July 27, 2019
[00:00:33] Coming from Wilderness Survival Course and Managing Giardia and Other Parasites
[00:10:10] News Flashes on CBD: CBD is Toxic to the Liver
[00:15:41] CBD During Night and Day
[00:22:51] Drinking Non-Alcoholic Beverage
[00:27:05] Podcast Sponsors
[00:34:04] BGF Events
[00:34:48] Listener Q&A: How to Wake Up Less at Night
[00:58:04] The Best Way to Lower Stress During Detoxification
[01:09:27] Should You Eat Carbs & Fat Together in The Same Meal?
[01:21:19] Giveaways & Goodies
[01:24:05] End of Podcast
Ben: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast, how to wake up less at night? Should you eat carbs and fat together in the same meal? The latest on CBD, THC, exercise, and much more.
Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
So, Jay, how are you doing this morning?
Jay: I'm doing pretty well, Ben. How about yourself?
Ben: I'm clinching. I'm clinching hard, man. I'm three days into a bout of Giardia that I appear to have contracted during this last weekend's wilderness survival course that I did. Amongst other things, we made water filters, like out of charcoal from the fire and fine particles of sand.
Jay: Yeah. I saw that on the Instagram.
Ben: Yeah. And some leaves. It sounds good on paper. But after three days of drinking from the creek by our campsites, my only suspicion is that at some point, one of the homemade filters that I made failed, or the first batch of water that I allowed to drip through it didn't completely clean out what was in the water, or what was in the coal or the sand. I mean, who knows? It could've been pooped particles in the freaking sand. I don't know. But I have literally been working visual for people, podcasting, blogging, book editing, article writing, everything from my bed and the toilet.
So, this is the first day I've actually been able to get down into my office. I went on a little light walk in the sunshine this morning, but I'm managing it naturally rather than using the traditional antibiotic regimen for Giardia, which actually, I don't think a lot of people know this. I'll link to–because I've been researching hardcore, not just Giardia but parasites in general because anytime something like this happens to me, my go-to is I research and figure, “Hey, hopefully, I can give some other people some good advice and figure out a few things for myself.”
But some of these antibiotics that are traditionally used for Giardia can cause almost similar to other antibiotic regimens, not only the emergence of antibiotic resistance Giardia like organisms, but also recurrence rates that are as high as 90% with a host of pretty nasty side effects like metronidazole is one, or tinidazole is another. These antibiotics are kind of the go-to traditionally for Giardia. But after researching some of the antibiotic regimens, I decided to manage things myself.
And so, the idea behind Giardia is that you do want to get rid of it pretty quickly because it can cause some pretty significant damage to the intestinal lumen. Meaning that what it does is it damages the intestinal brush border. And all these little parasites, as they hatch, one of the things that they do is they damage enterocytes, they cause intestinal hyperpermeability, they cause a reduction in enzyme secretion, and they actually tend to feed to a certain extent on bile in the gut. So, not only is a high-fat ketogenic diet a bad idea just because you are going to be producing more bile in a situation like that, but you also want to do as much as you can to heal up the leaky gut, so to speak, after you've had the Giardia.
So, what I did was I researched some of the ways that you could nutritionally manage, not just parasites in general but also Giardia, and found some interesting data. There are some lactobacillus strains, and also a strain of probiotic called KE-99. So, I've been making yogurt in my food dehydrator with just a ton of this KE-99, but I'm adding a bunch of collagens to it to assist with that gut permeability. And so, I'm eating a ton of this probiotic strain-rich yogurt, but that also helps, by the way, with–any probiotic is going to help with diarrhea and loose stool as well.
There's a lot of research as well on the fact that these so-called trophozoites that you get from Giardia. They get cleared from the small bowel far more readily if you're consuming higher fiber intake, particularly from insoluble fiber. So, another thing I've been doing is eating a lot of these miracle noodles, which are like a Japanese yam-based. I originally got into these noodles because they're no carb, no calories, but they actually taste like spaghetti or capellini or angel hair or whatever other pasta of choice that you want. I'm sure Italians, true Italians would consider this to be a bastardization of pasta. But I'm doing that along with a lot of sweet potato mash, pumpkin mash, kind of a pretty hefty dose of insoluble fibers to assist with the Giardia clearance.
And then, a few other things that are interesting is prebiotics also seem to help out quite a bit, like pomegranate seed extract, for example. So, I've got this seed probiotic that I take anyways because of the bacterial strains in that when mixed with the prebiotic formulation they have in there, which includes pomegranate seed extract. And I did a whole podcast with the folks at Seed, which you could listen to if you just go to my website and search for Seed probiotic.
Jay: Maybe switch my probiotic.
Ben: Yeah. That one-two combo produce is something called Urolithin A, which is actually kind of a longevity-enhancing compound. And then a few other things that I found that's incredible from a phytotherapy fumigation, like herbal remedies. One is, of course, and this probably doesn't surprise many people, is garlic, like the allicin in garlic seems to help a ton, particularly with the loss of what's called osmoregularity in the gut. So, the dehydration symptoms and the gut malabsorption symptoms that you get when you have a parasite, those seem to be mediated quite a bit by garlic. And garlic also stimulates the production of nitric oxide synthase. And that is important because it appears that one of the ways that Giardia works is that it can actually prevent the formation of nitric oxide. And nitric oxide can inhibit the growth of a lot of different pathogenic microorganisms.
So, garlic is working on two different mechanisms. It's helping with the leaky gut, but then it's also helping your body to produce its own nitric oxide via the allicin in garlic. So, eating a lot of garlic cloves and garlic tea–and I just have this giant vat of tea that I keep going up on the stove, and it's, of course, got ginger in there, which can help to settle the gut and alleviate some of the nausea that you get from Giardia. But then it's also got a whole bunch of garlic cloves in there.
And then two other components with active constituents that seem to kill off parasites–and both are on my land. Alright, so I can go out and harvest this stuff, and I've just been walking out there every afternoon and harvesting the root of organ grape. The root contains these berberine-like compounds. So, not only is it fantastic for normalizing blood sugar but berberine containing herbs or anything that has alkaloids in it, very similar to berberine, can knock out parasites really fast.
So, I've been doing a ton of this, not the actual grape berry itself, but you dig up the root, you shave the root, it's dark yellow just like berberine. So, I add that to the tea. And then the other thing that I put in there is wormwood, which also has some really good anti-parasitic action, also grows like weed, and technically is a weed, on my land. And so, I've got wormwood and grape root extract and then ginger and garlic in there.
And then, a couple other things that I stumbled across that seem to have pretty good anti-parasitic action, particularly anti-Giardial action, one is quercetin. So, I have a bunch of quercetin powder, and I've been putting that in there, as well as oregano. So, a few drops of the Kion Oregano, not a few drops, few dropperfuls of Kion Oregano, which not only helps out with the anti-Giardial action, but also contributes to the ass-like taste of this tea even more because this is some pretty potent stuff.
And then, finally, there's one Ayurvedic herb that I found. You probably have heard of long pepper before. It's actually used in a lot of these ketogenic type of supplements that they're producing now because it appears to kind of upregulate some AMPK activity, almost like exercise in a bottle. But pippali is one form of it, P-I-P-P-A-L-I. So, I'm using pippali as well in that tea and sprinkling it on my food, just based on the research that I've done. And I'll link to a really, really great paper that I found on Giardia, both allopathic, as well as natural remedies for–written by a naturopathic physician. Really fantastic article. That would be helpful for anyone who doesn't just have Giardia, but wants to manage parasites using a research-based approach. That's what I've been doing. It seems like today, it's actually quite a bit better. And fingers crossed, I'm thinking that I'm on the up-and-up. That's what I've been up to the past few days.
Jay: Yeah. You don't want to just keep it going as natures like natural colonic?
Ben: No, no. I thought before my coffee enemas. So, there you have it. But I do have other research that we can get into. So, shall we progress into the news flashes?
Jay: Let's do it.
Ben: News flashes. So, this is the part of the show in which we go over a lot of the research that I've discovered and put out on our Facebook page. Like, if you go to facebook.com/bgfitness or my Twitter account at twitter.com/bengreenfield, I just have a ton of stuff over there, like research studies that I'm constantly releasing. But there were quite a few lately that came across my plate in the realm, particularly, of CBD and THC.
Jay: Hot topic area.
Ben: Yeah, it is a hot topic area. So, one, and this is a question that I get quite a bit, was on the toxicity of CBD because there's this myth going around made popular, particularly by an article in Forbes that CBD could be damaging our livers in the same way as alcohol and other drugs.
Jay: I didn't see that one.
Ben: Yeah. There was kind of a retort to this–is retort the right word?
Jay: Yeah, that sounds right.
