February 15, 2012
Podcast # 183 from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/02/episode-183-estrogen-dominance/
Introduction: In this podcast, are your hormones out of whack? Also, which type of coconut milk is best, bike workouts in a hotel, choosing the best (elliptical) chain rings, which fats are the healthiest, is sugar free dark chocolate okay, controlling the urge to snack at work, stress incontinence in female runners, increased heart rate in heat and humidity, correcting an estrogen dominance, and how much to workout while lowering cortisol levels.
Brock: Hey folks, welcome to the February 15th, 2012Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast, its episode number 183. This is Brock coming to you live from the middle of Toronto and I’ve got Ben here of course, Ben, What’s going on? Where are you?
Ben: I’m actually where I usually am, in Spokane, Washington, but I’m glad you’ve survived Cuba.
Brock: Yeah, are we allowed to talk about Cuba? This is an American podcast, am I going to get arrested?
Ben: I don’t think they’re going to fire missiles at us. You can mention Cuba. How’d that go for you?
Brock: It is a fantastic place. The only thing was trying to keep up with the rev diet that I’m working on right now. It’s a little tricky staying in one of the all-inclusive resorts but I did my best.
Ben: I was going to say you just had like mangoes and coffee all day down there?
Brock: Yeah, pretty much and coconut milk is like in everything which is fantastic. It’s so easy to order basically a virgin pina colada and that’s rag in there. That’s like pretty much what I had for breakfast this morning.
Ben: That’s make it convenient. You can come back with like a big beer and like a camelCapriknows that did you?
Brock: Oh yeah, I’m totally like viva la revolucion.
Ben: Great look.
Brock: Okay! So, I know you got all kinds of stuff going on especially a book, what’s happening with that?
Ben: Yeah, I do have my next book coming up on May 1st, that’s the one I’ve been working on for quite some time. The book that teaches you what body type you have and then what type of exercise and nutrition program is going to be ideal for your body type and I got a letter from my editors, this week actually. And they wanted testimonials for the book and I thought it would be not only cool to get testimonials from some of the clients who I coach but also reach out to you, the people who are listening in. If you’ve been out of shape, overweight, maybe had some health issues you were dealing with or you’ve achieved some really cool goal, write in to the show. Write to [email protected], share your photos, share your story, share anything that you wouldn’t mind us using in the book or maybe in like the back cover of the book or in the first few pages or on the website or maybe we’ll just make you famous and have you come on Oprah. But essentially, if you got a testimonial, if you’ve been a fan, if you’ve been following my advice, write in. I would truly appreciate any testimonials you want to shoot my way, so take a mental note to yourself as you’re listening in and if you got a cool story to tell, email [email protected].
Brock: Very cool.
Ben: And to flip a complete 180, I got the result from my stool test back. I wanted to announce that.
Brock: Surprise everybody.
Ben: Let’s go from talking about testimonials to talking about poo, I posted the results publicly. There are no poo photographs or anything of that nature, don’t worry. Basically what happens is a stool exam allows you to get a look at everything that’s going on in terms of your GI tract, it’s called a full GI panel. I’ll link to it in the show notes but it’s really cool because it allows you to see everything, from how much good bacteria you have, how much bad bacteria that you have, the number of fatty acids that are in your stomach, the number of digestive enzymes you may or may not be producing, the presence of any type of parasites or infections. Just very cool to get a comprehensive look at the GI tract and I know that a lot of people are kind of curious what it actually looks like, what the results that gets spit back at you look like, so I posted them publicly. I’ll put a link in the show notes but I not only posted my results but also kind of the explanation of the results. So if you got GI issues, if you’re concerned that you might have something in your GI tract, go check that out and kind of see what it looks like when you get the test done.
Brock: That’s fantastic because I actually considered having that same panel done in and it’d be really interesting to actually, it’d be great to see what you actually get back because when you’re paying that much money for something like that, it’d be really nice to get a little sneak peek into what kind of information it actually gets back. So yeah, thanks for posting that. That’s fantastic.
Ben: Yeah! You can get that affirmation that you don’t have a sea monster in your small intestine or a wasp’s nest in your stomach or anything else weird like that going on.
Brock: So you’ve got stuff going on at Google Plus, you’ve got stuff going on at Twitter.com, let’s hear some of the best ones.
Ben: Yeah, I came across a few interesting things this week. First of all, more evidence that fish oil is a good thing to take. You don’t have to mega dose with fish oil but there is a study that came out that looked at fish oil use and in this case, aging females, but it was found that compared to a non-fish oil group, individuals who used about two grams of fish oil per day maintained significantly higher muscle strength and functional capacity. So as you age, grab those fish oil capsules or make sure that you’re making fish a part of your diet. Super important, the benefits go beyond strength and functional capacity but that was what this study found and so, chalk another one up for fish oil.
Brock: Cool. Now I ate for dinner last night, I had one of those little packs of sardines in olive oil. Is that basically like a dose of fish oil? Would that be comparable to taking a couple of those capsules or, how does it compare?
Ben: Yeah! As far as the capsules go those are highly-concentrated extractions of the DHA and EPA, the beneficial fatty acids that you’re going to find in something like a can of sardines. So a can of sardines is not going to quite give you up around that two to four gram range that you’d get out of like a good, high quality like a triglyceride-based fish oil capsule. So what I’d do is generally I’ll take about one to two grams of a fish oil capsule if I am having fish on the day like if I’m having a can of sardines or maybe some salmon with dinner or something of that nature and then if I’m not eating fish on the day, I’ll take closer to two to four grams of a fish oil capsule.
Ben: Another study that found or looked at sleep and appetite and found that lack of sleep makes your brain hungry and we’ve kind of known that lack of sleep can indeed spark the appetite but this was a study that came out in the journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism and found that as little as one night of sleep loss, even in the person who’s sleeping normally throughout the rest of the week, results basically in acute loss of the ability to control the appetite and they actually studied the region of the brain that responds for appetite control and it just wants to get affirms that it’s so much easier to reach for that Snickers bar or have a lack of self-control when you’re low on sleep and again, signifies the importance of getting enough sleep. In most people and especially active people, you’re looking at seven to nine hours despite, if you’ve read Dean Karnazes’ 40 Marathons and 40 Days Book where he sleeps in five hours a night, he’s an anomaly. People who only sleep five or six hours a night I think Michael Jordan is another example, they’re an anomaly. Most people needs seven to nine hours.
Brock: I love seven hours, it’s my favorite.
Ben: I love like ten, that’s a few and far between.
Brock: That doesn’t happen when you’re two little boys running around I’m sure.
Ben: Yeah! Diabetes, there was a study on diabetes that found a direct link in terms of the actual dose of exercise with diabetes and improvements in sensitivity to insulin and reduction of a lot of the risky factors involved with type two diabetes and there was a distinct relationship between the amount of exercise that you do and the reduction of diabetical risk and in this case, people who are exercising for five times a week for 45 minutes a session, which if you do the math is significantly higher than what is currently recommended which is about 150 minutes a week for diabetes, these folks experience significantly lower symptoms. So what that comes down to is, if you’ve got a genetic history in your family of type two diabetes, if you yourself are at a high risk of type two diabetes or have type two diabetes, you may need to be exercising more than 150 minutes per week which is the current recommendation and I want to bring that to people’s attention just in case you are doing that like the 30 minutes of exercise a day, 20 minutes of exercise a day, you may need to step that up to closer to like 30-60 minutes a day if you want to reduce that type two diabetes risk.
