Virtual Biohacking Conference 2020 Recap

Internal resilience and Bulletproof coffee

Wellthy adjective - characterized by focusing on good habits to make it easier to make healthy choices to have a balanced, healthy life that includes enjoying simple pleasures without guilt.

On Saturday, October 10, I attended the Virtual Biohacking Conference hosted by Dave Asprey. Dave is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, and known as the “father of biohacking.” He is perhaps most famous for creating the Bulletproof Diet that includes Bulletproof coffee (more on that in a minute).

Biohacking is the art and science of using technology to change the world around you and inside you to control your full biology. Biohacking is all about results. You can hack computers and devices to make them run differently. As it turns out, you can hack your body, brain, and environment to make yourself run better.

The theme of this conference was Resilience: What to do when the fit hits the shan.

From a biohacking perspective, resilience is about having enough energy and focus to handle whatever comes at you. While many people focus on the environment, which is important, resilience starts from within.

Internal resilience

Jay Shetty says that monks are the original biohackers. He should know since he used to be a monk. Maybe he still is? Once a monk, always a monk? Through years of training, monks develop the ability to have fine control of their brains and switch thinking instantly. But who wants to spend years and years meditating in the mountains? What if we had the power to achieve this monk-like ability to switch our minds, become more resilient, and experience a greater sense of meaning and purpose? We do.

To change your external circumstances in life, you have to change your inner workings first. Part of how we determine whether we struggle or thrive is how we process stress. Do we run from our fears, freeze, or move toward our fears? It is in periods of discomfort where we can train our brains to become resilient. Wherever the friction is in your life, that is the opportunity for growth.

It is normal to feel frustrated when you are at the edge of your comfort zone. Many people let the agitation derail them. Train yourself just to get started and the fear will subside. When you feel the stress or agitation, say to yourself, “I’m about to learn,” and “I’m about to grow.” When you choose to see the stress response as useful, your brain will start to move you toward courage instead of fear.

In the age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. The best way to avoid distractions is to practice mindfulness—noticing what is in the present moment without judgment. Don’t get mad at yourself when your mind wanders. Practice noticing when it happens. When you become more aware of your mind, you can learn how to change how you react.

There are four primary motivations: fear, desire, duty, and love. Fear is not sustainable over the long term, and it limits creativity. The desire for personal gratification also wears off. When we are motivated by duty and love, these motivations create meaning. If your why is strong enough, you’ll figure out how. Align your motivation with duty and love.

Service is the ultimate hack. When you tie your work and goals to service to others, it’s the most powerful way to game your brain to grow. Service has its own reward system.

Help one more person, don’t sell one more person —Lisa Nichols

Emotion will follow action. Don’t wait for motivation to strike before you decide to do something. Take action first.

The food we eat, combined with the air we breathe, creates the electrical energy used by our mitochondria for us to function. Mitochondria are bacteria embedded in most of our cells that power our energy production. If our mitochondria are not working well, it means we have diminished resilience. Chronic stress has a major effect on mitochondrial function and our immune system.

Human beings evolved to handle periods of high stress and activity followed by rest and recovery. Today’s world provides plenty of high stress, but if we don’t intentionally take steps to rest and recover, we will be in a perpetual state of hyper-arousal. This is not good for our brains, our bodies, or our mitochondria.

It’s okay to rest. It’s okay to take a break from the news (noise). It’s definitely okay to take a break from social media.

We are all experiencing a heightened sense of fear lately. It used to be when someone coughed, you thought nothing of it. Be honest, nowadays when you see or hear someone cough, what goes through your mind? What about when someone sneezes? I have a podcast episode where I outline the rule of three sneezes. It reminds me of a great joke:

I used to cough to cover a fart, now I fart to cover a cough!

Resilience is a choice. You can’t necessarily control your environment or even your emotions. You can control how you react once you recognize a thought or emotion.

Bulletproof Coffee

People have asked me which gadgets or techniques have “moved the needle” for me. In my previous newsletter, I identified the Ooler as the product that has been a game-changer for sleep. Another game-changer is the first biohack I tried: Bulletproof coffee. Note: There are several links below that are affiliate links, and I may receive a commission if you purchase the items through the link. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I use every product that I recommend.

I started drinking coffee when I was a kid, and I drank it the same way my mom drank it—with half and half. And maybe a couple of pecan sandies. I dipped half the cookie in the coffee. You can’t leave it in there too long, or part of the cookie will break down and fall into the coffee. Some may recognize a similar technique with Double Stuf Oreos and an ice-cold glass of milk. I carried this habit into adulthood, less the pecan sandies.

