ingredients, processing, as well as safety testing, so that you can make informed decisions. 
 
Enter stage left: Alitura – a grassroots company that uses ingredients that come directly from the earth, including but not limited to: freshwater pearl powder, L-ascorbic acid (vitamin c), grass-fed colostrum, American ginseng, green desert clay, and organic kelp powder. The company is notably anti-GMO and anti-chemicals; and by grassroots, we don’t just mean that the founder is leading the operation, but he was in fact the inspiration for its existence from day one. 
 
Andy Hnilo, a model and actor, was accustomed to earning a living based on his appearance until one day he was involved in a horrific accident that resulted in a compound fracture of his jaw, seven broken ribs, and a collapsed lung. Hnilo has stated, That accident turned out to be an absolute blessing in disguise, as it was the catalyst that rocked me towards my purpose of helping others feel better about what they see in the mirror. Out of pure necessity, I started creating our flagship product, The Alitura Clay Mask, during my healing period. Unimpressed with the products that his doctors recommended at the time for healing his abrasions and scars, Hnilo began researching all natural, nutrient dense, and mineral rich ingredients from the earth that he could use to heal his bodyMiraculouslyAlitura (which means “feeding and nourishing” in Latin) was born, and Hnilo was back on a runway in just seven weeks after his catalytic accident. 
 
Alitura offers night cream, moisturizer, facial cleanser, an anti-aging gold serum, a clay mask, and a derma roller. After those get you feeling all glowy, you’ll feel even better knowing that a portion of the proceeds from your purchase are donated to a children’s charity that helps bring smiles to kids’ faces. (Andy had some nerve damage after his accident that affected his smile and self-confidence, so he found a way to further incorporate social good into Alitura as it grew into the business it is today.) #AllTheFeels 
 
Cost: from $29, but if you can swing it, we *highly* recommend the Alitura Complexion Perfection Package for $185

Use coupon code “Biohacked20” on alituranaturals.com to receive 20% off of your order! 

With all the fad diets that exist, and the individual health needs of each person, sending food itself may not be the most effective gift. However, gift cards and saving money on groceries are always in!

Thrive Market 
Described as ”a membership with a mission”, this online marketplace aims to make healthy and sustainable products available for every budget, lifestyle, and geography. They really stand out because their product selection can be filtered by 70+ dietary and lifestyle needs! For an annual fee, members get 25-50% off retail prices on 6,000+ organic, non-GMO, and sustainable products. On average, they save about $30 on every order. (If you don’t make back your membership fee in savings in your first year, Thrive Market will credit you the difference when you renew—no questions asked.)

More good news: Thrive Market has e-gift cards available. Not only does this cover their first annual fee, but you can also add extra shopping credit to help them get started with their healthy grocery shopping. If you’re looking for convenience without the hassle of doing guess work and added shipping costs, consider getting them a membership that they’ll love!

Cost: annual fee of $59.95

Your brain is your body’s most valuable health asset. Not only is it responsible for keeping your body functioning, but research suggests that proactively taking care of your brain may reduce your risk of developing dementia later in life. Brain health also affects your mood, decision making, and mobility, so it’s very important to make sure that you nourish and protect this organ at all ages.

Tru Niagen ® 
NAD is an essential resource for cellular health and energy production; but as we age, we lose up to 50% of our NAD levels (between the ages of 40 and 60) because the body isn’t able to replace the cells that die as quickly with new ones. When NAD levels are low, you’re unfortunately at greater risk of experiencing health issues, including neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington disease).  
 
Tru Niagen® is a supplement that essentially works as an NAD booster. Its active ingredient is nicotinamide riboside (NR), a unique molecule which has been scientifically researched to sustainably support NAD levels in our cells. The company claims that taking two pills per day can increase your NAD levels by as much as 40-50% after just 8 weeks. 
 
Cost: from $30/mo *dependent on number of bottles and frequency of purchase

Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil
The brain cannot?store energy, so it needs a constant input from somewhere else in order to maintain energy levels.?This stream of energy is typically supplied?by glucose that is found in the blood. When your blood sugar gets low your body has a backup system (like a generator for your house), in which your liver can break down stored body fat to produce?ketones. 

Ketones are able to easily cross the blood-brain barrier and provide instant energy to the brain. And while you?can?provide ketones for your brain by eating a very high-fat, low-carbohydrate?ketogenic diet (the Bulletproof diet is considered a cyclical modified version of the Keto diet), you don’t necessarily have to.  

That’s where coconut oil comes in, specifically MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil.? The medium-chain fats found in MCT oil provide a simple and safe method of raising the blood level of ketones, which essentially provide a?convenient?workaround for giving you a boost of energy (NCBI). 

There are four different types of MCT oil, which are distinguished by the type of acid they contain: C6 (Caproic acid), C8 (caprylic acid), C10 (Capric acid), and C12 (Lauric acid). Brain Octane is Bulletproof’s branded version of C8, which is the most effective and purest form of MCT oils available. It also produces keytones the fastest compared to any other type of fat (in under five minutes)Keytones notably can’t be stored as fat, unlike carbs and sugar, so if you’re looking to eliminate fat, boost energy, and brain power, MCT oil can help. Continue reading here for some tips on how to use MCT oil every day. 

