A NEW PARADIGM SHIFT
In the previous article, we discussed taking back our health, with greater responsibility for our daily wellness. In this brief and last discussion, we’ll be looking at the top ways we can support our overall immune health and immune response.
Before we dig deeper into this topic, we need to get clear on some distinctions. And as a 14-year biohacker, I am getting the same question, “What am I doing differently more than the normal routine to prepare for the coronavirus?”
And the answer is really a simple one. I am doing nothing differently. Nothing changes. Every single day our immune system is under attack by an endless number of pathogens. In fact, there are five key types of pathogenic organisms, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and worms.
Now, not that I don’t have a plan for when symptoms arrive. But, every day has and always will be a “Coronavirus Threat Day.” As explained in Part 1, throughout time, microbes are very much a part of our world. So much like investing for retirement, we can and should take care of our immune systems for a rainy day. Because if we support our immune systems, they will support us. And this just makes sense, does it not?
Confidence and certainty arrive from preparation and accepting the reality that we are managing our risks as close to possible. We can find that sweet spot living somewhere between: “Buy all the toilet paper” -and- “Lick every public doorknob you can find”. We can take back the middle and exist and coexisting in a safer, smarter, better way.
So what can we do, TODAY, to take back our health?
As explained in the last part, Americans are dramatically overweight, which besides sapping our energy and mood, damages to our circulatory, gastrointestinal, nervous, respiratory, and urinary systems. We have identified these five primary systems of the body have all in the pathological features of COVID-19. This most recent paper explores the relationship between obesity and adverse outcomes. While we need to further test the role of the human microbiome in the etiology, it is increasingly clear obesity is a major factor.
What are the 6 easy bio-hacks to rapid immune health through weight loss?
1) PROLONGED FASTING (INTERMITTENT FASTING)
Prolonged fasting or intermittent fasting is possibly the hottest trend over the last few years for easy weight management. The concept is rather simple, and this involves moving your breakfast time close to your dinner time. Intermittent fasting is popular because of its emphasis on pure strategy, with no other changes.
While there are various methods to do intermittent fasting, the 16/8 model is the most popular. This involves eating within an 8-hour window, which becomes rather easy and repeatable for most people after the initial week. Besides profound benefits on mood, energy, and gut health, intermittent fasting allows one to take control of their insulin and human growth hormone levels, to promote optimal metabolism. Studies identify intermittent fasting as a strategy to lose 3–8% body weight in as little as 3 to 24 weeks.
Cellular and tissue rejuvenation occurs with autophagy, removing damaged cellular parts. Autophagy activates from this by AMPK signaling pathway mTOR inhibition. This is a scientific way to say intermittent fasting is a sustainable daily practice, we can use everything we know about metabolism to make it work for us. With intermittent fasting, we reverse the damaging effects of modern living immunosuppression.
Personally, I eat in a 4–6-hour eating window, as less than an 8-hour eating window creates even bigger benefits. There are various “bio-hacks”, to make this easy, which I will cover in a future post.
2) MAXIMIZING DIETARY FIBER INTAKE
About 95% of people consume far too little dietary fiber. Fiber is a powerful natural appetite suppressant. While providing prebiotics for our gut microbiome, consuming more dietary fiber, might be one secret of weight loss. In protecting the gut epithelial barrier, fiber helps heal and protect the gut from a variety of degenerative and inflammatory diseases. A recent study tells us those with a greater variety of gut bacteria have lower levels of belly fat.
We are only just beginning to understand the power of the gut, as it is arguably the most underrated part of the human body. With surface space 100 times greater than the human skin and the home to 70% of our immune system and 90% of our serotonin production we need to make taking care of the gut a top daily priority. Dietary fiber feeds one hundred trillion microbes in our gut microbiome, which holds 150 times more unique genes, 3.3 million more than the human genome.
Our gut synthesizes our essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and more. In this study, inulin showed to be the most effective fiber for the reduction of belly fat. We recommend the average man consume 38 grams and the average woman 25 grams of dietary fiber daily. We can easily achieve this with a plant-based or even Mediterranean-style diet and/or taking fiber supplements.
Dietary fiber supplements are keto-friendly, so really there should be no barrier to adoption. These are some daily fiber supplements I use for gut health, mood, energy metabolism, and weight management. Many find themselves in shock when seeing the impact of fiber on their blood panels.