Brock: Now that’s two weeks in a row now, we’ve had information about type two diabetes. Like last week, it was a really significant chloric restriction like almost like fasting and so that would be a perfect one to two punches if you got the type two diabetes. Maybe don’t go as far into a chloric deficit but increase your exercise but maybe find a good balance that way.
Ben: Exactly! You don’t have to starve yourself and be like a rat on a wheel all day long but certainly moderate amounts of exercise and significantly moderate amounts of chloric restriction can vastly improve your insulin sensitivity and potentially reverse type two diabetes and that’s what that starvation study showed. Last thing I wanted to note before we move in to this week’s Q and A is a study that looked at weight loss response to four different weight loss diets. Essentially what they did was they took diets that were in dithering amounts of carbohydrate, protein and fat content and then they studied folks for six months to see the amount of weight and the amount of fat that was lost on each different diet. There was really no significant difference between all of the fat, carbohydrate and protein percentages that they used. So protein varied from 15%-25%, fat varied from 20%-40% and carbs varied from 35%-65%. I have two thoughts about this study. The first is that whenever you hear about a study that shows that there’s no significant difference in weight loss between diet groups, remember there’s more to life than weight loss. So you want to look at things like the plaque build-up in the arteries, the health of the liver and the kidneys, the health of the digestive tract, the overall amount of inflammation that may occur or oxidized cholesterol particles and I wished that studies that looked at weight loss. I know that this is harder to do. It’s more expensive to do in the studies but I wish they’d look at some of those other variables that affect health and the other thing that you should note about a study like this is that for example, this study didn’t cover my diet. My diet is about 60% fat and this diet only covered 20%-40% fat. Carbohydrate intake amounts, in my opinion, they didn’t really study groups that were relatively moderate in carbohydrate intake. The lowest carbohydrate intake was 35% and I’ve seen fantastic results with people who are down around closer to 15%-20% carbohydrate intake, in some cases, slightly lower. So remember too that when you see that a study has done something like looked at moderate carbohydrate intake and found no effect, a lot of times moderate carbohydrate intake kind of depends on who’s defining it. In this case, 35% is considered the low carb intake when in my opinion, for a lot of people, that’s still kind of high.
Listener Q and A:
Brock: Alright! As usual, we have an enormous backlog of listener questions coming in and that’s fantastic but make sure you don’t panic if you don’t hear yours this week. Keep listening, it will come up. So, start it off with this first audio question from Rick.
Rick: Hey Ben, my name is Rick, I’m from LA. I have two unrelated questions for the podcast. The first question is about what coconut milk brand or type that you recommend I should buy. I purchased your low carb diet book for triathletes a little while ago and I’m a little confused as to which type of milk I should buy. I see the milk in the one gallon carton as well as your milk in a can. My second question is what are your thoughts on the propensity of athletes getting rhabdomyolisis? I recently read an article on intense workouts and you also made reference to it. I was wondering if there was something that I should be concerned about with respect to this and what are the side effects, I’m assuming there is a side effect to this but what side effects would we watch out for with respect to that. Anyway, I love the show. It’s been a long time, thanks a lot, bye.
Brock: So coconut brands and types, what kind should he get? I’ve been wondering the same thing, is the can better, is the carton better, which one is it, Ben?
Ben: I personally use the can. We use a brand called “Native Forest”, we use that brand for a lot of the stuff that we do, a lot of the can foods that we do because Native Forest is one particular brand that is lower in BPA, Bisphenol A, and that’s the chemical that’s in the line of a lot of metal pans and is known for having this estrogenic activity. So it mimics the female sex hormone estrogen and we’ll talk about that later on in the podcast too because we did get a couple of questions about estrogen but this type of BPA intake, if you’re eating a lot of canned foods, canned coconut milk is a daily part of your body that’s linked to weight gain and diabetes and heart disease and increased risk of cancer and infertility and a lot of issues. So we use Native Forest as a brand and if you look at a brand like that, you basically check out the ingredient label, that’s coconut, water and something called guar gum. Now guar gum is what they add to keep the water from separating from the coconut oil so that you don’t open up your can of coconut milk and just have like oil on the top and then your solids on the bottom even though that happens to it to a certain extent. The problem with guar gum is that can cause some distress in folks. Some people like to avoid that and I have seen some evidence that guar may have small amounts of gluten in it. I don’t really think that’s an issue in most cases but if you did want to completely avoid guar gum, you could make your own coconut milk. Not sure if you could make your own coconut.
Ben: You could try it with some construction paper and I don’t know, but what you do to make your own coconut milk is you can use shredded dried coconut and you mix it with water. It kind of goes beyond that but that’s kind of the basic recipe is you get your hands on some coconut flakes and you mix it with water and you blend them and that’s coconut milk and if you want to get more involved with this, and my wife and I have literally just bought coconuts and made coconut milk from coconuts before, it’s very labor-intensive but what you do is you get your water, you get your coconut flakes. Usually its two parts water, one part coconut flakes. Put it in a blender, you blend it for a few seconds and then you pour everything you’ve blended through cheesecloth to strain it because you wanted to get all of the flakes in the pulp out of there and you squeeze the liquid out of the cheesecloth and then you got your flakes left over and you can actually do that a few times to kind of get as much as you can out of the flakes. So you’re re-blending them and then strain them to the cheesecloth again and if you really want to, you can take all the leftover coconut flakes that you strain and if you own a dehydrator you can dehydrate them and have them in something you can use as like a high-fiber edition to like a trail mix. Now you could of course buy the coconut flakes at the store and use those or you could literally get a coconut grinder. They’d make like a tabletop coconut grinder. It’s like $15 and it’s like a hand-turn grinder and you split the coconut in half. You put one end over the grinder and you grind your flakes out of there. The advantage being them that you’ve got some extra meat, some of the coconut water, etc. but ultimately, we did that for like a month. I’m like screw this, we’re spending like half hour where two cans of coconut milk so we just started buying the Native Forest brand again. Now the stuff you’d want to avoid would be for example, like the stuff that comes in the paper container, that’s like a sweetened coconut milk. A lot of times what you’re going to find is that you got coconut milk in there but then they add cane syrup to it. That’s a big one that you see is cane syrup. They’ll typically add a bunch of flavors to it and sometimes they’ll throw like vitamins, what would be like vitamin-rich store or what-not but the issue is the syrup that’s added to it, that dried cane syrup increases the inflammatory potential. The chloric content per dose makes it. So it’s no longer like a higher fat, lower carbohydrate meal and that’s something you want to be careful with. If you’d buy it in paper, make sure that it’s unsweetened and that’s going to be a better way to go. The last thing that you could do for coconut milk is you could get like a coconut cream concentrate. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. There’s a company called Tropical Tradition and they make a coconut cream concentrate and you can buy it and it’s not coconut oil but it’s kind of got a little bit of similar texture and you can buy and get it in jars and you just like mix that with water and make coconut milk. So that’d be another way to go if you want to make it yourself. That would technically be a little bit easier on the wallet too, buying coconut milk. But ultimately, we do Native Forest canned coconut milk and that works just fine.
Brock: Cool! Is it important to get organic coconut milk or is that one of those things because it’s in its own package and it’s really protected from its sort of pesticides?
Ben: Yeah! Any fruit or vegetable that has like a removable skin and a fairly hard shell around, then you don’t have to worry as much about the pesticide and herbicides and organicness of it so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
Ben: The thing is the organic stuff is just usually non-BPA or BPA-free, that’s why you typically buy the organic stuff.
