26 Little-Known Health-Hacking Lessons Learned From 8 Books I Read This Week.

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I speed read.

As I discuss in the podcast episode “Unlocking The Superpowers Of Speed Reading, Memory Enhancement, Learning Skills Faster & More With Jim Kwik.“, I've naturally “sped-read” since I was a little kid, and I typically read 4-8 books each week.

Here's my system: I begin by glancing at the table-of-contents to get an idea of what the book contains. Then, I flip through the book very quickly to see what the layout of the book is like. How much of it is references or appendices at the end? Where are the special sections, diagrams, graphs, photos or in-laid content that might take extra time or be critical or interesting sections? How much of it is simply “fluff”?

Then I begin reading, page-by-page. I don't track down-and-up or side-to-side with a finger or pen. I just…read.

And I find anything especially notable or groundbreaking in the book, I underline that section (or, if a Kindle, highlight that section), then fold over that page so I can go back later and read my underlined sections.

Finally, when I'm all finished, I photograph the underlined sections with my phone and upload those to Evernote so I have the most important notes digitally stored forever. That's it. Anyways, this week I attended a private health summit and had the opportunity to read eight new health books published in 2016.

In today's article, I'm going to give you my biggest takeaways and lessons learned from those eight books. When it comes to optimizing your body and brain, I think you'll find some handy gems. Enjoy.

Kale and Coffee: A Renegade’s Guide to Health, Happiness, and Longevity by Kevin Gianni

IMG_7867 Quick Summary of Kale and Coffee:

“Four years ago, when I was something of a YouTube health celebrity, I was on top of the world [and] . . . the diet pyramid. I ate the cleanest, most nutritious diet on the planet (or so I thought). A raw-food vegan diet . . . not only pure in its contents but also pure in its intention. With this type of diet, you eat straight from the earth, only as nature intended. I ate kale salad, raw nut butters, goji berries, raw chocolate, and dehydrated flax crackers. I drank green smoothies, green juice, wheatgrass, and hemp milk. I even tried a fruitarian diet . . . I thought about food from the moment I woke up until the second I fell asleep . . . I was an addict in search of the purest dope: raw, vegan, organic food . . . I was headed down a path of self-destruction. So it’s not surprising that, like any hardcore addict, I eventually hit rock bottom.”

So begins the saga of health blogger Kevin Gianni and his wife, Annmarie, as they travel the world to learn as much as they can about health and nutrition. Along the way they meet unlikely people in unlikely places as Kevin seeks an answer to his burning question: What—and how much—should we eat?

Gianni’s lighthearted debunking of the hype and nonsense surrounding much of the health and nutrition world today should be encouraging to anyone who’s ever tried a fad diet and failed. Kale and Coffee is packed with research—delivered in Gianni’s warm and humorous voice—but the aim throughout is to empower you to create the diet and lifestyle best suited to you alone.

Kale and Coffee offers practical tips for wellness, from testing your body—and pantry—for toxic metals to selecting the healthiest coffee, wines, and green drinks to consume. 

Biggest Lessons I Learned From Kale and Coffee:

-Many long-lived, ancestral, healthy populations don't eat blueberry and kale superfoods. Take the Q'ero tribe in the Peruvian Andes. Their diet is pretty simple: potatoes, corn, alpaca meat, trout and coca leaves. The Nicoyans in Costa Rica, another longevity prone population, eat a staple diet of bean, corn and squash. That's pretty much it. Think about that before you blow a whole paycheck at Whole Foods.

-“Holy basil” supplementation popped up in this book and several others I read as an excellent short-term stress solution. I plan to try it. My friend Roger Drummer, an adaptogenic herb specialist, recommended to me this Gaia herb stuff.

-Y0ur gut only heals from inflammation and stress when you're not eating. Period. This mantra was repeated in several other books as well. So I stand by my recommendation that you should engage in a 12-16 hour intermittent fast (also known as an 8-12 hour “compressed feeding window”) as many days of the year as possible, and on a couple days of the month, you should go for 24 hours without eating. During these times, water, minerals, a multi-vitamin and amino acids are fine.

