What is Synchro Life Design?
We live in a peculiar time in the history of human health. On one hand, we know more about the body and brain than we ever have. We have a huge array of technologies at our disposal designed to improve the functioning of our bodies and brains. Yet, by a lot of measures, the average person is less healthy than at any point in history. How does that happen?
For one, most of our knowledge and technologies have come out of a conventional medicine world fixated on treating disease and, thus, doing little to little to improve long-term wellness or performance.
But even more significant is the reality that the modern world does so much to screw up our bodies and brains. Many of the foods we've long thought of as "normal" or even "healthy" we now know are actually completely un-natural and completely un-healthy. Our foods and environments are completely saturated with toxins of all types that wreak havoc on the chemistry of our bodies. We've long thought of bacteria as threats to our health, but we now know that healthy gut bacteria are perhaps the single most critical component of our own health - and - we've been destroying these oh-so-important microorganisms. I could continue with this list ad infinitum...
Yet, despite all of this I am 100% certain that the potential for human health and performance has never been greater. So what is Synchro Life Design? It is a comprehensive lifestyle system that, when implemented, will revolutionize your physical and mental performance.
Two guiding principles run at the core of Synchro Life Design:
1. Restore the body's natural state.
In other words, un-do all of the things modern societies do to throw our systems out of whack. Our bodies and brains are meant to feel great and perform at a high-level. Restoring the body's natural functioning will produce the biggest improvements in wellness and performance. Ironically, cutting-edge research these days is often just showing us how modern society is altering the natural functioning of our bodies and brains.
Once we've addressed all of the things that are f'ing our bodies and brains up, we can start to look at ways to achieve new levels of well-being and get even more performance our of our brains and bodies. This includes supplementation, innovative dietary strategies, productivity technologies and fitness strategies.
There are 6 key components of the Synchro Life Design system:
Remove Toxins + Allergens
This is at the top of the list because it is without question the most important component in seeing improvements in health and performance. Toxins are found in a huge number of the foods we eat and the products we interact with on a daily basis. These include both organic and synthetic chemicals. While some toxins have been in our food supply and environment for thousands of years, the vast majority are more recent threats (within the last ~50 years).
This is significant because, in the body, toxins wreak havoc. They damage the enzymes, membranes and receptors that constitute our metabolic and hormonal systems, disrupting the functioning of these systems in the process. Toxins create systemic inflammation that leads to a whole set of new secondary issues (including diminished energy and cognitive performance). Some toxins have even been shown to mimic hormones and artificially modulate our endocrine systems. Needless to say, all of these effects are pulling us away from optimal health and performance.
I include allergens here because they are an equally critical and common issue for the majority of people, and can be looked at as a sub-category of toxins. We tend to think of pollen and pet dander when we think of allergens, but it is often the foods we eat that are triggering immune ("allergic") responses. Gluten and mold toxins are the two big offenders here, but the list is long.
The strategy for dealing with toxins and allergens is three-fold. First, you need to identify and remove them from the foods you eat. Second, you need to identify and remove products you use or interact with in your environment that are sources of toxins. Still despite your most diligent efforts, toxins will inevitably find their way into your body. It's simply an unavoidable reality of the world we live in. Minimizing intake and exposure is critical, but it's not enough.
The third component here is to eat a TON of detoxifying foods. This is one of the most critical things you can do to support your body's metabolic and hormonal systems. We formulated our primary nutrition product, Synchro Genesis, to be a natural toxin-neutralizing powerhouse. We brought together nature's most powerful detoxifiers in a formula that works synergistically to detoxify better than any other comparable product on the market.
Eat More Fat (Ketogenic Diet)
One of the biggest mistakes we seem to have made in modern societies is completely confusing the macronutrient ratios the human body is designed to eat. If you're wondering, "macronutrients" refers to protein, carbohydrate and fat, the three primary components of all foods.
