August 31, 2023
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/kashif-khan-dnaway/
[00:01:45] Who is Kashif Khan?
[00:04:57] Has the technology of DNA testing changed much?
[00:08:58] The connection between genes and a diet?
[00:15:51] Are whole genome tests worth it?
[00:19:10] Ben’s gut detox capacity and the role of glutathione
[00:25:29] Why would glutathione gene persist in some people?
[00:33:47] Ben’s personality profile and genes
[00:42:05] A spiritual or religious standpoint and genes
[00:44:28] Ben’s ability to multitask
[00:52:33] Specific genetic predispositions to plaque accumulation
[01:00:33] Hair health and genes
[01:04:12] Services Kashif Khan’s The DNA Company offers
[01:07:41] Closing the Podcast
[01:08:59] End of Podcast
[01:09:31] Legal Disclaimer
Ben: My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.
Kashif: Our genome is about a quarter million years old. So, we are wired for caveman ancestral habits. We haven't changed. The genome has not changed in that time and it doesn't seem like it's changing either. So, in today's context where the food is so toxic, you don't have a first line of defense. In our ancestor's context, they didn't need it. Now, when somebody has the good version of GSTM1, they have both copies, mom and dad both gave it to them, and they live in today's reality and they're not careful about what they're eating, they will end up with an autoimmune condition. It's kind of like in COVID, you had that cytokine storm, the body's fighting so well, it fights itself.
Kashif: So, there's no such thing as good and bad in genetics, there's context. Who are you? What are you doing? What are you doing with these tools that you've been given? And, with the tool of gut detox, it's actually the mid-level where you're kind of minus 50%. That's the ideal for today's reality. The optimal version is going to hurt you. And so, there's so many people that are walking around the autoimmunity masking the autoimmunity not knowing that their gut is triggering it because of what they're putting into their gut. And, the response is overwhelming because it's wired for an ancestry of the worst possible diet was a tiny fraction of what we're exposed to.
Ben: Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.
Well, folks, if you're watching the video version of this podcast which you'll find at http://bengreenfieldlife.com/dnaway, it's BenGreenfieldLife.com/DNAWay, you'll see this book I'm holding. It's called “The DNA Way: Unlock the Secrets of Your Genes to Reverse Disease, Slow Aging, and Achieve Optimal Wellness.” And frankly, I think a lot of these DNA books are a dime a dozen. I get a ton of them sent to my house and they all seem to say the same thing about whether or not you have blue or brown eyes or whether you're a fast or a slow caffeine oxidizer or whatever. But, this one, it was given to me at a health conference I was at that the author was also attending and I read it while I was there at the conference. I actually couldn't put it down. It was fantastic because it kind of has all these practical things that you can do in terms of how to sleep, how to live, how to eat, how to work out, et cetera, based on your unique genetics but it does a really good job taking a deep dive into things I've always wondered about myself like rumination on certain topics or how I might be wired up from a dopaminergic standpoint or why I'm so freaking driven and just have to get out of bed and conquer the day. Whereas, my wife likes to sit on the back porch and drink a glass of wine.
And so, there's all sorts of interesting things you can learn from your genetics and I was so intrigued with the book I emailed Kashif Khan, the author of the book afterwards even though he was sitting right next to me at the conference is just how he communicated a conference. And, I'm like, “Dude, I got to get you on to talk about this book.” I'm folding over page after page. So, he kindly agreed and we are here today. Kashif actually runs the DNA Company where they do DNA testing. And so, he's the CEO of that but he has a huge history in terms of his research into the field of what's called Functional Genomics and has taken a deep dive down to specific genetic pathways based on health challenges and chronic disease challenges in himself and his own family. And now, he's a mass, this massive body of knowledge in this book. So, we're going to be diving into all things DNA and specifically how DNA testing can be something that really advises how you put your day together, in your diet together, in your exercise routine together.
And, Kashif has been on the show before. We did a show several years ago on sleep genetics, on personalized exercise and diet based on genetics, and a whole lot more. But, a lot has happened inevitably in the field of genetics. It's a rapidly kind of progressing science. So, I figured I'd get Kashif back on the show to go into all my silly questions about his book and a whole lot more. So, Kashif, welcome back, man.
Kashif: Thank you, man. Thank you for your kind words about the book. It's hard to know when you're writing it if it's any good or not and then somebody tells you this is great, it's awesome to hear.
Ben: Yeah. I guess what I thought was cool about the book is you get into the science but then you've got a lot of practical examples from your own first-person perspective. Here's what I learned about myself and here's what I did and how I changed things. So, it's really got a lot of great illustrative examples in there. But, I'm just curious because it's been, I think, three years since we've talked, maybe more on the podcast, has the actual technology of DNA testing changed much as far as how it's being tested when you send in your saliva or I guess it really is just mostly saliva now, right?
Kashif: It's mostly saliva. There's some diagnostic level tests that are blood drawn and it's funny because the actual testing tech, there's been this incremental change in terms of accuracy and diving deeper into each gene. And, the big gap and this is what I talk about in the book and what we talked about you and me is the interpretation. That's what was missing. So, all these genetic companies are operating in a silo trying to figure out what each gene means and then have better tech wrapped around it in terms of sequencing. And, all the functional medicine doctors are over here saying this stuff doesn't work, right? It's like, I don't need to know if I have 80% chance Alzheimer's, I need to stop Alzheimer's. and, this is where the gap was. So, the interpretation in the middle is really what in the last few years has really flourished because all of a sudden, companies like ourselves and a few others have been able to work with the functional medicine community apply it and learn. When this gene instructs a job, okay, we know that, here's the science, this gene means this biological process is either failing or thriving. What does that actually mean in terms of outcome for me? Net result. And, in between that is habits, environment, nutrition, lifestyle. And, when you bundle all that up, then you can start to use this tool in a more powerful way as opposed to, hey, you got 80% chance of Alzheimer's. And, that's really what's changed.
Ben: Well, there's a ton of different DNA testing services out there though. I mean, you're no doubt aware of them because you are one of them a DNA company, but I mean initially, it was 23andMe and the history one or the family genealogy one, and then there's self-decode, Genetic Genie, there is Promethease for a while even though I don't think that's around anymore. I mean, there's got to be a couple dozen different companies you could send your saliva off to. How does somebody even differentiate between what's good and what's bad or where they should send their tests?
Kashif: So, there's ancestry. Simple answer, I want to know where I'm from. You go get that done. Easy to find. Then, there's genetics. Genetics is here's a report that will tell you what version of each gene you have and this is where people have been disappointed unless it's a genetic condition, meaning there's a gene SNP that equals a problem directly. For example, sickle cell syndrome, that exists, you know it exists and you have it until one day we have a genetic treatment therapeutic that will turn that gene off. The challenge is that thinking has been applied to chronic disease aging fitness and the scientists are all thinking which gene equals this, which gene equals this, but the body doesn't work that way, it's systems and cascades. You can't look at a single hormone, you have to look at the full metabolic pathway from dominance to toxicity to clearance to understand what that means for me or you.
So, now, most of these tests will tell you that and if you are looking for a genetic condition, do I have a rare cancer coming? Do I have a rare form of say behavioral development coming in a child? Then, I need to prepare for that which means medical priority. But, it's still not, how do I stop this? It's still not the majority. Chronic disease, this is according to the CDC, is 90% of the $4 trillion healthcare budget, which means that the problems we're talking about in genetics don't solve the majority of our healthcare budget. The majority is solved by our habits, environment, nutrition, lifestyle, being aligned to the genome not doing certain jobs properly. So, that's what you need to look for if you want to deal with those big problems. But, if you're looking for a rare genetic condition, yeah, go use any genetic test.
Ben: Okay. So, in a nutshell basically what you want to know is how do I tweak my diet, how do I tweak my exercise, my supplementation, my work routine, et cetera, based on what I'm seeing on the genetics. And, that's where you're seeing actionable data.
Kashif: Yeah, simple everyday examples of “I want to be a vegan. Okay, how do I know if that's actually right for me?” Well, there's a gene in the methylation cascade that actually produces the enzymes that you need to break down lentils, beans, legumes, the key proteins. This is why so many people that choose that diet start to lose muscle mass, start to lose energy and vitality because they actually can break down their key protein source. So, simple one gene what could completely change your life in terms of applying it to real-life daily decisions as opposed to, again, some rare condition that you probably already know you don't have.
Ben: It'll be cool to unpack real quick actually because a lot of people do feel good on a vegan or plant-based diet and then of course there's a carnivore enthusiast who say it's going to kill you. But, what would you actually look at to know?
