Who does not love to optimize? Nothing is more satisfying than optimizing something and seeing the rewards from all the time saved and the increased output. With biohacking, you can optimize and transform your entire life for the better, including more meaningful productivity, having much more energy, and an overall healthier body and mind. Listen to our podcast with Teemu Arina, where he shared some insights around biohacking, optimization of health, prevention, and well-being as a technology entrepreneur and biohacking expert.
As a technology entrepreneur, Teemu had gone through what it means to run a business in the startup world, raising venture capital, pushing the boundaries of his health in the process: “thinking I was living my dream,” says Teemu.
His biohacking journey started as he got sick, and he could not get his energy level back even after he recovered. Teemu Arina then began to study deeply about the inflammation behind most diseases. He started to understand the human body as a biological computer and a complex system.
Listen to the podcast and find out more about biohacking: how to start, which diet and exercise best to improve your health and energy level, why sleep quality is important, which performance-enhancing technologies to use, and so much more!
- Find out our blog, Instagram, LinkedIn, and podcast here: https://linktr.ee/themindfulleader
- Teemu Arina’s website: https://www.teemuarina.com/
- Biohacker’s Handbook: https://biohackercenter.com/collections/books-longevity-biohacking/products/biohackers-handbook-upgrade-yourself-unleash-your-inner-potential-hardcover
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/BiohackerSummit
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/teemuarina/
Dr. Reiner Kraft 0:11
Hey, I'm Reiner. I'm founder of The Mindful Leader and also founder of The Fellowship of Mindful Tech Leaders. I have a special guest here with me today, Teemu Arina. And I'm really very glad and happy that Teemu could squeeze out some time from his busy schedule and be with us and share some of his insights around the whole area of biohacking, but even broader really optimization of health prevention and well being. So a lot of cool topics we can go in here today. quick introduction, Teemu has a professional career of two decades as a technology entrepreneur. Also professional speaker is one of the forefront thinkers on digital transformation, learning work, leadership, health, and eventually also the future of humanity. His work is focusing on studying the intersection of men machine and ways to improve productivity, health, well being with biological and technological tools, which is really, really near the heart of my efforts, as well as I'm a technologist as well, I worked on machine learning deep learning, I build up Zalando research, a basically, think tank and quarts of deep learning, research scientists and really looking at heart problems nowadays that you can tackle if there's more and more data available. And now, if you take this Zalando when I was working there, the topics were around fashion right now, shifting into well being into health is a huge opportunity, which we're currently all in. And that's why I'm glad here to have Teemu here. So, Teemu, first, welcome.
Teemu Arina 2:00
Dr. Reiner Kraft 2:01
And then maybe you can share a little bit on your side, in terms of your journey, and where you came from, and basically what project is into this moment in time, and then we can go from there.
Teemu Arina 2:16
Absolutely. Thank you very much. So my background is I'm a technology entrepreneur, I started my first company when I was 16. I'm close to 40 now, and I've gone through, you know, what it means to run a business, like doing things in the startup world raising venture capital, basically, you know, pushing the boundaries of my own health also in in the process, thinking I was living my dream. And in the process, I was also a management consultant for many, many big companies and the institutions and so on on digital transformation, like how they can use these tools and technologies to improve the way how they work and do the things. So I was very early on into social media and social technologies. I started my first blog in 2003, when very few people knew what that even is. And I was very early on into these new platforms. And I did these like large companies how to adopt them and how to use collaborative technologies and tools and all that.
Teemu Arina 3:20
So for me, I was 30 I basically like I guess when you turned 30 you see the first signs of aging, I I got a stress related illness one of the symptoms of that was chronic also saw so basically a wounded a stomach that didn't heal and I basically that I went to doctor like many people would do in this situation, I got some medication, it helped manage the pain, but it didn't really bring my energy levels back to where they were before. So I was struggling with that. And when I got like re prescribes and medication and I started studying like what I'm taking I realized that you're not supposed to take these a long period of time it's like for temporary use. My doctor told me that these things, there are some stressful business leaders they need to take these for the rest of their lives. And I was like No, I'm not going to take this rest of my life. So I started like studying like inflammation. I started for my own condition but I expanded very soon to basically like looking at inflammation from a deeper point of view. And inflammation is behind most disease and prognosis and regenerative diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease and so on like with our modern man's problems. And I started like going really deep and because I had a background in systems thinking and understanding complex systems, I started looking at the human body as a biological computer and complex system.
In that process, I met a doctor, called Olli Sovijarvi from Finland, and nutrition specialist, I'm a technologist. So I started looking at technology like how I can use different technologies to make this black box visible. So in organizations, I was used to looking at key performance indicators, like how the business is doing. So I want to see like, what are the key performance indicators for my body. And while going into it, I got the interest in biomarkers, and I want to do a bunch of lab tests to get a whole total picture of what's going on. So doctors, they wouldn't send you to a lab for a specific test unless they are suspicious of a specific disease. So if there is no symptoms, or whatever, like conditions, they're not doing unnecessary tests. So I basically pack my luggage and went to Estonia, from Finland, where I went to the lab, and I gave them the money and I want to do these tests. So and I got them back. And that gave me a more systemic view of what's going on.
And at that time, that was around 2012. I also got into wearable technologies, so different kind of like activity trackers, and so on that you can measure your heart rate and nervous system, state and sleep quality and even like, EG readers that help you to read brainwaves and a bunch of things. So, I was in the middle of developing my own protocol for healing myself, which was based on reducing inflammation on a very systemic way. So it included stress management techniques, different ways to improve sleep and recovery, different dietary interventions to avoid food items that would increase inflammation, including food items that would statistically, from literature perspective, reduce inflammation. So I designed my own anti inflammatory diet also in the pros is by reading a lot of like, medical literature, and had a pretty much a crash course in these things. And with my friends in medicine, and nutrition, and myself as a technologist, like, I implemented my protocol, and after three months, I was basically disease free.
