It begins. Stay tuned as I hack this condition. I will share my wins and frustrations as I learn how to stave this off.
It begins. Stay tuned as I hack this condition. I will share my wins and frustrations as I learn how to stave this off.
Short post today because I want to say only one thing:
You must listen to this podcast.
If you are: keto, thinking about keto, curious about keto, just getting into biohacking, have any health issues you want to find a way to get rid of, looking for a way to increase energy, looking for a way to lose weight, want to erase brain fog, want to improve your memory, or human in any way, you MUST listen to this podcast.
This episode is from BioTrust Radio and it features Shawn Wells (my biohacking mentor, formulator of most of the supplements I use and founder of Zone Halo Research – you can find him on Instagram @zonehalo, or on his website). It is called The ABCs of the Keto Diet: Avocados, Bacon, Coconut oil, and beyond! You can find it on iTunes as well as here.
I am fired up about this episode because not only is it everything keto, it goes into so much more that we are all struggling with. It may be a long episode (just short of 2 hours) but it is worth every second. Play it in the car while stuck in traffic if you have to, just get through it. It is jam packed with great information. Shawn Wells is a wealth of information and we are fortunate that he shares it with us…and for free! You will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take advantage.
So, happy listening! Hope you find something useful.
Most of my life I struggled with low blood sugar. I was tested on multiple occasions and everything was functioning properly, so I can only assume that it was because of an undiagnosed eating disorder that led to me not eating right, or just not eating at all at times.
When I started having health issues several years ago, having too much blood sugar never occurred to me. However, after studying insulin resistance for the last month or so, it looks like it is time to consider it as a factor.
What is insulin resistance? In a nutshell, its when your body stops using the insulin it produces. This leads to results in your cells not using blood glucose, which means the means the sugar you ingest stays in your blood. As you can imagine, this is not a good thing. It causes weight gain, lethargy, brain fog, hormonal disruptions, and can lead to type II diabetes.
According to and article in Everyday Health, titled What is Insulin Resistance? Everything You Have Ever Wanted to Know, “insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas, and it plays an important role in metabolism. Your pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream after you eat a meal. Insulin allows sugar in your bloodstream to enter into muscles, cells, and fat. This hormone is also important because it stops sugar from accumulating in your bloodstream. The more you eat, the more insulin your body releases to regulate your blood sugar and keep it within a healthy range.”
For an explanation of the process, Medical News Today outlines what is known currently as the following process:
In other words, resistance results in the manufacturing of more and more insulin to keep blood sugar within a normal range, and eventually your pancreas can no longer keep up. This eventually leads to pre-diabetes and finally, diabetes.
Factors that can cause insulin resistance are age, diet that includes excess alcohol, high amounts of sugar, processed foods and dairy, lack of physical activity, and stress. Family history, steroid use and certain health conditions, such as PCOS, can also contribute to insulin resistance.
Testing for insulin resistance is difficult because while your pancreas is working, it is providing the amount of insulin needed to control the blood sugar, even if it working overtime. Apparently there is no test for the amount of insulin being produced, just the concentration of sugar in your blood.
Insulin resistance can be controlled with diet and lifestyle changes. A low carbohydrate diet combined with regular activity can reduce or reverse the effects of insulin resistance. Intermittent fasting can help regulate blood sugar and aid in controlling insulin resistance. Lack of sleep, smoking and chronic stress all contribute to insulin resistance. Making lifestyle changes to ensure adequate rest, reducing stress and stopping smoking will also assist in controlling insulin resistance.
And yes, diet and lifestyle changes means cutting out foods that contain sugar or convert to sugar.
The effects of insulin resistance sounds like my laundry list of issues that caused me to start biohacking. Due to an eating disorder outlined in my book (restriction of foods to an extreme level that left little on the menu, healthy or not) I certainly had the diet issues. Once I added chronic and extreme stress, my body broke down. I was extremely lethargic, I gained weight rapidly despite restricting calories to an unhealthy level, I couldn’t think straight and couldn’t recall basic words and my memory was non-existent. I also felt like what I was experiencing mimicked a metabolic condition – all of which is what insulin resistance can do.
During all my blood work, I was tested for diabetes and my blood sugar levels were found to be in the normal range. However, I think this bears more investigation and perhaps more testing. Definitely more experimenting with Intermittent Fasting, the Keto Diet and things yet to be discovered.
If you want more information on insulin resistance, there is a great article from NIH (National Institute of Health) that you can find here.
Check back in for updates as I biohack this. Let’s see what we find out!
Am I beating a dead horse with this one? Yes. I can’t say enough about coconut oil. I covered it under MCT oils, Bulletproof coffee, and in a host of other places and posts. However, there is a reason. This stuff is amazing. I use it as lotion, to remove eye makeup, on my hair after blow drying, on my dog’s skin, and for hiding dog pills. I also cook with it (food grade) and use it in fat bombs. In a pinch, it will go in coffee as a substitute for MCT oil if I am out.
