June 22, 2011
Ben: In this podcast, are you getting scammed by alkaline water, ionized water, magnetic water, oxygenated water or structured water, Vitamin B injections, how to choose a foam roller, fatty acid ratios, post-workout recovery shakes, lifting weights before cardio, muscle imbalances, and will fruit make you fat?
Hey folks, Ben Greenfield here, and you all have been asking for it for a while, so I thought today I’d give you the skinny on water. And that is what our feature topic is all about. It’s an interview with Steven Lauer who’s got a PhD in Biochemistry. He’s going to be giving us everything we need to know about all these different types of water you can get out there. The oxygenated water or the structured water and ionized water, you name it. Really, if you can do it to water we’d talk about it in today’s show. We have a few special announcements. And then we’ll launch into this week’s listener Q and A. And as many of you know, I am a triathlon junkie. So big welcome to those of you who are rolling into town this week to do Ironman Coeur d’Alene, I’ll be out there cheering you on. And I’m very happy that I’m not swimming in that frigid lake. Alright, let’s jump in to this week’s special announcements.
Well, for those of you who have grabbed the brand new Ben Greenfield Fitness t-shirt over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, and sent in photos, awesome! Congratulations! You’re looking fantastic in those. And the rumor that you can get your Ben Greenfield Fitness t-shirt, which you can actually customize and make into a hoody, a singlet, whatever you want it to be, over there at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, just scroll down on the right side of the page. There’s a picture of a dude in a t-shirt. It’s not me. But if you click on that photo, you will be able to grab yourself a cool t-shirt. And the nice part about that t-shirt is you can scan it with your phone. And it’ll send your phone to BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Is that cool or what? Alright, this week I had a post over on the website about shoulder pain because I’ve been getting a lot of questions about shoulder pain. And I actually was able to talk to a guy who’s really a specialist in injuries and injury rehabilitation. A friend of mine who’s been on the show before, his name is Rick Kaselj. And I will mention him later on in the Q and A as well when it comes to muscular imbalances. But he went ahead and offered everybody who listens to this show a 50% discount on his shoulder pain series. Where he teaches you how to kind of bullet proof your shoulder and also how to get rid of pain if you have shoulder pains. So I know for a lot of the swimmers and the weight lifters, the people who are out there like that that listens to this show. This could be a good one. For me, as a tennis player and a swimmer, it was incredibly insightful because if an area of my body gets injured, it’s typically my shoulders or my knees so this has been very useful for me. Next, a free seminar is coming up that I’m teaching in two days after this podcast comes out. It’s on June 24th, Friday at 6:00pm. So this coming Friday at 6:00pm, I’m going to be teaching a class about eating for endurance, specifically how you should prepare your body before, during, and after for long distance events. So, like trail running, triathlon adventure racing, cycling, paddling, hiking, you name it. So, I will put a link to that in the show notes under the special announcement section for the show notes of this episode, Episode #151. And you can go check out that Eating For Endurance seminar. And then, last thing is that my Shape21 Lean Body Manual, which is my 21 day rapid fat loss manual that is exercise and diet combined in one convenient book is now available as an app on Facebook. What that means is that if you go to www.facebook.com, just start to type in Shape21 and you’ll find it or follow the link that I’ll put in the show notes. You can, right there in Facebook, get walked through day by day. If you’re not a person who likes to use a PDF for a book and you’re a real Facebook addict, you can access the entire program right there on Facebook day by day. As soon as you open Facebook, you log in. You grab your first day. You do the exercises. You do the diet. Then you move on to the next day. So, 21 days. I’ve done the program before. It comes in beginner, intermediate or advanced options or the ability to mix all three. And it’s a really good program. If you’re into the minimal equipment required, rock solid diet and getting quick fat loss results. So, that being said, we’re going to have one more quick announcement and then move into this week’s listener Q and A.
Listener Q and A:
Paula says: Back in mid March, I noticed that my neck suddenly became stiff. It honestly seemed to happened for no obvious reason. And still today, I can only turn my head about 45 degrees to the left and the right. When I reach that 45 degrees, my neck is completely tight and painful all the way down each side. This makes exercise no fun. I saw an active release therapy guy, who did some very deep work and gave me exercises. I also saw my regular M.D who prescribed some pain medication. The pain still persists and neither seemed too concerned about it. I found an acupuncturist who hasn’t able to give me any relief but had suggested that I take Vitamin B preferably in the form of an injection. The one she suggested is called Neurobion. Why is she suggesting this and what are your thoughts?
Ben: Well, Neurobion is basically an injectible multivitamin. It’s a Vitamin B Complex. So, it’s got Vitamin B1, B6, B12. And you can get it, I believe, in both oral and injectible format. And the reason that people actually would tell you to take something like Neurobion for neck pain is because if you look at some of the studies that have been done, specifically with Vitamin B injections, is they have the ability to suppress activity of what are called nociceptive neurons. And if you remember back to biology or perhaps in anatomy, if you happen to take either of those classes, nociceptive neurons are responsible for producing a feeling of pain. And so, we are able to suppress nociceptive neuron responses, you can essentially shut down some of the pain. Furthermore, if this is some kind of like feedback loop where your neck is hurting and that pain is actually causing your neck to go into some type of protective spasm, then it’s possible that by suppressing the activity of nociceptive neurons, you may be able to release some of that spasmic activity that’s keeping you from actually turning your neck. Now, as far as why your neck feels like this in the first place, I really am not a neck specialist. I’m not a spine specialist. Its sounds like you kind of seen some people who should’ve been able to help you. The only person in that list that you haven’t seen that I would suggest is chiropractic physician. And preferably, research the chiropractic physicians in your area and find out who the good ones are. I find that the ones that typically work with the local professional sports teams usually are very good at spinal manipulation and at understanding anatomy and not doing some things that might be considered outside the scope of treatments that have been proven to be effective from research. So, I’d look into meeting with a chiropractic physician in addition to potentially thinking about trying-out these Vitamin B12 injections that have been suggested to you. But remember that there are some contraindications or sometimes when you may not want to take the Vitamin B injection because they can interfere with certain medications. I don’t know what medications you’re on. But I would definitely make sure that whoever is prescribing these injections to you or whoever is giving you these injections, knows all the medications that you’re on because there can be some interactions. And there can also be some side effects. Specifically side effects related to the high folic acid levels that are going to come from these Vitamin B12 injections. And you may find that you get tingling. You get numbness. You get palpitations. You get anxiety. So realize that there may be some side effects when you get the medications. But great question and that’s what the Vitamin B12 is why they would’ve told you about the Vitamin B12. So the next questions is from Pamela.