Cost: from $24.95 for full bottles, or $18.95 for convenient GoPacks (15 count) 

Between work, family, relationships, and health, life can feel?pretty?stressful?and?complicated?at?times.?That’s why it’s incredibly important to find?safe and?sustainable?methods of?aiding?stress,?exhaustion,?and/or?aches.

Knock Knock Self-Therapy Pad
Knock Knock is known for bringing humor, creativity, and smarts to everyday life. They have created thoughtful ways of helping people communicate, even if it’s as simple of going through a checklist and making sure that someone understands how they are feeling in the moment and why.  This self-therapy pad is the perfect gift for friends and family who aren’t perfect, and those who aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves sometimes.

Cost: $7.99, or buy 3+?Classic Pads? of any combination and the price drops to just $6.00 per pad! 

Zen Float Tank
Research shows?that?meditation?can?have?neurological benefits for the brain and human health, such as inducing a sense of calm. More specifically, meditation reduces activity in the brain’s “Me Center”?— the place?responsible for mind-wandering. This thought-to-thought behavior?is?often?associated with?feeling?less happy?and worrying about the past?or?future. Dialing down the rumination that is happening in the brain can?help?people overcome fear and worry.?

Float therapy,?also known as?“sensation deprivation” or “floating”,?is one form of meditation that?has proven to be?an effective tool?for?minimizing?pain, reducing?symptoms of?anxiety,?depression?and insomnia,?lowering?blood pressure,?and more.  While most float tanks are in the $10K-30K mark,?Zen Float Co.’s latest and greatest float tank?only?costs $5K and?comes with a handful of features that make it more efficient than standard tanks, such as: 

  • A fully inflatable?and?portable design made from drop-stitch technology (similar to?inflatable stand up paddle boards and kayak)? 
  • Greater insulation due to all the layering, making it 40% more efficient?(which saves you money on monthly costs)?
  • 2 radiant heating pads, a digital temperature controller, and a high-powered UV filtration system to keep your water heated and cleaned and all times? 

Cost: from $4,200

*The Float Tank Complete Package (Version 1) is currently on sale for just $2,750.

40 Years of Zen™
Building on the idea of using meditation to take more control over your thoughts, emotions, and actionsneurofeedback can also be used to “train your brain” Note that the brain mediates our perception of the world around us. In other words, every emotion, thought, and sensation we have corresponds to activity happening in each of our own brainsThis activity is what drives our ability to pay attention, to keep our emotions in check, and make rational decisions.?

Neurofeedback involves using real-time displays of brain activity to help self-regulatbrain functionIt can be used to address a wide variety of goals, including but not limited to: self-development, emotional balance, attention training, peak performance, sleep, mood and perspective, overcoming trauma, or any combination of these. 

40 Years of Zen is a unique program that essentially empowers you to hack your inner peace by leveraging neurofeedback and working with a dedicated team of neuroscientists. It is not cheap to attend this five-day program; however, we’ve included it on the gift idea list because many biohackers strive to be the very best version of themselves40 Years of Zen is designed to help people master 40 years of meditation and ultimately feel free of life’s stresses so they can do just that.  

Cost: $15,000 (not including transportation and lodging) 

Environmental wellness?is directly related to the surroundings you occupy. This dimension of health connects your overall?well-being?to the health of your?environment (both social and natural surroundings). Your environment can greatly impact how you feel and show up in the world. Here are some products that you can feel good about purchasing (for you or for others) because they are produced with sustainability and the Earth’s longevity in mind: 

Branch Basics
There are toxins everywhere – so many, we can’t control them allWhat we can control is what we bring inside our homes; and no, we don’t have to sacrifice “clean” for “green”!

First, a quick look at some of the worst toxic offenders that are commonly found in household cleaning products: phthates, perchloroethylene (PERC), triclosan, quarternary ammonium compounds (QUATS)butoxyethanol, ammonia, chlorine, sodium hydroxide. Some of these substances are irritants or can be corrosive. Others have been associated with sever liver and kidney damageas well as hormonal dysfunction. When purchasing household cleaning products, it’s important to find products that are safe for humans, and preferably not harmful to the environment. 

Branch Basics offers ONE Concentrate that replaces virtually all cleaners for the house. This multipurpose solution is 100% plant-based and has an active enzyme-based formula that utilizes the best raw ingredients to make a non-irritating (alkaline pH) soap that has live enzymes to maximize cleaning power. Ingredients include: Purified Water, Coco Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser), Organic Chamomilla Recutita (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Decyl Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser), Sodium Citrate (Food-Grade Emulsifier), Lauryl Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser), Sodium Bicarbonate (Food-Grade Baking Soda), and Sodium Phytate (Plant-Based Antioxidant).

The Branch Basics Concentrate is not only human safe, its also versatile, effective (for removing stains, breaking down grease and oil, and replacing other toxic cleaners), and sustainable. Instead of selling one-time-use bottles, each reusable Branch Basics bottle replaces dozens of conventional spray bottles over its lifetime of use. This also helps you conserve energy and save on additional shipping costs (so it’s a smart option for your wallet too!). 

