Can you tap into your brain to get sharper, smarter and work faster? According to Dave Asprey, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, founder and CEO of bulletproof.com, and author of “The Bulletproof Diet” and “Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster – in Just Two Weeks,” the answer is a resounding yes.
Dr. Joseph Mercola also has a new book I recommend called “Fat for Fuel.” Asprey approaches the subject of optimizing brain function from the perspective of having suffered serious health problems and seeking options for recovery, because the mainstream route simply didn’t work. At one point, he weighed 300 pounds, couldn’t lose weight and was suffering the effects of multiple toxic exposures, including Lyme disease. Not a doctor, he was still able to read through the medical literature to discover important health truths.
His story begins with a battle with brain fog.
Asprey was a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur in the early days of the web. Then, he suddenly started gaining a lot of weight, and despite working out every day, six days a week, the weight gain continued. After going on a low-fat diet, he started experiencing severe brain fog – so much so, he feared losing his career.
“I ended up spending $1 million and 15 years fixing my body and getting all of the data,” Asprey said. “I lost 100 pounds. I ended up running an anti-aging, nonprofit research group. Here I am a formerly obese computer hacker by training, who realized I could hack my own biology.
“When you’re taking over a computer system, you don’t know what’s inside it. You just need to know enough to change the system. I looked at my body and I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on in there. The doctors … barely know what’s going on in there. Maybe I can use these techniques about managing a system even if you don’t know everything.’ It really changed my life. Years later, I have a deep knowledge of how the system of the body works and how the environment changes it.
“You were one of the first guys to talk about epigenetics. This idea that your environment changes your gene expression. Like, whoa, wouldn’t it be easier to just change my environment instead of doing something? That’s where I was led to.”
Asprey realized health is based on our mitochondria. Both weight loss and improved brain capacity is the result of lifestyle changes that optimize your mitochondria.
Mitochondria are tiny organelles in your cells that can be viewed as cellular battery chargers. The mitochondria charge the structured water, which in turn operates much like a battery, thereby producing the energy your body needs to function.
Research suggests half of people under the age of 40 have early onset mitochondrial dysfunction, and this phenomenon appears to be at the heart of most illness and chronic disease.
“That means their battery is weak before it’s supposed to be weak,” Asprey said. “Everyone over age 40 has mitochondrial dysfunction. It’s called aging.
“If you can hack those little mitochondria to make them leak (fewer) electrons, to make them more effective and efficient in creating energy, to make them (create) less inflammation when they make energy, you’re probably going to live a lot longer.
“But however long you live, you’re going to … have more energy every day. That makes you a nicer person because you can regulate your emotions better … I’m calmer, more grounded and more focused because my battery is fully charged most of the time.”
The plan Asprey described in “Head Strong” revolves around reducing exposure to toxins that lower the efficiency of your mitochondria and increasing exposures and activities that give energy. As your disease risk goes down, the quality of your thinking goes up, quite literally making you more “headstrong.”
“What used to be a struggle stops being a struggle. It just feels kind of effortless and joyful,” he said.
One aspect of his work that stands out is the importance of sun exposure. Not only does it provide your body with vitamin D, sun exposure also charges your mitochondria. In a nutshell, the near-, mid- and far-infrared light in sunlight can directly add electrons to these internal power plants, your mitochondria.
Infrared light, which is the part that provides warmth, actually changes the structure of the water in your cells, making it more structured, thereby increasing the efficiency of your mitochondria.
In simplified terms, you could say you can actually “charge” yourself with sunlight. In the absence of sunlight, you can also use near- and mid-infrared light bulbs. Groundbreaking science now also shows the near-infrared range is particularly important for your brain function.
“There are basically three different types of beneficial infrared ranges that humans have been able to recreate,” Asprey said. “There’s really a spectrum that’s unending of all these electromagnetic frequencies. We’re just talking (about certain ranges).
“The near-infrared is one that you hear less about. This is warming, more so than far-infrared, which you oftentimes hear about (in relation to infrared) sauna, where far-infrared heats more deeply and near-infrared heats more of the surface.
“You’ll find that all three types of infrared light are important, and that you get all three when you get natural sunlight. What I’m recommending in ‘Head Strong’ is to go outside, take off your sunglasses or prescription glasses (because) that UV filter is actually filtering out (light) that your brain needs.
“You need a little bit of ultraviolet light even in your eyes. It can help to fix near-sightedness. Take off your hat. You’re not going to get wrinkles in 20 minutes of sunshine. It’s OK. Don’t put on sunscreen. Take off your shirt and go for a walk in the sun.”