Andrew Huberman: What We’ve Learned
Andrew D. Huberman is an American neuroscientist and tenured associate professor in the department of neurobiology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine who has made contributions to the brain development, brain plasticity, and neural regeneration and repair fields.
Through his top-rated podcast, Huberman Lab, as well as many other appearances across the podcast universe… we have been listening intently and with him, trying to figure out what are the biggest factors contributing to human health and happiness.
Huberman is a researcher, Stanford professor, and a self-experimenter. Through what we teach at The Powerhouse and utilizing our Life By Design approach to chiropractic and healthcare… we always say we “Live it to lead it”.
As chiropractors, business owners, parents and generally people who has a lot of responsibilities, and people who still want to achieve optimal health and happiness… we need to know what practices give us the biggest bang for our health bucks.
Managing Our Health Like Our Bank Account
Managing our health is much like managing our bank accounts.
If we get into too much health debt, then the payment is due in injury, disability and sickness.
We need to put away more health deposits than we take withdrawals.
We need to stress our bodies enough to grow but not enough to drive us towards disease. This can sometimes be a fine balance with everything we have going on in life and it keeps changing as the seasons of our life change.
No matter what stage we are at in life, keeping the basics in mind and creating a plan to hit your most basic health habits is something that can strive for every day.
What’s interesting is that when he breaks down the science and distills the best studies in different areas of health, none of the recommendations are ground-breaking…
What is ground-breaking are the magnitude of effect and risk factors that are produced if we follow or fail to follow very basic health principles.
Huberman has shared a lot of health tips and advice over the years, but here are some of his most cited tips broken down into several headings.
Get plenty of natural light: Huberman emphasizes the importance of getting plenty of natural light exposure during the day, particularly in the morning.
This helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and improve mood and energy levels. He makes it simple by saying get “10 mins of of natural light before 10 am each day”… he does mention that even with full cloud cover to still get outside and get exposure.
Huberman recommends getting at least 30 minutes of natural light exposure in the morning, ideally within the first hour of waking up.
He also suggests exposing yourself to bright light during the day and avoiding bright light exposure in the evening before bedtime, as it can disrupt your circadian rhythm.
Lack of sunlight exposure can disrupt circadian rhythms, leading to poor sleep, mood disorders, and impaired immune function.
Practice deep breathing: Huberman recommends practicing deep breathing exercises to reduce stress and improve focus. He suggests taking deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth for several minutes at a time. One easy recommendation we give our practice members often is called box breathing.
Huberman recommends practicing deep breathing exercises for 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times per day. He suggests inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds, and exhaling through your mouth for 8 seconds.
Shallow breathing can contribute to anxiety, stress, and poor oxygenation of the brain and body.
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise has been shown to have a wide range of benefits for both physical and mental health. Huberman recommends finding an exercise routine that you enjoy and making it a regular part of your day.
He suggests aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling. He also recommends incorporating strength training exercises at least twice a week, which recent research shows could have massive long-term benefits for our brain health.
In our Move By Design reccommedations we break this down even further into 4 basic principles:
- Mobility: daily mobility exercises including joint-to-joint mobility, soft tissue stimulation and corrective exercises.
- Move Slow: at least 3-5 hours per week of low level cardio. Aim to keep your heart rate in zone 1-2, or a minimal effort workout for longer periods of time.
- Lift Heavy: 2-4 sessions per week at strength based workouts.
- Move Fast: 1-2 workouts per week of sprint activities ranging in time from 4-20 minutes and of varying intensity. Aim for heart rate zones 4-5 or a maximal effort workout.
Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise can increase the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
Get enough sleep: Adequate sleep is essential for optimal brain function and overall health.
Huberman recommends aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and screens in the hours leading up to bedtime.
Inadequate sleep can impair cognitive function, memory, and mood, and increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga can help reduce stress and improve focus and emotional regulation.
Huberman suggests practicing mindfulness exercises, such as meditation or yoga, for 10-20 minutes per day.
