November 30, 2019
[00:00:37] Thanksgiving Happenings
[00:04:05] Caring for People Who are Hurting
[00:08:03] News Flashes: Excellent overview of recovery method for Achilles tendon issues
[00:17:18] Low-Carbohydrate Training Increases Protein Requirements of Endurance Athletes
[00:22:06] Ayurvedic and herbal medicine-induced liver injury
[00:27:42] Podcast Sponsors
[00:32:58] Listener Q&A: Tips for Nervous System Recovery
[00:49:14] Fast Ways To Support Achilles Tendonitis
[01:03:01] The Best Way To Combine Sauna Therapy & Cold Thermogenesis
[01:13:33] Giveaways & Goodies
[01:15:20] End of Podcast
Ben: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show.
Recovery and injury hacks, the best way to combine sauna and cold, how to know if your nervous system is recovered, and much more.
Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
I am so sorry, I'm late to record today's podcast, Jay. I have had a fiasco occur in my garage.
Jay: Yeah. Dude, I've been sitting here watching my life just passed by waiting on your [censored].
Ben: My twin boys are outside cleaning up the disaster that ensued when I had them holding open the brining bags for our turkey for tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner. And it turns out you don't want to buy the cheapass brine bags from Rosauers' because one brine bag made it through the entire brine, the other brine bag burst open. So, there's about two and a half gallons of, let's see, apple cider vinegar, honey, molasses, salt, lemon, garlic, peppercorns, and I think that's about it. I think that's everything. That's on the garage floor right now.
So, one turkey is happily brining. The other one will not have the crispy, lovely, brown skin that it was originally intended to have until I slip up and brine it later after I record. So, I'm going to use some kitchen shears. I'm going to cut open the breastbone. This is called spatchcocking a turkey, spatchcocking.
Jay: Man, it sounds dirty.
Ben: I bet you didn't know that, did you?
Jay: No, I didn't.
Ben: You guys do any spatchcocking down there, down south?
Jay: All of the time, but we don't tell it to everybody in public.
Ben: That's right. And so, I'll spatchcock it, I'll lay it open, I'll smoke it for a couple hours on the Traeger, and then I will give it probably about–these are big turkeys. So, we get about 22 people coming over for Thanksgiving. So, then I'll give it a good grill for about an hour and a half and we will have us some lovely, lovely turkey. How are you doing your turkey this year?
Jay: That sounds epic. So, the turkeys, it's not cooked by myself or my wife. We usually go over to somebody's family's house. My extended family lives down in the Charleston area, so we normally go down there. And this is South Carolina, right? So, we fry turkey here, which is actually pretty good, not good for you, but it tastes damn good. So, that's what we're going to have this year, some fried turkey as always. And so, I'll do it on Thanksgiving and–
Ben: Well, you know, there is a healthy way to fried turkey. You know this? Have you heard about this?
Jay: Maybe. Tell me more.
Ben: So, it's an oil-less fryer, an oil-less fryer. You can get these things from like Home Depot or Costco. And essentially, they use infrared.
Jay: Like an air fryer?
Ben: They use infrared, yup. So, same thing as you do to yourself in the sauna you can do to your turkey, but it's mildly, as you probably would have guessed, more concentrated than what you get in the sauna, but you literally can cook a turkey using infrared and you get that nice crispy skin that you normally get from frying it in, say, peanut oil but you don't have the issue with budget, whatever. Kids running around for Thanksgiving, getting drenched in laser hot peanut oil. And you also, of course, don't get the oxidized fats from the peanut oil.
Jay: Right. Yeah. That's the biggest thing I'm afraid of is the oxidized fats. Well, and where can you find an air fryer that's big enough to fit like a full turkey? Because we can fit like an organic chicken, like a whole chicken, a really small bird into our air fryer, but I haven't seen like industrial-sized air fryers, but those are like Home Depot?
Ben: Yeah, Home Depot's got them. So, lest we bore any of our listeners from Australia, the U.K., Canada, I guess your Thanksgiving is already over, with our talk of turkey, yeah, today we're going to talk a lot about recovery. I'll also apologize, Jay, not only have I just finished cleaning all the brine off of my sticky feet, but I might be in a little bit of kind of a mental funk for today's show because I had a good cry this morning. You ever have a good cry?
Jay: I do. I mean, that is the nature of my job as a psychologist is to get a good crying every once in a while but is this something you're going to explain or there's something that's off-hand we're not going to talk about?
Ben: Oh, no, I could talk about it. Why not? I don't get too esoteric or woo-woo too much on the show. But yeah, just my wife and I–and I think part of it is the holiday season, part of it has been some struggles other family members are going through with things like cancer and relationship issues, etcetera. We have just been like super burdened lately with how we can help people more, and we both feel this really strong internal calling for care and for ministry, and it kind of like stepped that up in our lives a little bit more, just share the wealth a little bit more and figure out ways that we can help people.
I was overwhelmed this morning because–I journal a lot and I woke up last night just basically–so last night's dream, it was just me walking through a crowd of people, and all these people you could see in their eyes that they were hurting, that they were searching, that they were empty, and I didn't know how to help them, like I really wanted to help them but I didn't know what to do. And so, I woke up last night crying. My family and I, we always do our gratitude journaling together in the morning. So, we get out our gratitude journals and we write down one thing we're grateful for and one person who we can help or pray for or serve that day.
And then one truth that we discovered lately, and I started to talk about my dream last night and how much it's on my heart, and it's on my wife's heart too, to really be able to care for and minister to people who are hurting. Especially this holiday season, I just broke down crying and sobbed at the kitchen table for like 10 minutes. You know how your brain's a little foggy after you have a good cry?
Jay: Yeah. Now, indeed, or just a lucid dream, especially one that is so emotionally laden. I think this speaks to your heart, is that our heart comes out in our dreams. And so, while dreams are difficult to interpret in one sense, also there's sometimes that we can take them for face value, and I think that this is one of them for you where you really just have this passion and this drive to serve, and that is your calling. And when we take a look and step back at what the world has become or where we believe or perceive it might be heading, then it's going to tug at our heartstrings even more. And then it will, of course, result in some brain fog, but I think we're better for that brain fog.
Ben: Yeah. I mean, really, maybe the blessing in disguise is that this occurred right before we were about to podcast. So, I would say if you're listening and you've found really good ways to be able to care for or minister or help people in your community who might need help this holiday season or people who you know who are hurting and you want to leave your own feedback about ways that you've been able to help people out or ways that you think I and my family could do a better job helping people and caring for people and ministering to people, just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/406 and leave your comment there. And, of course also, if you have Achilles tendinopathy or anything else that we talked about on today's show, you can also ask your questions there as well. I suppose we should probably, after turkey gobbling, brining and crying, we should probably actually jump into today's show. What do you think, Jay?
Jay: I think that's a beautiful segue. Let's go.
Ben: So, Jay, we have been getting a ton of questions about recovery, about injuries, about supplements and hacks to fix things better. I think people are just breaking themselves right and left. What do you think?
Jay: I think you're right. When I sift through the questions that are being sent in, I'd say maybe 75%, 80% of them are about sports-related injury or recovery. So, I don't know what everybody's doing, but geez, stop it.
Ben: Yeah, seriously. Get your head screwed on straight, people. Start doing yoga and your infrared sauna. Just don't turn up the temp too high or you'll wind up on the Thanksgiving dinner table. Anyways, and that being said, I thought I would highlight a few recent newsflashes because I spend a lot of time looking at PubMed and some of these journals that come across my desk, and I tweet out the more interesting anecdotes over at twitter.com/bengreenfield if folks want to check that out.
