June 1, 2011
Introduction: In this podcast, why you shouldn’t slap on any old sunscreen, estrogen dominance, indoor trainers vs. stationary bikes, achilles pain, natural anti-inflammatories, Juice Plus, Mona Vie, and shaky hands.
Hey folks, this is Ben Greenfield podcasting to you from Kona, Hawaii where I’m here to raise the Hawaii 70.3 triathlon that’s why the audio may sound a little bit funny today. I’m using my portable microphone set up with my trustee laptop, so I apologize for any unprofessional audio quality but hopefully you’ll still get a lot of good information out of today’s podcast. So we don’t have a ton of special announcements today but I wanted to make one quick correction. Last week, I responded to a question about protein intake for kids and I was doing the math in my head and I more than doubled the recommended protein intake in the recommendation that I made to a woman about how much protein her young girl who’s swimming should be getting. So if you wanna see the correct protein intake I actually did correct that it’s on show notes for podcast#147. So, check that out if you want to make sure that you’re not going to put your child in the kidney failure for giving them too much protein. So, other than that lets go ahead and just jump right in to this week’s questions and we’ll go from there and if you would like to keep track of what I’m up to on Saturday, I’ll be trying to qualify for the Ironman World Championship and you can track that at Ironman.com. Alright, let’s go ahead and jump in for this week’s Q and A.
Listener Q and A:
Ben: So if you have a question for the podcast you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com and use the handy dandy ask Ben form. You can grab the free iPhone and the free Android App right over there at the bengreenfieldfitness.com and you can ask your question that way and you can of course call toll free at 877 209 9439. And if you get a lot of benefit out of these questions please try and donate to the podcast while you’re at the website. You can push the button to donate $1 to keep the podcast going and manage my expenses in bringing this one to you. So, first question is from Melanie.
Melanie says : I need advice on how to reduce estrogen dominance. I’m not interested in using a progesterone cream. I’d like to reduce estrogen naturally. Any advice is appreciated since PMS derails my exercise and healthy eating.
Ben: Well, this is really a good question because estrogen dominance affects probably more people than we actually realize. And it’s been a big problem in the past few decades. Due to the problems and some issues that I’ll be talking about in a little while when I respond to the details of this question. But the basic idea is that about a hundred years ago, in the last century, the average female would start her menstruation at about 16 years old and get pregnant earlier and also more frequently and that’s really not the case nowadays, where the average woman starts puberty at about 12 years old, has fewer children and menstruates far fewer times and also has a host of other issues. The occurrence of a ton of different pathological conditions like infertility, cancer, thyroids, anaemia, migraines, abdominal pains , cramps, fluid retention. All of these things are bigger problem than they were last century and it’s due to this thing called estrogen dominance. And basically, estrogen dominance is there’s two female hormones that are secreted by the ovaries, they are estrogen and progesterone. Now, estrogen is kind of like a growth hormone. It helps out with mood. It helps out with kind of giving a feeling of well being but is specifically responsible for growth and proper reproduction or the reproductive physiology in women. The problem is that too much of anything is not that great. And so there’s another hormone that women make that helps to balance out. Progesterone helps to counter balance a lot of defects. That’s progesterone. Now progesterone is produced from something called pregnenolone and that comes from cholesterol. And women make progesterone in ovaries. They also make it in the adrenal glands. Men make it in adrenal glands, too, actually and men also progesterone in their testes. So, progesterone is something that’s actually used by both sexes but in female specifically, it’s very important to balance out the effects of estrogen because it acts like this antagonist to estrogen. So, for example estrogen kind of enhances salt retention and water retention kind of swelling effect whereas progesterone is basically a natural diuretic. Estrogen has been associated with breast cancer and endometrial cancer and progesterone has kind of this cancer preventive effect. So, studies even show that women who have deficiency in progesterone have about five times more the risk of breast cancer and that’s directly an effect of estrogen- progesterone ratio being off. So, we get this combination of a dominance of estrogen. Too much estrogen and deficiency in progesterone, that causes all of the weight gain, the PMS, the swelling, water retention and a lot of more serious pathological disease issues that occur in women especially as they get kind of above the age of 35. So, what happens is that women in their mid-30’s, or in their mid-40’s during kind of those peri-menopausal years and basically all women during menopause especially in America are overloaded with estrogen and at the same time suffering from a progesterone deficiency. So, let’s talk about some of the ways that this couldn happen. In terms of progesterone being too low, there’s a couple of ways that this could happen. If a female when she was in the embryo, still developing, had a mother who was actually exposing the female embryo to high amounts of what are called zeno biotics or zeno estrogens which are these environmental estrogens, pesticides or plastics or pollutions. All of that can affect ovulation and specifically cause a woman’s follicles in reproductive years to become dysfunctional. So, no eggs are released. So, there’s no formation of what’s called a corpus luteum. The corpus luteum is what’s responsible for actually producing progesterone. So, that’s one issue. Obviously not something you have control over. It’s more like something that if you’re planning on having a child, if you know someone who’s planning to have a child, they have control over how much pesticide and plastic and pollution they exposed themselves to especially when a female embryo is developing. Now, the other thing that could happen is what you called the luteal insufficiency. And a lot of times that can be more genetic but what happens is the egg is produced but the corpus luteum malfunctions and it doesn’t make enough progesterone. And in a case like that it can become important to supplement with progesterone or to use some measures that we’re gonna be talking about in a second to keep the estrogen levels down. Specifically the estrogen levels that are coming from the outside sources because the issue is that the human body, it