July 22, 2023
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/andres-preschel-knowyourphysio/
[00:01:20] What is this episode about?
[00:02:42] Who is Andres Preschel?
[00:05:44] Breathwork for free diving
[00:14:45] Diaphragm stretches and contractions
[00:20:14] How did Andres got into free diving?
[00:25:27] ADD and ADHD diagnose
[00:35:15] The influence of gluten on ADHD
[00:39:29] Working in physiology and obsession with data
[00:49:48] Bloodwork and biomarkers to pay attention to
[00:56:32] The spiritual component and plant medicine
[01:09:25] Closing the Podcast
[01:09:58] End of Podcast
Ben: My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.
Andres: An interesting pattern that I've noticed is a lot of these high-performing CEOs that also happen to be endurance athletes and such, for some reason, a lot of these guys tend to love triathlon and marathons and such. Anyway, I started to notice a pattern and so a lot of these guys have elevated sex hormone-binding globulin. And so, their free testosterone is low. And, because I've seen this pattern now, time and time again, my hypothesis is that they're under consuming carbohydrate. I think a lot of these guys are suddenly carb-phobic. And look, while I really truly believe in maintaining stable blood glucose levels, if you're a high-performing executive and on top of that, if you're doing physical activity, your brain and your nervous system and your muscle is soaking up glucose, soaking it up. You need to make sure you get enough; otherwise, you're going to tank your hormones.
Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.
Hey, the podcast you are about to hear was recorded well on a beautiful sunshiny admittedly slightly windy walk in Wilmington, North Carolina. Fantastic discussion with a friend of mine, Andres Preschel about all things exercise, physiology, ADD, free diving, breathwork, spearfishing, and a whole lot more. I think you're really going to dig this one. We did get into a discussion at the end that I feel could spark a little bit of controversy; One regarding ADD, one regarding plant medicines. I tend to be opinionated on things like this such as the pharmaceutical labeling of disorders when I think sometimes, we need to be a little bit less labely for things like ADD and ADHD. And then, also I have a little bit of a disillusionment about the frequency of the infatuation with plant medicines for every last trauma on the planet.
And so, we get into a little bit of that and this was originally going to be us interviewing each other, turned out to be probably me interviewing Andres more, which is fine, but I always like to tell you guys that. So, if you hear me talking more than what you'd expect an interviewer to talk about, well, the idea is this was supposed to be a discussion, not a one-way interview so hopefully that clarifies your expectations going into this one. And gosh, I'm going to get off my soapbox now and just let you dive right in.
All the shownotes are going to be at BenGreenfieldLife.com/KnowYourPhysio. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/KnowYourPhysio. Alright, enjoy.
Andres, you know what my working title for today's show is?
Andres: What's that?
Ben: Two exercise physiologists go on a walk.
Ben: You got to make sure that when you talk into this mic that you direct your voice. But, either way, this thing will pick up the mic and the audio. And, for folks who are wondering, I'm with my friend Andres, Andres, Andres. I have been mispronouncing your name all week, but it's basically A-N-D-R-E-S. You say Andres, right?
Andres: Undress like take off your clothes.
Ben: Yeah, undress like take off your clothes. There's a visual for you, folks. And, your last name is Preschel.
Ben: You say it like that, Preschel?
Ben: Preschel, P-R-E-S-C-H-E-L, Andres Preschel.
Andres: That's me.
Ben: This one's going to throw me for a curveball. It already has been but anyways, we'll figure it out. What nationality is that name, anyways?
Andres: It's kind of a story. I mean, I was born in New York. Daddy's doing his residency there. He's an eye surgeon. Was raised in Venezuela, so my parents were born and raised. Andres is a very common name in South America.
Andres: Preschel, I think that's Romanian or German. So, if you go back far enough, my dad's out of the family, they're Romanian, they're French, polish. My mom's side is Lebanese-Italian. So, quite the mix and that's how you get Andres Preschel.
Ben: You're a mutt, South American mutt, South American Romanian mutt.
Ben: So, I know you have a background in exercise physiologist, we're here in Wilmington, North Carolina, on a free diving and spearfishing trip, so we've been doing all sorts of breathwork, all sorts of nerdy chats about physiology and altitude training, and red blood cells, and oxygen and carbon dioxide retention, all sorts of stuff that we want to really fill you in if you're listening in because there's a lot of stuff that's going to be applicable to your own health, your own biology and physiology. And, Andres also has a podcast. His, it's called Know Your Physio, right?
Ben: So, if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/KnowYourPhysio, I'll put shownotes and links and all sorts of resources for you. And, you can also go check out Andres's podcast if you go over there.
One thing I wanted to ask you just to kind of kick things off here is, and I know a lot of people listening have done things Wim Hof breathwork or I've talked about apps in the past other like Othership or breath source where you do highly invigorating breathwork, a lot of inhale-exhale, inhale-exhale, and then typically you'll finish and do a long exhale lock or a long inhale lock. And, there are shreds of that in some of the type of breathwork that you do for things like free diving or spearfishing.
But, can you explain to me, from your own physiology background and scientific background, what's different about how you do breathing for free diving and for spearfishing or breathwork for that versus what's popular right now out there because it seems there's differences to me at least?
Andres: Yeah, absolutely. And, before I get there as a preface, you want to tell folks tuning in where we're at and why we're even talking about spearfishing?
Ben: Yeah, eventually. But, I want to hear about the breathwork first.
Andres: Yeah. Alright, so a lot of folks understand and appreciate Wim Hof. There are tremendous benefits to Wim Hof breathing. There's tremendous benefits to using guided meditation breathwork to develop either a parasympathetic state and fall asleep or manage stress, et cetera. Thing is when it comes to freediving and spearfishing, breath really counts because if you're not accountant in a sense that if you don't breathe correctly, you may not get the stimulus that you need to return to the surface in time and prevent a blackout. When we're diving, there's real danger on the line if you're not breathing properly, you need the right stimulus. And, that stimulus is CO2. So, when you do something like Wim Hof breathing, you're offloading your tremendous amount of CO2 and you don't get that urge to breathe.
Ben: You're getting rid of CO2 as you're doing the bullion?
Andres: Yeah, exactly. You're offloading so much CO2 that you don't get the right stimulus at the right time when you're free diving or spearfishing. So, when–
Ben: You don't get the right stimulus to breathe.
Andres: Yeah, to breathe. Most people tuning in might think that you get that stimulus with low oxygen, well really, it's just high CO2. It gives you that stimulus. As you consume oxygen, use it and convert it unless you get that stimulus. So, if you're doing a ton of Wim Hof breathing before you get in the water, yeah, maybe you'll have the perception that your dive time is higher than it really is. Maybe you actually extend your dive time but when it really counts to get that oxygen, I'd say you're, I don't know, chasing a fish down at 70 feet, and all of a sudden you don't have the right stimulus, you may start swimming up and consuming the little bit of oxygen you have left and therefore you can easily blackout. So essentially, you don't get the stimulus that you need if you're offloading as much CO2.
Ben: And, this is why people who in the past sadly have experienced something like shallow water blackout and even death after doing something like Wim Hof style breathing or some of these more invigorating forms of breathwork in which you're blowing off CO2, the reason is they've blown off CO2, they don't get that natural urge to breathe when it should normally occur. And then, of course, they run out of breath before they get to the surface. And so, is there something different about what you do to free diving or spearfishing that gets rid of that danger because you're obviously in the water?
Andres: Yeah. So, what you want to do when your free diving and spearfishing is you want to do a very, very slow breath. So, you're not invigorating, you want to slow your heart rate, you want to lower your cortisol levels, your adrenaline. You want to be as calm as possible. And, that's not just so that you can dive deep and get the appropriate level of stimulus that you need so you know when to come up but it's also so that once you're down there, you're in a common of state where the life underneath the surface approaches you and gets curious about you so that you can really enjoy what's below the surface. So, if you're going down there and you're Wim Hofed up and you're invigorated, I guarantee you you're not going to get the same experience that you'd otherwise get if you're really super, super calm.
Ben: Yeah. I mean, you avoid caffeine, you avoid dairy because it thickens the mucus. That's for different reasons or, as we've been doing, you take something like Mucinex, which helps to thin the mucus. So, not consuming foods that thicken the mucus is important because that'll kind of keep the eustachian tubes from being able to equalize. But then, that anything like caffeine or most smart drugs or nootropics or a central nervous system stimulant or anything like that would be contraindicated for these long breath holes. I think the best, if you want to call it a nootropic, for example, like free diving or spearfishing is just liquid ketones, so-called ketone esters because those can at least, in my experience.