Pamela says: I’ve heard you talk about foam rollers. And that you use a rumble roller. Do you suggest the black or the blue version and why do you suggest the compact or the full length or why? I prefer deep tissue massages when I get one. So, I’m thinking the black may be better.
Ben: And first of all Pamela, yes, I use a Rumble Roller. And I have a love-hate relationship with it because a Rumble Roller is basically a foam roller with a bunch of ridges on it. And these ridges dig a lot more deeply into muscles and into tissue adhesions compared to a smooth foam roller. Now, if you need foam rolling 101, go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Do a search for foam roller. Or go to www.youtube.com/bengreenfieldfitness. Do a search for foam roller. You can see me demonstrating exercises and talking about how to use foam rollers to relieve muscular pain and to relieve tightness. But this Rumble Roller would be like the ultimate foam roller. A combination of removal of adhesions and stretching of soft tissue but also it’s a little bit painful. It is like a getting a deep tissue massage. You grit your teeth as you’re rolling this thing over the various parts of your body more specifically rolling your body on the various parts of the foam roller. I’ve got a compact one. And its portable. And that is nice when you ask about the compact versus the full length. The portability of the compact is nice. But realize when you use the shorter foam roller, a lot of times it’s slightly less versatile in terms of the amount of force that you can put on to it with your body. And sometimes they tend to slip out from underneath you. However, that being said, I haven’t personally used the compact version of the foam roller. I’ve only used the full length version of it. I do have a compact foam roller that I travel with. But it’s smooth. It’s not ridged like the foam roller. So, it’s possible that the compact version of the foam roller might stay in place a little bit better. And then, yes, if you want deeper tissue massage, you’d want to go with the black color because it’s an extra firm model. I personally use the blue one and I’m just fine with that. I don’t need anything more than the blue. So, I would imagine like a great big muscle bound football player might be the type of person who would want the black. But I think the blue is efficient for most people. I’ll put a link to the Rumble Roller in the show notes. So that you can click through and check it out. And learn a little bit more about that self massage tool. Alright, so next question is from Ben. I love that name!
Ben says: In Episode # 140, KC Craichy stated: What we want to look for is 180 or 120 being the first number on the EPA and the DHA. That is the number that is the natural ratio which you find in nature. And then Ben asks: What is the 120 or the 180 and the 120 refer to? Also, is KC’s stance on converting ALA to EPA in contrast to the creators of Udo’s oil?
Ben: So, I just threw out a bunch of phrases that some of you may not recognize. First of all, Udo and KC, KC has been on the show before. He’s been on the show three times talking about health, talking about diet. He has a book called the Super Health Diet. And a couple of fantastic interviews back in Podcast #139 and #140. And he does talk about EPA and DHA. And I’ll tell you about a little bit more about those in a second. But Udo is another guy who’s been on the show. And Udo is the creator of Udo’s oil. Which is a bunch of different oils mixed together in what he has decided based on the research that he has done is a very good ratio for absorption. Now, Udo oil is primarily made up of ALA or alphalinoleic acid whereas a lot of the oils that KC is referring to specifically like fish oils are made up of EPA and DHA which we’ll go into in a second. Now, the ratio, 180 to 120, that is the ratio of EPA to DHA meaning a 3:2 EPA to DHA ratio. That’s what you’re going to find in most fish oils and really in most recommendations out there. Although you will find, and you will especially find this claim made by the manufacturers of EPA and DHA compounds, that more close to a 7:1 or 10:1 ratio is better in terms of absorption and utilization of those fatty acids. But again, that may just be so that they can sell you more expensive EPA and DHA supplements. I think that 3:2 ratio is just fine. Now, in terms of the EPA-DHA 101, basically if you take something like a fish, a fish is going to have a bunch of different fatty acids in it. But specifically, the fatty acids that are known to give a variety of benefits to the human body are EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA or docosahexaenoic acid. And you’re going to find these Omega 3 fatty acids primarily in things like sea food like fish or in marine algae like seaweed. So, if you were to go to the store and buy these nato wraps that you wrap up sushi in. That would be examples that would have EPA and DHA in it. Now there’s another type of fatty acid that the body can use to synthesize EPA and DHA. And that’s something called alpha linoleic acid or ALA. And ALA is found in plant food. Things like flax and hemp. Lots of seeds and nuts particularly things like walnuts have a lot of ALA in them. Now, this is where things get a little bit tricky because some research such as the research that Udo Erasmus goes off because he sells compounds made up of these nut oils and flax seed oils. He says that we can convert up to I believe a little over 30% of the ALA into EPA and DHA. But there’s a bunch of other research that says that you can only convert about 5% of ALA into EPA and DHA. So, of course if you are of the persuasion that you can only convert 5% of ALA into EPA and DHA, you’re going to be wanting to consume a greater amount of fish and fish oil on seaweed based sources. But if you believe that ALA gets converted in high enough amounts into EPA and DHA, you would probably be the type of person that could get away with vegan, vegetarian type diet. Eating or drinking things or whatever you do with it. Spooning things like Udo’s oil and really not doing so many of the fish based fats. Now, the DHA and the EPA are very essential. They’re essential for inflammatory activity in your body. They have a variety of health benefits. They’re the most abundant fatty acids found in the brain so, especially useful for the brains of developing children, but also to stave off the effects of neuronal degeneration in older individuals. It’s kind of an important thing to make sure that you are getting enough. And you ask where I stand on this. Well, I personally do a mix. I use things like flax seed oils. I eat pumpkin seeds. I eat walnuts. But I also do take fish oil every day. A triglyceride form of fish oil that’s in a 3:1 ratio of EPA to DHA. And I also eat sardines quite regularly. We also keep nori, which is this sushi seaweed type of wrap you can get to wrap sushi but you can also use it as a snack. And I’ll literally just grab nori and eat it or use it as a wrap. And sometimes I’m lazy and I’ll just wrap some stuff in it and it just kind of falls apart. But I’ll just use it as a semi wrap because I’m too lazy to actually turn it into a full on roll but I mean, it works just fine. So, I personally use a mix of all of them rather than stray into one camp or the other. But obviously if you’re vegan or vegetarian then this is something that is a little bit more crucial nature to think about. Because you, unlike me, wouldn’t be eating things like sardines and possibly not even taking in fish oil. Now, we are going to explore this topic in greater detail when I interview a couple times in the upcoming podcast folks who are of plant based diet persuasion and vegan and vegetarian and also very successful athletes. And we’ll talk a little bit more about their take on ALA conversion to EPA and DHA. But I personally combine both forms. I take in the Omega 3 fatty acid forms from sea food and marine algae. But I also eat things like flax seeds and hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds and walnuts. And in my opinion that’s kind of the best of both worlds because you’re consuming everything on God’s green earth and water. So, great question. Next question is from Ron.
