From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/kashif-khan/
[00:00:54] Podcast Sponsors
[00:03:48] Guest Introduction
[00:06:01] How Kashif got started with DNA testing
[00:12:57] How Kashif got involved with The DNA Company
[00:18:46] Mood and behavior / How genes impact things like depression and what to do about it
[00:25:11] Are there neurochemicals that alleviate the need for success?
[00:31:34] Podcast Sponsors
[00:34:26] Optimizing sleep / sleep genetic types
[00:49:53] Applying genetics to parenting and personalization
[01:02:17] Interpreting your genetic results to make informed daily decisions
[01:08:26] Closing the Interview
[01:09:37] Deep Dive on Human Evolution
[01:45:56] End of Podcast
Ben: My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.
Kashif: Because of this journey and because of learning that I healed myself and then I healed my mother like she was literally in bed, did not get out of bed, she now goes to the gym five days a week and has a beautiful full life. I found through my children that there were certain gaps in terms of diet, academically why they were different, how the neural chemicals of their brain drove different behaviors. And so, that's when I went to the science team that I found in Mansoor.
Ben: Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.
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Oh, hey, and one other thing regarding this podcast with Kashif of The DNA Company, we actually when we finished he said, “Dude, I forgot to tell you we found this super cool new thing about religion versus science and a change in the DNA that occurred, some number of years ago.” And, this is stuff he wasn't sure we want to bring up on the podcast but I was like, “Dude, let's put this on the show.” So, after the podcast seems to be ending, stay on because there's a little bit of an extra addendum at the end that I think you'll really enjoy. Alright, here we go.
Well, folks, a lot of new science and research and testing protocols have emerged lately in the field of genetic testing and DNA analysis, so I decided it was high time to revisit this topic on the podcast because it's been a while since I've talked about how you can use your genetics to make more informed decisions about your health, about your exercise, about your nutrition, your supplementation, even your career, and your relationships, and there's a lot of research now on sleeping, genetic types, and parenting, and personality types, and mood, and behavior, and cancer, particularly breast cancer, and the so-called fountain of youth, and a whole lot more. So, I decided to get one of the guys who I know who is extremely well-informed in DNA testing on the podcast for you. His name is Kashif Khan. And, he's the Chief Executive Officer and the founder of a company called The DNA Company.
And, actually I've done podcasts with The DNA Company in the past, all of which I'll link to if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/DNACompanyPodcast. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/DNACompanyPodcast. But basically, they personalize medicine, they personalize health through giving you unique insights into your genome. And, Kashif is going to be able to tell you a lot more about what they do and what he, in particular, does in the company and what you should know about testing your own DNA. But, I also know that he has a super interesting history in terms of how he got interested in all this stuff in the first place. So, Kashif, welcome to the show, man.
Kashif: It's a pleasure, man. Good to be here.
Ben: Yeah. And, I think that's a perfect place to kick off by the way, the history of your experience with DNA testing. I'd love to hear how you got interested in all this stuff in the first place.
Kashif: Yeah, sure. Well, it didn't happen in the lab or university, so it's not the typical story. But, essentially, I was sick and a lot of the functional medicine type stories start this way like —
Ben: Yeah, the wounded healer.
Kashif: Yeah, exactly. And, what did I have? I had crazy migraines which was probably the worst part rehabilitating where my business partner would literally be driving me home and I'd be stopping to vomit outside of the car while we were going because that's how bad the pain was.
Ben: Oh, wow. Eczema, psoriasis, I had gut issues, on and off depression, and my challenge was that all of these things are being treated as separate siloed problems. There's a pill for this, a doctor for this, a scan for this when really it wasn't until I dove into my genome only because the answer to the question why, I kept asking all these several different doctors, “Why is this happening? I know what's happening, you're telling me what pill to take and what cream to put on my skin, but can you tell me why?” Like, “What am I supposed to change?” And, you get this blank stare, “We're not supposed to go there.” It's not in their toolkit. It's not their fault, they're literally not trained on asking that or answering that question.
So, I started down the journey myself and found in my genome –first of all, I was disappointed, I got a genetic test done thinking that there's something “genetically” wrong with me and there wasn't. I couldn't find a problem. Then, I found some brilliant science happening in Toronto where I actually am around the world of functional genomics, meaning how do you apply pathway interpretation, not just what does each gene do but what is your body doing and then what gene is instructing all those processes that we already understand so well. And, I found there was a central hub of genes that forget about what version, what SNP, what variant these words. I didn't even have the genes. If your DNA is your human instruction manual, there was a page missing for me. Gone, torn out.
Ben: When you say you didn't have the genes, do you mean you can literally not have certain SNPs?
Kashif: Yeah. A SNP is a variant on a gene. So, a gene is 20,000 letters long and somewhere along the line, a T, a C instead of the T, which is supposed to be. And so, now that gene functions differently. What if you don't even have the gene, literally completely missing, it's missing from your genetic code? And, it's something called a copy number variation, meaning you have either less or multiple copies. You can also have additional copies where you're supercharging the activity there, that instruction, you're doing it way beyond normal human capacity. And, where I was missing this was in my glutathione or detox pathway
Ben: Is that common by the way to have certain gene just missing?
Kashif: So, here's the thing. So, the 22,000 genes that we have that make up our human genetic code, it's not common at all, but the place where it's extremely common is one of the most important places for cellular health, which is why it affects so many people. So, your glutathione pathway, the GSTT, GSTM, and GSTP, of those three that are a majority of that glutathione like let's find toxins, let's find them and let's get rid of them. The GSTM in our research — And, this is something we'll get into. We had a really unique research model where we sat in front of 7,000 people clinically, and that's the gap that I saw was missing from genetics like actually clinically reviewing people and understanding not only their genetics but their physical traits; how does it express? 49% of the people that we studied don't have the GSTM1 gene.
Kashif: Don't have it, absolutely missing. And, it's very obvious, and I'll tell you what, 40% only have one copy, mom or dad, didn't get both and less than 10% have both copies of this particular gene. Why? Its primary focus is gut detox. So, that first line of defense, other things enter your body, sometimes to your skin but mostly because you eat them and you breathe them. And, it's meant to have this first-line defense to prevent things from entering your blood. Well, up until, what, two generations ago, food wasn't a threat. We didn't need it. What we now suffer from and food leading to so much chronic disease not only because of the food itself but all the chemicals and preservatives and everything that comes along with it. Our gut didn't need to have this first-line defense.
Ben: Okay. So, you mean from an overall metabolic efficiency standpoint or cutting out the need for genes that may not serve one, we didn't really have as high a need for detoxification in our ancestral past and thus the deletion of that glutathione gene really wouldn't have been much of an issue?
Kashif: Exactly. The people that survived didn't survive because of this, they survived because of other things. So, when they passed their genetic code on, they weren't necessarily passing on this protective measure because they didn't need it.
Ben: That's interesting. Okay.
Kashif: And so, it was through that that I discovered not only that gene but also the GSTT1, which is the police force in your blood that's going and finding these toxins and getting rid of them. I was also missing that. So, where was I during this whole process is in my office building there was a manufacturing company downstairs, I was putting toxic pollutants into the air vents every day that I was breathing in.
Ben: Oh, man.
Kashif: Yeah. And, year after year after that, now keep in mind, my business partner was the guy driving me home that didn't have a problem because he had an extra copy of these genes and he had no problem drinking paint or whatever he wanted to just peeing it out. For me, that slow drip of toxic insult caused me to get eczema. Because all sudden, this inflammatory state that you're in, these spokes start to express for the central hub of a genetic failure gap where you just can't environmental exposure or nutrition exposure or lifetime lifestyle exposure, whatever that load or trigger is that you weren't designed to cope with.
Ben: And so, at that point, did you just do one of those CRISPR gene editing things and insert that gene back into your body? Is that the next step?
Kashif: So, that maybe in 10 years from now, we'll do a part two to this and maybe that will be the case. But, for now, so that technology in theory works, we just don't know how the human body is going to adopt it from head to toe. So, CRISPR, there's been one human project that was a retinal eye health issue that the FDA actually approved that actually worked but it's jurisdictionally isolated. It's like in the eye and we don't yet know how to take that thing and make it. You have 50 trillion cells in your body. How do you get them all to adopt this change? That's where we have a bit of a gap right now.
Ben: Yeah. And, obviously, the CRISPR gene editing, I am joking. As a matter of fact, I think there's so many things that could go wrong. Didn't they throw the guy in prison, the biophysicist who created a bunch of gene-edited babies over in China? I think he actually got in big trouble for that.
Kashif: Oh, yeah. He's in jail. He's actually in jail, yeah.
Ben: Playing God might get you in jail.
Okay. So, with The DNA Company then, how did you come to get involved with that?
Kashif: So, it was because of this journey and because of learning that I healed myself and then I healed my mother. She was literally in bed, did not get out of bed, she now goes to the gym five days a week and has a beautiful full life. I found through my children that there were certain gaps in terms of diet, academically why they were different, how the neural chemicals of their brain drove different behaviors. And so, that's when I went to the science team that I found in Mansoor who you know very well.
Ben: Yeah, Mansoor Mohammed. I've interviewed him before because I did my testing with The DNA Company. And, I should tell people this, by the way, I did a really fascinating walkthrough with Mansoor about my genes and my son's genes. And, you talked about your kids and learning, I found out my sons don't have one of the SNPs that allows them or one of the genes that allows them to create ample amounts of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is miracle grow for the brain. So, they use lion's mane. They also are missing a couple of those glutathione genes and they take glutathione on a regular basis. A little bit of sluggish methylation, so they both supplement with liver. And, they're kind of have a step up in life now because all of a sudden the things that might have helped them back from a genetic standpoint, we're just basically crushing with targeted supplementation. They just have their own little section in their refrigerator where they grab their stuff and they take it each morning and it's fantastic because I don't consider any of this testing to be defeatist or discouraging or distressing when it comes to finding out something that's wrong with your body. I find it to be empowering because they can just go out and make the changes and be even better.
Kashif: What you just described is exactly where I felt that I was personally failed through my first go about around genetics and what needed to be fixed, which was I thought again when nothing was working, let me find if I have a genetic problem. And, the results you would get back is you got an 80% chance of Alzheimer's, you get a 60% chance of prostate cancer or breast cancer depending who's taking the test, and things along that line because the interpretation, not the gene testing, anybody can test for a gene, what does it mean, that gap was limited by clinical studies around trying to build a drug. So, pinpointing the needle in the haystack, this gene causes something. And, if we can turn that switch on or off one day, it's going to be a multibillion-dollar product. So, that limited interpretation what was scientifically the regular or mainstream interpretation to this statistical like you're in the 80% bucket.
