10 Uncommon "Superfoods" from the World of Ultra-Endurance

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While doing research for The 4-Hour Body back in 2009, I resorted to Twitter in search of elite athletes who performed well on a vegan diet. I was repeatedly referred to Rich Roll, whom Men’s Fitness Magazine dubbed one of the “25 Fittest Men in the World.” (Sidenote: if you missed the bonus vegetarian/vegan athlete interviews from 4HB, here they are.)

Among his accomplishments:

- Two top finishes at the double Ironman-distance Ultraman World Championships
– Completing 5 Ironman-distance triathlons on 5 separate Hawaiian Islands in less than a week, a feat no one had ever even attempted.

Here’s the kicker: he did both in his mid-40’s.

But most remarkable of all, just a few short years before exploding onto the scene, Rich was a middle-aged couch potato, depressed and 50 pounds overweight. His 40th birthday present to himself was attempting to reverse course. He overhauled his diet (now 100% plant-based), used The 4-Hour Workweek as a primer to reconfigure his life, and made fitness his Mount Everest.

This original content covers the top 10 obscure superfoods Rich used to cultivate this elite performance. Even I hadn’t heard of a few…

Enter Rich

I abused my body throughout my 20’s and 30’s with a revolving door of junk food, drugs, alcohol and pretty much anything I could find to numb my discontentment. Overhauling my diet played a crucial role in my mid-life transformation. In the most general sense, fruits and vegetables repaired my body wholesale, but there’s more to the story.

It’s important to realize that I’m not a professional athlete. Over the last 2 years, I have balanced a life of 20-30-hour training weeks and crazy endurance events with my career as an entertainment lawyer, my family life (married 10 years, father of four), and writing a book. Developing an acuity for sleep deprivation is a big part of my personal success equation.

Nonetheless, I can’t recall the last time I got sick, missed a workout, family obligation or professional deadline because I was too tired. And despite my advancing age, I continue to improve as an athlete – getting leaner, stronger, and faster with each successive year.

How is this possible? Superfoods.

Admittedly, the term is subject to cavalier overuse. And the health benefits are frequently overblown. I get it.

But there are “superfoods” you see in tabloid ads, snd then there are superfoods. I am absolutely convinced that my steady intake of many of the below uncommon (and other more mainstream) superfoods has played a major role in helping me break the glass ceiling on my physical potential.

We’ve all heard of acai, goji berries and chia seeds. But I’d be willing to bet most of you are unfamiliar with more than a few of these more obscure superfoods:

1. Natto:

Heart Health. A popular fermented soybean food prominent in the Japanese diet, natto is a must for anyone concerned about heart or circulatory disease. High in pyrazine and the enzyme nattokinase, blood thinners that can prevent thrombosis (blot clot formations) by essentially devouring arterial plaque, natto significantly reduces the risk of suffering a pulmonary embolism (arterial blockage) that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. Also high in vitamin K, it’s excellent in maintaining bone density. Warning: natto is a very acquired taste. In fact, it’s horrible, unless you’re a fan of strange exotic cheese. Prepare with turmeric and sea salt or alternatively sweeten with erythritol — a very low glycemic non-caloric sugar additive derived from glucose fermentation that retains 60-70% of the sweetness of table sugar. If it’s still unbearable, nattokinase is available in capsule form. I like Doctors Best (1-4 2,000 FU capsules / day).

2. Cordyceps (Sinensis) Extracts:

Stamina. Well-known for centuries in Chinese herbal medicine, Cordyceps sinensis is a parasitic dried fungus that grows on caterpillar larvae native to high-altitude regions of China, Nepal and Tibet. Gross, right? But awesome when it comes to health and athletic performance. Pharmacologically anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-lipid (cholesterol lowering), studies indicate enhanced immune system functionality as well as improved stamina in endurance athletes via increased aerobic capacity and oxygen utilization as well as stabilized blood sugar metabolism. Chinese Olympic Track & Field athletes have been swearing by it for decades, and I can attest to their effectiveness. Another plus? Increased sex drive and functionality. The benefits of Cordyceps are enhanced when combined with the adaptogen rhodiola, as they are in Optygen and ShroomTech — both good recommended products.

3. Tumeric:

Anti-Oxidant / Anti-Inflammatory. A plant native to South India and Indonesia, if you like curry or mustard, you’re already familiar with this yellow food. What you might not know is that turmeric — due in large part to curcumin, tumeric’s primary active ingredient — is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories on the planet.

The majority of foods we eat, including low fat diets, promote arterial inflammation, which is a leading (and often underrated) cause of heart disease. In the fitness context, exercise-induced physiological stress causes inflammation, which impedes muscular repair. In a general sense, the more quickly the inflammation subsides, the more quickly one recovers from training. Foods like turmeric reduce inflammation, thus expediting recovery (and circulatory health). Extrapolated over time, an athlete on a nutritional regimen high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric (buttressed by a predominantly alkaline-forming diet) will in turn be able to train harder, more effectively and more efficiently in a given time period while simultaneously taking out an insurance policy against the primary culprits that foil even the most conscientious athletes — undue fatigue, overtraining and illness.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that there is some evidence to suggest that people who eat diets rich in turmeric have lower rates of breast, prostate, lung, colon and skin cancers.

Curcumin can be taken in capsule form, but it is not the most bio-available substance in extract form. Personally, I prefer to drink turmeric in a tea – 1/2 spoonful dissolved in hot water does the trick.

4. Apricot Seeds & Sprouted Mung Beans:

Cancer Cell Inhibition. Both of these foods share one thing in common: high levels of laetrile (vitamin B17), which has been found effective in arresting tumor growth. But how does it kill cancer cells without killing healthy cells? Without getting too technical, there is some evidence to support that when laetrile comes into contact with an enzyme called beta-glucosidase (which is only found in cancer cells), the laetrile is broken down, releasing “manufactured” hydrogen cyanide (HCN), which attacks the cancerous cell. Normal cells remain unaffected because of the mitochondrial enzyme rhodanase, which detoxifies the cyanide component. Cancer cells lack this enzyme.