Other using include oil pulling, which removes toxins, whitens teeth and freshens breath, to kill lice when combined with apple cider vinegar, to clean and moisturize makeup brushes, a body/lip scrub, a massage oil, eyelash growth serum, cold sore treatment, to reduce indigestion, and a chest rub when combined with eucalyptus oil.
I started using coconut oil in 2008 as a moisturizer. I had to use something all-natural for a few weeks on doctor orders, and never went back to traditional lotions again. I liked the smell and the way my skin reacted (or didn’t react, is more like it) so much that I haven’t used traditional moisturizer since that time. Not only does it moisturize well, the antibacterial properties help heal small cuts and scrapes quickly and without scarring.
It also aids the treatment of minor skin problems, such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema, (fortunately I have no experience with these) and helps to delay the appearance of wrinkles. The is the result of its antioxidant properties. and is part of the reason coconut oil is often included in soaps, lotions and creams.
However, I prefer the raw form. I use Parachute, which is pure coconut oil. It is somewhat greasy and will ruin clothing if you use too much, so beware, but the moisturizing properties and healing effects far outweigh the occasional clothing mishap. My teenage daughter adopted it about a year ago and now refuses to use anything else on her skin. Even my husband will use it on occasion.
I have previously covered the benefits of MCTs on weight loss and energy (see Favorite Biohack #1, Bulletproof Coffee), so I won’t go into detail on that again, but do not forget those benefits. They are important ones when you hit midlife.
Also don’t forget that it can help fight and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. There is an NIH sponsored study on this ongoing. Results are pending, but you can check it out here if you would like more information on the study, or read this article from a few years ago for more detailed information on a previous study.
Still think I am off my rocker? For a review of the top 77 uses for coconut oil, some of which I have listed already, view this article from Dr. Josh Axe. He isn’t off his rocker.
What are you thoughts in this? Do you use coconut oil? If so, for what?
Another disclosure on this one: Consult your physician before using this. This is my experience based on my particular situation and it may be different for you.
Back when I was trying to figure out what was “wrong” with me, I had a full panel of lab work done and in doing so, discovered that I was not producing anywhere near the acceptable level of testosterone. Because my health insurer decided I didn’t need the prescribed medication regardless of what my doctor said, I turned to biohacking.
Enter testosterone cream. I tried a few before settling on the one I use now (click here for the details) from BioLabs Pro. I like this one because its not greasy and absorbs well, so it easily fits into my post-shower ritual.
I noticed a huge difference in my attitude using this. For example, I stopped crying over EVERYTHING, which was really annoying. I gained my normal edge back, and a little more bravado as well. (I did manipulate this when I discovered I don’t like going over obstacles during Spartan training. A little more cream and over I went with no problem. I don’t condone this, fyi. It worked, but probably not the best idea I have ever had.) I would like to say I put on more muscle using this, but it could also be from increased weight training. I would also like to say I was leaner (before getting sick) but that may also have been due to the increase in workout intensity.
You will deal with some acne while adjusting to this, as it is a hormone, but it went away after a few months. The annoyance factor of that was offset by my skin healing faster. I also noticed a need for stronger deodorant. That did not go away. Be prepared!
There are also some nasty side effects to testosterone supplementation, such as an increased risk of cancer. and some lesser ones like increased hair growth, changes in sleep and appetite, and headaches. (For the full list from the Mayo Clinic, click here.) Definitely get your lab work done before taking this on because if you don’t need it, it may not be worth the risks.
Small annoyances aside, I feel better overall when I use this cream. I simply function better. To me, it is worth trying just for that.
Let me start by saying that my daughter says I should have moved to this number one. Apparently I am crazy and obsessive about exercise. This from a teen who thinks exercise is getting up to go to the kitchen…but I digress.
I am not going to beat a dead horse and tell you exercise is important. You know it is. What I am going to tell you is why its one of my favorite biohacks.
Exercise a biohack because it is a fast, easy, and proven way to change how you feel immediately, and it changes both the way your body functions and your body composition based on the effort you put in. In other words, you are doing something that makes your body act in a certain way.
I work out five mornings a week and rest two. I work out in the morning because it gives me endorphins, and that means I start every day with my stress worked out, endorphins flowing and feeling energized Plus it is done, so I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day, worrying about when I will get to it and thus adding stress.
My regular daily workout is P90X3. I do it at home because it works with my schedule, and I enjoy it. Enjoying your workout is key – you are not going to do what you hate. I found something I like so I actually look forward to it. Most days, anyway – I am not superhuman and some days it takes a bit to get me off the sofa. However, it is a lot easier to get off the sofa for something you enjoy. I like being at home because I do it when I want and I don’t have to sit in traffic, deal with the locker room, wait around for equipment or a class time, or deal with the gym hours. All of that would be a source of stress for me, and that negates the point of a stress reliever!
