Monthly Archives: December 2014

Book Review: The Bulletproof Diet

BulletproofI adore Dave Asprey’s book The Bulletproof Diet.

I’m really into Biohacking. And Dave Asprey is the emperor of biohackers: the originator of Bulletproof coffee; the instigator of the Biohacking Conference; and the developer of  the Bulletproof Executive brand of biohacking products.

Over the past year, I’ve extensively tested  a couple of Dave’s products (Coffee & MCT oil) & I’ve determined that they genuinely optimize my life. I also use his Vanilla Powder regularly. Though I haven’t given it a robust n=1, I do know it makes me happy.

So you’d think I’d have been all over this book!

But I was skeptical.

I’d read some disparaging things online. Suggestions that Dave was using the book to repackage a ketogenic diet under his own ‘Bulletproof’ brand name. This critique was specifically about his infrequent reference to ketosis & his preference for the word ‘Bulletproof’ in the book. Having read that, I erroneously figured this book was mostly marketing for Bulletproof Executive products, and let it subside from my reading list.

Until it practically jumped off the shelf into my arms in a bookshop on a recent trip to Vancouver.

I bought it. And devoured it.

The Bulletproof Diet

This book won me over in 4 ways:

Alignment

Dave Asprey quoteI’ve been on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) for more than a year, which is pretty rare for a healthy person.

During this time I’ve explored ketogenic variations of the protocol, including an AIP-compliant version of the Wahls Paleo Plus.

Most people think the Autoimmune Protocol is fairly hardcore & don’t resort to it until they’ve tried everything else in an attempt to manage their autoimmune symptoms.

But the Bulletproof diet is entirely aligned with the AIP.

Like the Wahls Paleo Plus & the Autoimmune Protocol, the Bulletproof Diet is a variation on the extreme-paleo theme. But it’s the first of it’s kind (that I know of) that’s designed for humans generally, not just as a last resort for people with debilitating health conditions (like Dr Terry Wahls or my husband Matthew).

I’m enthusiastic about the potential of the Autoimmune Protocol for everyone. I feel so amazing, I’ll know never go back.

BookCoverFocus

There’ too much information out there. Misinformation, opinion & grains of truth. All mixed together in a prickly thicket on the internet.

Dave clears a path through the jungle.

For example, the Bulletproof Diet focuses on on Lectins, Phylates, Oxalates, & Mold Toxins as being worthy of our attention. And Dave explains why.

It also trailblazes by focusing on the autonomy of the individual in interacting with the protocol, in tandem with the power of a biohacking approach to provide data as changes are made.

TriangulationTriangulation

This book triangulated my own biohacking research beautifully. Including reinforcing & accelerating the experiments I’ve been running.

Dave has also vailidated his own research. He’s taken published research & the results his own biohacking experiments, then triangulated those with the results he’s observed in his clients & other pioneer biohackers.

Continuum

Dave offers a ‘roadmap’ food choices that range from ‘Bulletproof’ to ‘Kryptonite’. Unlike most other protocols, which simply provide a list of legal & off-limits foods, this roadmap is presented as a continuum of choices, enabling participants to see all the options while still exerting free will.

kryptoniteI think the ‘Kryptonite’ label is particularly evocative.

The Bulletproof Diet Roadmap & shopping list are both available as free downloads on the Bulletproof Executive website.

Despite encourging choice, Dave advocates sticking with the full Bulletproof diet for 2 weeks at first (16 days less than most elimination diets).

Critique

I have none.

In place of my own critique, I can address the ketosis/Bulletproof complaint that nearly dissuaded me from reading this book.

Ketosis is an element of the Bulletproof Diet. An important one.

But this diet is intermittently ketogenic. Interestingly, last Spring I came to the conclusion that ‘semi-ketogenic’ might be optimal for me, but Dave has provided proof (& a foolproof approach to achieving a semi-ketogenic state.)

‘Bulletproof’ also includes attention to specific types of  toxicity found in common foods, including foods that are often included in strict healing protocols.

And this book doesn’t just address diet. It covers lifestyle hacks for sleep, exercise & fertility.

In short, being Bulletproof isn’t just about ketosis.

And my theory that the book might be a marketing scheme for Bulletproof Executive Products?

Dave is careful to provide alternatives strategies so no one has to buy Bulletproof products. Even as he explains the benefits of lab testing to ensure minimal exposure to mold toxins. And the leverage that can be realized through the use of MCT oil. And some of the other benefits of products available through the Bulletproof Executive line. Given my personal expereince with the quality of these products, I think that’s fair.

