Podcast from: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/how-to-test-your%E2%80%8B-%E2%80%8Bnutritional%E2%80%8B-%E2%80%8Bstatus-to-know-which-supplements-to-take-the%E2%80%8B-%E2%80%8Bultimate%E2%80%8B-%E2%80%8Bcheat%E2%80%8B-%E2%80%8Bsheet/
[00:15] Kion Coffee/Onnit
[04:34] About Dr. Chris Masterjohn
[09:42] Why You Take Supplements? Why Even Care If You Have a Good Diet?
[21:45] Nutritional Testing is Expensive. How do You Justify?
[30:12] Penguin Random House Audio Books/Birdwell Britches
[33:01] Three Different Ways to Know If You Have Nutritional Deficiencies
[43:08] Should People Do this on their Own Vs. Asking their Doctor What’s Best
[50:04] How Can You Test for Fat-Soluble Vitamins and Why Would OneBe Low in Fat-Soluble Vitamins
[59:03] How To Test for Oxidative Stress and What Antioxidants are People Commonly Deficient In
[1:07:30] Why Chris Does Not Recommend High-Fat Ketogenic Diets
[1:10:56] Chris’ Diet and Why He Doesn’t Consume Casein Protein
[1:19:17] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, what’s up! It’s Ben Greenfield. Got my friend Chris Masterjohn on the show today. He is the smartest guy in the world when it comes to nutrition and supplements. So he’s going to fascinate you with today’s show.
Speaking of supplements, this podcast is brought to you by the world’s most popular supplement. The world’s most popular drug. The world’s most popular antioxidant, anti-aging beverage. Whatever you want to call it. This podcast is brought to you by coffee but not just any coffee because if you drink coffee and you have not yet tried the freshest, purest most antioxidant rich coffee that exists then you are missing out on what it truly means to have that rich crema at the top of your coffee. That wonderful taste fill your mouth that is a mixture of cacao and berry and walnut and also the peace of mind knowing you’re not getting molds and toxins and carcinogens that can tend to reside in the coffee when you don’t roast it enough and the carcinogens that can tend to build up in the coffee when you roast it too much. This is without a doubt the most perfect cup of coffee that I have ever drank. It’s called Kion Coffee. Just pure, clean energy, extremely antioxidant rich. If you’re drinking coffee for health benefits, it doesn’t get healthier than this. Over at Kion we sacrificed pretty much anything that had to do with convenience and with cause and instead focused purely on what would happen if we wanted to create the healthiest freshest most pure coffee that exists? And that is what we created. So it’s called KionCoffee. You can get it over at getkion.com/coffee that’s get K-I-O-N .com/coffee.
This podcast is also brought to you by the company Onnit O-N-N-I-T. They sell amazing fitness apparel that is good-looking meaning it is straight out of a comic book: Marvel and Star Wars. I guess Star Wars isn’t a comic book it’s a movie. You get the idea though? I’ve got their Star Wars kettlebells. I have their Han Solo yoga mat. Ironman kettlebells, you name it. It’s just littered across my gym because it makes the gym look fabulous. Now Onnit also sells functional foods like their Taco Warrior bar which my kids love. Their Hatched Chili and Coffee-Flavored Warrior Bars. Speaking of coffee, the warrior bars have Buffalo Meat Bar 14 grams of protein and it’s something that has fueled the La Kota Sioux Warriors for centuries and it’s literally, just pure prairie-fed buffalo. They throw a little cranberries, a little spicy pepper blend in there and it’s something that anybody who wants something to stick in their pocket that’s guilt-free that tastes fabulous can rely upon. So Onnit is the name of the company O-N-N-I-T. You save 10% off of anything when you got to bengreenfieldfitness.com/onnit that’s bengreenfiedlfitness.com/o-n-n-i-t.
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“I think what matters is that in supplements where you are using your own brain power from your own base of knowledge to say what should be in that supplement versus finding the things in nature that are naturally rich in the nutrients that you need that you have thousands of years of tradition of using for specific purposes behind it. I think you are running the risk of knowing more than you think you do.”
Ben: He’s back. What I mean by he, one of the smartest dudes I know in the whole nutrition and nutrition supplement and nutrition chemistry and nutrition, you name it sector, Dr. Chris Masterjohn. He was on the episode Why Sugar Isn’t as Dangerous as You Might Think in which we talked about sugar and genetics and liver toxicity and a lot more. He was also in the episode about What Happens if You Take Too Much Creatine in which we also talked about deficiencies on high protein diets and How to Become a Nutrition Ninja in his amazing nutrition masterclass and much more.
Chris, if you aren’t familiar with him has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Connecticut. He did his post-doctoral research in the University of Illinois and was the assistant professor of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooke College for a couple of years but now he works independently researching in health and nutrition and educating people and consulting people. He’s authored and co-authored 10 different peer reviewed publications and most importantly he just put the finishing touches on this amazing ultimate Cheat Sheet for testing nutritional status. I have this thing on my computer now. It’s one of my go-to’s. Basically, what it does is it distills all of the practical information from the entire nutrition supplement industry and it packs everything that you need to know about testing yourself and then customizing your supplement regimen on to this one single document. It’s like 70-some pages well, basically you never need an appointment with Dr. Goggle again. You don’t have to rummage through these endless list of links again ‘cause the cheat sheet’s all there. It’s for your phone, your computer, whatever. So I did have a bunch of questions that I generated for Chris after reading through this thing ‘cause it’s extremely comprehensive and it’s incredibly easy to go through in terms of identifying your nutrient imbalances and the causes of those and then kind of done for your action plan for correcting each of the imbalances but I still have some questions for Chris about supplements in general. So Chris, welcome back, man.
Chris: Thanks, Ben. It’s great to be back.
Ben: Yeah, where are you at in the world right now, dude?
Chris: I am, [laughs] I’m working away in Astoria, New York. Working on things like these nutrition stuff, consulting content and all that.
Ben: Nice. You know, the last time I saw we were punishing grass-fed butter and liver pate’ as one does at the Weston A. Price Conference.
Ben: It was the last time we ran into each other.
Chris: Yeah, that was fun.
Ben: I know. The Weston A. Price Conference is always fun.
Chris: Lots of fat there. [laughs]
Ben: It involves eating, yeah, eating lots of fat with primarily kind of like I would say the 40’s to 60 year old female demographic range like just big old healthy females that’s what the Weston A. Price go [laughs]…
Ben: I probably just offended a bunch of Weston A. Pricers [laughs]…
Ben: But it’s true. It’s true. Like you go to some conferences and there’s a bunch of like emaciated anorexic six-pack girls and the Weston A. Price Conference is just a bunch of like honestly, like it’s just like it looks like a bunch of really healthy, fertile women is what it looks like…
Chris: Yeah, there’s more farmers, there’s more family-oriented people. More people with big families. There’s definitely a demographic tilt to any given conference. The three that I probably tend to have been going to the most are that one and Ancestral Health Symposium and Paleo f(x) and so Paleo f(x) is clearly more fitness oriented. People are younger. People are more fit because it’s just culturally put more emphasis on fitness. In AHS I think that’s true too there’s more, you’ll notice like in the program of Weston A. Price Foundation there’s not really any movement whereas, PaleoFx there’s a big fitness competition ring in the middle of the conference.
Chris: And then at AHS it’s much more academically oriented and it’s always on a university campus…
Chris: And it’s just covering it’s academic in nature but there’s also more of an emphasis on fitness there. You all see for example, that talks would be broken up with some movement sessions in between and there’s something running parallel with something a fitness event outside or something like that, so it just attracts different people with different cultures and yeah, it’s interesting to go from conference to conference and…
Ben: Totally. Yeah, I’d forgotten about AHS. I’ll actually be speaking there this year, I think it’s in Bozeman, Montana, right?