Ron says: I have a question regarding a couple of products and my timing of using them as recovery drinks and meal replacements.
Ben: Alright folks, get ready for this. Here’s what Ron says.
Ron says: I normally work out at 5:00am on an empty stomach for 60 minutes on a high intensity for 5 days a week. And on my 6th day, I do a long slow distance run after 6 hours of sleep. In addition, I do a lunch time tempo run for 30 minutes about to 8-10 hours later. Following my morning workout, I take a product made by Beach Body called P90x recovery formula within 30 minutes of finishing the work out. I then go and walk the dog for about a mile. And upon returning I have a serving of Myoplex original in powder packets based with the third cup of silk vanilla almond milk, 1/3 silk very vanilla soy milk, and 1/3 cup horizon organic milk with Omega 3 added in. So, both are consumed within an hour of my work out. Prior to leaving for work about an hour after finishing the above drinks, I have my breakfast meal replacement. A product made by Beach Body called Shakeology. I take this with the same combination of milks listed above. I also take P90x recovery formula after my lunch time run. My question is two-fold. Firstly, could you review these products I’m taking? Secondly, is my timing of consuming these supplements ideal or would I be better served by taking the Myoplex at nights to put recovery nutrients into my body prior to bedtime. Am I over killing it in the AM and should I spread it out more?
Ben: Alright, so first of all, Ron, I would really suggest that you go BenGreenfieldFitness.com and you read the most recent article that I wrote called Top 8 Post Workout Recovery Snacks. Because in that article, not only do I give you a bunch of examples of real food, not engineered food with a bunch of preservatives and artificial sweeteners in it, but real food that you can get in quickly after work out that has a full range of nutrients in it without putting a lot of foreign elements into your body. But I also put a link to a discussion and an article in a podcast that I’ve done that talk about whether of not you even need to be focusing so intensively on post workout nutrition. Specifically because most of the research that’s been done on post workout nutrition shows that its really only crucial for people who are: a,) working out for a long time in a completely starved state or b.) are going to be working out again within 48 hours after the workout sessions that they’ve just finished doing. Now, you fall pretty closely into the category, the type of person who would want to do something post workout because you are working out twice a day and you’re first workout is on an empty stomach. However, the type of things that you are consuming are not ideal. And I’m not sure why you aren’t eating real food. And why you are eating all of these meal replacements. So for example, the P90x recovery drink is not really that big of a deal. It’s fructose and it’s whey protein concentrate. We’ll talk about fructose and its potential dangers a little bit later on. But ultimately, there’s not a ton of artificial sweeteners in this. There are several different artificial flavors and some preservatives in it. But it is probably, you know, if you just need something really quick to grab right after that work out to kind of tide you over until breakfast. It would be something that would be okay. There aren’t a ton of red flags in the P90x recovery formula. But then, you’re eating this Myoplex original which is packed with, not only more preservatives and artificial flavors, but also the artificial sweetener sucralose. And then you’re also consuming this Shakeology by Beach Body which also contains high amounts of sucralose. And you’re just dumping a bunch of fake compounds into your body. So sucralose, for example, has never even been proven safe for human consumption. It was approved by the FDA after some very short human trials. The longest of which only lasted about four days and look at how sucralose affected tooth decay not how it was actually processed by the human body. But all the other studies are done on animals. And the studies done on animals had a lot of issues. They showed that sucralose could decrease red blood cells. They showed that it could cause male infertility by interfering with sperm production. It showed some kidney issues. Rabbits given sucralose actually spontaneously aborted and had a 23% death rate compared to a 6% death rate in the group that didn’t get Splenda. Splenda is a chemical. It’s basically a molecule that’s been altered to make it taste sweet but that your body treats it as a chemical that it can’t digest. And not surprisingly because of that, Splenda can destroy up to about 50% of the probacteria or the good bacteria in your stomach. And there are a lot of other common side effects that you hear people complaining about with Splenda. Like migrane, dizziness, weight gain, interestingly artificial sweeteners have been associated with weight gain, allergic reactions, and it’s really not something to be dumping into your body especially because that paradox of going out trying to improve your health in the morning. Coming back and eating and drinking chemicals. Trust me. I was a body builder. I used to live on protein shakes, fake foods, Splenda packets, acesulfame potassium. I did the aspartame. So, I’ve done all this. And I’ve felt the way the body feels when you aren’t taking in all these fake foods and the way it feels when you are taking in all these fake foods. Your digestive motility will be vastly improved. Your feelings of energy will be vastly improved. And your health and longevity will be vastly improved by beginning to choose real foods rather than these fake foods that you’re eating. Your timing really isn’t that bad because you’re doing two-a-day work outs. And your first workout is on an empty stomach. It is smart to be eating within about 20 minutes to an hour after that first workout. And after that second work out, because it is the second workout of the day, your body is going to be a little bit beat up. And it’s helpful to get more carbohydrates than protein on board. But why not have a couple of sweet potatoes with some almond butter and a fried egg after that morning workout. And why not after the lunch time workout have some Greek yogurt with a handful of almonds and blueberries. Okay, you know what I’m saying? You really don’t need to be taking in all of these compounds. Now, there is one, just so I don’t sound hypocritical here, in that post workout recovery snack article that I’ll link for you that I just wrote at BenGreenfieldFitness.com . I talk about one thing I take called Mix One. And it is lactose free, gluten free. Kind of like a super clean type of shake that’s made with none of these preservatives. And even that is something that I only consume about once every three days or so. Okay. I’m very careful about eating out of packages and eating out of containers. And although I do go through about 40 gel packs and these sweet gooey sugary gel packs during an Ironman triathlon, I really don’t go near this stuff at all anymore unless I’m right in the middle of a race. Or doing some event where a portable food is necessary for speed. But it’s definitely a speed health trade off. Alright, next question is from Elizabeth.