But a few that were really interesting, the first was actually about Achilles tendon issues. I know a lot of people deal with not just Achilles tendon issues but tendon issues in general, and this was in the Strength Conditioning Journal. I'll link to it at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/406, but this was the October 2019 Strength Conditioning Journal. And it was a really, really good article that went into a lot of the different ways that you could manage tendon injuries. And there were a few in there that I haven't talked about much before on the show and that the listeners might not be that familiar with, but if you struggle with tendon issues, these might be a few things to look into.
For example, one was the use of what are called glyceryl trinitrate patches. So, these are actually well-studied for their use in tendinopathy. And what they actually do is they're almost like an off-label use for nitric oxide. So, you'd traditionally use these to treat like angina. But what they do is when you slap them over an area of the body that needs healing, they stimulate what's called fibroblast production, and they also increased the ability of that tendon to be able to last to failure. So, they're called glyceryl. That's G-L-Y-C-E-R-Y-L trinitrate, glyceryl trinitrate patches, and just basically a form of transdermal medicine delivery. But apparently, in the case of tendon injuries, there's some pretty good research behind these patches. Have you run across these at all, Jay?
Jay: No. I was going to ask you. Do you have to be prescribed to these or this is something that you can just find in the Interwebs?
Ben: I think these are prescription, I'm pretty sure. I admittedly, and maybe you could do this while I'm talking, go see if there's glyceryl trinitrate patches on Amazon. I don't know. Why don't you do a little look for that and I'll mention a few of the other really interesting things in this article? Another one was something that I've spoken with Dr. Matthew Cook about, but this is the first time I've seen it really explored much in the literature and it's called high volume image-guided injections, HVIGI. So, this is where rather than as most practitioners do, kind of like putting their thumb on an area and saying, “Hey, does this hurt? Does this hurt here?” and kind of like approximating where the delivery of like ozone or prolotherapy, or even say stem cells or exosomes are going to go. Instead, you use ultrasound and imaging to actually guide the needle very, very precisely into the area where there is like an effusion, or volume, or pain, or inflammation.
And I've had this protocol done myself by Dr. Cook at BioReset Medical in San Jose. I know there's another guy here locally. I just found out about Phil Lenoue in Spokane who does it. But if you can get a physician who does these image-guided injections, night and day difference between that and just having a physician kind of sort of approximate where the needle is supposed to go. So, that's another one that again, not just for Achilles tendinopathies, but knee issues, elbow issues, even back issues, et cetera, can be really, really efficacious, but it has to be image-guided injection. So, that was another one that came up in this study. By the way, anything come up on glyceryl trinitrate patches?
Jay: So, I didn't see anything. You type it into Amazon and all you're going to get is a bunch of hemorrhoid creams and a bunch of hemorrhoid oils. And I just [00:12:33] ______. It's just looking like it probably is prescription then. It would just be kind of my second guess.
Ben: Yeah. I would hazard a guess because I've actually used this, and my apologies to the kids in the minivans right now for boners, but nitroglycerin cream. If you smear that on your scrotum before sex or you give a little to your lady for a little blood flow to her wahoohoo before getting it on, it's amazing for blood flow, and of course the operational principle of it, and also the reason why it should never be combined with sildenafil or Viagra or anything like that because your blood pressure will just drop, it will plummet. It causes this nitric oxide release. So, perhaps you could use, in the absence of one of these patches, just some basic good old nitroglycerin cream, which everybody has hanging around the garage anyways for their dynamite experiments.
Jay: Yeah. That's exactly what I was thinking too is that I guess I didn't equate glyceryl trinitrate with nitroglycerin, but these are the same thing.
Ben: I believe chemically, they should be nearly identical, but I believe the glyceryl trinitrate patches are just like delivery of something very similar to nitroglycerin cream in a localized directed patch-based format. I'm not a doctor, so don't misconstrue this as medical advice.
Jay: All right.
Ben: So, anyways, there you have it. Maybe just grab some nitroglycerin cream, and that way, you're killing two birds with one stone. You're fixing your tendon and getting better boners, so yeah.
Jay: And relieving heart failure.
Ben: That's right, and relieving angina. So, the article goes on to a few other things, but one that I think is well-known amongst physical therapists but not as well-known amongst the general pop is the use of eccentric loading for any type of tendinopathy. Meaning, anytime you're lowering a weight, whether it's bodyweight or an actual weight, over a long period of time, you're taking that muscle through its lengthening phase. And that is actually very good at essentially causing these tiny micro-terrors that causes a bigger release of your body's own growth factors and stem cells to head over to that area. It's also really good at eliminating the formation of immobility due to the build-up of scar tissue in the area.
And so, this could be something that can be done for like slow loading squats for a knee issue, like very slow drop into a light squat, very slow drop into a heel raise or a calf raise for an Achilles issue. But this idea of eccentric loading, it's often used in physical therapy settings, but it's also pretty easy to do yourself, this idea of eccentric loading. And there are even now some fancy machines like ARX Fit is one company, I've interviewed them before on the podcast, that actually create exercise devices that just push you through very high load eccentric activity, which surprisingly is also pretty good for maintaining strength in the absence of creating injuries. Art De Vany, for example, is a big proponent of high-load eccentric training as a strength-building strategy. But also as an injury prevention strategy turns out, it can also be used as an injury healing strategy. So, there you have it.
Jay: Interesting. I've seen individuals who are working out on the ARX training like you've mentioned before, and it looks like they are just like on the struggle bus. I think Doug McGuff has a YouTube video where he is on that trainer, and it looks intense. Have you used one of those before?
Ben: Yeah. It's basically single set to failure training. It's single set to failure training and this is just the use of a machine to push you even harder than you'd be able to push yourself. They're pretty hefty. I have become popular amongst Z-list celebrities in the health influencer world for my annual foray to Paleo f(x) in Austin, Texas. Fantastic health conference and they always have these ARX Fit machines there, and they always dare me to just go to complete exhaustion on those things. I always do it, always winds up on Instagram, me making a poopy face while I'm exercising on these things.
And insider baseball story, Art De Vany, the guy I just mentioned, who has a robust history of doing eccentric exercise, he actually did a set on one of these things and then stood up and basically like fainted and somebody had to catch him. So, they're pretty intense. But under supervision by a professional, they can actually be really efficacious. I kind of sort of want one for my home, but I haven't been able to convince them to give me a slam and deal on one yet, so I'm just saying.
Jay: Just saying. It sounds like you can have [00:17:12] ______.
Ben: Yeah. I have a podcast that means you can give me free stuff. I think that's how it works.
Jay: I think that's how it works.
Ben: Yeah. Okay. So, anyways, we should move along. This one more related to diet. I figured I'd choose one thing related to training, one thing more related to diet, one thing more related to supplementation. But a recent study called Low-Carbohydrate Training Increases Protein Requirements of Endurance Athletes, this was recently in the last issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. And what they looked at was the protein intake, and also the protein synthesis post-exercise that occurs in endurance athletes who are following a ketogenic or a relatively low-carb diet. I think these people were somewhere in the range of about 20% or so for their carbohydrate intake.
And it turns out that–and I mentioned this when we talked about how to build muscle on a ketogenic diet, how that also requires higher protein requirements than you'd see amongst the average person. Well, it turns out that based on this study, the rate of whole-body protein synthesis required a far greater amount of blood levels of amino acids, particularly during the exercise session in athletes who had low-carbohydrate availability, low-glycogen availability. Meaning that if you want the benefits of, let's say, either you're doing this for weight loss so you're limiting carbohydrates, or perhaps you have some insulin sensitivity or blood glucose issues that you're trying to adjust, or perhaps you're just trying to take advantage of some of the endurance-boosting benefits of ketosis, well, one of the last things you should do is neglect your protein requirements particularly during exercise if you're training in a state of low-carbohydrate availability.
