The Top 10 Podcasts of 2018 (and what we learned from each)

2018 has been quite the year in the world of podcasting, and it’s time we rank the best of the best. Here’s a list of our favorite podcasts from the past year, and a few tidbits we learned in each.
This one really came out of no where. Dr. Matthew Walker (@sleepdiplomat) is the author of Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. On one fine April afternoon, Joe and Dr. Walker sat down to discuss all things sleep. Try listening to this episode and not getting 8 hours of sleep the following night. Go ahead, I dare you. Here are the key takeaways:
  • One half of your brain won’t sleep as deeply as the other, when sleeping in a foreign environment, like a hotel room
  • “Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting”
  • One hour of iPhone use before bed will delay the onset of melatonin production by about 3 hours (your peak melatonin levels will also be about 50% less)
  • Your brain needs to drop its temperature 2-3 °F in order to sleep (so keep your room as cold as you can tolerate)
  • Men who sleep 5-6 hours a night will have a level of testosterone 6-10 years their senior
  • Humans beings are the only species that deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain. Mother nature has never faced the challenge of coming up with a safety net for lack of sleep.
This one almost brought me to tears. It was that good. If you listen to any of these on this list, please let it be this one. Brandon Stanton (@humansofny) is the founder of the popular blog, Humans of New York. He has an absolutely amazing background story. Here’s what we took away:
  • “This world is so amazing, and the fact that we’re here is so amazing, and doing anything less than something amazing is squandering the whole reason we’re here”
  • Stop thinking so big. Just put one foot in front of the other, day after day. Instead of focusing on the year ahead, just focus on the next 24 hour period.
  • The best form of education? – Reading
    • Brandon recommends that if you’re not sure what you want to do with your life, pick someone you admire, and read their biography
  • You’re surrounded by your future best friends – talk to strangers
  • People all over the world, from all different walks of life, are generally the same
    • We all have the same wants, fears, desires, and insecurities
  • Some great questions to ask, to add depth to a conversation:
    • What’s your biggest struggle?
    • How has your life turned out differently than you expected it to?
    • What do you feel most guilty about?
  • “To get to a deep place with a person, it all comes down to absolute presence, it’s about being 100% there”
Zach Bush, M.D. – remember this name. He knows his stuff, and this episode was MIND BLOWING. Here’s what we learned from the organic/microbiome/inflammation expert:
  • The immune system lies throughout the body, but 60% of the immune system volume, and 80% of the work done by the immune system, is done in the gut lining
  • Glyphosate is a chemical used in Roundup as a pesticide, here’s how it’s harmful:
    • It block an important enzyme pathway in soil bacteria, fungi, and plants that makes a number of essential amino acids (so we’re treating a food chain with a chemical that blocks the ability of these plants to make the building blocks for a healthy human body)
    • “Less than 1/10th of 1% of the Roundup used on a plant actually hits a weed. The other 99.9% gets into the soil and water system, and runs off.”
    • Glyphosate appears to increase the permeability of the tight cellular junctions lining the microbiome, as well as the tight junctions holding the blood brain barrier together (which protects the peripheral nervous system, as well as the brain)
      • This has led to a MASSIVE increase in neurological injury to children and adults – leading to increased rates of Alzheimer’s disease, autism, Parkinson’s, and MS
    • We know about tight junctions which weld cells together, but glyphosate also damages the gap junctions which exists at the midpoint of the cell (these regulate communication between cells)
      • Cancer cells divide like crazy because (at a really simple level) they think they’re the only cell left in the body (due to damaged gap junctions, they are not able to communicate well with other cells), and must replicate to survive
      • Normal cells, once damaged, are able to kill themselves off (through apoptosis) by communicating with other cells – this breaks down when gap junctions are damaged
  • Antibiotics
    • There is a strong correlation between antibiotic use and mood disorders (anxiety, panic attacks, depression)
    • 1 course of antibiotics increases your rate of depression within the next 12 months 25% due to interactions with the gut microbiome
      • You destroy the gut flora, develop a leaky membrane, get overly inflamed, and the neurological system starts to get hit as the blood brain barrier fails
    • 2 courses or more of antibiotics increases the risk of major depression within the next 12 months 60%
  • How can you improve your microbiome?
    • Breathe as many environments/ecosystems as you can 
      • Get around ferns – a fern won’t grow unless it has access to the oldest ecosystem on the planet (so go read a book next to a fern)
    • Eat more fermented foods
    • Be cautious about probiotics
      • Most probiotics, are made of up bacteria that don’t normally colonize a human gut
      • 99.9% of the products on the market in the probiotic industry are made from bacteria that grow in the bovine intestine – bovine guts are very different from human guts
    • Eat organic food
      • You should never eat non-organic food from the Dirty Dozen list
      • “Never put a non-organic strawberry in front of your children. It’s a chemical bomb.”
  • Other health tips
    • Stop using aluminum based deodorants and cosmetics
      • They are damaging the neurons in the brain
    • Get more magnesium
      • Humans used to get most of our magnesium from bathing in live streams and ocean water, which we don’t do anymore, so we’re all magnesium deficient
    • Stop over soaping and using alcohol based sanitizers
  • Think about this – the plants that an animal eats are stressed, the animal itself is stressed when it dies, we then eat the animal, and an hour later we wonder why we’re having a panic attack
    • 99% of the human genome is not making any proteins, however it produces microRNA
    • microRNA turn on and change from second to second, telling your genes what the environment is doing
    • If you’re stressed, lonely, or fearful – you start making a totally different population of microRNA that enters the blood stream, courses through you, and is eventually secreted through your breath and saliva – effectively telling the environment how you’re feeling
    • When cows are killed, this is what they put into their blood stream (and in turn the meat) right before they’re butchered
    • 5% of the microRNA in your bloodstream is from your last meal
      • Your last meal is literally going into your genome, telling your genes which genes to turn on and off, and which proteins to make from those genes
This isn’t technically a podcast, but hey, we make the rules 😉 Naval Ravikant (@naval) took the Periscope world by storm this year, with his periodic late night Periscope sessions. This one, where Naval discusses his very popular tweet storm, has to be our favorite. Here’s just a glimpse of what we learned:
  • Productize Yourself – This is how you package yourself in a product
    • So create a product out of whatever it is that you naturally and uniquely do really well. If you compete at being someone else, you won’t be the best in the world at it, and in turn you won’t get rewarded.
  • Value your time, it’s all you have
    • Stop doing things to please people. If you’re saying yes to things out of fear or guilt, just say no.
  • Find a career/job where the inputs and outputs are disconnected
  • Decision Making Heuristics
    • When faced with a difficult choice, if you can’t decide, the answer is no
    • If you have two choices to make, and they’re relatively equal, take the path that’s more difficult and more painful in the short term. Most of the gains in life come from suffering in the short term, so you can get paid in the long term.
    • In times of interpersonal conflict, make the choice that will leave you more equanimous (internally calm) Peace of mind is a precursor to happiness.
  • Happiness is a choice, and a skill you can develop
    • The first step to being happier, is to believe you can be happier
  • In the intellectual domain, compound interest rules
    • When you find the right thing to do, and people to work with, invest deeply into that, and stick with it for decades
  • You want to own equity whenever possible
    • If you’re getting paid for renting out your time, you can make good money, but you won’t make the kind of money that can really give you freedom
If you aren’t following Kapil Gupta on Twitter, start now. He is a modern day Buddha. Kapil is the author of 3 books absolutely everyone should read (Atmamun: The Path to Achieving the Bliss of the Himalayan Swamis, and the Freedom of a Living God, A Master’s Secret Whispers: For Those Who Abhor the Noise and Seek The Truth About Life and Living, and his latest Direct truth: Uncompromising, Non-Prescriptive Truths to the Enduring Questions of Life). Here’s what we took away from this one:
  • Every situation you are facing has an absolute truth
  • Kapil rejects the idea of a job and having a boss
    • “Any human being, who lives under the weight and the thumb of someone else, is a prisoner. That human being already has a tyrannical warden called his mind; he doesn’t need two of them.”
  • Fear and desire go hand in hand – “Whenever the mind desires something, it fears not getting it ten times as much”
  • To have confidence, create a system that can be relied upon. Test constantly for it’s efficiency, and refine it until the system produces the outcome you desire most, if not all of the time. Have confidence in the system, not yourself.
  • “The mind can move mountains, but it can only move mountains once you are no longer under its control”
Dr. Rhonda Patrick (@foundmyfitness) on Joe Rogan. Need we say more. These are always PACKED with useful information. Here are a few tidbits:
  • The carnivore diet seems to improve autoimmune disorders – Why?
    • It mimics calorie restriction and fasting
    • The diet replenishes the immune system through apoptosis
    •  It produces changes in the microbiome
  • Dr. Patrick has many concerns about the carnivore diet
    • People on the diet are most likely not getting the micronutrients they need (like vitamin E, vitamin C, and folate)
    • “At the end of the day, there’s no data” – Going on a carnivore diet may be harmful long term
    • By not eating vegetables, you’re missing out on key fiber that the gut needs
  • Sleep is one of the ways you clear away amyloid plaques (which develop and cause dementia) in the brain
    • During sleep you squirt cerebral spinal fluid into the brain which clears out the plaques and other junk
  • Rhonda loves this ketone ester from HVMN
    • When taking it, she experiences a decrease in anxiety (it got her to a blood ketone level of about 4.5 mmol in about an hour) and a feeling of “being present”
  • We all need to up our sulforaphane intake (found in broccoli and brussel sprouts)
  • Even a single sauna session has been found to improve depressive symptoms
Back to back Rhonda? Why not. She deserves it. And of course we had to throw in one of Dr. Peter Attia’s episodes. Peter took the podcast world by storm in 2018 , with the launch of his new podcast, quickly becoming a Podcast Notes fan favorite. Here’s what we learned from Dr. Patrick in this very in depth interview:
  • Data seems to suggest that, maybe the best thing to do is cycle high and low IGF-1 levels
  • Exercise is the single most important thing you can do to preserve brain health
  • Use the sauna
  • A small percentage of people have adverse effects on the ketogenic diet due to high saturated fat intake (raised LDL particle number, more inflammation, markers of cholesterol biosynthesis go up)
    • Be careful, and get your blood tested before deciding if the ketogenic diet is right for you
  • Refeeding after fasting, is just as important as the actual fasting
    • A prolonged fast causes organs to shrink (we don’t know how much of this is due to cells shrinking vs. apoptosis (cell death))
    • During the refeeding phase, the organs regrow with new/healthy cells
Okay – hear me out. Look at all Elon Musk (@elonmusk) is doing. He’s the founder of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and The Boring Company. To do all that, practically requires you to be at least 10% super human. This interview was hyped for quite some time, and when Joe finally sat down with Elon, late one night in Los Angeles, everyone and anyone who had any idea what a podcast was, tuned in. And do you think other podcaster out there could convince Elon to smoke some weed?? How epic!! Here’s what we learned from Elon:
  • “The percentage of intelligence that is not human, is increasing” – Eventually humans will represent a very small percentage of all intelligence
  • Elon’s thoughts on social media:
    • “People look like they have a much better life than they really do”
    • “Some of the happiest seeming people, actually are some of the saddest people in reality”
  • Love is the answer
    • “Give people the benefit of the doubt – Assume they’re good until proven otherwise. Most people are pretty good people.”
    • “Be nicer to each other. Give more credit to others. It’s easy to demonize people, but you’re usually wrong about it. People are nicer than you think.”
  • We’re all cyborgs – think about how much smarter you are with a phone
    • “Your phone is already an extension of you. You’re already a cyborg, and most people don’t realize it.”
    • The problem though – the communication rate between you and your phone/computer is very slow (compared to what it could be) – This is the problem Neuralink is setting out to solve
I’ll be honest. I never really understood what a blockchain was until I heard this interview. Within the first 5 mintues, Naval (@naval) gave perhaps the most beautiful explanation, to ever leave human lips, for what a blockchain really is. Here’s what we learned from this one:
  • Naval’s explanation of what a blockchain is – definitely give this a read through
  • Here are some really interesting potential applications of crypto and the blockchain technology
    • Self-driving cars bidding each other for rights of way on the fly. Think of a car “saying” to another, “I want that red light to turn green right now, so I bid X coin to make that happen.”
    • A network to allocate bandwidth. “We don’t need Verizon to do our cell phones, you could do it collectively.”
  • Crypto is really good at micro micro transactions
    • It’s also good for the VERY large transactions
    • But it may not be that good for the human size transactions (like going to Starbucks and buying coffee)
  • “We can educate the whole world much more cheaply than we’re trying to do today” – Naval
    • And check out Naval’s answer for how he would change the world
Ahhh the start of a new year is upon us. It’s the perfect time to start with those new habits. New year, new you. This one was PACKED with actionable advice. Here’s just a glimpse:
  • Your habits are the way you embody a a particular identity
    • “Every action you take, is a vote for the type of person you think you are”
  • It’s really hard to stick to a habit, if it goes against the grain of the people around you – choose your social environment carefully
  • Whatever habit you’re trying to build, scale it down – “A habit has to be established, before it can be improved”
  • If you want to start flossing your teeth, start by just flossing one tooth a day
  • The best way to break a bad habit…
    • Make the cue invisible: To avoid eating sweets – make sure they’re not in the house
  • Never miss twice
    • If you slip up on a good habit (like cheating on a diet), get back on track as quickly as possible
    • “Missing once is a mistake. Missing twice is the start of a new habit.”
  • Find a way to get 1% better every day – good habits compound over time
  • Ask yourself – “Where’s an area, where I can handle the pain of the work better than the people around me?”
    • The area where you are more well equipped to suffer, is the work you were made to do
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