May 23, 2015
[01:15] About Matt Riemann
[04:15] Ben & Matt's Skype Call
[11:55] Genotypes & Phenotypes
[18:09] On Epigenetics
[21:35] On PH360
[25:53] On Vegan Diets
[33:37] Flexibility of the Human Body
[35:39] PH360 & Exercise
[49:54.8] End of the Podcast
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast:
“The genotype is really what you do in that code, and that's fantastic that your body has the choices to which code is going to switch on or want to express or activate.” “The power of your phenotype is that everything changes within time. We're a very dynamic being, and as you change, then the things that you should be eating change.” “Just one of those things that we do not consider. But even then, neurochemistry changes as our food changes and our chronics change in just a different environmental stimulus which is pretty powerful when you can realize that and harness that.” “And that's really the key here is that which genes are actually activated for you right now will determine who you are right now. The genes that are there actually may not be relative at all if they're not switched on.” “Cause there's always an elite force thing that we do that aren't good for health. What pieces you still tells your body for health, and so you then have the power to adapt the chain radium around that, but you'll always know what's there.”
Ben: Hey folks, it's Ben Greenfield here, and a few weeks ago I actually got an e-mail from a podcast listener who said I had to get this guy named Matt Riemann on the show, and I had never heard of Matt. So as I'm prone to do quite often, I had a brief Skype video conversation to vet Matt and see if he'd be an informative guest for the show or as sometimes happens when some random person lists a guest to me, a charlatan. But it turns out that Matt is actually the former, turned out to be a very informative guy. Within the first five minutes of us chatting on Skype, he was telling me by my manner of speech and my facial expressions what my cognitive dominance and dominant frequency brain waves work, and don't worry, we'll delve into what that means in today's show. He also told me that a high protein breakfast is really not the right thing for many people and could in fact be harmful for some people, and then he launched into some of his interesting thoughts on genetic testing to determine the best exercise plan or the best nutrition plan.
So a lot of really interesting stuff and a real wealth of knowledge, so I figured we should probably have him on the show, so who is Matt Riemann? Well, he describes himself as a social entrepreneur in the fields of personalized health and future medicine, specifically focused on, and I think this is a little bit of cup out but whatever, changing the entire health trajectory of the human race. So small beings there, Matt. I think you should have higher aspirations that changing the entire health trajectory of the human race. Just throwing it out there, I'm joking.
Matt: Thanks, Ben.
Ben: No problem. So Matt has a Master's Degree in Applied Human Sciences. He's a lecturer and a clinical educator over in Australia which you may have already guessed from the brief exposure, you just tattoo his accent, and in 2013, he founded The Ultimate Human Foundation, which is a non-profit with the mission to transform world health and to eliminate chronic pain and disease from the planet. He's founded seven businesses in health and medicine over the past ten years, so kind of a serial entrepreneur it sounds like. And most recently launched ph360.me, and that is a smart health app based on personalized epigenetics and gene expression. Matt, you sound like an underachiever man.
Matt: Thank, Ben. It's great to be on the show and have a conversation with you about to all things health.
Matt: Got some pretty big thoughts and a very big mission we're working on, so we're pretty excited. We don't have too many boring days, that's for sure.
Ben: That's sweet. Well, I have a ton of questions for you about epigenetics and this whole high-protein diet thing and what you're up to, but I also wanted to just ask you about this thing that happened when we were first video Skyping a few weeks ago. You looked at me, and you listened to me talk, and you started talking about my cognitive dominance and dominant frequency brainwaves, and I'm just curious what that is. Can you explain what you were doing there?
Matt: Sure. So to consider health to be very accurate, we need to consider all the different existing sciences and medicine that are valuable today in Eastern and Western, and so if you take a lot of the principles or concepts from Ayurveda, from Chinese medicine, you really happen to look at our physical features that reflect our internal health. When you overlay those with the ancient sciences with things like Anthropometry, which is really realized in the 1600s, that's a scientific measurement of our body in their specific ratios.
Ben: Yeah, it's like body typing, right.
Matt: Exactly, and this is how we actually naturally work without even knowing it. If I look at you, or if I look at a friend or a family member, how automatically this concept that Apple has it's facial recognition, that's who we are. We recognize our friends and families by specific width of someone's cheekbone or distance between their lips or nose, all these physical ratios that exist is how we identify people and other objects. And so, Anthropometry that gives us a lot of information actually. There's a lot of research that's been done over the last hundreds of years that link our body's shape to risks of disease, and we even get to our physiology, even the function of our body and our brain.
You overlay even further with your knowledge of endocrinology, endocrinology is the scientific study of how our hormones influence our function, our behaviors, our emotions and disease as well. We really start to get a much clearer pattern if how we've gotten a few, overlay that with neuroscience to help us understand which regions of the brain are most responsible for different tasks, how they communicate.
Ben: That's really interesting, so if you take, and I've got a few books on Ayurvedic body typing. I find it fascinating. I delved into it a little bit when I was writing a basic version of that. I don't know if you know this, I wrote this thing called “The Get-Fit Guy's Guide To Achieving Your Ideal Body Type” and it was just a book with a question area that let's you determine whether you're like an ectomorph or mesomorph or an endomorph, the classic apple pair stick, ruler type of shapes and then generate an exercise and nutrition plan based on that, really basic, but just basically a really good way for people who want something based on their body type to inform them for nutrition and exercise. But it sounds to me you've delved a lot more deeply into this. When we were talking, you were talking about brain waves. What exactly were you going after there, looking at me? Whatever, I'm kind of a skinny-slash, I'm like a mesomorph type of body type on the slightly skinnier side.
