[Transcript] – How To Unlock Your Brain’s Full Potential, Biohacks To Unleash Your Mind, The “Secret Sauce” For A Leaky Gut & More With Dr. Greg Kelly.

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From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/greg-kelly-podcast/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:01:08] Ben on Dr. Greg Kelly's podcast

[00:02:11] Dietary impacts on brain performance cognition

[00:08:07] Akkermansia in Dr. Greg's product Synbiotic

[00:11:24] What is Synbiotic?

[00:13:33] Beneficial things for leaky gut

[00:22:10] Ben's experience with nootropics

[00:26:43] The benefits of ashwagandha

[00:30:27] Peptides, Reishi and Rhodiola

[00:33:43] Biohacking technologies for brain function

[00:47:48] Closing the Podcast

[00:48:46] End of Podcast

[00:49:08] Legal Disclaimer

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.

There's a few that I think we should give a head nod to when it comes to the cognitive effects that they can have. Semax and Selank are two. And, those are injectable, but I find that many of these peptides are better delivered intranasally. There are another couple that I actually started stacking a few weeks ago. One for some pretty significant brain repair, the other for almost a modafinil-like effect that doesn't last as long as modafinil. We're talking about eight to ten hours. And, those two that I've been stacking, the former is called Adamax and then the other one's called P21.

Fitness, nutrition, biohacking, longevity, life optimization, spirituality, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the Ben Greenfield Life Show. Are you ready to hack your life? Let's do this.

Female Speaker:  Ben was recently a guest on Dr. Greg Kelly‘s Collective Insights podcast. He enjoyed their in-depth discussion on nootropics and wanted to share it here with you on the BGL podcast. Big thank you to Dr. Greg for allowing us to share this episode. Please find the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/GregKelly. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/G-R-E-G-K-E-L-L-Y.

Gregory:  Hello. This is Dr. Greg. I'll be today's host on Collective Insights podcast. And, with me today, we have a returning guest, Ben Greenfield. Ben's a human performance consultant, speaker, and New York Times best-selling author of 13 books including his book “Boundless: Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize Your Body and Defy Aging.”

Today's emphasis, I think, is going to be mostly on brain nootropics and longevity because that's something that Ben excels at, and I've got to hear him speak about several times.

Ben:  Oh, cool. That sounds like a fun topic.

Gregory:  Great. Well, an area I wanted to dive right into is the brain. And, I think it's chapter two, but one of the early chapters in the book really the focus is on what I would think of as more dietary impacts on brain performance cognition. So, maybe we can just start there and talk about a few things like the Mediterranean diet, some foods to eat more of, and some ones to be a little bit careful of getting in your diet.

Ben:  Well, certainly it depends on your genetic makeup. I mean, we know that people who carry a certain variant of the APOE4 gene are going to be very highly prone to an inflammatory response to saturated fats, particularly when it comes to both permeability of the blood-brain barrier, as well as just general inflammation in neuronal tissue. That would be an example of a population that would want to preferably 10% or less of their total fat intake from saturated fats and instead prioritize a lot of the monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids that you'd find in something like a Mediterranean diet.

I think that when it comes to diet particularly, there's a few things to think about beyond that. The first is that if you look at the myelin sheaths, their fatty acid makeup is primarily a combination of DHA and oleic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and oleic acid. And, that would dictate that for that component of neural function, you'd want to have good intake of absorbable bioavailable sources of DHA. I don't think it's any secret that the omega-3 fatty acids found in many seeds and nuts and plant-based sources of omega-3s have somewhat poor conversion into DHA. 

I would say probably an exception to that would be Algol sources, algae-based sources of omega-3s. But, besides that, you're looking at supplementing with fish oil, eating a wide variety of clean fatty fish, meaning fish low in toxins and metals. And, even though, of course, walnuts and olive oil and avocados and some of the other brain-supporting foods certainly should be in the diet, you're not going to get appreciable amounts of DHA from those. You will get, especially from olive oil and avocado oil, good amounts–and, olives and avocado is really good amounts of oleic acid, the other fatty acid that you're looking for. But, I would say the first thing besides just knowing whether or not a high intake of saturated fats might be harmful for you from a genetic standpoint due to your APOE variant, it would be prioritizing DHA and oleic acid.

If I were just going to name three things to start off with just so we're not throwing too much at people, the other things I would think about would be, first of all, limiting intake of meals that would cause an appreciable surge in lipopolysaccharides, which are essentially you can consider them to be almost endotoxins that can result also in permeability of the blood-brain barrier and inflammation of neural tissue and impairment of cognitive function. They are primarily triggered in terms of their accumulation and also their passage into the bloodstream from high-fat high-carbohydrate foods or alcohol. So, this would be your classic like burgers, fries and a beer type of scenario.

I know there's a lot of people in the health sector who are being pretty careful with that type of dirty nutrition approach, but I do know a lot of people, even healthy people go out to the steakhouse and hit the bread basket and have the fatty rib eye and have a martini before dinner and maybe a glass of wine with dinner. And, you do need to be very careful with that approach, especially when regularly done just because of the significant rise in lipopolysaccharides. And, when you do happen to go out for social event like that, I recommend something like activated charcoal intake, arguably 5 to 6 grams of glycine or spirulina.