No Grain, No Pain by Dr. Peter Osborne

IMG_7872Quick Summary of No Grain, No Pain:

“In the tradition of Wheat Belly and Grain Brain; No Grain, No Pain demonstrates the proven link between a gluten-heavy diet and chronic pain and discomfort—and offers a groundbreaking, 30-day, grain-free diet plan to help you heal yourself from the inside out.

More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain according to an Institute of Medicine report released in 2011. For many, chronic pain is part of an autoimmune disease, but all too often doctors turn to the same solution: painkilling drugs.

But all of this medication simply isn’t helping, and as Dr. Peter Osborne, the leading authority on gluten sensitivity and food allergies has found, the real solution often lies in what you eat. In No Grain, No Pain, Dr. Osborne shows how grains wreak havoc on the body by causing tissue inflammation, creating vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies, and triggering an autoimmune response that causes the body to attack itself. But he also offers practical steps to find relief. Using his drug-free, easy-to-implement plan, you will be able to eliminate all sources of gluten and gluten-like substances, experience significant improvement in fifteen days, and eliminate pain within thirty days.

No Grain, No Pain is the first book to identify diet—specifically, grain—as a leading cause of chronic suffering, and provides you with the knowledge you need to improve your health. Based on extensive research and examples culled from thousands of his satisfied patients, Dr. Osborne recommends changing your diet to achieve the relief that millions of Americans have been seeking once and for all, leading to a healthier, happier life.”

Biggest Lessons I Learned From No Pain, No Grain:

-There are over four hundred different forms of gluten, forty of which can be more damaging to the gut than the form of gluten for which most doctors commonly test. There is no lab test for all these forms of gluten. Grains also contain something called amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATI's), which can inhibit your pancreas from producing digestive enzymes. Many of these glutens and enzyme inhibitors can be pre-digested or de-activated by fermenting, soaking and sprouting grains but most people don't do that.

-Corn and rice and oats (popular on gluten-free diets), as well as vegetable oils, all contain gluten and can produce numerous intestinal and health problems for the gluten sensitive. Since a gluten-free diet that relies on gluten-free packaged foods contains plenty of this corn and rice, many people switch to a gluten-free diet and unfortunately, the inflammation that gluten can cause never actually goes away. Instead, they should be eating “natural” non-packaged foods like sweet potatoes, yams, beets, greens, parsnips, carrots, soaked and sprouted seeds and nuts, etc. – not packaged gluten-free foods.

-Stevia, if it's the “Truvia” brand, contains corn, and thus gluten.

-If you're healing your gut, you should have a sixteen-hour food-free zone for every 24 hour cycle.

-Milk “looks” like gluten to your immune system, so if you're gluten sensitive your immune system may react to it. Soy can often do the same thing.

-There are some *excellent* tips in this boook on sandwich substitutes. Check this out:


-Bad water can aggravate the gut, and for removing metals and other chemical compounds, the author is a fan of KDF (kinetic degradation fluxion), a copper-zinc alloy that is often found in whole house reverse osmosis filtration systems. So for filtering the water in your entire home, look for a KDF filter that includes RO (Reverse Osmosis) like this. 

The Urban Monk

Quick Summary of The Urban Monk:

“We all struggle to discover satisfaction and contentment in the modern world and yet the more technology we use, the more things seem to get worse. What are we all missing? What will it take for us to find our centers? Pedram Shojai shares how the calmness of Zen masters is attainable in today's fast-paced world, and with practice, you too can stop time, refuel, and focus on the things that really matter.

The Urban Monk, a New York Times bestseller, reveals the secrets to finding an open heart, sharp mind, and grounded sense of well-being, even in the most demanding circumstances. Shojai’s no-nonsense life mastery program brings together clear tools and exercises that can elevate your existence. Learn to honor your body with nutrition and shake free from addictions to toxic substances and experiences. Let your body and mind unwind each day with evening meditations, loosening exercises, and resting rituals that will keep any stress or unfinished business out of the bedroom, helping you sleep better so that your body can rejuvenate.