Kashif: So, anytime anybody leans on a very specific diet, they're first of all usually eliminating a lot of the nonsense, so they're eliminating the processed foods, the packaged foods, and their motivation is around getting better. So, that alone makes you feel better. And, what ends up happening is even if you aren't genetically wired for that diet you just chose, you do feel good in the first two or three or four weeks because it's typically clean.
Ben: Right. You're not eating French fries.
Kashif: Yes. And then, five, six, seven weeks into it, you start to feel sluggish, brain fog, maybe joint pain, migraines and you don't blame the diet because it felt so good on day one. What you may not understand is like we said about the vegan example, you don't produce the enzymes, you may have a sub-optimal APOA2 gene, which is your primary metabolic pathway for saturated fats. And, if you decide to become a carnivore or on keto, it's not going to work out so well longitudinally. You can still use carnivores a therapeutic tool intermittently go four or five weeks and then take a break, four or five weeks take a break, but even that personalized nugget you need to know from your genes.
Some people say, well, I want to go low carb, great. If you're a highly efficient starch metabolizer and carb metabolizer, the AMY1 gene and you have a great insulin response, you might actually feel worse. We have professional athletes we work with that actually need to maintain a certain carb load in order to actually thrive and feel good. So, I'm pointing out the negatives but the positives are also there. If you find out here's what I do metabolically and I just focus on that, I'm going to feel incredible long term.
Ben: Yeah. But, let's say something carnivore, obviously, you could test and see maybe you have that APOE gene that dictates that you would have a deleterious response to saturated fats. Don't you have to know more? I mean, because you could just say, “Oh, I'm going to eat a fish, chicken, kind of Mediterranean-esque omega-3 rich carnivore type of diet rather than a dirty keto or a high saturated fat full of marbly rib eyes type of diet,” wouldn't you have to look at a whole cluster of factors related to methylation, saturated fats, low carb versus high carb, et cetera? There couldn't just be one gene that you look at to know if you were going to be better disposed to plant-based versus meat-based.
Kashif: That's exactly a point. So, you start to prioritize. So, first of all, big picture, let me take away the 70, 80% problems and now I'm down to more precision. And, the precision where you start to ask more questions, now that I know that I am wired for more of a meat based-diet, I metabolize fats well. I don't do well with the plant protein, so I'm going to focus on animal proteins. Okay, let's look at my gut detox, and maybe the way I char my foods, for example, is not the best for me because I can't deal with that carcinogenic charring of the cooking of the food, the way I even lay it down on my plate. It may be that my gut-to-brain signal for satiety is a little broken. And, when you're not getting the carbs that you're used to, all of a sudden, you're overeating in terms of calories. So, ask a question and we can answer it by using the genome. And, you yourself, by the way, we have your genome here which you are kind enough to offer to open up to the world as a guinea pig, right?
Kashif: You are completely missing the GSTM1 gene, which is the primary first line of defense of the gut in terms of detox capacity. So, when you're eating whatever, anything that's coming along with it, you're meant to extract and remove what's not meant to enter your bloodstream, clear it. You don't do that, right? For example, if you were wired to go eat a vegan diet, well a lot of that is plants that are sprayed, packaged foods, processed foods. Even though they are seemingly clean, you may not feel well because of that one element. Yes, you metabolize it well, but your gut doesn't deal with the toxins well or the plastics or the packaging well.
Ben: Yeah. But, couldn't that also mean that if I were to not eat a vegan diet and stay away from the herbicides, pesticides, glyphosate, toxins, et cetera, that you might find in that, wouldn't that also mean that I'm not equipped to say deal with the char from eating much of meat that's been cooked?
Kashif: For sure. Yeah. So, what is the point? Here's your genome. Your genome is instructing all biological function. So, here's how your body does all these jobs, the jobs that it needs to do for you to be alive. Now, I know I do this job really well and I don't do this job so well. And so, if I don't do this job so well, I now need to remove certain habits and I need to add certain things whether supplementation, food, exercise, et cetera, in the three buckets of environment, nutrition, and lifestyle. These are the three buckets, the epigenetic loads that you put on top of your genome that equal your net result. And, when it comes to the brain, it's also context, we're going to talk about that too. That's another epigenetic phenomenon of what am I, where am I, what am I doing with my neural wiring?
So, that is the point is understanding here's my genetic map, identify the red flags. Here's the thing that my body just doesn't do well. And now, I can take the context I'm dealing with whether it's choosing how to plate my food, how to exercise, what do I do at work, what pills do I take and use that data to understand here's the part of the chain, the weak link, so I have to remove and add certain things. And, that's why, you mentioned the book, it was laid out in that way. Here's a genome and here's the habits for each problem.
Ben: Yeah. That's what I like about the book and we're definitely going to get into a lot of these subtle nuances. I'm glad you mentioned that I tested because that is kind of the crux of today's podcast is we're going to go through my results and hopefully people can learn by example a lot of things you can take away from your DNA. So, I'm going to put all my results available for anybody who wants to download and follow along in the podcast at BenGreenfieldLife.com/DNAWay if you want to kind of see what my results look like and what we're going to talk about related to that.
But, before we get into that, what about these whole-genome tests, Kashif, where you could go to–what are some companies? I think Fountain Life is doing it. I think Next Health is doing it. Peter Diamandis‘ company, I believe, Health Nucleus. They're testing everything. What do you think about these whole genome tests? Are they worth it?
Kashif: So, that's a great example. So, Fountain Life, we sat there and talked with their science officers and medical officers. And, what we showed them was here's your whole genome, 22,000 genes. I can tell you more with 100 genes and you can tell me with 22,000. Why? Because we know what functional pathways actually drive the majority of problems. I understand the value of understanding your human instruction manual. Every one of your trillions of cells has this manual inside. So, if you know every single line of code, then you know what to focus on. But, the majority of it is not actionable, right? If you can't take action, it's dumb data. So, the insights that you can drive, give me an instruction, tell me what to do. That's the most valuable piece. And, that's laid out in the functional genes, metabolic pathway, hormone pathway, neural chemicals, detox pathways, and anti-inflammatory pathways. These are the things that drive most of our big problems. So, I do see value in banking your genomic data hoping that there may be in more insights coming down the road.
Kashif: Right. But, I also don't see if it's banking at a point where we know three years from now it's going to be one-tenth of the cost and we don't have anything to draw from it today anyway. There isn't a lot of value there, right? So, functional interpretation requires more in-depth view at the testing level per gene than this full genome sequence. So, I've actually worked with full genome sequence companies where I can't draw the data I need out of it. They actually don't even realize when they use the words full genome, it truly isn't full genome. Testing is more complex than people think it is.
Ben: Yeah. So, on your end rather than just say we're going to test everything, and that way we've got all this data that when new information or research comes up we could then go back and look at. From a whole genome standpoint, are you just basically reverse engineering and saying at the DNA company, we know these are all the genes that are highly actionable, therefore when you send in your saliva, these are the ones that we're going to focus on and test for and not spend money on anything else?
Kashif: Exactly. So, somebody would ask, well, why not just test the genome? The cost really isn't that much more. Because accuracy falls through the floor. So, Dale Bredesen–
Ben: Yeah, the Alzheimer's guy.
Kashif: Exactly, yeah. So, somebody told him, “Why don't you use genetic testing more often?” Now, things have changed but at the time he wrote his book, he said, “Because it's only 65% accurate.” And, how is that possible? It's your genome. It's precise. It's your genetics. It has to be certain. Because the way the testing is done, there's so much data that we aren't yet there where you do a full genome sequence that it's 100% certain. So, this is a big reason why we said eliminate all the noise, just focus on the 100 genes that matter and be more accurate with less information that actually can drive the needle.
Ben: Okay. Alright, that makes sense. So, I don't think we're going to go through every single last little thing that you tested on my DNA because there's quite a bit in the report. But, there were specific things I was really curious about that I want to jump into.
Ben: One you already mentioned, so we might as well kind of put a bow on that, and that's this whole detox capacity thing. When I tested, my eyebrow went up when I got to that section. It showed I don't detox very well. What do you do in that scenario? So, review one more time that actual gene or well, what's the terminology, is it the SNP or the allele or the gene? How would you actually say it and then what do you do?
Kashif: So, this is an important sort of continuance of your last question, which is in the glutathione pathway, there's a unique phenomenon called a copy number variation. So, yes, to SNPs. So, SNP is a spelling mistake. Each gene is thousands of letters long and somewhere in that gene, there's a location, one of the letters, where we know there's sometimes a spelling mistake. And, if that spelling mistake is present, that gene doesn't function properly.