Teemu Arina 7:29
And what interesting happened with this was that was designed to be temporary. So I was like, basically, planning to do that for tips, just try things solid, like what happens. And what I noticed afterward after three months was that my energy levels were better than they were before I got sick. I didn't have like crashes throughout the day, I didn't have like problems with gut, for example, after being sleep deprived, or whatever. So I got really like, intrigued like, okay, so I actually feel like a completely different person now, also cognitively. And the rebound was so massive that I just decided to continue that lifestyle. And I started talking about it to people I got some people together with me in my office. About forty people of them who would be interested in this stuff. And those people went on to found companies like the Oura ring, which is one of the top technologies for measuring your sleep quality. And people went on to found nutrition, supplementation companies and so on. So that was pretty interesting gathering in 2013 or so. And we started organizing the Biohacker Summit, also in 2014 for people who are interested in bio hacking.
So, what is bio hacking? That to me is health and performance optimization by utilizing personal data, health science and self experiments. So you're basically the Bayesian zero, you're testing things on yourself, you're guided by data and science, like, you have a strong hypothesis that if I do this, that might happen, but then you're tested on yourself. So that's where you have the biomarkers and variables and genetic tests and all that. And basically, you're looking at, obviously, like things like energy management of stress management and metabolic health, cardiovascular health, recovery,and ultimately cognitive performance that your well functioning human being and it also leads into preventive health care, like how do you prevent disease and I guess this slide pretty much sums it up: so it's not about living long, it's about living, healthy, years more healthy.
And regular people would do like, because if you are crippled you have some chronic disease, your body isn't functioning well, your mind is not functioning well, you're not going to be happy, even though you're live long. So with medical treatments, we've been able to increase lifespan. So from like 45 to 85 years old, like in modern times with modern technology. With healthy lifestyle, you can push the boundaries a little bit, but we biohacking look into increasing health span. And that led me to writing the Biohackers Handbook together with the doctor and the nutrition guy. And this book has over 1500 References made a meta analysis that came out in the in the last decade. And this is basically the missing manual for the human body. So we look at areas like sleep, exercise, nutrition, work and mind and how those can be as you know, systems that you can optimize. It also has hundreds of illustrations. So this came out in end of 2016 in Finland, in Finnish language, and then we did the English translation in 2019. And it kind of became international bestseller and part of a bigger, bigger movement of biohackers who are interested in the human biology as computers can be optimized. And all preventive health care is really like sprung up as the future of medicine and healthcare in general. So it's moving to a more patient centered approach where you have data from your lifestyle and, and held in a much deeper level that helps you to optimize yourself. And when I started doing these things, it was not obvious it wasn't easily available. xIt wasn't a big trend. And so I was kind of on the forefront of it.
And since then, I have also worked with management teams and deeds, also MBA courses and so on related to this topic, like how you can optimize your health and performance as a leader. And I think that's a very relevant topic. I did, you know, everything wrong, in a way, I did many things, right. But I did everything wrong by focusing too much on the things outside of me, like how I run businesses and processes, and you know, what techniques and tools I use, but I was neglecting my body, like, I was neglecting sleep, I was not, you know, having breaks in optimal way, I was not eating a diet that would help me to really perform. So in the end, like I learned the hard way. And I hope that other people don't have to do it the hard way.
But unfortunately, the world is full of something I call a very sick, high performance culture. So many companies are running on the premise that, you know, effectiveness is like just putting more time in better, faster, stronger, you just like you just push the boundaries, you know, work on deadlines at work until 4am when your PowerPoint decks and sometimes they even brag about the fact that the I've been working on this project, I haven't slept much and you know, we're kicking ass, no, you're not like, you make a lot of mistakes and you pay for it, like the sick leaves are off the roof. And depression and anxiety is off the roof. And you can't be a great manager or example to others, if you are like sleep deprived, a bit like nervous and anxious and you have like physical symptoms, you're not going to perform well whatever books you read about management and leadership, people aren't going to reflect on you as a role model in that sense.
So, to me, like healthy high performance culture starts from, you know, bring the system back to balance because from a balanced state, you have more capability of really taking things to the next level and you are you are a leader you are a reflection of the rest of the organization. So, if you change yourself, the organization also changes itself. And you are basically an example people copy and model you. So how do you how do you become a role model for others? That's kind of like the hero's journey that I'm interested in this and I think many people need to learn it the hard way. So once they get like, it's too late, like then they start doing things and I hope people start a little bit earlier. So that's pretty much what I what my life mission is right now is to keep people like some tools to you know, bring themselves back to balance and take things to the next level.
Dr. Reiner Kraft 14:34
Oh, it's great. Reminds me what you when you shared the story where it all started, right? It was basically something on your side on the health side was there what's going on? And then will you notice you became aware I have to do something and then of course you realize that traditional medicine health system usually is not actually helpful in that way. You may have to do a lot of tests but they're usually looking at the wrong thing. Or they just not optimized or designed to actually look at the human as a system at a very complex system. And then, I mean, this is similar when I started into this as well, it's very, very similar thing that I also as technology leader, I was in Silicon Valley for many, many years. 20 years, right? model stress, neglected the body, not no balance. So I know exactly what you're talking about. And this is when it hit me back about seven, eight years ago, then 2013 2014, roughly this thing, right? And I also became then aware, oh, I have to do something. But what do you what do I do, right? And very similar to what you were describing, so same approach, right? As a scientist going in the data, where do I get the data? What data do I have to look at, and so on. And so this is great. And it looks like but then, in this case, the motivation was first, when you said, Okay, how can I prove my health? Again, how can I get back on track, but you learn so much about how to do it. And then at some point that came, then the shift where you said, Let's now actually see how I can help, how I can help others sharing the spreading this knowledge? And also see the technology aspect of this right. How can technology assist in doing this? Going back now to this: What you mentioned before you said that you wanted to you want to understand humans as a system complex system, also seen that you done, some work of actually mapping this in this blueprint, right? There was, I remember, this big blueprint of the human as a system. I mean, it looks really complex. How much work did you guys put into generating this blueprint? Is it something that there is a link to it in the notes that we can share? I think this would be curious, because it's it's a massive effort.