Matt: Right, you're an ecto-mesomorph.
Ben: That's exactly what I am. I wasn't sure if I wanted to throw that word around, but since you did it first, now I will. I'm an ecto-mesomorph.
Matt: You're an ecto-meso, and that's a terminology. Again, there's different terminologies for different sciences and things that, but you're an ecto-mesomorph in that terminology. And so an ecto-mesomorph, we know a lot about that. Again, if we bring in a lot of those other sciences I mentioned before plus a lot more. We get a really solid understanding of the tendencies for you and for each individual. So I can tell you a lot about yourself just by looking at you from that. So as an ecto-mesomorph and more specifically when we did our Skype call video, I can see your facial features, I can see how tall your head is or how wide your cheekbones are, the shape of your jaw. All these sorts of things that gives me understandings as to even how the hormones that'd be the most dominant from testosterone or dopamine and things like that. And then I can understand from the different neuroscience understandings that we have, which brain regions are going to be the most dominant for you.
And so when we talk, I don't want to share too much information here on air, but when we talked generally for an ectomorph, they're going to be more towards the frontal lobes of the brain where they're most dominant. And of course, everybody has activity in all the regions of their brain, but this is a very classic feature of a lot of ectomorphs, especially ecto-mesomorphs where they're dominant in the pre-frontal cortex which is for more based on logic and organization analytics, planning processes those sorts of things.
Ben: And what would be the opposite of that lobe? What would be the lobe that would be associated with more creativity and free thinking versus the logical, analytical?
Yeah, so you're looking at more of your parietal lobes or single lobes and things like that, so there.
Ben: So what you could say then is that there's something to this idea of the geeky, cross country athlete, skinny nerd who's logical and analytic and grows up to be the mechanical engineer versus the mesomorphic or endomorphic football player who's perhaps more tuned into emotions and might perhaps grow up to me more like a guy in sales.
Matt: Right, correct, and actually there's a lot of correlations you can draw. We talk a lot about that, and people are more suited to different areas, different tasks, different natural talents, different jobs, and then when you can understand that about yourself, you can really understand what's going to make you happy, and especially the link between happiness and health that we like to talk about, what's going to make you happy? What's going to make you healthy? If you are an accountant that's stuck behind the desk and getting neck and back pain, working in a dark cubicle, and you're supposed to be someone out being hardest or being on the road doing sales. That's a very big change in any health status to be in that position for twenty years which often most people are.
Ben: So walk me through how this funnel works. Is it a) determine your body type, and then b) determine your personality based on that body type, and then c) start to choose what you do with your life based on that?
Matt: Yeah, it is a bit that way. Let me take it from the top for you here because one of the questions that you asked is the start the cause of a roundabout of genetic testing and how that fits in to determine things, and one of the biggest things that we've learned over time. We worked with a lot of amazing geneticists and their experience in genomics in a lot of companies is that your genes don't determine your future. And so the genes and the code that you have, I won't use in too many scientific explanations here. The genotype is really what your DNA code, and that's fantastic that your body has the choices to which code is going to switch on or want to express or activate. And so, we talk about the phenotype which is actually how your genes look in action, and that's really what matters. And so a genotype is a pull or a code that exists, but your phenotype is what actually matters right now. It's when you look at the mirror. The color of your eyes, the color of your hair, the texture of your skin, the length of your fingers, all of this is determined by certain genes that are switched on or off.
And so, to understand the phenotype really gives us a good understanding as to who we are on the inside, and so not one of us on the planet are the same. We all have a different set of genes, different environments, different lifestyles, even identical twins who do have the same genetic code all have different lifestyles and different environments and are different people and need different things. And so we've spent the last, well a bit over ten years developing this tool that we call PH360 which is Physical Health 360, and the aim of that is to help us measure or quantify the phenotype. From the phenotype, we can understand all about these epigenetic fields, and epi meaning “outside of the genes”. Well epi means “outside”, and so epigenetics means “things outside of your genes” that can actually determine which genes are activated and which genes are in action.
Ben: And what are you doing to actually determine the phenotype? If I go to your PH360 ME website, what kind of variables go into determining one's phenotype? For example, perhaps this would be a good way to illustrate. I've got two kids that are genotypically identical. River and Terran, they're seven year old twins, but they have very different personalities. Terran who was born second, he's very right-brained I guess, he would maybe even say he's more of this parietal lobe type of child who is very creative and free thinking. River is more analytical, seems to be more frontal lobe, and technically they've got the same bodies, but phenotypically as far as their expressions, their personalities, their creativity versus analytics, they're very different. So is this the type of thing that would phenotypically analyze them? If so, what kind of things are you looking at?
Matt: Yeah, and that's a perfect example described. You've got one of these examples right at home, in your land room, or wherever they are at the moment. So it's a great example that you have two very different individuals living in your house. They do have a lot of differences in their environments and lifestyles to create that and influence who they are. In PH360, we go through and we assess a lot of things like your genetic image, your ancestry. We assess your personal health history and your family history, but we also incorporate a lot of the sciences we spoke about. So we actually incorporate Anthropometry, so we get you to do a physical measurement of your body. You actually get a tape measure out, and you measure the circumference of your head.
Ben: Yeah, I see that now. I've got your site pulled up. A step-by-step video guide to taking your measurements. So you would take your body type, your Anthropometic measurements, but then you've also got a series of questionnaires?