There's also something called an insertion or deletion where a whole paragraph is missing or there's an extra paragraph. In the glutathione pathway particularly, there's a unique variation called a copy number variation, meaning the entire gene may be missing or you have an extra copy of the gene. Now, imagine if a spelling mistake has impact that's worth reporting, what does it mean if the gene is missing? And, in your case, that's present and it's present in the GSTM1 gene, which by the way I'm in the same boat, which means that your gut has zero first-line defense and its ability to use glutathione to bind and clear toxins. Where you're doing really well, however, is first line of defense of the lungs. So, airborne, mold that might lead to mycotoxins or pesticides, et cetera, you do a really good job, the best possible of preventing that fermenting in the bloodstream. And, where you're also doing well is second line of defense.
So, once everything is cleared past the lungs and gut, something gets in, you're doing a good job of the GSTT1 gene it's called, which then sends the [00:21:14] _____ to the blood to find all this nonsense sent to the liver, poop and peep it out, clear it out. So, your red flag is the gut. So, it goes back to, what do I prioritize? I need to focus on my gut, which is twofold. I need to remove certain things and you already know what all those things are. I need to add certain things. Now, because my glutathione pathway is somewhat broken, glutathione even though intuitively, let's add some, you would think that's the answer for you, it may not be the answer because you don't have the instruction telling glutathione what to do, you need more precursors; NAC, selenium, alpha lipoic acid. And, that will do the job for you much more efficiently than the glutathione itself.
Ben: Oh, so you wouldn't even use glutathione if you had this, you said it was the GSTT1 pathway?
Kashif: Either one. Yeah, GSTT1 or TM1 both potentially can have a copy number variation where you're missing the gene. So, if you're missing the gene, you're missing the instruction. Glutathione isn't being instructed, will bind onto your minerals. They'll bind onto your nutrients. We see people that go to a naturopath because they have some blood test showing that they need to detoxify and they go on a glutathione IV and they're bedridden. They feel horrible. And, the answer is you probably need more. The true answer is you're missing the genetic instruction and you're losing all your minerals and nutrients also and you're killing yourself slowly, right? So, you need more of the precursors that get to work.
Ben: So, you need glutathione but it's not exogenous glutathione, you need to somehow enable your body to create more of its natural endogenous glutathione, which it actually would be able to use. And, the way you would do that would be some of these traditional glutathione precursors. I know whey protein is one. You may mentioned n-acetylcysteine, selenium. I believe just amino acids in general could be helpful for that.
Ben: What else would you use for glutathione precursors?
Kashif: So, ALA, alpha-lipoic acid also seems to work well. Milk thistle seems to support it. And, to your point of it's somewhat if I go to the gym today for the first time and I try and bench press 400 pounds, I'll probably fail, but I can start with the bar. So, even if you want to use a liposomal glutathione that is beneficial, you're just starting with a microdose and you're building it up.
Kashif: Your body has to adapt to be able to utilize it. It doesn't know how.
Ben: Let's say someone's listening or someone's like me and they test and they find out that they're deficient in these glutathione pathways and that there's these six to eight different nutrients that might allow for better glutathione production, are you aware of some kind of supplement that is kind of a shotgun formula for all these glutathione precursors? Or, do you just kind of go piece them all together yourself?
Kashif: So, we actually made one for this exact purpose.
Ben: I just successfully asked the fox guarding the henhouse question. That was unintentional. I probably threw your softball, but go ahead.
Kashif: So, in our reports, we make sure to let people know what they need but not that it has to come from us. It can come from anywhere because a lot of people work with naturopaths, functional docs that already believe in certain brands that's great. But, we also understand that when it comes to managing things that are genetically prescribed, it's sometimes about the expression of the gene and not the symptom itself. And so, our formulas are unique; whereby, it's not about just, “Hey, do I need NAC?” There's a proportion. And, for example, curcumin, there's certain dosage that will upregulate a gene and a certain dosage that will downregulate the exact same gene. So, we're managing the expression of the gene to help your body do a better job as opposed to giving you something to mask the symptom. And, that's what how these formulas have been made. This is why we spent three years with seven thousand people managing their health to understand how these nuances apply to formulations. That being said, go to our website, read the labels and you can buy them anywhere, right?
Ben: Yeah, yeah, that's true. What's the name of the one for glutathione?
Kashif: We call it Detox Optimizer.
Ben: Okay, alright.
So, have you ever wondered, because this is probably a little bit applicable to some of the other pathways we're going to go over why someone would have that deficit in their glutathione pathways, if there was some kind of a favorable adaptation that would have resulted in that? I remember I read a fascinating book once about the potential origin of many common diseases like, for example, diabetes may have developed as a response to the Ice Age because a higher concentration of something like sugar in the bloodstream would result in the blood being less susceptible to freezing and allow the blood to maintain a slightly higher temperature. So, maybe that's where the predisposition to diabetes came from. We hear that folks with sickle cell anemia might be a little bit resistant, I believe, to malaria. So, you would see high incidence of sickle cell anemia in places where there'd be a high mosquito population. But, with something like glutathione, have you ever kind of thought about or looked into why this gene would persist?
Kashif: So, this is a funny nuance where our ancestors having what you have was not a bad thing. So, context is key here. Keep in mind that we are still wired for our ancestors' habits. When I say ancestors, I don't mean grandma and grandpa, our genome is about a quarter million years old. So, we are wired for caveman ancestral habits. We haven't changed. The genome has not changed in that time and it doesn't seem like it's changing either. Now, the truth is in today's context where the food is so toxic, you don't have a first line of defense. In our ancestor's context, they didn't need it. Now, when somebody has the good version of GSTM1, they have both copies, mom and dad both gave it to them and they live in today's reality and they're not careful about what they're eating, they will end up with an autoimmune condition. It's kind of in COVID, you had that cytokine storm, the body's fighting so well, it fights itself.
Kashif: So, there's no such thing as good and bad in genetics, there's context. Who are you? What are you doing? What are you doing with these tools that you've been given? And, with the tool of gut detox, it's actually the mid-level where you're kind of minus 50%. That's the ideal for today's reality. The optimal version is going to hurt you. And so, there's so many people that are walking around the autoimmunity masking the autoimmunity not knowing that their gut is triggering it because of what they're putting into their gut. And, the response is overwhelming because it's wired for an ancestry of the worst possible diet was a tiny fraction of what we're exposed to, right?
Ben: Yeah. Yeah, it kind of makes me wonder if part of it has to do with nutrient density or food bioavailability like why shuttle nutrients like selenium towards the production of glutathione if you don't need that as a detoxification agent and you could potentially use those precursors as precursors for others say amino acids or protein building blocks or things other than glutathione because perhaps at some point in your ancestry, there was a period of starvation or access to poor nutrient density. There's always a reason, I think, from an ancestral standpoint, I just thought it would be interesting from a glutathione perspective because you're right, I never really thought about that. I suppose you might know better than me, but let's say you were living in, let's say, maybe 6,000 or 7,000 years ago in a time where perhaps food toxins and process additives or artificial compounds added to foods weren't quite as much of an issue or there wasn't as much glyphosate being sprayed but maybe you were exposed to, I don't know, poisonous mushroom or a plant defense mechanism like concentrated lectin or phytic acids or gluten or something like that. It sounds to me like you're suggesting that the glutathione pathway is not the pathway that would be activated in that context to protect someone against say like a more natural food toxin or stressor.
Kashif: Yeah. There's that and the total load was less, meaning you went out, you ate that mushroom, some taco exposure, but everything else was already good. You were at a homeostatic level where you weren't breathing, smelling, applying to your skin, eating everything that was constantly causing inflammation and toxicity. So, that threshold, your way down here as opposed to the tipping point where it add something as a catalyst that takes you over the edge, that's where most people are living today, right?
Kashif: And, the other point of nutrient density, this example may clarify things too. There's a gene called MC4R, which speaks to satiety of the palate. And, we see a lot of people that are wired for lower capacity here. So, they don't do a good job of getting satisfied the wow factor from their food on their palette. And so, they tend to overeat but not in the context of I need a second helping, it's like, “I'm done with my meal, I'm now going to graze at the pantry. I need my cookies. I need my Doritos. I need that wow factor.”
So ancestrally, this was a highly beneficial trait because you would go seek a variety of nutrients. And, this is why you couldn't get satisfied. I need salty. I need crunchy. I need soupy. I need it all to get satisfied. And, this is why you go to a Thai restaurant, that first bite is wow, right, because you got it all, you got the sweet coconut, you got the soupy, you got the crunchy noodles. It gives you that satiety of the palate. And so, this is how we hack this for people. The answer isn't, sorry, your genes don't work, it's you've had your meal, now you need to have a piece of cheese, dark chocolate, a nut. Give yourself the variety that your palate is seeking to signal I have satiety and then your brain says, “I don't need to seek variety anymore, I got what I needed.”