Brock: Gotcha, yeah that makes sense. Now Rick had a second part of his question. It was hard to understand but I think he was asking about rhabdomyolisis from intense workouts and what the side effects are of that.
Ben: Yeah! Rhabdomyolisis is basically excessive breakdown of your skeletal muscle tissue. At least that’s the cause of it when the issue is over-exercising and damaging your muscle cells enough to where you literally get little pieces of your muscle, little damaged muscle cells called ‘myoglobins’ circulating in your bloodstream and that’s really tough on your kidneys in particular. Your kidneys have to try and filter this myoglobin and it literally like gums up your kidneys so you get an issue with electrolyte imbalances. You get issues with cardiac arrhythmias. You can die from rhabdomyolisis, usually it’s not death that occurs but quite a bit of kidney pain. Lot of difficulty urinating, lot of muscle damage and muscle pain and this is something when it comes to exercise. You’ll see in like body builders who have thrown down a four hour workout or a two a day football players in the heat where you’re already dehydrated and your kidneys are already strained and you’re doing two a day, two hour tough football workout. That’s where you typically see rhabdo occurring in exercise situations but the everyday recreational exercise could indeed cause damage to the kidneys from rhabdomyolisis and excessive build-up of muscle-damaged metabolites in the kidney area if they are, for example in pharmaceutical drugs, statins in particular, are really big ones when it comes to those actually accumulating in muscle cells and getting a lot of this myoglobin to build-up and causing that kidney damage, that’d be one thing to worry about. Ibuprofen to a lesser extent can cause this issue as well but if you’re exercising in a moderate dose doing some weight lifting causing some muscle damage also on statins, you could be doing damage to your kidneys that’s similar to rhabdomyolisis and you go back and listen to the episode we did a few episodes ago or go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and do a search for statins. Kind of learn about some alternatives to using something like that. Now the other issue is the nutritional issue that could potentially cause rhabdomyolisis and there was actually a swimmer. This was reported in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, about this vegetarian swimmer who was eating so little protein that in his swimming he was suffering from muscle breakdown. His body was cannibalizing himself to fuel his exercise sessions and what happened was that as his body was breaking down his own muscle and producing all this myoglobin that was floating around getting into the bloodstream, he developed rhabdomyolisis and some pretty serious kidney damage. So if you’re vegetarian and then you’re exercising a lot, again, focus on making sure that you are getting adequate amino acids and adequate protein in your diet because you can get rhabdo from you body literally cannibalizing itself. It’s not something you got to worry about if you’re doing a fasted exercise session a few times a week but it is something you have to worry about if you’re in a chronically protein-depleted state. And then finally, flipside of that you eat too much meat, your body’s going to breakdown that meat and this actually interesting, are a particular problem with quail. I don’t know why the meat of quail is one that’s a particular high risk for developing rhabdo. Somehow digesting and breaking down quail results in higher amounts of myoglobin in the bloodstream but if you’re eating a lot of meat like high-protein diet, it can also result in some of the same type of kidney strain as you experience during rhabdo. You combine that with heavy-hard exercise. Let’s say like a body builder on a high protein diet and again, you’re putting yourself at risk for rhabdo or at least some pretty serious strain on your kidneys. So ultimately, be careful if you’re vegetarian. Be careful if you’re on a high protein diet and exercising a lot and be careful if you are on statins or to a less serious extent like ibuprofen or a high amount of oral anti-inflammatories and that will really help your kidneys be able to stay with you a little bit longer.
Brock: Also be careful if you’re a great big muscle guy whose done a lot of cocaine and decided to do a whole bunch of squats. I only say that because my girlfriend is a trauma nurse and I won’t say where this happened or anything like that because I don’t want to get unethical but a guy actually came into the emergency room. Had put himself to kidney failure because he did a whole bunch of cocaine and then decided to do squat with like an enormous amount of weights on his shoulders and actually put himself in kidney failure.
Ben: So, we just lost so many podcast listeners. All of our body-building listeners who are snorting and squatting, they just quit. Alright, well we should move on.
Brock: Yeah, you’re right yeah. Next question comes from Craig.
Craig: Hi Ben, this is Craig from Birmingham and I just got my worst schedule and I’m going to be on the road nearly every week between now and June where I have a sprint triathlon scheduled and this is the first one for me and my big concern is, even though I have a tri bike and a trainer at home, I wont have access to that hardly at all during this period of training. And so my question is, what can I do with equipment that I can find in the local gym or otherwise to maximize my potential of feeling okay in the bike leg of the triathlon? Thanks, bye.
Brock: So yeah, this is probably a common problem with a lot of people who have to travel for a living.
Ben: Yeah, I have experienced this myself. It’s not that bad. I do a lot of training in hotel rooms or hotel gyms more specifically and specifically try and get myself into good cycling shape and I’m able to keep myself in fairly decent cycling shape even during triathlon season and do that still with the majority of my work being done in hotel gyms. So, I use a lot of high intensity intervals. So the kind of the standby workouts that I use, first of all, number one would be a Tabata set. So what that means is I’ll hop on to a recumbent bike or the stationary bike, whichever bicycle happens to be in the hotel gym and I will pedal easy for 15-20 minutes and when I say easy, I mean I’m still pushing, I’m still huffing and puffing and fairly rolling but I’m not in an all-out pace, maybe like a 6½ or a seven on a scale of one to ten. After I’m nice and warm. I’ve broken a sweat, a little red in the face, the muscles are definitely heated up. I’ll do a Tabata set which means for four minutes I go for 20 seconds as hard as I can like blue in the face and then I go ten seconds easy and then I go 20 seconds hard and ten seconds easy and I repeat that for a total of four minutes. Any of the athletes who I coach who have been traveling and found themselves in hotel gyms have probably seen this pop up on their workout plan before but Tabata set’s super useful and if you got the time you can recover after doing those four minutes of 20 seconds hard and ten seconds easy and then do it again. You want to get yourself a good ten minutes or so of recovery from one Tabata set because they’re really hard. You want to go really hard on them but that’s one thing that I’ll do. I kind of go intensity over volume because I get super bored on a recumbent bike or stationary bike in a hotel gym. I’ll also do power intervals and this is a workout that I’ll use when I’m exhausted. A lot of times when I’m traveling, I’ve just landed and I don’t want to think during my workout or I’ve finished the day whenever at a conference or engage and interact with people and I’m exhausted. I don’t want to think a complex bicycling workout. So what I’ll do is I just get on the bike and I’ll look at how much time I have available. Let’s say I’ve got 60 minutes that I can go, what I’ll do is I’ll just put on a show on TV or a show on my phone or whatever and I’ll go for four minutes easy one minute hard and I’ll just do that over and over again until I’m at the end of my workout. The one minute hard is really hard and the four minutes easy are kind of aerobic and I call that a power interval workout where you’re just throwing in these short brief burst of intensity for about 60 seconds. And then the last thing that I’ll do is just basically a long, hard ride and this is typically when I have anywhere from about 20-45 minutes available but I’ll hop on the bike, again, at the hotel gym. Stationary or recumbent whatever I get my hands on and I’ll put on typically some kind of driving music. It’s usually techno, like I’ll throw on the Tiesto podcast or the Pandora Channel for like Paul Oakenfold or Moby or something of that nature and I’ll just use that driving beat and just hammer for however long I have. Usually I’m at about like an eight or 8½ on a scale one to ten, it’s like what I’d race at and I just took a time trial for a set period of time and when I’m done, I’m done when the smoke is cleared. So ultimately, those are kind of the three strategies I’ll use. Tabata sets, power intervals and kind of temple rides and if I don’t have a bike at all, I will look for Stairmaster or some stairs to climb and if I can’t find those, I’ll find a hill to climb and I’ll just do hill repeats and you’re still working some of those cycling muscles. And the last thing you can do of course is weight training, squats, lunges, things of that nature.