Ben: Reply. I think it's retort. I don't know. I'm just going to use it because it makes me sound smart. And it turns out that this article or this research study on the toxicity of CBD was actually a rodent model in which they gave mice 615 milligrams per kilogram of CBD. So, they're basically megadosing them with thousands of milligrams of CBD, and they had formulated that CBD in a hexane extract, which is actually some companies do this. This is why you need to look into the extract used in whatever CBD formulation that you're using, if you're using CBD, and make sure that it is all-natural. But they used a hexane extract, which is not only a neurotoxin, but it's also pretty harsh on the liver. It almost acts similar to alcohol in terms of the damage that it can do to the liver.
So, they were giving them basically almost like a lethal dose of cannabinoids combined with hexane. And when you look at something like what would be called allometric scaling–so allometric scaling is scaling of laboratory research from a small animal like a mouse or a hummingbird to a larger animal like let's say a human. And a mouse clears drugs out of its system far more quickly than a human. So, its liver is not only getting metabolite CBD even faster, which is right, drug dosages are not the same between lab animals and humans in the clinic. But if you use the scaling factor of allometric scaling and actually look at how much CBD a human would need to take, it comes out to thousands and thousands and thousands of milligrams to actually produce cytotoxic effect.
So, ultimately, for those of you who saw this research study, it is, and I know we do a lot of study debunking on this show, it is something that's irrelevant. And in addition, there is some pretty good research that CBD is actually protective against things like alcohol-induced steatosis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and certain other liver diseases. So, I would say that for those of you who use CBD for sleep, which we'll address in a moment, you don't need to worry at all about it harming your liver unless you're using, I don't know, CBD in Jack Daniel's or hexane or something else like that.
Jay: And common mixture.
Ben: Washing that down the hatch. So, just know that you got to look through research with weary eyes.
Jay: Yeah. This is kind of similar to the whole idea–or I've seen research studies where they've given rats just copious amounts of fat, where I guess in an effort to demonstrate fat effects in ketosis, and it's just like a lethal dose. The liver of the rat can't handle it. It's not meant to metabolize it. And so, this seems like something similar just on the CBD level.
Ben: Well, in rodent research, when you go inside what a lab mouse's high-fat diet would be, it's far different than what we would see in say like a properly structured Mediterranean diet, or even a healthy ketogenic diet, like the standard chow given to mice, is often highly rancid fats. In some cases, mixed with smaller amounts of very processed sugar, which I believe is related to a question that we'll get on today's podcast.
But I mean, you can go and try to buy rodent lab chow, and it's typically like ground-up corn and soybean and yeast, and they throw some multivitamins in there, and then spray-dried way and different types of animal fats. In many cases, you'll find some vegetable oils in there, some sunflower and safflower and soybean oil. It's really not relevant to a well-structured whole-food-based human diet. We digress a little bit, but yeah, you are correct. And not only the rodents themselves don't translate well to humans, but also the methods used in rodent lab research often doesn't translate well also.
But related to CBD, another interesting study, and this one, not to sound hypocritical, it was actually done in rat liver, but it looked at the daytime dependent changes of cannabinoid receptors in rat liver. It's not that they were dosing the rats with CBD, they were instead looking at how the cannabinoid receptors change in terms of their sensitivity during the day. And what it appears is that the 24-hour light-dark cycle, which is also called the diurnal rhythm, that directly affects the activity of the cannabinoid receptors.
So, this explains why, and this is quite common for people. Some people, and this is something you see more and more, hemp coffee, and CBD coffee, and CBD tea, and whatever CBD, overnight oatmeal, and anything else people are having in the morning. I even have used and talked with Dr. Ted Achacoso when I interviewed him about these little nootropic compounds he makes. It's basically a microdose of nicotine, microdose of methylene blue, and a microdose of CBD, all mixed together in this sublingual, it's called atrophy that you put underneath your lip. And it gives you this very nice, steady surge of wakefulness and energy. You can go listen to my podcast with Dr. Ted if you want to hear more about that.
The reason that CBD appears to promote energy earlier in the day, especially in microdoses like 5 to 10 milligrams, but then promotes sleep later in the day, is related to the diurnal activity of these cannabinoid receptors. So, it's very interesting. It's almost like an adaptogenic herb, like if you're very, very wide awake, reishi, the mushroom extract reishi can actually settle you down and help you with napping or sleeping. But if you're very tired, it seems to give you a little bit of a surge in energy. CBD doesn't exactly work on those same mechanisms, but again, if you take a little bit of CBD in the morning, it appears to help with energy. And then a higher amount, I typically recommend close to like 60 to 100 milligrams at night. We've established that that's okay for your liver, folks. It actually can assist with sleep. So, it's very interesting that the diurnal rhythm of CBD.
Jay: Yeah. That's super interesting to me. I think similar to you, I've never utilized CBD as a way to promote a wakefulness or alertness, and I've really used it for sleep, but it's interesting to me. I might try it now maybe in the morning if I need like a quick pick-me-up just to see what it feels like.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. It's actually kind of nice in the morning. And again, there are companies now putting CBD in coffee. It's not that hard to just make yourself a nice piping hot cup of shameless plug Kion coffee and stir in a few dropperfuls of CBD and blend that up. But anyways, so one other note about drugs, what we're talking about drugs, is actually on THC. One of the journals I subscribed to that arrives at my house every month is the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which I like because I'm a little bit more bent towards being interested in research studies done on unhealthy physically active people, particularly in exercise or sports performance type of scenarios.
[00:18:44] The Latest on Weed and Exercise Performance
And this study looked at the performance and health-related characteristics of physically active males who were using marijuana because they wanted to see if chronic marijuana use actually affected things like serum testosterone, or inflammatory levels, or aerobic or anaerobic fitness, or strength, or anything like that. They compared one group of healthy physically active males who were chronic marijuana users with non-users. And then they put them through a range of different fitness protocols and exercise tests like VO2 max and anaerobic power output and strength measurements. They measured testosterone, they measured cortisol, they measured body fat, they measured how funny these folks thought stand-up shows on Netflix and Family Guy were, maybe.
And what they found was that the only thing that seemed to show a slight trend, really two things seemed to show a slight trend in terms of decreased performance in the chronic marijuana users. Number one, they seemed to fatigue a little bit more quickly in what's called the Wingate power test and ungodly test in which you bicycle as hard as you can for 30 seconds, and you look at the maximum power and the drop-off in power that occurs during that test. And it appears in the chronic marijuana users, they were not actually high during this test. Although they were chronic marijuana users, they may have had trace amounts of THC in their system. Maximal power output or time to anaerobic fatigue was slightly decreased, but it was almost insignificant.
The other thing they found that was slightly more significant was elevated concentrations of the inflammatory marker CRP. And this was in folks who were, A, chronic marijuana users, B, going through a range of different exercise tests. So, if your CRP is elevated–and we talked about CRP quite a bit in our last Q&A, Q&A 399. Folks could listen to that one at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/399, or to this one at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/400 that you're listening to right now.
It could be that if you are concerned about elevated concentrations of CRP and you're simultaneously exercising, you should avoid marijuana use, for example, on the day before you happen to be doing a hard workout just because long-term elevated concentrations of CRP could put you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. So, my only takeaway from this study was, be careful prior to a very hard workout, race, competition, et cetera, with chronic–or just marijuana use, in general, the day before because it appears that it may increase inflammatory levels in a slightly significant manner.
Jay: Yeah. That makes sense. Did they say in the study–I didn't see anywhere in there where they talked about the quantity of marijuana that was being used.
Ben: You know what, I don't recall. I don't have the full paper in front of me. It's like 25 feet behind me on the shelf in my office right now. The abstract doesn't specify the amount, but in a chronic marijuana user, typically, you're looking at someone who's averaging like 5 to 10 milligrams of THC on a daily basis, somewhere in that range if the average joint is going to give you anywhere from 3 to 5 milligrams, or an edible might be 5 to 10. It's probably approximately what we're looking at as far as dosage goes.
Jay: Yeah. That makes sense.
Ben: Yeah. Those 150-milligram death star edibles that I know you enjoy on a nightly basis, Jay, are probably indeed something to worry about if you're going to go hit the air assault bike the next day.
Jay: I'll watch out for those.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And finally, no discussion of popular drugs would be complete without mentioning the most popular drug in America. Methamphetamine.
Ben: And methamphetamine. Out here in backwards Washington State, there's a lot of meth labs blowing up. Anyway, though, this was a very interesting article on CNN business entitled “People Are Sick of Drinking and Investors Are Betting On the Sober Curious.” What they get into is this trend of not only these new sober bars, which are essentially serving cocktails that are mocktails. Like, for example, one thing that they serve is a shrub, which is an acidic beverage that's made from vinegar and fruit, a little bit of sugar or some club soda, but no alcohol at all.
