September 10, 2020
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/qa-417/
[00:00:36] Ben and Jay Updates
[00:06:40] Newsflashes: Experimental Blood Test Detects Cancer up to Four Years before Symptoms Appear
[00:12:20] Humans Subconsciously Way Find With Our Nose
[00:15:13] The Woman Who Can Smell Disease
[00:19:00] All-You-Can-Eat Pizza Study
[00:22:24] Podcast Sponsors and Upcoming Event
[00:29:38] What Are The Best Blood Tests?
[00:42:50] How To Fix Brain Fog
[00:58:04] Dry vs. Infrared Sauna
[01:06:35] Giveaways & Goodies
[01:09:01] End of Podcast
Ben: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Dry versus infrared saunas, the best blood test for biohackers, early cancer detection, how to fix brain fog, and much more.
Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Jay, I feel remarkably chipper despite some changes in my habits of late. Namely that I really haven't touched caffeine, nicotine, or just about any other stimulant in quite some time. It's been about a week and a half.
Jay: Oh, yeah.
Ben: Well, you know what, I take that back. So, I've been drinking MiCacao, those cacao nibs that I drink in the morning. It's kind of like a coffee alternative. That sounds horrible because —
Jay: That sounds good to me.
Ben: Yeah. I know my company sells coffee, but I like to challenge myself sometimes and I thought, “You know what, now's a time when I have a few solid weeks at home and I'm just going to get good sleep and not putting stimulants in my body.” So, stop caffeine —
Jay: Because you've been seeing caffeine affecting your sleep?
Ben: No. It's like Anthony de Mello says in his book “Awareness,” I want to be able to look at anything in my life and say, “Yo, what's up thing in my life? I derive a great deal of pleasure from you, but I don't rely upon you for my happiness.” And if I can't say that to anything —
Jay: Oh, some more like a spiritual practice.
Ben: Yeah, like a cup of coffee, or a little bit of nicotine, or a hit on a vape pen, or anything like that, then I figure that I should detach myself from that thing. And so, I wanted to detach myself from stimulants for a while, but what I've been doing is I have been drinking cacao tea, which I guess does have some theobromine and dopaminergic compounds in it, and probably a touch of caffeine from what I understand. According to my calculations, cacao does have some caffeine in it. And then, I've been brewing some super-duper dense chaga. Gosh, I wish I could remember the name of the company.
Some company sent me a giant bag of dark, black chaga powder and I poured it into nut bags, like the nut bags you'd use to make nut cheese or steep something in. And steeped it in a crock-pot with my really good well water, a gallon of water, and I steeped it for about 24 hours, and then poured it into these big glass mason jars, and it's dark, dense, super black chaga. And what I've been doing is actually using that as the base to make MiCacao tea in the morning. So, I've been drinking chaga cacao tea every morning and it's actually pretty tasty. It's like this dark, rich, black compound, and chaga has a whole bunch of benefits we know for immunity. And then, cacao just makes you feel good and it's working out pretty well. I feel like my brain's working without any coffee or other major stimulants on board.
Jay: Yeah. Well, it's like you looking at biometrics. So, let's say like your Oura ring scores. Anything change there. I'm just wondering if reducing your — or increasing your caffeine sensitivity and some of the more dopaminergic compounds, if that has done anything from a biometric standpoint.
Ben: It's a great question and I'm going to pull up my sleep scores here. I've actually got, geez, 93, 88, 92, 85. Last time it was an 85. Average sleep is about 7 hours and 50 to 8 hours and 20 minutes. So, I feel like I actually am sleeping a little bit better with my only complaint there being — because I don't really use an alarm, I've been sleeping 'til like 6:30, 6:45 some mornings, which is too late for me to feel like I'm not just rushed in the morning without being able to lay down a good routine. However, it's an interesting experiment and I think just as I — I talk about this in “Boundless,” resetting the adenosine receptors in the brain and re-sensitizing yourself to caffeine. I guarantee, when I do finally have my giant ass morning mug of coffee, it's probably going to just make smoke come out my freaking ears and every orifice.
Jay: In the best way possible, right?
Ben: In the best way possible, yeah. How about you, anything new on your end?
Jay: Yeah. I've still been recovering since my meniscal repair surgery that I had back in February. It was a rough surgery. It ended up taking a lot longer than my surgeon had anticipated. So the PT and recovery has been a little bit more lengthy, but I've gotten back to where I'm not at full speed, I'm not playing tennis again. I've actually been very hesitant. There's a lot of psychological stuff going on there too and just cutting back and forth, and agility movements. It happens to a lot of athletes who have that type of injury. It doesn't even matter if it's meniscus, but any type of tear or break of a bone.
And so, I've actually been able though to do a lot more high-intensity work, especially in regards to sprints. And I really only go north, south. I don't move a lot of east to west. So, I've been ramping up some of my HIIT training because I've really missed it. It's one of my favorite things. And from a nervous system, sympathetically driven knock-down type of exercise, it's one of my favorite things to do. So, I'm glad to introduce that back in. But I've still been doing just garage workouts. I've stayed away from the gym mainly just to continue to be as safe as I can around my kids from COVID. But yeah, it's been good to really get back to some more hardcore training and recovery, but I still have ways to go. I'm ready to move more from an agility standpoint so that I can play tennis because that's my love.
Ben: Yup. I hear you. But you've got to make your kids harder and stronger to kill. I'd go to the gym then come back home and just cough up COVID particles all over them. Just contribute a little bit to the growing epidemic of herd immunity. And we'll cut things there because just me mentioning that is going to already add us like a dozen extra comments in today's shownotes.
Jay: That it will.
Ben: Which you can find at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/417. Everything we talk about, everything that gets mentioned, we spend a lot of time on the shownotes and make them super good for you. Even everything gets transcribed. So, you can just turn the audio off now and quit listening because it's all transcribed. So, there you have it.
Jay: There you have it.
Ben: Anyways though, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/417. What do you think, dude, jump into some newsflashes?
Jay: Let's go.
Ben: Well, this was an interesting one. I have this, this might sound kind of weird, but this soft spot in my heart for anything cancer research, cancer-related. I don't know why. I just find it fascinating, this whole, like, find the cure for cancer or early detection of cancer. Anything along those lines, my ears perk up, I don't know why. I've probably interviewed more people about cancer than any other topic on the show, actually.
Jay: Have you had any family with cancer or anything like that? I was wondering if you had like a familial connection.
Ben: Yeah. I have had some family who have had things like colon cancer come up before. My grandfather, lung cancer. But he smoked, chain-smoked cigars all day long, so we know why that was the issue, but yeah. Regardless, I find it fascinating. And there was a really interesting article that came up on Scientific American in which they found some pretty interesting ways to diagnose cancer long before symptoms appeared, like four years before they walked in. They found signatures in the blood that would show the presence of cancer. Now, in the past, you would look for detecting malignant cells, usually by looking at genetic mutations, DNA methylation patterns, which would be just like chemical alterations to DNA or specific blood proteins.
But in this recent study, which actually took place in China, hundreds of thousands of participants that participated in this and they collected over 1.6 million blood samples. So, pretty big investigation in the stomach, esophageal, colorectal, lung and liver malignancies, and they use something called a PanSeer test where they isolated DNA from a blood sample, then they measured DNA methylation. And using DNA methylation, a topic which actually, I'm covering soon on the show if I haven't already. I have a podcast episode coming out with Ryan Smith and Dan Stickler about DNA methylation to be used as an aging test. But they were actually using this as a cancer screening test and found it to be remarkably accurate for early detection of cancer, which, for example, my friend Peter Attia recently interviewed a cancer researcher about what she thought were some of the biggest issues in cancer and it all came down she was like a broken record, early detection, early detection, early detection. And it turns out that this DNA methylation test called PanSeer is a pretty good emerging panel for early detection.