So, ketones can not only based on some of the work that folks like Dr. Dominic Agostino has done help to protect the brain in a low oxygen environment or even increase the breath hold time, but they also seem to give you a little bit of a mental acuity effect because they're a stable fuel source for the brain even more so than say glucose. But then, in addition to avoiding these stimulants based on what you're describing, Andres, you essentially don't want to do the invigorating breathwork that might indeed give you a long exhale but also increase the heart rate. So instead, like yesterday, you and me and my sons who are out here taking their first freediving course, we were diving in the lake yesterday up and down a line practicing on a line that was marked at 5 meters, 10 meters, 15 meters, 20 meters, so on and so forth, and in our case, there were four people taking turns diving. And, all the people that weren't diving were doing a long big two-count in and then a 10-count exhale, hold at the bottom, and then another breath in, hold, 10 out, hold. And, by the time you actually got up to your dive, I felt my heart rate was super slow and then you just do five purging breaths like in, out, in, out, to breath off a little bit of CO2 but in a low heart rate fashion and then you dive.
Andres: Yeah, exactly. That's exactly right. And, to your point about the ketones, not only are they going to help you conserve some of that oxygen, not only are they going to help you, let's say, boost your endurance, you can dive all day long but they're also going to help you preserve some of that glycogen. So, if you're in a ketogenic state, when you need the glycogen, which you actually will when you're free diving and spearfishing, you're jumping on and off the boat, you're fighting fish, you're lowering your gear.
Ben: Highest calorie-burning sport that exist, right?
Andres: Oh, yeah, yeah, exactly. So, when you're in a hypoxic environment and you start burning and burning and burning cals as your body fights to return to homeostasis–interestingly though, we also spoke about the shift in the respiratory quotient. So, when you're in the state of ketosis–well, essentially, it's conducive, it's more conducive to a parasympathetic state. So, if you combine all these elements, you get a very calm, very relaxed dive and you get to enjoy life underneath the surface for as much as possible, as long as possible in the best way possible while keeping yourself safe. And, that's what we're all about.
Ben: Yeah, we watched the octopus teacher last night after we finished our free diving class. And, for those who haven't seen it, I've never seen it before but it was a perfect example of, “Oh, this is what the underwater forest looks like” whether or not you're spearfishing and holding a gun. I mean, just to go look at a cool part of nature, I think freediving is not only an amazing tool for learning how to relax the body, lower the heart rate, deal with the cold in a relaxed environment, et cetera, but it's also a very cool way to be able to equip yourself to see a part of the world. Very few humans can see without a whole bunch of scuba gear on. And, correct me if I'm wrong, when you're wearing all that scuba gear, doesn't it scare some of the fish away or at least keep you from being able to have the full experience of being under the water?
Andres: Oh, yeah. I mean, honestly, I think the biggest appeal for me with freediving is literally you feel like you're flying. You have this sensation of freedom and you can move your body in any way that you'd like and explore. And, when you're weighed down by scuba gear and you're blowing bubbles, I mean you totally feel like a human under the surface. You don't feel like you belong there. And, of course, I'm biased and I'm sure a lot of people who scuba dive will give me crap for this but I'm a purist. I love the freedom that freediving gives you. And, I love that when I'm doing it right, life gets so curious about me and approaches me whether I'm holding a gun or not. And, that to me is the beauty of being a free diver.
Ben: Yeah, it's like when I'm bow hunting, I often have these times when I'm in the forest where I could not care less if I had a bow and I was hunting an animal. This is just beautiful being able to observe nature with no distractions, no phone calls, tuning in to the senses and the smells and the sounds and the complete texture of the forest. It's like that but underwater.
Ben: And, the other thing that happened yesterday as we were preparing to go up and down the lines was a friend of ours, we met down here, Christopher. Shout out to Christopher who's working with Evolve Freediving. We're down with Evolve Freediving, a fantastic organization and they've put together this whole freediving course for us.
Anyways, Christopher brought us through these stretches, a whole bunch of diaphragmatic stretches where you'd exhale all the air and go to what many people might be familiar with, is almost like a cat cow type of movement that you get from yoga and some different overhead stretches. Do you do those type of stretches for your diaphragm?
Andres: Yeah, absolutely. Because what happens is that depth, it gets harder and harder to equalize. You need to have a very pliable, very flexible diaphragm or else the contractions that you get as your body gets the urge to breathe are going to be really intense to the point where they're going to take away from the freediving itself because then you have to force your body to relax again, you have to overcome these contractions. So, if you're nice and stretched out, your body is going to be ready to go and you can just swallow up these contractions, if you will, and keep enjoying the dive.
And, in fact, the more advanced free divers, what we do is we actually use the number of contractions as a timer. So, I know, for example, that around nine or 10 contractions, if I'm at, let's say, 15 to 20 meters, I know that's my signal to go up. So, I can actually use these contractions. Once they're stretched out, once my diaphragm is stressed out, it time my dives. I'm not constantly looking at my watch, I'm just feeling my body. And, I think by the way, as a free diver, the best thing you can do is always go by interception rather than data to know when to come up. You really have to be able to feel your body.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And, I mean, this stuff works because my sons, two little inland Washingtoniers who had never been lower than 12 feet, they had one day of classroom time headed out into the water and yesterday dove to 45 feet and did fine.
Ben: And so, it's crazy. Once you learn these tactics, the breath ups, how to equalize as you descend, the actual biomechanics of the descent itself like how to fold your body and do a kick and then one arm pull, it's amazing. And, the reason I want to say this is I would just love for more of our podcast listeners to discover the freedom and the joy and the cool sites that you find under the water. Once you figure it out, it's like you've unlocked this new superhuman power, almost being able, not quite being able to breathe underwater but it has that feeling to it. It's like, “Oh, the water is now at my fingertips in a much different and deeper literally and figuratively way than it ever was before.”
Andres: Yeah. And, you also have access to the majority of the world. Let's face it. The majority of the world is underwater. Not that you're going to go diving in the Mariana Trench, but at least you have access to life and environments you've never seen before. So, that alone is just wonderful.
And, something I want to add here is the presence that freediving demands is such that–I mean, you really have to develop that skill and it carries over to life on land. If you can master your breath and you see the impact between your breath and your performance, trust me that'll carry over into your day-to-day when you're just outliving life.
Ben: Our friend Ashley Chapman who her and Ren were our instructors at Evolved Freediving, they told us they had a podcast called the Post Sessions Podcast. I actually listened to an episode last night and it was literally about how they're using free diving for trauma therapy to allow people to be able to maintain a calm presence when they're in a sympathetic state; meaning not able to breathe underwater, sometimes in the cold, et cetera, and it just made perfect sense. I mean, a lot of times, people use something like plant medicine or eye movement resensitization training or different things for trauma. But, I never thought until I heard this podcast and what they'd experienced with Navy Seals and other people who had things like PTSD the effect that something not necessarily spearfishing but just free diving just going up and down in the water and learning how to control your physiology can have on something like trauma release.
Andres: Yeah. I mean, most people within an hour, you can teach them to dive to 10 meters to 30 feet. And, unless you have some super physiological ability and insane lung volume. To get to that 20, 30 meters mark, you really have to develop that inter-reception, that bodily awareness. And, in doing so, you end up achieving something, an ability that carries over to every other area of life. I really mean that. It's a bonus for us spearfishermen that we get to do that while also practicing the single most selective and sustainable fish harvesting method in the world. So, when you combine all these elements, you really feel like you're at one with nature, you really get to appreciate nature for what it is. And, in a way, nature gets to appreciate you because you accomplish. Physiological, you need to accomplish to be a part of that life underwater.
Ben: Yeah. And, the eating of the fresh tasty fish is just a bonus. Although, I'm on defense about octopus after last night I have to admit. The Octopus Teacher made me think twice about having octopus.
Hey, so say hello to the little barking dog, everyone.
So, how did you get into all this, man? I mean, I know it's kind of a loaded question, but you have a very interesting history not only of the Venezuelan Romanian mutt Jew background but also just your upper, from what I understand you have severe ADD or ADHD?
Andres: Yeah, yeah, I did. I'll start with the freediving. I got into freediving through my dad. I mean, he's been freediving and spearfishing since he was, I don't know, 20 years old in Venezuela. And, ever since we were, I don't know, 4 or 5 years old, he would have us in the swimming pool going and getting coins at the bottom of the pool and stuff. So, I've been freediving really my whole life. I didn't get certified until I was maybe 18. I'm 26 now. And, it's funny actually my dad and I, we grew up watching a ton of these spearfishing movies on cassette and I loved watching these with my dad but–
Ben: You mean VHS?
Andres: A VHS, VHS, yeah.
Andres: I love watching these with my dad. And, I would always ask him like, “Oh, are these guys in the movies? Are they still spearfishing?” And, almost every single time he'd tell me, “Oh, no, they actually passed away.” And, I'd say, “How?” And, he'd be like, “Oh, well, spearfishing they were diving alone.”
Ben: Oh, man.