They also go into the emergence of this new company called Kin. I'm actually pretty interested in trying this stuff. It's a non-alcoholic beverage that is part adaptogen, part nootropics, and part botanicals. But apparently, it gives you this nice little buzz without causing you to actually have to have to metabolize ethanol, or acetaldehyde, or any of the other toxic byproducts of alcohol. It's called it's called Kin. Yeah, K-I-N.
This is something similar to what I've talked about before on the show where if I'm at a cocktail party or a bar and I want to socially fit in that I look like I'm drinking, not making people feel uncomfortable that I'm just, whatever, holding my Fiji bottled water or whatever, I'll often just get soda water on ice with lemon, if they have like a fresh-made juice back behind the bar because a lot of nice bars, they do their own fresh-made juices, a little bit of a squeeze of a juice. And then also, a small selection of house-made bitters, whether it's grapefruit bitter or walnut bitter or orange bitter. Bitter has trace amounts of alcohol in it, but it's also great at sensitizing insulin levels that kind of enhancing your glucose response to a meal. So, if you see me drinking at a bar, 9 times out of 10, after I've had my first cocktail and you see me drinking, it's like soda water, a lemon, a little bit of bitters, a little bit of juice, and that's it.
Jay: It's so sneaky, Ben. So, sneaky.
Ben: Yeah. So, sneaky. So, I could get into this. It's an interesting article. And if anybody's tried that Kin stuff before, let me know. I'm interested in trying it as well. I just haven't bit the bullet yet. I mean, there are so many ways to make yourself healthy little adaptogenic and bitter-based cocktails at home that are probably cheaper than this stuff that I'm remiss to start ordering cases of Kin to my house. But regardless, I find it intriguing. And I will link to that study, as well as everything else that we discuss if folks go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/400. Oh, and also, if you have your own little alcohol recipes for semi-healthy cocktails, leave them in shownotes. Maybe we'll pick a few and read them next week.
Jay: Yeah. I feel like everybody's drinking these White Claws now or Truly's, the seltzer alcoholic drinks. Are you familiar with those, Ben?
Ben: No. It must be a down south thing. What's that?
Jay: Maybe so, it's just–I actually don't know where the alcohol comes from, if it's just like a grain alcohol or what it is, but White Claw or Truly is just like a seltzer, and there's no sugar, no carbs for all those ketogenic individuals out there. And they're actually quite tasty. They're refreshing. So, as opposed to a beer that isn't super refreshing on a hot South Carolina day, these are actually quite refreshing.
Ben: I saw them. They sponsored a Spartan Race that I was at somewhere.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And it is just basically water. I think they have trace amounts of alcohol in there. They do put a hefty dose of cane sugar on those though, like more than I like. I think it's like–it's 100 calories in a can, which is a lot less than alcohol. But I do think they put a decent amount of cane sugar in there. Maybe there's just a sprinkling. I don't know. Maybe I'm being orthorexic.
Jay: You probably are.
Ben: Yeah. Alright. Well, ultimately, there you go, folks. Hopefully, you're now well-equipped to get through your week with as many drugs as possible. Use responsibly. Well, Jay, I already mentioned it on today's show. The company Kion, my playground for new supplement formulations. I've also mentioned the liver. One of our very interesting formulations I think a lot of people may not be aware of contains rock lotus. And rock lotus in studies has been shown to improve liver function and fatty liver, and also reduce insulin levels and regulate healthy normal glucose metabolism.
And then the other component of it is almost like exercise in a bottle. It activates this AMPK pathway to give you the mitochondrial benefits that you would derive from exercise, but via more of a hormetic pathway from this stuff called bitter melon, which also actually promotes healthy blood sugar levels quite, quite well. Based on my own testing with my continuous blood glucose monitor, it knocks my postprandial glucose levels way down. It's wild bitter melon extract. So, wild bitter melon and rock lotus are two of the only components in Kion Lean. Kion Lean, our potent little fat loss and blood sugar control formula at Kion, and everybody listening in gets 10% off of it. You just use code BGF10 over at getkion.com. So, yeah.
Jay: Ben, do you normally take the Kion Lean before you eat or after?
Ben: Well, I get a pretty good deal on it, as you can imagine. I've got like six bottles in my pantry, and I even–I don't know if I'm supposed to say this. I don't know. Maybe legal is going to crucify me for this. But I even sometimes get like the returned bottles that have been unopened, or in some cases, slightly opened. I'd be like, “Yeah. I'll take those.”
Jay: I mean, why not?
Ben: Hopefully, somebody didn't buy it and sprinkle with anthrax and send it back. See, I've got a lot of Kion Lean. I take two capsules before every meal now, period. The only exception to that would be if I've worked out prior to a meal. In which case, I'm probably pretty glucose-sensitive anyways. But even then, if the meal has alcohol in it, I will still take it because of the rock lotus effect on the liver.
Jay: Yeah. Nice. Yeah. That's the same thing I've been doing. I can't say I do it before every meal, but a little birdy hooked me up with some Kion Lean, so I've been doing it before dinner at night because that's my most carb-heavy meal.
Ben: Those damn little birdies.
This podcast is also brought to you by Organifi. Organifi has something called red juice that they wanted us to tell the listeners about today. Speaking of nitric oxide, it is one of the best blood boosting and nitric oxide enhancing compound powders that you can get for pretty much pennies on the dollar in terms of how much it would cost you to make one of these juices versus the $14 half-assed bottles that you get from the cold-pressed juicery. I mean, if you take–you can make yourself a whole Nalgene bottle of Organifi, like this Organifi Red.
You could put four scoops in a 32 ounce Nalgene bottle. Shake it up, put it in the fridge. And once it's chilled, I mean, you have red juice that rivals any of those blood builder beet type of juices you'll get from a cold-pressed juicery. And I think if you add it up, it winds up being like 2 to 3 bucks for a 32-ounce bottle of the stuff. And it's got like 11 other superfoods in it. So, I can't recommend this stuff highly enough. You get 20% on or off of Organifi. You go to Organifi. That's with an “I”, organifi.com/ben. And that stuff I was just talking about, it's called the red juice. That's of a green one and a gold one.
Jay: Yeah. It would have been good if you would have actually been 20% added. I don't think anybody would have gone there, so I'm glad you clarified.
Ben: Regular price times 1.2. Slam ado.
This podcast is also brought to you by another cool blend, and that's the mixes from Four Sigmatic. They've got one. So, if you're confused, like, what does maitake mushroom do, and what a shiitake mushroom do, what does lion's mane do, cordyceps, reishi, chaga, which do I take when. Well–because what you can instead do is just get the Four Sigmatic 10 Mushroom Blend, which is basically every mushroom including agaricus, which is a really cool mushroom. It's got a lot of cool effects in terms of just the whole body health, immune system health, very interesting mushroom. That one alone.
Anyways, they've packed all these into a tiny little powder extract called their 10 Mushroom Blend, one of my favorite blends from Four Sigmatic. I put a couple scoops in a cup of coffee. And everybody gets 15% off Four Sigmatic. Try that 10 Mushroom Blend though. You go to F-O-U-Rsigmatic.com/bengreenfield. Many of these are synergistic with psilocybin. So, if you're one of those people who likes to microdose with psilocybin, you can make yourself a tea out of this stuff at about 0.2 to 0.5 grams of psilocybin, and the stuff will knock your socks off, foursigmatic.com/–
Jay: Yeah. The reishi elixir is my top favorite one. I have not tried the 10 Blend. I need to get the 10 Blend, but the reishi elixir is amazing.
Ben: You need to get on that.
And then finally, this podcast is brought to you by–and I guarantee, if anybody hears our discount code and orders these, you're going to have a big smile on your face because they are my favorite thing during the summer aside from maybe the occasional Mojito paddleboarding, a little bit of frisbee on the beach. It's the Birdwell Beach Britches beach gear. So, they make these shorts that are unbreakable. They make them out of SurfNyl nylon. It's got incredible durability. These things last forever. As a matter of fact, they have a lifetime guarantee. They're so tough. And then they also make shorts with what's called their SurfNyl nylon, which has four-way stretch microfiber in it.
My only complaint about Birdwell Beach Britches, if they're listening in, is they sent me some new gear, and either I've lost weight or I ordered the wrong size because it's too big for me and I need to find someone who's a size 32 that I can give some kickass–
Jay: It's your plug for them to send you more.
Ben: I know. If you guys are listening in, send me more. The way these podcasts work is sometimes folks send your gear, but sometimes they don't quite have your correct size on hand. So, I need me some new Birdwell Beach Britches, but anybody listening in can get their own. You don't need to claim my size 32 Birdwell Beach Britches. They offer lifetime guarantee. They give you free shipping over 99 bucks and 10% off. That's a host of different goodies. You just go to birdwell.com, B-I-R-D-W-E-L-L.com and use discount code at check out over at birdwell.com.
