Biohacker’s Booklist 2020: Health, Wellness & Spirituality

You probably don’t start your day with three hours of reading. Neither do I. Successful Viome CEO Naveen Jain attributes his success to his reading habit.

Every biohacker should become well acquainted with reading. Books specifically. There’s no better way to absorb vast amounts of information in as little time.

Breakthrough ideas come from absorbing and contrasting different perspectives of thought leaders. Read three or four books on a topic, and you begin spotting things that others miss. Click To Tweet

Books offer a number of advantages over learning through other forms of information.

Why Books Over Podcasts, Youtube Videos, and Articles

Greater depth: books go from introducing a topic, to explaining it, to providing evidence, and anticipate the questions readers will have. They have more time and space to do so. Biohacking topics have nuance, and require adequate background that you don’t get in other mediums.

Sources cited: you can’t take everything you hear or see at face value. Any respectable book cites their sources. Readers have the ability to verify claims and the rationale of the author. Rarely do I see citations in videos, and virtually never in podcasts. If the speaker’s entire point is built upon something they heard somewhere from someone, you should wonder about the credibility.

Curated information: filling pages takes work. Before they go about spending an enormous amount of time writing a book, authors heavily research and compile as much information as possible on everything regarding their chosen topic. Before getting started they must look into the opposing side’s arguments. It would do no good to spend hundreds of hours writing only to realize that they missed major points. So you get all kinds of related information all in one place.

World-class experts: authors don’t write on topics they know nothing about. Instead, they painstakingly brainstorm, research, outline, and write on topics near and dear to their heart. You probably won’t ever encounter these experts in your daily life, but you have access to their every thought regarding their specialty.

Low-quality information is worse than none at all. Do your diligence in verifying author claims. I have compiled a reading list of the books that I have read, or others commonly recommended.

Becoming Supernatural

By: Joe Dispenza

Anything with “quantum” and “spirituality” in the same sentence instantly loses me. It’s all B.S. Or so I thought.

I read Dawson Church’s Mind to Matter, and that first introduced me to the idea of the unity between science and spirituality. Before you write to book off as unscientific, give the first chapter or two a skim. Joe has conducted and compiled hundreds of studies on the powerful overlap of the mind and the material world.

You’ll understand how thoughts become things, how to shift your life out of autopilot, how to upgrade your affirmations to actually work, how to radiate happiness, and much more.

I rarely gift the same book to people across all walks of life, but Becoming Supernatural deserves an exception.

I’ve heard back from the most hardcore of skeptics that this one changed their lives and it’s among their most gifted books too.

Boundless

By: Ben Greenfield

A one-stop-shop for all things biohacking, peak performance, and personal health optimization. Boundless is packed with tips, tricks, and resources to help you sort through the noise.

Ben shares his experiences in decades of high-level athletic competition.

At 641 pages and with an entire site dedicated to providing additional resources, it isn’t exactly a quick read.

There’s something for every level in this book. Beginners appreciate the definitions and stories, while the pros can nerd out over the science.

Head Strong

By: Dave Asprey

Responsible for popularizing the “powerhouses of the cell”, Dave’s book makes mitochondria simple and easy to understand.

One of the first biohacking books I loaded on to my kindle, Head Strong prompted me to look after my mitochondria. You’ll learn how these tiny organelles underlie health and a game plan to quickly change the way you feel.

Head Strong connects the dots on other reasons to live healthy.

Biohackers Handbook

By: Teemu Aruna et al.

Five authors and an illustrator teamed up to bring you information you won’t find elsewhere.

Another all-in-one resource that has stood the test of time. Each member of the team specializes in one of their five life categories.

Weighing in with over 1,500 references and hundreds of images, this beast looks as good as it reads. $65 for a book is a hefty investment, unless you consider it a work of art.

Not convinced?

They generously offer the sleep section for free on their website.

Lifespan

By: David Sinclair

David considers aging a disease.

His life’s work has focused on preventing and eventually reversing that disease. An anti-aging and longevity expert, in David’s latest book he shares his ground-breaking discoveries into the aging process from decades of research.

I disagree with David regarding protein consumption. High performance takes a fair amount of protein. Occasionally activating mTOR and shutting down autophagy is necessary for growth and to feel good.

More compelling yet are his ideas on slowing the aging process through diet, lifestyle, exercise, and the subject of a lot of attention — supplementation. Aging like Benjamin Button may be too far-fetched.

Metabolic Autophagy

By: Siim Land


What if you could improve your lifespan without the hassle of caloric restriction?

