(Note: I wasn’t microdosing LSD or having blood transfusions).
Experimental cognitive enhancers are called nootropics. I’d started taking a caffeine tablet and an over the counter supplement called L-theanine (found in green tea).
that mixing the two increases attention, slow-wave brain activity (‘relaxed learning’) and increases brain-derived growth factor (BDGF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) in the hippocampus (the 'learning centre’).
In 2003, a top bike manufacturer refused to sell bikes to the British Cycling Team — worried that it would damage their brand. In a century, British cyclists had never won the Tour de France and had won just a single gold medal at the Olympics.
Coach Brailsford was brought in to set a new trajectory for the team. His philosophy was called the 'aggregation of marginal gains’.
He thought that improving every step in the process by 1% would cumulatively, lead to victory. Rubbing alcohol in the tires for better grip, determining the best pillow for a good night’s sleep, hiring a surgeon to teach the cyclists hand washing to avoid catching a cold…
During the ten-year span from 2007 to 2017, British cyclists won 178 world championships and 66 Olympic or Paralympic gold medals and captured 5 Tour de France victories in what is widely regarded as the most successful run in cycling history.
I was following this philosophy. I thought that small increases in my brain-derived growth factor would lead to academic success and medical school admission (it didn’t).
Living to 180
Dave Asprey is going to live to 180. Either that or he’s full of ****. He’s a biohacker who writes about human longevity
and has built a $500,000 at-home lab for his experiments. Whilst he recommends taking 100 supplements a day, injecting stem cells into your spinal cord and sleeping in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber — the core of his teaching can be summarised as:
Avoid the big four killers: Alzheimer’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes
Even Asprey admits that avoiding the big four will do 90% of the work on the road to longevity. That means getting the basics right through appropriate sleep, nutrition and exercise.
I think obsessive tracking and tinkering has a place for elite athletes, but the lesson for me was:
Get the basics right, don’t tinker.