I’m not saying laetrile is a magical cure for cancer. But it might be a cheap preventive measure.

Organic and raw apricot kernels (the seed inside the pit) are available online (try Nuts.com or iHerb.com). I blend them into my Vitamix morning smoothie. Sprout mung beans overnight (using a simple sprouting vessel) and eat over rice. Alternatively, you can make a broth with turmeric or even brew a coffee-like drink in a French Press with nutritional yeast.

[TIM: Apricot seeds kicked up the most debate of all the items on this list. I asked Rich to comment further on the safety/efficacy, and below is what he wrote.]

Hey Tim:

No doubt, the administration laetrile (the active component in apricot seeds) in extracted megadoses as an alternative cancer treatment protocol is rather controversial.

Here’s the low down as I see it:

There was a period in the 1960’s – 70’s when several doctors evangelized its use as an alternative cancer treatment protocol. Debate ensued, the FDA got involved, lawsuits were filed, and ultimately its use in megadose supplement form was banned. Laetrile (again in extracted, concentrated form) is now maligned in traditional western medicine — the word “quackery” does come up.

It’s effects have been studied. Positive impact on reducing tumor growth in cell cultures and animals has been found in certain cases but human study results are spotty at best — most of which were performed on people in advanced stages of the disease. Of course, it’s essentially impossible to quantify its impact in the preventive context.

Most of the controversy (and subsequent banning) stems from the cyanide component — and it’s effect on healthy cells in oral megadoses. When administered in huge amounts, there have been a few cases of people experiencing some side effects similar to cyanide poisoning (nausea, vomiting, headache). Further controversy is related to people like Steve McQueen, who elect alternative cancer treatments (in addition to laetrile, things like coffee enemas and the like) in lieu of (rather than in conjunction with) traditional radiation/chemo/surgical treatments.

Despite all of this, there are certainly groups and individuals out there that continue to vociferously assert it’s benefits — with purported results ranging from positive to miraculous.

What I suggest (and have been doing myself for years without any side effects whatsoever), is hardly megadosing — instead, small doses of raw apricot kernels and/or raw almonds in my daily morning blended drinks – the equivalent of 2-5 apricot kernels a day and/or 5-10 raw almonds, which also contain laetrile (as do mung beans, millet, buckwheat, etc.). Not as a cancer “treatment” but as a simple (potential) preventive measure. The kernels are, of course, legal and easily found online and raw almonds are everywhere.

I reviewed the posted article and spent the evening reading up further on the issue to make sure I wasn’t missing something. But I admit to underestimating the somewhat incendiary nature of this debate.

5. Green Coffee Beans:

Fat Loss. Similar to green tea and grape seed extract, organic raw (green) coffee beans have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties effective in combating free radical damage. Benefits in weight management are due to two active compounds, caffeine (lower in green beans) and chlorogenic acid (which is destroyed by roasting) [TIM: Also found in my perennial fave, yerba mate]. The caffeine releases fatty acids into the bloodstream from stored body fat, while the chlorogenic acid increases efficiency of metabolizing these fats while inhibiting sugar (glucose) absorption by the blood stream.

Simply grind the green beans and prepare in a French Press like normal coffee. Alternatively, place the ground beans in water in the sun to brew iced coffee. However, don’t expect it to taste like coffee – it doesn’t. Slightly bitter and somewhat flavorless, try adding erythritol to sweeten. Nor will it give you a boost; its caffeine content is significantly lower than roasted beans.

There was a rumor that Starbucks was test-marketing some iced green bean elixirs, but I have yet to see it hit stores. Probably didn’t test well.

6. Elk Antler Velvet:

Testosterone Booster. Elk antler velvet isn’t just the “fuzz” growing on the animal’s antler, it’s derived from the whole cartilaginous affair, which is removed from the animal (humanely), dried and ground into a powder (predominantly in Canada and New Zealand). Due to growth proteins called Insulin-like Growth Factors (IGF-1 & IGF-2), this “velvet” creates an endogenous increase in testosterone production, increasing in the body’s ability to naturally and rapidly regenerate tissue & bone (antlers are the fastest growing animal tissue known to science – growing upwards of an inch per day).

For personal reasons, I eschew animal products from my diet, so I do not myself use elk antler velvet. Nonetheless, and from what I understand, antler removal does not harm the animal, and is in fact a humane and necessary safety precaution that helps prevent the elk from attacking each other. The extraction process is heavily regulated by the Canadian government and the USDA, so make sure your product is government certified (a precaution against bacterial infection incident to chronic wasting disease that occurs in hoofed animals). Currently most of this product is exported to China but is readily available online.

Administer in capsule or powder form, 250mg/day post-workout or before sleep.

7. Suma Root & the 4 Ginseng Blend:

Adaptogen. Adaptogens are metabolic regulators that increase the body’s ability to – for lack of a better phrase – adapt to environmental stressors, both physical and emotional. Suma is a ginseng-like adaptogen extracted from a root native to Brazil that is linked to improved immune system functionality and hormonal regulation. Combine with (American) ginseng, Ashwaganda (Indian ginseng), and Eleutherococcus (Siberian ginseng) to create a potent combination that promotes longevity and stress management — normalizing and balancing emotional and physical energy levels. Take in capsules (easily sourced online) or brew into a tea.

8. Camu Camu:

A sour lemon-sized orange-purple fruit indigenous to Amazonian lowlands, camu camu contains an impressive array of phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals like beta-carotene and potassium. Most importantly, camu camu boasts the highest natural vitamin C density of any food on the planet — anywhere from 20-50 times the level of vitamin C in a typical orange, and scores extremely high on the “ORAC” (“oxygen radical absorbance capacity”) scale, a method of quantifying the anti-oxidant capacities of biological samples. Camu camu also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and facilitates the uptake of serotonin. In other words, it will make you happy.