Chris: I believe so. I should know I’m on the board now. [laughs]
Ben: Apparently, there’s a university there somewhere sprinkled in among the ranches and the cowboys.
Ben: By the way, for those of you listening, I’ll link to the Weston A. Price Conference and the Ancestral Symposium and the nutritional status cheat sheet just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/nutritioncheatsheet that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/nutritioncheatsheet and everything that Chris and I talk about I’ll include over there.
So Chris, I know you have a unique perspective on this. I get this question all the time. Why do we need to take supplements? Why even care? ‘Cause a lot of us are eating that healthy diet that Weston A. Price’s diet that I just talked about. You know, I personally have 8 billion vegetables and bone broth and coconut milk and avocados and all sorts of stuff in my morning smoothie, but I use supplements. So fill me in on your take on this.
Chris: Well, there is one category of people who don’t have to care and that’s people whose health is currently perfect. There’s nothing to improve and people who also don’t care…
Ben: Oh, I don’t know, man. Even those people could still use a racetam every now and again when they want to make some smoke come out their ears.
Chris: Yeah, well my point is basically no one really falls into that category unless they really don’t care about their life, right? because most of us have some things that we would like to do better, some things that we could improve or some real problems that we need to address but even those of us who are kind of content and satisfied still want to keep what we have, right? If you’re 30, you’re on the peak, well, no one’s at the peak of their health at 30. If you’re 25 and you’re in the peak of your health biologically speaking, and you’ve been running on sugar fumes for the last 25 years and nothing’s really hit you yet. You might feel great but you’re not going to run on sugar fumes forever and keep what you have. You’re going to start falling apart, so no matter where you are if you’re health conscious and you care which is like everyone who’s listening to this podcast, right? There aren’t anyone who’s, why would you listen to the Ben Greenfield podcast if you don’t care about fitness, you don’t care about your health, right?
Ben: ‘Cause you want to listen to the lulling voice of Chris Masterjohn and Ben Greenfield. You just like listening to voices? That could be it…
Chris: Well, yeah. Yeah. That’s true…
Ben: Maybe some poor people out there. You know, one thing though that I’m curious here. Your take on this is people have always supplemented, haven’t they? From mortar and pestle used in Egyptian times to the extraction of oils such as St. John’s Wort for depression from the little yellow flowers that are growing…
Ben: I can see them outside my house right now to dandelion root extract also all over my yard and then there’s this idea of… There’s an actual term for this it’s like zoopharmacology or zoopharmacognizy of something like that but animals self-medicate and use supplements all the time like you see macaws eating clay to help with digestion and spiders increasing or decreasing fertility with specific plants from Brazil. I mean, it’s not…
Chris: It’s not like…
Ben: It’s not like the use of added supplementation to food is something that we don’t see in nature and that we don’t see in ancestry. Am I correct on that or?
Chris: Well, I think you are but I think there’s… and so I think you are totally correct but there’s still what you wouldn’t find in nature is synthetic supplements and so part of this depends on what do you consider a supplement, I think.
Chris: But I think you’re right that if you look at any traditional society they had a rather profound and broad knowledge of hundreds of herbs and things that grew in their locale to use for different purposes and they had food, but where do you draw the line between a food and a supplement? So for example, if you have to invest a lot of energy, climb up a mountain and procure a certain plant up there that would not normally be in your diet, do you call that a supplement because you went out of your way to get that specific edition or is it just a food and you could say that about a lot of these things that line’s kind of blurry but in a certain sense you could look at like liver and you could say well, that’s kind of a supplement. In the sense that if you kill an animal the liver is a fairly small proportion of that animal and that means that if you’re living mostly off that animal your diet is mainly muscle meats and whatever you can meat process off the bones and stuff like that and the organs…
Ben: To a certain extent. Having packed a lot of organ meat out of the hills, I can tell you those livers are pretty damn heavy.
Chris: Well, okay but well you probably know better than me like what would you say is the percentage of meat you get that is liver from a wild animal?
Ben: You know, compared to the meat portion maybe, I would say somewhere in the five to ten percent range. Like if you hold it up against the meats…
Chris: Yeah, that makes sense…
Ben: The bones, the bone marrow, et cetera the liver is not a huge component depending on the animal but I mean you know, the last I just hunted jungle cow down in Hawaii and the liver was probably good. I mean, it’s up in my refrigerator right now in a garbage bag vacuum sealed. It’s probably seven eight pounds so you know, it’s something.
Chris: Yeah, so right and so I think the point is that if you look at someone in the modern day and they have all their “supplements” in their cabinet that all come in plastic bottles that say, take this dosage on this, it has a list of ingredients. It feels like there’s a major difference between the supplement and the food because just the packaging around and the process around the consuming it whereas, if we’re talking about this we’re hitting hard questions like, is the liver a supplement or not? I don’t know it’s a minor portion of the animal. It packs like a certain extraordinary amount of certain nutrients like Vitamin A and Copper and Vitamin B12 and if you’re including small amounts in the diet has a tremendous value to the nutritional composition of that diet but it’s a part of the animal. It’s five or ten percent. It’s not nothing, right? So what do you call the supplement? Is St. John’s Wort a supplement or is it a vegetable that was growing in your locale?
Ben: And part of it could depend on the delivery mechanism, too, right? You have like Now Foods Argentinian liver, desiccated liver extract in capsulated form. Technically, that is kind of the same thing as the liver that’s in the same garbage bag in my freezer right now but it’s advertised and sold as a supplement and I don’t even think regulated by the FDA as a food is regulated as a supplement. So, yeah I do think that it does kind of depend and maybe doesn’t matter. Does it even matter do you think?
Chris: I think what matters is that in supplements where you are using your own brain power from your own base of knowledge to say what should be in that supplement versus finding the things in nature that are naturally rich in the nutrients that you need that you have thousands of years of tradition of using for specific purposes behind it, I think you are running the risk of knowing more than you think you do. I’m not even against synthetic supplements but I think that you always want a default when you can to using food first and by food I’m really kind of including the gray area of the natural supplements that we were just talking about.
Ben: Okay, that makes sense.
Chris: So to me liver is food, right? To me St. John’s Wort is food but something that someone cooked up in the laboratory that said, you should have X,Y and Z in this thing and they synthesized them or they extracted them. That’s not necessarily bad and it’s not necessarily not helpful. It’s not even necessarily not the thing that you need right now more than anything. It might be but it is still always better to start by saying let me try to put together a good diet with the right natural supplements, superfoods or whatever you want to call them to be the foundation and then look at what I still need and in a rational manner fill the gaps on an as needed basis with these other things because the natural foods are put together in a way that almost certainly has benefits that we aren’t going to fully understand until we slowly research them over the course of the coming decades.
Chris: And we already have a lot of hints in science that these foods are more than the sum of their components or there are many synergistic interactions among the nutrients and just because we know one example of synergy doesn’t mean that we can take that thing that we just learned and then create the synergy in a supplement, we might be missing the next three, four ten, twenty, thirty forms of synergy that were in that food that are yet to be discovered but will be.