works okay until we expose it to some of these external sources that can throw off proper hormonal balance. So, if you are producing estrogen naturally, that’s not an issue. That’s not gonna hurt you unless your progesterone level are too low or, and this is more often the case, you have a ton of excessive sources of estrogen coming in. So, let’s talk about what’s some of these excessive sources of estrogen might be. First of all, this is what a lot of people know about commercially raised cattle, chicken poultry, any of these animals are fed estrogen-like hormones or growth hormone. All of that gets passed on to humans that eat them, that eat that meat and all those estrogen-like compounds can cause estrogen dominance in women. The other problem is that the feeds that they use to feed on a lot of the commercially raised animals, specifically the one’s you’re likely buying locally from your local farmer, non-grass fed, non-organic, they used a ton of different hormone disrupting toxins, pesticides, antibiotics, drugs, all of these things that can also throw off your hormonal balance. Pesticides, biocides, herbicides, anything that’s used in like a non organic fruit or vegetables, those have chemical structure that are very similar to estrogen. And so, those can cause estrogen dominance as well. It is not estrogen per say that’s in them but it is the chemical that’s very similar to estrogen that can cause this dominance. So, not buying organic food or eating a lot of food without washing it could be another issue when it comes to estrogen dominance. Now, I already talked about exposure to the zeno estrogen, especially avoiding that in a woman who is pregnant with the female embryo to make sure that the female embryo may grow up to be a full grown woman don’t have estrogen dominance, but a lot of these same compounds have estrogens in them that can be contributory to estrogen dominance in women. And those will be a lot of things that you find in a lot of consumer products like creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes, hair spray and room deodorizers. I know this is kind of intimidating because it’s a lot of stuff that we use on a daily basis. But there are a lot of natural sources out there for someone who’s very serious about overcoming something like estrogen dominance or who is resistant to weight loss. It can be prudent to think very carefully about what type of household products or what type of cleaners you’re using, what type of things you’re using on your skin because the skin is a mouth and it will absorb things that you put on to it. The other thing when it comes to these type of compounds or industrial solvent, these are chemicals that enter the body through the skin and they especially accumulate in fat rich tissue, they’re fat soluble. They’ll accumulate in nerve tissue or in adipose tissue to the places where we tend to have fat. A lot of the common ones are found in the cosmetics, fingernail polish, fingernail polish removal, lawn and garden sprays, insect sprays. It can be something as simple as rather than using like a DET insect spray use a natural lemon grass. That’s just one example. We got tons of other examples. My wife and I do, in the Inner Circle where we teach you how to make your own household cleaning chemical, sorry wrong word there, household cleaning compounds that are a little more natural that aren’t gonna cause the additive effects of chronic exposure to estrogen because using mosquito spray once or using fingernail polish a couple of days a week, is not going to give you estrogen dominance. But when you bring everything together and you get the cumulative effect of exposure to a lot of these zeno estrogens, that’s where the problem tends to come up and we have that direct correlation kind of that smoking gun between this rise in estrogen dominance and the rise in the use of industrial solvents and industrial type compounds. Hormone replacement therapy is huge when it comes to this. Huge cause of estrogen dominance in tons of women, people are becoming more aware of the alternatives and the use of natural hormone replacement therapy. I did an interview with doctor Wiley a few months ago. You can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com. You can do a search for natural hormone replacement therapy. A regular hormone replacement therapy with premarin, which is basically an estrogen that doesn’t have sufficient opposing progesterone in it, is something that’s extremely serious when it comes to estrogen dominance and as we found out in the past few years, can really set the stage for endometrial cancer and for breast cancer. And if you’re on a hormone replacement therapy, that’s not like a natural compound in hormone replacement therapy, and you think that estrogen dominance is an issue especially if you’re a female, when you’re trying to overcome a resistance to weight loss, that’s one of the things that you should not be doing. Interestingly, you heard me mention that the adrenal glands produce progesterone which opposes the effects of estrogen. Adrenal glands can shut down or produce fewer of the compounds that they would normally produce if you are stressed out because the adrenal glands are what respond to stress. So if you are constantly stressed and if you are living kind of this high stressed, fast paced lifestyle, what can happen is your adrenal glands can reduce their progesterone output. And that will directly and deleteriously affect your estrogen progesterone ratio. That’s something else to think about. Obesity, and this is kind of a vicious cycle, obesity is an issue because fat has an enzyme in it that converts steroids to estrogens. So if you are struggling with weight, what can happen is that excess weight can lead to increased conversion of steroids to estrogen and you get this vicious cycle going on and really the answer to that is not necessarily to eat a low fat diet because remember, progesterone is produced from cholesterols. A high fat diet is not necessarily going to cause estrogen dominance. What would cause estrogen dominance when it comes to fat accumulation is a high fat-high calorie diet. So the issue is not the amount of fat that you’re taking in but rather the amount of calories that you’re taking in when it comes to estrogen dominance. Because of the importance of cholesterol in production of progesterone, I actually encourage women to eat a higher fat diet. But that does not mean that you’re eating a higher fat diet without moderating calorie intake so that’s something that’s very important. And I did mention that that’s a vicious cycle and I should mention also that your adrenal gland issue is a vicious cycle, too. Because when you’re adrenal glands become exhausted, what can happen is you can become… you get basically these blood sugar imbalances and chronic fatigue. All of that can increase the excessive estrogen production as well. So, the adrenal glands, you get the excessive estrogen production as kind of a secondary response to that stress and