November 4, 2009
Introduction: In this podcast episode: an expert interview Dr. Roby Mitchell about the swine flu virus, multiple listener questions on everything from ice baths to carbonated water, anorexia, triathlon training, and much, much more.
Ben: Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield back this week from Jamaica were I was down doing race coverage for something called the Rose Hall Triathlon, put together a pretty entertaining video for you that I’ll put in the link to the Shownotes. About an 8 minute video that really goes over everything that went down there. It was actually a pretty fantastic time. I got a chance to race, put a lot of video footage up of not only the race but also a lot of fun things that you could do if you ever decide to go down to Jamaica. So that was an interesting time and you want to check that video out. A lot of Listener questions in today’s episode as well as an interview that I’m very excited to bring to you on the swine flu. I know that many of you are trying to take care of your bodies and you’re trying to take care of your health and you’re trying to do so as naturally as possible, not just for fat loss or health but also to put yourself in a situation where you put peak performance. So if you are one of those people, you’re not going to want to miss today’s interview in the featured topic session with Dr. Roby Mitchell. The Shownotes for today’s podcast, podcast number 67 are just jam-packed. Tons of links, tons of resources for you. So definitely if you get a chance, pull up the Shownotes to today’s episode once you listen in or even during the time where you’re listening in, if you want to follow along and get access to even more information. So with that being said, what we’re going to do is go over a few special topics. We’re going to move on, to just again, a jam-packed Listener Q and A and then we will be finishing with today’s can’t miss interview with Dr. Roby Mitchell.
Patrick asks: I’d be interested in knowing the latest info on ice baths. Are they helpful or full of hype? What’s the ideal temperature range and immersion time? Should it be done before or after a warm post-workout shower? What to do about the grunts/screams/expletives on initial immersion?
Ben answers: Well the idea behind ice baths is that when you take a plunge in an ice water bath, it’s supposed to help you recover faster and recover your muscle pain and your soreness after an intense training session or maybe a race or a competition. So there’s kind of two different ways of using ice therapy. One is to simply soak in something like an ice bath. Another is to use contrast therapy which is shifting between an ice bath an heat immersion or simply shifting between say cold and hot water showering over your body after practice or an event. The whole theory behind an ice bath is that when you exercise, and especially when you exercise at an intense level, it can cause micro trauma which are these tiny little muscle tears in your muscle fibers. And so that muscle damage is – it’s good in that it does stimulate muscle activity and it helps repair and strengthen your muscles, but it’s also linked with what’s called delayed onset muscle pain and muscle soreness and usually that peaks around anywhere from 1 to 3 days after you finish exercising. So the whole idea behind the ice bath is it actually – when you expose that muscle to the colder temperature – it constricts the blood vessels and just flush a lot of the waste products, things like lactic acid, out of the tissues and then it will also kind of decrease the metabolic activity or the metabolism in the muscle tissue, slow down the physiologic processes and thus reduce some of the swelling, reduce some of the tissue breakdown. Now, the whole idea behind the contrast therapy is that if you rewarm the muscle tissue then the increased blood flow and the increased size of the blood cells that comes from that heat, it speeds up the circulation and actually improves the healing process. So there’s not really a gold standard protocol about time and about temperature. Most athletes, most training rooms are going to use water that is about 12 to 15 degrees Celsius and usually about 5 to 10 minutes of immersion. Sometimes about 20 max, that’s what most people can handle maximum. I know for me, to answer your questions about the grunts and the swearing and the expletives when you first get exposed to that cold water bath, for me I will get into the water – for example, I’ll fill my bathtub full of ice from an ice tray in the freezer, fill that up with cold water and get in after a hot run in the afternoon sun and I’ll literally just count through gritted teeth, trying to count to 100 and if you can count to 100 typically by that time your body starts to go numb and it feels a little bit better. As far as studies and recent studies, there was a study in July 2008 in the International Journal of Sports Medicine that found that cold water immersion combined with contrast water therapy would actually help recovery from short maximal efforts or during events where athletes had to compete multiple times on consecutive days, like a stage race. Something like the Tour de France. And in that study, they used four different recovery methods and took nine days off between each week of workouts that they did. And the four recovery methods that they used were immersion in about 59 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit) in a pool for 14 minutes. Immersion in a 100.4 degree Fahrenheit water for 14 minutes. Alternating between cold and hot water every minute for 14 minutes and then 14 minutes of complete rest. Now the athletes that were immersed in hot water baths and the athletes that just got the complete rest, their performance declined. But the athletes who did both the cool water immersion or the contrast water therapy, their performance increased. There was another study in 2007 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that found that ice water immersion offered no real benefit and could actually increase post-exercise muscle soreness after heavy training. They said that the athletes that did the cold water immersion reported more leg pain the following day. So that was interesting that that actually found just the opposite, almost, in athletes. Then a Journal of Strength and Conditioning research that we report on a lot on this podcast, in 2007 there was a study in there that looked at the effect of contrast water therapy on delayed onset muscle soreness following leg press exercises. And they found significant but fairly small reduction of strength and power in athletes who were using contrast water therapy versus those who were using passive recovery. So when we talk about studies, some of them actually suggest that it may not necessarily help your performance and may not necessarily help your soreness when we’re talking about case studies… I know for me personally and a lot of the athletes that I work with, it works very, very well. Not only to help you feel a little bit better the next day but the other trick that I’ve used this for is that when I exercise late in the evening – let’s say it’s 8 pm and you just found the time to go to the gym or maybe to hop on your indoor bike trainer or the elliptical trainer out in your garage and you do an hour of hard exercise, you can often find yourself lying awake at night staring at the ceiling unable to sleep. And I find that the decreased metabolic activity and decreased core temperature that occurs when you immerse yourself in cold water or take a cold shower following a workout like that actually helps you to sleep after an evening workout. So, my opinion is do it. It’s not necessarily going to be a magical cure, but it definitely has helped me out and helps a lot of the athletes that I work with recover from their exercise sessions. So great question Patrick and let’s see, did I answer all your questions. Yeah as far as temperature range and immersion time, again not a lot of evidence out there but 5 to 20 minutes temperature range – anywhere from the coldest your shower is actually going to turn to literally filling up your bath with ice and sitting in that. I would do – if you’re going to do a warm shower, do it after not before.
Mark asks: In an effort to give up soda, I have started to drink carbonated water which is naturally flavored. I drink roughly 36 ounces per day. Are there any health risks associated with drinking carbonated water? I have recently heard that the carbonation depletes your body of calcium. Is this true?