Elizabeth says: I’m wondering if you’ve heard of a product called Generation UCAN and what do you think about it for use in half to full Ironman training and racing?
Ben: Generation UCAN is modified corn starch, natural flavor, sodium citrate, citric acids, xanthan gum, potassium citrate, natural color, ascorbic acid, and sucralose. I would pass on that. Primarily because modified corn starch, compared to like a blend of specifically something like a maltodextrin with a simple sugar, is not utilized as well as foods that were specifically designed to be taking in during half Ironman and Ironman triathlon. The sucralose we already talked about. And then the xanthan gum if taken over and over again during the course of a long day can cause a lot of G.I distress. I would definitely stick with something like gels if you’re going to be going out and training rather than things that are packed with artificial sweeteners like that. Remember, artificial sweeteners are low calorie or no calorie. There’s no reason that you would be taking those during exercise. The whole idea of taking in something like that during exercise is to give you calories. It’s kind of like me going out and running a marathon and at mile 20 getting really tired and grabbing a diet coke. It just doesn’t make sense. You’d go for the real thing. Good question and basically both those questions outline is that use fake food intelligently as infrequently as possible. So, the best thing to do is to write it down. And that would really help you. That would help you to identify how may processed or packaged food that you’re taking in on a daily basis. Alright Christian asks:
Christian says: Does lifting weight before or after a long cardio session, for example a 20-mile run or 100-mile bike ride, provide any protective effect to prevent muscle catabolism?
Ben: Well this is an interesting theory because when you lift weights, there is definitely a hormonal response. And I’m talking about heavy resistance training like going out and doing bench presses, squats, dead lifts, shoulder press, things that are specifically really causing you to push around some serious weight. Well, you get a pretty significant increase in plasma concentrations or your circulating blood release of what are called anabolic hormones and growth factors. Specifically you get a big release of growth hormone. You get a release of testosterone. And you get a release of insulin like growth factor. And all of these can enhance the growth of muscle tissue. And the repair and recovery in muscle tissue. And so what Christian is asking is, so if you go out and lift weights before you go out and do a really hard and long cardio work out, could that kind of stave off some of the catabolic muscle degrading effects of the long workout? Well, in theory, it sounds kind of cool. But in practice, there are some issues with that because first of all, if you go out and do a weight lifting routine that’s heavy enough to cause an anabolic hormonal response, it’s going to affect your biomechanics of running. You’re going to run a lot differently. Going out and running 20 miles after you’ve done several sets of squats and dead lifts compared to if you go out fresh. The other issue is that at the same time that you are causing that release of anabolic hormones during your weight training session, you’re also going to significantly deplete your glycogen or your storage carbohydrate levels giving you that much less carbohydrate utilized during your subsequent cardio routine. But you’re also depleting magnesium, potassium, sodium chloride. You’re dehydrating. So, there are some definite losses in potential for energy production during your cardio that follows. And the last thing is that there really are no studies that I’m aware of that have actually looked into this. So, I can’t say what the research says. But I would suspect that, just based on common sense/evolutionary protective stand point if you look at biology from that perspective, an intense weight training session that breaks down muscle tissue is not going to set the body up to have a better work out following that weight training session. Regardless of whether or not it staves off some muscle break down, you’re just going to be a little bit beat up if you’re working after the extent that you get that growth hormone. That insulin like growth factor and that testosterone release. So, I would instead consider something like a consumption of amino acids to prevent muscle catabolism prior to going out and doing that session. So you take in for example, like a whole amino acid source. Like a Master Amino Pattern. Or grab some amino acid powder from a company like Bioletics. Go out there with like a gel. Like a Gu Roctane that actually has branched chain amino acids in it. And keep those amino acids levels elevated during the exercise session. And I think that that would be better both biomechanically and from an energy production stand point than heavy resistance training prior to cardio then. But it’s interesting to think about. And then the other interesting factor is that if you’re just thinking about going to the gym and whether you should do cardio before weights or weights before cardio. Most studies do show that cardio before weights is more beneficial when it comes to if you’re just looking for fitness response. So, your metabolism after workout if you do cardio before weights is higher. And your running session if you do cardio before weights in terms of its biomechanical soundness is better. Researchers have found that physiological requirements during running following a weight session go up. It’s more difficult. You’re less efficient and less economical when you run after weights compared if you run before weights. So, great question and let’s go ahead and move on to a question from Jen.