Brock: Awesome, great suggestions. Okay, next question comes from Joe.
Joe: Hi Ben, my name is Joe. You and Brock are doing a great job because you pretty much changed my life and the way I do my training and I’ve got a lot better from it. I had a question actually about chain rings. Now I had bought a specialized transition that came with this ram 54-42 chain ring set. I don’t like it. It’s too heavy, and it’s kind of stiff. I wanted to just go back down the regular comp sets and the 53-39 pattern of the chain rings whether or not I should go to external power glide for comp red or I’ve been hearing a lot of the motor cue rings, whether or not that electrical shape is actually beneficial. I find that my pedal stroke and how I work on it is still a lot dead spot as well as low in power. So if you can just answer that question, it’d be great. Thanks!
Brock: So a lot of questions, a lot of information about chain ring. Can you help him out?
Ben: Yeah, absolutely. Let me start by saying that I’ve discussed chain rings comprehensively in a previous podcast. I will link to it in the show notes. In podcast 159, I talked about chain rings and bicycle gearings specifically quite a bit but your question, you’re asking about cue rotor rings or these elliptical chain rings and I did mention these elliptical chain rings in episode 159 but I’ll remind you, basically these are shaped differently. Usually if you look at the chain ring on your bike, its round and these are slightly shaped in like an oval and the reason that they’re shaped like that is because when you’re pedaling around in an oval, you eliminate the dead spot at the top and the bottom of the pedal stroke. There really is no point at which you’re pushing zero watts whereas you’re pedaling around in a circle. Technically you are at zero watts when you’re at the top and you’re at the bottom of that pedal stroke. So the elliptical shape allows your position where you’re pushing down as you’re coming over the front of the pedal stroke to produce more power and it has been shown that you can get an increased reading on a power meter when you’re using an elliptical chain ring. Now that’s the pro. The con is that it doesn’t shift very smoothly. So you have to move the elliptical chain ring a little bit farther away from the front derail and it delays the shifting on the bike and I don’t know if that’s the reason why or maybe some other reason but there have been studies that have compared in blind studies where cyclists weren’t told which type of chain ring that they were using and where a lot to look. They’ve done studies on the elliptical versus the regular circular and this isn’t time throws like cycling time throws and they haven’t found a significant difference between the elliptical chain rings and the traditional circular chain rings and I’ve personally ridden with both. I rode with the elliptical rings. The ring called cue rotor ring for a couple of years and I felt fine on that but I also feel fine on a traditional circular chain ring. So ultimately, it’s kind of a matter of personal preference and if it works for you, great but in most cases, you’re not going to see a significant difference when you’re using an elliptical versus a circular chain ring. It’s more a matter of just like personal preference and comfort.
Brock: Cool! I’ve never tried one of those and that’d be very interesting.
Ben: Yeah! It’s not as different as it sounds. When you get an elliptical chain ring, there are five different settings typically and like a cue rotor ring that you can adjust in terms of your gear ratio and so you can make it a little bit more extreme in terms of how much of an elliptical shape you feel like you’re pedaling in but ultimately, it’s not as weird as it sounds to be pedaling in an elliptical shape versus a circular shape, very slight difference.
Brock: It does sound like there would be sort of offset you if it was a really big difference, might sort of tip over every stroke.
Ben: Yeah, it can take a little bit of getting used to but it’s not too bad.
Brock: Okay. Next question’s from Bilal.
Bilal: Someone whose opinion I trust and value forwarded me your recommendations on the food pyramid. I am a bit puzzled by your recommendations for fat, especially items like ghee that are incredibly high in saturated fats. Olive oil makes a lot of sense as a clear alternative. Can you point me to some scientific studies on which your recommendations are based? I may have the complete wrong model in my mind and I’d like to be better educated on such nutritional issues.
Ben: Yeah! I mean, there are many studies we can look at when it comes to the value of saturated fat and let me first say that this Friday, the Friday after this podcast comes out, I am going to publish an audio about a 20-30 minute audio about why I setup fats to be at the base of the food pyramid that I designed because I’ve gotten a few questions since then and I go into a little bit more detail so certainly tune in to Friday’s podcast to get this in more detail, but saturated fats constitute about 50% of your cell membranes. They give your cells the stiffness and the integrity that is crucial in order for metabolites to move in and out of your cells and in order for your cells to function properly. So, if you are on a low saturated fat diet or have very low fat intake, you essentially get like a soggy cell membrane and a flapping, non-functioning or non-optimally functioning cell membrane if you’re deficient in saturated fats. Now, that’s not all. You can go on and look at skeletal muscle and the way that calcium is incorporated into your skeletal muscle is that it requires the role of saturated fat in order for that mechanism to occur and so if you have a low saturated fat diet, you put yourself at a higher risk for lower bone density. Saturated fats protect your liver, they help your liver in terms of its metabolizing of toxins, of pharmaceuticals, of alcohol, they’re essential for that as well and I hate to make the podcast like a clinical paper but there are studies that support all of these things that I’m saying. I’ll try and point a few out to you in the show notes if you want to do your own digging and investigating on this. Saturated fats can enhance your immune system health. Saturated fats, if you’re taking like a fish oil, which we talked about later, we can’t properly utilize essential fatty acids which we’re getting from fish oil unless you’ve got enough saturated fats in your diet. So what happens is omega3 fatty acids get retained in your tissues when you got enough saturated fat. Essentially the fat content of your body draws those omega3 fatty acids into the tissues especially when the fat in your diet is saturated. Your heart relies on saturated fat. Your heart is actually surrounded by fat, saturated fat particularly, and your heart draws on that fat. And then finally, saturated fat like what we would find in something like coconut oil that actually has antimicrobial and antiviral properties, so a lot of benefits to saturated fat. There’s really no scientific evidence that supports the assertion that saturated fats are going to clog your arteries or cause heart disease. Most of the type of fat that you find in clogged arteries is poly-unsaturated fat which is generally what you’re going to get from like vegetable oils. So that’s what I have to say about saturated fat right now. If you want more on fats in general, not just saturated fats I’ll cover more fats in more detail, listen in to the Friday episode.
Brock: I think it’ll be very easy to turn this podcast into like a thesis statement every week and for a free podcast, that would be a lot of work to cite every single study and every single reference that’s made on the show but I think we’d do a pretty good job.
Ben: Yeah, we’d do okay but if I were going to start providing citations on everything, this would turn into a very laborious process. So it’s one thing to talk about studies and to read the ones in the journals that I have lying in my desk. It’s another to actually transcribe all the citations and references and put them into the show notes that it turns into literally like writing a journal article every time you release a podcast and that makes it tough to do but I will always, if anybody emails me or leaves a comment on the show notes to the podcast, I’ll always give you your references if you need them.
Brock: There you go. Okay next question comes from Alex.