Application

Bulletproof Diet: My vote for best beach book, Winter 2015

Bulletproof Diet: My vote for best beach book, Winter 2015

I’ve been experimenting with ketogenic versions of the Autoimmune Protocol for 8 months. 3½ months on the Wahls Paleo Plus and 3½ months on my own super low-carb variation, with a month in between to remember what running on glucose feels like.

I’m going to post a biohacking update soon to summarize my findings, but as to the applicability of the Bulletproof Diet, the short version is: I’m convinced & I’m switching.

3½ months on the Bulletproof Diet. Starting now.

 

 

 

 

 

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Biohacking: the Ultimate New Years’ Resolution

My yoga studio is overfull each January. Mats laid out on the floor like a patchwork quilt, with hardly a path between them.

Participants take part in a mass yoga clFor the first 6 weeks each year I arrive ½ an hour early just to find a spot. But by the end of February it’s just normal-crowded: 10 minutes early is ample.

Every year I plan for it by scheduling extra time before yoga for the first 6-weeks of the year & waiting patiently for the resolutions to crash & burn.

Apparently, only 1 in 10 people achieve the New Year’s resolutions they set.

Why Biohacking?

Because Biohacking is research.

If you make Biohacking your resolution this year, that’s all you’re committing to: research.

Specifically, research into the impacts of the interactions between yourself & your environment.

As with any research, you’ll have a working hypothesis & a initial goal. But these might evolve as you go. Biohacking allows for that.

Hacking Your Resolution

  1. Evidence suggest that people who fail to achieve their resolutions usually don’t have a plan. With biohacking, you get an automatic work-around, because the resolution is the plan. Your plan is to apply a research orientation to optimizing your life.
  2. Prevailing wisdom also indicates that we’re all more likely to succeed in reaching our goals if they’re SMART: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic & Time-Bound. Biohacking checks those boxes. It inherently encourages specificity, measurement, attainability, reality-testing & attention to time-frame.
  3. Experts on goal setting also recommend that we make just one resolution & channel all our energy toward it. Biohacking is just one resolution: to approach life with relentless curiosity & make adjustments as you learn.
  4. As mentioned, only 1 in 10 people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. But it’s nearly impossible to fail in your biohacking resolution, if you remain committed to reality-testing & continue to gather data no matter what. For example:

smart goalsYou may have started out with the goal of going to yoga regularly. Or eliminating inflammatory foods.

And perhaps in time your behaviour strayed from strict fidelity to this new protocol.

Did you fail?

As a biohacker, falling out of your protocol simply presents an opportunity for curiosity. A new occasion to learn about the unique & complex biological & psychological laboratory that is you.

It enables you to ask:

Why did I revert to old patterns? What happened in the time period before, during & after the reversion? What challenges am I experiencing in getting back to my protocol? How can I reduce the influence of those obstacles? How are my current nutritional & lifestyle patterns impacting my well-being?

Track that.

Learn.

Use the information to design a protocol that has a better chance of success.

As long as you keep gathering data, learning & applying your new knowledge, you’re still biohacking~.

Resolution: Venison

Resolution: Venison!

My Resolutions

My resolutions?

#1: To support my own biohacking efforts & those of others by making the application of personal biohacking research for health & well-being the particular focus of my blog in 2015~.

So stick with me!

#2: I also resolve to learn everything required to humanely kill & process a deer next hunting season.

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Biohacking Update: 12 months on the Autoimmune Protocol

9 monthsDecember 23rd is our 1-year AIP-iversary!

We started our long-term Autoimmune Protocol one year ago today.

One year ago, Matthew was almost debilitated by a constellation of chronic health issues. Despite all the conventional, alternative & downright weird things we’d tried in our attempts to reverse his autoimmune conditions over the previous five years.

12 months later, we’re elated & discouraged about the progress he’s made.

Reversing Autoimmune

There’s no question Matthew is reversing his autoimmune condition on the AIP. Reversing, slowly. Not curing.

All the experts say the once a body is in autoimmune response, it’ll always be inclined that way.

You can’t cure autoimmune.

But you can reverse it’s effects. Slowly. Through the nutritional & lifestyle hacks known collectively as the Autoimmune Protocol.

Here’s a brief summary of Matthew’s progress after 12-months on the AIP:

symptoms_12 months

And me?

I’ve been on the AIP for 12 months, too. Most of that time a ketogenic version. As a person without an autoimmune condition, I’m loving the results, which I’ve documented in the posts biohacking for peak experience & biohacking for career leverage.