Actually, I start off one of the chapters of my new book, “Boundless,” about this discussion I had with Dr. Peter Attia. This was like–oh, gosh, this was back in 2013. Pete and I used to bounce a lot of stuff off of each other regarding endurance exercise and he filled me in on the utilization or the use of amino acids that he was using for a lot of his long fasted bike rides, because this was back when he was doing like 24-hour fasted bike rides at a pretty decent clip. And so, he recommended to me for Ironman training to use at the time what I think was the branched-chain amino acids made by BioSteel. And I used those for Ironman Canada pretty effectively, but I still bonked about nine hours into the race or so.
And then I made one switch. I switched them out. I switched out from branched-chain amino acids to essential amino acids, and that's pretty much the only reason right now that we sell essential amino acids at Kion is because I discovered them for being useful for ketosis and Ironman training and then realized it had a ton of other benefits that I don't have time to get into now that I think we've talked about in the past. But anyways, so I started using the essential amino acids, and I could literally just go for days, like ride my bike for days, run for days, no issues even in a state of almost zero carbohydrate availability.
And this latest study kind of backs that up. Your protein synthesis, your whole body protein synthesis or your whole body protein needs go up because of the greater amino acid requirement when you're exercising in a state of low-carbohydrate availability. So, one of the best hacks, so to speak, that you could use if you're a low-carb or a keto athlete would be to exercise with high levels of blood amino acids, particularly not flavored water, which is what branched-chain amino acids are, but actual amino acids like essential amino acids. So, it's an interesting takeaway. I'm fully aware that sounds like the fox guarding the henhouse because I own a company that sells aminos, but at the same time, I wouldn't sell them and I would encourage their use, especially for low-carb athletes if they weren't so darn effective.
Jay: Right. Now, I find them to be awesome. I don't do a ton of endurance training, so I'll do some functional fitness training that's a lot of my training but not a lot of running and cycling, but I found them to be so effective in just keeping my drive going, giving me an ultimate pump. Again, I realized I'm talking about resistance training, but I've loved them as well. I was wondering, Ben, do you know if someone like, let's just say Zach Bitter, for instance, do you know if he drinks aminos while he's in a race?
Ben: No. Last I heard, he just [00:21:45] ______ through ribeyes.
Jay: Just ribeyes? Okay. Yeah.
Ben: Yeah. Yeah, just ribeyes. No, I actually don't know. If he's listening, Zach, if you're listening, just hop on in the comment section and let us know. I think he might take a listen to a few of these shows because he and I used to talk a little bit more back in the day, and I think he's been a guest actually if I recall. I believe he is. Okay. So, anyways though, one other thing before we get onto Q&A and also some of the goodies and discount codes we have for folks for today's show, this one turned my head because I am a fan of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.
And in the past, I've used things like ginseng, and ashwagandha, and astragalus, and I've always sourced it typically from like local practitioners, meaning, like I have a local naturopathic practitioner, Toby Hallowitz, trained in Chinese traditional medicine, who has prescribed me certain formulas before. I also have an acupuncturist I've worked with who has given me some really good high-quality Chinese medicinal formulas. And then there's one guy, Roger Drummer, down in Portland, Oregon, like a wildcrafter biologist who either grows or harvests a lot of this stuff and makes even some of the stuff we have at Kion like TianChi & Inner Peace.
And so, I've used a lot of this stuff in the past, but this latest journal article is entitled, “Ayurvedic and herbal medicine-induced liver injury: It is time to wake up and take notice.” And it turns out that especially the use of traditional Chinese medicine and these Ayurvedic herbal formulas, they are particularly in the weight loss and the bodybuilding supplement industry rife with reports of hepatotoxicity, liver injury, and then also very high levels, especially in the Ayurvedic supplements, of arsenic, mercury, and lead.
And this just hit the streets a couple of months ago and it is really scary because these things are sold like hotcakes to people who have been told they have adrenal fatigue or people who are like buying some random off-the-shelf Ayurvedic formula for better sleep or for, whatever, decreasing cortisol levels at night, or maybe their taking some kind of a Chinese tonic for their kidney or their liver because their acupuncturist told them to. You need to pay close attention to source because last I checked, most of us only have one liver, and these things can be extremely hepatotoxic, the scary levels of liver injuries reported in these findings in this latest article that came out.
Jay: Yeah. That's pretty bizarre. I haven't gotten much. I would say more into Chinese herbal medicine, but not into Ayurvedic stuff until more recently. And then when I read this, once you sent it over, I'm just like, “Oh, crap, now what do I do about this?” I mean, what's your suggestion? How are we going to find places that are legit? Like you said, they're selling this everywhere and they're selling it like hotcakes. So, how is the everyday consumer to know what is okay and what is volatile?
Ben: Okay. So, first of all, I'll link to this article in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/406 because if you go through the references that are cited in the article, you can get a full list of the companies that came up dirty. Particularly, these were Ayurvedic medicines sold via the internet, and then some herbal and dietary supplement formulas that were mislabeled. And then finally, some different medicines or supplements that have lead and mercury and arsenic in them. So, that's number one.
Number two, you could look for the NSF certification. That's a really good one, as is the TGA certification out of Australia. That's what I recommend a lot of pro-athletes to use. We are pursuing certification with the third-party body like that at Kion, right now at Kion just because we're a small start-up and it's incredibly expensive and time-consuming to go through all that. We just pay a ton of care to certify good manufacturing practices. And also, our raw ingredient sourcing we're extremely particular on. However, really, I fully admit when people buy supplements from me, they're basically assuming that I'm an ethical businessman, and that my margins are not that high, and that I'm actually getting good raw ingredients.
And all of the above are true and that you just have to go on our word, and you can always ask us for a lab certificate of analysis or look into our process a little bit more. But aside from that, yeah, you got to look for NSF certification, CGMP facility or a TGA certification. And also, what I would just say is if there's anything, anything, any supplement, whether it's Chinese or Ayurvedic or not that you take on a regular basis, then you should ensure that you go and check on that manufacturer's website to see if they have any kind of lab certificate of analysis or what their manufacturing practices are, or you go to a website, like for example, Labdoor is a perfect example. They do third-party analyses of a lot of these supplements to see if they have in them what they say they have in them and if there's other things that might be toxic.
So, yeah, it's difficult but it just basically takes more than just grabbing your random bargain bin supplement out of the Walmart central bin because that's what happens to be on sale for the day. That's what you need to be careful with. That and anything you buy off the internet, basically.
Jay: Yeah. And then I guess just continue to know your own numbers. Go get your blood work done so something doesn't creep up on you that you weren't expecting because a lot of times, these things do not manifest physiologically as symptoms for a while. So, it's always good to get yourself checked.
Ben: So, speaking of tainted nasty supplements, let's talk about today's sponsor, which actually uses all certified organic shit in everything that they make, and that's my friend, Drew Canole, and his company Organifi, based out of San Diego. They just came out with a brand new powder that is designed to give you beautiful skin, and to repair DNA, to build collagen, to hydrate, to flood your skin cells with rejuvenating natural hydration. It's called their Glow. It tastes like raspberry lemonade, probably because the flavor on the label says raspberry lemonade. So, they nailed that. And it's tremella mushroom, bamboo silica, pomegranates, coconut water, baobab pink Himalayan salt, just chock-full of goodies for radiant skin. So, that one's called Organifi Glow, and they're giving all of our listeners 20% off of Organifi Glow. You go to organifi.com/ben and you use code BENG20 at organifi.com/ben.
And then, especially for you dudes out there, once your skin is looking beautiful, we also have a wonderful clothing sponsor who has given us a fat discount, 25% discount off of any of the gear from this company, Vuori. I'm actually wearing Vuori shorts right now. I love the way that their clothing fits. I like that I can wear it to the gym but then also look pretty good anywhere I go after the gym. I might not smell good, but I'll look pretty decent. They make stuff for running, for spinning, for yoga. They've got these Banks Shorts, which are awesome. Like if you get anything from them, get their Banks Shorts. They're made from recycled plastics, sustainably made. They have this really good athletic fit for a stretch, quick-drying. Use them for just about anything. So, if you want to try out a Vuori product, I recommend their Banks Short as your Vuori sommelier. It's actually spelled differently than it sounds. It's V-U-O-R-I. So, you go to VUORIclothing.com, vuoriclothing.com. And for 25% off, you just enter code BEN25.