When I exercise, I feel better about myself. I am still struggling with the hormonal issues that made me start biohacking, so when something happens (like being sick for two months, which just happened) I still gain weight. However, as soon as I am able to I am back to the workouts, and even though I still have some weight to work off from this last round of illness, I feel like I am doing something about it. I do not like the feeling of being helpless and if I didn’t work out, I would feel like my physical condition is out of my control. I also feel stronger and able to do more. For my crazy life I need to be able to do more, and this is my key to making sure I can keep up with myself.
We all know cardiovascular health increases with exercise, so I will only say that I think its nice to be able to go up a flight of stairs and not be winded.
Exercise increases BDNF, an important factor in memory, focus and overall cognitive function. If you would like a more scientific explanation of that, please refer to this article from the Harvard Health Blog from the Harvard School of Medicine. For this blog, suffice it to say that it clears the brain fog that we can feel from a number of different factors. It is amazing what you can accomplish without brain fog and with increased focus.
I touched on the stress relief factor, but it bears mentioning again. Exercise can reduce the damaging effects of stress by reducing stress, but also by increasing your ability to deal with stress. It increases the cheicals in your brain that are responsible for mood regulation and calm, and it promotes cellular rejuvenation, which helps your body defend against and repair the damage that stress does to your systems.
The benefits of exercise go far beyond just losing weight. If you already exercise regularly, awesome! If not, just try it. Find a class or an activity that works for you, give it a week or two and see what happens. See how you feel. Then let me know!
Warning, this post contains information on sex. It is basic and vague, but it is there.
Men: this is one you may not want to read. You are welcome to, but consider yourself warned – it contains information you may not want.
I covered the sauna recently in its own post, but I wanted to revisit it because I realized the sauna has had a benefit to me that I didn’t address.
In my book, I touched in the changes that occur in the female body during aging, one of which is a biological change in the nether regions. (Last chance to stop, guys!) As I mentioned, in addition to dryness, your skin thins and tear easily, and the combo can make sex painful.
What does this have to do with the sauna? I remember hearing on the One Life Radio show with guest Shawn Wells that he found that infrared sauna visits had a positive effect on the skin of the elderly while working in a nursing home. They bruised less and the skin didn’t split as easily. (Shawn explains it better; I think this is the episode here.) I had forgotten about this until this week, when I was thinking about how my own skin didn’t seem to be as affected by rough play with my dog as it used to be even a year ago.
Infrared sauna helps to regenerate you at the cellular level. Essentially this means that your cells function better following a sauna visit, and a healthy cell creates new healthy cells. The inability to generate new skin cells causes our skin to thin as we age, which is part of why it tears so easily. Promoting the generation of new skin cells will help thicken skin, and the benefits of this affect all skin, including where it counts.
I have no idea if there is any research to support this specific benefit because I haven’t researched it. It makes sense that it would – skin is skin. I will tell you that I have noticed a positive difference. (Don’t worry – that is all the detail you are going to get!)
I promised to update you on any new discoveries in this area in my blog, and this is what I have found in this area since writing the book. Hope it helps.
I don’t know about you but when I see something on HSN I usually assume its not going to be anything worth buying. I was wrong, because that is where I found this gem of a product.
Why am I excited about vitamins, you ask? Because this miracle pill has all but banished hot flashes from my life. If you suffer from these, you know they come on at inopportune moments without warning, and without any consideration for what you may have going on. This happened to me ONCE, and (as is usual for me), I said to myself “There has to be a way to hack this.”
Fortunately, there is. I cannot take credit for this find – I was turned onto it by a friend. She said it worked for her and after that one MISERABLE experience, I thought it was worth it to try it. I am glad I did because I haven;t had another one. Worth every cent!
You can buy these direct from Procaps Labs, the manufacturer, on Amazon or at HSN. When I wrote this, I noticed Procaps is having a sale, so if you want to try them, now is a good time. Also, as you know Amazon often uses private sellers, so their availability is sometimes limited.
These are great vitamins just at face value as they are pretty complete. I won’t go into all that, because we all know vitamins are good for us. It is the proprietary blend that knocks out hot flashes that makes these essential to me, and the reason they are on this list.
And, so you know I am not a complete buffoon, I know the photo is not the ultimate version. I mistakenly ordered the wrong ones the last time, but they still seem to be working so I am going with it until the next order.
Check them out. Happy No Hot Flashes!
Anyone who has heard me say I do shots of Apple Cider Vinegar usually thinks I am crazy. I admit, this one is a little wonky and it is not for everyone. Its acidic and strong – and an incredible substance.