And then, finally, I would say my last tip from a dietary standpoint if I were going to name some of the top ones that stand out would be paying attention to the gut-brain axis. And, there's just so much research that seems to be coming out right now on the supportive aspects of polyphenol consumption on gut-brain function and gut metabolism function. Meaning, everything from polyphenols that help to feed akkermansia, which helps to control blood sugar and maintains a healthy gut metabolism access to polyphenols for reducing permeability of the blood-brain barrier to polyphenols for increasing the postbiotics that the bacteria in your gut produce that often are assisting with neurotransmitter formation. So, when I say polyphenols, I'm primarily, if we're going to go direct to the best sources, referring to the blacks, the purples, the reds and the real dark colors of the plant kingdom.

Gregory:  Great. Well, one of the things I just want to point out for the people listening that may not have read “Boundless” is something I liked a lot about it is you point out not just do this, do this, it's very qualitative. A lot of the advice is finding the best quality of things like some of the food sources you just meant, which I think we need more of that type of clear guidance.

And, I'd love to talk a bit more about polyphenols because they're something near and dear to my heart and akkermansia is a project we've been working on at Neurohacker.

Ben:  Oh, really?

Gregory:  And actually embedded akkermansia support in our Qualia Synbiotic. So, a couple different things. So, polyphenols, one that you didn't mention but that I know has been studied quite a bit for akkermansia support is green tea extracts and the catechins. And then not studied so much for akkermansia, but big contributor to polyphenols and the diet generally for many people is good quality cocoa.

Ben:  Yeah, green tea and chocolate, also the dark greens, dark browns. That's a really good point, Greg. And, I'm glad you brought that up. Now, when it comes to akkermansia, are you guys actually creating a product that contains akkermansia or that contains akkermansia-supporting compounds? The reason I asked that is you not to get too inside baseball but you're no doubt aware of Colleen Cutcliffe who I interviewed on my podcast, and she has that company Pendulum and she was saying that they're one of the few companies in the world, apparently, who can produce akkermansia in an oxygen-free environment based on their lab and their replication of the human gut with giant tubes and things like that. And, it got me wondering if there's any other companies making akkermansia. You might know this if they hold the patent on that or what is the deal with akkermansia and food products or supplements right now?

Gregory:  Yeah. So, that's a great question. So, we actually currently have a product designed as part of it. It's Qualia Synbiotic to boost akkermansia. It's one of the things it's designed to do. And, because of that, it's got a 10-berry blend, so the berries you just mentioned all fermented. It's also got a resistant starch that's been studied to significantly raise akkermansia. And, akkermansia, live akkermansia like the Pendulum product wouldn't work in a scoopable powder like that because it's very susceptible to oxygen and no one knows its stability in that mix. But, we've meanwhile been working on a live akkermansia product that we're still in the R&D phase. But, Pendulum was the first live that I'm aware of in terms of bringing a product to market. In parallel, there's a European company called the Akkermansia Company that if you were to PubMed, Google “akkermansia, placebo” you'd come up with their study. And, because of European requirements, theirs is a pasteurized product.

So, Pendulum has been the only live. And, I think it was the beginning of August a company approached Neurohacker and said that they created the technology to do a live one and wanted us to be among the first companies they would introduce it to. So, we've been since then working on is are there things we could do with it that would act to also boost it. And polyphenols, I think of polyphenols as very prebiotic or prebiotics with a twist. And, they're among the best things for promoting akkermansia abundance.

Ben: Now, it's my understanding that when you use a word like “synbiotic” that rather than probiotic, that refers to a probiotic packaged up with the food for the probiotic, the prebiotic, and then potentially even some of the postbiotic compounds. Is that the general definition of synbiotic?

Gregory:  Yeah, synbiotic, it's now split. There's kind of two things woven into that. So, one would be the live organism and food for the live organism. So, something that was a specific prebiotic for it. Another and it's still a fair definition is something a live organism and something that boosts other organisms. So, a synbiotic doesn't have to be something that per se would–as an example, akkermansia's favorite food are something called mucins, which I'm sure you know about but our audience may not. And, mucins would be things that our gut cells secrete into the environment around them to protect themselves. And, akkermansia I think of it as the keystone species in that mucus area of our gut. And, it kind of rules the roost. And, it can actually coax the gut cells to produce more of that. So, that wouldn't be something as a prebiotic that's easy to give directly. So, the goal is to give things that either cause the system to make me more mucin or to fortify the mucins. And, where I would say polyphenols shine is they fortify it. So, they change kind of the structure of the mucins and make it so the same amount of mucins can cause akkermansia to thrive more.

Ben:  Yeah. And, I mean as you can imagine, a lot of this is not that difficult to weave in through the day. A little dark chocolate and yogurt for dessert at night, some green tea with breakfast with a handful of blueberries in the smoothies, some purple cabbage or kimchi or sauerkraut, some black walnuts and some extra virgin olive oil, and little bit of avocado and olives at lunch. I mean, a lot of these things once you start to identify the foods and have them in your refrigerator and weave them in on a daily basis are not only tasty but you definitely notice the cognitive effect.