Ben: Right and then there’s also of course, the argument that modern agriculture has stripped much of the food that we are eating in a typical Western diet from potentially some of the minerals, some of the issues with soil turnover and that affecting the actual nutrient density of the foods. There’s been some studies that are shown like meat and eggs and dairy products now deliver fewer anti-inflammatory nutrients or are lower in Omega 3 fatty acids and ultimately, you could say that if you’re growing all your own food and eating extremely healthy organic diet but even that isn’t an issue but of course, the elephant in the room and something that you start off this whole nutrition Cheat Sheet with is the idea that you can just freaking test and find out what type of things you might have deficiencies in. The type of things that might take you from poor health to good or good to great.
And that’s what I really want to kind of delve into is this whole idea of testing and one of the things that I do, you know, I don’t talk about this a lot on podcast but I work for companies like WellnessFx and I spend a few hours each week poring through people’s blood results, their biomarkers going over their labs with them and I cannot name a single person over the past five, six years of doing that that I have identified as someone who has zero nutritional holes or gaps that would not be convenient to fill via some form of targeted supplementation. Should that be Vitamin D3 because they’re already out in the sunlight a lot and they’ve still got levels you know, around 20 -30? Should it be high levels of inflammation because they’ve decided they want to do an Ironman triathlon and may need a little help via better living through science to keep their HSCRP down so they need some added curcumin or Omega 3’s or should it be testosterone issues due to hard-charging, high-achieving lifestyle and they need some sort of herbal testosterone replenishment or creatine, Vitamin D, magnesium, zinc type of approach for testosterone?
So the list goes on and on but ultimately, I’ve noticed via my own testing and looking at other people’s lab test that testing certainly is something that shows some need for a strategy to fill in the gaps that exists in people’s internal biology that might be limiting them from the getting the sleep or the weight loss or the performance that they want. But the testing is expensive. How do you justify the actual cost of testing because right off the bat in your nutritional cheat sheet you kind of have I guess, a recommendation to begin with testing?
Chris: So I think the way you really need to start is you need to take a realistic survey of what your resources are. So all of us have 24 hours in a day. Some of us have a lot more money than others. Some of us have a lot more time obligations than others. Some of us work 60 hours a week. Some of us work 40. Some of us don’t work. You know, there’s all kinds of variations in what people perceive as the financial resources that they have at hand and the time resources that they have at hand. Really, for time everyone has 24 hours in a day and whenever anyone says I don’t have time for that, what they mean is it’s not high enough on my priority list to do that thing. So really everyone can fit in a little bit of time to devote to this and I think money then becomes the big arbiter. But the way that I start out the Cheat Sheet is actually to recommend that you and I don’t really tell you how, I don’t give recommendations on how to take stock of what you’re limiting resources are. But I say look, if you don’t want to miss a thing you follow the comprehensive approach. If you are really short on time but money is unlimited you follow the time saving approach and I think the majority of people probably fit into this last category. They do not have $3,000 to spend out of pocket on the full suite of all the best testing but they do have some time and for those people the cost saving approach is going to be best. And so if you started the comprehensive approach, in the ideal world if you had no limitations on your resources, you basically want to be looking at a few different types of evidence to get the big picture of what’s going on inside your body.
The first is the lab testing, right? The blood testing, the urine testing. This is telling you objective data about biochemically what’s happening in these nutrient dependent pathways inside your body, but there are other things that are just as important so dietary analysis which doesn’t cost any money unless something trivial like $20 for a food scale could certainly help with it but it’s really something that you can get going on whatever’s in your kitchen now and the free version of the food tracking app. And dietary analysis is somewhat time consuming but if understanding your nutrition is a priority, you can find the time certainly to do it for a few days or a week or whatever it takes you to get a representative look at your diet and seeing where you measure up to their recommended daily values is very helpful in pointing you in the right direction. That doesn’t mean that I’m saying that everyone should be eating exactly 100% of the recommended daily value no more no less but if you’re looking at over a dozen essential nutrients and you find that one is at 10% and everything else is at 120% that’s a big clue that you need to start looking at that particular nutrient more.
And then the third thing you really need to do is look at your own personal subjected experience and that’s your symptoms. Your signs and symptoms. Signs are technically, there’s some objectivity to it but these are things like; is my skin red and itchy or if I have dry skin where is it like, is it everywhere or is it centered around certain parts of my like, is it on the corners of my lips, are they cracking or is it around my nose or is between my genitals and my anus? Like all these things can be clues. Are my eyes dry? Is my hair falling out? All these. Fatigue, right? Like all those different things that don’t have an objective number tied to them but that you can say from observing your own personal experience either how you feel or that someone else would see when they look at you are all potential clues. And the reason you need all of these things is because none of them are perfect.
So we have a range of serum vitamin A levels for example, that strongly correlate with deficiency and toxicity in the sense that usually if you have reached toxic levels you’re way above the top of the reference range. Almost always like at least 95% of cases as far as we know if you have a clinical deficiency you’re below the bottom of the reference range. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who have suboptimal status who really could benefit by getting more who weren’t like in the range but towards the bottom. And if you have a dietary pattern that suggest you’re Vitamin A deficient and you have Vitamin A deficiency signs and then you either fix the diet or you supplement that person with Vitamin A and the signs and symptoms go away, you have an airtight case for Vitamin A deficiency even if that number wasn’t directly out of the range.
So all of those things are important but if you don’t have the money then what I do is I recommend that don’t spend $3,000 on comprehensive testing. Take all these free things that you can do like looking at your signs and symptoms and looking at your dietary analysis and then see what’s actionable that is really low risk but if there are cases where there could be two or three alternatives and you need testing to settle which one it is then that would justify testing. The real case that really justifies testing is if the action that you would take could actually make things worse if you’re wrong about what the problem is, right? So like some of the symptom of iron overload and iron deficiency have overlapped. Like you could be fatigued for example, in either of those and you could probably have some degree of exercise and tolerance in either of those. So in that case, you don’t want a guess because you might have an equal probability of making it worse or making it better.
Ben: Right. Am I constipated because I’m eating too much fiber and having a huge amount of bulk in my colon or am I constipated because I am not getting enough fiber, like another very simple example. There’s another one with iodine. I saw a recent study in iodine parabolic curve. I think this was in a Korean population, right? Like low amounts of, I forget exactly how it went but I think it was low amounts of iodine you saw thyroid dysregulation and high amounts of iodine you saw thyroid dysregulation. If someone had thyroid dysregulation and didn’t know what to do in terms of their iodine levels, you really wouldn’t know unless you test in a situation like that.
Chris: Selenium is another great example too, because the soil variation in selenium is you know, you were talking about how industrialization has decreased our minerals, variation in selenium is not on that principle. It’s just ancient geological process is just dump selenium in toxic amounts in some soils and deficient amounts in others. And most minerals plants regulate their uptake because they’re essential minerals to the plant but that’s not true for selenium plants to need selenium and so they just take up whatever’s in the soil randomly and so you have like a 50% probability of having too much or too little and probably more than any other mineral the signs and symptoms of deficiencies and toxicities have a lot of overlap. And so if you don’t test selenium you could be really confused about which one is which.
Ben: Hey, if you’re like me, you’re an audio book fan. Podcast and audio books are pretty much what fills my car and my earbuds all day long. It’s like my travelling university. And there is a new company that is now producing audio books and they have a host of titles that you can’t find in a lot of other places. For example, right now I’ve got Dan Harris’ Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. That’s one that you should check out. There’s another really good one actually that next up in my line up called Find Your Why by Simon Sinek, Find Your Why by Simon Sinek. They’ve also got fast-paced thrillers, they’ve got fiction. Who are they? Let me take you off the edge of your seat. It’s Penguin Random House. Penguin Random House is now producing audio books that range from self-help and inspiring listens to health and wellness audio books to fast-paced novels that’ll get your heart racing, you name it. You can get them all over at tryaudiobooks.com/bengreenfield. You’ll get listening suggestions in all sorts of ways that you can refresh your ears with fresh information and education and entertainment tryaudiobooks.com/bengreenfield. Check out the Penguin Random House Audio site.