The Urban Monk is filled with priceless practices that you can use in your daily life, right here and now. It is designed to be your companion in this crazy world we live in. Get it dirty, mark it up, and take it around with you on your journey to becoming an Urban Monk. There’s no need to move or drastically change your current life. You can find peace within, and The Urban Monk will teach you how to calm the chaos in your head.”

Biggest Lessons I Learned From The Urban Monk:

Xiao Yao San is a Chinese herb complex that, in tea or pill form, apparently works wonders for calming stress.

-Check out this handy chart that shows how your organs and energy systems work during the day:


-Pedram is a huge fan of something called the “Prague School” as a fitness and movement modality. I plan on researching this more and potentially getting these Prague folks on a podcast because it looks intriguing.

Smart Fat

Quick Summary of Smart Fat:

“The innovative guide that reveals how eating more fat—the smart kind—is the key to health, longevity, and permanent weight loss.

For years experts have told us that eating fat is bad. But by banning fat from our diets, we’ve deprived ourselves of considerable health benefits—and have actually sabotaged our own efforts to lose weight.

Though they originally came from vastly different schools of thought about diet and weight loss, renowned nutritionist Jonny Bowden and well-respected physician Steven Masley independently came to the same conclusion about why so many people continually fail to shed pounds and get healthy. It all comes back to a distinction far more important than calories vs. carbs or paleo vs. plant-based: smart fat vs. dumb fat.

In Smart Fat, they explain the amazing properties of healthy fat, including its ability to balance hormones for increased energy and appetite control, and its incredible anti-inflammatory benefits. The solution for slimming down—and keeping the pounds off for life—is to “smart-fat” your meals, incorporating smart fats with fiber, protein, and most importantly, flavor. Bowden and Masley identify smart fats, explain what not to eat, and provide a thirty-day meal plan and fifty recipes based on the magic formula of fat, fiber, protein, and flavor.

Biggest Lessons I Learned From Smart Fat:

-If you're looking at the quality of your supplement, there are some very important considerations to check for on the ingredient label. Look at this: IMG_7916

-Coconut oil will raise your LDL cholesterol levels, but actually shifts the distribution of your LDL particles so that your have more LDLa (harmless, fluffy) particles and fewer LDLb (small, dense, harmful) particles.

The Bone Broth Diet

Quick Summary of The Bone Broth Diet:

“In her new book, Dr. Kellyann couples delicious bone broth with powerful fat-burning foods and a groundbreaking “mini-fasting” plan that empowers you to achieve spectacular weight loss and more youthful-looking skin in just 21 days.

With more than 100 recipes—as well as state-of-the-art fitness and lifestyle tips—this book is the ideal tool for taking off your extra pounds and staying slim, sexy, and healthy forever.”

Biggest Lessons I Learned From The Bone Broth Diet:

-I'm skeptical, but Dr. Kellyann swears for a multi-day fast in which you mostly have bone broth. Here's what it looks like: IMG_7917

-You must add vinegar to bone broth as it helps to dissolve the bones so that you get the maximum amount of nutrients from them.

-For beef broth, roasting the bones at 350F in the oven for 45-60 minutes before throwing them into bone broth can also maximize nutrients that wind up in the broth.

The Sound Of Healing

Quick Summary of The Sound Of Healing:

“Wholetones: The Sound of Healing is 174 pages of life changing personal revelation… a virtual key to unlock your hidden potential.

This book is the perfect companion to accompany the music as it demystifies the science behind the frequencies and explains how to get the most out of your listening experience.

There is even a chapter that shows musicians how to recalibrate their instruments to play in the 7 healing frequencies. And of course, plenty of historical information concerning the healing tones I believe were given to King David by God Himself! Truly an inspirational journey into the spiritual realm of healing and much, much more…”

Biggest Lessons I Learned From The Sound Of Healing:

-I thought this book was going to be way too “woo-woo”, but it actually turned out to be incredibly fascinating, especially when it comes to the science of sound frequencies and how they affect the human body. I plan on getting the author on a podcast soon to discuss this stuff in greater depth, and I also plan on listening to his WholeTones CD's to see how they affect my body in certain situations.