A false start & a rough beginning

We’ve tried a bunch of nutritional protocols in our attempts to heal. From the specific carbohydrate diet to raw veganism, they all left Matthew somewhere on the continuum between worse & unchanged.

2012~2014Our first Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) was for 30 days in the summer of 2013.

We thought 30 days might do it!

When it didn’t, Matthew was pretty dispirited. And fairly hostile about the AIP. I’d been paleo for a couple of years and had experienced the alleviation of all of my symptoms, so I continued to be paleo after our first AIP experiment.

But Matthew insisted that regular paleo made him worse, so he reverted to all his SAD-old ways.

Turns out he was right. A regular paleo diet is insufficient and inflammatory for many people with autoimmune conditions.

A few months after our first AIP, we noticed that Matthew’s psoriasis symptoms had improved.  We traced the remission back to our 30-day AIP.

At the same time, his pain symptoms were getting steadily worse, along with his dependence on narcotic painkillers, which interfered with his ability to function & interact with people.

Then, in October of 2013, he developed inexplicable, debilitating nausea.

After further research, we decided to try a long-term AIP. Or, in truth, I did the research and I decided.

Matthew grudgingly agreed. He was severely compromised at that time & would never have been able to do the protocol, or the research required to find out about it, on his own.

Now he can.

Though this was only a year & a bit ago, it was before Dr Sarah Ballantyne’s book The Paleo Approach was published.

At that time the primary sources of information on the AIP came from the experimental blogs of AIP pioneers who were treating their own autoimmune diseases through nutrition & lifestyle. This movement is still being led by people who are taking their health into their own hands, and taking the time to blog about it.

low-FODMAP & ketogenic variations

It was only a couple of weeks into our long-term AIP, during which time I continued to research obsessively, that Matthew decided to try a low-FODMAP variation. He’s experimented with going off of it during the last year & always ends up back on it. He does better.

Last Spring I decided to experiment with an AIP-compliant version of the Wahls Paleo Plus, the ketogenic version of the Wahls Protocol. I liked it so much I decided to stick with a ketogenic AIP and have continued to experiment with different levels of carbohydrates.

What next?

A long time ago we resolved that we’re just going to keep trying.

Most of the things we’ve tried haven’t worked. Some have made Matthew worse. Occasionally, we have a breakthrough.

The AIP is a breakthrough.

We’re going to stick with it & keep trying new nutritional & lifestyle hacks in our quest for health and well-being.

Previous Biohacking Updates

 

 

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Toasted Balsamic Pomelo (AIP & low-FODMAP)

petra8paleo pomeloMy #3 kid has always had a penchant for odd large-format fruits & vegetables. Not to eat, necessarily. But as companions.

When she was little, she would vociferously insist on adopting vegetables from the grocery store & carrying them with her everywhere.

The winter squashes would last until she lost interest in them, but I’d have to steal the eggplants and papayas from her toddler clutches while she slept when they started to rot.

She’s now 6′ tall and almost 15, but she still has these tendencies.

PomeloRecently, when we were in Vancouver visiting her older brother (my #2 kid) we spied a display of enormous pomelos at a market. I knew as soon as I saw them, strange, green and huge, that she’d have to have one.

The substantial green pomelo hung out with her in her room for a couple of days before I suggested we eat it. She’s more of a rational adult than an obsessive toddler these days, so she agreed.

But I had no idea what a pomelo was exactly.

Turns out it’s ancient.

One of the three original citrus species, in fact, along with citron (which is fairly inedible) and mandarin.

So there’s no doubt pomelos were an ancestral food source for people in South East Asia, where they originated.

Pomelo 1812-1824 artist unknown

Artist unknown 1812-1824

I now know that oranges are a hybrid of mandarins and pomelos, and grapefruits a further iteration, a hybrid of oranges and pomelos.

Their Latin name Citrus Maxima is appropriate, as pomelos can apparently get even bigger than the one recently adopted by my kid: they can weigh as much as 4½ lbs each.

This pomelo recipe was 100% inspired by my various children. When I consulted my #1 kid, she told me the secret to sweetening a grapefruit is to add salt, not sugar.

And I contributed too, because when in doubt I figure just add Balsamic Vinegar & run it (whatever ‘it’ may be) under a broiler!

To continue with my unintentional but emerging breakfast theme, which started with London Fog Lattes & Daikon Confit Hash, here’s my newest wintertime breakfast treat:

Toasted Balsamic Pomelo (AIP & low-FODMAP)

 from petra8paleoPomelo 4

  • 1 Pomelo
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 pinches salt

Preheat the broiler to 500.

Slice the Pomelo in half, like a grapefruit. Also, like a grapefruit, separate each section from the surrounding membrane with a sharp knife.