This podcast is also brought to you by Birdwell Beach Britches. Birdwell Beach Britches, they are pretty much unbreakable shorts. They’re made out of surfmill fabric and this was inspired by the sails of boats anchored at California’s Newport Beach. They can survive rock scrapes if you decide that you’re going to go scrape up against a rock while you’re wearing shorts, I don’t know who would do that? Oh, wait, surfers. Reflashes, lots of wear. These things can just go and go on and don’t get me wrong I’m not down there surfing in Malibu and Kawaii and all these other crazy big wave locations and smashing myself to bits on coral and rock but I am really wanting to look good with the britches that I wear as I’m sporting them up and down the beach. Hifalutin. Birdwell Beach Britches they’re hand cut, they’re sawn in California. They always will be. They’ve been making them there since 1961 and they have a lifetime guarantee ‘cause they’re so freaking tough. You get 10% off of your Birdwell Beach Britches purchase, you also get a lifetime guarantee. You get free shipping on any order over $99. How do get all that? You go to birdwell.com, birdwell.com and use discount code Ben at check out. That’s birdwell.com use discount code Ben. Get your hands on a pair of Birdwell Beach Britches or two and see why they’ve been an American icon since 1961. Geez, it was like 27 years before I was born. Just saying. Alright, back to the show.
So coming full circle on this just so that we bring everybody up to speed in case anyone’s eyes kind of rolled over in their heads as you were going through that. You have basically, the option to have a comprehensive approach in which you would do all the lab tests that you list in the comprehensive screening approach on the cheat sheet and then while waiting on those test results you also do a dietary analysis and you then go through the index of all the signs and the symptoms of nutritional imbalances for any of that to apply to you. So you have a very, very comprehensive approach obviously this would be the more expensive and time-consuming approach but it will allow you to really thoroughly identify all of the holes in your diet and issues that would need to be addressed from a biological standpoint.
And then option two in the time-saving approach you kind of skip that dietary analysis and in that case just get for example the testing done and then the cost saving approach should be you do the dietary analysis and the indices but you don’t actually do the testing. But either way you’ve got a few different options for people who might say have almost no money to spend on their health but just wanted to go the old school dietary analysis and no testing route and then the people who want the full meal deal all in can do the comprehensive screening, the dietary analysis and the indices and you walk people through each of those steps in the document?
Chris: Yeah, that’s exactly right.
Chris: So the ideal situation you know, in terms of like having the right decision the fastest is the comprehensive approach but yeah, you just alter it according to your resources.
Ben: Now how much of the actual testing can people do on their own? If they decide that they want to get some of the testing versus just asking their doctor what’s best or going to their physician? Like how much should you actually be relying upon a medical professional on a scenario like this ‘cause it’s a lot of testing and it seems like a lot of stuff to dig through without professional assistance.
Chris: Yeah, in terms of what can you do and then there’s what should you do. In terms of what can you do then that depends on what state you live in. There are direct to consumer lab services such as directlabs.com for example, where you can order almost anything and most of what is in the cheat sheet. There’s one company that I recommend some tests from called HDRI Health Diagnostics Research Institute and you cannot get their tests on directlabs.com but you can get most of this stuff. But if you live in a state like New York like I do, you have to go to another state like Connecticut or something like that if you go to work and you’ll use that…
Ben: Yeah, I have clients who I send across the border all the time who live in New York, for example or overseas and they occasionally visit the US and yeah, same thing you’ve got to go to a different state but it can be done.
Chris: Yeah, and I would say one caveat there is that the direct to consumer stuff has some logistic wrinkles with phlebotomy. So if you’re working with… so directlabs.com I think they contract with Quest. Most of their testing by default if it’s not under their specialty labs thing, you just print the requisition and you walk into Quest with no appointment and they just take care of everything.
Chris: But if you’re going to order like the Genova Ion Panel, for example they don’t have that relationship with Genova and Genova doesn’t have a bunch of lab outlets all over the place where you just walk-in and they take your blood. And so if you get the Genova Ion Panel which has blood and urine testing, the urine testing is something that you can easily handle on your own, but the phlebotomy part of it you would have to call up Quest or Labcorp or something like that and ask them if they would do the third party testing and then you kind of have to trust that they follow the instructions carefully which is they probably will but of course, you’re dealing with a company that doesn’t usually run those tests and so it’s always a little bit more risky that they might mess something up. Whereas, if you were to go like I got a Genova Ion Panel myself that was recommended to me last year by an environmental medicine doctor that I was seeing who had run 12,000 other Genova Ion Panels in her clinic and she just had a stock of kits there and so I have a complete 100% confidence that they followed the instructions perfectly because they do those tests routinely there.
So if you’re going to do the direct to consumer there’s some logistic wrinkles but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that you could arrange the third party phlebotomy that’s entirely possible to do. Now then the interpretive part is another part of what you asked so I’ll say upfront that regardless of what you do with the Cheat Sheet if you were to purchase it, and the Cheat Sheet is designed to help you kind of DIY through this but there’s a huge disclaimer at the top and it’s referred to at the bottom of every page which is there’s no way that in 78 pages I can give you a comprehensive medical education. That’s not what this is. Not at all.
And so whenever you’re dealing with these tests no matter what you do with them on your own you really always should hand them over to the health care practitioner that you work with who knows you best because they have training that allows them to know all the things that those tests might mean that aren’t necessarily nutritional in nature. So I don’t think medical doctors get enough training in nutrition in medical school but they definitely get the training to know like if you have a tumor somewhere how that might affect some of these tests, right? So I talk about parathyroid hormone for example, as an index of your Vitamin D and calcium and phosphorous nutritional status. You can also have a tumor in your parathyroid gland that could be messing up your PTH parathyroid hormone. And so you don’t want to hide the information from your doctor when you get all these testing because they might if they see you on a yearly basis, they might put two and two together and say, “oh, I’ve seen these symptoms before this looks like a case of X, Y or Z developing, right?” So you don’t want to deprive yourself of their expertise.
With that said, the whole point of this Cheat Sheet is to make it as easy as possible to figure out your priorities. So it’s 78 pages long but it’s kind of designed so that in most cases if you’re just trying to use this for your own benefit you might only have to read six or seven because there’s five pages that give you instructions about how to collect your data and then there’s a very short algorithm where if this is what you see go to this page, read this paragraph. And in terms of whether you want to act on that or not, there’s the standard disclaimer of, I’m not your doctor. You’re not my patient. Don’t pretend that we are but there are a multitude of extremely low risk things that you can do to try to correct nutritional imbalances that you really can take on yourself, right?
Like for example, if you are not eating red, yellow, orange or green vegetables, you don’t have any carotenoids in your diet which is the plant form of Vitamin A. If you’re not eating liver or taking cod liver oil, you don’t have any retinol in your diet which is the animal form of Vitamin A. If you’re not taking a Vitamin A supplement and you’re not getting any of those things and you have dry eyes and you have low serum vitamin A levels, you probably have Vitamin A deficiency. You shouldn’t go taking high dose Vitamin A over a long time without any medical supervision because you run the risk of toxicity. But there’s almost zero risk of putting red, orange, yellow and green vegetables into your diet or of adding liver once a week to your diet or of taking the low dose Vitamin A supplement to make sure you’re meeting the RDA for vitamin A and those actions can make a huge difference in your ability to just meet your basic needs and resolve those deficiencies.