Cost: from $49 

BeeKeeper’s Naturals
Since 2006, North America has seen a drastic decline in bees with approximately 25-30% of colonies collapsing every year. This phenomenon, where a colony’s worker bees abruptly disappear, is called Colony Collapse Disorder. There may be multiple causes for this, but many researchers are blaming pesticides – not just near the hives, but also inside of them. 

Why does this matter? Bee-cause…though small, they are mighty; bees play a vital role in our global ecosystem, with thousands of plant, animal, and insect species relying on them for survival. In fact, the pollination from honeybees impacts nearly 1/3 of our entire food supply (including almonds, apples, oranges, tomatoes, onions, avocados, garlic, and coffee)! 

Why support Beekeeper’s Naturals (BKN)? Well, in doing so, you’re also doing your own health a huuuuuge favor. Between their raw honey products, throat sprays, raw bee pollen, and jelliesyou have a full arsenal for protecting your immune health, fighting brain fog, improving focus and productivity, as well as fighting fatigue. Beyond that, BKN does a lot to spread awareness about the current state of bees and raises funds to help support safe and healthy harvesting practices. They work exclusively with small scale green beekeepers on remote farms throughout the Canadian North who have over 5 miles surrounding area of organic grounds (bees forage for up to 5 miles so they ensure the bees have pesticide free food sources.) BKN also sources raw ingredients from their partner apiaries and they have a lab to create and test their products for human consumption. 

BKN is a certified B corporation  business that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. In their mission to #SAVETHEBEES, they have officially partnered with two of the leading bee research institutions to support pollinator protection—The University of California Davis Honey Bee Research Facility?and the?Canadian Bee Research FundAccording to their website, 10% of all profits from BKN’s apparel line gets donated these charity partnersBut it’s more than just money; simply wearing a t-shirt or hat with intentional messaging can help spread awareness and create action to further save the bees and our ecosystem.

Cost: from $4.50

Use this link to save 10% off your purchase from BKN!

Traveling is often said to be “good for the soul” because when you open yourself to new surroundings and experiences, you’re creating more opportunity for personal growth (e.g. awareness and creativity). It’s also a great way to do a personal reset for your mind and body. With that said, traveling can be stressful on both the body and the environment, especially if you don’t plan ahead. To get the best experience possible while traveling, here are some awesome products that can help any traveler make the most of their time (and space) away from home.

que Bottle 
(Not so) Fun fact: Every minute one million plastic bottles are purchased worldwide, and 91% of all plastic isn’t recycled.  The good news is that there has undoubtedly been a growing trend toward using reusable bottles as opposed to one-time use water bottles that are a waste of plastic and harmful for the environment. There are now many different types of reusable options on the market, but our new favorite is que. 
 
Designed to save space for what matters, que bottles are 100% plastic free and perfect for the avid traveler because they are lightweight, compact, and stylishWhile on the go, you can just fill the bottle up; and once you’re done, it collapses down to about half of its fully extended size. No need to spend money on more bottles or worry about recycling; que offers a sustainable solution that is ideal for an adventurous lifestyle. These bottles come in lots of colors too! 
 
Cost: from $24.95 

EMF Radiation Protection Pouch by DefenderShield® 
While on the go, use this EMF Radiation Protection Pouch?to protect yourself from EMF radiation while keeping your cell phone or other device secure and accessible. This pouch notably?blocks up to 100% of EMF (including cellular, WiFi, and Bluetooth radiation) emitted by electronic devices without affecting cellular service or connectivity. 
 
Cost: from $34.99

Stasher Bag 
Tired of packing extra baggies for your trips? We get it. Most plastic bags can rip easily, and sometimes they aren’t airtight, so your snacks go bad anyway. The other huge downside is the excessive amount of plastic that gets thrown away after just one use. 
 
There is unfortunately a recurring theme of non-eco-friendly habits when it comes to travel…until now. Introducing: Stasher, an airtight, reusable silicone bag that you can cook, store, and freeze. It looks like a sandwich bag for scuba divers, but you won’t need a scuba license to master it.  This durable tool is perfect for travelers who want to pack healthy snacks with them on their trips, without worrying about the bags or food getting damanged. Stasher also gets bonus points for helping to prevent single-use plastics from piling up in landfills and polluting our oceans! 
 
Cost: from $14.99 

Looking for a little bit of everything above? Be sure to check out the Biohacking Box. This is a quarterly subscription box filled with health and wellness products that are hand-curated by Dave Asprey. The products in each box typically fall within the following categories: circadian health, light therapy, cosmetics, fitness, emf protection, nutrition, and home care. No matter where your friend or family member is on their health journey, they’ll enjoy getting the Biohacking Box on their doorstep every couple of months! Also, when you subscribe to Dave Asprey’s Biohacking Box, you also get exclusive insights and offers on some of the latest and greatest biohacks to reach the market!

