Episode #338 – Full Transcript

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast #338 from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2015/11/338-how-to-lower-high-cortisol-the-groundbreaking-high-fat-endurance-study-what-causes-low-hrv-more


Introduction: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness show: How To Lower High Cortisol, The Ground-breaking High-Fat Endurance Study, What Causes Low HRV, Cardio Before Weights Or Weights Before Cardio, and much more!

He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that for natural movement, get out there! When you’re working all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest effort to see…”  All the information you need in one place right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.

Rachel:    So Ben, you got the World’s Toughest Mudder happening this weekend.

Ben:  Mmm-hmm.

Rachel:    How are you feeling about it?

Ben:  Yeah.  Well, let me give you a little bit of an idea of what my home looks like right now.  I have a crap-load of gear, it looks like I’m like moving to…

Rachel:    (chuckles)

Ben:  Timbuktu or like the far reaches of Siberia right now, so.

Rachel:    Uh-huh.

Ben:  On my kitchen table – let me just go through my pack-list with you: sleeping bag, blankets, thermo silver blankets, knee sleeves, bottles, sunscreen, 3 pairs of shoes, 3 pairs of socks, 3 pairs of liners, chamois cream, windbreaker, thermo vest, bulk water, electrolytes, tights, gloves, 2 headlamps, extra batteries, blister treatment, hand and foot warmers, towels, band-aids, anti chafing cream, portable phone charger, wetsuit, hoodie, alcohol wipes, antiseptic spray, sharpie, zip ties, lip balm, trash bags, knee pad, getters for shoes, goggles and few other random items, and we didn’t even get into all of the nutrition that I’m bringing.  So it is quite a chore to pack for this thing.

Rachel:    Insane!  Oh my gosh!  So will you actually be sleeping?

Ben:  Me?

Rachel:    Yeah!

Ben:  Oh no.  No…

Rachel:    So why have the sleeping bag?

Ben:  absolutely not, for my wife!

Rachel:    Oh. (laughs)

Ben:  She’s my Sherpa.

Rachel:    Oh, I see.  I see.

Ben:  Yeah.

Rachel:    Oh.

Ben:  And if any of our listeners, either have no clue to World’s Toughest Mudders or if you wanna follow all the action, couple of things: first of all, for those of you in the U.S.A, on Saturday morning, I’ll be texting out all the links and everything to track the race and you can text the word FITNESS to 411247, and that’s my free little text club that I send out little text out.  Sometimes I just drunk dial you on a Saturday night…

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  But most of the time it’s useful information, so you can do that.  You text FITNESS to 411247 or you can check out the Facebook page because Rachel, I know you’re gonna be posting some stuff up on there.

Rachel:    Yup, definitely.  Jessa is gonna be sending us photos, so we will be posting them on Instagram and Facebook and we’re gonna be posting the link to live of follow the race, the morning of.

Ben:  Quite epic.

Rachel:    Yes.

Ben:  Quite epic.  I’ll be going for 90 plus miles, four times.

Rachel:    Ninety plus miles… wow!

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. So anyways, speaking of which, let’s talk about cortisol, etc., shall we?

News Flashes:

Ben:  So Rachel, you were not a podcast co-host/sidekick when I went through this protocol, but basically, 2 years ago I followed a high-fat ketogenic 90% plus fat diet for 12 months, and then I went into a lab at University of Connecticut where I ran on a treadmill for 3 hours and they cut muscle using biopsy out of my thighs…

Rachel:    Oh my gosh.

Ben:  …to basically – and a ton of blood work to analyze what happens when you follow a low carb, high fat diet for an extended period of time to your fuel utilization during exercise.  So the cool thing is, people have been asking me so much what happened, what are the study results, well the study just came out.

Rachel:    Wow!

Ben:  It’s actually, really, really interesting.  The concept that the diet that’s high in carbohydrate is necessary for optimizing your exercise performance, sometimes it’s been around since the 60’s.

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  And basically, what happen is back in the 60’s, they discovered that muscle glycogen depletion.  So exhaustion of your muscles carbohydrates stores was associated with fatigue.


Rachel:    Okay.

Ben:  And they also found out that high carb diet maintains that muscle glycogen and maintains that performance.  And so now, here we are decades later and there’s tons of evidence that has accumulated that’s supports consuming carbohydrate before, during and after exercise.  It’s kind of like one of the fueling paradigms that we follow in a range of sports, you know, from hockey to soccer to marathoning to the World’s Toughest Mudder.  So the idea here is that there actually is no zero essential requirements for dietary carbohydrate because the human body actually has this really cool capacity to adapt to low carb availability.  So what that means is that when you are starved or when your glycogen levels significantly decreased or when carbohydrates are not available, you produce what’s called hepatic ketone production; it’s a production of ketones by your liver that increases dramatically to displays glucose as your brain’s primary energy source…

Rachel:    Hmm.

Ben:  And then what happens is fatty acid supply the majority of energy for skeletal muscle.  How can this occur? Well basically, it comes down to a combination of lactic acid that you produce and also the glycerol backbone of fats being burnt by muscle as a fuel.  Basically, you create your own carbohydrate when you don’t have an exogenous source of carbohydrate; you have a little carbohydrate producing machineries in your body that make glucose.

Rachel:    Right.

Ben:  So basically, they took us into lab to see exactly what happens to the body when you do restrict carbohydrates.  Can you actually achieve just as good performance and what else happens.  Well, the paper is very long.  It’s – but it’s not that hard to read, it’s not that propeller hat-ish and…

Rachel:    Okay.

Ben:  I will link to it in the show notes, I’m gonna keep it a mystery what happens…

Rachel:    Oh, come on!

Ben:  And potentially I may do a full-on podcast with the lead researcher in the study – Dr. John Bullock, but essentially what it comes down to is he, the researchers, they really kind of re-wrote the textbooks when it comes to fat burning and carb burning.  And I would especially challenge anyone who’s very interested in carbs, ketone production and how the body actually produces energy from fat even in the absence of carbohydrate, go read the discussion section of this particular study, it’s all free, the discussion section is actually quite enlightening – if that’s the correct word to use.  And yeah, if you want a bit of fun reading over the weekend, check it out: we’ll link to it in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/338.  Alright, next up, speaking of cardio-vascular exercise and ungodly amounts of time spent in a treadmill during loops of the World’s Toughest Mudder, another study came out that is the – first is, it’s been out in a long time that looks at like the whole cardio versus weights versus weights versus cardio.  Did I chose the word ‘versus’ too many times?

Rachel:    That is too many times, yeah you did.  That’s okay (chuckles).

Ben:  I think so.  Yeah.  So I get this question a lot, especially when it comes to fat-loss, do you do the cardio first or the weights first?

Rachel:    Hmm.

Ben:  And up until this point, the research that existed was primarily done by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning or a period in Journal of Strength and Conditioning.  And what it showed was that order didn’t seem to matter, so most of the studies at this point were done in inactive sedentary people and the particular research study that was the biggest one done up to this point was done about a year and a half ago.  And they put these two different sets of ladies through 8 weeks of exercise and were stay either to get endurance first or strength first and they found that ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you do strength or cardio first if your goal is just fat loss.

Rachel:    Okay.

Ben:  But this most recent study in which they looked at overweight men found that when comparing cardio versus strength versus strength versus cardio – there, I did it again, what happens when you look at leptin which is the marker of appetite and fat-burning regulation, and they looked at testosterone, they looked at cortisol, they looked at body fat, they found there wasn’t a really significant difference for cortisol or for testosterone.  But what they did find was that both groups experienced a significant decrease in body fat and the weights before cardio, weight lifting before cardio, they came off slightly better in the fat-loss category.

Rachel:    How slight is slightly?

Ben:  And actually, it wasn’t super significant but it was enough to test for significance in the actual study, so.

Rachel:    Okay.


Ben:  Ultimately, if your goal is weight loss purely, you’re gonna be better off doing weight lifting first, like warming up during your weight lifting and then do the cardio-vascular exercise after.  Probably because the weight lifting depletes some your muscle glycogens stores, and then you turn the fatty acids to utilize during the cardio.  You know, if you’re to do like a series of weight lifting sets followed by let’s say, 20 minutes on a bike or treadmill or something like that.  Now the thing is though, when it comes to both of these studies that were done inactive sedentary overweight people, and so we can’t necessarily extrapolate this to act of populations but there was one other study that was done way back in 2008, back when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, whatever that phrase goes – is that how it goes? Knee-high to a grasshopper?

Rachel:    I’m not sure, but 2008…

Ben:  I don’t remember.  Yeah, way back in 2008.  And what they found was that in more active people combining strength in cardio during the same workout, meaning doing like a set of back to back strength exercises, let’s say overhead press to a squat followed by a brief burst of cardio like 30 to 60 seconds of jumping rope, and then going back in to back to back strength exercises back to cardio burst so to speak, is superior when it comes to fat loss…

Rachel:    Mmm!

Ben:  …to just doing weights or just doing cardio.  So ultimately, what it looks like here is in overweight women it doesn’t seem to matter, in overweight men, weights before cardio seems to matter, and active people mixing it all up in one big jumble seems to be the best solution for fat loss.

Rachel:    Oh, there you go!