Gregory:  Ben, I want to go back to, because you had mentioned lipopolysaccharides and we'll just use LPS if that's fine as an acronym for that. But, for our audience, one of the big sources of LPS is bacterial cell walls, non-great bacteria or even healthy ones that may shed that. And, it's one of the reasons leaky got is an issue is more LPS get into circulation where they create the kind of havoc Ben was talking about: blood-brain barrier leakage and other things. So, I think old naturopathic truism was treat the gut, treat the liver and a whole bunch of things improved from there. And so, I know fundamentally, I know when Neurohacker, at least, created Qualia Synbiotic as our gut product, that was very much in our mind. We wanted to make sure that the gut was working well because all kinds of good things happen upstream of that no matter what you eat.

Ben:  Yeah, absolutely. And, I think that I should also mention when it comes to LPSs that if those have been something that your diet has been creating for quite some time, you probably have some element of permeable gut. And, it's kind of interesting because if you look at permeable blood-brain barrier, I would say magnesium is one of the better ways to improve that like taking magnesium at night before you go to bed. But, as far as the guts concerned, I've seen good data on colostrum, it's activated by the salivary enzymes in your mouth as far as the growth factors and immunoglobulins and colostrums. So, taking a scoop in the morning and a scoop in the evening that you swish around for about 30 to 60 seconds of a powder or capsule that you've broken open. I think that's a good idea. There's some good research on glutamine like taking around 5 grams of glutamine powder with breakfast and lunch and dinner for a series of weeks. And, this would be kind of a leaky gut protocol that I like.

And then, in addition to glutamine and colostrum, I'm a fan of bone broth, around one to two cups a day of a real good gelatin-rich bone broth. And then, you've probably seen some of these now popping up, Greg, but even though they are increasingly under scrutiny by the FDA, peptides can be effective and BPC 157, body protection compound which can help a ton with leaky gut issues. That is still available and legal and not regulated as far as I know for oral consumption. So, BPC 157 is another one that I think is fantastic, especially if you've got a high load of lipopolysaccharides or you're trying to kind of heal up the gut. So, that would be kind of a trifecta so to speak, the colostrum, the glutamine, and the bone broth. And then, you could throw BPC 157 into the mix, take magnesium at night for the blood-brain barrier, and I think you're starting to kind of stop up the holes in the ship so to speak.

Gregory:  And colostrum is interesting. I just recently read a whole bunch of scientific studies on colostrum with leaky gut as a main area I looked at. And, Ben's right on the money, it's one of the more studied things for that. And, the context of most of the studies actually was in athletes, Ben, where they would–I mean, it's intense exercise like your 13 competitions in Ironman typically will cause some at least transient leaky gut just because of the duress you're putting on the body. And, in that context, colostrum has been studied at least a handful of times and just pre-loading leading up to significant exercise made a huge impact on preventing that leaky gut.

Ben:  Yeah. Permeable gut in the presence of exercise or physical exertion. And, a big part of this is due to the blood flow diversion away from the gut when the gut needs that for cooling combined with exercise and the heat is a huge issue in athletes. It's one of the reasons people get gastric distress during exercise whether in a hot gym or a hot environment or in an Ironman or whatever. 

That's actually what first got me into colostrum was I was trying to figure out a way to consume 400 calories an hour while racing in Thailand, in California, in Florida, in Hawaii, and colostrum turned out to be a huge lifesaver for that. Not even during the event. We're talking about leading up to the event loading for about four weeks. And, you're right, there's a lot of good research on it. Interestingly, the anti-colostrum, the thing that would aggravate this issue that a lot of people will pop like candy during these events is non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Advil, ibuprofen. So,  you can almost create a septic or sepsis-like state if you are consuming non-steroidal anti-inflammatories during exercise in the heat. And simultaneously, you can help to control or avoid that state. Well, I'm not endorsing ibuprofen or Advil during exercise, what I'm saying is if you've been doing that or if you just want to protect the gut during hard exercise and the heat, I think colostrum is fantastic.

I think there's also a case to be made for–and, this is kind of niched down for endurance athletes who actually need to consume fuel, I think, unless you're exercising for longer than about an hour and a half at which point glycogen deprivation in the muscle, in the liver, et cetera, is going to start to set in. You don't have to worry that much about fueling during exercise unless you're trying to get swole exercising at a very high intensity and really pushing yourself.

When I was racing Ironman, I also found the most easy to digest carbohydrate to support endurance for swimmers, cyclists, marathoners and runners, triathletes, et cetera, was a potato-based dextrin like GlycoFuse or Vitargo or one of these starches that's broken down very easily, combined with three things: essential amino acids, ketones and electrolytes. And, that was kind of my go-to fuel for racing. Good idea for a product for Qualia if you can make it palatable, is basically every hour, a serving of ketones, around 15 grams of essential amino acids, a serving of electrolytes like electrolyte powder that I'd stir into that blend, and then carbohydrates but about a quarter of the amount of carbohydrates you normally consume during exercise. Normally, we'd be talking about somewhere in the range of 250 to 400 grams of carbohydrates per hour for a hard-charging endurance athlete, but we're talking about bringing that down to about 100 grams per hour from a really easy-to-digest source like potato starch. And, that's what I would put in my water bottle or my handlebar water bottle or the little flask that I'd use on the marathoning race belt.