Available in supplement form, I like Navitas Naturals Organic Camu Powder. Add a teaspoon to juice or smoothie (taste is tart, a bit like orange juice itself).

9. Moringa (Olefiera):

Dubbed the “miracle tree” and the “world’s most nutritious plant species ever studied,” this amazing tree is native to regions of Africa/Asia but can grow almost anywhere due to its incredible ability to extract nutrients from the soil and air. Its leaves are an all-around green superfood; with more than 90 nutrients, moringa is like a utility baseball player that can excel in every position. High in a wide array of vitamins and minerals it’s anti-oxidant rich (46 anti-oxidants), anti-diabetes (reduces blood glucose) and promotes heart health (lipid lowering) among other benefits.

Available in capsule and powder form, brew the powder into a tea or add to juice or your morning smoothie.

10. Pu-erh Tea:

This tea can be perhaps the most expensive in the world, with some cakes priced at $350K (for a 250g cake), its leaves derived from trees upwards of 1,700 years old. A post-fermented tea product produced in the Yunnan province of China and carefully aged, the harvesting, creation and ceremony of Pu-erh is an art steeped in preserved tradition dating back millennia.

But what makes Pu-erh truly unique is the process by which the leaves are fermented by microbes after drying and then aged. It is believed that the microbial activity in the tea provides probiotic health benefits unique Pu-erh, such as reducing arterial plaque and LDL cholesterol levels as well as aiding in weight loss by reducing blood sugar levels and improving the body’s ability to metabolize fat.

Dramatically less costly versions of Pu-erh are available [TIM: I drink this version almost every morning]; versions I have used provide a long-lasting even-keeled energy.

To learn more, I suggest you consult your local teahouse. There is nothing like a traditional Pu-erh tea ceremony administered by a tea master. It’s an extraordinary experience. If you happen to be in Los Angeles, Colin Hudon at Temple Tea in Venice is excellent.

To Test or Not to Test?

All well and good, I hear you saying. But where’s the proof? Herein lie the rub. To be sure, studies of varying legitimacy exist to substantiate the above. But large-scale, peer-reviewed research requires substantial funding. This funding is often provided by for-profit corporations that have little interest in validating natural products that cannot be protected via patents.

That said, I’m not asking you to take my word for it. Do your own research (Ray Sahelian, M.D.’s website is a good place to start). Experiment on yourself. Start conservatively, document your findings, and tweak your way to success.

Perhaps you won’t recognize yourself in the mirror a year from now.

Best of luck,

Rich

###

Tim: Any questions? Please ask them in the comments and Rich will jump in there with you.

Rich’s amazing story and techniques are covered in-depth in Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself, which just came out this week.

Posted on: May 23, 2012.

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203 comments on “10 Uncommon "Superfoods" from the World of Ultra-Endurance

  1. Some interesting and zany foods there. Familiar with Tumeric. Might have to ask around at our next Raw Vegan potluck. Definitely amazing the impact diet has on our well being.

    Like

  2. Best. Post. Ever. :)

    Having mastered the art of a diet of normal superfoods like kale, spinach, salmon, and other well-known superfoods….. this is the next freaken level! Thanks!

    Like

  3. Cool list Tim, thanks for sharing this. I’ll have my work cut out for me this weekend looking into these. Good call on the tea too… I have a secretly growing tea fetish, so I’ll have to try this. (well I guess not so secret now huh?)

    Like

  4. Quite interesting. It’s crazy to think of how many natural alternatives there are to supplements. I thought these were going to be harder to find, but all the ones I’m going to try are on Amazon. Thanks for the share.

    Like

  5. Love the science experiment approach Tim. Unfortunately most people have a hard time getting over the does-it-taste-good vs what-fucking-works syndrom. Im definitely gonna try out your full 4 hour body regimen for a few months to see how it works.

    Like

  6. This will be a fun experiment, especially the parasitic fungus and the Moringa tea, always willing to try something a little off and to add a new tea to my daily routine. Going to find a tea shop in LA now to see where I can get hold of some moringa.

    Like

  7. Nice Article-I learned about Rich’s adventures about a year ago after stumbling upon his story through a raw food forum. Funny to read this while sipping on a Ginger Pu-erh at my local tea shop. Love the video trailer-what’s packed into that smoothie btw?! -George

    Like

  8. I have a good friend that eats Natto every morning, he swears by it. Unfortunately its texture and consistency rhymes with its name.
    Natto = Snotto!
    I couldn’t choke it down.

    Like

  9. Great post! Just goes to show how smart, healthy eating and proper supplementation can have a PROFOUND impact on your life. I personally have lost 65 pounds since December 2010 in my life transformation, and now have the time to prepare food, workout religiously, work a 10 hour a day job (plus commute) and run a herbal dietary supplement business on the side! And of course time for friends and family most be there as well.

    As for the superfoods, some of them are definitely on my list to try. In the meantime I’ve been taking a strong dosage of turmeric, siberian ginseng, and much more in my own supplement, and it has definitely helped keep me going!

    Like

    • Leo…
      not sure if that was meant to be a joke, but really? I too live in Canada and the Moose are few and far between. Further I worry that you’re perpetuating the igloo living moose myth that Americans have of Canadians.

      For the record Americans, Canada kicks ass in many ways. Plus we have tons of health food stores, and all grovery stores seem to be carrying natural products these days.

      In the meantime Leo and any relevant Americans: a list of rad Canadia:

      -Super solid economy
      -Awesome musicians such as Metric, Feist, Jill Barber, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen
      – Gorgeous vast natural world
      -blah blah blah

      Health food store man! Easy.

      Like

      • “Further I worry that you’re perpetuating the igloo living moose myth that Americans have of Canadians.” Seriously? Worry? Surely not.

        I’m from Alaska and I assure you that you can have a great deal of fun with those myths. Work it!