the primary response would be the drop in progesterone production by the adrenal glands. The liver basically is very important in terms of having some enzymes that can regulate the production of estrogen, the utilization of estrogen. And if you are not treating your liver well specifically if you have a high alcohol intake and also a high intake of a high amount of processed foods, that can be an issue with estrogen dominance. Deficiency of Vitamin B6 and magnesium is also an issue because both of these are necessary for the neutralization of estrogen in the liver so making sure that you have adequate Vitamin b6, making sure that you have adequate magnesium, that’s incredibly important. And interestingly, caffeine intake is linked with higher estrogen levels and that would be regardless of your age. They’ve done studies on women who consumed more coffee and specifically, you know, that four to five cup of coffee a day type of scenario had a ton more estrogen produced during a specific phase of their menstrual cycle compared to women who did not. So, the issue is that you know it kind of comes down to eating clean, avoiding caffeine, exercising and living clean and that sound kind of simple. But if I were to give the most simple explanation of how to reduce estrogen dominance, that would be it. A few things that you could do, you could increase your fiber intake because fiber intake has been associated with lower levels of blood estrogen. And so you could make sure that you’re adding in lots of dark leafies, nuts, and seeds. If you’re not doing like a paleo diet, you know some legumes, some oatmeal, things like that could also help. Sulphurous foods can really help with your liver function which again, is directly linked to your ability to process estrogen properly. And sulphurous foods would be things like spinach, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, so broccolis, cauliflowers, your brussel sprouts. Doing a lot of these type of foods can help out quite a bit. Onions, garlic, egg yolk, all of those are really good in terms of the sulphur content as well. So I would be including things like that in your diet. Of course you want to choose organic food or wash very well the food that you purchased that’s not organic and then, as far as foods to avoid like I mentioned caffeine, high carbohydrate sugars, processed foods, things of that nature. So, you don’t necessarily need to go on a low fat diet. I don’t recommend that. But those are some of the things that I would do when it comes to estrogen dominance. It tends to be a huge issue. I’ve seen this in a lot of women who are resistant to weight loss. If you are a man who is resistant to weight loss and you’ve had your testosterone levels measured and they’re very low, you should look into your estrogen levels as well because those can tend to be high. And you can get a form of estrogen dominance in men, too. And I’ve seen this happen before and it requires a lot of the similar things that I just described in terms of ways to control that when it comes to women so hopefully that helps. Next question is from Joy.
Joy says: I am doing my first sprint triathlon in July. I own a stationary bike and I was wondering if or what is the big difference between using an indoor trainer or a stationary bike?
Ben: And the answer is it kind of depends on the type of stationary bike that you’re using. A lot of folks, when they’re using a stationary bike, they have these spin bikes in their home or they using the spin bikes at the gym. And a lot of spin bikes have a lot of what’s called a flywheel. And that weighs about thirty to forty pounds and it’s what keeps the pedals turning after your legs stop. And what happens is that your hamstrings respond to this, this added momentum from that flywheel by kind of contracting at the top of the pedal strokes. So your hamstrings tend to work a lot harder on a spin bike and frankly using a lot of the muscles that you should be using for running. So if, for example, you’re running after you ride your stationary bike, a spin bike might make that a little less pleasant. The other thing about this fly wheel on a spin bike is that if you are just kind of spinning at a very low resistance, the flywheel does most of the work for you. So it’s also very easy to think that you are doing very well and you’re a super human because you’re spinning at a hundred rpm on the spin bike and you’re putting out x number of calories according to the computer, when in reality the flywheel can be doing a very high percentage of that work. So if it’s like a spin bike with this flywheel on it, that’s one thing to think about. If it’s just a regular stationary bike, that’s actually going to simulate the type of pedalling that you would do outdoors on a regular bike a lot more closely. But the stationary bikes, from a biomechanical perspective, tend to be less like an outdoor bike or a road bike or a triathlon bike, than the spin bike is. Because the spin bike can be modified quite a bit in terms of seat height, seat forward back position, handle bar forward back position, a lot of them even have like aero bars on them. Some are what you’d use in a triathlon bike. Stationary bike doesn’t have much of that. Basically, it has this big fat seat with huge pads on it that make you feel like you’re sitting on top of a huge object when you’re riding on that bike designed for big butts, I guess I should say. And they can be kind of uncomfortable, the cranks, some of them are very short. It’s hard to sit on them for a long period of time. And they’re convenient because you can throw them in your living room. But if you plan on committing to triathlon long term, I would recommend that you just get an indoor bicycle trainer, like a Kurt Kinetic or a Cycle Ops makes a good one. A lot of these online bike retailers like PerformanceBike.com, they’ve got one that’s a good deal. You just grab an indoor trainer and you put your bike on the indoor bike trainer and you get the best of both worlds. And it’s very easy to get used to that and if you buy it from a local bike shop, they can even show you how to set your bicycle up properly on the indoor bike trainer. So that’s what I would do if I were you. And incidentally, I travel quite a bit. I spend a lot of time in hotels and I spend quite a bit of time training on a stationary bike and as a matter of fact, even in a recumbent bicycle. For example this race that I’m doing down here in Hawaii, my last training session was two hours of riding on a recumbent bicycle while I watch the big TV on the hotel gym. So, you can definitely get fit for a triathlon by using these alternatives to riding a bicycle outdoors, but it’s not ideal. If I were in your shoes, I would get an indoor trainer and throw your regular bike on it so you’re getting used to your regular bike. You don’t have to put up with the flywheel on the spin bike. You don’t have to put up with the inhibited biomechanics on a stationary bike. And that’s what I’d go with. Next question is from Chris.
Chris says: Do you have any advice for general Achilles health? I had to modify a lot of my heel training because after I do the heels, my Achilles will ache.
Ben: Reason for that is that the Achilles tendon is on stretch when you’re climbing a hill because your ankle is flexed. It’s in what’s called dorsiflexion. And it’s also having to through a great deal of the opposite motion plantar flexion when you push off from that hill. And your Achilles tendon is the big thick strong tendon in your body that runs from your heel up to your calves and kind of attaches underneath your calves. And there are a ton of different things that can cause Achilles ache when you’re doing hill climbing. But a few other things that I’ve found to be most prevalent include calf tightness, which can be affixed with stretching and in more advanced cases, yoga and a foam roller, both of which can be done prior to heading out on your hill run. It can also be addressed with proper foot wear. A lot of times if you’re using foot wear that for example, this would be the most common case, is not over pronation high stable foot wear and you tend to be an over pronater, that’s going to instantly cause your Achilles to be over worked and give you a lot of that tightness in the Achilles. Using shoes that are worn or alternating between a high heels like if you’re running a boot a lot of the time and then you’re switching to exercise shoes that can also cause some Achilles pain. If you’ve got any weakness in your hip and in your leg musculature, again, kind of intuitive but you’ll be over using some of your lower leg musculatures so I’d be sure that you’re doing lots of glute exercises as well as core exercises and doing some hamstring work as well. Specifically with things like dead lifts and squats. If it’s an issue of inflammation that you really need to get under control, then you start to look into some of these alternative therapies. Traditional physical therapy that you could try and this would be something that you’d probably need to go through for two to four weeks would be electro stimulation preferably try electro stimulation combined with ice, that tends to work very well. If you use ice, make sure that you warm the muscle back up before you go out an exercise. You can try ultrasound. They also have laser photo stimulation for the Achilles. Acupuncture, a lot of people are very responsive to that with the achilles. And the other thing that you could look into are injectibles. And the reason I say look into them is because you’d want to have a very frank discussion with whichever surgeon or physician was injecting the Achilles because it tends to be very prone to rupture depending on what is injected into it. Specifically if you get a cortisone injection, that’s an issue where you’d want to speak with a physician about whether or not that’s going to put you at risk for an Achilles rupture and a lot of times that will. Prolotherapies, injections of anti inflammatory nutrients, platelet enrich plasma injections, things of that nature. You know, I ‘m not a doctor. I don’t want to dish out too much medical advice. Talk to your doctor about those. But in advanced cases of inflammation, that can be an issue. But if you’re Achilles isn’t hurting until you’re like thirteen, fourteen miles into a run or when you’re climbing steep hills, you probably don’t have that advanced case of an inflammation. With you, it’s probably an issue with tight calves or improper foot wear. So I’d be foam rolling, stretching, making sure you have the right shoes. Then try kind of the, don’t take the big guns out until you try the little stuff. You know, try the some acupuncture. Try some electrostim. You can even try some laser or some infrared simulation. And then at that point you talk to a doctor about taking the next step. So the next question is a good one. It’s from Suzanne.
Suzanne says: I saw that you were taking Phenocane as a COX-2 inhibitor and (don’t worry, if you don’t know what a COX-2 inhibitor is, we’ll talk about it). She says, in your opinion, how would you compare this to salagesic which is a medication, anti inflammatory medication, or white willow stem bark for pain management.
Ben: I know that everyone is different. They have to be willing to be your own test dummies sometimes. But I find it helpful to gain insight from others. So first of all, let’s talk about this Phenocane. This is the stuff that I take whenever I’m injured. I don’t take it when I’m not injured. I don’t recommend that you try and be shutting down inflammation all the time because it really is a natural response and a lot of times the body needs inflammation in order to properly help muscle fibers repair and recover. But prostaglandin is basically something that shuts down the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 that stands for COX-2. And COX-2 enzymes are responsible for much of the inflammation that exists when we are injured, when we have a strain, when we have a sprain. Basically, for me it’s something for example, I got hit by a bike, I hurt my shoulder a few weeks ago and I had to play in a tennis tournament the next week and I use Phenocane to kind of shut down inflammation and shut down pain during that tennis tournament. So, what it has in is its got cumin extract and cumin is a natural COX-2 inhibitor, kind of an herb based and also has curcuminoids in it. And curcuminoids are basically kind of, they’re very similar to curcumin or to cumin. They’re derived from turmeric and they’re derived specifically through reducing turmeric through a sixty-part reduction. And so, you’re basically extracting a very powerful part of the turmeric. So it’s a lot different than just like sprinkling turmeric on your salad or talking about like taking a whole bottle of turmeric and extracting the curcuminoids from that. Boswelli is something else that it has in it which also reduces COX-2. And DLPA or DL-Phenylalanine, it helps your body to maintain higher levels of serotonin. And serotonin can help with mood elevation and kind of help to shut down pain. So it’s not going to shut down inflammation but at least help kind of block you from feeling some of that pain. And it’s also got nattokinase in it. And that’s an enzyme derived from natto which is a popular soy bean food in the Japanese diet. It’s a specifically fermented form of soy, not an issue when it comes to phytoestrogens but it has blood clot dissolving abilities. So it can assist with blood flow a little bit and assist with shutting down pain in terms of having a very good anti inflammatory response. Now the reason you’d want to use something like a COX-2 inhibitor in the first place rather than something like an ibuprofen is you don’t get the same amount of gastric discomfort, gastric bleeding, a peptic ulceration, and a lot of the deleterious gastrointestinal effects that can happen when you take something like ibuprofen. Specifically in athletes who are exercising and more specifically athletes who are exercising in the heat, ibuprofen tends to have a lot of toxicity effect. And you can hear more about that in an entire podcast that I did on alternatives to ibuprofen with Doctor Robbie Mitchelle. Just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com, do a search over there for phenocane and you’ll find that interview with Doctor Robbie Mitchelle. But the supplements that Suzanne asked me about, both of them, this saligesic and also the white willow extract, those are forms of salicylic acids, the same stuff that aspirin has in it. And it’s a species of willow that’s found in Europe, it’s also found in Asia. It’s called salix Alba or white willow. And the problem with salicylic acid is it can be very irritating to the stomach specifically caustic to the lining of the stomach. So you can get abdominal pain cramping, diarrhea, and tha’st kind of the whole reason that we’re trying to avoid the COX-2 inhibitor in the first place. So taking something that has salicylic acid in it to shut down inflammation is a lot different than taking something that has like a cumin extracts in it like phenocane does for shutting down inflammation. And it’s really not something that I recommend much. The other issue is that if you’re on a blood thing or like a coumadin or a warfarin, you definitely need to be careful because it thins the blood a lot more than something like the compounds that I mentioned that you find in the phenocane. So you’ve got to be very careful with these especially of you have a sensitive stomach. If it were me and especially, I’m saying this because I exercise and the stomach tends to be a lot more sensitive to these issues when you are exercising. If it were me, I’d choose more of a cumin based pain killer than I would a salicylic acid based pain killer. And specifically, the issue is not necessarily efficacy. Both are going to help with anti-inflammatory activity but one’s going to be far more irritating to the stomach so good question.
Brian says: I noticed a lot of pre workout supplements have one three dimethylamylamine in them and I was wondering if this is safe?
Ben: Well, you’re going to find these in a lot of body building supplements. And a lot of weight loss supplements kind of like the typical GNC super supplements store, a lot of them are going to have this compound in it. Its abbreviated DMAA because it’s dimethylamylamine. It’s also known as methylhexanamine. And it has a lot of different names associated with it. Kind of different trade pharmaceutical names associated with it. It was originally trademarked by Eli Lilly for use as a nasal decongestant. And now, it is used a lot of times as a sports enhancer. And specifically what it does is it’s a vasoconstrictor and a lot of times you will inhale it. And it’s actually classified in the States as a dietary supplement. It’s been classified as a dietary supplement since the 90’s. And that allows for everything such as Vitamin C is also classified as a dietary supplement. So, the issue is that, this is actually prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency because it’s dangerous. What happens is, when you are causing something like a vasoconstriction during exercise you’re making the blood vessels smaller and you’re increasing blood pressure. So whereas there may be a direct increase in sports performance, specifically kind of making you feel like you’re on crack cocaine, you are risking cardiac failure when you use this type of stimulant. I personally don’t recommend its use. I suppose if you were exercising in environmentally controlled condition, you weren’t in the heat, you weren’t competing because it would be considered an unsafe drug that would give you an unfair advantage. Then, you know, it might be something that could give you a little bit of kind of an added pump in the weight room. If that’s worth it to you for the cardiovascular risk then that’s your choice. But I personally wouldn’t use any dietary supplements that have DMAA in them because I don’t think that it’s safe to be taking a potent vasoconstrictor when you exercise. So, it’s a great question and now you can all go look at your man in a can body building supplements for DMAA. Alright, next question is from Rich.
Rich says: What are your thoughts on Juice Plus in Mona Vie? I have been taking these two supplements for a while and as a new listener I’m thinking about maybe switching to or at least adding Living Fuel super drinks to my diet.