Ben:  Yeah.  But obviously, fat loss is not like necessarily the holy grail for people…

Rachel:    Right.

Ben:  For example, if you’re goal is a really good biomechanics and getting as strong as possible, you should definitely do your weights first before you’re exhausted by cardio, but if you’ll say a runner who’s really working on form, and efficiency, and economy, you don’t wanna go running after you gone a bunch of like dead lifts or squats.

Rachel:    Right.

Ben:  So in a case like that, you separate the two or you do cardio before weights.  So, ultimately, that’s the skinny on the cardio and the weights.  And then the last thing I wanted to mention was a ‘Buyer beware warning’…

Rachel:    Uh-oh.

Ben:  …about probiotics.

Rachel:    Oh!

Ben:  They did a study on probiotics to see if the probiotics were antibiotic resistant, which is really interesting and I’m not quite sure if it’s that meaningful for folks to know if they’re probiotics are antibiotic resistant unless they’re I guess, taking probiotics and antibiotics simultaneously and even then it doesn’t really matter if the probiotics are antibiotic resistant ‘cause you wouldn’t wanna kill them anyways.  But more meaningful on this particular study, and I’ll link to that study in the show notes, was the fact that as part of the study they evaluated whether or not this probiotics even had all of the strains in them that they claimed to have in them, so.

Rachel:    Mmm.  What’s probiotics were they testing?

Ben:  There were 5 different strains from a variety of different manufacturers, they didn’t…

Rachel:    Okay.

Ben:  …list the actual manufacturers but they tested 5 different brands of probiotics, and they looked at all the different strains like lactobacillus and saccharomyces boulardii, and all these different you know, strange names that they give to the bacteria in the probiotics that you can never pronounce but that are actually on the label of most yoghurts if you read on the label.

Rachel:    Right, yup!

Ben:  And what they found was that mostly yoghurt – not yoghurt manufacturers, the probiotic manufacturers, when you look at the parts per billion or million of probiotics that they claimed to have, they fell far short and some of them barely contain any live bacteria whatsoever…

Rachel:    Awww.

Ben:  …in terms of viable active bacteria which means that not only are most the good bacteria dead before they even get to your small intestine, they’re dead before you even open a package.

Rachel:    Aww, wow.

Ben:  Very important when you’re getting probiotics that you pay attention to whether or not it was heated or heat stable, if it’s a spore forming probiotic, there’s a lot of consideration when it comes to probiotics.

Rachel:    So is it worth buying them at all?

Ben:  I think that your best bet is a.) to get dirty – meaning…

Rachel:    Get them yourself.

Ben:  Avoid antibacterial hand soaps…

Rachel:    Ohhh.

Ben:  …avoid frequent showering with lots of soap, get out in nature, have pets, spend time with kids, expose yourself to wide variety of bacteria fermented foods: kimchi, kombucha, I think chocolate is fermented food, too.

Rachel:    Yey!

Ben:  Yeah.  And then when it comes to probiotics, you know what I do is I use them when I travel because I don’t have access to a lot of fermented foods and I’ll either use a soil-based organism.


There’s one called Prescript-Assist for example, there’s another one that I recently talked about on Facebook ‘cause we did like a little giveaway and promo this stuff called Black Water.  And that’s also like water with soil-based organisms in it, and they sell a powder too, but that’s one option – soil-based organism.  The other is heat stable spore forming probiotics and that would be for example the advanced Caprabiotics is one, we’ve got a few of them in the Greenfield Fitness Systems ‘cause I evaluate pretty rigorously whether or not the actual studies that show that the bacteria are alive when they hit your gut.  And the ones I have at Greenfield Fitness Systems I’ll vouch for.  But one is the Thorne probiotic, another one is Caprabiotics Advanced, and then you’ve got this soil-based organisms that which are basically they could’ve going on your backyard and licking dirt, but with none of the pucker factor.  Anyways, what it comes down to is don’t just freakin’ use any old probiotic you know, off the counter and by the way, shout out to my friend Rich Roll.  I noted that he recently had a fantastic interview on the microbiome in the gut on his podcast and so – I don’t know which number it is, but if you go listen to Rich Roll’s recent podcast on the benefits of getting dirty in the germ with the microbiome, he’s got some good information on there too.  He interviewed a physician for a couple of hours and it’s quite good, so there you go, there’s everything that you need to know about bacteria.

Rachel:    And you can receive these news flashes and more including a bunch of awesome giveaways every single day, if you follow Ben at Twitter.com/BenGreenfieldInstagram.com/BenGreenfieldFitness and Facebook.com/BGFitness, sorry for all of the different URLs. (chuckles)

Special Announcements:

Ben:  So, if you know someone in your life who is fat then you should forward this podcast to them, so there you go, just offended a bunch of fat people.  No seriously though, I mean, who doesn’t want to get lean and stay lean? And recently, on our newsletters are some of a bunch of my own tips for staying lean like setting my clock and letting it run for 12 hours after I finish dinner at night before I eat again or you know, taking cold shower – morning and evening – making sure that I move, walk, do something for at least 5 minutes after every single meal, give out a  bunch of tips, but the reason that I did that was in celebration of the Fat Loss Summit that’s going on right now.  So real quick, what it is, is my friend Yuri Elkaim, he’s got a bunch of kinda like underground fat loss secrets going on like Russian and the mixed martial arts training principles for fat loss, gut-healing plans that turn you from sugar burner to fat burner, how to like tweak your nervous system to lose weight faster, a really, really good summit going on.  So you can check that out at bengreenfieldfitness.com/fatlosssummit, it’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/fatlosssummit and I believe Rachel, we’ve been getting some good feedback from people on the Facebook page, right?

Rachel:    Yeah.  Well, this week we’ve actually been posting Fat Loss Lies, 1 per day and we had our last one posted I think on Sunday, and we had some really great feedback: a lady jumped in and said, “They have been so helpful and motivating.  Thank you so much.”, so just love to just see it further.

Ben: Nice. So you can check out the conference bengreenfieldfitness.com/fatlosssummit, lots of juicy fat loss dose.  Speaking of fat loss, this podcast is brought to you by Texas Superfood – Texas Superfood – and what that is, is it this little pill that’s like a meal in a pill, it’s like a turkey dinner all right there in a pill.

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  Fifty-five fresh, raw, vine-ripe fruits and vegetables, you get probiotics, you get digestive enzymes, you get it all in just a little pill.  So if you have like food cravings or you just wanna mega dose all your nutrients, it’s not really like eating bunch of turkey and cranberry, it’s more of like getting vegetables.  So super convenient way to travel.  I should probably pack some of those for the World’s Toughest Mudder

Rachel:    You should and…

Ben:  …just in case.

Rachel:    they come in powder as well, right?

Ben:  Yes.

Rachel:    For the people that hate taking tablets.

Ben:  Yes, and powder tablets, etc.  Actually one of the things too that I did want to mention, actually, let me give you the Texas Superfood info first, texassuperfood.com – texassuperfood.com.  You use promo code ‘ben’ and you get 10% off this stuff.


And like you said, Rachel, you can get the capsule, you get the powder, you get the stick cap stir it in a tea, stir it into I don’t know, smoothie, coffee, you name it – you can make a Texas Superfood Coffee Latte Frappuccino.

Rachel:    Mmmm.

Ben:  Anyways though, I was mentioning World’s Toughest Mudder, I also wanted to let folks know ‘cause I get a lot of questions about what I use to fuel long events…

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  …like this, and of the things that I’ll be using, kinda like the main crucible of my nutrition during that event is called the Natty Stack.

Rachel:    Hmm, what’s the Natty Stack?

Ben:  The Natty Stack is a stack of 3 things, it’s made by this company called NaturalForce, so we’ll put a link in the show notes, how’s about that? We’ll put a link in the show notes to Natural Stacks for you but basically, you use discount code ‘ben10’, we’ll put all these in the show notes.  And you get a coconut aminos which are like electrolytes and coconut powder, and you get a raw tea which is like beet juice caffeine in Yerba Mate and then finally a chia seed-based blend, very similar what like the Tama-Mahar Indian tribe used.  I think I just butchered that name by the way, Ta-Taramuhara? Tarahumara, I don’t know.

Rachel:    I’m sorry, I don’t know.

Ben:  Yeah, I don’t know either of one.  Anyways though, what that crazy Indian tribe in Mexico use in the book of Born to Run, this is basically that stuff on steroids, ‘cause they had a bunch of like B-pollen and royal jelly, it’s really a kinda like a knock your socks off kind of powder that burns really clean, so, if you have a long event coming up like me, check out the Natty Stack and we’ll put a link to that in the show notes for you at bengreenfieldfitness.com/338.  And then finally, finally, yes we’re not done yet…

Rachel:    (chuckles)

Ben:  Harry’s.

Rachel:    Awww.

Ben:  So Harry’s, I don’t know if you knew this, they have a shave plan which means that, in no matter how frequently or infrequently you shave, they will deliver their shaving supplies, they’re German-engineered blades, ergonomic handles, foaming shave gel, their aftershave lotion which all the ladies love when I wear because it smells like a rustic man.  Anyways though, they’ll send all that to your door, and you get free shipping, and it starts at 3 bucks a month.  I’m not quite sure how this works ‘cause we’ve got a 5$ discount code for you, so maybe they pay you to use their shaving plan, I’m not quite sure.