Cost: $100 per box

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What You Need to Know About Mitochondrial Disease

New to the world of mitochondrial disease (“mito” for short)? Continue reading for key facts and figures about what this disease is, its symptoms, and how it works.  

  • It is estimated that one in every 5,000 individuals have mitochondrial disease — a chronic, and typically genetic disorder that occurs when the mitochondria cannot produce enough energy (ATP) to keep the cell alive and healthy (NCBI).   
  • Mitochondrial disease is classified as both rare and progressive. 
  • It is also considered a metabolic disorder – meaning that the body cannot effectively turn food into energy and get rid of waste. 
  • Iarguably isn’t a single disease but more like a collection of conditions that can negatively impact a person’s perception, motor skills, organ function, and energy over time. 
  • Symptoms of mitochondrial diseases depend on which cells of the body are affected. They can range from mild to severe, involve one or more organs, and can occur at any age. Even patients within the same family who have the same mitochondrial disease can have differences in symptoms, severity, and age of onset (Cleveland Clinic) 
  • Symptoms may include:  
    • Muscle weakness or muscle pain 
    • Movement disorders 
    • Neurological problems
    • Vision and/or hearing problems 
    • Learning disabilities 
    • Unexplained vomiting, cramping, reflux 
    • Increased risk of infection 
    • Thyroid problems 
    • Respiratory (breathing) problems 
    • Dementia
  • With the number and type of symptoms and organ systems involved, mitochondrial diseases are often mistaken for other, more common, diseases (Cleveland Clinic). 
  • Here is a list of symptoms that are associated with specific organs that are affected by mito. 
  • Mitochondrial Disease should be suspected when three or more organ systems are involved (UMDF). 
  • Having mito can be like having a cell phone that is very close to running out of battery. Some apps may run for just a short amount of time before the phone turns off completely. 
  • Mitochondrial disorders are typically caused by mutations (acquired or inherited) in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Mitochondrial dysfunction may also be acquired as a result of drug use, infections, or other environmental causes (NIH). 
  • The first pathogenic mutation in mitochondrial DNA was identified in 1988. There have since been 275 other disease-causing mutations identified (National Academy of Sciences). 
  • Mito is very difficult to diagnose because it’s often invisible. It can take over 7 years to reach a proper diagnosis (Mito Action). 
  • Mitochondria are known as the “powerhouse of the cell”, and they are responsible for producing about 90% of cellular energy. 
  • When a cell requires more energy, the mitochondria inside of that cell can reproduce by growing larger, and then dividing themselves. When cells require less energy, mitochondria can become dormant and inactive. Mitochondria can also die due to lack of use. 
  • There are secondary illnesses that have been linked to mitochondrial diseases, including: 
    • Diabetes 
    • Autism 
    • Parkinson’s disease 
    • Alzheimer’s disease 
    • Heart, liver, or kidney diseases 
  • Your mitochondria become weaker and decline in number as you age. Ultimately, all the things we associate with aging – fatigue, excess fat, and a decrease in muscle mass and cognitive ability – are all symptoms of weakening mitochondria (Bulletproof). 
  • There are currently no known cures for mitochondrial disease. 
  • Supportive therapy is one treatment option that can be used to help delay the progression of mitochondrial dysfunction. This therapy may include nutritional management, exercise and/or vitamin or amino acid supplements. 
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What are Mitochondria, and Why Do They Matter?

Every living thing is comprised of cells, which are the building blocks of life. Inside of these cells are a series of organelles – sub-compartment-like entities that perform various but specific functions. Different cells throughout your body notably have different shapes and sizes, and thus, different purposes.  Similar cells (ones that do the same job) form body tissues, such as muscle, skin, or bone tissue. Groups of different types of cells make up the organs in your body, such as your heart, liver, or lungs. Collectively, all organs work together as a system to keep you alive and healthy (Science NetLinks). 

 

What are mitochondria? 

“The powerhouse of the cell”that’s how most people think of and remember the mitochondrion (plural: mitochondria) from their high school biology class. They are organelles that function like microscopic, yet super complex factories, producing energy and disposing of waste that is detrimental to the body. Mitochondria are critical for cell survival, and ATP (energy) that your mitrochondria help produce is vital for metabolic processes and keeping you healthy. 

 

The Structure of Mitochondria 

Mitochondria are designed to maximize their productivity. They contain two membranes – the outer membrane functions like a skin, and the inner membrane makes it possible for more reactions to occur. This means that your cells can get more work done.

Illustration by Alyssa Garwood

Outer membrane: This is a phospholipid bilayer that includes protein-based structures called porins, which enable molecules (ions, ATP, ADP, etc.) to cross.  

 

Inner membrane: This membrane is highly complex and it is where most ATP is created. It includes all the complexes of the electron transport system, the ATP synthetase complex, and transport proteins. The inner membrane does not have porins like the outer membrane, so it is impermeable to most molecules. 

 

Cristae: These are the folds of the inner membrane, which increase the surface area and the space available for chemical reactions to occur. This is also where the electron transport chain and enzymes are located.  The number of cristae in the mitochondria correlates with the given cell’s demand for ATP. For example, heart muscle cells contain up to three times more cristae than other cells due to the greater need for ATP (Biology Dictionary).  