Teemu Arina 17:11
Yeah, I mean, when it comes to like, looking at things from, from a bigger picture, I think this this slide illustrates pretty well like, if you go for a doctor, it's all about diagnostics. It's about figuring what happened, it is the inside basically is what happened, it's health information that looks at like, what's the current snapshot of you and what might have led to this. And, and it's great if we are looking for, you know, immediate treatment, so they're not going to treat you unless you have a disease, right? If there's an absence of disease, like there's nothing to do: if your values are a little bit out of, you know, out of balance, maybe your hormones are a bit low, maybe your liver values a little bit high, but you don't have a diagnosed disease, they are not going to do anything. It's just you know, they're going to follow through, like if there's some indicators out of proportion, like they might give you some advice, but there's no harm pretty much. So it's like the biomarker analysis is pretty much focused on figuring out if you have a disease that needs treatment.
Now, what I'm focused on is the is not inside, but foresight. Like in terms of my patterns of behavior, if I continue these patterns, certain things, certain outcomes might happen, like you increase your risk for dementia, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease. So most of the stuff that you get diagnosed is already too late. It's like you should have started doing changes like 10 years ago, five years ago. So with biohacking, I'm looking at like, large population studies and analysis and so on. And based on my own health data, personalizing those results for myself, looking at preventive diseases, like how can we prevent disease outcomes before they happen? And I mean, we both would agree that it's cheaper, from your perspective, like to pay now a little bit to optimize your health compared to all the medical bills that you're going to pay later on. If you don't, and, unfortunately, people invest in these things too late, they invest when it's extremely expensive compared to if you actually invested earlier on I mean, business leaders would understand this. So and it's not an easy thing, there is no silver bullet. So every person is unique.
And you have to start from you know, looking at several different parameters. Like obviously, like looking at the health records, it also depends what age you are. It depends what what gender you are, depends on your ethnic background. If you look at genetic test, there are different like variables for, let's say absorption of vitamin D if you're from the equator. There's a lot of sun, vitamin D, up there, that absorbs less than if you're here in the northern part of the world where there's less sun, so you need to get more in. So people who, let's say, move in from around the equator to, let's say some other country for work, and just because of their biological background, they might be more susceptible to disease. And let's say diabetes, which is linked to lower vitamin D levels. So once you become aware of those things, you can map them out. So from the blueprint perspective, you will he would look at genetics, like what are your risk factors like are certain risks elevated, certain reduced. But in the end, you won't be able to know unless you take a lot stronger biomarkers with this lab tests. So you would look at a wide variety of markers, not just things like cholesterol levels, but you would go deeper into the inflammatory biomarkers, you would look at gut functioning, perhaps, we might even look at microbial diversity in your gut, you might look at hormonal levels, you might look at different biomarkers for organ systems. And then, okay, you have a snapshot right there of what's going on.
And you might get some idea like, okay, like, just to give you an example, when I was 30, I did this test my, my testosterone levels came back, the lower end, which was okay, from a medical standpoint, it was within the range, but it didn't give me all the benefits of higher testosterone levels for energy and productivity, and so on. So I basically looked at those results. And at 30 years old, I looked like a 45 year old man. And now at 40, I looked like a 25 year old man from a hormonal perspective. At 30, I looked like I'm almost pre diabetic. Now at 40, I look like, my risk for diabetes is extremely low from blood sugar management perspective, the same goes for cardiovascular disease risk that has gone down. So these are not some random variations, these are systemic results from systemic intervention that took 10 years. And so basically, I look younger, from like, metabolic health perspective, than I looked 10 years ago. And I'm not even old, I mean, I'm 40 and I was 30, when I started doing these things more more regularly. And but the exponential benefit that you get, if you are like 50, or if you're like 60 is significant, because in terms of aging, it just accelerates and if you if you correct, some issues, it gives you much more leverage in terms of functioning. So if you want to perform well, like I mean, it becomes more and more important to put in a little bit of exercise, it becomes even more important to eat a healthy diet when you're a kid you know, you can eat just about anything you want, you know your body is going to sustain it but once you are like 50, it has a big effect if you are eating like rancid inflammatory oils that are destroying your body or high sugar amounts like that are going to wreck you know, havoc in your in your metabolic health. So once you have the data, you have something to improve on and
There is a lot of things that I general recommendations, obviously that you can take. But in the end like you won't be able to know what really works unless you take a test. For example, vitamin D like how much should you supplement? Like you don't know until you take the test and you see the measurements and you see like if you're getting enough from it like from diet. If you're not if you're supplementing on you won't know like if you're getting your serum levels to the right level unless you do a test. And so then it helps you to optimize, you know, let's say supplementation helps you to optimize things like exercise even like you are over exercising, I see a lot of business leaders who are like high performance who then high-perform everything in their life like they're running marathons and they are doing live triathlon and all that. And that's an additional stressor already on top of a stressful lifestyle. So your risk for cardiovascular health, like cardiovascular events goes up, like if you just push your boundaries too much. So it's important to learn to relax. It's important to learn to recover fast. It's like I think like in terms of like, like professional athletes recover as part of their training. You don't run from one marathon to another you take a break, right? So how do you recover how the bounce back is very important. How do you spend your weekends? How do you spend, you know, time between meetings when you have opportunity for it. So it really boils down to, you know, these simple decisions you'd make every day. And cumulatively, it builds up into, you know, healthspan instead of, you know, just reducing the lifespan, you, you can just actually increase health span.
So it's all probabilities, like, I mean, anyone could live just collapse in terms of their health for many different reasons, getting a virus that, you know, breaks down the system or whatever. But in the end, you reduce your risk for disease and, and all kinds of side effects of poor lifestyle. If you take this seriously, and especially in the year of pandemic, you know, we all heard that the people aren't a risk group are the ones who have underlying disease are the people who are overweight, or the people who you know, are not metabolically healthy. And it's not just age, it is, you know, all these things. So obesity is one of the biggest factors driver after age and age is in the end, it's just a number, you know, age correlates with chronic disease. So, likelihood of having chronic disease. So chronic diseases are a big factor here, cofactor for any kind of like risk or morbidity.