Ben: Well, Juice Plus, I’ve actually talked about this before over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. You can go there and do a search for Juice Plus, it should come up. Sometimes when a podcast is transcribed you’ll have difficulty finding it. But Juice Plus really doesn’t have a terrible ingredient profile. It’s basically a fruit and juice powder based vitamin supplement. And they also have different types of juices and gummies and chewable tablets and vitamin formulations. They are marketed by distributors who receive sales commission so it’s considered a multilevel marketing model. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the product itself is bad, as a matter of fact a lot of times I find that these multilevel marketing products, the product itself tends to be very good. It just tends to be very expensive. So, Juice Plus if you look at it at a typical like blend, if you look at for example their garden blend, it’s got vegetable juice powder and pulp fruit carrots, parsley, beats, kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, tomato. It’s got some barley brands, some oat brand in it so if you’re sensitive to gluten, maybe something to think about. Cabbage fiber, plant cellulose, it’s got a probiotic in it. It’s got some magnesium in it. For the most part, you’re going to find a lot of those red flags like aspartame and acesulfame and sucralose and red number five and yellow number whatever it is. But the only issue with these is they are fairly expensive because of that multilevel marketing model. However, I am not against using Juice Plus if it’s something that you can afford or something that you bought into in terms of their business model. It’s really not a bad supplement. They use good ingredients and I do respect what they’re doing. Now, Mona Vie is this acai berry juice and it is marketed as a potent anti-oxidant with a high ORAC value which is oxygen radical absorbance capacity. And that is basically the measurement of anti-oxidant activity. They promote a ton of benefit in terms of the fruit or what are called polyphenols that are in Mona Vie. The problem is that you can really get a lot of the same benefits that you get from something like Mona Vie from buying a pomegranate fruit at the grocery store. Or drinking some concentrated pomegranate juice. This stuff is highly over priced and whereas Juice Plus is kind of overpriced and like Mona Vie, it’s a multilevel marketing product, Juice Plus has a ton of different compounds in it that would be very tough for you to have all at once whereas, Mona Vie is very easy. The types of things that you find in Mona Vie are very easy to reproduce by just going to the local produce section and picking up some organic dark fruits and veggies from your local grocery store. So, I’m not a huge fan. I think that Mona Vie is incredibly overpriced fruit juice. So, it’s something that I actually don’t really recommend unless you just like the taste of it. And I have people send me Mona Vies all the time. They send me bottles of Mona Vie because they want me to market it and I like it. It tastes really good and it’s giving you a lot of same benefits of like, you know, the same polyphenolic benefits of wine, the same anti-oxidant benefit of a dark fruit. But I personally wouldn’t buy this stuff just because of the price tag. So, hopefully that helps you out with your decision a little bit. And that Living Fuel Super Greens that you’re comparing it to, kind of the difference between that and like a Juice Plus, is you’re getting a lot of the greens powders and you’re getting a lot of that shotgun approach to a ton of different vitamins and super fruits. The difference with Living Fuel Super Greens, and trust me I just had some about five hours ago, is it sticks to your ribs. It’s actually like a calorie based meal replacement supplement and you know Juice Plus is more of like a non-calorie based supplement for the most part. So, a Living Fuel is much more dense. I especially like it for people like endurance athletes who are burning through a lot of calories. Okay, we have one more question here from Jack.
Jack says: I am 17 years old and for as long as I can remember, I’ve had very shaky hands. Usually not a big deal but I’m a competitive rock climber and going into the army which both requires steady hands. I’ve been to many doctors with little success, any diet or supplementation advice that might help?
Ben: Well, I don’t know how far you’ve gotten with your doctors, so far, Jack, but there is a condition called essential tremor. And it’s a movement disorder. It’s basically involuntary or uncontrolled shaking of body parts and it specifically can happen to the hands. It can cause basically shaky hand syndrome. So there’s a few different types of tremors. There’s a static tremor. There’s a kinetic tremor. And there’s an action tremor. So, static tremors tend to happen when a body part is not moving. And that’s a lot of times something like what you’ll see with Parkinson’s. And if a body part is trembling when you move it or when you contract it which would happen for example, when you’re rock climbing, that’s a kinetic tremor. And that is something you could get when you’re actually active. And then an action tremor is something that happens when you grab something and you hold on to it for a long period of time and almost all of us have had action tremors before. You know, if you grab something heavy or if you’re even just like rock climbing and you hold on to the rocks for a long period of time, you’re hands start to shake. But in terms of what causes shaky hands, there’s a lot of different things that can cause something like this. Obviously Parkinson’s disease is something I’m assuming you’ve already been screened for. Neuropathies and multiple sclerosis specifically can cause these hand tremors. And they can also be attributed to metabolic disorders like a hypoglycaemia or a low blood sugar or even a thyroid disorder. And thyroid disorders are a lot of times one of the common causes of shaky hands in children. So, I don’t know if you’ve had your thyroid checked out. Obviously stress and anxiety can cause us involuntary shaking of the hands but that’s usually an issue. That is not so much neuromuscular related as like one of these genetic or disease related issues. So, as far as actually treating shaky hands, one very interesting things is that there is some evidence that the paleo diet can reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s and reduce some of these essential tremors. And the probable reason for that is because