Walk before you run

The last 20 years of biohacking and innovation have created a whole industry of health products that may (or may not) make a difference at the very outer margin. I think of most modern health advice like the commercial I saw for a specially designed golf ball. This ball might add a few yards to the drive of a professional golfer, but the rest of us would be thrilled just to keep that same ball out of the woods.

The vast majority of people should think first about putting foundational health behaviors in place before dabbling in advanced treatments. Likewise, nearly all the benefits of the hottest upgrades can be achieved for free. Here are five examples of what I’m talking about:

Black seed oil vs. no industrial seed oil. Black seed oil, a rare source of the compound thymoquinone, is said to improve a wide range of conditions including asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and joint pain. I’ve been trying it myself the last couple of weeks, but I realize I’m headfirst into an unavoidable placebo effect. Instead of ingesting black seed oil, people could achieve far greater benefits by cutting consumption of industrial seed oils like canola, safflower, and soybean. This toxic sludge is known to increase the risk of asthma, cause insulin resistance, and lead to the development of cardiovascular disease.

Ozone therapy vs. a fasted walk in the sun. Ozone therapy is a procedure where your blood is drawn, mixed with ozone, and returned back into your body. The goal is to restore mitochondrial function and stop infection. I paid a significant expense to try this once. To be honest, I didn’t feel any difference afterwards, although many people experience a surge of energy and clarity. Perhaps my system is already peakly optimized. Instead, consider a fasted walk in the sun: the sun is a powerful mitochondrial booster, exercise improves mitochondrial function, and fasting plays an important role in renewing your mitochondria.  

$200 running shoes vs. a 180 beats per minute cadence. Hardcore runners are likely aware of the running shoes that have a sensor embedded in the midsole to transmit stride information to a fitness app. In my world, I refine my running form by jogging with a 180 beats per minute cadence (here’s a list of songs from my 180 beats playlist). This step speed naturally produces a midfoot strike that leads to less pounding on joints.

Organic foods vs. your piehole. It makes no difference that your eggs come from pasture raised, hand massaged chickens if you’re paring your omelet with six inches of French baguette. Cut the junk first. 

Branded gym attire vs. my shrunken and threadbare shirts and shorts. I’m told by my daughter that the high fashion specialty-neon shorts she wears to the gym cost $70. The “clothes” I wear to the gym are a couple wash cycles away from being thrown in the trash. Way back in 2007, I wrote:

You can tell a lot about a person’s commitment to fitness by how he or she dresses in the gym. In this case, more really is less. The more colorful, stylish, and expensive the getup, the less likely you will see that person at the gym next month, or even next week.

Believe me, what matters is the going, not what you’re wearing when you get there.

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