So in the, in my mind, like, these last, you know, couple of years, like, one and a half years is really good lesson for everyone to really start taking their health seriously. And now people are locked down, you know, they work from home. And they have full control of their lives. So, what I teach is, like how you optimize your work day, from the moment when you wake up to the moment when you go to sleep, like how can you have a healthy working pattern, that actually, once you get out of the lockdown, you're healthier than when you went in. But unfortunately, most of the people in the world now get even more overweight, they get more, you know, chronic disease, they drink even more alcohol, you know, there's a lot of like side effects of it. But if you are conscious, you can actually turn these into opportunity. Because you have less travel, you have less stress, all these factors, if you like, really, like put effort into it, like I personally, I've started meditating like three hours every day. I have, like, I did now one month where I did two to three hours of meditation per day, because I have the time, I don't want to traveling that much. And I see that compound benefits of it. Like I used to do it on an occasional basis on a regular basis, but like 15, 20 minutes, like every few days, but now when I've done it like every day with some breathing exercises, I just keep gas at work I get so much more done in, my mind is so much more focused.
Dr. Reiner Kraft 27:52
Did you track the effect of the meditation with HRV?
Teemu Arina 27:56
Yeah, I track HRV and several other factors. And I can basically in a 20 minute session, I can like double the speed of my recovery. Like I can just like over double my HRV levels which just 20 minutes of focused attention, but I noticed the effects of operating exercises to health and so I'm not just meditating I'm doing like deep breathing techniques before I go into meditation and that that has had the biggest benefit for me doing breathing techniques from some yogic techniques like pranayama but also the Wim Hof Method which is quite popular in in biohacking circles, which has also nicely some scientific studies behind it for immunity and, so on. And I've done that like deep breathing techniques with pranayama. And then I combine in my meditation practice I use biofeedback and neurofeedback. So I use technologies that are giving signal back from my nervous system, my consciousness that also helps me to go deeper and, and I also used something called photobiomodulation, near infrared, light and red light, which have a lot of clinical studies behind them for lowering inflammation and speeding up recovery that's clinically used for diabetic patients to speed up wound healing. I use it for performance reasons. It's like a cup of coffee for me. That combined with some breathing and meditation practices, so But I have to say that many of the effects of these you can't see in your devices like they are, you know it in your subjective experience when you don't feel like procrastinating when you're just like: if you start your day like doing something really hard, then the rest of the day all the difficulties are just easy. Because breathing techniques can be hard, like sitting in meditation can be hard, taking an ice bath, it can be extremely hard or, or ice cold shower. So once you start your day like doing something very difficult, then the rest of the day just feels easier. And you have more and focused mind because you focused attention. You practice attention, which we don't really like. I mean, we practice all these productivity techniques, but we don't really practice attention. And to me, meditation is the ultimate way of silencing the monkey mind that is just like erratically wandering around because modern technology like mobile phones, and notifications, and social media is just a distraction. It's just like taking your mind somewhere else.
We are in this like, we're in this like, fast forward, fast media culture, where everything just comes and goes rapidly, and you feel every second, we're checking emails, and you know, messages. And it can be very hard to do deep work. But if you at least in the middle of all that practice, like focusing on one thing at a time, like your breath, it affects your ability to focus for tedious, cognitively demanding tasks as well. And that's what research also shows. So for me, the pandemic year has been very revealing in terms of how effective meditation breathing techniques can be for productivity.
Dr. Reiner Kraft 31:46
Yeah, and I mean, you mentioned many different points in there. I think the beginning what you said, I think this is the the key thing is to get started, right, as the as the human, body and mind is very complex system. There's all kinds of subsystems in there, they all run basically, independently, but of course, they are connected, everything is connected to each other. And somehow you need to get started, right, you can't do everything at once. But you need to get started, there needs to be some urgency to get started. And probably many of the viewers or listeners now to this discussion here. I think they are in a state where they may not know that they actually have to get basically have to make some changes have to get started. Because my experience many of people, the mindset is, oh, I'm okay. I have maybe here and there a little bit of stress here and there my sleep isn't that great, but otherwise, I feel okay. But they don't know, right? If you put if you look at the quantified self, right? You mentioned biomarkers myself, I'm currently tracking more than 300 biomarkers that you probably do similar things right. At the end of the day only when you know the data and when you when you have the data, then you can make more informed decisions. And then you see that, well, yeah, I'm actually not just feeling okay. But I know from the data I am okay. But this awareness, this urgency to get going and actually start doing something. And as you said, it's not a big you start little steps, it's the sum of those little decisions you do every day, that make the big difference, right and getting people to get going. So I think that's the first thing. But since you mentioned, let's focus in on one topic, which is recovery. You mentioned this now. Right? I think recovery I see it as on one side sleep. So I'm curious on sleep, sleep tracking, also how to optimize deep sleep, particularly deep sleep is a key key foundation for your support your glymphatic system, right, which basically flushes out all the waste that builds up over time and keeps the brain basically functioning better in the next on the next day. So deep sleep optimization, but also recovery over the day, right? You also mentioned before that putting in deep breathing exercise, a little bit of meditation, right all those little things that you can do over the course of the day. In any maybe advice on this one more technology that can assist you during the day because at night you already mentioned devices like Oura ring is one way but what about over the day, how can you ensure to more systematically sprinkle in these little breaks so that you, at the end of the day, if you summarize everything up sleep plus, those mini breaks, you have sufficient recovery built in on a continuous basis.