And so, that's kind of the secret sauce for endurance exercise if anybody's listening and they're getting ready for a marathon or an Ironman is you mix ketones, amino acids, some kind of branched cyclic dextrin or potato dextrose or potato-based starch, and then electrolytes. And, that's freaking rocket fuel.

Gregory:  I think it's also going to work quite well for hydration. I mean, the electrolyte is obviously for hydration.

Ben:  Yeah.

Gregory:  A bit of sugar is part of oral rehydration therapy that World Health Organization uses for severely dehydrated people. And then, the aminos, there's some good evidence that they help pull fluid into the body.

Ben:  The caveat to that is at one point I calculated roughly the osmolality of that fluid, and even though you want about 6 to 8%, once you get all of that into a standard 24-ounce water bottle, it's closer to 12 to 16% depending on how much you mix it. And, that can–anybody's done colonoscopy prep, for example, that's why it makes you poop and draws a bunch of water into the gut as you drinking this super sugary salty solution that acts as a laxative. And, that can happen if the osmolality of the drink you're consuming during exercise is too high. So, generally for exercise in the heat, depending on the size of the person, you're looking at needing somewhere between about 30 and 40 ounces of water per hour to avoid dehydration over several hours.

Gregory:  Fantastic.

Well, Ben I wanted to shift gears now and turn to something near and dear to my heart, but I think it's chapter three in “Boundless,” was all about nootropics. So, can you share a little bit about your thoughts on nootropics and things that you personally do? I know one of the things you called out in the book which we really appreciated was you mentioned Qualia Mind.

Ben:  Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, Qualia Mind, I consider that to be kind of brain food. I don't know if you like this description, but it's a little bit more of a shotgun formula in terms of some things that enhance blood flow to the brain, some things that serve to quell a little bit of inflammation, some things that provide choline and other nutrients to the brain, and some different minerals and vitamins that support mental function, which is great. I mean, that's one of the examples of one of the better done-for-you blends out there.

But, when you step back and look at nootropics, kind of interesting it literally translates into mind director, the word itself nootropic. And, usually compared to smart drugs, which are often a little bit more synthetic and powerful like a Modafanil or an Adderall or something that, nootropics to often be a little more natural, a little less depleting, sometimes a little safer and less jittery inducing for a lot of folks.

So, let's say for example I am sleep-deprived. For that, I would tend to use a slightly higher dose of creatine. Usually, 5 grams of creatine per day is adequate, but you'd be looking at closer to 10 to 20 grams for something like sleep deprivation or neural function, combined with a slightly higher dose niacinamide or NAD. You guys have a good NAD product at Qualia. Sometimes I'll use even HigherDOSE with a patch such as Dr. Anthony Gustin has the company Ion Layer that do NAD patches to a suppository. And, I think the patch or the suppository can almost be similar to getting an NAD IV with less hassle with needles and going to the doctor's office, et cetera.

So, I'll do sometimes oral plus a patch or suppository plus creatine if I'm sleep deprived and then just go straight to the more kind of central nervous system stimulating compounds, particularly caffeine and nicotine. I'm not a fan of a lot of the delivery methods for nicotine, so I'll typically opt for a patch. Just like the basic patches you can get on Amazon that you'd use to quit smoking, for example, with a good cup of coffee. I usually will throw a little bit of L-theanine in there, which kind of helps to extend the effects of the caffeine. And, that would be a sleep-deprivation day, right? Caffeine, nicotine, theanine, NAD, creatine. That's a DIY stack for sleep deprivation are kind of pushing through when, I don't know, maybe you're jet-lagged or you just gotten less sleep than desired.

Another example would be a very small dose of LSD like 10 to 20 micrograms. And, just for clarification, a trip dose is 100 micrograms plus, but LSD or psilocybin can be fantastic for a day that might involve creative right, copywriting, thinking in a little bit more of a lateral way, and still putting in a decent workday.

I should name that a lot of people tend to feel a bit exhausted at the end of the day from micro-dosing and typically two things can help out with that. One is choline. A good source of alpha GPC or choline which you can consider to be brain fuel. And, you would also find it in fish, eggs, walnuts, the type of things that you would eat regularly to support mental function anyways. And then, SAMe, which is basically S-adenosyl-methionine. And, that can get a little bit more depleted when you're using a nootropic or a smart drug. And so, taking a little bit of SAMe, a little bit of choline can be helpful. And, also something that helps with inflammation in the brain, particularly two that I like would be n-acetylcysteine or glutathione.

Okay. So now, we've got a creative day as a second example. So, microdose of psilocybin with niacin and lion's mane or microdose of LSD, and then you're adding in some choline, some SAMe, and some n-acetylcysteine or glutathione into the mix. And, that would be another example of a DIY stack.

Gregory:  So, a couple things. One, I tend to think of focus, motivation, productivity to me is a core use case, at least for the Neurohacker customers for nootropics. And, when I think of what prevents focus, I think in general there's kind of two different camps that people struggle from. One would be that somewhat lack of motivation, tough to get going, lethargy, that type of thing. The other is almost like their brain is too frenzied, so they need to get calmer to come to that point of focus. And, I know when we created Qualia Mind, the goal was to make sure that it helped with both. But, more recently, we launched Qualia Resilience that's much more focused on that calming, antistress, taking that frenzied brain, moving it to a more centered place. And so, we've seen great things with that product.