Rachel:    That’s the case scenario.

Ben:  But you can use 5$ code ‘ben’ over at harrys.com.  I typically have to shave, I would say about once every 8 days or so like a little boy, I can pluck my chest hairs and rarely need to shave, it was a little but more often than that, but when I do shave I use the Harry’s razor, so check them out, harrys.com.

Rachel:    So when you say that they’ll just keep sending you razors for the same amount per month regardless of how much you need to shave.

Ben:  It’s like the shaving club.

Rachel:    Oh my gosh!

Ben:  Yeah.  So maybe the idea is if you really want to grow a lot more hair, all you guys out there, maybe if you get on a shaving plan, you’ll somehow convince your body to grow hair more readily.

Rachel:    I feel like that makes perfect sense.

Ben:  It makes perfect sense biologically, physiologically, scientifically…

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  This podcast is all about science!  So, shall we jump into the Q & A?

Rachel:    Let’s do it.

Ben:  Alright.

Listener Q & A:

Dean:  Hi Ben, it’s Dean from Australia, I got question about cortisol.  I’m a master’s athlete, I’m a road cyclist and I have a pretty high stress job, and I got one of those I guess ‘wound up’ personalities as well.  So the last couple of years, I’ve been in a cycle of everything going great then I get sick, it’s kind of reset, start again, try and try and try and get sick, reset, start again.  And I had a conversation with a good physiotherapist recently, he was talking about his experience with elevated cortisol levels and particularly the impact that stress in lifestyle and caffeine can have on the cortisol, and the end result being me suppressed in the immune system and getting sick on.  I do pretty much everything raw and that has a nutrition, and then try to sleep well but yeah, I guess I was wondering your thoughts on elevated cortisol and the impact it can have on getting sick while very fit.  And what can be done naturally to work early on that and particularly the role that caffeine may have cause I’m a bit of a, a little bit caffeine junkie.  Thanks guys, loving the show.

Ben:  Dean.  That sounds like a cousin of yours, Rachel.

Rachel:    Mmm-hmm.  It is my bro from another mo (laughs).

Ben:  That’s right.  It’s what you say over and over at the Land of Oz.


Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  Yeah.  I can speak a little Oz.  So anyways, cortisol – cortisol, cortisol – this a topic near and dear to my heart because I have personally struggled a bit with hypocortisolism or high cortisol, hypercortisolism not hypocortisolism.  Hypercortisolism, many times, on blood test that I’ve done and for me it’s related to an act of lifestyle, what I mean by that is I live pretty low stress.  I love my relationships…

Rachel:    Yeah.

Ben:  I shave with great shaving equipment that is just Harry’s.

Rachel:    You live in a beautiful home that’s in fully detoxed.

Ben:  And surrounded by nature and I don’t get a lot of WiFi, stuff like that, but I do send my body to hell and back almost every day with the workout.

Rachel:    Like this weekend!

Ben:  Yeah.  Like I’ve got tough workouts and then like every – at least every two weeks I’m doing something that’s scares the hell out of me…

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  when it comes to just like putting my body through the wringer.  And no matter how healthy you are, how much you sleep, how good your diet is, how good your relationships are, etc., even as something as simple as just pushing your body above and beyond what are you know, hunter, gatherer, farmer ancestors would’ve done when it comes to low level physical activity throughout the day, that can dump a lot of cortisol into your body.  And is it’s just this uphill battle athletes always have to follow, it’s the reason that I will probably after the World’s Toughest Mudder, be taking in good month that some point just super duper easy.

Rachel:    Just chillin’ out.

Ben:  You know, yoga, sitting in the grass in my backyard, staring off into space.

Rachel:    (chuckles)

Ben:  Had a goat, hold the chicken, just basically…

Rachel:    Take in some CBD.

Ben:  That’s right, that’s right.  So anyways, yeah, big, big old long blade grass stickin’ out of my mouth, chillin’ out there with my farmer’s hat on, anyways though, yes.  So cortisol is something that we all have to deal a little bit and just kind of a couple quick things on cortisol, I know that most of you could just like go to the Wikipedia page for cortisol and know exactly what it is and what it does.  But before we jump into caffeine and cortisol, and also cortisol in the immune system, basically cortisol is what’s called a glucocorticoid –it’s also known as hydrocortisone.  Which is why when you get a cortisone injection, sometimes you get super stressed out and you grit your teeth and you’re up all night you know, for these people who’ve gotten like injections in their knees for example, or another swollen joints because it just dumps a bunch of cortisol unto your body and cortisol is produced in your adrenal cortex in response to stress.  It’s made from cholesterol which is why a few on very, very low fat diet, you don’t have enough cholesterol, you actually can have trouble waking up in the morning because cortisol is what butch you out of bed…

Rachel:    Yeah.  Mmm-hmm.

Ben:  …and we get that big peaking course around 8 am.  Ironically, coffee causes you to have a big cortisol dump.  It’s very strange how we drink a cortisol inducing stimulant at the same time that our cortisol levels are naturally the highest…

Rachel:    Very high.

Ben:  ..during the day.

Rachel:    Yeah.

Ben:  It’s kinda, kind of odd but you know.

Rachel:    Yeah.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s – coffee is also a digestive, it’s got anti-oxidants, it does some things for your brain so you know, there are other benefits to a morning cup of coffee but it is a little bit strange.  It seems like lunch time, right? or after lunch would be…

Rachel:    Afternoon would be like…

Ben:  …a better time of the day.

Rachel:    Yes.

Ben:  Yeah, all the research studies that have been done on coffee and its ability to restrict wakefulness or restrict sleep and restrict deep sleep patterns or deleterious effects circadian rhythm, they’ve all shown that as long as you’re kinda finished up with coffee by approximately 3 hours before bed time, it’s not that big of a deal.  But I’ve – but yeah, I have always thought that it’s strange that we drink coffee you know, as a society, at the same time, that we are already producing our natural wakefulness hormone.  So cortisol helps you deal with stress which is great, so for example, stimulates gluconeogenesis which basically is the making of the new glucose specifically in your liver.  So, cortisol actually uses amino acids, lactic acid, glycerol and something called propionate to create glucose in your liver, and then what happens is it also causes glycogenolysis.  So at the same time that it helps your liver to make new glucose, it also helps you to break down glycogen that’s stored in your liver and your muscle cells and that’s put glucose in your bloodstream which you can use to run from the lion.  So…

Rachel:    Uh-huh.

Ben:  It also inhibits insulin from shuttling glucose into cells, so it keeps glucose hanging around out in cells so you can just access it a little bit more readily when it comes to need and to fight stress.  Now that’s what cortisol does from an energetic standpoint, but it affects other things too, like bone and muscles, so cortisol inhibits the uptake of amino acids into muscle cells which means that if your cortisol is very, very high for too long, it can be very difficult to fuel muscles because you’ve already got cortisol lowering insulin and at the same time, you’ve got cortisol inhibiting the uptake of other nutrients in the muscle cells.


So your muscles have a very hard time getting both amino acids as well as glucose when you have high levels of cortisol.  It also inhibits again, in excess, it inhibits bone formation and decreases calcium absorption in your intestines, so both your muscles and your bones can suffer from elevated excess cortisol.

Rachel:    Hmmm.

Ben:  Yeah.  Few other things that it does, it actually increases your sensitivity to epinephrine and also to norepinephrine, and what that means is it causes vasoconstriction or reduced blood flow in many parts of your body.  Primarily, so you can shunt blood flow to your core, to help you to survive and so in many cases, you’ll get like increased blood pressure, for example, especially because cortisol also serves as an anti-diuretic.  So it causes your body to retain sodium, and this is why high blood pressure is one of those things that we know goes hand in hand with high amounts of stress or high amounts of cortisol.

Rachel:    Right.

Ben:  Now there are some… Oh go ahead, go ahead.

Rachel:    Oh no, I’ve got my propeller hat on and I’m just piecing together.  Have you…

Ben:  Yeah, ‘cause I really want.

Rachel:    Yeah, it’s deep.

Ben:  I don’t know if I’ve really go into everything that cortisol does before on a podcast, so.

Rachel:    This is just juicy.

Ben:  Juicy.  I’ve got very low levels of T3.  I showed this on the recent blood test that I went through my entire blood panel on a recent blog post at bengreenfieldfitness.com, so that all the world can see how (curse word) my body is.

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  It’s actually not that bad, but there were 2 areas that were a little bit affected deleteriously by the amount of primarily physical stress that I put my body through.  One is T3, and one major reason for that is cortisol can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones and specifically, even if your thyroid gland is producing adequate T4 which is a precursor to T3, high amounts of cortisol inhibit that conversion of T4 to T3.  And the other thing that happens is cortisol can shut down the production of testosterone because the – your body doesn’t want to create babies in time of famine, stress, running from lions, etc.  So sex hormone binding globulin which binds the total testosterone and causes it to not be able to be available in its free active form is something that gets increased again in response to high amounts of cortisol.  So you’ve got basically shutting down the reproductive system and shutting down on the thyroid and the metabolic system.

Rachel:    Now when you say high cortisol, does it – is it kind of like chronically high cortisol?

