Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Boost Brainpower, Increase Focus, and Maximize Performance-in Just Two Weeks by Dave Asprey
HEAD STRONG presents a program to increase your brain function, based on strengthening your mitochondria. The author spent a ton of money, sort of experimenting on himself, to see if he could improve his brain. He discovered that he could—but was surprised to learn that it “really all comes down to our mitochondria." And so, this book presents his “lessons learned” about how to maximize mitochondria.
Well, the author’s mitochondria must be working well, because as an author, he has done something that seems obvious to me as a reader, but which is often overlooked. At the end of each chapter, the author has 2 special (and brief) sections: “Head Points” and “Head Start.” In these 2 sections, he presents the essence of his points in the preceding chapter. By making this courteous inclusion, the author makes it a TON easier to follow his thoughts, and to glean the most from this book.
Therefore, to make the best of this book, I recommend first reading the Head Points and Head Starts for each chapter. This will only take a brief time. When you’re through, you will see what the author is trying to say. Then, you can go back to the sections that really interest you and read the details. (Of course, if you think the whole thing is baloney, then you haven’t wasted any more time.)
Here’s an example: On the “sleep” chapter, the author makes these points:
Head Points: Don’t Forget These Three Things
(1) When it comes to sleep, focus on quality more than quantity.
(2) Meditation changes your brain on a structural level—for the better.
(3) You need lots of time to recover in between intense bouts of exercise—at least several days.
Head Start: Do These Three Things Right Away:
(1) Jump on a trampoline or do jumping jacks to shake the water in your cells and make them more EZ.
(2) Get some extra sleep tonight to give your brain a chance to form pathways between neurons and solidify new memories. Later on, you’ll learn how to get better-quality sleep.
(3) Try breathing in for five seconds, holding for five seconds, breathing out for five seconds, and holding the out breath for five seconds. Do it five times in a row.
Many of the ideas presented here I have seen cited in other works. For example, in many running books, experts emphasize improving the function of mitochondrial. Also, the importance of proper sleep has been well-documented. I was also glad to see the author emphasize the importance of getting some natural light each day. I believe there is a wide consensus that that is a good practice.
To be honest, I can’t really tell if some of the author’s points are valid or not. I think I need to research more the whole idea of light spectrums. I want to see more research on whether “LED and CFL bulbs have too much blue light, which damages your mitochondria.” Since the whole program is primarily based on his own personal experience, it seems as though I just have to TRY IT and see what happens. Okay, I am open to trying that.
The author recommends in several places finishing your shower with COLD water. By an amazing coincidence, I was involved in a study at UCLA many years ago on the benefit of cold showers. (I bet the study’s author would appreciate knowing that someone finally agrees with him!)
So all in all, I thought this was a fascinating book. There are lots of points to consider. I don’t think I’m ready to start the full program right away—I want to investigate some of the more unusual suggestions first. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’m not going for that cold shower.
Advance Review Copy courtesy of the publisher.