Teemu Arina 35:01
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, so for any any leader out there, like my experience is exactly what you described that they can feel okay, but they'd have no idea how well they could feel. And that's the problem with human consciousness is that in a context, when you are in a specific set mindset, relatively to that experience, that's how you experience things relative to your average experience. Everything is okay, right. So if you never experienced what it would feel like to be fully eyes open and fully awake, like throughout your day, you have no idea how well you could feel. And from these biomarkers, we can start looking into like areas of improvement that if we address certain things, like if you think of like metabolic health, your biology could work better, we can look at nutritional status, even like, if you don't have the building blocks for neurotransmitters and so on. I mean, it's like, it's not going to run, it's like a German car that's not, you know, maintain, you know, on a consistent basis, and it's running on the wrong gasoline. So, relative to your previous experience, things are just kind of running fine. But you'd have no idea what the engine is able to do if you put the right fuel in it. So that's the other thing. And now, starting from things like recovery, now, we are very much focused in the working life to getting things done, right. So we are looking into, you know, being more alert, so people are interested in things like coffee, they are interested in stimulants in general like to stimulate themselves up. And that's great. I mean, you get a surge of energy, but you get also a crash often like you just like there's a limit to how much coffee you can drink, right? So it's not going to compensate lack of sleep, for example.
But even if even terms of sleep, like we have been told that you should sleep seven to eight hours per night. But the question is, like, what kind of sleep so when you dive into the components, you mentioned deep sleep, that's usually what happens in the first hours of the night. And deep sleep is compromised, like, let's say things like exercising too late, or drinking too much alcohol, close to going to sleep. And it also is related to stress. So if you're overstressed like you often get your sleep is not a sound, if you have a inflammatory condition like low level, inflammation is high that can also influence your your ability to recover and get deep sleep. Now, if you're sick, you often live naturally, your body just like puts you in a mode where you sleep more and you recover more. So we know this like from experience. But if your general state of your body is good, and you have low level inflammation, you recover faster. And it turns out you also need a little bit less sleep than someone who is like chronically ill or chronically, like has low early inflammation thinks they're okay. But you know, they're not really and so, by having a healthy setup, you get away with you know, more compromised in a way that you have a deadline, you can like sleep four hours per night, a couple of nights just fine, as long as you get enough deep sleep, but it also you need also REM sleep, which is more of the sleep that you get later in the night for consolidating memories for learning. And it has other health effects. Also, they done studies on rodents where they blocked their REM sleep, they blocked their deep sleep, they see the results of it actually saw some sleeping medication actually, they knock you out but they reduce your deep sleep. So you're kind of sleeping but you're not really like you're just like passed out. And you're not getting the recovery you're looking for. You might sleep your bed you slept eight hours, but you see I still feel a little bit tired. So it might be because of the medication you're taking. So you won't know unless you test these things and deep sleep is an aspect. We wrote a big article, my god or Dr. Olli Sovijarvi wrote a big article on deep sleep hacks you can find it at bio hacker center.com. So there's a big article on different ways to measure and improve your deep sleep levels. You usually get like around, a healthy person gets like one hour to two hours of deep sleep. In that article, we go through like how that can be even increased to three hours.
But unfortunately, most of the people and their data I look at, it looks like they get like 15 minutes or 30 minutes of deep sleep or zero. Really. Like they don't get any. And these are things that you can measure pretty accurately with wearable technology. REM sleep is harder, for REM sleep you would need rapid eye movement so you would need to look at brainwaves and eye movements and stuff like that, that they can do in laboratories. So with these wearables, you get maybe 60% accuracy of measuring REM sleep, but deep sleep, you can measure pretty accurately with these devices.
Teemu Arina 40:10
So that's the thing about sleep. Now you asked about the day, like, how can I figure out throughout the day, what's going on. And for that I use, I use Garmin. So here is a Garmin watch, for example. So they built into their, their watches, I like this because it's like basis masterlock. Like, it doesn't look like, doesn't look like this thing here, which sorta wearable, but it looks awesome. So to me, what it gives me throughout the day, is the data set and measurements of your typical day. Let's see if I can, I can perhaps even pull out an example of how it how it looks like.
Here we go. Okay, you can see this, right. So on the left side, so this is the these are two measurements that have been, have been done on a conference. And they one day to be conference, a lot of people, a lot of meetings, I had like 10 to 20 meetings per day. And I also had the privilege to speak on stage and you know, do presentations on both days. So what you see here is on the first day, I basically here's the like night's sleep, that's that's when I was sleeping. And this is the day. So these are stress reactions. So the higher the bar, the stronger the stress reaction. And as you can see, on the first day, I got absolutely no recovery throughout the day, so I didn't get any blue low bars on the first day. On the second day, on the other hand, I got like a lot of recovery throughout the day. And, and overall, it's telling me that I had enough restful moments on the first day said I had very few restful moments on this day. So the difference between these two days is that and by the way, the Yeah, so this this is like measurement throughout the day. And on the difference between these two days is that on the first day, I deliberately didn't do any anything for recovery. I was just like running from one meeting to another, talking to people, checking emails, all that stuff like what people normally do. On the second day, I consciously took our moments of recovery, where I closed my eyes and just took like deep breathing moments, like one minute before every single meeting so and sometimes I suggested to the other person that hey, let's do like, you know, I put the phone on the table with a timer and said, hey, it's been really hectic conference. So why why don't we take one minute and just go eyes close, like just take a few deep breaths. And then we start. And that's what I did on the first day and nothing else. And you can see like how much better my nervous system looked like on that particular day. And this is the result of just being a little bit more mindful about how to recover because from your autonomic nervous system standpoint, you have control over one organ and that's your, that's your respiratory system. And through modulating your breathing, you're modulating your heart rate, because those are interlinked. So when use breath slower, your heart rate goes down when you when you breath like shallow in fast like normally people do when they are hectic. That's when your heart rate increases your heart rate variability goes down. So this is a good example of what happens. And I have another example of like, on average, what being connected to nature does. So using the same measurement technology. Here I can see like months when I was in a city environment, what my average stress levels and reactions were. And right here, and here you can see what my average stress levels were. So basically lower the better was when I moved to nature. So I was still working as much I had still as many meetings and all that but I was connected to nature. And that on average, just married much better. So in the title pandemic, a lot of people decide to move out of city and called countryside and all that it's pretty good idea actually.