Jen says: In the past, every time I start running even for short periods of time, my Achilles tendon swells painfully. And the hamstrings/glute muscles on my right leg injure instantly. When this happens, I can’t train for a week. I don’t know if these are weak areas and what I can do to prevent it. So how do I begin?
Ben: Well, anytime that you are experiencing injuries, specifically injuries that are related to chronic repetitive motion like running or cycling. There’s usually some type of muscle imbalance or length discrepancy going on. And that length discrepancy can mean that one leg is longer than the other because you, from a hereditary stand point, were born with like one femur being slightly longer than the other femur. And in a case like that, you can make equipment changes. You can make gear changes. You can do things like put a slight heel riser in the shoe of the shorter leg. Or you can put a shim on the cleat of the bicycle on the side that has the shorter leg. So there are things that you can do to adjust those discrepancies. And you can find out whether you have a leg length discrepancy by going to a physical therapist or a sports medicine physician or a chiropractic sports physician and speaking with them and asking them if they can screen you for a leg length discrepancy. The other thing that can cause leg length discrepancy is something functional. One of the most common things that I see is the sacroiliac joint that’s out of alignment. That’s something that can be placed back into alignment. Again, if you go see chiropractic doctor who has experienced working in a sports medicine type of environment. That would the perfect person to actually adjust your SI joint if you happen to have a leg length discrepancy or an imbalance related to SI joint. From a soft tissue perspective, there are a host of different muscular imbalances that can cause weakness and tightness on one side that results in pain and injury on another side. And what I would recommend you do that is I got a free report over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com that I’m going to put in the show notes to this episode, Episode # 151. It’s a free report about muscle imbalances. It’s called Muscle Imbalances Revealed. And that is the one that I would look into. So, go download it, totally free. Read through it. See if that answers some of your questions. Look into the leg length discrepancy issue as well for sure. Alright Cathy said:
Cathy says: I’ve heard you say a few times that you wouldn’t recommend eating a lot of fruit if you are aiming to lose weight. Both my husband and I are fit and are training for triathlons. But we’d like to trim a few pounds. Can you explain more why fruit is not ideal for weight loss?
Ben: Well the main issue with fructose is that it’s processed differently than regular sugar. And it’s found to be incredibly effective at increasing the risk of weight gain. And one of the reasons for that is because it gets shunted directly to the liver. And in the liver, fructose can be converted into fat provided that the liver storage carbohydrate levels are fairly empty. And considering that the liver can only store really up to right around 300-400 calories of carbohydrate, it’s likely that most people, who are in a fed state, unless this is after a morning workout, are going to convert fructose into fat. And fructose also has potential leak to lepton resistance. And lepton is this hormone that helps do things like reduce fat, increase metabolism. It helps stabilize your appetite. And fructose increases your resistance to lepton. So, when it comes to fructose, it’s really not an issue if you are finishing a workout session and eating fructose because if you’re training for triathlon, it’s likely that you’re exercising to the extent where your liver’s glycogen stores are a little bit empty. And you’re just topping those off with the fruit. But I personally really only, for that reason, because I don’t want it getting converted into fat in the liver but would rather have a get stored away as carbohydrates, I primarily only consume fructose right before I’m about to workout or right after I workout. And I don’t really do much more of than the couple pieces of fruit a day, maximum. And simply because of the way that fructose is metabolized. So, carbohydrates that aren’t metabolized the same way in the liver that would be considered better to eat. Ones I would look into would be like quinoa. You could do a brown rice. You could amaranth. You could do millet. There’s another form of carbohydrate that is similar to a sweet potato or a yam called taro. You could use that. If you are soaking them, not a big deal with doing something like legumes and beans. Seeds and nuts have limited amounts of carbohydrate as well. So there are certainly a variety of foods you could still get carbohydrates from. I am not one of those people who think that fructose is a poison. Or fructose is of the devil. But I think that if you are consuming fructose when you are not exercising, then you’re setting yourself up for weight gain because fructose is nature’s candy. It is sweet. It is designed to provide vast amounts of carbohydrate at a rapid pace and our liver can very easily convert those, whether it’d be some type of survival mechanism or some type of physiological adaptation, into fat. And that fat gets sent out into the blood stream and stored away wherever you tend to store fat. So you just got to be careful when you consume fruit that you’re consuming it in a state where your liver’s carbohydrate stores are preferably empty. So it gets stored away as glycogen. Alright, so that being said, we’ve got one quick call in comment from listener Jack who has something nice to say about Ben Greenfield Fitness. I always like that and then we’re going to go into this week’s interview about water.
Jack: Hey Ben, this is Jack from Tennessee. Here’s my story. After eight years of racing I took the last seven years off. Because of work and kids and moves that we made, those kind of things. Trained sporadically for triathlons throughout that time even though I didn’t race. But for the past two years, I’ve learned about Ben Greenfield Fitness and spent some time reading and listening to your stuff. I purchased the Top 12 Resistance Routines for Triathletes. I’ve incorporated that along with high intensity principles that I’ve learned from you. And others that are on your shows, podcasts. And for the first time at 45, I raced my first Tri last weekend in seven years. And I didn’t know what to expect but what happened was I set PR’s on both the bike and the run. I stayed teak overall and third in my age group. I’ve never placed in a race before Saturday. It’s pretty exciting. Now the difference between the previous eight years of racing and Saturday is clearly the training and nutrition principles that I’ve learned from Ben Greenfield Fitness. So I want to thank you.