And really, aside from mentioning that–for anybody who's down in Colorado next weekend at the Spartan Race, I'll be down there with the entire team Kion. You'll see us in our black Kion shirts dominating the Spartan course down there. That's the Spartan in so-called Snowmass. That's upcoming on my calendar. Just about everything else has been shoved to the side until I get this diarrhea stopped up, but I will be down there at that race. Might be struggling through, considering I'm barely able to walk right now, but anyways–
Jay: Do not run behind Ben. Try to stay in front of him.
Ben: Yeah. You can check out BenGreenfieldFitness.com/calendar for all that. If anything, my ass will smell okay, but my breath is going to smell like garlic.
Jay: Yeah. So, just don't stay anywhere near you then.
Ben: Listener Q&A.
Mike: Hey, how's it going, Ben? I was wondering if you had some advice on improving the restfulness metric in the Oura app. I can get a lot of deep sleep, a lot of REM sleep, but the restfulness metric is where I struggle. I'm always getting a “pay attention”. So, I know that's due to tossing and turning and waking up throughout the night, but I wanted to know if you have any advice on improving that.
Ben: Restfulness. Do you have pretty good rest, Jay? Do you wake up a lot during the night?
Jay: I don't. I've had to hack that a little bit just by making some changes in lifestyle and different things. When I first got my Oura ring, it was so enlightening to me because I found out that I had really poor deep sleep and pretty tough, or pretty rough, I should say, restfulness. I was waking up probably four to six times a night. I had no clue I was doing it, but yeah. So, right now, it's pretty good. I get almost always over an 85 for the Oura ring. I feel like that's pretty good for sleep.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. We kind of kicked a lot of the sleep disturbances, sleep deprivation stuff to death in last week's podcast in which we talked about how newborn parents could get back to sleep faster, manage sleep deprivation, et cetera. So, that would be a good one to listen to hand-in-hand with some of the stuff we'll go into here. And again, that was Episode 399 over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/399. But yeah, when it comes to waking up less at night, there are definitely some other things you can do.
And just to clarify restfulness on the Oura app or the Oura ring, what that refers to our sleep disturbances caused by wake-ups or just general restless time. Restless sleep is far less restorative than uninterrupted sleep. It's one of the prime causes of daytime sleepiness, like being in bed all night but having multiple awakenings just because you never get into a good sleep cycle. And Oura, if you go to their website, they've got some basic recommendations, like avoid a big heavy meal prior to bed, especially with spices, high amounts of fat and alcohol and caffeine in the afternoon or the evening. Sound recommendation. Most people are pretty aware of that. I think the main people that need to pay closer attention to that are these so-called one meal a day folks who are fasting all day then having that huge evening meal. If they have a lot of sleep disturbances or restlessness, they should perhaps rearrange their day accordingly.
Jay: You're saying trying to move their meal like earlier in the day?
Ben: Yeah. Move their meal earlier in the day, yeah. If you want that long fasting cycle, make it like lunch your biggest meal of the day, which we see a lot of these Blue Zones cultures doing, anyways. Optimizing your sleep environment and making sure everything's cool, quiet, and dark. Yeah, that's normal sleep hygiene. They recommend finishing up any exercise one to two hours prior to bedtime. I'll get into that in a second. And then dimming bright lights and bright screens. All stuff that most people are familiar with as normal sleep hygiene.
But when it comes to sleep disturbances, I think there are a few other things to bear in mind. So, first, there is some evidence that humans have, for a very long time, slept in shifts. Meaning that throughout history, there have been numerous accounts of what's called segmented sleep. So, anthropologists have found evidence that, for example, in pre-industrial Europe, bimodal sleeping was the norm. So, sleep onset wasn't determined by a set bedtime but kind of what the day's tasks involved.
And there's a book by a guy named Roger Ekirch in which in that book, it's called “At Day's Close: Night in Times Past,” he describes how households in that era would retire a couple hours after dusk, and then wake a few hours later for one to two hours, and then have a second sleep until dawn. And during their waking period, they would be making love, or journaling about their dreams, or relaxing, or sewing, reading, doing a few tasks by the light of the moon or by some kind of fire lamp or oil lamp. That's something that we see in relatively recent–anthropological? Anthropological I think is the word, evidence. Yeah, yeah.
There was another study that was done in the early '90s, a laboratory experience where a group of people were left in darkness for 14 hours every day, instead of the typical eight hours for a whole month. And it took some time for their sleep to regulate based on this. But by week four, they all developed this distinct two-phase sleep pattern where they would sleep for four hours and they'd wake for one to three hours, then they'd fall into a second four-hour sleep cycle.
Now, here's the problem with this whole split sleep schedule idea. A, in an era of screens and artificial light and LED lighting and a culture that generally, from a social standpoint, has a lot going on at night, very few of us are only seeing moonlight and firelight and the setting sun, heading to bed at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. and able to get into a few sleep cycles, wake up around midnight, tool around for a little while, read a book, bang your spouse, whatever the case may be, and then fall back asleep and have the luxury of being able to sleep in 'til let's say 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. after that, right? Like, many people's schedules dictate that, A, they're going, going, going. They might be able to get to bed by 10:00 if they're lucky, and then they got to be up at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. to be sure they get to the gym and work and everything else.
Our culture has changed in such that I think a biphasic sleep cycle that probably the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to that kind of split shift type of sleeping. So, regardless of what our ancestors did, I think that we don't live in a culture that, just from a social standpoint, really allows that to be a healthy approach. There is also some evidence that our ancestors maybe didn't get eight hours of sleep a night. So, there's one research study that was done among the Hadza, the hunter-gatherers in Tanzania, and also the Tsimane, which are hunter horticulturists who live in the Andean foothills, and then also the San, who are hunter-gatherers in Namibia.
And they studied all the sleep habits of these folks. They measured their body temperatures, the environmental temperatures, the amount of light exposure. And what they found was that many of these people were actually sleeping less than seven hours a night. And on average clocking, an average of 6 hours and 25 minutes a night. In addition to, in many cases, kind of having this two-shift sleep cycle, they had very quick sleep latency, however. They fell asleep very quickly and had very good sleep cycles when they were asleep. The researchers hypothesized that a big part of this was sleep temperatures or sleeping in very cold environments, similar to what we might get if we were out camping, for example.
And again, I think if we compare this study to the way that we live these days, we again need to be careful to draw corollaries because–many of these hunter-gatherer tribes, they have active lives outside during the day, working for five, six hours. But then there's ample time for relaxation, lower amounts of stress, lower amounts of potentially circadian rhythm disrupting artificial light exposure. And I think at a perfect de-stress scenario, I just got back from camping and I might–Giardia didn't strike me 'til a couple of days after.
But I was probably sleeping about seven hours a night. We're hitting the sack around 9:00, and I'd be up about the time the birds were singing, sometime around 4:30, 5:00 a.m., and had great energy levels all day long. We were out collecting firewood, and making water filters, and making solar stills, and gathering plants, and I had no phone, computer, Wi-Fi, a lot of this. It was just me and my kids and my wife and a survival specialist just hanging out in the woods. And I didn't really feel that afternoon slump that I would usually get if I were sleeping six to seven hours a night during my normal day-to-day job at home with all the Wi-Fi and the artificial light and the Bluetooth. I say Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Jay: Did you happen to have your Oura on while you're out there like in airplane mode or anything?
Ben: Yeah. I had my ring and my sleep cycles were pretty good. The ring told me I wasn't getting as much sleep as the ring would recommend, but my sleep cycles were really good. So, I think that even when we look at hunter-gatherer ancestors, the amount that they sleep, we certainly need to again contextualize that with the way that we live these days. So, that all being said, in terms of my recommendations for reducing sleep disturbances, I can tell you some of my biggest wins that give me a higher restfulness score on the Oura app. So, here we go.
First of all, any cup of coffee that I have after noon, and remember I'm a fast coffee oxidizer which means the half-life in coffee for me is like three to four hours, but still any cup of coffee that I have after noon, unless I have some kind of an evening party or evening event that I know I have to artificially elevate my central nervous system to stay awake during, I either add 100 milligrams of L-theanine or a packet of reishi, like a packet of Four Sigmatic reishi. Both those can help out tremendously. Or I just do decaf. Kion doesn't yet have a decaf coffee, but my mom–
Jay: Oh, yet. I heard that word yet.