-Most modern instruments A notes are tuned to 440Hz. This is actually a frequency that can disrupt cellular activity and cause cortisol release and stress within the human body. Instead, the instrument's A note should be tuned up to 444Hz. You actually need a digital tuner to pull off this type of retuning. The author recommends a Korg-CA-30 digital tuner for this. I plan on personally retuning my ukelele and guitar. -Different frequencies affect the body in different ways. For example, 396Hz affects kidney function, 417Hz affects your digestive system, 528Hz affects hormonal balance and the endocrine system, 741Hz soothes an upset stomach, etc. Author Michael Tyrrell produces special analog CD's that have mixes of these different frequencies.

-Most music and audio we listen to these days is digital, but a digital signal is a discontinuous wave that causes us to “miss out” on many of the healing frequencies and positive properties of music. Instead, listening to music via analog sound waves such as vinyl records and cassette tapes is superior for sound healing. So break out those old-school vinyl records, baby. I plan on experimenting with that this year at some point and will keep you posted.

The Hormone Reset Diet

Quick Summary of The Hormone Reset Diet:

“The Harvard-educated physician and New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure shows you how to grow new receptors for your seven metabolic hormones, making you lose weight and feel great fast!

When it comes to weight loss, most people don’t think about hormones. But when you develop resistance to your seven major metabolic hormones—cortisol, thyroid, testosterone, growth hormone, leptin, insulin, and estrogen—your body adjusts by increasingly raising your hormone levels and ultimately slowing down your metabolism. And a slower metabolism leads to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. The solution, Dr. Sara Gottfried contends, is to reset the efficiency of your hormones by repairing and growing new hormone receptors.”

Biggest Lessons I Learned From The Hormone Reset Diet:

-I've had Dr. Sara on my podcast before. Worth a listen: “The Cost Of Being A Bad Ass – How To Cure Your Hormones

-For hydrating during the day, she drinks “hydrosols”, which means she combines sparkling or still water with small amounts of plant extracts and essentials oils like lavender, mint and rose.

-A  Paleo diet is different for women than it is for men. In women, excess meat consumption can result in quite a bit of weight gain and “estrogen dominance”, which is less likely to occur in men. Dr. Sara actually recommends a “meatless reset” or period of a few weeks eating primarily vegan, non-meat, low-dairy foods for women who need to reset their hormones or lower estrogen levels.

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life

Quick Summary of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life:

“In this completely revised and updated edition of the breakthrough bestseller, you'll see scientific evidence that your anxiety, depression, anger, obsessiveness, or impulsiveness could be related to how specific structures in your brain work. You're not stuck with the brain you're born with.

Renowned neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen includes cutting-edge research and the latest surprising, effective “brain prescriptions” that can help heal your brain and change your life:

To quell anxiety and panic: Use simple breathing techniques to immediately calm inner turmoil

To fight depression: Learn how to kill ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)

To curb anger: Follow the Amen anti-anger diet and learn the nutrients that calm rage

To conquer impulsiveness and learn to focus: Develop total focus with the One-Page Miracle

To stop obsessive worrying: Follow the “get unstuck” writing exercise and learn other problem-solving exercises.”

Biggest Lessons I Learned From Change Your Brain, Change Your Life:

-Cinnamon is a natural aphrodisiac, especially in essential oil form. Warning to my wife: I plan on testing this out soon.

-There are many meditations in the book, but one is something I already do as part of my custom yoga routine. You chant the sounds “saa”, “taa”, “naa”, “maa” while doing repetitive finger movements with each hand. It's actually incredibly calming. Here's what it looks like:


-Even if you can't get the fancy SPECT scan Dr. Amen discusses in the book, you can assess your brain using a free, computerized neuro-psychological assessment on the website “MyBrainFitLife.com”. -Different activities affect different areas of your brain, so you can't just do, say, Sudoku or just do crossword puzzles. You need variety. Check this out: IMG_7919


What do you think? Do you plan on reading any of these books? If so, which ones? Have you already read them and have your own thoughts to add?

Do you like these type of book notes and do you want me to write more of these type of posts for you?

Leave your thoughts below and I promise to read and reply!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

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38 thoughts on “26 Little-Known Health-Hacking Lessons Learned From 8 Books I Read This Week.