Alex: I found a sugar free dark chocolate in the supermarket today and I checked the ingredients which sounded Okay but not sure about a couple of them. It has 70% cocoa solids, 15% polydextrose (soluble dietary fiber), erythritol, soy lecithin (emulsifier), vanilla flavor and stevia. I know your opinion on soy lecithin from your recent protein powder podcast but I’m not sure about polydextrose and erythritol. My Google searches didn’t show them as too bad. Are they?
Ben: Well, you see a lot of these sugar-free chocolate bars around now, they’re kind of sexy and what they’ve done is they’ve taken the sweet taste that you’d normally experience from like a sugar or some cane syrup or some other sugar-based additive in a chocolate bar and they replace those with indigestible forms of sugar in this case, erythritol and polydextrose. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, so you chew gum, a lot of times you’ll see like xylitol or maltitol or something like that in gum. Erythritol is the same. It’s a sugar alcohol. It really is not digested by your body though. So even though it’s derived from basically a natural source, what you do is you ferment glucose with yeast and you produce erythritol. It basically goes through your large intestine or into your large intestine and passes out typically like in your urine but erythritol and other sugar alcohols cause bloating and gas and erythritol is one of the biggies when it comes to bloating and gas. So, that’s one issue is your chocolate bar may taste great but you may also have some embarrassing side effects later on. I remember when my mom found the recipe for like sugar-free chocolate bars and she owns like a restaurant-type of coffee house by day pub by night type of place in Moscow, Idaho and she started serving these sugar-free brownies. I think in this case she used xylitol and her customers were getting gas is because of the sugar alcohol. So that’s one thing to be aware of. Small amounts aren’t going to be an issue like the amounts you’re going to find in like gum. The amount you’re going to find in a chocolate bar may indeed be an issue. And then the other one is polydextrose and it’s basically what’s called a glucose polymer and it’s used in a lot of commercial compounds. It’s like a low carb alternative or low carbohydrate sugar alternative. It’s just soluble fiber. Its fine and it’s not as much of an issue as erythritol. Polydextrose is going to be treated by your body just like fiber. It could potentially cause a little bit of bloating, a little bit of gas but not as much as you’d get from like erythritol. So ultimately, these may be gas bars. I’d just be careful.
Brock: Sometimes that is a risk worth taking.
Ben: Yeah. That was in time we questioned too for Valentines Day.
Brock: It was, yeah that’s true. You can give your sweetheart gas.
David: I’m an active athlete and I eat a paleo-based diet. However, I work a pretty sedentary and sometimes pretty boring job.
Brock: I hope you’re employer isn’t listening.
David: And even though I eat healthy foods, when I’m at work, I can’t seem to stop eating. On my days off, I eat minute amounts in comparison. Do you have any tips to help me control my eating while at work?
Ben: Oh do I ever. There are many tips on the website, David. I’m going to put a link to everything I’ve ever done on carbohydrate cravings and appetite cravings in the show notes for you to go watch all the videos and the stuff that I’ve done on this but I’ll give you the basic overview here on the podcast. First of all, I’ve got a little kind of like a system for eliminating food cravings and what you do is first of all, you keep yourself adequately hydrated. So anytime you start to begin to crave any food, you drink at least eight ounces of water and preferably closer to 16 ounces of water. That will ensure that these cravings that you’re experiencing are not dehydration-based cravings and it will also help to fill-up your intestine and your stomach a little bit. So, 8-16 ounces of water immediately when you begin to crave any food. Another thing that you can do is you can take supplements that help to stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you a little bit more insulin-sensitive. I’m a big fan of cinnamon as something you can use. For example, large amounts of cinnamon with breakfast in the morning or even with midday snack. You can have like omens with cinnamon on them and that can help as well as a couple of compounds called chromium and another one called vanadium. You probably heard me recommend the supplement called thermal factor before on the show and you can literally take something like thermal factor 20, 30 minutes before lunch, 20, 30 minutes before dinner and that can help with a little bit of appetite reduction. Steer clear can stimulate your appetite. Artificial sweeteners are a biggie. They kind of fly under the radar when it comes to this like chewing gum. It’s got artificial sweeteners in it like sucralose or acesulfame potassium, aspartame, NutraSweet, those types of things, drinking diet soda compounds. If you’re not on like a paleo diet, I kind of doubt that you’re drinking much diet soda but I don’t know if you’re chewing gum but that could potentially be an appetite stimulant as well. Exercise is an appetite suppressant. So you can try jumping jacks, body weight push-ups, body weight squats, stuff like that, when you begin to crave food and a lot of times just a couple of minutes, literally two minutes of exercise, can help to stave off appetite cravings. There was a study that they did that literally just have people sniff peppermint extract throughout the day and that, shutdown appetite cravings. You could chew like a natural mint-based gum like I use one called Spry. I talked about their sugar alcohols earlier, it’s sweetened with xylitol. It’s not going to spark your appetite as much as like an artificial sweetener will then that’s got a mint extract in it so that would be another potential strategy that you could use to reduce appetite cravings. There are some kind of more fringed techniques that can be used. There’s one technique called EFT. I believe that stands for Emotional Freedom Technique but it’s like a series of tapping and one particular one that’s used for craving is to put the five fingers of your hand on your forehead to space those fingers evenly apart and just start tapping them at one second intervals on your forehead and you literally just do that for 30-60 seconds and there’re some kind of association. I’m not like an EFT specialist or anything like that but the forehead is apparently the region that is associated with cravings and tapping that area supposedly can help a little bit with it. So that’s the technique that you’ll see recommended here and there in terms of like an EFT-based technique. The last thing that you can do is you could try a whole bunch of different supplements and rather than make this like me listing a laundry list of supplements that can help in addition to the chromium and vanadium that I mentioned which are kind of the biggies, those in cinnamon, one of the articles that I’ll ink to in my response to the show notes is going to be an article called Twelve Dietary Supplements That Can Massively Control Your Intense Carbohydrate Cravings. That one is chalk-full of good information for you. So I will link to that article in the show notes, I will link to my video Five Ways to Suppress Your Appetite Without Taking Any Special Pills or Capsules. I will link to some of the practical recommendations that I just laid out for you like the tapping and the mint in the water and things of that nature and then I’ll also link you to the full transcript of the episode on carbohydrate cravings that I did with Nora Gedgaudas. So I’ll put all those links in the show notes and that will help you out.
Brock: Can you hear me tapping? No?
Ben: Yup! I thought that was your heart beating but yes, it was just you tapping.
Brock: I’m really hungry and it’s almost lunch time so I thought that might help us get through the rest of the podcast without scrawling. Alright, next question comes from Lory.
Lory: Can you talk about stress incontinence in women runners? What is you opinion on the bladder sling procedure to fix the problem, assuming it’s a skilled surgeon?