        Like

    • Hey Allen – thanks for the comment. For sure, I love beet juice – in fact I blend beets & kale every morning in the vitamix. didn’t include it in the post only because I was trying to focus on foods even more obscure.

      Like

      • The Vitamix is so amazing. Ever since I got one (I actually got a blend-tec after using a friend’s vitamix) my life has been even better than it was before. Your story is so inspirational. Knowledge is power…Thanks for sharing your amazing food tips, I am so glad to know about them and be able to help spread the word!

        Like

      • Thanks Rich — do you by chance have online somewhere a list of the more normal things you consume regularly and a list of your daily physical routines (especially those related to maintaining mobility, ie, do you have a specific warm-up routine, do you foam roll or enlist the services of a Muscle Activation Therapist or other professional? do you have thoughts on how to maintain biomechanical symmetry?).

        Like

  10. First I want to know if he went by Rick before the whole Rick Roll thing started. Second, did he make the switch on a dime or slowly changed over?

    Like

  11. Can you list all these in a row, and provide some info on where’s best to find?
    I’m an overweight 45 yr old PE teacher, hate myself for letting me get this way.

    Like

  12. Thanks for sharing Rich and Tim!

    Quick question for Rich – That smoothie you’re making at the :30 mark in the Finding Ultra trailer looks delicious. Any chance you can share the recipe?

    Thanks again and congrats on your accomplishments!

    Like

  13. I did some research a while back and I believe there are some compelling stories indicating Yerba Mate contributes to oral cancers. Might want to check that out before you start making it part of a regular routine.

    Like

    • Studies linking Yerba Mate to oral cancer are fairly inconclusive. If you read further, you’ll find that their findings can equally apply to the act of drinking HOT beverages, so coffee and tea could both be cuplrits.

      I enjoy Yerba, and have spent a lot of time researching it. I’ll even drink it cold (Yerba Terrere) like the Paraguayans do. If I drink it hot, I make sure to let the thermos cool a bit first.

      Like

  14. This is a great article! I did want to make a correction that Chronic Wasting Disease, mentioned in the elk antler velvet section, is not a bacterial disease but a prion (protein-based) disease related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or Mad Cow disease. There is no hard evidence that CWD presents a danger to humans, and the transmission is more likely to happen by eating infected meat, but considering the nature of the disease and the fact the BSE has been propagated to humans as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is fatal and untreatable, there is definitely cause for caution.

    According to a quote in this article, Natraflex may be a good brand to pursue, although nothing is mentioned about CWD precautions on their website.

    http://www.organicconsumers.org/meat/elkvelvet.cfm

    Like

    • There might be no hard evidence that CWD poses a danger, but why consume infected meat/products? Just take antler velvet sourced from New Zealand, where there has never been one confirmed case of CWD.

      Like

    • Talk to a sleep doctor about having a sleep study. If you’re chronically sleepy, you might have sleep apnea. You don’t have to be overweight to have it.

      Like

    • I used to be like this until I found out I was sensitive to gluten. Whenever I eat it, I just fall asleep. Oats, too. Had tried every vitamin around and even had the sleep apnea test: they said I didn’t really have the symptoms, but gave me the machine anyway (hated it).

      Give up gluten for a month and see if you feel better. The very first time I added it in after that month, I was back to my old, exhausted self. And it can last up to 10 days in the body, so now I make sure never to cheat.

      Like

    • Hey John – Not listed in order of importance, but cordyceps, tumeric & camu camu are a great place to start and fairly easy to find/buy. other more commonly known superfoods you might want to check out are chia seeds, maca root, beet(root) & hemp seeds — available at any whole foods or health market – I incorporate mot of these daily into teas & smoothies.

      Like

  15. Thanks for the intriguing supplement tips. As a healthy and happy life-long vegan, I find it tiring after awhile to hear over and over about Paleo related health revelations. I recently attended a Bay Area conference, Personal Life Extension – think, lots of tech hackers hacking their own health. A dynamic, blazing-healthy vegan voice like yours was sorely lacking in the line up. I’m glad to hear your story now. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Like

  16. Is there a capsule that contains the combination of Suma Root & the 4 Ginseng Blend or do they have to be purchased separately?

    Like

  17. Great article!

    Any chance Rich could provide sample meals or menus, similar to the other athletes profiled in the vegetarian/vegan 4HB bonus material?

    Thanks!

    Like

  18. Rich: If you were on a budget and could only afford 3 or 4 of these products, which would you get?

    This is assuming you were consuming these products primarily for health and longevity (and not for ultra endurance)

    Thanks :-)

    Dan

    Like

  19. Awesome list! Thank you for posting these. I just got plugged into Rich and following his videos on Youtube. What an awesome inspiration for me! I’m 35 and running and training a lot, always looking for ways to increase my enduramce and recovery naturally. This list and Rich’s wealth of information that he provides for FREE is changing my life for the better. The fact that he can do all that he does solely eating a plant based diet shoots down all the misinformation that Vegans are weak and you can’t make it in sports without consuming animal foods. Thanks Tim and Rich for being so awesome! Tweeting this out

    Like

  20. Great list, but natto as #1? The stuff is…strange, tasting, feeling, and much of it in terms of function is still undetermined…
    I would replace that with American Ginseng (i know there’s the four ginny’s later in the list, but the oriental variations are not nearly the same, ask the chinese who buy am gin in excess!).
    I would put the algaes in there as well, both spirulina and chlorella…
    Oterhwise, keep rockin’!

    Like

  21. I am a huge Pu-erh tea fan. I’ve been importing it from China for some time, but haven’t had huge success selling it locally.

    Most people seem to trust mainstream media for their nutritional knowledge (which probably helps explain our obesity epidemic!)

    Great article, thanks.

    Like

  22. Deer Antler Velvet? lol… I always see some “doctor” peddaling that stuff at fitness expos. The cost is ridiculous and there’s not a single study they were able to offer me that suggested its claims when I asked. Want more natural testosterone? 5000IU vit d3/ day, fish oil, and a few egg yolks will do the trick.