When I first heard about the idea of people putting butter in their coffee, I probably had the same reaction as you did the first time you heard it. I pictured cutting a block from a stick of butter, dropping it in hot coffee and waiting for it to melt, and then trying to drink it without gagging. I also wondered whether I could switch from decades of drinking coffee with cream since I was so used to it.

There are three components to Bulletproof coffee: Coffee, grass-fed butter, and MCT oil. What’s so great about Bulletproof coffee? Dave Asprey explains it in his book The Bulletproof Diet.

Coffee - The first beneficial component of coffee is caffeine. Caffeine may help ease cognitive decline and lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by blocking inflammation in the brain. Caffeine also increases insulin sensitivity in healthy humans, which is extremely important for sustained weight loss. The short-term effect of coffee on mood may be due to altered serotonin and dopamine activity. The mechanisms behind its potential long-term effects on mood may relate to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Coffee is rich in polyphenols and contains over a thousand different compounds that improve cellular function. Coffee is the number one source of polyphenols in the Western diet. These polyphenols regulate the “switches” that turn specific genes on and off. Coffee also contains a type of polyphenol called chlorogenic acid, which reduces chronic inflammation, especially in brain cells. The kind of coffee you drink is also incredibly important. Due to how coffee is grown, harvested, roasted, and shipped, there are many risks for toxins, especially mold.

Grass-fed Butter - Butter from grass-fed animals is high in fat-soluble vitamins, antioxidants, healthy fats, and vitamins A, E, D, and K. Grain feeding causes a massive drop in all the beneficial compounds in butter, introduces new toxins, and raises omega-6 levels. I use grass-fed ghee, which has all the benefits of butter with one additional step of processing. Cultured grass-fed butter is heated for a short time to remove water, the milk protein called casein, and lactose. The final product is even more nutrient-dense than butter without the casein and lactose that can be irritating to some people. If you are sensitive to dairy, you will be much better off using grass-fed ghee instead of regular butter.

MCT oil - This is a liquid coconut extract that is a mixture of medium- and short-chain fats. MCT oil is better than regular coconut oil, but Brain Octane Oil is on the top shelf. Brain Octane Oil is made purely of C8 MCTs, the cleanest, most potent MCT, proven four times as effective as coconut oil at raising ketones. Brain Octane converts to ketones within minutes, making it a powerful tool to suppress hunger and fuel your brain in a way that other MCTs do not. It’s also flavorless, odorless, and easier on your stomach than most other MCTs.

Blending these ingredients instead of stirring is a crucial step. There is a phase of water that is not solid, liquid, or gas. It is called exclusion zone water or EZ water, and it is critical for mitochondrial function. When you shake or blend water, EZ water starts to form. It forms more easily when fat is present, and when you consider all the ingredients together, you have true high-octane fuel.

I drink Bulletproof coffee for breakfast most days of the week except when my monkey mind derails me to have something terribly non-nutritious but nevertheless delicious. Here is my gear:

  • Coffee: I trust the Bulletproof brand of coffee. I have also used Purity coffee, which is another brand with high standards. I understand that taste and preference are factors, but whatever coffee you drink, make sure it is as clean and free from toxins as possible. I also purchase whole beans and grind fresh every morning. If you use pre-ground coffee, consider the right type of grind for your method. For example, I like to use a coarse grind with a French press.

  • Ghee: Ancient Organics and 4th & Heart are two of my favorite brands for ghee. If you prefer butter, look for local grass-fed butter from a farmer’s market or try Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter Anchor Butter.

  • Brain Octane Oil - You can use less-expensive alternatives such as coconut oil or MCT oil.

  • Capresso burr grinder - A good grinder made specifically for coffee is worth it. You want the ability to control how course the grind will be, and you want consistent output.

  • French press - There are certain oils in coffee like kahweol and cafestol that are unique and potent neurological anti-inflammatory agents that protect against oxidative stress and DNA damage. When you use a paper filter, you filter the coffee grounds but you also filter out some of these oils. Brewing coffee with a metal filter like a French press, gold filter, or expresso machine preserves these coffee oils.

  • Blender - I use an Oster Blender Pro 1200 with a glass jar. I tried using the Magic Bullet because I like the irony of making Bulletproof coffee with it. Unfortunately, when you blend hot coffee all the time, eventually the plastic will crack. By the way, if you drink Bulletproof coffee as much as I do, sooner or later the black bottom cap will crack, so you might want to have an extra one on standby.