Ben: This is an issue that I think kind of flies in the radar especially that a lot of guys are aware that women struggle with this issue. But stress incontinence is typically when your pelvic floor muscles are weak and the weaker those muscles are, the more likely that you are to actually kind of end up with an embarrassing wet spot on your pants when you’re running or engaged in other activities that may actually put stress in that area. That’s stress incontinence. You’re leaking urine during physical activity because your bladder is not contracting the way that it’s supposed to, to keep urine in. This is typically a weak pelvic floor muscle issue and I would certainly address that issue prior to looking into surgery and I don’t know if you have addressed that issue already. But kegel exercises, I’ve talked about them before, you probably heard about them before if you’re a woman but this is where you squeeze if you’re pretending to stop the urine flow for about ten seconds and then you rest for ten seconds then you squeeze for ten seconds and rest for ten seconds. You can do it anywhere. In the car, sitting at your desk wherever. So kegel exercises help. Pilates is particularly effective at strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor if you do it properly and you make sure that your low back is stabilized and you’re kind of pressing your low back against the ground as you’re doing a lot of these exercises and that can help out as well. I’m not saying this to be clasp but they literally do so essentially like weight lifting kits for your vagina and this is another way that you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and these are literally weights that you insert into your vagina and basically develop your strength using that method. So that’s another alternative to surgery. You could also look into biofeedback. There have been studies that have looked at biofeedback and it’s effectiveness in terms of stress incontinence and biofeedback has been found to be effective. You can find a qualified biofeedback practitioner. I’ll put a link in the show notes but there’s literally like a certification for certified biofeedback practitioners and you can find one in your area that you could work with to address with stress incontinence and essentially what you do is it helps you to be more aware of your pelvic floor muscles and how to kind of keep them contracted as you’re doing the activities that you’re experiencing stress incontinence during. Now finally, you could look into this surgery and what they do in this surgery. This sling operation that you talk about is they’ll use strips of material typically like some form of tissue to support the neck of your bladder and provide literally mechanical support for your bladder and there have been some studies that say that slings are a bad idea and there was a meta-analysis or review of several studies and essentially this meta-analysis, it was in a review called the Cochrane review found that there was inadequate evidence to say whether or not the slings were better than any other form of surgical or non-surgical management of stress incontinence. So the evidence is iffy that the sling would actually work and obviously like you hit that, it may depend on the skill of the surgeon but I would definitely try kegel exercises, biofeedback and some of my recommendations prior to moving on to surgery.
Brock: Interesting! I know this is a very common problem especially from women who have had multiple children. So that’s good information to have out there.
Brock: Alright, next question comes from Oiven. I’m sorry if I mispronounced your name but that’s what it looks like.
Oiven: I am a spinning instructor and I often coach interval training during my class. I coach my class at an intensity level they should aim for during the session and everybody has a heart rate monitor. With full house and high intensity the temperature and humidity in the room rises. Do you know by how much the heart rate can increase at different intensity levels due to high temperature and high humidity? A ballpark figure would be sufficient and also, as the instructor, I showed out instructions and at the same time as I workout myself. So do you have any input as to how much the heart rate can increase due to my shouting and what about acid zapper as a lactic acid buffer?
Brock: We’ll look at the heart rate first here.
Ben: Okay! First of all, the shouting issue. I used to be a spinning instructor like I was big into spinning. I was teaching spin classes three to four days a week. I was a spin instructor for four years, loved it. I think that’s how I became a good cyclist with just like destroying myself while still also shouting at the top of my lungs and trying to teach spinning and the other rooms would be hot and this would be after a day of spinning the entire day on my feed as a personal trainer. I know that cyclists laugh at spinning sometimes but it certainly can toughen you up when it comes to at least improving your bicycling fitness. Now a very smart move that I made was I got a decent microphone and that certainly helped out quite a bit with the issue with shouting. There’s no evidence that I’m aware of that shows a correlation between shouting and increased heart rate but of course when you’re shouting, you are increasing the amount of work that your inspiratory muscles have to do. So if you’re concerned about the heart rate increasing, then just get a good mic or one of those cones that you shout into, what’s it called a loudspeaker?
Brock: A megaphone.
Ben: A megaphone, yes get a megaphone. The heart rate can definitely go up with the humidity. I’m sure everyone probably knows when you’re looking at temperatures from about 60-75 degrees, so about the temperature many of us keep our homes at and light spring or early summer type of temperatures, you’re heart rate’s going to go up about two to four beats per minute when you get exposed to those type of temperatures. You can automatically tack that on if you’re working out at 60-75 degrees. Now spin rooms are probably closer to 75-90 degrees, depending on the amount of activity and the heat that’s in that room and that can increase your heart rate by about ten beats a minute automatically. Without you even exercising your heart rate can increase to ten beats per minute. That’s why something like Bikram yoga can increase your heart rate even when you’re just lying on the floor because your heart rate increases as your body shuttles blood to your skin to cool the blood. When you’re looking at humidity, once humidity gets up to 50% and kind of goes on up to 90%, you can add another ten beats. If its 80 degrees in the room and the temperature and humidity is like 60%, it could cause potentially an increase in heart rate of up to 20 beats just from that lone. So it certainly can and those are kind of like the rough numbers about ten beats for the increase in humidity and about ten beats for 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit around in there.
Brock: That’s significant.
Ben: Yeah, it is and that’s probably another reason that spinning can get you fit fast is because your body is having to work on two different levels right. Your heart is shunting blood to your muscles for the contraction and also shunting blood to the skin to cool you. So it certainly is a good way to improve cardiovascular fitness but it’s also something to think about if you’re tracking your heart rate, if you got cardiovascular concerns or if you’re trying to manage your intensity.
Brock: So even if those are external like obviously external pressures put on your body, the heat, the humidity, how does that relate to like lactic threshold, would you move your lactic threshold up accordingly or does it stay the same?
Ben: Sure! To tip what your question to context that everybody’s got this heart rate at which the body begins to produce lactic acid faster than that lactic acid can actually be removed or buffered. So let’s say you might have a lactic acid threshold of 150 beats per minute. Now what happens is once you get thrown into the heat or even if you drank a bunch of coffee, you’re adrenaline is really high as it might be during a race or something of that nature. You might have a high heart rate even if your muscles aren’t working that hard, Meaning that you might have a high heart rate even if you’re not producing much lactic acid. So if your lactate threshold is normally at 150, you might find that in hot, humid conditions that threshold is closer to 160 and that’s just a matter of experience, going out and testing how much hot, humid race conditions, caffeine consumption, adrenaline etc. affects your threshold number. What I find is that in more experience, more fit individuals, you get closer and closer values to what lactate threshold is and then what it is during like a race or hot and humid conditions.
Brock: Cool! That’s a great question Oiven, I’m really glad you asked that. I guess do you want to get into the acid zapper, lactic acid buffer?
Ben: Oh, yeah. I mean, I take stuff like that. I take Extreme Endurance, that is an alkalinizing agent, basically what that means is you take a pill that is an alkalinizing or a non-acidic ph and it can literally build-up in your muscles during workouts and buffer some of the hydrogen ions that are kicked of from lactic acid. It’s the same way that like baking soda would take a little bit of the tang out of the lemon juice. So acid zapper, sport legs, extreme endurance is the ones I personally take, I love it, I’ll link to it in the show notes.
Brock: Yeah me too, I’ve been taking that stuff as well. It’s great stuff.
Ben: Yeah, but if you’re doing intense exercise, yes. You can certainly get an alkalizing effect. The issue sometimes is that you got to take so much of the stuff if you’re using one that’s designed to be taking prior to exercise then it can cause GI distress. When you look at something like extreme endurance and I think that acid zapper may be the same way. You take some tablets in the morning and some tablets in the evening, so you’re taking them separate from your exercise session and then if you look at something like bio pairing, like a black pepper extract, it’s got papain, a proteolytic enzyme so it’s got some compounds that also assist with soreness and in my opinion, that’s a pretty good way to go. I haven’t tried acid zapper. I’ve tried sports leg before. I’ve tried another acid one, I forgot the name of it but so far from what I’ve found, nothing really compares to extreme endurance.