you aren’t taking in any gluten. And gluten consumption or eliminating gluten consumption could help to eliminate some of the neurological dysfunction that’s associated with tremors because consumption of gluten and the inflammatory response to gluten, if you’re very gluten sensitive, it can have a direct effect upon your neuromuscular function. So, I would look into going for a cleaner diet and getting gluten into your body. I see that you’re already taking magnesium, you did mention that, and that’s fantastic. Some other herbal remedies that are recommended for like a tremor based is arnica, camomile. There’s another supplement called gotu kola. That’s been suggested for help of tremors as well. And interestingly, I’m right down here in Kona, Hawaii and there’s a tea that they drink down here called cava. And cava has a lactase derivative in it or a lactose derivative in it. That is supposed to be very helpful with things like tremors and seizure type of activity. So that’s something to look into as well. It’s called cava. You can get that in like dropper bottles online. This is obviously not meant to be medical advice, but if I were you the very first thing I’d do is clean up your diet. I would eliminate gluten. I’d eliminate soy. I’d eliminate dairy. I’d even consider eliminating some other kind of protein based potential allergens like eggs. I don’t know if you’ve actually done that elimination diet before, but that’s one of the first things that I would do. And then, going forward from there, I would look into your thyroid health to make sure that that’s not a thyroid issue that’s causing this. I’m assuming you’re being careful with caffeine intake and this is simply an anxiety based issue. And then of course, I’d get screened for Parkinson’s as well. So hopefully all of that helps you out. I know we just kind of scratched the surface in terms of some of the steps that you can take, but hopefully that points you in the right direction. So, that about answers most of the questions for today and we have a quick interview, not a really long interview today but I wanted to kind of revisit the whole sunscreen issue. And you remember possibly if you’ve been a listener for a while back to Podcast #92 where I interviewed a gentleman named Nic Martens about this Scape sunscreen. This is the sunscreen that I use. I actually have some here with me here in Hawaii. And I use it because it helps the skin to breathe a lot easier when you’re exercising in the heat. And Dr. Martens invented that sunscreen and I want to talk to him a little bit about how certain types of sunscreen can inhibit body cooling. I would suggest that if you find our brief interview interesting, especially with summer being here at the time this podcast is recorded or summer quickly approaching that you go back and listen to Podcast #92 where Dr. Martens and I go into a lot more detail about Scape sunscreen. So remember that you can check out links to any of the stuff that I talked about in the Q and A over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com in the show notes for this Podcast which is Podcast Episode #148. So let’s go ahead and jump into the interview with Doctor Nic Martens from www.scapelabs.com.
Ben: Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield here and I have Nic Martens on the call. You may recognize that name if you listened to Podcast #92 at BenGreenfieldFitness.com where Nic joined us and talked about what goes into making a sunscreen and really kind of answered all the things you always wanted to know about sunscreen but maybe have never asked. And while I do recommend that you go back and listen to Podcast #92, if you ever, now or in the future, plan on putting sunscreen on your body, ‘cause we go to quite a few variables of sunscreen during that interview. Today, we’re going to narrow in and really talk about specifically for people who are exercising in hot conditions, what can happen when you actually put sunscreen on your skin? And some of the considerations, especially for people like triathletes or endurance athletes or people who are out in the sun doing exercise routines that may require them to maintain a certain core temperature, a certain body temperature. So Nic, thank you for coming on the call today!
Nic: I am happy to be here!
Ben: So, can you kind of talk to me a little bit first of all about, in terms of sunscreen, if someone were to say, you know, let’s say I go down to my local Walgreens and I grab some sunscreen off the shelf and I put it on and I go out and I run for two hours in the heat. What would normally happen in terms of the way the body would cool itself through the skin and how does sunscreen interact with that process?
Nic: Sure. Maybe, I’ll step back a little bit and talk about why this whole notion of core body temperature is important. Because eventually, only fifty percent of the athletes’ metabolic energy is converted to useful work and in its context, either speed on the bike or run. And the rest of that heat needs to be dissipated to avoid a raise of core body temperature. And as you may know, a raise of core body temperature immediately has an effect on an athlete’s ability to perform and impact performance in a negative way. So, getting rid of heat is a really important aspect of athletic performance. Now the body does that to a very large extent through sweating. And the way this usually works is that body sweats you get moisture on the surface of your skin which evaporates and through that evaporation process, it cools the body down. Now, the way sunscreen plays into this is, you obviously put, if you use sunscreen, you put something on the surface of your skin. And if the product is formulated such that it contains a lot of oil, these oils tend to clog the pores in the skin through which the sweat gets to the surface of the skin. And therefore, these products would impact the skins ability to sweat. And as I mentioned before, that is an important part of the cooling process because the evaporation of water on the surface of the skin is really what does cool the body. And so sensibly, it suddenly becomes very important in terms of maintaining core body temperature.
Ben: Interesting! Go ahead.
Nic: The bottom line is if you choose a sunscreen which is not correctly formulated and not formulated with an athlete in mind, you may end up with a situation where you clog your pores, impact your ability to sweat and therefore, run the risk of raising your core body temperature as you exercise in particular, when you talk about exercising in hot and humid conditions like Kona.