Ben: Yeah. And, if you had that type of gene, probably access to a food table that ranks nutrient density of foods. I remember years ago at the Ancestral Health Symposium a talk given by a Harvard scientist there was showing that when we see kale and blueberries and chia seeds and whatever championed as the world's best superfoods, other foods such as liver and bacon or two blow those foods out of the water from a nutrient density standpoint. And, I'm not saying everybody needs to drop their kale and go have a bunch of liver and bacon but it is interesting that you could hack that by just accessing a nutrient density table of foods, which I mean you could literally just google “food nutrient density table” and try to adjust your diet in such a way that you're getting a high amount of nutrient density, perhaps supplementing with the multivitamin and mineral complex. And, I would theorize you would probably get less post-meal urges for say ice cream or dark chocolate.
Kashif: So, another thing you just said answers your previous question, minerals. So, our food is deplete of minerals almost. It's a slim-to-none scenario today and that we think of minerals as what we see, the actual minerals themselves. They have a potent detox mechanism that when we did eat nutrient-dense food and we were getting our minerals and it was in our water, it was in everything, we didn't need this intense detox capacity. So, what's going on? When fulvic minerals enter your cells, they actually transport and bring along with them antioxidants to clear out the cell. And, when they leave, they actually reverse their charge and pull out toxins from the cell. So, they bring in antioxidants and remove oxidants like free radical activity. And so, our food doesn't have these minerals anymore. And so, our bodies were dependent on this process to truly intercellularly remove toxicity, pull it out of the blood. And, if you don't have this tool, well, yeah, that's why the people that were wired for a certain level of detox capacity was in the context of we used to get mineral dense food that would help us with detoxification but doesn't do that anymore.
Ben: Yeah, that's interesting. I actually just reordered folic acid this morning. I interviewed Caroline Alan from BEAM Minerals who was actually also at that Consumer Health Summit along with us. And, I think that podcast will be out by the time this one comes out, but fascinating discussion about folic acid and humic acid and minerals in general. So, we delved deep into the science of what you were just explaining. So, that's interesting to hear you back it up.
Now, I want to talk about a couple of other things that I'm really curious about. Last night, I was having dinner with my wife, my sons are off at camp right now, and my wife and I had both recently taken a test called HIGH 5, which is a profile test. And, it's kind of some of those old Myers-Briggs analysis that would tell you if you're INTJ or ESTP or whatever other alphabet letter soup, but this shows kind of how you're hardwired. For example, I'm very high on storyteller, I'm very high on catalyst making things happen, I'm extremely high on deliverer, meaning I follow through on pretty much 100% of what I say I'm going to do and will often take over and micromanage, ask if I feel it's not getting followed through on the way that I envisioned and I'm incredibly high, the highest and timekeeper, meaning scheduling, planning, preparing, organizing, habits, routines, rituals, et cetera.
Now, I also, for years, have had this idea of an external brain. I think I originally learned it from my friend, Ari Meisel, who had a podcast and a book about productivity, this idea of a Notepad or Evernote document, or even a handwritten journal. I know Tim Ferriss has championed the idea of carrying around a Moleskin journal to write down everything that comes into your head at any given point to get it out of your head and onto paper. Because if I don't do that, I will ruminate heavily on it. It will keep me up at night. I will not be able to stop thinking about a task or an item or a conversation. And so, I basically live and die by this external brain that synced across my Kindle, my phone, my computer, et cetera. And, I'm often writing things down throughout the day that get added to this to-do list, so to speak, that's later organized on my calendar.
Now, is there a gene because I think I came across this in your book, might have been related to serotonin or dopamine or something like that, that is a gene that would predispose someone to that type of rumination?
Kashif: Yeah. So, it's funny as you're saying this stuff, I'm looking at your genetic report and I'm kind of laughing on the inside because that's exactly what it says, how you would behave. And, where we usually identify this is that it disturbs people's sleep in the context of “I can't fall asleep because I'm ruminating.” Oh, I wish I didn't say this, I should have showed up five minutes earlier.
Ben: I mean, case in point, we're doing this podcast at 11:00 a.m., I have been working since 3:00 a.m. this morning because I woke up, I had some ideas. And, if I don't write them down right away, I got up, I use the bathroom, got exposed to some light, had that little melatonin drop and I was like, “Alright, I'm just going to bang this stuff out” and I never went back to bed. I'll do that once or twice a week.
Kashif: Alright. So now, we're going to lay out what's going on in your head. And, step one, to go straight to what you're talking about; BDNF, brain-derived neurotropic factor. So, it speaks clinically to neuroplasticity, your brain's ability to develop new neural pathways. So, concussion, concussion recovery, learning new skills, for example. So, your BDNF is broken. So, what's going on there–and, when I say broken, again, when it comes to everything mood and behavior, there's no good or bad, it's about context.
Kashif: You'll start to understand this as we speak to this. But, what I mean is you have say the slower version of the genes, you don't do a good job of neuroplasticity developing new neural pathways. And, I'll tell you why. The BDNF gene, you have one of these SNPs that's off, your TPH gene or the tryptophan gene is the ideal version which then leads to a phenomenon called epistasis. And, this is where the very beginning what did I say that interpretation is the most important thing that's changing genetics. In a genetic report, you would have independently been told about TPH and you would have independently been told about BDNF and then you would have said, “Well, I don't actually feel that way. This stuff doesn't work.” Because you need to actually interpret in the context of human biology. Here's the actual way my body processes neurochemicals. Now, let me look at what gene instructs each step.
Kashif: And, here's case in point, the good version of TPH, you have one good version of BDNF, one bad version. The good version of TPH epistatically is turning the good version off. So now, you have two bad versions. What does that equal? Bad neuroplasticity. In terms of your mood, it causes you to give things a lot of meaning. So, it's not PTSD or trauma, it's more shell shock, which is why you ruminate. The brain can't stop thinking until it's resolved the issue because it's given it more meaning than it deserves. Now, that also leads to a great superpower. Again, this is why I say context is key. In the context of I'm working in an office with a bunch of people and everything sucks because I'm always the drama queen, whether it's happy or sad or good or bad or whatever, I always give it too much meaning and people aren't at my level and so I become the drama queen.
Kashif: In the context of doing what you're doing, which is innovating pioneering, it is a powerful tool, it's a creation tool. Because you give meaning, you'll pursue and get that thing done. So now, layer on top of that, here's serotonin response, completely dysregulated. What does that mean? The actual serotonin receptor is too short. And so, it's hard for you to bind the appropriate amount of serotonin for the stimulus. So now, serotonin speaks to this, typically we say it's a mood regulator. Am I responding appropriately for the incoming stimulus? Am I happy, sad as appropriate for whatever is going on? The actual mechanism that drives that outcome is your brain prioritizing stimulus. So, your brain has a very difficult time prioritizing all incoming stimulus, so you're giving things a lot of meaning.
Ben: Right, even an insignificant email might distract me, bother me, and take up as much of my attention as a massive chapter in a book I'm working on.
Kashif: Yep. And, your response is equally heavy weighted. It's not, yes, hello, thank you, it's a two-pager response, right?
Ben: Yeah, yup.
Kashif: Because you have to think at that level of depth. Now, your serotonin response also being dysregulated, meaning that your brain can't prioritize stimulus, means not only you're giving things a lot of meaning but you're noticing everything, every little nuance, every sound, please don't make that noise, please stop ticking I can't focus. But, also when you're reading something like every T that needs to be crossed every I, and other people are like, “I don't get it, it doesn't mean that much and I don't see that much.”
Kashif: So, trying to work with a team, here's our meeting, here's the 10 action items, go do it. Next week, you come back. And, they're like, “We did it” and you're like, “What are you talking about? What about this? What about this? What about this?” They don't know what you're talking about.
Ben: Oh, my gosh, it happens all the time. Wow. Yeah, that's crazy.
Ben: And, I've always kind of had this tendency of thinking, why can't people get it? Why aren't people as perfectionistic about spelling or grammar or editing or these subtle nuances as I am? Why doesn't my wife get driven nuts when she has more than five notifications showing red on her iMessages app; whereas, that would just drive me bat shit crazy? I wouldn't even be able to sleep at night. And, this kind of explains how much of this is genetically hardwired.
Kashif: Yeah. So now, again, context is key. In your context, you've turned it into a superpower. The same exact superpower could be a kryptonite.
Kashif: I've actually dealt with people that are literally suicidal with your profile. So, there's a gentleman I was dealing with that was working in construction, he was architect, brilliant guy. Again, deep thinking, high-quality thinking, high level of detail, which is why you're so good is what he did, but he could not function in the team. He could not function when those people didn't value every little detail that he cared about and he kept losing his jobs, losing his jobs, and that had ultimately led to this depression. And now, one other layer that he had that you don't is he also bound the emotion, the negative stimulus. So, you do a really good job of ignoring the feeling. So, you have the weight, the burden, the shell shock, but there's no feeling, there's no trauma, which makes it highly functional.