Absolutely, I mean, everyone knows that like 20 minutes walk in a forest will reduce your stress levels. So if you're able to include like a nice walk in a park, do it, you know, it base back, you know, if you're if you're able to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, do it. If you have an argument with a colleague, like take a little bit of distance, take a few deep breaths and return to the topic, you'll make better decisions. Like, it's obvious. It's simple, but people neglect these things that just like they are just like sympathetic nervous system standpoint on overdrive, running from one meeting to another, and they make impulse decisions. I don't think that's leadership
Dr. Reiner Kraft 45:57
And that's the thing like once you see the data, that's why I like these tracking devices, right? You see the data, it's very clear, right? Was this Garmin tracker, right? You could see the blue areas over the course of the day. Right? And that has a lot of benefits, right? Because I would suspect then in this night, for instance, deep sleep could be much better, right? Or in general, right? it's just it adds up to is all those positive things. Want to ask you, these are more about recovery, particularly on the mind, breaks, breathing, meditation, and so on. But let's use a few other biomarkers. As an example, I've seen you mentioned, like testosterone was one, to basically bring it up is a good thing is clear. There's also another one GFR, EGFR for the kidneys, right. And I've seen that in one of the videos that you shared, that you were able to really get this up. And so I'm curious on those two biomarkers, because now they're a little bit different, is probably a combination of different techniques that you do that you did over the years to get these particular biomarkers.
Teemu Arina 47:09
Yeah, so for that, I mean, exercise, regular exercise, even little I don't got like go to the gym and lift heavy weights or go for a run, I do like, quite a lot of like, basically High Intensity Interval Training, where I do like very brief moments, like up to 15 minutes, very heavy, like things. It could be an exercise bike, it could be lifting weights, or something like this, doing push ups or pull ups to failure. So I basically do one set to failure, and then I'm done. So I don't even sweat to death. I'm just like, I can do it with my jacket on and continue my day. And that's how I make breaks. If I'm at the computer, I take a 20 minute break, I do 15 minutes off like heavy exercise until failure, I'm done. That's that that's the metabolic impulse, that's the hormonal response, the trigger that tells your body exactly the same as you would get from two hours of moderate exercise. So I basically spend 15 minutes for that per day, that's enough. And and you get the benefits for hormones, you get the benefits for a lot of things.
Now in terms of like kidney function, or liver function. So if your organ systems are able to filter out crap, and they do like, well, from the lymphatic system perspective, because that's like circulating all the crap around, we spoke about deep sleep, that's where the lymphatic system extends to the brain. And it pumps out the metabolic waste that accumulates throughout the day, like on the load black and betha, which is linked to Alzheimer's disease. Now, for that, I mean, sleep is important, of course, for many of these things in the end, but on top of that, some dietary interventions are key. So I do have practice intermittent fasting for a long time. So if you want to bring down your blood sugar regulation, like call it 30% just doing like a full one day fast, like up to 48 hours, once a month, it's already a significant improvement in blood sugar regulation. And what I do on a regular basis is intermittent fasting where, where several times per week I'm skipping things like lunch now it sounds like contrary intuitive like based on the nutritional advice that you should, you know, have, you know, snacks and eat eat every freaking tree hour or so something like this. But for me, from studies perspective, it's actually a good idea because you are genetically a hunter gatherer who didn't have food all the time. So I would like give a break to my metabolic system for a while. So I would like to have coffee in the morning and nothing until dinner. And to be able to sustain that kind of lifestyle, you have to change your fuel sources. So normally people have a lot of carbohydrates, and they run pretty much on carbs. So what I did, I changed the I'm running mainly on fats. So I do a ketogenic diet and ketogenic diet is very good for brain functioning, and it's very good for. For anyone who does sedentary work, because carbohydrates are awesome, if you do exercise, you run on the field, you do like physical work, you need a lot of calories, and you need them fast. But if you sit in front of your computer, you're not moving much like then that's not the optimal fuel source from your organ system perspective, you want to, you want to have something that burns more slowly and longer time and gives you more steady blood sugar values. And that's where the ketogenic diet works for me very well. So I would increase the amount of fats compared to carbohydrates. It's not a high protein diet, like I my proteins are still around what they would average for any other type of diet, but I'm like increasing the number of fats. And that works for me and many other people. And it's actually clinically also used to treat pre diabetic conditions, like, for example, and even things like epilepsy, and, and several other like, like some Nervous System diseases, and so on are clinically treated with the ketogenic diet, but I'm using it for performance reasons. And that has given, you know, benefits for cardiovascular health for, for liver function, for a lot of things like just give a break to your system and use optimal fuel sources for for your body. Yeah, but it takes time to adapt to these things, a couple of months.
Dr. Reiner Kraft 51:56
It takes time. Also, switch to a bulletproof diet, ketogenic diet with some carb cycling, they use a lumen device to track the metabolic state, right, and took me at least six weeks to get really moved from carb gradually more and more into ketogenic and burning fat. But once you're there, it's amazing to see this, right, it's you're pretty much in most of the time in fat burning mode. And then if you add some carbs, that's fine, right? So your body also knows what to do, then we still was carbs. But it feels like there's, besides the benefits that you mentioned, it feels much, in terms of thinking is clearer. There's more energy there, right? And, but it requires some work, right? You have to you have to know what to do how to do it. And like there could be a lot of mistakes on the way on doing it. So it's not trivial, basically, to make the absolutely correct.
Teemu Arina 52:56
Yeah. And this, it's, it's like, it takes time to build up. Like, for many people in the beginning, it might feel like they're less energy, but it's just that you have not yet adapted, like, there's this metabolic adaptation phase that adapts to this new type of fuel. And once you get there, like it feels easier and actually going back to you know, having like, let's say a huge bowl of rice and you know, some cereal for breakfast and all that it just like you feel the crash coming, like you just feel like oh my God, this, this actually is not good. Like from an energy standpoint, like, but it's okay, like you can eat carbs, if you if you just remember the use of standing desk and you're metabolically active throughout the day and all that. So there is no single diet that is like perfect for everyone. But you won't be able to know unless you test things on yourself. And that's like, I think very important and to do for anyone is just to experiment your boundaries, who never did a fast if you never, if you never like if you ever have always had a specific diet and you think it's the best in the world. You have no idea how you would feel on a different diet right so like, like and one thing that I've noticed by looking at people's labs is that when people say: I'm I'm eating, you know, healthy regular diet, I don't have any fast forward or sugary drinks and all that, we still find nutritional deficiencies. So always things to address in everyone, the doctor I worked with, he never saw anyone who had perfect values. Never. So everyone has always something to correct, especially if you think you're eating a generally healthy diet. There's probably something that can be improved and and sometimes the thing that you'd think is healthy is counter counter wise, like it might not actually be that healthy. You might have like low level inflammation going on on a specific diet. So you won't be able to know until you measure things and that's that's kind of what led me to these things and and with diet you have to you have to do it for months until you see the adaptation to change.