Ben answers: I think the whole idea behind the thought that carbonated water could cause calcium breakdown, although I’m personally not aware of any studies is the fact that carbonated water is slightly more acidic. And that’s because the process of dissolving carbon dioxide gas into water or that process of carbonation forms something called carbonic acid which is the chemical formula H2CO3. Because it’s a little bit more acidic than regular water and because calcium is the most alkalinic mineral in your body, it’s possible that you may leech calcium from the bones to actually bring your body back into a more non-acidic state. I have no clue if there’s ever been a study done on that. If you’re listening to the podcast and you have heard of such a study and you want to comment or call in, definitely let me know but as far as the health of seltzer water or soda water, the reason that I personally use it is I used to be addicted to diet Dr. Pepper. I used to drink it all the time and I found that one of the best ways for me to get over that Dr. Pepper fix was to start drinking something that still kind of tasted like soda, almost like fooling my brain into thinking it was drinking soda when it fact I was just drinking carbonated water. I don’t think that a Perrier or a Pellegrino or a naturally flavored sparkling water once a day is going to do that much damage. I wouldn’t make it a habit to drink purely carbonated water all the time. The other thing that I would also caution you against even more is the fact that a lot of these “healthy carbonated water beverages” or soda replacement beverages that are out there… if you look at the label, most of them contain aspartame or ace-sulfame potassium rather than, for example, the natural flavors that you talk about Mark. So make sure if you turn over something like Pellegrino lemon flavored carbonated water, it’s literally just carbonated water and a little bit of lemon essence or lemon oil and that’s fine. But there are a lot of brands out there that have a lot more in them than just water and natural flavor. And then as far as soda replacements go, there are some great brands out in the market that use Stevia which is kind of a root based sweetener that is just as sweet – actually sweeter than sugar, but doesn’t have the same effect on your insulin levels and doesn’t have the same number of calories and there’s one brand of soda out there called Zevia. You can literally get a rootbeer flavored soda that’s carbonated, that tastes like rootbeer but doesn’t have a lot of the damaging effects of rootbeer and none of the high fructose corn syrup and calories and all that nasty stuff. So as far as health risks associated with drinking carbon water, I think there are more things you could be worrying about, but just don’t make it the only form of water that you drink all the time. I recommend a filtered purified water and if you are able to do a central water filter in your home because remember that it’s not just about the water filter, say, in your refrigerator. Because your skin is a mouth, so what you’re bathing in, what you’re showering in that water is also going to be absorbed by your body. So I personally have a carbon water filter installed in my home.
Chantelle asks: I don’t know if you have ever addressed this one before, but one of my near and dear friends is addicted to laxatives and then exercises almost to the point of anorexia. But she doesn’t know how to get off the laxatives because then she becomes constipated and that, of course, makes her feel fat. She eats a lot of high fiber foods, but even just a bit of salt or bread makes her constipated. Would this be something that you would ever address as far as what she should eat, how to quit, etc?
Ben answers: Technically it’s not something that I would address very often in my consultations with my clients because I am not a registered dietician. Counseling someone for an eating disorder kind of goes outside my scope of practice, just like counseling someone for controlling diabetes through nutrition technically goes outside my scope of practice. But what I do do with people who come to me who I suspect may be engaging in eating disorder type of activities is I make them aware of the dangers of something like anorexia nervosa, which is essentially just starvation. So one of the things that can happen and this is probably one of the more serious effects is you can develop an irregular heartbeat because of the damage to your heart. You can get what’s known as brachycardia which is a low heart rate of less than 50 beats per minute. Now, that can also be an irregular heartbeat and any of these can trigger what are called fatal heart arrhythmias, not only of normal rhythms or rates in your resting heart rate but also greater risk of having a cardiovascular incident, having a heart attack, literally dropping dead while you exercise. And in addition, because you’re going to have dehydration, because you’re going to have electrolyte imbalances which is an imbalance in your blood salts – things like sodium – that can also cause cardiac arrhythmias and death. You can get actual atrophy, essentially cannibalization of your heart muscle. And when that happens again you’re going to increase the risk of you actually destroying your cardiovascular system and dying earlier or dying during exercise. Constipation is a pretty common complication with anorexia because your gastrointestinal mobility will slow. So it will take longer for your gastric system to empty. You can get some kind of abnormal muscle activity, heart burn, regurgitation in the esophagus and all of that again can lead to quite a bit of discomfort and it’ll affect your social life as well. So if you start chronically abusing something like a laxative, that can then damage your stomach nerves and it can actually worsen your constipation once you damage those stomach nerves so it’s kind of a vicious cycle and if you stop the laxative, what happens is you get severe swelling, you get edema and that usually happens within 48 to 72 hours and you get a weight gain. You can sometimes gain 10, 20 pounds. So you put yourself in this vicious cycle when you start doing something like that. Understand that that weight gain is not necessarily fat gain, it’s literally just inflammation. If you can actually stop something like a laxative and begin to feed yourself intelligently and give your body the nutrients that it needs, eventually you’ll return to that set point and not experience the same amount of constipation, etc. but you’re doing a ton of damage to your body in the meantime. Now in addition to the cardiac arrhythmias you’re going to have increased risk of osteoporosis which increases your chances of a stress fracture or a bone abnormality. In fertility and birth complications, if you want to have a family, again anorexia nervosa can do a lot of damage to your potential for fertility and also increase the risk of your baby being born prematurely if you’re actually pregnant and you’re doing anything like that. So other things that you’re looking at – depression is a pretty common complication. Enlarged salivary glands, hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar levels. Hypothermia which is low body temperature, kidney stones from the dehydration, rough and scaly skin because your body isn’t getting the nutrients that it needs – that brittle nails, kind of a blotchy yellow appearance to your skin. There are a lot of problems with your body when you actually engage in this type of eating practice. So be aware of the dangers and also be aware that as far as the constipation and the laxatives go, the best thing that you could do is understand that it’s not that you’re getting fat when you quit something like a laxative. It’s just your body responding by swelling and getting a little bit of inflammation over those first few hours or those first few days when that occurs. So I hope that answers your question but I would really recommend that you go see a registered dietician or someone who is certified in counseling for anorexia. I am a sports nutritionist, a personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach and I can’t help you quite as much as a registered dietician would be able to help you.
David asks: I started listening to your podcasts and really enjoy the informative topics and am slowly making my way through the archived podcasts. Great stuff by the way. I am a triathlete with 3 Ironmans under my belt, and as we enter the off-season I am presented with a fork in the road decision. Last off-season I subscribed to a training regimen counter to the conventional mainstream in which a training season begins training one’s base and performing long, slow distance workouts at relative mild intensities. Instead, last year my off-season consisted of short duration (an hour or less), small volume, but high intensity bike and run workouts to build more speed. I got significantly faster by several minutes in 10K runs and increased my functional threshold power in watts on the bike by about 15%. Then as the real training season began, volume and longer duration workouts were put on top of the new speed — in other words… speed first then build distance on top of that speed. This was quite successful for me last year as I had several breakthrough performances and PRs in several Olympic and half-iron distance triathlons. This training philosophy is almost opposite the mainstream —- build base (ie. long distance, mild intensity), then race specific speed as one nears a race event. My fork decision currently is the two training philosophies I described. Many friends insist my prior year speed first approach is crazy and adhere to the mainstream approach and that I was just lucky last year. I am curious on your opinion on these two different training approaches, and possibly if other approaches may also be worth considering as a new off-season and soon to be training season begins? Thank you.