Ben: Yeah. And, I suppose not to get too esoteric here, but obviously, some of this can be very much influenced by your outlook on life, I think, from a spiritual or religious standpoint. I pray in the morning and in the evening I, as scripture would say, “Cast all my cares upon Christ.” And, I'm constantly praying about things that bug me and just being able to hand the reins over so to speak to a great storyteller in charge of my life, helps me a ton in terms of trusting that everything's going to be okay despite me feeling like everything's unraveling and nobody's doing their job right.
Kashif: So, to that note, I'm going to tell you something really cool. So, I pray five times a day, right, and the reason why I do it and the reason you do it are different. You are wired for belief. Your BDNF because it gives things so much meaning, there's this experiential learning requirement, maybe some risk adversity because I need to see it and believe it. But, once I do, I really believe it. Your tryptophan response also signals call it almost a placebo effect and we're not calling it that because what you believe in is real, but what I'm saying is that there's this propensity towards belief. So, once your BDNF allows you to see that this thing is true, so you do have that vetting that's required, your level of belief is deep, your ability to really dive in and truly feel and believe it. For me, it's a little different. For me, it's more of a call it a coping mechanism where I have more emotional, I hold on to trauma. I feel it. And so, there's more of an EQ and that EQ drives me and I have really fast neurochemical clearance, so it's hard for me to stay in the moment. And so, that leads me to sort of lean on this tool that grounds me. This is the thing that makes me feel normal.
Kashif: That I can go back to. When I'm done with the madness, I go and do my meditation in Zen and it's like a relief. For you, it's more deep belief. So, even this is hardwired. And, the way, go to your church, go to my Mosque, wherever, and you'll see 10 different profiles of why people are there and they don't even realize.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, that's super interesting. Wow. I'm learning a ton here.
Okay. So, I will sometimes read about how multitasking doesn't exist and the cognitive deficits and impairments that occur from a productivity standpoint based on task switching. I kind of sort of agree with that but at the same time, I can multitask on steroids, man. I'm not saying this disc to break, I can literally be reading three books at a time, on a phone conversation fully present while replying to emails, or in a room where there's eight different conversations taking place and be able to track each of those. I will bounce from activity to activity while simultaneously being immersed in multiple activities at once. And, I think I kind of sort of just barely escaped the era in which nearly every young boy gets diagnosed with ADD or ADHD but feel like if I were living in that era I might have fit into that category. So again, I feel it's kind of a superpower but at the same time, I've always wondered the back of my mind from a genetic standpoint whether it's dopaminergic or serotonergic or something like that. if I have any of those genes that are related to poor ability to pay attention to deep tasks for a long period of time and really getting fueled up and fired up by being able to do multiple things at once and bounce around quite a bit during the day.
Kashif: There is a clear answer in your genome to all that and there's also this nuance that I would ask you to think about this. All of these things that you're doing that you're like, “I'm doing it all, I can multi-prioritize and multitask” are the things that you don't and you don't want to do are those also included in there. I would think based on your genome that it's only the stuff you actually take interest in. If it's something that you really don't care about, that may get lost, right?
Ben: Yes, although I think I've almost trained myself, and perhaps it's some of these neurotic or ruminating tendencies you've talked about to where I pretty much feel everything like inbox zero at the end of every day easily, completing all tasks, sometimes even wondering. Again, I feel–I don't want to sound braggadocious when I say this, but sometimes I'll get to the end of the day and I'll look at what I've accomplished versus what say others around me have accomplished and I'll think, “What were people doing all day?” I realize that sounds like an asshole thought but it just is. That's what I think in many times at the end of the day. So, I feel like I'm doing it all and doing it all kind of well but keep going.
Kashif: Yeah, you likely are just doing more because of the way you're wired. So, it's not that it's a perception thing, you truly actually are doing more because your brain is capable of it. So, your dopamine response which we didn't talk about is implicit here but so are the other genes. So, the way you experience dopamine, the receptors that you have in your brain, DRD2 is a gene that determines the density of those receptors. You have the maximum possible density, which means it's very easy for you to experience the anticipation of pleasure or reward. First of all, dopamine powers pleasure. I eat some tasty food or reward. I achieve something. It powers both of those, which ultimately lead to satisfaction. And, you don't necessarily need both to get satisfaction. And, this is where we train people that are addicts, et cetera, to focus more on reward because they still get the satisfaction and don't need the addiction anymore.
So, moving forward, your dopamine pathway looks like it's very easy for you to experience pleasure and your clearance is somewhat quick. So, it doesn't particularly last long enough, which that's the factor that allows you if you truly enjoy it and it's meaningful to you because again, it's so easy for experienced pleasure, you're not necessarily seeking it. It's very easy to say “I'm not interested” because you're satisfied. Imagine the person with the opposite, the low dopamine receptors that can get satisfaction, they're constantly seeking the next opportunity or pleasure or reward, they become reward-seeking. So, you're the opposite, it's like, “I don't need it, I'm satisfied. But, when I get it, I really value it and I will focus heavy and do a better job the most. But, my neurochemical clearance is a bit quick so I'm not in it for long enough.”
Kashif: And, I move on to the next things. Essentially, the next stimulus that comes in, I will move on, which allows you to multitask. It's not that you're innately saying, “I'm multitasking,” it's every time there's a new reward-seeking input, you're moving on to it because your neurochemical clearance is a little too quick. And, because your serotonin is dysregulated, you're also noticing everything, every little nuance and stimulus and you're giving attention to things that other people potentially don't even see.
Kashif: So, it speaks to this ADHD, all of these labels, which are actually again your superpower but could have easily been your kryptonite.
Ben: Now, it's my understanding that ADHD medications such as Adderall significantly influence the dopaminergic response and I believe they can almost flood the receptors with dopamine. This has made me wonder if even more natural supplements like cacao tea or Dopa Mucuna or something like that could be helpful for someone who has those type of tendencies.
Kashif: So, in your case, it would have actually made your problem worse. So, the assumption is this person needs more dopamine. Your problem is very different, you're experiencing too much.
Ben: Because of low dopamine receptor availability or high clearance or both?
Kashif: High dopamine receptor availability.
Ben: So, that dopamine in my system is less effective and is being cleared more quickly. So, if I take a bunch of extra, it's only going to aggravate the issue?
Kashif: It's going to cause anxiety because it's this constant feeling, clearance, feeling, clearance, feeling, clearance. And, the intensity of that feeling is going to get higher so the delta value keeps getting bigger which just leads to anxiety. This is why so many people say “I feel worse” because they're solving the wrong problem.
Ben: How would you tackle that problem?
Kashif: So, there's things you can do to actually speed up or slow down. So again, coming back to gene expression, you can alter the gene expression of COMT, which either speeds up or slows down neurochemical clearance with basic supplements like, for example, SAMe is something that will speed it up.
Ben: That's interesting. I have SAMe. The only reason I have it is occasionally I've used MDMA and there are certain things that you take before or after MDMA to replenish HTP and act as methyl donors, et cetera. So, I happen to have even though it might be once a year that I'd use something like MDMA. I happen to have a whole bunch of SAMe just up in my pantry. And so, it sounds to me like you're suggesting that that could potentially be a valuable nutrient for me to use.
Kashif: Yeah. So, it could be until you start to see that–so, for example, for women, we often use this for estrogen clearance. It speeds up COMT, which slows down the conversion of estrogen into estrogen toxic metabolites which are causing a lot of the female health issues. So, in your case, you have to pay attention, do I start to have more of the squirrel effect in which case you know that the SAMe is not being supported. Because remember, it can change gene expression in either direction based on dosage, based on everything else you're doing. So, if you feel there's a calming effect that's working, if you feel it's giving you more of this ADHD, then you need to stop it and focus on more of the root, which is, like you said, replenishing 5-HTP. Okay, you can focus on B6 and methylfolate.
Kashif: Those two things will help you support that pathway in a different way and it's not directly–so, there's just different ways to go about things based on your genome.
Ben: Probably intuitively I feel so fantastic when I have my raw liver smoothie and the organ meats on a regular basis. Great for your folate and B complex. That's interesting. I actually really do feel like I've got lifeblood in me when I have organ meats. That might be one of the reasons.
Kashif: It's a big reason.
Ben: So, I want to shift here to a different category because it's something I've been talking about quite a bit of my podcast and that's the topic of cardiovascular health. And namely, I've been discussing this idea that a lipid panel only tells you so much and that in an era of diagnostic imaging that will show you things your plaque or your calcium deposition, you're actually going to find a lot more because your blood cholesterol values don't necessarily mimic what's going on on a tissue level, for example, in the heart or in the brain.