Place the Pomelo halves, cut side up in a baking dish, Pour 1 tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar over each half, and sprinkle a pinch of salt over top.

Place the Pomelo under the broiler for 10 minutes, until slightly scorched & steaming.

Enjoy hot or cold. 

Pomelo 3

 

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Daikon Confit Hash (AIP, low-FODMAP & WahlsPaleo+)

Daikon confit hash breakfastMy #1 kid is home for a spell.

She’s been experimenting with ketosis since her last visit in September, when I gave her my copy of Keto Clarity. She’s also a total foodie who has been systematically working in the kitchens of some of the best restaurants in San Francisco in her quest to gain the skills & knowledge she needs to open her own restaurant.

(Hopefully a paleo-friendly establishment, like Brothl, really near me!)

She and I scheme continually about food. And now that we’re both ketogenic, we mostly scheme about fun ways to eat fat.

Confit

Lately, she’s been teaching me about confit (pronounced ‘kon-FEE’).

Confit involves slowly cooking food in fat at a low temperature. Much lower than deep frying.

It originated as a food preservation technique. Meat that was cooked at a low heat was sealed in the hardened cooking fat, thereby shielding it from bacteria, and enabling  storage for weeks or months.

As fascinated as I am about ancient food preservation strategies, we haven’t been using confit for this purpose. We’ve simply been using it as a cooking technique.

The beautiful thing about confit as a cooking strategy is that when you aren’t seeking to mummify the food in the cooking fat, it can be used again & again. We’ve been using some absolutely glorious duck fat that we bought already rendered. After cooking we just strain & refrigerate it, until our next confit.

Here’s one of our confit creations. A delicious & easy breakfast hash made with Daikon Radish~.

I’m kind of in love with Daikon & already shared some thoughts about the wisdom of invoking the radish spirit when eating it.

Daikon Confit Hash (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleoDaikon confit hash 3

  • 1 medium-sized Daikon Radish
  • 1½-2 cups Duck Fat
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan Salt (or similar)
  • a few springs Parsley, minced

 

Cut the Daikon into cubes, approximately 1 cm (or 0.393701 of an inch) square.

Put the cold duck fat in a deep frying pan on low heat. Add the Daikon.

Allow the fat to slowly melt.

Slowly cook the Daikon in the fat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat & pour the fat through a sieve or strainer into a glass container with a lid. Once cool, refrigerate the fat for your next confit.

You now have a sieve or strainer full of cooked Daikon.

Return the Daikon & some Duck or Bacon Fat to the pan on medium-high heat. Add salt & pan fry to brown, stirring frequently, until browned.

Garnish with minced Parsley.

Serving Suggestion

Enjoy with a pork chop, greens & avocado for breakfast. Add a London Fog to make it keto-tastic~!

If you’re low-carb, ketogenic, or otherwise considering carbohydrates, Daikon has 4 grams of carbohydrate per 100 grams compared to 17 grams for potatoes.

Daikon confit hash 2

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London Fog Latte (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

Mmmm

Yak butter tea is a primary food in Tibet, providing the essential fat that enables people to thrive, spiritually and physically, in a harsh environment.

This London Fog latte is a (much less pungent) variation on the theme. It is warming and stimulating while also providing high-quality fat to help you rock your day.

In Tibet, tea, salt and yak butter are churned into a hot frothy beverage. At my house, coconut cream, MCT oil, vanilla & tea are whirled in a blender.

I’ve heard that yak butter tea is an acquired taste. Especially when the butter is rancid . But ~I promise~ this tea latte is love-at-first-sip.

Dave Asprey used Yak Butter Tea as the inspiration for his Bulletproof Coffee. This bring the beverage back to it’s roots… with tea~!

It’s also AIP-complaint & extremely friendly to a ketogenic protocol such as the Wahls Paleo Plus.

London Fog LattePre-AIP, I loved London Fogs. Not those sweet drinks they make in coffeeshops with vanilla-flavoured syrup, but homemade, with frothy milk, vanilla extract & Earl Grey tea. I have no idea why I gave them up, because this AIP version is actually better than the London Fogs I used to make.

In fact I’ve been drinking these daily throughout these chilly, foggy, damp late-Autumn days.

In the winter months, it only makes sense to keep a couple of tins of coconut milk in the fridge so you’re always ready to counteract any accumulating interior or exterior gloom with a hot frothy London Fog.