To hit the highlights of what ACV can do for you, it can:
Let’s break these down a bit.
ACV can help lower blood sugar. It slows the rate of digestion,which has an effect on insulin sensitivity and results in lower blood sugar. Taken after a high carbohydrate meal, it can prevent a spike in blood sugar and the nap usually follows.
ACV is an immediate cure for digestion because it turns alkaline once in the body. This I didn’t believe and resisted trying because it didn’t make any sense to me. However, it is true and its now my go to for a bout of indigestion. Its also the reason for ACV being in my top 10 biohacks because it is immediate.
ACV allegedly can aid in weight loss because it helps you feel full. Studies are still ongoing on this and more information is definitely needed before we say ACV can definitely aid weight loss, but I suspect its because it slows digestion which leaves you feeling full longer and therefore you eat less.
ACV is an antibacterial agent. I have used it on small cuts and skin issues and they seemed to heal faster. I have also heard of it being used as a cleaning agent for this reason; especially useful if you are looking for an organic way to clean fruits and vegetables, your skin, hair or false teeth.
ACV is useful to help heal and restore your gut biome. Its alkalinity and antibacterial properties aid in eliminating harmful bacteria and promoting the growth of useful bacteria. This may be the primary reason that ACV boosts your immune system.
Studies are ongoing about the effect of ACV on cancer cells. There is information both supporting and disproving its use in the treatment of cancer. Since it is part of my routine anyway, I am going to keep using it while its studied, and hopefully a positive link will be found. If not, there are enough other benefits for me to keep as part of my routine.
Again, it sound weird that an acidic substance will soothe a sore throat, but it does. Just as lemon will soothe a sore throat, so will ACV. When I get a cold I start on a drink of three tablespoons of ACV, a tablespoon of honey and the juice from half a lemon mixed into a mug of hot water. I do this 3-4 times a day and before bed. I think I suffer less than the average person with a cold, which could be completely off base, but it makes me feel like I am doing what I can to ease the cold.
There are many other uses out there – try this list of 101 uses from Dr. Oz, for example. These are the ones I use, but I would love to hear your uses. I am all for learning new ways to utilize this amazing liquid!
Exe-what?? That is what I said when I first heard the term exogenous ketones. Had it not been from someone I trusted (the almighty Tim Ferriss, who you can find here) I probably would have thought it was something made up and overlooked it. However, when Tim says try something, I have learned to try it – with some exceptions, of course – and now it makes my list of top hacks.
Exogenous ketones are BHB (beta-hydroxybutyrate) salts. Ketones are produced naturally and used for energy by your body when fasting or when carbohydrates are restricted. They are referred to as energy on demand, and in my experience, that is exactly what occurs. Ketones are easily accessible to the brain, more so than glucose, so when in a state of ketosis or taking ketones, the brain also has a ready supply of fuel. This adds to clarity and focus, and often enhances mood as well.
Exogenous ketones are essentially packaged ketones that are ready for you to take when needed. Common uses are before a workout, to extend a fast, to provide instant energy and focus if you are in an afternoon slump, to get back into ketosis after consuming sugar, or added to your morning coffee.
There are powders, liquids, bars, drinks, creamers…whatever tickles your fancy, there is a way to get your ketones. I started with a liquid that tasted like sea water and looked like…well,I probably should not say what it looked like but let’s just say it was not my favorite presentation. I tried disguising the taste in all sorts of concoctions and finally decided to just down it. The result was worth a moment of sea water and besides, who hasn’t drank sea water on multiple occasions without getting the energy and focus afterward. I tried a few different types of powders, coffees and creams after that and finally settled on my favorite, Keto/OS from Pruvit. It is combined with powdered MCTs and the jolt of energy, mood enhancement and focused mind that I get is worth dealing with its odd taste. (You stop noticing the weird taste after a while, I promise.) I have the caffeinated version for mornings, the non-caffeinated version for any other time of the day, and the Kreme for midday hot cocoa (Keto Hot Cocoa – half a mug of water, half heavy cream, a heaping scoop of cacao, and a packet of Kreme. Tasty and good for you too!).
When I am asked about ketones by someone for the first time, I often recommend KetoForce’s Keto Sports liquid, which you can find by clicking this link. It is a good entry into what exogenous ketones can do for you without some of the interesting side effects of the more powerful ones (also known as disaster pants – see the Bulletproof blog here for an explanation of that.) It is what I started on as well.
If you are ready to go straight to the top (in my opinion, at least) you can find Keto/OS or other Pruvit products through my affiliate link here or by going to their website.
I am not joking when I say this is energy on demand. I wish I had known about this when my daughter was little, and wish more people knew about it now. We don’t have to be tired all the time, we just need exogenous ketones!
Let me know if you have questions, and if you have tried them, what your experience has been with exogenous ketones.