And so, based on that, I've been experimenting with some of these newer AI-based diagnostic images for the heart, namely the Cleerly scan, spelled with two Es. I've been looking into some of these protein markers for plaque deposition that aren't a normal lipid panel but that are–for example, there's one company called [00:53:23] _____ testing four different proteins that reflect potential for plaque deposition in the arteries. And, as a part of this, I found that I personally have pretty high plaque accumulation. It's stable plaque. It's likely due to years of inflammation and hardcore racing and kind of beating up my heart, but nonetheless, it's plaque and it could break loose. And so, I'm focused on different strategies to melt plaque. The more I look at some of these statin combinations like low-dose tatin like acetamide, there's another one that starts with an R, blanking on the name of it, or even these twice-yearly injections of something like a PCSK9 inhibit. I've been talking to some people and they're like, well, statins didn't make a dent in my plaque score but then I started on a PCSK9 and within a couple of months retested and my plaque had halved or more.
So, I'm wondering, is there, A, a specific genetic predisposition to plaque accumulation, and B, a certain population that would respond better to say a statin or a PCSK9 or some other approach based on what you can see on genetic data?
Kashif: Yeah. So, it's rabbit hole time. There's a lot to talk about here. So, let's use you as an example. We can determine the quality of the endothelium. So, here's the inner lining of the blood vessel, your endothelium. That's where the blood actually flows and touches, that inner cell membrane. You're one step away from having the worst possible quality.
Ben: Right. And, by the way, is that referring to the inner lining that's often called the glycocalyx?
Kashif: Yes, exactly. Glycocalyx, exactly, yeah. So now, you just have bad hardware. It's highly prone to inflammation. It's not resilient, which means all of what you did earlier on and maybe still today that is oxidative in nature that puts free radical activity into the blood would then cause inflammation here because you have bad hardware, that's not resilient, they can't cope. And, the body's response to inflammation in the endothelium glycocalyx is actually deploy cholesterol is this like Vaseline that smooths things out and fix it. The same oxidation and free radical activity that damage our endothelium to begin with oxidases the cholesterol and causes it to harden and deposit.
So now, if we understand that's the biology, that's what's going on and this is why eventually you get to a doctor and they say there's plaque or there's elevated lipid number, you need to take a pill, here's why it happened. We now know why it happened. So, what triggered it for you and what do you do about it, yes, the answers are different. So, in your case, you don't do well with statin. You're the worst possible statin metabolizer. Which means if you were to take one, you'd probably end up with a myopathy-type outcome, pain. It wouldn't drive the needle much, but it's kind of you metabolize it so slow that it's in the body too long which has major side effect problems that these are the people that get off their statins and say this isn't working. In fact, it's making me feel horrible.
Ben: Correct me if I'm wrong, also be people who would be very much prone to that myopathy in the absence of CoQ10 supplementation. That's my understanding that these poor genetic responders to statins tend to see more rapid CoQ10 depletion. I personally have been experimenting with red yeast rice extract as well as a one, two statin microdose and I'm taking hefty amounts of CoQ10 based on my understanding of that.
Kashif: Right. Yeah, exactly. And, we found this one particular product comes from Japan, it's called Ubiquinol. It's a very specific CoQ10. Therapeutic outcomes are incredible. So now, your story, painting a bigger picture here, so PSK9, what's going on there? Sorry, PCSK9. What's going on is your LDL, there's these receptors that allow your body to bind it and utilize it and PCSK9 makes a protein that disables or actually metabolizes and breaks these receptors down. And, you have the most efficient version of this gene. So, this is why I'm saying interpretation is key because a genetic report will tell you you have the fast and best version of this gene, but that's actually a problem because what it means is you break down those receptors super fast and preventing your body from actually binding and utilizing the cholesterol, which means free-flowing lipids in the blood and elevated LDL levels, which then more material to then get oxidized and build that plaque up faster. So, yes, for you, PCSK9 inhibitor is an amazing answer because your problem isn't the clearance or metabolism of the actual lipid itself, it's the binding. You're not binding it. So, it's free-floating in the blood a little too much. Yeah, there's much more propensity towards oxidation because it's exposed for too long. So, it's a very different problem to solve.
So, the root of it all is the endothelium inflammation, which there's great products out there like Arterosil, which I'm sure you know about that, actually support the glycocalyx.
Ben: Calroy has a great product for that. Yeah.
Kashif: Calroy. Exactly, yeah. Calroy. Nitric oxide supporting with nitric oxide. So, why do you have inflammation? Your gut doesn't detoxify, so there's an input. You're doing really well with airborne inhalation-based toxins, so probably don't need to pay attention there, but your oxidative activity is one of the big red flags for you. Why? Because if we look at your mitochondrial function, the superoxide dismutase pathways, SOD2, which speaks to the efficiency of mitochondrial function and the ability to remove oxidation from the cell. So, your cells are constantly taking in oxygen and nutrition at the mitochondria to create energy. And, the byproduct of using oxygen to make nutrition is an oxidant.
Kashif: So, the same oxygen that gives your life is slowly aging you with this oxidant. And so, your mitochondrial capacity is kind of minus 50%. You don't do such a good job. And so, putting yourself into oxidative stress would be a very big red flag for why you have endothelium inflammation.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Years ago, I did a genetic evaluation and was told my body would respond better to yoga, low-intensity cardio, maybe a little pickleball or golf, that type of thing. And, it is interesting because growing up, I was just so hardwired to charge hard that I thought I was thriving on the high-intensity workouts. And now, I don't really train for triathlon or Spartan or anything like that anymore. But, years of doing that, my body definitely did not soak that up too well. And, I'm sure it was based on some of these genetic pathways that we're talking about, so yeah.
Kashif: It certainly is. You cause the inflammation for the oxidative stress which your body doesn't cope with. You don't have the receptors for the LDLs, elevated levels. Oxidation is already there to cause oxidation. Cholesterol hardens, builds up, and now you got plaque.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, it makes sense.
Alright, super important one. Nobody's going to drop dead of it, but I get asked a lot of questions about it and that is the hair. Tell me about what you can know from hair. Perhaps you can use me as an example. I don't recall seeing that part on my report or maybe skipping over it because it was less important to me but tell me about hair what you can learn.
Kashif: Yeah. So, it's the same thing again where oxidative stress leads to rapid cellular degradation and aging. And, one of the first places you see, the sort of outcome of aging is hair and skin. Your hair and skin is kind of signaling to you what's happening on the inside and that graying of hair, well, at least from our perspective, is deeply connected to oxidative stress and mitochondrial function. And again, you're not doing so well there. Now, I know you're doing a lot of stuff to support your mitochondria, you're doing everything right. And so, the net outcome may change and that's exactly the point is I don't do this job well, I have a bad gene, a bad instruction, and so all of a sudden, I'm exposed. But now, if I support it by taking some Mitopure or some tocotrienols or some things that support urolithin A, for example, that support mitochondrial function, I'm not going to have that bad outcome because I supported exactly the biological function that was failing that would have led to this bad outcome.
So, there's two things to look at, SOD2, which is mitochondrial function, and then your hydrogen peroxide synthesis. So, these two things have to be aligned. So, it's kind of, again, going back to single genes can't really paint the picture because the cascade is if you have the bad version of your SOD2 but you have an equally bad version of GPX, which is the hydrogen peroxide synthesis, it's actually not that bad because they're happening at the same rate. So, you're actually not overloaded on hydrogen peroxide which is graying the hair. If you have a good version of mitochondria and a slightly worse version of GPX, that's actually worse than having both bad version. So, interpretation, again, is the key, knowing what these things mean when the sum total is put together. And, this is where it's interesting for you because your mitochondrial function is not the best but your GPX is equally not the best. And so, the actual synthesis happens at the right rate and graying hair is less of a concern.
Ben: Yeah, it is interesting too when you think about these SOD pathways and the potential for reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide. Excess nitric oxide can trigger that to a certain extent along with some of these H2O2 pathways. There are a lot of biohackers using hefty amounts of photobiomodulation or red light therapy, hyperbaric oxygen, nitric oxide precursors, et cetera. And, this is a perfect example of how especially for someone with these pathways, there can be too much of what you might consider a good thing like a lot of hyperbaric oxygen, a lot of red light therapy, and a lot of nitric oxide precursors despite being championed as the key to blood flow and libido and vascularity, et cetera, could actually produce a pretty heavy load of ROSs and someone who's genetically triggered like this, yeah.