Ben:  Now, just to interrupt you real quick, because I haven't tried that one yet, is that more of an adaptogen blend, the Resilience?

Gregory:  Yeah. So, a star player in it is ashwagandha, but we're using an ashwagandha called NooGandha. It's a branded one. And, ashwagandha is interesting, one of the best adaptogens. And, for some people, you'll see on Reddit people describe it almost like kryptonite for motivation. It's too calming. It makes them lose their [00:28:08] ____. I mean, so NooGandha was created to get the good without getting that part. So, they isolated certain compounds in it and then put it in a liposome. So, that's one of the star players in it, something called Extramel, which is a cantaloupe extract. That's an stabilized SOD. So, antioxidant and then–

Ben:  You mean stabilized superoxide dismutase?

Gregory:  Yeah, yeah.

Ben:  Okay.

Gregory:  It's a French company that did it and it's well-studied. And, that's really an outstanding antistress thing. Yeah. So, that's a great product and it's one that really hasn't found its, I guess, grooves yet in terms of getting out there. So, I'll sometimes do that for a month instead of Qualia Mind. And, what I find is that also like my productivity motivation rock. And, you' mentioned earlier with the creativity and the micro-dosing how something that's not uncommon is at the end of the day people are kind of depleted. They're used to up. And so, I know when we create stacks and when I evaluate them myself, I care about how do I feel an hour or two later, but I more care about how am I doing at five or six.

Ben:  Yeah.

Gregory:  I just go back to my childhood. My dad commuted to and from Boston, crazy commute, hour and a half, two hours each way. Worked eventually as a president of a 5,000-person company, so crazy high-stress executive. And, when he would get back at the end of the day, we would not get the best version of my dad in the first hour or two. He just used it all up. And, if we allowed him to shine his shoes, work in his little hobby area of the garage, have some dinner, we get a good version of my dad back. And, I think most of us, we often leave the best version of ourself at work, right? We've just used up a lot of things.

So, when I think of nootropics, my part of my story is why take nootropics, yeah, you want to be more productive, more focused, but you want to be the best version of yourself late in the day when you're around your loved ones. And, that's where I think things like a good stack help in the short term but help at the tail end of the day as well.

Ben:  Yeah. And, we should probably give a head nod kind of like we did with the gut to peptides. I mean, again, even though the FDA has been kind of treating them with increasing scrutiny and regulating many of them or classifying them, there's a few that I think we should give a head nod to when it comes to the cognitive effects that they can have. Semax and Selank are two. And, those are injectable, but I find that many of these peptides are better delivered intranasally. There are another couple that I actually started stacking a few weeks ago. I think I learned about these from Mr. Newts on Twitter; one for some pretty significant brain repair, the other for almost a modafinil-like effect that doesn't last as long as modafinil. We're talking about eight to ten hours. And, those two that I've been stacking, the former is called Adamax and then the other one's called P21. And, I got them from Limitless Life Nootropics. I don't know if you can still get them from there. You can also check CanLabs or Peptide Sciences, for example. But, P21 and Adamax, I've stacked Semax and Selank as internasal peptides before, and the P21-Adamax stack seems to just blow that out of the water. So, that's another one that I've been using a little bit lately that I like in the peptides department. 

And then, the other one that I wanted to ask you about that's not a peptide, Greg, but that I keep coming back to over and over again that would fall into the adaptogen category that I use quite a bit in the afternoons, particularly with lunch because I like to take a little siesta or do a neural feedback or a meditation session or a hyperbaric session after lunch is reishi and rhodiola. Have you looked into those or have you included them in resilience at all?

Gregory:  So, rhodiola is in Qualia Mind and I love rhodiola. Believe it or not, there used to be a journal called Alternative Medicine Review that stopped publishing around 2014, but they focused largely on dietary supplements, natural medicine, things like that. And, I used to contribute an article once or twice a year. And, back around 2002 or so, I did the first review article on PubMed on rhodiola. 

Ben:  Oh, wow

Gregory:  So, I've been a fan for a long time, used it in practice going back even to the mid to late '90s.

And reishi, again, I love, it's something we put in Qualia Night as an example. At one point, we had a immune product that we've subsequently sunset, but reishi was in that as well. I just think of it as a mushroom just shining in that area of, I think in Chinese they would say calms the Shen, right? It's something that helps us to be more centered. It's thought of as a longevity-promoting mushroom, so wonderful ingredients. Both of them.

Ben:  Yeah, reishi and rhodiola, you said reishi, I said reishi, those are two things that I can take in the middle of the day that will allow me to calm down without feeling groggy afterwards like I might get from say CBD or melatonin or GABA or 5HTP or something like that.

I should mention though, we've been talking a lot about things you can eat or take, but there's a lot of cool biohacking technologies now that I think are really fantastic as far as brain function is concerned. Probably the most notable would be photobiomodulation. And, there are so many ways to do that now. For example, you've probably seen them before Vielight is a company that does intranasal and intracranial red light therapy for their basic home unit. Two different wavelengths, 10 hertz and 40 hertz like an alpha frequency and a gamma frequency. They also have a pro unit called the Neuro Pro that you can program for 1 hertz up to 100 hertz. And, I've been messing around with that one a little bit, even going as high as 100 hertz during meditation or during breathwork, which kind of makes the brain feel like it's working in overdrive but at the same time it's not exhausting, it's energizing.