 

Matrix: This is the space within the inner membrane where the citric acid cycle, or Krebs cycle, takes place. This is an important part of cellular respiration and ATP production.  Mitochondrial DNA is also housed here. 

 

How the Mighty Mitochondria Work 

Mitochondria are found in the cells of animals, humans, plants and fungi. While they are primarily known for converting energy from food to energy for biological processes, mitochondria are deeply involved in several other activities that enable cells to function efficiently to help you keep your body healthy. Here are the five key roles that mitochondria play in cellular health, and what can happen when these functions are disturbed: 

  1.  Production of ATPMitochondria produce 90% of the energy our body needs to function by converting chemical energy from nutrients to ATP. During cellular respiration, another chemical called NADH is produced, which is then used by enzymes to generate ATP in the form of chemical bonds.The production of ATP is essential to help the body function properly. Without energy, your cells and your body suffer. Dysfunction from lack of ATP can contribute to a variety of health concerns, including but not limited to: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, diabetes, cancer, and several types of mitochondrial disease.
  2.  Calcium Homeostasis This is the flow of calcium in and out of a cell’s mitochondria. This process is an important part of metabolic regulation and killing off unhealthy cells.  When mitochondrial calcium homeostasis is compromised, different pathological conditions can occur, depending on the cell type involved (NCBI).
  3. Cell MigrationThis refers to the orchestrated movement of cells to specific locations in response to chemical signals.  Regulation of cell migration can help terminate unhealthy cells and speed up wound-healing; conversely, if this process is not well-managed, there may be serious health consequences, including but not limited to: tumor formation and cancer formation, vascular disease, tumor formation and metastasis.
  4. Apoptosis – This is essentially programmed cell death which involves maintaining the health of the body by eliminating old cells, unnecessary cells, and unhealthy cells. Without appropriate apoptosis (either too little or too much), there is a greater risk of experiencing health conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases, ischemic damage, autoimmune disorders and many types of cancer (NCBI).
  5. Innate Immunity This refers to nonspecific defense mechanisms – such as skin, chemicals in the blood, and cells within your immune system that attack foreign cells — that basically come to the rescue immediately or within hours of an antigen’s appearance in the body. In addition to regulating antiviral signaling, mitochondria also contribute to innate immune activation following cellular damage and stress (NCBI).  
Illustration by Alyssa Garwood

To recap, ATP is energy currency for your cells, and your mitochondria are the primary sources for producing more of it to help keep you alive and healthy. These organelles are also responsible for surveilling and eliminating the growth of unhealthy cells. If any deficiency in your mitochondria are present, then you are more likely to experience health issues 

 

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From Trend to Medical Paradigm: Biohacking for Answers

Written by Chloe Weber L.Ac, MSOM, Co-Founder and CEO of Radical Roots and more importantly, Remy’s Mom.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

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More Than A Movement

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I’ve been biohacking my son since before I knew “biohacking” was more than Bulletproof coffee and silly glasses.  As an acupuncturist and herbalist, I didn’t bat an eye when the geneticist told me that my child had a neurotransmitter disorder that only occurs in one out of every 20 million people.  I stared at the doctor as he told me that my son would likely have intractable seizures, intellectual disability, Parkinson’s-like tremors, ataxia and apraxia . . . As he told me, “There’s not much research, I printed two studies—but I didn’t get to read them yet.”  I looked him in the eye as he annihilated a lifetime of dreams of soccer games and sharing books, of surfing adventures and herb talks. I glared at the doctor, terrified and defiant, because no one will ever tell me what my son is capable of, because Remy’s tale is just beginning to unfold.

What most families don’t know is that there is a whole world of medicine that exists outside of the current medical paradigm; that there is help and hope.

Biohacking has turned from a trend to a movement, and now we need to use that movement to help the most vulnerable and desperate population of our society.  Neuro-developmental disorders are crippling our families, disabling our children and putting incredible stress on our medical and education systems. With the incidence of autism increasing at exponential rates and other developmental and neurological disorders becoming more and more prevalent, it is essential that we find help for these families immediately.  We need to protect further generations from the harm and help address the terrifying fertility issues at hand.

Western medicine, Western lifestyle, and diet are hurting our children.  EMFs, toxins, horrific nutrition, genetic mutations, poor digestion, disrupted microbiomes, disrupted hormones, food allergies—our children are the canaries in the coal mine and they are suffering.  Families of children with special needs are desperate for help, while the medicine and the support systems are epically failing them. Isolated and scared, parents are left studying day and night hoping to find help, hoping for answers; while fighting for support and services during the day.  

What these parents don’t realize is that most of the therapies their children receive are highly outdated and ineffective.  For an entire year I spent 40 hours a week doing “typical” therapy with my son with negligible results.  What most parents do not realize is that the most important changes they can make are in their own kitchen. Even fewer consider the ramifications of EMF on a developing brain, or glyphosate on the mitochondria.  Parents are so scared and overwhelmed that they become paralyzed.