Siim explores the research and explains a different path to longevity. One that has exploded in the last few years: intermittent fasting.

A nice pairing with Sinclair’s Lifespan, you’ll understand how to use intermittent fasting as a tool to stay healthy, perform at your peak, and find a type to incorporate into your lifestyle.

Metabolic autophagy brings clarity to a term tossed around lightly by everyone and their grandmas.

Circadian Code

By: Satchin Panda


Your internal clock, known as circadian rhythm, holds a key into understanding your energy patterns.

Satchin’s work pioneers the field of circadian rhythm. He has uncovered why some people fall asleep at noon, and others feel wired with energy through the night.

Circadian rhythm impacts another form of energy too: your eating habits.

While the rest of the world has been off obsessing over what to eat, Satchin has painstakingly run experiment after experiment seeking to determine the ideal when to eat.

Siim’s intermittent fasting protocol outlines the different timings of eating/fasting, use The Circadian Code to understand your fasting timing.

His book is about more than eating and energy though. You’ll learn how to optimize facets of your lifestyle ranging from exercise to sleep.

The Complete Guide to Fasting

By: Jason Fung

I know what you’re thinking… another book on fasting?

Yes, but this one is different. This is the bible on designing a fasting plan. The book has been around since 2016. To modern society, that’s an eon before fasting became popular.

Written by a doctor who guided over 1,000 patients in designing unique fasts for every need, The Complete Guide to Fasting assumes no prior experience and will walk you through each and every type of fast.

If you’re looking to understand the process as you go beyond intermittent fasts, this book has you covered.

I found it right when it came out, and by then had used intermittent fasting for a few years. It gave me the reassurance I needed to try my first extended fasts. To my delight, my muscle didn’t disappear, I didn’t get weaker, and my energy stabilized.

What The Heck Should I Eat

By: Mark Hyman


Confused by what’s “healthy” and what’s not?

Mark gives you a background on the importance of food in staying healthy.

Then brings research and analysis to each of the food groups, helping you cut through the popular science and make smart decisions.

If you have a good grasp on nutrition, you’ll want to choose something more advanced.

Healthy Gut, Healthy You

By: Michael Ruscio

Before Healthy Gut, Healthy You, I did everything I knew to keep my gut healthy.

I drank lots of kombucha, occasionally swallowed a probiotic capsule, and ate my vegetables.

I nearly spit my kombucha out when Michael pointed out that most Westerners have bacterial overgrowths (not undergrowth) in the small intestine thanks to a variety of modern practices.

I began connecting the dots between the gut, overall health, and a few minor symptoms I had written off as a part of life for years. I followed a similar protocol to the one he described, and my gas, bloating, and fatigue lifted.

Endure

By: Alex Hutchinson

I discovered Alex when researching for my post explaining why running is unhealthy.

Healthy or not, books give us the unique ability to peer into the minds of the world’s most elite.

Skeptics of the mind take note, these people redefine what science says is physically possible. Alex takes us to the forefront on modern sports science showing how athletes and biohackers can get more out of their mind and body.

I just started this one, and Alex has already busted several myths I believed.

The Carnivore Code

By: Paul Saladino


Cool cover. Even better, Paul challenges mainstream ideas like no other.

The world preaches “more plants”. Paul says no plants. Speaking from research, the experience of his patients and himself personally, Paul brings up good points on the role of plants in the diet of the modern human. Some points of his that really struck home with me:

  • Humans didn’t always have access to plants in their environment. In the winter plants didn’t bear fruit.
  • Plant’s cannot move. Their defense compounds are meant to be toxic to predators (like humans). We may or may not break them down depending on our other parts of our health.

He goes on to debunk myth after myth about the dangers of meat, necessity of plants, and how certain compounds like fiber, TMAO, and polyphenols factor into the carnivore diet.

I personally lurked in the Carnivore subreddit for a few months and did my own extensive research before giving it a try. I made it two weeks before relapsing back to plants, but I could see why thousands of people swear by carnivore as an effective elimination diet. Especially when so many other diets fail them.

The Wahls Protocol

By: Terry Wahls


Plagued with autoimmunity?

Terry Wahls, once relegated to a wheelchair, literally used food to do what medication could not: help her overcome her broken biochemistry.

The Wahls Protocol recounts the power of a modified nutrient-rich paleo diet to create lasting health changes, autoimmunity or not.

Terry doesn’t just give you her incredible story, but pairs it with research. As any biohackers would expect.

If you or someone you know suffers from autoimmunity (and can handle the common story-arch of food reversing disease), this one is for you.