Matt: Exactly, and that goes through and incorporates environment and lifestyle questions that we’ve tested. Again, we've designed and tested these over ten years. We have tens of thousands of people to make sure that we have accuracy that we can reverse engineer and know so much about the different genes you have switched on. By now, you're about who you are right now with your phenotype, and then we can have a very accurate conversation with you about the epigenetics based on all these different sciences that we overlay into the program. And this, as I mentioned before, those are few but there's so many that we incorporate. The back end of molecular biology, biochemistry, we incorporate geomedicine which is looking at the different location and environment, how that can influence who you are.
And again, we don't know if when you think about that, but if you jumped on a plane right now and flew to Antarctica, you're going to be pretty cold, and you're going to want to get off. Get in your taxi, go straight to the hotel, and have some warm soup. But if you jump in the plane in Africa, you're going to want to say, “hey everybody, how's it going? Ben's here, it's nice to meet you all. Let's go get a fresh juice”. And in that same situation, you're the same person, same genetic code, you're only a few hours later in time, but you need different food. Your body knows that you need a warm soup in the cold versus a fresh juice in the warm.
So our body's requirements actually change. You have different genes, they're expressed in a different way according to our environment.
Ben: Yeah, but do you need an app to tell you that? That when you walk into Africa, you need juice versus when you go to Antarctica, you need bone broth?
Matt: (laughs) Well, you don't actually need an app if you're very in tune, and that's the key here for us because our mission is so large. The people that are in tune, and maybe some of the guys in the audience for sure that spend a lot of time and energy and effort on their body and probably tried everything under the sun. You have a lot of trial and error to get to what you get to, and I'm sure that's been the case with you and many others.
Ben: You do have however a vacation planner tied to this app, and the way that you describe it right here is it says “Planned Vacations According To Your Body Profile & Circadian Rhythm”, how did you actually determine that?
Matt: Well that's based on all the information that you get from the phenotype. There's not one data point that we can understand a lot of different aspects about your organ health. We can understand a lot of different aspects about your hormones, about your immune system, when your immune system is at the lowest or the highest. We have integrations of chronobiology which is really looking at the 24-hour lock duct cycle, the effect on cells and health, and so there's a lot of different correlations that go into understanding the time that your body actually needs to rejuvenate the most, and it's a very powerful understanding actually. And this'll be if you could be in your best environment, let's say you lived in Antarctica and you should be in California for example. If you could be in California when your body needs it the most, then that's the ideal time to get there, and so we can suggest things like, “hey, if you're going to plan a vacation, why don't you go to California in January or February or whatever it's going to be for you.”
Ben: How would these be different than me going out and doing one of these salivary genetic tests, looking at my ancestry? For me for example, I've got some northern European, I've got some Jewish and that's really it. Northern European and Jewish, so I could go look at that. I could go see the type of foods that my ancestors ate, the type of conditions that they lived in like for the most part, place with four seasons. The spring, summer, the winter and the fall versus the Sub-Saharan climate, and then make my lifestyle choices accordingly. How is this app different than going out and doing something via the salivary genetic route?
Matt: Yeah, so again the salivary will give you information about your genotype, so what your genotype gives you is that broad base that may talk about a risk or a predisposition to something, but it doesn't actually give you information about what's happening right now. That's the phenotype, and that's when your genes are in action, and that's what actually matters for you. You may have a whole heap of genes that are there that may indicate a risk for a disease that are never switched on that don't matter or vice versa. And so the phenotype is really the thing that matters, and the power of your phenotype is that everything changes over time. We're a very dynamic being, and as you change, then the things that you should be eating change.
Again with your ancestors where they lived in, they came from Northern Europe, you're not in Northern Europe, you're actually in California. I can't remember where you actually where, you're at somewhere in America.
Ben: Yeah, Washington State.
Matt: Washington, yeah. And so you are not in the right environment, so if you ate what your ancestors ate, that wouldn't be relevant because where they were was suitable for them in their climate. You're in a different climate now.
Ben: Okay, so what is you're referring to then, the field of epigenetics that we have these genes, but then based on where we're living, certain triggers on those genes are pulled to turn them on or off.
Matt: Exactly, yes. Environment is one epigenetic factor that we discuss, and that is the environment has the ability to influence which genes are expressed. Hence, influences to your health status and the different foods you eat or different exercises you do, the different way your brain chemistry works. Even the example I gave before where you jump off a plane on Antarctica versus in Africa. If you think back to what I said before, it's about even your brain chemistry, your neurochemistry changes. You got off the plane in Antarctica, you just want to get into a cabin, go straight to your hotel. You didn't want to talk to anyone, you didn't want to do anything. It's just get me there, get me some soup, I want to get warm.
In Africa you jumped of a plane, and you're like, “hey everybody, it's Ben here. I just met five new friends in the first three minutes.” So even the way your brain chemistry works, you're an open, sociable person in warm weather. You're a closed, more introverted person in colder weather. Just one of those things that we do not consider. But even then, neurochemistry changes as our food changes and our chronic change in just a different environmental stimulus which is pretty powerful when you can realize that and harness that.
Ben: Okay, so it seems to me if there are so many things from the foods that we eat to the condition of our hair and our skin to where we live, to when we've traveled, to these body-shaped measurements, if they're so many things that would influence our day-to-day choices as far as are we going to travel? Are we going to sleep in? What are we going to eat? It seems like you could just spend all day long quantifying data, entering data into for this PH360, I know that it's an app that you guys use, how do you find the balance between just constantly plugging data in versus somehow automating the process?