Hey folks, this is Ben Greenfield and I get a lot of questions from you listeners about water. Not only questions about all these different water marketing businesses that are out there like structured water or ASEA. You hear about a lot of these types of waters. But also just about things like filtering water and whether a Brita filter is a good way to go versus a home water filter. And you know what type of water you should be drinking out of plastic bottles and just a lot of questions about water in general. And since most of us, I hope, drink a lot of water, I figured it would be good to actually get somebody who’s kind of an expert on the chemistry of water on the website. Now, please don’t run scared when you hear the word chemistry because this guy has a history in academics. I mean, he knows how to teach this stuff and relate to you. His name is Steve Lauer. And he actually has a degree in biochemistry from the University of California in Berkley and a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of British Columbia. He runs a really fascinating website. For those of you who want to delve into the nitty-gritty of water, and really a lot of chemistry in general, if you go to www.chemone.com, you’re going to find Steve’s website and a really good introduction to the structure of water and how water actually works. So, Steve thanks you so much for coming to the call today.
Steve: Oh, hi, Ben.
Ben: So, my basic question for you to get things started is, when it comes to the structure of water, how would you actually introduce to people how water is structured? And how this liquid that we are dumping into our mouths everyday works in terms of its chemical structure?
Steve: Well, water certainly has structure but when chemists think of structure they think of several ways. I think whether we’re talking about just a few molecules in one area or the whole pile of molecules or the whole glass of water for that matter. And we also think about time scales because things do tend to change. Well, in the case of water, the water molecules are very strongly influenced by each other. And they are weakly bonded to each other. But those bonds are being broken and remade very quickly, about 100 nanoseconds on the average. So, when we say water has a structure, I suppose it would be easier to say that water has continually changing structure, but it is still organized. The molecules aren’t arranged randomly as they say in gas or steam or something like that. So that’s the simplest thing we can say about the structure of water. It’s continually changing but there is continual interaction between water molecules which kind of influences their average locations with respect to each other. How one molecule is oriented with respect to the next one but that’s changing all the time.
Ben: Gotcha! Now, in terms of this term structured water, we also obviously hear this term around when it comes to water that’s being sold. Is it actually possible for people to change the chemical structure of water, to alter the structure of water?
Steve: Well, quite a few promoters claim that’s possible but there is no reason to believe if that’s the case. And more importantly, there’s no evidence. No credible published evidence to suggest that that’s possible. A lot of these are sold as concentrates of water. You should pay probably about fifty dollars for the small container of concentrate. And a few drops of water is supposed to make them do hexagonal cluster or some other clusters. Sometimes it de-clusters the water depending on what their pitch is. And this is complete nonsense because any attempt to structure the water will be gone in a nanosecond. Well there is one qualification I would add. If you add certain salts to water, the water will be structured around the ions of the dissolved salt. We’re talking about essentially drinking water that doesn’t apply there. So, this is really just flapdoodle.
Ben: Alright. We’ll let’s delve into a few of these specifically, for example, ionized water, where you get like this electrical device that says that it ionizes water through electrical activity. How is it that that would work and does it work? Or is it something that you can’t do to water.
Steve: Well, you can but it’s still somewhat misnamed. And from a chemist’s standpoint, there is no such thing as ionized water. Now, all water contains a very small number of ions. About one ion of ionized water out of maybe a hundred million molecules but that’s trivial. What is usually meant by ionized water or alkaline water, as it’s often being called when they sell it, is water that has been subject to electrolysis. Electrolysis means decomposition of water. Pure water, the kind you might get from snowmelt or something, contains so few mineral ions that the water doesn’t conduct electricity. Water is really an insulator. Most people don’t realize that because most water people will get like in their bath tubs in sulfuric and certainly from wells. It does contain salts of various kinds. So, but when you subject this water to electrolysis, what actually happens is the ions tend to break down. And in the cases of so called ionized waters, most of them require that you add some salt to make the water a conductor. So you got an electrical current going through there and some change made to the water. What really happens here though is the chloride ions, that’s part of salt because salt is sodium chloride. And the chloride ions are decomposed into an ion called hypochloride. And what you get out of these is essentially the sodium hypochloride which is the main component of ordinary household bleach like Clorox or something like that. Now, of course it’s much less concentrated than Clorox so you’re not drinking bleach in a literal sense. But that’s about all of this. And when this happens, it makes the water alkaline. And most of the proponents of ionized or alkaline water claimed, among other things, that alkaline water is better for you because it prevents cancer and all kinds of other things. So that’s the main thing they say. They also say it’s an antioxidant which any first year chemistry student or high school chemistry student should realize that hypochloride ions are oxidizing agents. They are oxidants not antioxidants. But that’s just part of the story that these people sell you. I might mention that I have web pages on various kinds of altered waters which are oxygenated and structured and ionized water. But the number of hits I get for ionized water exceeds all the others put together. So there’s a very strong advertising campaigns out there and I awfully get a lot of questions on it.
Ben: Is that, that chloride that’s produced when that water is electrolyzed, is that dangerous at all?
Steve: I don’t think it’s dangerous in the concentrations that are produced ordinarily. That’s the way that household bleach is produced but they’re starting with very concentrated salts. It’s like brying. But this stuff is, I don’t think it’s dangerous. They claimed, of course these promoters claimed the alkaline aspect of it, which we call hydroxide ions in chemistry, will neutralize the acids that are produced when you metabolize food. Most foods are acidic to start with. Certainly, most vegetables aren’t. Especially things like tomatoes and citrus fruits pretty well other fruits. And the argument they give is well you eat all these acidic vegetables and things. And there aren’t very many oxidant foods so you get an imbalanced body chemistry. You’re body becomes more acidic, too acidic they say. And so you have to drink this alkaline water to make up for it to neutralize it. That is forgetting one important thing. I imagine half of the promoters of this alkaline water don’t even realize that we get rid of acid all the time by breathing. When you exhale you’re losing carbon dioxide which means you’re losing carbonic acid. And that help us maintain acid based neutrality, acid based balance.
Ben: Now what happens when you drink that alkaline water and it ends up in the stomach where I know there are acids. Does that kind of affect or negate any of the effects of making it a lot more alkalinic?