Any type of red light therapy because of its interaction with photons of light can be enhanced with methylene blue. They also just came out with red light for the vagus nerve, which for people who want to work on their HRV or use something like that prior to sleep for a little bit more of a calming effect or for people who have digestive issues, which a lot of times that's related to vagal nerve function just because it innervates so many of the organs in the gut. That one can be really helpful. But, red light, particularly for the head, especially based on the amount of research on the safety and efficacy of photobiomodulation within reason, too much and you're going to get excess reactive oxygen species and excess nitric oxide synthase. But, within reason, red light therapy is one that I think anybody who's kind of considering nootropics and smart drugs should also consider.

And then, I'm a huge fan also, and you go to some of the same conferences as me, Greg, so you've probably seen some of these light sound stimulation machines that typically combine binaural beats with music, with either relaxing or energizing frequencies, with some form of light that stimulates either the photoreceptors in the eyes, photoreceptors in the ears or both. BrainTap is one. And, I mean, that thing, I'm not even that hypnotizable, I forget the test where you roll your eyes in the back of your head. And, if your pupils disappear, it sometimes indicates you're hypnotizable and if they don't, you're not, and I'm not. And yet, when I put on that BrainTap, especially if I do one of the sessions where it kind of whisks you off to another world and you go on an adventure, I am on another planet within two minutes. And, that can literally be having been in my email inbox 10 minutes prior or engaged in some other stressful event. That thing just turns my brain off.

There's another one called the NeuroVizr, which works similarly. It's honestly a little more powerful. That one's almost a psychedelic trip, but there's definitely some cool devices out there that you can use.

Gregory:  Yeah. And, you're right, it's one of the real treats getting to the biohacker type of shows to see what's out there, try them, and experiment.

And, just for our audience, one of the things I saw when I was in practice would be, and this goes back to maybe the first generation of the Bose noise-canceling headphones. I would often have a person just in a consulting room. They were going to be in there for 10, 15 minutes while I was looking over the chart. And, I would just put those on and say you just focus on whatever sensations are going on in your body. And, just doing that, just shutting off that one sensory input, I'd come back, sometimes their hands would have gone from freezing cold to nice and warm, their heart rate would have slowed. The same just–one of the technology stacks is binaural beats with a vagus nerve stimulating thing, a black mask that you would wear. But, when I read the data on that, the 80-20 rule, most of the benefits were happening just because of the black mask. Again, blocking out that input channel during the day for a brief break.

So, I think just for the low-tech people that don't have access to some of these brilliant technologies that Ben does or I do–

Ben:  Or, who don't want to pay thousands of dollars for a darkness retreat in a cave somewhere.

Gregory:  Yeah. I love the idea of “Don't let what you can't do stop you from doing what you can.” And, these simple hacks sometimes will get you a lot of the way there. So, using a black mask over your eyes to take a brief break somewhere and recharge during your day after you've been charging hard at work for a bit or again noise canceling. All these things can help you out.

Ben:  Yeah. And, I should mention. I mean, I do know some people like to stack and they like the cool technologies and they like to maybe burn a hole in their pocketbook and try out some of these cooler things. So, case in point, I usually sleep–I'm not full-on polyphasic sleep patterning like some people who will sleep five hours a night and take three 20 to 30-minute naps during the day. But, I generally sleep six and a half to seven hours a night. And then, like I mentioned earlier, I kind of step out after lunch to do a post-lunch meditation or neurofeedback or sensory deprivation session or nap or binaural beats or light sound machine for two reasons. The first is that the nature of me getting up early in the morning dictates that I've got the time when the family's not up yet and the email inbox isn't full and the phone's not blowing up to just be able to have my me time for devotions, prayer, scripture, bodywork, deep tissue work, having water, easing into the day, eventually meeting with the family, doing a workout and just kind of arriving at the beginning of the day feeling as though I'm not already behind the eightball.

The other reason that I do this is kind of the nature of being a podcaster, immersive journalist, health blogger, et cetera, is that I'm always getting devices to try. And, it's like, “When am I going to try all these things that are supposed to relax me?” I wouldn't be married if I did all this stuff in bed at night with my wife wanting to talk and chat and maybe have sex or whatever. It's not going to do that with red lights coming out my head and reishi and rhodiola and God knows what else on board.

And so, that afternoon time that I carve out at 2:00 p.m. is almost a time for self-experimentation with a lot of this stuff too. So, for example, this afternoon, I'll go in the hyperbaric. Very similar to what you described with binaural beats and a blackout mask, I'll do the vagus nerve, Vielight. So, I'll be lying on my back in the hyperbaric breathing oxygen that's pressurized. And then, for example, I always kind of pick out in the morning what that afternoon's little dessert relaxation session is going to be. So, this afternoon, I'll pull on a pretty affordable kind of cool device called a Sensate, uses haptic sensations to relax you tied to beats. It'll play a 30-minute–this is what I'll do this afternoon. It's a 30-minute session where you're kind of like riding a train and it's vibrating as you go over the tracks. And, it's right over the collarbone, which actually helps to stimulate and further relax the vagus nerve. So, this one's called a Sensate.