So, that's where things started. Then, we realized if we're telling you have 80% chance of Alzheimer's, we're also telling you have a 20% chance of not getting it with the exact same genetic profile. So, what was the difference? The difference was the environment nutrition and lifestyle habits of the healthy and the sick. Meaning, with a genetic propensity, you're not born sick. With most chronic conditions, 50, 55, 60 is when they start to happen because it takes that many years of making the wrong choices misaligned to your biochemistry capability based on your genome to then eventually have a problem. So, if we understand like you've done for your sons as you described what exactly they need to be optimal, what are the genetic holes and gaps, that's step one. Here's the thing that they don't do well. This gene instruction is poor or this one is missing or this one is maybe a little too strong. Hormonally, that could be a problem, for example. Here's the things, environment nutrition and lifestyle and there's two dials you can turn, remove the load. Here's the thing that I can deal with so get rid of it. I can't deal with toxins, I shouldn't be around them. Second layer is increased capacity. Let's supplement or let's eat or let's exercise in a way that improves the capacity for the thing that I inherently don't do well because the genetic code is weak.
Now, if you take that approach as opposed to genetics that equals 80% chance of Alzheimer's, it's much more functional and actionable, it's taking this thing that's scary, I don't want to know, which is commonly what you hear to now that I know, I know exactly what my playbook is, what do I do in the environmental lifestyle? And, that's where we brought it to.
Ben: Yeah, it's interesting too like a lot of this stuff can be relevant to exercise also. For example, I've done some exercise DNA-based testing and I, for example, have genes that allow me to recover very, very quickly, and I also have genes that give me a great, great deal of endurance and lactic acid tolerance. And so, a couple of things that I know based on that is, A, I can do small consistent bouts of training every single day and I realized this prior to doing the DNA test but then it affirmed what I thought. I don't do well with super-duper big long workouts every few days versus consistent half-hour workouts every day. I also have found that I can maintain pretty high levels of endurance without even training for endurance much; whereas, I need to put a little bit more money in the bank so to speak from a strength training standpoint because that's when I'm a little bit less genetically adapted for. So, you can find some cool things in training as well.
And, gosh, I mean, you guys have a blog at The DNA Company, that's fantastic. I know you recently did one on how certain people have supervision that's less likely to decline with age. Some guys have, they're 25% more likely to get man boobs if they're on testosterone treatment. There was another study that looked at whether you would or would not gain weight when you were in cold weather. And so, it's crazy how much biochemical individuality that there is out there when it comes to these insights and also what we can do when it comes to actionable and empowering activities that allow us to fight any uphill battle we might have when it comes to our genes.
And so, I actually did want to ask you about some stuff I haven't talked about before though on the podcast when it comes to genes. And, one would be you have a history of this that you share with me at one point, it would be the stuff related to mood and behavior and how genes impact things like depression, for example, and what you guys have learned and what you can do about that.
Kashif: That's the thing that first was the aha moment for me, and even more so than helping me get healthier because it was so easy to resonate with when you find out that the way you behave is actually driven by genes that are instructing to what degree do you experience certain neural chemicals, how long do they last, et cetera. So, you can really map out how your brain at a personal level works. That was a wow moment for me because I'm an entrepreneur, I always have been, and I found out I was actually wired to do this. The break my brain is an entrepreneur brain. And, by the way, whether we're dealing with a patient or practitioner, we always tell them, start with the brain because when you realize how personalized you can get in terms of your mood and behavior, it's so much easier to work on the plan and have compliance and know how to structure it. Some people are more reward-seeking, some people are more susceptible to anxiety, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So, if you understand the brain first, you then understand exactly how to build your sort of path to improvement on the health care side.
So, taking depression as an example, like you said, which is something I had. I had it for a certain period of my life, not my entire life, and I believe that context has to be attached to the neural chemicals to equate the outcome. And, what do I mean by that? When it comes to the dopamine pathway, as an example, the way you experience dopamine pleasure or reward is the DRD2 gene that determines how dense your receptors are, to what degree do you actually experience pleasure and reward. Then, there's a gene called MAO, which breaks down and metabolizes the dopamine to eventually get you back to normal, and COMT, which is often spoken on for hormones and methylation also clears out neurochemicals. So, once you're done experiencing breaking down, this broomstick comes along and gets rid of it. So, I have the absolute minimal density of DRD2 dopamine receptors, I have the fastest possible MAO, and the fastest possible COMT, which means I feel things way down here and before it's even started, boom, it's finished.
Kashif: What happens? Well, addiction, depression, or achievement. Why? Because you just don't get to feel so you go find something that gives you that thing and then you constantly need more and more and bigger and bigger and bigger and you become addicted, or depression because you don't find something to lean on and you just don't get that satisfaction or pleasure or reward that the peers around you are getting and so you fall into depression, or achievement because you go down the reward path instead of the pleasure path and you're doing the same thing you would have done in addiction, more and more and more and bigger and better and better but you're doing it with reward as opposed to depression.
Ben: I actually did a whole podcast with a guy named Doug Brackmann about this, he calls it the driven gene. And, it is true. You either get depressed or you turn into a super successful, whatever, a CEO or an Ironman triathlete or somebody who just does achievement after achievement after achievement because you've figured out a way to alleviate the potential for depression is to just keep on pressing that trigger over and over again with preferably somewhat positive activities.
Kashif: We call it warrior genetics. You're designed in this persona to continue fighting. You're designed to constantly have something adverse that you're challenged with. And, if you don't do that, then also — so, this is why I've had all three.
In my younger years when I was in my teens, growing up in poverty wasn't the best. And, I think it was my 15th or 16th birthday, a friend knocked on my door with something that I should have never smoked and I smoked it anyway and I became addicted because that level of pleasure I had never experienced before. Then, all of a sudden, my father passed away when I was in my late teens and I became responsible for my mom and my sister and I just started working and working and working and working. And, it was like a switch got flipped complete reversal from this addictive dysfunctional life to highly functional and producing crazy to the point where I built this big business in my early 20s and I had no clue how I did it. I couldn't remember the last few years. I just was driven by the need for supporting my family. And so, I went down this reward path.
Then, as I got kind of call it successful, I felt comfortable, I stopped trying, I brought on a business partner to run the business so I could spend time with the family, I became depressed because I knew I wasn't going to go down that pleasure route anymore, I've been down that road, I wasn't pushing myself for reward so the option three door, number three is depression, and I didn't understand why.
So, again, profile is one thing, the context you wrap around it really drives your outcome. So, if you understand that, “Hey, I just can't stop eating Doritos at night,” you need to replace it with reward. And, eventually, the reward will allow you to get that dopamine hit that you need but you're doing it with another context that's much better and healthier for you.
Kashif: And, that's one of so many neural chemicals. We can keep going.
Ben: I totally have that same genetic setup, and my wife's the polar opposite. If I don't have something to do that is productive, that is impactful, that is meaningful, I either go in two scenarios: either A, I turn to substances, whether a glass of wine or marijuana or something that spins some dials in my brain to keep me entertained from a neurochemical standpoint or I slip into some type of sad what you might call depressed out of state, I get mopey. And, I've been lucky enough to have so many productive things in life that I can do that I haven't become a drug addict and I've been able to channel that into meaningful activities that are impactful but yet there are some times when, whatever, I'm sitting around at night and I got four hours of time to spend with the family or something like that and at the back of my mind, I'm like, “Gosh, I got to do something, I got to be productive.” And, if not, I got to have extra glass of wine here.
But, my question for you is for someone who's wired up that way, are there also neurochemicals whether it'd be L-DOPA or some type of nootropic or something that alleviate a little bit of that edgy feeling that you get when you're either not accomplishing stuff or you don't want to take some kind of a deleterious drug?
Kashif: Yeah. So, what we found, the dopamine pathway itself and the COMT pathway itself, we usually focus on context, which is give yourself that thing to focus on. And, it doesn't necessarily need to be constant and ongoing like you said. If you're given that one hour, you're done. Even if you can be thinking about it but there's cofactors that really push people over the edge and that's where you can really intervene. And, one of them is serotonin. So, if you also are dysregulated for serotonin where your receptors genetically we can determine that they're a little shorter. And so, your ability to regulate mood is a little off and you're hypersensitive to stimulus because of it. So, what does that mean that, okay, we've already sort of talked about part of this persona, we're just going to build a little bit more on it. So, this persona is a warrior. Now, not only are they a warrior but they're hypersensitive to stimulus. Why I'm calling this out? Because these are the people that actually need more intervention. And, you're probably the same, by the way.
So, your serotonin receptor is a little shorter, you're a little more hypersensitive to all stimulus whether positive or negative and you're constantly getting pulled to the next one, and you're experiencing it at a much higher level of detail than your peers. That drives this high-functioning anxiety. You're already striving for reward and pleasure, you have this desire to want to do things or you slip into depression and you're experiencing the world in this highly nuanced detailed level that other people don't see. So, every person that's chewing their food the wrong way or making too much noise or telling a funny joke, you're constantly being drawn to the next thing. In your work, you're seeing all these details and nuances that people don't see, that drives, like I said, this constant anxiousness about you where you need to get things done and everything bugs you. And, when you talk to people, they're only seeing the world at 70% and you can't handle and understand why the team can see things the way you see them at that level. So, that's where you can intervene.
And, serotonin, we know there's so many things, 5-HTP, the gene is called 5-HTTLPR, and 5-HTP helps modulate your serotonin levels. Getting good sleep because your serotonin is produced — and we're going to talk about sleep hopefully. It's a great thing to unpack when it comes to genetics. Getting sleep because you produce it in the morning, that sort of later half of sleep. So, that's where you would intervene.
So, the dopamine and COMT itself are harder to manage. I know a lot of people talk about certain things you can do there, but we find that what you can do and the delta value of change is nominal versus things like serotonin and BDNF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, the delta change in outcome is much greater. So, if you deal with the cofactors that create the load on top of this warrior genetics like serotonin or, again, let's go to BDNF. If your BDNF is off and you have this profile, then not only are you this warrior that's driving but things mean a lot, you give things a lot of weight. And so, there's this constant burden, everything is a major problem. So, not only are you depressed but the things that are making you depressed are heavy even though they may not be because your ability to develop neural connections and these synapses for information to flow through is not optimal. And so, you tunnel or funnel into a few select ones and become more of a specialist than a generalist. And so, new things are friction for you and all things have a lot more meaning than they should.
And so, you give this weight to information or to problems that other people don't give. And so, that co-factor to this warrior personality is where you should focus. And, BDNF is so easy to deal with, high-grade omega-3. Like you said, nootropics and coffee I think it's called a coffee fruit extract particularly that really works.
Ben: Yeah, that's interesting that you say that by the way because I started using this, I don't want this to be a commercial but this one company called Nootopia, they sent me some of their packaged nootropics and you fill out this online questionnaire beforehand that customizes your nootropics to you. And, some of the blends that they send one called Nectar, and I think the other one was called Brain Flow. They both have this coffee berry fruit extract in them. And, I feel really, really good when I take that in terms of feeling a lot more stable, especially mentally, and it seems to alleviate some of those issues we were talking about earlier. The other one seems to work pretty well for me is one made by a Qualia called Qualia Mind. And, I don't do well with a lot of caffeine, I use the caffeine-free version personally. The Qualia Mind is another one that I've found seems to really stabilize my propensity to either be super-duper-driven to the point of annoying myself with the hyper-productivity or in the absence of those triggering stimuli a little bit more of a depressed mopey type of feeling.
Kashif: Those are excellent examples. And, they do exactly what you said. So, Qualia Mind, amazing product, it literally does that, it stabilizes you. So, it brings you to the middle. So, you're not going to feel wow, but you're going to feel you should be if everything was optimal, meaning normal. So, there's no visceral like “I feel incredible,” but it's like “I don't feel anything bad, everything's normal today.” The coffee fruit extract is going to actually make you feel wow, my BDNF levels are really high and I feel extra good today for some reason, my mood is amazing, everything in the world is wonderful.
So, other things that do that on the BDNF side is you start your day with a hot shower. It boosts your BDNF levels right there and then the rest of the day is better. Breathing exercises, deep breathing, just pausing three, four times a day to just in through the nose and out through the mouth. Boost your BDNF level, something so simple but it doesn't. Low duration, sorry I should say low intensity, longer duration exercise like yoga, brisk walking in the evening, that will get your BDNF levels going also. So, that's where we intervene with people. It's not so much on the dopamine itself, but it's these co-factors.
Kashif: And then, there's so much easier to work on.
Ben: I'm honestly shocked. Every time I see a bodybuilder or fitness influencer or anyone really promoting branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs. You see these things all over the place. I just don't get it. They only have three of the nine essential amino acids your body needs. They can cause issues like messing with your serotonin levels and depleting your B vitamins, they affect your blood sugar deleteriously, and a whole lot more. But, the dark and dirty secret in the supplements industry is that you can make a lot of money off of the overpriced flavored water that is essentially BCAAs. So, I use the word essentially I suppose quite fittingly because the alternative are essential amino acids. Essential amino acids actually have all the amino acids your body actually need, they are great for energy, great for preserving muscle, great for fasting and keeping the appetite satiated, great for nourishing the body for sleep, good for cognitive performance. They're like the Swiss army knife of supplements these essential amino acids. I'm blown away by the number of people who've heard me talk about essential amino acids on the podcast who've started using them and who literally feel like they're on steroids without actually being on steroids.
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That's really cool. And, again, it's a perfect example of empowerment. You mentioned sleep, which I know is another issue that a lot of people deal with. And, I'd love to hear a little bit more about sleep genetic types because I think personalization of sleep is really interesting. My wife doesn't sleep as hot as me, I sleep super-hot so I use the ChiliPad. We recently switched to this mattress called the Essentia Mattress where we each got to go online, fill out a special questionnaire. And, her side is set for her firmness, her posture, her back position. Mine is set for mine. And so, I totally get the improvement in sleep when you personalize your sleeping environment, but I don't think I've talked much on the podcast about the sleeping genetic types. Can you get into that a little bit?
Kashif: It's really interesting because we never had any intention to actually solve this problem. So, nobody ever believed that there was the genetics of sleep, any sleep genes per se, and nobody was trying to solve that problem. But, what would happen is as we dealt with our patients in that research phase, those first 7,000 people, sleep was the very first thing they would all say got better when that wasn't even our intention. And, we started to then learn that our eyes got open to 50% of Americans don't sleep properly, we didn't even know that that was a problem. And so, we started to dive in why are these people feeling better. And, it wasn't always the same thing. We find there was three separate buckets that people fell in. There's I can't fall asleep, can't get to sleep on time. There's I fall asleep fine but I can't stay asleep, I wake up in the middle of the night and in the second half, my sleep just isn't anywhere near the quality of the first half. And, I sleep through the night, I don't have any cognition of waking up but I just don't feel rested, I wake up feeling horrible. So, why are those three different things happening and what are they? So, I'll break them down one at a time.
The first one, I can't fall asleep, is highly dependent on your circadian rhythm and your clock. And, there's literally a gene called clock. And, it's implicit in your ability to manage your circadian rhythm tied with once again, BDNF, brain-derived neurotropic factor. If your BDNF is off and your clock gene, and even if your clock gene isn't off, by the way, BDNF is so powerful that if it's off, your body has no clue what time it is. Circadian rhythm is completely broken, that clock doesn't work. So, what happens is if you co-factor that with blue light, beautiful pot lights that keep our household night stress, Netflix, all the stuff that happens at night which we all know we're supposed to avoid for better sleep but for certain people, it's just so much more impactful. There's some people that say, I don't care, I can be on my laptop, I don't have a problem sleeping, and then it debunks that blue light is a problem. No, it's a proof it's a problem for this genetic profile that can't establish its sleep time. So, what our ancestors used to do is and I'm sure this already is they would see fire at night, they would see that deep amber glow, which is why we wear these ember lenses that trigger melatonin production. When our eyes see the world through the ember glow, you start to produce melatonin or I shouldn't say produce, you produce it all day but you start to utilize it.
So, people with poor BDNF don't do that well, they need the signaling, they need the amber glow. Knowing that they're tired isn't enough. So, just something as simple as sitting on the edge of your bed and doing that deep breathing to signal it's time to sleep, avoiding all of the stuff that we already know we're supposed to avoid like blue light and Netflix and stress. One key thing is resolving unresolved mental issues, meaning low BDNF tends to cause people to spin things in their head. “Why did I say it or why did I do this? Oh, I shouldn't have done this. Oh, I wish I showed up on time.” And then, you're lying in your bed at night with your head spinning.
Ben: Both my sons and I do have that, by the way. It's not why necessarily or the main reason and motivator behind why I implemented these really robust evening habits for our family like evening songs, evening story time, evening meditation, evening breathwork, but we do all that before bed. My sons sleep amazingly and then me, same thing. I have a notepad next to the bed, I'm doing meditation, I'm doing breathwork, I'm doing prayer. And, yeah, you do have to pull out a few more stops when you have that low BDNF factor.
Kashif: You definitely have to but all those things signal to your clock that it's sleep time. And, you just need to do a lot more work. Imagine you just have a really dumb clock that can't figure it out and you've got to coach it through what time of day it is. That's basically what's happening. So, that's BDNF. And, I mean, there's tons of things you can do to improve it but if you do improve it, that problem of I can't fall asleep should technically go away. We've done it in many, many, many people.
So, the second problem is I fall asleep. And, by the way, you could also have a combination of these problems, but we'll deal with them siloed. I fall asleep and I can't stay asleep. So, we just spoke of melatonin, we know that's the hormone that gets you to sleep, and we know that we sleep in these 90-minute cycles but there are — if you look at it genetically in terms of circadian rhythm, there's two halves to sleep in terms of biochemistry. So, there's the first half which is your deep restorative detox and all that other stuff, there's your second half which at some point in that second half you're meant to wake up and your body knows this. In this first half, I don't wake up so it's easy to continue. But, in the second half, at some point, you're supposed to wake up.
So, what happens is just fire and amber glow triggers melatonin activation, this first sunlight coming through the window and piercing through your eyelids causing a different kind of amber that you see. If you ever look at light through your eyelids, trigger serotonin, and serotonin is your wake-up chemical, time to go. The brain is now firing. Let's get up and go. So, the challenge is if you're serotonin dysregulated, which I'm sure a lot of people listening here are, it's a lot more people than you would think, it's a big percentage, then in that second half when we're sleeping in an environment in context that isn't conducive to sleep, meaning that too much light, smell, cold, hot, all these things that can trigger stimulus, your body gets confused and doesn't know, is this the stimulus that's supposed to wake me up? Or, is this something else? And so, you're in and out of sleep and you're dreaming and then you're awake, and then you're dreaming and then you're awake, and it's constant struggle of your body literally being in confusion trying to get the serotonin firing to get you up and out of bed. And, some people, if they have something on their mind will literally fully wake up and start working.
Some people that had a bad day the prior day where they're already off on serotonin, they're just going to totally get up. But, some people have a chronic every day that second half just sucks and that's where you have to do all the stuff you're talking about, which is temperature, heavy blanket, cool mattress, zero light leakage. You're probably wearing a mask. You're probably dealing with smell and aroma like every little trigger, zero noise. So, it's literally as a baby is in the room, and that's how careful you are the first day on the first child where you have no idea what to do, that level of carefulness around your sleep, you literally need that. And, you could also take 5-HTP, which deals with serotonin regulation.
Ben: Yeah, that's actually what we put in in the Kion Sleep product, which I created to scratch my own itch because I have that issue also with sleep. And, there's one other thing that I don't use it because I'm a side sleeper and I haven't found a way yet to make it work with me as a side sleeper but there's something called the Ebb sleep system. I talked about how I have that ChiliPad that will circulate cold water underneath me while I'm asleep, but the Ebb sleep system, it actually is a forehead cooling device that's been shown to alleviate anxiety and insomnia related to some of the genetic issues that you were talking about. It seems to shift the blood flow away from the frontal cerebral area where you would tend to have a little bit more of thought rumination. And, yeah, it basically cools your racing mind, is really, really interesting. And, again, I have used it before to fall asleep a little bit better, but it slides off because I roll over during the night and sleep on my side. But, it's kind of interesting especially if you're able to sleep on your back.