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From tiger mom to the mother-f*cking warrior of all warrior moms.  

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I didn’t bat an eye when the doctor broke the news.  I turned toward his assistant and told her to print out every-single-study she could find while I went to call Remy’s acupuncturist. I didn’t break down.  I didn’t give up. I have been able to push forward because I know what so many families don’t—that the brain is plastic.  That given the right support and the right therapies, the brain can and WILL change.

I don’t know what lies ahead for Remy, I don’t know what he will achieve, but I will always love him for exactly who he is, while I fight to push him further.

I take Remy to a neurologist in Ecuador for a month twice a year.  The doctor treats him with hyperbaric oxygen, ozone therapy, alpha brainwave stimulation, low-level lasers and other bioenergetic medical techniques.  He’s a Cuban doctor who studied in Russia. He’s brilliant and he does things Western doctors couldn’t imagine let alone comprehend. His practice is based on balancing brainwaves.  During our first trip, Remy’s brain map showed that is brain was at 76% delta—76% delta!! My child was in transcendental meditation; he was not even in this realm.

I also take Remy to The Family Hope Center in Philadelphia.  Their program empowers parents to become their child’s therapist, to become their child’s greatest advocate, to support their biology, and challenge their neurology so that they can create new neural pathways.  They use diet, supplements, functional movement (crawling and creeping), smells, reflex integration (and more) to challenge a child’s prognosis. They are phenomenal, and they are changing the lives of children struggling with all sorts of neurological challenges.

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Where to Start

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The heart of every comprehensive program for neurological health includes: nutrition, detoxification, oxygen, movement and supplementation (and nutrigenomics).  These are all the fundamentals of biohacking as well.

The gut and the diet are the first place to start for any neurological disorder.  Decades of research show how effective the keto diet is for mitigating seizures.  Now research is beginning to explain some of the biomechanics that makes that possible.  In fact, current studies are showing that a particular strain of bacteria that is propagated by the keto diet is also enhanced by CBD supplementation.  This bacteria has been proposed to positively affect not only epilepsy but multiple sclerosis.  Other research clearly shows how a simple elimination diet can be used to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD.  What if all children with special needs were offered a gut test like Viome so they can optimize their health?  What could the brains behind BiOptomizers do with the research from those tests?

Environmental and electromagnetic toxicity is impacting all of us, but our children are by far the most affected.  Many children get their first iPad before they are 3, and classrooms are filled with cell phones and WiFi.  Water is often tainted with lead and glyphosate, and one of the first foods that children typically eat is arsenic-tainted rice cereal.  The impact of these toxins on developing brains and bodies is now being seen and slowly understood—but the evidence is clear—we have an epidemic on our hands.

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Oxygen For Brain Health

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Oxygen is tricky to administer, but essential for neurological health.  Hyperbarics have been studied for numerous neurological disorders and many people have found incredible success using them.  Family Hope Center also uses Carbogen and reflex bags in their treatment protocols. (The “bags” are specially made for you to breathe into for 30 seconds until the carbon dioxide signals for the brain to uptake more oxygen.  Remy loves them, but obviously this needs to be done with supervision and know-how.) Finding out how to use oxygen therapy for developmental disorders is essential. The doctor we see insists on using the chamber before doing neurofeedback, but there are so many variables.  Photobiomodulation is another interesting option. I just ordered Remy a VieLight 810 this morning. If the brain develops from the bottom up, and the most injured children have problems in their midbrain and pons, then intranasal photobiomodulation seems like a very reasonable method of stimulation and healing to try.  

When you have poor proprioceptive awareness, it’s so hard to know where your body ends and where the world begins. Mind/body awareness therapies such as the Anat Baniel Method and the Feldenkrais Method are remarkable for children with developmental disorders.  Yoga and tai chi have been shown to help with balance and awareness, support motor planning, and promote calmness. What else can we do to stimulate the body to change the brain? What tools do we have to help the children learn to be more aware, to gain more strength and independence?  

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And Last, Supplementation.

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So much research is coming out on nutrigenomics — information on how our genetics and our lifestyle affect our ability to function.  Children with special needs have notoriously bad GI tracts, difficulty absorbing and processing nutrients, and often have improperly functioning detoxification pathways. Why aren’t doctors looking at their labs tests and testing for nutritional deficiencies, for hormonal fluctuations?  Surely every child with special needs should have their genes run for maladaptive SNPs and mutations?

As a community, we have some of the most curious and progressive minds in medicine, and we have innovative thinkers who are pushing themselves to be better in every way in order to make a greater impact and find more joy.  You all inspire me with your brilliance and drive. I beg of you, help me help these children. Help me help these parents — these parents who give all that they have to care for their children; who give up their own health to work extra jobs; who give up their sleep to nervously watch their seizing children; who give any time they have to fight for appropriate support for their kids.  I can tell you first-hand how exhausting, terrifying and lonely it is. The bureaucracy is never-ending and the daily struggle to manage your pain and fears is exhausting.

It breaks my heart to see these parents, locked in fear and misery.  So many special needs parents suffer with PTSD. So many are not able to make the right food choices, or find space for meditation and gratitude let alone exercise and play.