Jay: I'll have to say even though you prefer the bank, I actually like their Kore Short, K-O-R-E. Maybe Kore, I don't know. I'm going to go with Kore. But I have just gone ahead and said, “I'm never going to buy another pair of shorts that doesn't have a liner in them because I've worn a pair of shorts that has a liner in them.” So, if you want a liner, that's a good one to go with. If not, the Bank is a good one, too.
Ben: If you don't like to wear underwear, basically —
Ben: –is what you're saying? Yes. And then finally, speaking of fashion accessories, including not wearing underwear, we've got MVMT watches. So, MVMT watches, if you're still scratching your head about what to buy a loved one or yourself for the holidays, they have these perfectly curated gift boxes of sunglasses, watches, fashion accessories. They have like this 1960s American muscle car inspired blacktop watch collection. They just drop their super sleek hexagonal watch called the Odyssey. Most their watches, you're looking at 400 to 500 bucks to get the same quality at a department store, and they're selling their stuff for 95 bucks. In some cases, less than that. And they look amazing. They've got men's and women's models. They've got bracelets, they've got straps, they've got everything that you would want to go along with how good you're looking anyways because you listen to this show.
You got great skin, you got a great body, right, because you listen to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show. And hopefully, hopefully, I'll dig into the woo-woo here a little bit, you've also got a robust and healthy spirit and great relationships because I don't want to give anybody the impression that having a nice body or a nice watch is all that it takes to be a good person. But anyways, I digress. MVMT watches, M-V-M-T.com/ben. It gets you 15% off and free shipping and free returns, M-V-M-T.com/ben.
And then finally, as far as the upcoming calendar of events go, there's not a whole lot that's going on over this holiday season that is like a public-facing event aside from all of my book launch parties. The entire book launch is going to start in January. So, we're going to have a book launch party in L.A. We're going to have a book launch party in New York. Tons of amazing food, drinks, people. We're doing it upright. And so, if you want to know when all the party starts starting in January, L.A., New York, and quite possibly beyond, go to boundlessbook.com. That's where you can get my brand new book. You can get it on the parties. We're going to really whoop things up right in 2020. So, boundlessbook.com.
All right. Here we go, nervous system. Ready to do this, Jay?
Jay: Let's do it.
Carmen: Hey, Ben. I'm Carmen and I'm from Germany. In your last blog post, you talked about your tips for rapid recovery. I think most of these recovery strategies are for physical recovery, but how can someone enhance nervous system recovery? My body recovers pretty well from my current training volume and intensity, but sometimes my nervous system isn't. How would you measure the recovery of your nervous system besides overall well-being and HRV? Thanks, Ben.
Ben: Well, I am–first of all, you know what, I think I have probably, after digging into the latest research on the nervous system and how it recovers, not been quite accurate in the past when I have said that the neuromuscular system or the nervous system can take significantly longer to recover than the muscles. Meaning that in the past, I've said, “Well, pay attention to your heart rate variability, for example, to track your nervous system's readiness and preparedness to train because often even though you aren't sore anymore after a training session, it doesn't mean that your nervous system is fully recovered.”
And by pushing through nervous system fatigue, and this has been shown, you can basically create a scenario of illness or injury. And by paying attention to the nervous system, particularly via heart rate variability, you can actually ensure that you are nipping injuries and illness in the bud before they actually occur. So, that all being said, when we look at central nervous system fatigue, that's not entirely true for central nervous system fatigue. So, basically, there's a few different forms of nervous system fatigue, and one of them is central nervous system fatigue.
So, basically, central fatigue would occur when your motor neuron activity decreases or the excitation that your brain is supplying to those motor neurons via the motor cortex, that just basically decreases. It's almost like your brain poops out so you get a decrease in what would be known as voluntary muscle activation. So, if your CNS is fatigued, it has trouble actually activating your muscles. So, even while your muscles might be capable of producing a lot of force, they can't because the CNS is not able to give them the proper instructions.
And there's a few myths about the central nervous system that I think have kind of perpetuated that if you look at the research are simply not the case. So, for example, that first one that I mentioned that takes longer for the CNS to recover than from muscular fatigue. Well, using measurements of central nervous system recovery, including electrical muscle measurements, they have studied the time course of recovery after strength training. So, what this means is that they've looked at what happens when you reduce the motor neuron excitability after you've been training for a while. It's like your muscles poop out, seems like your nervous system just can't call on the muscles anymore to train.
Well, one study in 2016, they were able to, following strength training show, a whopping 46% decrease in what's called corticospinal excitability, which is basically the ability of these potentials to travel down through the spinal cord and over to the muscles to recruit these muscles. And it took to recover from that near 50% loss in nervous system function about 20 minutes, took about 20 minutes. So, we're not talking two days, you're not talking three days. So, basically, you can fully recover from central nervous system fatigue from a hard strength training session essentially acutely, like by the time you walk out of the gym. So, there are other forms of fatigue that we can talk about, but if it just comes to this decrease in the ability of the brain to be able to recruit muscle, you recover from that really damn fast.
Furthermore, there's another myth out there that if you have a very high-intensity exercise session, you're going to induce more central nervous system fatigue. And I've said this in the past like your nervous system is going to take longer to recover from say like a CrossFit workout than it would to recover from like a 90-minute low-level aerobic exercise session. Well, it turns out that that is also not the case. Essentially, muscle ammonia production during exercise leaks into your blood, it crosses the blood-brain barrier, and it causes what's called neurotoxicity, which is what appears to be causing some of this motor cortex fatigue that you do recover from very quickly.
But it appears that ammonia buildup, there's not a big difference between, say like an elite athlete squatting eight plates versus a marathoner doing a long steady-state endurance exercise session. Basically, both are capable of causing equal levels of CNS fatigue. So, you're not a special snowflake if you're a strength and power athlete. You're also not a special snowflake if you're an endurance athlete. Both can cause this ammonia buildup that results in a little bit of neurotoxicity that causes your brain to say, “Okay. We're going to mess things up here if we keep on pushing through, so we should start to decrease the amount of force that this cat can produce.”
Ben: So, that's another little fatigue about it. And then finally, I've also said that, for example, like I've noted that my heart rate variability will drop very heavily during a compound exercise, like a squat or like a deadlift. But even though that's my anecdotal observation when I dug into the research after seeing this question, it turns out that they've actually looked at squats, at deadlifts, at different amounts of weight, and even at leg extension bicep curls compared to things like deadlifts and squats, and found that there isn't a remarkable difference in the amount of nervous system stress or nervous system fatigue that occurs with a compound lift versus a, like a single joint lift.
Now, that being said, I think that if you want to figure out what exercise session stresses your nervous system out the most so that you can determine which exercise session is going to give you the most bang for your buck, you should still test yourself. Meaning, you download the NatureBeat app on your phone, you put on a Bluetooth enabled heart rate strap, and then you go work out and you pay attention to your sympathetic and your parasympathetic nervous system response, and you'll be able to see which exercises really stress the nervous system the most to be able to figure out what's right for you. But generally speaking across a broad population, it doesn't appear that there is a big difference between a deadlift squat, bicep curl, leg extension, etcetera, but I suspect that this is highly individual, if that makes sense.
Jay: Yeah, I know. I would expect the same thing. Even though I had no clue of that, I actually would have thought the more compound heavier movements would have stressed your overall heart rate variability much more, then doing something like you said like a leg extension or leg curls, that is some really interesting research and it kind of makes me want to go throw on a chest strap and give it a try for myself.