And when I say diet, I'm not saying that you should restrict yourself of eating certain things, I'm saying that you should change the proportions. And I'm saying that you should maybe even increase the variety of things that you're eating. So actually, the good thing that comes out of this is that when you, when you reduce the reduce the proportion of certain calories. Like 60%, of world of the world is fed by 10 plants, like potato, and rice, and soy and money and all these things, corn. So it's a it's a very, like monocrop culture where there's only a few plants that give us most of the calories. Now, if you increase the number of plants to 100, you just get so much more metabolically active compounds, antioxidants, polyphenols, and all that, that the effects of those for brain health and functioning is is incredible. Like, if you if you like, if you want some sugary things, then you would have like really dark berries with a lot of polyphenols, it has a very big effect on your eye health on your brain health uses them etc, or ability to scavenge free radicals than if you never had any of that stuff like that. So that's that's the thing is that we diet, it's actually a permission to eat things that you don't have the room to eat. It's also a permission to experimental new things. And that's like, when people really like get into it, it's pretty eye opening to them that are okay, like eating plants doesn't mean I have a few salad leaves and cucumber and tomato on the side of the blade, but I have like 50 different things. And that's a big difference, like in terms of nutrient intake.
Dr. Reiner Kraft 57:08
Now, if you now, if we switch gears, just a little bit from the health aspect is one thing. So I hope some of the tech leaders or general leaders watching this, notice there is a lot of things that can be done. Usually there's different categories, we talked about recovery, nutrition, exercise, and so on is all those different things you do, then you become gradually become healthier, and you become more resilient, you have increased energy level, all the good stuff. Now, I'm curious, also new observation now in the organizational context, if the leader was actually now doing all the things getting healthier, getting better, performing better as well, right, quality of decisions improves as a lot of good stuff. But I'm curious in terms of your observation, the ripple effect on the whole organization, right? Because people are observing this employees observing this. And usually also reflecting back basically what the leader is doing. And so I'm curious on your observation, how this is actually affecting the organization, and if the leader actually takes care of him or herself, starts optimizing. Right?
Teemu Arina 58:23
Right, yeah. So So basically, I worked with a large, large European Bank, and the CEO wanted to invite me for a yearly like all hands meeting with the business unit leaders, like couple of 100 of them. And I suggested that, hey, we can measure you, you know, we can take you know, tests on you, like we were, like I said, Your ordering, and we do have a few other measurements remotely with specific devices. And and he agreed, like, let's do it. So that's a good example. And the results came back. And he was like, probably getting a heart attack in the next five years, if he's not changing his lifestyle. And we went through some of those things. And he was in denial, like he didn't feel like, you know, he's just like performing well, if he will find never sick, he went to another doctor. He get a checkup? And yeah, he had like arrhythmias and stuff like that he was in a risk group. And yeah, the data came back. And I convinced him then that hey, let's, you know, let's go on stage like, with your employees, let's look at your data from the perspective that we can improve them. Like I give you the advice, like how you can make a change here. So now we have to keep the KPIs. Let's ask people also how they feel like, how will they relate to this data. And although he was very reluctant in the beginning, he decided to do it. So he went on stage with the data with me and we went through all of that stuff. And I asked about his lifestyle and then we went through some things that he could do. And we also asked the audience, like how many of you feel that you would have worse results than your CEO. And how many of you would feel that you would have better results, and how many of you feel it would be the same. And funny enough, like, over 60% of them felt that they would be more results than the CEO, I don't know if that's like, the more authority bias right there that they don't want to like, beat the man down, but, but in the end, like, the leader is a reflection of the whole organization. So we then agree that, hey, let's change these things. Let's measure things again, a year from now on, we get the into the program. So it really motivated them to get a full program to improve the health status of the leadership, and they had the data. And so they got more data, and they were able to improve this the markers in the result in the end of a year period. So this was a trigger to be become aware of the patterns and how to how to improve what's wrong.
And so that's a good example of that really kind of ties up this whole conversation is that, like, many of these things, have great ethics, but you won't know until you test and you don't have any motivation to change anything if you don't have, you know, some kind of baseline. So we did the baseline and once your have baseline, there's something to improve and every every business leader to business school, they know you know about KPIs, and you know, customer satisfaction and whatever, like performance indicators. And once you get you know, those same things from yourself, and improve them, you will see also then the end result on the bottom lines, we have less seek leaves, you have less absenteeism. Absenteeism is that where you are present in the company, but you're not really like, like, there, you come to the workplace. But you're like presenteeism, in general, where you're basically there, but you're not really there, your brain fog, you're not functioning well, you are, like, a bit inflamed, maybe you're recovering from a sickness or just about to get sick. So most people like most organizations, they lose, like one to two months of productive time per year to these kind of things and you get just calculate for a company with 1000s of people like how much like you lost, like, just the sick leaves. And, and, and the whole presenteeism thing. And with these kind of approaches, they become part of your balanced scorecard basically, like how are our employees doing? Like, how can we improve their health, and now there's all these dashboards that you can hook up, you know, your management team into, and see how they are doing. And based on that you can, you know, prescribe moments of recovery exercise, maybe even mandatory vacation,
avoid them, like breaking down. And, I mean, we do like improvement, like, if you're in a formula, you know, your car is full of all kinds of, you're in a race, your car is full of like different indicators. And all drivers like full of indicators, we have got a couple of 1000 data points from a Formula car. But like, we don't have the same for business leaders like and you're still, I would say running a race that is extremely, like, I mean, it's there's a lot at stake. So we can have the same kind of data set from business leaders and we can use the same kind of data to decide okay, now you need a pitstop now you need now we need to change a few tires, you know, you know, make a few improvements here and there, and then you're good to go. Because if you continue to race, you're gonna die, like or the car is gonna, like break down. So that's that's kind of like the analogy here is that once you have the indicators, you're able to take measures before like, like, crap hits the fan, basically. And that's that is like, what it really all boils down to what prevention is all about is that you have foresight, you know, when to take action. And we both agree that if you invest money into prevention, right now, you're going to save so much because it's so expensive to be in hospital, bed ridden or on a sick leave like four weeks with multiple different problems. So it's just like taxes you, so it's it's better to take action before before like, things break down.
