July 28, 2022
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/qa-444/
[00:00:54] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:51] Live on Twitter Spaces
[00:09:28] News Flashes: Hyperventilation-Aided Recovery
[00:20:40] The free, massively impactful trick to Miracle-Gro your brainpower
[00:25:08] Great review of how HIIT works and why you should do it!
[00:30:03] Another good reason to stress your cells with heat
[00:33:46] Fasting post-workout seems to improve glucose control
[00:37:12] Podcast Sponsors
[00:40:10] Excellent summary of the differences between endogenous and exogenous ketosis
[00:46:34] Muscle Cramping
[00:51:32] The Most Commonly Neglected Movements and Muscles (And Exercises to Address Weak Links)
[00:56:46] Psilocybin microdosers demonstrate greater observed improvements in mood and mental health at one month relative to non-microdosing controls
[01:04:30] Do You Need to Get Stem Cells Internationally? Expanded Stem Cell Procedures/Stem Cell Expansion Out of The Country?
[01:08:49] Targeted Low-Intensity Pulsed Ultrasound for Neuromodulation/Shifts in Consciousness
[01:14:14] Why Am I Waking Up Multiples Times to Urinate?
[01:21:14] End of Podcast
Ben: My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.
If you starve yourself of carbohydrates post-workout, your body gets really, really good at using carbohydrates, insulin sensitivity, and upregulation of glucose transporters, and at all the functions that would increase metabolic health. The reason this is important is I think a lot of people are still working out based on that old-school idea that as soon as you finish working out, you're supposed to drop everything and go find your shake or your Jamba juice or your energy bar so that you don't miss your anabolic recovery window, bro.
Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.
Let's talk nicotine, shall we? I use nicotine. I chew on a piece of nicotine gum a couple times a day. It's a lot healthier than a cigarette, I could tell you that. And, nicotine actually has some pretty cool properties in terms of focus and productivity. And, I think it's a reason that a lot of people now are combining it with a cup of coffee, a little caffeine, or another nootropic and just basically blasting through their day with a little bit of nicotine.
There's this company that makes gums and they make lozenges and these little mouth mints. And, it's really good clean nicotine. They're called Lucy. And, you can check them out Lucy.co, Lucy.co. And, it's a responsible way to consume nicotine. So, you can choose 2, 4, 6 mg. You can choose your delivery mechanism and you just get this nice clean edge mentally when you use it. Now, it does contain nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical, use it responsibly, but I'm going to give you a 20% discount either way. Go to Lucy.co and use promo code BEN20. That's Lucy.co and code BEN20.
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Well, you might often hear that the average adult should get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. That's not always possible obviously. More and more people are forced to make lifestyle decisions to get more deep sleep. And, research has shown that quality matters just as much as quantity. Even if you can't stay in bed as long the quality of that sleep really truly matters. Now, deep sleep, the first half of the night is that deep sleep window. That's when things start to drop; your heart rate, your breath, your blood pressure, your muscle activity, your body temperature. Since that temp drop is such a crucial aspect of the deep sleep stage, finding ways to activate that sleep switch can help to increase your levels of deep sleep. And, that's where this stuff called ChiliSleep comes in. So, ChiliSleep makes customizable climate-controlled sleep solutions that help you improve your entire well-being. It's hydro-powered, temperature-controlled mattress toppers that fit over your existing mattress to give you your ideal sleep temperature. I love this especially if I had a big meal the night before I go to sleep because it just dumps my body temperature way down. I don't wake up with the meat sweats or anything. But, when I travel, I really, really miss. I get pissed when I travel and I don't have my whole bed with me because this ChiliSleep stuff just keeps me in action, gives me amazing deep sleep percentages. These luxury mattress pads keep your bed at the perfect temperature for deep sleep and you can adjust it for hot too whether you sleep hot or cold, they work, they help you fall asleep, they help you stay asleep, maybe the confidence and the energy to power through your day. Just imagine waking up and not feeling tired. ChiliSleep can help make that happen.
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In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast, the latest tricks for cognitive performance, ketosis confusion, muscle cramping fixes, research frauds, microdosing, and much, much more.
First of all, I welcome all of those of you who have joined us live on Twitter Spaces. For those of you who are on live right now, congratulations, you made it, you're in the inner circle of Twitter Spaces. For the rest of you listening in, this is the, I don't even know how often we do this, Jay, weekly, monthly, bimonthly, biweekly, biannually.
Jay: I mean, since the last one, it has been a short period of time. Before that, it was like, geez, it was four or five months. So, let's get the cadence of maybe monthly. That sounds pretty good.
Ben: Look at us. There we go. Let's do it. So, anyways, this is the Q&A where we go over news flashes. And, here's why it actually is cool to join us on Twitter when we do these. And, I typically tweet it out. If you follow me on Twitter at Twitter.com/ — is it Twitter.com/BenGreenfield? Is that my Twitter? I forget. Anyways, you can find out there.
And, that being said, we should jump in pretty soon. But, I got to say, Jay, I have had an amazing, amazing week. I changed up my diet this week. I know a lot of people are into fitness and nutrition and in health optimization, so I'll tell you why I did this. My wife left town for the week. And, as I recently posted to Instagram, we're turning into the Greenfield boy man camp while my wife is gone. Yeah, we're doing kettlebell workouts, and ice baths, and breathwork in the sauna, and shooting our bow, and going on bike rides, and we went down to the river and swam around in the river last night, and played some tennis, and we're doing these deep meditation sessions in the morning, and in the evening just having a great father-son bonding time. I'm still working, but since I work from home, I'm just popping up and doing stuff with them throughout the day. I thought, well, gosh, what better to fuel a man camp father-son week than steak and liver.
Have you ever seen an actual bone-in ribeye like the full cut? It's the size of a human torso. Think about a rack a lamb or a rack a rabbit or something like that and then extend that and take a rack of cow, that's what an actual full rack before it's been pieced into individual steaks looks like. I had one of those. It's been burning a hole in my meat freezer for the past few months and I finally decided to cook it. So, Sunday, I smoked it for about six hours and just drench it in apple cider vinegar and barbecue sauce, did my little signature Kion Coffee rub on there with cacao and cayenne and salt and got it all prepped. Then, I told my wife, “Look, the whole time you're gone, all your precious sons and I are going to eat is steak and liver.” And so, breakfast, lunch, and dinner since Sunday, we've been doing steak and liver, and I just feel absolutely fantastic. Obviously long-term, I have some reservations about the long-term health of just eating steak and liver potentially missing out on some polyphenols and flavonols and, yeah, I know that the colon cancer thing with red meat. It's more the processed unhealthy forms of red meat and some of the things that go along with it like the bun and the giant Dr. Pepper. But, for the most part, I am feeling really, really, really good as though I've been just injected with testosterone and creatine fatty acids all day, which I have, I guess.
Jay: I guess that's it. I mean, it's an elimination diet, man. You're just going to take out everything and go to meat and liver. And, I mean, that's awesome. I thought you were going to tell me that since you were at a bachelor pad right now that you and your sons were just eating pizza and donuts and gummy bears, but I think this is probably the better route.
Ben: Well, in my son's defense, and I told them they could do this if they wanted to last night because they're cooks, little bakers, they have their own food podcast, they wanted to make steak pizza last night. And so, I stuck with steak but they actually made themselves, they roll out the dough and they baked it. So, they made themselves steak pizza. I stuck with steak, but they did veer into the pizza zone last night. You're right.
Jay: Got you. Okay, so steak pizza is a pizza with steak as the topping because in my mind when you said a steak pizza, I thought it was this big slab of meat where they put liver on top as the topping and they just pretended it was —
Ben: That would be amazing, just like a giant piece like a big old top sirloin layered with pepperoni and maybe a little bit of tomato sauce. Yeah, someone should try that. It's an actual steak pizza.
Jay: Get the boys on that. Get the boys to make one of those.
Ben: Alright. Well, shall we jump into our news flashes?
Jay: Yeah, let's go, man.
Ben: Alright, alright, alright, this is the time on the show when we share with you all sorts of cool things that can optimize your life at least hopefully or cause you to pass out in the gym because this first one is pretty interesting. I'd seen this concept bandied about before in literature but this recent study in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research was super-duper interesting. And, what it looked into was hyperventilation. Okay. So, when you do a Wim Hof fully in, then go fully in, then go fully in, letting go, and you keep doing that for two or three minutes, I mean everybody knows you get the tingle in your hands. You can hold your breath for a long time, but what you're inducing is a state of metabolic alkalosis. You're breathing out a lot of CO2 and you're saturating the muscles with oxygen theoretically. And, if you do this, the idea is you should be able to exercise more hard after without as great of a burn due to the alkalosis. And, indeed many people will do the Wim Hof protocol, when you're on that final breath hold out, they'll drop and do push-ups or burpees or do something while you're in that metabolically demanding state.
Anyways, what this study looked at was what if you just do this as you're recovering in between your sets at the gym? So, do a bench press, then do a minute Wim Hof, then bench press, a minute Wim Hof. They don't call Wim Hof, they just call hyperventilation, which is basically what it is. And so, what they investigated then was a hyperventilation-aided recovery. And, they tested this on the bench press and the leg press and they did 30 seconds before each set. And then, they of course had a control group that did regular breathing.
Now, by doing 30 seconds of hyperventilation prior to the exercise sets, they actually found that the total repetitions performed across all the sets were greater after hyperventilation in both the bench press and the leg press. And, they were actually significantly greater like 25 to 30%. And so, it turns out that this may actually be the impetus for people all around the world, fitness enthusiasts all around the world to be walking around the gym hyperventilating, breathing into paper bags, passing out, and blaming on this podcast episode. But, ultimately, it is interesting. We all know that breath can drive physiology, but it is cool. If you want a little step up, maybe you're in a competition, whatever the case may be, you just want to amp up your energy, hyperventilation seems to do the trick. It to me falls into the same category. And, I don't know if you've ever done this, Jay, of getting in a super duper, duper cold body of water prior to working out like I'll jump in the Morozko Forge, which is at 33 degrees, and I'll get in there for two or three minutes before I go work out. The endorphins, the adrenaline rush, the increased time to exhaustion, the decreased rating of perceived exertion, it all noticeably shifts if you get cold before the workout. A lot of people think the cold's for recovery, but if you do it before the workouts like a shot in the arm, and the hyperventilation might also help out a little bit, no reason you couldn't do both, just pass out in the ice tub before you go do your bench pressing.
Jay: Yeah. Well, we want to enhance overall sympathetic output prior to a working set. So, it's really interesting because I've tried this on multiple occasions and I've tracked my data. So, not to just throw in the shameless plug for Hanu, but Ben, next time, put on your Hanu, watch after you do this, your heart rate variability will drop like a rock, your heart rate will shoot up, but you'll perform better during the next set because you're utilizing all that mobilization of energy. Then, when you're done with the set, downregulate your nervous system prior to doing another bout of cyclical hyperventilation. And, I think that's where you're going to see the largest scale benefits from this type of practice. So, it's cyclical hyperventilation for 30 seconds, do the working set, downregulate with slow-paced breathing like resonance breathing, then when you have 30 seconds prior to your next set, do it again, and it's an amazing cycle.
Ben: Yeah, I totally agree that that's actually what Paul Chek calls working in versus working out where you'll do a set and then do 10 air squats waving your hands down below your body and up above your body and almost a Tibetan rite where they call it gathering up the earth's energy and bringing it up above the head and doing deep slow controlled breathing rather than just say sitting on the bench thumbing through Women's Health Magazine or something like that. So, yeah, I totally think it's a cool strategy. And so, that was interesting.
And then, the next thing that I want to get into is cognition; a few a few different things that have come up lately related to cognitive decline or cognitive performance and I thought some of them definitely have some cool takeaways. So, the first is more like a biohack, more like a gadgety thing. And, for many years I've talked about this concept of photobiomodulation on the show, meaning the use of light in a targeted manner usually infrared light like red light, near-infrared, far infrared, to do things like help out with skin health with the collagen and the elastin or shining on the testes to increase the activity of Leydig cells to potentially boost testosterone or blood flow to the genitalia or using it to simulate sunrise or sunset when you can't actually get out to do that from a circadian rhythmicity standpoint. And also, I've talked about it in the past for dementia and for Alzheimer's and there are certain devices as well as desktop type of lights like head-worn devices and desktop type of lights that will shine at specific frequencies to shift you into an alpha 10-hertz brainwave zone or a gamma 40-hertz brainwave zone. In addition to doing this, the red light devices that you put in your head actually target the cytochrome P450 enzyme in the mitochondria in neural tissue and help you to produce more ATP almost I've described in the past as a cup of coffee for your head.
One device that I think is probably the most popular out there is called the Vielight, V-I-E-light. I interviewed them years ago. I still use that device every other day for 25 minutes. That's the sweet spot. Too much red light therapy can produce excess free radicals and potentially ramp up reactive oxygen species. But, that sweet spot especially for the head of three times a week for around 25 minutes seems to work really well. And, I'm doing it not because I notice a huge, huge increase in my limitless function of word recall or cognitive output or executive function or anything like that, I'm doing it because I've seen so much data for that on staving off Alzheimer's and dementia and improving mitochondrial function for the head specifically for the brain that to me it's just a no-brainer, Jay, it's a no-brainer pun intended.
Jay: I see what you did there.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Glad you're paying attention.
So, anyways, the thing is this recent study, subjective cognitive decline is what they looked at, subjective cognitive decline, SCD. So, what happens is as you age, you can get what's called prefrontal cortex atrophy, which is associated with sleep disruption and cognitive decline. And, the theory is that that atrophy of neural tissue can be staved off via what's called transcranial brain photobiomodulation which not only could keep atrophy from occurring but increase blood flow to the frontal cortex and mediate memory function.
So, what they did was they looked at this photobiomodulation therapy targeting the prefrontal cortex, which is actually the Vielight, the prefrontal cortex, and then also the occipital zone, and a few other areas of the head. And, they found that both sleep efficiency as well as what's called N-back cognitive performance, which is a test of working memory were both improved within five days of doing this type of therapy. And, N-back training by the way for those who want to when you're sitting on an airplane or waiting in line at the doctor's office or whatever and you want to increase your memory really, really efficiently, there's a ton of free N-back training apps in the App Store for android and for Apple. And, you can download these and train your working memory. And, it's word recall, shape recall, number recall, sound recall, and you're training your brain how to recall N number of episodes ago like what pattern flashed across the screen three patterns ago. And, when that pattern flashes again, you're supposed to press a button, that type of thing. And, it's almost addictive as far as a memory training device and it actually works. They've done studies on it and actually works to improve memory. That's what they use as the test for this particular study, but it turns out, long story short, that if you're not yet using some form of photobiomodulation, particularly for your head, then you're probably missing out on some of the benefits of what occurs when the head gets exposed to red light, near-infrared light, far infrared light, and some of these hertz frequencies from 10 up to about 40 hertz.
Jay: Yeah. They talk about in this study how long they were exposed to the brain photobiomodulation. I just didn't know if they talked about timing.
Ben: I can tell you that based on the studies that Vielight has done and their recommendation, it is going to be around 20, 25 minutes.
Jay: Yeah. Now, Ben, I'm curious as what Vielight would think about this and then what you think about it too. So, I have a Vielight system, used it plenty of times, find benefit from it as well. I was just curious, if somebody's like, “I want to kill two birds with one stone,” so Vielight does do the intranasal light which I know is a part of their system. I mean, it sounds they were using Vielight in the study so they were probably using that. But, let's say someone just has a Joovv panel and they don't want to invest in money into a Vielight system, can you get the same benefits if you basically get your entire head in the light of that panel?
Ben: If you don't have the nasal probe, you're still going to have a really difficult time because the Vielight actually is up against the skin targeting these specific areas, which is why it comes with instructions for the specificity of how to wear it. It's an ECG head map if you were to go in and do neurofeedback and they're mapping specific parts of the brain and you have to have the electrodes very close to the actual location, which is C3, C5, they have different points around the head. This is like that. So, precision does matter. The shotgun effect is probably going to give you some benefits just taking off your hat when you go outside and letting the sunlight hit your skin on the top of your head could have some benefits. But, as far as targeted specificity, I'd go with the Vielight.
And, just so you know, the one that I use is the Duo because what the Duo does, the Vielight Duo and they're aren't sponsor of this podcast or anything, is just what I use, they have the option for 10 hertz or 40-hertz frequency. With 10 hertz being in the zone alpha waves and then the 40 hertz is gamma which can wake up your brain a little bit, make you more awake and alert that faster frequency. But then, the Duo, it also has one that targets the vagus nerve via the occipital bone on the back of the head. And then, that also has a nasal probe that goes into your other nostril. So, you technically have double nasal probes and double lights on the head. And then, the interesting thing is the Duo also comes with an extra one that can wrap around the waist that does infrared light to your gut at the same time that you do it to your brain. So, it's pretty cool. I mean, it's not an inexpensive device I think for the whole Neuro Duo setup, it's like 2,400 bucks, something like that. But, it's a real game changer when it comes to targeted photobiomodulation. And, that's the one that I use.
Jay: That's cool. The next model that they put out is going to have a light in every orifice of the body. Pretty close, but not yet.
But, let's switch to something free, something free for making you smarter. So, we're going to shift to the free and easy stuff that actually takes blood, sweat, and tears so it's technically not free. But, this was interesting, they looked at the immediate effect of high-intensity exercise on brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, which is that stuff that we all hear bandied about is Miracle-Gro for the brain. And, this was pretty straightforward in comparison to aerobic light intensity exercise or non-exercise. There was a significant and immediate increase in BDNF when folks were doing this high-intensity exercise protocol.
Now, here's why I think this is interesting. If you would read a book like — John Ratey has a book called “Spark.” Great book that highlights all the good things for your brain that exercise does. And, it turns out that when you look at chronic repetitive motion aerobic sports, particularly those that require left and right brain hemispheric coordination like say swimming would be a perfect example and actually running because it is a left foot, right foot, right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg, there's a little bit of that but then swimming there's even more of that. They've also noted this in tennis. You actually see a pretty significant correlation between participation in those sports and cognitive performance. And, in addition to that with weight lifting, because the blood stays more localized to the joints, the theory is that the brain-derived neurotrophic factor stays more local to the muscle when you're weight training but winds up because of blood flow to the brain more in the brain after aerobic training. So, if what I'm saying makes sense, basically it means that technically in the past, I've said that if you have a cognitive demanding day, it would be more beneficial to go for a swim or go for a walk in the sunshine or a run or some type of aerobic modality versus strength training. But, the interesting thing is that if you think about high-intensity interval training, you're still doing even for a one-minute bicycle all-out high-intensity interval rep thousands and thousands of reps sometimes. So, compared to weightlifting, which is a high rep range would be 20. So, 5, 8, 10, 12, 20 reps, et cetera.
So, even though high-intensity exercise may not seem like it's aerobic compared to strength training, you're getting a lot more blood flow to the brain from high-intensity interval training on a cardio modality versus strength training. So, it's looking like based on this study that for getting smart, for using exercise to get smart, the best is high-intensity interval training. The next best is aerobic training and the least effective would be strength training even though all three increase BDNF. And, if you really want the high-intensity interval training to be the best for cognitive performance, you would choose something that's using both the arms and the legs and involve some type of coordination, which is, again, I think one of the reasons that other previous studies have found that swimming and tennis are two of the best sports for increasing your cognitive performance from a lifetime athlete type of standpoint.
Jay: It all makes sense, man. I don't know if you feel the same way but if I do any type of HIIT training or HIRT training, it sucks while you're doing it most of the time and it's intended to suck. It's really intense. But then afterwards, as opposed to doing any type of let's say zone two cardio or resistance training or weight training, I just feel this sense of level-headedness. I'm clear in thought. I just feel good. My body's drained. I mean, I can feel that I just got done whipping my butt, but I mean there's something about the subjective level-headedness afterwards and clarity of thought that I always tend to experience after HIIT as opposed to some of the other types of modalities.
Ben: Yeah. And, now we know why. And, because I know you like to dig into the nitty-gritty of the studies, Jay, I should mention that I can't give an exact time for the actual intervals used because this was a meta-analysis that looked at a variety of studies and the workouts ranged anywhere from 7 to 60 minutes in length. But, in terms of the nature of high-intensity interval training and how to choose how long, how hard, et cetera, this actually is a perfect segue into another thing that I wanted to bring up regarding high-intensity interval training. And, that was a great article by our friends at Levels Health, which defined why HIIT is so good, like why this idea of going hard and short versus going long and slow seems to give you so much more metabolic health benefit.
Now, with this article, and I'll link to it if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/444, that's the number for today's podcast, BenGreenfieldLife.com/444. I'll link to this article and the other ones that we talked about. There's a few reasons that high-intensity exercise is so good. First, it activates something called adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase. It's called AMPK. Stay with me here if you're listening in and that sound gobbledygook. Basically, AMPK is the thing that causes the glucose transporters. These are called GLUT4 glucose transporters. It helps to mobilize those and allows your muscle to extract glucose from the body for energy or from the blood more specifically for energy. So, you essentially train your body how to get rid of glucose very, very quickly in the bloodstream and how to pack it into muscle much more quickly.
So, that's the first thing that happens in response to HIIT exercise, which is also why if you're having carbs on any specific day like HIIT exercise or strength training or in addition to a cold bath are three of the best things to increase the activity of those glucose transporters. But then, the HIIT also has a lot of other stuff. This article talks about how it increases the production of catecholamines, much, much higher than what you'd get from aerobic exercise. And, that causes a seven to eight times increase in glucose production.
Now, here's what's interesting because of the upregulation of the glucose transporters when you do high-intensity interval training, glucose use increases but only increases about three to four times. Okay. So, you're looking at seven to eight times increase in glucose production, meaning your liver breaking down carbs, shoving them out into the bloodstream to be used as glucose. But, the use only increases three to four times. And, this is why a lot of people who will wear a continuous blood glucose monitor will look at their blood sugar after the workout and be like, “Holy cow, I'm never going to do that again, my blood sugar spiked so high. This is horrible for me. I'm supposed to keep my blood sugar low.” But, the fact is that downstream effects after you've finished the session in terms of the upregulation of these glucose transporters dictates that that short-term rise in blood sugar results in long-term metabolic health benefits.
And so, the other cool thing is that AMPK allows for improved endothelial function too, which widens blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. So, there's a couple of other cool things that happen as well. So, don't worry if you're testing your blood sugar and it's high after a HIIT session, that's actually what it's supposed to be doing. And, the other cool thing is of course with that upregulation of the glucose transporters, that particular GLUT4 transporter is the one that's activated by insulin. So, you don't need as much insulin so your pancreas doesn't have to turn out as much insulin so you increase your pancreatic health and your insulin sensitivity as well.
And then, the last thing that this article gets into that I should note is the variance of high-intensity interval training and which ones are the classic ones. And, they list what I would consider to be two of the best ways to get started and they don't list one and I'll tell you what all three are. They list the Tabata set, eight rounds of 20 seconds as hard as you can go, followed by 10 seconds of rest, also known as the suck fest if you actually do it right and you go as hard as you're supposed to go for those 20 seconds. Yeah. And then, another one is the 4 by 4 method, which is four four-minute intervals each followed by a three to four-minute recovery period. And, that's actually the gold standard really, really good for increasing your VO2 max. And then, the last one is it's called a 10 by 1 method. And, that's where you do 10 one-minute bursts of activity each one followed by one minute of recovery like getting on the bike one minute hard, one minute easy, one minute hard, one minute easy, et cetera.
So, for those of you who don't really understand what I'm talking about when I say HIIT, those are perfect examples. Now, HIIT is not going out for a 30-minute run as hard as you can, but HIIT could be going up for a 30-minute run running for one minute, walking for one minute, sprinting for one minute, walking for one minute, that type of thing.
So, anyways, it was a great article and it goes into more in terms of metabolic insights into high-intensity interval training, but I thought it was a really good one.
Jay: Yeah, it's good points that you made about a lot of people will put on a CGM for the first time, go do an exercise or a HIIT training since that's what we're talking about and they'll see blood glucose significantly elevate and then that becomes this notion of this is a bad thing for me. And, for me, the first time I ever wore a CGM, I knew what to expect but I saw that happen, and then I almost always follow my exercise routine by a 20-minute sauna, which causes blood glucose to continue to stay up if not rise even more. And, it looks I'm taking this huge metabolic hit but to your point while it may look like that on the surface, the underpinning recovery from a metabolic health standpoint is much greater than the detriment or what we thought was the detriment of blood glucose rising transiently.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. And, you're right, it does also tend to happen quite a bit in heat. Not in cold interestingly, cold seems just plummet blood glucose but heat for sure.
And, that actually leads me to the last thing that I wanted to mention when it comes to cognitive performance. So, thank you for teeing up that segue for me so nicely, Jay. That's the idea of how the mechanism of action via which things like this finished longevity study would be based upon where they look at a significant. What was it? 40% or something like decreased risk of Alzheimer's and dementia and a lot of other chronic diseases, their risk factors plummeting in response to regular sauna exposure. So, there was a study that was published in Nature Communications Journal where they looked at a newly found mechanism that appears to reverse the buildup of what are called aggregates. Okay, and aggregates, all aggregates are, those are the proteins you hear about like amyloid protein, and tau protein, and misfolded proteins, and plaque buildup in the brain and people have Alzheimer's and also Parkinson's. Well, that's what these aggregates are.
So, they looked into a mechanism that appears to reverse the buildup of aggregates, and it turns out that that mechanism is based on stressing the cells in what's called the endoplasmic reticulum. That's a membrane structure found in most mammalian cells and it carries out a ton of functions including the folding and the modification and transport of proteins and the degradation of the folding. And, the modification transport of proteins is notoriously correlated to increased risk of dementia, and Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's, and other neurodegenerative diseases or central nervous system type of disorders.
So, stressing the endoplasmic reticulum eliminated these aggregates. It literally just unraveled them potentially allowing them to refold correctly. And, it turns out that this concept of hormesis, what doesn't kill you stronger that this stress seems to be protective. And, the main component that they looked at was a class of proteins known as heat shock proteins, which are made when your cells get exposed to temperatures that are above their normal growth temperature. And also, and this is a myth that gets bandied about, you only make heat shock proteins in the heat, you actually make them in the cold, you make them if you're stressed out emotionally, you make them if you're at the gym. Heat is probably the best way to do it, but heat shock proteins are going to be available whether or not you're using a sauna to get them. It's just that a sauna really, really amps up these heat shock proteins, these HSPs.
And so, the mild stress triggers the higher activity of HSPs that corrects the tangled proteins. And so, it turns out that the reason that sauna seems to decrease the risk of Alzheimer's and dementia is it's literally causing the proteins to unfold and then refold into their correct pattern, and it's all based off of stress-induced protein disaggregation in the endoplasmic reticulum. So, it's cool to actually know why this stuff works and what's happening in terms of retraining our bodies how to actually fold proteins correctly.
Jay: Yeah, I know. It allows for me to provide a little bit more explanation to people when I'm in the sauna because a lot of it is talking about the effects of heat shock proteins and sirtuin activation. And now, I get to talk about this, which is phenomenal.
Ben: Yeah. Well, it depends on your sauna experience.
Jay: Endoplasmic reticulum.
Ben: Yeah. When sauna in Finland, it's almost sacred. There's the spirit of the sauna and you quietly enter. And usually, you're disrobed and you're sitting at a meditative stage or sometimes talking very quietly and then you go to a sauna in whatever, an American YMCA, and it's a bunch of dudes in basketball shorts tinking around on Candy Crush on their phones. And, yeah, it just totally different atmosphere. Yeah, yeah. So, I think it depends on the sauna. But, yes, I'm glad you have more sauna fire for your intellectually driven discussions and the saunas over there in the deep south, Jay.
So, back to glucose control because we got on this real briefly. And, obviously, it's relevant to overall metabolic health and longevity. A lot of people are trying to figure out using continuous blood glucose monitors and the like how to actually keep their blood glucose controlled or how to lower what's called glycemic variability, the extent to which your blood glucose fluctuates during the day.
This study interestingly, they used that exact 10 by 1 high-intensity interval training set that I mentioned earlier, 10 rounds of one minute of cycling hard, followed by one minute of recovery. And then, what they did was they either gave people a high carbohydrate energy replacement drink or a placebo drink that didn't have calories in it. And then, what they looked at was the glycemic control the next day. And, it turns out, this is really interesting, if you don't eat a bunch of carbs after you've done high-intensity interval training, then you actually have better blood glucose control the next day. And, if you consume carbohydrates after you've done high-intensity interval training and I highly suspect that this could also be applicable to weightlifting, then that attenuates glycemic control and you have poorer blood glucose control the next day.
I'm a little bit hesitant to use this word because I don't want to cause eating disorders, but if you starve yourself of carbohydrates post-workout, your body gets really, really good at using carbohydrates, insulin sensitivity, and upregulation of glucose transporters, and at all the functions that would increase metabolic health. The reason this is important is I think a lot of people are still working out based on that old-school idea that as soon as you finish working out, you're supposed to drop everything and go find your shake or your Jamba juice or your energy bar so that you don't miss your anabolic recovery window, bro. And, that actually is true if you're a bodybuilder or a football player trying to pack on 20 pounds of muscle, you're just basically eating all day and lifting weights or training.
But, if you're in this for the metabolic health and the longevity game, it turns out that there's actually multiple benefits. I've talked about some of the others in the past like an increase in testosterone and growth hormone. Here, we see the increase in insulin sensitivity. There was one a couple years back. I don't know if you saw this, Jay, but it was better heart rate variability, better recovery from a nervous system standpoint when you're not face stuffing post-workout and you're actually causing your body to mount a little bit of a stress-based response that you're not getting food after the workout. So, very similar to the idea that you shouldn't do a long cold soak after workout or take a bunch of selective antioxidants. It turns out that eating immediately post-workout, particularly in this case eating carbs immediately post-workout doesn't necessarily do you any favors from a metabolic health standpoint. There's all sorts of exceptions. If you're an athlete doing a two a day, yeah — if you're working out and then working out again with eight hours, you have to have carbohydrates after that first workout if you're serious about being able to achieve the performance that you want in the second workout of the day.
Another example would be, again, people who are trying to put on muscle, people who perhaps are in a state of thyroid downregulation because they've been starving themselves a whole bunch of trying to get fit now again after making a bunch of dietary mistakes. Well, take care of your body, have carbs post-workout. But, for the most part, painting with a broad brush from a metabolic health standpoint is better to not have carbs post-workout than to have carbs post-workout. Again, throwing athleticism and muscle gain and things like that out the window and just looking at metabolic health and lifespan.
Well, I have for years for years tested my blood on a quarterly basis. My blood and biomarkers give me so much data about how to train, how to eat, how to supplement, the peace of mind knowing that things look right, and also the empowerment to be able to act if something looks wrong like my vitamin D is low, or my triglycerides are creeping up, or my inflammation is high, or my kidneys or my liver seem they need support. The fact is this blood testing is no longer something that just fancy execs who pay tens of thousands of dollars to some longevity institute can get. This is in the comfort of your own home. And, this company called Inside Tracker, they make it so easy. Basically, you get your blood tested, they walk you through the whole process then you get a daily action plan with total guidance on your exercise, your nutrition, your supplementation. You can connect it with your Fitbit or your Garmin to get real-time recovery tips after your workout. It's basically having your own little phlebotomist personal trainer nutritionist in your pocket who can just basically read your body for you. So, this is cool stuff. You can learn a lot from your blood. And, for a limited time, you get 20% off the entire Inside Tracker store. Just go to InsideTracker.com/Ben. That's InsideTracker.com/Ben.
I'm honestly shocked. Every time I see a bodybuilder or fitness influencer or anyone really promoting branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs. You see these things all over the place. I just don't get it. They only have three of the nine essential amino acids your body needs. They can cause issues like messing with your serotonin levels and depleting your B vitamins, they affect your blood sugar deleteriously, and a whole lot more. But, the dark and dirty secret in the supplements industry is that you can make a lot of money off of the overpriced flavored water that is essentially BCAAs. So, I use the word essentially I suppose quite fittingly because the alternative are essential amino acids. Essential amino acids actually have all the amino acids your body actually need, they are great for energy, great for preserving muscle, great for fasting and keeping the appetite satiated, great for nourishing the body for sleep, good for cognitive performance. They're like the Swiss army knife of supplements these essential amino acids. I'm blown away by the number of people who've heard me talk about essential amino acids on the podcast who've started using them and who literally feel like they're on steroids without actually being on steroids.
Kion is the company that has the perfect ratios, perfectly primed for recovery, for muscle maintenance, for muscle building. Kion Aminos are better than not only every branch chain amino acid supplement out there but because they're essential amino acids in my opinion based on the ratios, the flavor; watermelon, mango, berry, lime, so good better than any aminos out there period. And, I'm going to give you a 20% discount for the Kion Aminos. Go to getKION.com/BenGreenfield. That's getK-I-O-N.com/BenGreenfield, and that'll give you a special discount on your first-time purchase of Kion Aminos.
Jay: Well, watch out folks because Gatorade is about to sue Ben Greenfield for telling people not to drink their Gatorade after workout.
Ben: Yeah, well, Gatorade has probably hated this show ever since I interviewed Tim Noakes back in the day about the whole expose of sports drinks. And, gosh, that was, yeah, story for another day and also since I've been advocating a low carbohydrate approach. Until Gatorade comes out with ketone esters at which point I suspect they will revisit their stance on carbohydrate consumption necessity during exercise, but we'll have to wait for the commercial aspect of that.
Jay: Fingers crossed. Well, if they can make one that is effective and not full of just complete bullshit, then I mean that would be great because they could make it probably a lot cheaper than some of these other brands that I use which I love.
Ben: And, I'm sure it'll be purple and blue and red, and they'll make it great colors as well which we all know is super important from a marketing standpoint.
This is also related to another study that I wanted to bring up though. This one was cool because what I just mentioned, these ketone supplements like ketone esters or ketone salts or ketone powders that are designed to shift the body into a state of ketosis that you have a lot of ketone bodies which are great for cognitive performance, for endurance performance. They're a preferred fuel for the heart, the liver, the diaphragm, the brain. I mean, ketones are pretty cool especially when it comes to going for long periods of time without much fuel on board.
And so, a lot of companies now are making ketone-based drinks, but the question is can you improve performance by using fake ketosis like drinking ketone esters instead of cutting carbohydrates or cutting calories or fasting which would be a more ancestral way of getting into ketosis? And, furthermore, what's better for exercise capacity and adaptation to exercise training? Eating carbohydrates, eating food, not fasting, et cetera, and then supplement with ketone esters or just achieving ketosis naturally by fasting and carbohydrate restriction, et cetera.
So, what this study did was they took one group and they put them on a ketogenic diet, strict basic natural way to achieve ketosis, just don't eat carbs and eat a pretty high throughput of fats. They took another group and they put them on a carbohydrate-rich diet but then they gave them a ketone ester drink four times a day. And then, they put a final group on the carbohydrate-rich diet. So, we got high carb diet, high carb diet plus ketones, and then just a ketogenic diet. And, this didn't really surprise me because back in the day, I would, prior to some of my really hard endurance races, eat a whole bunch of carbohydrate and then have a whole bunch of ketones so that I could have my cake and eat it too and have high blood glucose and high ketones during exercise. And, it turns out that, lo and behold, you actually see a really significant increase in performance when you combine carbs and ketone esters. The interesting thing also is that when you don't do that, you get an increase in fat oxidation.
So, what I'm getting at here is that if you really want to perform well, follow all the rules about having carbohydrates and pre- and post-workout nutrition but throw ketone esters into the mix and it's almost a cheat code. You get all the benefits of fasting and having elevated blood ketones but then all the performance enhancement of the carbs and the standard non-ketogenic diet. But, if you're looking at this more for, again, metabolic health back to the other thing we were talking about and longevity and things like your ability to burn fatty acids efficiently, turns out that it's better to try to achieve ketosis naturally and restrict carbohydrates, restrict calories, fast, and not necessarily use exogenous ketones to shift yourself into ketosis.
The only thing that I wish that they had done in this study would have been to have a fourth group, a group that was following a ketogenic diet and consuming ketone esters just to see —
Jay: Exactly what was I going to say.
Ben: Yeah, just to see if you could get pretty close via that approach to what you'd get. And, I doubt this would be the case but it would have been interesting for them to include if folks who were following ketogenic diet and doing ketone esters could perform as well as those eating a carbohydrate-rich diet and doing ketone esters, and also what the what the metabolic effects of that would be.
Because here's what I personally do, I eat a low carb relatively ketogenic diet. I'm strict but I'll have 150, 200 grams of carbs a day unless it's steak and liver week obviously. And then, I will also use ketone esters because those bump up my ketones even more and have a lot of other downstream side effects like reducing inflammation, they can cause some increases in some longevity-associated proteins. And so, I think that because they also provide me with extra fuel for exercise, I'm getting a little bit of the best of both worlds just doing that ketosis plus ketone esters.
So, I still think if you were to put me head to head running a 5k against somebody who had carbs and ketone esters versus me no carbs but ketone esters that the person who had carbs is still going to kick my butt and wax the 5k course with me. But, it is interesting just to see what happens when you combine carbs with ketones and see it happen not just in an anecdotal environment but in a research study.
Jay: Yeah. No, I'm totally there with you. I was curious as to why they didn't run that fourth group that was keto or fat-adapted plus exogenous ketones. They might have had a reason for it but they didn't explain it in the study that I'm looking at and reading right now. But, I totally agree with you on all your comments there.
For me, as someone who tends to be lower carbohydrate, definitely not ketogenic but lower carbohydrate, for me, the exogenous ketones I've used it for sports performance but I don't use it nearly as much as I do for cognitive performance. And, I found that when my carbohydrate load is a little bit higher but my overall, let's say, exercise output is either the same or lower than when I add exogenous ketones, I don't necessarily feel more cognitively sharp. For me, it's that combo of being on a low carbohydrate diet, maybe even having some natural ketones being produced because of the low carbohydrate nature of the diet, and then adding on the exogenous ketones. That's kind of my good one-two punch that I found is the most effective.
Ben: Yeah. Cool, cool, I agree. Well, good insight.
Okay, let's keep going with a few before we take some questions. And, I know we're starting to get long in the tooth for our news flashes so I won't spend quite so much time on these next anecdotes but they're pretty cool.
So, this next one was also from the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research and it looked at muscle cramping. We, many of us who are still operating in an old-school exercise physiology mindset, associate muscle cramping with dehydration and electrolyte depletion. And, that can actually be the case. That can be the case. Yeah, if you're dehydrated severely and you haven't enough salts on board, then it is likely that your muscles may cramp. And, it is interesting that people will sell the pickle juice shots where you pay 4 bucks for a dime worth of pickle juice and you drink that when you start to cramp versus the cramp.
An old-school tactic I used to use when I was racing Ironman was I would take those electrolyte capsules which are incredibly salty and I'd just chew them instead of swallowing them. And, it's interesting because they've shown that those strategies will reverse a cramp and stop a cramp in its tracks. But, the interesting thing is the time that it takes to stop the cramp is not long enough for those salts to have been able to make it into the bloodstream and rehydrate the muscle. So, they actually they're operating on a neuron reflex that when you taste something super salty or super bitter, it inhibits what's called the alpha motor neuron reflex that causes the muscle to go into a cramp so your body releases the cramp. Necessarily because you were dehydrated or electrolyte depleted, it's just because of that neuron reflex, which means even if you're not dehydrated and you're not electrolyte depleted, just tasting something super salty or something very pickle juicy can reverse a cramp which is a cool thing to know if you struggle with cramps.
Now, the thing is though, the real reason that most cramps occur, and I wrote about this back in the book “Beyond Training” is you're asking your body or your muscles to exceed the load that they've grown accustomed to in training. And, there is a protective mechanism via what's called the Golgi tendon organ in the muscle belly that occurs that causes the muscle to go into a protected cramped state so that you can't damage it anymore by asking it to do something that it's not physically prepared to do. And so, it's a protective mechanism. A cramp is much more often a protective mechanism because you haven't trained properly or you're going faster or harder or lifting more weight than your body's used to. And, that's what causes the cramp. That's why if you're fully hydrated and you have all your electrolytes, you can still cramp. Sometimes it can be you have some of your electrolytes but not all of them. A lot of people who are deficient in magnesium or potassium but they've been salting their food or whatever with just normal iodized table salt, they'll cramp. And, that's because they're not getting a full spectrum of minerals sometimes.
Anyways though, so this study looked at dehydration and electrolyte depletion versus muscle damage, muscle damage. And so, what they did was they took a whole bunch of marathoners and they put them through an exercise test and they did blood and urine samples and then they did a road marathon. And, after the race, they looked at exercise-associated muscle cramps; who cramped, who didn't, et cetera, et cetera. And then, what they looked at was markers of muscle damage, particularly creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase. And, they found that those markers of muscle damage were significantly higher in the cramping group. Whereas, they didn't necessarily show a deficit in their electrolytes or their hydration status.
And so, what this means is that if you have muscle cramps, in this study, I mean, the final sentence basically says that runners who suffered exercise-associated muscle cramping didn't exhibit a greater degree of dehydration electrolyte depletion but did display significantly higher concentrations of muscle damage biomarkers. If you think about what you do based on this, it would mean, “Oh, well, marathoners who cramp a lot, they should be strength training,” or “They should be training in such a manner that especially towards the last half of the race, they've asked their muscles to do in training what they're asking their muscles to do in that last half of the race. And, they should basically come at the cramping problem from the standpoint of making the muscle stronger and more resilient to fatigue and stress versus just buying six packs of Gatorade and headed off to the race.”
So, I just think it's interesting that it seems sometimes we're still in the dark ages when it comes to cramping and we just think sports drink, sports drinks, electrolyte, electrolyte, water, water, but it's in fact training in muscle damage that's the bigger variable here.
Jay: Yeah. No, makes a lot of sense. Well, it's not as sexy, it's not as lucrative for companies that sell electrolytes and other things.
Ben: Right, it's back to the high-intensity interval training. You could take berberine and blood glucose disposal agents and bitter melon and spend money on that or you could do high-intensity interval training do the work and get just as good results. I mean, I'm again back to the ketone esters. I'm a best of both worlds type of guy where I'm like, “Yeah, stay hydrated, use a wide spectrum of minerals, and weight train and you're going to have a lower risk of cramping or do high-intensity interval training cold thermogenesis and supplements to control blood glucose and you'll probably have better blood glucose had you not done any of those or just one of them.” So, I think this is an all-or-nothing black or white thing, but it just shows the importance of stacking some of these things.
Jay: Yeah, exactly.
The next one, and I actually started with some of my clients, I have begun weaving some of these into their workouts more because this article on stronger by science just was a great reminder of weak links. And, the title of the article is “The Most Commonly Neglected Movements and Muscles (And Exercises to Address Weak Links).” So, what it goes into is how in the average weight training session or in the average exercise program, there are certain muscle groups that are notoriously neglected that when neglected leads to poor stabilization weak links, and increased risk for injury. And then, it goes into what those three movements are and how you would actually train for them with really helpful pictures and videos.
But the three exercises I think this is going to be common knowledge for personal trainers or physical therapists but maybe not for a lot of other people. The three areas that tend to be the weakest links when it comes to muscle detraining or poor balance in the muscles. Number one is scapular pro traction forward movement of the shoulder blades, scapular protraction. The reason for that is a lot of times we're hunched over at a computer forward head posture and a lot of times we think about pull-ups and rows and things like that to fix that scapular protraction. But, that's actually just training the scapular retraction. You actually have to train the scapular protraction which involves targeting muscles the serratus anterior and the pectoralis minor. And so, the perfect example is that would be you get into a push-up position and you do a push-up but then at the top of the push-up, you do a scapular protraction where you're trying to pull your shoulder blades up and apart and then you go back down and you do another push-up. And then, again, going to look at the videos and the photos in this article will be useful for you. So, I'm going to spend less time explaining the exercises and more time explaining which is the three areas that you want to target. Scapular protraction is one.
The next one is your hip flexion, your hip flexion, the movement of the let's just think of this as like the movement of the knee up towards the chest. That's an example of hip flexion. And, Ben Patrick, the Knees Over Toes Guy, who does a great job at rehabbing people for not just knees but general movement patterns, he's huge in hip flexion exercises like the sled pull or the sled drag like a lying hip flexor reverse squat type of exercise, knee to chest. Another perfect example like hanging leg raises or reverse crunches, anything that's really, really getting the hip flexors to fire is important. And, again, I think a lot of people kind of similar to the scapular piece might be, “Wait, my hip flexors are all, they're tight during the day, I'm sitting down, why would I train my hip flexors if they're already in a tightened position when I want to train my hip extensors, my glutes.” But, that's not actually the case because when you're in a seated position, the hip flexor is actually getting weaker not stronger. And, what you can do is increase tonicity and strengthen the hip flexor by doing a lot of these hip flexor exercises, again, like the hanging leg raise and the like. And, what that can do especially if you combine it with training the glutes is help out a ton with things back pain, running speed, overall athleticism. So, hip flexion will be another one.
And then, the last one is hip abduction, A-B-duction, the movement of the thigh out and away from the midline of the body. A ton of people are just they're poor at lateral movement patterns. Even super fit people like cross-fitters, they have a ton of front-to-back motion but very, very little of that sagittal plane motion in which you're moving side to side like lateral lunges or clam shells in a crawled position or having an elastic band around the legs and doing side to side monster walks or squat walkouts. They're such a crucial, crucial part of movement in such a weak part in a lot of people that I would fully agree that that's a solid third for the three most neglected muscle groups.
So, if you're into exercise, if you are struggling with injury, if you feel your body needs to be more put together, then have one workout during the week, for example, where you're just doing hip flexion, scapular protraction, and hip abduction, or have a mini workout that you do at the end of each workout that's targeting those three areas. Or, if you go and grab that guy Ben Patrick I mentioned, he has a book called “ATG for Life” and there's two workouts in there. They take 20 minutes but they hit a lot of these notorious weak variables. And, that's another example of something you could just weave into your program a couple of times a week whether you do it before or after your main workout or you do it as a supplementary workout or a morning routine, I would highly recommend that you review the article because it's just got some solid exercises in there that will really keep you in the game from a lifespan standpoint.
Jay: I've always heard that cat-cow poses were really good for scapular protraction which makes sense.
Ben: Yeah, they are especially if you have really good yoga pants. Everybody knows cat-cow requires a solid set of yoga pants.
Ben: Yup. Lululemon here we come. Let's do one more. And then, I think we should we should move on to just a few questions so that we don't get too long in the tooth here before we're able to take on some questions from the audience.
I suppose that I want to bring this up just because anybody who's a regular podcast listener knows that I recently came out pretty strong against plant medicine at least the recreational modern use of plant medicine specifically when it comes to things like divination, seeking god's wisdom, spiritual enlightenment, finding yourself bro or finding yourself sis, all the shamanism and the turning to drugs and plant medicines as a form of spirituality or a way to God. I think that folks are playing with fire as I got into in the article which you can read at BenGreenfieldLife.com/PlantMedpart1 because you really actually are whether you believe it or not opening yourself up to a spiritual universe. This is why there aren't a lot of atheists who have done plant medicine.
Most atheists who do plant medicine come out the other side believing in God or some higher power or some collective consciousness or some spiritual world that's outside of us that it's not all just boiled down to materialism and logical rational science. There are these unexplained phenomenons out there that are directly linked to some spiritual world. And, I am concerned about people who are dabbling without any knowledge often in the wrong set and setting with these types of medicines and setting themselves up for some pretty deep and dark spiritual experiences including, and I realize a lot of people chuckle when I say this, but we don't live in a total materialistic world. So, I'll say it including communing with demons or setting yourself up for some type of dark possession or even being possessed by a shaman in the Amazon or someone else who wants to use you and abuse you.
And, there's a lot of issues and, of course, I'm not going to get into them all on this podcast because I covered them pretty extensively in the two-part podcast series, in the two-part article series that I did on plant medicines. I still think there's a few use cases potentially for palliative hospice care like end-of-life therapy with something like psilocybin addiction treatment such as Johns Hopkins is doing, again, with psilocybin, possibly couples therapy with say MDMA couples therapy where you're wide awake you're not journeying with a mask and music but you're just with your couple producing a lot more oxytocin in a very heart open state. And then, also I think there are a few use cases for things microdosing for increased sensory perception, or for better sex, or productivity, or focus, or creativity like small and appropriately dosed amounts of these types of things, these so-called entheogens or plant medicines. I think that's another acceptable use case for them.
So, based on all of that and so that I don't shove the entire industry under the bus because I do see some benefit of some use cases of these, I should note a recent study that looked at the so-called Stamets Stack, which was made popular by a fellow pacific northwestern Paul Stamets who's a mushroom forager, and I believe he's the host of that documentary “Fantastic Fungi.” And, his stack is lion's mane mushroom which is not entheogen or psychedelic, and niacin which is more a blood flow precursor combined with very small amounts of psilocybin. And, there's been a lot of people for a long time saying that this is a game-changer stack. I've done it and I've noticed a significant increase in sensory perception and creativity and just overall mood and mental health when using a stack like that. So, this study actually looked at the combination of psilocybin and lion's mane and niacin, and basically found that there actually is a significantly greater observed improvement in mood and mental health after just 30 days of a protocol like that compared to people who are not dosing with that. And, I think the only fallback of this study is very difficult to give someone placebo magic mushroom versus regular magic mushroom. So, it's possible that the people who got the microdose knew what they were getting especially if it was anything above a slightly perceptible dose.
But anyways, it is interesting that the stack actually does work. And, I also bring it up because it would be an example I think of an appropriate use of something psilocybin like I'm going to go do some creative writing, I'm going to take a little bit of psilocybin, whatever, a quarter of a gram, I'm going to do a little bit of lion's mane, a little bit of niacin to open up the blood. And, it actually works pretty well. I just think we have to approach these things with a great deal of caution and respect.
Even after I wrote that article, yeah, I've got a pantry full of LSD and psilocybin and wachuma and all these plant medicines that I have used in the past for microdosing. And, I actually put them all in my gun safe because I'm like, “Wait, if it actually is true that if someone were to grab a handful these not know what they were doing that they could open themselves up to potential for demonic influence and entering into a spiritual portal into a spiritual realm that they have no business being in, I probably shouldn't have these things next to the ketchup.” So, I've changed my approach to the respect that I give to microdoses and entheogens, but I haven't sworn off microdosing. And, this particular article just shows that, yeah, stuff like this can have some benefit without the risks of things like psychosis, schizophrenia, dark spiritual experiences, et cetera.
Jay: Yeah. I mean I really appreciate you throwing out all of your well-thought-out thoughts. It's obvious that when you wrote this and you did the podcast and you put a lot of time, a lot of thought, a lot of prayer, a lot of discernment into it. And so, it's really appreciative.
Regardless of anybody's religious beliefs, a belief in any other type of dimensions or demons or demonic possession, I think the one thing that people should come to and at least a unified agreement on is that because plant medicines and ceremonial doses or trip doses have become so common and modernized, people are absolutely just using this very flippantly. And, so flippantly that I have seen from a mental health standpoint a lot of long-term residual effects from people just jumping in and said, “Oh, yeah, I've got this dude who's doing an ayahuasca ceremony this weekend that I'm going to. It's his first time ever doing it, but I'm going to go do it.” And, the next thing they know, they have very long-standing problems with what they experienced and what they continue to experience afterwards.
So, I think a lot of that comes down to just pure flippant use, a disrespect almost for what the plant medicine does and can do. And, I think that at least at a minimum, we have to come to that unified decision that that is not a good thing. But, I think you made a lot of great points in your article. And then, when it comes to microdosing, I think that's going to be an individual's decision and if they feel it's making them stumble or it's causing them problems with their own religious journey, spiritual journey, personal journey, whatever it may be, then they have to come to that decision.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, agreed.
And then, the last thing I should mention because this is interestingly. I don't know why. It's one of the top questions that I've gotten after publishing the article is, “Hey, Ben, are you still using that Feel Free stuff because it has kratom in it?” And, yes, I still use Feel Free. The whole gist of that entire article series you guys, I could boil it down to the simplest message ever is altering your state of consciousness with psychedelic drugs and entheogens traditionally used for divining with the gods, for witchcraft, for sorcery, and for occult magic is playing with fire. So, be careful. Having a shot of kratom before you go work out is not what I'm talking about. So, just to clear the air there.
So, anyways, let's go ahead and open things up to some questions from Twitter. So, if you're on Twitter Spaces, what we'll do is we'll bring you up on stage, you have a question, we'll take a few questions here. Alright, who we got? Jake. We got Jake on stage. Okay. Let's go with Jake. Jake, what's your question, man?
Jake: Hey, Ben. It's surreal to be speaking with you right now. So, thanks for picking me first.
A few years ago, I had orthopedic injury herniated discs. Recently, I've had a shoulder injury, torn tendons, and I've done a lot of my own rehabilitation and doctors going through those hurdles, and the holistic stuff has all worked out way better than anything that I've been instructed through physical therapy or I never took any medicine that was prescribed for me either. But, specifically, things Rolfing and muscle activation technique have been game changers for me. And then, they've gotten me to the point where I've been able to run and I've been able to exercise and get real big again and do the things that I love.
But, I want to fix it once and for all, and one of the things I was thinking of doing is going down south and doing some of the stem cell procedures. And, I know that you've had experience with that before. I was curious if you can speak on it a little bit especially the ones down there because there's a lot less insight into what they're actually doing since it's not so transparent like they are here with research.
Ben: Yup. Okay, cool. Yeah, great question. So, the reason that you'd go international to do stem cells is because it is legal to expand stem cells internationally, even your own stem cells. And, that would cause an increase in the available MSCs, the mesenchymal stem cells, and result in much, much better results than getting a count of stem cells that's billions and billions of lower in the U.S. because you can't expand it in the U.S. It used to be the wild, wild west. I remember I went down to Florida and had the U.S. stem cell clinic take out my fat cells. I was like 30, so what, 10 years ago. And, they expanded them there and I think their facility got raided by the FDA a couple days after I was there. But, now, it's pretty much goes without saying that unless it's a nudge, nudge, wink, wink from your doctor, which actually does occur still. You're not supposed to get stem cells that have been expanded, you're supposed to only go do those in an international clinic.
So, the thing is though that there's this phenomenon called paracrine signaling, which is essentially cell-to-cell communication and you can increase the effectiveness of the paracrine signaling that stem cells engage in when you co-administer them with little signaling molecules called exosomes. And, there are many regenerative medicine docs in the U.S. who are taking non-expanded stem cells and combining them with exosomes and sometimes also platelet-rich plasma, sometimes depending on the injury, occasionally ozone, although that can cause a hyperinflammatory response if you're not careful with that. Sometimes just basic prolotherapy like trigger solutions and things like that. And then, injecting them preferably using ultrasound-guided imaging. You really want your doctor to know where the needle is going. If they don't, they probably don't know what they're doing. And, that can be very efficacious and gets you very close to what you'd be getting from an expanded stem cell treatment internationally. You're still not going to get as many stem cells. What I'm getting at here is stem cells plus exosomes plus possibly some other forms of prolotherapy local in the U.S. could actually get you a lot of what you're looking for overseas with less expense and time and travel and hassle.
There's a few docs who are good at this type of stuff. Two of my friends who I think do a good job with stem cells would be, actually three of them do a good job, Dr. Craig Koniver at Koniver Wellness in Charleston, South Carolina, Dr. Matt Cook in San Jose, and then Dr. Halland Chen, C-H-E-N, he's doing some pretty cool things what they're called v cells also, very small embryonic-like cells which are also legal in the U.S. Those three guys do pretty good job with spot treatments, then the bee's knees, the best of the best gold standard treatment that's exosome, stem cells, bone marrow soup, everything is Dr. Harry Adelson at Docere Clinics in Park City, Utah, and he'll just do head to toe inject every single joint your whole body. I've done that twice and that's a total game changer.
So, hopefully, that fills you in on a little bit in terms of options, Jake. But, yeah, I look into stem cells plus exosomes nationally and you'll probably get a lot out of that versus traveling international. So, great question. And, alright looks like we're going to bring Sterling up.
Sterling: Yeah. Hey, Ben, how's it going?
Ben: It's going good.
Sterling: Good, good. Awesome. Great to interact with you too as well about the psychedelic stuff here on Twitter. It's a great conversation to have very interesting.
But, yeah, so my question for you is have you come across in your work yet around targeted low-intensity pulsed ultrasound for neuromodulation that's an area that I work in a lot ever since back in 2013 I started that just pretty much my career. There's a clinic down in Tucson, Arizona with a guy named Jay Sanguinetti and Shinzen Young doing mindfulness research. They're basically taking focused ultrasound transducer that's about the size of the palm of your hand and they focus sound waves deep into the anterior cingulate gyrus. They can essentially buzz with pulsed ultrasound a thousand hertz and they turn that thing off and it's the ego center apparently according to a lot of fMRI research where that's the seat of the default mode network and they can just zap it off in just a few, few minutes of stimulation.
And, I find that work to be really interesting. I feel it's a good alternative as well to this conversation around psychedelia because people do want to have a shift in their state. They want something different than the day-to-day reality. But, I've found as far as that ultrasound's pretty safe, it's pretty controllable. As soon as you're gone, it's not flowing through your bloodstream, it's just a sound wave, it's there and it's gone. Play music, stop the music. So, yeah, what are your thoughts on that?
Ben: Yeah, I love this. So, this would be really cool for you to hear Sterling is I have a deep dive podcast coming out on this use of so-called Spirit Tech, Spirit Technology. I interviewed Kate Stockly. She wrote the book “Spirit Tech.” We actually talk about tFUS, which is a special ultrasound based headset for meditation that they use at the SIMA Lab, which I believe Shinzen Young who you mentioned works at. And, yeah, it does require an MRI typically beforehand to make sure that you're targeting that low-intensity ultrasound to the right area of the brain but it goes deep. And, the effects on people in terms of a shift in brainwave states and a post-treatment effect similar to what one might get from say psilocybin therapy is super interesting.
The whole book is really interesting called “Spirit Tech.” I think my podcast on it is coming out in the next week or so. We get into that and also some other forms of energy, electromagnetic, et cetera, and ultrasound-based that as you alluded to are ways that one can safely and arguably, even more effectively than plant medicine, shift one state of consciousness into a state of left and right brain hemispheric activity or increased oxytocin production or drop in irritability or anger or impatience or increased resilience to stress or even relief of trauma from technology.
And so, you're right, you don't have a bunch of chemicals floating in your bloodstream that you had to recover from for a week after. I've never in my life heard of anyone having a dark spiritual experience when using a BrainTap or an ultrasound machine or a TDCS headset or anything like that and yet it seems to do a really, really good job based on electrical medicine of getting the desired effects without a lot of the downsides or the disadvantages.
So, I'm grateful to you for drawing that corollary, Sterling, between this technology and the altered states of consciousness because, yeah, this technology is being developed for things like better meditation, cognitive performance, possibly trauma relief, blood flow to the brain, et cetera. But, I like to see stuff like this becoming popular because I think it offers a safe alternative to journeying with plant medicines or going to Peru to do ayahuasca. What if you could just basically grab a little tech device off of your counter if you're dealing with deep stress and trauma and just zap yourself for 20 minutes.
And, again, I think we do have to step back and still say, “Well, I don't think anything is going to replace especially for me as a Christian trusting God and faith in the healing power of the Holy Spirit and salvation through Jesus Christ and all those things that I've found a deep amount of peace and joy and hope and love in. But, I think that god also gave us certain tools that can be effectively used to assist with that process.” And, the only tool I can think of that he said not to use was Pharmakia or drugs. So, based on that, I think that you could make a pretty good case for the effectiveness of this stuff and the ethical status of it being thumbs up. I'm just excited about the emergence of it so I'll shut up now. But, yeah, thanks for bringing to our attention and yeah, “Spirit Tech” is going to be a really great book and my interview with her is going to be really cool too.
And, for those of you who want to see what Sterling is doing, he's at Sterling Cooley on Twitter if you want to go check out some of the stuff he's doing with ultrasound neuromodulation and vagus nerve stimulation technology.
So, great question, Sterling. And, you know what, we'll do one more, we're going to make a rapid fire. So, my response might not be too long in the tooth. But, let's do one more.
Alex: Hey, Ben. How's it going man?
Ben: Yo, yo, it's going good.
Alex: I know you don't have much time, just quickly really wanted to say thank you so much for honestly changing my life and making me feel just so much better, healthier, have more energy.
Really quick, my question is a few years ago I had an infection, the doctor prescribed me azithromycin and one other antibiotic doesn't come to mind. But, ever since then, I've been waking up in the middle of the night to urinate once or twice and my stools have been pebbly but my blood work has all come back good. And, I mean, I've tried everything for this, I've taken probiotics, seen different types of doctors, all sorts of different tests and just nothing's working. Curious.
Ben: Yeah. You mean specifically for getting up at night to pee?
Ben: Yeah. Okay. Well, again, might not be able to give the longest most super thorough answer on this condition which is called nocturia by the way, meaning to wake up at night to urinate, but I can just speak to a couple of things that you may want to bear in mind. You listed a bunch of stuff that could cause the issue like poor gastrointestinal function or gastric inflammation, enlarged prostate which can be a huge issue. A lot of times it can be just dumb stuff like drinking too much water or any other fluid after dinner or it could also be, for example, if you have had sexual intercourse before you go to sleep and then not peed after that, that can also result in you waking up at night and needing to pee.
And then, there are some medications. Ketamine is one that comes to mind that I know can cause these certain diuretics. Some antibiotics. Too much vitamin D. A lot of people don't know that. That can actually cause it. Or, a diet that's just way, way too high in sodium. Nicotine can also be a problem like nicotine gum, nicotine lozenges, things like that. Not that they're bad, it's just for nighttime peeing and not the greatest idea.
There's a few different things that you could try. I think that the paradoxical issue here is that if you're sleeping in a cool room with a ChiliPad or keeping the room cool, that can also increase the need to urinate as well which anybody's been outside in the cold knows like you sometimes have to pee more when you do that. As far as fixes because I've had this issue in the past myself and my PSA is just fine, the only thing that I've found to be super effective is to literally right before dinner, just start to taper off almost all fluids. I might have a small glass of wine with dinner but I drink probably less than I should in the evening because I just don't to have to get up tonight to pea and then try to get back to sleep.
There's also one thing that some people have tried, which is compression socks. Theoretically, it could prevent fluid accumulation and may help out a little bit. And then, there are also anticholinergic medications. And, those may reduce the need to get up and pee as well. It's just like, I'm on the fence about recommending an anticholinergic pharmaceutical. There are certain anticholinergic agents that are out there that are natural plant-based anticholinergics. Unfortunately, a lot of them are poisonous. And, I'm not sure I think someone in the alkaloid family but I don't remember the top of my head what some of the natural plant-based anticholinergics are.
Anyways though, that's another thing you could look into. I can't say I have a solid answer for you, all I can tell you is a lot of people deal with this issue, and sometimes it is as simple as just not drinking too much in the evening. I don't know. Jay, you want to add any color to this?
Jay: Yeah, I don't know if I have anything more intelligent than what you just said, but I mean my mind just keeps going back to limiting intake of water. And, for me, I've actually tried to do it. I'm pretty young guy but I hate waking up in the middle of the night to have to urinate. It's not a problem but I just don't want to do it anyway because I find that when I wake up for any reason, my mind just starts to go and that's never a fun thing. So, for me, I'll start limiting intake of water around 6:00 p.m., sometimes maybe even a little bit earlier. I know Tom Bilyeu does this and has found this to be extremely effective. So, yeah, that's the only thing I guess semi-intelligent I have to say about it.
Ben: Yeah. By the way, the anticholinergic one is it's jimson weed, jimson weed. You might be able to find it on Amazon. I've never actually used it but that's one that would not be poisonous and that could work, J-I-M-S-O-N Weed. So, I don't feel like we gave you all the answers there, Alex, but hopefully at least points you in the right direction a little bit.
Gosh, I think we are just about out of time. So, Jay, should we give away some swag here before we wrap things up and tell people if they want more go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/444. What do you think? Should we do a giveaway?
Jay: Yeah. And, it's always my favorite part. Of course, we should.
Ben: Alright. Well, this is the part where Jay's going to leave a review. If you leave a review and you hear us, read it on the show, all you got to do is email [email protected] with your T-shirt size and we will send off a handy dandy Ben Greenfield Life gear pack shirt water bottle, beanie, all sorts of stuff your way. And so, all you got to do is give us love wherever you tend to listen to your fine, fine podcast wherever fine, fine podcasts are found. So, Jay, you want to take this one away.
Jay: Yeah, let's do it. So, this one comes from Colors of Day. And, they titled their review “Fabulous Show on Biohacking.” “I love learning from Ben and the way he and his wife do life together with their twin sons. It's so much more than just biohacking. It's all about spirituality evolving into the best human possible and being an excellent steward of the world we live in. He interviews some fascinating folks and shares from his own life experiences and research. Definitely worth your time to listen to.” Praying hands emoji.
Ben: Praying hands emoji. That's right. That's their title is praying hands emoji?
Jay: No, actually I misspoke, it's the actual emoji but it's the praise hands emojis. The two where the thumbs are together not the praying hand —
Ben: I'm so confused. I didn't even know what the eggplant meant till like a year ago, so I'm still working my way through the emoji.
Jay: You'll get there.
Ben: Yeah, emoji vernaculars. Alright, well, that's a great review. So, go ahead and if you loved that review, email [email protected], we'll get a handy dandy gear pack out to you. For everybody else, go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/444 for the shownotes, all the articles, all the podcasts, all the resources, everything, everything that we talked about even if I can find jimson weed for nighttime peeing I'll put it in there. Until next time. Jay, I'm going to go have some steak and liver.
Jay: Do it, man, steak and liver cake. No, no, not cake, pizza. Steak and liver pizza.
Ben: Or cake. Alright, guys, talk to you later.
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Listener Q&A :
Q: Do You Need To Get Stem Cells Internationally? Expanded Stem Cell Procedures/Stem Cell Expansion Out Of The Country?…1:04:26
Ben and Jay recommend:
Q: Targeted Low-Intensity Pulsed Ultrasound for Neuromodulation/Shifts In Consciousness…1:08:48
Ben and Jay recommend:
Q: Why Am I Waking Up Multiple Times To Urinate?…1:14:16
Ben and Jay recommend:
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