Bulletproof Bullet Points: August’s Biohacking News
Can you believe September is right around the corner?
Neither can we. It’s been a big month for us here at Bulletproof and we have a lot of gratitude to dish out. We launched our Bulletproof Coach Training Program to an unbelievable reception, selling out within 24 hours. It was so popular that we’re opening a second round in February of 2016 (you can get on the waiting list here). Thank you for the overwhelmingly positive response.
The Bulletproof Coffee Shop in Santa Monica just celebrated its one-month anniversary, too, and it’s bustling every day. We hope you Californians (and visitors) are enjoying it.
There’s been a lot of cool biohacking news this month. Check it out.
Sweet, salty, bitter, sour, savory, and…oleogustus?
Is that the name of a Roman emperor? Not quite. It’s the name for a sixth taste that researchers suggest adding to the human palate: the taste of fat. A brand-new study found that humans separate the taste and sensation of fat from other basic tastes. While the sensation of pure fat overlapped somewhat with umami – the savory taste found in steak, slow-cooked tomato sauce, and MSG – fat still stood on its own.
Here’s the kicker, though: participants found the taste of pure fatty acids unpleasant. The study’s researcher, Richard D. Mattes, explains that when you eat fat, you’re typically eating a triglyceride, which has three fatty acids on it. Triglycerides have the rich, creamy texture typical of butter or ice cream (that’s Bulletproof ice cream, of course). In addition, triglycerides absorb fat-soluble flavor molecules and combine them with a velvety texture. That’s what makes fat in food so good.
Triglycerides have three fatty acids and taste great. Isolated fatty acids, on the other hand, don’t taste good at all. They don’t hold flavor well and they’re quite unpleasant. So while fat is a basic taste, it’s still best to mix it with other flavors.
A new way to mix butter and coffee
Speaking of mixing fat with other flavors, this article details how to infuse your butter with the bold taste of coffee. If a morning cup of Bulletproof Coffee isn’t enough you can take the taste to your other meals as well. Apparently the butter adds a rich complexity to steak.
Making coffee-infused butter is pretty simple, too. You basically throw butter and coffee beans in a sous vide for a couple hours. If you don’t have a sous vide (the fancy French term for “putting stuff in a bag and slow-cooking it in water”), don’t despair: there’s a hack for that. Just make sure the plastic you use is BPA-free.
Coconut water has cooled off
Coconut water was all the rage for a couple years, but a recent class-action lawsuit has forced major manufacturers to change their advertising. Claims about coconut water’s nutrient content and ability to hydrate have collapsed under closer scrutiny. Contrary to marketing claims, the drink isn’t particularly high in minerals, and a study funded by Vita Coco, one of the biggest coconut water companies around, found that neither coconut water nor sports drinks hydrate better than plain old water.
Many ads are quick to point out that coconut water has less sugar than the average sport drink, but coconut water is still moderately high in fructose. You’d be better off drinking water and getting all those minerals from a nutrient-dense diet. It’s good to see the coconut water fad begin to pass.
Scientists may have found the key to turning off fear
A new NIH study may have discovered the key to getting rid of fear. First, here are some basics about your brain:
- Your amygdalae are two strips of brain above your temples, and they’re largely responsible for how you experience fear and emotion.
- Your prefrontal cortex (PFC) is directly below your forehead. It’s the most recently evolved part of your brain. It’s also what makes humans distinct from apes. The PFC controls rational thought and reasoning.
The researchers used optogenetics (controlling biological function with light) to play with a single brain pathway in mice – the one between the amygdala and the PFC. They gave the mice mild foot shocks and paired a sound with the shock each time.
Mice typically learn that the sound and the shock are separate and, after a few trials, stop being afraid of the sound on its own. But when the researchers cut off communication between the amygdala-PFC via that single brain pathway the mice continued to be scared of the sound. Their fear didn’t go away.
The opposite was true too. The more researchers stimulated the amygdala-PFC pathway the faster the mice stopped feeling afraid.
The study’s authors seem to have found the key to fear extinction. If manipulating the pathway in humans shows the same effect that it did in mice, these findings could be a huge help to people with disorders caused by faulty fear extinction (like PTSD and chronic anxiety). Pretty cool stuff.
Ditching your phone for a few days could improve your memory, sleep…even your friendships
Kate Unsworth, CEO of the company Kovert, recently conducted a social experiment in digital detoxing. She took 35 CEOs and entrepreneurs and, after letting them get to know each other in a high-end hotel, took their technology away and threw them in the Moroccan desert for four days, away from anything electronic.
Undercover neuroscientists observed the participants, and they noted a few powerful changes:
- People’s posture improved
- They engaged in conversation more deeply, made more eye contact, and seemed more empathetic toward one another
- Without Google to answer questions, people debated topics more and came up with creative, thoughtful answer of their own
- Participants slept better
Most powerful of all is that many of the guests on the trip made big, life-changing decisions about their careers, relationships, and habits. They said that without the distractions technology brings they could better focus on the important things in their lives.
Living in the Moroccan desert for a few days is a little intense for most of us, but small changes could make a big difference in your life. Try deleting an app or two, or limiting computer and phone use to before sunset. The results may surprise you.
Any other awesome new developments in the science and biohacking world? Thoughts about any of the articles above? Let us know in the comments. Enjoy the last couple weeks of summer, and stay Bulletproof!