Ben: It's coming. My mom is a coffee roaster. She owns a coffee shop 90 minutes from my house. She ships me a bag of decaf about once a month. I'll go through a bag of decaf for those afternoon sessions or when I switch off of caffeinated coffee, which I occasionally do. So, that's number one is that the coffee component is pretty big. Number two, when it comes to compounds or supplements, don't worry I'm not going to list a ton of supplements, listen to last week's episode in which I talked about some of these gamma-Aminobutyric acid inhibitory neurotransmitter precursors like passionflower and valerian and stuff like that.
But again, CBD, my restfulness goes through the roof with CBD. Now again, I take 600 to 100 milligrams. The three brands I kind of cycle through are I use the BioCBD sleep capsules which have some Ayurvedic herbs added to them like turmeric and ashwagandha and some other relaxing compounds, or I use Thorne soft gel hemp product, or for kind of the big guns, and I'll link to all these in the shownotes, the Elemental Health maximum strength CBD, which is like a sublingual texture. If I do four dropperfuls of the elemental health stuff, I'm groggy the next morning, but only for like 20 minutes. Once I get up and around and get a cup of coffee in my system, I'm good to go, but I seem like–
Jay: And that stuff's full spectrum, isn't it?
Ben: Baby with that stuff, yeah, full-spectrum, like their maximum strength bottle, it'll knock you on your ass without any THC or anything. So, that's what I would recommend from a supplementation standpoint. I also did a big podcast called The Effects of Exercise, Carbohydrate, Saturated Fat, Protein Fiber, and Micronutrients on Sleep. And there were a few big takeaways from that podcast, which I will link to in the research. But some of the bigger takeaways were, A, if you are going to have a meal before bed, like if you are a dinner eater, save most your carbohydrates for dinner because you'll get that serotonin release that actually enhances restfulness. I don't eat a lot of carbohydrates the entire day, but I'll have 100 to 200 grams of sweet potato, or yam, or millet, or white rice, or a little red wine, or dark chocolate with dinner, and that's helped a lot with restfulness and with reducing sleep disturbances.
So, that's one. The other thing that they found based on the research in that podcast was regular amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and adequate amounts of fiber, which I know for those who are on the carnivore diet or who have IBD issues related to raw or excess fiber intake, that could be an issue. But in most folks, fiber seems to help, omega-3 fatty acids seem to help, and then also adequate protein during the day, which is probably why that trick of using collagen or amino acids prior to bed can also help out a little bit. That's a common protocol is you take 10 to 20 grams of collagen or something like essential amino acids prior to bed.
So, those are a few things from a dietary standpoint. There's also a little bit of evidence that chronically low vitamin D levels may cause impairments in restfulness. So, making sure your vitamin D levels are topped off, and if not, using a good vitamin D, vitamin K liquid blend. I like the Thorne blend, for example, for that.
Jay: Yeah. Do you have any thoughts on people taking glycine? Because I know that's a big thing now.
Ben: Well, glycine is wonderful when it comes to balancing out the amount of methionine in your diet from something like meat. But when it comes to its comparison to collagen and amino acid availability, it really doesn't hold a candle because you're just looking at really, one amino acid or one building block with glycine. So, I'm a bigger fan of using essential amino acids or collagen if it's for the sleep component. Many people do swear by it by a cup of bone broth before bed, but I get better results with collagen or essential amino acids.
A couple of other things. I briefly touched on what Oura recommends for exercise, but based on the actual research that I have seen, any hard exercise session needs to be completed three hours prior to bedtime, if you want to include restfulness, or if you want to increase restfulness, right? So, if you're going to the CrossFit gym at 7:00 p.m., but you want to go to bed at like 9:00 a.m. so you can get up at 4:00, I would adjust that. If you want to go to bed at 10:00, I would have any hard exercise just done by 7:00 p.m. So, vigorous late-night exercise can affect sleep quality for sure.
And at the same time, a brief burst of high-intensity interval training, as well as aerobic training, especially later on in the afternoon seems to actually help quite a bit with restfulness. So, doing like a Tabata set or a hike or something like that. Again, you'd want to finish it up, preferably, if you go to bed at 10:00, by around 7:00, three hours the magical rule, but that seems to help out quite a bit as well.
Jay: Yeah. Or a hurt set, which I've actually been doing since we've talked about it. It's been phenomenal.
Ben: Yeah. The high-intensity repeat training, which is very short, like 10 seconds efforts with very long rest periods. So, yeah, that's another good one. So, go listen to that podcast that I did because there's a lot more in terms of the effects of saturated fat, protein fiber, and micronutrients on sleep. But those with that I just went over, those are some of the bigger takeaways if you don't have time.
From an artificial light standpoint, definitely install the Iris app. F.lux is okay, but Iris–F.lux will reduce some of the screen brightness, but Iris will affect screen temperature. You can change up your font type. You can switch to paper mode, or red light mode, or anything else. It'll automatically adjust based on where your device happens to be in that area of the world at the time that you want to use it. I have a whole podcast with the guy, a Romanian engineer who designed the Iris app, but I like that one. Although they don't have a phone version, that one's wonderful for any desktop.
And then on the phone, there's a really great article, it's on gadgethacks.com, about how to activate red light mode on your phone. So, this isn't night shift mode. This is actually using the color tint feature on your phone and enabling the red tint. And then what you can do is you can set up which short key you want to use to activate that red tint. So, on my iPhone X, if I press this side button on it three times, it automatically sucks all blue light out of the screen, switches directly to red light, and that one works really, really well. I think there's a shortcut like that for some of the Android apps as well. But I'll link to the article on Gadget Hacks that does it for the iPhone.
Jay: It's really cool. Yeah. Like you said, if people are wondering, “Am I going to have to go into my settings and do all this? It's going to be time-consuming.” And the answer is no. I have the setup the exact same way. Just three clicks at the Home button to get it on, three clicks off in the morning. And then I just keep night mode on all day, actually, on my phone. But we'll put that one on around like 7:00 or so p.m.
Ben: Yeah. It's kind of funny. When I whip out my phone during the day and I'm showing somebody a photo or whatever, they're like, “Why is your screen so dim?” I'm just used to keeping that brightness level at rock bottom even during the day, then switching the red light mode at night. Yeah, it's kind of weird. It's just the way I use my phone. So, a few other things from a noise standpoint, of course, sleeping in a quiet room is good, but I've mentioned this before on the show nine times out of ten, if I've got my phone in airplane mode next to my bed, or if I'm in a very noisy environment or in a hotel or traveling, hooked up, I use the Bose noise-blocking headphones, but I actually don't turn on the noise blocking feature because I don't want the EMF from the battery signal next to my head. But I find they block noise just fine even without flipping that noise blocking feature on. And I don't use the Bluetooth version, I use the wired version. So, that plugs straight into my phone.
And then what I use is either SleepStream or something called Pzizz, P-Z-I-Z-Z. So, SleepStream, you can set that up for pink noise, which based on all the research of white noise, brown noise, all the different colors of noise, I don't know how they categorize them based on their color, but pink noise appears to be the best for reducing periods of wakefulness. And then on the Pzizz app, it's got like a ton of different settings on there for relaxing sounds, almost like spa music while you sleep. And I like this one called of blue and green. I also use the Pzizz app quite a bit for any psychedelic journeys, like if I'm going to do LSD or psilocybin or something like that and just want to basically trip out for a while. Typically, I'll lay down, I'll have a journal, I'll take my dose. This is something I would just do on a quarterly basis, but I've grown to really like that Pzizz app as almost like people will use Ayahuasca music, for example.
There's a guy named Poranguí, who I've interviewed on the podcast before who produces these tracks that are just wonderful for Ayahuasca journeys. But this Pzizz app, for some reason, any use of psychedelics, it seems to go really well hand-in-hand with. As a matter of fact, I'm getting a float tank installed in my house next week, and I'm going to figure out a way to just pipe the Pzizz app sounds into that thing and go to tan in the float tank a few times a month.
Jay: That would be sweet.
Ben: Yeah. And I'll probably do a podcast about float tanks at some point for people who want to know more about it.
Jay: Do it within the float tank.
Ben: A few other things, because I know we're getting kind of long in the tooth, for light-blocking. I found nothing that beats the Mindfold sleep mask. Again, that one was originally created for psychedelic journeying, but it blocks all light. You can get it on Amazon. It's pretty cheap. Mindfold is the name of that one though. And I'll link to all this stuff in the shownotes, too. And then also, the podcasts that I did with Dr. Joe Zelk on sleep apnea, I don't think it's any news flash for folks that sleep apnea and getting into a hypoxic state at certain points during the night can cause wakefulness and increase disturbances during a night of sleep.