Ben: Yeah, you should. Get a good, like the —
Jay: The Polar?
Ben: Polar H6 is good, the Viiiiva Bluetooth one, V-I-I-I-V-A. The Viiiva heart rate monitor is good. Both of those chest straps, just put it on, go to your workout, but have–I'm not a fan of always having your phone and Bluetooth on during a workout, but this would just be as a test, not something you do every time. Download the NatureBeat app onto your phone, just have it sitting in the gym while you're doing this workout, and then just go look at your data afterwards. Download all your data afterwards and see and you can do that a few times or just like once or twice a month to see how certain workouts are affecting your nervous system. And that's a very good way to track it.
Jay: Even if you notice some deleterious effects on your HRV in the moment, from what you've indicated, in one sense, it doesn't even really matter, right, because you're going to recover from that fairly quickly anyway. Am I hearing you right in that or am I like totally off?
Ben: Well, I haven't given you the full story yet because of course, we know that there's something outside of the nervous system that would require recovery, and that's muscle damage, right? We know that there are small disruptions to your sarcomeres, to the muscle cytoskeleton, to the cell membrane of the muscle fibers. We know that there can be tears across the fiber, tears across the fiber's collagen layer. There can even be complete destruction of the muscle fiber from a very hard work out, which is why sometimes we'll even see those proteins in our urine, and call it rhabdomyolysis, or see those high levels of CRP in a blood test and your doctor thinks you've had a heart attack and all you've done is a hard workout.
That's all muscle damage, which occurs preferentially in your fast-twitch muscle fibers, and it is definitely something that contributes to fatigue, and that's why our listener is asking us how–well, that's one thing, and we know that once the soreness has gone away, it's a pretty good sign that the muscle damage is gone, although you could, of course, pee on a stick and look at the amount of proteins in your urine as well. We know that there's also this central fatigue, which we've already defined, the reduction in your ability to be able to exert a voluntary force, the reduction in motor unit recruitment.
And then we have peripheral fatigue. So, peripheral fatigue is also related to the peripheral nervous system. So, this would also be a form of, in my opinion, nervous system fatigue, although I like to think about it as more of like biochemical fatigue. Meaning, this would occur from a reduced release of calcium ions from the sarcoplasmic reticulum during exercise, or reduced sensitivity of your myofibrils to calcium ions, or reduced amount of neurotransmitters available for your brain to be able to communicate with the rest of your body.
And so, the peripheral fatigue is something that can occur and often does occur hand-in-hand with central fatigue and it is, I suspect, the peripheral fatigue that results in a longer time to recovery even if the muscle soreness has already gone away, then the central fatigue would be a contributor because it appears we can buffer the lactic acid, we can buffer the ammonia almost right away, get rid of what's causing the central fatigue. We know the muscles can repair and recover within 24 to 48 hours in many cases, although from a very hard work out, it could be longer than that. It can be five to seven days.
But peripheral fatigue can be highly dependent in your dietary status, on your supplement status, everything from your neurotransmitters, to your amino acids, to your creatine phosphate, to your omega-3 fatty acid status. So, that's where I think there's a high amount of variability from person to person, and that's why I think that things like the use of smart creatine supplementation, amino acid supplementation, fish oil supplementation, even the use of in some cases very hard-charging athletes, just the use of like ribose or ATP or anything that replenishes that phosphogenic pool, anything that can be used as a precursor for neurotransmitters works so well in helping peripheral fatigue recovery to occur more quickly.
And again, like tooting my own horn, that's why I think amino acids are one of the best supplements you can take before workout because you'll bounce back from peripheral fatigue so much more quickly. And when you think about central fatigue, well, central fatigue is lactic acid buildup, then you could also use something that would decrease the amount of lactic acid buildup, such as like arginine, or citrulline, or an L-carnosine, or something like that, and then you've got the best of both worlds.
You're delaying peripheral fatigue or at least allowing yourself to recover from peripheral fatigue more quickly. You're allowing yourself to buffer acid and ammonia so you're not getting central fatigue quite as quickly. And then as far as the muscle damage occurs, you're also supplying yourself with the pool of amino acids you need to be able to repair the muscle more quickly. And we'll talk about some other things. I think there's another question about things we can use to repair muscles more quickly coming up, and we can address that in more detail.
But ultimately, the long story short is those are the three different forms of fatigue, peripheral, central, and just physical muscle fatigue. And of course, Carmen's question, which I didn't fully answer yet, would be how do you actually measure that. So, Carmen answered her own question by referring to HRV. Really, measuring your HRV and waiting for your heart rate variability to return to a good high score, typically 80 or higher is what I like to see, that's a good indicator of nervous system repair and recovery. Go listen to the podcast we did a couple episodes ago. I think it was number 404 in which we talked about how your HRV values are going to differ from device to device a little bit, like an Oura versus a WHOOP versus a NatureBeat versus an elite HRV, et cetera. But ultimately, you're looking for your HRV to return back close to what it was before.
There are some other things that you can look at as well. For example, hand grip dynamometers, so handgrip strength testing using like a digital handgrip tester. They're called dynamometers. You can get them off of Amazon and it's just a simple handgrip strengthening measurement, and that actually is a very good correlation where there is a very good correlation between grip strength and the readiness of your nervous system to train again. Meaning, once you're able to squeeze as much force as you could prior to doing that hard workout, it's a good sign that your nervous system is recovered. So, a handgrip dynamometer would be another way to measure.
And then finally, you can download this app. And it's interesting, they're using this app now. I believe it was Paul Stamets, who was recently interviewed by Joe Rogan about some new psilocybin research that they're doing or plant medicine in general. And they have a new app that allows you to test your response to the use of plant medicines or really any supplement. And one element of that app is a CNS Tap Test, which is just the amount of times you can tap per 30 seconds or per minute with your right thumb, and then your left thumb, and you compare. And once your tap test speed has returned to normal, that's also a good sign of nervous system recovery.
And of course any of these corollaries I'm talking about, dynamometer, CNS Tap Test or an HRV test could also be used in real-time, almost like those cheesy muscle testers that a health expo will have you hold out your arm and take a supplement and see if it makes you stronger or weaker. Because of the reliability and validity of the person testing you, I call in to question sometimes even though I don't fully throw a muscle testing out the window, I just think it's used incorrectly much of the time. But this would be a way you can self-test like, “Okay. Is this supplement working for me? I take fish soil for a week, I changed nothing else, does my CNS Tap Test get faster or slower, or for example, I consumed XYZ macronutrient ratio on this day and my grip strength is at XYZ versus it's at ZYX the next day.
So, these are interesting to be able to track in real-time because your nervous system can tell you a lot about stress, about food, about supplementation, about sleep, but your top three ways to test it would be long story short, long answer to Carmen's question would be dynamometer, CNS Tap Test, or an HRV measurement, and I will link to all of that stuff in the shownotes if you just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/406.
Jay: Yeah. The CNS Tap Test sounds pretty cool because it actually sounds like an old-school neuropsychological evaluation measure, which is called the Finger Tap Test or FTT, and this is something that we utilize with a lot of patients who have traumatic brain injury, are rehabilitating from things like Parkinson's and they're trying to increase their overall utilization of their CNS. So, that's pretty cool. I actually had no idea it was like in an app format. So, that's one that's worth whatever it costs, buck, two bucks.
Ben: Handy dandy.
Ben: Here we go.
Dasha: Hi, Ben. This is Dasha here from Australia. I really love your podcast. Thank you so much for providing so much information on health and fitness and spirituality. I have a question for you. Is there any supplements or peptides or anything that I can take to improve my condition with Achilles tendonitis that I have developed because of running?