So, I thought that was interesting and it got me thinking as well about Nasha Winters, who I think has written a wonderful, wonderful book on some of the things that she does in terms of, not only alternative cancer remedies, but also some blood panels that would allow you to do some early screening for cancer. And her book is really interesting. It's called “The Metabolic Approach to Cancer,” I believe, is the title of the book. I'll find it and link to it in the shownotes. But in that book, she has a really interesting section where she gets into specific tests that she runs on all her clients. And these are blood panels.
So, she looks at something called sedimentation rate, something called ESR, hsCRP, and then LDH, which is lactate dehydrogenase. She looks at insulin, insulin-like growth factor, and hemoglobin A1c. And she has this whole matrices, like hemoglobin A1c should be five or below, insulin-like growth factor should be below 100, insulin below three. She's a big fan of looking at vitamin D and ensuring that that is not less than 50, and actually, likes it to be closer to 80 to 100. She says lactate dehydrogenase is what — and that's the average of five different enzymes in the body that are related to lactate metabolism.
She says that's the best standard cancer marker and she's looking for levels, I believe, of something like 27 — or no. She looks at under 175 for LDH. And I believe that's her metric, but I'd have to jump back into the book and check. And then, hsCRP below one, and then she looks at something called sedimentation rate, and I think she wants that below 10. But her book's really, really good, too. I'm keeping my eye on this DNA methylation test, but I really like how she's actually able to look at specific blood markers that she details in her book. And then, she pairs that with looking at genetics like some CYP enzymes and certain things that look at how — let's say for something like breast cancer, how able you are to metabolize estrogen, for example. So, she's a really, really great resource and I'll link to her book in the shownotes, but I thought this was interesting, this idea of an advanced DNA methylation panel for impressively early detection of cancer.
Jay: Yeah. I mean, they're talking about an upwards of four years before symptoms appear, which is incredible. I mean, what they could actually do with a test like this is is fairly boundless. I mean, I really just love this idea, especially if it works out effectively. Hopefully, they just make it accessible to people and don't charge $20,000 to run the test, which I don't even know in the article if they mentioned how much a test like this would cost. But I mean, if we could have this within every single clinic and be available to everyone, it'd be a great thing.
Ben: Well, it's non-invasive. And I think DNA methylation is actually — it's pretty scalable, and I think it'll become more scalable. And I would consider it now to be one of the gold standard measurements for aging. So, that was interesting.
Now, when it comes to detection of disease, this also is something I found fascinating. So, bear with me here because it's a unique way in which I got to thinking about this and which my memory was jogged about this. But there was a — the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they actually released a research article earlier this month in which they showed that we're able to navigate with our nose. Humans are actually able to navigate with something called stereo olfaction. So, this study actually exposed people via their nasal passages to a bunch of different, what are called odorants. In this case, they use primarily things like rose and vanilla extract to activate the olfactory nerve.
And what they found was that the concentration of these compounds, depending on where they were floating around in the air around people, were directly via the olfactory nerve triggering some areas related to what's called stereo vision. Meaning that the density of certain particles in the air allow us to know which direction to go if we were wayfinding, meaning that humans can actually get what's called their trigeminal nerve, which would be the part of the ear that's responsible for knowing which direction that you're going. That can get triggered by smells. So, it turns out that we know about people like the Batman in New York City who can echolocate, or it can make clicks and sounds, detect the rate at which they're bouncing off certain objects and see, even though he's blind — and this is the same guy who's been known to ride his bike around New York City despite being blind.
We know that there are certain aboriginal populations that rather than communicating with left, right, up, and down, they'll literally just communicate north, south, east, and west, and just know absent of stars, sun, wind, et cetera, they just know based on almost like this internal compass when they're facing north or when they're facing south. And it turns out that we're actually able to wayfind with our nose as well. I was having this discussion at dinner table the other night with a bunch of people about how if we as humans are really truly in the absence of, say, like GPS and Google Maps and everything else able to tap into our inherent built-in wayfinding mechanisms. We're probably capable of a lot more than what we actually think we're capable of when it comes to knowing direction-finding.
Jay: Yeah. No. I would agree. For me, honestly, you could blindfold me and you could put a steak in my house somewhere, and I bet I could find it, Ben. I really bet I could find that steak anywhere.
Ben: That's impressive.
Jay: Yeah. I feel like I have a strong skill in this.
Ben: You should take that to America's Got Talent stage. Steak on one side of the stage, you on the other side blindfolded, and you magically find the steak.
Jay: I'm definitely winning my show in Vegas with that one.
Ben: Yeah. So, what this has to do with like the early detection of disease is that I was reading this research article and it got me thinking about this Scottish lady, who I heard a radio show about some time ago. Her name is Joy Mill, or Milne, and she's from Perth, Australia, but she's Scottish of origin. And she actually wound up finding out, basically because her husband had Parkinson's, that she could smell Parkinson's disease, like she first noticed a musky smell on her husband 10 years before he developed Parkinson's disease. And then, the way that they found out that she had smelled Parkinson's on him before he was even diagnosed with it was they went to almost like a Parkinson's support group and she walked in there and smelled the same smell on everybody and realized that she could smell some of these unusual concentrations of certain compounds on the skin of Parkinson's patients, like hippuric acid, and octadecanol, and some of these oily secretions that people develop on their skin when they have Parkinson's disease.
And so, they started to study this lady and it turns out that they brought her into, and the radio shows like an hour-long — I'll link to it in the shownotes. I'll find it. It was like a BBC Radio Show. And they found that she was able to detect Parkinson's disease with remarkable accuracy based on smell. And so, they actually recruited her at a couple of different colleges, particularly I think it was the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Edinburgh, and they looked at how she could actually smell disease. And then, it turned out that she was also able to smell other things like cancer and diabetes with remarkable accuracy. And this is one of those things where I don't think every human being was born with this skill per se in the same way that I don't think every human being might be born with a really, really strong sense to be able to wayfind with their nose. But I think it's really interesting how — the way I think about this is maybe not everybody was born with the ability to, let's say smell disease, but maybe God made certain people almost like mutants, who could be used for really, really interesting things. In her case —
Yeah. We know that dogs can do this to a certain extent, but yeah. She's a human, she can smell disease, Parkinson's with incredible accuracy that they verified via mass spectrometry. It's really interesting. And I'll link to this radio show for you guys to listen to. It was either Radiolab or BBC. Incredibly interesting though that certain diseases have unique smells and they can be sniffed out by certain people, which makes you think they could probably create a machine that could do the same thing via AI.
Jay: Right. Well, like you mentioned, it's like cats and dogs that can sense when someone is going to have a seizure. And so, they can be there to actually break the fall of the individual if they were having a seizure or a vasovagal response. And that's just incredible. Did you say, did they run an MRI or an fMRI on this individual to see what was going on that might be different from the everyday individual?
Ben: Like with the way that she was smelling?
Jay: Yeah, yeah. I didn't know if they were seeing different parts of the brain that were lighting up that you may not expect, or different connections, some kind of the size of maybe her olfactory bulb, or the olfactory track. Yeah, that's bizarre.
Ben: I don't know, but they called her super smeller. I think it's really cool. And her accuracy was remarkable. Like, they had her go in and smell shirts worn by people who had Parkinson's and she went 12 for 12 in diagnosing every single person accurately, who was wearing that shirt and had Parkinson's. Isn't that crazy?
Jay: Yeah. Geez. Who needs an fMRI or an MRI when you got this individual?
Ben: I know.
Jay: A lot less invasive. She can just smell people and be like, “Yup. There it is.”
Ben: Seriously, yeah. And then, on a lighter note, I just thought I'd mention this because I think it's funny. They did an all-you-can-eat pizza study. Did you hear about this one?
Jay: I saw this one, which is incredible, and just makes me want to eat pizza when I see the picture on this article.