Beyond The Pill

By: Jolene Brighten


Little things often evade thought. From strengthening your stabilizer muscles all the way down to the tiny pills that millions of people mindlessly pop every single day.

Hormones are powerful.

Jolene shines a light where few others have. In Beyond the Pill she explores the alarming correlation between the birth control pill and:

  • Mental conditions like depression, anxiety, and even Alzheimer’s
  • Significantly worse athletic performance
  • Microbiome damage
  • Inflammation
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Mitochondria damage

And a whole lot more. It’s not all dark. Jolene dedicates a large portion of the book to the actions you can take today.

I’ll never take the pill, but it’s still a must-read. Why?

We all know someone (or hundreds) on the pill. They likely have no idea about the plethora of smarter choices out there.

Why Isn’t My Brain Working

By: Datis Kharrazian


The brain is a key separator between humans and other species. Powerful, but fragile.

Cognitive hackers rave about Datis’ work which aims to solve the laundry list of symptoms related to subpar brain functioning. Some of them include memory loss, fatigue, brain fog, depression, anxiety, difficulty learning, lack of motivation, or inability to focus.

It’s not quite as fresh off the press as some of the others, but I’ve seen this one come up time and time again in conversations and book lists.

I experience fatigue and lack of focus occasionally, so I am excited to dig into Why Isn’t My Brain Working.

The Body Keeps The Score

By: Bessel A. van der Kolk


Here’s your answer to everything you’ve wanted to know about trauma.

Before you roll your eyes and skip to the next book: it’s not just war veterans or the unlucky who have trauma. Each and every one of us experienced traumatic events that fundamentally rewired our brains.

Humans store trauma in their bodies. Covering it up doesn’t work Throughout the course of a lifetime, that trauma comes out in everything from minor tics to the severest of mental and physical illnesses.

Sounds farfetched until Bessel reveals what he’s learned from decades of research and working with those that have healed from the very worst of it.

Thankfully, he also offers a number of effective treatments that don’t involve talk therapy or medications. These same things benefit your health across the board.

Biochemical Individuality

By: Roger J. Williams

Think there’s a once-size-fits-all for diet, nutrition, exercise, problem, or therapy?

Nope.

I blanketly advocated a number of things before I came across this book. Roger underscores the unique biochemical makeup of every human. The “average person” does not exist.

He lays out the implications of significant biochemical difference between individuals in nutrition, science, and life.

Every doctor, science student, or even patient should add this 1970 classic to their reading list. I don’t know why it isn’t required reading. This book alone could change the courses of treatment throughout the world.

Roger meticulously goes over each bodily system and covers the vast difference in anatomy and function found between individuals in the research.

The densest book on the list, you can get the gist very quickly.

The Oxygen Advantage

By: Patrick McKeown

Did you know that mouth breathers perform, feel, and set themselves to look bad?

I discovered Wim Hof and thought that I knew breathing.

Then Patrick changed my mind. Suddenly I became conscious of my breathing patterns outside my daily breathwork routine. Sitting at my desk I found myself breathing through my mouth. I now see a respiratory rate trending down on my Oura.

As he puts it, everyone from couch potatoes to Ironman champions can employ Patrick’s teachings to hack their fitness and overall wellness. The Oxygen Advantage not only taught me how to breathe properly through the nose, but went on to explain all the lesser-known reasons to do so.

Warning: you may feel betrayed that no one showed you this one earlier.

Genius Foods

By: Max Lugavere

I’ve found most food books dry and well researched, or packed with emotional heart-wrenching stories but lacking substance.

Genius Foods is the refreshing exception. Family needs made Max drop everything to dive into the complex world of health, diet, and nutrition. He applied his journalism skills to weaving the literature into an easy-to-understand and entertaining read.

Your brain needs fuel, and Max’s non-intrusive recommendations make easy additions to any diet.

Something for every level. The book is not overly advanced, so I was surprised to find some of the latest longevity molecules and research within its pages.

Read Books to Quickly Master Subjects

Biohackers love to learn. Reading a variety of books multiple related books virtually guarantees that you will gain a deep understanding of the pursued topic.

Podcasts, videos, and articles should act as supplements to your book reading.

By basing your knowledge on books, and supplementing with other mediums, you’ll build strong foundational knowledge while layering the latest trends, insights, and perspectives on top.

Now’s the best time to pick up that book and make reading a part of your daily routine.

The effect compounds over time and looking back in a year, you’ll be shocked by how far you’ve come.

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