Over the 10,000 years or so since the agricultural revolution, human diets have increasingly included more and more carbohydrate and less fat, culminating in the food pyramid insanity of the late 80's and 90's. Now, it appears this high-carbohydrate diet prescription may actually be the cause of many common health problems (notably; diabetes, heart disease and obesity).
There is a fair amount of anthropological evidence supporting the idea that our bodies are designed to run best when fats are our primary fuel source. While the Paleo community tends to hold up anthropological ideas up as undeniable evidence, I find the most convincing evidence elsewhere. At this point there is a huge body of people who have experimented with high-fat diets (called "ketogenic" diets) and with an astonishingly high success rate. Improved energy levels, physical and mental performance and improved body composition are almost always reported when someone transitions to a high-fat diet long-term.
It's hardly a mystery why this is the case. There is a ton of biochemical evidence showing that fats are a far cleaner, more stable and more efficient source of energy for the body and brain.
Naturally, there's a bit more complexity in actually implementing a ketogenic diet. Not all fats are equal, and ensuring your diet is rich in the fats that best support metabolism is critical to the diet's success. Short- and medium-chain saturated fats are the creme-dela-creme here, which is why coconut oil and coconut butter (rich in medium-chain fats) are touted repeatedly as a critical part of a Synchro diet.
Cocotella (an artisan coconut butter) is our go-to fuel of choice. Not only is it a delicious and satisfying thing to snack on, it will keep your body in the desired ketogenic (fat-burning) state where the greatest performance improvements are seen. For this reason, Cocotella and ghee (a source of short-chain fats) are the only calories I put in my body the first 8 hours of my day (seriously). Sound extreme? It's part of a powerful dietary strategy called intermittent fasting that we're also big believers in.
Take Care Of Your Bacteria
It wasn't that long ago that we thought of gut bacteria as little more than a curiosity inhabiting our intestinal tract that seemed to help us digest some of the components of our food that we couldn't take care of ourselves.
Boy, were we missing a lot.
The past 5 years or so have seen an absolute explosion in our understanding of the hugely complex and essential roles gut bacteria play in the functioning of our bodies and brains. And we've only hit the tip of the iceberg. I've said many times - I expect this to be the single fastest-growing subject in health and medicine over the next 5-to-10 years. It's completely within the realm of possibility that we soon will have highly-effective treatments for a lot of diseases that involve transplanting gut bacteria into the patient rather than with the synthetic drugs we take for granted in conventional medicine.
Yes, bacteria certainly help us transform different types of fiber in our food into valuable nutrients (it's difficult to understate how important this function is alone). But we now know that gut flora also play an important role in the development of healthy immune systems, regulate appetite and digestion, influence body composition, regulate hormones and protect us from food poisoning.
Unfortunately, we of the western world have done a remarkably good job massively screwing up our gut bacteria. The use (i.e. over-use) of antibiotics, the antibacterial products in our homes, preservatives in food...the list goes on. All of these things have devastated gut flora. Many researchers in the field believe that our screwed-up gut flora is the root cause behind a large number of diseases seen commonly in the western world but rarely-if-ever in the developing world where these products are not used. Autoimmune diseases and obesity come to mind.
So what can we do to take care of these oh-so-important bacteria inhabiting our guts? First step is cutting the aforementioned products out of your life whenever possible. You simply don't ever need antibacterial products and preservatives, and unless the disease is very serious, you don't need prescribed antibiotics either. The cost of screwing up your gut bacteria (often lasting years) is just too great to justify it.
Second step is to nurture your bacteria. Probiotics get a lot of hype, but the evidence supporting them is less-than-overwhelming. Far more important is eating foods yourself that, in turn, feed your bacteria. This means eating loads of soluble fiber, insoluble fiber and resistant starch (different bacteria prefer each).
Restore Your Body's Natural Movement Patterns
As you may suspect, none of these were done by human bodies until the last 100 years (or less). These activities are not "natural" and do have serious consequences on the health of our bodies.