Ben: Well, we've already established that boner cream is quite good for Achilles tendonitis, so that, but actual supplements or peptides. First of all, a short answer is yes, there are. Probably, most people these days when they hear somebody ask about peptides, they think about these newfangled injectable peptides. Meaning that you go to a website like the peptidesociety.org, which is the website for the International Peptide Society, you find a good doctor on there who can prescribe you peptides from a good organization that's selling clean peptides like Tailor Made Compounding, for example. I like them. They've got really good amino acid sequencers and make really good, clean, pure peptides. They're not the only ones out there, but that's typically what I use.
And then you look into the type of peptides that can be used to accelerate healing, particularly of tendons. And at the top of the totem pole is what's called body protection compound 157 or BPC-157. You have it in your own gut. It's used to heal gastric tissue, but it can also have a lot of really beneficial speedy effects on healing of tendons or of gut issues when injected systemically. Meaning just like you pull up way little fat next to your belly button and you get an insulin syringe, and you draw your BPC-157 up into that, and you inject it. And a lot of people will do about–again, I'm not a doctor, we have well-established that, but 250 micrograms or so of BPC-157 for a couple of weeks.
Some docs will do big boluses, like 1,000 micrograms using guided imaging, like I was talking about earlier just straight into the area. Many docs will combine that with another peptide called TB-500. But certainly, those type of peptides, BPC-157 and TB-500 particularly seem to be very efficacious for many conditions including tendinitis. Now, there is another type of peptide that your body makes itself. For example, here's something interesting, if you have a diet that's rich in fermented foods, particularly, one that seems very good for this is kefir, like kefir grains or coconut kefir, your body, your bacteria will actually produce its own healing peptides. Very similar to like the spendy peptides you can buy to inject or these collagen peptides that you can purchase in supplement form. If you've got a wide variety of fermented foods, you equip your own gut to produce healing peptides, which I think is fascinating.
Jay: Oh, yeah.
Ben: So, that would be the lowest hanging fruit has equipped your own body. But then in addition to this BPC-157 and TB-500. we also have the rapidly growing supplement field of so-called collagen peptides. So, collagen is just this long chain of amino acids. It's–what is it? Proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine, right? So, you think of your typical bone broth, for example, as a source of collagen. And collagen peptides are made by breaking down these full-length collagen molecules. You would see this on a supplement as hydrolyzed collagen or as collagen peptides, and they're more bioavailable because they're better absorbed in the bloodstream, they're much shorter chains of amino acids in say like a collagen, or even a gelatin, and there is some good research behind the use of collagen peptide supplements and faster healing of injuries or recovery to activity following injury.
And there are certain forms of this. I think there's one company called Vital Proteins is the one I see a lot of that's like selling a collagen peptide. But what you'd look for is a collagen peptide or a collagen hydrolase. You could of course also just get a bunch of chicken bones or leftover turkey bones from Thanksgiving and whatnot or make a broth.
Jay: Right. They sell the Vital Proteins in that. Oh, yeah. I was going to say they sell the vital proteins in Costco. I saw them yesterday.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. So, I mean, and granted that margins on those are huge like companies make a ton of money because collagen peptides are not expensive to get or to make, but they are efficacious. So, for what it's worth, the oral supplementation of collagen peptides, and there was one recent article that came out earlier this year in the journal of nutrients that showed that oral supplementation rapidly increase return to recovery, particularly for Achilles tendinopathy patients. So, it particularly works for tendinopathies.
So, we got collagen peptides, we have injectable peptides. And then I would be remiss not to mention some of these other things that I've been studying up on recently that I think–well, honestly, I'm super excited about a few of these like a lot of people talk about curcumin. But curcumin is notoriously, poorly absorbed. It's not water-soluble. A lot of times you got to blend it with so much black pepper. You get gut upset to be able to get the amount that you need to need, that combination of black pepper and curcumin.
But there's another isolate from the turmeric plant called turmerosaccharides. And if you look into the body of research on turmerosaccharides for protecting cartilage, for reducing joint tenderness, for reducing joint swelling and joint effusion, post-injury, for significantly reducing both acute and chronic inflammation, for increasing gene expression of collagen. I mean, the list goes on and on for these turmerosaccharides. And you can get them in a water soluble form. So, if you look at a supplement label that's got turmeric in it, if you look at the label and it has the form called Turmacin, T-U-R-M-A-C-I-N, that's a really good form of turmerosaccharides-infused curcumin and you don't notice anything from curcumin, I guarantee you're probably going to notice like next day after using something like turmerosaccharides.
So, that's one thing. Another ingredient you can find in a lot of supplements, it's branded as AyuFlex, A-Y-UFlex, but it is from a fruit called the Haritaki, the Haritaki fruit. And again, this one has a ton of really good research on it for reducing joint discomfort, post-heart exercise, for inhibiting inflammatory cytokines, really good randomized placebo-controlled double-blind studies on arthritic issues, particularly in the knees. I'm surprised that it's not something more talked about in like physical therapy and sports medicine circles, but it's basically called AyuFlex, A-Y-UFlex.
And then the last one would be these proteolytic enzymes. So, for example, there's this one bacteria called Serratia, and it lives inside silkworms, and the silkworm will weave its cocoon, they'll start transforming into a beautiful, beautiful–I don't think it's a butterfly, I think it's a moth.
Jay: Yes, moth.
Ben: Kind of sort of beautiful moth. But what it does is it releases this Serratia bacteria from its gut and the bacteria produces something called Serrapeptase. And the Serrapeptase' job is to eat through the silk protein that makes up the cocoon, so the silkworm can emerge as a moth. But if you eat those same enzymes yourself, which are pretty easy to make in a lab by growing this bacteria, those same protein dissolving properties actually dissolve soreness-inducing proteins in your own bloodstream that occur in response to injury or inflammation.
So, we almost borrow this enzyme from nature. We consume it orally. I mean, there are dozens and dozens of research studies on this for like ear, nose, and throat disorders, swelling related to injury, localized inflammation. The list goes on and on. There's another one that we find in nature made by a couple of edible fungis. It's not the actual fungi that you eat, but if you grow these fungi and you isolate the enzymes that it produces that are called Serrazimes, these different proteases, and they actually break down some different proteins that the Serrapeptase doesn't break down.
So, you get this one-two combo of the enzymes from the fungi and then the enzymes from the silkworm bacteria, and that's a really good, really good combination. A lot of times, people will take these type of enzymes to break down proteins like when they've eaten a steak. But if you take them on an empty stomach–I mean, you could technically use them to enhance the bioavailability of say like a protein shake or something like that. Not a lot of research on that, but if you're up the creek without a paddle and eating a giant steak and don't have your digestive enzymes with you, you could actually pop this same stuff and use it for the steak instead. But if using for soreness or inflammation or an injury, you take it on an empty stomach.
So, though it's Turmacin, it's AyuFlex, and then any of these proteolytic enzymes like Serrapeptase, or Serrazimes, or the other one's called ProHydrolase. I just, just put all three of these together in Kion Flex. So, we totally reformulated Kion Flex. And all Kion Flex is now is, you can tell I'm excited about this, it's turmerosaccharides, these three different proteolytic enzymes, and then it is the haritaki extract, that AyuFlex stuff that I talked about. And man oh man, I used to talk about how to have to take like 8 to 12 Kion Flexes at night on an empty stomach if I was injured or inflamed or had a hard workout. Dude, you pop three of these things and you get out of bed the next morning just like clicking your heels together ready to rumble.
Jay: It's good, man.
Ben: Again, tooting my own horn, but if you take aminos before your workout and then you take some of this Kion Flex like in the evening, after a hard workout day, that one-two combo is out of sight amazing for injuries and healing. Like I would say, fears to skip all the fancy injections and the nitroglycerine boner cream and everything else. Like if you just start with that, like those two alone, Kion Aminos and Kion Flex would be amazing. I'm going to shut up now so I'm not tooting my own horn, but that's my response to Dasha is, yeah, BPC-157, TBH-500, collagen peptides are like really good fermented foods. But then definitely. I would be remiss not to highly recommend doing the Aminos, Flex, one-two combo for the reasons I just stated.