Matt: We encourage everybody to update their information every two to four weeks, and so when you put your information in there, and again where you talked about you can trace your genetic lineage, you can try and find out where they lived, and you can go through a lot of different hassles and a lot of different areas to try and research this, and then it would still be different for you based on your circumstances. We now have this available within half an hour or I think it's about just over thirty minutes on average. You can open all this information that's right for you, and it's very, very specific.
So if we had to tell you if tomatoes are good for you to eat or if Brussels sprout are good for you to eat, all these are considered healthy foods, but it's a half an hour assessment you can do, and then you update that every couple of weeks which would give you an accurate representation. And generally speaking, it depends on how often or how much you have to change in your body as to how often we'll get people to update, and so we do a lot of international research on that with connects and trials and things to make sure that we're as accurate as possible, but we notice that people change within a couple of days. You can even change your genetic expression within twenty minutes doing an exercise box session, so we're changing rapidly. But where we sit at the moment, we encourage people to do it every two to four weeks just because it's not practical to do it every half an hour.
The changes that you'll see in sharp in your body can take a couple of days to a couple of weeks to be evident for most people. And so we got a good balance between what's practically acceptable and what is the ideal for your health, and so we do have a lot of incorporations with future technologies, like the wearable technologies that are coming where you won't even need to enter any data yourself. It'll pull it out of your Apple watch or pull it out of your Fitbit and actually talk to that system itself, so you can just go back your data often and have your health at your fingertips without thinking about it.
Ben: Okay, gotcha. Interesting. So I do have some other questions that I wanted to ask you, but I actually didn't know a whole lot about how you were pulling this off from a technological standpoint until the discussion that we just had. So because I know people are going to want to know about this anyways, what's the cost to do something like this? Do you just download an app and pay a fee? How does it work?
Matt: Yeah, for sure. Well it's interesting because if you remember when the human genome project started, it was millions of dollars to get your genome sequenced. It was kind of a similar sort of thing. It wasn't as expensive as millions of dollars, but it was tens and thousands of dollars when we first started out to be able to manage someone's personalized health. We've worked really, really hard because our intention is to have this available for literally almost everybody on the planet. We've worked really hard to get that down at this point in time to have this available for a hundred and ninety-seven dollars for a year which is just over the cost of seeing one specialist. Usually for a medical professional, this is all the information that's cutting edge, that's specific to you. Unlimited updates. If you travel into state or at the seas, you're updated.
Ben: So if I'm paying you a hundred and ninety-seven dollars for a year, what I'm getting access to is this app that I'm then updating with my information, and the app is telling me the type of nutrition, the type of exercise, the days that I should sleep in, the times of the year that I should travel, et cetera?
Matt: Yeah, it'll even give you information about social circumstances. The people that are most likely to keep you smiling and happy and the people you're most likely to feel a bit drained around. They'll even give you that stuff.
Ben: Really? How does that work?
Matt: So this is the insights that we can get from a lot of the melding of these different sciences, and when you complete your assessment, we understand all about your [23:19] ______ which means we know which hormones you're most dominant in and we understand which neurotransmitters are most active for you at different times of day. We understand all these sorts of things about you, and we can be very accurate in that like your behaviors, your thoughts, your emotions. It's very, very powerful, and of course, risks of disease. And so we're able to tell you specifically about the natural talents that you have or things you'll be enjoying doing in spending your time doing versus those again for example the accountant versus the artist.
What are you most suited to? What are you going to find enjoyable, and most importantly what's going to get you in your flow state? What's going to have you resonating at the right frequency? Activating the most dominant regions of your brain, so that you're feeling really engaged, and that's something that's really, really important, and that causes or the opposite of that actually contributes a lot and significant to the amount of stress that we have at work or with bosses, and even on the standing social relationships and other people, so you can relate to your bosses or your coworkers in a different way, or your family members or your friends. It really is powerful having some pretty large conversations with this at the moment on my video on the US. We just have been over advising with the US Army, recently addressed United Nation about personalized health and listed a TED talk in LA on these exact same concepts, so there's a lot of interest around about personalized health and epigenetics.
Ben: Is there research behind that kind of stuff though? Based on your phenotype, what kind of people are going to drain you versus what kind of people are going to energize you, or is this all blue sky thinking?
Matt: No, no, there's a lot of research. In fact everything in PH360 is evidence-based. So it's the first time, we've been at it putting it into a format that's accessible, and of course our intentions are to be able to do this in a way that people can access very, very easily, and one of our most difficult things was to say how can we get this information into a way that people can access these from the comfort of their own home without needing to even see a professional, and that was quite a difficult thing for us to get to, but we've got there, and that's what PH360 is from the comfort of your own home within just over thirty minutes. You can find that's right for you, and that really is our message is find out what's right for you. You could spend years and years of trial and error to get to the same point, but what if you spend thirty minutes to know what's right for you because there's so much confusion out there.
As you know, do you do the juice first? Do you drink the bone broth? Do you hit the Paleo diet? Do you eat the high protein, low protein, no protein, high carb, low carb, no carb? What do you do? Do you know which one to save a lot of time, a lot of hassle, a lot of ill health and disease from just saying you know what? If you went and did the Paleo diet, you're actually going to be in a pretty bad way. But if you did the Paleo diet and all these people do it, you potentially could cure your cancer.