Steve: Well, yeah. The gastric fluid in your stomach which is necessary for digesting your proteins is strongly acidic. It’s sort of what you call dilute hydrochloric acid. And so, as you drink a large quantity of alkaline water about the same time you’re taking in food, you can partially neutralize that stomach acid. And that can interfere with digesting the proteins. Now, the proteins don’t get digested. And then they go through your digestive system. And by the time they get through to your large intestine they begin to ferment and do other things that produce gas and not so pleasant sensations. I don’t think that’s too common a problem except for people who drink very large quantities. Another thing that can happen is that it can affect some people, and perhaps in a good way in some cases and in a bad way in other cases, is that we know now that in your large intestine there reside hundreds of different kinds of bacteria. And these do important things in your digestion. And some of them don’t do much of anything. But these could be affected by the acidity of the stuff that is going through your intestine at that time. So, if there are organisms that produce by-products that your system has problems with maybe the alkalinity or more likely the hypochloride ions will suppress these bacteria. And that you feel a bit better. On the other hand, many of these bacteria perform very useful functions in digestion. And if you kill them off or suppress them you won’t feel as good. So, that’s hard to say. I don’t know if any clinic or research that’s been done on that. I don’t read medical literature that closely. One thing that I can tell you though, for sure, and this is contrary to what almost all defenders of alkaline water claim, is that the alkaline part of the hydroxide ions will not get into your blood stream. And get into the cells and change the acidity or the ph, as we chemists call it, of the intercellular fluids. That just does not happen. The ph of blood is very closely regulated. And if it weren’t we would all be dead.
Ben: Yeah. And in terms of another deal with the biology, isn’t a lot of the secretions that end up in our digestive tract kind of alkaline anyways?
Steve: Well yeah, that’s the other thing. The material that emerges from the stomach and enters the large intestine is normally quite highly acidic. But once it gets to the top of the small intestine, it becomes alkaline. Pancreatic juice, as it’s called, is highly alkaline. And it’s alkaline because that’s the way that the fats get digested. So, you need acid to dilute or digest the protein part of your meal. But the lipids, the fats, that sort of thing, that requires an alkaline medium to get it going. So in a sense, nature has already provided us with alkaline water at the point where we need it.
Ben: Gotcha. So basically what I’m hearing from you in terms of the process of applying electrolysis to water to make it alkaline is that: a) the water doesn’t contain enough metal in it to yield a very strong alkaline solution when it’s subjected to electrolysis anyways; b) most of it is going to end up alkaline when it gets through your digestive tract; and the last, most important thing you’re talking about is how this hypochloride ion that’s produced through electrolysis that’s actually an oxidizing agent not an antioxidizing agent.
Steve: It’s an oxidizing agent. And you know the chlorine is very widely used as to disinfect water in municipal water supplies and so forth and swimming pools. But the active ingredient that actually does the disinfecting is through the hypochloride ion. And that’s the one that actually gets the bacteria. It’s produced by a reaction between the chlorine and the water. So, hypochloride ion is essentially a poison. Again, not in these small parties that you’ll find in so called alkaline water but it might. And if it does any poisoning, it’s only going to affect those bacteria and the lower part of your digestive tract. And again this might be good, this might be bad. I don’t think that there has been any research done on that.
Ben: Okay. There are also systems out there, and many of them very expensive systems, that claim to structure your water. And they claim health effects by creating these water clusters. What is your opinion on those?
Steve: Well, most of it is just complete buff if I may say so. Some of them claim that the water is made hexagonal. I think that comes from the idea that water in the form of ice forms crystals with these beautiful hexagonal shapes. And somebody renders that these so called clustered waters actually show photographs that look like snowflakes. And they represent or misrepresent them as actual molecules. Sometimes they call them beautiful hexagonal molecules. And they are supposed to enter your cross channel membranes, enter your cells, and produce or improve what they call cellular hydration. And also, they’re supposed to allow toxins to move in and out of your cells more regulated. Well again that’s nonsense. It doesn’t happen. It’s now known that, I guess since 1993, it’s been known that water enters your cells one molecule at a time in single file. And after that, a finding came out that won somebody a Nobel Prize in 2003. Somebody started saying well instead of saying we cluster the water, we uncluster the water. We can make it easier. But millions of years of evolution have made it quite possible for us to get all the water we need in our systems just by drinking ordinary water. All these stuff about structured water being better is pure buff. Besides promising that your cellular hydration, they use a lot of scientific sounding terms like the clustered water produces coherent energy fields. I’ve seen one outlet that says it has residents. It produces cellular residences. Some of them go even farther and talk about allowing high frequency information to be transmitted between the cells. They take all of these scientific terms. And I think they just go through books of science and physics and so forth. And just take out terms that sound good. I mean, coherent residence does sound pretty impressive. It means nothing. Both words have very definite meanings in certain scientific context. But here, there just trying to make it sound scientific because most people don’t have enough background in science to distinguish what’s science and what’s sugar science. These outfits seem to do pretty well in terms of, they’re coming and going all the time. But there are an awful lot of them and they seem to be at pretty good business.
Ben: Yeah. I see tons of structured water advertisements in very many ways to actually structure water out there.
Steve: Just google ionized water or structured water; you’ll find hundreds and thousands of these sites.
Ben: Yeah. And I just wonder how much of it is placebo effect because obviously there are people who feel better when they drink it. And you have to wonder how much happens when you actually believe that something you’re drinking is good for you.
Steve: Yeah. They’ve been quite few studies about the placebo effect. And it is real. There is no question that it is real. In fact, I just have a reference for you. But I heard just about a month ago that someone has come out with study showing when they give people pills which are labeled placebo. And they are told that they are placebos. They still seem to work in many cases.
Ben: I saw that too. That’s weird.
