My Unusual Health Habits

While sharing and simplifying the latest and greatest health research is one of the main purposes of this blog, here are some things that I do to stay healthy.

To stay hydrated, I drink water that has trace minerals added. Not only do they make it taste better, but they also have a bunch of health benefits due to their high levels of magnesium, boron, and lithium. (Li benefits R1Mg benefits R1R2R3B benefits R1)

I’ll also occasionally do intermittent chocolate fasts. Some mornings, I’ll only eat some dark chocolate and drink some coffee, then wait till later in the day or the next day to eat. I know this seems a bit extreme, but it doesn’t feel that way until the cold sweats and paranoia creep in, after I’ve lost track of how much chocolate I ate. Mostly joking, but it does help to keep the energy up during an intermittent fast and provide a healthy source of fats, flavanols, and other phytonutrients. Eating chocolate and skipping breakfast may have helped Jeanne Calment, the oldest human who ever lived, get to 122 years old. Supposedly, she ate 2 pounds of chocolate every week and almost never ate breakfast. Another benefit of dark chocolate is that it has good effects on my skin. Hopefully, this reflects how the rest of my body is doing.

After I get my fill of chocolate, I’ll take some bacopa, an Ayurvedic herb that’s legend to be used by ancient Vedic scholars to help them memorize lengthy scripts. Fortunately, bacopa has many other cognitive benefits too (R, R2). It’s probably my favorite nootropic, besides caffeine, dark chocolate, and exercise. I’ve been taking it for many years now and find the bacopa extract from Solaray most effective, but it takes a few weeks to work well. I also believe its saponins benefit the microbiome by preventing the growth of certain bugs, based on how I feel after I eat sugary foods (R).

After I get some work done, and my caffeine and theobromine levels are still high, I’ll take to the gym. I usually opt for a mix of high-intensity interval training and weightlifting. I do the HIT on the treadmill and an upright stationary bike. After I’m done working out, sometimes I’ll fast and expose myself to heat stress.

There’s a lot of research to support the health benefits of saunas on our health. They may help prevent neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, improve protein synthesis, increase growth hormone levels, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and increase our longevity. (FIR Sauna benefits, sauna use and Alzheimer’s preventionbenefits for endurance).

Here’s a picture of my grandma’s sauna. She knew about the health benefits way before the mainstream caught on. She turned 90 this year and still gets more done each day than me.

In case you can’t read Finnish, the signs say “sauna is a poor man’s pharmacy” and “your worries will melt in the sauna.”
img_4723.jpg
“Hot Sauna”
Please excuse the sweat stains

If you don’t have a sauna handy, here’s an alternative way to get some of the heat stress benefits (Try at your own risk). Park your car in a sunny spot and keep the windows up. After you finish working out, quickly get in, and then sit in the hot car, completely still, while sweating profusely and optionally stare at the person in the car next to you, or read a book or another article on my blog for 20-100 minutes, or before you start feeling too stressed out. This isn’t for the faint of heart, but the additive health benefits of heat stress and exercise studies appear to be backed by solid research. Despite the simplicity of this technique, I usually opt to go home and take an infrared sauna.

After all that sweating and exercise nothing’s more refreshing than some cold water fish. That’s right, I’m talking sardines, salmon, mackerel, or other smaller or shorter-lived fish. Not only are these fish high in protein, and valuable minerals like calcium and selenium and omega 3 fatty acids that keep your brain, bones, and joints working well, but they are also lower in toxins like mercury that can build up in your fatty tissues and wreck havoc. When I eat fish, I usually add extra virgin olive oil to them. Olive oil has strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, autophagy inducing properties, and many other health benefits, and is likely one of the reasons a Mediterranean diet improves health outcomes (RR2R3R4).

If you’re concerned about building up heavy metals by eating too much seafood and chocolate (cadmium and lead), you may want to start supplementing with selenium, as this can reduce its toxicity. Or, you could eat orange peels. Well, not really, just the heat and acid modified citrus pectin which has quite a few health benefits, including, mercury and heavy metal removal, and as a potential cancer treatment (heavy metal excretionR2cancer metastasis prevention, cancer R2).

To further confuse people around me, I’ll usually eat bee propolis. This is what bees use to keep their hives disease free. If it can keep a beehive free from harmful bacteria and fungi after a large rodent falls in, it can also probably keep my insides healthy too. Based on the research (R1, R2, R3R4) and beneficial changes in stool morphology, I strongly suspect it’s altering my microbiota. It’s also a great source of well-researched flavonoids and provides a unique cognitive boost.

Another supplement I use for my gut health and muscle health is pomegranate extract. It contains ellagitannins acid which can be metabolized by certain microbes into urolithin-A, which causes mitophagy. Mitophagy is a process that the body uses to get rid of old or inefficient mitochondria and allowing healthier mitochondria to take their place (RR2, R3).

To wash all that stuff down, I might have a glass of beer or red wine. Before I do that though, I might sprinkle in some curcumin and/or green tea extract in my drinks. They add a nice flavor, have health benefits, and the alcohol helps with the absorption of a lot of different substances by making cell membranes more permeable and carrying non-polar molecules (R).

If I’m not in the mood for beer or wine, I might treat myself to some home-made french oak cube aged spirits. Like pomegranate, French oak also contains ellagitannins, but a special class called roburins. These molecules are unique because when metabolized by the gut,  they produce three different glucuronidated urolithins and ellagic acid. These metabolites have antioxidative effects in our plasma, beneficially modulate gene expression, and increase ribogenesis, which helps to maintain optimal protein synthesis (R). I wonder if the longevity record obtained by Jeanne Calment, was made possible by her frequent enjoyment of port wine. Perhaps, the long aging process of the wine and the higher alcohol content helped to extract more of these roburins from the wine barrels they were aged in.

After this concoction, I might feel like exploring the internet, but it’s probably late, and I don’t like to get too much blue light exposure late at night. To overcome this dilemma, I use a program called flux and also wear orange or red construction glasses to prevent blue light from disrupting my sleep, and to creep out the neighbors.

Before I go to sleep, usually I take Sensoril ashwagandha and .5 mg of sublingual melatonin. Ashwagandha is another well-revered Ayurvedic herb that helps with lowering cortisol (R) that my excessive chocolate consumption and high-intensity exercise probably raise and also increases the growth of my dendrites, which seems useful (R). The melatonin helps me get to sleep and has a lot of research to support a role in preventing neurodegeneration, reducing inflammation, and maintaining gut health (R, R2, R3). Some nights I also take l-taurine, which activates GABA-A receptors (R), which calms me down and may also help with neurogenesis (R, R2).

Before I go to bed though, I’ll close my room darkening curtains and turn on a white noise machine. These things block the sound of nearby frat boys and the curtains also keep light from disrupting my sleep.

Hopefully, you found some of my routines informative or amusing. If you have any favorite health hacks, I’d love to hear about them.

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