Kashif: Yeah. So, that makes a lot of sense because I don't know what the exact number is, but I think it's 60% of your heat you release through your head. So, if you're overheating yourself, then yeah, your head would be the central place to counteract that along with the mattress cooling pad, which is optimal. I've started using one, it's made a huge difference for me.
Ben: I should interject because I know there's some scientists who are going to be screaming through the microphone, you don't want to do that to cool the body. There's these things called I think they're called arteriovenous anastomoses in the feet, in the hands, and in the head. And, when you cool them, paradoxically it actually causes the rest of the body to upregulate temperature because it's under the impression that the appendages are at risk. I know it's counterintuitive, but what you actually want to do is keep the hands and feet and head from getting too cold if you want the rest of the body to stay cool.
Now, of course, that needs to be paired with the idea that if you keep the head cold, you can also eliminate some of the rumination or racing thoughts. And, I think probably the best way to do this would be if you're going to keep the head cold and I realize this is getting super into the nitty-gritty weeds, but you'd want to, for example, wear wool socks or keep the hands warm so that your body didn't get the impression that it needed to warm the core if that makes sense. So, I just want to mention that to people like the parts of your body wouldn't want to cool when you're trying to sleep would be the hands, the feet, and the head. And, if you do decide to cool the head, put on some wool socks or something like that.
Kashif: That makes a lot of sense. The number one thing that we end up helping people resolve their sleep with is actually hubby pulling on the blanket. When you're in bed with the hubby all night, and there's a struggle, the skin, it's head to toe, that sensitivity of the blanket moving when you aren't moving constantly waking you up, especially in the second half where they're also in their makeup phase and they're probably moving a little bit more, so literally just having two separate blankets where their movement doesn't interrupt yours.
Ben: Yeah. My wife and I like to snuggle too much for that. So, I do sacrifice sleep for relationship and snuggling. Meaning I'll often roll over and be halfway on top of my wife and she'll wake up and push me off and then I'll wake up and she's tangled on top of me. We don't sleep with two separate blankets, but it's a battle slash this cuddly snuggly relationship that we both really enjoy. And so, we spend half of the evening tangled up with each other like a pretzel, but we kind of like it.
Kashif: Well, there's a whole world of benefits to that too, so.
Kashif: So, then the third bucket, which we didn't talk about, is the people that sleep through the night but wake up feeling not so rested, just the genetics of that and what did we learn. So, we know that sleep is when all your recovery happens. So, all the detox and the glymphatic drainage, the lymphatic drainage, the recovery of all the abuse your body took the day before. And, if you are like myself and so many other people that are not optimal in terms of detox, or methylation, or glucuronidation, or antioxidation, all these multiple pathways that deal with recovery and removal of environmental insults, well, are you also sleeping on a memory foam mattress that is chock full of chemicals that every time you roll up when you're popping little air bubbles and off-gassing and breathing them in, is there mold in your home? Do you have some cheap carpet that you just laid down that's off-gassing which could also be a hormone disruptor by the way?
So, the people that wake up feeling also rested, we found over and over and over again that their detox methylation pathways were not the best and there was some environmental airborne exposure and it was often their mattress that was usually the number one thing that they were then breathing in for the next eight hours at the exact same time where their body's trying to recover from all of what they dealt with the day before but they already aren't wired to cope with all of that. And so, there's a struggle where they don't actually get the rest, they don't actually get the recovery, and they wake up feeling horrible. And so, taking some detox supplements right before you sleep and we get into details of what those are —
Ben: Really, you take detox supplements before you go — I mean obviously I was thinking make sure you're sleeping on a clean mattress and you've done a mold remediation in your home and taking care of EMF and stuff like that. But, you're actually recommending people to take detox supplements before they go to sleep?
Kashif: Yeah. There's two unique times that I take detox supplements. One is before sleep and one is before I go on a flight. I know you've done a lot of work on EMF and all of what the plane can do to slowly kill you, and I find that when I support my detox pathways that I just feel a lot better, you're going through those scanners at the airport, so you're not directly counteracting the EMF and all that but you're supporting what happens when the cells and you pour cellular health, there's already a load, and I already don't detoxify well. So, what I already don't do well, now I'm in a worse terrain because there's so much other stuff I have to deal with. So, I support that.
So, when I say detox, I make a very specific cocktail for myself based on my genome, which is NAC milk thistle, that's alpha-lipoic acid. I think there's some selenium in there. So, I don't actually take glutathione, some people take a liposomal glutathione. What I find is because my glutathione pathway is so poor that glutathione actually overwhelms me. We have patients that have been bedridden because their natural paths gave them rightfully so it seems intuitive that give them glutathione because glutathione pathway doesn't work well. Well, if you don't have the genetic construction, telling glutathione sort of what to do or telling that process what to do, you're also going to be binding onto minerals and nutrients and everything else. It becomes chaos literally. Somebody that we know, by the way, mutually was bedridden for a month and we've found that the particular reason was because of this that they took a glutathione IV at their natural path.
Ben: Oh, wow.
Kashif: That literally put them in bed, which it seemed like the right thing to do. But, for them genetically, it was horrible. And, that's what actually put them in bed. There's other ways to go about it. But, yes, so I do take the detox supplement before sleep to help my body do what it doesn't do well innately, it just give it some extra support.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And, I know you're in Canada down here, the FDA has cracked down on acetylcysteine, and I believe they removed it from being defined as a dietary supplement so it's a lot more difficult to get now. But, there's obviously other things you mentioned; milk thistle, there's dandelion, there's activated charcoal. I know the company Quicksilver Scientific, they make some pretty good detoxification compounds. And, I have a lot of times I've recommended that when you go out to eat and you don't know if the food that you've had has been laced with vegetable oils or you've had an extra or two or three glasses of wine. But, that's interesting that you're actually using it to enhance sleep when you've found that people seem to sleep through the night but then when they wake up, they're still groggy or have a poor sleep score. So, that's interesting to note.
So, it's so fascinating, there's multiple reasons that you might not be able to fall asleep or can't stay asleep or you sleep through the night but you wake up feeling not rested. And, I think some people might struggle with all three, but this hopefully has given people a lot of things they can do to personalize their sleep routine. I know obviously, the genetic test that you guys do could help to elucidate which type you are if you're more than one type.
There's obviously a lot of other things that you guys get into on the DNA test, but with the time that we have, I wanted to make sure that I ask you about a couple of others I've been thinking about. I'm working on a parenting book right now, shameless plug, BoundlessParentingbook.com, and you had mentioned to me that you've looked a little bit into this idea of applying genetics to parenting and personalization. What do you mean by that?
Kashif: So, that is my personal legacy. I can tell you that. We don't do it commercially, it's not a product that we sell, but the more patients we see, the more I realize that the earlier we could have got to them, the better off they would have been. If you're dealing with prevention, the day you start is the best day to start, which in the earlier that could have been, the better off you would have been. So, my belief is a child is born, guess what, parent, here's your child's instruction manual. Here's exactly how they're wired hormonally, cognitively, diet, nutrition, how do they sleep cellularly, how do they deal with oxidants, and everything else. And, it would make that job so much easier. And, I know this from personal experience because I solve my own problems at home through my kids' journal mix. And, I'll give you a couple examples.
So, my middle son, we had a lot of challenges with homework, and you go to the usual suspects of like, “Oh, no discipline, no motivation, behavior problems, why doesn't he care?” And then, I realized, you know what, I have his genome, let me just take a look at what's actually going on. And, whenever we look at things genetically, we're not ever looking for that problem in the genes, we're just looking for the red flags and then trying to see how they relate to that problem. We're always reverse engineering so we don't pigeonhole ourselves. So, what I found was and it was so glaringly obvious, I don't know why I didn't see it just innately just from dealing with him, was that he had the absolute worst starch metabolization gene. So, the AMY gene, the worst. He really could not convert starch into glucose, horrible. His insulin response was also horrible. So, there's a gene that we can see but his fat response by the way was amazing, his ability to convert fat into fuel. So, he's an ideal candidate for keto diet as an example.
Ben: A keto diet and possibly also the use of special salivary amylases like digestive enzymes when he's consuming starch to increase the breakdown.
Kashif: Exactly, for sure. So, they needed that additional support. He wasn't innately doing it himself. So, well, how does that relate to homework? Well, when was homework time was after dinner after we were eating our South Asian Pakistani Rice and non-meals every day that was giving him an extreme carb crash where he had no mental function. He was brain dead. It was that simple. He was eating the wrong food trying to work when he was in this extreme carb crash daily, which would have been the struggling, yelling at him, fighting with him telling him he has a behavior issue for years and years and years. So, that's a very simple one.
Then, you can get into things that are a lot more complex. So, my niece, my sister, and my mom live together, and my mom called me saying your niece is having an anxiety attack, she can't breathe. What do we do? So, I have a friend that's a pediatrician who lives close by, I called him, I actually went over there, she literally couldn't breathe and he said that this sounds like anxiety, it's going to calm down. If it happens again, let me know. So, some time later, my mom called me again and she said it's happening again but you got to come over here because this time she fell over and she hurt herself. We think she may have broken something because she can't walk.
Ben: Oh, wow.
Kashif: I took her, Canadian Healthcare System is amazing because it's free but because it's free, it's overloaded and it's slow. So, we spent I think it was six or seven hours at this urgent care facility, every test, every scan looked at the X-ray, no breakage, no nothing, and the outcome was if it happens again, let us know. At that point, I knew what that actually meant is if it happens again, she's getting a prescription for an anxiety pill and we're going to diagnose her with this condition and you're going to have to just live with knowing that's what she has.
So, silly me, we're busy, I went back to my office and started working and didn't do anything about it even though this is my own niece. I started helping other people kids instead of my own as my work. So, it happened again, but this time, my mom called me crying saying your niece ran away from home. And, just to paint the picture, completely out of character, she is the most innocent sweet girl, she doesn't even leave the home by herself, not because of any restriction, she doesn't want to, she's just so sweet and innocent. So, it made absolutely no sense. I said there's something wrong here. My mom said, no, there's a note, she says, “I can't take it anymore, I have to go.” That was the note. And, I remember the word it's like burned into my brain because of also by the way my genetics of dealing with trauma, I imprint a little bit more. We can talk about that later too.
Anyway, so I went over there, and like I thought, my mom lives in a condo building, I found my niece downstairs, she hadn't even left the building because for her, that was far enough. And so, I got her in the car, went for a drive I said, what's wrong? Is it bullying? Is it a boy thing? Is it social media? All the usual suspects. And, she said, “I actually don't know, I just needed to get out.” And, I realized she was just fighting with herself, she just needed to get out of that environment to see if she could feel different and she didn't. That's when literally on the spot I called my office said, “Send me her reports.” And, there's something else going on here.
So, I looked at it and the first thing that was glaringly obvious is and I put two and two together I said, “Wait a second. Mom, you've been calling me clockwork every 30 days, this must have something to do with her menstrual cycle.” So, that was one. So, I looked at our hormones, and yes, at the beginning of the female menstrual cycle is when you have the least hormones. You just finished clearing everything out and now you're starting to [00:55:47] _____ again. That's the circadian rhythm of the female hormone cycle. And, when I checked the text messages and calls for my mom, like clockwork at the beginning of her cycle every month. So, when I looked at her hormones, she is more androgen dominant so she's more leaning towards testosterone, less estrogen, which we can very well map out genetically how you make your hormones. And so, that valley for her was a lot deeper because she already didn't make enough female hormones to begin with.
So now, we found there's this young lady who has this very deep drop in hormone levels which may cause some anxiety or mood and behavior issue during those first few days. But, why did it happen in these three months since she had been having a cycle for two years already? So, this was going back two winters ago when we were in the middle of COVID and she was being homeschooled, prime lockdown time and she didn't go outside for three months. So, she got zero vitamin D. Of the 22,000 genes in your body, 2,000 require vitamin D to function. So, 10% of your human biochemistry is dependent on this one micronutrient, and we know it acts more as a hormone and I believe it's been rebranded a vitamin because if everybody had enough, we wouldn't be sick. It's a little bit too potent powerful, but the vitamin D pathway is highly complex, it's not just like, do I get it and metabolize it? No, the step one is you need to take it from the sun or from food and get it into the blood. That's one gene. Then, you need to transport it to the cell where it's used. That's the second gene. So, when you go to the doctor, they tell you have enough vitamin D, that's often not enough of the picture being painted. That's just one step of three. Then, once it gets to the cell, there's a VDR gene which binds it, it's the binder that connects into the cell. And, the reason why vitamin D has this complex pathway is because it's one of the few that's toxic that you can overdose if you get too much and our ancestors did have too much. They spent most of their time outdoors unlike us.
Kashif: So, they mitigate the utilization of it so there's these steps. So, she was suboptimal in all of it. She didn't metabolize it, she didn't transport it, and she didn't bind it. And now, she was getting zero. So, that compounded this hormone dysregulation and her ability to manage her hormonal circadian rhythm which added a major clue as to why did it happen now.
Step three, like her uncle, she's wired as a warrior. So, she had no dopamine, zero. And now, she's has hormonal imbalance already causing behavior issues, vitamin D, slim to none, so she is now compounding whatever she's feeling. And, where did it express? This anxiety response because she was already teetering this chronic high functioning ongoing anxiety because she was constantly on the line of feel good, not feel good. Feel good, not feel good. And now, we have a crash.
Kashif: So, this thing happened on this day three months in a row, which if I didn't know this, I would have put her on their anxiety pill and it would have made total sense because what she was expressing as looked nothing other than an anxiety response which you think is a mood and behavior or mental health issue. And, how many young women today are on some mooted behavior pill? In the United States, there's a huge boom for young women on some pill that are maybe taking birth control pill to balance their hormones or on anxiety or depression or some pill only because they haven't understood what their body is doing with all the chemicals and hormones they produce. What did I do for her? Very simple, the first few days before her cycle, she was on a high dose 10,000 IU of vitamin D, but it was split because keep in mind, if I gave her that 10,000 IU, she wasn't able to transport it, and bind it fast enough. So, we split it into 3,000, 3,000, 3,000 by 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. So, by the afternoon, she had had three doses because she doesn't transport her fast enough so we gave her a little by little. And, some l-theanine to boost her dopamine levels. And, that's why one thing that I missed you asked about dopamine, that's one thing you can do, l-theanine just boosts your dopamine levels, makes you feel good.
Ben: Yeah, I know. That's also in my sleep product, by the way.
Kashif: Wow, amazing. It makes a lot of sense. It makes a lot of sense for that reason. The very next month, she didn't have the problem. Toronto had the longest COVID lockdown in the world, so she was still in lockdown for several months. She has not had the problem since and it's been two years. Well, one and a half years.
So now, imagine not knowing this and it was so simple to fix, so simple, the biochemical pathways are complex. That is all hard to understand and nobody know. And then, I went and talked to the pediatrician who was a good friend of mine, and said, “Here's what I did. What do you think?” And, he was silent and he said, “What you described is exactly what's needed, but it's not in my toolkit.”
Ben: Yeah. Well, I think there's some people that might cringe at the idea of testing your child's genetics because it might wreak just slightly of some type of, I don't know, ethnic cleansing, ubermensch type of scenario where we're trying to create the perfect ember in the perfect child. And, I in no way endorse actually something like embryonic testing and sacrifice of a child due to the fact that they might be born sometimes. That doesn't really agree with me ethically. There's something about it just it turns on my spidey senses versus just bringing children into the world and taking care of them and loving them no matter who they are and no matter what their genetic and health predispositions are.
But then, at the same time, it's like you've just described or what I've noticed with my sons or another thing I did with my sons because one, in particular, had some of the genes that similar to mine from a serotonin and BDNF standpoint cause one to ruminate heavily on issues or on problems, or on arguments, or disagreements. And so, I'd go out of my way to make sure that he has processed fully any type of disagreement, any type of struggle, any type of stressor because I know that based on his genetic type, that's the type of thing that will really build up and accumulate in him and eventually manifest as either disease, or health issues, or bitterness, or emotional issues, et cetera. So, again, it just comes back to the fact that this stuff is so empowering and can be so empowering for parents and for children as well.
Now, I wanted to ask you a little bit about the report itself because obviously, I think a lot of people know especially those who have gotten DNA tests, you get typically some a PDF printout that walks you through everything. I know you guys have stuff like that, but in terms of the actual reports, tell me a little bit about what someone's getting the report because from what I understand you even have a personalized podcast where the AI via audio interprets your DNA results for you so you can sit back and listen to it. Get into what someone would actually get if they were to run a DNA company report on themselves or someone else.
Kashif: That's the other half of what we thought was broken, the first half we've been talking about so far this entire hour, which is interpretation. So, people have been getting genetic results which are literally that, “Here's your gene results.” Data is dumb unless what question to ask. So, just a bunch of data doesn't help, you need interpretation, which is the anecdotal stuff we've been talking about. So, that's what's in the reports.
The second problem with genetics is it was too hard to use. So, the reports were designed by the PhDs doing the analysis and the science which is great for them, but a consumer, it should be as simple as what's wrong and how do I fix it. If it's not that easy, it's not designed properly. And, I learned this myself, again, from the struggle of trying to use genetics for my own benefit and none of it worked unless I had some brilliant scientists sitting in front of me that could analyze each thing. And then, I was also dependent on, did they miss something? Was their interpretation different or their experience different than the guy down the street who's going to tell me two different things?
So, what we built was this sort of self-navigable platform and the first thinking there was I shouldn't have to look up a bunch of genes and then figure out what they mean. I should be able to look up the problem I'm suffering from and then understand what genes drive that. so, when you look at our report, it doesn't say DRD2 gene, it says anxiety, depression, addiction, burnout, procrastination, empathetical versus logical behavior. It gets into all the mood and behavior traits. And then, you can see within that trait how do you rank what genes drive that. so, the science is also there if you want to geek out and learn why we're saying what we're saying, but most importantly, there's recommendations, there's recommendations. And, by the way, we work with a mutual friend on this. So, Dr. BJ Fogg.
Ben: Oh, yeah.
Kashif: Yeah, so you know him well. So, we said, “Hey, we figured out what's wrong, we figured out how to fix it. Here's the thing.” For example, we said we did a coffee fruit extract. So, we figured out what works for the thing, but we don't know how to get people to actually adopt these behaviors and change their behaviors and make it stick like, how do we get them to benefit the outcome? So, Dr. Fogg took all of our reports, and before we published anything, he put in there very simple to understand, “Here's the habits you need to build. Here's the behaviors you need to remove. Here's the behaviors you need to add.” And, it reads so easily, when you read it, it's kind of like, “I already knew that.” And, it should be that easy. So, that's the other thing. So, we speak to the problems, you can look up the problem, the genes are also there if you need to know but it's easy to understand in the context of the problem. And then, the recommendations are there in the context of each problem as opposed to overarching general you don't know why you're being told this stuff. So, you can pick specifically you want to work on, it's all there.
The second thing is you alluded to is we realized even then some people need to dive deeper into the actual science or genome to understand their overarching story or how these pieces all come together or why what we're saying what we're saying. So, that usually required some kind of Ph.D. or scientist sitting there and saying, “Here's your genome, here's what I think.” So, what we did was we took every possible iteration that we could think of and we recorded it all in a studio. And now, our AI pulls on all the audio files that are relevant to you and gives you a personalized podcast. And so, you can sit there, it's hours of content that will tell you about [01:06:15] _____ —
Ben: That's pretty cool.
Kashif: Yeah, it's awesome. I've been through my own and even though I already know this stuff, it reminds me of things here and there. I go back to it once in a while because, again, the farther away you away from things, the less of it you use. So, I go back and listen to him every once in a while. And, it's as if you have a Ph.D. in front of you reviewing your results for every single gene. And, we did it this way because it's hard for us to train other clinicians to think like us. So, it wasn't scalable that way. It's hard for us to do this for everybody because we don't have enough of teams. So, we built the AI that can scale it through technology as opposed to people. And, that's what it looks like.
Ben: Yeah, it's a pretty cool report. And, I've done the testing with you guys. And, again, I'll link to it in the show notes if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/DNACompanyPodcast because I had Mansoor walk me through all of my genes and all of my son's genes. So, if people want to get a little bit more of an insider glimpse into a lot of the stuff that gets tested, they could listen to that episode even though we gave a pretty good overview here too. And, it's just so simple. I mean, it's just did you use saliva? Well, I don't know. Can you do it anywhere in the world? I mean, I know USA and Canada, but we obviously have people listen in other places. I think you can do it pretty much anywhere, yeah?
Kashif: There's certain countries where there are restrictions, but as an individual, it's usually not a problem. But, France is very sticky on sending samples out. Mexico is a little tricky. Vietnam, for some reason, is very tricky. There's three or four countries, but again, individual one kit here and there doesn't really ever get stopped.