    Like

  23. excellent article. I, too, would love to read an article about your two’s personal intake and why and of course priority. Sure, I could experiment on my own but it would be nice to work off a pro’s list.

    Like

  24. “. . .necessary safety precaution that helps prevent the elk from attacking each other.” Are you serious!? Of all people, a vegan should understand that human intervention in the natural cycles of wildlife can have negative unintended consequences. If a biologically superior elk loses his antlers he will be less likely pass on his superior genetics to the next generation. Not just less likely but most likely it won’t even happen.

    Like

  25. Surpassed yourself finding this one Tim. Credit card out and google at the ready……

    You posted this the day after I committed myself to a triathlon :D !!!!!

    Mx

    Like

  26. Thanks for the post –
    @Rich – how do you supplement B12 and other (animal-based) nutrients and vitamins into your diet?

    A good place to start to try Natto is a Japanese friend or colleague, I have found that they are often fermenting it themselves at home. They know it tastes bad and make jokes about it, but its not *that* bad – should eat it with something else as it is consumed in Japan.

    And as a general health note, reducing cholesterol is not necessarily a good thing. Your body makes it to counter damage to the arterial / vein system, true too much is bad, but if you are routinely high there may be a different factor at play: food allergies, oxidative stress or other pathogens irritating / hardening the arterial lining.

    Like

    • Hey Trevor – for Cordyceps, B12, protein & l-glutamine, I use my own product I just launched, JAI REPAIR:

      http://www.jailifestyle.com/products/plantpower-nutrition-products/jai-repair/

      I also like Vega One for a full RDA of vitamins & minerals but I prefer to get my vitamins/minerals from whole foods and rely heavily on vitamixing fruits, vegetables and nuts daily. If B12 is your only concern, plenty of oral supplements, and most plant-milks like almond milk & coconut milk are B12 fortified (2 cups = RDA)

      As for reducing cholesterol, point taken. But most people on a SAD need to worry more about high rather than low cholesterol.

      Like

  27. Starbucks has indeed produced a green coffee tea concoction, and it is quite tasty…unfortunately last I checked, there wasn’t a sugar free version.

    Like

  28. Out of interest how many of these are you knocking back each day? Do you vary depending on what you are trying to achieve? Do you test your blood to check what levels of each you have?

    Like

  29. Thanks Tim and Rich for putting this post together. I myself am gearing up for a gluten-free diet experiment later this summer. Having been a life long meat-atarian, I first experimented with a meat-free diet last year and subsequently dropped 16 lbs in under 2 months while training for a jiu-jitsu tournament. I have to admit that the first week and a half sucked ass but it wasn’t so bad afterwards. I had to stay away from the white carbs of course but I was devouring vegetables at a ridiculous rate, something like 4-6x my usual daily consumption.

    My question to Tim and Rich is this: I have never been into hot beverages, coffee makes me cringe and I’ve been trying for years to get into tea but it just never clicked (except on the Inka trail where it was a lifesaver). What can I substitute to receive the same benefits from Green Coffee Beans and Pu-erh tea?

    Thanks for your time and the insight,

    Norman

    Like

    • Hi Norman – per the post, you can brew any of the teas as iced rather than hot (aside from pu-erh – that would be anathema), so maybe try that — iced green coffee bean tea (like I said it doesn’t taste like coffee) with either some coconut milk or a small amount of fruit juice since you’re not a tea fan.

      Like

      • Rich,

        I’ve just finished Finding Ultra.

        I couldn’t put it down, I couldn’t hear my husband when he was asking me a question!!

        Brilliant piece of work. You appear to be good at anything you turn your hand to ;)

        Anyway thanks for a great and daunting read. Triathlon should be a piece of cake now ’cause anytime my head starts moaning at me i’ll threaten to aim for an Ultraman round the Big Island next and it will shut up!! :D

        Mx

        Like

  30. theres acutually a lot research on tumeric, indian people have used it for thousands of years and they have remarkebly low lev. of cancer.

    its also best taken with fat not water, and maybe bioperine to enhance bioavail.

    Like

  31. A well crafted post. The content was thought provoking and well researched, however, this definitely falls into the category of incremental change.

    I expect that focusing on minutiae like this while continuing to ignore the more difficult, but more effective, methods to health and longevity may be the trend amongst readers.

    Like

  32. Great article and very close to my heart. There are many superfoods to be found on this great planet and I’ve been doing lots of research.

    I’m in the process of writing The Superfoods Series Volume 1,2,3 and 4. I’ll have a look to see if I can add any of the above to add to it.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Lisa

    Like

  33. Ingredients:

    12 years entrepreneurial learning and practice
    100% relentlessness
    100% determination
    1 hardest working mf you’ll meet
    1 brilliant idea in an ignored market with no innovation since it’s inception
    2 1/2 years preparation and research
    1 global prospective
    1 visionary
    1 hell of a motivation

    Bake for 12 months

    Serve up a huge serving of a market disrupting, big business pissing off, global business that makes you say, “why the hell didn’t I come up with that!”. This is NOT another iffy tech start up with no proven market or strategy for making money, this is an inevitable progression of an ignored, highly critical market that will NEVER disappear.

    E-mail me, and we can talk partnership.

    Adrien

    Like

  34. Guys, I love Rich’s story. I’m a mid-forty female who was convinced by all of the media noise over the past decade that I was supposed to gain weight and disappear. Over the past three years I’ve lost 40 pounds (found and successfully used used advanced 4HB for my last ten). I will continue with 4HB this fall as I start a bioidentical hormone replacement program in a foreign country and plan to rebuild every muscle in my body that I’ve neglected. I’m always experimenting and think turmeric is fantastic for mental clarity and as an anti-inflammatory and I can’t possibly get enough in food, so I pop two supplements a day with no problems. My body loves it! My body can’t deal with ibruprophen, artificial sweeteners, or any refined foods…took a piece of sugar-free gum from a friend and I swore it killed my gut, so I had to rebuild…small set-back during the advanced 4HB, but I persevered and so can anyone else!

