Of all the Christmas presents I’ve ever considered buying for my child…
A stick of grass-fed butter has never even made the list.
But had you been at Dave Asprey’s house one Christmas morning…
You’d have seen a delighted child chewing on a stick of grass-fed butter, delighted Santa had given her exactly what was on her list.
Perhaps you’ve even seen the gleaming gold package in the dairy section of your grocery store:
For Dave Asprey, grass-fed butter is edible gold. He estimates he eats about a stick a day. He won’t eat a vegetable without it. But what he loves most of all…
Is butter in his coffee.
By now, Asprey’s name may be ringing a bell for you.
He’s the founder of Bulletproof Coffee, the drink of choice for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
And thanks to grass-fed butter, among other tweaks…
He believes he can live at least to 180.
To put that claim in perspective, the average lifespan for an American male is just 76 years of age. If Asprey were a woman, he’d fare better. Women live longer than men, often into their 80s.
But Asprey has a few advantages most people don’t.
He has friends in the right places and money to throw at the problem.
Hacking the Problem of Aging
For most of us, aging isn’t a problem, per se. It’s just part of life.
We can’t avoid it, any more than we can avoid death and taxes. We hope to live out a normal lifespan, but living any longer might seriously stress our retirement fund. 😉
Most doctors and scientists agree. Aging isn’t a disease. The symptoms of aging—stiffness, wrinkles, forgetfulness, low energy—aren’t worth treating. Eat well, sleep, exercise, and be grateful you feel as well as you do.
That’s not enough for the ultra-wealthy. They’ve got all the money in the world … but not enough time to spend it in.
So they’re funding research into “hacking” biology, so they can live longer and feel better than any generation in history.
The co-founder of Oracle, Larry Ellison, has personally funded 335 million dollars worth of anti-aging research. Google aims to outdo that. Its California Life Company, also known as Calico Labs, has been researching the causes of aging for the past 5 years in the hopes of outwitting Father Time.
Technology has advanced so far that men like Asprey think we’re on the verge of shattering the upper limits of a normal human lifespan.
“If you’re reasonably healthy and you do the basic things, assuming no trucks hit you and things like that, you can do 120 easily,” he claims. “With existing technology, I don’t think 180 is even at all radical. I think it’s probably conservative.”1
What does Asprey know that we don’t?
The Bulletproof Plan for a Longer Life
How you feel comes down to your mitochondria. (These are the energy generators that power your cells.)
You should be putting all your time and energy into helping your mitochondria work better. Your reward will be more energy, vitality, creativity, and—of course—longevity.
Asprey explains how it all works in his 2017 book Head Strong, a dense read with more ideas than most of us have time for.
Here are what I think are the top 5 most accessible “biohacks” from Asprey’s book, to get you started on your long and healthy life.
1. Put grass-fed butter on everything.
Asprey isn’t a fan of dairy. His Bulletproof diet recommends avoiding just about every single type of dairy except grass-fed butter and ghee.
Grass-fed butter contains a short-chain saturated fatty acid called butyrate that’s as close to nutritional magic as you can get, according to Asprey.
It’s also high in omega 3 fatty acids and a number of essential vitamins.
Of course, 99% of the butter you’ll find on the shelves is from ordinary cows who munch on grain as well as grass, which changes the nutritional profile of their milk.
Grass-fed butter isn’t always easy to find—and it costs significantly more—but it’s a baby step towards a Bulletproof lifestyle.
2. Drink Bulletproof coffee for breakfast.
Without cream, coffee can look kind of bleak.
That’s why Asprey blends grass-fed butter with his coffee. He claims it’s as delicious as a Starbucks latte, but that’s up to you to decide.
Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter to freshly-brewed coffee (Asprey recommends his own mold-free beans), then blend in a blender for thirty seconds. You’ll get a foamy, frothy drink.
Asprey also adds a few tablespoons of his own Brain Octane Oil to his brew. You can use MCT oil or coconut oil instead, although he discourages any substitutions.
With the added fats, Bulletproof coffee comes in at a whopping 450 calories. You won’t want a bagel or an omelet with that. It’s meant to stand alone as a liquid breakfast.
3. Give up sugar.
Aprey recommends getting 50 to 60% of your calories from healthy fats. He’s a fan of saturated fats as long as they come from grass-fed animals.
For the average person, that might be a challenge—especially if you don’t eat meat.
But something that can boost your health immediately, with no downsides, is giving up sugar.
Even though the debate rages on as to whether that much fat is good for you, the science is clear on sugar. Any amount of sugar is too much.
Unfortunately, many nonfat “diet foods” make up for the loss of flavor with sugar and salt. (Artificial sweeteners are just as bad as sugar, according to Asprey.)
So allow yourself the pleasure of full-fat foods. You may find your sweet tooth starts to subside.
4. End your shower with a short blast of icy water.
Asprey is a fan of cold showers.
He argues that their health benefits are well worth the discomfort. They boost your mood and metabolism, as well as reduce pain and inflammation. The cold blast encourages old cells to die off and make way for new cells.
If you won’t switch to cold showers—unless you live in the tropics, who would?—you can finish off a hot shower with at least 30 seconds of ice cold water. If you’re particularly brave, work your way up to several minutes.
5. Get lots of “Vitamin L” (Light).
We know we need a certain amount of exposure to natural light to produce vitamin D, but Asprey goes much further than that.
He treats light itself as a nutrient.
He recommends that you:
- Spend 10 to 20 minutes outdoors each day with no sunblock on—ideally naked.
- Spend a few minutes outdoors every morning looking at the sky without sunglasses on.
- Use an infrared sauna.
- Get your own UVB light for use at home.
- Get rid of all the “junk light” in your home (which includes white LED and fluorescent light) and replace them with halogen or incandescent lights.
- Cover up all blue or green lights from electronic devices, especially in your bedroom. (Red is okay.)
- Use blackout curtains while you sleep and get rid of any extraneous light sources, such as from digital alarm clocks.
Which begs the question…
Is living longer worth all that work?
Asprey thinks so.
He claims he feels better than he ever has in his life. (And he’s in his 40s, a time when most of us start slowing down.)
But I’ve got doubts.
I have taken on board a few of Asprey’s suggestions. I’ve bought grass-fed butter (yum!). I’m trying to finish my showers with a blast of cold water. And I LOVE the blackout curtains I’ve bought for my bedroom.
Beyond that, though, I’m not willing to turn my life upside down in hopes of living a bit longer.
Many of Asprey’s recommendations come with a high price tag. It’s particularly disconcerting when Asprey recommends products in which he has a financial stake.
The Bulletproof brand seems targeted towards men, in particular the kind of men driven by a desire for high performance rather than quality of life.
Asprey himself looks older than his age, although much of that may be his pre-existing health issues and the lengths to which he’s gone to experiment on himself.
And the Bulletproof diet seems too close to the Atkins diet to instill me with confidence. Robert Atkins suffered from poor heart health throughout his life, which may have been a result of eschewing carbs in favor of saturated fats.
Practically speaking, we won’t know whether Asprey’s plan actually works until he’s proven he can beat the odds and live well past 100 years in good health. That’s over 50 years away … a loooong time to wait and see.