So, I would consider getting yourself screened for sleep apnea, or even just wearing one of those pulse oximeters that will measure your oxygen levels during an entire night of sleep. And if you wake up and you plug in the data from that sleep or that pulse oximeter, you could just get like a 24-hour pulse oximeter. And you're seeing multiple drops in oxygen during the night. That's a pretty good clue. It's not gold standard, but it's a pretty good clue that you've got some kind of sleep apnea issue going on. And a lot of times, a customized mouthpiece and some adjustments to your sleeping position can help out quite a bit. But I have a whole podcast and an article that I did on that with Dr. Joseph Zelk, who's one of the leading researchers in the U.S. on sleep apnea. So, I would use that as a resource for sleep apnea.
And then finally, something that has already come up in this podcast, but that is an issue for many folks, and that would be the gut, in particular, parasites. And the reason for this is that we know that parasites in the intestinal tract are a trigger for wakefulness and sleep disturbances. And one of the reasons for this is not only do they generate a high level of ammonia in the brain, which is probably why I've had brain fog the past three days, and ammonia can lead to the production of something called ornithine transcarbamylase, which can really impact your disturbances during sleep. But bruxism or teeth grinding is a common side effect of a parasitic infection.
And then, these things tend to be more active at night in general. A lot of the–it's gross to think about, but a lot of the hatching from the eggs can occur while you're asleep at night, particularly during the hours of about 2:00 to 4:00 a.m. And so, if you need to go out, I would recommend, if you want to get tested, get the Genova Diagnostics three-day stool panel, and that'll tell you parasites, yeast, fungus, the different herbal and pharmaceutical protocols that each of those different strains might be sensitive to if you do get that test done, but I would not discount the importance of looking at any type of opportunistic infection in the gut as something that might increase sleep disturbances as well. And even though Oura doesn't have a parasite section on their app, I think that's important, too. So, I think, yeah, those are all the things that you can do to wake up less at night.
Jay: Yeah, yeah. I think those are all pretty good. I mean, I'd bang this drum last week and you already mentioned it when you're talking about the Bose EMF, but it's not going to hurt you to turn off the dang Wi-Fi. So, just give it a try. That would be my only thing I'd throw in there. Beating the EMF drum again, my woo-woo self.
Ben: Yeah, the EMF, or putting one of those Blueshield devices next to your bed, for example.
Jay: Like Joe Mercola and just sleep in a Faraday cage.
Ben: Sleep in a Faraday cage. That's crazy. Good guy though.
Jay: So, crazy.
Ben: Alright. Here we go.
Kaitlin: So, what I'm wondering is, is there a relationship between raised cortisol levels and impaired detoxification? So, everything from breakdown conjugation to final elimination. One of the reasons I asked is that I've noticed signs of what appear to be blocked or impaired elimination when under psychological and physical stress. So, specifically, acne and PMS. If such relationship does exist, how could someone tamper the effects cortisol has on detoxification and/or support detoxification better under periods of stress?
Ben: So, this is an interesting question because–I've talked about this before when I've discussed sauna protocols for detoxification and how the infrared rays, when you're in a sauna, can penetrate pretty deeply into the skin and cause a very deep sweat. But if you have a big sauna-like I do, like I have that Clearlight Sanctuary sauna, I'll exercise in it. I do kettlebell swings or yoga flow or whatever. And it's very interesting because the sweat I get when I'm exercising is less than the deep, deep cleansing sweat that I would get if I were just laying on my back on the floor of the sauna, doing breathwork.
And one of the reasons for that is that when the sympathetic nervous system is overactivated, it can actually inhibit some of that detoxification effect, or inhibit the amount of deep sweat that actually gets produced. So, it's kind of an interesting phenomenon, and is related really to the interplay between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. And when it comes to detoxification, specifically–which is what this question is about, the activation of liver activity. So, liver innervation, we know, is important for everything from management of hepatic fibrosis and liver diseases to regeneration of liver tissue, to circadian rhythm, which is highly linked to liver activity, especially if you have wakefulness between about 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. if you look at this from a Chinese medicinal standpoint.
And when you look at the liver, it's actually innervated by both the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. So, there's this splanchnic nerve, better-known vagus nerve that's around your portal vein in your hepatic artery and your bile duct. And the afferent fibers from those deliver information about everything from glucose levels to sodium and electrolyte levels called osmolality to lipid levels, et cetera. They transfer information from the portal vein to the central nervous system.
And so, this interplay between the autonomic nervous system that connects via the vagus nerve and the splanchnic nerve into the liver dictate that if you are sympathetically overactivated or in a stress state, it may actually downregulate some of these, phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification pathways. Where if you are in a parasympathetic state, you'll see increased bile production, you'll see increased blood flow to the liver. We know that the blood flow to the liver is actually linked to what are called sinusoidal rhythms. Meaning that the higher your HRV is from a heart rhythm standpoint, the higher amount of bile flow and blood flow is produced in the liver.
There's a fascinating study on this that I'll link to in the shownotes about the autonomic nervous system and the liver that was published in 2016 with some updated research on the interplay between the autonomic nervous system and the liver. We also know that when you denervate the sympathetic nervous system feedback to the liver, that can actually affect a normalization of circadian rhythm and increased hepatic metabolism. Meaning, if you basically de-stress the liver or lower sympathetic nervous system activity, you actually see increased liver function, which is directly related to enhanced detoxification.
So, that all being said, now that we know there's a link between the autonomic nervous system and the liver, we can look at different ways we could stimulate the vagus nerve, or different ways that we could activate the parasympathetic nervous system while downregulating the sympathetic nervous system, especially if we want to tamper some of the effects that cortisol might have on detoxification.
A few of the ways that that could be done, and I have a whole podcast on 30 different methods for stimulating the vagus nerve, but a few of the more effective ones would be, A, some form of regular cold thermogenesis, particularly in which your face is exposed. So, not a cryotherapy chamber where your face is sticking out of the chamber in most cases, but like cold water explosion, cold showers, cold face dunks, cold baths, et cetera. I jump in some body of cold water or take a cold shower every day because of the impact it has on my heart rate variability.
Singing, chanting, humming, playing a musical instrument, anything like that will actually increase activation of the vagus nerve, even gargling seems to do it. So, that's another one. Yoga meditation and breathwork, especially deep slow breathing like the four breath in, seven breath-hold, or four-count in, seven-count hold, eight-count out that I discussed, for example, in my podcast with Dr. Andrew Weil. That stuff seems to help out quite a bit. Good relationships, laughter, prayer, you shouldn't discount any of that when it comes to vagal nerve tone. And we're talking about actual studies that have looked at links between that, and either increased HRV or increased vagal nerve tone.
Jay: Yeah. There's a good stuff–I forgot who does the research on the unmyelinated vagus nerve, but it talks about safety and regulation of social interaction, how this can help with vagal tone. I cannot remember the individual's name, but it's a really good one.
Ben: Yeah. I'm not familiar with that person, but yeah. If you find it, just send it over to me. We can add it to the shownotes. Sun exposure, right? Sun exposure, the use of infrared and red light therapy seems to help out quite a bit with vagal tone. A few other things that I would consider be acupressure or acupuncture, like these sleep acupressure mats. Just laying on those either at some point during the day when you want to de-stress. Even just a couple of minutes on one of those can increase HRV and increase parasympathetic nervous system activation.
And then another thing that flies on the radar is massage. But in particular, there is some evidence that osteopathic manipulation may actually help with a lot of the tension and some of these muscles and tissues. There are a host of different DOs or osteopathic medical practitioners that can actually do specific body work designed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and kind of calm the nervous system and tone the vagus nerve. The way that I do it, because pulsed electromagnetic field therapy or PEMF, some of these signals have been shown to be able to also enhance vagal nerve tone is just once a week, I lay down on my PEMF table. I have one of these Pulse Centers PEMF tables, and I get a massage while I'm on that table, and I just feel my whole body melt. It's one of the best stress control strategies that I think I get at any point during–
Jay: Yeah. PEMF is pretty incredible.
Ben: Yeah. And I play some relaxing music, the PEMFs, the massage. I diffuse some lavender. So, there's a lot that goes on all at once, but that helps out quite a bit as well. And of course, meditation is also important. I think I already mentioned that, but meditation is important, too. Now, those are a few things that I would do. The only thing I would also consider from the supplementation standpoint, pretty good research on phosphatidylserine for lowering plasma cortisol. Thorne has a supplement called Iso-Phos that I like for that if people have really ramped up cortisol levels during the day.
And then another adaptogenic supplement, I think we might have this one at Kion. It's either on Kion or you could find them at Ben Recommends page, Inner Peace. It's like a blend of different adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha and rhodiola and reishi, et cetera. That one seems to help out quite a bit as well. Those are a few of the things that I would do. I know that's a lot of stuff, but that's what I would start with when it comes to lowering stress to enhance detoxification.