Andres: And, ever since I realized that at a very young age, I actually convinced my dad to stop spearfishing because he would go with some buddies when we moved to Miami when I was around, I don't know, 6 years old. Then, I discovered spearfishing when I was 18. I was with a friend in Belize. And, as soon as I got into it, I basically told my dad, I said, “Hey, look, I'm into this now. I understand what it is. I want to do it safely and I want to do it with you. I want to enjoy this with you. I want to bring you back to spearfishing and I want us to do it together.” And so, we did and now we spearfish all the time.
Andres: Safely with each other.
Ben: Selfishly enough, that's one of the reasons I wanted to bring my sons down on this trip because we go to cool places where I've really wanted to spear dive or free dive and spearfish but don't have a buddy. I'm like, “Man, if I could teach my sons the safety and we could all do this together, this is going to be an amazing father-son adventure that I think is even better than golf that we can do for life.” So, I'm right on the same page with you. I think it's a great family activity if you want to buddy swim anyways.
Andres: Oh, it's the best. And then, after we go spearfishing, we bring back all these amazing fish. And, I mean everyone in my family, all of us, we're super into cooking. I mean, cooking brings our family together. It really is the glue that holds us together in a way. And so, when I bring back all these fish, I mean we've prepared the most amazing feasts. You wouldn't believe it. We tell the stories of how he captured everything. We use every single part of the fish so we prepare the collars, we make the fish head soup, ceviche, sashimi, everything, everything, everything, nothing goes to waste.
I was telling you earlier that we shot a big African pompano and the vertebrae was so big that we even ate the bone marrow out of this African pompano.
Ben: It's crazy. Bones were big, you can eat the bone marrow.
Ben: And, not to totally derail your story of how you got into physiology, but I have to say related to cooking, a couple nights ago we called Andres' girlfriend, Parker, shout out to Parker, and we had a canister of oatmeal like instant oatmeal on the countertop of our Airbnb and Andres is like, “My girlfriend makes overnight oatmeals, carrot cake overnight oatmeal.” So, we shredded carrots. What else did we use? Ginger.
Andres: And yeah, we've had that overnight and then you baked it.
Ben: Oatmeal, chia, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, maple syrup or honey and some kind of a creamer like almond milk. All we did was stir that all together with a whole bunch of grated carrots. And, the ratios, I think, are eyeballed but anyways. So, after it's soaked overnight for 12 hours, I'm giving you guys his recipe so you can try it, we thought, “Well, what's better than cold overnight oatmeal?” Baked oatmeal. So, I lined a little pan that we found on the Airbnb with olive oil and we baked that oatmeal about 350 degrees for half hour and then topped it with a dollop of yogurt, almond butter, and a touch of maple syrup.
Andres: That was Conscious bar.
Ben: Sprinkled some Conscious bar chocolate on top of that. Oh, my goodness.
Ben: Amazing. So, if any of you want to make carrot–if you have carrot cake for bread breakfast, that's how to do it.
Andres: That's basically it.
Ben: And how to feel good that you're giving your HDL and your triglycerides a favor.
Andres: And, you cool the carbs. Even if you heat them back up afterwards, you still get some of those resistant starches.
Ben: That's right. [00:24:51] _____ low glycemic index.
Andres: And then the chia seeds in there as a binder, they'll lower the glycemic index further. So, the carrot, yeah.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. As a matter of fact, my sons and I did Murph, the mile run, 300 squats, 200 push-ups, 100 pull-ups, 1-mile run this morning and finish it off with the rest of the overnight oatmeal. So, it's pretty good as a workout, brew as well.
So, back to your story of how you got into the physiology component, you're freediving, you're spearfishing, but you also–
Andres: That's not how I got into it. That's on the side. I actually wanted to have fun with the stuff that I was learning.
So, here's how it worked is, yeah, I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 8 years old. And, ever since then, I was taking amphetamines, so Adderall, Vyvanse, you name it and I spent a lot while, I mean, 10 years taking that medication and dealing with the side effects. So, the side effects were everything from anxiety to very low body weight. I was skeletal. I was 5'9, 120 pounds, 115 pounds.
Ben: The drugs for ADD caused body weight loss?
Andres: Yeah. I mean, they're amphetamines–
Ben: Just because the increase in metabolism and yeah [00:26:02] _____
Andres: Yeah, it's kind of like cocaine. I mean, it's almost identical. So, you are jacked up on energy and focus. And, I guess that's what people take it. But, I was taking the extended-release, so I wasn't sleeping because I was in such a potent sympathetic state all day long. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating, I wasn't drinking water. So, I was extremely low body weight. I had developed a stutter because my brain was so overactive that I would just slur my words. And then, on top of that, didn't have any friends, so I was basically depressed and it just became this perpetual cycle, this vicious cycle because the more it took away from my health and wellness, the more I needed it the next day to get by to the point where I was taking the highest prescribed dose, 60 milligrams of Vyvanse, 70 milligrams of Adderall. Sorry, 60 Adderall, 70 Vyvanse.
At one point, I was studying for this test and I kind of felt the room was moving. And, I remember I looked at my mirror in my room in my bedroom and I was so jacked up on amphetamines that my body was literally moving back and forth.
Ben: Holy cow, how old were you?
Andres: Oh, my god, I was 14.
Andres: 15 like your son's age and I see them now and I'm like, oh, my god, that's–
Ben: And, by the way, based on our qEEG brain scans, both my sons and I have massive ADD, ADHD based on the way our brains are wired up.
Ben: Never touched a drug in our lives for that, but I intentionally with my sons nearly every day do heat, cold, breathwork, exercise, and then a good diet that doesn't have a lot of neurotoxins, chemicals, and high glycemic index carbs in it. I mean, you've hung around with them, right?
Andres: Yeah, yeah.
Ben: Zero issues. And, I wish more parents knew that lifestyle factors play a huge role in this. Let's say you got a boy with ADD, get them out, have them do Murph in the morning, jump in the sauna with you at night and do breathwork and cold therapy and make sure their diet's clean and all of a sudden, you turn that ADD into massive amounts of creativity, focus, performance, fitness, et cetera. So, yeah, I look at it through a different lens but I mean, what you experience from what I understand is the most common way that many parents in society in general addresses what we call ADD. I kind of call it being a kid but whatever.
Andres: Well, I'll tell you what, to that point, I think that ADD is in fact a superpower. And, I'll get into that and actually I'll get into how I cured my ADD. But, before I get there, I want to say my parents are medical professionals. They always had the best intentions. They love us unlike anything else in the world and they always wanted the best for us. So, my mom, I mean, before I got my prescription, she went deep on the Adderall and how it would affect me, this, that, the other. And, she was the one that was administering it and she knew at the end of the day that it was going to, I mean, I guess help me with my confidence. Let's face it. I was a smart kid but I just wasn't getting by in school because I wouldn't do my homework and I wouldn't focus in class. But, when I had to take a test, I would always do really, really well.
So anyway, she wanted to help me get by in school. And so, she felt this was a safe and effective method at the time. So, what ended up happening was that it became this vicious cycle as I expressed and when I started to realize however was that when it came to my real, let's say, passions and obsessions, I would always, always, always excel, I mean, to the nth degree. Whenever it came to my hobbies and passions, I would learn and absorb so much so quickly.
Andres: And, I knew that was a superpower. And, if you look at this from a neurophysiological perspective, guys and gals with ADD, you have a very low level of dopamine here. Your base dopamine levels are pretty–
Ben: A low level of dopamine.
Andres: Yeah. So, you're constantly craving these little hits of dopamine.
Ben: From what I understand, it's either low dopamine or poor dopamine sensitivity.
Andres: Yeah, exactly, or both, yeah. So, you're constantly craving these little hits. So, that's why you'll be in class and all of a sudden it's kind of boring and you kind of look around and you want that stimulation or you go on your phone or you start playing video games or smoking weed or whatever. So, you want to get these little dopamine heads because your body has a very low level of dopamine or very poor sensitivity dopamine.
Well, when it comes to your obsessions, you'll end up really truly diving head first because if you find something that you like, you're constantly going to want to be stimulated by it to raise that level of dopamine naturally. So essentially, if you find something that you really enjoy, you'll end up going after it and after and after it nonstop.
Ben: And, that's how it can be a superpower.
Ben: I think that a lot of these nootropics or smart drugs like anything that has mucuna, dopa mucuna in it or there's a new one that I've personally been experimenting with. I think I got it from, I believe, Nootropics Depot. I'll find it and link to it in the shownotes but it's called Cognance. And, it's this massive dopamine precursor and donor. And, I take that with some acetylcholine and DHA because it burns through those levels very quickly. And, I can stay hyper-focused for eight to 12 hours on one capsule of that stuff. And again, it's probably because I have some of those fast-burning dopamine-desensitized pathways just naturally. But again, I've found the same thing as you. If I find something I really enjoy, I can absolutely crush it. So, I totally get the superpower thing.
Andres: Oh, yeah. And so, essentially what happened was around my going into my junior year of high school, the most important year, technically speaking you have all the standardized tests, the SATs, the ACTs, I was taking 5 AP classes. This summer going into that year, I had the chance to take a summer scholars program at UM. So, that's a program for high school students in college on a college campus and I was studying neuroscience. And, I don't know, I was curious about neuroscience. I had no idea really what it entailed or what I was going to learn, but I just signed up for the course that it looked good on my resume. And, because I was on summer break, I wasn't taking the medication but I was on a college campus, I had a ton of people around me, I had unlimited access to the gym and dining hall, and I was learning about the brain. I was learning about neuroplasticity.
And, with the first few lessons that I learned, I started to apply this stuff and I started exercising, I started to eat omega-3-rich foods and a few other foods, avoiding gluten, et cetera.
Andres: And, within two to three months, believe it or not, and this just goes to show by the way how deprived I was.
Andres: Within two to three months, I was more confident than ever before. I had gained 15 pounds of muscle in three months.
Andres: And, I was social. And, to me, oh my god, that changed me forever. So, what I wanted to do my junior year was I wanted to really prove to myself what I was capable of. So, I ditched the medication, it was the hardest thing that I ever, ever did in my life even though I was on that summer break and I wasn't taking it and I enjoyed all these benefits. Still, I had very intense withdrawal symptoms.
Ben: What was it like?
Andres: I was depressed.
Andres: I was totally depressed. I was just very low energy. Yeah, I didn't know what these words meant at the time. But, looking back, I was totally depressed.
So, yeah, I wanted to prove to myself what I was capable of. I didn't take any of the meds for my exam study for them. I didn't request the extra time that I was eligible for. And, with the new stuff that I had learned and applied, I made it to the 99 percentile across all my tests.
Andres: Got all these awards and I just made this promise to myself that I was going to continue, at that time, selfishly to learn about my physiology, to know my physiology. And so, I went back to UM, did–
Ben: That's why your podcast is called Know Your Physio?
Andres: Yeah. Just getting goosebumps saying that–
Ben: Oh, I get it now. Yeah.
Andres: Yeah. So, I went back to UM and I studied exercise physiology because exercise had saved my life and nutrition with a minor in psychology. And then, I went off and started my master's in physiology nutrition. And now, I'm actually about to begin a second master's program in neuroscience to return to the very science that initiated all this.
Andres: So, that's pretty much how things evolved for–
Ben: You mean, Dr. Hooberman, if you're not careful.
Andres: Yeah, definitely [00:34:56] _____–
Ben: So, what you said about increasing the omega-3 fatty acids, based on what I was explaining earlier about the need for more choline and DHEA, a lot of times when you're trying to balance dopamine in the brain makes total sense like walnuts, fish, eggs, DHA rich fatty acids, et cetera.
But, you also mentioned gluten. You said that you cut gluten. Was that related to the ADD or was that different GI issues that inspired you to do that?
Andres: So, definitely ADD and it's actually a recent thing that I discovered. So, my whole life I've been eating gluten. My parents didn't really know or didn't really think that we were sensitive to it. I actually did a genetic test and I found that I am in fact predisposed to celiac. And, on top of that, every time I have it, I'll get a crazy brain fog, low energy. I didn't really see the link before. It wasn't until my girlfriend actually pointed out herself. She started cutting out gluten. And, actually it's not gluten per se, I think it's, we're talking about–
Ben: The gliadin protein?
Andres: Yeah, gliadin protein exactly. So, it's like low-quality gluten that has this protein if I'm not mistaken, please correct me if I'm wrong, that can give you these symptoms. Because the other day–
Ben: Yeah, it binds to some of the opioid receptors.
Ben: It can cause a little bit of a hyper-addictive response. You combine that with some of the gastric inflammation from very high concentrated sources of gluten. And then, some of these other gliadin proteins can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause a neuroinflammatory response that dictates that although I'm not against things like pasta and bread, et cetera, I think that wheat, especially in the U.S. that's been bred for high yield crop that tends to have hyper-concentrated sources of gluten, and wheat or grains that have been exposed to herbicides and pesticides, which increases the absorption of a lot of these problematic proteins and can trigger an autoimmune reaction, dictates that if you're going to have gluten, have it from basically ancient grains like say Einkorn or Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat.
Ben: Ferment it, soak it, and sprout it as much as possible so you're deactivating even more of those gliadin proteins. And, that way, you can get some of the nutrient density and some of the beneficial gastrointestinal modulation and immune modulation that some of these grains can provide, and even the triglyceride-lowering HDL increasing effect. But yeah, I mean, even if you're not doing the ketogenic low-carb thing, you still need to be very selective about your wheat sources and the way that you prepare wheat. Another shout-out to overnight carrot cake oatmeal. If you are serious about it not affecting you from a neural mechanics mechanistic standpoint. If that makes sense.
Andres: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So, I would experience things like just tremendous brain fog. Actually, all the symptoms of ADD, that brain fog, total focusing, just very poor energy, trouble digesting. And, funny enough, the first day that I arrived here in Wilmington to meet up with you guys, I believe it was Terran that made some of those cookies and I asked him, I was like, “Are these gluten-free?” He's like, “No.” And, I was like, “Ahh.” It's late enough at night, I really want a cookie I might as well. And, I had and I had zero issues.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, exactly because if you eat anything that's like a cookie, a cinnamon roll, cake, biscotti, because we make those things at our house, but if you look at our flower part of the pantry, they're all ancient grains. Again, it's all Einkorn, Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat, most of the time when we're preparing wheat, it is soaked in a vinegar medium overnight. So, there's a little bit of a pre-fermentation process that takes place. So, it's just those little details that you pay attention to. I kind of have the same thoughts about gluten as I do about a vegan or a plant-based diet that many carnivore or paleo enthusiasts will say is harmful for you. Well, it is unless you decide you're going to choose your plant sources and prepare your plant sources properly. And, if you do so, it kind of becomes a non-issue. So, it just depends on how something is treated really.
Andres: Yeah. So, my girlfriend and I today, I mean we soak everything and we really take our time to prepare everything so that if it does continue gluten or anything that we're sensitive to that we prepare it correct. I mean, that's really what it's all about. You can get a high-quality ingredients and you won't have the same symptoms as you would otherwise have with low-quality mass-produced stuff you find in the grocery store.
Ben: Yeah. You're obviously very, very fit. I'm curious from an exercise physiology standpoint what you learn in your exercise physiology training because you and I have similar backgrounds in that respect. I don't talk about this a lot on the podcast but my master's degree is in nutrition and exercise physiology with an emphasis in biomechanics. And so, I did a lot of physics, a lot of digitization of human movement in the biomechanics lab, and a lot of testing of people's VO2 maxes, lactate thresholds, things like that for years in Spokane. I ran a sports performance laboratory where we do high-speed video analyses and indirect calorimetry and a lot of geeky physiology type of stuff and it still informs the way that I train today as far as heart rate zones, lactate thresholds, fat-burning zones, et cetera.
So, I noticed that when I surfed around your website and stuff, you seem like a very data-driven coach. You seem you gather a lot of metrics from people that you work with. So, tell me a little bit about how you work with what you know with physiology and what kind of metrics you pay attention to in yourself or in your clients.
Andres: Yeah, I became obsessed with data ever since I start to really, again, selfishly I wanted to understand my physiology. I started to get in touch with data because I wanted to see just how efficacious all these new habits, tools, tips, tricks, biohacks if you will how effective they were. And, sleep was the biggest one. Sleep was absolutely the biggest one in regulating my nervous system and helping me get that focus, getting all that dopamine for the next day. I mean, there's tremendous benefits for anyone with ADD or trouble focusing, tremendous benefits you can drive from deep restorative sleep. And, in these modern lives that we live, it's just so hard to get deep sleep nowadays, really restorative sleep.
So, sleep is a huge one. I work with everyone from elite athletes. You take, let's say, former champion of the U.S. Open Tennis to billionaires, which in my opinion are elite athletes themselves, the level of decision-making that they have to consider and they're traveling. So, in my book, they're elite athletes, to race car drivers, poker players, and World Series poker finalists. I mean, you name it. One of the biggest things that I helped them dial in is their sleep and actually returning to breathwork. I think breathwork is one of the best ways to achieve deep sleep because it's the most accessible way to influence your nervous system. And, a lot of these guys are traveling, they're so worked up and they can't tell but they're mouth breathing, they're breathing with the upper chest, they're in a sympathetic state–
Ben: Yeah, I totally agree. As a matter of fact, one of the best things I do for sleep especially when I travel and I'm in a more anxious state when I travel just because I'm in an unfamiliar location and unfamiliar bed is breathwork and mouth taping. I use that stuff called Hostage Tape before I sleep.
Ben: And, I wake up in the morning not remembering when or how I fell asleep, but all I know is I was typically doing breath prayer or four eight breathing with the mouth tape on and I just–yeah, I do put one of those high-dose melatonin suppositories up my butt that I gave you.
Ben: But, man, breathwork, I just wish more people would try that before they pop yet another pill or double dose what they're already taking for sleep with the idea, “Well, I might as well just knock myself out.”
Andres: Yeah. And, I'll tell you guys what, that my mission at the end of the day as I was telling you is to make this kind of science as accessible as possible. And, I just mentioned, I guess, a handful of individuals that are on the opposite end of the spectrum. It's a very exclusive service that I offer them, but in doing that, I realize what everyone is lacking and just how valuable this information is. So, for anybody tuning in, you don't have to be a billionaire or an elite athlete. As long as you start enabling some of these habits to breathe better and as long as you can really drill that connection between your breath and your ANS function, automatic nervous system function, as long as you understand that, you're going to sleep so much better and you're going to set the pace for your best quality of life and performance.
Ben: Okay, boots on the street. What's that look like? Are you having people wear pulse oximeter? Are you importing their WHOOP or their Oura ring data and looking at something specific? How does that look for you in terms of tracking and coaching people on sleep?
Andres: Yeah. So, I use all kinds of devices. There's a few that I really love and trust. And, I mean, people are going to argue with me here, but I go by clinical validation. So, the device that I was using for a very long time was Bio Strap. Very clinically valid device, but it's not as user-friendly as something like Oura is nowadays. I think Oura right now is probably the all-around the best fit considering that I get a lot of really good–
Ben: Yeah, sleep data has slightly higher superiority.
Andres: Yeah, it's also very minimal style and it's a very, very, very nice user experience which is important because if you want adherence, if you want people to actually track their data and be excited about it, you need a good user-facing app. So, Oura, in my opinion, is the best all-around, but then if I want to go really in-depth, I'll use something like a Cardio Mood. So, Cardio Mood will give me more insights as to cardiovascular, how that's going, HRV.
Ben: What is Cardio Mood telling you?
Andres: Oh, my god, I mean it breaks up HRV into five different metrics. It gives me the VO2 max, the lactate. I mean, everything. It'll go super in-depth and is super, super–
Ben: Yeah. And, is that a wearable?
Andres: Yeah, it's a wearable.
Ben: Okay. Okay, interesting. What else are you paying attention to or tracking?
Andres: Alright, so a huge, huge, huge metric, probably the main metric that I track is HRV. And, HRV is interesting and Jay, your co-host, Dr. Jay Wiles here, give a shout out Dr. Jay for joining me on the show multiple times to dive deep on the science of HRV and really understanding from a practical perspective. But, HRV is probably the most important metric that I track because it gives us a sense of what people can handle on a day-to-day basis. So, when you look at all these hormetic stressors like exercise, cold exposure, fasting, et cetera, all of these things are, in a way, stressors. And, the idea is that you can effectively recover from them and you become smarter, faster, stronger. But, when you sort of add all these up and on top of that you're already stressed, they're going to do more harm than good. And, for a lot of these folks that are traveling that have high-level decision-making that have high-level physical demands that they need to embark on a day-to-day basis, you want to make sure that you're adding these things in when they make sense. And, that's why HRV makes sense to track.
Ben: Do you ever intentionally–because I do this for some of the folks I work with, especially the athletes but also people who want to get that stair-stepping effect of big increases in fitness that occur gradually over time using what's called periodization. Meaning that you have certain periods of the training year or the living year in which you push yourself from a stress standpoint, maybe an extra kettlebell workout or introducing blood flow restriction bands to a workout you'd normally do, or pushing yourself with a few extra HIIT workouts. And, a lot of times with an athlete leading up to a competition who has freedom of schedule, I'll intentionally, by monitoring their HRV, get their HRV supers low and then give them a recovery week so they do what's called super compensation.
Andres: Exactly, yeah.
Ben: And, with my executive athletes like you referred them to or referred to them as, people aren't necessarily athletes per se but who have high demand lifestyles who want to operate at the pointy edge of their body and brain's performance capabilities, I will look at their schedule because all my clients share their schedule with me and see when they have vacations or periods of time when they're going to have less work or less stress and I'll load them up with some pretty hard workouts or workout weeks leading up to that point. And then, during their vacation, during their off time, during their family time, they'll have less workouts, they'll be doing some walking and some breathwork and some golf or pickleball or whatever, their body super compensates and then we get back into a cycle of harder training.
So, it's okay sometimes, I learned this in athletics training, to intentionally get your HRV low, intentionally get close to not over training but we would call overreaching the body and then give it a rest week or a period of days of relaxation and allow the body to super compensate.
Andres: Yeah, that's exactly what I do. The way I would describe it is I'm shooting darts in a moving target and I do this on a short-term schedule and on a long-term schedule. I identify long-term, what are their goals and how can we make short-term progress towards those goals that isn't going to overwhelm them. And so, yeah, I mean it's a strategy that we have to develop not just in the very beginning but on a week-to-week basis to ensure that they can afford these stressors and that according to their schedules they can make the most of them in a way that really makes sense, it feels good to them. Yeah, I'm absolutely doing that.
Ben: So, in terms of dashboards to keep track of all these metrics, these wearables, the training information, the diet, et cetera, have you ever used Heads Up Health?
Ben: Heads Up Health is fantastic. I have that dashboard and I can see at a glance everybody's Oura ring data, biomarker, bloods. It intakes all labs. I don't know if it's available to consumer versus if it's more of a B-to-B product, but that's amazing. If you're a coach listening and you want to track this stuff and your athletes and your clients, Heads Up Health is amazing.
Andres: I love Heads Up Health. Shout out to TJ, Dave, and Chuck. Shout out to them. Those are great people and they have an incredible platform that allows me to see and compile all this data and also how it's all related and really helps me deliver because, at the end of the day, I'm the one considering all the data and compiling all the data. But, the way I deliver it isn't like, “Hey, look, this is this.” No, no, no. When I deliver the data, it's very simple like, “Hey, maybe you should take this on, or let's make this adjustment.” It's all very, again, user-friendly.
Andres: So, I don't overwhelm my client.
Okay, blood work and biomarkers. Is there anything that people are not paying attention to that you think flies under the radar that they should be paying closer attention to, whether it's asset alkaline ratios via CO2 measurements or not just thyroid but also TSH or some of the total T3, T4 counts? Are there certain things that you pay attention to when you're looking at some of these labs, for example, that you think more people should be aware of?
Andres: So today, I offer my service in part through a company that I'm a founding member of. It's called DRYM Health, D-R-Y-M Health. We're elevating the standards for health and performance for executives all over the world and actually work now with a whole board of medical doctors that helps me analyze blood work and make decisions. Previously, I was doing it all myself and I'd say some of the biggest key markers that I look at are C-reactive protein, high sensitivity C-reactive protein.
Andres: Well, just as a marker of stress in the body. I think it goes under looks. A lot of these guys will deny that they're stressed out but their body keeps the score.
Ben: How do you differentiate between they just did a hard workout the day before and their CRP is high because they did the exercise session you recommended to them?
Andres: So, whenever we do all this testing, we do it, we establish these baselines early on in the first week or two that we engage with these individuals and we tell them, “Don't do any strenuous activity, try to get good sleep,” we typically find a window a time frame that makes sense so that we know that their body isn't artificially influenced by stress. And then, we retest every quarter.
Ben: Yeah, okay.
Andres: So, I think high-sensitivity CRP and CRP are great metrics.
Ben: And, by the way, for using those as an inflammatory marker, I think it's useful especially for muscle protein breakdown or potential for cardiovascular disease if it's consistently elevated even after a recovery period. From a vascular inflammation standpoint, I like to cluster that and look at homocysteine, fibrinogen, Applebee. The reason I'm saying this is I want to get the point across the people listening that if you want to know if you're inflamed, and I believe that either doctor's diagnostics or I'm sorry, Genova Diagnostics rather, they have some panels that show a more complete inflammatory count that goes beyond just CRP. I think it's prudent if you're concerned about inflammation to at least on a quarterly or at least a couple of times a year basis look at your full range of inflammatory markers because as we know from that, whatever time magazine cover story came out a decade ago, inflammation is the hidden killer but a lot of people don't have a full picture of where the inflammation is coming from and what it's specific to. And, that's why I think also if you get something like a really good Cyrex food allergy panel, an autoimmune panel, and then pair that with good blood work and inflammatory panel and then finally an Omega index that gives you omega-3 percentage, and that should be close to 8%, then you're able to get a real picture of how equipped you are to fight inflammation, how inflamed you might be.
Andres: Yeah. Another interesting marker that I've just–I don't know, it's an interesting pattern that I've noticed is a lot of these high-performing CEOs that also happen to be endurance athletes and such, there's actually, for some reason, a lot of these guys tend to love triathlon and marathons and such.
Ben: Yeah, a chronic repetitive motion sport that hits that dopaminergic pathway we were talking about earlier.
Andres: Oh, yeah.
Ben: Because a lot of these people they need that, these driven individuals. I interviewed a guy named Doug Brackmann about this. They literally thrive off chronic repetitive motion because it hits that dopamine signal in the brain even better than something like weight training sometimes does.
Andres: Now, when you look at their executive lives, I mean it's almost identical to as far as the pace and the training and just how prolonged it is, it's almost identical physical to mental perspective between marathon and being an executive, high performing executive.
So anyway, I started to notice a pattern is a lot of these guys have elevated sex hormone-binding globulin. And so, their free testosterone is kind of low. And, my hypothesis, because I've seen this pattern now, time and time again, my hypothesis is that they're under consuming carbohydrate. I think a lot of these guys are suddenly carb-phobic. And look, while I really truly believe in maintaining stable blood glucose levels, if you're a high-performing executive and on top of that if you're doing physical activity, your brain and your nervous system and your muscle is soaking up glucose, soaking it up. You need to make sure you get enough; otherwise, you're going to tank your hormones.
Ben: Yeah. It's definitely a balance. You're right that in a carbohydrate and even a calorie-depleted state, it's essentially a signal to the body that it's a poor time to make babies. Therefore, it'll take total testosterone, even if you're making it adequately binding that up with sex hormone-binding globulin unless you have low-free T. Now, I agree with you, you see that a lot in people who eat a low-carb diet especially if they are active. You see it track and correlate to cortisol, so it can track distress, no surprises there. And interestingly, you also see, and there's a few studies on this, high linoleic acid and vegetable oil intake having an impact on sexual hormone biting globulin, meaning a positive correlation. And so, yeah, there are a lot of things to look at before you just go smear some testosterone cream on your scrotum.
Andres: Yeah. If I were to, let's say, compile 90% of the executives I work with and identify one of the biggest issues that they tend to have is these guys, they want to do it all. They want to do the marathons. They want to travel the world, negotiating big business deals. They want to delegate to their team. They're fasting and they're doing high-intensity training and low-carb. I mean, they're adding in all these stressors. And, what I help them appreciate through data as a backbone is that if they can recover better beyond sleep, if they can practice their breathwork, if they can be more conscious of their dopaminergic system, they're going to get more out of all these things for a longer period of time and they're going to feel better and age better in the process. So, I use data as proof that they need this and as proof that it'll keep them going as hard and as long as they want.
We're going to cross the street here into the park where we've been doing an ungodly number of walking lunges. So, sorry if I trigger PTSD and we do this, Andres.
But, tell me about the spiritual component. It's something that I'm a lot more intentional now with the people I work with in terms of ensuring they have a gratitude practice, a meditation practice. I think some of the heat and cold and breathwork that I prescribe as a part of their weekly sessions has some crossover because many of them are doing their spiritual practice while engaging these other activities. But, how much of an emphasis do you place on the soul, on spirit?
Andres: It's funny to say that because a lot of these, I mean nowadays I have the privilege to sort of choose who I work with. There's a high enough demand where I really get to pick who's a good match for me. And, even then, a lot of these guys and gals, they approach me because they're looking for improved fitness, recovery metrics, but what they stave for is the soul journey that they go through because they realize in this process that they're looking after themselves on a much deeper level. And, I don't really discuss this so explicitly unless it really feels good, but I think that I often allude to the spiritual component that helps them get the best of both worlds; the best of the high performance, the best of the recovery and then helping them come together into this perfect mesh. And so, a lot of guys and gals, they stay for that. They'll reach their goals, but they realize something much deeper and that's why they stay working with me.
Ben: And, what's that look like, the spiritual work?
Andres: Man, where do I begin? You know what, I think you and I spoke about this as well, which is breathwork is the most accessible way, the easiest and most successful way to influence your physiology. But, physiology is suspended above a deeper layer, in my opinion, that's a spiritual layer.
I'll give you a story actually. I think I can wrap this idea up with a story. I had a gentleman that I met outside of a coffee shop after I finished a long road cycling session. He had finished his session too. For whatever reason, I was alone, he was with some buddies and he said, “Hey, man, join us for some coffee. You're all alone over there. Come on, come join us.” And, [00:58:49]____ and we started talking about physiology, about fitness, about fasting. And, I could tell this guy really he could use some help and he was really curious about his body. He asked me for my information, we stayed in touch. And, a couple weeks later, we met for coffee again and he made the point that he was really impressed by my knowledge at a young age and he wanted to start working with me. And, his goal in the very beginning was he wanted to lose some weight. And, I said, “Okay, great.”
Alright, we ended up working together for a few months. He lost some weight. But then, we stayed together for about a year and it became two years. What did we accomplish in those one or two years beyond the weight loss? What we accomplished was we learned that he was using road cycling as an escape from his life and from his family and really from himself.
Ben: Exercise as escapism, I've never heard of that before.
Andres: Yeah, yeah, but I mean, he was completely neglecting areas in his life that he knew needed work. He was working all day long. He would get home. He would prepare for road cycling the next morning. And, at 4:00 a.m., he was back on his bike. And, he knew he wanted to invest in his family, et cetera.
So, what we ended up identifying was some patterns of trauma in his past. And, mind you this is a very religious Jewish man who before working with me, I don't think he realized that we were about to take a super deep journey together and even consider something psychedelic medicine to get to the root cause of these behaviors and these bad habits. And, in fact, he listened to one of my podcasts with Dr. Julia Mirer, psychedelic medicine, and that's what kind of sparked that interest. And, I got him in touch with a woman called Julia Granger who leads a lot of these psychedelic medicine therapy sessions and they did their session. He saw what I saw but he had proof. And, all of a sudden, he was able to identify as a healthier guy and all the habits that we were trying to work on over the past few months to the year just fell in line automatically. And, he just became this super empowered open-minded, and loving guy.
Andres: He always had that capacity in him but I think it was working with me that he was able to open his mind to these things in a way that came from a place of real genuine self-love. I think it was building that trust with me and knowing while telling him, “Look, I'm willing to help you get any medicine that we need to get our hands on to help you out.” And, he sort of opened his mind to psychedelic medicine and yeah, it changes life, change his family. His family, they text me, they call me all the time. I have that multiple Shabbat dinners with them. I've changed the family as a unit in helping him identify where he really needed to work. And, that was in his soul and spirit.
Ben: You can certainly see a shift in consciousness that occurs with the use of mushrooms or LSD or Wachuma or even ketamine, for example, that can deactivate the default mode network to an extent to where people realize, for example, harmful patterns that they're in as Napoleon Hill would call that hypnotic trance that put you in this cycle in which you're no longer, I don't to use these woo-woo words, like serving yourself or serving the world. Basically you've lost touch with what you should be doing, what's most important in life, and what you should be prioritizing.
I'm of the stance now that I really wish more people would take a three-day weekend Friday, Saturday, Sunday, take their phone but put it completely in airplane mode or leave the SIM card or whatever. You'll figure out a way to where you're not tied to your phone, take water, a backpack, a tent, a blanket and spend two to three days in the wilderness in complete sensory depth. And, it's pretty rare that people come out of that experience and still want to do magic mushrooms to find themselves. So, I think there's some utility psychedelic medications but I think more people need to, kind of similar to what we were talking about with say sleep and breathwork, eat the frog and do it the way that doesn't require you to be dependent on drugs to find yourself. And, I've personally through fasting, prayer, meditation, breathwork, solitude, silence, and time with God found not only as deep but more lasting fulfillment than I've ever gotten through plant medicine journeying but also it's something that is accessible to anyone.
Ben: Right. There's a lot of people I think being sent the message right now in society that you got to go do a massive heroic dose of drugs in order to find God or find yourself. I think there's billions of people who hear that message and can't or don't or don't know how or don't know how to access this stuff. And, I wish they knew the power of things like fasting and prayer and meditation and breathwork. And, sometimes the two can be combined but I sometimes think even the drugs themselves can be escapism if you're not careful.
Andres: And, you know what I'll say is I'm very reserved on the psychedelic stuff. I only have a very, very, very, very small handful of clients that if you didn't consider that. In this case, I think what this guy needed was to feel happiness for the first time in his life. He was never happy and I think that just expanded his mind to the point where all of a sudden things like breathwork made him happy, things like choosing the right foods. Actually, he didn't have the capacity to feel happiness. And, I'm sure there's other means to do it but that worked for him.
And, I'll actually give you another briefer story here that really speaks to this soul connection that I have with my clients. I had a client very, very young guy, about 18 years old who all of a sudden, he was diagnosed with alopecia universalis. So, he lost every single hair on his body.
Andres: And, all these doctors, they couldn't figure out why. And, they were suddenly prescribing all kinds of steroids and all kinds of meds that were making him weaker and weaker and weaker and weaker. And, his parents approached me, they felt that I may be a good mentor for him. And, in about a year's time, he regained every single hair on his head. What I was able to identify was that he was using nicotine and all these vapes to sort of fit in because he grew up feeling left out. He started using all these nicotine products and hang out with the wrong people and it created an inflammatory response that literally killed off every hair on his body, gave him alopecia.
Andres: And so, we were able to identify that, we're able to do some deep work and figure out why that was the case and spending time with me and really building a friendship from that client relationship, really truly building a friendship there and trust helped me enable all these healthy habits, healthy foods. We took a functional medicine approach with the help of some specialists. And, he regained, I mean he has more hair now in his body than he did before alopecia.
Ben: There you go. You're better than Rogaine, Andres. That's great.
Andres: I mean, look, the doctors told him he would never regain the hair back ever.
Ben: Yeah. I feel, in addition to that, back to where we started, which is perfect because we just arrived back at our Airbnb here to get ready to gear up and go hunt. What's that kind of fish we're going to go hunt this afternoon?
Andres: I had to look. I have it on my shirt.
Ben: Yeah, sheepshead. You got it on your t-shirt even though this isn't a video podcast.
Andres: [01:06:35] _____ the guy who's taking us out, he has one of the former world records for sheepshead–
Ben: So, we might be in sheepshead tonight. But, to come full circle, I haven't think freediving, spearfishing, being in the cold water. Man, I think that's a really, really cool way to enhance people's ability to wake up, to decrease stress, to get in touch with themselves as well. So, I think that's a really fantastic method also.
Andres: And, I just want to add a couple more things here about ADD if I–
Ben: Well, we got about five minutes and we got to wrap up.
Andres: So, I'll tell you what, one last thing that I want to say here is for those of you guys and gals who were having trouble focusing who haven't prescribed medicine, look that stuff, I'm not going to bash it, it helped me, it helped me get through school and I think that if I hadn't gone through school I wouldn't have developed the self-confidence that I have now and it wouldn't have become part of this amazing story. But, what I want to say is really try and make an effort to practice breathwork, to exercise, to get sunlight in the morning, to avoid foods that are processed, to avoid low-quality gluten, to really get invested in your nutrition, maybe even some nootropics and just see how that feels. I mean, you don't have to replace the medicine, it all works synergistically with what you have. But, really take that chance to invest in yourself and see what happens.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. I think that's great advice. Again, talk to your doctor before you stop any medication but there are ways to manage what I think is an over diagnosed condition that a lot of times as Andres basically said is your hidden superpower.
Andres: It really is.
Ben: So, dude, you ready to go get some fish?
Andres: Yeah. And, I'll finish off with the quote by Naval Ravikant that you and I appreciate quite a lot is, “Escape competition through authenticity.”
Ben: Escape competition–
Andres: Through authenticity.
Ben: What's what mean?
Andres: I mean, if you're not authentic, you're going to be everybody else and it's in a big competitive environment. You can completely just put competition aside by being yourself and doing the things that only you can do.
Ben: Oh, yeah, it's kind of like be your true authentic self rather than who you think the world expects you to be.
Andres: Yeah, exactly. And, you escape competition. When I was taking Adderall, I was competing with the rest of the world. I was just essentially assimilating myself to the rest of the world to good students in school. And, as I ditch that and really began to dive into my interest, my hobbies, my passions, and one of those became my personal health and wellness, it became something selfless that I could then share with the world.
Andres: And, I think that everybody has that ability. Everyone has a story to tell but they have to be willing to be authentic.
Andres: And, I think that a lot of everything that we've spoken about on this podcast today can really help folks develop that authenticity.
Ben: Yeah, dive into. That's what you did there.
Ben: Well, folks, I'm going to put the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/KnowYourPhysio. Just like it sounds like, Know Your Physio. I'll link to Andres' website and also you might also hear this if you listen to Andres' podcast because we're going to put it out on both our shows. He has a fantastic podcast and you can find us all on social media as well. So again, it's BenGreenfieldLife.com/KnowYourPhysio. Andres, thanks man.
Andres: Thank you, Ben.
Ben: Time to have an adventure. Alright.
Andres: Let's do it.
Ben: Thanks for listening everybody.
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I recently embarked upon a freediving and spearfishing trip with a fellow exercise physiologist, fitness nerd and friend of mine: Miami-based Andrés Preschel. In today’s episode, we venture out on a walk from our AirBNB in Wilmington, North Carolina and discuss freediving, spearfishing, breathwork, eating and living healthy while traveling, taking off-days, ADD remedies, self-quantification, and much more.
Born in New York and raised in Venezuela, Andrés spoke little English before moving to Miami in 2003 at the age of 6. When he was 8, Andrés was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) which his parents (medical professionals) helped him manage along with therapy and medication for almost a decade. Although Andrés was always active and had access to healthy food at home, his experience with medication gave him trouble eating, sleeping, and socializing, which lead to a plethora of health issues down the line—anxiety, insecurity, body dysmorphia, a stutter, very low body weight, insomnia, and OCD.
Just before his most challenging year of high school in 2014 (Junior Year), Andrés decided to take his health matters into his own hands. When he “needed it most,” Andrés quit the medication to prove to himself what he was capable of. With the help of friends and family, he doubled down on his health and practiced building new habits.
With a mind based in STEM and a love for athletics, Andrés became infatuated with the science of human nutrition and physiology as he learned to overcome his personal struggles. Roughly a year later, he had gained 30 pounds of lean muscle and grown more confident in himself and his image, scoring in the 99th percentile on the ACT without requesting the extra time he was eligible for, winning 1st place in Geometry as a Mathlete, receiving the Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction and Florida Bright Futures Academic Scholar awards. He was soon accepted to his choice school, the University of Miami. In 2016, Andrés graduated Cum Laude with a 4.6 weighted GPA and became a Miami Hurricane the following fall.
As an undergraduate, Andrés majored in Exercise Physiology and minored in Psychology. He took a rigorous course load that included nutrition, anatomy, physiology, musculoskeletal biochemistry, evolution and biodiversity, genetics, biomechanics, chronic disease prevention, neuroscience, psychobiology, and psychology of drugs. After making the Dean’s list, he was selected as a Teacher’s Assistant for Bio II Evolution and Biodiversity and was named manager of the Guardrails Prevention & Performance internship. You could often find Andrés working as a mentor, tutor, and personal trainer, or spending late nights as a paid researcher exploring the endless worlds of physiology. He also participated in the Miami Boxing Club, which he was the Head Athletic Trainer for, and at 165lb and 5% body fat, he enjoyed the grind of becoming a chiseled bodybuilder.
Having received a Bachelor of Science Degree May 2020, Andrés went on to tackle an Accelerated Master’s Degree in Applied Physiology with a concentration in Nutrition for Health and Human Performance through a fully-funded research scholarship. He also served as a Graduate Assistant for the Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences. Today, Andrés learns directly from his mentors and leading experts hosted on his podcast and while tackling a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Neuroscience (Click here to read my statement of purpose) through the University of Florida.
Backing up to 2017, Andrés dove hardcore into the fitness world. He partnered with Dr. Moises Roizental to develop lifestyle medicine and longevity programs, co-authored a book, and has led multiple online webinars in English and Spanish to discuss key topics such as Intermittent Fasting, Longevity, and Exercise Physiology to live audiences in the tens of thousands.
While making a name for himself as an applied scientist and relentlessly practicing what he preaches, he has had the opportunity to coach billionaire CEOs and founders, a board member at Airbnb, a Grand-Slammer and US Open Tennis Champion, a World Series of Poker Finalist, Rolex 24 and GT3 race car drivers, Ivy League students, a host of celebrities, doctors, firefighters and EMS professionals, pro freedivers and spearfishermen, and plenty of “Average Joe’s” of all ages looking to level-up and distinguish themselves!
As founder of Know Your Physio and founding member at Drym Health, Andrés spends his time creating Remote Monitoring and Lifestyle Data Analytics solutions, video courses and books, coaching and consulting, educating and creating content— for the world’s most ambitious people, teams, and businesses to enjoy longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives… all while traveling the world with some of his VIPs and hosting the Know Your Physio podcast, ranked Top 5% from nearly 3 million shows worldwide. When he’s not completely honed in on his craft, you can find Andres spearfishing, flyfishing, cycling, swinging kettlebells, reading, meditating, cooking, and spending time with his beloved friends and family.
Whether you’re a high-achieving CEO, athlete, nerd, the classic Type A individual, or maybe just your average guy or gal that hopes to discover the perfect balance between ambition, abundance, patience, and the present moment, Andrés has a lifestyle solution for you, no matter where you are.