    Like

  35. I’m pretty shocked Tim didn’t do a bit more research on this before approving the post… some potentially dangerous suggestions in this article, e.g see this study:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22071824

    Also there isn’t a single study which shows Elk Velvet to be effective… in fact some which suggest it may actually be harmful.

    Disappointing post.

    Like

    • Hi Jake,

      I’ll take a look at all. I expect my guest authors to do this due diligence, and I’ll follow up. Since I agree with Rich on a few, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

      Thanks for the comment and feedback,

      Tim

      Like

    • My friend’s grandfather didn’t consume elk velvet, but he did he bull’s testes (aka Rocky Mountain oysters) several times a week, and he was well-sexed into his 90s. Apparently, they are reputed to be a testosterone booster. Perhaps an alternative to elk velvet.

      Like

  36. I think it would be more interesting to see the full breakdown of an entire week’s (or month’s!) food and supplement consumption for Rich. This one off listing isn’t as useful in my opinion.

    Like

  37. @Rich

    Great article. Will investigate all of those further.

    Re Turmeric. I want to know if you can clarify something not mentioned here.

    David Servan-Schrieber mentioned it in his book, but also referred to research in Taiwan that found isolated Circumin had very little observable effects. He stated that it needed to be accompanied by compounds in Chilli in order to [metabolise or be carried through the stomach lining - not sure which] hence the benefits of the indian diet, which combines both spices.

    I use it a lot in cooking, but now give the benefit of the doubt to this theory, so always add a little chilli to recipes when I use Turmeric.

    Like

  38. Good to see 3 of the “secret” things I already take on this list (green coffee, tumeric for joint pain, and deer antlerx velvet), camu camu and cordyceps seems tough to find locally, any preferred sources to order those online?

    Like

  39. Thank you for an informative blog. For tumeric I read ” I prefer to drink turmeric in a tea – 1/2 spoonful dissolved in hot water does the trick.”

    Does that mean 1/2 “spoonful” TEASPOON? DAILY?

    Thanks again.

    Like

  40. Half of these items are used in Chinese Medicine and have been for thousands of years. So, whether there are modern Western medical studies or not, there are years of empirical evidence that these herbs are useful and can provide health benefits, especially when in the right dose at the right times.

    I recommend contacting a licensed acupuncturist/certified Chinese herbalist to help figure out which combination of these herbs and what doses are best for you.

    I’ve used cordycepts, various forms of ginseng, pu ehr tea, apricot seeds and many more herbs that have had a dramatic impact on my overall health, athletic performance and recovery. I’ve seen it help my patients dramatically as well.

    Thanks for getting the word out about some of these amazing “superfoods”

    Like

  41. Caveat emptor. I see a lot of people on here opening their wallets and I’m not sure if this should be done only after the basics are taken care of. I’m assuming that, given a solid foundation, these supps above are to bring that last extra oomph! to the equation as an endurance athlete and not meant as a panacea to the weekend warrior or couch potato. I sought out these products above and the total comes out to $222 for about a month’s supply. So I would look towards first getting the basics dialed in and income better spent on real food, etc.

    I also want to contribute by saying that oregano and cloves have the highest ORAC value of ALL foods, making them the strongest superfood available, but sadly it seems that people want to fork over cash for something that is harvested in jungles half around the third world and often with little standardization or quality assurance. I would simply reiterate what the author says above, and do your research thoroughly before taking a leap with these, or any supplements, for that matter. There’s a reason you haven’t heard about most of these supplements folks, and it has more to do with commercialization of existing assets.

    Best,

    Ray M. Patel, MD

    Like

  42. I’ve seen Natto in real life. A sane human can not possibly eat them, they look exactly like eggs of Aliens from the famous movie.

    Like

  43. Yeah, man Cordyceps does wonders for sure.
    What brand are you using? I have tested a few and stoped on cordysen just wonder which one you prefer?

    Like

  44. I was checking out the website Tim recommended in this article (http://www.raysahelian.com/), and read this regarding ALA:

    The two types
    If you’re taking a conventional lipoic acid supplement, you’re likely only getting half or less of the benefit of natural lipoic acid. The reason for this is that most alpha lipoic acid products on the market have both forms: the S form, and the R form. R-lipoic acid is much more potent (2 times or more) than commonly sold alpha lipoic acid which contains both the R and S forms. The S form is chemically the mirror image of the R form and cannot be used by the body, hence it is useless. Thus, 50 mg of R- alpha lipoic acid is equivalent to at least 100 mg of the regular version. (http://www.raysahelian.com/lipoic.html)

    In 4HB Tim recommends ALA as a part of PAGG and, as far as I know, doesn’t mention anything about this. Let me know if I’m missing something. Thanks!

    Like

    • how can you recommend Alpha Lipoic Acid

      as per wiki there are some big risks …..

      Metal chelation
      Owing to the presence of two thiol groups, dihydrolipoic acid is a chelating agent. It chelates both intracellular and extracellular mercury in the brain and in the body.[citation needed] Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) has a half life of 3 hours. Because of this half life issue it can be dangerous to take chelators unless they are taken on a very strict schedule (every 3–4 hours even at night, a few days on, 10–14 days off) or they can cause more mercury to enter the brain, especially within 3 months of mercury filling removal. Lipoic acid administration can significantly enhance biliary excretion of inorganic mercury in rat experiments, although it is not known if this is caused by chelation by lipoic acid or some other mechanism.[97] Lipoic acid has the potential to cross the blood–brain barrier in humans, unlike DMSA and DMPS; its effectiveness, however, is heavily dependent on the dosage and frequency of application.[98]

      Like

  45. You guys should check out Michael Arnstein. He won the Vermont 100 ultra last year. He has a somewhat unusual diet, and many vids online about it.