Ben answers: That’s a great question David. It is true that the traditional model of training, especially for endurance sports begins with volume, begins with endurance, begins with what’s called a base foundational period and progresses to building in both intensity and volume and then decreasing in volume and increasing intensity as a race season approaches. Now the model that you described actually has a name. It’s been used before, not only by pro-triathletes, but also by team coaches of endurance sports and it’s called reverse periodization where during the winter months or during the offseason you work a lot on speed, you do a lot of shorter workouts, you work a lot on your VO2 max, on your lactate threshold and then as the season approaches ,you begin to increase your base training. Now there haven’t been a lot of studies done on reverse periodization but there have been many athletes who have tried it out. And the advantages it are that especially if you live in a northern climate that is cold, that gets dark early in the fall and the winter, you aren’t trying to squeeze in, say, a four or five hour bike ride or a two and a half hour run in the snow and in the dark. Because you’re going to be saving all that for later on in the spring and summer. Instead you’re just doing very short, fast efforts, say, at the gym or in your home. The other advantage is that you have more time during the holidays and during the time we want to be with our family rather than disappearing to do a three hour workout, you’re literally just doing a very short interval based workout. You’re working on your power and your strength and your speed, and then because you have that speed and you have that fast twitch muscle you go and essentially work the slow twitch later on when you have a little bit more time. I have seen several people use this approach and do just fine with it. I know one pro-triathlete that I’m aware of, a guy named Gordo, he’s used this in the past as well. The thing about reverse periodization is that when you engage in VO2 max style training and you engage in training to improve what’s called your lactate threshold or your tolerance to lactic acid that will usually stay with you for about 4 to 8 weeks, that type of training. And then you start to lose the edge so to speak. So if you use a reverse periodization model and you start to do more of your endurance training late in the season, you need to make sure you don’t completely neglect the speed and the higher threshold training when you get to that base training. So the danger becomes that you’re trying to accomplish too many physiological goals at once rather than simply take advantage of the fact that slow twitch muscle will retain its fitness much longer and that base training that you did in the winter and early spring stays with you a lot longer than the speed training does. So it turns out that you have to actually do a little more in terms of the types of training session that you do if you’re using that reverse periodization model. And then the other thing that you’ll need to bear in mind is that it’s very easy to over-train with this method because if you’re increasing volume and trying to maintain intensity as you get closer to a race, you really run the risk of pushing yourself over the edge. Any good periodization model is going to have certain periods during the year where you are focusing on specific aspects of your fitness. For example, with my athletes I break it down into force, strength, skill, muscular endurance, low speed and then high speed efforts. We have certain times during the year when we’re working on specific aspects of fitness. So I’m not throwing all sorts of different intensities at an athlete all at once. So any model, whether it’s a reverse periodization or the regular periodization model should involve some structure such as that. But hopefully that clears things up a little bit in terms of the advantages and disadvantages, the pros and cons of periodization versus reverse periodization. Either one is going to get you to your mark. The reverse periodization just requires you to be a little more careful that you don’t lose that speed that you build up early in the season because you will lose that if you completely neglect it prior to your race.
Eric asks: I have a few swimming questions that I would like to hear you answer. I am training for open water triathlons where I wear a wet suit but swimming in the pool without one. I have heard some people say that I should use a pull buoy when I train to simulate the wetsuit buoyancy but read an article that says stay away from toys. Does the pull buoy help and if so, what frequency should it be used with when training?
Ben answers: You are absolutely correct Eric in that the pull buoy will simulate the feeling when you put that wetsuit on and your body becomes more buoyant and your legs raise toward the surface of the water. It becomes easier to swim and you have to worry about kicking less and you can worry about the quality of your pull more. And so training with a pull buoy can really help you focus on the pull without having to worry about the legs. You can typically swim a little bit faster speed sets without experiencing the same amount of fatigue because your body isn’t trying to shuttle blood into the kicking leg, so you have a little bit more oxygen to go around. Now, in terms of the frequency of training I personally use a pull buoy about once a week and I’ll use it for a few sets, I don’t rely on it, I don’t use it as a crutch because you do need to learn how to kick efficiently so your legs aren’t simply dragging like an anchor in the water. But the pull buoy can help out quite a bit. As far as staying away from toys in the pool – I used to actually adhere to that philosophy but I found that as I begin using thing like pull buoys, kick boards, swim metronomes that can go inside your swim cap, swim paddles that are shaped in a shape that put you through so you’re in a proper freestyle position when your hand goes into the water, swim paddles that actually cause you to close your hands so you reduce your hand and forces your form and body a little bit more – all of these not only help your form in the water but they also make your training sessions a lot more fun. They keep you from getting bored. So I do encourage you to use some toys when you’re in the water and experiment and go ahead and throw some of them in some of the sets that you’re doing and they will help out. So the second part of your question.
Eric asks: Swimming is something that I never really did until about a year ago when I started doing triathlons. One thing that I never learned how to do when I was growing up was the flip turn or any other turn method for that matter. When I reach the wall at the other end, I usually stand up for a second or two and turn around. I’m sure that is probably cheating, but should I spend time learning to do some other type of turn when my competition will be open water, which has no turns?
Ben answers: There are no rules Eric that you have to do a flip turn. However, mentally for you if you can learn how to do a flip style turn you’re going to feel more comfortable in the water. You’re going to feel more like a “real swimmer” and you’re also going to find that the fluidity of your laps actually increases. When you stand up, it seems to break up the set a lot more than if you simply do a nice fluid flip turn and maintain constant motion in the water. Now I personally taught myself to flip turn literally by watching other people to do it and then spending the first part of my swim session – about 10 minutes or so – just swimming at the wall and trying to time my somersault and then turn around and swim back. You look like an idiot for a little while but that was because I never did traditional swim team. The best way that I found to learn was trial and error. So I learned very well just trying something, figuring out what didn’t work and then trying it again over and over again. So it took me about a month to learn a flip turn using an approach like that. So I’d learn it. It’d be a nice little thing to add into your swim repertoire. And then number three.
Eric asks: I read the article that says to use no toys, but I travel a lot and many of my swim training days are either replaced with extra runs or done in a hotel pool while I am on the road. I saw a bungee cord that you can strap to your legs and swim in place, which is ideal since most hotel pools are not big enough to get a good workout in. My question is are there negative side effects to something like this or is that a good investment for when I travel?
Ben answers: Bungee cords are kind of fun. You put them around your waist, around your legs, you attach them to a ladder or some other stationary object on the side of the pool and you swim and they pull against you when you’re swimming away from them and then eventually they reach out to a certain point where you can’t swim anymore and then you can turn around and the bungee cord will actually pull you back in so you almost get overspeed training. It’s almost like an endless pool effect when you get those smaller hotel pool bungee cords that just let you swim and swim and swim without stopping. As far as where to get them, if you go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com, you’ll notice that when you scroll down the page there’s a bunch of different links on the right side of that page. One of those links is to a place called Swim Outlet and if you click on the Swim Outlet link that is typically the best prices on everything from swimwear to swim toys. It’s pretty much where I get any of my swimming equipment, is that Swim Outlet link. So if you want to get one of those travel style bungee cords, you could get one there. However, if you’re looking at a short order hotel pool, a lot of times what I’ll do when I’m doing my hotel swim sessions because I don’t have one of those travel bungee cords is I’ll just do a very short explosive style session. So for example, one of my favorite sessions to do if I’m stuck at a hotel swimming pool and it’s very small, is I’ll warm up by swimming back and forth in that pool about 10 times and then I’ll do something like 25 very high intensity repeats just swimming as hard as I can from one end of the pool to the other, taking 2 to 3 seconds of rest and turning around and powering back. You’d be surprised at how big of a workout you feel like you just did when you do 25 high intensity power swims. So it comes down to that interval style training, kind of taking precedence when you have limited training space or limited training time. So, great questions Eric and I hope that helps out.
John asks: How can someone train for an Ironman for 8 months and cross the finish line with saddle bags. I mean, all that endurance training, and the body responds with smooth no definition. I can’t figure out if it is diet, not enough weight training, or too much endurance training, that does not allow the body to get cut up and muscular, not like a body builder, but like maybe a cross between a bodybuilder and an athlete.
