Essential Resources to Optimize Your Health
We highly recommend starting with the three fundamentals that remain constant for human optimization: sleep, exercise, and diet.
- Proper sleep hygiene – Sleep is perhaps the easiest thing you can do to dramatically improve your health. Light, food, and movement are the three cues that align your sleep rhythms each day, so use them to your advantage. In the morning get sun exposure, eat, and move. Then avoid those same three wakefulness cues within 2 hours of bedtime. Finally, optimize your sleep environment: it should be dark, quiet, cool, and distraction-free.
- Block blue light – Blue light (and bright light) suppresses melatonin production, the hormone that helps controls your circadian rhythm. You should be blocking blue light from your phone and computer, and avoiding bright light at least 1-2 hours before bed.
- Fix nasal congestion – It's common to have congested sinuses when you lie down at night which unfortunately can affect your sleep. There are a variety of non-medicated options available to improve this.
- Align sleep/wake schedule – Ideally your period of wakefulness should align closely to the schedule of the sun outside. This helps align your hormone release (such as cortisol) to your daily activities.
- Utilize exercise mimetics – Certain activities can mimic exercise in the body, such as sauna. Use exercise mimetics as a shortcut to stay phsyically fit by avoiding overuse injuries and speeding up recovery.
- Focus on consistency – Rather than trying to find the ideal exercise, just focus on something that you enjoy and can do consistently without injury. As many have said, "the best exercise is the one you will do".
- Try BFR training – Blood flow restriction (BFR) training is an intensity modulator. In other words, it's a way of making a low-intensity exercise more exhausting for the body. This can be a helpful way to get more benefit from doing joint-sparing low-intensity exercises.
- Align to circadian rhythms – Align what you eat to your sleep/wake schedule and the cycle of hormones releases each day.
- Train metabolic flexability – Train your metabolism to be flexible by incorporting periods of fasting and ketosis.
- Use stimulants strategically– Caffeine and nicotine can be used strategically to improve your health. Both can be addicting, and should not be used by the young. Pixotine toothpicks. Habitrol or NiQuitin patches.
- Track what you eat – Calorie trackers like MyFitnessPal help keep you honest about the calories in your food.
- Skin care – To prevent the hallmarks of skin aging use three tips: apply topical vitamin C and sun screen in the morning, and topical vitamin A (retinoic acid) at night.
- Supplements – The Kaufmann Protocol organizes various molecular compounds into seven categories which encompass all of the presently known modes of cellular aging. A supplement strategy can then be created where aging is curtailed in specific categories.
- Books – See our list of the best health-related books to read. Audible is a great source for audiobooks.
- Podcasts – A high-quality health podcast we recommend is: The Peter Attia Drive.
- Brain training – N-back tests. Brain training such as Lumosity, Elevate. Free language learning from Duolingo.
- Water filtration – Chlorine byproducts, among other contaminants, are a known health risk in municipal water. You absorb more chemicals in a ten minute hot bath than by drinking water for a week. City water services only clean up to a certain government standard, and they make cost/benefit tradeoffs that parents or health-conscious individuals may not want to make. Whole-house water filtration can be affordable and may improve your health.
- Air filtration – Nowadays people spend the majority of their life indoors, so the quality of indoor air is becoming a larger concern. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to cardiovascular disease and mortality.
- Electromagnetic fields (EMF) – There is growing awareness that electric and magnetic fields can affect the human body. As a precautionary measure it's probably good to avoid prolonged exposure to sources of high EMFs.
- Infrared sauna – These new saunas are more comfortable than your traditional hot air sauna which can make it painful to breathe. Small saunas are affordable and can easily fit in the corner of a room. Benefits include convenient access to deep relaxation, parasympathetic states, and whole-body sweating for detoxification.
- Red light therapy – Specific wavelengths of red light have been shown to stimulate mitochondria in human cells, speeding up healing times and increasing energy. Read an in-depth introduction to this fascinating science at our link above.
- Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) – Can be used to activate muscles before a workout or to improve healing.
- Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) – Pulsed electromagnetic fields are similar to EMS in that they cause small involuntary muscle contractions. They have been shown affect healing and circulation.
- Float tank
- HRV trackers – Heart rate variability (HRV) is quickly becoming an essential metric for athletes to determine whether they are properly recovered or not and if they can push themselves harder or need to ease off.
- Sleep trackers – WHOOP and Oura are popular devices that track daily activity and sleep. Dreem is a more accurate EEG device that only tracks sleep and resting heart rate.
- Continuous glucose monitoring – FreeStyle Libre can be purchased on ebay for around $50 for 2 weeks of monitoring. You can use your phone to check glucose readings throughout the day. A good way to test your habits and diet to see how it affects your blood sugar. Dexcom is another popular CGM but requires a doctor's prescription.
- Alter ego – Break free from your self-imposed limitations by adopting an alter ego that has the attributes you desire. Check out the book The Alter Ego Effect.
- Posture – Certain postures can make us feel more powerful and could even effect our hormones. For example, the Superman posture, standing upright with hands on hips. Try standing in this posture and breathing confidently before doing something that normally intimidates you. See how it makes you feel!
- Habit tracking – Stay disciplined to meet your goals by tracking your habits. Habitify is a great app I use. Beeminder is a clever app that penalizes you when you miss a habit.
- Meditation – Distance yourself from the stream of consciousness. Waking Up app is my favorite.
- Breathwork – Box breathing. Relaxator device.
Blood & DNA
- Genome/Ancestry – 23andMe, Ancestry.com. Promethease takes your genomic data and gives you open source research information.
- Blood panels – WellnessFX and Inside Tracker are great options for getting regular blood tests.
- Biological age – Via epigenetics with Chronomics and myDNAge. Through telomeres, with TeloYears, although there is some debate about the accuracy of these tests. Or via biomarkers with Inside Tracker.
- STD tests – In the lab: stressfreestdtest.com. At home: MyLabBox, LetsGetChecked, selfcollect. Many county health departments offer free STD testing.
- Microbiome – Viome, ubiome. Genova diagnostics 3-day stool panel.
- IV infusions – NAD+ therapy, vitamin therapy.
- Food sensitivities – cyrexlabs.com