3) BERBERINE WITH MEALS
One of the hot supplements over the past few years is berberine. Berberine is a bioactive plant extract, technically an alkaloid, we find in several plants including European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, Phellodendron, and tree turmeric. People take berberine in capsule form for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, and weight loss. It is so effective for metabolism and weight loss, it’s called by some, “the most effective natural compound available.”
Inside the cells of the body, it binds to targets and changes their function. The primary metabolic action of berberine is the activation of an enzyme inside cells called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Referred to as a “metabolic master switch”, we find this enzyme in the cells of various organs, including the brain, muscle, kidney, heart, and liver. Playing a major role in regulating metabolism, this enzyme also affects various other molecules inside cells, possibly even affecting genetic expression.
As berberine is a well-studied plant compound, recent studies have been focusing on how it performs compared to metformin, a popular diabetes, weight loss, and anti-aging drug. And the studies, when comparing the two compounds, find similar efficacy between the natural plant alkaloid and its synthetic drug counterpart. As studies are showing berberine benefits for various conditions from depression to liver health to heart disease to blood sugar, it is an undeniable superstar in managing insulin response and boosting metabolism. This is the one I take daily with meals. To increase absorption, ensure your food has a fat source and black pepper.
This one should be an obvious one. And I will not go deep into this other than leaving just two tips. The first is when we think of exercise, we think it must be long and exhausting to derive any benefit. This is actually not true. More data is proving that workouts over 50 minutes are counterproductive. In fact, a recent study highlights there is no tangible difference in weight loss benefits of a 30 versus a 60-minute walk.
The second tip is recently a study showed that a mere 30-minute walk delivers the same benefit on blood pressure as blood pressure medication. This is a common problem, and we can go into all the other benefits associated with daily walks, but you get it. My personal workout stack is creatine, d-ribose, matcha, agmatine, ginkgo, and nicotine. I like to put my headset on and go.
5) COLD SHOWERS
Cold showers? This did not sound appealing to me either when I first heard about this. But the excellent news is they get rather easy and enjoyable to do. As more and more people are integrating cold therapy into their routines, they are receiving a variety of benefits for engaging in this practice. Cold therapy or cold showers are proving to increase energy, lower stress response, improve immune response, increase willpower, and trigger weight loss.
How does taking a cold shower cause weight loss? As we were examining with caffeine intake, cold therapy increases our metabolic rate, and as well stimulates brown adipose tissue, (BAT), or “brown fat.” Brown fat is a fat tissue that generates energy by burning calories. The NIH shows men exposed to just a slightly cooler room in a 10-hour period experienced higher levels of brown fat and thus metabolism because of one exposure.
Cold showers can be an effective strategy for people looking to lose a few pounds, as we see in the Wim Hof studies. Again, like engaging in intermittent fasting, cold showers become rather easy with a few “bio-hacks”, and enjoyable. I will discuss how to make cold showers easy in a future post.
Who doesn’t love their coffee or tea? A recent study shows caffeine stimulates “brown fat”. Activation of these fat cells, as mentioned in cold showers, differ from white, or regular body fat cells, as the body uses them in heat generation. Invariably, regular body fat cells store energy, otherwise known as “baby fat”, contributing to inflammation, insulin resistance, and more weight gain. With heat generation, brown fat also burns calories, as opposed to other types of fat, creating somewhat of a compensating or off-setting factor.
While this is only a preliminary study, others are showing liver protection benefits of coffee, which further implicates the role of caffeine in metabolism. This initial study shows just one cup of coffee as being sufficient to trigger the brown fat activation effect. Other studies support the use of 2 to 4 cups per day as optimal. We will need future studies to determine the optimal dose.
Other than gut health supplements, caffeine, and berberine, nothing else in my experience and conclusion for metabolism does much of anything. Myself, I enjoy a cold brew coffee, with stevia and coconut milk, and MCT oil in the morning, and then 3 iced matcha teas with stevia throughout the day.
And that wraps up my 6 bio-hacks to immune health through weight loss. Stay tuned for more health optimization strategies.
Your Friend in Prosperity,
As we take in a breath of reality and realize that “it’s darkest before dawn.” It can remind us events only feel scary when they are new, and anything new creates uncertainty. Uncertainty is subjectively rather than rationally experienced as fear. We are experiencing this event at this moment, so remind yourself that this too shall pass. We have gotten through the other outbreaks, and we will get through this too. To quote a close friend, “at a cosmic scale, this will be just a fart in the wind.” We are all in this together. We will come together. And it will be okay.