Ben: Well, it makes me feel good that I have two giant four-pound chunks of brisket up on the smoker right now that I started at about 6:30 a.m. this morning. I threw them on the smoker. They'll smoke all day. And then, I have a big team barbecue for all the Ben Greenfield Fitness team members, who live here locally. I'll transfer the brisket into like a wrapped aluminum foil and then put a bunch of bone broth and apple cider vinegar on that around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m., and then keep it smoking the rest of the day, and have a giant brisket feed tonight, which will be wonderful. But what this study looked at was when you do go ape nuts on food in one high-calorie meal, what happens metabolically?
And in this case, they took a bunch of young, healthy men, they had them consume almost twice as much pizza as they'd consume ad libitum, like double their normal calorie intake, double what they normally consume if they were to normally push themselves away from the table. And so, the average calorie intake for these guys was one and a half large pizzas. Some consume two and a half large pizzas. They were right around the range of 3,000 to 4,000 calories for a meal. And what they found was after this, the blood glucose levels were no higher than the folks who just ate the normal ad libitum pizza. The amount of insulin was a little bit higher, but not a ton higher. The blood lipids were only slightly higher, like triglycerides, fatty acids, only slightly higher.
And then, the thing that changed the most was that the hormones that indicated feelings of fullness, no surprise here, went through the roof. But aside from the endocrine response in terms of the appetite control hormone saying, “Whoa, slow down,” the changes in the levels of sugars and fats in the blood were not that significant. And the title of this study was “Physiological Responses to Maximal Eating in Men”. It was published in the “British Journal of Nutrition”. So, it turns out that one big, giant cheat meal may not be quite as bad for you as you'd think. I mean, granted they didn't look at inflammation in response to any of the vegetable oils that might be present in the fat. We know there's long-term insulin resistance that can set in with high exposure repeatedly to things like the type of linoleic acid that you'd find in a great big meal like that.
But ultimately, it turns out you can kind of sort of get away with a pretty large cheat meal now and again. And just from a pure metabolic, blood lipid, insulin, blood glucose standpoint, it's not that bad. And you know what my hack is if I ever just go all out for a dinner or I'm at a party and just know I've overeaten by like 2,000 calories?
Jay: I'm just going to hope you're going to not say purging because —
Jay: — then I might need to have you come into my office for a while.
Ben: Cold exposure, cold exposure.
Jay: Okay. Yeah.
Ben: I mean, like a postprandial stroll is good, but the next morning, I'll do like a good 10 to 15 minutes cold tub. And I've tracked this with my blood glucose monitor. Blood glucose goes back to super-low the entire rest of the day, and you just feel better. You feel as though, just metabolically, it doesn't seem to mess you up as much. That's my hack. And in a pinch, it's just a really, really cold, cold soak for a longer period of time than I normally do, like getting up to shiver level, like 10 to 15 minutes, and that seems to do the trick.
Jay: Yeah. Do you take some Kion Lean with it as well during that time?
Ben: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Like, Kion Lean for any scenario. Thank you for giving me the shameless plug softball, by the way. Yeah, Kion Lean before the cheat meal with a whole bunch of digestive enzymes, and then Kion Lean the next morning to mobilize more fatty acid from adipose tissue. It's a good one to hack. Kion Lean pairs really well with cold thermo. So, I guess, you know what, we should just, since Kion sponsors every show, you can get a 10% discount on Kion Lean if you use code BEN10 at getkion.com. So, thanks for helping me out with that sponsor shout-out, Jay.
Jay: It's beautiful. That's right. Yeah. I'd do what I can. And I also know what I'm going to be eating tonight. Yes, Kion Lean, but I'm going to go for some pizza even though — I was like, you mentioned — did you say two and a half pizzas is what some of these guys are eating?
Ben: Yeah, but my brothers — I grew up with a bunch of brothers. We used to go to the arcade like after basketball practice or baseball. We would punish, I remember, Godfather's Pizza buffet down in Lewiston, Idaho. My brothers and I would easily go through three or four large pizzas. We just stay at the arcade for like four hours just to eat pizza and play video games. And I mean, we were super competitive with each other and would add up slice by slice the pizza. And our goal was always for them to lose massive amounts of money on us between both dessert pizza and regular pizza. And yeah, I've eaten a lot of pizza in my teenage time, let's put it that way.
Jay: So did I, but never to two pizzas. Man, I couldn't do — and I'm a big guy. I'm 6'5,” 220. There's no way I'm eating two pizzas at one, and I'm thinking I'm sick.
Ben: Two was a warm-up for me and I could still easily do it if I decided to. I can put food away like nobody's business.
Jay: Nice. Crazy.
Ben: So, let's see. We got a few other sponsors and cool discount codes for you guys before we jump into this week's listener Q&A. So, this first sponsor is really interesting. They developed an artificial intelligence-driven bicycle. And what they did was they studied the effects of what's called reduced-exertion high-intensity training, which is very, very short intense bursts for just like 20 seconds. And what they found was only two very short, very intense, mind you, 20-second sprints can give you the same benefits as like a 30 to 40-minute cardio workout, but without depleting the glycogen stores as rapidly and without getting this big sweat on so no need to shower or change.
So, they developed this bike called the CAR.O.L. And all you do is you get on it. It walks you through and it measures you, develops the exact power that you need for these two 20-second efforts, and I've done it. And the 20-second efforts are super-duper, duper hard, but then that's it and you're just done. And so, it's a warm-up, two 20-second efforts with full recovery between each, and then you're done. And so, they're calling it the world's only AI-powered exercise bike. It's a cool idea. And what they're going to do is give all of our listeners $200 off, plus free shipping and a free one-year subscription. You just go to shop.carolfit.ai or shop.carolfitai, like artificial intelligence, shop.carolfitai.com. And then, you enter the code GREENFIELD200 and that gets you $200 off the bike, plus free shipping, free one-year subscription, kind of convenient for people who are still stuck at home. So, that's an interesting idea.
And then, another really cool unique product that's also sponsoring today's show is this Synbiotic made by the brilliant minds over at the company Seed. And I've interviewed them on the podcast before, but they take this unique strain of probiotics, 24 different strains. And they studied all the clinically verified doses, like these folks are really smart. Then they wrap it in a prebiotic medium that's got like algae and pomegranate seed extract, and all these cool things in it to help to feed the bacteria. And they've shown that this thing will not only survive the acidic nature of the stomach, but actually go as far as to seed your colonic flora, which is unheard of for most probiotics. So, it's a really unique take. They let me call it a probiotic. They call it a Synbiotic, S-Y-Nbiotic because it's a combo, the prebiotic and the probiotic, and amazing formula —
Jay: They just want to be different, not getting [00:26:37] _____.
Ben: Yeah. Well, it's smart, it's smart. It's a really smart product.
Jay: It is.
Ben: So, it's seed.com/ben, S-E-E-D.com/ben, and code BEN15. BEN15 gets you a 15% discount on all the goodies from Seed.
And then, the last thing — lots of cool unique products. We got Kion Lean, got the CAR.O.L. Fit artificial intelligent bike and the Seed probiotic. The last one is this company Beekeeper's Natural. They, I don't know if you use this stuff, Jay, but they'll harvest like the propolis from the hive, which is amazing for immunity. It's got all these different antioxidants and germ-fighting compounds in it. They harvest the pollen, which is wonderful if you sprinkle it on smoothies. It's super mouthwatering. It's got amino acids in it. It's denser in protein than any other animal source gram per gram. They've got raw honey. They've got royal jelly, which is almost like nature's nootropic.
It's got neurotransmitters like acetylcholine in it, and then some other fatty acids for mental clarity, and brain health, and focus. And then, they make all these products from the bees, like bee pollen, and brain fuel, and propolis spray, and their raw honey with the royal jelly in it, and it's super-duper tasty stuff. And their products actually work and are really clean. They're going to give 15% off to all of our listeners if you go to beekeepersnaturals.com/ben. It's B-E-E, Keepers is K-E-E-P-E-R-S, beekeepersnaturals.com/ben, and that will get you 15% off. So, it's worth checking out their products. They're actually pretty cool.