Ben:  Mmm-hmm.

Rachel:    Like over an extended period of time?

Ben:  Over an extended period of time, exactly.

Rachel:    How long do you think that would be?

Ben:  It varies from person to person because genetically, if your ancestors were very hardy population, you’ll find that and then I’m just gonna throw population out here, I’m not saying this to be like racist or anything like that, but let’s say you’re like Jewish, right? You come from a lineage that has been exposed to high amounts of stress.

Rachel:    Right.

Ben:  Wars, famine, lots of moving, nomadic lifestyle, etc. and you would be able to handle a higher amount of cortisol for a higher period of time if genetically, that is your lineage at least theoretically.  Like that’s the way that it would work.

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  Whereas I don’t know, if you’re big, fat Samoan islander whose ancestors set around playing the ukulele and eating coconuts…

Rachel:    I can’t believe that’s what you think Samoans do.

Ben:  (laughs)

Rachel:    Samoans are hot asses.  They’ve become the majority of every ______ [0:33:58.4].

Ben:  I love, I love all our Samoan listeners but anyways, so the answer is it really does truly depend, you know those people.  Like my wife for example, so it comes from this hard Montana ranch line, right? And she can just – she can go all day whereas I need a nap, like you know…

Rachel:    Yeah, yeah.

Ben:  Just different strokes for different folks.  So the other interesting thing because I’ve also struggled in the past with gut issues, and I know a lot of our listeners do have these issues as well, but cortisol causes an increase in gastric acid production.  And when this occurs chronically, that can lead to things like acid reflux and it can cause other problems in your small intestine, and the decrease blood flow from the increased sensitivity to epinephrine and norepinephrine, part of the decreased blood posture GI tract.  Your body doesn’t want to digest food when you’re stressed out and so that can cause incredible problems with digestion, constipation, lack of nutrient absorption, a lot of other issues that people have to deal with and again, I know for me personally, the more stressed out I am the more I deal with things like gut issues or having to spend a long amount time at the toilet.


You know there’s things that you would think would… you kinda know theoretically that their response on stress but they’re actually biological things happening in your body.  Like decreased enzyme production, decreased hydrochloric acid production, decreased blood flow to the intestine that causes those issues.  Sympathetic nervous system activation you know, when pooping and digesting is all parasympathetic nervous system activation, so.

Rachel:    Mmm-hmm.

Ben:  So basically, I’m hoping I’ve convinced folks enough that you do not want to necessarily have chronically elevated cortisol levels, there were basically two things that Dean asked about the effects of caffeine on cortisol and also the effects of cortisol on the immune system.

Rachel:    Right.

Ben:  So the main thing with immunity is that if you’re stressed out, you do get sick more easily because high amounts of cortisol suppress your T-cells and these are important immune cells responsible for causing your immune system to be able to fight off infections, etc.  You’ll find a lot of times in people who are exercising chronically, very, very low white blood cell count, and this can go hand in hand with that low T-cell count and it’s a kind of a good 1,2 Combo for not being able to fight off infections very easily.

Rachel:    Right.

Ben:  Now granted, there are things that you can take to naturally increase white blood cell production or to improve your immunity.  So for example, Chaga mushroom extract is one that I’ve talked about before as a really, really good way to improve the activity of your immune system.  Astragalus is an herbal extract that’s also very good for the immune system, you’ll also – you’ll see everything from like Echinacea, to elderberry to, Vitamin C as things that can help out in a case of low immune function.  Some of those actually have research behind them, some of them are you know, alternative medical remedies that don’t have a great deal of research but a lot of anecdotal evidence.  You know, people who…

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  …you know, I know for me when I used elderberry and when I use Vitamin C, I use Chaga, I use a little bit of oregan0 if I’ve been around sick people or feel sickness coming on, and it does help quite a bit.  I used to get sick all the time, I just don’t anymore.  So that’s one thing when it comes to cortisol and you know, chronic exercise, etc. in general; especially endurance exercise seems to cause us a little bit more in strength based exercise.  You do get a suppression of the immune system and those are some of the things that you can do about it.  When it comes to coffee, you know the – you have to take in into consideration some of the things that I talked about already you know, the fact that in the morning I already producing a bunch of cortisol but caffeine has been shown to stimulate cortisol production that is undeniable.  And they’ve also found – this was a study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine back in 2005 – they found that regular coffee drinking can actually increase your tolerance to the effect of caffeine to induce a cortisol spike.  And so, what this means is that, this is probably the increase in cortisol’s probably more of an issue for a.) people who are drinking coffee, feeling far between and finding that you know, if they’re stressed out and you don’t drink coffee very much, you shouldn’t drink coffee if you’re stressed, period.  If you’re habitual coffee drinker, it may have a little bit less of a cortisol stimulating effect, so that’s one thing to bear in mind.  And then the other thing is that you know, part of this is of course the doses and the poison and small amounts of coffee are probably not as big of an issue as the folks who are drinking 3, 4, 5 cups of coffee during the day, and especially drinking coffee in the evenings.  So you know, that’s the main thing.

Rachel:    That’s a familiar cycle if you drink more coffee; you decrease your response to increasing your cortisol…

Ben:  Mmm-hmm.  Yeah.

Rachel:    But you need to drink less coffee in order to stop in the first place.

Ben:  Yeah, but that’s the deal with coffee in general, we become tolerant to its wakefulness effects, we become tolerant to its cortisol inducing effects.  Frankly, just you know, unfortunately, coffee just does less for you, period.

Rachel:    The more you drink it.  Yeah.

Ben:  The more you drink it, but you know, one of the things that coffee does do and this is interesting is has a peristaltic effect, meaning that it can in due some bowel movement in the morning, and I know that a lot of people use it just for that, to be able to you know…

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  …go to the bathroom and…

Rachel:    That is the way you use it, Ben, ‘cause we all know how much you love pooping.

Ben:  You know what? I actually, I do – first of all, I am now almost…

Rachel:    Let’s get deep into it.

Ben:  I’m almost 17 days into a no coffee and no alcohol.

Rachel:    Oh wow, yeah! How’s it going?

Ben:  Oh, I’m gonna have 8 freakin’ shots of expresso and a margarita after that World’s Toughest Mudder.

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  Gotta tear it up.  It’s actually going quite well, I feel great and oddly enough, I’ve actually been a little bit hungry when I wake up in the morning because I think I’m consuming like a 150 to 200 fewer calories in the evening from like a glass of wine.


And I didn’t really put anything else in to replace those calories and so it’s interesting.

Rachel:    Yeah.

Ben:  I’ve never really thought about how much those calories from alcohol add-up, and then the coffee? You know, I’m on like doing green tea with a little bit of Chaga mushroom, speaking of Chaga and yeah, I feel fine.

Rachel:    And how’s the morning poop?

Ben:  The morning poop doesn’t seem to have been deleteriously affected but again…

Rachel:    Oh, good.

Ben:  I’m drinking a nice big hot warm beverage of green tea so that may be replacing some of the effects of coffee.  And granted a green tea, it also has a little bit caffeine in it.  So that’s the deal with coffee and caffeine, and the immune system and cortisol, so ultimately, I really haven’t given Dean that mini-solutions and so I just wanna tell you a couple of things real quick.  I’m gonna put all of these references in the show notes for you over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/338.  If you do struggle with high cortisol, some of the best things that you can do: first of all, I’ve got an article called ‘Seven of the Best Ways To Stop Stress”.  I will link to this in the show notes for you, I’m not gonna get into a ton of detail on this, but the primary stress reducing activities because there are ton of them, but the ones that have been shown to have the most beneficial effect on reducing cortisol, and have been shown in clinical studies to reduce salivary levels of cortisol.  One would be breathing, okay? There are baroreceptors in your chest that respond to shallow chest breathing and produce cortisol in respond to that.

Rachel:    It’s so incredible that something so fundamental could have such a profound effect.

Ben:  Mmm-hmm.  Yeah

Rachel:    Just breathe.  Deeply.

Ben:  Deep diaphragmatic nasal breathing, and turning that into daily habit, that’s why I love starting off your day with yoga because you set that habit, you set that pattern, you know, and I start off everyday with 10 to 15 minutes of yoga.  Just so I do a lot of these deep nasal breathing.

Rachel:    And I also find that when you get used to breathing that way, you notice when your breathing then becomes quite shallow which is a sign of being stressed which enables you to be able actually tell when you’re stressed and minimize it.

Ben:  Yeah.  And there’s always like I don’t use any of these apps or like straps that you wear like the tech shallow chest breathing, etc., I just don’t ‘cause I like to be a little bit more unplugged during the day, but there are tools out there that you could look into for that type of thing.  And by the way, if you are listening in and you have any breathing tools that you personally like to use, let Dean know in the comments, and we can pass that information on to him, so leave a comment if you have something helpful to add.  Meditation is the second thing in addition to breathing…

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  …and obviously meditation in many cases incorporates breathing. It’s gonna be number two, whether it’s transcendental, whether it’s mindfulness meditation, whether it’s you know, moving meditation like a very easy swim or something like that.  There are variety of ways to skin that cat, but meditation also good science behind that.  Yoga, you’re noticing a little bit of a pattern here…

Rachel:    Interesting.