    Like

  46. Nato is truly amazing, I’ve been living in Japan since 10 years and love it, sure it smell, but being French I prefer 100x times the smell of Nato than the one of Camembert cheese!

    Like

  47. In regard to the statement that the Elk’s antlers are removed humanely:

    Antlers are a pivotal part of an Elk’s life: they are the first line of defense against an enemy, they are the symbol of sexual prowess and status that attracts a mate which leads to the continuation of the species, and they’re also just a part of the individual’s body. One source claims that as the antlers are removed – and the entire antler is removed by the way, not a small portion – that it is doing them a favor as it prevents them from fighting each other which would put a dent in profits. I wonder if the removal of a man’s testicles could be considered humane? Perhaps so they don’t argue, think they’re always right, fight for a better way?

    Rich – I’m glad to hear that you have made such powerful changes in your life by foregoing the byproducts of animal abuse – just wanted to challenge what I believe is a poor use of the world “humane” in this case.

    Thanks.

    Like

  48. Thank you so much for a wonderful article. It always makes me laugh when people are critical of free information that has obviously worked for the person that is so kindly sharing! Sometimes its a breathe of fresh air to get off the “surface” of nutrition…obviously there is no magic pill to health, but it is fun to learn and experiment with new things. Good luck to you, I definitely learned a couple things from this post!

    Tosha

    Like

  49. As this article was about food, Rich left out that he is a huge supporter of ASEA. It’s 100% native to the body, has been proven to increase VO2max and metabolize fat as fuel after 7 days of supplementing.

    Like

  50. So awesome. always feel like the basic kale, chard, spinach, etc (i guess a lot of the natural foods mentioned in the 4HB) can be taken to the next level…to a more experimental ‘hacker’ level. this is a huge step and will most definitely be testing. thank you both!

    Like

  51. Hi Tim,

    I know this is a little off the subject but I have a question for you and I don’t know how to contact you other than just leave a comment and hope you find it. Here goes: What strategies do you use to launch a new start-up website? My business partner and I have created a new website we think has the potential to be big. It is not %100 complete as of this post, but we hope to have a beta launch by next week. We know we need to get 100’s of thousands of users signed up during the beta launch so we are designing some promotions we hope will go viral. I really need your help on this Tim. You are the one who inspired me to get into the internet world and I would be beyond in-debt to you if you or someone you work with could contact me about it. I don’t want to mention the name of the website here, only because I do not want this message to come off as spam. Thanks so much for everything you do!

    Like

  52. Great post, Rich and Tim!

    Is Optygen vegan? Last time I checked it was not. It’s a lot cheaper to get the individual supplements (chromium, cordyceps, etc.) by themselves through somewhere like iherb.com.

    Like

  53. Great post!
    In Colombia, there are two popular foods for nutrition and endurance:

    1. Quinoa: “A species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds.” -Wikipedia

    2. Panela: “Unrefined whole cane sugar, typical in Central and Latin America, which is basically a solid piece of sucrose and fructose obtained from the boiling and evaporation of sugarcane juice.” -Wikipedia

    I really enjoy panela myself. It is well known that Colombian construction workers drink panela juice or “Agua de panela” to endure the poor working conditions, hot sun and long hours in a construction site.

    Tim, it was nice meeting you in Cambridge. Thank you spawning that flash mob type event, I really enjoyed it. Good luck!

    Hugo Romano

    Like

  54. Great stuff,
    Any tea blends where you use tumeric you’ll like to share?
    Btw ginger should have the same or better effect than ibuprofen if you’re in pain/joint pain!
    All the best.

    Like

  55. Great article. Very interesting as to what’s out there. I’m studying naturopathy and I wasn’t even aware of some o those!! A few q’s for rich, what’s in your vitamix ?? I’m quite athletic and only want to progress with a love for aerobic activity however I worry about the affects of cortisol on aging the body and too much aerobic and over training can raise cortisol. To be able to train more without the effects of over training would be amazing so keen to give these a go. Which did you find helped most effectively for the goals I’ve mentioned. Also would you have these daily or a few times a week or when you thought your body needed ?? Any tips would be appreciated Thanks again.

    Like

  56. Hi Rich, fantastic read. I have one question. Do you have any specific recommendations foods to induce better sleep? Thanks a lot

    Like

  57. Mr. Ferris,
    I have read your book and have found the “Ice Age Revisited” section fascinating. However, I had one question. How do you avoid catching a cold when taking the 30 minute midwinter walks, with a t shirt earmuffs and gloves? Whenever I try these walks, I end up catching a cold. Any tips on how to avoid this?

    Like

  58. Thanks for sharing – I’ll try some out.

    I’m a bit disappointed that you didn’t mention the exact intake.. a “teaspoon” leaves us with only guessing..

    Greetings from Switzerland! :)

    Like

  59. Rad stuff
    Living near Byron Bay, I can grow most of this.
    Already growing bucket loads of turmeric (and will be selling dried turmeric chips for tea on ebay soon), drumstick trees grow like mad here.

    Ginseng grows like crazy and we already have coffee trees in – will try the suggestion re: green beans.

    Great post
    Tim

    Like

  60. The traditional method for brewing Pu-Ehr suggests that you steep the tea for 30 seconds, drain the water, then brew with fresh water. is there any reason to do this other than taste, and would the health benefit be greater if you skipped this step?

    Like

  61. When you prepare Pu-Ehr, you traditionally steep the leaves for 30 seconds, discard the water, then brew it. Does anyone know if that is just for taste? And if so, would you get more of the health benefits if you skipped that step?

    Like

  62. Hard to believe that we’re a decade into the 21st century and the hype about laetrile just cannot die. Rich pushes it for cancer cell inhibition as superfood #4 (apricot seeds & sprouted mung beans). He’s right in acknowledging, “I’m not saying laetrile is a magical cure for cancer.” He’s got solid evidence backing him up there, with many studies finding zero — not zero point something, but zero — benefit or ability to arrest tumor growth. But then Rich goes on and says in the next sentence, “But it’s a cheap preventative measure.” So is water, which appears to prevent cancer as good as laetrile, without the toxic side-effects. And from every stitch of evidence out there, water is just as effective as laetrile. There’s a lot of good and interesting stuff in this article, but a shame it’s got at least one recommendation that even cursory research would have uncovered as totally bogus. Read before you eat apricot seeds.