So, those are all of our sponsors. Then the only thing I should mention in the special announcements is the big Wild Health Summit, the brain biohacking summit down in Lexington, Kentucky that I'm going to be traveling to and speaking at. That's still happening, September 26 through the 28th. You just go to wildhealthsummit.com. And then, if you use code BEN, that saves you 20% off the online one or the in-person, and it's going to be this two-day immersive experience on genomics, environment, nutrition, epigenetics. We're doing hot, cold, breathwork. There's some people coming in to talk about plant medicine. There's going to be morning workouts led by this CrossFit champ. And if you go live, which is I'm going to do, I'm going to fly into Lexington and attend it live at the Kentucky Castle, which is this amazing hotspot in Kentucky. Anyways, it's coming up, September 26th through the 27th. So, I'll link to it in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/417, or you can just go to Wild Health Summit. Wild Health is — or Summit is S-U-M-M-I-T, wildhealthsummit.com. And then, if you use code BEN, you'll save a bunch of cash on attending the event. It should be super cool, super fun, good time, whether you do the online version or the live version.
Jay: Sounds fun.
Ben: Kind of down on your neck of the woods, Jay.
Jay: That's right. Not too far from me. It'd still be a plain flight for me, but not too, too far.
Ben: Cool. Alright. What do you think? Should we answer some questions?
Jay: We got some good ones. Let's go.
Derek: Hey, Ben. I just wanted to ask what is the best protocol for testing for a young biohacker who only has around 300 to $700 to test a year? I'm just trying to find the best way to optimize my diet and work out.
Ben: Oh, man. This is a loaded question. Somebody wants to self-quantify. Someone wants to test. Well, listen, I'll tell you what I would consider to be the best test for biohackers or anybody else, like the same kind of test, like if somebody comes to me for my coaching program or just wants to know, okay, what are all the things that I should test? I have like a suite that I run them through. Now, there are a few that I don't get started with that I think, based on limited budget, maybe aren't going to give you the most bang for your buck, like longevity testing, right, like the DNA methylation clocks we were talking about, or the telomere testing. It's interesting to know, let's say like, how long you might live or what your biological age versus your chronological age is, but it's not like crucial, right? It's interesting information. It's somewhat actionable, but I would say if you had to budget doing a telomere test or a DNA methylation test for longevity, it's probably not going to give you the most bang for your self-quantifying butt.
Jay: And I would say those are a little bit newer, too, right? So, you might want to be cautious of just reading too much into these. Like the telomere test I know is a little bit newer. So, there's some kind of caution going into them, whereas I'm sure you're going to talk about ones that have been pretty well-validated.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, I talk about those in my podcast with Dan Stickler and Ryan Smith, but I would say just longevity tests in general, it's probably not going to be the best bang for buck. Same thing with all these sexy microbiome tests, like Onegevity, Viome, DayTwo, uBiome, American Gut Project. Getting the full profile of all the strains and species of bacteria in your gut, it's kind of similar to the longevity test. Interesting, but based on the amount of research that exists right now, I question how freaking actionable the results are going to be. Like, could you find that you are low in probiotic X, Y, and Z? Therefore, replenish with probiotic X, Y, and Z and see a significant benefit or change in terms of gut health possibly.
But when it comes to the gut, I'm still a bigger fan of the one that I'll mention in a moment that I think is going to give you better, more actionable advice. So, I'd say the ones you may not want to prioritize right now would just be like a longevity test or a full microbiome panel just because even though those — I like those tests and they can give you a lot of good information. If we're just talking about pure budgeting, probably not the best bang for your buck at this point. So, what do I recommend? So, first of all, daily. Daily self-quantification, for me, it's very simple for all of my clients who I coach. It's very simple. We track HRV like using an Oura ring, or a WHOOP, or a Biostrap, or whatever else. We check daily step count or daily activity. So, I like to see if the HRV is staying high. And if I'm working on somebody's workout program or I'm changing exercises for a client or whatever, I'm paying attention what their HRV is doing week to week and ensuring that they're well-recovered. So, HRV is a daily metric activity, just basic step count. I always like to see more than 10,000 steps, big bonus point gold star if you're getting 15,000 plus steps per day.
And then, the final one is something we briefly mentioned earlier, and that's sleep cycles. Right? So, you're using an Oura ring, a WHOOP, a Biostrap, any of these self-quantification devices that are not incredibly expensive, preferably one that can also be placed in airplane mode so you can reduce your exposure to dirty electricity. And those are the three that, aside from just basic food logging, that I track on myself and on my clients, HRV, activity, and sleep. Okay. So, those three you can track every single day. That's your daily self-quantification.
The next would be some kind of genetics test. Now, the nice part about this is this is kind of like a once in a lifetime test, unless you're heavily immersed in CRISPR gene editing and changing up your genes all the time. In most cases, you get your one-time genetic test. It's not going to change a lot once you have your raw results on hand. And while you could pay a lot of money and go to something like the Health Nucleus to get your whole genome sequenced, again most of my clients, and this is what I do with myself, will just go to a website like StrateGene. I like StrateGene because it just identifies certain so-called dirty genes that could be the problematic ones for you. You can upload your AncestryDNA data or your 23andMe data to that website. So, if you've already got your raw data, you can just upload it straight up.
And then, you can also just do your genetic straight through StrateGene if you haven't done them yet. You don't have 23andMe data or AncestryDNA data. You can just go straight to their website, and I'll link to it in the shownotes. Do your tests that way. But what they're looking at are like folate pathways, methionine pathways, transsulfuration pathways, histamine pathways. Any of these SNPs that really affect your energy, your sleep levels, the things that have good research behind them so you're not getting reams and reams of pages, like your report's like a dozen pages long, but it specifically goes into the SNPs that Dr. Ben Lynch, who developed the test, and he was super smart, has determined to be some of the more problematic ones or the ones to pay attention to. Right? Like your methylation status or how well you're able to produce nitric oxide synthase, or your glutathione status. So, I think if you're going to choose any of these genetic analysis pieces of software out there, it's 45 bucks to run the test. And I think that one's worth it. So, that's the StrateGene panel. So, that would be what you'd look at for genetics. Okay?
Ben: Now, I mentioned briefly the gut. And if you weren't going to do like this full big gut panel like the microbiome panel, like a Viome or a Onegevity or something like that, the one that I like is very basic. It's called the GI Effects Comprehensive Profile. It's a stool panel, right? So, your genetic test is a salivary panel. This is a stool panel and all it's looking at is maldigestion, inflammation, dysbiosis, any type of metabolite imbalances, and infection with parasites, yeast, fungus, et cetera. Now, it looks at a lot of stuff. It'll look at like your pancreatic elastase which would be a marker of pancreatic function, products of protein breakdown which is going to look at things like undigested protein, fecal fat which is going to look at undigested fats. You look at all the inflammatory markers like calprotectin, and eosinophil, and fecal secretory IGA, and all these things that aren't shown in a blood inflammatory panel, but that would be indicative of gut inflammation.
It does look at some bacteria and mycology. Meaning, it does do a little bit of a microbiome panel, but it looks at some of the more important ones and just cuts through all the rest, kind of like StrateGene looks at the most important SNPs and just cuts out all the rest. So, you're just seeing the stuff that's super important. It looked at parasites, it looked for E. coli and clostridium and all that kind of stuff, but it's a three-day panel, meaning, you're collecting stool for three days in a row. So, you're getting a really good look at what's happening on a day-to-day basis because a one-day sample doesn't quite give you everything that's going on because your poop kind of changes from day to day, especially if you're looking at things like parasites. It's kind of nasty to think about, but they'll hatch at certain times, right? And so, you have to do multiple daily tests. But that's the one that I like for the gut. It's called the GI Effects Comprehensive Profile. And most docs can order that for you. I'll put links in the shownotes. You can order it yourself to your own house via company like DirectLabs. It's not super expensive. It's still a few hundred bucks, but that for the gut, just running something like that once a year, for example, I think is a really good idea. So, that's what we've got for the gut.
The next one would be just like a really, really good comprehensive blood panel. Now, full disclosure, I worked with WellnessFX. I advise WellnessFX on what I consider to be kind of like the gold standard blood panel that tests all the things that a basic blood panel doesn't test. So, it looks not only into things like mercury and copper and iron, but then also selenium, all your hormones, full thyroid panels, not just TSH but T3, T4, free T4, free T3, thyroid uptake, thyroxine, T3, et cetera. All your hormones, all your complete blood count, your complete metabolic panel, more advanced lipid panel, lipoprotein fractionation, which is really important because you just see the size of the lipid particles.
And I advise WellnessFX on a panel for women and a panel for men. I called it Longevity Blood Testing Panel. And that one is again a little bit more expensive than a basic blood panel, but that is, in my opinion, if you're going to get the blood test, it's going to cover almost all the bases for you. Okay? So, you have your genetics test, you got your blood panel, you've got your gut panel. And then, you have your daily tracking of HRV activity and sleep. And this is again, sounds like a lot, but if you just want to know everything that's going on inside your body, these are the ones that you test, these are the ones I run on myself, and I run on all my clients.
Okay. So, next, there are some things that a basic blood panel isn't going to show you. There's actually over 125 different biomarkers for essential fatty acids and amino acids, and digestive enzymes, and vitamins and minerals that a basic blood panel just won't tell you. And that's where this panel that's super popular in functional medicine that I think is a wonderful, wonderful test fits in. It's a combination of blood and urine. It's called a NutrEval. And the NutrEval, this is a test that I recommend if you've already done the basic blood panel, but you still want to do more digging on everything from not just omega-3 fatty acids, but like omega-6, omega-9, saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, something called delta-6-desaturase activity, which assesses the ability to be able to metabolize omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
All your metabolites of all your different amino acids, you can see which amino acids you're low in, which ones you're high in, all these different markers for toxic elements like lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, all your minerals, magnesium, potassium, including manganese, selenium, copper, zinc, and it's a very, very comprehensive test from micronutrients so to speak, for a lot of the little things that a basic blood panel is not going to look at. And it's very simple to do at home. It's blood, it's urine, and that one's called the NutrEval. And so, that would be one that if you've already done a basic blood panel, everything looks good and you still want to assess for like energy levels, digestion, et cetera. That's a really, really good one.
Jay: Do you remember how much that one cost, Ben?
Ben: The NutrEval is a little bit more expensive. I think it pushes close to $1,000. That's why it's not the top of the totem pole for recommendations, but it's a really impressive test in terms of the amount of information that you get. And let's see. Probably, the only other thing that I would bear in mind would be — the blood test that I just talked about do look at hormones, but if you want a really, really comprehensive look at what your hormones are doing all day long via urine testing, and also how quickly those hormones are being broken down, what kind of upstream metabolites are available to form those hormones, melatonin, DHEA, testosterone, estrogens, cortisol, you name it, there's a urinary panel called the DUTCH panel, the dried urine panel. And that one's really, really good at taking a super deep-dive into the hormones.
So, stringing it all together, you're using some kind of self-quantification device to track HRV, activity, and sleep on a daily basis. You're getting a really good comprehensive blood panel, you're uploading your genetics to StrateGene, and you're doing a stool panel. And then, if you have any money left over, that's when you're throwing in the NutrEval panel, which is like for all your micronutrients, and then your DUTCH test for all your hormones, but in a more accurate way. And then, finally, icing on the cake, if you want to do it, you can get a full microbiome analysis, and then like a telomere or a DNA methylation clock for longevity, even though again, I'm not convinced those are necessary. Actually, I'll link to my podcast with Bill Andrews in which we talk about all the different forms of telomere testing. And then, I'll also link to my podcast with the folks from Viome and Onegevity so you can learn more about what those tests involve. But yeah, those would be the basics. I mean, that's where I'd start.
Jay: Yeah. So, to stay within that $300 to $700 per year, and I would guess it would be more towards that $700 in if anything, it's the self-quantification, Oura ring, WHOOP, Biostrap, anything like that. The GI Effects is what you would go with, the StrateGene, and then a blood panel. Is that right, to stay within that $700, which it might be a little bit more than that if you're — because I mean —
Ben: Yeah. But I mean, if we're talking about spreading it out over the course of a year or two, I mean, if you get, whatever, NutrEval in one month, you're only doing one of those for the entire year. So, yeah.
Jay: Right, right.
Ben: Yeah. And I'll link to as many of these as possible in the shownotes, too, so you can hunt them down.
Jacob: Hey, Ben. My question basically is about nootropics. Well, actually, about brain fog. I've been experimenting with nootropics for quite a while. I've actually got a podcast of my own and I had a few incidences lately where I've just jumbled up my words and I just can't get the words out and I'm experiencing a lot of brain fog. I avoid basically eating rancid corrupted oils. I do all the nootropics. And so, yeah, it's just a bit weird that I'm experiencing a lot of brain fog lately. You can probably just hear it just there. So, yeah. I just wanted to know what the goal is with that, what your opinions might be to work on an experiment with.
Ben: You know what I'm guessing here, Jay, is that Jacob has fried his brain. He's probably used the wrong mix of ketones and MCT oils, possibly incorrect ratios of acetylcholine, nicotine and, I don't know, caffeine, and just he's screwed. You're done, Jacob. You can do check yourself into a mental institution and get a strait jacket on order, ASAP.
Jay: It's the only response we have.
Ben: I think it is possible to create some pretty serious neurotransmitter deficits and neurotransmitter imbalances if you're overdoing nootropics or mixing things unintelligently. So, I'm not joking. You do have to be somewhat careful. But at the same time, if you're experiencing brain fog on a regular basis, there are some reasons for that that I can definitely get into, some hidden causes of brain fog and what you can do about it. With brain fog, just generally being a lot of times in the afternoon, sometimes even in the morning, confusion, wandering thoughts or inability to sustain focus, you can't memorize things, you can't concentrate, usually, you're irritable, you got some fatigue, some low energy, or even like chronic fatigue syndrome-esque type of symptoms. And I can tell you that it generally almost always is caused by something that is contributing to nervous system inflammation.
And there's a lot of things that can affect nervous system inflammation, but anytime that inflammation is present, it's going to affect what's called your limbic system. Okay? Your limbic system is the area of the brain that's responsible for executive function, for cognitive function, for emotional balance. And within the limbic system, you have your hypothalamus, and your hypothalamus is like your control center for blood pressure, for gut flow, for motivation, for mood, for appetite. So, typically what happens is inflammation affects the limbic system. And then, once that happens, the hypothalamus and the role that it plays in everything from vision to thirst, to hunger, to blood pressure, to wakefulness, gets thrown out of whack, so to speak. So, what we'd want to do is fix inflammation so that the limbic system becomes balanced, so that the hypothalamus is able to work properly. That's kind of like the overall goal when it comes to how you tackle something like brain fog.
So, first of all, regarding inflammation, free radicals, et cetera, we know that that is something that's pretty easy to tackle just overall, sleep, de-stressing, avoidance of vegetable oil, avoidance of large amounts of sugar. I mean, tackling inflammation is not that difficult of a nut to crack, and it sounds like he's already living a pretty low inflammatory lifestyle. So, I doubt it's because he's eating Big Macs every day, not sleeping, overdrinking alcohol, et cetera. But I mean, let's just make sure we've got those foundations out of the way, make sure there's nothing in your life that's actually causing inflammation and oxidative stress. So, that's one key.
And some people genetically, like if you test your superoxide dismutase genes, or your glutathione genes, or there's even genes that code for melatonin, which is one of your brain's primary antioxidant hormone, some people genetically may actually need a little bit more help in this area. Some people who have poor genes for superoxide dismutase or glutathione production may benefit from some amount of glutathione supplementation. People who don't code well for melatonin may actually want to use some melatonin even higher dose before bed if they're dealing with brain fog and concerned that some of those genes might be an issue. So, you can dig into this and do a little bit of genetic testing as well.
And then, when it comes to a lot of the triggers for inflammation, let's talk specifics. So, dietary. In terms of brain fog, usually, the top two are lectins or oxalates. If you have not read a book, even though I think that this book has some failures and that it vilifies plants excessively, a book like “Plant Paradox” that really spells out how to be careful with lectins in your diet, a book like “Grain Brain,” which spells out some of the issues with wheat, spelt, rye, barley, or oats, a book like — there's another book about the low oxalate diet, and oxalates, and high amounts of spinach and almonds. I would say the biggies would be lectins and oxalates. And if you're someone predisposed to having issues with it, gluten and wheat would be a third.
So, food substances that might not normally be an issue in someone without a severely compromised gut, without any autoimmune conditions can be a huge contributed brain fog. So, lectins, oxalates, and gluten would be the top three to look into, even though I would educate yourself on all plant-based anti-nutrients and ensure that you're fermenting, you're soaking, you're sprouting, and you're avoiding any high consumption of any plant matter that has a large amount of anti-nutrients in it. So, that's one.
Sleep. I mentioned sleep is going to be a biggie, especially sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is one of the things that can really cause brain fog. If you haven't done a sleep apnea test or you haven't done like some mouth taping to train yourself how to breathe through your nose while you're asleep, if you haven't even just like gotten a cheap pulse oximeter off of Amazon and just tested to see if your blood oxygenation levels are falling while you sleep, don't just look at your overall sleep score or sleep levels on something like a ring or wristband. Look specifically at oxygenation and sleep apnea because especially when it comes to brain fog, it's essentially like your brain is starved of oxygen during the night of sleep, and so it does get more brain fog during the day. So, that's another one to think about.
Jay: And if anybody, too, Ben, is interested in a really cool gadget for self-quantification of SpO2 while you're sleeping, there is a brand called Wellvue, W-E-L-L-V-U-E, and they make an SpO2 ring. It looks a little bit like an Oura ring, but it will track your SpO2 all throughout the night and provide data on your cell phone or on your laptop, computer, that will show you if there are drops throughout the night. So, if you're having more or less like apnea events. So, really cool gadget that I found out here within the past few weeks.
Ben: Cool. And what's that one called again?
Jay: Wellvue, I think. And Wellvue makes a lot of different oximeters, but I think that one — I can't remember the name of it, but it's a ring. I know that you can just wear it on your finger like an Oura ring.
Ben: Alright. Cool. Yeah. If you send that over to me, Jay, we can add it to the shownotes, too.
Jay: I'll do.
Ben: Infections, these so-called stealth infections, not only viral infections like Epstein-Barr is probably one of the more common viral infections that can cause brain fog that's often underdiagnosed or undiagnosed, but bacterial infections. Candida is probably one of the biggest ones. For example, the gut test that I recommended could identify Candida. The NutrEval could identify a lot of the issues that could be related to Epstein-Barr. And then, parasites or protozoa. I would say those are the top three that I see associated with brain fog, would be some type of Candida, some type of like a Gram-negative, or Lyme, or Epstein-Barr based virus, and then parasites. So, that's another one to look into.
Metals. Metals are huge also, either metals or electrohypersensitivity, right? Real hypersensitivity to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cell phones, et cetera, but that often goes hand-in-hand with high metals because metals can almost act as like tiny antennae to aggravate this electrohypersensitivity. So, if you haven't done like a hair metal analysis or something to look at heavy metals and toxins, or that NutrEval test that I talked about, that would be a good one to look into as well. So, you can see that there's a lot of things you need to dig for when it comes to brain fog.
Leaky gut. Leaky gut is another big one. Leaky gut, dysbiosis, particularly because of these so-called lipopolysaccharides that can be formed in response to like high-sugar, high-fat meals, or meals in general if you have a severely compromised gut, that's another one to look into. What I talked about regarding lectins, oxalates, glutens, et cetera, can be really good at clearing up some of the leaky gut issues. And there is some evidence too that for silencing inflammation in the gut, probiotics and colostrum may be quite helpful if the brain fog is related to leaky gut. So, that's another one to look into.
The other things that — assuming you're already living a healthy lifestyle, you're avoiding vegetable oils, avoiding high amounts of processed sugar, histamine intolerance, specifically like asthma, allergies, fermented foods, cured foods, fermented beverages, if you're doing a lot of kombucha, if you're doing a lot of kimchi, sauerkraut, et cetera, even a lot of probiotics, sometimes you can generate a lot of histamine in response to this and that can cause brain fog. And so, looking at the potential for high amount of histamine containing foods, or even getting something like that StrateGene analysis that I talked about that will tell you if genetically you've got some histamine intolerances going on, that is another one that you can look into. And there are certain histamine type of enzymes that you can take prior to a meal to help to control that if it turns out to be an issue. But again, I never recommend taking something like that unless you've actually tested and you're sure that high histamine containing food is what would be causing the issue.
And then, the only other thing that I would think about would be if you are on certain drugs, brain fog and neurotransmitter imbalances, I know a lot of biohackers are into plant medicine microdosing, but MDMA, ayahuasca, LSD, marijuana, alcohol, of course, any antibiotics, et cetera, all of these can cause some amount of limbic system dysregulation. So, if you're experimenting with a lot of that stuff, I would probably, while you're digging in and trying to fix this, I would cut a lot of that stuff out.
And then, finally, I've done a few podcasts on the vagus nerve and vagal nerve tone. And if you have a poorly toned vagus nerve, that goes hand-in-hand with brain inflammation as well. So, doing things like cold water face dunks, meditation, singing, chanting, humming, yoga, sauna. Any of these things can help with vagal nerve tone. And I have a whole podcast I'll link to in the shownotes called “32 Ways to Tone your Vagus Nerve.” That'd be a good one for you to listen into. And I mean, of course, there's a whole host of supplements that can help with brain inflammation, curcumin and CBD oil, and DHA from fish oil, ketones, magnesium.
NAD is another big one. Full vitamin B complex, but you want to identify the actual source of the brain fog before you start band-aiding it with a bunch of supplements. But those would be a few of the biggies from a supplementation standpoint. It would be magnesium, DHA, CBD oil, curcumin, NAD, something like a vitamin B complex. That'd be kind of like your stack for brain inflammation or brain fog, so to speak. And I'd certainly turn to something like that before I'd turn to microdosing or nootropics, especially if you feel like you may have dug yourself into this hole with the use of those type of compounds anyways.
So, a lot of places to start. I realize that's complex, but that's at least, hopefully, going to give you a little bit of direction, Jacob.
Jay: Yeah. With this. A couple of things that I'd like to mention, too. Yeah. To finish off what you were saying there that so many individuals try to go to things like nootropics or other type of compounds in a way to mask these symptoms. And I would say that that can cause so much more detriment than it can cause good. And so, really avoiding that is very much kind of a key feature of what we're talking about. A couple of the other things that I've seen within my clinic of individuals who have brain fog and things that I've actually experienced myself is just looking out for potential mold exposure or that type of toxin exposure, or a Lyme disease. So, mold and Lyme are two that really frequently manifest in some brain fog, or that does manifest with those.
So, being cautious of those, my story about that is that when I was in my residency working at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, I was experiencing a ton of brain fog, some weird heart palpitations, just symptoms that I've never experienced before, and it was manifesting in like these, just really odd type of presentations. They were kind of panicky at times, but brain fog was the biggest one. And I found out that I was indeed exposed to mold. And I still have some residual symptoms, but once I removed myself from the hospital where the mold was, which many individuals who I was working with had the similar symptoms, then things got better now. You're not able to do that all the time, right, because if it's in your home, you might have to get it removed, but taking care of that is extremely, extremely important.
And then, the other thing that I'll mention, too, is anxiety. And I know that you mentioned, Ben, about the vagus nerve, but I've seen a lot of people who just will say that they do not have brain fog whatsoever until they are engaging with people, or they're talking, or they're public speaking, or whatever it may be, and then they just lose every bit of their cognitive acuity. And the reason being is is because you're in that sympathetic overload, the vagus nerve is not engaging, you're not engaging that break of the parasympathetic nervous system. And so, then things just go out the window. You feel like you have no brain in that moment. And that's where things like HRV training and biofeedback. Mindfulness meditation, like you mentioned before, can be so incredibly valuable.
So, just watch out for it. It may be anxiety. And I'm not saying that is the answer, but if you notice it in certain situations and not in others, then ask yourself and become more self-aware of what is it potentially about that situation that might be either inhibiting my vagus nerve from firing or causing me to have this brain fog? So, there's my two cents.
Ben: Yeah. For sure. I dig it. And of course, if nothing else works, just smoke a cigarette. Sometimes your head can go clear as a bell after that.
Jay: Or eat two pizzas.
Ben: Actually, I'm joking, but that Amazonian herb Hape or Rape that I talked to Dr. John Lieurance about that he sells like an essential oil spray called Zen, if I need to get my head clear as a bell right away, if I've like woken up in the morning and it's been like a rough night of sleep or whatever, holy cow, it does feel like you're smoking a cigarette up your nostrils, deep intense burn all the way back to the back of your skull for like 60 seconds. And then, once it subsides, your head goes clear as a bell. So, you could always just snort Amazonian tobacco, Jacob, and I endorsed it here. I'm not a doctor. Do not misconstrue as medical advice. Yeah.
Jay: I love how we talk about not including Band-Aids in our approach and Ben's just like, “Snort this shit.”
Ben: That's right, baby. Alright. One more question here, one more question.
Morgan: Morning, Ben. My name is Morgan Griffith from Wales. A quick question regarding saunas. I'm on the verge of buying one and I can't decide between a traditional or an infrared sauna. Despite the many health claims of both, I can't find a lot of concrete evidence to actually support them, especially with infrared. My goals are obviously longevity. And because I'm a 51-year-old skateboarder, I want to recover quickly. So, I just want to know what your thoughts are on both and which way do you think I should go? Cheers!
Ben: Oh, man. I just got back from Malibu where Laird and Rick and — just all the homies in Malibu, they've all got their big dry barrel saunas. And I think part of that comes from Laird Hamilton, who considers infrared to be a little bit of like a bastardization of traditional saunas, which I get. A lot of people from Finland think the same thing. You're missing out on the smoke, on the rocks. And yeah, it is true. It's kind of like working out with an old-school barbell with some rusty plates versus being on some slick nautilus machine at the gym. It's just like there's a different feel between the two.
And it is true, there are some pretty significant differences. And as I'm explaining what those are, I should point out, I have an infrared sauna. I have one of the clear light infrared saunas. It gets super-hot. It's got the full spectrum heaters. I've got a red light panel in there. So, I've got near, red, and far-infrared. I have like a salt micro crystalline salt generator in there, a bunch of essential oils, good surround speakers. I'm happy with it, but I've thought about adding a dry barrel sauna outside just to have some of the dry heat, too. It's just that my wife will disown me if I start adding more toys around the house. But I'm not opposed to the dry sauna. Now, the temperature for a dry sauna, this is the main thing, it is hotter, right?
Jay: Oh, yeah. Much hotter.
Ben: My far-infrared will get up to 154. And if I put like one of those little rotating fans near the top of the sauna as a little bit of a hack, it'll blow the hot air back down. And if I warm that thing up for 30 to 40 minutes before I get in, I get a deep, deep sweat, deeper than what I get from dry, but it goes on for a much longer period of time because it's deep-penetrating infrared heat. And a lot of people don't heat their infrared saunas up enough, or sometimes just don't do things like, say — have like a fan in the top that I have that pushes the hot air down.
The other thing I use is a lot of what's called embrocation cream, which you can get — if you go to Amazon and do a search for embrocation cream or skin warming cream, I've got this stuff called Prototype 8 that I use. It's from Australia, but I'll smear that all over my skin. A lot of times, drink a hot beverage like black pepper tea, or green tea, or coffee before I get in the sauna. And I've never complained about being cold in my sauna. I get super-hot in the infrared. So, yeah, a dry sauna is going to be warmer for sure. I mean, it's just — when a traditional sauna is heated properly, the walls are warm, the rocks are super-heated, if you add a little bit of water to the rocks, that really increases the amount of steam that raises the humidity even more, that makes it even more warm.
But you can still, just because far-infrared rays deeply penetrate the skin, get all the way into the joints. I was in there this morning, sweating super deep. So, I don't think the temperature issue is that much of a big deal. The heat-up time is going to be long for an infrared, but honestly, it's pretty long for a dry, too. If you try super-hot, it's still 30 to 40 minutes. So, I don't think that the heating time should influence your decision that much. The space, it depends. Like the infrared sauna I have, it'll sit like six people. A lot of times, I'll have a bunch of cats over. We'll burn Palo Santo. Sometimes we get vaporizer in there, bring a bunch of essential oils in there, put on some music. And just the other two nights ago, I had six people in there just sitting around doing just that. And then, we all shuffle out and we go jump in the Morozko cold pool or out to the other cold pool I have out in the forest. But yeah. I mean, same thing with the barrel sauna. Like a barrel sauna is going to fit maybe six people comfortably. And you can get bigger dry saunas, custom big dry saunas, custom big infrared saunas, but I think this space is going to be similar between the two.
As far as anything else to bear in mind, I like the fact that in an infrared, you're getting nearer and far and red therapy. So, you're getting all three forms of light, which I think is beneficial. I think on the flip side, a lot of the studies that have been done on heart health and longevity, like the men's finished longevity study, a lot of the studies on arthritis and pain relief, most of the studies on athletic recovery, blood building, the erythropoietin response, they've all been done in dry saunas. But considering that I have hefty use of a dry sauna and hefty use of an infrared, and as far as how hot I get, I really don't notice that much of a difference if I've adequately heated the infrared.
I suspect that you get all the same, plus possibly, and I'm not getting — I realize I might sound biased because I own an infrared, but I'm just saying, like if you had me choose at this point between the dry or the infrared, you're going to give me either one for free, let's say, I'd still probably choose the infrared just because I'm getting more out of it. I'm stacking more modalities when I'm in the infrared. So, I think the infrared's the way to go personally, unless you're just super traditional. You like the smell, that smoky smell, the rocks, the dry heat of a dry sauna, and the fact that even though in an infrared sauna, if you stay in there like 20, 30 minutes, you're sweating just as much as a dry sauna. If you're looking at the first 15, 20 minutes, you are going to sweat more in a dry sauna. And if you're going back and forth from cold to heat to cold to heat, you will also experience that the dry sauna heats you up back a lot more quickly after the cold exposure, if that makes sense.
Jay: Yeah. So, what's the price? Do you know typically from what dry saunas cost? I know that price typically of infrared saunas, if you're getting a really good one like a Clearlight, from 4 to $6,000. But what about dry, aren't they much more expensive?
Ben: I don't know. To get a dry barrel, barrel sauna like a nice barrel sauna, I think it is more expensive than an infrared, but I don't have the price. I want to say you can get a dry sauna for like 3 to $5,000 maybe. You could probably get a big old finished barrel sauna for under 8k. And like the big infrared sauna I have, I think it's like 5k-ish, something like that, but yeah.
Ben: Yeah. I mean, either way, it's a little bit of an investment.
Jay: Yeah. Indeed. And one of the things that I found, I don't know if your experience has been like this at all, I don't like what I'm about to mention because it limits the amount of modalities that I can include, but for me, I'll throw like my NuCalm on when I'm doing this. So, I have an infrared sauna, a full one like you do, but as well as an infrared blanket. And I haven't just found it. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's just me. I'd love to hear what your experience has been. But I actually, if I'm looking to sweat and be the hottest that I can be between my two saunas, it's my blanket every time. And I don't know if I'm just weird like that, or if it's just because the blanket fully encompasses you, but I sweat like none other in that blanket.
Ben: I have one of those blankets. And if I ever get sick, like a little stomach flu or cold or flu-like symptoms, I wrap myself, it's called a HigherDOSE blanket, I'll wrap myself in that blanket, get a bunch of bone broth, and just sweat buckets wrapped up in my bed. And it's uncomfortable, but that's my strategy. And I swear, that whole idea of hyperthermia, I mean, we know it works for freaking cancer. There are full-on hyperthermic treatment therapies for cancer. I've done them over in Europe. And that idea of wrapping yourself up in one of those big blankets, especially because it still allows you to lay in bed, that's also a pretty good strategy, too. Or if you're super cheap-ass, you'd get some of those Mylar silver blankets and just walk around in a hot afternoon, cradled up in one of those.
So, hopefully, that helps. I mean, not a super-duper scientific discussion, but ultimately, it's pretty straightforward. And again, I'm going to have to lean towards the infrared. If I had to lean towards one or the other, still, even though I get the whole tradition of the dry sauna, it's just — I'm a bigger fan of what the ultimate results are. And when I can stack as many modalities as possible in infrared, then I'd rather do that. So, there you have it.
And speaking of which, we should give some — I don't think we can give away a sauna, but we can give away some swag. What do you think, Jay?
Jay: That's pretty close.
Ben: Give something away? Alright.
Jay: Let's do it, man.
Ben: This is the part of the show where if you've left us a nice little review and we read your review, whether you left your view on Apple podcasts or anywhere else on the show, we're going to send you a handy-dandy gear pack, a nice tech T-shirt, a BPA-free water bottle, a cool toque or a beanie, and you just email your T-shirt size to [email protected] When you email your T-shirt size to [email protected], we flip right around, we send you a goodie bag for your amazing review. So, Jay, you want to take this one away?
Jay: Yeah. I got a good one. This one is from Stephanie Cafarella. She said, “Screw making a username. I'm just throwing the full name on there.” And she called this one “Enlightening, Entertaining, and Informative.” She says, “Ben's podcast is always enlightening, entertaining, and informative. If you're interested in biohacking, fitness, natural supplementation, and the science, and experiential evidence behind it, this podcast is for you. I tune into every new episode and often even return to older episodes as a reference point to learn how to support anything I am experiencing that I know could be optimized. The perfect podcast to listen to at work on your morning commute or anywhere if you, like myself, love to digest new information that can better your body and lifestyle.”
Thank you, Stephanie.
Ben: That's quite the review. Wow!
Jay: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Ben: Better your body. We should go as the “Better Your Body podcast.” I've been thinking about changing the name anyways. Currently, it's tuned —
Jay: Is that not already your podcast?
Ben: I don't know, it probably is. Yeah.
Jay: It sounds like one.
Ben: Yeah. Podcasts are popping up everywhere these days. They're a dime a dozen, but we promise to stick with you. We've been putting this podcast out for you guys for almost 13 years twice a week. We'll keep doing it. And I like to say we're one of the OGs of podcasting and I don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon. I appreciate all of you, loyal listeners. And again, the shownotes are going to be at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/417. If you have your own questions, comments, thoughts, things to add, head on over there. And, Jay, I might just have to have another cup of chaga tea and then go jam on the rest of my day.
Jay: That sounds good. I got boring old water. I'm jealous.
Ben: You suck. Alright, guys. I'll check your letter.
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.
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News Flashes – Follow Ben on Twitter for more…
- Experimental Blood Test Detects Cancer up to Four Years before Symptoms Appear…6:40
- We humans subconsciously way find with our nose…12:20
- All-you-can-eat pizza study shows body copes surprisingly well with one-off calorie indulgence (at least ONCE)…19:00
- Chaga powder (use code BEN10 to save 10%)
- Book: The Metabolic Approach to Cancer by Nasha Winters
- Book: Awareness by Anthony De Mello
- Oura Ring
- BGF podcast with Dr. Dan Stickler and Ryan Smith on epigenetic testing
- Dr. Peter Attia's interview with Dr. Azra Raza: “Why we're losing the war on cancer”
- Morozko Forge cold tub (use code BENFORGE to save $150)
- Kion Lean
Join Ben at the Wild Health Brain Optimization Summit in Lexington, KY or Online Sep 26-28 (use code BEN to save 20%)
Ben Greenfield's bestselling book Boundless is still available! Click here to get your hands on a copy.
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This podcast is brought to you by:
–Kion Lean: Support for normal blood sugar levels and healthy energy metabolism, even after large, carb-rich meals. Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners, receive a 10% discount off your entire order when you use discount code BEN10.
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–Seed Daily Synbiotic: A formulation of 24 unique strains, each of which included at their clinically verified dose, to deliver systemic benefits in the body. Save 15% off your order when you use discount code BEN15.
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What Are The Best Blood Tests?…29:30
Derek asks: What is the best protocol for testing for a young biohacker who has a limited budget, around $300-700 per year for testing? I'm looking for the best way to optimize my diet and workout.
In my response, I recommend:
- BGF podcasts mentioned:
- Daily test:
- Genetics test: AncestryDNA, 23andme exported to StrateGene
- BGF podcast with Dr. Ben Lynch on genetic testing
- Viome Complete Microbiome and Metabolism Testing and Optimization
- Onegevity Health Gutbio (use code BEN20 to save $20)
- GI Effects Comprehensive Profile 3 Day Stool Panel by Direct Labs
- Comprehensive Blood Panel by Wellness FX
- Longevity Blood Testing Panel For Men by Wellness FX
- Longevity Blood Testing Panel For Women by Wellness FX
- Genova Diagnostics NutrEval (combination blood and urine)
- DUTCH test
How To Fix Brain Fog…42:50
Jacob asks: I've been experimenting with nootropics for quite awhile. I host a podcast of my own, and lately, I've had a few incidents where I jumbled up my words and experienced a bit of brain fog. I avoid eating rancid, corrupted oils and use a variety of nootropics. Just wondering if you have any ideas and advice on why I might be experiencing brain fog and what I can do to overcome it.
In my response, I recommend:
- Nervous system inflammation affects the limbic system in the brain
- Hypothalamus is the control center for mood, appetite, emotions, etc.
- Supplement with melatonin
- Leaky gut/dysbiosis
- Kion Colostrum
- Histamine intolerance
- StrateGene analysis
- Neurotransmitter imbalances
- Coldwater therapy
- BGF podcast on the vagus nerve
- Singing, humming
- Vitamin B-Complex
- CBD oil
- BGF podcast with Dr. John Lieurance
Dry vs. Infrared Sauna…58:00
Morgan asks: I'm on the verge of buying a sauna, and I can't decide between a traditional or infrared sauna. In spite of the many health claims of both types of saunas, I can't find a lot of concrete evidence to support them, especially with infrared. My goal is longevity, and because I'm a 51-year-old skateboarder, I want to recover quickly. So I want to know your thoughts on both types of saunas and which way you think I should go.
In my response, I recommend:
- Clearlight Infrared Sauna
- Embrocation cream
- Skin warming cream (Prototype 8)
- Morozko Forge (use BENFORGE to save $150)
- NuCalm (discount applied at checkout, 65% off the first month of any new monthly subscription)
- HigherDOSE Infrared Sauna Blanket (use code BEN to save 15%)