He also recommends practicing mindfulness throughout the day by focusing on your breath and body sensations.
Chronic stress can increase the risk of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders, as well as contribute to physical health problems such as inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
Screen Time and Blue Light Exposure
Limit screen time: Excessive screen time can disrupt sleep, reduce attention span, and contribute to eye strain and headaches.
Huberman recommends limiting screen time and taking regular breaks to give your eyes a rest. Every 20-30 minutes, rest your eyes to reduce eye strain.
He also suggests avoiding screens in the evening before bedtime to improve sleep quality.
Excessive screen time can contribute to eye strain, headaches, sleep disturbances, and poor posture.
Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can provide the nutrients your brain and body need to function optimally.
In our Eat By Design approach, we teach people to prioritize their protein intake, choose foods with the least toxicity, and earn your carbs through activity.
We also encourage people to count their macros if they have problems with portion control or not knowing what types of food contain what macronutrients.
Huberman suggests avoiding processed foods and excessive sugar and caffeine intake.
Additionally, he recommends consuming foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, to support brain health. Supplementation with a high quality fish oil, such as Carlson’s, and getting your EPA consumption >2g/day is recommended.
A full range or supplementation protocol can be found here.
Poor diet can contribute to a range of health problems, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
Hydration: Most people are chronically dehydrated which affects mood, cognitive function but also basic cellular processes in the body.
Huberman suggests that we need to drink 8 oz of water every hour, during the first 10 hours of waking. For the average adult that’s 80 oz or 2.36 L of water within the first 10 hours of the day.
This is most likely a lot more than your current intake, so you might not achieve it right away. Using this number as a goal and progressively working towards it over a few weeks will be the best way to tackle this goal.
He was also asked about how much this can lead to increased urination or peeing as well. He states that the kidneys, which filter water and wastes in the body, act differently in the morning and at night.
So, in the morning, they’re looking for more intake and therefore will help you keep more water in your body.
This is unless you are drinking several cups of coffee and increasing anti-diruetic hormone in your body which will increase your need to pee and could be contributing to dehydration.
The other advice he states to avoid excessive nighttime peeing is to drink less volume but also drink more slowly in the evening.
In the morning its okay to gulp your water down, where as in the evening when the kidneys are more sensitive, drinking more slowly over a longer period of time will help you retain more water and pee less.
He breaks down his personal routine based on his research, interviews with experts and his own trial and error self-experimentation.
These recommendations are less needle moving and than the previous ones and dive deeper into health minutiae. So if you’re not meeting your basic recommendations then start there and add these in later.
- Cold plunge: Using deliberate cold plunge for for mental health, physical health, and performance. His protocols include as little as 11 mins per week in a what feels like “very cold” plunge, safely using temperatures between 40-65 F… generally, the colder the water, the shorter the exposure. If you’re doing this in the shower make sure water touches your face, top of your head, chest and back.
- Sauna: protocols for using deliberate heat exposure to induce certain outcomes including improved cardiovascular health, boosting growth hormone, and decreasing cortisol levels.
- Herbal supplements: such as rhodiola rocea and ashwaganda for decreasing cortisol levels, the overall stress response, and in turn boosting athletic performance. Shilajit and Tongkat Ali for boosting testosterone in men.
- Alcohol: The effects of alcohol on our brain and overall health.
These are just a few of Andrew Huberman’s most cited health tips and pieces of advice. He has also shared insights on a variety of topics related to brain function, mental health, and physical wellbeing.
By not following Andrew Huberman’s advice for healthy living, individuals may be at increased risk for these and other health problems. Incorporating healthy habits into daily life can help improve physical and mental health, cognitive function, and overall wellbeing.
All of these science-backed health habits match with the advice we give through our Life By Design framework. There’s a lot in life we cannot control, but there’s also a lot we can.
By keeping extraordinary health as the target, we’re much more likely to achieve greater levels of health than that of the average population and increase our health span.
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