Jay: Yeah. Now, I'm going to toot your own horn now and then I'm going to follow it up with a question. So, yeah, I know you guys sent me a bottle of this to try out. I've been using it for I guess the past two weeks or so. And man, I have found it to be phenomenal because I've been nursing a foot injury here recently. And so, I've been trying to do whatever I can just to kind of get back out to do my normal workouts and whatnot. And I was taking the old flex, and then you guys sent me this one. And I think the first thing I noticed was exactly what you noted, which was that I used to have to take a fair amount of capsules and now it's three, and I'm feeling golden the next day. So, something that would sideline me, I only say, “sidelined me,” but almost sidelined me for a few days has now really disappeared. So, this stuff has been phenomenal. So, I toot your horn as well.
And then just kind of follow-up with something before I know we get onto our next one is that, man, I get this question all the time about peptides. And when I'm reviewing questions, one of the ones that I hear all the time is this idea of they realized that BPC-157 as an injectable is really good for overall recovery, injury recovery. However, they also ask about the oral forms because a lot of people don't like injecting, and so they just want to take oral BPC-157. I know I sent you a text message about this a few weeks ago or so and you answered it then, but I didn't know if you wanted to provide a response to that because, dude, that is asked all the time, whether or not these are like the same, work in the same manner when it's oral versus injectable.
Ben: Yeah, sure. Well, for example, when you look at the study I was mentioning on tendon integrity in rodent models, in this case, they were actually adding it to the drinking water. And so, it is something that can be consumed orally. It's one of the few peptides that can be consumed orally, right? Some can be delivered transdermally because they have a small dalton size. Like if you're to google whatever peptide you're using and find that it's dalton size, D-A-L-T-O-N, it's smaller than 500, you could take it transdermally.
In the case of BPC-157, it's one of the few that you can take orally. Like you can take Dr. Seeds has his oral BPC-157 capsules. I personally like to inject, and I realized this is controversial and goes back and forth in the peptide sector, but I like to inject as close as possible to the site of injury. And that's what I personally could be placebo effect, could be the fact that there's a needle going in there, and so that might be messing around with pain sensation a little bit. But I noticed the most when I inject as locally as possible to where the injury occurred. But that being said, if you look at the actual data, you should just be able to take Dr. Seeds oral BPC-157 and get away with the same effects.
Jay: Okay. Cool. That was nice easy response.
Matt: Hey, Ben. It's Matt. I hear you talk a lot about the benefits of cold exposure and sauna use and how both can be beneficial in the mornings. I was wondering if there's any particular order that works best or if you should even do them in the same day. And if so, how long you should wait in between? I'm looking to use them mostly for recovery benefits. I'm a very active person. I trained Muay Thai Jiu Jitsu five to six days a week at night. Thank you.
Ben: It is actually pretty surprising, like when you look at what this really is, like technically, it would be called contrast therapy, if you look at the body of research on contrast therapy, it is all over the map. And there's almost none that looks at sauna with cold. Most all research studies look at hot water with cold water, so-called contrast water therapy. Now, we do know if we look at this from an epidemiological standpoint, for example, in many Nordic cultures, and you'll find this like if you go to Finland, right, you'll do a sauna session for 15 to 20 minutes, that's followed by an icy cold run outside, a dip in cold water or a cold shower, and you'll do that a few times through. The mechanism of action is well-known. The sudden cold makes your skin blood vessels constrict rapidly, they elevate blood pressure, they move inflammation out of tissue, then the vasodilation occurs when you get back into the heat and you're just basically flushing the body in the same way that you'd flush the body from a walk or jumping up and down on a trampoline, but in a far more efficacious manner.
And there are some other things that it appears to do that we've talked about in previous shows such as modulation of the immune system, perhaps strengthening your resilience to be able to withstand things like the cold and the flu, perhaps helping with neurotransmitter production. We know that the sauna by itself even in the absence of the cold plunge from the Finnish men's longevity study, I believe it was called, decreases all cause of risk of Alzheimer's and dementia, increases longevity. And typically, if you look at any of these populations where this was studied, it's not just sauna that they're doing, like almost always, it's followed by a cold plunge. So, I would love to see research that looks at sauna in the absence of the cold plunge and see if you get the same effects because I actually doubt you wouldn't.
But anyways, that being said, if you look at the actual research on a hot-cold contrast therapy, there's a pretty good meta-analysis that occurred a few years ago that looked at exercise-induced muscle damage and the use of contrast water therapy. The modalities were highly, highly variable from study to study that they looked at. So, for example, some would use a minute at–and these are all going to be Celsius because that's what the research study was done in, so my apologies to Fahrenheiters out there, unless my podcast sidekick here has super good googly fingers and a calculator.
Jay: I do.
Ben: Okay. So, for example, one was seven rounds of one minute at 38 degrees Celsius and one minute at 12 degrees Celsius. What's our Fahrenheit for 38 degrees?
Jay: Okay, 38 degrees Celsius is 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ben: Okay. And then 12 degrees Celsius?
Jay: 12 degrees Celsius is 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ben: Right. So, back and forth from 100 degrees to 50 some-odd degrees seven times a minute at each. That one actually found pretty good response in professional male Australian football players. But another one was one minute at the very, very similar temperatures, one minute at very similar cold temperature, but within three minutes at the hot temperature. So, a three to one hot to cold ratio rather than a one to one hot to cold ratio. Another one that they looked at was instead of seven rounds, just three rounds. And even after just three rounds of one minute of the cold and two minutes of the hot, they also found good benefits from that.
Like I could go on and on and on and that would turn into a complete yawner, but the takeaway message is it's a few minutes of cold, it's a few minutes of hot, the ratios don't seem to matter all that much although they're generally not much greater than a ratio of three to one. And the temperatures don't have to be all that hot or all that cold to get the results. Meaning, you could go back and forth from as hot as your hot water shower will go without you scalding your skin to as cold as it'll go even if that's just say like 55 degrees back and forth for a five-minute shower, 20 seconds of cold and 10 seconds of hot, or vice versa, and you're going to get some amount of a healing effect or reduction of inflammation or increased return recovery or reduced rate of the delayed onset muscle soreness.
So, ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules. And there is some hypothesis if you look at the literature on water therapy that using water might be better than using say like a sauna and a cryotherapy chamber going back and forth from hot water to cold water because they say that the hydrostatic pressure of the water against the skin may have an even additional anti-inflammatory effect. But again, if you look at epidemiological studies or you just look at Nordic cultures, they're doing the heat as air like a sauna and then the cold as typically a plunge. And I actually think that's a pretty good way to do things.
However, if you look at like Jocko Willink, the toughest man on the internet right now, he recently took over Tim Ferriss' podcast and he talked about the protocol that he swears by, which is basically a hot whirlpool to a cold bath. So, no sauna, just water. He does five in the hot tub, five in the cold tub, then four in the hot tub, four in the cold tub, three and three, two and two, one and one. And I think he actually does that two times through. So, it's like a full hour of going back and forth or an hour or more. But he swears by using the water rather than using the ambient temperature of the air.
I don't think it matters that much. We might be able to find that the pee in scientific literature indicates that there might be a significant difference, but I think for the average person, the takeaway message is get hot, then get cold, do that a few times through and you're going to notice a difference. And speaking of the devil in T-minus 60 minutes, I have a brand new cold plunge getting dropped off at my house.
Jay: Oh, nice. What kind?