Have you used that before, by the way, Greg, the Sensate?

Gregory:  No, I haven't. I'll definitely check it out though.

Ben:  It's cool. And, every month they update the app with new tracks and new little adventures and music sequences. So, it's kind of fun. You can try out. I probably do it two or three times a week. And, it increases your HRV too, which is fantastic.

On my ankle, I wear an additional haptic device called the Apollo. And, that one is the same one I wear during a night of sleep because if you get up at night to pee or move, it'll start to vibrate and lull you back into sleep. But, that one's cool, it can be used for sleep or relaxation or a different frequency for energy or focus. And so, I'll be laying in the hyperbaric, I'll do a 30-minute Sensate session with the blackout mask on, and the Apollo on my wristband, and the Vielight on the back of the neck. And, that sounds like a lot, but honestly, this is kind of the next frontier of healing the nervous system or helping the brain to recover or just feeling like a million bucks. I mean, I will get up from that session at 3 o'clock this afternoon having climbed into the hyperbaric at 2:15 or 2:30, and just feel like a million bucks the rest of the day. And, I'm still packing life because if you do the math, that is about seven hours of downtime per 24-hour cycle versus the 7:00 to 9:00 I might arguably require. And, I'm able to do that with a polyphasic-ish sleep pattern where I'm playing around with a lot of these devices in the afternoon.

And, a lot of people say, “Well, Ben, I don't have a home office or whatever,” I am the guy who when I did have an office outside the home, I had a sleeping bag under my desk, I had a little broom closet that was my little closet I climb into in the afternoon. I used to do this when I just work at an office. I do it on airplanes. I do it on airports. I did at the office. So, you just have to carve out a space, have some good noise-blocking headphones, some good eye mask material, and make sure people know that you've got this one time during the day when they can't bug you. And, it's a definite life hack if you like to get up early but not just feel exhausted by dinner time.

Gregory:  Yep, I agree. I had my most stressful two periods were when I was an officer in the Navy and out at sea where lucky to get even six hours' time to sleep across a day. And, I found ways to recharge and make that work, the same naturopathic school, pretty intense time period. I worked a fairly full-time job outside. And, I think it's when we have even more demanding circumstances that it's the most important for us to carve out the time to recharge. And, one of the things I know I would mention to people, most of us are good at taking a break. Relatively few are using that break to recharge, instead, we're doing a different distraction. So, thanks for being one of the leaders out there, exploring the technology, taking these things, and working so that you can share with your audience and our audience the things you're finding that really benefit.

So, Ben, before we part, can you just share with our audience best places to follow you? I know I've been following you on X for quite a while.

Ben:  Well, it can't be for too long man because it hasn't been X for that long.

Gregory:  Yeah, elsewhere.

Ben:  Yeah. So, generally, in that early morning time, I tend to carve out at least 20 minutes to just read journals and research studies and research digests and will often highlight two or three of them and publish them to X. So, that's a good place to follow me if you just kind of want to see things I'm thinking about or cool studies I've discovered with my own commentary or threads on them. 

BenGreenfieldLife.com is where my main hub is, my podcast, my articles, my books, et cetera. And then, my podcast is just anywhere, anywhere fine, and also halfway mediocre podcasts like mine are found. And so, yeah.

And, by the way, I should mention, Greg, since you probably have a lot of people listening who also like to listen to podcast, my new podcast player infatuation is called Snipd. Have you seen this one?

Gregory:  I have not.

Ben:  Okay. So, I'll be brief. So, Snipd, I was looking for something that would allow me to listen to audio but somehow take notes. Like, if I'm at the gym or I'm on a hike, I don't want to press Pause on a podcast player, look at the timestamp, open up my notes app, say, “Hey, come back and check out XYZ or look more into” because I do that a lot when I'm listening to stuff. If I'm reading a Kindle, I can just highlight and keep going. And, when I finish the book, I go to my Amazon Kindle page and all my highlights are there. And, I thought, “Well, gosh, there's got to be something like that for podcasts.” So, I found this Snipd app and apparently, they can't do it for audiobooks because of copyright issues or something like that, but for podcasts, all you do is triple-click your headphones. And, when you triple-click your headphones, it will take an automatic highlight transcript and timestamp of the section where you've triple-clicked, and you can define under your profile how long you want that time stamp to be. Mine's at 90 seconds. So, it will take the last 90 seconds I've heard when I triple click and it will save those, transcribe them, highlight them and then I've got all those on the app. And, it also ties to Readwise. So, every time I read a Kindle book, that feeds into my Readwise profile, and then Readwise sends me an email each week with my Kindle highlights. And, it'll kind of vary between different highlights. So, I'm keeping a lot of the stuff that's important to me top of mind.

Well, this app is called Snipd, S-N-I-P-D. It also syncs to Readwise. So now, I'm getting all my Kindle highlights and all my podcast highlights emailed to me on a weekly basis. And, you could set to daily, weekly, monthly, twice a day, twice a week, whatever, but there's a little bonus tip for people who like to listen to podcast. Check out the Snipd app.

Gregory:  What a great tip. Thank you, Ben, and thanks again for being with us today on Collective Insights.

Ben:  Awesome. Thanks, Greg.