Ben answers: This was an interesting question. It’s just a matter of slow twitch muscle and the nature of endurance training requiring that the body actually have a little bit of higher levels of fat to draw on, John. Slow twitch muscle does predominantly use fat as a fuel whereas fast twitch muscle… the bigger more defined muscle that you might see in a sprint athlete, that uses a little more carbohydrate as a fuel. Now when I first started doing triathlon, I was coming out of the bodybuilding world and I personally was 210 lbs and about 3% body fat. And I was nowhere near as fast as I am now and now I’m about 175 and closer to 7 or 8% body fat. Physiologically my body likes to have that little bit of extra fat to be able to draw on and that much less muscle to have to cool and carry around. So, an endurance athlete is not only going to have less fast twitch muscle – so they’re going to have a little less definition but they’re also going to have a little bit more fat which is going to mean a little more smoothness. Now you are going to get some athletes that tend to get too fat when they train for endurance because they’re actually doing all long, slow distance training never stimulating fast twitch muscle, never getting that hormonal release that is conducive to lean muscle gain and fat loss when you’re training and I think that for those people, some of them are almost a little bit too slow twitchy so to speak. If that’s a word. A highly technical term. For those people, I do like to get them on some fast twitch higher intensity interval style training and a lot of those times it would be like with a woman who’s coming to me and trained for Ironman the year before and somehow gained 20 lbs while she was training for Ironman. Well when you’re eating as many calories as Ironman actually requires per day, but not doing any high intensity training at all, you actually can gain weight and can gain quite a bit of fat so you have to balance out your training but you’re always going to have slightly higher fat levels when you’re looking at an endurance athlete versus a sprint athlete.
Eric asks: I took many of your supplements last year and will continue to do so this race season. (Just to clarify, those aren’t my supplements. I think he’s just referring to supplements that I’ve recommended on the show.) In putting together my supplement plan I have a question. On the Enerprime Superfood Multi-Vitamin what is better to have or use? The powder or the capsule? Or is it better to alternate both for different uses — powder to mix w/ drinks and smoothies? Capsules to swallow in the morning, etc. Would there be a need to take in more than the recommended dosage of 6 capsules?
Ben answers: And what Eric is referring to on the EnerPrime, that’s kind of the Superfood multivitamin that I personally take. It’s got digestive enzymes and probiotics and all sorts of high fiber, high antioxidant compounds in it. It’s kind of like eating 10 salads when you take a tablespoon of that stuff in the powder form or you take about six capsules in regular form which is the recommended dosage on that. The deal with powders is that they can be pretty versatile in that you could simply put powder into water in the morning, stir it in and drink it down. But you could also put powder in a smoothie to make a superfood smoothie, if you were to mix it with a little bit of fruits and ice. Powders give you a lot of flexibility with the dosing as well. So you can take a little bit less or a little bit more than you would if you were going to use a capsule format and I also personally notice that I feel the powder more quickly and that may be due to the rate of time it takes for the capsules to break down but both are going to give you benefit. In terms of your question, let’s see, what is the question? Oh what is better to have or use? Again, you’re going to get a benefit out of both. I personally use the EnerPrime powder. When you order it, there’s actually a comments box in the order section if you order it from the supplements page if you go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/supplements you could indicate there if you wanted to get the capsules or the powder. When I am feeling a little bit of the sniffles coming on, a little bit of a cold or anything like that, I will generally double dose. I’ll take two tablespoons of the powder or I’ll take 12 capsules, 6 in the morning and 6 in the evening and that helps out quite a bit. I like to warn people when they first start to take something like this because it has things like inulin and Jerusalem artichoke extract and some higher fiber compounds in it. You tend to be a little more regular than usual for the first few days. It’s almost like a gentle cleanse and then your body gets used to it and that all goes away. Your second question.
Eric asks: Is there any benefit to the auto-ship, i.e. no back order delays, and/or continued discounts?
Ben answers: Your question about that Eric is that EnerPrime – another one that I carry, the EnerEFA, a couple of those I order from what are called multi-level marketing companies which means that they put out great supplements but the business structure of those companies are such that they like for customers to be on auto-ship. Meaning that you’re guaranteed to by x number of supplements over x number of months. Now what I personally do is I will get the supplements, I’ll handpick the supplements that I like for my athletes to take or for my clients to take and then I’ll turn around and make those available to you on my website. But if I happen to be out of stock of something when you order, yeah I have to turn around and order it from that company. So if you were to order directly from the company, you wouldn’t experience the delay that you risk getting when you order straight from me. A lot of my clients, a lot of my athletes they get special discounts. A lot of times I put special discounts on the show that you aren’t going to get when you order directly from, for example, the IMPaX company that makes the EnerPrime, the EnerEFA and some of those other supplements. That would be your primary benefit, is that you’re going to most likely get your supplement a little bit sooner. Unless you’re in the Spokane Coeur D’Alene area and I have it in stock, if you’re in that area you’re going to get it pretty much the next day. But yeah, a lot of times when I have an order come in I have to turn around and order the supplement that you’ve ordered and when it gets to me, turn around and ship it to you. So that’s the way that works. Question number three.
Eric asks: Have you ever given it any thought to do a podcast on electric stimulation devices. Are they actually good for recovery, strength training, pros and cons, and any side effects.
Ben asks: I think that question is a great question for an entirely separate podcast, Eric and I’m actually right now looking to interview an expert on the electric stimulation devices and the uses of those for both recovery and performance. I personally do have an electric stimulation device, a portable e-stim device that I use that’s kind of a home version. One of my friends actually manufactures them and he loaned one to me to try out and I still have it. I’ve used it a few times and it works out quite well, especially when combined with ice for recovery and decreasing inflammation. But I will actually do a separate podcast on the e-stim devices so look for that to be coming down the pipeline. And then finally, Eric, you say… and this is really a great question.
Eric asks: I’m looking for new ways to help offset some of the costs of triathlon. This past year I helped bring in a few sponsors to a new bike club that started in our area. The money from the sponsors, and memberships was to help offset the cost for race fees, and triathlon, cycling gear. The ring-leader had a scattered brain approach, and mismanaged the money so the only thing we benefited from was a small discount on some high end gear. This year I’m looking to possibly break off on my own for sponsorships, and maybe expand it to products that I actively use during a race and training. I’m no pro, but can the average Joe get for example a company like GU nutrition to sponsor/donate/discount their products? My training partner and I have been asked to race for a local charity team to help bring awareness and raise money for Muscular Dystrophy). Maybe it would be easier to bring in sponsors this route? What are your thoughts? If you don’t mind, can you discuss your experiences or give any advice?
Ben answers: This is a good question because something like triathlon and really any sport that any of you might be competing in can be an expensive hobby. And sponsorships are a great way to offset the cost of that whether it be a sponsor giving you free gear or free nutrition. There is a website. I believe the name of the website is www.sponsors.com that allows you to actually upload – there are a few different websites like this. They allow you to upload your profile as an athlete and then the website actually sends your profile off to all the different sponsors who are part of that website and those sponsors will give you 5% discount on this, 10% discount on that. I know a lot of athletes have gone that route. And it’s really not going to give you much. It means when you order sunglasses, you might pay $80 instead of $100. We’re talking about those kind of sponsorships. A better way to get sponsorships is to develop a relationship. Now to give you an example of what I do when I get sponsorships is I will approach a company and tell them what I can do for them, and that’s very, very important. That the entire relationship is not based around what they give you which is something that will naturally happen if you develop a good relationship but about what you can give them. Are you going to go to your local running shoe store and put on a, for example, a nutrition talk or a talk about running 101 where you are featuring some of this company’s nutritional products or using it as examples in your seminars, using it as examples in your talks. Are you going to wear the sponsor’s logo on your jersey? Put their bumper sticker on your car? Recommend it to all of your friends who come over every week for a spin session in your basement? There are all sorts of ways that you can go about telling that sponsor how you’re actually going to represent their product, but what is most important is that you figure out where you have the most influence over the most number of people whether it be in your workplace or whether it be in your triathlon club and then you make the sponsor aware of how many people you’re going to be able to affect when you recommend their product. Then you say “in exchange for that, I’d just like a chance to be able to use your product and maybe get x amount of free product per year or maybe get some airline miles to help me travel to races.” The way that I do it is I have one sheet that goes out to all my sponsors and it’s a two page sheet or two covered page. On one page is my introductory letter where I explain who I am and what I do and the sport that I compete in and the various ways, whether it be my bike, my helmet, my race uniform, my talks, my seminars, my websites, etc. where I could help that sponsor out. And then on the backside of that page is my race resume which shows my times and what I’ve done and the places I’ve gotten various races and a lot of times the sponsors are less interested in your results and more interested in the creative ways that you could actually help them to represent their product. So yeah, you don’t have to be a pro triathlete to get sponsorships but the important thing is that you develop a relationship with the company, get to know the first names of the people that are working in that company. Get to know the people that you’re going to be working with and then keep them updated every time you do anything that helps that company out. Send them letters, send them videos, send them race reports, send them pictures. The better your relationships are, the more successful you’re going to be in developing sponsorships. The other thing you need to understand is that everybody and their dog is asking for free handouts right now from sponsors and that’s something that you need to be careful of, is don’t be asking a sponsor so much what they can give you as much as ask them or show them what you can do for them and then expect for a relationship really probably not to get to the point where you’re getting free product or money or anything like that for usually about one and a half to three years or so before you really truly are getting tucked in by that company and they’re offering you quite a bit.
Erin asks: Hi Ben, I have been reading you e-health handbook. Thanks for all the helpful information! (For those of you who don’t know what the e-health handbook is, that’s the free handbook that you get when you sign up for the newsletter over at www.bengreenfieldfitness.com) I have a question for you that has no easy answer, but I thought it worth giving it a try. Whenever I participate in an exercise program, my trapezius muscles seize. I have trigger points that react the second there is any stress on the area. I have slight scoliosis at the base of the neck which forces my head slightly forward. I avoid any exercises that might aggravate them, but I still end up in pain that results in a migraine from the compression on the base of my skull. I have been to the doctor, the osteopath, the physio, and trainers, but other than new stretches, which I do religiously, it has not helped. I am trying to work on my core muscles to support them, but even doing those I have to be very careful. I know some people suggest exercising the muscles themselves to increase blood flow, but that would cause them to seize so quickly that I would be nauseous within minutes. I need to find a way to exercise that won’t end up with me incapacitated from pain. Even cardio using the arms can do it. I do what yoga stretches I can to support my posture. Is there any way to really isolate those muscles during a work out to avoid using them? I am already very careful with my head and don’t do anything that may stress the neck. Anything could be helpful, thanks in advance.
Ben answers: So my two thoughts when I listen to your question Erin is first in terms of cardio that’s not going to require your trapezius muscles to be used, I would recommend something like the recumbent bicycle. That can be a fantastic device that can allow you to exercise without any involvement of the upper body musculature. Be sure not to grip the handles on either side of that bicycle too tightly but there are many workouts that you can do on a recumbent bicycle. If you are able to do so without gripping the handles too hard, the elliptical trainer that doesn’t actually have the arm handles on it could also help out quite a bit. Most swimming activities, even aqua jogging, those are going to use the trapezius muscles. A lot of times walking, there’s some swinging of the arms and neck support that has to go on but for example walking up an incline on a treadmill or outdoors would probably be another thing that you could do and in terms of weightlifting activities, machines are very useful in terms of their ability to be able to isolate certain muscles and you could do for example a machine that works the inner thighs and the outer thighs, leg extension machine, leg curl machine. Those are probably about… possibly the leg press machine, possibly… those would be some of the main machines and cardiovascular pieces of equipment that you could use to maintain some amount of fitness and blood flow without triggering that trapped spasm. I would also – I know that a lot of this is biomechanical and it sounds like some of it may even be genetic in terms of your skeletal makeup but I’m assuming that you’re doing activities that are going to help relieve some of the stress from your trapezius by strengthening the muscles around the traps. For example, scapula retraction and training of some of the muscles called your rhomboids can be quite effective in relieving some stress from a cervical spine. If you’re able to do something like a light row with an elastic band where you’re squeezing the shoulder blades back, pulling or retracting the scapula that can help out quite a bit. Any type of light rowing activities that don’t trigger that spasm – those can help out quite a bit as well. And then I would also look into using something like magnesium. You could actually rub a topical magnesium into your traps and that can have a muscular relaxing effect and also decrease the frequency of those spasms when you exercise and I’ll put a link to a topical magnesium supplement that I use in the Shownotes. But creatively, there’s actually quite a bit that you could do to maintain fitness with where you’re at right now with your traps, but I would also try to be doing some things to support the muscles that can take some stress of your cervical spine. So those are all the questions for this week. If you have a question, you can email me [email protected]. You’ll notice there were no call in questions this week but you can call in and ask a question and I like that quite a bit when you do so. I like to always have a couple of audio questions. Those are a little bit more fun, a little bit more interactive so the way you can leave an audio question is you can just call 8772099439. I’ll put that number in the Shownotes and simply leave a message. There’s an extension as you listen to the message, when you call that number there’s an extension that says push extension – I think it’s 073 – leave a message for the www.bengreenfieldfitness.com podcast. So, we’re going to go ahead and move on to this week’s featured topic. An interview on the swine flu with Dr. Roby Mitchell.
One quick note before you listen to the interview with Dr. Roby Mitchell, I’m going to have to apologize for the scary dragon breathing that you hear occasionally during this interview. It just happens that the microphone I was using was placed such that you could hear me breathing as Dr. Mitchell was talking but it’s still a fantastic interview. I just wanted to warn you that you may hear a little bit of breathing in the background.
Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield and as promised I have Dr. Roby Mitchell on the other line and many of you know who Dr. Mitchell is because he made an appearance on one of our more popular podcasts several episodes ago and I’ll put a link to that show in the Shownotes. But Dr. Mitchell actually consults worldwide with physicians who are interested in transitioning their patients onto regimens that take them off drugs and onto healthful regimens using nutrition, exercise, bio-identical hormone replacement, targeted supplements. But he has a background in both Western and Eastern medicine and I know that he fuses both into his practice. I happen to subscribe to his newsletter and his take on medicine, on health, on exercise, on weight loss, on fitness is all grounded in very excellent and very respectable research and experience. Today we’re going to be talking to Dr. Mitchell about the swine flu. So thanks for coming on the line Dr. Mitchell.
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Sure, Ben. Glad to be here.
Ben: Now as far as the swine flu goes, I happen to have read some of the things you have written about it, but I want to lay down a base for the listeners to actually know the background behind the swine flu. Most of us know what it is and what it’s all about but in your opinion how would you actually describe the swine flu?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Well the swine flu is an influenza virus and these are viruses – they produce an enzyme. Once they make their way inside the body, they commandeer your DNA and use it to produce more viral particles. Those are released of course into your system and then your immune system’s response to that is what causes your symptoms. So the symptoms that you get are not really from the viral infection per se, it’s from your immune system’s response to the viral infection. So we see those every year, the common flu. And the H1N1 is just another variation or different strain from this type of virus so the influenza virus, again, that we see on a yearly basis. Now back in 1918, there was a strain of H1N1 that was just devastating. It’d kill people by the millions and it just spread worldwide so when this one started to precipitate back in the spring, it brought out the specter of this mass decimation of people that happened in 1918. So people understandably got a little worried. And we started to gear up for the worst possible case scenario which fortunately hasn’t become the case. It has turned out that this particular strain of H1N1, not very potent. Certainly no more potent than the regular flu that comes around each year. Now this is a predominant strain of flu that’s floating around.
Ben: Now if it’s not very potent compared to the regular flu, not that much more dangerous why is there so much hype about it and why are people scrambling to be immunized or to protect their children, their grandparents or themselves?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: So a lot of that happened, again, it’s fallout from the initial hysteria that happened when we found out that this was a strain similar to the one that caused the pandemic in 1918. So, when that type of hysteria catches on fire, many times it’s hard to put that back in the bottle so to speak so that continued and then of course the other thing was in preparation for this, we got these companies to invest all this money and time and effort in preparing these vaccines and making these drugs and so forth, so we became very logistically and financially invested in trying to treat this thing, then it turned out to be not anything and people have this stockpile. So, we’re kind of having a fire sale as far as trying to make use of these things that we prepared for, this catastrophe that really turned out to fizzle.
Ben: Well in terms of the H1N1 strain, are there certain people that should be vaccinated because if you look at those charts, I was looking at one in my gym just the other day, they were getting ready to do a free H1N1 – they called it a clinic but it was basically just lining up to get your vaccination or your immunization. Now, are there certain people that should get vaccinated against the H1N1 virus?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: You could make a strong argument for healthcare professionals being vaccinated because they come into contact with immuno-compromised population on a regular basis. So people that are healthy in most respects can be what we call carriers so they can have the virus on their person and not get sick from it, transmit that to a person who’s immuno-compromised and then does get sick. So there could be a strong argument for health care professionals being vaccinated. As far as the population at large, it kind of depends on the person’s perspective as far as health and what they’re doing to gird themselves for… gird their immunity in general. So if a person is a smoker and they don’t exercise and they eat doughnuts all the time and in general don’t take care of themselves, then to do this kind of bailout mentality of vaccination process is a choice for them. That’s what you have to think about it, as a bailout mentality. Now for those of us who do take the proactive stance and are doing the things that are proactive, to eat correctly and take the right supplements to boost the immune system – if you’re pregnant make sure that these hormone levels are where they’re supposed to be, then the bailout approach is not necessary for people in that situation.
Ben: Now when you say something like that, if I’m a pregnant woman and I’m listening in and you’re saying make sure the hormone levels are where they’re supposed to be, option 1 obviously is for me to just go get a simple vaccination and it’s right there and call it good because it’s literally right there in front of me – what’s the other option? How do you go about testing your hormone levels? How do you go about making sure that you are protected against the H1N1 if you aren’t going to get vaccinated?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: So, the primary immuno-compromised imbalance that happens with pregnancy is hypothyroidism or a function of hypothyroidism. So, when a woman becomes pregnant she starts to produce these massive amounts of estrogen and this of course facilitates growth of the fetus. The downside of estrogen is that it can – it causes women to produce this protein called thyroglobulin or thyroid binding globulin that then binds up free thyroid in the bloodstream. When that protein binds up this protein then that makes it unavailable for women to use in the metabolic process so again, they become functionally hypothyroid. Now you can have a thyroid test at that time and it could look perfectly normal because the thyroid hormone shows up in the bloodstream, but again it’s attached to this protein and so it’s not functional. So when every woman – every woman, every woman, every woman – ideally should have a TSH which is the blood test for hypothyroidism, they should have that test before they get pregnant. But at the very least as soon as they find out that they’re pregnant then they should have a TSH done. And then that TSH should be followed throughout pregnancy. So as these estrogen levels go up through pregnancy, we’ll see that TSH start to rise also which says that thyroid levels are getting low. And their doctor should put them on thyroid to make that TSH stay the same as it was in earlier pregnancy or before pregnancy, you use that as a guideline to try and make sure that that number stays where it was before. Thyroid hormone has a huge impact on the health of the fetus in general, but particularly the immune system and thyroid function.
Ben: Now are there other members of the population who should be considering also the fact that they could have functional hypothyroidism or is that simply the pregnant population?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: No, I find in my practice in general… that probably 80% of our population and that’s probably a conservative estimate is low thyroid. Now thyroid levels of course start to wane around age 27. This is something that even most doctors don’t understand. These hormone levels start to just wane at around age 27, by the time you get into your mid30s, we’re starting to see a functional manifestation of low levels of these hormones. Now around age 65, it takes a big dip and that’s why we see a big death toll in influenza with people 65 and older. Now of course younger kids have an immature immune system. Immature thyroid function and that puts them at risk. So if a person is in either of those extreme age groups – very young, very old – their immune system needs to be boosted up a little more. People that have immune compromised diseases, any of these autoimmune diseases, HIV positive or AIDS, any respiratory infections, cystic fibrosis and those types of things that compromise the immune system, that’s a population also, you can make a good argument for getting the vaccine. But in general, we want to just boost the immune system all the time, keep the immune system up. It’s kind of like when you drive your car, you don’t want to think about buckle your seatbelt just before an accident. Right? You want to keep that seatbelt buckled all the time. Now you can go the extra mile and put a crash helmet on and put roll bars on your car and that type of thing and really make sure you don’t get hit in an accident, but at least put on your seatbelt. It just makes sense for everybody to put on their seatbelts so it would be these basic things like the supplements and making sure your thyroid hormone is where it should be and not smoking and keeping that immune system boosted is – that’s the critical thing to protect yourself from… again, viruses are what we call opportunistic infection. They’re weak invaders. So they’re like the crack addict on the street that’s looking for a victim. They’re weak organisms.
Ben: Now I don’t want to dwell on the thyroid too long, because I know there are a lot of other things that you recommend to your patients to boost the immune system. But if someone was found to have that high level of TSH and have the functional hypothyroidism, is it something as simple as just getting on something like synthroid or do you have other recommendations for your patients when you’re trying to adjust a low thyroid?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: So the synthroid – that stands for synthetic thyroid basically – it is a component of the thyroid hormone that your body usually produces. Normally your body produces T4 which is a thyroxine molecule with four sticks of iodine on it. So that’s where the name T4 comes from, and that’s what synthroid is. It is that molecule – that molecule with four sticks of iodine on it. The actual functional thyroid hormone however is T3. It’s that T4 molecule with one iodine displaced. That makes the functional molecule. Now synthroid, being a T4, it requires a person to take that molecule and then de-iodinate it, take one of those iodines off and make it T3. Everybody doesn’t do that so well. So if we’re given synthroid or just T4 to a lot of people, they still end up with many hypothyroid symptoms because they’re not converting it into T3. What myself and many other doctors do is we put patients on a combination of T4, T3 product – Armour thyroid is one, Westhroid, Naturethroid, there’s a couple of others – and then if you have a compounding pharmacist they can put those two together for you but it’s very important that you have the T3 because that’s the actual functional unit. The other thing, many times people just need to boost up their iodine levels. So the iodine again is a substrate – that’s one of the building blocks. So to start off just making sure that you have good levels of selenium and iodine and iron, particularly for women, those are things that facilitate the conversion of T4 to T3. Testosterone facilitates the conversion of T4 into T3 which is usually why men have a little less hormone with hypothyroidism than women do.
Ben: And boosting iodine can include putting seafood or sea type of foods in with your meals. I also notice that you have something called Iodarol on your website. Is that also an iodine supplement, I’m assuming?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: So the Iodarol is a combination of iodine and iodide and those are the two moieties of this halogen that your cells depend on in order to protect themselves. They use it as an antimicrobial. So, some of your cells take up iodine and some cells take up iodide. Iodine particularly for the breast cells in women and most likely the prostate cells in men. These cells will take up that iodine, insert it into the wall of their membrane and then that iodine sits there and rides shotgun. So it’s a very powerful antimicrobial. It keeps down the level of these fungus and bacteria and viruses. It’s basically the same as putting chlorine in your swimming pool water. So chlorine is also a halogen. So these molecules are in the same column of the periodic table. They function very similarly and may all kill microbes. So chlorine, florine, bromine, iodine – iodine just happens to be the one that our human cells have adapted as its natural anti-microbial.
Ben: Interesting. And I know that here locally, if I wanted to just get that done out of pocket, for me to waltz into a local lab and get a TSH, I think it’s about $38 so it’s not like it’s incredibly expensive for to figure this stuff out for yourself if you had to. Now, I know that there are some other barriers that you consider to be some great obstacles that you can put in the path of the swine flu. What other recommendations do you have to your patients to gird up their immune systems and protect them against this flu?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: So, again let’s use this… I used the analogy of a bank vault when I wrote that piece. So you’ve got this big sum of money that you need to protect. So you put it inside a safe. That’s one barrier. It has a combination lock. If you want to make things even a little safer, then you can put a guard out there. You can put motion detecting sensors and just barrier after barrier after barrier. That’s what your body does in order to protect your cells from viruses, bacteria, and fungi. So we have all these barriers that your body has in place. One of course is your skin. So you want to maintain the integrity of your skin. You don’t want to walk around with no skin. Of course no one’s going to do that, but you want to protect yourself from scrapes and bruises and that type. That’s an entry point for this virus which you have to consider as an intruder, a robber, someone that’s coming in to steal your health. Another barrier are these cilia or these hairs which are in our nose and our lungs. They’re beating, flapping all the time and they’re kicking out organisms as they come in. So if you smoke, you destroy those. You’ve taken away another one of your barriers. One of the primary barriers is the cell wall or the epithelium – the outside membrane of your cell – now that is where the actual combination lock is that is this particular sugar, this alpha 2 glycan where this virus is at. That’s where they go in to pick the lock. If that is weak, if that lock is off or very easy to get into – you bought a cheap lock then you’re more likely to get infected. So how do we make that stronger? So this is where many of the supplements come in. So vitamin A for instance improves the integrity of the cell membrane. Thyroid hormone also boosts the integrity of the cell membrane and enhances the immune system. Selenium boosts up your immune system’s ability to produce these free radicals that they produce in order to fight off infection. Vitamin D allows you to produce innate anti-microbials so your body is able to produce its own antibiotics. If there is vitamin D there. So important to replace vitamin D.
Ben: Now in terms of vitamin D, I noticed that you mentioned the fact that – you start off in a letter that you recently wrote saying flu virus appears to have inside help. Then you go on to talk about something you call the low vitamin D hypothesis. Can you touch on that?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: So, we’re trying to figure out why do people get sick in the winter time and the actual word influenza – the etymology of that is from the Italian influenz’alfredo. So the influence of the cold. It seems that’s when people got sick, is when the weather got cold. A lot of people my age heard their grandmothers and parents talking about you’ll catch your death of cold or don’t go outside without a hat on because we thought that cold caused the disease. And once we started looking at that scientifically and we found cold doesn’t really cause the disease because we don’t see the disease more so in places where it’s cold all the time. So it doesn’t cause the disease but we kept trying to figure out why these viruses were able to proliferate or cause disease more at particular times of the year. And another thing that was noticed epidemiologically was that people that had low levels of vitamin D were a little more susceptible to infection. So that’s where this… of course as fall comes and we get less sunshine and the days start getting shorter than you’re going to make less vitamin D so that seemed pretty reasonable that that might be a reason why. But then when we started looking back from the time we started recording incidents of flu, we see another hump in spring. So there’s a time in the spring when there’s an impact of the virus also. That’s when we saw the initial cases of the H1N1 now, is back in April and March. So, again that kind of destroys those two hypotheses right? Because in the fall, even though things are getting colder and in the spring the temperature is getting warmer, the days are getting longer. So that dampens the vitamin D theory also. But we do know that there are these indigenous fungi that are in the body in the form of Candida Albicans and these other fungi that have a temperature window that they can proliferate. So when the temperature gets at a certain point like it does in fall or it does in the spring, these fungi – they start to proliferate and what they can do is they can produce toxins that then compromise your immune system so they kind of open the door, open your inside door right? And let the bad guys in.
Ben: Yeah that makes sense. Now in terms of a lifestyle that you would consider an anti-fungal lifestyle or supplements that would limit the growth of such fungi, what would your recommendations be?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: So a big weapon there is the iodine. So if you’ve got that iodine molecule on every cell, there’s a shotgun in every home then it’s less likely that that intruder is going to come in. Again, you got to think of these intruders as weak guys who are looking to prey on ones that are weaker so if they see a shotgun in every home they’re going to be less likely to try to intrude. The other thing is to make sure that those cell walls are strong, right? So it doesn’t do any good to lock your doors if you’ve got holes in your windows. So you want to take vitamin A to make those cells strong, make sure your levels of vitamin A are up. You don’t want to feed fungus. You don’t want to make it easier for them to grow so they love sugar or anything that turns quickly into sugar so these foods that have a very high glycemic index, you want to stay away from. So things that have sugar, things that have white flour in them. Those types of things turn very easily into sugar. Now on the other side of that, you want to take in foods that have lots of these what we call anti-fungals or cesqueportain(?) is the chemical name for those and there are other ingredients that deal with all these plants, different colors and smells and that type of thing. What those plants are trying to do, they’re trying to protect themselves from fungus so if we eat them then it protects us also. So all these dark reds and purples and cyanically colored and these volatile oils like oregano and sage and those types of things, putting those into your diet, using garlic as a spice, turmeric – those act as natural anti-fungals.
Ben: Interesting. Now I heard you mention oregano. That’s something that I always get on the plane with just because I know that it’s a pretty volatile oil when it comes to protecting you from the spread via like an aerosol transmission of the flu. But in terms of getting into group situations for people who are in large crowds – airplanes, subways, trains, etc. – are there ways that they can protect themselves and put up barriers prior to getting into those situations?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Certainly, and of course one of the most logical barrier protections are these masks that are very – that’s a very low tech way to protect yourself. Some people are a bit self-conscious about wearing masks or if you’re in a public situation where you have to communicate it’s logistically not so feasible. Another mechanism is to use what are called counter measures. So as I said, that virus has a docking place on your cell. Sugar, that it has to attach to. It has to attach to that particular place. Now if you can put a decoy in your body, particularly these entry points right of your sinuses – put a decoy for the virus to attach to then it can attach to your cell membranes. Xylitol is one of these sugars so there are products out there that are –these Xylitol nose sprays that people can just spray before going on a plane or before they get into big crowds they can use that. You can get Xylitol just in the powder form and make your own solution and just inhale that.
Ben: Absolutely. I have a Xylitol. A Xylitol grape seed extract, I’ll use as kind of a nasal anticoagulant but it’s like $6 down at the grocery store. It’s incredibly affordable and accessible.
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Yeah. So those – something that easy again can just – again, put a roadblock in the way of these viruses that are… again, they’re very weak viruses and just a couple of roadblocks keep them from attaching to your cells. Taking high doses of vitamin C before getting a plane or in that type of situation, vitamin C is a fairly potent and very cheap, cheap, cheap anti-viral also. So just taking high doses of say, 5000 mgs of vitamin C before putting yourself in those situations also.
Ben: Interesting. So something as simple as for example popping an airborne… doing a couple of sprays of Xylitol based nasal spray and it may be a few drops of oil of oregano before you hop on the train, subway or plane could really bump up your resistance to getting infected while you’re in that group situation.
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Certainly. Certainly. Again those are things that we want to do during these times where the ambient environment is a little more conducive to the fungal overgrowth and allowing these viruses to get into your body. So during the winter and the spring… it’s like driving through a bad neighborhood. You want to be a little more circumspect about what’s going on around you and protect yourself a little more during the fall and the spring.
Ben: Interesting. Now vitamin D is a steroid precursor and I know that steroid hormones are important in many of our physiological functions including immune system. Do you recommend that people actually look at their actual steroid hormone levels if they’re concerned about their potential immunity?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Certainly for immunity but just in general, so these steroid hormones are involved in a lot more than just your immune system. Your just total ability to stay healthy. So we find that vitamin D is in that steroid family. And steroid just means that these molecules are – their base is cholesterol. That’s all steroid means. A lot of people think about steroids and they think about guys injecting these anabolic steroids that are synthetic steroids. That’s not what we’re talking about when we’re talking about steroids. We’re talking about hormones that your body makes form cholesterol. So vitamin D is a steroid hormone, testosterone is a steroid hormone, estrogen is a steroid hormone, progesterone is a steroid hormone. Cortisol is a steroid hormone. And all of these hormones work together to orchestrate good health in general, but certainly immune function also. Vitamin D is one of those – you can get a vitamin D test and your doctor can tell you what your levels of vitamin D are – if they are low. I’ve tested people all around the world and it seems like everybody is low and there are different hypotheses as to why that is, but everybody is low, everybody needs to be supplementing with vitamin D. Adults need to be taking at least 5000. There’s no danger in taking 5000 without even getting tested. Children can take 2000 again without ever being tested, but I was not taking any, riding my bike all the time in this Texas sun and I got tested and I was low. I started on 5000 and that just barely got me into the normal range so I found that I had to take 10,000 of vitamin D and that’s true with darker skinned people. People who have darker skin need higher doses of vitamin D.
Ben: Interesting. I guess I have one other question about people’s children and we’ve mentioned that a couple of times, but in terms of children are there any type of different approaches that we should take? I’ve heard the discussion about natural immunity versus getting vaccinated and which one would be better for kids. Do you have an opinion on that matter?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Certainly. Boosting the natural immunity makes a lot more sense. Again we talked about not putting your kid in the child seat – when they first put him in the car you don’t want to strap them up just before you have an accident. So for the women to watch what they eat during pregnancy and then breastfeed and then not to feed their children these high sugar content drinks and foods that lower their immunity makes the most sense. But on top of that, to give your child fish oil – I didn’t mention fish oil before but that is – fish oil has a molecule where that iodine docks. So it’s very important to have those two components in your diet or being supplemented with because that iodine has to have a place to dock and that DHA that’s in the fish oil is a place where it docks. So to put a little bit of fish oil or some sort of (inaudible) that has DHA into your child’s diet makes a lot of sense also. And then give them just a regular multivitamin. One that doesn’t have all the sugar in it. Give them a regular multivitamin, there’s a product out there called Juice Plus, these fruit and vegetable capsules, if they’re not a big fruit and vegetable eater then you can give them those… they come in flavored tablets I think for the children or gummy bears but to try to get them to sneak a few more fruits – these dark fruits and vegetables into their diet, particularly the darker ones. So purple and dark red, cyanic color, the color of cranberries, the color of these purple grapes. Those are the most potent anti-fungals. And then don’t smoke around them. Again that affects the ability of the body to fight off these infections also. So it makes more sense to encourage this natural immunity rather than filling them up with what may be some potential toxins in some of these vaccinations. Many of them have mercury. We know mercury reduces the ability of the body to fight off infection. It’s immunotoxic, it can also damage thyroid function so it’s thyroid toxic. If we can avoid that then it just makes sense to do the other natural girding of the immune system.
Ben: Yeah that makes sense. We’ve covered a lot today and I know that the listener’s head could be swimming with all the things they have to go do now to check off their swine flu barriers, but Cliff notes I guess would be vitamin A, vitamin D, some form of iodine supplementation, some form of an anti-fungal or anti-microbial like an oregano. I know colloidal silver is another one that I heard you mention before.
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Selenium.
Ben: Selenium. The fish oils and then also the darker fruits and vegetables that have those anti-fungal components. If someone were to put all that together, they would be putting themselves in a situation where they’d have a good natural immunity to the swine flu.
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Certainly. And then of course as we get older we definitely want to start taking a closer look at what the hormonal status is. So the farther you are from age 27, you want to start looking at the hormone balance particularly the thyroid. The other thing that you have to look at as we get older is the ability to produce hydrochloric acid. So hydrochloric acid is the chemical that your stomach normally produces and it sterilizes the gut environment when all this food that could be fermented by pathogens – so we produce a lot of hydrochloric acid and we keep that sterile. As you get older, you’re not producing as much hydrochloric acid and so then the bacteria, fungi can come in and start fermenting that food and get reflux, gas and a lot of those gastrointestinal problems that we see with the advent of aging. So if that is low then people can take supplemental hydrochloric acid also.
Ben: Interesting. Okay, well wow we went through a lot but I think this is going to be incredibly helpful for the listeners to be able to protect themselves, their children and gird up their home against the swine flu. So Dr. Mitchell, I’d like to thank you for coming on the show today and you have a website, I’ll put a link to it on the Shownotes, but it’s www.drfitt.com.
Dr. Roby Mitchell: That’s correct. And on there, there’s a blog on there and there’s a blog that talks about H1N1 in particular and the swine flu and I give those recommendations so people can take a look at that. Again, we want to think in a little bit more broad terms than just fighting off the flu. We want to on a 24 month basis gird up that immune system so that you’re protected not just from the swine flu but from any type of infection from cancer… cancer tends to proliferate when the immune system is weak also and the advent of all these other diseases has to do with your body – with the proliferation of this fungi that’s normally in the body, but that’s normally under control.
Ben: Yeah, well great advice Dr. Mitchell. Thank you for coming on the show and we hope to have you on in a later episode. Have a great Saturday.
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Alright Ben, thanks a lot.
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