Jay: Yeah. Kind of to really piggyback off what you said, I remember the guy's name. His name is Stephen Porges.
Ben: Oh, yeah.
Jay: And he has, yeah, the polyvagal theory.
Ben: Yeah, polyvagal nerve theory. Okay. I know who–I've read his books. They're actually really good.
Jay: Yeah. Really interesting information. There's also another guy, if you're not familiar with him, Ben, or your listeners, his name is Paul Lehrer, and he is kind of a huge guy in the HRV research world. But he did some research to indicate whether or not breathing rate and actual specific breathing rates can affect HRV in the baroreflex. And it's something called resonant frequency, which is essentially figuring out what breath rate helps your heart and your respiration to be on the same phasic tone. So, in other words, for them to be in synchrony with one another. So, we might call this coherence. I know HeartMath is a program that calls it coherence. Paul Lehrer calls it resonant frequency.
And one of the things that's interesting with biofeedback, if Kaitlin's interested in some biofeedback, is that you can find your specific resonant frequency. And the way it's done is via an assessment. So, Paul Lehrer's research has indicated that humans typically have a resonant frequency between four and a half breaths per minute to as high as six and a half breaths per minute. So, somewhere in between, there is where most people's resonant frequency falls.
So, it might be interesting to find out your own resonant frequency. You'd have to find someone who does clinical biofeedback in order to do that. But if you do find out your breath rate that's optimal for you, then it's something that you can practice at when you do breathwork. Paul Lehrer has a lot of information on types of breathwork, whether it's even breathing, extended exhalation breathing, exhaling through pursed lips, a lot of good things from him. So, check out Paul Lehrer.
Ben: Cool. What I'll do is I'll link to some of his work, and then also some of Stephen Porges really great books on polyvagal nerve theory and the whole series of exercises you can do to enhance vagal tone. I'll put those in the shownotes as well. And then finally, one thing that I should mention is, of course, when you look at cortisol, it can be linked in excess to inflammation. And when you tone the vagus nerve, you'll actually enhance the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. And I've actually got a whole podcast coming up on this next week on someone who specializes in vagal nerve tone and acetylcholine levels, and some of the ways we can enhance vagal nerve tone.
But when you upregulate acetylcholine levels, that seems to be putting a major break on inflammation in the body. And then when you consider that reduced vagal tone can also trigger the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are substances that are produced by inflammatory cells. And that increased sympathetic nervous system activity coming at this from a vagal nerve standpoint, I think, is a really, really good way to go. So, that's where I'd start.
Ben: Hey, Ben. I have a question that I can't seem to get a consistent answer on, and that's about eating carbs and fats together in the same meal. So, many people say that if you eat carbs alongside fat, you're going to store the fat because of the insulin response from the carbs. However, it seems pretty hard to never mix the two in a meal, especially if you're doing strength training with some high intensity and you want to get those calories up. Like for example, when you posted that long article about your muscle mass gains protocol from a few months ago, there was a lot of like extra virgin olive oil alongside tubers and things of that nature. And that makes sense to me intuitively, but I was curious if I could get your take on if there's an upper limit on the amount of carbs that is safe to consume alongside fat if you are an active person. Thank you.
Ben: Well, I don't know about you, Jay, but one of my favorite things to do is a donut with a nice stick of butter. I also like to take a bunch of coconut oil and blend that up with a few tablespoons of white sugar and mink myself, not a fat bomb, but like a fat sugar bomb. I mean it. It really is probably one of the most hedonistic things that I do, and it's absolutely amazing.
Jay: That sounds nice. I go for a whole carton of Tillamook ice cream.
Ben: Love it. Yeah, ice cream is again, it's like grown-up breast milk, which is–that's actually relevant because if you look at pizza and ice cream and macaroni and cheese and chocolate, all these wonderful comfort foods, I don't know if wonderful is the right way to describe them, but comfort foods–
Jay: It's one way to–
Ben: They all have a 1 to 2 ratio of fat to carbohydrates. And a recent study at Yale University in 2018 found that that ratio, that combination of fat and carbohydrates actually has a synergistic effect on the brain that results in a very pronounced dopamine release in the same neural pathways that respond to addictive drugs. And so, these things are literally extremely hedonistic. Donuts and pizza would fall into that category, too. Ice cream, like you mentioned, in terms of triggering neural pathways that we probably developed when we were hunter-gatherers and we needed motivation to find food. And I mean, we know that in many hunter-gatherer tribes, if they're out in a persistence hunt for a deer and they pass, whatever, a hive of honey, they'll go after the honey right away because it's the most densely caloric thing they can find.
Jay: I thought you were going to say when they pass the Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donut–
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Or the Krispy Kreme right there on game trail. And I guarantee, mixing that honey along with a hefty dose of like lard from a deer or a pig that they hunted or killed, I mean that's a one-two combo when it comes to a ton of calories that can be stored away for another day. But of course in a westernized situation with caloric excesses all around us that can really come back to bite you. As a matter of fact, from a natural standpoint, human breast milk actually has that exact ratio, that 1 to 2 ratio of fat to carbohydrates, which is why human breast milk, I mean it's a great way to grow up tiny mammals into nice healthy fat anabolic mammals. But when you consider that ice cream and pizza and macaroni and cheese and chocolate, they are all essentially like grown-up versions of breast milk. We're not only consistently triggering those dopamine levels, but we're in that consistent anabolic state.
We know that the pleasure centers in the brain are highly, highly triggered by this. I mean, the dopamine is specifically from the striate and the reward center of the brain. That's why carb and fat-based foods can be so attractive and addictive and really comprise the majority of comfort foods that we would eat. But the problem is that–Ben asked about the actual insulin response. Yeah, that's an issue when the insulin response from the carbohydrates is enhancing your ability to be able to store the fat and the carbohydrates. Unless you're in a calorically deprived glycogen depleted state, most of that is going to get stored as fat.
A bigger issue for me is the consideration of gut health, particularly with relation to lipopolysaccharides. So, I'll just call them LPS's from this point on, so we don't get too long in the tooth. But lipopolysaccharides are bacterial toxins that can cause inflammation and a host of other health issues, and they're normally housed in the gut, but they can become toxic if they enter the blood through infection or through a leaky gut. I guarantee, right now, I have elevated LPS levels in my body, and I can feel them, the brain fog, and fatigue, and general malaise that I've had the past few days because of the leaky gut that the Giardia has induced in me. But you can also get that with a high-fat, and then particularly, a high-fat, high-sugar meal.
And LPS's are found on the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria, including things like E. coli and Salmonella. So, you get a ton of LPS's if you are infected with a bacteria or, for example, in my case, with parasite. But these things can really induce a host of metabolic inflammation. And what they have found is that a high saturated fat diet can significantly increase LPS levels. And in addition to that, if the saturated fats are consumed in the presence of a high amount of carbohydrates, particularly starchy or sugary carbohydrates, a so-called high-fat, high-carb meal, LPS levels skyrocket.
Now, the interesting thing is they've also compared high-fat, high-carbohydrate meals that are derived more of plant origins, like monounsaturated fats from extra virgin olive oil. And we don't see that elevation in LPS's anywhere near to the extent that we would see them after a meal rich in saturated fats.
Jay: That's interesting because that's one of the things that Ben asked about was like eating extra virgin olive oil with tubers.
Ben: Right. Exactly. So, we could then, based on this research, categorize which high-fat, high-sugar meals would probably be most deleterious to you. Or just from a pure inflammatory and lipopolysaccharide standpoint, we know that any high-fat, high-sugar meal is bad news bears if you're trying to lose weight. It just is. It induces storage of those calories. But there are some–let's say you're at your normal stabilized weight, you're not concerned about weight loss, you're relatively insulin sensitive, you exercise on a frequent basis, you have low-level physical activity during the day, well, if you're worn going to have fat and carbohydrates at the same meal, which makes that meal very enjoyable because we know you get the dopamine production from that, you would choose a monounsaturated fat source like extra virgin olive oil or avocados, for example, or olives, and you would have something like that with more of a healthy kind of Mediterranean-esque carb source.
So, like purple potatoes or yams or sweet potato with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil is perfect, or avocados on a low-gluten containing whole grain cracker, or some house-made sourdough bread. All of those are going to be a better combination of fat and carbohydrates versus, let's say a saturated fat full, fatty streak full cut of ribeye steak that is drenched in saturated fat rich oil like butter with a side of sweet potato fries or the breadbasket at the steakhouse, like that would be a bad combination, as would be something like ice cream. Even if it's one of these ketogenic natural ice creams but you're sprinkling, let's say a bunch of dark chocolate with sugar in it onto the ice cream, or–of course any of those comfort foods I mentioned earlier like pizza or dark chocolate or anything like that would also be an issue.