Ben: Okay. So I actually have a question about that, Matt. I've got some friends who just kill it on a vegan diet. There's guys like, let's say Rich Roll. Perfect example, awesome guy, goes out, does ultra-endurance events, seems to have full cognitive capacity, and just absolutely thrives on a vegan plant-based diet. I've done vegan-slash-raw food diet for six months, and done at the right way, right? Like the chia seed, and fermenting, and sprouting, and soaking, and experienced a significant loss of muscle and lack of sexual motivation and all these things that to me, gave me the impression that it just was not working for me. How does this actually work in terms of what's going on from a genetic standpoint? I'm okay if you get geeky with this and delve into whatever is involved here, but can you explain why that is? What's going on chemically?
Matt: Yeah, well if you're open to it, I can use your situation as an example there.
Ben: Yeah, sure.
Matt: And so again, we talked about you were initially at the start of the call being more of an ecto-mesomorph, so naturally we understand the processes in your body, they're going to be deficient, or they're going to be prone to deficiencies in the process of the body. And so for you, you're naturally going to be lower in digestive enzymes the more other people are going to be. And so from that particular point if you're having a lot of raw food, and especially for raw food, you're going to find it very, very hard to digest. You're not going to get the same release of hydrochloric acid to break down. You're not going to get the same enzymes that are there, that are released from the pancreas especially to better break down the foods, which means that you're going to end up with, you may have indigestion, you may have bloating, you will have malabsorption, you will lose muscle mass. You won't be able to absorb that protein and digest it and use it as other bodies will. And so in that case specifically, if you were going to do that to a specific diet, I would advise you against it in PH360 to say, and you'll actually see a method for prepared foods. Raw food would be very low on your suggestions because we understand already that you're doing a diet that you're going to struggle with, and this is where you did it for six months or eight months.
This just saves you the hassle to say, “hey, you know what, don't bother with this 'cause it's not going to work for you.” If you were going to have the same veggies, you need to have them very well cooked. If you have well-cooked veggies, not just a quick stir fry but if you have well-cooked veggies, your body will digest that very, very well and very, very easily, and so a cooked food is better than raw food for you. Just straight away, I can tell you that straight off the bat. Then again, even going down to the next step, the protein. Your protein digestion, you need to be very, very mindful of that.
So if you are going to eat a lot of protein, you need to make sure you have enough digestive enzymes available. So you may need to do things. You have things like pineapples or papaya, other foods that have high digestive enzymes naturally around those foods. So if you had a big fat steak every single meal, you're going to need a lot of those other digestive enzymes present to be able to help you. Otherwise, you're going to end up in strife. And so just understanding that about you before you can get going just can save so much time and hassle, and again for you, you're obviously very health conscious, you're very in-tune with your body. You'll probably try things in the scientific nature of interesting to find out. On the constant search for the Holy Grail.
For most people in the world that have no idea, they'll follow a Paleo of someone speaking loudly in the middle of Paleo. They'll follow a raw food if someone's speaking loudly about raw food, and it actually leads to a lot of health and disease issues for a lot of people, and we're out here to try and ease the confusion, and just say, “hey, you can now find out what's right for you.”
Ben: I have a question for you related to this whole veganism versus carnivore thing with relation to methylation, and I don't know how much you've incorporated over-methylation versus under-methylation signs in this PH360 app, but my understanding is that meat has a high amount of methianine in it, and that's a good donor of methyl, but some people are over-methylators, and an over-methylator actually doesn't necessarily need a ton of methyl and actually feels kind of crappy with a bunch of methyl floating around, and so for those type of over-methylators they actually feel okay on more of a plant-based diet. Whereas, an under-methylator who's having a difficult time actually getting enough methyl in their system, they need a bit of extra protein. They need to be a little bit more of a carnivore, maybe even be a really Paleo carnivore versus a regular methylator who does well in a mostly omnivorous diet. Is that a concept that you're familiar with at all or that you've brought into this PH360 app at all?
Matt: Yeah, 100%. In fact exactly what you've just described there is what I've said just in different words.
Ben: Okay. (laughs)
Matt: No, which is great, and I try not to get too geeky in there. In these sort of form, I do spend a lot of time teaching science and medical professionals.
Ben: It's okay, we have smart listeners, and they can take it.
Matt: I'm sure they can. So in terms of the concept of methylation, it's the same concept you're just looking at and describing it in a different way, but the underpinning principle there described is very, very accurate, and it's personalized. It's different for everybody, and that's really the key here. The key message is that if you're, and just so that you're away, you're more prone to methylation than what people are. And so this is where if you're eating too much, maybe you've had your big steaks every meal, you're going to struggle. But that all fits in perfectly in sync with what we talk about with that fact that you have low digestive enzymes, and so you can't break down the protein. You can't get rid of the protein anywhere near as much. You can't absorb the amount of protein that other people will. And so, generally you'll find even all the overlays that match you talk about you being an ecto-mesomorph, you're going to get away with a plant-based diet as long as it's well cooked foods. You can also get away with some animal protein because you're towards more of the mesomorph side of things. Mesomorphs need animal protein.
A lot of the medical issues, and again this is nothing personal and everything's specific here. I don't want to generalize too much, but generally speaking a general tendency, a mesomorph will need animal proteins, and often we'll see a lot of people who are in a sicker state or a state of ill health. If they're a vegetarian on a vegetarian diet and they're a mesomorph because their body actually needs animal proteins, versus on the other side for an endomorph, they can go for days and days and days. In fact, they can go for days fasting comfortably without even eating any food, but they are very suited to a vegetarian diet. How they don't eat a lot of meat can be answered with an ectomorph, if they have too much meat, they're going to be in strife. In fact an ectomorph can function, most days they can function off bird seed, and they even need a lot of food.