Our bodies are meant to move, hunt, gather, run, climb, etc. When we don't do these or similar activities for long periods of time every day, we don't feel or perform as well. Period.
Identifying the ways western society has screwed up our muscular and skeletal structures - and fixing these issues - is a central priority in Synchro Life Design. More specific strength and fitness certainly have their own value, but it is movement that is really the key element we're after.
We're big fans of Ido Portal and frequently incorporate and expand on his ideas. Ido is "the guy" out there pushing both the theoretical and applied aspects of natural movement.
It may come as a surprise to learn that even in the food-rich US, a 2011 study found that 90% of the population has deficiencies in one or more critical nutrients. The study only looked at 11 nutrients, so I'll even go a step further and say that the number could actually be closer to 95 or 97 percent when you factor in every nutrient the human body relies on (some of the nutrients omitted from the study are notoriously hard to get).
Why are deficiencies so common? There's a few reasons. The more obvious reason is that most Americans eat shitty diets heavy with processed (nutrient-poor) foods. But this doesn't account for the tens-of-millions of "healthy" eaters out there who still have multiple nutrient deficiencies...
The less obvious reason is that our foods have fundamentally changed over the past 100 years. The foods we grow simply have less nutrients than they did historically. This food problem is actually a soil problem at its core. The foods we eat are almost always grown in soils that have been over-farmed and have had the nutrients sucked out of them over the generations. Farmers are able to fertilize (i.e. add nutrients) to the soils to allow the crops to grow, but the human body needs many more nutrients than those added to soils by fertilization. As such, it is next-to-impossible to get adequate levels of all nutrients via food alone.
There's another point to be made here: when studies look at nutrient deficiencies, they look in relation to what the FDA has determined to be "adequate" levels of a given nutrient. Many researchers in biochemistry and nutrition (myself included) believe these dosages defined by the FDA are far too low. More to the point, however, for many nutrients there is a huge difference between "adequate" and "optimal". If you've read this far, you can probably guess which of the two I'm interested in.
For many vitamins and minerals, getting dosages well above "adequate" allows the metabolism to build more robust and resilient metabolic and hormonal systems and ramp-up your body's detoxification .
If you're genuinely interested in exceptional mental or physical performance (or even just exceptional health), you 100% need to be on a well-designed supplementation regimen.
I wish it was as easy as taking a multivitamin every day, but unfortunately these products are almost always worthless and won't get the job done. Still, supplementing intelligently doesn't need to be complicated or expensive - I spend a little more than a dollar a day on the core supplements I recommend in our supplementation guide.
Easy On The Drugs (Alcohol and Caffeine)
I'll leave illegal and maybe-legal (i.e. cannabis) drugs alone for now, although the same principles apply to those as well. For now, I'm talking only about the two drugs used regularly by a huge number of people. A startling 90% of Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis, while 2/3 of Americans consume at least 4 alcoholic drinks a week. No other drug comes within a mile of these two in terms of widespread usage.
We tend to regard alcohol and caffeine lightly, but the reality is these two are both substances that have major impacts on the body. Both force your body into cycles of metabolic and hormonal "catch-up" that will result in diminished health and performance over time.
Put simply, alcohol is a toxic compound. Yes, the stress-relieving effects of low-doses of alcohol can be beneficial, but there are less-toxic drugs that serve this function even better. The toxicity of moderate and high doses of alcohol clearly put it into a category of "benefits are not worth the harm".
Caffeine taxes the body more subtly, progressively suppressing adrenal and hormone function over time.
A lot of the negative effects of both caffeine and alcohol can be mitigated by employing a bit of intelligent strategy around consumption. For both drugs, there are also supplements that will support and protect the body against some of the negative effects. (curious about these strategies? find them here: caffeine and alcohol)
Graham Ryan is the creator and lead writer for Synchro Life Design. Biochemist and nutritionist by training. Athlete, yoga teacher and integral thinker by passion.
Looking for a place to start? Here are our most popular articles: