In today’s world, misinformation campaigns seem be at an all time high. Food companies and lobbyists are constantly pushing an agenda in order to keep us addicted to their products and our “sick” care system has a vested interest in keeping us on pills and making sure we are life long customers. In a sea of information, it is difficult to separate the facts from the myths.
I believe biohacking is all about researching, experimenting and finding out what works for you. Some of these “health myths” may or may not apply to you. Even so, after years of careful biohacking these are my top health myths.
1. The sun causes cancer and skin damage and you must avoid it at all costs
Growing up in Arizona, the “sunshine state,” I was constantly told to lather sunscreen all over my body in order to protect myself from the sun. What I wasn’t told is that the sunscreen that melted into my skin in the hot sun was full of chemicals such as Oxybenzone and Benzophenone 2, both of which disrupt hormones and release free radicals in the body.
In today’s society we have been taught to be terrified of the sun. We continuously cover our children in sunscreen, wear huge sunglasses and cover ourselves every time we are in the sun. Even worse, we sit under unnatural lighting indoors and move from our homes to our cars daily, rarely getting any natural sunlight on our skin and eyes.
What researchers are now starting to discover is that avoiding the sun entirely is not only bad for our health but could be lethal in the long run.
A study that measured nearly 26,000 women in Sweden over a 20 year period of time revealed that those who avoided the sun the most had an increase in all-cause mortality by almost two-fold. That is a huge difference!
The benefits of sunlight
Today, we are seeing entire fields of science such as Heliotherapy that are dedicated entirely to the study of the healing power of the sun.
The sun not only offers benefits such as increasing the production of Vitamin D in our bodies but sensible sun exposure benefits include (but are not limited to):
-killing bad bacteria and disinfecting and healing wounds
-Offering beneficial effects on skin disorders including acne, eczema and fungal infections
-Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure
-Cleansing the blood and blood vessels
-Building the immune system
-Improving depression and assisting with symptoms of SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
I believe it’s about time that we bust this myth that sunlight is an evil force that causes us to age faster and increases our risk for cancer once and for all. There is a definite healing force and power in the sun and without the sun, there would be no LIFE.
Healthy sun exposure includes going out into the sun during the early and later parts of the day with no sunscreen on and as little clothing as possible (nude sunbathing is the best!). If you have had skin cancer or you are extra sensitive to the sun please speak with your doctor first.
If you plan on being in the sun during peak times, make sure to cover up with a hat and long clothing. Taking antioxidants such as astaxanthin will also provide an internal sunscreen that will resist any sun damage. It is never wise to allow your skin to burn, please take caution and be smart about sun exposure.
2. Being cold will make you catch a cold
I’m sure we are all familiar with the phrase “bring a jacket! You’ll catch a cold.” Most of our lives we have been taught to stay out of the cold and bundle up, protecting ourselves from the elements. Scientists and avid biohackers are now coming to the realization that extreme temperature exposure such as an ice bath provides a plethora of benefits including:
-Increasing dopamine and feel good brain chemicals
-Super immune function
-Increasing neurogenesis (brain boost!)
-Preventing muscle atrophy
And many more
The best way to hack cold exposure is to start with a warm shower and turn the shower on to the coldest setting for 30 seconds then revert back to the warm water. Eventually your body will assimilate to the cold and you will be able to build up to 5 minutes or longer. Another powerful hack is dunking your face into a bowl full of ice water. This works because the vagus nerve in your face also connects with the rest of your body and will build your tolerance for ice baths and cold showers more easily.
3. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you must snack to keep your metabolism up
This is a common myth that is still perpetuated today. Guess where this myth came from? That’s right, the very people who want you to buy their food and stay addicted to it, food companies and the lobbyists who work for them.
Today’s research is showing that skipping breakfast and engaging in something called “intermittent fasting” will not only not harm your health, but it’s actually an excellent way to improve your overall health and longevity.
Intermittent fasting benefits include:
-Facilitating fat burning by reducing insulin levels in the blood
-Increasing human growth hormone by up to 5 fold
-Removing waste material from the cells
-Upgrading gene expression that is associated with disease and longevity.
So there you have it, if you are one of those people that doesn’t feel hungry in the morning then please by all means, do not feel the need to eat! If you would like to try a modified version of intermittent fasting, I recommend trying out a cup of Bullletproof coffee with Brain Octane and grassfed butter. Fat only slightly raises insulin levels so a pure fat breakfast (no protein or carbs) will mimic fasting and keep you satisfied for hours.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of fasting, I recommend checking out the documentary “The Science of Fasting” on Amazon.
4. Low sodium diets are always good for your health
In the article, “It’s Time to End the War on Salt,” posted by Scientific American, they took a hard look at the low sodium myth and the implications on our health and wellbeing. Although low sodium diets have been pushed on us for decades, one meta-analysis study that was composed of 6,250 people suggested that not only low sodium diets do NOT reduce the risk for heart attacks, strokes, or death but actually proved that those with a low sodium intake had a greater risk of dying of heart disease.
A study published in 1988 also revealed that those who had the most salt, about 14 grams a day, had a lower median blood pressure. Research also suggests that when salt intake is cut, the body responds by releasing key enzymes and hormones that increase blood pressure.
Benefits of salt intake include:
-Improving insulin sensitivity
-Maintaining the proper stomach pH
-Improving sleep quality
-Supporting thyroid function
-Supporting balanced hormones
Now keep in mind that one should be sticking with superior forms of salt such as mineral rich sea salt and eliminating all table salt. Table salt is full of fillers and toxins that should not be consumed. Getting adequate salt intake is not a free pass to fill up on processed foods such as salty potato chips.