Ben: Yeah, that sounds like my wife. That sounds like her whole family actually. She comes from this hard Montana rancher family, and her dad is like ninety pounds. In high school, my wife is this thin but super strong, extract and filled athlete, and literally, she can go the whole day eating flax seed and Romaine lettuce, and then go do a crossfit workout.
Matt: Exactly, yeah. Really it’s not fair, but coming around for you, you would be there for the ecto-mesomorph. If you didn't eat for the day, you could actually do that as well except the reason why you'd be able to do would be if you were very focused and committed on something. So you would sacrifice, like if you say had a big project that's due now at midnight tonight, you may forgo eating for the day to sacrifice that result because you'd be very driven by getting that done, and so it's possible for you to go without eating for the day, but for a different response. Your mind would actually overpower the need for eating if you had some deadline that was so important for you, you would prioritize that. Whereas for her, she actually doesn't need the food. Again, we are all sort of different and in different situations, it's quite fascinating.
Ben: And a big part of what you were talking about earlier, Matt, was epigenetics the triggers that activate certain genes can change based on the situations in which we've placed ourselves. How flexible are our bodies though? You can't necessarily change your ability to methylate for example, can you?
Matt: No, so everybody has a tendency if you like, and it's depending on your body, you have a set tendency that's there that does fluctuate, but it doesn't fluctuate significantly. Like for you for example, if you're an ecto-mesomorph, you're never going to be a 300-pound overweight guy walking down the streets. If you ate McDonald's every single meal for the rest of your life, you're never going to be that guy. Sure, you might get a bit of fat around and then you got in things like that, but you're never going to be this really big, obese guy just because you don't have the capacity for that. And the same sort of thing that a big obese, person that's walking down the street now is never going to be the supermodel thin person. It's not just in their body, and they don't have the capacity to change that much.
We are who we are. However, we can fluctuate a significant amount within that structure, and most importantly, when we come into a place of full health with your cells, at the cellular level, then everything comes back to your natural weight, and so the concept of your natural weight, fit that's right for you is one of the big conversations in society right now that if you want to be the supermodel thin person, well actually maybe your body's natural weight isn't supposed to be that and vice versa. So it's really important to understand we're all so different, and we can fluctuate to some extent but always be a tendency. But if you know that and can understand that and can harness that, then you can act accordingly. Like again for example, if you ate big steaks every single meal for breakfast lunch and dinner, you'd be in strife. Whereas if it was a mesomorph, that'd be more like could get away with that and function very highly from that.
And so, if that was the case and you understood that, you can change that and adapt accordingly, and you can help reduce your methylation and help reduce things like maybe anything neurological. You would be more predisposed to neurological type things in the future if you were in a good state of health.
Ben: So I've taken my genetic data from salivary genetic testing, and I've exported it to DNAFit, and I've actually interviewed the folks from DNAFit in a podcast. I'll put it in the show notes to this podcast, and by the way the show notes for this podcast if you want to go and click on some of the links and some of the resources Matt and I are talking about can be found at bengreenfieldfitness.com/epigenetics. Good luck spelling that one, it's not that hard. EPIgenetics, bengrenfieldfitness.com/epigenetics.
But anyways, when I’ve exported that data, Matt, it's shown me that I am, for example, an athlete who is very, very good at power and kind of sort of okay at endurance, but I thrive at endurance sports and frankly even grew up as a pretty good tennis player and did bodybuilding. And so I did okay in power sports too, but it's almost like I've changed my body to a certain extent to be good at endurance. I know other guys, Kelly Starrett is a perfect example, and he was talking to me about this a couple of weeks ago at a conference. He's a guy who squats 600 pounds, and he looks like a power and strength specimen, but he actually is more of an endurance responder or genetically-adapted to be better at endurance.
Can you explain a) how much of this is flexible based off of your epigenetics, and b) how you're using something like PH360 to help people make the correct exercise choices?
Matt: Yeah, sure. Well I guess firstly, and I just want to say we work with a lot of amazing genomic companies and geneticists internationally, and the field of genomics is still very, very new, and there's still a lot of accuracy that needs to be improved in the area of genomics, and so even the best geneticists in the world is Professor Sir John Burn. I'm not sure if you're familiar with him, but he looks after the personal genome for the queen for example.
Ben: Wait, what's this guy’s name? I should look him up.
Matt: Professor Sir John Burn, I just interviewed him a few weeks ago.
Ben: How do you spell that last name?
Ben: Okay, cool. I'll look him up.
Matt: And he's doing some amazing research in the fields, and he's an international leader in genetics and he'll get up in front of a room and say, “hey, we've been doing this genome thing since 1989 when the human genome project started, and we know lots of things, but you know what? We have no real idea what's going on.” We've got so much to learn, and we're not really sure we're at, and these are the best guys in the world that will stand up in front of a lecture series and say this, so it's very commonly accepted that there's so much we don't know about genetics, and there's actually quite a lot of companies that are trying to create a good business model to say, “hey, let's try to read and interpret your genes in an outcome.”
The limitations with that is because your genes aren't that relevant. It depends which genes are activated, and that's really the key here is that which genes are actually activated for you right now will determine who you are right now. The genes that are there actually may not be relevant at all if they're not switched on. Or again, maybe I will just mention briefly, but if you go down to the molecular of biology, you look at these little epigenetic marks that sit around the chromatin structures, and each different specific bundle of DNA that's wrapped around with protein can be made accessible or inaccessible for the cell to actually raid the gene, and that's all determined by these epigenic marks.