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But What If They Could?

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I am an independent mama to a child with multiple disabilities. I run a private practice and a CBD/Chinese herb company. I am actively fighting to improve the lives of others.  I have two cats and one dog. I love my life and I am so grateful for all I have and even more grateful for my perfect son. I could not do what I do without biohacking.  

I cannot tell you how much this community needs us.  Needs the very best that biohacking has to offer. I have seen what is possible for these children.  I have seen kids who had hundreds of seizures a day stop seizing altogether. Speechless children start talking.  I have seen my son, now almost five, take his first independent steps just two months ago. Every inch is a mile, and every single one helps these children gain more independence, find more joy and find more connectivity with this (sick and twisted) beautiful world. 

Please, help me help them.  Help us.

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Father’s Day Biohacking Gift Essentials That Dad Will Love!

Looking for a different way to express your thanks and love to Dad this year? This Father’s Day, get him a gift that shows him how much you care about his health and well-being.  Whether you’re looking for something high-end, or a gift that’s a little more budget conscious, we’ve put together a list of some our favorite biohacks that we think the superhero in your life will truly appreciate.

For Better Immune Health

Beekeeper’s Naturals Super Dad Essentials

This Rad Dad bundle includes:

B.LXR Brain Fuel (6 pack)

B.Powered Honey (330g jar)

Save the Bees Hat

#SaveTheBees Water Bottle

Use coupon code “RADDAD” at checkout to save on the Rad Dad Bundle!

For Better Skin

Alitura Naturals

“Alitura” is Latin for “Feeding and Nourishing”.  Alitura Naturals uses natural, non-GMO and chemical free ingredients that come directly from the Earth to help your skin glow and radiate health. Whatever dad’s hobbies are – in the toolshed, in adult sports leagues, in the garden — help him keep his skin clear and healthy!

Use coupon code “biohacked20” at checkout to save 20% off of your order.

TrueLight Light Therapy Devices

The TrueLight product line uses a patent-pending combination of photobiomodulation (including deep red, red, near-infrared and yellow light) to promote deeper healing and faster recovery of the skin and body. It does this by stimulating the mitochondria in your cells and promoting greater production of ATP (energy).  This essentially helps you heal and recover faster.

This week only, save 20% off on all TrueLight light therapy devices with coupon code “FATHERS2020”!

For Better Sleep

Biostrap

It’s one thing to ask yourself if you think you slept well last night; it’s another to have the data to prove it – or not. Biostrap is for the Dads that love to geek out over tech and data!

The Biostrap platform utilizes a wristband and shoepod that work in harmony to help you understand your body and take your training to the next level. Specific metrics that can be measured include: blood oxygen saturation, heart rate variability (HRV), heart rate (HR), and respiratory rate.  The sleep tracker also  provides sleep analysis, personal insights, and can capture your body movement and activities throughout the day (and night). Your dad can use Biostrap to help measurably improve his sleep, recovery, and performance.

Enter promo code: “BIOHACKED10” for 10% off of your order.

TrueDark Sleep-Hacking Glasses

Help Dad keep his circadian rhythm in check with the ultimate blue light-blocking glasses for night time. These glasses come with bold red lenses and technology that blocks the “junk” light at night time from all artificial light sources (including LEDs, fluorescents, computers, tvs, tablets, and smartphones).  As soon as your Dad puts them on, his mind will go into an alpha (or meditative) state, so that he can fall asleep faster and rest more deeply. These are great for inducing naps during the day and beating jet lag while traveling too!

This week only, save 20% on all TrueDark blue light-blocking eyewear! Use coupon code “FATHERS2020” at checkout to save.

For Dads that Enjoy Surprises Every Once in a While

Dave Asprey Box

The Dave Asprey Box is a quarterly subscription box that is hand-curated by Dave Asprey and delivered right to your doorstep! It features premium products (valued at $400+) from health and wellness brands, and the theme of the box changes each quarter.

The latest box to launch is the Upgraded Isolation Box, which includes:

Bstrong’s Blood Flow Restriction Training System
erthe Nanotech Grounding Straps
Xpill
Super60 by C360 Health
Aline Insoles
The Egoscue Method
+ more!

Subscribe your Dad to the box, or contact Customer Support to purchase the box a la carte!

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How to Increase Your Deep Sleep by 15%

Written by Siim Land

You may already be aware that blue light in the evening disrupts your body’s circadian rhythms and can reduce the quality of your sleep, but it can still be pretty hard to escape it.  Between computers, TVs, smart phones and tablets, we’re surrounded and accustomed to the constant illumination of modern life. So, how bad is blue light at night for you really?

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Blue Light 101

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Blue light influences hormone secretion, heart rate, alertness, sleep, body temperature, and gene expression (1).

Sources of blue light include the Sun, artificial light sources like digital screens, smartphones, TVs, lamps, traffic signs, computers, fluorescent and LED lighting.

Blue light exposure has a very important role in regulating your circadian rhythms and biological processes.