Ben: Now, you’ve been instrumental in developing sunscreens like Scape sunscreen which is the one that I use when I go down and compete in Ironman Hawaii. And in terms of the technology used in a sunscreen like that, how does that differ from other sunscreens in terms of the ability for the body to cool itself?
Nic: Yes. So what we’ve done is, we’ve essentially created a matrix which when you put the product on the surface of your skin, it forms an ultra thin cortex layer. It forms something which functions like an ultra thin cortex layer. And what happens then is because of that, nothing will clog your pores, there’s no oils that would run into your pores and clog the pores. And therefore, it doesn’t interfere with the sweating of your skin and as a result, your body can cool itself as if you were not using a sunscreen. So, the big difference on Scape is really this notion that you form this polymer matrix on the surface of your skin which hold the sunscreen in place so it works even if you sweat and it doesn’t wear off or it doesn’t sweat off. But it doesn’t interfere with the cooling mechanism of your skin as many other does.
Ben: When you use the term polymer matrix in describing the sunscreen, can you go into a little bit more detail about what that is and how it actually works?
Nic: Yeah. Think of it as a strand of molecules that attach to each other and you literally form a, through those strands of molecules, you form a thin foam on your skin. And that’s why I mentioned the analogy to cortex because it is literally an ultra thin cortex layer just on a nano scale. And the advantage of that is that it’s not clogging your pores because the stuff doesn’t run into your pores.
Ben: Okay! Gotcha! Interesting! So why don’t all sunscreens have something like this? Is it just a matter of the knowledge not being out there or is it like more expensive to make? Or why is it that other sunscreens aren’t using a matrix like this on the skin?
Nic: Well, I think it’s really because when you buy a product which is on the shelf at Walgreens, it was probably not designed for an athlete. It was probably designed for folks who walk the sands or hang out at the beach or play a little tennis. It wasn’t designed for serious athletes. And I think that’s what makes Scape different. It’s designed for athletes. But that doesn’t make the products at Walgreens a bad product. They have great products out there for people who hang out at the beach. I think those products are not designed for athletes. And in the same way, if you were to buy a running shoe, you wouldn’t go to Walgreens and buy a running shoe. You’d go to a running store and get the proper equipment. And we look at our products as equipment for the skin where it protects you and it doesn’t interfere with your athletic ability because it was designed with an athlete in mind.
Ben: And do you have a lot of athletes working out in hot conditions who are actually using something like this who have been able to go out and use it and come back and report the way they felt?
Nic: Yeah. Actually this whole notion of maintaining core body temperature and how important it is with respect to sunscreens, really came from athletes. Folks like Craig Alexander and Mirinda Carfrae were instrumental to this. And they came back to me and say look, I need a product which I wish would stays on so it protects me throughout my training and throughout the racing. But what I really hate about the product which I currently use is that they block my pores and I can’t sweat and I feel like I’m overheating. And so, athlete’s feedback is instrumental and really this notion of overheating through sunscreens came as feedbacks from athletes to us.
Ben: Okay! Gotcha!
Nic: And a little side story, I know that Mirinda, I think in her first Ironman race, didn’t use sunscreen because she was worried about exactly that effect. With the sunburn she got, she came to me and said, I didn’t use sunscreen when I raced Kona in 2009. and I said you what?! And she showed me pictures of her back and she had second or third degree burns in her back.
Nic: Athlete’s feedback is very important to us and we’ve built some of these things which people wouldn’t necessarily think about when they use sunscreens traditionally.
Ben: Gotcha! Well, I know that as the weather starts to heat up people are definitely going to think about using sunscreen. And what I’m going to do in the links to this interview that we did today is I’m going to put a link to the other interview that we did. We had a fairly long interview where we talked about things like whether sunscreen will affect Vitamin D production. And we talked about carcinogenic concerns and address some of those in terms of sunscreen. We really went into a lot of details. So I’m going to put a link to that podcast, Podcast #92. And I will also put a link to this Scape sunscreen that I’ve been using. And I actually do recommend this stuff. So Nic, thank you for kind of outlining this for us today.
Nic: Ben, I’m happy to be here!
Ben: Folks, that’s going to wrap up today’s podcast. So, you can of course go to the show notes for this episode, Episode #148 at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. And I really try and do a good job putting links to everything we’ve talked about. So, I’ll put links to things like the Phenocane and Living Fuel Super Greens. I’ll put links to this Scape labs sun block that we talked about. And remember, if you have questions, if you have feedback, one good place to leave feedbacks is in the comment section. And if you haven’t been over to the website recently, we’ve had lots of activity in a couple of recent blog post over there. One post about standing work stations and a lot of people sent me photos of their standing work station. And then we had another really good discussion based on a video series called Why Thin People Are Not Fat. So, also this Friday I’ve got a very interesting post that is a guest post with response to the interview I did with Rev George Malkmus about Halleluiah Acres and the vegetarian diet. A very thought provoking post on the vegetarian diet and whether it really is very natural. So, that’s going to be one to check out this Friday if you listen to this podcast during the week that it comes out. So please remember, if you enjoyed this week’s episode, donate a dollar to the podcast to keep it going. You can do that over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Alright folks, until next time, when I promise I will be back with slightly better audio quality, this is Ben Greenfield signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
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