Dave Asprey's flavor of wellness isn’t just about ‘not being sick’, it’s about optimizing life on all fronts — mind, body and brain.
The secret to biohacking isn’t so much about starting new habits, but about finding the most efficient ways to upgrade them for maximum impact. That means if you’ve ever added butter to your coffee (Bulletproof’s claim to fame) or adaptogens to a morning smoothie, you’re already on the right track!
We asked Dave to share a few of his favorite biohacking tips for optimal brain health and from stress-busting “forest bathing” to a cool trick for tackling inflammation, we’re stoked on all of his notes…
Neurofeedback: Meditation + Mindfulness
Neurofeedback targets and trains the brain’s deep-control sites, increasing overall brain coherence, resulting in more creativity, more focus and deeper levels of intelligence. Like you, only more.
Meditation and mindfulness are actually considered neurofeedback. Upgrade your meditation practice with some deep breathing. Whether I’m using my heart-wave variability trainer, finding time for a short meditation or just taking some short deep breaths, I use breathing techniques to train my nervous system to remain calm and composed to keep stress levels low, in “rest and digest” rather than in “fight or flight.” Another free hack is simply walking in nature or “forest bathing,” which can reduce stress, improve your mood and increase brain function.
I also created 40 Years of Zen, a personalized brain mapping and monitoring technology to get the benefits of 40 years of deep meditation in just five days. This offers all the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, but on steroids. I use this technology once every quarter at the 40 Years of Zen facility in Seattle to put myself in an advanced meditation with computer feedback.
You’ll be amazed at the creative flow that results from even ten minutes of normal meditation.
Heart-Rate Variability: Listen To Your Heart (literally)
Heart-rate variability (HRV) training is a type of biofeedback that you can keep in your pocket. It helps you to hack (or control) your automatic stress response with a little piece of technology and simple breathing techniques.
Heart-rate variability actually refers to the variation in the time between your heartbeats. When you’re nervous, scared or stressed, the intervals between beats becomes shorter and/or more erratic. When you’re calm, the opposite occurs. HRV training uses technology to track your heart rate, then you use your consciousness and breathing to control the speed of your heart rate. This teaches you to control your stress response in real time. It takes some practice, but over time, you will learn how to keep calm, cool and collected during stressful situations. Reduced stress means more mental clarity and physical endurance, plus less pain and better sleep!
Cold Thermogenesis: Cold Showers & Cryo Spas
Technically “cryotherapy” could refer to any kind of cold exposure – like cold baths, cold showers and “polar plunges” in freshly frozen snow. An easy, free hack is to simply expose your whole body to an ice-cold shower for about 30 seconds every day. Cold therapy can curb pain and inflammation, decrease muscle soreness, increase recovery time and fat burning and even boost mood and improve sleep.
This might be why whole body cryotherapy (WBC) spas are popping up all over the country. WBC involves short exposure to extreme cold via a cryochamber – a human-sized tank filled with liquid nitrogen-cooled air. Exposure can vary from two to three minutes in temperatures that plummet to -130°C (-266°F). If you want to try a free version, try an ice bath for up to an hour in water temperatures of about 19°C (66°F).
Blue Blocking: Limit All Light At Night
Light, especially the blue light spectrum from your TV, computer and phone screens, can break your sleep cycle and even lead to lower quality sleep. Limiting light in the evenings can change your life. I use glasses with optical filters that go far beyond what orange “blue blocking” glasses can do. I also switched the light bulbs in most of my house to red spectrum light only.
Breathing Exercises: Box Breath
Box breathing is a super low-tech hack to get you from a stress, flight-or-fight state to a more relaxed rest-and-digest state. You can practice this anytime, anywhere without looking too crazy. You simply inhale to a count of 5, hold for a count of 5, exhale to a count of 5 and hold for a count of 5. Repeat until your heart rate has slowed and you’re in a more relaxed state.
Eat Clean: Pile On The Vegetables
Get a lot more polyphenols from herbs, spices, coffee, tea and chocolate to make your mitochondria sing.
Intermittent Fasting (IF): Use Fat To Hack The Hunger
Traditional IF is famous for fat loss and longevity. But going many hours without food can make you hangry. Bulletproof IF, on the other hand, involves quality fat from coconut oil derivative, MCT and grass-fed butter or ghee, which keeps you full (read: happier) for hours. You get the biological benefits of IF without the hunger pangs.
MCT gives you external ketones so you even experience mild ketosis (when your body runs off of fat) when you’ve eaten some carbohydrates. This lets your brain run on glucose and fat energy (ketones) at the same time for maximum performance.
HIIT Training: Quick + Dirty Cardio
High-intensity interval training once a week and a 20-minute walk daily will improve brain function and keep muscles toned.
Find A Vibe: Vibration Plates To Maximize Movement
Whole body vibration is a way to get more movement in less time. Vibration plates are beneficial for everyone from professional athletes to the elderly. They’re used for increased muscle building and fat loss, and can even lower stress hormones and increase sex hormones like testosterone!
The Neurotrophic Factor: Boost Your Brain Naturally
The more brain-derived neurothrophic factor (BDNF) the better – this stuff encourages neuron growth and an increase in communication between neurons so you’ll think more clearly and have more focus as you age. Exercise and meditation are amazing for a boost in BDNF.