Ben:  I’ll incorporate breathing although very light restorative, so yoga and also, yoga’s Chinese sister – I’m just making that up…

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  Tai Chi, so either yoga or Tai Chi, or both have been shown again to decrease salivary cortisol.  There’s a really good DVD called ‘Tai Chi for Beginners’, I own it and I’ll just take that in every once in a while and watch it – it’s just this old Chinese dude in like this white, cool, full in outfit walking through these different moves like the crane, and you know these little animal esque movements…

Rachel:    Just looking…

Ben:  …very much like the old guys in the park.

Rachel:    just so serene.  Just pure serenity.

Ben:  Yeah, exactly.  It is actually as quite calming.

Rachel:    Yeah!

Ben:  So neurofeedback using coherence, this is another one that you can do and there is this technique – I’ll just give you the URL, go heartmath.org and you can learn something called ‘The Quick Coherance Technique’.

Rachel:    Hmmm!

Ben:  It’s simply a matter of thinking of something that you’re grateful for, something that you love, closing your eyes, placing that into your heart, breathing into the center of your chest, taking a moment to reflect upon that and then moving on.  But you can tie that into biofeedback, meaning that Heartmath they have a hardware that you can purchase, and you attach a little clip to your ear and analyzes your heart rate variability at the same time, you’re going through all these thought patterns and coherence and you can do things like make flowers grow in the computer screen as you’re –

Rachel:    Wow.

Ben:  …as you’re learning to consciously control your nervous system.  It’s pretty cool stuff.

Rachel:    That sounds awesome. 


Ben:  Yeah.  And so I’ll link to that article in which I talked about more thoroughly about how to do that, but that would be another of the stress reducing methods and then finally, last and I’ll throw out you here, and again, check out the article for all the details on this stuff.  Sleep and that’s it, that’s a biggie and what happens it’s very interesting a lot of times, we will get very busy and throw in some exercise, throw in a new hobby, throw in some relationships, etc., short a little sleep here, a little sleep there and pretty soon it adds up very quickly.

Rachel:    Yeah.

Ben:  So sleep is a biggie.  You know my pattern almost every day? Is 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night – I’m one of those 10 p.m. to bed, 6 a.m. up kind of guys.

Rachel:    Mmm-hmm.  Yeah.

Ben:  And then a quick snooze after lunch.  That’s pretty much every day for me, and I’ve been putting in a little bit of extra sleep in the bank this week just because I know I’m not gonna be sleeping much…

Rachel:    Yeah, this weekend.

Ben:  …this weekend.  You’re running and jumping off cliffs in the water.  And then supplements, I get a lot of questions about this, remember you cannot out-supplement a stressful lifestyle but there some things that I do recommend for anyone dealing with high levels of cortisol.  I’m gonna throw them out to you pretty quick here but Chinese adaptogenic herbs like TianChi is the one that I like – those can help you to lower cortisol when cortisol is high…

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  …or raise it when cortisol is low.  High levels of cortisol and stress do a very good job exhausting your adrenal glands of minerals, so high electrolyte intake and mineral intake via things like seat salt and liquid minerals, that’s also a very good solution.  You go through Vitamin D much more quickly when you’re stressed out, and so taking anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 IU of Vitamin D a day.  Vitamin C, your adrenals and also a storehouse for Vitamin C so anywhere again from a 1,000 to 5,000 mg of Vitamin C a day, and then finally, because cortisol causes a histamine release that increases inflammation, some kind of a fish oil can be quite helpful as well – these are all the type of things you’d use for adrenal stress, adrenal fatigue, etc.  The very, very last resource I wanna give you is the most comprehensive book I ever read on cortisol, written by a friend of mine, Sean Talbolt.  It’s called ‘The Cortisol Connection’ book and just a quick read, grab it off of Amazon, I’ll put a link to that in the show notes as well but yeah, there’s – you know, we can obviously do a 3-hour podcast on cortisol.

Rachel:    Yeah.

Ben:  But those are the biggies.  Dean, I hope that’s helpful for you.  And again if any of you who are listening in, you have your comments or you have own tips to share, go bengreenfieldfitness.com/338 and share the love.

Ryan:  Hi Ben, this is Ryan Walker, I’m from Mobile, Alabama.  I love the podcast, addicted to the podcast, share it with everybody.  I have a question I’ve been dying to ask for the longest time now, my mother – or my grandmother on my mother’s side was a paranoid schizophrenic.  When I found this out, I was absolutely terrified that I might struck to display symptoms and develop schizophrenia myself.  I’m 24 years old, I haven’t displayed any paranoid delusions or symptoms, however I can be paranoid at times but I think rightfully so.  I was hoping that maybe you could give me some a list of things that I can stay away from, lifestyle factors to avoid any epigenetic expression such as you know, food, staying away from stress.  I heard that stress can be an issue, so I’ve tried managing stress through some TM in the morning, so I do 20 minutes transcendental meditation, try to manage stress that way.  Another thing would be foods, I have heard which this maybe complete BS but that cow’s milk or you know, cow dairy may actually contribute to the expression of that genes. So I don’t know if that’s true, if not, please clarify and please just give me a list of this lifestyle factors to stay away from or some things that you even implement to mitigate the potential effects of the onset schizophrenia.  Thank you, bye bye.

Ben:  This is an interesting question.

Rachel:    Isn’t it?

Ben:  I don’t know that we’ve talked about that much about schizophrenia on the show, and I should point out that I’m not a doctor nor am I a psychiatrist, nor do I wear a lab coat, nor do I do frontal lobotomies on anyone…

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  …ever, never done that.  Not even on a pet, so…

Rachel:    So, talk to your doctor.

Ben:  Talk to your doctor. However, there is pretty much unanimous agreement among experts that schizophrenia develops as a result of the interplay between biological predispositions, inheriting certain genes basically and the kind of environment that you get exposed to.

Rachel:    Yes.

Ben:  And so you are definitely born with, depending on parental factors, a higher risk for schizophrenia genetically or lower risk as the case may be, and then your epigenetic environment or the kind of triggers that you pull for environmental standpoint can then – it further increase the risk that genetic predisposition to schizophrenia is going to develop into it, actually manifesting itself.


So this is just a simple case of nature versus nurture some in you know, for example, there was one study that this is not schizophrenia, this is more like a aggression and criminality.  But this is back in 2002, they identified this gene called the MAOA gene and they term this – the scientist term this ‘violence gene’, and what they found was that it was associated with aggression and criminal activity and that people have this gene, had a higher than normal risk of growing up to be anti-social or violent but this is only if they were neglected or abused as children.

Rachel:    Right.

Ben:  So if they had this violent gene but they also had a loving, non-abusive family, they turned out just fine, so you know, that’s just you know, one example of the nature versus nurture type of thing.  With schizophrenia, you know, an example of various schizophrenia, for example, there is one pretty recent research study that showed that people who have multiple copies of version of the gene associated with schizophrenia and who smoked marijuana or used cannabis, they increase the risk of developing schizophrenia by 1000%.

Rachel:    Wow.  That’s huge.

Ben:  So that would be one example of something that you should definitely avoid if you have genetic predisposition schizophrenia, this is because of the interplay between marijuana and dopamine receptors.  We just published or about to publish an article on this from the Examine Research Digest, if you wanna dig in to dopamine, schizophrenia and marijuana a little bit more, Rachel that’s going live on the Facebook page this week.

Rachel:    I think it might be live already.

Ben:  Okay, cool.  So…

Rachel:    I think it’s today.

Ben:  If you wanna read that whole article for free on dopamine, schizophrenia and marijuana, go to facebook.com/BGFitness, that’s facebook.com/BGFitness.  So we know that weed is one issue when it comes to development of schizophrenia if you have a genetic predisposition to it.  A lot of the research that’s been done on schizophrenia unfortunately, for our dear listener Ryan, has been done on what the mother does while she’s pregnant with you – everything from alcohol and lead exposure causing increase for schizophrenia, to expose you to like genital herpes during pregnancy, a toxoplasmosis which is basically you know, like your mom having a cat which is kinda interesting, but cats carry a toxoplasmosis gene and they found that if your mom has exposure to that while she’s pregnant with you, and you have the gene for schizophrenia, it could increase your risk for developing it later on in life.

Rachel:    How bizarre.

Ben:  I know.

Rachel:    That is so bizarre.

Ben:  But if you Google the term ‘cat lady, schizophrenia’ there actually is some evidence that women who spent a lot of time around cats, who have the gene for schizophrenia tend to develop that because a lot of cats will carry this toxoplasmosis gene.  I’m serious, take a deep dive into that one on the Googles.

Rachel:    Gosh.

Ben:  Yeah. Low folic acid levels during pregnancy, low choline availability during pregnancy, like low amounts of fish oil, but I know that is probably just kind of like a depressing topic for you if you’re listening in and you aren’t able to go back in like being born again.

Rachel:    Yeah.

Ben:  So what can you do?

Rachel:    Finding out what to do while she’s pregnant with you.

Ben:  Yeah, mom.  So anyways, what can you do if you know that you have the gene for schizophrenia to prevent schizophrenia? In addition to avoiding marijuana, one is fish oil?  They found that Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil may lower the risk of psychotic disorders from getting worse and even prevent psychosis from occurring in the first place.