    Note also that camu camu powder does not dissolve in water. Still great stuff, but mixing with juice leaves it sitting on the bottom of the glass. Blend it with smoothies as suggested, but if you mix it in with juice you have to drink really fast.

    Like

    • I agree on this. Even some cursory checking would reveal that at low intake this is extremely poisonous.

      So much so that the FSANZ (Food Standards Aus NZ) has slapped a “do not eat” on these and all sellers must label it.

      Like

  63. Hi Tim,

    I read The 4 Hour Body twice now. Thank you for the sharing of your knowledge.

    I have a question regarding supplementation. Do you cycle all supplements or are there some/all you just take ongoing?

    Thanks,

    Brett

    Like

  64. Hey Tim, what would be your thoughts on comparing Rich’s diet which is devoid of any animal products and thus having a low saturated fat content with diets of high saturated fats and animal products that are praised by authors like Mark Sisson and Mary Enig? It seems that there is a big contrast in these two theories. I am aware that Rich outlines an array of plant based foods that provides any lacking vitamins and micro/macro-nutrients (including fats), but what about using natural saturated fats (from animal products) as an main energy source? I have seen many cases of athletes using either approach, is there one path that is more efficient and natural?

    Like

  65. Tim,

    I have heard you mentioned that you are a huge fan of yerba mate. I tried it myself and actually prefer it to green tea.

    The research that it can be linked to cancer is disconcerting. Any thoughts on this? the net has so many different websites touting it’s benefits and then other that say stay away it all get very confusing.

    I find yerba to be far superior to green tea in my opinion and I’m concerned i may have to look for other alternatives.

    Is this Pur-eh really a good second choice?

    thanks!

    Like

    • Hey Kiko,

      Check my reply above (ctrl-f, and just search my name), regarding Yerba & cancer. You risk the same drinking hot (scalding) coffee or tea all the time.

      Like

  66. HI Tim, great inpiring story.

    We are truly machines that can be tweeked to perfection! And it’s all about what goes in.

    Hey, when you gunna drift into the not so hard and fast side of things. The softy wofty “spritual” side of things. Like, you know the heart has about 40,000 neurons (it’s own “brain”). What does it do with them? ;o) Or DNA genomes are activated by dominant emotional frequencies – higher (meaning happier, feeling good) frequencies activating more genomes and hence more abilties for the human body that uses it (welcome to the overnight human enhancment program). Check out the Spirit Science channel on Youtube when you’re feeling bored. Having your focused, pinpoint energy buring in this arena for a while would be amazing.

    Best regards,

    Jeremiah

    Like

  67. The danger with lists like this is people will just start taking stuff without doing any baselining.

    Someone above mentioned taking it and seeing how it goes. How will you measure the effects qualitatively and quantitatively?

    Will you perform the same thing for each supplement?

    Tim you might want a disclaimer on this post re: effects of just taking stuff.

    Tim

    Like

  68. Some great ideas here. Some are a bit exotic for me, but most are along the lines of “I’ll give it a whirl.”

    My solution for nasty tasting supplements is to put them in gelatin capsules. Works for ones where you want the supplement but don’t have the proper food to eat it with (like cumin, cayenne, tumeric). Of course to use tumeric just toss a tablespoon in with a batch of basmati rice (if you’re still a rice eater).

    I’m giving water kefir a try. Similar to dairy kefir, but made without milk products. Most of the same probiotics. You end up with a slightly carbonated lightly sweet drink. After the initial fermentation you can add fruit juice for flavor. Most of the sugar gets consumed by the yeast and bacteria. (much like fermenting wine to complete dryness)

    Like

  69. I have only tested Cordyceps Sinensis and Camu Camu out of these and can surely attest of their benefits. As far as testing goes surely a normal maximum effort Cooper test should do OK. Just keep your training routine same when starting to use the supplements.

    Like

  70. Supplement and herbal recommendations are a world of contradiction. After reading all the back and forth comments I think I am going to approach it another way which is to observe the diets of the longest living groups of people on the planet such as the okinawans, certain groups of eskimos, etc. Break their diets down piece by piece and go from there.

    Like

    • Hey Brett, your approach may have correlation and causation issues.

      Many diets of these “communities” are not the main cause of their longevity. I am struggling to recall the source, but I think it was in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers”, where he quotes longevity studies on the communities you suggest. They attribute single unifying factor was the communal interactions they have built into their daily lives, and some rituals surrounding eating habits.

      If living long is your intended goal, then moving to live in their community will have a bigger effect than copying their diet, which in some cases, were not seen as all that healthy.

      Sorry I can’t quote the source accurately, but worth considering.

      Like

  71. Many males find that eating a meal rich in turmeric, such as real Indian curry, has the effect of increasing erection strength later that day or the following day.

    I do not eat too many spicy foods, but when i do, i certainly experience this.

    Like

  72. Rich- great stuff I’m definitely going to try some of these out once i get a baseline for my supplementation.

    Rich/Tim- In regards to Natto, I took it for a while about a year ago and stopped taking it because of the potential testosterone sapping effects of soy- do either ouf you have any thoughts on this?

    For those interested in trying Natto- the hype over how bad Natto tastes is, in my opinion, greatly exaggerated, I’d even say it tastes good especially if the kind you get comes with a little pack of hot mustard to mix in… mmmm mmmmm.

    Like

  73. There’s another superfood you should know about called the Aroniaberry (chokeberry). It is native to North America and contains one of the highest levels of antioxidants – anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins of any fruit. These powerful berries have been utilized for years because of their overall health and wellness benefits. Learn more at http://www.superberries.com.

    Like