Nick Powell

Limitless: biohacking to optimal health

Aired on: November 15, 2019

Episode Description
Nick Powell, a specialist in human optimization, discusses biohacking towards optimal health and exceptional performance. As described in his book Limitless, he synthesizes the research and programs and tells us how to biohack our way to optimal health. He discusses the role of sleep, diet, meditation and exercise. including strategies on. fasting, smart drugs, light therapy, Heart Rate Variability training, toxin exposure, cold therapy, ketogenic diets and time-efficient exercise

Main Points

  • If we give our bodies the correct input, our body can heal
  • Keep an open mind and think of yourself as an N equals one experiment as each is unique
  • Do your own experiments and try things out
  • Take responsibility for your own health and performance

His journey

  • Around age 38, he had low energy levels although everything in his life appeared to go well
  • With low energy and high stress , it was difficult to be present with his family
  • He developed a beer belly which he thought was normal
  • When he had his first up of bullet proof coffee – his brain turned on
  • He did well on the bullet proof diet
  • He sought ways to improve his professional and personal life

Causes of his Tiredness

  • His diet. Processed food he was not aware of the food choices he was making
  • He was under a lot of stress
  • This was a vicious circle, he was tired and not making the right decisions
  • He did not recognize stress
  • He felt OK but did not know anything different
    • He did not know what feeling better felt like


  • Taking control of your own biology and energy levels and the environment around you to give great energy and health
  • The intersection of technology and biology

Managing energy

  • Is good to have energy all day
  • Many people have an energy crash after lunch.  They feel tired throughout the day waiting for work to end
  • He believes that energy should last throughout the day
  • With good , steady energy, one makes good decision,
    • People don’t get “kranky”
    • People can do the right thing
  • With a poor energy level, it is easy to fall into bad habits

Methods for Maintaining Good Energy Levels

  • Good food
  • Quality sleep
  • Get the correct light during the right time of the day
    • No blue light (such as from computers, iphones and TVs) at night because it interferes with the production of melatonin which helps sleeping
  • Take the appropriate supplements
  • Most important is the fuel we put into our body and good sleep

Causes poor energy dips

  • Insulin spikes after a sugar spike
  • Inflammation
    • is intertwined with oxidative stress     and poor methylation and is a contributing  most chronic diseases
    • When we eat a food we are not designed to eat, we become inflamed with the symptoms.  These indicate we ate something that might not be good for us
      • Bloated in the stomach
      • Brain fog
        • Is connected with a leaky blood brain barrier which is usually accompanied by a leaky gut barrier which can be the start of autoimmune diseases
        • We have more mitochondria in brain in the brain than elsewhere
          • So when one eats something that is toxic, can feel it more in the brain because of the increased mitochondria are in the brain
    • Symptoms of inflammation or a food that is not good for us
      • Bloating
      • Brain fog
      • Weight gain of more than a kilo in the morning is indicative of inflammation because the body retained liquids to deal with the inflammation for a substance that is toxic to the body.   
      • Dave Asprey mentioned that if after a toxic meal one has to pee but not much comes out that is another sign of a toxic food
        • He also states we might not notice the symptoms for a couple of days
      • Also an increase in the pulse of 16- 17   within 90 minutesa is a sign of having eaten a food that is toxic for us
      • For example, some people are sensitive to lectin
      • Each person might be sensitive to different foods so what foods cause inflammation can be an individual the
    • Measuring inflammation
      • Blood test hs crp heart sensitive c reactive protein
      • Be aware of our bodies and bodies responses
      • Intuitive eating
        • Think how feel after eating
        • If don’t feel good, then there was something in the meal that caused a problem
        • Individually monitor how you feel after eating certain foods and figure out which foods get in the way of healing and functioning well


  • Produces 85 % of the energy in our bodies
  • They signal to cells when to live and when to die (very important so the dysfunctional cells can be removed from the body.
  • So we have to protect our mitochondria