Rachel:    Wow.

Ben:  So this is probably related to the enhanced neural function that occurs from a high intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, so that’s one that I would definitely look into, would be the use of essential fats and specifically Omega 3 fatty acids.  So you know the breaking down or stripping of essential fats from the brain is actually done by this enzyme called phospholipase and phospholipase appears to be over expressed in people who have schizophrenia which means that schizophrenics would have lower levels of fatty acids in the final cortex of their brain.  So using high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids, when I say high amounts, you have some people, some fitness “expert” you know, guys like Charles Pollak for example recommending like 40 plus grams of fish oil per day.  I’ve never recommended fish oil dosages that high, but for the regular person, I recommend about 1 to 4 grams per day depending on how much fish you’re eating.


And if you’re looking at needing more because of a high level of turnover from something like a high levels of this enzyme called phospholipase, you’d probably close to like 8 to 10 grams per day of fish oil, so it’s almost double/triple the dosages of what’s normally recommended.

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  The other part of the essential fat story is that these essential fats are also prone to destruction in the brain and on the diet by oxidants, and there’s also evidence that there’s more oxidation in the frontal cortex of people who have schizophrenia.  So not only you wanna consume these essential fats, but you want to ensure that they are not oxidized.  Now, the main vitamins that tend to show that they can keep essential fatty acids from being oxidized from the human body are Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, so using like a multi-vitamin that has those anti-oxidants in them or consuming a fish oil that’s packaged with those antioxidants, there’s one called super essentials that I like, it’s called Super Essentials Fish Oil and it’s packaged with anti-oxidants Astaxanthin, cold processed, so it’s like not prone to oxidation and also has anti-oxidants with it as well – that’d be another thing.  And then of course, as you can probably guess, any form of smoking and carcinogen exposure like you know, barbecued meats, processed meats, smoking – any of these sources of oxidants can destroy a lot of these anti-oxidants more readily, especially Vitamin C.  So, and also it’ll lead more to more oxidation these essential fatty acids, so you know, doing a lot more like boiling, steaming, raw cooking, blending, juicing and then avoiding cigarette smoke, and of course, marijuana smoke would be another under very important thing to do in terms of reducing risk for schizophrenia.  Methylation, so a faulty methylation means that you’re gonna develop a lot of this amino acid in your bloodstream called homocysteine, and many people with schizophrenia tend to have this very, very high levels of homocysteine even if they’re not taking in a lot of things that can cause high homocysteine.  Like synthetic folic acids such as you would find in like a cheap commom multi-vitamin that’s gonna dump a bunch of folic acid into your body and that can get converted into homocysteine, and these high levels of homocysteine are associated with schizophrenia.  It’s probably because people diagnosed with schizophrenia probably also have a genetic variation of this homocysteine lowering enzyme which may mean that they need more of an active form of folic acid.

Rachel:    Right.

Ben:  So what this comes down to is if you have a genetic risk for schizophrenia or has schizophrenia, there’s a form of folic acid called methyltetrahydrofolate, MTHFR.  You wanna look for a multivitamin that has that form of folic acid in it, and because just for anybody, not in people with schizophrenia, high levels of folic acid can cause some serious health issues and so you don’t wanna use a synthetic folic acids supplement like most multi-vitamins used nowadays.  You wanna use this stuff called methyltetrahydrofolate, so.

Rachel:    And the access multi that you suggest, is that kind in it?

Ben:  Yeah, the one I take, the Thorne – that definitely has the MTHFR in it and that multivitamin was one like I was actually on well down the path to formulating my own multivitamin using raw ingredients from a number of different manufacturers and then realized that this company Thorne you know, like 40 miles from my house at the Thorne Facility in Dover, Idaho, they were already producing a multivitamin that satisfied all these criteria and many more.  So that one you can find at bengreenfieldfitness.com/multi.  Full disclosure, I’m on their board and I profit from that multivitamin, but there’s a reason for that because it’s what I take, it’s what my wife takes, it’s…

Rachel:    You believe in it?

Ben:  Yeah, I believe in it.  So anyways, that would be another thing.  And then the last thing is just in food allergies, some people with mental health problems can be very sensitive to gluten, that’s primarily related to what’s talked about in the book “Grain Brain” and the neural inflammation that very concentrated high levels of gluten can cause.  And there was studies back in the 50’s that showed that schizophrenic children frequently have celiac disease or severe gluten allergies and so, and when meaning gluten from the diet would probably prudent – would probably be prudent for sure.  So I’ll put some of these resources in the show notes for you, Ryan and if you have questions, you can leave it in the comments there but those are some of the biggies that I’d start with would be: avoiding marijuana, take in some essential fatty acids, using a good multi, checking for food allergies, and then also getting some antioxidants into your system, so.


Rachel:    There you go.

Danella:   Hi Ben, Danella from New Zealand.  I have a question for you about protein powder.  So I’ve been using the MHP Paleo protein which is a beef and egg white protein.  I noticed the other day when I went to reorder that it says it’s not suitable for nursing moms.  So I’m nursing my 8th month old, and I couldn’t find any information online as to why it wouldn’t be suitable and I couldn’t find any information from the company itself.  Perhaps you could shed some light on this as to why we wouldn’t be able to use that protein and if you think that I shouldn’t.  Maybe have a suggestion from another protein that would be okay for me to use while nursing.  Thanks so much.  Love the show.

Ben:  So Rachel, I think Danella is probably trying to have a big old swole muscular baby.  What do you think?

Rachel:    That’s definitely what she’s going for.

Ben:  Yeah, she wants to have the next Arnold.

Rachel:    Yeah.

Ben:  The next governor of California, of course!

Rachel:    Mmm-hmm.

Ben:  And as we all know, the best way to have a large, muscular baby is to consume a lot of protein powder…

Rachel:    While breastfeeding.

Ben:  …well said baby, is breastfeeding.  Yes.

Rachel:    Right.

Ben:  Of course.

Rachel:    Win-win.

Ben:  You should probably throw some creatine in there, too.

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  And maybe some kind of like jacked Ephedra based supplements, so they’re very hyperactive, able to lift more, a little pre-workout booster for your baby.

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  Yeah, proteins – so first of all, there’s nothing inherent in protein, you should not exceed 200 grams of protein per day, you’d probably get a little bit of nitrogenous build up that might make your milk taste crappy or you know, put some ammonia in milk, but that’s really not a big issue unless you’re just like in a seriously large amount of man in the can while you’re pregnant.

Rachel:    So why did they, why did the protein company say that she shouldn’t use it while nursing?

Ben:  So there’s a couple reasons that this could be likely: first of all, I don’t know if you have heard about the study a couple of years ago that found that most protein powders have really high naturally occurring levels of trace heavy metals.

Rachel:    Wow.

Ben:  So interestingly, the vegan proteins tend to even have higher heavy metal counts than like the animal-based proteins like whey, and whey isolate.  And usually I’m pretty good advocate of vegan based proteins like living protein is the one that I used but…

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  …there can be some metals in there and just naturally high levels of metals, so you may want to be careful from that perspective.  And you can contact just about any manufacturer and ask for a certificate of analysis of heavy metal contamination and testing but if you aren’t able to get that, you may wanna be careful with protein powder while breastfeeding because of that.  So in most folks, it’s very, very trace levels.  It’s not that much, it was kinda blown up proportional study but it is something to know if you’re breastfeeding especially, ‘cause babies are little and metals are gonna affect them.

Rachel:    Right.  They’re vulnerable.

Ben:  They’re very vulnerable, especially to metals.

Rachel:    And they’re growing.

Ben:  And we won’t even get into the vaccine discussion at this point…

Rachel:    We wanna help them develop.

Ben:  …as we talk about metals.  Sweeteners: so using a good multi, checking for food allergies and then also getting some anti-oxidants into your system, so.

Rachel:    There you go.

Danella:   Hi Ben, Danella from New Zealand.  I have a question for you about protein powder.  So I’ve been using the MHP   protein which is a beef and egg white protein.  I noticed the other day when I went to reorder that it says it’s not suitable for nursing moms.  So I’m nursing my 8th month old and I couldn’t find any information online as to why it wouldn’t be suitable and couldn’t find any information from the company itself.  Perhaps you could shed some light on this as to why we wouldn’t be able to use that protein and if you think that I shouldn’t maybe have a suggestion from another protein that would be okay for me to use while nursing.  Thanks so much.  Love the show.

Ben:  So Rachel, I think Danella is probably trying to have a big old swole muscular baby.  What do you think?

Rachel:    That’s definitely what she’s going for.

Ben:  Yeah, she wants to have the next Arnold.

Rachel:    Yeah.

Ben:  The next governor of California, of course!

Rachel:    Mmm-hmm.

Ben:  And as we all know, the best way to have a large, muscular baby is to consume a lot of protein powder…

Rachel:    While breastfeeding.

Ben:  …well said baby, is breastfeeding.  Yes.

Rachel:    Right.

Ben:  Of course.

Rachel:    Win-win.

Ben:  You should probably throw some creatine in there, too.

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  And maybe some kind of like jacked Ephedra based supplements, so they’re very hyperactive, able to lift more, a little pre-workout booster for your baby.