Steve: Yeah. Apparently placebos can relieve the symptoms about half of chronic conditions. And so it’s a very real thing. I think part of it is due to fact that people tend to, many of these conditions kind of come and go. They wax and wane with time. And they always tend to remember the times when things get better than when they get worse. But there’s no question that there’s a connection between our bodies and our mind. And this is an important thing, I think. And people could take better advantage of it and they do.
Ben: Now what about, because we have a lot of active individuals who listen in to the show who exercise a lot. And they want to have a lot of oxygen when they exercise and especially athletes. And even recreational exercisers or just everybody has been exposed to this oxygenated water that’s being sold now at grocery stores and on various websites. As far as oxygenated water, can you actually oxygenate water and does that work to give you some type of exercise enhancement benefit?
Steve: Well, you can certainly add oxygen gas to water. Just like when you add carbon dioxide to water to make carbonated water in sodas and so forth. The only difference though is oxygen is not very soluble in water. So, you can add some to water. And if you pressurize it, you can get a little bit more in the water. But when you drink it, it’s not going to do you much good because unless you happen to have gills. If you’re a fish it’s great because they get their oxygen directly from the water. From the oxygen that’s dissolved in the water. But I only took Physiology 100. And we never discussed anything other than getting oxygen through normal breathing. But that’s the way humans and mammals and most other organisms are designed to get their oxygen.
Ben: Well, I should tell you I studied Physiology up to the 500 level. And we still were not exposed to another way you can get oxygen other than breathing in that level, too.
Steve: My guess is that oxygen is not transmitted through the digestive system picked up by the intestines. The digestive system and particularly the small intestine specialize for transmitting amino acids and small molecules and mineral ions that are needed but not oxygen gas. And the other thing to note is the amount of oxygen you can get into a quarter of water, even if you pressurize it and then you drink that quarter water, the amount of oxygen that you’re consuming is less than you could get just by taking an extra deep breathe every once in a while. So, this is purely a marketing scheme. Or maybe a marketing scam, the way I look at it. But again, it sounds good. Oxygen is good, we know. Water is good. So what could be better than oxygenated water? And if they structure it at the same time, that’s even better.
Ben: Now, how about water filter? Do you use a water filter?
Steve: No, I don’t. I did it at Vancouver, Canada where we get our water from mostly snow melt. So, there’s very little in the water to worry about. And not many people here filter their water. If I lived in some other metropolitan area particularly where the water comes from streams or wells, I might want to do some filtration. In general, my feeling is a good deactivated carbon filter. I think one of the brands is Britta. And I’m sure there are other brands. It’s probably about as good as any for people who say or worry about chlorination by-products or chlorine itself that sort of thing. And my general recommendation is that there’s something very specific that your water can do. If you’re in an area where there’s lots of arsenic in the ground water and you use wells, you might want to have some filters that specifically remove that arsenic. But in most cases, it’s not too much of a problem. And by the way, there is one of my websites on drinking water. There’s a reference to New York Times. You can type in the name of the county in which you live in the U.S. And it’ll tell you what the analysis of the water is, what particular bad things are in that water. So I recommend that people use that if they live in the U.S.
Ben: Yeah. That’s actually something that I’m going through right now. I have a well being dug. And I’m going through the process of putting in a filtration system for that just because there are so many things like iron, and nitrates and things of that nature in the water. Now, I have one other question for you. And that is about another popular form of water that I’ve been seeing quite a bit of. And that’s this water that gets a vibrator. It gets put into like this vortex and spins around like a pitcher. What’s the deal behind that?
Steve: There’s one semi-scientific one. And that is if you create the turbulence, is produced by a vortex, you can maybe remove a little bit of carbon dioxide from the water. And make it a little less acidic. So, normal water that’s pouring from rain is nothing like pure. Even in an unpolluted region, it has carbon dioxide in it. So, its ph maybe down around five or seven, it’s neutral ph. So, all natural waters, all water that falls from the air and in the unpolluted air tends to be somewhat acidic. And so the vortex removes a bit of CO2. But that’s trivial. It’s virtually of no importance. The more popular form of vortex treated waters allude to all kind of mysterious affects which as far as I know have never been substantiated. I don’t know too much about the details. But there’s just an awful lot of sugo-science about vortexes. Again, vortexes sound kind of mysterious. That always attracts all kinds of cooks and cranks. And so, there‘s a lot of that but it’s not too important to think right now, I think, in the general scheme of things.
Ben: Gotcha! Well your website is very comprehensive over at ChemOne.com. And I know that for some people, we’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of what they want to know about water and about all these different kinds of water like ionized water and energized water and oxygenated water and vortex water. But you’ve done a very good job talking quite thoroughly about those from a chemistry perspective on your websites. So, I encourage those who are listening right now who want more information, and I’ll link to this in the show notes, to go to ChemOne.com and check that out.
Steve: Probably a quicker way to get to it is to google the structured water or ionized water or whatever you’re interested in, and that’ll get to the website. It usually comes up just about one of the first few of the google results right under a few of the advertisements, the paid ones and or just aqua scams which is the actual name of the website. That’s probably the easiest way to get to it. ChemOne.com actually has quite a few other sites also to see with it.
Ben: Perfect! Alright so, aqua scams, go google aqua scams. Alright well Dr. Lauer, I want to thank you for giving your time today and coming on the call to talk to us about water.
Steve: Well, it’s been my pleasure. I’ve been happy to have contributed.
Ben: Alright folks, until next time, this is Ben Greenfield and Dr. Steve Lauer signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
Ben: So, I’ll put a link to Steve’s website right there on the show notes to this episode, Episode #151. And be sure to check out all the other special announcements like the free Eating for Endurance seminar coming this Friday. The new Shape21 on Facebook. The shoulder pain solved program. And of course, the ability for you to donate a dollar to keep this podcast going. So check all that out. And remember of course, if you want insider access to my wife and I for all of your health and lifestyle questions, you can simply listen in to the announcement at the end of this podcast. So, until next time, this is Ben Greenfield signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
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