So I think when you’re operating within the realm of low risk activities, there are a lot of things that you can do on your own but it’s always best if you have someone that you work with who really does have an expertise even those things that you can let know that you’re doing them. Like tell whoever your nutritional coach or your dietician or your doctor whoever it is that knows you best. “Hey, I’ve noticed these symptoms, I’m correcting them, I think it’s working but I thought you should know I’m doing this.”
Ben: Yeah, I think one other thing, before we kind of dive into some of the weeds here and I asked you some specific questions about common deficiencies we see and what people can do about them, one thing that I’ve noticed with growing frequency on a lot of these lab tests that you can order yourself and then go visit a local lab to get blood drawn or have a phlebotomist come to your house if blood is required or alternatively just pee on the strips or drip the saliva into the tube if it’s more of just like a home test that doesn’t require blood or poop of course in the cute little hotdog tray that companies like Direct Labs supply to you. A lot of times once you receive the results seven or fourteen days later, typically emails in some kind of PDF form, they can be pretty easy, I mean if you set aside some time like an hour let’s say to go through say the results of the urinary organic amino acids test, the PDF’s that come along with the tests these days, I think for the average person, well, let me put it this way, if you’re savvy enough to order the test to your home and do the test yourself, understand all the test instructions and then send off the test based on the instructions that had been given to you, it’s pretty easy if you’re that smart to also be able to read through the PDF of the results and can I gather at least some semblance of data that helps you make an actionable decision?
Sure there are guys like Chris and I who offer up our services that you can hire to go through your blood or your biomarkers along with you and look over those results with you, but I’m not going to lie like some of these stuff nowadays in terms of the results that you get the PDF results that you get, they can walk you through stuff. You can get the results of your Genova three-day gut stool test and have it say, “hey, you have this particular opportunistic organism growing in your gut and it’s sensitive to oil of oregano, uvaursi and wormwood.” Well, it’s pretty easy to put two and two together and go find out common dosages of oil of oregano, uvaursi and wormwood and begin to supplement accordingly. Like some of these situations you don’t need to and I know this is much to the chagrin of any medical professional listening in and some people might cringe that I’m encouraging people to take matters into their own hands too much but a lot of this stuff you can kind of figure out on your own once you’ve used something like the cheat sheet to determine which tests you should order and what the common symptoms are and done a little bit of a dietary analysis. Would you agree, Chris?
Chris: I do agree. I would definitely agree with that but I think where I’m not sure if this is a disagreement or not but when I look at a lot of these reports, I am not satisfied with the way that they go about making recommendations. So like in the Genova Ion Panel for example, when I look at these for my clients I usually completely disregard all of the interpretative stuff and look at the data because a lot of what they’re trying to do I think is like at the beginning one of these reports it’ll sort of give you this comprehensive dosing plan for your supplements and I don’t know exactly the inside of their algorithm looks like. They do explain to you we judge that you are high risk for X deficiency because of this, this and this marker.
And so, I imagine that on the inside of this algorithm they’re sort of feeding in all the different data that generate an automatic probability and then based on how far those things are out of range they increase the dosages to some degree. I don’t like the way that they do it. I think it’s too simplistic and I don’t think that it makes sense to take data like that and go straight to a comprehensive dosing scheme for supplements. So the way that I use these I think is more nuanced and one of the things that I did with the cheat sheet that is not done in those interpretative guides from what I’ve seen so far at least for the ones that I look at is incorporate the signs and symptoms and dietary analysis. So there’s a lot of markers on these tests that can be interpreted in a bunch of different ways and sometimes they’re altered because of genetics. Sometimes they’re altered because there’s a nutrient deficiency. Sometimes they’re altered because someone’s taking some supplement that’s just pouring too much in that metabolic pathway et cetera, and I think to skip to the dosing regimen without considering the signs and symptoms and without considering the dietary analysis, I think it’s deeply problematic.
So to take one example, we mentioned serum Vitamin A so why not just jump back on that. Well, your serum Vitamin A levels are going to be very useful in telling you whether you have a Vitamin A deficiency, but you can have like a zinc deficiency for example, and it could cause your serum Vitamin A levels to fall because zinc is important for the binding proteins that transport vitamin A in the blood. And so you really want to consider like don’t just interpret that value the way it seems on the surface that it is. Use your brain to say, okay well what’s the cluster of signs and symptoms? Because if you’re zinc deficient you may have signs of Vitamin A deficiency like dry eyes but you’ll probably going to have other signs like dry skin and a sore throat and things like that.
There are other clusters of signs and symptoms that make it more probable that your zinc deficient but the dietary analysis is hugely key because the distribution of zinc in Vitamin A in different foods is totally different. So you might have this cluster of data that you can’t tell the difference between them until you look at the diet and you say, well, geez this person is eating liver once a week and there’s some zinc there but not a lot. But this person is otherwise eating a diet that has a lot of whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes which actually antagonize zinc absorption. This person is not eating a lot of beef. They’re not eating a lot of cheese. They’re not eating any oysters which are the three top sources of zinc in the diet. And maybe they had diarrhea for the last six months which causes zinc deficiency.
And when you look at those things which aren’t in the Genova Ion Panel or on any blood tests and aren’t taken into account in that algorithm then it’s obvious that that person is zinc deficient. And all you had to do was look at the situation that apart from that data that told you that whereas you could really be confused and lead to the wrong thing if you take an automatic algorithm that only looks at the blood data. And so I agree in principle but you know, even what you’re saying though is sort of like the whole point of the Cheat Sheet is to try to fill that gap. So I think if you look at their interpretive guide but you also go through your signs and symptoms and you also do your dietary analysis then yeah, there’s a ton that you can do right on your own.
Ben: Yeah, that makes sense. It makes sense. I want to ask you a few questions that are related to specific issues that one might find when they’re going through the Cheat Sheet. For example, you mentioned Vitamin A and that of course falls into the category along with D, E and K as fat-soluble vitamins. Now in terms of actually testing for fat-soluble vitamins, how important would something like that be? I mean, I know it’s the first thing that you talk about in the Cheat Sheet but I’m curious, why would someone be low in the fat-soluble vitamins anyways? Let’s even assume someone is eating adequate fats, right? Why would they be low in the fat-soluble vitamins and what would be the best way to test for those and I realize this is a packed question but are there specific issues that you tend to see over and over again when it comes to fat-soluble vitamin issues if you could throw a couple out there?
Chris: Sure. I think the fat-soluble vitamins are among the easiest and come deficient in actually because their distribution in foods is quite narrow. Now if you eat a colorful diet like you’re eating a lot of fruits and mainly vegetables but also fruits that have red, orange, yellow and green colors in them, you’re going to get a lot of carotenoids form of Vitamin A, but the genetic impairments in the ability to convert carotenoids to retinol which is the animal form of Vitamin A that we need to prevent deficiency are really common and then there’s all kinds of health conditions that interfere with that conversion. So if you imagine that the portion of people that are bad carotenoid-converters, which is probably to some degree it’s like at least half of people. To a severe degree it might be a quarter of people. Their dietary sources of Vitamin A that are very reliable are limited to liver and cod liver oil and then small amounts in eggs and dairy products but not large enough amounts that if they did liver or cod liver they’d be getting enough. So it’s not that hard, right? There were Vitamin D. Vitamin D occurs in a tiny handful of foods like there’s a tiny bit in egg yolks and dairy fat.