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  Yeah, proteins – so first of all, there’s nothing inherent in protein, you should not exceed 200 grams of protein per day, you’d probably get a little bit of nitrogenous build up that might make your milk taste crappy or you know, put some ammonia in milk, but that’s really not a big issue unless you’re just like in a seriously large amount of man in the can while you’re pregnant.

Rachel:    So why did they, why did the protein company say she shouldn’t use it while nursing?

Ben:  So there’s a couple reasons that this could be likely: first of all, I don’t know if you have heard about the study a couple of years ago that found that most protein powders have really high naturally occurring levels of trace heavy metals.

Rachel:    Wow.

Ben:  So interestingly, the vegan proteins tend to even have higher heavy metal counts than like the animal-based proteins like whey, and whey isolate.  And usually I’m pretty good advocate of vegan based proteins like living protein is the one that I used but…

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  …there can be some metals in there and just naturally high levels of metals, so you may want to be careful from that perspective.  And you can contact just about any manufacturer and ask for a certificate of analysis of heavy metal contamination and testing, but if you aren’t able to get that, you may wanna be careful with protein powder while breastfeeding because of that.

Rachel:    Hmm.

Ben:  So in most folks, it’s very, very trace levels.  It’s not that much, it was kinda blown up proportional study but it is something to know if you’re…

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  …breastfeeding especially, ‘cause babies are little and metals are gonna affect them.

Rachel:    Right.  They’re vulnerable.

Ben:  They’re very vulnerable, especially to metals.

Rachel:    And they’re growing.

Ben:  And we won’t even get into the vaccine discussion at this point…

Rachel:    We wanna help them develop.

Ben:  …as we talk about metals.  Sweeteners: so saccharin, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, etc. – not only when you’re pregnant can allow that to cross the placenta and could remain in fetal tissue but it can also wind up in breast milk.  And we still don’t know a lot about how fully these are metabolized and there are some evidence that they can cause some damage to for example, a bacteria you know, specifically, potentially, your gut bacteria – granted that’s study was done in rats with ungodly amounts of artificial sweeteners, but it’s still one of those things where I say proceed with caution when it comes to artificial sweeteners and many protein powders have artificial sweeteners in them.  Along with a lot of other added dose – so herbal stimulants for example, are commonly found in protein, extra caffeine, creatine – last I checked, nobody was thinking any booze in the protein powder but that’s about the only thing that you’ll find left out of protein powder in many cases.  So, it all comes out to the cleanliness of the powder itself.  And when you combine that with the fact that you know, you can get some amino acids from bone broth, and you know, if you’re concern about protein intake, you can just get yourself some nice you know, some nice eggs from free range, hens that haven’t been fed a bunch of grains and corn.  And you can eat some you know, if you’re concern about food allergies or you know, the way this red meat scare, you can get like a really hypoallergenic meat – like a good lamb for example, is very hypoallergenic when it comes to meat.  Like a grass-fed beef and you can use for example, amino acids like essential amino acids capsules which are basically everything you’ll find in a protein powder from a protein standpoint with none of the calories or the additives.  And you know, a lot of these milks out there like goat milk, and you can combine like you know, almond milk and rice milk and you know, there’s a lot of different ways that you can get adequate protein without necessarily using a protein powder.


Rachel:    So would you recommend that?

Ben:  Unless of course, you do want your baby to get swole in which case it’s used.  Use it.

Rachel:    (laughs)  So, would you recommend that you don’t use a protein powder while breastfeeding?

Ben:  I would recommend that unless you are 100% sure it doesn’t have artificial sweeteners, it’s been tested for heavy metals and doesn’t have additives like caffeine or any other herbal stimulants in it, that you move along and find another way to get your protein.

Shane:   Hi Ben, this is Shane.  I found you through the ‘Less Doing’ podcast and I have a question on HRV.  I’ve been testing with the Sweetbeat app for a couple of months now, and I am consistently low – at least where I think is low, somewhere between 17 and maybe up to 35 on HRV.  I peg the stress meter on the thing even when I turned the sensitivity to the lowest, so I’m trying to figure out, is there something wrong with me? What does it mean when HRV is that low and where to find out some specific? I sent info off to the Sweetbeat folks, and they kinda sent me a generic thing back but that’s not a diagnostic tool and they can’t help.  So I’m not looking for a diagnosis, I’m looking for you know, what does it mean when things are so low? And I’m generally healthy person, about 43, about 160 and work out on a regular basis, so not sure what it means.  Anyway, thank you very much.  Love your show, talk to you later.

Ben:  That’s a really low HRV, Shane, you are probably gonna die.

Rachel:    (gasp) Oh, Ben.

Ben:  Or horribly.

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  Amputation.  Yeah, that actually is a really low HRV or heart rate variability.  And first of all, if you don’t know what heart rate variability is and you’ve never heard any of our podcast on heart rate variability, go get yourself some self-education because I’m not gonna go over that all in this particular episode, but go to greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/NatureBeat, that’s greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/NatureBeat.  I’ve got all the articles in podcast that I’ve ever done on like HRV 101 there.

Rachel:    Yup.

Ben:  But when it comes to low heart rate variability or low HRV, first of all, that does not necessarily forecast impending reductions in performance.  So for example, they did a study of tennis players and they found that after they had followed 30 days of over-reaching and getting very close to over-training by decreasing the heart rate variability quite significantly between 15 and 50%.  It actually had improved performance at the end of that program, meaning that if you are training, you can purposefully, intentionally, reduce your HRV by over-reaching, training yourself a little bit harder than usual, and as long as you programmed in smart recovery from that, that low HRV can actually come back to help you as long as you get it back up.

Rachel:    Interesting.

Ben:  So that would be one situation in which a low HRV is a good thing.  The other situation in which we actually tend to see a low HRV is in athletes who are training with a high amount of sympathetic nervous system training, and what I mean by that are like CrossFitters, sprinters, people who were doing a relatively low amount of aerobic training.  So we’re not talking about people who are say like doing CrossFit and also going out in a long run in the weekends and maybe another you know, a long bike ride halfway through the week.  We’re not talking about you know, for example, triathletes who both weight lift and do cardio, those would be examples of situation in which low HRV is probably just an indication of beating yourself up too much.

Rachel:    Yeah.

Ben:  But low HRV can also be caused by an imbalance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system training which is why when you turn on the T.V., and you see the guys in like the World’s Strongest Man Competition competing, those guys can run a mile to save their lives but they’re big, they’re strong, they’re quite robust and healthy in what they do.  And those guys are all gonna have a low heart rate variability simply because they’re so skewed towards sympathetic nervous system activation towards more of like the fast-switch-power strength type of training.  And so if that is your you know, your sport, you know, if that’s your poison, then low heart rate variability is not something you should be too concerned about because you want an imbalance, you want to be good at sprinting and not that great at running.  It’s like an interview I heard once with, I believe it was Venus Williams who said she’s very careful not to overrun more than a mile ‘cause she didn’t want a lot of slow twitch muscle fiber.


Rachel:    Right.

Ben:  She doesn’t want to get slower, she doesn’t need that much endurance theoretically, even though I would argue that, being able to run 5 miles is part of your serving pretty well on a four hour tennis match.

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  But ultimately, low HRV is not always a bad thing.

Rachel:    A bad thing.

Ben:  To some it’s a bad thing, sometimes you wanna purposely dig yourself into that low HRV hole, and sometimes you want to depending on your goals, have an imbalance in the type of training that you do.

Rachel:    And where can you find something specific information?

Ben:  So I’ll give you some more information here in a second about what to do if you don’t fall into the categories that I just described, but you also have a low HRV.  Because a low HRV if it’s not related to what I just described, there’s a lot of things that have been associated with low HRV such as increased risk of heart attack and other cardiac events.

Rachel:    Mmm-hmm.

Ben:  Coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol – that cluster is associated with a low HRV.  People with a low HRV are the higher risk of dying in the subsequent 3 years, so…

Rachel:    Wow.

Ben:  You thought I was joking, but I’m really not.

Rachel:    I did think you were joking.

Ben:  Yeah, there’s actually this study that appeared in the European Medical Informacology Journal that looked at the link between heart rate variability and death due to mild cardiac infarction and so the one your HRV is consistently low, it is a sign that the ticker may need a little bit of help.  So we’ve also seen that like in elderly people, high HRV is very strongly associated with longevity and a lot of elderly people have been tested with high HRV a relatively free of many morbidity factors, so.  Just this morning, I posted my personal HRV that I measure each morning to the internet just because every once in a while I wanna kinda show people you know, what are the numbers look like if are doing things mostly right.  I know I talked about how I do lead a relatively stressful lifestyle, but my HRV is pretty good because even though I’m beating myself up with exercise, stress, I have a very good combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise – so that means my parasympathetic and my sympathetic nervous system are pretty well balanced.

Rachel:    Balanced, yeah.