Brock: Alright, and on to our next question from Rick and Rick has a question about hormone levels.
Rick: I recently tested my hormone levels through a saliva test kit. The results came back with allow progesterone to estradiol E2 ratio being a low at 11.49, suggesting that I’m estrogen-dominant. I was subsequently prescribed topical progesterone to correct this imbalance. My question is what would you do to correct an imbalance of this nature? Would you supplement with a topical cream as recommended or something else? Are there any other side effects you’d be concerned about by taking progesterone cream? I’m a 34-year old male with no major health conditions. I know you’re not a doctor but your advice is very valued.
Brock: Yeah, he did the sort of disclaimer there for us.
Ben: Thank you for saying my disclaimer for me. Okay, so you got a progesterone cream. This is the guy that wrote this because a lot of people think that just women are taking progesterone cream but that’s not the case. Guys can have estrogen build-up, they can produce excess estrogen. It’s typically either an issue with testosterone getting converted into estrogen or you’re getting estrogen from like your environment. So I’ll talk about some of the ways that you could be getting estrogens from your environment but basically what happens is once you start to get estrogen or excess estrogen, it’d put you at a higher risk for inflamed prostate, heart conditions, cancer, weight gain, lower drive, erectile dysfunction and man boobs. So there are issues with that rise in estrogen and one of the ways that it can happen of course is through these environmental talks and we talked about coconut milk, VPA and the ability of VPA to mimic estrogens. There are a lot of other substances that mimic estrogens like pesticides, dioxin DDT, basically the type of things you’d find in plastics like if you’re micro waving food in plastics, cleaning supplies like disinfectants, pesticides and herbicides. If you’re getting non-organic fruits and vegetables, you’re not washing your fruits and vegetables thoroughly. A lot of pharmaceutical drugs, even pharmaceutical drugs that have build-up in your water supply and paints, varnishes, lubricants, inks, things of that nature. All of those can mimic estrogen and lead to these symptoms of estrogen dominance in males or females really but it’s still an issue. Non-organic animals like grain-fed animals that are like commercial animals, they’re a lot of times fed-estrogenic steroids to fatten them up and those can be consumed by you when you’re eating for example, fast food or meat that is just like commercial beef. If you’re not filtering the water in your home, you can certainly get excess estrogens in your drinking water too and so there’s a lot of issues with this and it can cause this progesterone-estrogen ratio to be thrown off. Both guys and girls have progesterone but in men, progesterone kind of protects you against excessive estrogen and it is useful for a man to actually have enough natural progesterone in his body, natural progesterone in a guy is good. So the first thing that I would look into though prior to looking at a progesterone cream would be actually limiting some of the sources of estrogen that may be creeping into your diet and also potentially using something like an aromatase inhibitor which I’ve talked about before in the show to minimize some of the conversion of testosterone into estrogens. Just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and do a search for aromatase inhibitor to listen to some of the previous podcast that I’ve done on that. So the issue with the progesterone cream is a lot of times you’ll get this progesterone cream. It looks like a deodorant stick a lot of the times. A lot of times it comes in a tube but you put in on your skin and anytime you’re using hormone preparation on your skin. The problem is that hormone is a fat soluble and once you apply them in your skin, it can get stored in your fat tissue and as time goes on and on, these hormones can accumulate in your fat tissue and eventually disrupt your natural hormonal balance. It’s kind of playing with fire to just be slapping progesterone cream on your skin. Now you can get a little bit less propensity for progesterone cream to build-up in your fat tissue if you’re not using like a skin-based application. There are certain types of membranes in your body, they’re called mucus membranes and those allow something like a topical ointment or a topical cream to pass straight into the bloodstream rather than accumulating it in fat. For men, that would literally be like on the surface of your rectum. That’s where you have the greatest amounts of mucosal surfaces that you would actually be able to put a cream on. So if I were taking on a progesterone cream, that’s where I would apply it but ultimately, the problem with using cream like this is typically you’re not testing your hormones as you’re taking it. You don’t know when you’ve taken too much or when you’ve had enough and you really have to stand on top of things. You need to be doing for example, like urine or saliva test and your hormone levels to make sure that you’re not taking too much progesterone or that you’re not throwing your ratios off in the opposite direction because then what happens is you can get a lot of hormonal imbalances that can affect things like your risk for cancer. So you have to be really careful with this stuff and I certainly would take it unless you’ve taken care of the other side of that ratio which is the estrogen side. So I talked a little bit about some of these issues with estrogen but what I would do, I’m going to tell you exactly what I would do before I started taking progesterone. If you were me, avoid using food and drink that’s in plastic containers or Styrofoam containers, don’t heat your food in plastic wrap like in micro wave, anything of that nature. Just avoid exposing food to plastics, use a glass or ceramic. Try and replace any chemical-based household cleaning products with natural cleaning products, that could fill-in an entirely new podcast. My wife and I talked about it a bunch over in the inner circle at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/innercircle. That’s like a $17-a-month membership website that we run where we teach people stuff like this. Don’t use commercialized meat because that has estrogen build-up, its hormone-free organic meat. If you do have to eat commercialized meat, avoid the fat parts of it because that’s where a lot of the hormones will build-up and where you’ll find a lot of this estrogen. Use organic fruits and vegetables or else wash non-organic fruits and vegetables and like a vinegar-water solution to get rid of as much of the pesticides and herbicides as possible. If you are using any type of cosmetic or lotion or shampoo or cream, try using natural, chemical-free as much as you can because that will avoid some of the zeno-estrogens that are involved in like personal care products. Those would be some of the environmental ways that I would estrogen and then you can also kind of detox estrogen from your body a little bit too. For example, if you look at cruciferous vegetables, everything from cabbage to broccoli to Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, a lot of dark, leafy greens like kale and mustard greens and batchoy, those all have a type of chemical in them that helps to detox your body of environmental estrogens. So that would be one thing to do is to increase your intake of cruciferous vegetables. Now as your liver is getting rid of some of those environmental estrogens, they’re going to end up in your digestive tract and they’ll pass through in the stool. So at the same time you’re increasing your intake of cruciferous vegetables. If you take in like a high fiber supplement like psyllium seed, ground flax seed, even like a cleansing pill like Capra cleanse is one that I’ve mentioned on the show before, that can help kind of move things along. So you eat more cruciferous vegetables, you up your fiber intake, you can include more natural plant estrogens in your diet, you want to be careful not using too many of these but they can help protect you against some of the effects of like environmental zeno-estrogens or fake estrogens. Doing something like just having a flax seed oil around and using that occasionally like a salad dressing is good, sesame seeds would be another example of something to have around, both of those kind of have a smaller, safer amounts of natural plant-based phytoestrogens in them, that can help out interestingly. Some of those contain some similar compounds to what that progesterone cream that you have has in it, progesterone cream is usually made from like a wild yam extract. There’s a substance called Calcium D Glucarate, it’s naturally found in apples and oranges and then also in those cruciferous vegetables that I mentioned, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts and what happens is when your liver is getting rid of estrogens, it joins estrogens to something called glucuronic acid and what happens is in your gut, the estrogen that’s bound to glucuronic acid can get broken up and there’s an enzyme in your gut that can break this bond and then the estrogen gets re-circulated. As it goes into your bowel, the estrogen gets basically like reabsorbed into your body and the calcium D Glucarate that’s found in cruciferous vegetables and also in things like apples and oranges, it down regulates its enzyme so it can’t basically break the estrogen-D Glucarate bond or the estrogen bond with this glucuronic acid. So what happens is you get rid of the estrogens a lot better. So again, cruciferous vegetables are important, they do sell calcium D Glucarate substances but if you’re already taking a bunch of cruciferous vegetables, you may not need them. And then the last thing that I would look into doing is make sure that you’re sweating a lot and exercising to decent amounts, you can eliminate some estrogens through sweat so you can do like sauna treatments, infra red saunas work really for this or like a dry heat or a sweat room either of those would work as well, in terms of using like a sweat detox to get rid of some estrogens as well. So ultimately, I would personally tackle this from making sure that you’re taking in aromatase inhibitor to stop testosterone from converting into estrogens, eliminating a lot of environmental estrogens and also doing a little bit of estrogen detox using some of those methods that I just went through.