There’s a pretty moderate amount in a lot of different types of fish especially fatty fish and we get it from the sun but we all live indoors and so the foods that could compensate for living indoors are fairly small in number. That’s just generally true across the fat-soluble vitamins and then of course, there’s also conditions of malabsorption so there’s a whole multitude of gastro-intestinal disorders that can cause fat malabsorption and then hey, some people are needing enough fat so what might be enough A, D, E and K for Joe who’s eating 50% fat diet, Jill who’s eating a 20% fat diet could be eating the same amount of those but have three times lower absorption of those nutrients because of the lower fat in her diet and then she runs if not deficient sub-optimal on those nutrients. So I think testing is really important and so the next question would be how to test?
Ben: Yeah, I guess with testing for fat-soluble vitamins specifically is it something that someone always has to do as part of a big panel or can you just go in and get one off’s? Like one off Vitamin D, or one off A, D E and K or other type of test like that without spending money on the full panel?
Chris: Yeah, well I mean that depends on your needs, right? So that kind of goes back to the question before like is your limiting factor time or is your limiting factor money, right? So if your limiting factor is money and you don’t want and you can’t invest the money in testing then you limit your testing to when you really, really need to. So in that case I would start with the signs and symptoms. So the signs and symptoms of Vitamin A or things like dry eyes, seeing poorly at night, bumps on the skin or in the hair follicles. On the skin they might look like acne or goosebumps but they’re not. In the hair follicles it might seem like kind of flaky skin these could be signs of Vitamin A deficiency. Those are the clear ones. The ones that are not controversial. There’s some others like if you’re getting sick more often or if you have problems regulating your circadian rhythm and getting proper sleep could be related, but…
Ben: And so if I were going to use, sorry to interrupt, if I were going to use the cheat sheet for something like this, I would go to the index and I would look at my specific symptoms for well, actually I’m seeing it here for example, for Vitamin A signs and symptoms of deficiencies, risk factors for deficiencies. Signs and symptoms of toxicity. Risk factors for toxicity and this is all for Vitamin A. And then it looks like two different tests to test for deficiency serum Vitamin A and a retinol binding protein test and then two different tests to test for toxicity. And then of course, you have like testing caveats in there like the fact that zinc deficiency should always be considered if you suspect Vitamin A deficiency and then you’ve got a section on how to correct the deficiency such as supplementing with 25,000-50,000 IU of vitamin D per day or how to correct toxicity such as…
Chris: Vitamin A.
Ben: Such as medical care for [laughs] Vitamin A toxicity since that ones a fat-storage vitamin. So looks like you spelled that out pretty well on the actual cheat sheet. But one thing that I noted in going through the fat-soluble vitamin section was something a lot of people don’t think about. You know, a lot of people think I’m low in fat-soluble vitamins then you take more or I need to take some multivitamins with this chock full of A, D, E and K. Talk to me about malabsorption though because you mentioned that and it’s something I think a lot of people don’t think about.
Chris: Yeah, so fat-soluble vitamins are soluble in fat and fat is the stimulus for both provoking the fat digestion machinery in the digestive process that allows absorption and then also being there to solubilize, to dissolve the vitamins in the absorption machinery and transport them through the body. And so not eating enough fat or having any problem that impairs your absorption of fat will impair your absorption of those nutrients. And I don’t think there’s enough data to say everyone must eat X-amount of fat. And in fact, how much fat you need depends on your intake too because if you’re eating liver and your absorbing 10% of the Vitamin A, you’re getting a lot more Vitamin A than if you’re eating eggs and you’re absorbing 20% of the Vitamin A. Just because the sheer amount of Vitamin A is more and so you can compensate for lower absorption with higher intake but you may have a treatable medical condition or you may have medical condition that regardless of whether it’s treatable causes other problems that need to be addressed. And this is the one of the advantages at looking at all the fat-soluble vitamins at once because one big clue that your problem is absorption is if you’re low in all the fat-soluble vitamins. The distribution in foods is different enough that you’d require a substantially different dietary pattern to make you deficient in A versus D versus E versus K. So if you’re getting like flatline levels of fat-soluble vitamins across the board, that is a big clue that you need to start looking at your absorption.
Ben: Got it. So in this case we would look at things like liver health, gallbladder, bio-production all the things that would be required for a proper called saponification. A mineral binding to a fatty acid to allow the fatty acid to be absorbed properly in the digestive tracts you know, things like iron and zinc and copper and manganese and that’s something a lot of people don’t think about, I believe when they’ve got low levels of fat-soluble vitamins. You know, something I learned from going through the Cheat Sheet that makes sense intuitively, but you don’t think about it until it’s pointed out. So it’s very helpful not to butter you up on this cheat sheet but it does make pretty good sense.
Now you also for example, have a section on oxidative stress on how one could test for oxidative stress and the antioxidants that people would notoriously be deficient in. So I’ve got a couple of questions for you based on that. Number one, when it comes to testing for oxidative stress. It’s very rare that I see an active population such as is the majority of folks that listen in to this show who don’t have some amount of oxidative stress and I’m wondering like how do you kind of identify when you’re testing for oxidative stress. Okay, this is my body’s normal hormetic response to exercise, I’m supposed to have oxidative stress versus it actually being some kind of a health issue that would result in say like, oxidative damage to DNA or oxidative damage to lipids that would result in long term health issues?
Chris: Yeah, so the oxidative stress is not an indication of the hormetic response. The hormetic response is the response to that stress and so you’re totally right that you have an active population you must have oxidative stress present because oxidative stress is part of the metabolic stress caused by exercise that induces through hormesis fitness. So one of the responses to oxidative stress is adaptation to burn energy more cleanly and adaptation to burn energy better and more cleanly, right? So you may see increased mitochondria as a result of that oxidative stress but you also see increased antioxidant production, increased anti-enzyme production and all that stuff.
But the thing is oxidative stress causing fitness is not the same as oxidative stress causing cellular damage. And so, your question how do you know if it’s damaging your lipids and DNA is you can just test for that. You can test for lipid peroxides. If your lipid peroxides are elevated the oxidative stress is damaging your cellular lipids. There’s a test called 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine that might be abbreviated and simplified as 8-OHDG…
Ben: I was going to say there’s got to be a good abbreviation for that.
Chris: [Laughs] Yeah, I think it would usually be abbreviated 8-OHDG would probably be the abbreviation. But anyway, in the ion panel they test that and they labelled it’s under oxidative stress markers so it makes it easier. But anyway, that’s what a marker of oxidative DNA damage. So, I would never look at damaged lipids and damage to DNA and say oh, that was just because the person’s exercising and that’s good because the good things that come from the oxidative stress are things like more mitochondria or more antioxidant protection and you might not always be able to look at all of those, you might with some specialized testing but most of the cases what you’re actually going to observe is increased fitness. So you want the increased fitness but you don’t want damaged DNA and lipids. And so that’s one way to look at that and of course, the other thing is do you have signs and symptoms that trace their way back to oxidative stress? Some of those are kind of vague and non-specific like if you’re aging faster, you probably have too much oxidative stress if you’re aging faster than you should be. Or if you look like you are, right? If you’re face looks more wrinkled than it should be for your age. That’s not a very specific test but it indicates that you have probably more oxidative stress than you’re able to protect against? And even most degenerative diseases, if you’re suffering from cancer or heart disease, I’m not saying take an antioxidant and the disease will go away but most chronic degenerative diabetes pretty much all chronic degenerative diseases have some component of oxidative stress where if you were to optimize your antioxidant defense, you may not cure the disease but you will probably improve the quality of life in important ways and you may make treating the disease less of an uphill battle.