Kashif: Yeah. So, what you talked about is exactly where people get stuck is the therapeutic dose when you first start and you're trying to fix the acute problem. Maybe you have erectile dysfunction and you're trying to fix it. The dose that it takes to get ahead of the problem is very different than how you maintain yourself. And, this is where people often fail and they burn out. And so, yes, there's the acute problem, fix it, then there's the kind of maintenance and then there's optimization. Then, you start to learn the nuances and maybe you don't even need that thing anymore, it's something else that's failing. So, people have to sort of understand, dose of all things including equipment.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, it's fascinating.
So, this report that I got, if someone tests, is it an online dashboard that walks you through all this? Because I know you have a ton of videos. I didn't watch all of them because I knew we'd be chatting, but you actually, on the report, have videos and a PDF that walk people through these if they do the tests with The DNA Way, right?
Kashif: Yeah. So, the way it was designed–keep in mind, I don't come for the industry. I'm not a scientist. I'm not a clinician. I was in the startup business. I helped technology companies grow. And, I just got very sick and no doctor could tell me why and I didn't understand why they didn't look at the why. I didn't realize until I got sick that that's not part of their job. And so, I had to heal myself. And so, part of that journey was understanding my genome and part of understanding my genome was learning this product sucks like the way this is laid out, the documents are so difficult, it's a different language. You talk to five PhDs they're going to tell you five different things about what it means. And so, one of the big, big goals for me was making it easy to use, designing it in the way I wished it was when I was sick and needed it as a tool. And, that's really about how is the information delivered. And so, what did we do? We realized there's different things people need. People do need to geek out and learn about the genes.
And so, we built this AI called Podcast, which dives into your genome and reads it to you like a PhD would do. You have this version of the PCSK9 gene, which means this is what the gene does, you have this version which means you don't do it so well, which means you might want to consider X, gene-centric information. Then, we have these PDF reports, like you said, that speak to problems because I want to know what do I do about my anxiety. I want to know. Should I be in a keto diet? I want to know what time of day am I supposed to go to the gym based on the way I metabolize hormones? So, tell me straightforward, what's wrong and how do I fix it? So, we have all these reports that are very easy to read with the recommendations per problem. If I'm just focusing on my anxiety, tell me what supplements I need for that problem. So, it's laid out that way.
And then, there's video that explains how to think about the problem from a different perspective like how we just talked about cardiovascular disease. We don't think of it as a heart disease, we think of it as an endothelium inflammation disease. Then, you have to rethink the problem first before you can start solving it. The context is not what you think it is. So, there's video to that.
And, the last thing we just added was like we're doing today, we're kind of deep diving and nuancing the information a little bit and personalizing it when we're speaking to your context. And, everybody wishes they could experience this. And so, what we did is we added these report review sessions that happened weekly where you can show up with your data and we will dive deep into the brain one day and we'll dive deep into hormone metabolism, we'll dive deep into macronutrients and micronutrients and you're sitting there with your data as if you've just paid some PhD to analyze it for you. And, if you do it in a group setting and people are getting so much impact from that and we're getting emails now where like I couldn't sleep for the last five years and all sudden it's fixed.
Kashif: That I was stuck at this plateau for weight and all of a sudden it's working because they have the ability to come live Q&A, ask us questions during these report review sessions. So, that's, I think, it's the most valuable part. So, it's more of a program than it is a test. Yes, you get your test, yes, you get your data, but you're spending then four weeks diving into the data on these sessions to ask whatever you need to ask and solve your problem just like we're doing here today.
Ben: Yeah. Well, I have learned a ton just today alone and from the report review that I did beforehand. I know if folks go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/DNAWay, which is where the shownotes are and which is where you can leave your questions and your comments and your feedback, I'll include a code. I think it's BEN50, but I'll double-check. That allows you to save 50 bucks on this report for yourself if you want to try it out. And, you can also go and listen to the first episode I did with Kashif where we got into a lot of kind of the sleep and exercise components of this as well even though obviously the technology has progressed a little bit since then. That would also be a really good episode for you to listen into.
Kashif, thanks for writing this book, “The DNA Way,” which folks should also go and get for sure, “Unlock the Secrets of Your Genes to Reverse Disease, Slow Aging and Achieve Optimal Wellness.” It's a great book, man, so I really appreciate you writing it and coming on the show.
Kashif: Thank you, man. It's a pleasure and I'm honored that you love the book. And, thank you again for your kind words.
Ben: Awesome. Alright, folks. Well, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Kashif Khan from the DNA Way or the DNA Company, the book is “The DNA Way,” the company is the DNA Company. The shownotes are at BenGreenfieldLife.com/DNAWay. Have an amazing week.
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Several years ago, I interviewed genetics expert Kashif Khan in the episode: “Sleep Genetics (& 3 Ways To Crush A Good Night Of Sleep), Why You Get Depressed When You Get Bored, Personalized Exercise & Diet Based on Genetics & Much More With Kashif Khan Of The DNA Company.”
In this episode, Kashif is back to discuss his new book – which I've just finished reading – along with some intriguing new insights on customizing your exercise, diet, lifestyle and more using the power of genetic insights.
Kashif Khan is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of The DNA Company, where personalized medicine is being pioneered through unique insights into the human genome. Growing up in Vancouver, Canada in an immigrant household, Kashif developed an industrious entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. Prior to his tenure at The DNA Company, Kashif advised a number of high-growth start-ups in a variety of industries.
As Kashif dove into the field of functional genomics as the CEO of The DNA Company, it was revealed that his neural wiring was actually genetically designed to be entrepreneurial. However, his genes also revealed a particular sensitivity to pollutants.
Now seeing his health from a new lens Kashif dove further and started to see the genetic pathways that led to his own family's challenges, and the opportunities to reverse chronic disease. His measure of success is not in dollars earned, but in lives improved. Science outreach has become a passion project for Kashif, and he educates about functional genomics in an accessible format on his podcast, the Unpilled Podcast and his social media platforms.
Kashif's new book: The DNA Way: Unlock the Secrets of Your Genes to Reverse Disease, Slow Aging, and Achieve Optimal Wellness offers an action plan to help you live your best life. It starts by understanding your genetic makeup. The DNA Way is a preventative guide to various health issues and their link to an individual’s DNA. In it, readers will discover what The DNA Company experts have learned about chronic illness and genetic predispositions, based on years of in-depth genetic analysis of the DNA results of more than 7,000 people.
Topics addressed include mood and behavior, energy, diet and nutrition, weight management, sleep, and more. The book will delve into Kashif’s personal journey of overcoming his own genetic legacy and health challenges—using his own DNA results as a case study—and in navigating that journey, how he came to develop a company whose aim is to elevate humanity.
It also outlines recommendations—including what foods to eat, how to exercise, and where and how to work—that have helped him prevent or reverse illness, slow down the aging process, and optimize his performance. Learn how to access your human instruction manual in this fascinating podcast with Kashif!
- The DNA Company (code BEN auto-applied to save 10% off the Genetic Sample Collection + DNA 360 Lab Report)
During our discussion, you'll discover:
- The DNA Way: Unlock the Secrets of Your Genes to Reverse Disease, Slow Aging, and Achieve Optimal Wellness
- Previous podcast with Kashif Khan:
- Ben got it at a health conference and read it while there
- Practical tips for life based on your unique genetics
- A deep dive into various topics Ben is interested in
- Invited Kashif to talk about the book
- Kashif runs The DNA Company for DNA testing
- Has a history of research in functional genomics
- Genetics is a rapidly progressing science
-Has DNA testing technology changed much?…08:22
- It is now mostly saliva but there are still some diagnostic level tests that are blood drawn
- Incremental change in terms of accuracy and diving deeper into each gene
- What is talked about in the book are the big gaps
- The interpretation in the last few years has really flourished
- Functional medicine community is now working with the interpretations
- How to know what company to use for DNA testing?