Unfortunately, because of technology and new gadgets, we’re getting exposed to more and bluer light for longer periods of time, which can promote obesity, depression, diabetes, cancer, neurological disorders and poor sleep.

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Cover Your Eyes

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Most of the circadian signaling is transmitted through the retinas through which blue light travels into the brain and stimulates the inner biological clock. However, it’s been shown how even shining some blue light on the back of your elbows or knees suppresses melatonin the sleep hormone.

In fact, one study used a fMRI analysis to look at how exposure to dim light at night while sleeping affected the brain activity of 20 healthy men (2).

They found that:

  • Exposure to 10-lux light for one night significantly decreased brain activity in the right hemisphere, which lowered their working memory performance as well.
  • Exposure to 5-lux light didn’t have a significant effect but it still may have an indirect effect on cognition.

That’s some scary stuff to think about because sleep is such a crucial thing for your overall health and brain’s development.  Suppressing melatonin because of blue light sneaking into your bedroom prevents your brain from repairing itself and can cause missing out on the most vital components of sleep.

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Protect Your Sleep With Your Life

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The invasion of artificial light into the darkness of night can be a big threat to human health and sleep and it’s not something you’d want to overlook.

Imagine how many people are suffering from suppressed melatonin by staying up late and exposing them to blue light in the evening. Their brain literally thinks its at the equator with the sun blazing on their head even though it’s 10 PM at night. My eyes…It takes several hours before melatonin can begin to rise again and by that time it may be too late…

Just to be clear: not ALL blue light is bad.  Getting enough blue light during the morning parts of the day is also important for boosting your alertness. At night, however, exposure to blue light will suppress your body’s natural melatonin production and make you sleep worse. I’ve been using some blue blocking glasses for over a year and I noticed a significant improvement in my sleep quality if I wear them.

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How I Increased My REM Sleep by as Much as 15%

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A few weeks ago I bought theses night time Truedark glasses (with red lenses), and they block out absolutely all artificial light. They’re like these serious superhero goggles, and even though they look a little silly, they’re really amazing. I looked at the sleep data from my Oura ring and I gained about 10-15% more deep sleep every single night that I opted to wear the TrueDark Twilight Classic sleep-hacking glasses. That’s like quite crazy to think about because I was already using glasses that blocked out most of the blue light, but apparently, it wasn’t enough.

Now imagine someone who’s not using any protective eye-wear, and they’re likely looking at computer screens or some other kind of digital device up until they go to bed. Their melatonin levels will be severely suppressed throughout the day (and night), causing their circadian rhythm to get all out of wack and make them feel completely fatigued the next day.

Beforehand, I was using some regular blue blocking glasses you can get from any online store. I was aware that they weren’t the highest of quality and I was fine with that. However, after wanting to take my sleep optimization to the next level, I was looking for the best protective eye-wear.

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TrueDark Glasses Review

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Like I mentioned earlier, most circadian signaling gets transmitted through the eyes, which is why you’d want to protect them against artificial light in the evening. Unfortunately, most glasses don’t really filter out all of the junk light frequencies, which makes it more difficult for your body to produce melatonin naturally at night time.

  • Common blue blocking glasses don’t cover the wavelengths that affect the production of melanopsin — not just blue light, but also green and violet light (3).
  • TrueDark Twilight Classic  glasses use technology that filters out the wavelengths that stimulate melanopsin sensors — maximizing your sleep quality, performance, and health.

The TrueDark Twilight glasses are a class of their own because they block out 98-100% of blue, green and violet light, depending on which Twilight style you choose. When I first wore them, I literally almost walked into walls like a blind bat. Be careful that you don’t trip over your dog when you wear them!

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the TrueDark Twilight glasses and they’re definitely the best ones out on the market. The regular yellow-lensed blue blocking glasses can be worn during the earlier parts of the night or when you’re going out but the Twilight glasses are best worn about 30-90 minutes before bedtime — all depending on your individual biology and what stimulants you may have had earlier in the day.

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Tips for Deep Sleep

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Here are some additional tips for getting more deep sleep:

  • Daylight Exposure – You want to set off a proper circadian rhythm in the morning by spending time outside for 10-15 minutes. Even if it’s cloudy, you’ll activate the circadian clock in your brain and get a better night’s sleep.
  • Be Physically Active – If you’re exercising consistently, you’re going to make yourself more tired and yearn for better sleep.
  • Eat Some Fat and Protein at Dinner – Foods high in tryptophan like turkey, eggs, salmon, pumpkin seeds help to produce serotonin the relaxation hormone.
  • Stop Eating at Night – You want to stop food consumption at least 2-4 hours before going to bed. This is a pretty big one. Too much food sitting in your stomach prevents the body from repairing itself and falling into deep sleep.
  • Red Light Therapy – Using a red light therapy device in the evening mimics the natural sunset and will promote melatonin the sleep hormone. I turn down all the blue lights in my house and immerse myself in red light for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Wear Blue Blockers – I start wearing my blue blockers about 2 hours before bed, especially if I’m still watching screens or TV.

When I do stick to this routine, I sleep like a log, and I have the sleep data to prove it.

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References

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