Ben: Yeah. And then, logistically, I know that some people who may have heard our previous episode with Mansoor, they might have gotten the old version of the test. You can totally upgrade to the new DNA Company portal because there's a whole bunch of new stuff on the back end, new insights, those podcasts we were talking about, a whole bunch more. They're giving all my listeners 50% discount who've already done the test who want to upgrade to the new portal. And then, also anybody who hasn't gotten tested yet, usually it costs 399 to get tested. And, I think you guys are doing it for 50 bucks off. So, it's 349, which honestly for the amount of information is it's crazy. You get a lot of actionable insight and you learn a ton about your body. And, the cool thing is with this stuff, unlike a lot of other tests, it's like you do it once and it's obviously unless again you do some type of CRISPR DNA editing. It's not going to change. So, you don't have to do this test ever, you just do it one time and you got everything you need.
So, I'll link to it in the shownotes, but I think it's something like BenGreenfieldLife.com/TheDNACompany or /TheDNACompany or you could just go to the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/DNACompanyPodcast and I'll link to everything that Kashif and I talked about as well as previous podcast episodes like my podcast with Doug Brackmann of Driven, and my podcast with Mansoor Mohammad of The DNA Company and some other genetics type of podcasts that I've done.
Kashif, I want to thank you so much for coming on and sharing this with us. I mean, we barely even scratched the surface of all the new stuff that you guys are doing over there but it's pretty cool and I think you guys are some of the best in the business when it comes to DNA testing especially when you want comprehensive analysis of pretty much everything on the planet that could be going on in your body. So, thanks for coming on and sharing all this with us today, man.
Kashif: It was a pleasure, man. Great to be here, great to help, and help people learn. And, we're here if anyone has question, just reach out, we're here to help educate.
Ben: Awesome. Alright. Well, thanks so much. And, again, folks, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Kashif Khan from The DNA Company signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Shownotes are at BenGreenfieldLife.com/DNACompanyPodcast. Have an amazing week.
Kashif: Welcome everyone. We're going to dive into something that can be controversial. We're looking at human evolution. And, why I say controversial because depending on where you look and what you follow, science says, yeah, it's very clear, there's a path to how we got to who we are and it's evolutionary in nature. Meaning that we are inheriting the genes or traits or legacy of our ancestors not only as family but also as a species. Meaning that there's cross-species evolution, religion, and some other groups say that, well, that's not what happened. We showed up the way we were. And, we didn't come from any other species or animal, et cetera, and we came to this planet the way we are.
So, what's the truth? Well, it's not only did we evolve, and is there proof of it, but it's also, are there different ways that evolution could have happened? And, by the time we get through this, you'll understand a little bit more about what I'm thinking and what we're saying. For example, the belief right now is that evolution is linear that we today are the best that this planet has ever seen. We started from something lesser and you can go back however many billions of years you want and that continued to progress into who we now are. So, that's the belief that there's this upward trajectory of evolution and we keep getting better and better and better. And, in the future, there's also going to be our lineage, our progeny that will be better than us. Is it possible that evolution or this changing species is more cyclical? Maybe it doesn't continue to go up in a line, maybe it goes and there's a plateau and then there's a replacement. Maybe there's something else altogether that happens. And, that's what we're going to explore here today. And, the really cool thing is that there's hints in our DNA, there's clues that are telling us what happened. There's still science that needs to be applied to it, there's still adoption and belief that needs to be spread, but I have some thoughts here on what our DNA is saying.
So, first of all, we do see evolution in animals. It's clear that there's things going on and future generations adopt, learn, change from their ancestors. And, I put out a post once on social media about how elephants are being born without tusks. So, what's going on there? The elephants without tusks are the ones that are not being hunted for their ivory. And so, as an evolutionary and sort of safety of the species' function, the next generation is being born without tusks, and it's the parents or ancestry without tusk who survived to begin with, they weren't hunted. So, they're passing down their genes. So, we do see evidence of next generations changing because of what the current generation experience. You can deny that certain genetic code is passed on and things change. Meanwhile, I don't think the question has to be so broad that, is evolution real or not? It could be, hey, we've seen evidence of evolution in animals or plants, but does it happen the same way in humans? Maybe it's a different question.
We know, and I've said this before, that around 200,000 years ago, we changed. And, what do I mean by that? I mean that there was some occurrence of who we became versus the species that was there before us, the primates that should have taken millions of years if you're going down the evolutionary path. In order to change the way we change, which means that our brains became 50% larger. So, if you compare us to the primates from who we think we came from where the Neanderthals, whatever, our brains became 50% larger seemingly overnight. This does not speak to an evolutionary path, this speaks to a rapid change, something else happened. Our current brain capacity is the same of those people of 200,000 years ago. There was a switch that was flipped and we changed. We also developed new features cognitively. A lot of this is driven cognitively when you look at how we're different. Our neocortex became a lot larger which allowed for certain traits and certain activity. There's certain human features that appeared seemingly overnight again at that time around 200 to 250,000 years ago.
So, we then start to ask, how did this happen at the same time? What changed? And, there's science that speaks to this. So, there's plenty of published research out there that talks about how things change at that time and what actually happens which doesn't speak to, again, a long-term evolutionary road map versus a rapid change, some form of intervention. Where did that intervention happen? We don't know. We don't have the answers to that. What we do have the answers to is that the research is now pointing to something changed and here's what changed.
So, human chromosome number 2, it seems as if there was a fusion that happened. You can literally see a pinch if you look at human chromosome number 2 and there was a fusion that happened and we still don't know how or why or what drove that. So, there was primate genetics, that's true. There was primate genetics, but then there's human genetics that looks like a fusion of the primate genetics. So, it's not the primate gene evolved into who we are, it looks like the combination of these two primate genes fused and created something new. So, you see this pinch and it's a gene editing. If you look at the way it was done, it was done for the purpose of stability. Meaning that this was meant to exist long-term and continue and it was done right. So, we are just now starting to discover CRISPR technology that can do this. We know it's true, we do know that gene fusion editing, and I'm going to get a little more into that, is possible. We don't know how it happened then.
So, what's the outcome? Like I said, we now have a larger neocortex with a more powerful brain function. There's a gene called TBR1, which is responsible for 76% of this size change in our brains, in our neocortex, which leads to things like sympathy. We feel things that the animals around us don't feel, compassion. So, we can actually treat people in certain ways or understand or come up with sympathy or empathy and have this compassion about us that you don't see in other animals. Emotions in general, so the way we feel, the way we filter this experience that we have through feelings is unique to us and unique to our brain capacity. The huge number of emotions and the variability in the nuances and how we can feel is unique to us. If you look at something like a reptile, well, they have, in the serotonin gene, which we also have, this reptilian response where they don't have a maybe, they have a fight or flight, there's 100 safety, snake is sitting on the ground and then attack and there's nothing in between, there's no consideration, there's no, I don't feel right, everything is good and then snap and attack. So, obviously, humans are evolved way beyond that. We can have many layers of emotions in between the safety and that decision of its time to attack and it actually takes a lot to drive us there.
We do have reptilian genetics in us in terms of that reptilian response, that serotonin response, that ultra-sensitivity to stimulus and stimuli that may cause us to react to certain things. But, in general, we can feel all the nuances in between. So, we now look at that and we also see that we don't know what we look like before. We also know that this fusion, what we're talking about, never happened before. So, this one point in time, this 200,000 years ago when this happened to us, and ever since then, it also never happened again. So, this very unique nuance of evolution, which is this ongoing ladder of continued improvement versus a very purposeful change where these chromosomes were fused, we still don't know how it happened which created a ripple effect of this cognitive power namely the neocortex expanding in size, 50% larger than brain which leads to capacity computing power and certain genes that are driving this in us, namely that TBR1 gene.
So, again, we don't know what we look like before, we don't know if this has ever happened and that we haven't been able to find any other case of this in history, and we also can't find it ever happening again. So, very unique circumstance would this happen.
So, the interesting thing about this fusion is usually what happens is some of you have heard of telomeres. So, telomeres are these caps to your genes and you can actually use your telomeres to understand your biological age. If you have been abusing your body, if you have been under toxicity, stress, lack of sleep, the things that lead to aging outward, aging that you can see, well, you could actually measure your telomeres. There's tests you can do, certain blood tests that will tell you how worn down your telomeres are. There's literal end caps to your DNA that are meant to be that sort of rubber or bumper that absorbs all the damage. That's usually where these changes happen. You'll see evidence of a cut slice fusion connection. That's naturally what our genes will do. But, this fusion that happened 200,000 years ago happened right in the middle, it was a splice. So, you literally see a pinch connection and this splice that puts them together, which again, today we are just starting to utilize CRISPR technology for this purpose. And, we have not yet to date done this in humans, and in fact, we're struggling to do it in animals. There's isolated sort of jurisdictional products that have been done. I know that about two years ago maybe a year ago, FDA approved a trial for some condition of the eye where we were able to splice and edit and fix this particular localized problem but head-to-toe adoption where you are now a different version of yourself, your genetic code, and every one of your 50 trillion cells is now different. That we have not accomplished, but this is what happened to us.
So, again, we did change, we certainly changed, but if you look at things the way that we look at them for 200,000 years ago and you apply what evolution is meant to look like, we haven't done that. So, there was a rapid change overnight and then we continue to then be those people and of the genetics of 200,000 years ago. So, that's what we see.
Another area we see it, human chromosome number 7. So, the FOXP2 gene has been completely stable for 75 million years. You see it, you go way back, call it primates, Neanderthals, you go way back, we then somehow created this new SNP in the gene. And, that SNP made it possible for our brain to connect with our tongue in a way that created complex language. So, this just happened, again, at that same time. So, at the same time where this fusion happened where you connect these two primate genes and all of a sudden you have this human chromosome that looks different, we also had this happen where there was a stability created around this particular gene SNP that allowed us to speak the way we speak, to develop a language, to sing. Animals don't sing. Animals, they will mimic, they'll mimic sound but they truly can't sing the way we sing. They cannot adopt complex language. They will mimic against sounds and sound as if they're speaking but they cannot adopt and use complex language. So, this also happened 200,000 years ago at the exact same time. This rapid change, which was not adopted from any particular species prior to us, again, it was a switch that was turned on at that time.