Toxin loads

  • These disrupt the mitochondria and cause inflammation and can lead to autoimmune diseases
  • Are higher than they have every been
    • For example, with glyphosate, factory farmed animals and other chemicals in our environment
      • These get into the blood brain barriers causing mitochondrial dysfunction
      • These get into all of our cells
  • We feel these toxins more in the brain as there are more mitochondria in the brain
  • The impossible burger – experts say that the best way to help with global warming is to have diversified farming with animals rather than mono crop farming
    • Two items that disrupt the blood brain barrier and the intestinal barrier  are glyphosate and EMF

Biomarkers to Measure health progress

  • Hs crp (heart sensitive c reactive protein) for inflammation measure
  • Vitamin D level helps energy levels particularly in the winter
  • Vitamin B 12


  • Are protein in nightshade family which stop animals from eating them
  • Pepper, chili, potato, tomato, eggplant
  • Most humans can tolerate lectins
  • 25 % of people have problems eating nightshade vegetables
    • For Nick this made him bloat and feel tired

Foods that are bad for most people

  • Sugars
    • Deplete minerals
    • Previously the sugar industry encouraged researchers to define fat as a major problem which led to the low fat diet (supplemented with sugar) and increasing health problems
  • Gluten
    • Tom O’Bryan states that humans don’t have the enzymes to completely digest gluten.  Undigested proteins when going through a leaky gut to the blood stream can contribute to the onset of autoimmune diseases
    • Gluten has many components so the gliaden antibody will not accurately measure a gluten sensitivity
    • Gluten contains gluteomorphin which has opiate like properties and can lead to an addiction to gluten
  • Milk
    • Some people have a sensitivity
  • Processed foods
  • Vegetable Oils
    • Including rapeseed/ canola oil – these are highly processed
  • Factory Farmed Meat
    • Contains insecticides, hormones and antibiotics
    • Eat half the quantity of meat and perhaps spend more
  • Farmed salmon
    • Unfortunately in the uK , they can not get wild salmon.
    • The farmed salmon kill the wild salmon
    • Don’t eat UK or Scandinavian salmon

Elimination Diet

  • Eliminate major sources of food sensitivities
    • Eliminate sugar, gluten, grains, dairy, processed food, soy, lectin foods
    • Then at a later time, slowly re introduce foods one at a time to see the body’s reaction
    • This is the basis of the Wahls’ Protocol, The autoimmune fix, the Bullet Proof Diets
  • He recommends eliminating grains, dairy , and sugar as these generate an inflammatory reaction in almost everyone

Ketogenic – Paleo Diets

  •  Eliminate the insulin spikes which causes inflammation, oxidative stress and increases cortisol
  • Women nay have a more difficult time on a ketogenic diet
  • Be careful of too much protein such as the Atkins Diet
    • Meat can spike insulin unless the fat is eaten with the meat

Super Foods

  • Sulfuraphane
    • Found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts
    • Immune stimulant
    • Anti- inflammatory
    • Supports the heart
    • Has cancer fighting compounds
    • Increase glutathione
    • Broccoli sprouts has 100 x more sulforaphane
  • Polyphenols
    • In coffee, dark vegetables, dark green vegetables. Herbs (fresh and dried0 berries (blueberries, currants), green tea, olives, pomegranate, red cabbage, red onion, red wine,  and dark chocolate
    • Eat diverse colour in vegetables


  • During sleep we
    • Eliminates toxins
    • Repair body
    • Process emotions
    • Move memories from short term to long term
  • We sleep in 90 minute cycles
  • Quality sleep is important
  • A study showed that if people had 5 hours sleep per night had a higher mortality rate than those who sleep 8 hours
    • This study found 6.5 hours sleep to be optimal

Poor sleep

  • Increases inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Increases risks for diabetes, heart disease, ad Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Make poor decisions, is hard to function

How to Hack (improve sleep)

  • No caffeine after 2 PM
  • Sleep in a dark room
  • Amber glasses to filter out blue light which decreases melatonin
  • magnesium
  • No exercise 2 hours before sleep
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar and 1 T honey

Occasional Cold exposure

  • Simulates weight loss
  • Stimulate the brown fat
  • Increases norepinephrine
  • Decreases depression
  • Improves cognition.