So an epigenetics trigger will determine whether a gene actually gets red or not by the cell, and so if it closes up that chromatin structure, the gene might get red. It won't get expressed and it's not relevant for you right now. If it opens up, it is, and so even though you might know about your genes and sit there, it's actually irrelevant because what is relevant is which ones are activated right now for you.
Ben: Is it really not relevant at all though?
Matt: It's definitely relevant.
Ben: If my genetics say that I would technically, I'm like whatever 90% range on the power, and I'm in the 70s or something like that on endurance. If I had made the decision when I was a kid, let's say I had a clone right? And one made the decision to just go hardcore into powerlifting and high jumping and tennis, all these power-based explosive sports, and the other had made the decision to just go hardcore into Ironman and endurance and long-distance running. Would the power person be more successful 'cause they had actually chosen a sport that was both aligned with their genotype and then also the environment in which they immersed themselves or their phenotype?
Matt: Yeah, so the short answer is yes if you were an identical twin, and your twin chose that path and you chose your path, then yes he would be better at that and you would be better at what you do. So that's the power of the phenotype is it'll adapt to your environment or adapt to the load that you put on the things. You literally express different genes to what your identical twin will express. Even though you got the same genetic code, he'll be expressing different genes, and you'll be expressing different genes which means you're better at power and he's better at endurance, so whichever by that gram was.
And so, understanding the phenotype means that you understand who you are right now and who he is right now, you both have the potential, again the genetic predisposition or the risk or the potential to achieve these things, but he decided to express his genes and focus on that, and you decide to express your genes and focus on that. And so that really is the power here in understanding that the genotype is limited in those fields, it can give you an understanding as to what you might be good at. And again, you may have got back that you might me good at certain things, but you haven't found that to be the case. If you went and decided to train in that, then maybe you do get a result, maybe you don't. And again, you have some of the things that you want to make sure that is accurate.
But for you, even if you go back to the example of you being an meso-ectomorph without even going to your genetic code, we already know, and I'm sure you're quite aware of this too that what sort of training modalities, what sort of exercises are most suited to these sorts of body types, even with just body types aligned that that's far more accurate because this depends on who you are. You can change and very within certain situations, but someone like you talk about with an ecto-meso, you're going to be, like an ectomorph, is going to be very strong on the endurance. That's a better suited exercise for them.
A mesomorph is going to be more for, and an ectomorph is going to be endurance and strength endurance type of things, more of the ballistic power and moving towards the ecto-meso. Meso, more of strength and mobility, dynamic movements and things like that, and so you're in between those. You can have good strength endurance, but the power you'll have will be more like ballistic power. You'll be great with agility, great with reaction times, a lot explosive power for you. You won't be like the endomorph that has that has heavy power. The big weightlifters, the huge guys with big bone structures, big muscle mass, big fat mass. You're never going to be that person. These guys are going to have power like they're going to be at a whole different sort of power to what your power is going to be.
Ben: It makes perfect sense. It's also interesting that my endurance progresses best when I'm using high-intensity interval training with the focus on power. So it's almost like I can use that genetic predisposition to be better at power to actually build my endurance more quickly. Now with something like the ph360.me, is that asking me via a series of questionnaires about my body type and then just spitting out an exercise plan based on what it anticipates me to be best at from power to endurance, etcetera, or is it changing it up throughout the year based off where I've been and what I've been doing?
Matt: Exactly, so it's very dynamic, and that's the key here is that there's a whole heap, so it'll get some information from you based on your body type, so that's like one filter. Think of it as one filter that we incorporate. We understand when you measure your body, you understand your body type, and that's a filter that goes into there. Again, there's a filter there saying you're going to be best to these sort of exercises, but we'll ask you about your goals. What are your goals? Do you want to gain muscle mass? Do you want to gain, lose fat? What are your goals for that? So we'll understand, and we'll be able to direct you in a bit of direction as to what your training will be, but it's based on your gene expression. It's based on which genes are switched on and off for you. And so you'll be presented with exercises depending on what you want to do. There's a lot of choice in there, so you can choose a strength workout, or you could choose a cardio workout for example.
If you choose a strength workout, you get to choose the intensity, or if you're a beginner or an advanced athlete, how long you're working out for if you're willing to do an upper body or a lower body session or a full body session, and you can click on a button that says create my personalized workout. What that will do is it will filter through all the different information based on your phenotype, even considers things like your mind and if you're going to be focused on doing that, so it considers your risk of disease and issues that might even consider the fact that you may be less mobile through your upper thoracic and cervical region, you're going to more to probably having some neck pain and stiffness and tightness, so it'll incorporate things.
Let's say I was going to say, oh yeah, it's identified in the back end that Ben needs to work the muscles between the shoulder blades for example. And so instead of giving you a state to grow, it may give you a single-arm dumbbell snatch, or it might give you a cable extension with a single arm to make sure that incorporates both the strength aspect that you need, but also the mobility that you need through that region as well for your nerves, for your vascular system because that's going to reduce pain and issues with chronic care, nerve problems down a track feed. So it's very much specific to you, and it's based on a hundred percent health, not just what we think is the standard in strength and conditioning.
So it's very powerful, but if you go into that for an exercise, quick create my workout it'll list up an exercise, and if you go through and change any of those settings, it'll change for you if you again update your measurements in four ways, and do it, you'll have different workouts that are there, and there's a lot of flexibility. You can change workouts within the program and do refresh exercises, but it need present you with the exercise that are up for you. Very, very different to how we approach exercise these days with strength and conditioning background, and I'll spend a lot of time, spent many, many years consulting strength and conditioning for that.