So, how do we know this is true? Well, we know that we're able to extract fossils from the earth and now test the DNA. How do we look at dinosaurs and other things, even plants and trees? We have the ability to look at old DNA and understand it. And, we know that when we look at DNA of that time, there was this change and prior to it was completely different. What we don't see is 200,000 years ago all of what I'm talking about and then maybe 3, 4, 500,000 thousand years ago, some slight path towards that or a million years ago some changes towards that, we don't. What we see is a completely different picture pre-200, 250,000 years ago, and post. Again, a change not an evolution.
So, do we then not evolve? Well, I mean, I myself talk about warrior genetics and I myself talk about how I am like my ancestors who lived in the Middle East under high levels of stress. And so, I adopted what's called warrior genetics. I thrive with reward. I strive and drive myself with seeking reward and winning and challenges. And, that is very clearly inherited from my ancestors but it's not what we think to be evolution. Meaning my ancestors didn't change me, my ancestors gave me certain versions of genes which their predecessors also had the options of three versions of the DRD2 gene, which determines how well you bind dopamine. There's three potential outcomes for that gene: slow, medium, fast. How well do we look at the alleles of A and G? And, is it AA, AG, or GG? And, you can then determine to what degree do you bind dopamine. How dense are your receptors?
So, again, that's not evolution because you didn't change something, you didn't change somebody's dopamine levels, you didn't change somebody's receptor levels. What you did was you gave them an allele, a version of. And, one of three options which were the same options that have always existed. Now, depending who you mate with who has the AG, or GG, or AA, you then each pass on one version of that gene to your children. And, I happen to get passed on both of the fast versions. But, with my children, if my wife is AA or AG, she could potentially give them back one version of the slope. And, that sort of tennis match can keep going for generations or multiple and keep changing, keep changing. That's not what we call evolution. So, evolution is a continual improvement and continual ongoing, “I'm changing because of what my ancestors did, I'm now a better version of that species.”
What we're actually seeing and what we sort of refer to it and assume as evolution is this warrior genes that I have, which is “I am a warrior, I strive, I thrive, I drive towards reward because of what my ancestors did, but only because both sets of my ancestors passed beyond these same version of these genes. It's not because they went through something and their genes changed and now they give me a better version, a software update.” That's not what happened and that's not what happens. What happens is you get a version that that person used and they're now in the context that they're matched to. So, if they were fast, GG, low dopamine receptors, fast clearance, so they move on quickly and they can shift gears quickly, well then they're naturally going to fall into a context where that's how they thrive. They will be the warriors opposed to the accountant or the thinker in the back of the room. They're the person that's out there making change front lines. So, we look at these contexts and we see we look at it backwards. That person was a warrior under stress, so they passed on their warrior genetics. No, it's because they were a warrior that they were able to fit in that context and thrive in it and then they pass those alleles on versions not an evolution of the gene.
So, in that context what we often call evolution is just selecting what version of the gene that is best for us because of our context. And then, depending on again who you have your child with, what do they have and what is also getting passed on. You can go right back to where you started. It could be a never-ending loop. So, a really cool example of something different now is epigenetics. And, I'm going to give you a cool example of this where what I just spoke of is what version of what gene do you have, which is how we believe evolution happens. There's also epigenetic expression. So, how do your genes actually express? And, if you can pass that on to your children, then did they evolve? Did they change? Are they a new version of themselves? So, what's actually going on there? I'm going to give you an example. So, we all know that for some time, the British ruled India, the British if you look at it in today's terms, and this is shocking and most people don't hear this but there was approximately $40 trillion adjusted for today's dollar taken from India, $40 trillion of assets stolen by the British through the British-India company. But, if you think about that amount of wealth, I don't know where you can compare today but India was the richest country at the time, largest economy in the world and slowly that sort of got chipped away and $40 trillion of assets left. So, what did that leave the country with? Well, it led to famine. It led to nearly 40 famines in this short window of while the British was ruling India. So, people went from living this life of luxury that the world hadn't seen to being constantly struggling with even finding food.
So, what happened is their bodies adjusted to storing fat. And, this is not a question, again, of evolution where did the people pass on this ability and now humans store fat? Or, is it that the people that had the ability to store fat survived and their children thrived? So, what actually happened? We also then have to adjust for their ability to not put on muscle because muscle requires calories. So, in order to maintain muscle mass, you need more calories. Now, if you go look at India today and you look at what the population looks like, they look very different than some other countries. Of course, when you come here and adopt a North American lifestyle, I'm in Toronto, things change, but if you go to India and look at a young man in India, you're going to see a very slim wiry frame, very light and lean on the muscle. For the most part, I'm not talking about everybody but for the most part, and that was an adjustment of who survived. Well, the people that needed less calories. And so, they passed on the genetics of the ability to survive with less food. And, that required less muscle mass. So, the people with more muscle mass would need more calories, didn't do so well and maybe weren't able to have children. So, again, it's not a question of people changing as a genotype but more as that genotype is what passed their genes on. So, that leads to what we see as evolution. Meaning that now all of a sudden, this population is different, entirely different. This one pocket is now proliferated and become the majority because that's who was able to survive in the context that they were in. So, it's not that everybody received these genes, is that those people had children, and those people passed their alleles on.
So, we also find in Indian people the epigenetics of trauma because of so much struggle and pain and hunger that happened for so many decades. And so, in the epigenetic code, this is different than genetics, you see the expression of trauma, you see that there's a lot more metabolic disease in South Asian people. And so, what we see is that the need to fast and the need to have less calories is how this population now thrives. And so, fasting is a big part of the culture. Low calories is a big part of the culture. And, again, until you leave the culture, but decadence is also still a big part of the culture. And, this is why you see that in the city that I'm in, in Mississauga, we have the largest heart center in Canada, the largest heart hospital. It's also the hub of where all the South Asians live. And, we're told that genetically, we have bad hearts, so we've evolved into having bad cardiovascular health. The truth is we've evolved into having bad metabolic health because our ancestors didn't eat for so many years that generation. So, who we came from, the people that survived, which is partly why I have warrior genetics, people have to fight to survive, these people and who they pass their genes onto, the children, including myself are not designed for high volumes of calories, we were designed for very little, we were designed for lean muscle mass, for storing fat. That's why it's such a struggle for South Asian men to lose their bellies. You can do everything right and you still have that fat on the gut. It's challenging because these are the genes that survived and thrived.
And so, the genes didn't change. What we see as evolution is the genes changing instructing a certain type of person to become the population now. Or, a certain trait, I should say, sorry, from a person to become who the population becomes. What's actually going on is who survives passes their survival mechanism on and you become like them, the alleles that you get for mom and dad. And, guess what, if we go into a different context, if it was evolution — and why do I say all this? Because if it was evolution, there would be a constant continual improvement in that path. You would not be able to go back but we can because like I said in the context of reward and my warrior genetics, and in this context of storing fat, and in this context of people with lean muscle mass surviving and thriving, well when the ancestors start to eat more and when I start to not need to be a warrior or when I start to have a relationship with somebody who isn't, their allele is going to be the one that wins. We're no longer in a position of needing to thrive on less food. I'm no longer in a population where everybody is fighting in a warrior. So, I may end up having a child with someone who doesn't have those genetics. And then, that allele gets passed on.
So, if evolution happened the way we believe it happens, again, this is why I asked that question in the very beginning that is it truly this ongoing forward trajectory of improvement, this ladder that we keep going up of getting better and better and better? That's what evolution means. Or, is it more cyclical in nature where things are being utilized for whatever is our current reality, meaning our genetic code, and the people that thrive pass their alleles on, and on in another layer? Because we have so much diversity and so much movement, alleles keep mixing. And so, there's this option pool of three genes, three gene variants per gene for the most part, many, many genes, and there's combinations of different people you can create. And now, depending what mom and dad gave you, you become who you are. So, if you look at this much bigger picture, let's go 20,000 foot view, how cyclical can this get? When you look at little clues that we have in history, you look at the sphinx in Egypt, the sphinx as everyone knows is that famous tourist attraction where there's a cat-like body with a human face. And, we think that this happened a couple thousand years ago when the Egyptians were powerful and we believe that's when the pyramids were built by the Egyptians for whatever purpose, we're still trying to figure that out. The level of perfection that they were able to work at, we still, as humans today, can't do that. Then, you start to think, okay, there's this constant evolution, Egyptians were who they are and we became a better version of them because we become smarter and better and faster.
So, meanwhile, when you look at the sphinx, there's an anomaly that is known by historians but we don't talk about because there's no explanation that fits science and the current scientific narrative. And, again, there's more clues that point to the type of stuff we've just been talking about. When you look at the sphinx, the wear and tear around the base is water damage. The sphinx is sitting in the middle of the desert. The last time that there was water to that degree was pre-10,000 years ago, probably closer to 20,000 years ago. In fact, it's believed there was an ice age that maybe wiped a population out. So, then this begs the question, well, if the sphinx existed when water damage was possible in that area of the desert, well, that means they were there between 12 to 20,000 years ago prior to the peak of that Egyptian civilization that we now know of. So, who built the sphinx? And, is it possible that there was civilization on earth that was more intelligent than who we are today because they did figure out how to build pyramids that we cannot figure out today? They did figure out that with perfection, when you got to the top that peak was optimal, those stones that are the size of buses being placed in optimal perfection that we can do today. We don't have the tools to do that today. So, was there or were there people prior to us that because we believe that evolution happens in an upward trajectory there's a ladder that we keep climbing, can it happen more cyclically? Is it possible that there was people that existed 20,000 years ago before the ice age that were far more advanced than us in technology, they were able to do things like build pyramids that we find them in different places of the world, they're in South America, they're in Egypt, they're now being found under grass mounds that have been completely covered by forests and why and how did this happen?
And, the really cool thing just to dive into this, we're moving away from DNA, but if you look at that time where the sphinx was and if you look at astral maps or the stars and you calculate back to about 10 or 12,000 years ago, the sphinx actually it would have been facing an exact constellation that actually mirrors this lion-like image. It would have been literally facing. It doesn't do that today, by the way. It doesn't do that 2,000 years ago also at the time at the peak of the Egyptian population. So, there's these clues that point to perhaps we don't evolve in a straight upward ladder, perhaps it's more cyclical, perhaps something happened 200,000 years ago that caused a change like we discussed that we no longer or I shouldn't even say we that a population was no longer who it was or we appeared and got engineered into who we are or there was some rapid conversion again, the why and how, we don't know. And, this is why science is struggling with even looking at this because it's so counterintuitive to what science believes to be true. It also speaks to some force that is outside of what we believe brings us down that evolutional path. And, that's also why science is afraid to look at it because there's things that you can't explain and there's things that maybe are explained through the energy of the universe through religion and God. You can go down any path. There's multiple paths you can go on that could explain this in other ways beyond our current narrative of how animals evolve. And so, this isn't being picked up on in terms of deeper research, but there's plenty of publications that tell us that this is exactly what happened.