  • Electric tea kettle - The Cuisinart CPK-17 takes the guesswork out of heating water for coffee or tea.

  • Coffee mug - I can’t stand when coffee loses temperature. I don’t understand the trend of cold coffee. I want hot coffee, and I’m not a fast drinker. I want to savor it. The company Ember must have been thinking of me when they created a temperature-controlled smart mug. It keeps coffee at the exact temperature you specify for hours (for me, that’s 139 degrees F). Is it pricey? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely!

I set the electric tea kettle to 200 degrees F and pour in some filtered water. I grind the beans and pour the grounds into the French press. Once the water is ready, I pour it into the French press and let the coffee steep for four minutes. In the meantime, I add 1-2 tablespoons of ghee and 1-2 teaspoons of Brain Octane Oil to the blender. By the way, if you are not used to using Brain Octane, MCT, or coconut oil, start with small amounts, or you might end up with an unfortunate case of “disaster pants.” Once the four minutes are up, I pour the coffee into the blender and blend for about 25 seconds.

That, my friends, is how you hack coffee. Bulletproof coffee has all the benefits described above, and it keeps me full until lunch. For the rest of the day, I don’t feel as hungry, and I don’t eat as much. Bulletproof coffee was my first biohack when I started it on 4/26/17. At the time, I didn’t make any other changes, and I started to lose weight and feel better. Bulletproof coffee is a fantastic tool as part of a low-carb or ketogenic food plan.

What’s the effect of putting milk in your coffee? When you put the milk protein casein into your coffee by adding milk, half-and-half, heavy cream, or some fake, powdered creamer (please don’t use this), the casein binds with the polyphenols and they become less bioavailable. If I’m drinking regular coffee, I will probably still put half-and-half or heavy cream in it. I suppose if I had never grown up drinking coffee that way, it would be different. At least no more pecan sandies.

Having Bulletproof coffee for breakfast is also about what I’m NOT eating for breakfast. Look, I know that I have a tendency to go off the rails. I would be perfectly happy with Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch and toast or pancakes or waffles or French toast with butter and hot syrup or chorizo breakfast burritos or biscuits and gravy. Let’s put it this way, at a breakfast bar I don’t even SEE the oatmeal or yogurt or fruit other than as wasted space that could be used for additional trays of sausage or crispy bacon.

Bulletproof coffee is an excellent example of biohacking. I like being able to explain why I drink it. I’m not drinking it because it’s a trend or just because it tastes good even though it does.

Now, you don’t have to go out and buy all the ingredients and start drinking Bulletproof coffee. You have to decide whether this biohack fits your lifestyle and goals. If you do try it, let me know how it works out for you.

I would like to encourage you to start thinking about why you do the things you do. Are you doing things out of habit? Because your parents did it? Because you saw something on Facebook?

Are you wearing a face mask because you actually think it will protect you or others from getting sick? Or are you just wearing one so people won’t yell at you when you’re out in public? Are you washing your hands because they might be contaminated or because the act makes you feel better?

You have to do what works for you, but consider thinking about your reason for doing things.

When you see something good happen to someone, how do you react? Are you joyful and happy for that person? Are you annoyed? Do you feel cheated that good things like that don’t happen to you? This is envy. We even see it in the animal community.

Researchers conducted an experiment with monkeys that shows they experience envy. Two monkeys are in separate cages and can see each other. The task is for the monkey to give the researcher a rock and receive a reward. The first monkey gives a rock, and the researcher rewards her with a piece of cucumber. She eats the cucumber no problem. The second monkey gives a rock, and she is rewarded with a grape, which the first monkey sees. The first monkey promptly gives another rock, and the researcher gives her another piece of cucumber. She tastes the cucumber, throws it back at the researcher, and grabs the wall of the cage, and starts shaking it. How quickly the reward of cucumber was rejected when the other monkey got something better! Here is a short video of the experiment.

You can hack envy by recognizing when you feel it and changing your mindset. Instead of feeling anger or frustration, imagine the joy and excitement the other person feels. Just a momentary switch in thinking can make all the difference.

One of the best ways to hack fear is to express gratitude. It’s hard to be fearful or worried or angry or envious when you are feeling genuinely grateful. It’s so easy to start complaining or see the worst of a situation. It takes work to practice gratitude, whether through meditation, a journal, or being intentional in interactions with people.

Staying resilient is certainly a core part to be wellthy.

Be grateful for all the things that you don’t want that you don’t have. —Agapi Stassinopoulos

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