The best way to add healthy amounts of salt to your diet would be to consume a mixture of sea salt and water in the morning known as “SOLE” You can check out the recipe here.
Disclaimer: if you have any kidney or liver problems, please speak with your doctor before increasing your salt intake.
4. We don’t need to detox, our body does that for us
Everyday we are exposed to hundreds of chemicals from the food we eat to the air we breathe. The average woman puts over 500 synthetic chemicals on her body and 60% is absorbed into her skin. We are living in an unprecedented time in history in regards to chemical exposure and our detox organs are barely able to keep up. If you think detoxing isn’t necessary then I urge you to look around at our state of our health. Cancer, diabetes, autoimmune issues, heart disease, strokes are just a few of our “modern” diseases that are plaguing us. While many of the toxins are cleared from our system, many toxins are hidden away in our fat cells and are messing with our hormones, and accumulating over time. It is more important than ever to assist our bodies, especially our liver, in the detoxification process.
Detoxification and cleanses can include:
-Fasting: a recent study has revealed that a 3-day fast has been proven to regenerate our entire immune system and help with cellular repair and clean up.
-Infrared sauna usage: regular sweating will help cleanse our bodies from heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and even BPA. The niacin/sauna detox is one of the most effective heavy metal detoxification programs I know of. It will help detox years of stored toxins that have been accumulating in our fat. You can learn more about this program here.
-Exercise: Moving your body allows the breakdown of fat tissue and also improves circulation, providing oxygen to your organs so they can better filter the toxins.
-Fermented cabbage juice cleanses: this cleanse is very beneficial for healing the gut and also offers anti-parasitic, anti-fungal and anti-cancer benefits.
-Coffee enemas: Enemas in general will help cleanse our bodies and coffee enemas are particularly good for our livers by increasing the production of the super-antioxidant, glutathione.
6. Eating fat will make you fat
In the 70’s and 80’s the sugar industry pushed the myth that fat will not only make you fat, it will also cause you to have a heart attack and die.
In today’s society, I still have well-meaning friends who consume copious amount of egg whites and chicken to avoid too much fat in their diet.
The idea that fat can make you fat is not only wrong; it is hazardous to our health.
Healthy fats such as Omega 3s, coconut oil, grassfed butter, avocados, egg yolks, olive oil and nuts are not only important for our health but they are vital to our health and offer benefits such as:
-Improving insulin sensitivity and reducing inflammation
-Turning on certain genes that are involved with burning fat and turning off genes that store fat (Omega 3s)
-Creating the building blocks for hormones
-Protecting our organs
-Curbing hunger and appetite
Keep in mind that not all fat is equal. Despite what mainstream publications would like to tell you, vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils are extremely inflammatory. Most of those french fries that we consume from fast food restaurants are loaded with toxic, oxidized vegetable oils that will kill your health. When looking to add healthy fat to your diet is important to focus on fats such as: grassfed butter, Omega 3s from high quality fish sources, avocados, olive oil, and coconut products.
Increasing fat intake should be done steadily as your liver has to process the fat. If you have trouble digesting fats or have had your gallbladder removed, you can add supplements to your routine such as ox bile to help emulsify and digest the fat.
Many experts who are on the forefront of nutrition are recommending our dietary intake of healthy fats to be as high as 70% of the calories we take in. In fact, in the book Grain Brain, Dr. Perlmutter describes our ancestors as eating a diet composed of 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs. It is important to experiment and find out what works for you and to take your own unique biology into account.
7. Reducing your calories and increasing exercise is a surefire way to lose weight
“Calories in, calories out” is diet advice that just does not seem to go away. I can’t tell you how many friends I discover joining weight watchers (love you all) and continuing to consume empty calories via English muffins, diet soda and even with their best efforts, consume lectins in great quantity (gluten for example). For a time, many of my weight watcher friends will lose weight but in the long term their body weight eventually plateaus or they start to gain weight again. Their long-term health also continues to decline.
What most doctors and “diet gurus” that get paid millions of dollars to market these generic diet plans don’t tell you is that the body is a very complex biological system and losing weight is not as simple as just reducing calories. Hormones, inflammation, and stress levels play a key role in weight gain and weight loss. On top of that, our body stores fat when we are bombarded with toxins in order to protect our major detox organs from being overwhelmed.
Gut bacteria plays a role in weight loss
Many studies are proving that gut bacteria can also help make us fat or thin. Researchers are discovering that gut bacteria has a primary role in the way we store fat, balance glucose and respond to hormones that make us feel hungry or full.
Studies of twins in which one twin was overweight and one was thin, revealed that the thin twin had gut bacteria like a “rainforest brimming with many species,” whereas the overweight twin was less diverse. Another study transferred gut bacteria from an overweight mouse to a thin mouse. Over time, the thin mouse gained weight, despite eating a similar diet.
Focus on quality not quantity
It is time we start focusing on the quality of food instead of quantity. Nutrition, fermented foods, healthy fats and anti-oxidants will protect our cells and give our body what it needs to stay healthy and release the weight. Food sensitivities and inflammation also play a large role in weight loss or weight gain. You can order a simple test to discover what food sensitivities you may have. By reducing and eliminating foods that cause inflammation in your body, you will allow your body to release the weight. In order to achieve optimal health and weight loss it is important to listen to your body and provide it with what it truly needs, not just focus on a calorie count.
Thanks for reading!