  1. Marc Chabot says:


    Great recommendations ….hope to be reviewing your books at my library meeting next week for purpose of purchasing the best books in health

    Keep up the good work

    Cheers marc – Montreal

  2. Hey Ben

    No funny/irrelevant things to say in this comment, it’s already too long with the questions in it. Great article mate. Go bombers. Kebabs rule. Etc. That’s it.

    The questions:

    Can you show us the recipe for Topp Paleo bread from Dr. Osborne’s book (No Grain, No Pain)?

    From Pedram Shojai’s book, The Urban Monk, when you showed the picture of what times different energy/organ systems of the body go to work, what is a triple burner?

    Smart Fat – does it go into more detail than just saturation (eg. polys cause inflammation, bang – death and stuff, saturated and monos are the best for high fat diets, etc)?? As in, does it discuss the bad saturated fats and the good saturated fats (the actual fatty acids themselves), etc??

    Hormone Reset Diet – why is grehlin left out of the “metabolic hormones”? I’m no endocrinologist, but given how much stuff the body has, I suspect there’s a hell of a lot of hormones……..only 7 are metabolic?

    Did you do the summaries, or are they from the books themselves?

    Hope I don’t sound rude in my attempt to be concise.

    Thanks for all your help so far.

    1. I'd highly recommend that you grab the books and read them. I wish I had time to reply to all these questions but I simply don't. The other option would be for you to call the most important question that you want answered into the podcast and I'd be happy to answer in a podcast!

  3. Health Vibed says:

    I’m going to give your speed reading method a try, and if I can’t get that to work, keep persisting. I actually invested about 300 bucks a few years back into a course (I believe it was called “reading genius”) but never applied it. Speed reading just seems like such a high leverage skill that it’s worth taking the time out to learn it, no matter the blocks…. Personally that’s what stopped me, just “not getting it” and getting frustrated.

    I will try again!

  4. Jimmy says:

    Hey Ben,

    Is the Look Good Naked Longevity Plan also suitable for younger fit individuals?

    I’m 23 and in pretty great shape but I’m dreading the heavy heavy 5 day week lifting program I’m on. Wondering if your plan is suitable for all ages.


    1. Definitely suitable for all ages!

  5. Gigi says:

    I LOVED the Book Notes! What a great way to learn new info without spending money and time just to find out this book really isn’t for you. Thank you so much. Please keep up the wonderful Book Notes!

  6. HiPer4m says:

    Hi Ben

    These book notes are awesome. I have so many books I want to read, and some of these were on the list! Now I have a nice summary of important points. I also totally enjoyed the photos. That really helped with the summaries. I’m planning on reading Urban Monk for some of the movement practices he discusses and how to incorporate them during a workday.

    Keep up the good work, see you at Paleo FX

  7. Jay alton says:

    Love the notes in general and the music and frequency post. I’d be more interested in the sound science as I am a music producer and sound engineer. Also interested in how sound fits in to all of this and how music affects people. Thanks!

  8. Brett says:

    So does organic extra virgin olive oil contain gluten or are you just referring to the processed vegetable oils?

  9. Sean Harland says:

    Very informative and useful.

  10. Brandon says:

    I am confused about the gluten in Rice, Corn and oats. If you get Gluten Free Certified Rice and oats am I still eating gluten? I would love to hear you answer to this so I can change my diet accordingly.

    Thanks for awesome content.

    1. If it's certified GF indeed, you are likely OK!

      1. Brandon says:

        Thanks a lot for you fast answer.I had GF oats ready to go for my night time snack, was about to toss. Thanks Ben!

  11. Margaret Franklyn says:

    Thanks for the reading list.Watched the Diabetes Summit and I like your list.Glad I connected with your website,even though I am a 79 year old Great Grand Mother. I need to take a good look at Daniel Amen,s Book. I like your ,short cuts AKA Body Hacking.I will try not to let the science baffel me. It is a very good thing you do.