Dr. Reiner Kraft 01:04:45
Yeah. And I think it's good to that you confirm this ripple effect, right? If the tech leader in general, the leader is taking care of himself or herself, right, so that you'll feel as an organization, you can measure it, there's lots of different ways on how to measure these things. And so there should be an additional motivation to get started. And as we're now also approaching the end of the session, we're already a little bit over time, I would say I would ask you about maybe two or three of your tips to get started when it comes to maybe training your nervous system getting more resilient, increasing energy levels, what would you basically recommend to those tech leaders watching this here to say, oh, now I'm getting motivated, I want to get going, right? What are two or three things? That are these first steps that you say this is some something that makes a lot of sense, gives you the most bang for the buck? It's easy to do? That there's no excuse not doing it.
Teemu Arina 01:05:48
Right? Yeah. So first is like, be honest to yourself, what you're struggling with, like, if you don't sleep enough, if you stress management issues, like if you don't move, you know, think your diet is crap, like, you know, what are the what, what do you feel yourself, you probably know what you're struggling with. And that's a good starting point. And that's a good point are also like you might need in terms of devices or technologies or facilitation to change that. So many people ask me like recommendation, what should I get, if you don't have any sleep issues or whatever, but you have, you know, maybe some nutritional things, I would probably look at like some, some some lab tests, instead of like a wearable. If you are like, not sleeping enough, if you have a stress management issue, then maybe maybe a device that measures your sleep and stress recovery, that could be a good thing. So that's a good starting point.
The second one is, because we are not really that accountable to ourselves, we are always accountable to others in businesses, like we are accountable to, you know, the team or the project or whatever life goals you have, of meeting the ends, but we are not really accountable to ourselves, we know we are, you know, not in a healthy state. Like if there's no one to prove yourself to like yourself, you're less likely to do it. So that's where we're like facilitation comes in, like get a personal you know, trainer or a coach, you know, someone who knows better, who can do the research for you, like, knows how to interpret your data sets and all that it's a big, big, big plus, like, especially if you're super busy, and you don't have time to dive into all this stuff yourself. Get some external advice. And the benefit is that in the you're accountable to someone, you're accountable, that person that, hey, I'm going to do this and you come back to that person or a weekly basis to check what's what's going on and constantly reminds you of the things that you should be doing in terms of getting ourselves back on track. So I think it's good to get some external help also for these things.
And yeah, the third thing is, yeah, get the Biohackers Handbook, and, you know, figure out how your body works. It's good to get some like basic training on understanding on on health and fitness and well being and because there's so much information out there, that is what people think is commonsense, what they think is like, you know, newspapers and tabloids are writing about and the deeper I dive into it, I realized that there is a lot of disinformation out there, even on mainstream media. So it's it's important to, to go in and really figure out like things about diets, about exercise protocols, and so on, like maybe like, you know, running on a treadmill. And not eating is not the healthiest way to lose weight. For example, it's actually the worst. So so there's a lot of counterintuitive things that are going on with health and fitness. Like if you don't want to lose weight, like it's about, are more about changing your diet and none so calories, but the type of like, like macronutrients you're getting than it is to, let's say exercise even than it is to talk about certain things like a lot of people would think that like going low fat is the way to lose weight, that they're eating too much fat because fat is on their body. But that turns out that actually increasing number of fats, reducing sugars might be a more effective way of burning that off by it's supported by studies. So getting some of that like basic understanding is I think it's important to be not ignorant but to actually know what to do. And yeah, so maybe it's changing the podcast that you listen, maybe you should listen more Reiner Kraft or or like health and fitness like Dr. Rhonda Patrick has a lot of great information online about these things. And (Peter??), it is not a great one and I personally also in terms of biohacking and personal development. Yeah, general like general like Tim Ferriss has always been good, but yeah, Aubrey Marcus is awesome also. So yeah, there's a lot of good stuff out there that that people should dive into if they want to keep up with with what's going on and maybe trigger some additional motivation to, to go and test these things on themselves.
Dr. Reiner Kraft 01:10:27
Oh, that makes sense. So thanks again. And we'll definitely put some links to resources like the Biohackers Handbook is also remembered as a biohacker stress manual. There's few other resources in basically put links to all those things there and also summarize a few of the actual items that came out of this later on. So they will feel the session will find those things in the notes. And yeah, thanks again for Teemu for taking the time or sharing all those insights. And yeah, I encourage everyone saw this, get started to few things, follow some of the ideas, suggestions, give it a try, start measuring. I think that's the the key message for me is always start measuring, so that you actually have data, get the data, and then you have you're in a better situation to actually make informed decisions and it builds up over time. That's, that's for sure.
Teemu Arina 01:11:28
Absolutely correct. Yeah, we have. We also have a YouTube channel. So Biohacker Summit on YouTube. That's our event series. We run for it already 10 years. So there's a lot of great material from people, who are even more knowledgeable than I am, are recordings of their talks about different topics, also check Biohacker Summit. I'm also starting to put more of my own like, interviews and sessions like what's on the top experts over there. So that might be another not a channel for you. So thank you very much.
Dr. Reiner Kraft 01:12:03
Thanks a lot!