London Fog Latte (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleo

  • 1 tin full-fat no-additive Coconut Milk, refrigerated
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla Powder
  • 2 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 1½ cups boiling water
  • 1 Tablespoon MCT Oil (optional)

Drink!Advance prep: Chill the tin of coconut milk in the refrigerator for several hours, to separate the cream from the coconut water.

Scoop the coconut cream out of tin into a saucepan. Reserve the coconut water for another use.

Pour the boiling water over the tea bags & steep for just 2 minutes.

Add the steeped tea & the vanilla powder to the saucepan & heat until bubbling.

Pour the hot mixture into a blender, add the MCT oil (if using) & blend on high for 30 seconds.

Pour into 2 mugs & be in love with life.

Note: MCT oil can take a while to get used to, digestively speaking. If it is new to you, start with 1 teaspoon & gradually increase the quantity. MCT oil is a liquid nutritional supplement made from refined coconut & red palm oils.

Rooibos Variation

Substitute rooibos for black tea for a delicious caffeine-free version.

Vanilla Coconut Cream

Drink Me

 

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Biohacking is Research

Not into the whole proto-cyborg thing...

Not into the whole proto-cyborg thing…

Normally I don’t tell people I’m into biohacking.

Because it sounds pretentious & weird.

Something a socially awkward person says at a party.

And admittedly, some biohackers are weird. Proto-cyborgs full of electronic implants.

But I’m a vanilla biohacker.

Just nutritional & lifestyle hacks for me!

Biohacking

In truth, I’m so into biohacking I have a blog about it. Here it is~! Biohacking autoimmune & Biohacking Peak Experience is the byline.

But, as mentioned,  normally I don’t say biohacking out loud.

Except recently. I was an evaluation conference at an airport hotel in Winnipeg & somehow, in that setting, it felt appropriate to speak about it.

Nobody knew what biohacking was, but all my fellow evaluators understood when I explained that I apply evaluative thinking to my personal life with the goal of maximizing my well-being. I run nutritional & lifestyle experiments, & use the data to fine-tune the strategies I use to achieve my goal.

In the company of other evaluation geeks, this made perfect sense.

That’s because an evaluative midset is all that biohacking requires.

Biohacking as Research~

Evaluation spiralEvaluation is research, and can be divided according to 3 purposes:

  1. Summative Evaluation:  To make a judgement at the end of an intervention;
  2. Formative Evaluation: For improvement during an intervention;
  3. Developmental Evaluation: In complex, dynamic contexts when the intervention is adaptive rather than predetermined.

You can use all types for biohacking.

Summative Evaluation

Use summative evaluation when you follow an established elimination diet, like the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). Gather data about your health & well-being before you start (that’s your baseline), engage with the protocol exactly as prescribed, & gather data at the end. Then determine if it is worth continuing with the experiment. It’s important to stay with the protocol long enough to generate useful summative data for evaluation.

Formative Evaluation

Formative evaluation improves an intervention. For example, if you’ve been on the AIP (or another protocol) for a reasonable length of time, and you aren’t getting the interim results you hoped for, you might assess your fidelity to the protocol (are you following it exactly?) & discover that some refinements can be made in this area. Or you might level up to a coconut-free, low-FODMAP or a ketogenic version for a period of time, and continue to evaluate the results of this change.

Developmental Evaluation

Developmental Evaluation assists with learning & tracking progress when there is no predetermined intervention; conditions are complex; and causality is hard to track. It assists with developing an intervention inside the mess of real life. You might use it when nothing seems to be working and environments both inside and outside your body are unpredictable. Gradually, through self-experimentation, you might develop a pattern (an intervention) that can be evaluated formatively or summatively, but in the meantime, developmental evaluation allows you to observe and interact with complex systems and adapt as you go.

The internet has allowed people who are innovating in this way to communicate the results of their experiments with each other, enabling Developmental Biohackers to accelerate learning & pattern-finding.

research

Biohacking is a way to use evaluation to achieve your wellness goals & change your life.

In my case that means achieving peak experience or flow more frequently. In Matthew’s case it means reversing his disabling autoimmune conditions.

Mark Moschel calls biohacking a “systems-thinking approach to our own biology.”

n=1

Evaluation is research.

Evaluation research includes “any effort to judge or enhance human effectiveness through systematic data-based inquiry” ~Michael Quinn Patton.

N=1, in the language of evaluation & research, simply means an experiment with 1 participant. You!

The assumption inherent to n=1 biohacking experiments is that universal solutions to complex problems can have limited effectiveness, as we each have unique histories, genetic profiles, environments and patterns of responding.

We are complex systems living in complex systems.

And an evaluative mindset is what we need to leverage this complexity on behalf of our health & well-being.

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