Brock: Okay, so following along on the same sort of hormone path, Amanda has a question.
Amanda: I have not had a menstrual cycle for two years. I’ve been seeing an arthropath for the last six months and we’re doing various treatments like taking progesterone and other hormone supplements. This last visit, we went over the test results and my cortisol levels are through the roof. To decrease the levels of cortisol, I ask if I only do yoga seven days a week? Exercise is one of the most important parts of my life and to go from what I’ve been doing to only yoga is devastating. My doctor and I talked through some options and she said it was okay to run three times a week at a ten-minute mile pace for 20 minutes and then yoga, but that’s only two miles. I would love your opinion on non-stressful exercise to do. I guess I’m just looking for guidance on what my week would look like for exercise if I get a workout and not lose muscle tone but not hammer my body as well. My husband and I are planning to start a family, so I need to get my menstrual cycle figured out.
Ben: Oh, not had a menstrual cycle for two years, been training the heck out of her body, has cortisol through the roof, Amanda, I really do not want to be harsh or rude but it sounds like you really got a little bit of a problem here. If we would’ve replaced the word ‘exercise’ with something like cigarettes, that’s kind of the perspective that you want to put this in. This is taking something that’s positive and turned it into a little bit of an addiction that could be harming your body. So you can read the article that I wrote at BenGreenfieldFitness.com called “Ten Reasons Exercise is Bad” and this kind of highlights one of the reasons and that is the risk of excessive cortisol and overtraining. Now I talked about overtraining last week in quite a bit of detail in podcast, was that 182 Brock?
Brock: 182, yeah.
Ben: In podcast number 182 and I talked about the difference between sympathetic nervous system overtraining and parasympathetic nervous system overtraining. Now here the good news Amanda: a lot of times when you’ve over-trained, you experience sympathetic nervous system overtraining first and with sympathetic nervous system overtraining, that happens when you’ve gotten to the point of kind of overreaching. Exercising too much and then you begin to turn out a lot of hormones from your adrenal gland and your body goes into high stress response mode, fight or flight response mode and you get high cortisol release that also increases things like insulin levels, causes weight gain, can certainly affect fertility, hormone balances, estrogen which we already talked about etc.. Ultimately though, there is a significant amount of adrenal gland dysfunction that occurs with sympathetic nervous system overtraining and one of the classic signs and symptoms of sympathetic nervous system overtraining is overproduction of cortisol. Now that goes on for too long and what happens is the adrenal glands become exhausted, you’ve heard of adrenal exhaustion before? This is where you begin to feel depressed, you lose your motivation to exercise, you don’t even want to exercise anymore, and you feel like lying in bed. You got abnormally low resting heart rate, you’re unable to push your heart rate up very high at all during exercise, your heart rate takes a long time to recover from exercise and you are essentially cooked, you’re cooked. A lot of people actually arrive at the start line of an Ironman triathlon parasympathetically over-trained and it’s an issue. A lot of times you do see this occur in three stages. First people overreach a little bit then the sympathetic nervous system gets over-trained and your adrenal gland starts to turn out all this cortisol and then finally, it’s just like boom, you’re exhausted, you’re done. Now what this means for you is that if you have high amounts of cortisol going on right now and you still have this intense desire to exercise. You’re probably in the state of sympathetic nervous system overtraining and you haven’t yet reached the point where you’ve got to literally heal your body for six months or 12 months which is often what it takes to overcome something like parasympathetic nervous system overtraining. If I were you, I would face up to the fact that you probably do have a little bit of an addiction going on here and you need to first of all, understand that it’s doing damage to your body and then second of all, you need to find a way to work other forms of entertainment, of dopamine and serotonin release into your life. Something to replace these endorphins that you’re experiencing from exercise that you become addicted to. So you can look into things like learning a musical instrument, perhaps spending a little bit more time learning cooking methods, taking up a hobby like that. You can do things that still involve movement and using your body but that are less stressful, things like rock climbing for example is not too bad. Ice skating would be another example things that require a little bit more balancing coordination, a little bit less just like straight exhausting your body. Yoga of course is very good for people who are sympathetically over-trained. It doesn’t mean Bikram yoga and power yoga 90 minutes, seven days a week. That means some really nice, easy half yoga type of practice where you’re still using your body, you don’t feel like you’re completely neglecting yourself but you’re giving your adrenal glands a break. I mentioned biofeedback practitioners early on in this podcast and they certainly can be useful in helping you to overcome an addiction and helping you to kind of wean yourself off of things and realize and identify the type of thinking that can lead to addictions like this and you may want to meet with the biofeedback practitioner as well. I’m not a psychologist, I’m not a psychiatrist and I don’t want to pretend to be one so I’m just telling you some of the things that I would do but I think it’s certainly, maybe necessary for you to meet with a qualified professional to overcome an exercise addiction if me just saying some of the things that I’ve said so far don’t help. So understand that you’re not nested with adrenal exhaustion, you’re really pushing it and once you get there then it’s really going to stink because not only will you not feel like exercising, there will be no rewarding response for it and you will be in a deep hole that you got to dig yourself out of. So, I hope that helps and doesn’t create more questions that I answered but that’s what I would do Amanda.
Brock: Amanda, just a sort of aside note, I’ve had some experience with some excessive behaviors as well and I found that cognitive behavior therapy was fantastic. I believe in that so strongly, I believe everybody should have a certain amount of cognitive behavior in their life just too sort of get that perspective on being able to look at their own reactions to certain behaviors and make some adjustments.
Ben: Did you actually meet with a specialist there in your area Brock?
Brock: I did! I went for several months once a week and it was sometimes a solo session and sometimes a group session and it was very interesting to do the group sessions especially.
Ben: Fantastic! Of course, you wouldn’t even have to do that if you would’ve listen to this podcast and just know that you could tap your forehead and your problems go away.
Brock: Yeah of course. I’m tapping like mad right now, I’m so hungry. Alright, that wraps up the show for today.
Brock: Anything else you want to talk about Ben?
Ben: No! I think that sounds like a good place to end for me. I will definitely put links to everything in the show notes, my expanded GI panel that I talked about, I’ll throw the results and the explanations up in the show notes, we’ll put a link to all the news flashes that we talked about, all the resources that I talked about, the appetite control articles, everything else and thank you for listening in if you are listening and thank you also if you’ve made a donation at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. We of course appreciate podcast donations that keep this thing floating along as well as rankings and ratings in iTunes, so all the little things that make you slightly out of your way to support the show, those actually do make a big difference. I’m incredibly grateful to the people who have done that and if you’re listening in and you haven’t yet, please consider. So that’s it and tune in on Friday for the talk about fat.
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