And so that’s kind of the suite of things that relate to oxidative stress generally but then when you look at the nutrients that are related to that, they all they have their own specific things. SoVitamin C is important for antioxidant defense but there’s a whole suite of things that are specific to Vitamin C and you can test for Vitamin C. The same is true of all the other nutrients and so if you’re looking at it from the perspective of the person has everything that they need but they engage in a lot of intense activity, you might want to take a more general approach to kind of boosting up everything that relates to that. Whereas, if that person also has, their gums are bleeding for example, or they’re seeming to bruise in places that they have no physical trauma that could explain it, a person might have a profound Vitamin C deficiency. And so you want to start testing for that and addressing that very specifically.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Now you mentioned pretty fringe test there in terms of that guanosine test that you referred to, I believe, but is there one panel that would test just for all the different antioxidant markers if someone just wanted kind of a-done-for-you-big-swoop-in approach to look at all of the different oxidative stress markers? ‘Cause this is one that I think is really relevant to an active population?
Chris: There are none that I know of that would satisfy my criteria for being that panel. Genova has an oxidative stress 2.0 blood panel that I think can be useful. It has oxidative stress markers. It has some markers that you could infer nutrients on the basis of, but…
Ben: What about the ion profile one…?
Chris: Well the ion, yeah…
Bene: Because that’s one I’ve run on myself before. That one at least gives you Coenzyme Q10, oxidative stress markers and I believe that one if I remember correctly embarrassingly I’m trying to recall now, I think that’s a urinary test.
Chris: It’s both.
Ben: The urinary and blood.
Ben: That’s right, it’s a blood and urine. But do you have through a phlebotomist for that one or is it a drop, I forget?
Chris: You need a phlebotomist.
Ben: Okay. Okay.
Chris: So the ion panel is at the top of my recommendations for a comprehensive screening. And the reason is I had someone on my team take all the markers that I wanted to look at and put in a spread sheet all of the panels of amino acids and organic acids to find which panel had the most of the markers that I wanted in the Genova Ion Panel and there’s two variance plus 20 amino acids plus 40 amino acids. The Genova Ion Panel of 40 amino acids is the one that has the most markers that contribute to the comprehensive screening and in fact in the comprehensive screening, I didn’t calculate it out but I would say probably the Genova Ion Panel is supplying half the markers in the comprehensive screening. And so yeah, if you wanted to pick one thing then that would be a great place to start even better placed than the oxidative stress 2.0 panel that I mentioned if you get the ion panel you won’t even bother with that other panel.
Chris: Because the ion panel also has…
Ben: That’s like a $900 panel, right? But it knocks a lot of stuff out of the ballpark when it comes to testing a ton.
Chris: Yeah, I think sometimes it goes on sale occasionally for like five something but it’s eight something usually. But yeah, it has everything that we’re just talking about in fact, in the Cheat Sheet the reason why I mentioned lipid peroxides and the eight gobbledygook thing that we’re talking about is because it’s in the ion panel and so I’m assuming that the person doing the comprehensive screening gets the ion panel and then I’m like, okay how do we leverage the ion panel to get the most interpreted information out of it?
Ben: Got it. Okay. I’ve got another can of worms that I want to open up here that you talk about on this Cheat Sheet. You say this word for word in the cheat sheet. I don’t recommend high fat ketogenic diets unless there’s a demonstrated medical purpose for this diet. What do you mean by that? Because a lot of people listening in are into the high fat ketogenic diet to turn themselves into “fat burning machines” sort of limit blood sugar fluctuations or you know, things along those lines. What’s your take on ketosis?
Chris: I think that I mean, the short of it is that I think that there are more people using it than it should be and I think that there’s also a lot of misunderstandings about the general utility. But there’s also a lot of stuff that hasn’t been researched and so I’m not necessarily, I’m not saying it’s dangerous. I’m just saying this isn’t a recommendation to go on it, right? So I guess there’s a fine line between saying that I don’t recommend something and saying that I recommend not doing it. That statement wasn’t really meant to say I recommend that you never touch the keto diet with a 10-foot pole unless your doctor tells you to go on it. That’s not what I meant. I meant that I currently in my own recommendations for what I would use a ketogenic diet for, I would also separate a long term ketogenic diet which is I’d be more concerned about versus like a cyclical ketogenic diet versus like eating keto in the morning and eating all your carbs at night and things like that. Basically, my position on diets in general, is that the more restrictive you are in terms of food groups and macro nutrients, the more closely you need to manage the diet. And for most people if they don’t have a good rationale for the restrictions that they’re placing on themselves, short of don’t eat crap, then they’re just making it harder to get all the nutrients that they need. And you know, granted, this is the whole purpose of our discussion is to figure out how to test what you need and so certainly you can manage the ketogenic diet well but if you don’t have a positive reason to do it, then you’re just introducing more difficulty in terms of making sure you’re managing it to get everything you need.
Now, you may not have like a medical prescription for it which would only be really be the case with epilepsy but you may have tried it and have found great benefit from it. You know that constitutes a rationale to do it, right? If you try something and it works great that is a rationale for doing it. And in that case then I do think that there are unknowns to if you do it forever, how long? You know, are there downsides to that? But if you have the demonstrated rationale then you follow through and manage it properly.
Ben: Okay. What’s your diet look like, man?
Chris: My diet right now, actually I’m eating like the same thing everyday so it’s super easy to describe my diet. [laughs]
Ben: Sound interesting and fun.
Chris: Yeah, so I have three or four meals usually three but if my schedule doesn’t fit three I break it up into four and those meals have 150 grams of mixed sprouted legumes. There’s kind of a rotation sometimes it’s lentils, sometimes it’s white beans, sometimes it’s adzuki beans. It’s kind of rotate through. And I have 100 grams of vegetables. The vegetables are just pre-cooked and mixed. There’s all kinds of vegetables that might be in that mix and it rotates all the time. Just a mix of different colorful vegetables usually fairly low calorie. And 50 grams of tomato sauce or salsa and some spices and right now…
Ben: 50 grams of tomato sauce or salsa. You’re measuring that out, huh?
Chris: Yeah, well I mean for measuring the other stuff it’s really easy. Actually, I’m not meticulous about it. Usually it’s two big spoonfuls and it’s about 50 grams but if it’s like 55 I don’t take five out I just forget about it [laughs]…
Ben: Spoken like a true scientist.
Chris: Yeah, and well the reason I did this was because I have some body composition goals right now and I have lost, I went through a leaning out phase and now I’m trying to get into a weight stable phase and then put on real slow muscle gains with no fat gains and so that’s why I’m doing this. So that mix there, I mix a quarter or half a teaspoon of bone mill powder into it because I’m doing dairy-free. I think I have a casein allergy but basically quite reliably. I’m not totally dairy-free. So I tolerate whey protein. I tolerate butter but if I add anything with casein in it I gain like two pounds of water weight. It’s like clockwork. Like I take it out of my diet for two days, I lose two pounds. Put it back into my diet for two days, gain two pounds. I’ve experimented with this carefully and it’s got to be some kind of inflammatory thing. So…
Ben: Yeah, there’s actually been being a former bodybuilder there’s a lot of talk in body building especially leading up to a show about the potential for any caseinate based protein that cause water retention especially like below the skin. It’s kind of common. It’s one thing a lot of bodybuilders will make sure they’re switching from like a whey casein blend if they’re using it to a whey protein isolate. I don’t know if it because casein. I know casein is insoluble in water that might be one reason but yeah, it’s interesting.