  12. Joanna says:

    Do you like these type of book notes—-YES, PLEASE

    and do you want me to write more of these type of posts for yo– YES, PLEASE

  13. Dr. Todd says:

    Newer to podcast. 56 years old. Love the “Look Good Naked” workouts. Got Sweetbeats, Ashwaganda, mediating – all new since listening. Intend to add more hacks in time, just not too many too soon. 3 years a vegan but now have a nice grass fed chuck-o-beef once a month. I don’t want to miss out an anything but do feel better on a plant based diet. I tell my wife I must be a MTHFR. She sgrees????.

    Will be in Walla Walla for son’s Whitman graduation then he’s off to dental school. Would love to signup for the absticle training in your backyard but maybe another year. Keep up the interesting work.

  14. Awesome Bro love your content. Every week waiting for new stuff popping up from you. Tanks a lot. Your my fucking hero. Greetings from Germany.

  15. Troy says:

    Great list. I keep hearing about ‘brodo’ as it pertains to a keto diet and was surprised to see The Bone Broth Diet on the list. One I definitely need to check out. And the Change Your Brain Change Your Life meditations.

  16. Rob says:

    These short summaries are great as I don’t have time to keep up with the volume of books these days. Keep these coming!

  17. Marian says:

    Yes, I like these types of book notes thank you

  18. Joel Johnson says:

    Glad to see you talking about the importance of sound frequencies today Ben! I retuned my acoustic guitar to 444 about six months ago, and there is definitely some healing going on that is difficult to describe. Feels like a rush of positive energy flooding my body when I play. Crazy that when we play the note at 528 we are absorbing the same frequency biochemists use to repair DNA. More people need to experience these frequencies, and separate themselves from the negative behaviors associated with the 440 tuning. In my experience it helps to transcend the fear, violence, and ego that seems to plague our modern media and society. For anyone wanting to experience deep healing with these frequencies I highly recommend the Solfeggio Relax and Sleep App by Glenn Harrold and Ali Calderwood. It’s a free download to try, and each different frequency is only a couple of dollars to purchase. Well worth it. Thanks Ben for all the great knowledge you share with us every week. I enjoy the reading.

    1. Can you shoot me retuning instructions if possible? Ben at ben greenfield fitness dot com. Great feedback btw….

  19. Gina says:

    Yes, like. Yes, more.

  20. Danielle says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Thank you for taking the time to share your book notes…can’t wait to read more of these in the future!

  21. Janet says:

    Enjoyed your excerpts and comments- look forward to follow up on the Prague diet –

    The hormone reset diet is female centric by design – and effective –

    Please continue this format :)

  22. Awesome list of books! Have to check out The sound of healing…

  23. Kathy says:

    Wonderful summaries – so helpful for busy people. I will definitely get a couple if these. Thanks Ben ????

  24. Remy says:

    I have the Wholetones tracks. I’d use them a whole lot more if they sounded less like the worst sort of elevator music.

    I also practice the Kirtan Kriya daily (Sa Ta Na Ma) and find it really helpful to listen along to a musical track rather than timing it out manually. Nirinjan Kaur has a beautiful 11 and 30 min version.

  25. Claudia says:

    Yes I thought this was great! Helpful to make me decide which book to buy.

  26. Jon says:

    Hey Ben

    Thanks for saving me some time on Amazon! I’m definitely going to check out a couple of these books and your mini review really helped.

    Would appreciate more in the future.

    Regards from Europe!

  27. Love this type of summary. Thanks for everything you do. Makes me a better Doc!

  28. carlos says:

    great man, thanks a lot!! this way u can help lots of us poor to “read”/access great books. . .

  29. tom says:

    Hi Ben,

    yes, this type of summary/note taking was helpful and then I can dig deeper if I want



  30. Hello Ben,
    GREAT approach. I love it. Great value for me. Thank you for sharing. Please more…
    Greetings from Germany, Friedbert Niessen www.heilpraktikerniessen.de

  31. Ren says:

    Dear Ben
    Greetings from South Africa ! love your podcasts and updates – With a busy life you are a lifesaver when it comes to distilling information – you are my regular fix and love to hear the broad based topics you cover. As a woman in my fifties and keen to optimize my training and health yours is my go to podcast.
    Abudant blessings and all good things

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