Ben: It's called a Morozko, Morozko Forge. They developed this brand-new beautiful stainless steel cold bath that will maintain literally the need to break through ice to get into the bath even in ambient temperatures of like 110 degrees Fahrenheit. So, I'm slapping nothing out by my hot tub set up, and yeah. I'll be able to report more on my experimentations with it, but it's pretty slick. It's called the Morozko Forge. Again, I haven't used it yet, but it literally arrives in like an hour to my house. So, I'm like a kid in the candy store. I get to sit in a nice bath tonight, a real one, a real live ice bath.
Jay: Instagram that junk.
Ben: Yeah. I'll link to their website in the shownotes, and yeah, I'll totally Instagram the shrinkage, all of it. So, that being said, I think that's like almost all the time we have for all this recovery and injury chatter that we wanted to have today, but the big takeaway messages for people before we give away some cool shit is if you go low-carb, eat extra amino acids and protein, I would say that's a big one. I would say another big one would be test your nervous system using things like a grip strength, or an HRV monitor, or a CNS Tap Test and get to know how your nervous system is responding to different forms of exercise. Try the new Kion Flex if you haven't yet. It's amazing, getkion.com, 10% discount code BGF10.
And then if you're not already doing some kind of a hot-cold practice, do one and don't beat yourself up if it's sauna versus cold bath versus hot shower, cold shower versus, whatever, steam room to cold shower, whatever. Just get hot and then get cold after you get hot. Do it a few times through and you're going to be good to go. So, I think that's sweet. Did I get everything, Jay?
Jay: I think you get everything, man. Or go get one of those, what did you just call it Morazako?
Jay: Morozko —
Jay: –Forge cold bath.
Ben: And also in all seriousness, I was not bullshitting about me feeling a real, real need in my heart lately and me feeling almost like I'd be remiss not to mention that in the podcast that I would love to see just the whole Ben Greenfield tribe joining hands this holiday season and trying to help as many people as we can in whatever form that is. And I don't know. All I can tell you right now is it's heavy on my heart. So, if you're listening into this show right now and it's also heavy on your heart the idea of caring for or ministering to all of those people around us who need it so bad, those people who are hurting, those people surrounding in the subway, the airport or the mall, walking around with just the empty look in the back of their eyes and the searching for meaning that is deep inside them and you have some solutions that you want to bring to the table, you have ideas of how we can all work together to bring more of our wealth, because let's face it, just by the nature of listening to a podcast about recovering from a weight that you're lifting over and over again in a gym so that you can fit better into your favorite pair of jeans, you're probably a privileged person. Right.
So, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/406, if you have an idea, question, comment, feedback, I will admit I don't have all the answers right now, but I'm searching for them in terms of how I can help people more. And I would love to mobilize the army so to speak if there's anybody listening in that has ideas on how we can help more people. I promise you, any of you listening, you have my word, I read all the comments and I will take every comment to heart. And so, that's it, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/406. And Jay, I just set you up to give something away and make it sound super meaningful, man, after that.
Jay: Yes, that's right. You did a nice job throwing me a bit of a softball there. So, let's give away some stuff, which today's, I guess their review is called “My Favorite Source for Health Info,” and it is John67543, which may be this individual's social security number, but they put it in their name, so I'm going to read it anyway. They said, “Thank you for all you do. This is by far my favorite source for biological and health information. I always learned something new and this podcast has really helped guide me as I aspire to a healthier, better informed, and thoughtful lifestyle. I deeply appreciate the time you've put in and continue in putting in to better understand what healthy living is.” Thanks, John.
Ben: Geez, thanks. Touching words, touching words, and we're going to send you your gear pack. You said it was John?
Jay: Yeah, John67543.
Ben: There's more than one John out there, apparently, imagine that. So, we're going to send you a gear pack. Just email [email protected] your t-shirt size. We'll get you a cool water bottle, awesome workout t-shirt, cool beanie for this cold holiday season. We'll get that all to you if you just email [email protected] with your t-shirt size. To you, John, John who left that review, everybody else who wants to help out the show, spread the good karma, leave your review on iTunes, grab the shownotes over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/406 and until next time. Have an amazing week. And Jay, happy holidays, man. Go burn some turkey.
Jay: That's right. To you as well, brother.
Ben: Let them in.
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.
Have a question you'd like Ben to answer on the podcast?
Click here, or use the ‘contact' button in the free Ben Greenfield Fitness app.
Prior to asking your question, do a search in the upper right-hand corner of this website for the keywords associated with your question. Many of the questions we receive have already been answered here at Ben Greenfield Fitness!
- Excellent overview of recovery method for achilles tendon issues: Achilles Tendinopathy: An Evidence-Based Overview for the Sports Medicine Professional
- If you go low carb, you better eat that extra steak (or, as I do, supplement with extra amino acids): Low-Carbohydrate Training Increases Protein Requirements of Endurance Athletes
- If you take any type of Ayurvedic herb supplements, you should make sure you know where these are manufactured and if they have been tested…scary stuff: Ayurvedic and herbal medicine-induced liver injury: It is time to wake up and take notice
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Here's where Ben is speaking and traveling around the world coming soon:
- January 14, 2020: Bouley Test Kitchen – New York, NY.Join me and Chef David Bouley for a crucial discussion “21 Ways to Become Boundless: Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize your Body, and Defy Aging.” My presentation will be followed by a wellness-inspired five-course dinner created by Chef David Bouley, accompanied with wine. Each guest will receive a promotional copy of my new book, Boundless. Space is limited, so get your tickets here now.
- April 24 – 26, 2020: Paleo f(x) – Austin, TX. Join me and dozens of health and fitness experts to discover the latest breakthroughs in epigenetics, biohacking, Keto, AIP, nootropics, blood testing, strength conditioning, sleep, stress and much more. Try out delicious new foods, discover new workouts, and even try new gadgets in the biohacking lab. Register here.
This podcast is brought to you by:
–Kion Flex: The ultimate recovery formula, Kion Flex is a bioavailable blend to support joint comfort, mobility and flexibility, and bone health. Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners, receive a 10% discount off your entire order at Kion when you use discount code: BGF10.
–Organifi Glow: A plant-based beverage that helps support the body’s natural ability to produce collagen, smooth fine lines and wrinkles, and protect the skin from sun exposure and toxins. Receive a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code: BENG20
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Tips for Nervous System Recovery…33:00
Carmen from Germany asks: You've talked a lot recently about recovery, and it seems it's all about physical recovery. I want to know about nervous system recovery. My body recovers pretty well from training volume and intensity, but I want to know how would you measure nervous system recovery aside from overall well being and HRV?
In my response, I recommend:
Fast Ways To Support Achilles Tendonitis…49:15
Dasha from Australia asks: Are there any supplements or peptides I can take that will improve my condition of Achilles tendonitis I've developed because of running?
In my response, I recommend:
- Kion Flex
- My podcasts about peptides
- Peptides Unveiled: The Best Peptide Stacks For Anti-Aging, Growth Hormone, Deep Sleep, Hair Loss, Enhanced Cognition
- The Dark Side Of Peptides: Why You Need To Proceed With Caution When Using These Powerful But Potentially Carcinogenic Molecule
- The Peptides Podcast: Everything You Need To Know About Anti-Aging, Muscle Gain, Fat Loss & Recovery Peptides
- Vital Proteins Collagen peptides
- Study: Gastric pentadecapeptide BPC 157 accelerates healing of transected rat Achilles tendon and in vitro stimulates tenocytes growth.
- Seed's Oral BPC-157(code: BEN)
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The Best Way To Combine Sauna Therapy & Cold Thermogenesis…1:03:00
Matt asks: I hear you talk a lot about cold exposure and sauna use, and how both can be good in the mornings. I was wondering if there is a particular order that works best, or if you should even do them in the same day, and how long you should wait in-between each session. I'm a very active person, I train in Muay Thai jiu-jitsu 5-6 days per week, and am looking for the best possible recovery protocol.
In my response, I recommend:
- Contrast Water Therapy and Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- Clearlight Sauna
- Morozko Forge cold bath
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!