One could argue, if you're doing like a gluten-free or a sourdough crust based pizza with some fiber on it, like arugula to slow the insulin response and then you got a whole bunch of extra virgin olive oil on there, you're light on the cheese, it sprinkled a little bit of avocado and maybe some sliced up sweet potatoes, my mouth is watering now. I think I just came up with a pretty pizza recipe.
Ben: My wife makes amazing pizzas like this all the time. That would be an example of a carb fat profile that would be less damaging. So, the trick here is really consumed if you're going to have high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal, primarily monounsaturated fats, not saturated fats, primarily lower glycemic index carbohydrates if you can, or if it's a higher glycemic index carbohydrate like white rice or sweet potato or–sweet potatoes aren't that high, but let's say something like that, then include some fiber, some protein with it to slow the glycemic response to that meal. And that would be the main way I would go about the carb fat thing.
So, basically, the number one thing to think about if you get a plate full of fats and carbohydrates are, A, is this the saturated fat versus monounsaturated fat? B, is this a very starchy processed sugar versus a slower release more natural sugar? And those are a couple ways you could reduce the fat storage potential of this, and also the lipopolysaccharide formation.
Jay: Yeah. I know that listeners here are going to already know this, but I think it's worth mentioning too that a lot of times, like these studies that come out, or maybe what even Ben's asking about too here is in relation to the fats that can be oxidized or are oxidized easily. And so, obviously, if you're eating a donut that's full of oxidized fats and processed sugars, it's quite different than eating extra virgin olive oil alongside tubers. And so, I think you've already made that point, but it's just worth mentioning too that the oxidation of the fats is also quite problematic as well.
Ben: Yeah. And then, of course, there's the whole consideration of the browning of the proteins, and the advanced glycation end-products, and the idea that if you were to have that typical steakhouse meal with the breadbasket and the potatoes and anything else sweets during it including alcohol, you would also increase the formation of advanced glycation end-products. There's another issue. This is why when you look at Oktoberfest and a bunch of sausages and beer and bread, everybody's got red faces and inflamed eyes and leaky guts from lipopolysaccharides just because of that potent one-two combo. Ultimately–
Jay: But in that moment, they're pretty damn happy.
Ben: –I think the takeaway message is don't consume the modern grown-up equivalent of breast milk as a staple in your diet and you should be okay. So, there you have it, although I think if someone were to actually be able to sell breast milk, they could probably tap into that dopamine response and make bank. I don't know if there would be some–
Jay: Yeah. Probably so. I mean, you sell colostrum. You're almost there.
Ben: Yeah. It's an ethical consideration to a breast pumping factory. They might consider that to be taking advantage of women who are of breast milking potential, but we digress. I don't want to get nasty comments in the shownotes. But I do want to give some good stuff away. So, shall we read our top review of the week and send them some cool shit?
Jay: Yeah, we should, we should. This is a good one. And just like last week, we've already mentioned that, I have a penchant for long ones. This one's not as long though, but I do want to read, “Well Ahead of the Curve” is the title by bikesandcheese, another awesome name, bikesandcheese, which says, “At a time when a lot of mainstream health and fitness advice ranges from off-base to plain wrong, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast provides a refreshing holistic look at human wellness. The subject matter presented by Ben's guests is always thought-provoking and I've come to appreciate that he does not shy away from guests or discussions that are outside the widely accepted popular opinions. Too many great topics to list, but I can say with certainty that the knowledge I've gained from the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast has made me a healthier person, a happier person, and a better husband. You do not have to be an elite athlete to benefit from this podcast, the information is suitable for everyone. Thank you, Ben, and company for the invaluable information you are making available to the world. High five.
Ben: Elite athletes are meatheads, anyways. They can't understand any of this stuff. Yeah. If you play for the NFL or the NHL or the MLB or really anything like that, go find a simpler podcast, you luddites, meatheads. I stereotype. That's great. If you leave a review, simply email [email protected] if you hear your review read on the show. Include your T-shirt size and we will send you a handy-dandy Ben Greenfield Fitness gear pack with an amazing shirt and a BPA-free, Giardia free water bottle, and a beanie or a toque, sexy little Ben Greenfield toque.
You can also access all the shownotes, all the notes for everything you've just heard if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/400. My butt muscles are getting tired of clinching, so I should duck out pretty soon just so nothing leaves out. Go eat my garlic, take my poo, and hopefully, by the time we record again, this Giardia will be behind me. Well, it is already behind me, I guess.
Jay: For you and for the individual running behind you in Spartan Race this weekend.
Ben: Yeah. So, anyways, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/400, folks. Check it out. Leave your comments. Access the shownotes. They're pretty, as Jay is prone to say, copious. And, thanks for listening.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Q&A Episode 400
Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the button at the bottom of the page (or go to SpeakPipe), or use the Contact button in the free Ben Greenfield Fitness app.
- Natural Giardia Remedies
- This is pretty cool… It’s why CBD can “wake you up” in the morning, but then a similar dosage at night can enhance sleep and increase Deep Sleep percentages: Read more here. BGF podcast w/ Ted Achacoso
- The new “CBD is Toxic To The Liver” study claims are bullshit, and here's why.
- The latest on weed and exercise performance – basically, it may slightly reduce anaerobic performance (e.g. power output while cycling all-out) and may also cause slightly higher inflammation (but these were only VERY slight differences). Read about it here.
- I’m personally pretty happy that alcohol is slowly getting replaced by sexy new alternatives (although I still endorse one healthy glass of wine or healthy cocktail each day, many simply can’t stop at that): Read more
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Here's where I'm speaking and traveling around the world coming soon.
– August 3-4, 2019: Colorado Rockies Ultra, Beast, and Sprint Weekend – Aspen, CO. The mountains are calling! High in the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, team members from my company, Kion and I will be experiencing the immense beauty of Colorado while conquering climbs, crawls, carries, and traverses. We hope to see you there! Sign up here!
– September 12 – 15, 2019: RUNGA Immersion, Napa Valley, California. I attend this total mind-body reboot retreat each year with my wife, Jessa, to connect with a handful of friends and YOU can one of them! I would love if you could join me at this retreat. Click here for details on this incredible event!
– September 27 – 29, 2019: Spartan World Championships, Squaw Valley, California. Right beside Lake Tahoe, this epic venue was once host to the 1960 Olympic Winter Games. Join me there for the greatest obstacle course race in North Tahoe Lake, Olympic Village, CA. Sign up here!
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How To Wake Up Less At Night…34:45
Mike asks: Do you have any advice on improving the restfulness metric in the Oura app? I'm doing well with deep and REM sleep, but it says “pay attention” on restfulness. Do you have any thoughts on why that might be?
In my response, I recommend:
- Podcast: The Effects Of Exercise, Carbohydrates, Saturated Fat, Protein, Fiber & Micronutrients On Sleep!
- Ooler bed cooler (use code BEN25)
- Red light trick for iPhone
- Iris app
- L-Theanine or a packet of Reishi with any cups of coffee after noon
CBD (here are the three options I like):
- Element Health CBD (use code BEN15)
- Wild Health CBD (BEN10 for 10% off)
- Bose wired noise-blocking headphones
- Mindfold sleep mask
- My podcasts with Dr. Joe Zelk on sleep apnea
- 24 hour Pulse Oximeter
- Genova Diagnostics GI Effects 3 day Stool Panel
The Best Way To Lower Stress During Detoxification…58:05
Kaitlin asks: I've noticed what appear to be signs of impaired or blocked elimination while under psychological and physical stress, specifically acne and PMS. If such a relationship does exist, how could one tamper the effects cortisol has on detoxification and/or support detoxification better under periods of stress?
In my response, I recommend:
- My article on breathwork
- My podcast on 32 different ways to hack the vagus nerve
- Thorne Iso-Phos
- Inner Peace
- Stephen Porges work on polyvagal theory
- Autonomic Nervous System and the Liver
Should You Eat Carbs & Fat Together In The Same Meal?…1:09:30
Ben asks: So many people say that if you eat carbs alongside fat, you're going to store the fat because of the insulin response from the carbs. However, it seems pretty hard to never mix the two and a meal especially if you're doing strength training with some high intensity and you want to get those calories up. Like for example, when you posted that long article about your muscle mass gains protocol from a few months ago. There were things like extra virgin olive oil alongside tubers and things of that nature. That makes sense to me intuitively, but I was curious if I could get your take on if there's an upper limit on the amount of carbs that is safe to consume alongside fat if you are an active person.
In my response, I recommend:
- Dietary patterns reflecting healthy food choices are associated with lower serum LPS activity
- Endotoxemia is modulated by quantity and quality of dietary fat in older adults.
Giveaways & Goodies
– This week's top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!