Ben:  And my HRV is kinda high.  So basically, as far as some of the best things to raise an HRV that is low, actually even before I get into that, the kind of things that can lower an HRV.  The things that I found to have the biggest effect on lowering HRV: one would be lack of sleep, it’s a real biggie, my heart rate variability is always lower after bad night of sleep; any type of excess sympathetic anaerobic training which I already mentioned.  Shallow breathing – shallow breathing can significantly lower HRV, so you may want to check your breath patterns.  Also, any type of antihistamine, right? Like Nyquil or zzzquil, or something like that, drops HRV extremely, extremely low.  I’m not quite sure of exactly why that happens but I’m guessing it has to do something with the effects of antihistamines on the vagus nerve, so that’s another one that will lower HRV.  And then the last one would just be heart disease, so you may wanna listen to the episode we had a couple of weeks ago, episode 336 on heart disease because it’s possible that you may just wanna go get your ticker checked out as well, so.

Rachel:    Yeah.

Ben:  As far as what else to do with things that can raise HRV, I mean, we have a ton of resources if you go to greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/NatureBeat, and check that out because there’s a lot of things that can increase HRV.  Also, what you’ll find is that changes of HRV related to specific pathologist, actually Wikipedia has a great article on heart rate variability and they do get into some other things like liver cirrhosis, diabetic neuropathy which could also look at as you know, want to get your liver enzymes check and check in your fast and blood glucose because both of those can cause a reduction in HRV.  And even some chiropractic issues, right? Like cervical imbalances or thoracic imbalances in your vertebrae, like structural abnormalities, muscular, skeletal abnormalities – maybe you just need to go and get a freaking good massage you know?

Rachel:    I always need a good message.

Ben:  Yeah, but I’m serious, they give you spine as mal-aligned, you’d may wanna go see a good like chiropractic doc who can adjust you or an osteopathic physician to you know, make sure that none of that is affecting your HRV as well.  A lot of things you can go after, so you know, sometimes it takes some detective work, but I hope that helps Shane and opens your eyes to the wonderful, broad, sometimes confusing but enchanting world of HRV.  So, there you have it.


Rachel, what do you think, we do have a review this week?

Rachel:    It’s my favorite time!

Ben:  The favorite time of the show.

Rachel:    Yup!

Ben:  So, this is the time of the show – I feel like we need some kind of a gentle lowing piano music (piano music playing).  This is the time of the show when Rachel reads a review, so if you leave a review, if you go to iTunes and leave us a review.  Be nice and by ‘be nice’ I mean with 5 stars in it after your great review.

Rachel:    (laughs)  That’s the only way it gets around the podcast.

 Ben:  That’s right. And if you do that, then we’ll read your review on  the podcast, and if you hear your review read, all you have to do is email mailto:[email protected], that’s mailto:[email protected], and when you email the said address, we will send you a sweet tech t-shirt, BPA-free water bottle, an awesome Ben Greenfield Fitness beanie – all three come in a box to your house, make sure you let us know your t-shirt size too, ‘cause we’ll send you t-shirt, this are sweet t-shirts, I love my t-shirt.

Rachel:    I want one.

Ben:  My kids have baby – you don’t have one?

Rachel:    I don’t have one.

Ben:  Oh my gosh.

Rachel:    I want a Team Greenfield shirt so I can take photos and post it to Instagram when you’re doing fun stuff like running 24-hour, tough mudders.

Ben:  You remind me after this, I’ll make sure that we…

Rachel:    Alright, I will.

Ben:  …we get you a shirt.  I’ll cut you a deal (laughs).  I’ll give you a 10% discount, Rachel.

Rachel:    (laughs) Oh yes, they’re nice, Ben.  Thank you.  Alright.

Ben:  Anyways though, so, what do you think? Let’s hear the review.

Rachel:    Alright, let’s do it.  It’s by mrod31:  “This is by far the best health and fitness podcast out there.  I’ve been listening to various podcast and they all seem to be saying the same things.  Ben brings something different and has definitely opened my eyes to so many more health and fitness topics.  I think what the best thing is, is that he actually does his research on all of the topics, unlike some other folks who seem to try and work through the subject matter.  Ben actually knows what he’s talking about and doesn’t miss a beat.  I’m happy I found this podcast, and Rachel is a welcome addition.” Awww!

Ben:  You just scored some points!

Rachel:    Wee! Got some serious points!

Ben:  He/she, whoever was – you just scored some Rachel points which is – those are good for something.

Rachel:    You’re in! You’re in!

Ben:  If you ever go to Australia…

Rachel:    Uh-huh.  Oh yeah, baby! (laughs)

Ben:  It looks like, yeah, those are some good, good Oz karma going on there.

Rachel:    You want us to answer your question on the podcast? You need Rachel points.

Ben:  Oh yeah.

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  So, if you are listening in, don’t turn off the show yet because I wanna tell you, this weekend’s episode is gonna be fantastic.  You gonna learn how to re-grow limbs…

Rachel:    (gasp) What?

Ben:  Heel, about heel stuff.  Amazing podcast with ______ [1:17:44.6]

Rachel:    That’s crazy!

Ben:  And then you will not hear Rachel or me next week because we have a substitute podcast.  The reason being, I’m off on a weeklong free diving course and we’ll be…

Rachel:    Yey!

Ben:  I’m gonna write a blog post about this because I’m going to be experimenting with the effects of ketosis on breath holding time in free diving performance, and I’ll be writing an article in my use of MCT powders and liquid ketones during that experiment, so…

Rachel:    Hmm.

Ben:  that would be an interesting one.  Stay tuned for that.

Rachel:    I will.

Ben:  Speaking of ketones, check out the ground breaking high fat endurance study that I just posted the link to at bengreenfieldfitness.com/338.  We have a bunch of crazy interviews coming up, so don’t turn off the show, make sure you subscribe through an iTunes.  I mean now you can turn it off ‘cause we’re done, but…

Rachel:    (laughs)

Ben:  …don’t turn it off permanently.  So subscribe in iTunes, tell your friends, thanks for listening in and I’m Ben Greenfield, she’s Rachel… Browne.  Signing off, bengreenfieldfitness.com. Later, Rachel.

Rachel:    Later, Ben. 

You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.

[1:19:53.0]     END


November 25, 2015 Podcast: Is Cardio Really Bad For Your Heart, What Is The Best Way To Filter Your Water, How To Get Rid of Candida & More!

Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right (or go to SpeakPipe), use the Contact button on the app, click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page, or use the “Ask Ben” form at the bottom of this page.


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Listener Q&A:

As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the NEW Podcast Sidekick.

How To Know If Your Brain Is Damaged

Terrence says: He heard that you recently took up boxing. He’s an MMA fighter and is always worried about traumatic brain injury – he takes turmeric and fish oil regularly. But he’s wondering if HRV can be used as an indicator of TBI or if not, are there any biomarkers specifically of brain trauma and brain inflammation that he should be aware of and on the look out for?

In my response, I recommend:
How To Heal From A Concussion podcast
DirectLabs CRP Test and Inflammatory Cytokine test
HeartMath website

What Is The Best Way To Filter Your Water?

Julia says: She’s on the go and often ends up buying a lot of bottle water. She’s wondering if you have the chance to evaluate any filters for handheld bottles?

In my response, I recommend:
Structured water filter (the one Ben uses in his home)
Klean Kanteen with Kishu Charcoal Sticks
Bobble – Bobble’s sleek water bottle comes in three sizes and many different colors. The carbon filter removes chlorine and organic contaminants.
Camelbak – Camelbak’s durable bottle has a carrying handle and spill-proof bite valve. The filter reduces chlorine, taste, and odor.
Vapur – Vapur’s water bottle is collapsible, making it easy to stash and carry. The filter removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa.
Hydros -The Hydros filtering water bottle has a unique side opening for ease in filling up at water fountains and taps. The filter reduces chlorine, chloramines, and particulates.

How To Get Rid Of Candida

Chrissy says: She’s wondering if you can provide information to get rid of candida overgrowth for good. Since September last year she’s had recurring UTI’s and yeast infections, she’s started taking supplements like anti-fungals, probiotics, fermented foods she eats paleo/gluten free, but every time she goes off her supplements it comes back. She doesn’t want to depend on supplements to keep her body in check and she’s trying to figure out how to get her gut/bacteria balance back in order.

In my response, I recommend:
GAPS diet or SCD Diet
The Candida Cleanse

5 Ways To Stay Healthy In The Armed Forces

Olivia says: What is your advice with someone going into the Armed Forces? In regards to fitness and maintaining health and sanity in stressful situations with limited access to resources. How would you prepare for the armed forces and what would be your hacks for someone with their boots on the ground?

In my response, I recommend:
Use MRP’s like SuperGreens
-Sleep efficiently (SleepmaskSleephonesSleepstream combo)
-Use carb back-loading and ketosis (get KetoCaNa with 10% discount code BG2015)
-Avoid the fancy gym
-Make every moment count (PowerLungGripTrainer, etc.)

Read more https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2015/11/339-is-cardio-really-bad-for-your-heart-what-is-the-best-way-to-filter-your-water-how-to-get-rid-of-candida-more/



Ask Ben a Podcast Question

One thought on “Episode #338 – Full Transcript

  1. framistat9 says:

    Really? So now we can catch genes from animals?

    Toxoplasmosis is a condition caused by a protozoan parasite Toxoplamsa gondii, that can infect a fetus and cause birth defects. An infected cat would spread the parasite through egg spores in their feces.

    Egg spores must incubate for several days before becoming infective – so daily litter scooping, which should be done anyway, greatly reduces risk, as does wearing disposable gloves.

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