So, if this happened 200,000 years ago, how rapidly did those people evolve and what level of technology did they get to where potentially the sphinx and the pyramids are much older than we think? And, that was only 20,000 years ago. How many times did this happen? How many civilizations were there that we don't know about for whom how many ice ages or how many natural disasters wiped them out and then we rebuild and we come back and then we rebuild and we come back? And, what we're doing to ourselves today with climate, and social, and war, and everything that's going on in the world, doomsday clock is in the worst position it's ever been. I don't want to give you bad news, but that's where we're at. So, is it possible for this to happen again that if this is what happened, might it happen again, might we reach some peak and then start over again? Whereas, we believe we're just going to keep getting better and better and better and better.
So, there is evidence like I said of evolution. You can see in animals that they inherit, like I gave you the example the elephants, they inherit the survival traits of their ancestors in an evolutionary format where they keep getting better. We haven't seen evidence of this in humans. And, this is the bigger question. It's a different question. In humans, we see something very different. We are the same. Like I said, we haven't changed from 200,000 years ago. There's a switch that was flipped, we became who we are, 50% larger brain, larger neuro cortex, the ability to process emotions, the ability to sing and speak. We became who we are at that point. Physical features and traits also change and just overnight became true, which weren't there, didn't exist prior to. We also know that there was a fusion that happened that is hard to explain. So, these two chromosomes came together and we were a new entity that was unlike anything prior to us.
So, how did this all happen? That's the question we now have to answer, but that starts with science even believing that this is true, the publications. Again, the science is there for each piece but you have to stitch it all together and understand that possibly there was a different path. So, those are my thoughts on evolution. This is what I believe to be pertinent in terms of if you're trying to discover and understand what actually happened that again, it wasn't this path of constant improvement, it was something much different. And, the things that we see that are nuances are hints towards evolution today. They're, as I said, getting versions of genes from the people who happen to be your parents who thrived in that past context, but those other versions of those genes still exist on other people. And so, your next layer of progeny may end up right where your ancestors started. There's no upward trajectory, it's just a constant exchange of genetic traits that keep making us different. And, based on your context, you either thrive or you don't because you're either wired for it or you're not. And, just like I told you about what happened in India, you went from the most successful country in the world, historically the biggest economy ever to abject poverty and 40 some odd famines in a very short period of time that led to a certain genotype and phenotype surviving and thriving. And, now that's leading to a whole other phenomenon where today, evolution if you look at it that way, South Asian people have crazy metabolic health and cardiovascular diseases because they're not designed for food, they're designed for starvation. That will change because again, the right people for that right context will survive and all of a sudden, they will be the people having children and dominating, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
So, that's how we look at it. I'm sure you're going to have questions. Go ahead reach out to us. I hope to bring some experts on the topic in to discuss this a little further because it's such a deep topic. And, I hope I haven't offended anybody because it is quite controversial to some regard, but this is just me reiterating what I've learned and seen. And, I hope that's helped you in some way or the other. Again, questions, please reach out, I'm happy to dive into this deeper. Thanks for joining us today.
More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot.
Many new science, research, and testing protocols have emerged lately in the field of genetic testing, so I decided it was high time I interviewed a DNA expert on sleep genetic types, parenting, personality types, mood, behavior, cancer, the fountain of “youth” and so much more.
My guest for this episode, 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. With the largest study of its kind globally, The DNA Company has developed a functional approach to genomic interpretation overlaying environment, nutrition, and lifestyle on the genetic blueprint to create personalized and deterministic health outcomes.
Growing up in Vancouver, Canada, in an immigrant household, Kashif developed an industrious entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. Before his tenure at The DNA Company, Kashif advised many high-growth start-ups in various industries, including luxury retail, technology, finance, fine arts, healthcare, tourism, and real estate. He participated in over $300 million in revenue in his retail business before launching consulting services to help others thrive.
As Kashif dived into the field of functional genomics as the CEO of The DNA Company, it was revealed that his neural wiring was genetically designed to be entrepreneurial. However, his genes also revealed a particular sensitivity to pollutants. This inspired The DNA Company to develop a custom nutrient supplement to enhance this suboptimal detoxification pathway, enabling Kashif’s body to deal with pollutants and chemicals while reducing his risk of long-term illness.
Now seeing his health from a new lens, Kashif dove in further and started to see the genetic pathways that led to his own family’s challenges and the opportunities to reverse chronic disease. He has since made it his mission to build The DNA Company into a business that has an impact and whose success is measured not in dollars earned but in lives improved.
In this episode, you'll discover:
-How Kashif got started with DNA testing…06:04
- Debilitating illness, crazy migraines, eczema, psoriasis, etc.
- The challenge was how each illness was being treated as separate problems by different doctors; a pill for this, a pill for that
- This prompted Kashif to start his healing journey; found the science of Functional Genomics
- Had genome tested; discovered some SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) missing from his genetic code
- Most common genes missing are GSTT, GSTM, and GSTP (important to cellular health)
- In a research study:
- 49% of 7000 the participants tested do not have the GSTM1 gene
- 40% had only one copy of the GSTM1 gene
- The primary focus of the GSTM1 gene is gut detox; first line of defense to prevent things from entering blood
-How Kashif got involved with The DNA Company…13:01
- Journey of healing himself and his mother led him to Dr. Mansoor Mohammed's research team
- Podcast with Dr. Mansoor Mohammed:
- Ben and his sons were tested at The DNA Company
- Ben's twin sons now take supplements
- You are not born sick – environment, nutrition, and lifestyle habits play an important part
- Chronic conditions start to happen when you are in your 50s or 60s; it takes that many years of making the wrong choices to have a problem
-Kashif’s genetic playbook, the actionable steps to using your Genetic code for optimal life decisions…16:10
- The key is to understand what you need to be optimal
- Identify genetic holes and gaps
- Environment, nutrition, and lifestyle
- Get rid of toxins
- Increase capacity – supplement, eat, and exercise for improvement
- Use your genetic code to prevent chronic illness
- The DNA Company Blog
-Mood and behavior / How genes impact things like depression and what to do about it…18:48
- Your genes conduct your feelings; your behavior is driven by genes instructing to what degree we experience neurochemicals and how long they last
- Mapping how the brain works at the personal level; utilizing our brain to optimize neurochemical and genetic responses
- Aligning your genes to your career; understanding your genetic motives
- Role of genes in addiction, depression, and achievement
- DRD2 gene defines to what degree you experience pleasure/reward (dopamine pathway)
- MAO gene breaks down and metabolizes dopamine
- COMT also clears out neurochemicals
- Podcast with Dr. Doug Brackmann:
- Driven by Dr. Doug Brackmann
- Warrior genetics – designed to continue fighting
- Profile is one thing; the context you wrap around it drives your outcome
-Are there neurochemicals that alleviate the need for success?…25:14
- Regulating your moods with Serotonin
- Getting good sleep
- Qualia Mind
- Coffee fruit extract
- Other ways to boost BDNF
- Start the day with a hot shower
- Deep breathing exercises
- Yoga or brisk walking
-Optimizing sleep/ sleep genetic types…34:29
- Essentia Mattresses
- 3 sleep “buckets”:
- I can't fall asleep – highly dependent on circadian rhythm
- CLOCK gene manages circadian rhythm with BDNF
- BDNF alone can disrupt circadian rhythm
- I can't get to sleep on time/I can't stay asleep/I wake up in the middle of the night
- I sleep through the night but wake up not feeling rested
- Usually caused by environmental issues
- I can't fall asleep – highly dependent on circadian rhythm
- When does Kashif take detox supplements?
- Before sleep
- Before boarding an airplane
- Milk Thistle (use code GREENFIELD10 to save 10%)
- Activated charcoal
- Kion Sleep
- Ebb sleep
-Applying genetics to parenting and personalization…49:56
- Kashif's personal advocacy, not a product
- Raising your kids accordingly to their genetic makeup
- “The day you start is the best day to start” – the earlier, the better
- Looking for red flags and see how they relate to the problem
- 2,000 of the 22,000 genes require Vitamin D to function
-Interpreting your genetic results to make informed daily decisions…1:02:15
- What questions to ask is important; data is dumb
- Data needs interpretation
- Genetics is too hard to use
- Dr. BJ Fogg
- The report lists
- The problems and what genes drive those traits
- The habits that need to be built
- The behavior needed to be removed
- The behavior that you need to add
- The recommendations are given in context to the problem
- A personalized, AI-generated report puts together recordings that are available for those who want to dive deeper into the genome, as if a Ph.D. is sitting in front of you and reviewing results
- Podcast with Dr. Mansoor Mohammed:
- The DNA Company – new clients get $50 off ($349 instead of $399)
- Offer – Anyone who bought the OLD version of our test previously can upgrade to the new portal at a 50% ($49 instead of $99) discount (there are new genes, and we need to rerun your sample)
-And much more…
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldlife.com/calendar
Resources mentioned in this episode:
– Kashif Khan:
- Beyond 23&Me: A Deep Dive Into Ben Greenfield’s Personal DNA Results (& How To Get Your Own Genes Interpreted).
- Driven: Understanding and Harnessing the Genetic Gifts Shared by Entrepreneurs, Navy SEALs, Pro Athletes (& Maybe You).
– Other Resources:
- Driven by Dr. Doug Brackmann
- Lion's Mane
- Glutathione (use code BENGREENFIELD10 to save 10%)
- Qualia Mind
- Coffee Fruit Extract
- Milk Thistle (use code GREENFIELD10 to save 10%)
- Activated Charcoal
- Kion Sleep
- Vitamin D
- Essentia Mattresses
- Ebb sleep
- Dr. BJ Fogg
- Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
–Essentia: The organic mattress that scores best on eliminating all sleep-interrupting stimulants.
–Kion Aminos: Building blocks for muscle recovery, reduced cravings, better cognition, immunity, and more.
–Traeger: 6-in1 versatility, perfected by decades of mastering the craft of wood-fired cooking, a Traeger grill will transform the way you cook, giving you consistent results – every single time.