Chris: So I’m kind of assuming that that’s bad for you.
Ben: You know, I don’t know if it’s actually…
Chris: Is that wrong?
Ben: Could be from like a blood pressure standpoint. Obviously, from an aesthetic standpoint there can be some issues. But I don’t know if it’s actually bad for you from a chronic disease risk standpoint. See bodybuilders dropping dead right and left because they’ve got casein as a staple in their diet. But yeah, it is interesting.
Chris: Yeah, it’s something for now it just struck me as a kind of red flag and so I was like, maybe I should try going dairy-free and see how it impacts my health.
Chris: But so anyway, that’s what I’m doing. And so I basically eat that with now that it’s a summer time I eat one giant salad with all kinds of stuff going into it. Two of my meals in the morning I don’t have this oh and protein, right? So I have whey protein in the morning and then I’ll have five ounces of beef, chicken, fish whatever at my other two meals. I have fresh juice in the morning. And I end the night with a bowl of berries and some Go Raw Sprouted Cookies.
Ben: Uhm. That sounds amazing, actually. I could do a bowl of sprouted cookies and berries before bed just about every night.
Ben: Even though currently, it’s a handful of spirulina, chlorella and this stuff I have in my freezer that’s super tasty it’s called keto manna. It’s like chocolate flavored coconut manna. And I’ve been doing that with a handful of spirulina and chlorella. But then I cut out the spirulina and chlorella if I anticipate my wife wanting to kiss me because she simply will not do that if I’ve got algae stains all over my teeth.
Chris: [Laughs] You don’t replace it with garlic, right?
Ben: Yeah. Yeah. So anyways, we could go on and on but honestly that’s why you made the Cheat Sheet because it contains pretty much it’s a distillation of a lot of your fabulous content on your podcast and your blog and your nutrition master class. Kind of distilled into one handy PDF. I’ve got it on my desktop. If you’re listening in it’s very simple. You use it on your computer. Your phone. Your Kindle. Go anywhere. The actual name of it is Testing Nutritional Status The Ultimate Cheat Sheet. There’s even a part in the end where Chris has a section on how people can ask him for help once they get the Cheat Sheet. If you want a little bit of extra assistance he’s pretty much got it all jam-packed in there. And it is again probably one of the most comprehensive ways to identify signs and symptoms of nutritional deficiencies. Test for them and then replace them with supplements. Like a smart cookie without necessarily having to go to like I mentioned, Dr. Goggle.
Chris was kind enough to also give us a $5 discount code on this thing which I don’t think is very expensive. The $5 off. How much does it cost Chris? I forget.
Chris: It’s $30 and you take $5 off that’s $25.
Ben: Okay. Yeah. Actually, in full disclosure Chris gave it to me for free, you guys.
Ben: But I will gladly pay the $30 for it. You guys get it for $25 if you use that code Ben5. And I’ll link to it. You could go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/cheatsheet or you can just to the show notes for this podcast where I’ll link to cool articles about for example, animals that self-medicate and the ion panel that we talked about. The Weston A. Price Conference. The Ancestral Health Symposium, Direct Labs, WellnessFx and of course, the ultimate Cheat Sheet. And the show notes for this particular episode are all over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/nutritioncheatsheet, that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/nutritioncheatsheet. And if you want to come hang out with Chris and I and actually eat with us and see what’s on our plates so that one symposium that I mentioned the Ancestral Health Symposium in Bozeman, Montana. I’ll put all the dates and the links to that. Do you remember at the top of your head when that one is, Chris by the way?
Chris: I don’t.
Chris: Let’s put it in the links. [laughs]
Ben: Yeah, it’s like ancestralhealth.org is their website and I think they’ve got a countdown on their website. July 19th through the 21st. Come join Chris and I over in Bozeman, Montana. So it’s called AHS. So check that out too. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes bengreenfieldfitness.com/nutritioncheatsheet.
Chris, as always I feel like when I say goodbye to you on the podcast, we are just getting started into the geekery. It’s crazy. Time flies when I interview you, man.
Chris: Until next time, man.
Ben: Yeah. Thanks for coming on. You’re a three-peat guest now which is pretty impressive. Not a lot of people have…
Chris: It’s exciting.
Ben: Have achieved that.
Chris: It’s an honor.
Ben: Yeah, it must be. So I already say I find you interesting. So anyways you guys, thanks for listening in bengreenfieldfitness.com/nutritioncheatsheet for all the show notes. And Chris, I’ll catch you later, man.
Ben: Ben, it’s been great.
Dr. Chris Masterjohn is a former podcast guest from the episode “Why Sugar Isn’t As Dangerous As You Might Think, How Your Genetics Affect Your Sleep, Liver Toxicity & More With Dr. Chris Masterjohn.” and “What Happens If You Take Too Much Creatine, A Notorious Deficiency On High-Protein Diets, How To Become A Nutrition Ninja & More With Chris Masterjohn.” He earned his Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences in 2012 from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, served as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 2012 to 2014, and served as Assistant Professor of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College from 2014 to 2016. He now works independently in health and nutrition research, education, and consulting. Chris has authored or co-authored ten peer-reviewed publications.
Chris just put the finishing touches on his Testing Nutritional Status: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet e-book, which distills all of the practical information from the confusing nutrition supplement industry and packs everything you need to know about testing and customizing your supplement regimen all into one, single document. So you never need an appointment with Dr. Google. You never need to rummage through long articles, podcast transcripts, or endless lists of links. The Cheat Sheet is published as a PDF, Kindle book, and iBook. This allows you to use your favorite devices and apps to read it in your favorite way. It means you can read it on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. It is threaded with links throughout. This makes finding exactly what you need always just one click away.
All of the lab testing required for comprehensive nutritional screening is reduced to a single page, with hyperlinks making ordering any of the tests just one click away. In just five pages, Chris provides full instructions for lab testing, blood pressure, and dietary analysis, as well as an algorithm for quick decisions on what to do next for each marker that may be off. Over 70 pages list the signs and symptoms associated with all the possible nutrient imbalances, the potential causes of nutrient imbalances, and an action plan for correcting each imbalance. To top it off, it ends with an index of the signs and symptoms of nutrient deficiencies and imbalances. The index has 178 entries, and each entry links directly to the sections of the text where those signs and symptoms are discussed. This makes it incredibly easy to browse through the index for the things that seem most interesting or relevant to you and find exactly what you’re looking for without having to read the whole guide.
During my discussion with Chris about how to test your nutritional status, you'll discover:
-Why you need to care about supplements, even if you're eating a good diet… 9:45
-Whether nutritional testing is too expensive to justify… 22:00
-Three different ways to know if you have nutritional deficiencies… 33:00
-Whether someone should really do this on their own vs. asking their doctor what’s best…44:00
-How you can test for fat-soluble vitamins, and why someone would be low in fat-soluble vitamins…50:00
-How you can test for oxidative stress and what antioxidants are people commonly deficient in…59:00
-Why Chris says “I do not recommend high-fat ketogenic diets unless there is a demonstrated medical purpose for this diet or trial and error has proven it useful to increase well being or resolve health problems that have not been resolvable through other means”…1:07:30
-What Chris' diet looks like, and why he doesn't consume casein protein…1:11:00
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
–Testing Nutritional Status: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet (BEN5 saves $5).
–Onnit Save 10% off anything using our link!
–Birdwell Britches Use discount code “ben” and receive 10% off your purchase.
–Penguin/Random House Audio Books Your first audio book is free!