With the help of Remote Physiological Monitoring (RPM), Andrés is able to offer biometric data-driven lifestyle design to bolster performance, increase lifespan, manage stress, control hunger, achieve ideal body composition, promote better sleep, improve metabolic flexibility, promote neuroplasticity, become self-actualized, and much more.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
- Andrés was born in New York, raised in Venezuela
- Dad, an eye surgeon, of Romanian, French, Polish descent
- Mom's side Lebanese and Italian
- Background in Exercise Physiology
- Host of Know Your Physio podcast
-Breath work for free diving…05:44
- Tremendous benefits to Wim Hof breathing
- Not suitable for freediving and spearfishing
- If you don't breathe correctly, you may not get the stimulus you need to return to the surface in time – you may black-out in the water
- Your life could be in danger
- The stimulus for breathing is high CO2, not low oxygen
- In Wim Hof style breathing, you are offloading CO2
- When freediving or spearfishing you need to
- Do very slow breaths
- Slow down your heart rate
- Lower your cortisol and adrenalin
- You need to be calm
- Not consuming food that thickens the mucus when freediving
- Caffeine, smart drugs, and nootropics are contraindicated
- Liquid ketones or ketone esters are good
- Helps protect the brain in a low oxygen environment
- Increases the breath hold time
- Boosts endurance
- Helps preserve glycogen
- Calm and relaxed dive – to enjoy and be safe
- Podcast with Dom D'Agostino
- My Octopus Teacher documentary
- Freediving an amazing tool for learning how to relax the body, lower the heart rate, deal with the cold in a relaxed environment
- Freediving makes you feel like flying, having the sensation of freedom
- Scuba gear makes that sensation impossible
- Freediving is like bow hunting under water
-Diaphragm stretches and contractions…14:46
- Stretches for diaphragm
- Evolve Freediving
- Preparing a freediving course for Ben
- In the depth, you need a flexible diaphragm
- As your body gets the urge to breathe, you get contractions
- You have to overcome these contractions
- More advanced freedivers use contractions as a timer
- Once you learn these tactics, you can find freedom and joy under water
- Freediving skills should be carried over to life on land
- Post Session Podcast with Ashley Chapman of Evolve Freediving
- Freediving for trauma therapy
- Allows people to be able to maintain a calm presence when in a sympathetic state
- Most people can learn to dive to 10m within an hour
- For 20-30m you have to develop Interoception – that bodily awareness
-How did Andrés got into freediving?…20:14
- Freediving his whole life
- His dad was freediving and spearfishing since he was 20
- Doing it with his dad
- His whole family is into cooking, preparing meals using every part of the fish they catch
- Carrot cake overnight oatmeal recipe
- Diagnosed with ADD when he was 8 years old
- Was taking amphetamines as medication for 10 years
- A lot of side-effects
- Very low body weight
- Wasn’t sleeping, wasn't eating, wasn't drinking water
- Taking the highest prescribed dose
- Vyvanse – 70mg
- Adderall – 60mg
- Started to stutter
- Ben and his sons have ADD/ADHD; they don’t take medicine
- Lifestyle factors have a huge role in managing ADD/ADHD
- Andrés parents are medical professionals
- His mom researched everything about the ADHD medicine
- With ADHD, you have a very low level of dopamine or low level dopamine sensitivity
- You need dopamine hits
- Obsessions become something you really like – stimulative
- You get dopamine hits naturally
- ADD and ADHD can become super powers
- Nootropics Ben uses for focusing
- Andrés’s Summer Scholars Program at UM in neuroscience
- Started learning about the brain
- Started exercising, eating Omega -3 rich foods, avoiding gluten
- Within 2-3 months gained 15 pounds of muscle and became social
- Ditched the medication and had intense withdrawal symptoms – totally depressed
- Passed all tests successfully without medication
- Decided to learn about his physiology
- Know Your Physio
- Studied exercise physiology with a minor in psychology
- Master’s in neuroscience
- Omega-3 rich foods like
- Fish (DHA rich fatty acids)
-The influence of gluten on ADD/ADHD…35:16
- Did a genetic test – found out that he is predisposed for celiac disease
- Brain fog, low energy, trouble digesting
- It’s not gluten that gives symptoms, but gliadin protein
- Gliadin proteins can cross the blood brain barrier and cause neuro inflammatory response
- The problems with wheat in the US
- Deactivating gliadin proteins in ancient grains like
- High quality ingredients with pre-fermentation won’t be harmful
-Working in physiology and obsession with data…39:30
- Ben has a master's degree is in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology
- Andrés is obsessed with data
- Wanted to see just how efficacious all these new habits, tools, tips, tricks, and biohacks are
- Discovered that deep, restorative sleep is extremely important
- Hard to get these days
- Worked with athletes and billionaires
- Breathwork is one of the best ways to achieve deep sleep
- Ben’s experience with breathwork and mouth taping
- Wearable devices for tracking sleep
- Tracking HRV
- Podcast with Dr. Jay Wiles:
- Gives a sense of what people can handle on a day to day basis
- Ben uses periodization
- Having certain periods of the training year to push yourself
- Pushing yourself from a stress standpoint
- Getting HRV intentionally super low, and then having a recovery week to compensate
- Heads Up Health
- Compiling all the data
-Bloodwork and biomarkers to pay attention to…49:48
- DRYM Health
- Andrés is a founding member
- Elevating the standards for health and performance
- Biggest key markers
- CRP and high sensitivity CRP
- Genova Diagnostics
- Provides a more complete inflammatory count that goes beyond just CRP
- Good to look at the full range of inflammatory markers
- Cyrex Food Allergy Tests
- CEOs are similar to athletes
- Podcast with Doug Brackmann:
- Another interesting marker noticed in CEOs is elevated sex hormone binding globulin
- Low testosterone
- Probably under consuming carbohydrates
-The spiritual component and plant medicine…56:32
- Has the privilege to choose who he will work with
- People come for improved fitness and recovery metrics
- But stay for the soul journey that they go through
- Andrés’s story about the client he met in a coffee shop
- At first, the goal was to lose some weight; lost some after a few months
- Worked with him for 2 years and helped him realize that he used cycling as an escape
- Identified some trauma from his past
- Used psychedelic medicine to get to the root cause of his behaviors and bad habits
- Had a psychedelic medicine therapy session
- He became super empowered, open minded and a loving guy
- Changed the life of his whole family
- Ben's stance on plant medicine
- Ben has achieved more deep and lasting fulfillment through fasting, prayer, meditation, breathwork, silence, solitude, and time with God, than with plant medicine
- Andrés is very reserved on the psychedelic stuff
- Another story about the client who lost all his hair
- Prescribed all kinds of meds that made him weaker
- He regained his hair in a year
- Identified that the cause was the use of nicotine
- Final advice for people with ADD and ADHD
- “Escape competition through authenticity” – Naval Ravikand
- Everybody has the ability to be authentic
- Know Your Physio podcast
-And much more…
- Disrupt Healthcare: September 29 – October 1, 2023
Join me for the Disrupt 2023 Event in Atlanta, Georgia between September 29th – October 1st. This highly practical and immersive workshop will feature live Q&As, my top secrets for career success, and much more! Head to bengreenfieldlife.com/disrupt2023 to claim your spot today.
- Couples Collective: October 25 – 29, 2023
Join Jessa and me for an exclusive and immersive way to explore health, wellness, and mindset with your significant other in Napa, California October 25th – 29th. Head over to ownitcoaching.com/couples-collective to apply.
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar!
Resources from this episode:
– Podcasts And Articles:
- Which Ketone Supplement Works Best: Ketone Salts vs. Ketone Esters With Dr. Dominic D’Agostino.
- A Guide To Monitoring Human Stress (& How To Use HRV, Breathwork, Stress Resiliency & Biofeedback) With Jay Wiles Of HANU Health.
- Driven: Understanding and Harnessing the Genetic Gifts Shared by Entrepreneurs, Navy SEALs, Pro Athletes (& Maybe You).
- 7 Easy Ways to Incorporate Breathwork Into Your Life, Plus My Top Recommendation for Making It a Daily Habit.
- What Is The Perfect Human Diet? Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced Meal Plans From Ben Greenfield That Tell You Exactly How To Eat For Your Unique Body.
- The Big Problem With “Plant Medicines”: Part 2
- The Big Problem With “Plant Medicines”: Part 1
– Other Resources:
- Maple syrup
- Chia seeds
- Almond milk
- Conscious Bar chocolate (use code BENGREENFIELD15 to save 15%)
- Cold Therapy
- Nootropics Depot Cognance
- Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat (use code BEN10 to save 10%)
- Mouth Tape
- Cardio Mood
- Hanu Health
- Heads Up Health
- Genova Diagnostics
- Cyrex Food Allergy Tests
- Evolve Freediving
- Post Session Podcast with Ashley Chapman of Evolve Freediving
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