Ben: What about if you have an event? A lot of our listeners are going to go a triathlon or a Spartan or something like that. Can you put an event on your calendar, so that it takes into account the fact that maybe you shouldn't be as beat up at this point in the year or something like that?
Matt: (Chuckles) Not at this stage, but we are developing quite a lot, and what PH360 will currently tell you is the best thing for your health and for your body right now. And so in the field of elite sports, there's always different decisions we make. If it's an elite sportsman competing in a grand final and they tear a muscle, they'll do what they need to do to get back on the field and play even though it's not the best thing for their health. If we're training if you're doing martial arts, you'll go for a period of time and a number of days without consuming food and things leading up to your event which is completely opposite to what your body needs. You need the fuel, you need things to be able to perform better, but will go to get out weight and won't eat for a couple of days and reduce body water content to try and make sure we get in our lower weight class. So there's always in the elite sports things that we do that aren't good for health. What PH360 would tell you is what's best for your health, and so you then have the power to adapt your training regime around that, but you'll always know what's best. So that's where it currently sits at the moment.
Ben: This is pretty cool. I actually do want to go try this out. Is it iPhone or Android?
Matt: Yeah, you can use it on anything. It's a web-based app. You can use it on any.
Ben: Okay, gotcha. Interesting, okay. Yeah, I definitely want to go check this out, and input my data and see what, play around with it 'cause it actually looks really, really interesting. I mean this whole vacation planner thing and what kind of people drain you and what kind of people energize you. Super-duper interesting, I could probably pick your brain for a lot longer than this, but I know we're coming up on time, so what I've done is I've taken some notes as we've been recording here, and if you're listening in, just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/epigenetics. If you want to go check out the PH360 app, the book that I wrote that sounds like it's just super-duper basic compared to what this thing is doing, but I'll put a link to that book I read a while ago. Yeah, it's a good start to understand. The previous podcast that I did with the folks from DNA Fit. I'll try and hunt down some information about this John Burn guy and put as many resources as possible in there for you. Anything else that I should include here, Matt, that you'd recommend people check out?
Matt: I think ph360.me of course is where you can find this app for yourself, and that's really our intentions to make sure that people are aware that you can actually now understand what's right for you. Especially a huge thing in most of the population is foods at the moment and exercise of course. So probably in your demographics, Ben, so it really gives an insight. There's a lot of foods, there's a lot of confusion out there. It can help you save how many, many years and much your health which is our intentions mostly for looking at eliminating disease entirely in the next thirty five years. So we're working on some pretty big plans and pretty big projects. We're really excited to have PH360 as this tool that can help people understand what's right for them right now, and yeah. Watch this base 'cause we're pushing into some exciting developments at the moment. Yeah, it's really cool. Thank you so much for your time.
Ben: I love this stuff. I'm going to live to be 300 years old.
Matt: I'll see you there.
Ben: Alright, cool. Well folks again, bengreenfieldfitness.com/epigenetics, that's EPIgenetics if you want to check it all out, and until next time, thanks for listening, and thank you Matt for coming on the show.
Matt: Awesome, Ben. Thanks so much, great to be here, and share this with you, and thanks so much for your time.
Ben: Alright folks, have a healthy week.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a podcast listener who said I had to get a guy named “Matt Riemann” on the show. I had never heard of Matt.
So as I often do, I had a brief Skype video conversation to “vet” Matt and see if he would be an informative guest for the show, or, as so often happens when some random person solicits a guest to me, a charlatan.
Turns out, Matt is the former.
Within the first 5 minutes of our Skype conversation, he could tell by my manner of speech and my facial expressions what my cognitive dominance and dominant frequency brain waves were (don't worry, we delve into what that means in today's show).
He also told me a high protein breakfast is really not the right thing for many people, and what he really thinks about genetic testing to determine the best exercise or nutrition.
We also address these topics on today's show.
So who is Matt?
Matt describes himself as “a social entrepreneur” in the fields of personalized health and future medicine. He is specifically focused on changing the entire health trajectory of the human race. Seems like small beans, hey?
Matt has a masters degree in applied human sciences, is a lecturer and clinical educator at several universities in Australia, and has been recognized for his passion and excellence in educating doctors, health professionals and fitness experts globally over the past 10 years. In 2013, Matt founded the Ultimate Human Foundation, a nonprofit with a mission to transform world health and assist in eliminating chronic pain and disease from the planet. Matt has founded 7 businesses in health and medicine over the past 10 years, most recently launching ph360.me, a smart health app based on personalized epigenetics and gene expression.
In our podcast, you'll discover:
-How you can use the field of anthropometry and body typing to determine your cognitive dominance and dominant frequency brain waves…
-The real reason why some people do very well on a vegan diet while some people do not…
-How to choose the correct diet based on whether you're an overmethylator or undermethylator…
-How to plan vacations according to your body profile and circadian rhythm, including the time and place to go for rapid rejuvenation…
-How to use genetic testing to determine the best exercise or nutrition plan without actually getting a salivary test for genetics…
-How your genes influence the social interactions that will energize you, and those that will drain you…
-And much more!
Resources we discuss during this episode:
–Matt's TedX talk “Epigenetics & Personal Health: Can We Control Our Own Future?”…
–Get Fit Guy's Guide To Achieving Your Ideal Body Type book…
–The previous podcast I did with the folks from DNAFit…
–Professor John Burn, who oversees genetic analysis for the royal family…