Do you want free access to comprehensive shownotes, my weekly roundup newsletter, cutting-edge research and articles, top recommendations from me for everything that you need to hack your life, and a whole lot more? Check out BenGreenfieldLife.com. It's all there. BenGreenfieldLife.com. See you over there. 

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Find yourself yearning to amplify your brainpower but facing hurdles like mental fog, lack of focus, or suboptimal cognitive performance?

You're in the right place — today's episode explores the art and science of enhancing cognitive prowess, tapping into the boundless potential of the human mind, and biohacking brain function. 

Dr. Gregory Kelly is a naturopathic physician (ND), the Director of Product Development at Neurohacker Collective, and the author of Shape Shift — a practical, yet fascinating guide on how to unravel the mysteries of your body shape and weight. Additionally, he previously appeared on my show “How To Clear Out Damaging, Life-Shortening Zombie Cells In Just 2 Days A Month, A ‘Shotgun Formula' For Senescent Cells & More With Dr. Gregory Kelly.”

Dr. Greg was the editor of the Alternative Medicine Review and has been an instructor at the University of Bridgeport in the College of Naturopathic Medicine, where he taught classes in advanced clinical nutrition, counseling skills, and doctor-patient relationships. He has also published numerous articles on various aspects of natural medicine and nutrition, contributed three chapters to the Textbook of Natural Medicine, and has more than 30 journal articles indexed on PubMed. His areas of special interest and expertise include nootropics, anti-aging and regenerative medicine, weight management, and the chronobiology of performance and health.

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining Dr. Greg on his enlightening show, Collective Insights Podcast, where he and I delved deep into strategies for optimizing brain function and enhancing overall health and longevity. Today, I'm thrilled to share this insightful conversation with you, graciously allowed by Dr. Greg for release to my audience.

Get ready to unlock practical strategies to enhance focus, relaxation, and cognitive performance, and embark on a journey to uncover the full potential of your cognitive abilities!

During this discussion, you'll discover:  

-Ben on Dr. Greg Kelly’s podcast…05:01

-Dietary impact on brain performance and cognition…06:03

  • Depends on your genetic makeup
  • Some other things to consider when it comes to diets, particularly:
    • Myelin sheaths are a combination of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — an omega-3 fatty acid that is a crucial component of the human brain and plays a vital role in brain development and function — and oleic acid — a type of monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid commonly found in various plant and animal fats
    • You need good absorbable bioavailable sources of DHA
    • Plant-based omega-3 fatty acids have poor conversion into DHA
    • Good sources of DHA are fish oil, eating a wide variety of clean, fatty fish (use code GREENFIELD20 to save $20)
    • Good sources of oleic acid are olive oil and avocado oil
  • Limiting the intake of meals that would cause a surge in lipopolysaccharides
  • Paying attention to the gut-brain axis
    • Supportive aspects of polyphenol consumption on gut-brain function
    • The blacks, the purples, the reds, and the dark colors of the plant kingdom

-Akkermansia in Dr. Greg’s product Qualia Synbiotic…12:00

-Uncovering what synbiotics are…15:16

  • Two definitions:
    • A live organism and food for the live organism
    • A live organism and something that boosts other organisms
  • Your gut cells secrete mucin into the environment around them to protect themselves
  • The goal is to cause the system to make more mucin or to fortify the mucin
  • Polyphenols fortify it and change the structure of the mucins, so the same amount of mucins can cause Akkermansia to thrive more

-Beneficial things for leaky gut…17:24

-Ben’s experience with nootropics…28:42

  • Qualia Mind is a kind of brain food
    • Enhances blood flow to the brain
    • Quells a little bit of inflammation
    • Provides choline and other nutrients to the brain
    • Different minerals and vitamins to support mental function
  • Nootropics vs. smart drugs
  • For the sleep-deprived:
  • Another example:
  • To help with exhaustion after a day of microdosing:

-The benefits of ashwagandha…33:16

  • Two types of people who use nootropics to focus:
    • Those who lack motivation and struggle to get going
    • Those who need to be calmer and focus
  • Qualia Mind helps with both types
  • Qualia Resilience — an adaptogen blend
    • Has NooGandha — liposomal ashwagandha
    • Has Extramel — cantaloupe extract — a good source of superoxide dismutase (SOD), which is an important antioxidant enzyme found in nearly all living cells exposed to oxygen
  • Ashwagandha, one of the best adaptogens, is sometimes described as a “kryptonite for motivation” — too calming
  • NooGandha was created without the “too calming” effect

-Peptides, reishi, and rhodiola…38:30

-Biohacking technologies for brain function…41:51

-And much more…

Upcoming Events:

  • Unlock Longevity: February 24, 2024

On February 24th, I'll be live in Austin, Texas, for Unlock Longevity, a unique gathering with leading regenerative medicine experts from North America. This exclusive event is your chance to gain insider knowledge in the realm of anti-aging and vitality. Our distinguished speakers will unveil groundbreaking treatments and secrets in rejuvenation and longevity, previously unshared with the public. Don't miss the opportunity to engage in deep, personal discussions on health and anti-aging, and interact directly with our experts. Learn more about Unlock Longevity here.

Resources from this episode:

– Dr. Gregory Kelly:

– Podcasts and Articles:

– Other Resources:

Episode Sponsors:

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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Dr. Greg Kelly or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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