- Ancestry – Genealogy information
- Genetics – Tells you what version of each gene you have
- Genetic condition testing
- Detects genes for different diseases
- Doesn’t give the answer on how to stop a disease
- According to the CDC, chronic disease is 90% of the 4 Trillion healthcare budget
- Majority of problems can be solved by
- Changing our habits, environment, nutrition
- Lifestyle being aligned to the genome
-The connection between genes and a diet…12:07
- For a vegan diet, one should have a certain gene
- The gene that produces enzymes needed to break down lentils, beans, legumes
- Those who haven’t got it lose muscle mass, start to lose energy and vitality
- Every diet makes you feel good in the first 2-3 weeks
- 5-6 weeks into it, you may feel worse
- Carnivore diet is not good for highly efficient starch metabolizers and a great insulin response
- ApoE gene – deleterious response to saturated fats
- You can’t just be looking at one gene
- Look at gut detox capacity
- You need to ask questions and genomes can give you answers
- The genome is instructing all biological function
- Using the genetic map to identify red flags and weak links things
- Removing and adding certain habits
-Are whole genome tests worth it?…18:43
- Fountain Life
- Next Health
- Health Nucleus
- Kashif talked the science with officers of Fountain Life
- The majority of gene data is not actionable
- There is some value in banking your genomic data for future research achievements
- Functional interpretation requires more in depth view at the testing level per gene
- Testing is more complex than what people think it is
- Worked with full genome sequence companies
- Couldn’t draw all the needed data from it
- Focusing on actionable genomes
- It’s important to eliminate the noise and focus on 100 genes that matter
-Ben’s gut detox capacity and the role of glutathione…22:32
- Each gene is thousands of letters long
- Various elements of genetic testing:
- SNPs (“snips”- single nucleotide polymorphisms)
- Spelling mistake in the gene
- Copy number variation (CNV)
- The entire gene is missing or there’s an extra copy of the gene
- INDEL (insertion/deletion polymorphism)
- A whole paragraph is missing or there's an extra paragraph
- SNPs (“snips”- single nucleotide polymorphisms)
- CNV is present in the GS TM 1 gene
- Ben’s gut has zero first line defense and the ability to use glutathione to bind and clear toxins
- The first line of defense of the lung is excellent
- GS TT 1 gene – second line of defense is good
- Ben’s red flag is gut – glutathione pathway is somewhat broken
- If you're missing the gene, you're missing the instruction
- Adding glutathione is not a solution; precursors would do the job better
- The solution is to enable the body to create more of its natural endogenous glutathione
- When managing things that are genetically prescribed, it's sometimes about the expression of the gene and not the symptom itself
- The DNA Company produces supplements with specific formulations
- Detox Optimizer for better glutathione production
-Why would a deficit in the glutathione pathways persist in some people?…28:52
- Context is the key
- Our genome is about a quarter million years old, so we are wired for caveman ancestral habits
- In today's context, where the food is so toxic, we don't have a first line of defense
- In our ancestors’ context, they didn't need it
- There's no such thing as good and bad in genetics; there's context
- Autoimmunity can be triggered by gut and what people are putting into their gut
- Ancestral homeostatic level was different – they weren't breathing, smelling, applying to their skin, eating things constantly causing inflammation and toxicity
- MC4R gene – speaks to satiety of the palate
- Seeking out variety of nutrients
- Solution – talking cheese, dark chocolate or nuts after meal signals to brain that you have satiety
- The role of minerals
- Our food is depleted of minerals, almost slim to none
- Minerals have a potent detox mechanism
- When we did eat nutrient dense food, we didn't need this intense detox capacity
-Ben’s personality profile and genes…41:24
- Ben did the HIGH5 test – how you're hardwired
- Ben – high on storyteller, catalysts, and timekeeper
- External brain – writing down everything
- Ben’s genes confirm the results of the test
- BDNF – brain derived neurotropic factor
- Ben’s BDNF is broken
- Ben doesn’t do a good job of neuroplasticity, developing neural new neural pathways
- TPH gene, or the tryptophan gene is the ideal version which leads to a phenomenon called epistasis
- The context and interpretation are important
- Bad neuroplasticity in terms of mood causes giving things more meaning than they deserve
- Also leads to a great superpower
- Innovating and pioneering is a powerful tool
- Ben’s serotonin response is completely dysregulated
- It means not only is he giving things a lot of meaning, but he’s noticing everything, every little nuance
- Kashif's once had a patient, an architect who had the same issues
-A spiritual or religious standpoint and genes…50:06
- Ben is wired for belief
- There's a propensity towards belief
- Ben’s level of belief is deep – has the ability to really dive and truly feel it
- Kashif’s belief is a coping mechanism
- It’s hard for him to stay in the moment, his faith grounds him
- Even religion is hardwired
-Ben’s ability to multitask…52:26
- The ability is present in his genome
- Based on his genome, it's only the stuff he actually takes interest in
- Ben’s brain is wired to do more work
- DRD2 is the gene that determines the density of dopamine receptors
- Ben has maximum possible density
- His dopamine pathway looks like it's very easy for him to experience the anticipation of pleasure or reward
- His neurochemical clearance is a bit quick – not in it for long enough
- Dopamine in Ben’s system is less effective and is being cleared more quickly
- Taking more dopamine is not a solution
- It would cause anxiety
- SAMe and its effects
-Specific genetic predispositions to plaque accumulation…1:00:34
- Ben's Cleerly health test
- Q&A 458: The Official Guide To Fructose, Triglycerides, Heart Health, Heart Testing, Keto Risks, Statins, Why You Should “Eat Like A Pig” & More.
- Ben’s problems with high plaque accumulation
- Ben has very bad quality of endothelium – bad hardware
- Ben is the worst possible statin metabolizer
- CoQ10 depletion (use code BENGREENFIELD10 to save 10%)
- Red yeast rice extract
- Calroy Arterosil
- PCSK9 – Ben has the most efficient version of this gene
- Prevents the body from actually binding and utilizing the cholesterol
- The root of it all is the endothelial inflammation
- The efficiency of mitochondrial function and the ability to remove oxidation from the cells
- Mitochondrial Optimizer for CoQ10 Ubiquinol
-Hair health and genes…1:08:33
- Oxidative stress leads to rapid cellular degradation and aging
- The first places you see aging is hair and skin
- Mitopure (use code BEN to save 10%)
- The graying of hair is deeply connected to oxidative stress and mitochondrial function
- Two things to look at and to have aligned
- Mitochondrial function and
- Hydrogen peroxide synthesis
- Good things can be damaging
- People get stuck with the therapeutic dose
- The dose that you take to solve the problem is very different from how you maintain yourself
- Fixing the problem is different than optimization and maintenance
-Services Kashif Khan’s The DNA Company offers…1:12:33
- Kashif Khan got very sick
- No doctor could tell him why
- He had to heal himself
- Part of that journey was understanding his genome
- His goal was to design genome information to be easy to understand
- Built AI which dives into your genome and reads it to you like a PhD would do
- PDF reports that speak to problems – how to fix problems
- Video – explains how to think about the problem from a different perspective
- You have to rethink the problem first, before you can start solving it
- The last thing – deep diving and nuancing the information and personalizing it
- Report review sessions – where you can show up with your data and discuss them and ask questions
-And much more…
- Disrupt: September 28th – 30th, 2023
Join me for the Disrupt 2023 Event in Atlanta, Georgia, from September 28th – 30th. This event is oriented towards entrepreneurs and health practitioners alike centered around the topic of making healthcare truly healthy. This highly practical and immersive workshop will feature live Q&As, my top secrets for career success, and much more! Learn more here.
- Couples Collective: October 25th – 29th, 2023
Couples Collective is an exclusive and immersive way to explore health, wellness, and mindset with your significant other. Jessa and I will be leading a health optimization and relationships workshop, alongside many other awesome couples. This is a small event, and access requires you to interview with event-holder OWN IT to ensure a right fit. However, for those who are said fit, this event is designed to bring you into deeper union within your relationship and onward into greater connection with your life, love, health, and happiness. I'm looking for 6 to 7 powerful couples to come join me at the event, are you one of them? Learn more here.
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar!
Resources from this episode:
– Kashif Khan:
- The DNA Way
- The DNA Company (code BEN auto-applied to save 10% off the Genetic Sample Collection + DNA 360 Lab Report)
- HIGH5 Test
- Unpilled Podcast
- Sleep Genetics (& 3 Ways To Crush A Good Night Of Sleep), Why You Get Depressed When You Get Bored, Personalized Exercise & Diet Based on Genetics & Much More With Kashif Khan Of The DNA Company.
- Q&A 458: The Official Guide To Fructose, Triglycerides, Heart Health, Heart Testing, Keto Risks, Statins, Why You Should “Eat Like A Pig” & More.
– Other Resources:
- The DNA Company
- MyHeritage DNA
- Self Decode
- Genetic Genie
- Fountain Life
- Next Health
- Health Nucleus
- Milk thistle
- Detox Optimizer
- Mitochondrial Optimizer
- CoQ10 (use code BENGREENFIELD10 to save 10%)
- Red yeast rice extract
- Calroy Arterosil
- Mitopure (use code BEN to save 10%)
Neurohacker: Take your productivity to the next level in 2023. Go to neurohacker.com/ben to get Qualia Mind up to 50% off right now, and use code BGF at checkout for an extra 15% off your first purchase.
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Ultimate Longevity: Ready to hack your sleep and stay grounded while recovering? Head to ultimatelongevity.com/ben to get your hands on grounding mats for your mattress, pillow, blankets, and other valuable tools to help you bring down your inflammation and jumps start your healing.
Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Kashif Khan or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!